The John Theissen Freaky 5k

As a lover of Halloween, when I started seeing ads for this local race, I was intrigued. A skeleton tech tee, trick or treating, and only 3 miles from my apartment? Well, I was sold. So I texted some friends to assemble a crew, and both Mike and Carson agreed to join in. 

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Mike was just two weeks away from the NYC marathon, and I was trying to get on track with training for dopey in January, so we had more miles on our schedule than a 5k calls for. So, we decided to take advantage of this being a local race, and run there and back. 

I rolled out of bed just before 7 am on race morning, and Mike ran to my apartment from his house - he had to get in 12 miles, and I had to get in 9, so the little extra distance would bring him to his goal. It was the first cold morning of the season, in the low 40s, and I was excited to pull out some of my favorite cold weather gear. Since it was a Halloween race, I also pulled out my x-wing pilot costume as well, and used it as my top layer. 

Mike got to the apartment just as I stepped outside, and after a quick stretch we were on our way. We chatted about life, the dopey challenge, and how Mike had done so well with training for his first marathon, which was fast approaching. I kept an eye on my watch as we went, as Mike had to sign up for the race when we got there, so we needed to be there before 8. 

Once we arrived, we were able to get Mike all registered, then we stretched out as we waited for Carson to arrive. When she got there I passed her a race bib and shirt, as I had been able to pick up her race day gear. While there was day of registration and bib pickup, they also offered advance bib and shirt pickup, so Den had swung by the John Theissen store front the day before to pick up Carson and my bibs, since we had pre-registered. I quickly used Carson’s car as a changing room, and lost some layers before it was time to start the race. 

The three of us headed towards the start line, stopping and putting our raffle tickets into various bins before the race - they had some great prizes, from sporting events and concerts to headphones and Apple products. As we prepared to get moving I told Mike and Carson I was gonna try to really race this one, since my knee had been feeling better. I put on my headphones, and when the start horn went off followed the crowd to see where it would lead me. 

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My first quarter mile clocked in faster than expected - I hadn’t been looking at my watch, and as the crowd thinned out I checked my pace, and it was sub-7. Whoops. I governed my speed a little bit, and settled to a pace right around an 8-minute-mile, since that was what I was hoping for. The course was easy enough to follow, and my first mile rang in at 7:57. My stomach was a little knotted, but I felt good otherwise. 

There was a water stop just after the first mile, and a candy stop during the second mile. We were running through residential areas, and it was cute to see kids outside in their Halloween costumes, spectating the race. Mile 2 came in at 8:14, and while the pace was hard, there was only one more mile. I could push it for one more mile. My knee felt good, even if my stamina was feeling like it had faded a little. 

One mile to go, and I was going to try to keep pushing it. I turned up the volume on my headphones, and followed the beat of the songs that were playing. I had made a short playlist on Spotify the night before to get me through the race, and I was glad I had it playing. There was another water station in the third mile, and as it came to a close I could spot the train station in the distance, which was right near the finish line. Two more turns, and I would be able to see the race awesome finish line. I kicked up the pace a little, and pushed it as I finished the last bit of the race - 3.1 complete, in 25:35, at around at 8:09 pace. 

I was really happy with my finish time, thrilled that my knee felt fine, but mostly glad that they were handing out water at the finish line - I needed it! I walked towards the runners that were turning the final corner and plopped down on a curb, to watch for Mike and Carson, as I figured they would be coming around the corner soon. When I spotted them they were all smiles as they headed for the finish line. 

The three of us reunited, and headed towards the post race refreshments- they had quite the spread! Bagels, hot soup, candy, cookies, brownies, breakfast bars, and more! I opted for a banana and grabbed some Halloween candy for later. We were waiting for the race results to be posted, so our next stop was to look at the raffles, which had been pulled while we were running- and to my surprise, I won an iPad mini! I collected my prize, and then headed to the soup line. 

When the race results posted, the three of us crowded around the lists- Carson and I had both placed 3rd in our age group, and Mike had placed 5th in his! Woo hoo! 

When the award ceremony started, we learned that the awards went five deep in each age group, so we would all be getting medals. When they announced Mike’s age group, it turned out that he had actually came in fourth! We were all excited to have placed in our age groups, and once we collected our awards it was time for Mike and I to start running home. 

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We took it easy as we finished up our miles, three more for me to make it to 9. The one eventful part of the run home? Mike spotted a frame that he wanted, so we called Carson with a mission to retrieve it since she had her car. 

By the time we made it back to the apartment I had totaled about 9.6 miles, and my knee felt relatively normal - my legs were tired, but more from being less used to long distances that I normally am. 

All in all, it was a great morning for a local race, and I had a great time spending Sunday with my friends. 

Race Recap: Nassau County Police Department Memorial 5k

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This is the second time I was participating in the NCPD Memorial 5K, as excited to get out for a good cause. The race fundraisers for the families of the fallen officers from the Nassau County Police Department. Coming from a family of cops, I think that the families of fallen officers should always receive support from the community.

Plus, the last time I did this race it was a great time! It’s an easy and quick course through Eisenhower Park that is entirely flat, and they don’t even make you run over the grass which sometimes happens with races in that park. I had originally asked my cousin Ryan to run this race with me, but he was under the weather tonight. I texted Mike to see if he still had plans, for the last time we had discuss the race he was busy. But lucky for me – his other plans fell through and he was able to come run with me.

The race happened on a Monday night, so after work I headed home and change into the shirt that I wore for the New York City Marathon in 2017, which featured the NYPD running club. I swung by Mike’s house and picked him up, and we head to the park together. It’s a local race for us so it only took about 10 minutes to get there.

The parking lot closest to the race were already filled up, and I didn’t want to park on the grass this time around us so I opted for a slightly further out parking lot. We’re already going to be running a 5K, so with a little extra walking really matter. We got over to the race area just as people are starting to head to the start line, and fell into the massive group of people waiting to get going. Soon after there was announcement at the start was going to be delayed by 10 minutes. I looked around us and waited in the starting corral knowing that a lot of the tri team was going to be doing this race and spotted a few of the jerseys ahead of us. We weaved through the group of waiting runners and I spotted Tara. 

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She asked me what my plan for this race was, and honestly I didn’t really have one. I just plan on sticking with Mike and letting whatever piece happened it just happened. But when she greeted me she had told me that she was hoping to see me, so I could pace her for this race. I asked her what time she wanted to run, and she said something in the eights. I knew that Mike had been able to hold pieces that fast as he had been coming with me lately to do a few miles during my tempo runs, so I figured we may as well go for it. 

The national anthem was saying, and the race finally begin just a few minutes delayed. At first it was very crowded, with over 700 runners doing this event and no real seeding system runners of all different paces were starting at the same time. Made for a congested start, but with a little bit of weaving we were able to break into a less congested area of the race. The 1st mile including out and back portion where we ran towards the aquatic center in the park, and then we ran back towards the start area and spotted other members of the Tri team among the spectators. A lot of people that I knew spectating the race, and it was exciting do you hear them shout out my name as I ran by. At one point we ran through so many people that I knew, that Mike joked he would pay someone a dollar just to cheer for him. My watch buzzed to indicate that we had ran a mile just as we passed the 1st mile marker, an 8:29 pace. Before starting we had said we would try to stay between 830 and 845, so I tried to slow the pace down a little bit going into mile two that way there wouldn’t be any burnouts. But so far Mike and Tara were both sticking with me and looking strong.

It was a nice night out despite being August in New York, and Even the humidity was tolerable. I was surprised with how little I was sweating, and overall just felt really good. The week before this race I had totaled 50 miles, so I really didn’t expect these pieces to be coming without a high level of effort even the humidity was tolerable. I was surprised with how little I was sweating, and how overall i felt really good. The week before this race I had totaled 50 miles, so I really didn’t expect these paces to be coming without a high level of effort. There was a water stop in the 2nd mile, but I didn’t manage to get over in time. Sorry Mike and Tarah, if you guys had really wanted water at that point. I figured it was only a 5K, so we would survive to the end even if it sucked a little bit. The true torture came when we ran by an ice cream truck shortly after, and I didn’t even have any change to get something. We finished mile 2 with an 8:40 pace, as we weaved through a more wooded area of the park. At this point I kept a little bit of a closer eye on the pace - I wanted to make sure that we all would be able to stay together to the finish line.

I tried to cheer on my fellow runners as Mike, Tara and I pushed to keep the pace. We looped through the back side of Eisenhower park, and were soon nearing the area that we started the race in, and closing in on our third mile. Mike fell behind a little bit during the last mile, so as we approached the finish line I told Tara to go on without me, and slowed a little so Mike and I could be reunited, and finish the race together. When he caught up to me he was practically sprinting, and I met his pace as we raced for the finish line together. - we finished the race in 26:38, a new PR for Mike!

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There were volunteers handing out cool towels and water bottles at the finish line, and those towels were amazing. We caught our breath, and then walked around the post-race area until we found the BBQ. They had catering from Texas roadhouse, and each runner was able to select two hot foods, a side, and a drink. I got a hot dog, a chicken slider, a oatmeal cookie, and a seltzer. They were also handing out draft beer to the runners, so Mike and I each got a pint, and I passed mine along to him once we found a seat to eat, since beer isn’t really my thing. The beer was unlimited for each runner, you just had to being back your cup to get more.

Mike and I enjoyed our tiny feast, watching other runners finish their race as the sun set in the park. Once we were finished eating we chatted with some of my friends from the tri team, as we waited for the raffles to be drawn - each runner had been given a raffle ticket, and there were additional tickets available for purchases, with some great prizes. We didn’t wind up winning anything though, and headed home after the numbers had been drawn.

Overall, I love this event, from the cause it supports, to the BBQ after the race, and the T-shirt that they give out, and I hope I will be able to run it for years to come.

Race Recap: Jamesport Triathlon

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Well people, it’s the end of an era, the end of my favorite hashtag. If you follow my on Instagram you may have noticed that any time I bike or swim or do an activity with the Merrick Bicycles Tri Team, I tag my photos with #StillNotDoingATri.

But after three years of training with the team and not doing a tri, I did the thing: My first triathlon.

I was nervous leading up to the big day, but I knew that I had gotten in plenty of laps at the pool, a handful of open water swims, many winter miles on the trainer, and a few session outside in the real world on my bike, clip in pedals and all. Plus, I had the support of the Tri team, plus Dennis, PG and Jennie who had driven all the way out to Jamesport to cheer me on.

I packed up my car the night before the race so that no thought would be required when it was time for a very early wakeup the next morning, and tried to get to bed early, despite some nerves trying to keep me awake. When my alarm went off the next morning Den and I piled into the car, and started the hour-ish long drive towards Jamesport. We were treated to a beautiful sunrise as we made our way there. The drive felt like it took much longer than an hour, but eventually we pulled into the beach side parking lot, and started unloading the piles of supplies that I had brought with me.

When we unloaded the bike from the car we made some last minute adjustments, which mainly consisted of pumping up my bike tires once again. We made our way over to the transition area, where Merrick had their own team bike rack. I found my name on the bike rack, and started by hanging up my bike. I had brought my wet suit along in a 5-gallon home depot bucket, so I set that up at the end of my area, so I could quickly dump my wet suit after the swim portion of the race. I laid out my two sets of shoes on a towel, leaving part of the towel un-burduned so that I could dry off my feet.

I passed my cell phone and go-pro off to Dennis, and followed Jackie and Nicole towards the water so I could warm up in the water before the race. If I had learned anything from previous open water swims, was that I am more comfortable if I have a few minutes to adjust to the water. I took my time getting on my wetsuit, since I had just repaired some tears in it earlier that week, making sure I was comfortable with how it was sitting. Then I waddled over to the water, and flopped around for a few minutes. I felt the low key panic that often comes with open water swims for me, and hoped that feeling it before the race meant that I would be fine once things got moving with the actual race.

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Soon the announcer was giving a warning for the first age group to line up at the start, so it was time to vacate the water. The wave start was broken up by age and gender, from youngest to oldest. I was in the second wave overall, the first female group. Once the first group of guys had taken off I lined up with many of my team mates, who I knew would speed by once we hit the water, and tried to calm my nerves. I could do this. It would be hard, but I was capable.

