Friday, May 31, 2013

Setting my race goals (with some runDisney thrown in)

This weekend I set out for my third half marathon. For some reason I am really excited about this which surprises me kind of since it involves a 4.5 hour car ride to get there and anyone who knows me knows that is not my favorite thing at all.

I know it is not the weather I am looking forward to since it is 60% chance of thunderstorms, it is not the car ride but it is the chance to run a race without snow, without characters and with a chance to see and feel Niagara Falls as I run.


  • A Goal: Sub 2:30--my plan is to start with the 2:30 run/walk pace group. I don't know what intervals they are going to use so I am not sure if I will stick with them. 2:1 has been working well for me and I think I want to stay with that.
  • B Goal: Sub 2:42--This is my current Personal Record so I want to beat it since I was having leg craps and the sleet and 20mph winds messed with me last race.
  • C Goal: Sub 2:52--I mean come on, I have to beat a race I stopped for pictures at right?

We will see. Now I am going to finish getting ready and I am going to dream of the Dumbo Double Dare medals that have officially been released!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Running at Disneyland--a Guest Blog

Since I am preparing for my first trip to Disneyland in almost 20 years for my next runDisney event, I am doing what I usually do; I am reading everything I can and trying to make sure I know EXACTLY what is going to happen when I get there. This is slightly complicated because while the Disneyland Half Marathon is not new, the 10K on Saturday and the Dumbo Double Dare Challenge (10K on Saturday and 1/2 Marathon on Sunday) are brand new events to the runDisney line up.

So I turned to a friend and fellow runner to fill me in. Here is what Rosie has to share about running at Disneyland.

The Expo: The expo is at DL Hotel in the main ballroom area, it is easy to get to if you are on property you can just walk right over.  If you are staying off property there are you can park at DTD for the expo, there is free parking for 3 hours (up to 5 hours with validation from participating locations).  If you have an AP you can park for free in the Mickey and friends parking structure.  If you are staying on Katella Ave, you are most likely within walking distance, other good neighbor hotels some have a shuttle to the weekend’s events.

The expo itself is split up into 2 different areas the main floor is where all the vendors, to include run Disney merchandise, and the speakers are located.  There is an area outside the main ballroom where you can register for any available Run Disney races (at Tinker Bell they had pre-registration for DL ½).  There is another area where you can print up your bib and waiver information if needed near packet pickup.   

The second area is downstairs in the parking garage 1st floor.  You must exit out of the building and head towards the ramp that leads downstairs (there are volunteers and signs everywhere to help you).  Once down there the setup is spaciously laid out and you pick up your packet, any pre-purchased park tickets, cheer squad, breakfast and commemorative items.  You do not pick up your t-shirts in this area, although I think Run Disney should reconsider this as the area is amply big enough to accommodate the pickup.

The Tinkerbell picture display
With your bib in your hand and any other stuff you may have picked up, you need to head back upstairs to pick up your bag and t-shirt (see the flaw design, better hope you don’t lose your bib on the way, we kept everything in a folder we brought with us).  Upstairs the ballroom is set up with a wide variety of vendors.  Unlike the recent Princess ½ marathon expo this one is smaller and the vendors are spaced out more.  I would plan at least 2-3 hours if you want to view all the vendors at the expo, longer if you plan to hear one of the speakers.  For Tinker Bell, if you forgot your wings Studio 365 is on hand with some for sale as well as to give you a new hairdo for the event.

