Monday, March 17, 2014

runDisney 2014 Princess Half Marathon

The 2014 runDisney Princess Half Marathon was my third Princess weekend.  It's may favorite race weekend of the year!  This race was going to be different for me--it would be the first that I ran with a group of friends.  Typically, I prefer to run along--to take in the sights and sounds with no distractions.  This year I was going to be different.  Our plan was to stay together, take lots of pictures, and have as much fun as possible!

Race morning started like every other runDisney race-early! I woke up at 3:30 am, just in time to be at the Contemporary monorail stop by 4 am. I tell you, the monorail is fastest, most fun, most Disney way to get to the race start.  The view of the staging area from the monorail really gets me pumped and ready to run!  I met up with my group of friends just in time to walk to the corrals.  It was a very long walk to the corrals.  You can feel the excitement, the anticipation building.

This year runDisney tried out a new corral system.  There used to be five to six corrals, corresponding with letter A-E or A-F.  This year, there were many more, but smaller corrals.  I don't know the exact number of corrals this year, but I was in "I" and started somewhere right in the middle of the pack.  In amazing runDisney style, each corral got their own special send off from the Fairy God Mother, a "ready, set, go" and fireworks!

It was a warm, humid morning. The 90% humidity level could be felt even before the race started. I could see other runner struggling early. This was going to be a tough year. For the first
two miles, it was just Jackie and I.  Heather started several corrals ahead of us.  The plan was for her to get in the first character line and we would catch up to her there.  Jackie and I could see a character stop ahead--but who was it?  It was the Princes--Aladdin, Flynn Ryder, Eric and Hercules. Jackie and I found Heather and the long wait in line started.

The sun was rising as we run under that Magic Kingdom parking entrance sign.  I always love this part of the race--its the half way point to the Magic Kingdom!  It was my turn to sprint to the next character stop.  Next up were the villains--Evil Queen, Cruella Devil and the Queen of Heart!  This is a picture I have always wanted but never would wait in the long line for. The girls caught up to me, but we still had a long wait. Right before it was our turn, the Queen of Hearts left.  Bummer, but it was still an awesome picture.

Right around the corner was the Ticket and Transportation Center.  This is a really fun area to run through because there are always lots of spectators there cheering on the runners. After ticket and transportation, we got a glimpse of the Contemporary Resort.  With the thick, heavy fog we could barley see the top of the resort. Then it was under the water bridge.  Next up--the main event.  Next up was the Magic Kingdom!

Runners entered the Magic Kingdom from a back stage area, right between Tony's and the Confectionery.  The best part of every runDisney event is the second you turn the corner and you see it for the first time--the castle!  It's the most magical part of every runDisney event if you ask me. Running up Main Street USA is one of the most fun parts of the event.  There are hundreds of spectators cheering you on--we are talking parade level number of spectators--all cheering, clapping, holding fun signs.  Disney knows how important getting that perfect castle picture is, so there is always lots of friendly cast members and volunteers there to take your picture.

Magic Kingdom is full of character stops!  We got pictures with Buzz Lightyear and the White Rabbit.  As we got to the castle, there was Minnie and Mickey dressed in their royal wear.  The line for Minnie and Mickey were the longest we had seen all day, so sadly we skipped that picture stop.  The disappointment faded fast though, as it was time to run through the castle!  Well, it was more like walk through the castle....everyone stops for pictures, everyone slows down--to really soak up the experience, take it all in.  We stopped for some castle shots, and then it was on through Frontierland.  We stopped for a quick bathroom break and to get a picture with Woody.

We exited Magic Kingdom through a back stage area.  Princess Aurora was there with her three good fairies and her prince, but we knew we had to keep going to keep time. This is always the toughest part of a Disney race for me.  The race was only half way done, but the best parts were behind us.  It would be a long five miles back to Epcot. To ease the let down, runDisney lets runners vote on a mile seven song.  This year the song was "Let it Go" from Frozen of course. Over the next two miles we got some more fun pictures--Lilo and Stitch, the Genie, and the Disney golf cart. By then the runners around us were starting to panic.  We keep hearing rumors that the sweepers were right behind us.  No big deal--it just meant no more character stops.

