runDisney Star Wars Half Marathon 2017 Race Recap

My husband and I recently ran the second annual Star Wars Dark Side half marathon at Walt Disney World. Check out my recap of the race below and email heather@heatherslookingglass.com if you have any questions about the race.

My alarm went off at 2:45 am, and I was actually oddly enough already awake. I knew just laying there would make it even harder to get up, so I begrudgingly did it and got ready for the race, taping my knee, and psyching myself up. I scarfed down a Quest bar and Bobby made eggs (seriously, who makes eggs at 2:45 in the morning?) and soon we were off to the buses. It was slightly chilly (for me, but I’m always cold) but not “cold” by any means. I could tell it was going to be a humid race though.

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The bus pickup for Bay Lake Tower and the Contemporary was on the far side of the convention center, so we had quite a hike to get where we were going. However a bus was there waiting and we snagged the front row. We made it to the star very quickly since it was in the Magic Kingdom parking lot, and we got in line for the bathrooms then made it into our corals with an hour left to spare. I know runDisney wants to make sure everyone gets there on time, but we got on a bus right before 4 am (which is when they say the last buses leave for runners) and we had WAY more than enough time to spare. We sat down in coral C and waited…and waited…and waited. When you are sitting there waiting to run 13.1 miles you begin to contemplate why you spent money to be tortured in this way. Anyway, soon it was time for the National Anthem and then coral A got their fireworks and start, and we were moving up to the front.

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Then we were running…and it was dark. Like REALLY dark. A lot of the street lights weren’t on/working and I was concerned about tripping on something it was so dark. We made a huge loop and ended up almost next to the start line. We were in the 3rd of 19 waves, so we kept hearing fireworks for a very long time. We then turned onto Bear Island road, which reminded me of running the marathon around into the back of Animal Kingdom, which is exactly where we were headed. But not before running into some storm troopers!

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My knee began to bother me a little bit so we did run walk intervals, which I was fine with since I had not been running since the Princess half eight weeks ago.

There were a few photo op’s that didn’t involve characters which I thought was a nice touch. Since I don’t know a ton about Star Wars (don’t hate me) I had to get Bobby to explain several things to me.

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We made it into Animal Kingdom, hit the bathrooms, and made it around the park. I was actually shooting an Instagram story in the below photo. Gotta work while I run!

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On the other side of Animal Kingdom we ran into these guys. Bobby told me to do this with my hands but I still have no idea why.

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Dark Maul was next. Clearly I am impressed with Star Wars characters. However, Bobby was in his element.

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At about mile eight, Bobby’s lack of training began to show. Poor guy doesn’t have time to run, and he ran one six mile run and a few short runs before the race, but that’s it. His hamstrings began to cramp up and his knees were aching pretty badly, so we did more walking the last few miles of the race, and stopped some so he could stretch.

I really enjoyed running a different course than the same ones I have done over and over, and in particular I loved going through Hollywood Studios an dover the Boardwalk.

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But what I did NOT like is the path going from DHS to the Boardwalk. It’s super narrow and was really congested. You can’t get around people so it was slow going the whole way. Oh well!

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I kinda like him.

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On the Boardwalk there were more fun characters to pose with.

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Selfie with a Storm Trooper? Why not!

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As we came down towards the International gateway area, we saw Chewie but didn’t see a clear path to get to him from the road, so we hopped in the grass to get over to the line and a cast member yelled at us in a not so magical voice to get off the grass. Oy.

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We made the turn into EPCOT and started around the World Showcase.

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My attempt at getting Spaceship Earth in the background.
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Near where the gospel choir is at other runDisney races, we saw these two and of course had to stop. Leia’s face cracks me up.

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We made one final turn past the mile 13 marker, and were in the home stretch. Across the finish line we went and another half marathon was now complete.

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We didn’t stick around because my parents were watching Emma Kate, and we had fastpasses at Animal Kingdom so we hopped on a bus and headed back to the resort, eating snacks from our boxes on the way. Another race to check off my list!

QOTD: Are you a Star Wars fan? Would you ever run this race?

Quad and Knee Running Injury Update and Info

Hola friends! If you have been following along, you may have noticed a lack of running social media posts. Or maybe you watch my Instagram stories talking about how I have been injured since the runDisney Princess half. I wanted to share an update with you on my progress in case anyone is going through the same or similar thing.

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Honestly, I’m still not 100% sure what happened. I was running really well leading up to Princess, and getting faster over short distances due to Orange Theory Fitness. I had run up to a 10 mile training run, which is not out of the ordinary for me leading up to a half marathon, especially one I am not running all out/am running for fun like Princess.

I haven’t had a running injury in a LONG time, so you can imagine my frustration when leg pain I had at the very end of the half and then the few days after….never fully went away. Let me back up. I noticed the last mile or two of the Princess half that my upper middle portion of my quad was hurting as I lifted that leg to pull it forward for a stride. I chalked it up to a tweak and sore muscles from running 13.1 miles and went on my way. I had a hard time walking that night, but thought after a good night’s sleep I would feel better the next day.

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Interestingly enough, the next day my quad pain had subsided by about half, but the pain had shifted down to the inside of my kneecap. So strange I know. I took some Motrin, stretched a bit, and continued on walking around the parks for two days. The pain would get progressively worse during the day, then feel much better (but still there) by morning. I got home on Wednesday, and took two full days off before going back to Orange Theory on Friday. It felt like someone was stabbing me in the inside of my knee, and my quad hurt when I rowed. I was dumb and ran through it. I took the whole weekend off, stretching and foam rolling and tried again Monday. The pain continued, but this time I was (a bit ) smarter about it and did the elliptical instead of the treadmill in class. After that class I was still having issues and knew I needed to make a decision.