The announcer counted down, and off we went. A run across the sand and into the water, wading until it was deep enough to get a stroke in. I stuck to the back of the group, not wanting to get swam over or kicked in the face. Once I was far enough into the water, I started swimming, counting my breaths between strokes, and trying to stay calm. There were plenty of swimmers, life guards, and buoys around me, but I was still panicking a little. It felt like the swim was taking forever from the start, even though the total elapsed time was less than 15 minutes for the 500 yd swim. Eventually I reached the buoy that marked the turn around point, and took a second to swap to backstroke to collect myself. As I started swimming back to the shore, the I was hot in the wetsuit. I felt almost constricted as I kept swimming, half wishing I hadn’t worn it. As the water got shallower, I tapped my feet to the sand to calm myself down. This was tough, but I could do it. With one of those taps I felt a sharp pain in my foot and recoiled - I must have stepped on the shell.

When I got to a shallow enough point in the water, I decided to try the latest tip I had read regarding wetsuits - take it off before you get out of the water. Every time i have to take off my wetsuit I struggled with it, so I figured I may as well give it a go. Worst case I would be flopping on the sand in front of spectators trying to take it off, rather than waiting until the transition area and trying to get it off there. But my gamble paid off, and the wetsuit came off easier than ever! I was all smiles as I left the water, and started the run over to the transition area, where I would move on to the bike portion of the race. It was a long run over to the bikes, across a parking lot and passed a glimpse of the finish line. I even spotted Jennie cheering with her fiance PG as I ran by.

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I dropped my wetsuit into the bucket that I had brought along, and plopped down onto the towel that I had setup and tried to dry off my feet a little bit before putting on my ProCompression lows - I had wanted to wear the over-the-calf socks, but there was a ankle timing chip, and I wasn’t sure how the socks would fit with it.There were still plenty of bikes in the transition area, as I was in one of the earlier waves, but more people were coming in by the second. Once I was dry enough to get socks on I slipped into my bike shoes, threw on my helmet, and attempted to get my garmin swapped over to bike mode. I also slipped on my apple watch, so that Dad could track my progress from home. As soon as I crossed the line that indicated where we were allowed to hop on our bikes I got myself clipped in, and focused on getting moving. Mentally I tried to spot bikers that were just a little ahead of me, and reeling them in. There was one biker that I yo-yoed back and fourth with for the first 2/3 of the bike, and we even engaged in conversation from time to time, pushing each other to keep going. I felt stronger than I had expected to, and was riding faster than I had on any of my training runs. Plenty of faster bikers were passing me, but I still felt strong. I even managed to drink some water while riding, and spent most of the 16 mile bike ride in aero position, which my wrists very much appreciated. I tried to give all I could on the bike portion, knowing that my body would know what to do when it got to the run portion, that is my strong suit, and I wasn’t worried about saving energy for it. There were some hills at the end of the course, and I pushed myself to leave it all on the table as I biked up them, and to accept the speed that came with the downhill.

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As I rode towards the transition area, I slowed down coming into the final turn. I could feel that there was another biker right behind me, and was worried about getting in his way, but he called out in support letting me know that he wasn’t going to cut around, and even shouting some encouragement. I felt, as always, so supported by this community. I also spotted Dennis with PG and Jennie, and was so happy to see my people. I swapped My shoes, clipped on my SPI belt, which had my race bib attached to it, and headed for the last leg of my journey - the run. I had trouble getting my Garmin started again - the race brain was in full effect at this point.

The course took us back towards the water, before looping out to the neighborhood that surrounded the beach. I spotted the Merrick Bicycles Tri Team cheer squad, and got entirely caught up in their energy as I ran by. While my watch was working now, I wasn’t looking at my pace, I was just putting one foot in front of the other. My legs were a little heavy but I felt good. I was reminded that running is my strong sport, as I started passing other runners on the course. Familiar faces who had zipped by me on the bike I was now catching up with, and hardly being passed myself. When my watch buzzed to indicate that I had finished the first mile of the 5k course, I saw that I was somehow pulling off a sub 8 minute mile. I was a little shocked, but I just kept pushing onward. There were only 2.1 miles left between me and the finish line. The first section of the course was an out and back, and I was relieved when i reached the turn around. There were water stations along the side during mile two, and I made sure to grab some water, as I could feel how salty I was. I had thrown some skratch gummies into my running belt, and made sure to take a few with the water.

I kept pushing, and cheering on my team mates every time I spotted a Merrick Bicycles jersey. We turned off of the main road we had been on and to some side roads, where there was a little more shade, which was a relief. The pace was hard, but I could handle it. The finish line was fast approaching. As I ran by the transition area bike entrance I spotted the Tri team on one side, still cheering at the top of their lungs, and Jennie on the other side, cheering me on with the biggest smile plastered across her face. Then there was one final turn to the course, and it would be over.

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Finally, the finish line was in sight. I mustered the last bit of strength I had, and pushed forward. 1:42:09 - I was proud. Honestly, I don’t know enough about triathlons to be able to gauge if that is considered “fast” or “slow” or anything in the middle for a sprint tri, but I didn’t care in the lease - it was MY finish time. I had finished, and I was officially a triathlete. Only took three years after joining the tri team. I collected my medal and was handed a water, and Den was waiting for me at the end of the finishers chute. He was trying to talk to me, but I really couldn’t process anything. My brain was fried, and I just needed a minute to talk in circles to collect myself. Eventually my heart rate came down, and I began to return to “normal human” status. I grabbed some watermelon, and Den walked with me back over to the transition area, so I could start packing up my gear. I also changed into some dry clothes, and Den was nice enough to cart all of my stuff back to the car, which I took some time to stretch.

The Tri Team had a tent set up in a field near by, with BBQ supplies that we had all brought along. I spent some time unwinding with the team, and stayed for the award ceremony - our coach, Jackie, had WON the race in the women’s division. Like, overall first woman. She seriously amazes me, and inspires me to always reach for goals that feel impossible.

Den and I headed home, both pooped from a early morning, and me from a long race. All in all, it was an awesome, but difficult experience. I was really proud of myself for putting myself out there though. When we finally got home I stepped out of the car, and was greeted with a shooting pain in my foot - remember the shell I mentioned earlier? It had apparently lodged itself into my foot, and was now VERY unhappy. I was okay all in all, and once I removed the surprisingly tiny shell fragment, the swelling in my foot went down. I did an epsom salt bath with hot water just to be safe, and took it easy for the rest of the day.

In the days following the race I was totally wiped out, and much sorer than I had expected to be after the race - but I suppose that comes with the territory of your first triathlon.

Race Recap: NYRR Retro Run

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Well internet, I did it again – I neglected to consult my calender when signing up for races, and got myself into another two-race weekend, this time with a particularly early morning. My weekend of racing started with another “weekly” race with the New York Road runners, the 4-mile Retro Run.

This particular road runners event has been on my “to do” list for the last two years, as I love an excuse to dress up for a race. I had signed up for it in 2017 but then had a family obligation, and was similarly out of town for the 2018 rendition of the event. But this year I was finally able to don the vintage 1987 road runners event shirt that Dad had surprised me with in 2017, before we realized I wouldn’t be able to participate.

The morning started with a 5:50 alarm, and by 6:15 one of my teammates from the Merrick Bicycles Tri Team, Michal, had arrived at my apartment. Her, Mike and I were car pooling to the city, and we hopped into my car and headed to pick up Mike. The weather was nice for July running, with temps in the 70’s and a slightly overcast sky. I managed to navigate us to the city without any tolls, which sounds simple, and ultimately is simple, but that doesn’t mean we haven’t messed it up in the past. I again opted to pre-purchase parking through the spot hero app, and got a garage spot on 67th street, just outside of central park. When participating in Road Runner events it is easy to find street parking if the event occurs on a Sunday, as parking regulations are more relaxed, but on Saturdays there are more rules, and street parking can be hard to come by. The $20 charge that the three of us split was worth not feeling rushed before the race.

We all needed to pick up our bibs, so we headed to race day central to grab them. After a quick scan of our QR codes, we were good to go. We found Carson near bib pickup, and she joined our group of runners. As a chronic over-packer, I of course had a bag I wanted to check, so our next stop was the drop-off location. On the way there we ran into another MBTT teammate, and stopped for a quick pre-race selfie. The final start before it was time to run? The porter potties, of course!

We climbed into the corrals just before 8 am, when the race was scheduled to begin. I wasn’t planning on racing, so I dropped back so that I could run with everyone else. As we waited in the corrals we sang along to the “retro” tunes that they were pumping into the corrals, really breaking it down to ABBA’s “Dancing Queen.” As the corrals ahead of us were released, we shuffled closer to the start line.

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Eventually it was our turn to start running, and this time the four of us managed to stay together through the crowded start. Admittedly, it was a smaller field than the pride run had been, so it was less congested. We pushed the pace a little as we weaved through the crowd, looking for a area big enough for the four of us. Some of the runners that we spotted had great costumes, and we even spotted a few wigs that had us wondering if they were real or not.

When we got to the first mile marker, in lieu of the standard timing clock there was a man on a raised chair yelling out the race clock time – they had really committed to this retro thing! As we approached the north end of the park Mike and I began to wonder aloud if we were going to have to face Harlem hill that day – neither of us had checked the course map. But just before mile two the course turned, avoiding it. Instead, we headed into the rolling hills known as the three sisters, and it was during the third mile of the race that in these hills our group of four split in half to pairs. Carson wasn’t feeling great, and wanted to incorporate some walk breaks, and Mike decided to stay with her as Michal and I kept running. We chatted our way through the final mile, and after crossing the finish line we pulled to the side and asked a volunteer to take our photo. As we posed, Mike and Carson hopped in, having finished just a moment later.

We were happy to have water at the finish line, and accepted our post race bagels and apples from volunteers. Carson was a little run-drunk, and was very concerned that she couldn’t spot any raisins in her cinnamon-raisin bagel, but thankfully they were discovered once she started eating it.

We picked up our event shirts, which were teal and made of a more “retro” looking material than the standard shirt that the road runners gives out. I was a fan of them, as they were soft and the logo looked good on the front of the shirt. There was a band playing, and roller skaters putting on a show near the bandshell, and a vintage good humor truck was giving out popsicles to runners. I went and picked up my checked bag while my friends waited in line. Our last stop before heading home was the photo booth, which was setup in a old Volkswagen van. We climbed into the back of it and posed together, sweaty post-run faces and all. If you’d like to see the video from the race, you it is posted on my youtube page, or you can click the photo of us with the race shirts.

It was a fun event, made better by running it with friends. We hit some traffic going home, but it at least gave Mike some time to try my r-8 recovery roller, or as he called it, the Bear Trap. When I did get home, I spent most of Saturday preparing for Sunday’s event: My first Triathlon.

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Race Recap: 2019 NYRR Pride Run

Another weekend, another race. This time the New York Road Runners Front runners of NY Pride run - If that’s not a mouthful, I’m not sure what is. This race would bring me one step closer to my 9+1 qualification for next year’s NYC marathon, and was sure to be full of LOVE! This would be my second time running this event, and we were slated for sunny skies.

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When we registered for this race, I had Kasey, Mike, Sophie, and Sophie’s sister Janna planning to run with me. We all signed up, but only three of us made it to the start line. Mike wound up having a wedding in Connecticut that night, and the timing just wasn’t working out, and Kasey got put on the schedule for work. A bummer for sure on both fronts, but I was glad to at least have some good company as I headed into the city on race morning.

I picked up Sophie and Janna from my parent’s house, and they were in full rainbow mode and ready to run. I had opted for a neon pink shirt and neon ProCompression socks, as I just didn’t have anything rainbow that I really felt did the event justice.

I had decided to pre-purchase parking via the spot hero app, since every other time that we had headed into the city for a Saturday race this year we had wound up looping the streets surrounding central park looking for parking for so long that we had to kick one person out of the car to get the bibs which the other paid for a garage - and they’re expensive! Paying for parking day of in the city has cost us around $55, where as the spot hero app got me parking for $22 - a bargain in my opinion. We easily dropped the car off just a block outside of central park, and had a quick walk to bib pickup.

Once we had our bibs we moved over to bag check, and I sorted through the crap that I wanted to have with me, vs. the stuff I could leave behind. I had intended to run with my GoPro for this event, and carried it with me, but shortly after bag check discovered that the battery was dead. Once my stuff was dropped off we headed towards the corrals, with a quick stop at the porter potties along the way.

It was a big race, as NYRR was trying to set a world record for the largest charity pride run. They would have to net the most finishers, so there were over 10,000 runners in the field - much larger than the standard NYRR weekly race! We headed to the back of the corrals, as this was Janna’s first NYRR event, so she did not have a proper time-based corral placement yet. Shortly after we got to the corral, Carson spotted us as we waited to get moving, and joined us in the corrals. It was a long walk to the start, as they were releasing runners in waves that day.

