Race-cation Must Haves

It’s no secret that I’m obsessed with half marathons. Of my 12 races to date, only 5 of them have been in my own city. I love to travel to races. Not only do you get a vacation out of it, but you get to explore 13.1 miles of another city by foot! That’s a win-win in my book!

However, taking yourself out of your running element can be dangerous (don’t try anything new on race day, right?) Below are some tips and tricks I’ve learned on my 7 race-cations (2 of which were in other countries!). You better believe I’m taking my own advice next month when I head to Disney World for the Star Wars Half Marathon weekend!

1 – BRING EVERYTHING WITH YOU. Shoes (obviously), shirt, socks, shorts, etc. Take a look at the weather a couple days before the race and pack contingency outfits. That way, you’re not stuck in insert city here without your favorite running pants because you only packed shorts.

2 – This also applies to your race fuel/KT tape/etc. Sometimes expo’s don’t have your favorite flavor of chews or gels or KT Tape that is already cut. This way, you keep everything the same and don’t have to try anything new on race day, the cardinal rule of racing. If you don’t like powerade, gatorade sells powdered mix that can be packed in a carry-on.

3 – Pack your foam roller. Especially if you’re planning on exploring the city. (or hello Disney Parks!) I always feel less stiff after a good roll, and this way I can still keep up with my family or friends. Mine fits in my carry-on rollerboard suitcase, with plenty of room for the rest of the my gear.

4 – DON’T check any of your race-day essentials. We all know airlines lose bags every day. Wouldn’t it be awful if your airline lost your bag with your running shoes in it? Have everything you absolutely need with you on the plane, and any extras, backups, nice-to-haves in your checked bag.

5 – Don’t stress about it! If you forget something, don’t let it impact your race. Find a RUNNING store in the area and go talk to some experts there. They’ll have recommendations for what socks to wear if you forgot yours, or they might have some of your favorite blocks in stock. (HINT – there’s a great running store at Disney Springs that has a huge variety of socks/blocks, KT tape, etc.)

6 – ENJOY! The best part of traveling to races is that you get to see another city! It’s called a vacation for a reason!

Anything else you would add to this list??

Rock-n-Roll NOLA Race Recap!

February is my most favorite month to travel for races … Ohio weather is unpredictable at best and it’s the perfect time to escape to warmer climates. My sister lives in New Orleans, which seemed like a great reason to take a long weekend trip for another half marathon! A flat course, and getting to hang out with my sister for a few days??? I’ll call that a win! So, here’s race recap #12 … I’m certain I’ll get sick of writing these before I hit 30.

Allegiant has a direct flight from Cincinnati to New Orleans on Thursday evening – so my friend Kelsey and I booked a cheap flight down. And let me tell you – I will never choose a cheap flight on a budget airline ever again. Our 6:30 flight was delayed for the first time around 10am. We got to the airport on time, just in case. But 5 minutes before our newly scheduled departure time of 7:06, we still had no plane, no gate agent, and no word on how much longer our flight was going to actually be. Finally, we boarded a little after 8, and arrived in NOLA two hours late.

Thinking back to Friday – the only thing I really remember was eating. We went to District Donuts for breakfast to begin our carboload (4 donuts between 3 people). Seriously the best donuts ever. We went to Rum House in the Garden District for lunch and more carbs. I indulged in a few margaritas because, why not?! It’s vacation! Jen dropped Kelsey and I off at the expo and we wandered around for an hour or two. I may or may not have fallen in love with an electric foam roller. We walked back to my sister’s place and then relaxed until going to Dat Dog for dinner! I had an alligator hot dog and OH MY GAWD – so good.

Saturday was mostly spent relaxing around my sister’s place. We went to a crepes place for lunch over by Tulane & Loyola, and then I went back to the expo to buy that electric foam roller (they were sold out, but it’s being shipped to my house!). When we got back from the expo (round 2), we took my sister’s dog on a walk to a little park. Dinner was pasta and chicken followed by a popsicle. We were all in bed really early, even though my alarm was set for 5:50 – which seems relatively late for a race day.

