health and fitness

Tips to Help Get Back on Track with your Health and Fitness Goals

It happens from time to time, you are doing well with your health and fitness goals and then something happens and you get off track. Maybe it is that New Years resolution that you make every year or maybe you were injured and need to get back on track now that you have recovered. Whatever the reason just know it happens to the best of us and you aren’t alone.  Wanting to get back on track is a huge step but it is typically not without figuring out how to get your health and fitness mojo back. Going through this myself, I have some tips to help get back on track with your health and fitness goals.

Getting Back on Track with your Health and Fitness Goals| Country Girl Gourmet

1.Make a plan

The first step  in getting back on track is to make a plan. To do this start by setting a goal and going from there. With your goal in mind find exercise that you actually like to to do and using a calendar and develop a work out plan. Decide what days you are going to exercise, what you are going to do and when.
Look at your diet and develop a meal plan. Figure out your daily calorie needs, the ratio of carbs.fats and proteins that you need. Eat healthy foods that you like, do not set yourself up for failure by forcing yourself to eat a diet of foods you hate just because they are healthy. Remember everything in moderation, treats here and there are ok and will help keep you from gorging on treats later.

 

2. Chart your progress

After you develop your plan, weigh yourself, take your measurements and take pictures of yourself to help keep track of your progress. Sometimes we don’t lose weight but will lose inches and seeing that change is a great motivator.
It is also helpful to log your meals to keep track of your calories and nutritional intake along with your water intake and your exercise. I use MyFitnessPal for my food intake but it tracks everything from food to exercise. I keep track of my running mileage with Garmin.  Waterlogged is another great app for tracking how much water you drink. There is an app for almost everything now and a big thing with apps is finding the one that YOU like best. Apps aren’t for everyone there is just something about writing everything out. Keep a hand written food and exercise journal, use a simple composition book or print blank month at a glance calendars and fill them out. Find a method that works for you.

3. Find your motivation

What is your motivation to be healthy? Is it for yourself? Is it for your family? Once you decide this you can look for some healthy living motivators. I like to look at Pinterest for different healthy living quotes, a good quote can help get you going. One kept me going through the Disney Princess Half Marathon. Another great motivator is paying for a race. Races are not cheap. Nothing like the thought of wasting money to get you moving. Lastly, give yourself rewards for meeting goals. The reward being something that you want (clothes, new hair, jewelry etc.). There is nothing better than working toward a goal and being rewarded.

4.Find support

Having support is a huge help when you have health and fitness goals. This support can be from your family, friends or a support group that you find online. Facebook has ton’s of groups to find the support of others. Having the support of others has been proven to aid in weight loss!
Another idea is to post “sweat checks” to your Facebook or Instagram. Sweat checks are great to help keep accountability. You never know you may find new friends to support your healthy living goals that way too!

5.Take it one day at a time

You have your goals and you are ready but here is an important thing to remember. Stuff happens! Things come up when you least expect it, bad weather, sick kiddos, and other emergencies. This doesn’t mean your goals will not happen. It just means that you need to readjust and tweak your plan. Refocus and motivate yourself to reach your daily goals, and learn from any mistakes you’ve made along the way.

6.Be Positive

Your attitude toward healthy living and fitness is key to your fitness goals. Focus on the good and stay optimistic! Positive thinking can increase your motivation and energy level. In the words of Elle Woods, ” Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands, they just don’t.”

When you start thinking negative it is easy to slip into the land of being unmotivated and depressed that can lead to skipping workouts and overeating.. so do your best to stay positive!

 

Don’t let falling off track get you down. Follow these steps and get back on track and in no time at all you will be making of you health and fitness goals!

You can do it!

 

Running with your Dog

Do you have a running partner? Let me tell you about mine. He is very handsome and a bit hairy. Oh yeah, he is my dog, well my husband’s dog, but really he is mine. Just don’t tell my husband that. I have been running or well, attempting to run with my dogs for a few years now. I say attempting because my Golden Retriever is a want to be runner. She see’s me get my running clothes on and she knows what that means. Momma is going for a run. Somedays she get’s me with those big brown puppy dog eyes but once we are out she reminds me why I rarely take her out anymore. She is 8 and barely does 2 miles. Once in a great while she will do 3 but it usually isn’t pretty.

Running with your Dog | Country Girl Gourmet

Unfortunately not all dogs are runners. Some breeds are said to be better than others. Check out THIS list from Runner’s World about various breeds. My Golden Retrievers are usually pretty obedient on the trail like the list suggests. My older dog just has never been good for distance. My dog of choice is our German Shepherd. He has trained for 2 half marathon’s with me and we are training for my 4th. He is a great running partner as well as security guard but it did not happen over night.