When we did make it to the start, it was so crowded that I managed to loose sight of Sophie and Janna. I saw them right behind me, and Sophie waved me on. I planned to stay with them, but the next time I turned to check for them they were out of sight. So, Carson and I moved forward, figuring that we would find them by the finish line. We chatted as we made our way through the first mile, which brought us up Cat hill. Near the hill one of the members of MBTT spotted me, Michal, and we chatted for a moment until she decided to cut back her pace a little. It’s always fun to spot a familiar face on course.

We missed the first aid station simply because it was crowded, but pulled over to grab water at the second. it was a humid morning, and we needed to make sure to hydrate, even though it was only a 5 mile run. We continued making our way around central park, and as we approached Harlem Hill Carson and I parted ways, as she wanted to take a short walk break. I pressed forward, enjoying the challenge of the hill. I had needed to take a few days off that week, as my calf had been feeling a little strained, but it was feeling great during the race, and I was just happy to be moving. Did the hill suck? Yes. But there I was, running up it anyway, somehow happy about it as sweat dripped into my eyes. Running is emotionally weird, guys.

If you’ve run central park before, you probably know what comes after Harlem Hill - you finally make it to the top, praise the end of the uphill, have a moment of relief, and then head straight for the three sisters. Sigh. More hills. But I was still happy to be out there, happy to feel good running, even pushing the pace a little when I could. I wanted to play it smart with the heat, so I wasn’t going too crazy.

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Once I made it through the ups and downs of the three sisters, it was smooth sailing to the finish line. A flat stretch, lines with spectators decked out in pride gear, cheering on the runners, a final turn, and the finish line chute. I almost crashed with another runner at the finish line, who came in HOT behind me, but crisis was averted. I moved through the finishers chute, being handed water, and apple, a rainbow bagel, and the real prize - a rainbow ice pop. Really, the ice pop alone would have been enough to convince me to run five miles.

I was very thankful for the many pockets on my shorts, as I crammed my apple and bagel into them as I enjoyed my ice pop. I waited in line to pick up my shirt, and once I had it I went to pick up my checked bag. Carson found me along the way, and walked over to get her bag as well. We then found a nice curb to enjoy our ice pops on.

Sophie texted me when she finished her race, and I walked back over to the shirt pickup area to meet her. Her and Janna briefly got separated - an issue as Janna had never been in central park before and had no cell phone on her - but Sophie found her surprisingly fast, and then they grabbed their shirts. By then we had all finished our ice pops, and made a group decision for another round - there were plenty of vendors in the park after all! Once we had our ice pops acquired, we walked towards the cherry hill fountain, where I knew some of the tri team had planned to meet up. I knew I was probably too late, but wanted to see if I could spot anyone.

I was indeed too late, but we snapped a few photos with the fountain anyway. We walked back up to race day central, posed with a few of the photo ops, then parted ways with Carson as we headed for the car and she headed for the subway.

It was another good week with the road runners, despite the warm temperatures. At the end of the race they announced that they had met their goal, and broke a Guinness world record for the largest pride run

Race Recap: 2019 Queens 10k

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Well, we are half way through 2019, and I’m almost done with my 9+1 program with the New York Road Runners, which will earn me a spot in the 2020 NYC Marathon.

My 6th race of the year with the road runners was the Queens 10k, which takes place in Flushing Meadows Corona Park in Queens, NY. This was the third year that I was participating in this race, and it is one race that I have looked forward to each summer. The ride into queens is a bit shorter than the ride into Central Park, since I live on Long Island, and Dad has come along each year to cheer me on and snap some photos as I run. This year Sophie was also signed up to run, but since I wanted to race the event, we weren’t planning on running together.

I headed over to my parents house race morning, as Dad had agreed to drive to queens, and was surprised to see that my mom was awake and ready to join us. Sophie and I piled into the back seat and we were on the way. We were able to find parking in the park, so we managed to avoid having to park in citi field. We had a little walk to race day central, which had moved from where it was located previous years. This of course lead to me leading us entirely out of the way, but a volunteer eventually pointed us in the right direction, and we found it near the entrance to the subway stop at citi field.

We were able to get our bibs quickly enough, but the diversion in getting to the pick up meant that we didn’t have time to stop at the bathroom before the race. Instead, I headed for the corrals of wave one, and Sophie and I parted ways as I climbed into the corral.

A few members of the Tri team, including Sami and Nicole, were in a starting corral near mine, so the three of us were rapid fire texting before the race, trying to spot each other. We all wanted to run similar paces, so I was trying to spot them before the race began. Eventually Nicole flagged me down, and we found Sami shortly after.

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The national anthem was sung, and after a bit of corrals shuffling forward, we were off! The first mile was a bit crowded, and it seemed like a fair number of runners with wave 2 bibs had somehow wound up in wave one, and it was probably a big part of the congestion that was going on. Eventually the narrow park road opened up as we made a left and headed under some highways, and we got a little more space to spread out.

While overall the course was flat, we had a few sections that largely consisted of getting up highway overpasses. Mom and Dad were positioned just after the first one the race went by, but I managed to miss them. Mile two took us by the queens museum, and then on a very long out and back, which lead to the entrance of Citi field before turning us around and sending us back to the park. As the sun rose in the sky the humidity picked up, and we were all reminded that the park was once a swamp, as buckets of sweat ensued. Throughout the race I caught glimpses of my teammates, and seeing them pushing made me continue to cling onto what was, for me, a hard pace.

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As we entered the park again and ran through mile 4, I reminded myself that it’s only a 10k, it would be over in just two more miles! I spotted my parents as we ran through the park, and knew I would spot them again by the unisphere. I just kept pushing to keep up with Sami, trying to focus on running and ignore the urge to constantly check the pace on my watch. Mile five took us passed the worlds fair pavilion and observation towers, AKA those space ships that you see in the Men in Black movies.

Mile five took us passed the unisphere, and then over to the area race day central was, before heading back towards the unisphere, and making one final turn towards the finish line. So close, yet so far! I managed to keep moving forward and stick with Sami until the end of the race, and we finished in 53:19. Not too shabby for a humid day. I was happy with the time, and even happier to be done running. I was handed a medal, and collected my finishers bag, which had an Apple, a Gatorade, a water, and some pretzels.

After the race Sami and I found Nicole and Gabby, and snapped a mini-team picture, before I headed back to race day central to collect my tank top. I always get nervous about getting a shirt my size, as they sometimes run out, but I got the size I wanted this time.

I headed back towards the unisphere where my parents were waiting for Sophie to run by, and got there just in time to spot her and cheer her on. I met her by the finish as she completed her race, and then we took some photos around the park before heading home.

I love the historic scenery that you get to run by in this race, with the relics of the worlds fair scattered throughout the course. If you’re a Disney fan, this is where it’s a small world and the carousel of progress first debuted! It’s a “must do” on my race calendar each year, and I always enjoy exploring the park with my family after the race.

We hit some traffic heading home, but it enabled a little post-race nap, which was perfect for me! All in all, it was a fun start to Father’s Day weekend.

Race Recap: 2019 Brooklyn Hot Chocolate 15k

This is it guys, the last time Kasey will ever run more than three miles in one go. She swears it, never again - and this time I can’t even point to some race that she is already registered for.

When I heard that the Hot Chocolate race series was coming to New York, I was excited and registered at the first opportunity. The race series is known for some great swag, with the giveaway being a zip up technical sweatshirt, a medal at the finish line that looks like a chocolate bar, and a mug full of hot chocolate and fondue.

I had been under the weather on Friday after eating something that turned out to be bad, and was out of commission for the day, so I was a bit nervous about how the race was going to play out - would my stomach even cooperate with a 9.3 mile run? Welp, we were going to find out one way or another.

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My Uncle Tom had headed to the expo for us on Friday, as he works in the area. They expo had super limited hours, only operating from 10-7 on they day before the race, so it made it difficult to get to. But it was lucky for us that his job was in the area and he could pop into the expo to grab our bibs and jackets. Sophie and I had signed up with a promo code, so we got hats as well.

Come Saturday morning my alarm startled me into consciousness, and I had to shift an unconscious cat off of me to get moving. I had packed up my race day bag the night before, so I got dressed and was on the way. Sophie had agreed to drive into Brooklyn, so I only had to make the two mile drive to my parents house. Sophie was about as sleepy as me, and the two of us headed to Kasey’s house to grab her next. She was very bitter about the early hour, and she did not speak until we were a solid 20 minutes into the drive, at which point she could suddenly hear us talking.

The race guide had recommended reserving parking in advance, so we were headed for a parking garage just outside of Prospect park that we had found on spot hero. We got to the garage around 6:15, and while we though it would be quick to drop off the car, there was only one person working so it took longer than expected to drop it off - by the time we were walking to the start line it was 6:45. The race was scheduled to start at 7, and we had a little more than a mile to travel to get to the start line, which we knew was around the middle area of prospect park - it was going to be a bit of an adventure, as none of us really knew where we were going.

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We headed in the direction of the start line, taking in some pre-race fuel as we moved, and eventually heard music in the distance. Once we heard the music we were able to follow it until we found the masses of runners heading in the same direction, and got to the start just as the first corral was being released. We pulled over quickly so i could re-tie my shoes, and then hopped into the next corral and were ready to get moving.

I suppose the walk had been a good warm up, because I was able to settle in faster than usual. The course was 2.5 loops of Prospect park, and I was worried that the hills would feel killer like they did when I ran the Jingle All the Way 5k with Mike and Carson, but they somehow felt more manageable this time around. We took on the largest of the hills right before the first mile, and would run up it twice more before the race was through.

Around the second mile marker they had a chocolate chip station, but it wasn’t well marked so i didn’t notice what it was until I was already passed it. There was also a Nuun and water station near there, and I did manage to grab a cup or strawberry-lemonade Nuun as we went by.

As we continued on our loop we soon reached the point where the 5k course split from the 15k course, and we had to take a moment to all jokingly suggest that we could easily turn left and just be done with the whole thing - Okay, for Kasey perhaps it was a little more than a joke, as she had threatened several times that she was going to drop down to the shorter race distance in the weeks leading up to the race, but Sophie and I somehow convinced her to stay signed up for the 15k so we could all run it together.

On the back side of the first loop was another aid station, this time serving marshmallows with the Nuun and water. Soon after my watch buzzed to indicate we were through mile 4, and I looked around for a mile marker, as I couldn’t see one, even in the distance. Eventually I managed to spot the sign - it had flopped over on the side of the road as a result of the wind.

Loop two slipped by quicker than the first, knowing exactly what to expect the second time around. We noticed that more and more of the mile markers were being knocked over by the wind, and the crowds of runners thinned out on the second loop - apparently many of the people running with us had opted for the 5k over the 15k. Towards the end of the second loop Kasey’s shoulder started bothering her, so I took over the responsibility of holding her water bottle… so I am pretty sure that’s worth her signing up for at least one more race, right?

The final loop was shorter than the first two, and after one final pass of the aid stations we followed the signs to the finish line. Kasey fell a little behind Sophie and I towards the end, but I could still spot her right there when I looked over my shoulder. There were some people on the course walking away from the finish line, totally oblivious that they were in the way of runners that were still on the course. We crossed the finish line, collected our medals, and then had a short walk over to the post-race party, where we collected our coveted finisher’s mugs. There was a dog park near the finisher party, so there were a ton of dogs wandering about, and one even had to come over and say hi to Sophie. The mugs were piled high with treats like hot chocolate, fondue, rice krispys and marshmallows. We hung out in the post race area long enough to fill up on goodies, and then retrieved Sophie’s car from the garage, and started our drive home.

Race Recap: 2019 Disney Princess Half Marathon

At last, I am finally ready to share the post you have all been waiting for: The 2019 Disney Princess half marathon!

Ok, so maybe the one person who has really been on the edge of her seat waiting for this is Kasey, but I am here and ready to share either way, so I hope you’re on board for a RunDisney race recap!

On my third early morning of the weekend, I left my hotel room at the All Star Music resort at 3:25 in the morning, and caught one of the last “runner” buses to the start area - RunDisney requests that all runners be on the bus by 3:30 am the morning of the Princess Half marathon, and I was cutting it close with my departure time. They keep running buses after this cutoff, but they are considered to be spectator buses at that point, and their frequency decreases. They bus was in the process of loading when I got there, but I was able to find a seat near the front, so I would be able to get off quickly when we got to the start area. Kasey was staying at All-Star Sports, so we were planning to meet at the start area.