Once you are done at the expo, take some time and walk through DTD.  It is set up different and is not a large as DTD WDW but has some wonderful shops and restaurants.  From DL Hotel heading towards DTD there is the AMC movie theater which is followed by the area with mostly restaurants and then a large shopping area.  Some highlights I would check out are:

·       Rainforest Café- this is a 2-story restaurant near the AMC theater
·       Jazz Kitchen- check this place out if you want Beignets
·       Napolini/ Naples Ristorante- a good pre-race meal on property
·       La Brea Bakery Café- at the other end near Disneyland entrance

Now this is completely different and is going to be quite the experience. We will be staying at Paradise Pier so we will be really close to all the events for the weekend. All I know is I hope the expo has more physical space then at Princess Half Marathon

Getting to the race:
  • On property- walk over towards the Paradise Pier hotel, bag check is in the parking lot at the end of DL Hotel and Paradise Pier Hotel.
  • Off property- if you are staying on Katella Ave it is within walking distance, some other hotels are also within walking distance.
  • Off property shuttles- from Run Disney:  Shuttles will depart from select Disneyland® Resort Good Neighbor Hotels to the Disneyland® Resort Esplanade Shuttle Drop-Off area every 20 minutes continuously through the weekend.  You will receive a pass from your driver the first time you board the shuttle. Please save this pass for use over the entire Half Marathon Weekend.  Additional information is available in the e-program sent out 2 weeks prior to the race.
Parking on race day- parking is available in the Mickey and Friends parking lot, please see the race program for information on which ramps will be closed and the best entrance into the garage, after a certain time in the morning (normally around 6:30) if you enter the garage they will begin charging a fee.

It seems from looking at the maps from the 2012 Disneyland Half and 2013 Tinkerbell, the start area is in the same place even though the race itself does not follow the same course.

Bag Check is located in the parking lot near the end of the DL Hotel and Paradise Pier.  It is set up the same as WDW races by the first letter of your last name.  You will receive a sticker with your information (letter and bib #) that you put on the large clear plastic bag.  There is also a significant amount of porta potties along the side of Paradise Pier behind the stage.  There are a few more close to the corrals for last minute needs.  Tip: make sure to look all the way down the row at the far end from where baggage check is there are more PoPs and are often less of a line at the far end.

From bag check to the corrals is no more than 200 yards.  It won’t take more than 5 or so mins to get there, depending on your corral.  I was in corral C which is the 1st entrance to a corral as you walk away from bag check.  Unless you want to be at the super front of your corral there is no need to rush out of the staging area, but they will try to get people to move out of there about ½ an hour before the race begins.  At this time they move the entertainment to the beginning of the race, there are big TVs on the DTD bridge so you can see what’s going on.  There are normally only 5 corrals in the race and you are lined up on the road between DL Hotel and Grand Californian heading away from Katella Ave.  There will be people at the entrance to each corral ensuring you do not get in the wrong one.  There are signs everywhere and plenty of volunteers to assist you in finding the entrance to your corral.

Pre-race entertainment consists of people beginning interviewed and lots of talk about Run Disney.  There might be a video or 2 they show and normally they recap the 5K the day before.  At DL I can only remember the fireworks going off once at the beginning, which makes sense since you are in the middle of a town. 

Again, after the 2 mile walk to the corrals at Disneyworld races, this will be awesome. Add to that with the time change it will be like an 8:30am start and I am going to be one happy camper. 

Look for the next guest post that will cover running at Disneyland.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

I am a Princess enough to admit it, I am JEALOUS

The Disney Social Media Moms conferences are like the GOLDEN ticket for Disney fans who use social media. We all know it is an amazing experience filled with Pixie Dust, networking, events and Swag but there is a not a lot else known about it.

This year they have introduced 4 road events and invitations have started to roll in to some of my favorite bloggers.

(check out Margaritas, Miles and The Mouse and Disney with Children for great Disney/runDisney information).

One day I want to get in to one of these amazing events, until to read about it!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

More things to know about runDisney events at WDW

In a previous post I tried to cover some of the hints/tips and things I have learned about runDisney. One thing I did not cover specifically was the morning of the race.

You know, that wonderful middle of the night, anxiety heavy time when we are rushing to get to the starting line to wait?

runDisney has a LOT of space to work with for running events at Disneyworld and they seem to take advantage of it. I am going to speak specifically to the Princess Half Marathon since I ran it this year but from reports, this is very similar for the other locations (though Wine and Dine and Tower of Terror do use a different start and end point).