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I felt great on race morning, albeit a little nervous. But I was super hydrated, and excited to get going! Jen dropped us off near the start line and I left Kelsey in her corral and headed a little farther back. I met a nice girl and chatted with her while waiting for the race to start. I followed her pace for the first 3 miles or so, then lost her when I had to make a potty stop. My first three miles were really fast, but felt really good. I thought for sure I was heading for a big PR.

But then I hit mile 4. I started feeling a blister on my toes. It’s important to note that I purchased my shoes exactly one week before the race. Definitely not advisable to run on barely broken in shoes. I stopped at a medical station around mile 5 and put some more vaseline on my toes and armpits. My sister and her boyfriend live a few blocks off the course, so they walked Hannie up around mile 8. She even made me a cute sign, too!

mile8HannieHannie(If you don’t already, you should follow Hannie on instagram)

I had a solo cup of champagne around mile 9.5 while running through the French Quarter. And I found probably my favorite race sign ever (except for the kayne one from the Enchanted 10k last year)IMG_2297assslaps

I was fading quickly in the last 3.1 miles. My feet hurt, but I wanted to be finished SO SO badly. I pushed the last mile super hard and around 12.8, I couldn’t breathe. I crossed the finish line mid-asthma attack with tears streaming out of my eyeballs – because not being able to breathe is scary (my official finish line pictures are truly dreadful). I met up with Kelsey right before my phone died and we had our one free can of beer and a few of the unlimited draft beers before Jen picked us up.

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We went back to Jen’s to pick up Eric before heading to Bourbon Street for some celebratory hurricanes and Fat Tuesday Slushies! P.S. How cool is that medal?! I love the beads instead of a ribbon!

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We got some pizza and ice cream before heading to the airport to head home. I’d love to run this race again next year, but with my full marathon being a few weeks before, I may have to sit it out. It was a really fun, high energy race, and my sister and her boyfriend (and hannie) were such gracious hosts!

I felt great about my race. Twelve half marathons in three years is no easy feat. And I truly believe that no time is a “bad” time. Finishing a half marathon in under two hours is impressive, yes. But finishing a half marathon is impressive, if it takes you 2 hours and 51 minutes or even longer. I ran into a woman at the airport in the bathroom who, upon hearing my time, told me “OH, I’m so sorry! What happened?” What happened is I worked my ass off and I ran 13 miles. I’m not going to blame my time on the fact that I’m “slow” or my shoes or the course or anything else, because I’m proud as shit of my time. I earned that medal just as much as everyone else that crossed that finish line.

Oh, and I had the pleasure of sitting next to that woman on the plane on the way home. Thanks for that, Jesus.

12 “slow” races down, 18 probably “faster” (but maybe not) races left! Next up is Star Wars Half Marathon in Orlando in April! :)

A Smelly Race Recap

Running in the summer in Ohio is really tough. It’s usually way too hot to run outside on a regular basis, and there are almost no half marathons offered anywhere nearby. Which usually means I take the summer off from running. It just so happens that the Rock-n-Roll marathon series was going to be in Dublin the same time I was there for work!!! SO I just had to sign up ! ;)

In the days leading up to the race, I probably talked myself in and out of actually doing it 10 or 15 times. The race started at 8:30, and my flight out of Ireland left at 2:40 … It sounds like a lot of time, but when I broke it down, I had a window of about 15 minutes to spare before I would miss my flight to Paris, and subsequently my flight to Warsaw. I was nervous. And up until race morning, I wasn’t sure if I was really going to go through with it. I went to the expo for the goods just in case. (By the way – expo SUCKED … There was nowhere selling KT tape or anything similar.) I properly hydrated and ate the appropriate pre-race foods, packed all my bags up so I could get in and out of the hotel quickly after the race, and went to bed early on Saturday night.

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IMG_0936.JPGpre-race dinner … Pretty sure room service thought I was crazy for ordering plain noodles, carrots, and mashed potatoes.

Sunday morning rolls around, and I decide to go for it. I met a nice couple from Texas in the elevator at my hotel and we walked in the rain to the start line together. Compared to all of the bigger races that I’ve run recently, this race was TINY. Like, I think I heard them say there were 5,000 participants. The “corrals” were really just “suggestions” of how to line up. I was assigned to corral 12, but ended up going off with 4 or 5. It stopped raining right before the gun went off, and I sped off toward the finish line.

