Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Disney's Princess Half Marathon: Running It

 Race morning came bright and early! Everyone had to be in their race corrals by 5:00am, and Disney said it was about a 20 minute walk from the entrance to the corrals, so we planned on arriving in the parking by 4:30am. After looking up which roads would be closed off, my husband calculated it would be about 15-20 minutes from our hotel to race parking in front of Epcot, so I set my alarm for 3:15.

We dressed up as Han and Leia. Honestly, the hardest part of the costume was doing my hair. I used 2 sock bun inserts, and about a full can of hairspray. It lasted the whole race, though, and looks pretty good, if I say so myself. You can't see it too much here, but this is us in our corral waiting:

Driving in took us about 20 minutes, and traffic really wasn't bad at all. Parking was very smooth, since there were a lot of traffic attendants out directing everyone. They even gave us a note with our parking section on it, so we would remember at the end of the race. (Note: I recommend taking a picture of your section on your phone or camera; we lost the slip of paper) Walking to the entrance was about 5 minutes from parking, and then everything bottlenecked. There was a red carpet with lovely flags on either side that marked the entrance to the race area, but this was the only way in, so everyone was crowding and pushing. Once inside, there were a few checkin areas, the race retreat tent, and the bag check entrance that led through to the race start. Bag check seemed to be going really smooth, since the entrances were marked by last name. I chose not to check a bag and left all my stuff in the car. Once inside, there were several rows of portajohns, and the lines were moving pretty quickly.

A few thoughts from this part:
First, it was unseasonable warm. Saturday had been over 80, and this morning was in the upper 60s at 5am. It definitely warmed up even more during the race. Gorgeous. I loved it.
Second, everyone has to use the portajohns, and there are a TON of them, everywhere. I just wonder how all those girls in tutus do inside......

It was about a 20 minute walk down backroads to get to the corrals. There were 8 corrals total, split up pretty evenly, and they were easy to find. There were also large television screens showing all the race activities from the main stage, such as interviews with celebrities who were there (Sean Astin!) and inspirational videos. Everyone seemed to be really upbeat for it being so early.

The first wave, which was the wheelchairs, was at 5:35 on the dot. All the waves were about 5 minutes apart, and Disney definitely stuck to this. Every corral start got their own countdown from the Fairy Godmother, and fireworks! Then everyone started pushing forward trying to move. The first mile or so was almost exclusively me and Kevin weaving in and around people trying to keep an eye on each other while moving around walkers.

Dear Disney: Please make an announcement at the start, maybe something like, "Run on the left, walk on the right!" so the weaving in and out and stopping suddenly won't happen so much. That would be great.

After mile 2 we stopped for our first photo op, with all the "heroes"! they seemed pretty excited to see Han Solo. We ended up waiting about 15 minutes in line for this photo.

There was a big mix of walkers and runners pretty much the entire time. Kevin clearly did not train at all for this, so by mile 5 we were down to a run-walk cycle, but still trying to keep about a 12:00 mile or so. Kevin also had to stop a few times to put bodyglide on his feet since his new shoes were rubbing. He got some nice blisters.

Course support for this race was AWESOME! There was some sort of entertainment, be it a photo op, dancer, set piece, or musician, on every mile, which made them go by pretty fast. There were 9 water stations, and 5 med stations, as well as a Clif shot gel station around mile 8.5. Water stations had gatorade first and water second, and the med stations were handing out biofreeze and body lube, as well as having people to help anyone who really needed it.

We entered the Magic Kingdom around mile 5, and hit Cinderella's Castle before mile 6. There were a few bathrooms along the route here, and they were packed! Girls completely took over the men's rooms, according to my husband, which I guess makes sense.

After running through the Castle, which had trumpeteers on top, we stopped for another photo op:

We continued our run-walk cycle for the other half, and kept up less than a 15:00 mile, even though it was still very super crowded. Kevin was worried we weren't going to make the time until we went over a bridge and he realized there really were about half of the people behind us. Since we started in Corral D, 4 of 8, there were at least 10,000 people who started after us. That helped him calm down a bit and enjoy the scenery.

There are two ramps near the end of this course that are slight uphills, which seem cruel after so much flatness! A lot of people slow down, so this is one point I really wish the "pass on the left" rule was more enforced. I was there to have fun, though, and finish with Kevin, so we enjoyed looking at everyone's costumes, and encouraging everyone who looked like they were having a rough time. There were a ton of first time half marathoners!

The last mile was through Epcot, around the giant ball but not through the nations. By the time we got there the first park-goers were already there, and most of them looked pretty confused to see so many people there and blocking their way. Near the end, we found Mulan!

