Sunday, March 9, 2014

Enchanted 10k Race Re-Cap & Race Retreat

After an amazing start to the Princess 1/2 Marathon weekend with the Royal Family 5k, spending the day at Magic Kingdom and being a host at the #Runnerslove Meet-up, I was ready for an early bedtime!
The 2:30 alarm was an unwelcome event, but actually wasn't as awful as the day before (I think I am getting used to these ungodly wake-up times!). Anne and I were both running the very first ever Enchanted 10k!! I was so excited, mainly because it would be a new course to run!! But also because this was the first race in the Glass Slipper Challenge, and I couldn't wait to get started!!

I was also really excited because I loved my costume, and was finally part of a group costume -- it really does make it that much cooler!! :) For the 10k I dress as Cinderella in rags!! An amazing friend made my apron and I bought my arm sleeves from GroovyBabyActionGear on Etsy. Check her out!! She made all of my calf and arm sleeves for the weekend!!

My BRF (best running friend), Meg and her friend Sammy were dress as Cinderella's ugly stepsisters!! We looked great, and had lots of fun playing out our roles on the way to the starting line!!

Unfortunately, our fun was short lived, as I had registered for the Race Retreat for the Glass Slipper Challenge, which Meg, Sammy and Anne were not. Once we arrived at Epcot, I wished everyone good luck and headed over the the Race Retreat tent.

Race Retreat is an add on to the Princess 1/2 Marathon Weekend experience, and one that I highly recommend! My first Princess 1/2 Marathon was supposed to be a "one and done" race, and so I decided that I wanted to pamper myself as much as possible, so I signed up for the Race Retreat. I loved it then, and was hooked, so I shelled out the extra money again for 2 days of VIP service!!!!!

The Race Retreat is HUGE climate controlled tent, where runners get the VIP treatment. Race Retreat runners get a private gear check, and potties, along with food, gifts and character meet-ups. There are tables all over the tent to relax before and after the race, a stretching area, and an area with beanbags playing Disney Movies!!

I enjoyed a breakfast of bananas, bagels with peanut butter, water, and coffee. I also was able to get my picture taken with the Alice in Wonderland crew. Alice thought I was dressed as her?!?! Really???

Too soon it was time for me to make my way to the corral. I was sticking in corral B this time, and was happy not to have to wait for so long to start the race! It was a really humid morning, and I was already sweating before I got to the starting line!! Yuck!

The race course started on the highway, which some people said was really boring. Honestly, it was so dark, I really had no clue where we were running, and so it didn't bother me.

About a mile in, I could see something up on a bridge over the highway, as I drew closer, could make out Elsa from Frozen, standing in her castle above the runners!! I was so excited to see her, because there was no way that I was going to stand in a 4+ hour line to see her at Epoct (at least not during PHM weekend!!). What was even better than seeing Elsa, was that it was SNOWING!!! It was so much fun to run through the "snow" even though I was dripping wet with sweat!!

Around the corner, I stopped for a few character photos, they had no line!! Yes!!

It was around this time that I started bumping into various bloggers that I know. I always think that this makes the race seem even more fun!

Around mile 3, I hit my stride and picked up the pace. The course wasn't crowded, and I felt like I could stretch my legs out! To be totally honest with you, I can't 100% remember where this course took us. At some point we entered Epcot's World Showcase, and ran toward the Boardwalk. It was in Epcot that I met up with a few more friends. I was terrible at taking pictures, and had my phone in my SPIbelt for almost the entire race!

It was also here in Epcot that I spotted a well-known runner running the race w/o a bib!! It really made me upset, and I lost all respect for this person.

The last couple of miles of the race took me around the Boardwalk area,  and back into Epcot. I was having serious fun on this course!! It was something new and different and I loved it!! My only complaint, which cannot be controlled by anyone, is that it was so humid!!! I was dripping wet with sweat, I cannot even remember a time in my life that I have sweated like this! It was disgusting, but felt amazing!!

And just like that, I was crossing the finish line and collecting my Enchanted 10k medal and most importantly, my 10k finisher bracelet, which would allow me to get my Glass Slipper Challenge medal upon completion of the next day's 1/2 marathon!!!

After the race, I headed back into the Race Retreat, where I was given a pair of flip-flops and a PHM towel (love the towel!!!). I enjoyed a BIG breakfast of eggs, potatoes, bacon and coffee and relaxed while waiting for Meg and Sammy to text me with their finish!!

After getting the text from Meg, I headed out to meet them and take the bus back to POP!! They didn't look near as sweaty as I was….boo!!

The rest of the day was spent at Epcot, where I fully enjoyed eating around the world!! I even was able to snag a Cro-nut in Canada!! YUM!!!

After a 4pm dinner reservation, it was back to the hotel to get our gear ready for the 1/2 Marathon the next day and a very early bedtime!!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Royal Family 5K

After an exciting couple of days in Disney World, it was time to run!! Princess 1/2 Marathon weekend started out with the Royal Family 5k.

The Royal Family 5k was my very first RunDisney race back in 2012, so you could say that it was a gateway drug for me!! I have been in love with Disney races every since!!

