Happy Sunday, and Happy Easter/Eat Chocolate For Breakfast Day! This past week was really just…blargh. I felt sunny and happy on Monday with our first eighty degree day, and I think I used up all my happiness in one day, because I fell into a depressive state on Tuesday and it hasn’t let up. Hopefully this week will be different.
But let us review!
1. Clyde’s 10K. Time 1:12:33 (chip time).
I am on a PR roll right now! Three races, three PRs. This course, which took place in Columbia, MD, had a variety of terrain (aka a lot of hills). I was honestly surprise with how well I did, seeing as I hadn’t trained at all between the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler and this race.
The route wound its way around the Columbia lakefront and surrounding neighborhoods. It provided a nice distraction as we ran up and down a million hills…
Including THE hill…the Route 108 Hill…
Another runner suggested, “Don’t look at the hill. Look down at the road and just keep going!” This was sound advice.
I finished 1:12:33 on the results page (which begs the question of why my Garmin was significantly faster, by 34 seconds!). Regardless, it’s a PR of 4 1/2 minutes. I’ll take it! Afterwards, I met up with the Dunkin’ Donuts crew and just had to get a picture of the donut skirt/headband and truck combo.
The Clyde’s of Columbia crew and the Whole Foods next door provided a smorgasboard of goodies including muffins, bagels, fruit, Powerade, etc. I honestly pushed myself during this race, and thought I was going to throw up everywhere. I was sad that I didn’t eat more than I did, but it was delicious nonetheless.
2. Medal Monday
The Clyde’s 10K was the official conclusion of my 2017 winter/spring racing season. I had told myself that once that race was done, I would go on a racing hiatus for an undetermined amount of time. (Mainly for financial reasons; I know that Chicago is going to be a pretty penny.) This is definitely the most active I have ever been in a four-month period:
Three half marathons (including the unofficial WDW Half)
Two runDisney challenges
3. Tulips on Tulips
Tulips are one of my absolute favorite flowers, and DC has been blooming with them!
4. Chicago Marathon Training Plan
After much deliberation, I have settled on a Chi Marathon training plan. It’ll start in June, and from now until then, I’ll be focused on building up my base, both physically and mentally (great advice from Leah and Malinda of TwinsRun.) I haven’t officially decided on whether I want to try to train to BQ this summer or not, so we’ll see.
5. Cutest Post Its Ever!
Ohhhhh my goodness! I found these at Target and they are the cutest!! *squeee*
One last note:
Best of luck to everyone running the 121st Boston Marathon on Monday! I look forward to cheering you all on from D.C.!
This past weekend was the 45th running of the Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10-Miler. Known as the “Runner’s Rite of Spring”, it is a widely attended race with national and international competition toeing the line for one of D.C.’s most scenic races. I ended up applying for the lottery and got selected a day after I got in for the Chicago Marathon. I’ve applied for this race in the past and have come up short, so it was a nice change of pace. After being rejected by London and Berlin (and I think something else in there), it’s nice to have a few major races to look forward to!
The weekend started with meeting up with Lauren at the expo on Friday afternoon at the National Building Museum.
With regard to the itinerary above, one concept stood out in my mind: this race has a legitimate time limit: 2:20:00. When the start line closes at 8AM, runners have until 10:20AM to make it, or they would not be counted as official finishers. This gave me my race goal. Since I was in the Purple corral (last corral), we would launch at 7:53am, and I would be running with runners at a 12 to 13 minute per mile pace. Knowing I would have less than an 8-minute buffer between myself and the pace vehicles, this encouraged me to stay steady and hopefully not dawdle like I typically do during races.
I’m working to fix that last part. Promise. 🙂
Lauren and I did some pre-race window shopping, and found that Sparkly Soul was going to be at the expo. They are my go-to headband and I have about twenty of them in my collection. We saw my friend and Sparkly Soul ambassador, Caroline, manning the booth!
I picked up three new headbands and Lauren grabbed one. We poked around the expo a little more before I had to peace out. I then spent Saturday preparing for the race and heading to my cousin’s apartment, which was about a half hour walk from the starting area over by the Washington Monument.