With the sweepers on our tale, we got moving.  By this time, we were close to mile 10.  It was time for the toughest part of the race--the mile 10 overpass.  To me, the incline is not the tough part--the tough part to me is that the road way is banked.  Having one foot constantly several inches about the other really hurts my knees.  Along the road were the "green army men" from Toy Story giving drill sergeant like orders to the runners. At the top of the overpass we could see the Epcot ball!  By this time in the race, I was struggling. It was SO hot!  I had an awful blister.  And I was hungry!  But, knowing there was only about two miles to go kept me going.

Finally it was time to enter Epcot.  By this time, we had put a nice distance between us and the sweepers.  We could enjoy the last mile of the race.  Right before mile thirteen was an amazingly awesome gospel choir.  They gave me the inspiration and energy to run the rest of the race hard!  After one more turn, we could
see it--the finish line!  I ran hard and finished strong!  It was time to get my THREE hard earned medals.  First, I got my Princess Half medal.  Next up, I got my Glass Slipper Challenge medal.  Last I got my Coast to Coast medal.  After that, it was time to get to my traditional friends breakfast at the Akkershaus.  It was time for some good food and more pictures with Princesses!

The runDisney Princess Half Marathon will always hold a very special place in my heart.  It was my first half marathon.  I worked so hard to training for it, and I was so proud of myself for actually doing it.  I hope this race is one I keep doing year after year.  Maybe one day I can do the race with my daughter.

A dream is a wish...


Thursday, March 6, 2014

Hot Chocolate Race Series Race Entry Giveaway!

As you guys know, I am a blogger for the Hot Chocolate race series!  I am so excited about this! Hot Chocolate races are springing up all over the county.  The basic idea behind the Hot Chocolate race series is for runners to run their choice of either a 5k or a 15k, followed by a crazy fun after party with all things chocolate.  Think hot chocolate, chocolate fondue, and so much more.  Now, that is worth a good run if you ask me!  What is a better combination than running and chocolate?  I can't think of one! 

Hot Chocolate races are also know for having the best goodie bags!  Runners receive a warm hoodie as their goodie bag--in either women or men specific sizes. I will be an ambassador locally for the Philly race on April 6th, but I have a special discount code to share with everyone doing a Hot Chocolate race in the US.  My code is PumpkintoMUG.  This will get you a free travel mug when you use the code at registration.

To celebrate my partnership with the Hot Chocolate race series, I am doing a giveaway!  Up for grabs is a Hot Chocolate Race Series Race Entry!  Follow the entry directions below to enter using the Rafflecopter app.  Good luck!  I hope to see everyone in Philly running for chocolate!  

A dream is a wish...


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Inaugural runDisney Enchanted 10k

My Ariel costume!
The morning of the inaugural runDisney Enchanted 10k started like every other runDisney event--early!  Staying at a monorail resort allowed me to sleep in a little, but still--3:30 is early! Taking the monorail torace morning added a of extra magic.  Riding up to the race area and seeing all the people just added to my excitement--this was my first every 10k in Walt Disney World!

Heather, me, Jackie

I got to Epcot and headed toward the start area to find my friends.  Before heading to our separate corrals, we checked out each others costumes, took some pictures, and wished each other luck!  Our master plan was to start in our assigned corrals and meet up in the picture lines.  The goal for this race was to have fun and get lots of pictures.

Queen Elsa! 

The race started out in the Epcot parking lot.  For the first mile we ran toward the Magic Kingdom, away from Epcot.  On top of the first over pass we ran under, there she was--Queen Elsa from Frozen!  She, along with her sister Anna, are the two hottest Disney character rights now. At the first mile marker, runners made a sharp turn around, back toward Epcot.  The first three miles were all highway.  They were kind of boring, but we know Epcot and the Disney Boardwalk area were ahead of us--so we keep going strong.