Fortunately, OTF allows you to freeze your account for a month for $15 instead of paying the monthly fee and not using it. I started foam rolling and stretching every day, and did zero cardio. After another week of this, I started slowly adding in some strengthing exercises I found online. After 3.5 weeks, I decided to try going for a walk/run with some KT Tape on. while my leg definitely felt better than it had been, I was still having tightness and pain. After talking to a couple of doctor friends, the consensus was as long as it was getting better and not staying at the same pain level, it was probably a tear that needed more time to heal. Apparently 3.5 weeks is not enough. They told me to try walking but STOP if it hurts, and then eventually move to running, but never running through pain. Also to keep stretching etc.

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I followed their advice, and after another week tried walking a mile, then slowly went up to 1.5 miles throwing in a few short runs, and now I am up to 2 miles run walking with no pain. I am also still foam rolling and stretching daily like it’s my job, and wearing KT tape. so my timeline was as follows:

Sunday February  26: Injury occurs.

Monday-Tuesday 27/28: Walking all day at Disney parks

Wednesday/Thursday 1/2: rest completely and stretch/foam roll

Friday 3: OTF…lots of knee pain, some quad pain

Saturday and Sunday 4/5: complete rest, with stretching/rolling

Monday 6: OTF, still pain even on elliptical

Tuesday 7: Freeze OTF account, stretch and roll rest of this week and the next plus a few days.

Thursday 23rd: Tried to go for a run, got frustrated because I still had pain and tightness. Talked to doctor friends.

Friday 24-April 5: Walk while slowly building up to adding in runs, now up to 2 miles run/walking. Still foam rolling and stretching daily. Doing PT exercises 3/4 times a week.

Of course, every injury is different, so if you have the same one as me it may take you more or less time to heal, or you may have done some sort of damage that requires surgery. I think the key for me was that the more I stayed off of it, it slowly got better. If it had stayed at the same pain level for a month, I for sure would have gone to get an MRI. This is the same leg that I have had IT band issues with in the past, so I’m not surprised that it’s giving me fits again. I know if I had incorporated daily stretching and rolling into my routine to begin with, I could have potentially saved myself 6 weeks of frustration.

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I know I am not totally out of the woods yet, but I do plan to run/walk the Star Wars half at the end of this month. Fingers crossed I can do it pain free!

QOTD: Have you had a running injury before? What did you do?

runDisney Snow White Costume Tutorial

Every year, I dress up for the runDisney Princess half marathon. For the past couple of years, my friend Jen and I have been super creative with matching costumes, but this year we both had a lot going on, and February snuck up on us. We still wanted to dress up and “sort of” match, so we decided to go with clothing we already owned so that we just had to add a couple of accessories to our princess costumes.

Snow White Costume

I already had a yellow running skirt and blue top, so I thought Snow White would be “easy”, except I totally forgot I am the least artistic person on earth and nothing related to costume creation is ever easy for me.

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I had seen a few similar costumes on Pinterest, and thought I could figure out a way to create the sleeves on my own, but still look just as good as people with sewing machines (and sewing skills). Yall, I tried really hard. If you didn’t get too close to me at the race you never would have known, but the photos below clearly show off my skills. But if you want an easy(er) way to create these sleeves and don’t have a sewing matching but own a needle and thread (or can buy one), then my tutorial is for you. remember, if I can do this, you can do this.

SUPPLIES:

-blue tank (mine is cotton from Target, I got it on clearance for $3. I know cotton is a running no no, but I wasn’t spending any more money on this costume than I had to.

-yellow running skirt from runningskirts.com. My favorite brand. They have POCKETS which is a great help during a race. (affiliate link)

-red headband or ribbon (I got mine at Mouse Gears inside EPCOT for $12.95. I love it so much I wore it around the parks, too!) You could always use leftover ribbon from your sleeves to create a bow or headband, too.

-needle

-white and blue thread

– 1 yard of knit elastic

– 2 yard of 1 inch thick blue ribbon

-2 yards of 1 inch thick red ribbon

– push pins

WARNING: Do not get ribbon with wire. It will poke you the whole race. The only thinner red ribbon at my craft store had wire so I bought it. Don’t make my mistake!

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The first thing you need to do for your sleeves is cut two pieces of elastic and sew them together for the bottoms of the sleeves.

WARNING: Make the fit snug, but don’t cut off circulation. I made the mistake of making mine too loose, and it started pulling down the straps of my tank b/c the elastic was sliding down my arms. If I were to do this again (haha) I would have done the elastic a little tighter.

All I did was used white thread and literally sewed the two ends together at the ends. That’s it. Nothing fancy or pretty. I figured no one would be close enough to see that it didn’t all line up perfectly.

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Then came the more complicated part. I knew I wanted 3 red pieces and 2 blue pieces of ribbon on each arm. So I did the longest 2 pieces in the middle then shorter pieces after that with one of the pieces more in the front than back. Confusing? Maybe this helps. For each arm I cut:

-1 red 10” and one blue 10”

-1 red 9” and one blue 9”

-1 red 8”  <—-to be closer to the front. I didn’t care about having ribbon more towards the back. Check it out below. I then took each piece and pinned it to my elastic. I personally did it so that the seam of the elastic was on the back of my arm and not underneath so it wouldn’t rub me when I ran. Then I kind of “pleated” each piece of ribbon (best I could, it’s hard yall), and pinned them all on so that the ribbon reached about halfway down the width of the elastic (don’t worry, this is the underside that no one will see!)