When I got to the start area, there were already thousands of runners making the walk from the bus to security, which had a short line to get through. Kasey messaged me that she was sitting near the first tent after the start area sign, and I quickly spotted her sitting in an area that just barely allowed her to not get stepped on by people who were walking by. She was about as sleepy as I was, and hated me more than ever for talking her into running - even if she had signed up for this race of her own accord. We relocated to another area that had more space for sitting, and ate our pre-race meals there. The start area was much more crowded than other RunDisney events that I have participated in. Once we were fed, I sorted through my bags, and separated the the things I needed for the race from the stuff that I would be leaving with bag check, and then we applied some KT tape to my knee and Kasey’s foot before heading towards the start corrals.

They had changed the bag check system from previous RunDisney weekends, and instead of checking your bags based on your last name, they allowed runners to pick any of the trucks stationed near the finish line, and we were given a sticker to put on the back of our bibs that showed which of the trucks our bags were in.

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I made a brief stop at the porter potty, while Kasey resigned herself to wetting her pants over using a porter potty, and then we were on our way to the corrals. It was almost a mile walk from the start area to the corrals. Kasey was assigned to corral D, so that was where we would be starting our race from. When we got into the corral the pre-race show had started, with the announcers speaking about the race charity, and quizzing runners in the corrals with disney trivia. Since we were in corral D we had a little bit of a wait as the race started, and we inched our way closer to the start line as they released waves of runners.

When we finally did make it through the start line, there was immediately course congestion, to a point that really prevented us from getting a full stride in as we ran. We tried to find a consistent pace as we made our way through the first mile, but we were stuck going at a slower pace than we had planned. Even going through the first water stop, it was too crowded for me to make my way from the middle of runners over to the side.

In the second mile they had Jack Sparrow out with his pirate ship, but as usual he had a long wait, so we didn’t stop for a photo. Once we hit the highway the congestion eased up a bit, and Kasey actually seemed to be having a good time. As we approached the Magic Kingdom sign during mile 3 we pulled over to take a selfie before continuing to the park. The announcements of “caution runners, speed bumps ahead” rang out as we went through the toll booths. The next part of our run took us through the parking lot at the ticket and transportation center, where we ran by a character stop that had an assortment of Disney Princes, and a winding line. We passed the third mile marker shortly after, and stopped to get some water at an aid station near by.

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They had fog machines our around the evil queen’s character stop, where she was in full witch form, and cooking up some poison apples. We finally got to the the ticket and transportation center, and were able to stop at a bathroom near where the monorail loads. It was surprisingly empty, considering that it was the first real bathroom on the course.

When we ran by mile marker 4 I tried serenading Kasey with a little number from frozen, but she was not amused. She was liking me less as less as we got deeper into this half marathon. The had the RunDisney logo in pink as we ran under an overpass, and towards the magic kingdom. It was the standard entrance into the park, where they loop runners through the bus stops, and then have big light up inflatable pillars guiding runners through the park entrance.

We passed the 5th mile marker just before entering the park. The lights were still on at the entrance when we got there, as the sun was just coming up as we made our way onto main street. Kasey was starting to die a little by this point in the race, and she even broke out her post run forward fold when we stopped to take a picture with the castle. There were pink lights projected onto the castle, very fitting for the princess half.

We made our way into tomorrow land, where runners seemed to be dipping and diving to get to a character… I couldn’t even tell you what character, I was too busy trying not to crash into people. Must have been a good one, I guess. After tomorrowland we ran by Alice’s teacups, then passed the storybook circus and ran through new fantasy land. We took a momentary breathing break there, as both Kasey and I were struggling with the humidity. Once we got moving again we ran by the carousel, then spotted Cinderella next to the castle, and hopped in line to get a photo with her, since we were dressed up as Cinderella and the Fairy Godmother - it was only fitting.

After we snapped our photo we ran through the castle, then pulled over again, this time for a photo in front of the castle. Sadly, our time in the magic kingdom was coming to a close, as we ran through frontier land, passed the 6th mile marker, and headed backstage to leave the park. The park exit lead us into the dreaded cone alley, which was actually less congested than the race start had been. We ran past the resorts that are in the area of the magic kingdom - the Grand Floridian and the Polynesian, and passed by mile marker number 7. They had a group of grooms our near the Grand Floridian, and as we approached mile marker 8 there were signs with various princess themed jokes.

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I tried serenading Kasey again during our 8th mile, when we heard some frozen playing, but she still rolled her eyes at me instead of joining in like Mike would have. There was an aid station during mile 8 that handed out sport beans, and it was around that point that Kasey started to let me know that her foot was broken - our walk breaks became a little more frequent, but we kept moving forward. Soon after her stomach went a little sour, but I talked her into eating some skratch gummies just after mile 9, since when I get nauseous during long runs it is usually because I am doing a bad job fueling. It seemed to help, and she was able to keep going.

During mile 8 we started to notice some fireworks going off in the distance, and at first thought it must be the first race finishers. But they kept going well into mile 9, and I never did figure out what they were for…. so I guess you all can just wonder with me forever now.

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Right after mile marker 10 they handed out cool sponges, and then it was time to climb the on ramp, and run by the green army man. With only a 5k left, we were nearing the end of the princess half marathon. It was hot on the highway now that the sun was totally up, but it was a manageable distance ahead of us. Being on the overpass meant that there was a bit of an uphill between miles 10 and 11, and the road had narrowed once again, so it had become more congested.

Mile 12 was placed right at the entrance of the Epcot bus area, and as the park was opening, there were plenty of people waiting to cross through runners and get into the park. We weaved through a backstage area as we headed into epcot, and Kasey spotted some characters from her favorite Disney movie - Mr and Mrs Incredible, in the flesh. She pulled right over to hop in line to get a photo with them, and I was totally on board with the move. After we struck a pose we hopped back onto the race course, and headed into Epcot.

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We entered the park near Figment’s Journey into the Imagination, and ran by the character spot, heading towards spaceship earth. We went through future world, passed spaceship earth, headed back stage, and then it was a quick turn and we could see the finish line.

We smiled as best we could as we crossed the finishline, got some pixie dust, and were handed our medals for completing the race. I liked that they had some glitter to them! The real reward was the cooling towel that they give you right after the medal though. We walked through the finisher chute, grabbed some poweraide, and I collected my fairy tale challenge medal. Kasey and I stopped to take a finishers photo together, enjoyed some treats from our snack boxes, and headed back to our hotel rooms for some well deserved naps.

At the end of the race I asked Kasey which of the three half marathons she had completed was her favorite - she at least seemed to enjoy this one more the the half we did together in D.C. last year, but she refused to answer and told me she was never running more than three miles again. I mean, I guess I’ll let her stick to that for a few more weeks, but she is signed up to run the Hot Chocolate 15k with me in Brooklyn at the end of April.

Race recap: 2019 Disney Princess 10k

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Early morning number two. The hardest part is waking up, and the majority of that was now behind me. I laid in bed for 10 minutes after my alarm went off, eventually mustering up the will to get moving. I had packed my bag the night before, so I really just had to get dressed and get out the door. It was cold in the hotel room, so just before leaving I decided to grab a sweatshirt- something I learned would not be necessary the second that I stepped outside.

The morning greeted me with a wall of humidity, and it was clear this race was going to be a hot one.

The bus was waiting when I got to the loading area, and I hopped on and snagged a seat next to another runner. We didn’t have a wait like the previous morning, and instead we were quickly on our way to the start area. I was so sleepy on the second morning that I was tempted to close my eyes on the bus. We got to the start area in about 15 minutes, and walked through the Epcot parking lot to get to the security check. No line again today, just a walk up to the table where they checked my bag.

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I was flying solo for this race, so I walked into the start area and found a space to go through my bag, sorting out the stuff I wanted to bring with me and the stuff that I would check during the race. They once again changed the bag check situation - this race instead of checking the bag based off the first letter of your last name, runners could go up to any truck and were given a sticker to put on the back of my race bib to remind me which truck I had used.

Once my bag was checked I headed right into the corrals, and found a spot to sit towards the front of corral A. We had waited almost 40 minutes to start the 5k the day before, and I was just ready to get moving on day 2. The humidity was already heavy on my lungs, and I wondered just how rough this run was gonna be.

Around 5:15 they started moving us toward the start line, and I was just a few rows of people back from the start of the corral, which was exciting. We watched as the announcers went through the pre race show, and I even got picked to answer a trivia question by one of the announcers (did you know that Mulan is the only Disney Princess who wasn’t born into royalty or married to a prince?).

Eventually it was time for the race to start. The wheelchair athletes went off first, then the elite runners, followed by all of us in corral A. I was able to settle into a sub-9 minute mile, which was all I was hoping for during this race. The first mile flew by, and the only character sighting in that stretch was Pocahontas, who was stationed on top of an overpass, posing above as the runners went by below. Shortly after the first mile marker there was a LONG line for a character - I wondered how a line could already be that long this early in the race, but then I saw it was belle and beast posing with a stained glass rose window, and understood the long line. I snapped a photo as I ran by, but didn’t want to wait in such a long line that early in the race.

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There was a slight uphill during the second mile, as we ran onto the next stretch of highway. I heard Hawaiian roller coaster ride playing as we approached the second character stop, and sure enough stitch was there taking photos with runners, all dressed up in his Elvis costume. The second mile marker featured belle, and it was still dark as night as I ran into the third mile.

There was a Donald Duck character stop that I believe was in mile 3 - he was just on the side of the highway without any backdrop, but I decided to run in for a photo as there was no line. I was starting to feel the effects of the heat by this point in the race, and was struggling to keep the pace I wanted at this point. It gets humid in NY in the summer, but I wasn’t accustomed to this kind of weather at this point in the year, so struggled as the race went on.

After passing the third mile marker we passed the waste treatment plant behind Epcot, which is easily identified by its smell, and ran under test track. Joy and Sadness were on the side of the rode, and I regretted not getting a photo with them during marathon weekend, so I stopped for one. Disgust would not have been pleased with how sweaty I looked in the photo.

Finally, we entered Epcot for the first time and started making our way around world showcase. I spotted Pinocchio hanging out in Italy, and ran right in for a photo. The countries were all lit up, and while I was struggling and feeling like I wanted the race to be over already, I tried to stay with a sub-9 pace while running, and reminded myself that if I was going to be running in weather that was hotter than preferred, I may as well be doing it in Disney.

As I approached the France pavilion I spotted Marie, who I had never managed to catch during a race before, and was super excited to get a chance photo with her. So excited in fact, that I forgot to pause my garmin, but it was a super quick stop, so it didn’t mess up my moving pace too much.

We exited Epcot after the France pavilion through the exit that leads to the board walk, and did a lap around the resorts before heading back into the park. The boardwalk loop was a huge struggle for me, knowing that I was going to have to deal with a few little hills within the next mile. The first was as soon as we left Epcot, and boy did I feel exhausted climbing that one. I had to back off the pace a little, as I started to feel nauseous as I climbed. Bleh. I do not miss summer running. As I made my way around the boardwalk Goofy was out, dressed as a baseball player. I thought about stopping since he had no line, but really just wanted to get to the finish line at that point. One more hill to leave the board walk, then into the construction area behind Epcot, where they are building the gondola system. It has been cool to see the construction progress over the last year, as many of the rundisney events have gone through that area. They had smart talking “construction workers” stationed in that area, joking around and rooting runners on.

We headed into Epcot a second time, and made our way towards future world. Mickey was stationed just before we turned towards spaceship earth with only 3-4 runners waiting, so I decided to do one more character stop. Our outfits did coordinate, after all, even if I was dressed as a villain.

I pushed hard to get back to a good pace after leaving Mickey, knowing that I had less than a half mile between me and the finish line. I ran towards spaceship earth, stopping for a jump shot along the way, then out of the park and towards the finish line. I didn’t make the same mistake I had during the wine and dine 10k and start sprinting towards the finish despite the heat, but instead just tried to hold a consistent pace. As I approached the finish line the runner next to me shouted “hi queen of hearts, this is good timing!” I turned to look, and she was dressed as Alice! Good timing indeed, as we did wind up in the same finish line photos.

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I was very relieved to be done running, and happily accepted my medal, which featured Mulan. Then it was on to snack boxes and bag check. As usual, I checked a drawstring backpack to carry all of the goodies they give you at the finish line. There weren’t too many runners in the post race area so I headed over to the characters to check out the lines. They had aurora, Princess Minnie, and Elena out. I decided to hop on line for princess Minnie, which took about five minutes. Then noticed that the line for aurora was also labelled for Mulan. The cast member at the end of the line told me Mulan was due out in about 15 minutes, so I decided to wait there, but the line moved quickly and I got a photo with aurora. So, I hopped on the back of the line again, and was able to get a photo with Mulan the second time around. It was her race after all!