This year, my cousin, Kelly, would be running it with me, as her first ever race!!! Sharing this race with family and friends is what makes it so special!!

Morning came much too early, and even though I was super excited to get the race weekend underway, I knew not to waste too much "early morning energy" right away, there would be 2 more 2:30am wake-up calls to get through!!

For those of you not familiar with RunDisney, the races start at 5-6am, which I do not think is all THAT early, but having to be on a 3:30am bus to get to the start is a bit crazy in my mind!! I was used to it after running Tinkerbell just a month beforehand, but with the time change it really hurt me in Disney World!!

Anne, Kelly and I hurried to get ready. Anne, who doesn't wear costumes, went through her usual pre-race checklist. This was a race for Anne and not just a fun run, so she was taking her preparations seriously!!

Kelly dressed as Belle from The Beauty and the Beast for the 5k. She looked great in her tutu (which I proudly made!!) and yellow shirt. She had even purchased a sparkly yellow headband at the expo the day before! I could tell she was nervously excited!! She had NO CLUE what was going to happen once we left the hotel room and it was fun to be part of her first race excitement!!

I dress in my most elaborate costume (I'd only have to wear it for 3.1 miles!!). I had put together a Elsa costume from the movie Frozen (which is now my most favorite Disney movie!!). I was so excited about this costume!! I was such a fun one to put together! I even had snowflake jewels for my braid!

After getting dressed, we "picked up" Jack and Gus from next door and made our way down to the busses! While we were early, the busses were already there and we could sit inside and wait until they were able to leave!

It was a short bus ride to the Epcot parking lot! We hopped out of the bus and made our way to the starting line festivities! Along the way we ran into many of our fellow blogger and Facebook group friends! The atmosphere was amazing!!

I always like to run the 5k before the 1/2 marathon at Disney races, it allows me to get used to the weather conditions while running, stretch my legs and have fun with fellow runners!

The 5k is not a timed race (they do have a clock if you are interested in your time), but runners are expected to keep a 16 minute per mile pace. Families run in group costumes, and the whole run is such a party feeling!! If you have never run a 5k and it is on your bucket list, I totally recommend a Disney race!!

I was seeded in corral A for this race, but dropped back to corral D to run with Kelly, Meg and Sammy. This was the very first time I have ever dropped back to another corral, and even though there was no real time pressure, I was nervous about starting so far back.

I know I suffer from "Corral Panic", it is a really thing!!!! When arriving a a race, I can be the most confident person out there, I feel amazing and am excited to run, but while waiting for the race to start I usually turn into a very different person!! I can just about talk myself out of running the race all together, I go to a very dark place, and have a terrible attitude!! It is awful, and if I have to wait too long I panic!! It has happened in almost every race I have run before, luckily the last few races I have had my sister in the same corral and she has really helped with the panic, and with boosting my confidence again.

I thought that dropping back with Meg, Kelly and Sammy would be the same kind of thing. With friends to talk to, the panic wouldn't set in! This worked for awhile! Once corral A was at the starting line and given the GO to run, panic set in! I could have been running!! I tried to think about how great it would be running with friends (something that rarely happens!), plus I wanted to be there for Kelly, to support her in her first race! I thought I had it under control, until I heard that it would be a 10 minute wait between each corral!!!! WHAT!?!?! OMG!! I freaked out!! That would be another 30 minutes until I was able to run!!

By the time we finally made it to the starting line, I was ready to leave the race and just go home!! It was bad, y'all!! We got the signal to start running and I pretty much took off, not really thinking about my friends behind me, I just had to start running!!! Because of the LONG wait, I also had to go to the bathroom….bad!! I stopped at the first set of port-potties. Meg and Sammy caught up to me there, and a calmer me told them I would meet them at the first character stop.

Which I did, by then my panic was under control, but the huge amount of walkers was making pacing hard, and after the picture I ran ahead again. Kelly was doing an amazing job!! Seriously this girl was keeping around a 13 minute per mile pace!!! She passed me at the next character stop, saying that she just wanted to keep running!! GO KELLY!!!

The first mile and a half of the run is pretty much parking lots and backstage areas of Epcot. Once runners enter the World Showcase it gets fun!!! Really fun!!!

There was a good amount of characters to stop for during this part of the race, but the lines were insanely long!!! I stopped for at least 10 minutes to get my picture with Dopey, and the 1 picture the cast member took turned out blurry!!! Grrrr!!

Kelly caught up to me again for a picture with Jasmine, and I ran with her for awhile after that. I was getting tired of bobbing and weaving. That is when we saw the Beast!!! Kelly, dressed as Belle, HAD to get that picture!!!! The line was double that of Dopey's and I told her I was going to pass and just finish the race. Kelly got the cutest picture with the beast!! I am so happy she decide to hold out on that line!!!

I ran the rest of the way, the best I could. Being in the back corrals means that there will me many more walkers than in the front corrals. I have never really experienced this before, and it was really hard for me to continually try to get around them.

I seriously don't know what happened to Meg and Sammy, I felt like a bad friend, but I just wanted to be done with the race, the panic before even starting really took it outta me! I knew we would all meet up in the end, and we did!