When we saw the 13 mile marker, Kevin decided to just sprint it out, and we raced for the end, crossing the finish line hand in hand. I'm so proud of him for completing his first half marathon with me! Even if he didn't train like I warned him to, forgot his shoes, and wanted to die from the "heat," finishing is a big deal! Her earned his fairy dust:
and finisher's medal:

The finish corral seemed to last forever! We went through, got our medals, passed the med tents, where Kevin picked up some tylenol, picked up a water and gatorade (they had volunteers there to help everyone open their bottles), and then stood in line again to get pictures taken with our finishers medals! They had a ton of backdrops set up, so it went pretty quickly, and we were through and in line, again, for food! We got a banana and a little box with some nuts, trail mix, hummus and crackers, fruit snacks, and another little Luna bar. I still haven't eaten mine, and I wish they just gave out bagels, but I bet this is a lot faster.

After exiting the food line, we were back near the start with the tents for bag check. There were no signs pointing to the entrance, so we turned in a full circle before un-discombobulating ourselves and heading towards the red carpet and flags that we came in through. Unfortunately, there was another, HUGE, bottleneck here again since people were trying to come in while some were trying to leave. Eventually someone pulled apart the corrals that were blocking everyone in and traffic eased up just a little.

As I mentioned, at some point we lost our slip of paper with our parking row on it, but I remembered the general direction, and we headed that way. After finding our car, I drove back to our hotel, where we had about an hour to shower and pack before heading back to the Grand Floridian, where I had made reservations for brunch. Kevin loves cold showers, so at least I didn't feel like it was torturing him to run cold water over his legs to help recover a little faster. He lubed up his feet to help soften the blisters from his new shoes, we packed out bags, and were off. Thank you, Sheraton!

It was a 15 minute drive back to Disney, where we decided to splurge on valet parking. Quite possibly the best $15 Kevin has ever spent in his life. We checked in at 1900 Park Fare for our 11:05 reservation, and waited a bit in the lobby. We got our pictures taken with our medals and t shirts:

One of the cool things about Disney is that all the castmembers congratulate you when you're wearing your race medal! Even with a finish time over 3 hours, I was still proud of us both finishing together, so the extra recognition is nice. I feel like wearing my medal all day after every race, and Disney makes the experience awesome!

We both devoured pretty much everything on the buffet for breakfast, while taking pictures with Mary Poppins, Alice, the Madhatter, and Tigger and Pooh. For some reason, those were quite possibly the best hash browns I've had in a long time! I also love the Mickey waffles. And the perfectly-sized biscuits. During brunch, a friend who had left before texted to say that traffic around Daytona was hell. Great.

We had a mostly uneventful drive back. Kevin passed out as soon as we got in the car, so I drove the first part, and stopped once just to rest a little. We stopped for more food later on, and just took our lazy time getting back. By the time we arrived home, though, we just dragged in our bags, dropped them on the floor, and I hit the rack. I advised Kevin to ice his legs again before going to sleep, but he didn't listen. Boy did he regret that the next morning.

Disney's Princess Half Marathon: Travel and Race Expo

I don't think I have ever been more excited about a race than I was about the Disney's Princess Half Marathon on Febrary 24, 2013. I signed up months ago, deciding to take the plunge after mising all of the past four races due to random excuses (race sold out, I was in Iraq, y'know, the usual), and committed. I also registered my husband Kevin, determined that we were going to have fun together. Closer to the day of the race, we decided to make this a race weekend, rather than a Disney vacation with a race thrown in. Overall, I don't regret it, but it is hard to be at Disney without being in Disney!

We drove from Augusta to Jacksonville on Friday night after work, then  from Jacksonville to Disney World on Saturday morning. During the drive, we realized Sunday was also the day of the Daytona 500. Note to self: driving back through Daytona might be tricky.

This year the Fit for a Princess Race Expo was at the Coronado Springs Resort. I hear in the past it was at Wide World of Sports, but I can't compare this one to previous ones. To get there, we had to park at Disney Downtown and take a shuttle to the expo site. When we arrived, around noon, there was no line for the shuttle, and we only waited a few minutes for one to show up.

Once we got to the race expo, we went straight to the packet pickup lines, which were on one side of the Coronado Springs expo space. There was space outside to print and sign your voucher, if you don't print one in advance, but I hate lines. We got our bib numbers, a sticker for bag check, and I got a voucher for the charm necklace I ordered in advance, and were directed to booths on the other side of the expo. I picked up my charm at the commemorative items booth, and then we went to stand in line for a few more minutes to pick up our race bags and shirts.