Host Resorts: Disney does a good job of making sure runners can get to the events without having to have their own transportation. Since many visitors to WDW rely on the Disney system this only makes sense. runDisney identifies specific resorts as host resorts for events. They provide direct transportation from these resorts to the races and the expo. If you do not stay at a host resort you are on your own to get there. This year for both Marathon weekend and for Princess Half Marathon weekend, ALL Disneyworld resorts (including DVC) were host resorts which made it nice and easy for the runners.

Using Transportation for the runDisney events: I will say that Disney again did a great job. The buses for the Expo and Races were in the same place as the park buses at Beach Club (and I assume all others). They also had a Cast Member stationed out there to keep the participants informed! The best part is they use the Magical Express and Mears buses not the park buses so if you over hydrate the day before there is a bathroom on board!

It was similar coming back from the events. It was easy to find where you should be to get your bus and there were cast members telling you where to go and to help! I found the entire process easy.

***Note: Some resorts share a bus and others do not. Some also share for certain events and not others so you may have stops but you will get there.

Timing for Transportation: My advice here is the earlier the better. For some events Disney is working on moving over 20,000 people in a short time frame. Buses for the races start running at 3am and I recommend trying to be on as early as possible. I am a worrier by nature so I was out at 2:45am and on the first bus. We sailed right to Epcot and the staging area with ease. I think I arrived about 3:15am. I know other people got to the bus stops later and there were traffic issues getting the buses into Epcot. Personally I would rather have time to stand around and meet up with friends, shop, potty and other things than stand in line. I know people who got on one of the last buses at 4am and had to rush to their corral. So early is key for runDisney events.

Staging Area and Corrals: Be prepared mentally that while the staging area and bag check are not far from the bus drop off, the corrals are quite a walk (I heard someone used their GPS and it was just under 2 miles). After you check your bag, you are on your way to the corrals. It is a long walk but it is done slowly (come on, with 20,000 people nothing goes really fast) but it doesn't tire you out. You can stop at a PoP, eat a snack, chat or take pictures. Once in the corrals it is another long wait but Disney does a great job of having music and entertainment to keep everyone going and not falling asleep.

Finish Area: The finish area for the Princess Half (and I believe the Mickey Full and Donald Half) are near the start line so when you finish you are back where you began to get your snacks, your bags and the buses back to the resorts!

runDisney events can seem overwhelming but honestly if you read what is given or ask Cast members at the resorts (NOT ON THE PHONE), you will have no problem navigating the events.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Sometimes it all comes together

I really want to get a 2:30 half on June 2nd in Niagara Falls. I really do. I know that 12 minutes is a lot to cut off from my last half but I really want this. For this reason 2 weeks ago I did just over 12 miles as my long run and then this week I did 3 short runs followed by a 14.25 miler.

I did not tape anything and I did not take anything. When I set out at 8:10am the weather was perfect. When I finished at 11am, the sun was up and it was still awesome. At 13.1 I was at 2 hours and 35 minutes for a training run, so based on that I only have to cut 5-6 minutes off or less than 30 seconds a mile during the race. I am scared but I am hoping the extra miles will help.

Plus as of yesterday it has been 2 weeks since I have had pop and that included Mountain Dew, since that is the only pop worth drinking. It has been tough mostly because I don't feel any different since cutting it out but I figure it has to help in some way.

So we will see what the next 2 weeks bring and hopefully Niagara will hold a PR for me!

Friday, May 17, 2013

What I have learned about runDisney Races

I think some people find Disney overwhelming and I know that the runDisney events are not exception to this. In just over a year I have read a lot about the various races and I have experienced the 2013 Princess Half Marathon. This in no way makes me an expert but I am going to try and help people out.

1. Some Disney races sell out REALLY FAST, while others do not. There are some things to note with this. Disneyland only holds 2 race weekends a year (Tinkerbell and the Disneyland Half/Dumbo Double Dare weekend). This means for those going to for a Coast 2 Coast medal there are only 2 chances to make this happen. Also Disneyland races take a smaller number of runners. Because of this it is no surprise how fast things sold out for the Disneyland Weekend events (even the kids races sold out fast). Add to it that BOTH of the Disneyland events are over holiday weekend; Tinkerbell is MLK Day weekend and Disneyland Half weekend Labor Day weekend so people can travel easier.