After I finished, I was a sad that I hadn't stuck with Kelly. But it wasn't more than about 20 minutes until she crossed the finish line with a HUGE smile on her face!!! I was so proud of her!! Still am!! She is even considering another 5k!!! Wooo!!

We took some finish line pictures and made out way back to the Pop Century. I loved staying at this hotel, it was so close to the races!!

After showering, we headed to the Magic Kingdom for the day and enjoyed lunch at the new Be Our Guest restaurant!!

I just HAD to try the grey stuff… was delicious!!

We spent the day at the Magic Kingdom, and then I had to hurry over to the Poly for #RunnersLove!!

From this race I really learned that my corral panic is real, and it affects me more than I thought it ever would. I decided that the rest of the weekend, I would start in my own corral. This was a sad discovery, I really wanted to run with Meg, but I knew in order for me to run a happy race, I had to run my own race!! I'm just happy that Meg understood, and supported my decision!!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Meeting Meg

The social media is a strange thing. Through social media we share our highs and our lows with close friends, family and people that we have never met before. Through my blog, Twitter and various Facebook groups, I have come to know many new people, and I have even had the opportunity to meet a few of them. But not other face-to-face meeting has been quite as exciting as meeting Meg!

I don't know who found the other one first, but somehow through our blogs, Meg and I started an online friendship of epic proportions. My very first memory of Meg, is that she won my Nuun giveaway back in June, and after that we became fast friends, cheering each other on from afar! At that time, we knew we would meet face-to-face at the Disney Princess 1/2 Marathon, but I don't think either one of us could have even guessed what an adventure that meeting would be, and how much fun we would have in the process!!

Now, Meg might remember things differently (she is younger!!), but I don't quite remember whose idea it was, or the exact way it evolved, but we somehow decided to hold a PHM weekend meet-up as a way to not only meet each other, but also meet other social media princesses! #RunnersLove was born!!

At first we had no clue how our meet-up would look, or how we would pull it off, but Meg and I are a fantastic team (which we learned right away) and soon we were planning an amazing meet-up! I think it was Meg's idea to have some giveaways, and to contact companies to help with the fun! Overall we contacted 100 companies, and we were met with grand enthusiasm! Over 45 companies donated to our meet-up! We had so much fun with this part of our meet-up! It was like Christmas! Each email we opened gave us better news than the last!

Treadmill Motivation
Through our planning process, Meg and I became more than just social media friends, we became partners in a cause, and real-life friends!

Tweets and Facebook messages turned into text messages, and shared pics. There wasn't a day that went by when we didn't talk, and it was through these interactions that we shared our daily lives.

We became virtual running buddies, sending pics and fun messages to get each other through the hours of training. I have seriously never laughed so much on a treadmill before!!

Sharing the sweat!
Meg pushed me through my training. When I thought I was only going to run 2 or 3 miles, she would text me that she was running 6 or 12 and I would have to step up and meet her there!! Meg's support got me through the brutally cold and snowy winter here, which drove me to run on a treadmill (not my norm!).

One particular treadmill conversation, which continued for a least an hour, was all about the Disney Princes, and what if they were strippers?!? Lol. The people in the gym thought I was nuts, giggling and laughing like a crazy person while running! But boy, it made that 12 mile run fly by!!!

As our meet-up and our personal meeting drew near, we chatted about costumes, and plans for Disney. Meg was staying with a friends at the same hotel as I was. I was traveling with my sister and 2 cousins to Disney, and invited Meg to spend as much time with us as possible. We decide that the first day of the trip would be a trip to Typhoon Lagoon, and Meg went out and bought a new swimming suit for the occasion!!

About a week before the trip, Meg and I decided that we needed to have our rooms be close to each other at the hotel, better yet, adjoining!!! This was going to be amazing!!

The day finally arrived, and I was off to Disney World!! I was nervous to meet Meg, we had shared so much, I hoped that she would like me in person!! Meg and I sent texts from the time I landed until the Magic Express pulled up at the hotel.

The anticipation was killing me, and Meg said she would meet us in the lobby. I didn't see her as we entered the lobby, so we went right to the check-in counter. As we were checking in, I turned around and there was Meg sitting on a bench in the lobby. It took everything I had not to leave the check-in counter and go hug her, but I waited. Finally, we were checked in, and I ran over to Meg!! It was seriously amazing meeting her!! I tried not to cry, but a few tears ran down my cheeks!

The rest of the trip was amazing, Meg was exactly as I thought she would be, and she fit right into our group so well. We had such a fun time together!!! I can't imagine what this trip would have been like without her!!

People who I talked to before the trip could not even believe that I was planning on spending more than a few hours with someone that I had never met before, but for me it was perfect, I have a new friend, and she is seriously more than just my #RBFF.

Words cannot describe how amazing this trip was, how special it was to meet Meg, and to live all of our PHM adventures together!!

Look for my upcoming blog posts about #Runnerslove and the entire PHM weekend! They are coming soon. I just had to devote this post to the person who made my PHM weekend amazing!!!

Thank you for everything, Meg!!! I had a blast, and cannot wait for our next adventure!!! :)