The race bag included a large plastic bag to use for bag check, a pink drawstring backpack with the race logo, a race program, a large race pin, and a few other odds and ends (like a mini Luna bar!). The shirts are Champion technical t shirts in both men's and women's sizes; Kevin initially got a large women's, and had to trade it in for a men's medium. The women's shirts are fitted with a v-neck and raglan short sleeves, while the men's shirts are more traditional crew neck, short sleeve shirts.
Swag bag
After all the official stuff was out of the way, it was time to enjoy the expo! The largest booth was the official race "store," which had a long line. We opted to explore the rest, then come back and check on the line. Booths included a pop-up store by Lady Foot Locker, samples from Luna Bar and Chiquita bananas, and all the usual racing paraphernalia. After exploring about an hour, we headed back to the official race store, and stood in line for about 10 minutes waiting to get in. By the time we got inside, though, most of the t shirts were pretty picked over, and there wasn't much variety. I picked up a car magnet and trading pin, but that's it.

As we headed back out to get in line for the shuttles back to Downtown Disney, we saw some backgrounds set up at one end of the hall outside the expo space. I decided to go get my picture taken with them, and while waiting for Kevin to go to the bathroom, Cinderella and Princess Tiana came out to take photos!! I jumped in line, and Kevin came back just in time for us to get pictures taken, with less than a 5 minute wait! I didn't know the characters were going to be there, so that was exciting!

All in all, we were in the expo and packet pick up area for almost 2 hours. I'd say standing in line for the official race store wasn't worth it, since there wasn't much there. Maybe if they had more Run Disney gear, in more sizes, I would have bought a jacket or something like that. Also, the booths were pretty close together, which was odd, because there was a lot of empty space on one side of the expo room. Walking between them was super crowded, lines were haphazard, and it was just hard to even look at anything.

There was a HUGE line for shuttles back to Downtown Disney, so instead we took a shuttle to the Grand Floridian to see if we could get a time for afternoon tea. Since the next opening was at 4:30, about 2 hours away, we took a shuttle from the Grand Floridian to Downtown Disney, walked around for a little while, then drove our car back and parked at the Grand Floridian.

Afternoon tea was, as usual, delightful! Service was rather slow, and the cast member seemed pretty harried, but we enjoyed ourselves. My tea came with three courses, savory sandwiches, a scone, then trifle or a choice of desserts. Kevin's princely tea came with a nice selection of pates and cheeses, as well as a glass of port. I love the little details that go into everything!

Garden View Tea at the Grand Floridian
Since it was almost 6 by the time we were done, Kevin and I headed out to our hotel to check in and go in search of dinner. I traded in some SPG points for a room at the Sheraton Resort right off Disney, so it was only a short drive there, and a very nice room. For some reason, I really loved how the whole hotel smelled, very fresh and nice. Our room was large, which was nice, since we started laying out our costumes right away and getting ready for the race.

At this point, my dear husband realized he forgot to pack his running shoes. Oops.

Thankfully, there is an outlet mall about 10 minutes from our hotel, so we sped over there to pick up a new pair of the same running shoes he's been wearing for the past year or so. No time to break them in, but at least they weren't completely unfamiliar. We ended up grabbing dinner past 9 at a Carrabba's, then crashing at the hotel. Race morning would come early!

A few things I'd suggest for the day before this race:

- Be prepared to stand in line for shuttles on both ends.
- Alot at least 2 hours or more to the expo, especially if you want to buy something and have to stand in line
- Pre-order any commemorative items you want, like pins or necklace. They're available in the official store, but standing in line just to get into the store doesn't seem worth it.
- Print out your voucher before you go
- Double check your t shirt, just in case you have to exchange it
- Plan for an early dinner. When we were at the shoe store, all the restaurants seemed to have huge lines until about 9. Most of the restaurants at Downtown Disney were also completely booked that night.
- Go to bed early!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Princess Bling!

I finished the Disney's Princess Half Marathon, and it was awesome! I can't wait to finish the full race/trip recap and post it, but here's my bling!! 

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Week in review: 16 February

Anyways, my week was pretty good, but it seemed so long!
Monday: ladder drill in the pool, warmup, 50m laps up to 200 and back down, cooldown
Tuesday: PRT (worst exercise of the day: jump lunges!)
Wednesday: suicides on Willard Hill, the longest, steepest hill on Fort Gordon
Thursday: some sort of kickboxing/zumba/tae bo, not really sure who's idea that was

And today I am going on a long bike ride. Even though it's rather cold.

As I said, this week seemed so long! Definitely ready for the four day weekend for President's Day! I finished all my law school applications, except for the submitting them part, due to my supervisor at work not submitting her letter of recommendation yet. But that should be complete next week, in accordance with my goal of completing them all before leaving for the Disney Princess Half Marathon!!!

Speaking of, here's what my costume looks like so far!
Princess Leia Running Costume!
I was hoping that the costume I bought on ebay had a foam-y belt instead of this rubbery one, but oh well, it's just a belt. I'm still testing out a few different hair options. We're also still working on options for my husband's costume.