Here are some tips if you want to run with your dog:

1. Some people get their dog’s knowing that they want to run with them but there is something important to remember. Wait until your dog is old enough! Their bones are still developing. For most dogs that means waiting until your dog is a year old. Ask your veterinarian if you are unsure.

2. Slowly easy your dog into running. Just like you needed to train to work up to longer distance your dog needs to do the same.

3.Do not feed your dog right before you go to run. When a dog eats to close to when you go running there is a chance for bloat.

4.Vaccinate your pet and give it regular flea and heart worm treatment.

5. Training. Take the time and do some at least basic training with your dog. If your dog knows how to behave appropriately  on a leash it will result in you having a better run instead of having to stop and redirect every few minutes.

6. Use a Leash. This seems like common sense to myself but you would not believe how many people  we have come across that run with their dogs not on a leash. While you may have a normally well trained and behaved dog you do not know how it may act when it comes across another dog or person. The majority of the time the unleashed dogs we have come across do not listen to their owners. My dog is also trained and is protective of me and my family. This said he rarely barks at other people but after numerous encounters with unleashed dogs he barks at every dog we pass on a leash.  I am stuck now with deciding to try to correct the behavior and possibly undo his training or just letting him bark.  I am sure this is not something people think of when they let their dog run without a leash. My dog was doing what he was trained, to protect when an unknown animal ran at us. I don’t want to correct the barking and in the future I get bit because some other dog owner could not restrain their “well trained, sweet as can be” dog.  After our last incident with an unleashed dog and an owner not attempting to retrieve her dog after it did not listen to her. I have decided I will not try to restrain my dog anymore when he is only trying to protect me.

Running with your Dog | Country Girl Gourmet

 

Do not use leash types as an excuse. There are a variety of different collars, leashes and harnesses out there. There are some that you can even put around your waist. It may take trial and error but the perfect leash is out there for you and your dog.

7. Think of your dog’s paws. For people we put on our shoes and run but our pets do not wear shoes so consider the running surface. Especially if it is hot out your pup doesn’t need to be running on pavement. They get rid of some of their heat through their feet! Plus always check their paws/pads of their feet when you are done running for anything that could be irritating them.

8. Don’t let your dog overheat. Do your best to keep your dog cool. This could mean stopping for frequent breaks, carrying and giving your dog water. For instance I taught my dog to drink out of my fuel belt water bottle. Another good option is collapsible water dishes. Try to pick running routes with shade and especially in the summer work out in the morning or evening when it is cooler out.
It is a good idea to keep an eye on how your dog is panting. Panting is one of the ways dogs try to cool down. If your dog’s panting is a bit much try slowing down your pace or stopping and giving your dog a break. Overheating in dogs is a serious issue and can lead to head stroke and even death.

Running with your Dog | Country Girl Gourmet

9. Please be kind and clean up after your dog. Sometimes it is unavoidable, poop happens. Please clean up after your dog to the best of your ability. This includes when you are out on trials.Would you want to be running and step in a pile of dog poo? Plus as a dog owner I can say it is not nice to get the evil eye over somebody else’s dog’s poop!

10. Have fun because running with your dog is awesome! They make the perfect partners. They don’t care how fast or slow you are just that you are out there.

So what do you think? Are you going to try running with your dog?

Running with your Dog | Country Girl Gourmet

 

 

Mommy Guilt

I started running when my youngest was a year old. It was easy. Once her brothers were in school into the jogging stroller she went and we would go. Her brothers were all in school including an extended school year program so my breaks from running were maybe a week or two at a time. I had no issues taking these short breaks as we were always on the go. Fast forward a few years to now to a time when one would think it would be easier to just get and go run I have found the opposite. Since school let out for summer many days I find myself struggling with mommy guilt.

Mommy Guilt |Country Girl Gourmet

 

Mommy guilt isn’t anything new for many mothers. You simply feel guilty for not spending time with your kid’s/family. You are going out and doing something for yourself. Something that keeps you healthy, both mentally and physically. The problem is though while you know things will be ok while you go out there is often times something that comes up that gets you to skip your workout. Then you are stuck in mommy guilt land. It is a place where you work out and then feel guilty because your kid’s missed you or wanted to do something with you or when you spend time with your kids you feel guilty missing your workout.