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Mile 1 is always my fastest, but this day it was FAST… like, definitely less than 10 minutes. Too fast, IMO… So I slowed down a bit to 12 minutes or so. One thing that was really bizarre about this race was the water stops … They were handing out FULL water bottles, instead of just cups. The stops were more spaced out (like, one every 2-3 miles), but the empty and half empty bottles lined the streets, and I was constantly fearing that I was going to trip over one.

Mile 3 ran past my new favorite place on earth; the Guinness storehouse. :) Also – next time I decide to run a race in a country where deodorant is considered “optional”, talk me out of it … SO MANY SMELLY PEOPLE.

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It stayed pretty dry for miles 1-9. There were a few sprinkles here and there, but my rain jacket stayed wrapped around my waist for most of the trek.

There was a group of people running the race dressed as the band KISS, including full face paint and wigs. I would pass them, then they would pass me for 6 or 7 miles. At mile 9, I saw them taking a break, drinking beers, and SMOKING. I think I’ve seen it all, folks. If you need to take a smoke break in the middle of a half marathon, you probably need to re-think some things. Similarly, I saw an older lady vaping mid-race. SMH, y’all.

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Miles 7-13 were all in Phoenix Park. It’s a beautiful walk, but MAN, so boring. I would have liked a change of scenery or a bit more running around the actual city.

Around mile 11, I started to get really nervous about my time. It was nearly 11:30 and according to my time-table in my head, I needed to be on my way back to the hotel by this point. As we turned the corner to see the finish line, I was (once again) audibly talking to myself, and one girl thought I was encouraging HER, so we both picked up our pace and sprinted across the finish line.

This is where the luck of the Irish, or some kind of divine intervention, came in. There were NO cabs around so I was going to have to take the shuttle bus, which would take longer, and I would have an extra 10 minute walk to my hotel. I was headed toward the bus pick-up when I saw someone getting out of a taxi about 30 yards away … I FULL OUT sprinted (faster than I ran at any point in the race), dropped my banana, all to catch this cab. And the driver told me I was a lucky lady as we drove past the long line of people waiting to get on the shuttle (no doubt filled with smelly people who decided not to put on deodorant).

I made it back to my hotel, showered REALLY quickly, and ordered an uber to take me to the airport. Thank GOD for Sky Priority – because I walked right up to the counter, checked my bag, walked right up to security, and made it through with enough time for lunch and a pint of Guinness. (Happy Jess!!)

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Overall – I really enjoyed the race. The medal is a little underwhelming, especially compared to some of the other RnR medals I’ve seen from past races. I don’t know that I would do the Dublin one again (mainly because I don’t know if I’ll ever be in Dublin in August again). But I’m already looking forward to the Rock-n-Roll New Orleans in February!

But next up – the Queen Bee Half Marathon in Cincinnati in October! :)

21 more to go!!

-Jess

Race-Cation Recap

What do you do when it’s -10 degrees outside in Ohio and you’re in need of some serious Vitamin D? Grab your bestie and head to Orlando, of course!

Now, this little vacation had been planned since July, but the fact that it felt like NEGATIVE 25 degrees outside made the idea of Florida in February that much more appealing.

I was headed down to do the Disney Princess Half Marathon for the third year in a row. It’s seriously my favorite race of all time… And I’ll probably go temporarily insane when registration opens up again for next years race and sign up again. Krystal came with me for moral support, and because I promised her we could go to Harry Potter World. Probably more the latter than the former ;)

We landed Friday around lunchtime and after checking in at Disney’s Saratoga Springs, we made our way over to the race expo. I picked up my Glass Slipper Challenge bib and the shirts, and we shopped around a little bit. Then we both met our Prince Charming and we all lived happily ever after. The End.