To get ready for next weekend, I already have my packing list complete, a general schedule written down, and a hotel booked. I kind of took a while to make arrangements for work, and wasn't able to get more than the regular weekend off, so our plan is to leave after work Friday, drive to Jacksonville, FL, and drive the rest of the way to Disney on Saturday. Then, we'll go to the race expo first thing, and decide if we want to splurge for half a day in one of the parks, while also trying to fit in time for Afternoon Tea at the Grand Floridian (the Disney website does't seem to make reservations for this anymore, just My Disney Girl's Afternoon Tea Party?). I used my SPG points to get a room at the Sheraton resort just off Disney, since all our options on Disney were already waaay booked. We will be having "brunch" at 1900 Park Fare after the race, then heading straight back to Georgia.

I also started making plans for the Georgia Marathon in March. A lot of my friends are running the Yuengling Marathon in Virginia Beach, but the half sold out before I could make up my mind to plan another race in that area. My other friend Hannah signed up for the Georgia Half Marathon in Atlanta, though, and then I found out it's also the tail end of Buckhead Restaurant Week. Ticking that off my bucket list AND cheap restaurants? Yes, please!
So, planning for that will begin shortly. Just to round out my March calendar.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Gearing up: Disney Princess Half Marathon

In between working full time, studying for the LSAT finally done!), and applying to law schools, I am getting ready for the Disney Princess Half Marathon!! I'm pretty excited about it.

For the first time, I plan on running in costume. What costume, you ask? Princess Leia, of course! I've been looking for some inspiration, and haven't found very many running costumes that will work. I've seen one that included white tights, and one person on pinterest had a costume with a tutu! I don't think I can go that far.

Here's my plan so far:

I have a white Under Armour cold gear compression mock neck. It will be February, so I think the cold gear will be ok. I have been looking for a white running skirt, and have decided to settle on a tennis skirt, with shorts underneath. I am currently looking for a Princess Leia belt, and might have to buy a halloween costume with a belt included, rather than pay $150 for an AUTHENTIC REPRODUCTION ALL LEATHER one.

As for hair, however, I am currently debating between using foam donuts to make buns with my own hair, or getting a headband with buns. A wig is definitely out.

If anyone has any suggestions, please let me know!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Staff duty, or, how not to prep for the LSAT

It's only Thursday, I think, and boy has it been a long week. Sunday and Tuesday I had staff duty, which is a 24 hour shift on the staff duty desk in our office. As you can imagine, it sucks.

My original plan for staff duty was to be very productive, finish up my law school applications, study for the LSAT, etc. Did not happen. After being on night shift last week and still not being on a normal schedule, I was pretty exhausted. I spent Sunday watching all FOUR Bring It On! movies....I didn't even know there were four different ones. At least I avoided all the Super Bowl snacks all the fitness websites warn you to avoid? I did finish one practice test, though, and edited a few personal statements, but that's about it.

Monday I slept in. Until 6:30pm. Oops. Guess I should've set an alarm.

Therefore, I didn't really sleep much that night, which made getting up to go back at 9 really tough. Again, I got a few things done, a few projects from work, but by about 9pm, halfway through my shift, I was so tired I couldn't focus on much more than Pinterest. Follow me here :D

I made myself get up around 4, which was a good 6+ hours of sleep, but I didn't want to risk not going to bed that night. I didn't get much studying done Wednesday night though, because I started watching New Girl reruns. Darn you, Zooey Deschanel and your enviable wardrobe. I can't wait to start law school so I can wear lipstick every day.

So, that's my week so far. As you can see, not very productive overall. Going for a company run tomorrow though!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Week Summary: It's February!

Well, it's Super Bowl Sunday, and I'm on staff duty! That's a 24 hour shift in the brigade building. All of last week I was on 12 hour night shifts, so this is really messing up my sleep cycle. I still managed to fit in some good workouts this week, despite the sleep deprivation.

Monday: P90X Core Synergistics
Tuesday: 100 burpee challenge during my night shift
Wednesday: 2.5 mile run in my neighborhood, 100 squats with medicine ball toss
Thursday: P90X Yoga
Saturday: 12 mile bike ride

Since I was working 6pm-6am and then sleeping in the morning, for me it was easiest to work out at home before work. Core synergistics is one of my favourite P90X workouts because it really targets the core muscles you need for everything.

I also managed to finally install the new bike computer I got for Christmas, and loved being able to scroll through all the numbers during my ride. I keep it on mph and cadence for the most part, but it also kept time and distance, of course. Range Rd on Fort Gordon seems to be uphill both ways, no matter where you ride, so my cadence was definitely lower than when I ride on the flat Greeneway.

I have my LSAT this coming Saturday, and two 24 hour shifts to finish all these law school applications, then training for spring is on!