There are plenty of websites out there that tell you to prioritize your needs and not worry your child will be fine. They make it appear that everyone else is dealing with things just fine. This kind of thing only makes things worse for those of us who are type A’s. How can they be handling things so perfectly? What am I not doing right? Maybe just some effective time management is all that is needed. I really don’t think so though. In my opinion what it really boils down to is a balancing act and we need to quit beating ourselves up when things do not go as planned.   Yes, effective time management is helpful but life happens and even the best laid plans and good intentions get pushed aside for a variety of reasons. It can be something big or small, trivial or important, the list of possibilities is endless but in the big scheme of life it really doesn’t matter.

It is wonderful showing your kids that mommy is fit and healthy. Kids need that positive role model. It works too! My daughter was 3 years old and told me that when she grows up she wants to run fast like mommy. She does run now and she is faster than mommy! She has run USATF track and field and cross country since she was 5 years old. My oldest is a runner also and is beginning his first year on high school cross country at the moment. My middle two don’t have the same zest for running but will get outside. So I use this to my advantage. I need to get out and exercise and my kids want to do something so we do something together. We ride our mountain bikes on nearby trails or in our neighborhood. We go for a hike on a nearby trail. My kids even lift weights and work out in our garage with us.

Getting out and doing things with my kids with my kids may not be that same type of workout I would have done by myself but it is killing 2 birds with one stone. I am working out and getting my exercise in while at the same time we are spending time together. The spending time together is a bit more of a priority for me. That is what I want my kid’s to remember. They can one day look back on their childhood and remember how mom was always busy training or they can remember going on a bike ride where their water bottle bounced out of their bikes basket among other seemingly trivial things.

Mommy Guilt | Country Girl Gourmet

 

Maybe it is about prioritizing things in your life after all? Summer is short and here in a few weeks my kid’s will be back in school. Things will go back to our normal routines and I can get back on track. Until then I will be happy creating memories with my kids.

Mommy Guilt | Country Girl Gourmet

 

 How have you had mommy guilt while your kid’s have been out for summer break? How did you deal with it?

Being Gluten Free

It seems everywhere I turn lately there is something about being Gluten Free. Little did I know before finally deciding to do a gluten free trial that being gluten free was on the road to be the next greatest diet trend. While it has brought some great gluten free food options it has brought with it backlash as well. Yes, I can laugh at late night talk shows when they quiz people on what evil gluten is. It is a bit of a different feeling I get from bloggers that bring forth their opinions about the gluten free life and this “fad” is ridiculous. Being Gluten Free isn’t easy. It is not the right option for everyone and it isn’t something someone should decide to do without researching the pro’s and cons and looking at their medical needs.

Being Gluten Free

After the birth of my 3rd son I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder and it was after that I have spent countless hours in different doctor offices trying to figure out what was going on with me. I still don’t have any real answers, one doctor says I have lupus and the next disagrees. The only thing that remains the same was I have something autoimmune going on. I only grew frustrated and my dislike of going to the doctor grew. Tired of being prescribed medications that only mask my symptoms instead of getting to the root of the issue I took my health in my own hands. I researched for a few months, reading journal articles and other studies before finally deciding that a gluten free diet may be what my body needs.  After all I figured a trial of couldn’t hurt.  I had been gluten free for a couple weeks when my husband’s grandfather passed and we went to Ohio. At this point I wasn’t  sure how much being gluten free was helping but I soon learned it was. While at my inlaw’s I ate gluten and  my stomach problems were back. My stomach was bloated right away  and I would soon be in all types of gastric distress. Soon as I got home I went back to my gluten free ways and my stomach thanked me. Heck, my whole body thanked me.

I have been gluten free for almost 8 months now. It has been a learning lesson the entire way. I have learned what I can and cannot eat. I have slipped up too just as I am sure others on this journey have done. After all nobody is perfect. The first time I went out to eat was overwhelming. My husband and I went to a local gastropub and I was so worried about accidentally eating gluten. I did ask my server questions that she begrudgingly answered. She was probably like these other servers that are blogging about their patrons that come in asking gluten free questions and then drink a beer. Well, I was that patron. I was so worried about what I was going to eat that I didn’t think at all about what I drank. I realized my mistake as I was drinking my beer. I had that oh crap what should I do followed by the oh crap that server probably thinks I am an idiot. The truth as my husband pointed out was she probably had no clue. The number of people who actually know what gluten is, while growing is small.  If my server did know what gluten is and was secretly judging me, oh well. I doubt she is perfect.

I have learned of foods with “hidden”gluten. These are foods you wouldn’t think have gluten in them. Some of these foods include:

  • Soy Sauce
  • Cream Based Soups (Cream of…)
  • Salad Dressings
  • Lunch Meats
  • Spice, Gravy, and/or Sauce Mixes
  • Candy (such as Twizzlers)
  • Eggs served at restaurants

HERE is a really good list to check out to learn more about hidden gluten sources. Being gluten free you learn to read labels well. You become that person in the grocery store examining ingredient lists.

