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??

Wine and Dine (not-quite) Half Marathon Weekend

What happens when you go on vacation and come home with food poisoning that lasts 8 days? You write a race recap and then forget to post it. So let’s just pretend it’s November 11th, not November 25th.

I set off to Orlando again last Friday for the Wine and Dine Half Marathon! This race has been on my bucket list since I ran my first Princess Half, and I was so excited to escape work for a few days at Disney World! And let me tell you, it was certainly a race weekend to remember!

I landed on Friday night and took the Disney Magical Express to the hotel… My first experience with the magical express (so fast and easy and I’ll definitely be using it again!). I ate a huge pasta dinner from the hotel dining hall and called it an early night. Since the race was at 10pm on Saturday night, I wanted to get up early enough so that I could take a mid-day nap. My strategy worked, because I was up at 6:30 Saturday morning, all ready to go! My breakfast consisted of a cheese omelette and some Mickey waffles! YUM!IMG_1608

I may or may not have been on the first bus to the expo. I was hoping to get some cool W&D merch, but it was so picked over by the time I got there. BUT – I did get to meet Jeff Galloway, who is basically runDisney royalty. I had him sign my race packet and take a picture with me.IMG_1617IMG_1612

All week, the weather for Saturday night looked like it would be insanely hot, humid, and generally awful. Before I left, I bought a handheld water bottle and some longer compression shorts to wear, but for whatever reason, I didn’t pack a tank-top. Since I bought a red and white polka dot headband at the expo, I thought I would get a black tank top and try to do a modified Minnie Mouse. I went down to Downtown Disney Disney Springs to the running store and grabbed a little lunch.

After a mediocre nap, I started getting ready for the race around 6:30 (too early). After putting on my black tank and my black shorts, I realized it looked like I was wearing a wetsuit (insert embarrassed face emoji here). But, whatever. I prepared as best I could for the heat, and ate a small dinner of a PB&J sandwich and some apple slices before getting on the bus to the race at 7:30 (also too early). Since I was staying right next door to ESPN WWOS, I was at the pre-race party by 7:40. I sat around and stretched and listened to music and checked my bag. And around 8:45, I decided to get in line for a porta-potty before I had to head to the corrals at 9:15.IMG_1625

After standing in line for a half hour in the wind and light rain, they came over the intercom and announced that they were evacuating everyone into WWOS because of the threat of severe weather in the area. Luckily, the two women behind me were super nice and let me tag along with them during the delay. We hung around in the Braves spring training field until about 10:30 while all kinds of questions and rumors spread throughout the participants. We finally got the word to head to our corrals and people were talking about whether or not they would shorten the course. Which they did.

They cut out 6.2 miles of the 13.1 course, and I’m not gonna lie – I was SO disappointed. We would still get our medals, but in my heart, I felt like I couldn’t count it toward my 30 before 30 goal. How could I, because I’d only be running 6.82 miles! On the plus side, I was that much closer to the finish line party, which is where the beer was, and we’d still get to run through the Osborne Lights, which was the part of the course I was looking forward to the most.

A little over an hour later, I set off on the modified course at a fairly fast pace. It was SO hot outside that I quickly realized it was not sustainable to run a 10 minute mile, so I slowed down. The first 2-1/2 miles were all highway miles, and were pretty boring. The course was overly crowded because the roads were too narrow and there were too many people that started at the same time. Had we had the rest of the course to run, there would have been more natural spacing. By mile 3, we were in Hollywood Studios and that much closer to the lights (!!!).IMG_1643 IMG_1636

I probably spent a good 20 minutes wandering around staring at the lights. At that point, I didn’t care about my pace, or the finish line party, or my hip that was hurting. I just wanted to stay with the pretty lights and Christmas music. It was incredible. But, eventually I had to keep moving and I ran the next 3 miles to Epcot and got my finishers medal and free beer.IMG_1645

I changed clothes and road Soarin’ before walking the 1.3 miles around Epcot’s world showcase. Literally ALL of the lines for food were crazy long and the last thing I wanted to do was stand in line (I ended up going back to the food and wine festival on Sunday with my pal Kerri and again on Monday and the lines were twice as long at the after party). I found a station in Morocco with a short line and got a fruity daiquiri and a chocolate chip cookie. I got in line to ride test track with a full beer, and then subsequently had to chug it before boarding the ride.

Around 3:30am, I finally decided to head back to the hotel. I was more than exhausted (and kind of glad I didn’t run all 13.1 miles). I took a brief shower without washing my hair and crawled directly into bed.IMG_1653

Overall, I enjoyed this race. The after-party was fun, albeit really crowded… But that’s to be expected with Disney World, I suppose. I decided to go ahead and count it as my 11th half marathon, considering on Sunday alone I walked over 18 miles around the parks and did almost 45 miles throughout the weekend. Running a night race is different and difficult and I don’t know that it’s for me. That being said, I might sign up to do this race again … Maybe for the 10th anniversary. Honestly, I still prefer the princess :)

The rest of my long weekend was spent doing all things Disney. Sunday, Kerri came and picked me up from “the end of the world” aka, my hotel and we spent the day catching up and walking from air-conditioned gift shop to air-conditioned gift shop. We wined (ok, beer-d?) and dined, and then she put me on the monorail so I could go to Mickey’s Christmas Party at Magic Kingdom! :)IMG_1673 IMG_1669

Monday I met up with an old coworker at Epcot for more wining and dining, and I introduced myself to an adult Dole Whip (pineapple soft serve with coconut rum), and it basically changed my world. I might have had two before noon. I rode test track twice, ate a lot of food, and then took a bus over to Hollywood Studios for one last look at the Osborne Lights.IMG_1721

Back at my hotel, I decided to go for the healthy option and eat some Salmon and veggies from the food court, and thus how I ended up with food poisoning.