One thing I forgot at home were my Honey Stinger gels. Ever since being introduced to them at the Everglades Half, they’ve been my go-to for fueling. I went to Safeway to see if they carried any, and they didn’t. I bought fruit snacks instead!
I was up at 5:30am and out the door by 6:15am. With my corral launching so much later, I wasn’t in a mad rush to get out the door. This paid off as I read the weather report for the morning and realized it was going to be colder than previously thought: low 40’s with wind. Brrrr. Not having it. I swapped out my shorts for thermal tights and layered a jacket over my shirt, along with throwing on a Marine Corps Marathon end-of-race jacket and a runDisney Mylar blankie.
I started walking over to the starting area and the sun slowly coming up. I reached the area around 6:45am and walked around for a moment, getting a feel for where everything was at.
I continued walking about and noticed two very familiar women taking selfies by the cherry blossom trees. I recognized them immediately as Malinda and Leah of Twins Run! I ran over and we all had a big group hug 🙂
We talked for a bit about our upcoming big races (for them: Boston! YAY!), gave me some great insight on how to prepare for Chicago (build a base!), and they chatted about their experiences with the Cherry Blossom races from years’ past. We departed for our corrals after more hugs and good luck wishes.
While hanging out in the last corral, I finally got to meet Heather Mundwiler! We’re both members of Team Shenanigans and have been following each other on social media for awhile. One of my favorite aspects of running is being able to meet those that I have befriended online IRL. Always a great time!
Right after the anthem was sung (by a gentleman who is studying at Westminster choir College…holy voice, Batman!), 7:18 am rolled around and the elite/seeded women were sent off. We stood around what seemed like forever waiting for our corral to launch. The temps were warming up ever so slightly, so I rather reluctantly ditched my space blanket and jacket. (I have a serious problem with being cold. It seems like if the temp is below 70 degrees, I’m freezing.)
7:53 comes and we were off! Woohoo!
With runners needing to submit a proof of time with their lottery entry, it was a true seeding of time. I was in a pack of runners that were literally my speed of 12-13 minutes per mile. My body wanted to run faster, but I couldn’t find a solid stretch of road to do so. I truly felt stuck where I was, even moreso than I am for runDisney events.
Around Mile 2, I got a hello from my old friend Side Stitches. (Seriously, when is this going to end?!) I slowed to a walk on the sidewalk of the Washington Memorial Bridge and stretched out. I kept on going at a more reserved pace for the rest of the race, but damn, it’s frustrating having to deal with those things.
Having started so far back, I was constantly on the lookout for the sweep vehicles. I was coming back up the bridge and saw them coming down in the opposite direction. This put a little pep into my step heading into Mile 3. Around the 5K mark, I noticed that a lot of runners were tripping and falling down; I saw at least three or four bite it around this area. Runners…be mindful of where you’re running and watch for those potholes/each other!
The first half of the race was scenically uneventful, having run the area recently for RnR DC and NAFHALF. I felt no need to take pictures, as the truly scenic parts were coming up during the second half of the race.
My pace around halfway was a 12:30 mile, and I clocked in at 1:02:32. Not too shabby. At least my miles were consistent.
At Mile 5.5 was the Tidal Basin:
THAT was the scene I was looking for. After the cold snap that D.C. endured a couple weeks prior, there was speculation that the blossoms weren’t going to make it. But here they were!
From Mile 6 to Mile 9, we wrapped around Hains Point.
There was also abundant entertainment and cheering:
During the Hains Point portion, I kept a close eye on my Garmin and my phone. I had until 10:20am to cross the finish line to be considered an official finisher. (They’re really strict like that.) I crossed the 9-Mile marker at 1:57:06 (13:01 pace). I knew I had it at this point 🙂
What you don’t see is the last hill I had to ascend at Raul Wallenberg Pl. SW to get to the finish line. Way to make you earn your medal!
I finished in 2:10:05, ten minutes before the cutoff! Woohoo! This medal is absolutely adorable!