Another place hidden gluten lingers is possible cross contamination when it comes to condiments like butter and then there is your toaster when it comes to gluten crumbs getting into your gluten free food. I have always hated crumbs in the butter and now I have given myself an excuse to buy my own little tub. It is all those little things that you don’t think of.

I have learned to be prepared and to bring my own food when we are headed out of town. I recently went to a weekend long Army family event and based on past experiences I thought I would be ok but I couldn’t have been more wrong. Pasta buffets are not friends of those who are gluten free.  Our active duty spouses at least were required to eat what was served so I ended up looking like that picky kid eating plain salad greens. That night after our class we headed to Walmart and I picked up some food. Thank goodness for nearby grocery stores!

Not all places are bad when it comes to finding gluten free food. Many restaurants have options and if you are lucky it is more than just salad. Just remember if you are getting french fries there may be a cross contamination risk if they fry breaded foods in the same fryer as their french fries. Some places will even go above and beyond to help you and make sure your meal is gluten free.  Disney World is great when it comes to special diets and I was really pleased when we visited this past spring. It was one thing to be ordering food and my husband and I in line waiting our turn discussing gluten free meals I could have and the cast member ordering it gluten free before I even said anything.  I was unbelievably excited while we were in Animal Kingdom and we walked by a gluten free food cart. I was in love! They had everything from gluten free beer to gluten free doughnuts. I had my first doughnut in months and it was delicious!

Being Gluten Free
My Gluten Free Doughnut from Disney World

Not all baked goods are created equal in the gluten free world. It has been a learning curve to figure out how to bake. I have learned that xantham gum is my friend when baking and it is necessary. I have learned all gluten free flour blends are not equal and some are better than others. It has taken me a few months but I have finally figured out biscuits so I can make biscuits and gravy. Cupcakes will be next. I miss cupcakes!

Being Gluten Free

This leads me into the most common things people say when they find out you are gluten free. You are almost always told, I could never give up  fill in the blank awesome gluten food. Yes, there are foods I miss but they are coming out with more and more great gluten free products. Then there is the standard I know of someone that is gluten free like their sister-in-law’s best friend’s aunt. Umm, ok? There are other people that are gluten free. In fact, 1 in 133 people have celiac and it is estimated that 83% of Americans are undiagnosed or misdiagnosed (from celiccentral.org). Then there are those that ask if being gluten free is a good way to lose weight. If you eat a lot of crap and you start eating healthier then yes you will lose weight. Myself and my family ate healthy to begin with. We try to keep processed foods to a minimum. I haven’t bought a box of Kraft mac n Cheese since early 2010. So for myself, no I did not lose weight. I have actually gained weight! Go figure!  Giving up my favorite homemade bake treats and training for 2 half marathons you would think I would lose. Oh well, I guess. People are curious so the list of things people say is endless. You just have to let people know you are gluten free because our body doesn’t like gluten and we eat this way to make our bodies happy.

There is a lot that goes into being gluten free and I have only touched the surface. It has been the best choice for my personal health. Being gluten free isn’t just a fad crazy diet for me, it is my way of life. It helps me feel better. Being truly gluten free is not something you can take a day off from unless you want your body to essentially hate you.  Yeah, so being gluten free may be the cool thing to do right now. I will take it especially if companies want to finally produce products that those of us who are gluten free miss.  If only we could get others not to think that being gluten free is so odd.

Disney Princess Half Marathon Tips

The Disney Princess Half Marathon registration opened up on July 15th to all of us that are not annual passholders or have DVC. The struggle was real. Active.com was slammed with people attempting to register. I was lucky and it took about a half hour, while others waited an hour or longer. There was a lot of refreshing, freaking out when payment screens went blank and for myself (and possibly others) feelings of relief when that email saying I was registered came minutes later.

Are you planning to run the Disney Princess Half Marathon? Check out these tips! #princesshalf

The Glass Slipper Challenge was full in under 2 hours and the half marathon and 10k were full in around 6. I can say for myself  I was thankful that I did not wait to register like my husband suggested. For whatever the reason may be Disney races have been selling out and selling out fast. We are not talking about in days but in hours here.  Could be because the secret is out and everyone is learning how awesome their races are. They are definitely my favorite after running other half marathons. I have yet to run a half marathon where on the course other runners are so friendly and encouraging. Then there is the awesome course support and the support after the race is awesome as well. In addition to all of this you can stop and have your picture taken with your favorite Disney characters. Seriously what is there not to like! Thankfully for those that still would like to run but were not able to register there are options available. You can still enter with charities and some trip planners have entries available.