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Then I got to sewing. Well, what resembled sewing. Don’t laugh. This is the final product. I used white thread and just started on one side and literally just sewed over and under all the way across. It looked AWFUL, but again, would be on the underside.

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I then did the same exact thing to the other side, so I had two detached sleeves.

I then switched to my blue thread, and again just literally sewed a line down the inside of the sleeve of the tank, attaching each piece of ribbon with about 3-4 stitches as I went. It wasn’t the best hold ever, but would do for one race. I did the other sleeve (make sure you sew underneath and not on top of the tank!) and I was done!

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I didn’t try it on b/c I was afraid I would rip/mess something up, but thankfully all went well on race day and it held together just fine! I got tons and tons of compliments, but really all I did was sew together some ribbon and buy a headband. Everything else I already had. Some people choose to do a cape and collar or hold an apple, but I knew a cape and collar would bug me, and I already hold my phone when I run so I didn’t want to bother with another prop. So there you have it! My Snow White runDisney costume!

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QOTD: Have you ever dressed up for a race?

runDisney Princess Half Marathon Race Recap 2017

A couple of weeks ago I have the privilege of running in my 6th runDisney Princess half marathon. I ran the Glass Slipper Challenge last year and in 2014, but this year my friend Jen and I decided to save some money (and some sleep!) and just run the half marathon. (Pssst. There is a video at the end of the post so hang tight to watch a recap from my Instagram Stories!)

Every year we dress up, and this year was a bit crazy for both of us and we didn’t have time to create elaborate matching costumes like we have done in the past. However, we still dressed up and per usual kept our costumes a secret until the night before the race. We went to bed early, and my 2:45 am alarm came way too soon.

We got dressed, put on our traditional fake eyelashes like we do every year (you would THINK we would be better at this by now!) and headed to the bus.

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(Coming soon: A tutorial on how I created my costume, the easy/I’m terrible at sewing kind of tutorial!)

We got to the bus stop in front of the Yacht Club, and were the last people loaded before we left. What was interesting was we were on a park bus, not a regular greyhound which was a first for me with runDisney. There was a lot of traffic, but we made it to EPCOT by about 4:15 and walked to the family reunion area where we met up with a friend before checking Jen’s bag. It was chillier than I expected, and I was thankful for my throw away sweatshirt I remembered to bring.

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We had never gotten to the corrals this early before, and they were pretty empty! runDisney got smart and put a row of port-o-potties close to the front corrals so we were able to go to the bathroom with no line and then jump in D corral. Karen was also in our corral, so she hung out with us and started the race with us, too. Our plan was to just have fun and take walk breaks. I was super undertrained and this was just a “for fun” race.

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The race started a few minutes late because the traffic was so bad, but finally we made it up to the start line with the rest of our corral.

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After a quick hi to Rudy and Carissa, we were off on our 13.1 mile journey!

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The first couple of miles are always so uneventful. It’s dark, there is nothing to look at, and you start thinking about all the miles ahead! Thankfully we just all chatted together until around mile 2 when Karen decided to stop for a character photo that we decided to skip (lines were already so long! I can’t imagine how bad they were for the corrals behind us.) We made it to the Magic Kingdom gates and I was excited we were getting closer to the more exciting parts of the course.

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After a quick stop at the med tent for body glide, we were on our way towards the TTC. I have to admit, I was a little bummed at the low crows at this spot. Traditionally this is my second favorite spot in the race because of all the energy from wall to wall people screaming and cheering, but this year there was hardly anyone and it made me sad. Did anyone else notice this? It wasn’t very cold outside so I’m not sure what the deal was. We passed my favorite drummers and kept going towards the big hill.

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When we made the turn to get to the Magic Kingdom, we thought it was odd that the 5 mile marker wasn’t in it’s usual place. (The things you notice when you have run this course over a dozen times!) We would later find out the course through the Magic Kingdom was slightly altered which is why the markers were in a different place.

We made the turn onto Main Street, my favorite part, and again it just didn’t have the same crowd and energy I am used to seeing, but it’s still my favorite part.

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We stopped and found a girl by herself trying to take a photo and we took turns getting pics for each other. I love runners!

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Next stop was the bathroom in Tomorrowland. We used to stop at the ones at the TTC, but a couple years ago they started locking those for us for some reason, which means even more princesses waiting in line in Tomorrowland. We had a several minute delay, and then were on our way again.

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We made it out of the Magic Kingdom (sad times) and made another bathroom stop at the next water station (too much coffee!) We arrived at the long stretch of single lane road, and Jen and I can’t figure out why its always so COLD on this part of the course! Any ideas? Before long we were at mile seven by the Grand Floridian. I took a picture with Snow White, since the line for her in the Magic Kingdom was dozens of people long. This is as close as I was going to get.

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The next few miles were uneventful again, just running out on the road. We saw the race going the other way towards the Magic Kingdom around mile 2.5 I guess, and I saw the balloon ladies! I yelled for the princesses to run faster! We grabbed a CLIF shot at the free station around mile nine, and took a walk break to eat those (I am not coordinated enough to run and eat at the same time). Next we were making the turn on the loop of death at mile 10 (it KILLS my IT bands) and had a 5k to go. At this point we had gotten to the length of my longest and one and only really long run from this training cycle of 10 miles, and I was getting tight even though we weren’t running fast at all. My right thigh/quad up near my hip flexor started to hurt, but we only had a couple miles to go so I just pushed through.

Soon we hit mile 11, and looped around and up the overpass and down into EPCOT and mile 12. A photographer caught me doing an Insta story on my phone. Oops. But seriously, if this doesn’t sum up my life I don’t know what does.