I met up with Patrick and Lauren post-race. Lauren found me a discarded space blanket (she’s honestly the Queen of the Space Blankets, as Chris calls it), and we sat around, took some pictures, then trekked to Shake Shack at Union Station for celebratory burgers and fries.
Christina’s Post-Race Thoughts:
This race was incredibly well-organized…all the way up ’til post-race. After crossing the finish line, I walked through the finisher’s chute, which stretched the length of 15th St. NW. There was nothing in this chute: no one handing out medals, no water, no space blankets, no nothing. You had to cross back over onto Washington Monument grounds and find the appropriate tent for medals. En route, there were tables with water, bananas, and Nature’s Valley crunchy bars. Umm…yay post-race recovery?
I did, however, appreciate that there was a hoarde of volunteers checking and rechecking bibs to ensure those that ordered medals got their medals. Thank you, UnderArmour, for manning the medal tent!
Right after I got my medal and snackies, I found Lauren and Patrick. We started walking away from Runner’s Village and tents were already being taken down and things being put away. Wow. Glad I didn’t finish any later!
All in all, this was a solid race. The weather was great (unlike past years, from what I’ve heard/read about), the course support was decent, and the medal is super cute. The course itself is flat and fast (with the exception of that last hill), and with an elevation change of only 31 feet. I would do this race again, but only after I could secure a faster POT.
Next up: my last race of the winter/spring season: Clyde’s 10K!
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:
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.
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!
What diet and mileage tricks do you use as you prepare for race day?
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!
2AM calls and I lay in bed, thinking, “Man, I had I just gone to sleep, and now it’s time for part two!” My body felt okay after the 13.1 accomplished just mere hours prior, but I knew it was gonna be hurting at some point along the marathon course.
Additionally, it was going to cold. Legit Florida freezy ice cold. With the cold front that was sweeping the nation that weekend, Orlando was spared from the wintry mixes of precipitation, but not from the biting winds. The air temperature was roughly 35-ish degrees…with NNW winds at 15mph. Real feel = -2983726 degrees (to me, anyway). The temp would get up into the 40s later on in the day, but the wind wasn’t going to cease. As I brewed my pre-race coffee and dressed in layers, I thought about the WDW Marathon in 2016, where the air temps were comfortable with lots of cloud cover, but the humidity was outrageous. I hoped for the same cloud cover for the 2017 race.
I departed around 3AM and headed to EPCOT. Rooming over in Old Town, I had about a 10, 15 minute drive over. There were a couple more cars out than last year, but I still arrived with a ton of time to spare. I kept my car idling with the heat on, organizing my new neoprene Fitletic pouch, listening to Hamilton, and sipping on warm Nuun water. (It’s not as gross as you may think. In fact, warm Nuun water is really tasty!)
I departed my toasty car (and the Hamiltunes) around 3:50 AM and made my way through the “no bag check” security line (although I did pause for a moment to open up my belt, which I was told that I was good to go). This was the first runDisney race I’ve ever taken part in where I didn’t check a gEAR bag. All I really needed was my ID, keys, phone, money, and race fuel.
I had a strategy with my race fuel. Having used Honey Stinger gels on course for the Everglades Half, I developed a preference to them over the Clif/GU gels (which are thicker and slosh around in my stomach). I had three with me, plus a new item: Run Gum! I was going to take a gel every 10K, and the Run Gum at halfway. I prepped my first gel in my sports bra to warm up (to be taken just before the corral was launched), and lined up everything else in order of consumption.
I made a beeline for the TS reunion signs, the meetup spot for Team Shenanigans—and of course, sold my kidney for some more coffee (which was warm-ish…stupid cold weather).
We all started gathering and huddling to stay warm. Silly me totally didn’t bring a blanket or extra sweats or anything, but Kristen saved the day by offering me one of her Mylar space blankies. Thanks, Kristen!!! ❤
Once the time to depart came, we started the 20 minute corral walk. Jess, myself. and her runner buddy, James, walked together to the starting area. We bid each other farewell, and I jumped into corral J, eager to get warm. I meandered into the middle of the corral, and ducked down behind some taller runners. I made a couple of new friends and we talked about running, the weather, congratulating those that bumped from the half to the full, cheering on the firsties, and how much we wanted to be in Mickey/Donald/Goofy’s costumes at the moment.