When the character photos were complete I made my way over to the buses and back to the hotel. We had breakfast reservations at be our guest, so I had time for a decent nap before heading to the parks for a day of fun.

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Race recap: 2019 Disney Princess 5k

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I never did tell Mom what time the alarm was set for, but when it went off at 3:35 A.M. it scared the crap out of me. I dragged myself out of bed and into the bathroom to get dressed. Once I was ready I called out to mom, concerned that she had rolled over and fallen back asleep, but once I asked if she was awake she got up and began preparing for the morning’s race.

Twenty minutes later we were dressed as dalmatians and on our way out the door, headed to the bus stop at the all star music resort. We were at the bus stop just before 4 a.m. and as we climbed on board Kasey texted me saying that her, Aunt Karen, and Hallie had just arrived at the start area. We wound up waiting on the bus for about 15 minutes, but eventually we were on our way to the start to meet them.

We got to the start area a little later than planned, so lucky for us there was no line for the security check. Mom’s main goal at that point was to get a cup of coffee, and there hadn’t been any available at the hotel, so we got on the concession line to pick some up before heading to the corral.

We found the the rest of our group as soon as we entered the runners-only area, where the corrals are located. We hopped into our corral, and our next objective was to finish Kasey’s costume - she needed some white Cruella hair. I had brought white hair spray with me, and we moved to an empty area so I could spray one half of her ponytail.

We hung out in the back of the corral until they started to release runners, and when the crowd started to move we left the corral among the other participants. It was a slow crawl of a walk towards the start line, as they broke the corrals into mini-waves, so it took a long time for us to get to the start line, and we even got faked out just before the start, thinking we would get to go with the group ahead of us but the runners were cut off just before us. All in all it took a little more than a half hour for us to get to the start, and then we were on our way!

Mom, Aunt Karen, Kasey, Hallie and I all wanted to experience the race together, so we were all walking this one as a group. We took our time as we chatted on the road leading up to the backstage area of Epcot. I’m pretty sure Hallie almost puked when we walked by the waste treatment plant, but we powered through, passed under the backstage area of test track, and soon after entered Epcot. We passed some characters as we walked, but the lines were all very long so we just kept moving forward.

We first entered Epcot in the world showcase near the Mexico pavillion and when we got to Canada we spotted Daisy all dressed up in an adorable coat. We walked through the illuminated buildings in world showcase, and when we got to Germany it was time for a pit stop at the bathrooms.

There were plenty of photopass photographers on the course, and Kasey was never sure how to pose when we walked by them so we just had fun thinking of different poses as we went - this resulted in many awkward pictures that we got to laugh at later.

We left world showcase after the France pavilion, where we spotted prince Phillip. We walked towards the boardwalk resort area, but the course turned so we went through the gondola construction area. When we re-entered Epcot we were in England, and Rapunzel had a character stop. The sun was starting to come up as we moved through Epcot, and we eventually entered future world. We passed the fountain, and then headed towards test track.

As we were walking, Hallie saw a photographer snap of someone jumping, which lead to a series of attempted jump shots, and us learning just how bad Kasey is at jump shots, especially if that involves a heel click. Through many laughs we attempted our own jump shots, and failed miserably at coordinating our jumps, but at least we had fun with it.

The last part of the race took us by spaceship earth. As we left the park Kasey and Hallie started to get a little competitive, power walking ahead of each other. Soon enough there was a quick pass of Hallie’s phone to Aunt Karen, and then Hallie was sprinting towards the finish and Kasey chasing her down, as they raced to cross the finish line in the final stretch of the race. The rest of us laughed as they took off, and Kasey did win their showdown to the finish. Hallie stopped just before the finish line and ran back to us, so the four of us could cross the finish line together.

We collected our finisher medals, got our snack boxes, and took a finisher photo before heading onto the buses. We had a busy day ahead of us - starting with brunch at Chef Mickey’s to celebrate my Uncle’s birthday, and then a day in Magic Kingdom.

I carried my go pro along for the race to capture the fun, so here’s a video of our experience!

 

Race Recap: 2019 Disney Princess Half Marathon- Arrival and the Expo

I thought I had everything planned out perfectly for this race weekend – flights booked, outfits planned, fastpasses at the ready – and then mother nature stepped in, and shouted “You know what New York needs? A snowstorm!”

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Then just like that, I suddenly didn’t have a flight to Florida anymore – what?! I had booked flights for my parents and I on southwest. We like to fly out of the smaller airport on Long Island, MacArthur Airport in Islip, since it makes for a less stressful travel experience compared to LaGuardia and JFK, and I like that southwest usually has very affordable fares, with options to easily change flights if needed. We had even opted to purchase early bird check in, but 24 hours before our flight when I tried to pull up our boarding passes, I received an error message – and then about 30 seconds later I got an email that our flight was cancelled, due to an impending snow storm. Dang it winter!

This was on Wednesday morning, as I got ready for work. I pulled up the other available flights, and in a panic booked a flight for Wednesday at noon, figuring it would allow us to leave before the storm. The issue? I had not even begun packing, and I really needed to go to work that day to tie up loose ends before being out of office for almost a week. I called my dad, who talked me off the panic packing ledge that I had climbed onto, and we decided to rebook for a later flight on Thursday, as they storm was supposed to be over by then.

I spent the next 24 hours checking the weather and flight status obsessively, and while the weather got a little nasty during the day on Wednesday and that night, by the time Thursday rolled around the skies were clear, and our new flight was ready for departure. The downside to this later flight? I would be getting to the race expo later in the day, and unable to meet up with Kasey and her family when they headed to the expo, as they had fast passes in the afternoon, when I would be going.

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By the time Mom, Dad, and I landed in florida, collected our luggage, picked up the rental car and got on the road to Disney it was rush hour in Orlando, and we got to sit in traffic as we made our way to the hotel – not how I had envisioned the first day of the trip going, but I was rolling with the punches as best as I could.

When we got to the hotel dad wanted to take a ride up to target to get supplies for the room – snacks, a coffee maker, and what not – but I was itching to get to the expo. It closed at 8, and it was already 6:00, and I wanted to have time to experience as much of the expo as possible. So Mom and I decided to take the bus from the hotel to the expo while dad made the supply run. We got lucky, and there was a bus waiting on the side of the hotel when we got there, and we were able to hop on right away.

Kasey, Aunt Karen and Hallie had already been to the expo earlier in the afternoon, and while I knew some of the merchandise that I had my eye on was already sold out, that didn’t stop me from searching for one of those damn tye-dye princess half spirit jerseys. Did I find one? No. Was I a little disappointed? Yes, but at the end of the day I really did not need to drop $70 on a shirt anyway.

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Mom and I headed into the Visa center first, where the RunDisney official Merchandise was housed. We wandered through the aisles, checking out the various wares, and picking some items out. I really liked the color schemes and art styles that they used for the race this year, and was happy to spot Jasmine and Mulan on some merchandise. By the time I made it to the register my haul included a pair of Mulan jogger style, a fairy tale challenge jacket, a half marathon hat, a passholder shirt, a wine glass (that I later shattered) and a Tervis travel mug. Mom even picked out a few things, as she was walking the 5k with me the next morning, including a t-shirt, the same Mulan pants as mine, and a 5k headband. I got a lot of items, but the merch was so tempting this year that there were many more objects that I was a little bummed to be leaving behind.

Once we finished shopping we headed over to bib pickup, and got our numbers. We were there late enough in the day that this was a fast process as there weren’t too many runners around. I tried to get a few photos outside, but it was already getting dark so their quality was less than stellar. We walked over to the exhibition hall after, where the non-Disney vendors and race shirts are to pick up our shirts. There was no wait to get into that area of the expo either, although the show floor was a little crowded as we made our way to the back of the hall to pick up our shirts.

The expo was getting close to closing, so the only other stop that we managed to make was at the pandora booth, where they had a photo op. Mom any I got our photo taken, and then it was time to head back to the hotel and get our bags and outfits set up for the 5k the following morning. Her one race morning request? That I didn’t tell her how early we would be getting up.

Disney Marathon Weekend: The 2019 Disney Marathon

When I got back to our hotel room the night of the Disney Half, I was pooped after the early morning race, and a busy park day. I started gathering up all of my race day needs, so I would be set to leave for the marathon the following morning without any thought.

RunDisney had issued a weather advisory, warning about high humidity levels, and warm weather the following day. I was nervous, as my asthma had been less than friendly, and I was used to training in New York winter. I knew I was trained for this distance though, and didn’t have any intent of running a PR the following day. So I pushed my worry to the back of my mind, and used my nebulizer before bed.

Mike and Jude got back to the room as I was getting ready to go to sleep, and Jennie shortly after. They all wished me luck, and I was happy that they were going to be out there cheering me on the following day - you know you have supportive friends when they are willing to get up at 4 am to chase you down while you run your way though all of Disney World!

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The next morning was rare, in that my alarm actually startled me when it went off. I rolled out of bed and got ready in the bathroom area of our room, which had a big sliding door which closed off the sink area, and gave me plenty of space to have lights on without disturbing the others too much. I decided to go with a tank top from RawThreads that read “Will Run for Mickey Shaped Foods” and a pair of trusted New Balance 2-1 impact shorts. My fuel for the race would be a combination of Gu and Skratch energy chews.

I took the short walk from the hotel room to the bus, and climbed on in the usual order morning stupor. A quick ride over to the start area, then through security and into the race area. My first stop was the merchandise booth, as I always like to check out what they have left one last time while I have the chance. I didn’t pick up anything else, but they still had a variety of gear available.

After, I headed over towards the end of the family reunion area, where the Joyful Miles bloggers were having a pre-race photo meetup, and I plopped myself down to go though my race bag and sort out what I would be checking and keeping. I loaded up my SPI belt with fuel, and attached a pair of Goodr sunglasses in their case to the belt, knowing I would want them once the sun came up. Once Jackie and Laura arrived to the meetup location, we all stopped to pose for a quick photo before going our separate ways into our race corrals.

My one snafu of race morning? I didn’t manage to use the bathroom before starting, which made me a little more nervous for the miles ahead. But I reminded myself that I wasn’t running with a time goal, and I would just stop along the way if necessary.

My friends – Mike, Jennie and Jude, were planning to chase me around Disney as I ran the marathon course, so they were up not too long after me and on their way to the start line, to cheer me on from beginning to end. They were planning to spot me a total of 5 times – at the start, at the ticket and transportation center, at the Polynesian, in the animal kingdom parking lot, and at the finish line. In my opinion, it was a race day for them as much as it was one for me, as they would be fighting crowds and traffic to find me at each location…. Have I mentioned how much I love my friends?

It was about a mile walk to the corrals from the start area, and there were volunteers and security stationed at the entrance to make sure everyone heading to the corrals was wearing a race bib. Once I got into my race corral – I was placed in “C” for the goofy challenge, I found some space to stretch and just tried to take it all in, reminding myself it would all be over before I knew it. The multiple humidity warnings that had been issued made me nervous, but my plan was to set my watch to the screen that shows the time of day, not worry about the pace, and stop for whatever characters tickled my fancy along the way.

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As 5:30 A.M. approached the announcers prepared for the start of the race, with the national anthem being sang out over the runners. I took a Gu, discarded my heat sheet, and shuffled towards the start line as I waited for my corral to be released, and at just before 5:40 it was our turn to get moving. Just after the start line, I hung to the left side of runners, with my phone’s flashlight on, looking for my cheer squad. Once again the light allowed us to spot each other and I could see them cheering me on as I began my 5th marathon. The first mile of highway was a bit crowded as everyone tried to settle in, but mile marker one featured sorcerer mickey, perhaps giving us all a little magic to get through the race ahead. I wanted to get through as many miles as possible before the sun was up, hoping that the air would stay breathable for as long as possible. Despite the dark sky, I could feel the humidity pressing down on my body already.

In the second mile I saw long character lines – first for captain hook with a pirate ship, and then for Darkwing Duck and Launchpad Mcquack with a plane. Both cool photo stops, but the long line deterred me, as I didn’t want to stand around for so long that early I the race. So onward I went, my 90s kid heart a little disappointed I didn’t stick around to meet Darkwing duck.

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Mile marker two had Rapunzel and Flynn on it, and we continued along the highway. The monorail could be seen to our right, making resort rounds. As they zipped by, I wondered if one of them contained my friends. We once again ran under the magic kingdom sign, and I took a moment to stop for my traditional selfie – something I have done for every race that goes under it, since my first Princess Half. Mile three took us through the parking lot at the ticket and transportation center, and they had a few characters out along the way – first Gamora and and Skylord from guardians of the galaxy, then Nick and Judy from Zootopia. I was excited to get to the ticket and transportation center to find my cheer squad, so I once again ran by the characters.