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We looped around the small part of the course that goes through the park, and then I could hear the gospel choir singing! Miles 13 came and went, and we were in the home stretch of the finish line.

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Can I just say that I love getting race pictures free as an annual passholder?!?

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We made it! After crossing the finish line in 2:32, we had to get pixie dusted of course.

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We got our medals, and headed over to the Media/VIP tent for some much deserved food and of course, mimosas.

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Now I was able to do my favorite thing, cheer other runners on as they came through the finish. I LOVE seeing runners tearing up, holding hands with loved ones, and just getting to experience the looks on their faces as they are mere steps from the finish line. There is just nothing like it, and it makes me so happy.

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Mimosas make me happy, too.

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So does this guy. Always takes time to talk to runners and makes us all feel so special. Jeff Galloway is the best!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Carissa came into the tent for some food and we were able to say hello for a minute and grab a picture.

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We hung out and ate some more, met with a couple of people, and then headed back to the resort. I am so thankful to have a friend like Jen who gifted me with the opportunity to run in another Princess half marathon. I also love our little tradition of running the Princess half!

If you want to see a video I took during the race as a recap, and also see what Jen and I did for the rest of the day after the race, be sure to check out the video below. Please note this video is my Instagram story from the day, and apparently it doesn’t like when you have still shots mixed in with your videos, so there are about 5 times during the video where you will see it “Freeze up” for a couple of seconds. These are the places where I had still shots that won’t come up, so just ignore it, it will keep playing!

 

For more race recaps and general runDisney information, photos, and posts, check out my runDisney page!

How to Start Running Even When You Hate It

I have been running for awhile now, and have gone through many ebbs and flows with my running love affair. There have honestly been more times when I hate running than times when I like it. I know that sounds like a horrible thing for a “runner” to say, but for me, it’s the truth and I’m owning it. I would MUCH rather sit on the couch and watch Hulu than go outside and sweat, be uncomfortable, and bored for an hour. However, the things I DO love are the benefits of running. For me, running is just the necessary evil to get there.

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I love the post run high, the extra energy it gives me, the calorie burn, and the competition aspect. I love the comradery with other runners, the race expos, and the bling. Some of you may be nodding right along with me, especially the beginners who feel like it will be impossible to ever get up to a “far/long run”, or feel like they love it. Unfortunate reality: you may never actually love it. However, that’s ok! You have two choices: 1.) Find something else to do 2.) Do it anyway because you love what it GIVES you, even if you don’t love the act of actual running.

I’m here to give beginners my best advice if you decide you do want to try out the running thing (even if you are currently hating it).

1.) Make a list: What is it you are hoping to accomplish with running? Why did you or do you want to start? Sometimes having a clear and concise reason can help get you moving when you want to take a nap instead. Maybe you want to lose weight, or maybe you just need some alone time. Some people start running to be social with a running group, and some want killer legs. All are valid reasons. You as an individual need to have a goal or focus on WHY you lace up or it may be stuff to stick with it.

2.) Start Slow: Trying to do too much too soon is not only overwhelming (and dumb! Injuries suck!) But it can cause you to give up before you have even gotten started because it seems too hard. Gradual build ups are best mentally and physically. Start with a walk and throw in a few 20-30 second jogs every now and then. Count mailboxes. Tell yourself you will run for ten mailboxes then walk for 20. Get creative but don’t over do it trying to get results faster.

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3.) Schedule your runs and keep track: I am a numbers nerd, and seeing my progress on a piece of paper (or in a spreadsheet for you non paper people) makes me want to keep going so I don’t “lose” my progress. Keep track of how long you go for, and your time. Also be sure to schedule your runs into your planner (or Google calendar, whatever my tech savvy friends are using these days), so that you will actually do it. Heck this blog started because I used it as an accountability journal. I said I was going to run in a blog post, so then I knew I had to follow through.

I have a set of free printables you can download and print out to help you set goals and keep track of your fitness if you want to check them out!

4.) Talk to a running friend: For some reason, we humans like talking to people who have gone through a hard thing that we may be currently dealing with, and have made it out the other side. It’s comforting to know we aren’t alone, and that success is possible. Find a running friend or online buddy who has accomplished a certain goal you want to reach (a time goal, distance goal, whatever!) and pick their brain. It will give you confidence you keep going!

5.) Picture that end result and just do it: I know this seems pretty basic, but it’s just truthful. Think about why you are doing this, then suck it up buttercup and run. You will feel better when it’s over. I have never regretted a run once I was finished. That’s a true story!

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Note: There are people who just LOVE running, and that’s awesome too! There have been times in my life I was that person, but overall, I have to really psych myself up for the actual run portion. I much prefer the results, the social aspect, the races, and the bling as mentioned before. We are all unique and different and that’s what is awesome! This post is not meant to knock anyone who truly enjoys the act of running, but instead to motivate those who are struggling some (or most) days.

Top 10 runDisney Princess Half Marathon Tips

The runDisney princess half marathon is one of my favorite races. It’s a fun girls weekend where you get some new bling at the end. What could be better? That being said, being prepared can make or break your experience, so I am here to offer some of my best tips for running this race. Good luck!

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1. Know the course. If you plan properly, you will know where the hilly overpasses are, where you can use a “real” bathroom on the course, and where the aid stations and med tents are located. Knowing this information can help you plan your fueling and pace for the event, and make you feel more at ease on race morning. I always try to wait to use the bathroom in the Magic Kingdom, and time my fuel around the free gel station that is on the back half of the course. Know what flavors are offered (I always opt for the vanilla, it tastes like frosting!) and make sure ahead of time that it won’t upset your stomach. The overpasses that will hurt are on the back half, once being a big loop around that can be killer on your IT bands, so take it slow. There are also a couple of hills as you come into EPCOT so make sure you have enough steam left to get up them!