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Screen Shot 2015-02-23 at 9.54.56 AMKidding. I wish. We made our way over to Downtown Disney for an early dinner and some shopping. My favorite purchase of the day was my “Chip” mug from Beauty and The Beast. I may or may not be sipping my hot cider from it as I write this :)

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I was exhausted and had a very early wake-up call on Saturday morning, so we headed back to the hotel around 8. I slept great, and woke up at 3:15 ready to run 6.2 miles. It was a tad colder than I would have liked, but I was plenty prepared with throw-away clothes and blankets. I ran my fastest 10K ever at 1:13, and was SO excited! On the boardwalk, I stumbled upon my favorite race sign ever:

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After a quick shower, we were on our way to Harry Potter World!!! Even though I’ve been twice already, I hadn’t been to the new addition of Diagon Alley. We went to Universal first, and then took the Hogwarts Express to Islands of Adventure.

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Screen Shot 2015-02-23 at 9.28.46 AMI’m obsessed with my new Gryffindor sweatshirt!

We walked around Islands of Adventure a few times, and then after spending 7 hours there, we decided to head back to the hotel. After a quick dinner, I was asleep before 9pm. I had another early wake-up call and 13.1 more miles to run!

Sunday morning was a lot warmer than Saturday morning was, and I was way over-dressed while waiting in the corrals for the race to start. I ran a strong first 5k at 37:14. I had to make a bathroom stop around mile 4, which took about 5 minutes (it couldn’t wait!), so my 10k time was a little slower at 1:17:07. And the second half of the race was a little slower than the first half, mostly because it was warming up a lot and I was getting tired. I finished with a time of 2:47:05, almost 20 minutes ahead of my previous half time of 3:06!! I had hoped to finish under 2:45, but didn’t because of that long bathroom stop. Unfortunately, all my pictures from during the race were taken in Snapchat, and I either forgot to download them, or they didn’t save. Majorly depressing.

After a good foam roll and a shower, we checked out of the hotel and went to celebrate at The Cheesecake Factory! We wanted a margarita and a place to sit outside. I probably consumed all of the calories I burnt during the race, but who cares. We hung around outside at a Panera for a half-hour or so before we had to go to the airport :(

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Such a fun race! Such a fun weekend! And I get to add these three shiny medals to my medal rack!

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I’m already thinking I want to do the Princess again next year. Someone talk me out of it!

-Jess

 

 

the runDisney experience.

Blogtember Day 11: A memory you would love to relive.

Before I get into it, I want to say that I had this entire post written before I went to the Bengals game last night, but I forgot to schedule it to post this morning… So. yeah.

There are SO many memories to choose from, guys. I could have gone back to college graduation, or studying abroad. Or any number of the vacations I’ve taken. All of the fun times with my greatest friends over the years. But today, I’m choosing to go back to the day I ran my first half marathon. The disney princess-half-marathon in February of this year (with the bestie, of course)…

Disney Princess HalfBestie and I at the starting line!! (around 5:30am!)

First, we woke up at like… 3:30AM… Got ready (aka, just changing clothes and eating a granola bar). We were staying at the All Star Sports Resort, and we hopped on the bus with dozens of others and were shuttled to Epcot. There was a HUGE party of people stretching, dancing, and taking pictures with characters.

Have A Magical Race!

Along with 20,000+ other people, we moved to the staring corrals (like cattle, yes)… And waited (when the above picture was taken). It was chilly, and I ended up having to get rid of my jacket, but around 6:30, we were OFF! Now, while there are SOME men that run this race, the vast majority of runners are women. And it was so empowering to run alongside women that were cheering everyone else on. It wasn’t about beating each other, or finishing first, but about doing it together! It was such an awesome day!!

20130917-121308.jpgPhoto cred goes to Michelle on this one. Just a random guy in front of us going in to Magic Kingdom.

So, 13.1 miles was hard. Especially because Michelle and I did almost no training for it. But even though we walked most of it, crossing the finish line of that race was one of the best moments of my life. I fought back tears of happiness and if I could relive one moment from that day over and over, it would be the 100 feet before and after the finish line. It was such a magical day. And it’s a day I’ll not soon forget.

 I’ve got a runners high, and have signed up for two more half marathons and a 10k in the next few months (including the glass slipper challenge in February!). If anyone is considering doing a runDisney race, I highly recommend it. They are a little pricey as far as races go, but in my opinion, totally worth it! It was an amazing weekend and I’m so looking forward to doing it again this year (with my mom!)

runDisneyhi bestie : )

What’s a moment you wish you could live over and over again? Any other runDisney fans out there?

-Jess