We transitioned from the dark parking lot into the lit up ticket and transportation center, and I looked around, hoping to spot Mike, Jude and Jennie. Despite being alert, I managed to run right by them – but I turned around and ran right to them once I heard Mike shouting. I pulled Mike and Jennie each into big hugs, and Jude and I mimed an air hug as he was a little further back in the crowd. Just the encouragement I needed to keep me moving forward. I passed mile marker 4, and then ran under the bridge – where they had a light projecting the “RunDisney” logo, and then passed by the contemporary, went into the Magic Kingdom bus loop. Just before entering through the main gates to magic kingdom, mile marker 5 was standing tall – how was I already five miles into this race?!

They had big inflatable light up pillars lining the entrance into magic kingdom to ensure that there was enough light, and when I entered the park there were spectators lining main street, as always. The sun was not yet up, so the Kingdom was lit up with beautiful lights – one of my favorite sights to see. At the end of Main Street was the castle, in all its glory, still donning its holiday lights as we ran towards it. Before we were to run through it, we had to make our way around the park.

The first stop was tomorrow land, where Buzz Lightyear was out greeting the runners. We curved through Tomorrowland, passed the Tomorrowland speedway, and just outside of Alice’s teacups were tweedled-dee and tweedle-dum, where my love of wonderland got me to pull over for the first time that day, and pose for a picture. I mean, I wanted to spend as much time as possible in magic kingdom anyway.

I continued around the park, and saw Donald outside of the circus, in his snake charmer outfit, with a line of runners waiting to meet him. Then we went through new fantasy land, where we ran by Ariel and Belle’s castles, before heading to the big castle – Cinderella’s. Just before the carousel they had one of the “Thugs” from Rapunzel dressed up as a mime, who can usually be spotted in the festival of fantasy parade, out, and I pulled over and put on my best mime pose to grab a photo. Just before the castle the Fairy Godmother was out, but I ran straight through, and then pulled over for the obligatory castle photo. I only stopped at one photographer, but here is a tip that I heard after the race, in the podcast that Joyful Miles put out – if the castle photo is the BIG one for you, wait in line for each photographer that they have stationed there, to ensure you get a good one.

From there we were routed through liberty square and into frontier land. Jesse and Woody were out, and if memory serves correct, goofy was there as well. We passed mile 6 just before heading backstage. It was still dark as I made my way out of magic kingdom, and back on to the highway. As always, it was a bit crowded on that area of the course, but I wasn’t in a rush, so I didn’t try to weave through runners. Marker 7 was just before the grand Floridian, where the penguins from Mary Poppins were out, and then on the opposite side of the road was a gathering of grooms, equipped with headsets to talk to runners as they went by. The Disney wedding pavilion is at the grand Floridian, so it is typical for either Brides, grooms, or bridesmaids to be out during RunDisney events.

As I ran by the Polynesian I again spotted my cheer squad, and waved to them across the street – at this point, they were not letting spectators line the road right next to the runners, and they were instead stuck on the other side, at a slight distance.

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The next few miles were all highway between Magic Kingdom and animal kingdom, and included a long out and back stretch that I didn’t particularly enjoy. Some of the props set up on the side of the road included retired ride vehicles, such as a nautilus and the ride car from snow white’s scary adventures, and a giant orange bird figure. Just after mile 8 they had a few members of the now closed adventurers club out, and putting on a little show to entertain us as we ran by. The sun was officially up as I passed mile marker 11, but at least it had offered a pretty sunrise along the way.

We ran through the backstage area of animal kingdom before entering the park, seeing greenhouses and topiaries. Clarabelle and Horace were posing near Mickey and Minnie topiaries, making for a cute photo op. Before entering the park we passed mile marker 12, and they had bananas at the next aid station. Just before entering the park they had a mini petting zoo, featuring a giant rabbit, a hawk, and a snake, and some of the animals even had race bibs on.

The cast of the lion king show were along the road, up on their stilts as well, and Rafikki was near by – a character that I did stop for, as I love the lion king. Just after entering the park another familiar face from the lion king was out – Timon! Again, I stopped for a photo, I just couldn’t resist. Since I was in the park and there were real bathrooms, I decided to make a pit stop just before mile 13. I can deal with porter potties, but when real bathrooms are an option, they win out.

Mile marker 13 featured characters from the jungle book, and just after a ballerina swan from fantasia was out with no line, so I popped in for a quick photo. It was a character I had never seen out before, and I always love seeing rare characters. The sun was shining over Everest, and even though the park was not quite open there was a queue of runners waiting to get on the ride mid-race. I thought about joining them, but since I sometimes wind up with motion sickness from that ride, I decided it was better to skip it this time. The course ran through dino-rama, and then we were headed into the parking lot. My friends were still on the bus waiting to arrive, so I crossed my fingers that I would get to see them. The parking lot contained mile marker 14, which meant I was officially more than half-way through this race.

The entrance area to animal kingdom was crowded, with a mix of spectators and people trying to get into the park for opening. I collected some candy from strangers as I ran by, and with a stroke of luck, spotted my people! They had just gotten off of the bus and made it to the spectator area in time for me to run by, yay!

There was a marching band in the parking lot playing as we went by, and at the parking lot exit the haunted mansion grave diggers were set up with tombstones and shovels, and I jumped in line to get a photo. I had taken the same photo the first time I ran the Disney marathon, and was excited to have the opportunity to continue the tradition.

At this point, my friends had to head back to the hotel to secure all of our stuff for check out – we were flying home that night! Checkout times at Disney are typically 11 am, and while I had requested a late check out, they had not been able to approve it, so they had to go and move all of our stuff into daily storage at the resort, and I would be stuck showering at the pool facilities post-race if I didn’t make it back before 11 – and I knew that it was going to be tight timing. Jennie decided to stop at the front desk and ask one more time if there was any way they could accommodate a late check out…. And by some miracle they were able to make it happen! I didn’t get this news until I was at about mile 21, but I sighed a deep sigh of relief when I found out I would have a bed until 1 pm.

The next few miles were all highway, and I was relieved that I had brought sunglasses with me. Now that the sun was up, it was bright out, and the humidity that they had warned us about was in full swing. I wasn’t pushing it too hard with my pace and had no idea what any of my mile splits were, but I felt good, and hoped that I would continue to feel good for the rest of the race.

We entered ESPN for some loops just before mile 18, and they handed us nice cool sponges. Mile marker 18 had Lilo and Stitch on it, and I stopped to take a selfie to send Mike, since they are his favorite characters – and you know, since I was trying to convince him to do Dopey with me in 2020. We weaved our way through ESPN, and there were lots of characters out. I stopped for a photo with Minnie before we ran around the track, spotted goofy while on the track, but kept going as he had a decent queue, and then after the track stopped for a photo with Donald and Mickey. They gave us bananas again just before mile 19, and Sadness and Joy were set up just before the baseball diamond. I debated stopping as I ran by them, and wound up being a little remorseful that I didn’t strike a sad pose with them, lamenting the fact that the race was coming to a close.

We left ESPN, and I could feel my right IT band tightening up. This was a huge issue for me during the wineglass marathon, but I was determined not to be discouraged by it. At the next first aid station I stopped and put some bio freeze on it, and it instantly felt so much better. Still tight, but not painful. Throughout the rest of the race, I stopped and reapplied bio freeze any time it was available. I passed by mile markers 20 and 21 on the highway, and they had Pluto out in a construction zone, digging up bones. We ran over the old entrance to Hollywood studios, and got a glimpse of the ‘Galaxy’s Edge’ construction in the distance.

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Then we entered Hollywood Studios through a back entrance, near where fantasmic happens, and they had a candy station! In previous rundisney events they have one type of M&Ms, but this time there was a whole selection of all different varieties of candy. I grabbed a bag of caramel M&Ms and some skittles, and stowed them away in my race belt. Just before we ran by the tower of terror, I spotted Mr and Mrs Incredible, and hopped on line for a photo. Jennie texted me that they were in an uber on the way to the finish, and asked me how I was feeling. I posed for my photo, and sent it to her, unable to resist the caption of “I’m feeling INCREDIBLE!”

We ran through a small portion of Hollywood studios, passed the tower of terror, and then headed towards the main entrance. The park was open at that point, and they had the runners sectioned to one area of the sidewalk. We left through the main entrance, and ran next to the gondola construction, headed towards the boardwalk resort area, which would take us into the final stretch in epcot.

The heat and humidity hadn’t bothered me thus far into the race, but I felt it to an uncomfortable level in the last mile of the race. Combined with the fatigue I was feeling with the cumulative miles, I was ready to cross that finish line! We left the boardwalk and ran by the gondola construction near epcot, and then entered the world showcase. It would be one last quick trip around the world, and then the marathon would be complete.

I wound up stopping for two characters along the way, Alice and Belle, who were in England and France, respectively. Each country had cast members out and cheering, and as I made my way into Mexico, I saw crowds of people around the margarita stand – runners getting a finish line drink! I considered stopping, as I thought it would be a fun finish line photo, but I didn’t have a photo ID on me so decided not to wait on line and risk being turned down (I have had issues in the past with cast members telling me I am too young even when I do have my ID, and I just didn’t have the energy for it).

I texted my cheer squad, and it was going to be a close call on them making it to the finish line – their uber from the hotel had gotten caught in traffic on the way to Epcot. When I left world showcase and approached spaceship earth, I stopped for one last photo. Then it was just a matter of running past the gospel choir, seeing mile marker 26, and turning the corner towards the finish line.

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I ran through the finish, and was simply overjoyed. I felt strong, I felt accomplished, and I loved the experience I had just had. I was handed a medal and an ear hat by a volunteer, collected my poweraide and water, then headed towards the challenge tent, where I was awarded my goofy challenge medal, for completing the half marathon and the full marathon in one weekend. I made my way towards the bag check, got my stuff, and plopped down in the epcot parking lot. A few minutes after I sat down Jude, Jennie and Mike arrived, and while they had missed the finish line, they were excited for me to have finished the race. We all headed for the busses, Jennie and I heading back to the hotel to pack up, and Mike and Jude heading into Disney springs to meet up with Jude’s sister.

Jennie and I would celebrate with a drink at the Wave – the seven seas lagoon fish bowl, and then all met at chef Mickey’s for brunch. It may have been my slowest marathon to date (5:03:02), but I wouldn’t trade a minute of that time in exchange for the race experience that I had. You may remember back in September that all I wanted out of the wineglass marathon was to find my love for marathons again…. well, the 2019 Disney Marathon helped me do just that.

Mardi Gras Run to the Great South Bay Brewery

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Another week, another race recap, this time a local one: The Mardi Gras Run to the Great south bay brewery. This race is put on by the greater long island running club, and is marketed as a fast, flat race with an awesome after party.

Was the after party fun? Yes. Would I call the course flat? Not so much.

Mike, Sophie, Carson and I all decided to sign up for this race, and Emily agreed to come along to cheer us on, and drink my share of beer at the after party - a big perk of this race is that it includes a post race party that has plenty of beer to go around, all of which is brewed locally. Personally, I don’t like beer, but I do enjoy a good after party, and was happy to DD this one so that my friends could enjoy the party.

Emily, Sophie and I decided to pick up the race bibs the night before the race, so that we could sleep in a little later on race morning, and make sure we got our shirts in the sizes we wanted. We headed to the brewery in the afternoon to grab our bibs, and they were handing out a free drink ticket when you got your race supplies, so we stopped and had a drink as well. They had cider on tap that night in addition to all of their beers, so I was happy to get at least one drink out of this race! The bib pickup was located in a back room, which would serve as the VIP race area the following day, and the room was pretty empty when we got there. They allowed us to pick up Mike and Carson’s race supplies as well, which I always appreciate being allowed. As a bonus, there were GLIRC (Greater Long Island Running Club) calenders available, which list all of our local races, so I grabbed one of those to hang in my cube at work.

The brewery had a nice open room for its patrons, complete with ping pong, live music, and colorful artwork on the walls. We managed to find seating in what appeared to be old airline chairs, and enjoyed our drinks and chatted for awhile before heading home to prepare for the following day’s race. It turned out to be a good decision on our part to pick up the bibs early, as they ran out of shirts (and medals too!).

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Come race morning I made the rounds to pick up my friends, other than Carson, who was meeting us at the Brewery, since she was coming in from Brooklyn. It was a quick ride over, and the race had people out directing traffic, so it was easy to find parking. We got there about 45 minutes before start time, and had no issue with parking.  