All in all, a great race-cation. Next race up is the Rock-and-Roll NEW ORLEANS half marathon in February!

 

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

 

 

My 40-day GSC Training Plan

I’ve learned that I do not have the foresight to train for races. I’m very fortunate that I’m relatively athletic and healthy and can still run/walk 13 miles without training. But do I wish I could finish those and still walk the next day? Or finish them in a decent time? Sometimes.

In 39 days, I am running in the glass slipper challenge at disney world. That’s a 10k on saturday and a half on sunday. I did it last year, and I think I went temporarily insane when I thought it would be a good idea to sign up again. Perhaps because I love Disney World, and any excuse to go is a good excuse in my book! I came up with a loose plan to train from now until February 20th.

January GSC PlanFebruary GSC Plan

For those that are wondering, that’s 123.75 miles of training and 19.3 magical miles of racing! I did my one mile today (I would have done more, but I was super hungry.)

Anyone else running during Princess Weekend??

My Vacation Recap

Ever need a break, like, really really bad?

That was me. Two weeks ago. Work and Life and just… everything was dragging me down. And when my younger sisters qualified for the state diving meet last Wednesday, I decided to take (most of) last week off. (I say most of because I worked last Tuesday). I was already leaving on Thursday for Florida, and Monday was a company holiday.

And let me tell you, I needed that break. I needed 10 days off work from my brain. 10 days of just living.

So, let’s recap what went down during those days off…

My sisters did amazing at the state dive meet… And I got to watch all of it from the deck with all the divers and coaches. I felt like a celebrity, because some of the other coaches and the professional photographers were asking me so many questions about my sisters. But alllll of the pictures I took are on my actual camera, which is at my parents house.. So I have none to post here. But, take a look at how gorgeous these two are before their senior Mardi Gras.

twins

After getting back from Canton, Ohio on Wednesday night, Mom and I jetted off to Orlando on Thursday afternoon for the Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend.

airplane selfiesairplane selfies!

We spent Friday morning at Universal Studios Islands of Adventure. I was like a kid in a candy shop and Mom laughed at me pretty much the entire time. Yes, I did wear my Hogwarts shirt because I’m a huge dork. Hogwarts14(remember last year when I went to Universal alone and all the strangers took crappy pictures)

 We did the whole race-expo thing after checking in to our hotel at Disney. We spent the rest of Friday playing Gin and hydrating like crazy. I did the Glass Slipper Challenge (10k on Saturday, Half on Sunday)… So I was off to bed pretty early in order to get up at 3:15 to head to the race.

Or so I thought. I slept TERRIBLY. I was awake every hour, maybe even more often than that. And the very last thing I wanted to do at 3:15am was get up and run 6.2 miles. But, I toughed it out through the humidity, and after a shower and an omelette, I took a nice long nap.

Mom and I spent the afternoon at Magic Kingdom (and managed to add 7 more miles to my step count). After a torrential downpour, it ended up being a beautiful afternoon!

Magic_Kingdom

We also went over to Epcot since we had the Park Hopper and I just HAD to get a funnel cake…Since I’ve been craving one since after one of my long runs almost a month ago! We also shared it with a little Epcot duck :)

funnel_cake(can you tell that I was basically a zombie at that point?)

After an actual dinner, we went to bed early again. Our alarms were set for 3:00am, and since I had no caffeine and such a crappy night sleep the night before, I curled up in bed, expecting to get a great night sleep. But NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO. That would just be too much to ask. I didn’t fall asleep until after 11, and was up every hour, once again. For the second day in a row, that alarm clock went off and everything in me screamed to just hit snooze, or turn it off and go back to bed. But for the second day in a row, that race bling got me up and moving and out the door. (but not before running face first into the closed bathroom door).

Now, I realized last Tuesday that I needed new running shoes. But not wanting to break in a new pair during a race, I decided to just keep wearing my old pair. Big mistake. My feet and shins were so sore on Sunday morning, that every step of every mile of that half marathon was filled with pain and agony (no exaggeration). I thought I would have to slow down to keep pace with my mom, but it really turned out that she was slowing down for me. But never one to give up, I crossed that finish line at a sprint and got my medals.

MedalsP.S. HOW AWESOME IS MY MOM?!

And after a shower and some lunch, Mom and I spent a few hours by the pool (there’s just something about sunburn in February that makes me a little happy) before heading over to Hollywood Studios and Downtown Disney for a little bit. And at the end of the day, our fitbit said we took over 45,000 steps… Just over 20 miles. And burned over 3800 calories. Good day in my book!

And when the alarm went off at 5:30 yesterday morning, the last thing I wanted to do was get up and go back to Ohio. Every single muscle in my legs, butt, and back hurts like you wouldn’t believe. And whattya know, my mom wasn’t sore at all. Who convinced who to do this again?!

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So now it’s back to the daily grind. Work, errands, cooking, cleaning and training for my next half marathon: The Flying Pig here in Cincinnati at the beginning of May. But these 10 days off were filled with life and happiness and exercise. Just enough to get me out of my funk. Now, is it Spring yet????

-Jess

P.S. If you haven’t been following my instagram happiness project, check it out HERE.

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