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2. Arrive early. Not only will you have to wait for a bus or wait in traffic in your own car, but you will have to walk a long ways to get to the starting line, and then wait some more to use the bathroom before the race. I know as it is you have to wake up at an ungodly hour just to be there on time, but plan for some extra cushion just in case. No one wants to be stressed out and rushing! Buses stop running at 4:00 am (ugh I know right?) But I always plan to be on a bus somewhere around 3:45. Sometimes there will be long lines depending on if one just left your resort or not, so don’t expect to just walk right on. When you are dropped off, you will have to walk a ways to get to the family reunion area, then you may have to stand in line to check your bag. Tip on the bathrooms: If there are long lines at the family reunions area, wait until you walk to your corral. There will be more of them outside of the corral area, and the lines usually aren’t as long. (Also better to go at the last minute instead of an hour before the start if you ask me!)

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3. Wear a costume, and wear it on a practice run. I have worn tutu’s and running skirts for all of the Princess weekend races I have participated in, and it was a BLAST. Other people recognizing your costume or cheering for your “character” is a lot of fun. However, I was careful to run around the house beforehand to see if there were any chafing issues, rubbing spots or uncomfortable things about my costume. (Fun mental picture eh?) You don’t want to be miserable for 13.1 miles in a costume that isn’t agreeing with you. TIP for tutus: Wear a running skirt underneath as opposed to shorts. that way, strands from the tutu won’t get caught in between your legs for 13.1 miles. TIP for tiaras: Get the kind with a comb attached and wear a running headband over the top of the comb to “secure” it to your head. Works like a charm!

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Tip: Did you know you can buy a runDisney magic band? I love this pink one!

 

4. Bring your camera or cell phone for pictures. There are a ton of photo opportunities before, during, and after the race, so don’t miss out! Some people put their phone in an armband or fuel belt, but I just carry mine the whole race so I can quickly snap a photo whenever I want. I have even been known to tweet and Instagram mid race! TIP: If you purchase Disney’s memory maker or are an annual passholder, you can get photos taken by photopass photographers for FREE when you download them from your My Disney experience app. Keep in mind not all characters have a professional photographer at them though, which is when your phone/camera can come in handy.

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5. Enter the correct proof of time. runDisney is cracking down on proof of time. You won’t be able to change it at the expo, and it will be checked against your race results to ensure you are in the correct corral. This is for everyone’s safety and enjoyment, and to help with overcrowding. If your time is found to be incorrect on your proof, you may be put in a back corral. Don’t risk it and lie about your time! Sign up fro a race in enough time before the cutoff for submission to get your time down to what you want. Also don’t think you will be able to just jump into another corral. Disney had volunteers at the front of every corral checking bibs and they will turn you away. I have seen people try to jump over the gates and injure themselves just to get into a better corral (For reals. Like blood and everything). Not worth it!

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6. Plan for the finish. If you have family waiting for you, tell them not to crowd the finish line area where runners exit, (it’s really hard for an exhausted runner to move through crowds of people. We just want to sit down, so please give us some space and we will love you for it!) but to meet you in the family reunion area at one of the signs with a letter on it. There are a LOT of people in a small area after the race and sometimes cell phones won’t work due to the hoards of people, so have a meeting spot planned ahead of time.

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7.) Be careful with your packing: I always pack my complete race outfit in my carry on bag, and organize things with labeled ziploc bags if needed. I never check my race day outfit on the plane, and just wear my running shoes so I know I at least have those. I also lay out everything the night before including breakfast, room key, gels, etc. so I am not fumbling around looking for a tiara or socks at 3 AM on race day. That wake up time is early, so every minute is precious! (TIP: download my FREE Princess packing list printable to make sure you don’t forget anything important!)

8.) Get some sleep: As mentioned before, that wake up time is brutal. Start preparing your body a few days in advance by trying to go to bed 15-30 minutes early every night for a few nights prior to race day. I try to be in bed by 7:00 the night before at least winding down, and asleep by 8. I know that’s tough because you want to do all the Disney things, but your body will thank you for it the next day! Not just for the early wake up, but for hanging out in the parks after the race. It’s so much fun to wear your medal around, and you don’t want to miss it because you had to take a four hour nap!

9.) Enjoy the Epxo: The expo can get a little wild and crazy, but it’s a lot of fun so be sure to stick around! Make sure you bring a copy of your signed waiver (yes they have printers there where you can get one printed out, but to save time just go ahead and bring it) and a photo ID so you can get your bib. REMINDER: you must pick up your own bib. Go get your bib first, then your shirt, then spend some time enjoying the expo. There are some great vendors, freebies, photo ops, and merchandise. runDisney merchandise will sell out, so if you have your heart set on something in particular, get there early. If you don’t care to buy anything, I suggest NOT going first thing in the morning. If you let the initial rush/crowds die down, you won’t have to fight through as many people.

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10: Have fun! I know this seems like a given, but be sure to not let the logistics of the race, any fear of the unknown, or stress about your time stop you from having fun. Remember that by even toeing the starting line, you are doing something the vast majority of the population will never do, so celebrate and enjoy! You deserve it! Congrats on getting to the runDisney Princess half weekend!

If you are interested in tracking your fitness or any health goals, be sure to get check out my free printable to help you achieve your goals!