Before long, the anthem was sung and the fireworks began to launch. It was go time!
I had about half an hour until J was launched, so I continued hunkering down and wrapping the Mylar around me. I did let people know that if they were going to run with their blankets, to open them up when they passed a timing mat, or the frequency waves would not register their time. The runDisney announcers were encouraging us to actually get rid of the blankets, and I ditched mine as our corral was pulling up to the line. I also downed my first gel (which was deliciously warm!) and got ready to go.
The second we started, the wind kicked up. I was SO glad that I was wearing gloves (although I KNEW I should have worn a hat, too). The first few miles were honestly fantastic. I ran into Doug, Brittany, Caryn, and Susanna of Team Shenanigans and we entered Magic Kingdom together.
During Mile 4, I ran past the same portapotties that squashed my sub-3 dreams during Princess Half 2016. I laughed internally, as I was feeling awesome on the insides, and kept on going towards Contemporary and Space Mountain.
My first five miles were absolutely incredible. I was holding a 12:24-ish pace and was estimated to finish in…wait for it…5:24:00.
A 5:24 marathon? That’s an hour and a half PR! Whaaaaaat.
Soon we were running down Main Street in Magic Kingdom and stopped over to some of the team members who offered us caramels and M&Ms and treats of all sorts. I could feel the bathroom calling, so I took off again through Tomorrowland and up through New Fantasyland.
I approached the bathrooms and saw that the line for the women’s room was, as always, out the door. I overheard a woman asking her friend behind me, “Is it okay to use the men’s restroom?”
“Yep, it sure is!” I replied instantly, reflecting on Princess Half 2015 when I did just that. (When ya gotta go, you gotta go!) I beelined for the entrance and called in, “Lady coming through! Gotta pee!” I rushed over to the first available stall and did my business, and got out of there.
The rest of MK was decent: through the castle, into Liberty Square and Adventureland, and finally backstage.
Up until the first 10K mark, I was doing great. My pace was en pointe and I wasn’t too winded or overheated. I downed my second gel and started into Cone Alley, which instantly zapped my mental state. I stuck to the right hand side and walked the length of it, my time significantly decreasing by five minutes per mile. (Going from 11, 12-minute miles to 17…15..16…yeeeeeah. -_____-)
At mile eight, right by the Grand Floridian, I was hit with a huge burst of sun. Lovely. And there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. Also lovely.
After a few highway miles, the second park appeared around mile 13.1: Animal Kingdom!
I took my Run Gum at this point and felt some more pep in my step…and the drop in my stomach of looking at my Garmin and seeing it just about to die even though I had fully charged it the night before. Gaaaaaaaah. (I only have splits up until Mile 15 before I had it save the run as is.)
I ran into fellow Shenanigators Rebekah and Raymond (and even Ian in passing!) and we proceeded to head to Expedition Everest. We had about a 45 minute advantage over the balloon ladies, so why not ride a roller coaster in the middle of a marathon?!
That tacked on about ten minutes to my run time, but it was so worth it. We wound our way out of AK and past the sewage/water treatment/stinky place, where I had to make another pit stop. (Trying to put your running tights back on after peeing in the cold is such a drag!)
I halted my Garmin at mile 15, and continued along the “scenic” route towards Wide World of Sports (which included Cone Alley #2). The sun was out in full force, but I didn’t think too much of it because of the wind. Heh…if I only knew what I’d be waking up to the following morning in terms of sunburn…
I was mentally all over the place in the second half of the run. I kept up with a Galloway pace group (I think maybe the 5:45 group). I texted Chris on occasion, mentioning, “I am seriously questioning my life choices right now.” My knees were aching and my left hamstring felt weird, so I took it easy (i.e. dawdling). I couldn’t Biofreeze anything because I couldn’t pull up my tights past my calves to get to my knees.
However, I was more upset about the fact that I seemingly let a huge PR slip from my fingers. I mean, I was freakin’ ELATED over the fact that if I simply kept up my pace after the first 10K and not wimped out like I typically do, I could have had a hell of a performance. But nope. It’s better to finish the race alive and in once piece. Plus, I had a margarita to earn in Mexico later on!