Right after the 5k mark, we entered Epcot--near the Germany area.  By this time, I was running with my friend Jackie.  Jackie and I ran into our friend Heather in line to see Tiana and the Princess and the Frog characters.  That is the best part of runDisney events--running with friends and getting character pictures!  Once we made it into the park, we saw lots of characters.

Half way through Epcot's World Showcase, we left Epcot for a whirl around the Disney Boardwalk.  The Boardwalk is one of my favorite places in Walt Disney World.  It feels so much like an actual Mid Atlantic Boardwalk, yet is still very Disney.  The Disney Boardwalk is a most idealistic version of the a real Boardwalk, as Main Street USA in the Magic Kingdom is an idealistic version of any main street in America. In line to see baseball Goofy at ESPN Zone, our friend Allison caught up to us. Together, the four of us ran the one mile trial around the Disney Boardwalk, past the Swan and Dolphin hotels, and past Disney's Yacht and Beach Clubs.

We got into our last half mile as we reentered Epcot.  Runners were treated to something very cool there--giant Lumiere and Genie parade floats. They were very neat to see.  After a few more character stops, there was mile six!  Only .2 left to go!  The four of us ran the last .2 miles to finish strong.  Our official race times were nothing to brag about, but running with friends makes a slow time so very worth it.   After crossing the finish line, I collected my beautiful medal and then got it line for my Glass Slipper Challenge bracelet.  After some water and snacks, I headed to Hollywood Studios for a fun filled Disney day, and a ride on Toy Story Mania.

A dream is a wish...


Sunday, March 2, 2014

runDisney Princess Half Marathon Expo 2014

I have not posted much lately.  Life has been kind of crazy lately--I have so much going on!  I have joined the Patient Advisory Board at my local hospital to represent NICU parents, taken a bigger role in my NICU parent support group, cub scouts, my kids and of course my duties as a travel agent.  I am so happy to take on these new ventures--but they keep me busy!  Thankfully, my travel agent business has been going well, but it is a lot of work. I think I have things under control now, a new routine--so I am ready to get back to blogging.  Thank you for sticking with me in my little hiatus.

This past weekend was my favorite weekend of the year!  It was runDisney Princess Half Marathon weekend!  For the first time, Mike and I got to go to Princess weekend kid free.  We hoped a plane very early Friday morning.  We were all checked into our resort (Bay Lake Tower at the Contemporary) by 10 am.  Right away, we headed to the race expo.  I could not wait to get my race bib, see all of my new runDisney shirts, pick up my pins and Sweaty Bands.

Last year's Princess expo was a disaster!  It was crazy crowded--you could not even walk around because there were people everywhere.  This year was nothing like that!  I walked right in to packet pick up and got my bib, then my shirts.  After that we went to the main expo.  I had a chance to check out the official runDisney merchandise booth, the SparkleSkirts booth, Sweaty Bands and a few other booths I wanted to see.  My last stop was the runDisney booth.  I was hoping to find early registration for Wine and Dine Half Marathon, but no such luck. After picking up some free yogurt at Dannon and some Chiquita bananas, I was ready to head to the parks!

I will be back soon to tell you all about my amazing five day weekend in Walt Disney World!  The Glass Slipper Challenge, Disney Quest, Typhoon Lagoon, and all of the Disney theme parks.

A dream is a wish...


Saturday, December 28, 2013

Bestowed Box

Ever heard of Bestowed Box?  It's a monthly subscription box of healthy food.  I love mine!  It gives me lots of fun foods to try with little commitment. 

This month's box!  Yum--Dark Chocolate Chili Kind Bars! 
Each month Bestowed will send you box full of nutritional products.  Past boxes have included fun snacks like Zico Coconut water (my fav!) Kind Bars, Salba Chia, Quest Bars, and lots of other lesser known products like nut butters, pure dark chocolate bars, and various other snacks.  I am always on the look out for new and exciting products to enhance my runs and general nutrition.  Still to this day, after countless races, I do not have my race nutrition down.  Trying out the new products is so much fun! When my Bestowed Box come each month, its like a special little gift! 