QOTD: Did you or will you be signing up for the runDisney Princess half? What princess would you run as if you were to participate?

RELATED: Sign up for my FREE My Disney Experience and Magic Bands E-Course

*More info on the runDisney Princess half on rundisney.com

Tampa Tuesdays: Orangetheory Fitness

Before we moved to Tampa, I went to an amazing gym. I took boot camp classes four days a week, and a HEAT class, which is very very similar to Orangetheory. Soon our town opened an Orangetheory studio, but because of my love for my current gym, I never tried it out.

Fast forward to the end of 2016, and a move to Tampa. After doing some online research and not really finding anything nearby that was similar to my gym “back home”, I decided to give Orangetheory a shot with Megan. You get to attend your first class for free, so why not? They asked me to show up thirty minutes before class was to begin in order to get me set up and explain the class flow with me.

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First a little background. Orangetheory is an interval based, sixty minute workout led by a “coach” who trains you and gives you tips throughout the class. On average people burn over 500 calories per class/hour.

“The physiology behind the Orangetheory Fitness workout involves heart-rate-monitored training designed to keep heart rates in a target zone that stimulates metabolism and increases energy. The result is the Orange Effect – more energy, visible toning and extra calorie burn for up to 36 hours postworkout. “ –(source)

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Upon arrival, they had me fill out some paperwork, and gave me a heart rate wrist band to borrow for the free class. I was shown around the studio, and as soon as the class before ours let out, I was brought into the fitness room and shown exactly how the treadmills and rowers worked. Then we went over to the weight area and he explained to me how they would put exercises up on the TV as well as have the instructors show us how to do each one to make sure we kept proper form.

I was told you either start in the weight room or on the treadmill (“treads” as they call them there). In most classes you stay on the treadmill for 25 or so minutes then switch to rowing and weights, but some days we switch back and forth doing ten minutes on each to mix it up. He asked if I had any questions, and told me since it was my first time I could choose if I wanted to start on a treadmill or in the weight room and they would reserve a spot for me. Everything was very low pressure and laid back which I appreciated because I was already nervous!

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Everyone stays out in the hallway/waiting area until time for class. At that time, the instructor comes out and explains what we are going to be doing that day. Then they go over any promotions or orders of business that need to be addressed, and then they head back into the studio room, get their headset on, and high five everyone into the room.

I like to start on the treadmill first, so I hopped over there and started warming up. Orangetheory has big TV’s up on the wall with everyone’s heart rate, calories burned, and splat points. Splat points are what you earn when you stay in the orange and red (two highest zones). You get one point for every minute. that you stay in said zones. The zone below orange is green, which is a fat burning zone. They encourage you to stay in orange and green the most, with just a few minutes in red.

Presentation is everything! Domino Arts does it for you.

(photo credit: Orangetheory fitness, used with permission)

I also learned that on the treadmill they would use three terms I needed to learn: base pace, push pace, and all out. The instructor calls out intervals such as “push pace for 90 seconds” and then “drop to base pace for 30 seconds” so it’s important to know what these mean for you.

Base pace is your steady pace whether it be power walking or jogging that you could just keep going at for a long time. I think of it as a warm up and recovery pace. Push pace would be closer to a race pace for a longer distance race in my mind. Something difficult but not absolutely killing you. All out is well….all out. Hard as you can sprint or power walk (power walkers typically use a high incline here.) The changing up of the speeds and inclines keeps me from getting bored, as does knowing I will only be there for 25-28 minutes each class.

Presentation is everything! Domino Arts does it for you.

(photo credit: Orangetheory, used with permission)

In the weight room, everyone got a station that has a bench, bosu ball, ab roller device, TRX straps, and free weights. The instructor showed us each exercise we would be doing (they were also on the TV), as well as how many reps we would be doing them for, or how many rounds. A lot of times in between rounds we would row 300 meters, etc. to change things up. I also like that they tells us how heavy or light we should go on weights depending on what we are doing that day. Everyone goes at their own pace with their own weights, so people of all fitness levels can be doing the same workout which is awesome. My instructors have always been good to correct my form or tell me I should be using a heavier weight. They truly seem to care about us working out properly and not just saying cues they are told to say.

At the end of the class, our trainer led us through a quick stretching session, and then the TV’s showed us our calorie burn, splat points, and how many minutes we were in each zone. We were also immediately emailed a copy of that information which I love having!

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After my first class was over, the guy that showed me around beforehand came in and asked me how I did, and if I had any questions. He then went on to explain the pricing structure to me, packages, and purchasing a heart rate monitor. There were three levels of class packages at my studio:

-4 classes for month

-8 classes per month

-unlimited classes per month

You can also purchase a “pack” of classes to use within a certain amount of time, and there were drop in rates as well. Another cost that you need to factor in is the heart rate monitor. I bought the wrist strap kind and it was $99. A lot of times they run specials, and I was able to take advantage of a mid month special where I purchased my package of classes and heart rate monitor in a bundle with a free hoodie as well as some extra classes to use that first month.

A couple of things to note:

-There is no childcare at OTF, which would be an awesome addition!

-I would not recommend doing OTF 5 days a week, but that is solely my opinion. I go twice a week, and push myself REALLY hard. There is no way I could go for that many days without completely tearing my body down. I would say 2-3 days max if you are giving it your all out effort. (also going on consecutive days is super hard!)

-Be sure to bring a water bottle and towel. You will sweat a ton! My studio had a place to refill your water bottle which was helpful as well.

-My studio had lockers where you could put your keys, jacket, phone, etc. while you workout. There  also was a shower and bathrooms.