I met back up with Jess and James around Mile 16-ish, and Mile 18 led us to Wide World of Sports…the literal hell of the WDW Marathon.
As far as I know, nobody is a huge fan of these three miles. It’s just down and around, up and about through the track and practice fields and baseball diamond. At least the 20M mark was here…10K left to go!!
I also saw Jackie of Team Shenanigans entering the diamond just as I was leaving it. I swear, we are everywhere!! It was also nice that the volunteers kept mentioning that the rest of the team was ahead of me. That was a comforting feeling, knowing they had my back like that.
I exited WWOS and headed down the highway (and up the Green Army Men overpass) towards Hollywood Studios.
I was getting so relieved that there were only a few more miles to go. I started down the path towards the Boardwalk, enjoying the sights and scenery (I am partially biased towards this area…it’s too beautiful!).
I kept updating the team on my whereabouts and how much closer I was getting to Mexico. I rounded the corner behind World Showcase/United Kingdom to throngs of supporters and heroic music blasting on the speakers overhead. Almost done!!
I met up with Team Margarita outside of the cantina and got my beverage. I proceeded to sip and savor the limey deliciousness as I crossed the finish line of my third marathon in 7:30:23, and finished my first ever Goofy Challenge!
Christina’s Post-Marathon Thoughts:
Be prepared for ANY type weather. Look at the long-range forecast for the area you’re going to run, and bring appropriate clothing. This will save you a trip to the local store and a decent chunk of money. I guess a lot of runners were stocking up on cold weather goods at the expo. While that’s great and all…that adds up rather quickly. Also, running in the cold is going to zap your energy faster. Stay warm, and hydrated! You may not feel thirsty, but you’re still exerting energy in the form of exercise.
If you want to run faster, you have to train faster. I can attribute those first five or six miles of amazingness to speed work and strength training in the gym. Now that I know what that speed feels like, I can be more prepared for future races and build up my stamina.
Sunscreen for days. I brought a ton of it with me, and barely used it. I really should have layered it on, even though it was cold and windy.
Get plenty of rest the night before. Four hours of sleep going into a marathon will suffice…sort of. Aim for seven or eight hours for optimal performance. I would have been at EPCOT sooner to do my WDW Half had it not been for the lines to get into WWOS and the traffic getting out. I ended up two hours behind schedule and got home way later than I wanted to.
Check your shoes. This is a big one, especially for those of us that accomplish this lifestyle on a budget. I have never been properly fitted for running shoes (gait analysis, the whole nine yards), and I’ve been operating out of the same pair of shoes for the last year (which, by now, are weeeeelllllll worn in). I feel incredibly guilty shelling out for new shoes, especially since I made my very first pair last about three years with no issues whatsoever. I now have a peroneal tendon strain in my left foot that I’m currently nursing, and I honestly blame my ill-fitting shoes. With that said, make sure your equipment is in good repair before utilizing it for any race.
If you are considering the Goofy or Dopey multi-day challenges, start preparing as early as you can. 39.3 and 48.6 miles on your legs are no joke, and the multiple days of waking up early can wreak havoc on you mentally and physically. Take it easy in the parks, refuel as needed, and make sure you’re resting and stretching! Don’t underestimate the mileage.
Thanks for following along! There will be more pictures of cool Disney and Universal things to come. Next adventure: Glass Slipper Challenge 2017!
By now, the majority of you know the basics of what went down at the WDW Half: storms ripped through, race got cancelled. When I awoke Saturday morning, the first thing I checked was the radar. All I could think of was, “runDisney made the right call.”
I hopped onto my other social medias, and was immediately inspired. Many runners were laced up and running around their resorts! And some had even done their mileage the previous night before the storms moved in! Treadmills were occupied, fans and supporters were along the routes cheering, and the Disney cast members brought their A game, setting up tables and cups for hydration stops while other runners brought out candy and other goodies.