The boxes cost $19 per month, including shipping.  This can be a great value if you add up the prices of all various items you get to try out, plus shipping.  I know that I can walk down the nutrition aisle of my local grocery store and spend alot more than that on a month's supply of nutritional products.

Looking for a gift idea or a great way to start your New Year off right?  Consider joining Bestowed! 

A dream is a wish...


Monday, November 11, 2013

2013 Virtual Turkey Trot!

Why do you run?  I run to save lives! 

I wanted to take time out of all my fun runDisney banter to tell you about a project I am working on.  As you know, I have been training with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training.  I will run the Nike Women's Half Marathon on October 19th, 2014 in honor of my Aunt Linda who was recently diagnosed with cancer.  I will be running for a reason much more important than the personal challenge of completing a Half Marathon.  I am running to save lives!  (and so can you...)

As a member of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Team In Training program, I have pledged to train on the behalf of all the affected children and their families to help raise money for leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin's disease and myeloma research and patient assistance programs.  During my training, I have gotten close to a few families with sick children.  I am very sad to report that my sweet angel Kaitlyn has lost her battle.  I am very happy to report that Emily is still fighting leukemia--and winning!  She is the first child to get an experimental treat that involves giving her body new T-cells.  The treatment is working for Emily and she is now cancer free!  She just celebrated her one and a half year cancer free anniversary.  
As you may or may not know, leukemia is the #1 disease killer of children and the leading fatal malignant disease of men and women under the age of 35.  Although the cause of leukemia remains unknown, recently developed treatments and steady advances in research bring us closer to a cure every day.  These research advances were only achieved as a result of contributions made by companies, foundations and individuals like you.
My goal is to raise $2000 by the end of 2013. If you would like to help, please consider registering for my 2013 Virtual Turkey Trot!  For the race, anytime until the end of November--run, walk, skip or crawl your chosen distance—BLING included!  As a thank you for registering, I will send you this beautiful finisher medal.  To register, just make a donation of $20 or more using the button below.  Want to run with a group?  I offer group discounts!  Click the Paypal to see what they are (if you need 6 or more--email me and we can work something out).  I will be doing this event with my kids on Thanksgiving morning. I am organizing this race a little different.  Once I get 25 people registered, I will order the medals.  If I do not have the 25  registered by November 20th, I will refund your money through Paypal.  This will ensure that most participants have their medals by Thanksgiving!  Please consider registering and helping me reach my goal.  With the generosity of people like you, there is every reason to believe that a cure for blood-related cancer, and all cancers is in sight!
A dream is a wish…

Number Registered

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Nike Women's Marathon San Francisco 2013

The Nike Women's Marathon / Half Marathon is one of the hardest races in the country to gain entry into.  So many people want to be part of the event, Nike has to set up a lottery system for entry.  Only about 1 in 5 who seek entry actually get into the event--unless you are part of Team in Training!  If you commit to raise money to fight cancer, you are guaranteed entry into this most sought after event.  That is how I got in!  In total, there was about 3,000 Team in Training participants in the race, raising over $13 million dollars to fight cancer. Nothing like a sea of purple running to fight cancer! 

I met my team bright and early in the hotel lobby.  Since our hotel was right at the race start, we got to sleep in a little because we could walk to the start.  I was a little said and lonely that morning because I was the only "Yorkie" from the Central Pennsylvania Team at Nike this year.  Most of my local teammates choose to do the Chicago Marathon this year instead of Nike.  Crazy!  We gathered for a team photo and wished each other luck!  

It was still dark when the race officially started!  Nike had a great DJ to get the crowd going.  We even got a firework sendoff!  It took me about 26 minutes to cross the start line.  Those minutes waiting to cross the start are always so anxious for me. The first two miles were on the city streets of San Francisco, through the Financial District, heading toward the Embarkadero.  The view of the San Francisco Bay was amazing, although it became very evident that the word of the day, like last year, was quickly becoming fog.  It was so foggy that morning, that we could only see about a quarter mile out. I could not even see the water while running through Fisherman's Wharf or Pier 39.  As we ran through the Presidio, all of the runner were eagerly awaiting a glimpse of the famed Golden Gate Bridge.  Unforgettably, this was a marvel we would not be blessed to see that day. This was also the coldest half marathon I have ever done.  It was about 50 degrees, and very damp.  It never rained but the air was very wet.  I was cold for the entire event.  Some teammates tried to talk me out of wearing my long sleeved top.  I was so glad I wore it!  My hands stayed icy the enter race.  Brrrr! 