-If you want to start on the treadmill, get there early. At my studio everyone crowded around the door to get to the treadmills first (very annoying, I wish they would just hand out numbers as you walk in)

-Classes can fill up fast depending on location. There is an app you can download to sign up for classes, and if one is full you will be put on a waitlist. At my studio, if you don’t cancel at least 8 hours before your class time, you will lose the use of one of your sessions that month, unless it’s an emergency. Good motivation if you ask me!

-You can go to an OTF anywhere in the country once you sign up! This is great for those that travel a lot, or if you have a studio near your office and also one by your house. I love this idea!

I also love that there is no time commitment when you sign up, it just goes month to month. If you ever want to quit for awhile then pick it back up later, you can. I have been going to OTF for a month now and I am really enjoying it! I still miss my boot camp class like crazy, but this has been a pretty good substitute for me. I still feel like I need to do one heavy lifting strength training session a week and one run, but this class is great for intervals, endurance, and to work up a great sweat!

QOTD: Have you ever tried Orangetheory? What are your thoughts?

Mizuno Wave Rider 20

I am pretty picky about my running shoes (as any runner should be) and I can be pretty hesitant to try something new. I have worn shoes from Mizuno before but it had been awhile. However, I had heard so many great things about the new Mizuno Wave Rider 20, that I was dying to try them out!

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My shoes came in a beautiful box wrapped in platinum paper. As soon as I unfolded the tissue and saw the gorgeous coloring, I legit let out an audible “oooooo!” even though I was the only one in the house. Well, besides the dog, and she obviously doesn’t wear shoes. (But she did however think I was unwrapping food).

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I immediately laced up and went out for a quick run. Smooth and bouncy would be two words that immediately came to mind. These shoes have a could wave technology that allows for a comfortable ride. It has more cushion in the heel than wave riders of the past, but it didn’t feel bulky at all.

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These shoes also have really great mesh that provide breathability and movement. The wave rider 20 is a neutral shoe, and it is 33% more durable and responsive than previous models (wow!) They come in narrow and wide which I think is great, since people don’t all have the same shaped foot! I personally don’t like when my toes feel cramped, but they felt great in these shoes. I have gotten lots of compliments, and am enjoying getting in some miles in my new shoes.

For more information, photos, and colors (cute ones!) check out the wave rider 20’s on Mizuno’s site and give them a try!

QOTD: When buying a running shoe, what do you look for as the most important feature?

This post was sponsored by Mizuno, however all opinions are my own.

Body After Baby: Two Years

Note: This post is about body image, weight loss, and eating. If this may be a trigger for you, please feel free to skip this post and come back another day!

I know it may seem a little odd to do a body after baby post so long after giving birth, but for me personally it has taken this long to really feel good about myself. I wanted to be sure other women know that if it doesn’t happen in 3, 6, 12 or 18 months, IT’S OK. Slow progress sticks around better for me anyway as opposed to a quick fix, and I much prefer lifestyle changes instead of “diets”.

For a quick refresher before we dive into the now, let’s take a look at what I looked like one month postpartum below:

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and then again six months postpartum below:

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and now (2 years postpartum) below:

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Also here’s a shot from the day I had Emma Kate (9/24/14), and then from August of this year:

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When I was 12 months postpartum, I was one pound over my pre pregnancy weight, so I weighed 151. At the time I was happy with that, but what I didn’t realize then was that I wasn’t in the best shape when I got pregnant…so getting back to my pre pregnancy weight still wasn’t my “happy weight”. I wanted to be stronger and have more muscle. I wanted to feel better, to be the best mom I could be.

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I am now sitting at 143 pounds, so I have lost eight pounds since probably about mid June (yes I sat at 151 from last September until this June, fluctuating a pound or so here and there). So what changed? Well, a couple of things.

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(The above photo was taken on day FOUR of eating out at restaurants for every meal. If only I had been able to take photos at the beginning of the trip!)

1.) I amped up my workouts. I was doing bootcamp 3-4 times a week and running 1-2 times a week while resting 1-2 days. It just wasn’t giving me results as fast as I would like, so I moved up to bootcamp 5 days a week and running once a week, sometimes twice. I also started running stadiums on Wednesday mornings before class. Some weeks I do take off two days, but I aim for only one day of full rest. My current schedule looks something like this:

Sunday: OFF

Monday: Boot camp

Tuesday: Boot camp

Wednesday: Stadiums and sprints at the track, HEAT class (like Orange theory)

Thursday: Boot Camp

Friday: Boot Camp

Saturday: Long run

As much as I enjoy racing and will continue to do so, it just isn’t working for me right now to run tons and tons of miles to get faster for longer distances. I would much rather be strong than fast, so it is what it is.

2.) I cleaned up my eating. I seriously loathe counting calories, but knew I at least needed an “idea” of how many calories I was eating in a day, so I counted calories for a week or so (as well as macros) just to get a good starting point. What I realized is I don’t get enough protein, and I was eating too many carbs and fats, as well as overall calories. Lots of snacking folks! After counting on My Fitness Pal, I felt like I had a firm grasp on my hunger cues, and about how much I needed to eat a day to still be able to workout hard and not feel weak.

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So what happened? I started eating foods that filled me up more to fuel my tough workouts instead of empty calories. I stopped eating late at night, and I was just more mindful in general. Do I still eat candy and drink alcohol? Heck yes! But for example…if I know I’m going out with friends that night, I am more careful during the day and the day before. It’s seriously all about planning ahead and meal prep these days, and it really does pay off (I talk about meal prep more in my book!)