We got all of our race gear together, and headed into the brewery to wait until start time. It was a cold morning, so it was very nice to not have to wait outside. We walked out just before they sang the national anthem, and all crossed the start line together.  

The first mile of the race was crowded, so the four of us wound up weaving a little. We all run pretty close paces, and no one was looking to intensely race, so we figured we would stick together as much as possible. I was having a hard time getting into a groove, so I was glad to have company. 

The course was well manned, with volunteers stationed frequently to send runners in the right direction. Unfortunately there was some road kill in the middle of the course that we had to run by not once but twice, and I’m not really sure why an effort wasn’t made to remove it prior to race start.  

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Around mile three we were all feeling the miles in our shins and quads, and while there weren’t any major climbs during the race, there were slight, consistent uphills that wore on our legs. I made a mental note to check the elevation profile on my garmin later that day.  

There were two official water stops, and a third unofficial one, where someone was hanging out water bottles to runners as they went by. There was also a porter potty at about the half way point, but other than that there were no restrooms on the course.  

We had consistently been running between 10-10:30 miles, but when we hit mile 6 and only one mile remained ahead of us, Carson decided to pick up the pace, and being the competitive individual I am, I of course obliged. We raced back and forth over the last mile, but as we approached the finish line we were loosing Mike and Sophie, and I really wanted to finish with them, and we called it a truce so we could try to get a nice finishers photo.... a truce that did not last, when Carson saw the finish line and started sprinting. I had taken the whole race easy, so for me it wasn’t worth sprinting at the end, as I valued finishing with my friends above a quick 0.1 mile sprint. 

We crossed the finish line and were handed our medals- a luxury that not all finishers got that day, as the race actually ran out before everyone had completed the run. They assured runners that they would be mailing out medals to anyone that did not receive one, and cited high “day of” race registration as being the cause of the shortage.  

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We headed over to the car to change out of our sweaty clothes and into our race shirts, and then went into the brewery to enjoy the after party. They had a huge space set up, with several types of beer and lots of food to go around. They had subs, muffins, bagels, packaged waffles, and popcorn, as well as water and sodas. It was a bit crouded to get to the food, but once we had our spoils we all enjoyed our meal, and my friends enjoyed their drinks.  

We stayed until the party ended, dancing to the live band and relaxing post race.  

All in all, it was a fun event, and I would recommend checking it out if you’re local to Long Island, or if you’re really into after parties that have all you can drink beer.  

Disney Marathon Weekend: The Half Marathon

This post is part two of my recap of the 2019 Walt Disney World Marathon weekend, for which I headed to Florida with my friends Mike, Jennie, and Jude. To read part one of the recap, which is about our first day in the parks and the race expo, click here.

Like every RunDisney event, the 2019 Half Marathon started with an early morning. A 5:30 a.m. race start meant a 3 a.m. alarm, and as much as I love RunDisney, I certainly do not love the early mornings that they require. But they are a necessary evil, made worth it by the fun that is to be had. We planned to be on the bus by 3:30, when the race guide suggested runners be on their way by.

We had set our outfits and race bags up the night before, so it was thought free preparations in morning, that way we wouldn’t forget any race day essentials. We did the best we could to get ready quietly (and if you know me, you KNOW this is not a skill I possess), and were out the door about 15 minutes before the 3:30 cutoff. It was a little chilly the morning of the race, but nothing compared to the freezing temperatures that runners dealt with during the 2017 marathon weekend. Mike brought along an old sweatshirt as a throwaway later, and I had a heat sheet stored in the bag I was planning to check, for when I had to remove my jacket.

It was a quick walk to the bus stop, and lucky for us we were able to get right onto the bus without a wait. I dozed in my seat as the bus took us to the Epcot parking lot, where we would start our 13.1 mile journey.

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As is standard at any RunDisney event, there was a sea of runners dressed up as various Disney characters as we stepped off the bus, and we joined the masses as they made their way towards the start area. Walking through the parking lot we got a quick peek at spaceship earth, illuminated in the pre-dawn hours, and a reminder of the sight we would see just before the finish line. Both Mike and I had bags that we were planning to check, so we had to wait to have them scanned by security before we could enter the area, but the very populated line moved along quickly. When we got into the race staging area, we headed towards the DJ setup, and found a spot behind the bleachers to plop ourselves while we ate our breakfast. We had picked up the runner boxes that all star movies was selling, so we had bagels to eat from there, and I had brought along a Kind Breakfast Bar as well. Once we were finished eating, I organized the stuff in my bag into two piles - the stuff that I would need during the race, and the stuff that I was going to check during the race. I threw my jacket into the check bag, and although it wasn’t too cold, opted to bring the heat sheet I had packed into the corral with me.

We headed towards the bag check, and the green army man was stationed in front of the bag check trucks to encourage the runners to start moving towards their corrals. In previous years, bag check was in large white tents, but this time they had Fed-Ex trucks in place to collect our belongings. Mike and I had to split up, since our last names were assigned to different trucks, but were quickly reunited on the other side. We decided to make a porter potty stop before we headed to the corrals, and it was very dark in those toilets! Since it was still dark out, there was no sun to illuminate into the porter potties, and the parking lot light poles weren’t quite illuminating things enough.

Next step was to make our way into the corrals, and it was about a mile walk to get there. They had a DJ along the way, and photo pass photographers to take photos for anyone that wanted to stop and pose. We still had some time before the race when we got to the corral, so we found a spot that wasn’t too close to the speakers, and started stretching while we waited. Mike found a highschool friend in the same corral to us, and had a quick reunion as we waited. We made sure to each take a Gu before we got going, and I took a precautionary inhaler puff. Soon enough the announcers had Donald on the stage, and the countdown was on to the start time. Since we were in corral D, we got to watch a few sets of fireworks go off as the corrals ahead of us got moving.

At last, it was our turn to start, and with a Disney amount of excitement and fanfare, we crossed the start line as fireworks went off. Jennie and Jude were our official cheer squad for the day, and shortly after we had left for the start area, they got up and made their way to the start line, which would be the first of their four planned cheer spots. We texted them as we started, and Mike had the bright idea to shine his cell phone flash towards the spectators, who were across the street from the runners, so they would be able to spot us, and when we saw two people jumping up and down with excitement, we knew they had spotted us. As we ran towards magic kingdom, they hopped on a monorail to head towards the ticket and transportation center.

For me, the highlight of the first leg of the run, which consists of the highway between the start and magic kingdom, is getting to run under the Magic Kingdom entrance sign. There is just something magical about getting up close and personal to a sign that normally you only get to drive under, especially in the dark, it just looks magical!

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There were a few characters on the highway as we made our way towards Magic Kingdom, including Lightening McQueen and Mater, some leading villains - the Evil Queen, Maleficent, and the Queen of hearts, and Wreck it Ralph with Vanellope. They also had a DJ, and a few High School bands playing to keep us entertained along the way. Soon enough we had reached the ticket and transportation center, where Jennie and Jude were waiting to cheer us on. We managed to spot them quick enough, and ran in for quick hugs before we were on our way. They were planning to walk over to the Polynesian, while we made our way into the Magic Kingdom. The next time we saw them we would be more than half way through our journey!

The bus stops were all lit up as we ran through the station, and they had big blow up lights set up to lead us into the Magic Kingdom through the main entrance. We had managed to make it to the park before the sun came up, so when we got to main street we could see the castle beautifully lit up in the distance, still covered in its holiday lights. Mike played to the cheering spectators that lined the road, interacting with their signs and even hitting a power up boost that one held and zooming off.

We then entered tomorrow land, where they had Mike with Sully and a Buzz Lightyear character stop. We decided not to get photos, and kept moving instead. The white rabbit was out neat the tea cups, and the evil step sisters held their usual spot just before the castle. We ran through the castle, and then stopped to get our photo taken in front - and to our dismay, that castle photo never did make its way into our race photos.

From there the course took us though liberty square and into frontier land, where we made a pit stop to get a photo with Woody and Bullseye, since they are Jude’s favorite characters, and we wanted to get a photo taken to show him. Then as quickly as it had begun, our time in Magic Kingdom came to an end, as we left the park through a back stage exit, and got to run by some festival of fantasy parade floats on our way out.

The park exit lead us to cone alley, a stretch of highway known for squeezing runners into a more narrow than preferred run way. At one point Mike and I both got a chill as the air froze momentarily, a event that is still a mystery to both of us. We sang along to the disney and pop songs that they had playing, as the sun finally began to climb into the sky.

As we got to the resorts that are nearby, they had Chip and Dale out with Clarice, and a group of Grooms near the grand Floridian. Just after mile 7 we approached the Polynesian, and spotted our cheer squad once more. We couldn’t believe how fast the miles were slipping by. For our second strech of highway, we passed by Mr. Incredible, and then after passing mile marker 9, which featured a photo of Anna and Elsa and played let it go, Mike serenaded me with his own rendition of Let it Go.

Mile 10 had a highway ramp that the green army man was positioned on, and as we ran by he shouted to Mike - “Keep going Lilo, you have me in stitches!” and Mike was very happy that he had recognized his costume. In what felt like the blink of an eye, we were entering Epcot, and stopped for a photo with Doug, Carl, and Russell from “Up” as we headed in. There was a DJ playing as we entered the park near the imagination pavilion, running by Journey into the Imagination, then onto Space Ship earth. Just a few more turns, and less than a half mile, and our race would be finished.

They had a gospel choir out singing as we approached mile 13, which of course featured Donald Duck, and then we turned the corner and could see our destination: The finish line! We crossed it with joy, and collected our metals - Mike was officially a half marathoner. We walked through the finish line chute, collecting cooling towels, power-aide, and of course, the coveted runDisney snack box.

After getting our finishers photos and collecting our bags, we found Jude and Jennie in the parking lot - they had made it there in time to watch us cross the finish line, even though Mike and I had not successfully spotted them as we ran through.

After hanging out in the Epcot parking lot for a few minutes, we headed into the park to get on a few rides, since Epcot was just opening for the day, and the lines would be relatively short. We managed to get on the Frozen ride, and soarin, then grabbed breakfast before hitting a few more rides. We had fastpasses in Hollywood Studios in the afternoon, so eventually we boarded the bus that would take us back to the resort for showers and naps, and after resting up for a bit, made our way into Hollywood Studios for another day of fun, and to celebrate completing the race.

After we had finished off all of our fastpasses I decided to head back to the room before everyone else, as I was pooped from a busy day, and had a big day ahead of me - my 5th marathon, and day 2 of the Goofy Challenge!

2019 NYRR 9+1: The Gridiron 4 miler

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As we begin 2019 I start, for the third time, the process of qualifying for the NYC marathon. While I qualified in 2017, I didn’t run the race in 2018 as I wound up getting married the week before, and in 2018 I completed my nine races, but ultimately decided not to fulfill my volunteer obligation, as I knew that my cousin Jen would be getting married race weekend for the 2019 marathon, and in Georgia, so there was no way I would get to NY in time to run it. But so far, things are looking good for 2020!

If you’re not from New York, you may be wondering what the heck I am talking about - let me give you the run down. If you’re a runner, you have probably heard of the NYC marathon, which happens the first weekend of November every fall. It is a tough race to get into, as you can’t register for it unless you have time qualified, won a race lotto, raised a lot of money for charity, or participated in the 9+1 program. The New York Road Runners, the race company that hosts the NYC Marathon, gives runners an option to earn guaranteed entry by running in 9 events, and volunteering at one event. The spot you earn is non-complimentary, so you still have to pay registration fees, but you are guaranteed the opportunity to register.

This year both Sophie and Mike have agreed to my marathon madness, and will be running the weekly races with me throughout the course of the year - Kasey, just think of all the blog posts that you won’t be in if you don’t run with us, are you sure marathon FOMO isn’t a thing?

I picked up Sophie, and her first question was “Are we running up the hill in central park? Your dad warned me about it.” I had maybe neglected mentioning the hills of central park to Sophie, who had never before run there. But lucky for her, today’s race excluded Harlem hill, so she got to avoid the worst of the hills this time.

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For this week’s race, I linked up with Sami and Nicole from the tri team to carpool. I had offered to drive, but when Sophie and I got to Sami’s house Nicole was ready to take us as passengers, and I wasn’t about to complain about getting a ride into the city. It was an easy ride into Manhattan - you usually don’t hit too much traffic driving in from Long Island on Sunday mornings. We had to do a few laps of the area before we eventually found parking, but we prevailed in the battle against parking garages and found a spot on the street. It took us about 10 minutes to walk to race day central, where Sophie, Sami and I picked up our bibs, and then Sami and I checked bags before the race started.