2. Disney races are EXPENSIVE but there are things that are special for Disney. How many races have character stops along the course and fireworks for each starting corral.

3. Starting Corrals are a source of confusion and anger for many people. Disney requested an estimated finish time. Prior to the 2014 races, you did not have to provided any proof to support your estimate unless you planned to finish in under 2:45. What this led to was a lot of people putting down 2:46 even if they had no plan to finish that fast. It put slower people in the middle of the corrals and led to some backups in places. It looks like Disney has fixed this by now requiring proof for anything under 3:15 (the max is 3:30) so hopefully in the upcoming races it will help the field to be seeded better to make for a better experience for everyone. Now, it might lead to more people being swept but that is number 4. Also, time must be submitted by the deadline since no time estimates will be taken at the expo.

4. Disney does require you to maintain a 16mm pace otherwise they will remove you from the course. The balloon ladies are real and start as the last people and walk at 16mm. If you fall behind them, a bus will come and get you and you will be taken off the course. You do still get a medal as of 2013 even if you do not finish. With the old way of placing some people were able to be placed into earlier starts to give themselves up to 20 minutes extra (or 1-2mm). With this new way, that cushion will be eliminated so I am interested to see if more people will be swept.

5. Disney does often have preregistration for certain runners. This is usually Annual Passholders, Disney VISA credit card holders and Disney Vacation Club (DVC members). As of now, this links were made available to these people BUT they also had a feature to share the link on social media sites when you registered making it open to everyone. Personally we are members of all three groups and I wish Disney would provide this perk just to members by either requiring a code or not allowing it to be shared. I know this upsets some people but I think it is a great perk for those willing to spend the money.

6. Bib transfers and deferrals are also confusing or a course of confusion with Disney. Disney does not allow bib transfers. A runner can defer to the same Disney race next year but cannot transfer names. Now that does not mean that it does not happen it just means that the runner and seller run a risk of being banned from Disney races (though I don't know if anyone ever has been). For an explanation on deferrals and how Disney appears to be changing things, see this post on Margaritas, Miles & the Mouse

I know there are a lot of things but those stick out to me!! Happy racing.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Subscription Boxes Review

I have been hearing a lot about the running subscription boxes. These are boxes that are sent on a regular basis (either monthly or bimonthly). They contain different samples of products each time. Now I love running stuff. I don't know why but I do love trying different stuff. I also like accessories. These boxes seem to be a fun way for me to try stuff.

The first one I tried was The Runner Box. I had wanted to sign up for the small monthly subscription for $10 a month but when I signed up it was not available. It seems as of now (a month later) it is available again but honestly I really liked the size of the bi-monthly one for $20. They also offer a one time gift box and a gluten free box. They also have a TriBox for tri-athletes. One thing is that you do pay shipping on the box.

My first surprise was I got an email asking me for my shoe/socks size. That was interesting. Well when I got my box I knew why!!!

 This was my fun mail day. I also got a new SparkleSkirt with this shipment (I will review this later).

In the box I got a green card that explained all the things inside with web addresses and some discount codes if I wanted to order the products!

Fuel wise the box included:

  • A Sample of Clif ShotBlocks-Margarita
  • Energybits
  • Chocolate Gel #9 that I am excited to try
  • A Recover Bar
  • Huma Gel that I also can't wait to try
  • Cytomax Sports Drink mix
Then there were the really fun things. First the blue packet of WIN is a laundry detergent for atheletic stuff. I used it and liked it though I am not sure I noticed anything different than using my Woolite Dark. Also there was a nice sized sample of Slik Skin Strong to prevent chafing which is not a problem for me but it looks like a good product. Another fun surprise was a fabric hair-bracelet. I love these things. I have a couple and they are awesome. This one supports Haiti efforts. Finally the best thing was a pair of Injinji Socks. I love them. I have worn them for for short runs and they are great. I am not sure if I want to try a long run but I like them a lot and there was a 40% off coupon.