My eyes were glued to my Twitter feed, constantly updating for the latest news. This was the running community at its finest: we’re there to work (in the form of miles and medals), so we worked. So many stories and accounts of runners trekking through the resorts and parks sparked a new life in the runDisney community. You could give us oranges and we’d still make lemonade out of them!
In my opinion, runDisney did a decent job with regard to communications. From the first instant that they knew something could go wrong with race day, they were on top of their game, letting runners and spectators know what was going on and directing that information across every channel they had: social media, the digital event guide, the race website, and even signs on the sandwich boards in the resorts. (I’ve heard some complaints about the timing of the information being released, but give them some credit: they have X amount of cast members trying to update and format X amount of communication platforms. Not everything is going to be “going live” right when they say it’s going to. Cut them some slack; they did the best they could with what they had.) Cast members kept their cool as they were peppered with hundreds of questions which they had just received the answers for. Once the ultimate decision was reached, obviously there was disappointments, and even outbursts of anger among some. True, we all spent a lot of money and time getting TO Disney, and a hell of a lot of time training on top of all of that. I can understand disappointment…but think of it like such: lightning is deadly. If a bolt struck a runner within a corral (and with 98% of us geared up with electronics and costumes and other random things, the probability was high), it would wipe out all 2,000 runners in that corral. runDisney was looking out for us. They also broke out their secret “Race Gets Cancelled, Open This” compensation plan and offered several alternatives for challenge and half runners. Since I was doing Goofy, my half marathon fees would be refunded in the form of a gift card (soon to be mailed), and I’d be getting my half medal at the conclusion of the marathon on Sunday.
With all that said, here’s how my day actually went…
*Woke up and watched Beauty and the Beast with Chris. (Perfect precursor to the Be Our Guest reservation for Sunday night!)
*Headed to the expo so Chris could pick up his medal (since he was doing just the half).
*Waited out in the rain and snaked the line all the way around WWOS for half an hour. We even got a character stop!
*Jumped back in the car and headed over to EPCOT (albeit very slowly. It took forever and a day to get out of the parking lot). That’s where our DIY WDW Half would begin…
We arrived around 2PM, and from the moment our feet hit the pavement, we were off. The only thing on our mind at the moment was bratwurst (and our team meetup in Mexico). After cruising through security, we were on our way to Germany!
Along the way, we were keeping a steady pace, and getting compliments from fellow runners along the way! We hit World Showcase and said a quick hi to our fellow teammates at Mexico before we bolted for Germany. The weather was chilly and gloomy…but it didn’t stop us from our first fun stop of the “race”.
We piggybacked to Mexico and met up with Team Shenanigans for good times and our traditional boat ride.
From Mexico, we made a day out of traversing World Showcase and Future World, stopping plenty of times for rides and shenanigans…
As Chris and I were heading up the bridge by France, I heard a voice ask…”runDisneyBelle?” Turns out it was Ted (@BigGoofyRunner!)! It’s always great to meet the online running community in real life. You can read about his WDWHalf adventures here!
After a few loops and some laps around The Land with Jess, Kristin, and Jackie, we headed over to the Boardwalk to mix things up a little! By then, the sun had gone down and it was getting windy and cold. My tolerance for cold is next to none (I seriously turn into Elsa!), and I ducked into a gift shop to buy gloves.
We were nearing the 13.1 mark and we had to head back to the car anyway, so we returned to EPCOT and continued walking circles until we finally hit the half marathon mark! Woohoo!
After a victory ride on Spaceship Earth (and a five minute escape from the cold), we headed to the ferry boat and back to the car. I got back to my hotel around 9:30 PM, and immediately laid out my flat runner for Sunday morning. Those 13.1 miles were going to catch up to me in about seven hours, and 2AM was going to come way too soon…
Shoutout to ALL of the athletes who completed their improvised WDW Half Marathons last weekend. Y’all are such an inspiration! Check out the hashtag #wdwhalf on the socials and see what went down those days. You are now a part of history, and will have stories for years to come. Your dedication and resilience during a time of frustration and disappointment truly shows the heart and soul of what the running community is all about: we don’t back down from our goals, and consistently persevere–even when the situation isn’t perfect–to get shit done. And that is what we did.