We debated getting in some mileage before the run, but ultimately wound up getting in about a 1/4 mile before happening upon the football toss that they do for the superbowl, and Nicole to try a throw since the womens line was short. We then made our way to the corrals, which were set to collapse 10 minutes before the race started. It was only a 4 mile run, so we didn’t have to bother with gels today, so it was just a quick stretch and then we were on our way. Sophie and I stuck together, while Nicole and Sami zoomed off, as they had paces they wanted to hit during the run.

After a relatively flat start, we turned the second corner and faced the first of the three sisters - a hill formation consisting of three hills that are less than friendly, and which stayed with us as we ticked off the first and second mile. We did a drive by water stop in the second mile, and I had to peel off one of my layers - it was just too warm. As usual, I had seen a temperature in the 30s and panicked, putting on an underarmor cold gear shirt that I was regretting by the half way point.

This was a superbowl themed race, so during the second mile runners had to pick a lane - depending on which team they wanted to win. Sophie, being from New England, went for the patriots as the winner. I, not caring about football but lover of harry potter, went against the patriots, since Dan Radcliffe had spoken out as being against them in the week leading up to the race.

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We had a short hill reprieve as we made our way around the south side of the park, but soon enough the steepest hill we would face that day was upon us - Cat Hill. By the time we were over it, we had about a mile left in the race, and I was able to truthfully tell Sophie that the hills were over, aside from the slight uphill at the finish. With no hills left I was able to relax my breathing, and sail right to the finish line. We completed the race in 37:39, an average pace of 9:18 min/mi.

We collected our bagel and apple, grabbed our checked bags, and changed out of our running clothes that were wet with sweat. As we were doing this, my friend Carson found us, and we all chatted as we stopped to grab our race shirts and made our way out of central park and to the car.

All in all it was a good day for a race, that went by quickly thanks to good company. My next NYRR race? The United Airlines NYC Half Marathon.

Race Recap: RunDisney Wine and Dine 10k

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As is tradition for runDisney events, my alarm went off just a little too early on race morning, but at least I had managed to get a solid 5-ish hours of sleep. I had assembled my running supplies the night before, so my roctane powder was already all mixed up into some water and my outfit was folded up in the bathroom, that way I could get up and get dressed without waking up Dennis - we were staying in the beach club, and our hotel room was setup so that the bathroom was around the corner from the bed, so even with me scuttling about to get ready, he didn’t seem to wake up. And if you know me, you know this is nothing short of a miracle, because try as I might I am just not a quiet person when I get ready. 

My alarm went off at 3:25, and I was out the door by 3:40. I met another runner on my way down to the bus, who introduced himself as Jonathan, and we chatted as we walked to the bus and waited. He told me about his podcast, about a mouse, and it was nice to have someone to chat with as we rode the bus to the start area. 

I was flying solo when I got to the start area, and wandered around to check out the characters that were out for meet and greets (lumiere, chef Mickey and goofy), and listened to the DJ for a few before heading towards the corral. 

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Weather was mild on race morning, but being a chicken I had pulled on my long sleeve race shirt and rain coat because I was cold when I woke up- but I didn’t intend to run in these things, so I had to give them up when I checked my bag. Luckily I had saved the heat sheet that they gave me at the wineglass marathon, so I pulled that on and headed to the corrals, armed with my muffin and other assorted pre-race fuels. I considered a porter potty stop on the way, but ultimately I just found a spot to sit in the corral, hoping I wouldn’t later regret that choice. 

As I sat in the corral I thought about what I wanted out of this 10k. In the back of my mind I thought about really racing it - if I managed to PR it was possible that I could place in my age group, but it would be a stretch, as I really wasn’t in shape to PR at this point- my workouts had been lacking in October because of the craziness that was getting married. So I left my long term goal of placing in my age group at a rundisney race in my back pocket, and figured I would just play it by ear, and aim to have a good time on course. A cop out, perhaps. But I was worried that I would pass up a fun RunDisney experience for a PR that may not come. 

Eventually I did decide to go pee before the race, and of course as I headed back into the corral I saw they had started collapsing the corral and sending runners towards the start line. Timing, not my strong point. 

As the race started I struggled to hit a good pace, as the start line was crowded with runners and walkers. I’m all for running your own race, but it was a little bit frustrating that there were walked mixed into the first wave of corral A, which, in theory, should consist mostly of people who are running. I’m not trying to pace shame anyone- it was just frustrating to have to weave so much just to be able to keep running. 

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The first mile of the race was all highway, with the big attraction being a screen attached to a overpass, playing clips of monsters inc. I hit the first mile in 8:09, feeling strong now that the crowd was thinning out a bit. 

In mile two there were some character stops- first lightning McQueen and to-Mater and then captain jack sparrow with his pirate ship. I’m not a huge fan of either of these, so I opted to run by these stops. The first water station was also in mile two. Pace for mile 2 was 8:18, and I was still feeling good. 

There were more “hills” than I’m accustomed to in Florida races, and they slowed me down a bit in mile three, with highway ramps becoming a part of the race. During mile three a green army man cheered us up the on ramp, commending us for our pace and encouraging us to keep it up- I lost a little time on this mile regardless, which came in at an 8:26. 

At this point, I knew we were approaching Epcot, and I stowed my phone in my pocket. So forgive me if I mess up some of the location details as we go on, as I don’t have any photos to reference. 

Mile 4 brought us backstage, and into Epcot through future world. Just before entering the park chip and dale were hanging out with a DJ and there was no line for photos..... I couldn’t resist. I ran in and got a quick picture before heading onward. We got our first glimpse of spaceship earth just before entering the park, which was alive with music, as they had a mix of pump up and Disney music playing through out Epcot. From future world we headed into world showcase, and then around England we headed backstage and got an up-close look at the gondola construction. 8:31, not too shabby. 

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We hit mile 5 right as we headed back into Epcot, and right around there Oswald was hanging out in front of a tiny barn, again with no line! So I hopped off course for another character photo, and then began my last lap around world showcase before the finish line. There were plenty of photographers around world showcase, which was all lit up with lights on the buildings. When I spotted Jimminy cricket in one of the countries, I stopped for another quick photo before beginning my descent to the finish line. With two character stops, mile 6 came in at 8:36, and dad texted me asking if I had finished the race yet just before the mile marker. 

The last 0.2 miles of the course took me through the end of future world, and I attempted a jump shot before leaving the parks- we will find out soon enough if I was successful! The photographer said something to me as I ran by, but honestly I have no idea what he said. (good news- he got the shot!)

Just before rounding the corner to the finish line we went by a drum line, and then things went downhill fast- I let my competitive nature get the best of me. Just as we went by the last fence and the finish line came into sight, a runner that had been on my tail for the last mile or so shouted to me - “come on, don’t let me beat you now!”

A phrase which is basically my kryptonite. 

As he ramped up his speed trying to pass me, I picked mine up as well. He goaded me more, rooting me on to push for the finish line - and for the record, I in no way see this as a bad thing! I love a little friendly competition, and have raced to more than one finish line in the past. 

As we pushed each other to go faster, he started to pass me, and called out for me to help going, to which I responded, “if I puke I’m blaming you!” More jokingly than anything else. The finish line was less than 200m away, what could go wrong in that distance? 

And I was fine.... until I wasn’t. Suddenly my stomach seized, and I had to ease off the pace as a sudden wave of nausea hit me, and I started gagging. The finish line grew closer, it was less than 100m to go.... but I had to pull to the side of the race to puke. So sorry to anyone whose finish line photos may have me puking in the background, my bad. It was not something that I thought was in the realm of possibility for this race. 

But after a minute or so I was able to compose myself, and get over the finish line, with a time of 54:18- about three minutes slower than my PR, but I was pretty pleased with it. 

I made my way through the finish like chute, collecting my medal, poweraide, water, and the famous rundisney snack boxes, then grabbed the bag I had checked earlier that morning. I always pack a drawstring backpack into my checked bag so that it is easier to carry everything after the race. 

Once I had all my stuff together, I got a few character photos- Sebastian, Lumiere, and chefs Donald and goofy- before heading to the bus which would take me back to the beach club resort. 

It was a good morning all in all, and after a quick shower I proceeded to sleep for another two hours before heading to magic kingdom for a day of fastpasses and making Dennis take pictures of me with my new medal. It was a great day in the parks, made even better by family! That night I met up with a bunch of my cousins for dinner, who happened to have an overlapping vacation. We grabbed food at the brewery that is on the boardwalk, and it was hard to resist the margaritas - but I somehow managed, knowing that I had another early morning ahead of me.

Race Recap: RunDisney Wine and Dine Expo

Did I manage to finagle our honeymoon being the same dates as a rundisney weekend? You know it! It truly wasn’t intentional as well, we just headed out for a week after our wedding, and the first weekend of November is the same weekend as Disney’s wine and dine half marathon weekend. 

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Now, everyone on planet earth (basically) told me that I shouldn’t run a marathon the week after my wedding- which is why I didn’t register for the NYC marathon this year. But no one said a thing about half marathons! Or rundisney challenges for that matter.... so when registration opened up, I registered for the two course challenge- a 10k on Saturday morning, and a half marathon on Sunday morning. RunDisney races are always very early, so Den would even be able to sleep through the whole run. So, totally fair game in my book. 

I didn’t need to go to the race expo Thursday, but I was excited to check out all of the RunDisney excitement - so we planned to go Thursday afternoon, to avoid the opening crowds but get there before the locals got out of work that day.

We headed out to the bus stop at the beach club resort just after 2 pm, and after waiting for about 20 minutes, an expo bus pulled up..... and promptly left without stopping. Come on! After speaking with another runner who was waiting for the bus, who told us the last bus did the exact same thing 30 minutes before this bus, I headed into the resort and spoke to the front desk, who started to call the bus operators to see what was up. We had fastpasses that evening I’m Hollywood Studios that we didn’t want to miss, and she offered to call us a complimentary taxi to take us to the expo, so we wouldn’t loose any more time. 

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So a few minutes later, we were in a cab and on our way. When we arrived at the ESPN wide world of sports, our first stop was the arena, where the official rundisney merchandise was housed, as well as the bibs. I headed into the merch area first, as I had read online that things were already selling out - apparently there was an extremely limited number of pins made for this weekend, and I wanted to make sure I got one for my backpack. By the time we arrived, all of the medal replica ones were already sold out, but I was at least able to grab the logo pin and an “I did it” pin for the challenge. 

I picked up an assortment of merch other than pins- a hat, a travel mug, a wineglass, a jacket, a magnet, a half marathon “I did it shirt,” and a shirt for den that reads “I support my wife’s runDisney obsession.” What can I say, I’m milking this newlywed thing. 

I don’t normally buy the “I did it” shirts that rundisney sells, but I have one from this weekend two years ago, and somehow managed to stain it recently, so I wanted a replacement. Plus, this year they were tech shirts, rather than cotton shirts, so it’s something I can actually run in. 

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When we went to check out Den surprised me and took care of all my purchases for me, as my birthday is next week. We may be home by then, but at least I’ll have a little Disney Magic to look forward to. 

Once we were done with the merchandise, we headed into the bib pickup area, which was also in the arena this time around. There were no crowds, and I was able to walk right up to my designated pickup location. I missed the first corral by 30 (!!!!) bibs, but was kind of excited that my number fell into the first range of pickup line numbers. I’ll just have to work harder next time, corral A is so close!  As always, they were taking photos of runners who were signed up for the challenge, so that they can be verified at the finish line of the half.

Once we had checked all of the required boxes and snapped a few photos, I hopped in line to get a photo with chef Mickey before making my way over to the visa center, where I would be able to retrieve my race shirts. 

Again, there was no line to get into the visa center, so we walked right in and headed through the vendors to shirt pickup. I did buy one thing at the expo, but it’s a super secret surprise for Mike, so you’ll have to wait for the big reveal on that one. 

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When I got my shirts I made sure to try all three on, and they were a good fit. I am a big fan of both the colors of the shirts and the art style that they used. I was hopeful that it would be cool enough in Florida to wear them around the parks after the races, as they’re all long sleeve shirts. 

Once we had all of the goods we left the expo, and had time to head to Disney springs to grab earl of sandwich, before making our way to Hollywood studios. We had fastpasses there to ride slinky dog dash for the first time, and the crowds were even light enough that we got onto toy story midway mania and alien swinging saucers. 

All in all a successful day, both in the parks and at the expo, and I was feeling excited for the race weekend ahead!