After a couple of weeks, I started noticing that I could SEE my muscle more in my arms, abs, and legs. It was under there the whole time, it was just hidden. Smile

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I have been able to go up in weight when doing a lot of exercises, and I don’t tire out near as easily. It’s such a good feeling to be able to add that 25 pound plate at the squat rack, or use heavier dumbbells for bicep curls or kickbacks.

The beginning of November marks one year of boot camp, and if you look back and read my 12 month body after baby post, you will see I was just about to start boot camp and had a “we’ll see what happens” attitude towards it. Never did I think I would end up falling in love with it and making great friends at my gym.

I started really PUSHING myself at boot camp this summer, in spite of having been going since the end of 2015. I began not just doing the bare minimum, but really pushing myself to my limits and taking it seriously. I work out way too hard to ruin it with a bad diet or injury, so I am more careful with everything I do now. I have lost fat, gained muscle, and still managed to lose weight in the process. I honestly am not as concerned about the number on the scale though. I just want to feel good in my clothes, and have energy and confidence.

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I want to be a good role model for my now two year old daughter, and teach her to work hard for the things in life she really wants. I want her to learn discipline, self love, and respect for her body. I want to run races with her, teach her how to lift, and help her find her passions.

To all the new mamas out there or mamas about to have babies, I know, I KNOW, it’s so much easier said than done, but you can get to where you want to be. Don’t get bogged down in a timeframe. Enjoy your baby, and get back to working out when YOU feel ready. It may take you two years, it may not. Don’t let the amount of time it took me scare you. But just know if it does take two years, that’s ok. Do the best that you can, making small changes one at a time. Make your health a priority, and please don’t be afraid to ask for help. You can’t do it all on your own. We are all in this together, and other moms understand the best just how stressful it can be, so lean on each other. If you don’t have someone who supports you wanting to get healthy, FIND SOMEONE. In real life, online, at the gym, at church, etc. Find your people. You can do this. Be BRAVE! You can have a great body after baby!

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So what’s next for me? Sadly, this round of my beloved boot camp ends November 4th, and then I move to Tampa. I’m sure things will be up in the air for awhile until I find a new gym home. I hope I can find a new boot camp class as awesome as the one I have here, but it’s highly doubtful any group can compare. Smile I look forward to having more racing opportunities in Florida, and making new workout friends. Who knows what’s next? It will be a fun ride to find out.

QOTD: How long did it take you to get your body where you wanted it after having a baby? What worked for you? What hasn’t worked for you?

The Bridge 5k 2016

A couple weeks ago, I ran my first 5k since this past spring. Since I haven’t been running much, I knew there would be no PR but I really wanted to participate because it was being sponsored by my church, and was for a good cause:

The Bridge exists to build a bridge of hope and encouragement to our surrounding community. Proceeds will be used to provide equipment, materials, and training to address recidivism among men currently or previously incarcerated in correctional facilities in central Mississippi.

I signed up on a whim the week of the race, and was up bright and early Saturday morning. I went by myself which is fine, but I left a little too early and got bored standing around waiting to start.

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The race was set to begin at 8:00, which is late for Mississippi in September. It was hot and humid yall. I did a little warming up and then hung out around the start line. At 8:00, it was announced that they had blown a breaker so we would be starting late. Great. It was getting hotter and hotter by the minute, and my once ready to run and warmed up body was getting tight. Oh well.

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We finally began at 8:17. There was a 5k and 10k option, and after standing around in the 94% humidity and 83 degrees, I was so glad I opted for the 5k! The race was pretty small (just over 100 in the 5k and 10k) and I had no grand illusions of doing well or placing. I was dumb and went to a hard boot camp class the day before where we did lots of running, and my legs were definitely not feeling fresh (totally my fault).

We took off, and I noticed I was about the 4th female back after about .25 miles. We went down a big hill which I knew meant we would be going back up after the turn, so I decided to not push too hard on the front end. I had my music playing and just hung out behind this one guy for a while, kind of zoning out. Two girls passed me, and then I passed then just before the turn around. At this point, I wasn’t sure if there were any girls ahead of me because I hadn’t paid attention to the people coming back the other way, and I saw at least two girls going straight for the 10k course. I felt it a very strange feeling to be the possible lead female, and it made me chuckle in slight embarrassment because with the time I was running I should NOT have been in the front. I made my way up the second hill and when I had a half mile left I started to really fade. I felt like I was going to throw up and my face was so hot it felt like it was on fire.

All of the sudden, a girl sprints past me. Hmm. Well, if I was in the lead I wasn’t anymore. Oh well. I had about .35 left and was SO ready to be done. I had slowed considerably, and another girl goes by. Well. That’s what I expected so I wasn’t upset. I turned the corner and got to the last straightaway and saw the girl in front of me had slowed down considerably. I gave it all I had and sprinted past her to the finish. Turns out, I was second overall female which means I WAS leading all that time haha!

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I finished the race in just over 28:00. Everyone was saying how much slower their times were because of how oppressive the humidity was, so at least that made me feel a little bit better. Some cheerleaders from the local high school were there, and they did some cheers while we waited on the last 10k finishers and the awards.

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There were a bunch of door prizes, but sadly I didn’t win anything.

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The pastor of my church got up and said a few words about the money we raised and how it was going to a good cause in the community. Then the awards were handed out.

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I was second overall female and first in my age group (which I thought was weird because in most races I have run, if you win an overall award, you are taken out of the age group category for winning?) Either way, I was proud of my accomplishment despite it not being a great time for me in the race. I truly gave it my all with what energy I had that day. I also really liked the hand carved awards!

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QOTD: Do you race when it’s hot outside or wait for cooler weather? Any races coming up?