REVIEW: I am impressed and I am glad to keep my subscription

A couple days later I received my second box. This one was the StrideBox. This box I signed up for the monthly subscription for $15 a month with free shipping. There do not appear to be other options at this time. When this box arrived my wonderful husband began to tease me and he thinks I am slightly crazy.

This box came with a nice colored card with information and prices on each of the items to give you an idea of what the value of the box is.

Fuel wise the box included:
  • Assorted Sports Bean package--Love these
  • Honey Stingers--Again, love these
  • Just Great Stuff Bar--I tried it and not my favorite
  • VFuel
  • Bonk Breaker in PB& J
  •  Perfect Fit Protein-Vanilla, now this is another exciting one for me since one of my summer goals is to get a good morning smoothie going that I can tolerate before I run
The other things in the box that were fun was a sample of a bottle cleaner from Bottle Bright that I am excited to try. There was a sample of blister protectors from Pro-Tec Athletics and finally my favorite thing, Klitch clips! The Klitch clips let you clip your running shoes on the outside of a bag. I can't wait to use them!

REVIEW: I am unsure if it is worth it. I can get the single samples at the sports store or the running store. I am going to give it one more shipment before making a final decision about keeping it. It had less in it than the Runner Box but it was cheaper and no shipping.

My final real running subscription box is the Kona Kase. I was able to get this box for half off through a deal I found so the box with shipping was $7.50. The box was a nice red box and inside there were fuel and snacks.

  • Popcorners-- popcorn chips that I am excited to try
  • A Luna Bar
  • GU Energy Gel in 2 flavors
  • GU Chomps in 2 flavors
  • GU Electrolyte Brew (I have tried this before and did not like it then)
  • GU Recovery Brew that looks OK.
REVIEW: Out of the 3, this is the one I will not continue. I just was not impressed, especially compared to the other 2. I am going to cancel this box just because I do not see the real value of this box.

I also order the NatureBox which has snacks that I want to try as healthy, natural fuel but this might also be snacks. I will post this separately.

Friday, May 10, 2013

runDisney Announces the new medal for Disneyland weekend and I AM EXCITED

Overall, this has been a down week. It is the end of the school year which means a ton of things going on and that have to get done, I have been struggling with some feelings/insecurities and I have been unsure about how this year will go with all the races I have scheduled. I think I am just in one of those places that everyone gets at times.

Saturday was a highlight day for me. I was able to complete just over 12 miles. My pace stayed below 12mm and while it is not amazing, it was consistent and I think I have to be able to maintain before I can focus on dropping time. I really had a great time though. The kids had breakfast with my mom so I ran from there. Being in the old neighborhood was nice. I also spent a while up at the hill so I could use the 1 mile loop. Everyone there was super friendly and it was so nice to see people out and about. There were several couples out running/walking together, people who looked to be on break from work and there was even a boot camp thing going on. It was GREAT and I plan to spend a lot of time there next weekend when I do my 14 mile one. I plan to do that one on Saturday again since it worked so well.

Now that 14 miles is a whole thing. I need to do something to improve at Niagara Falls. Galloway recommends a 14 miler which I never did. Maybe it will push me over to improving some!!

Today runDisney sent a message to those attending the Disneyland Half weekend to watch for an announcement about an hour later. It turned out that it was the announcement of the medals for the races that weekend. It included the Disneyland Half Medal (which is the same D as last year with a new ribbon), the new 10K medal and the Dumbo Double Dare Medal. They are amazing. There was also the 5K medal but I am not registered for that since it did not look like you could do the 5K and 10K because of timing.

For now, I am going to try and focus on the good and not the things that I am missing or am sad about. Only another month before summer is here with lots of time for the kids, running and refocusing. Until then: DISNEY MEDAL DREAMS!!!