The course was tough, but simply amazing.  That word does not do it justice, but is a true description.  The first really tough hill was around mile 5.5-6.5.  It felt never ending!  This is where the best bridge view should have been, but due to the fog the bridge was never visible. After the top of this crazy hill, was about a mile of winding down hill, along the San Francisco Bay--not that I could see it due to the fog.  At the bottom of the hill, we ran through a very cute San Francisco neighborhood that contained what I was told was Robin William's house.  Lots of the runners were whispering about it on the course. We made a sharp turn around mile 8 to greet the steepest hill yet. 

Once we got to the top of this hill, we turned a corner and there it was--the most beautiful and breath taking view of the race.  I got my first glimpse of the Pacific Ocean!  The view looked like it came out of a book.  The waves were crashing against the cliffs.  The seagulls were flying around.  Pure magic!   I have always had a love / fascination with the ocean--especially the Pacific Ocean.  When I got to the bottom of the hill, I could see race village--but I was only on mile 10.   After another breathtaking mile along the coast, we made a turn into Golden Gate Park to run our last two miles. By this time, I could see runners who already had finished the race carrying their finisher bags, wearing their finisher shirts and holding their little blue boxes.  It was tough to not look at the bright yellow shirt in the bags, but I was determined I was not going to look at their necks!  I did not want to see the Tiffany necklace until I was looking at the one I had earned myself.  

The final mile went pretty fast. By this time in the course, spectators had lined up and were cheering the runners on.  As I got closer and could see the finish line, I ran faster!  I once again could see the Pacific Ocean.  My mind was on getting my blue box from a hot firemen in a tux.  I crossed the finish line strong and chose the guy I wanted to give me my little blue box.  After I got my box, there were volunteers giving out reusable water bottles sponsored by Whole foods.  I got my finisher shirt and then my finisher bag--full of snacks and a nice note from Tiffany's.  

This year, I planned to spend more time at the finish line party.  First, I stopped by and washed my face at the Neutorgena face wash station.  Neutorgena really outdid themselves for race participants this year.  They really pampered us at the expo, then they had a Neutrogena station at mile 5 with face wash clothes and sunscreen.  Then at the finish line--they had huge bins with lots of Neutrogena products for runners to check out and take what ever they wanted.  I got lip sticks, facial moisturizer, sunscreen and lots of other fun stuff. After the fun at Neutrogena, picked up my bag from bag check, then went to the Team in Training tent.  After a stop for a sandwich and some food in the Team tent, I walked out on the beach.  I took in my last few glimpses of the Pacific Ocean.  After a quick stop in the Whole Foods tent for a snack, I rode the bus back to the hotel.  

I was so excited to open my Tiffany necklace this year--but I made myself wait until I got back to my room.  I wanted to take my time, open the box slowly--to take it all in.  I slowly untied the ribbon and opened the box.  I pulled out the tiny blue bag.  There is was--my new Tiffany necklace.  Its a triangle shape, with an X to stand for a 10 because this was the tenth year of the Nike Women's Marathon in San Francisco.  

Nike Women's Marathon was an amazing event!  It was the most breathtaking course I have ever run.  There is not one boring second of this race.  There was always something beautiful to look at. The course was for sure my favorite I have ever done (don't tell the runDisney people.)  The support on the course was also spectacular.  I had 3,000 teammates/ new family members cheering me on on the course.  There was hundreds of TNT coaches on the course.  I could not go half a mile without seeing one of our green shirted coaches cheering on all of the runners.  The NWM in San Francisco is going to be a yearly event for me.  I can't wait to do it again next year!

A dream is a wish...