So if this is your first time running the Princess Half Marathon I am going to guess that you are full of questions. I know I was. I searched and searched for info but to my surprise it was not easy to find. I want to help all of y’all out though. I’m going to answer some popular questions the best that I can and if you have a question. Let me know and I will add it and answer it.

Disney Princess Half Marathon Tips

Is Race Retreat worth the money?

This is what your $120 for Race Retreat gets you:

  • Climate Control
  • Private bag check,
  • “Private” port-a-potties
  • Changing area
  • Padded streching area
  • Character Meet and Greets
  • Self Treat Medical Station/ First Aid
  • Pre race food- Bagels and Fruit
  • Post race food- Hot Breakfast and fruit and champagne or mimosas
  • Post race, commemorative towel, flip flops or comfy socks
  • Massages (self pay)
  • Kid area with bean bag chairs and Disney movies on TV
  • Live result area TV streaming finish

Race Retreat is one of those things that everyone has to decide is this something I need for my Disney Princess experience. You could also think of it as how pampered do I need to be? Although the climate control  sounds lovely I just couldn’t make myself pay for it. If you choose to skip it yes, you will be left to be outside in the elements and that could mean, it is hot or cold or just right. There are areas by the stage for character meet and greets pre-race. There just are longer lines. They offer lounge chairs or you could sit on the ground. Last year I saw people bring dollar store pool floaties to sit on. The lines for the porta potties aren’t really that bad. They keep moving. I was in line no more than 15 minutes. The only problem I had was the porta potties do not have lights so I had to use the flashlight on my phone. Gear check was quick and easy, no lines and it is done by your last name. Post race there are medical tents and a self pay massage tent. Last year it was $1 a minute but it was cash only. As for the food element I am very simple when it comes to my pre-race fuel and being gluten free bagels and fruit  won’t work for me. Post race, i’m ok with my food box, I usually can’t eat for a couple hours after a long run. Plus in the post race area there is food and alcohol available for purchase.

Race Retreat is $120

Pasta in the Park 

There are mixed feelings about Pasta in the Park. You are given admission into Epcot (at 6pm) and you can ride a few rides while you are there so that is a plus.  It is also said there are some great character meet and greets another plus. The food some like it and others don’t. It is served buffet style and there are several choices. A common complaint is the time. When you have to be up at 2:30am to run a half you want to get to bed and try to get some rest. Going to Pasta in the park and staying to get everything you paid for (this includes special seating for Illuminations fireworks show) can lead to a late night. Personally this is something I skip. I eat a gluten free diet so I would be limited to what I can eat plus I like to try to go to bed early the night before.

**note** Disney is awesome about special diets and they can be contacted to see if any accommodations are being made for special diets.

Pasta in the Park is $54 for adults, $30 for children, children 3 and under are free

Breakfast

The Princess breakfast is another option that is hit and miss with other princesses and their families. I haven’t talked to many people who loved it or said it was worth it. In fact many people suggest making reservations at your favorite restaurant for breakfast instead. Complaint’s have ranged from the food being just ok to there being long lines for the character meet and greets.

Breakfast is $39adult $26 child

 

ChEAR Squad

There are many places along the half marathon route that non runners can see runners for the half marathon to include Main Street at the Magic Kingdom and the Finish Line area. Disney does offer what they call ChEAR Squad that has reserved viewing areas  for those who purchase Gold or Platinum and other perks. For instance the platinum ChEAR Squad includes Race Retreat and that gives non runners a place to hang out if the weather is really hot or cold. There is reserved seating in front of the castle in the Magic Kingdom that has a nice view. There have been mixed views on the finished line seating. It is first come first serve.  Another plus depending on the package you choose (silver- platinum) are different souvenirs (typically a t-shirt and blanket but it may include other things) or Cheer Squad Gear. For ChEAR Squad this is something that you need to discuss with those that are coming with you and what they want. For instance, if you are choosing the Race Retreat  you may want to get the platinum chEAR Squad to enjoy your after half marathon breakfast together.

ChEAR Squad Packages:

Bronze –
Complementary
Silver –
$39.00
Gold –
$65.00 – Disney Princess Half Marathon
Platinum –
$120.00 – Disney Princess Half Marathon

 

Where to Stay

One of the biggest questions is where should you stay. This race is so large  that even locals stay on property and after my experience with the Rock N Roll Raleigh I don’t blame them. I highly suggest stay on Disney Property (to include Shades of Green). With the Disney Princess Half Marathon all resorts are host resorts. That means all resorts have race day transportation and not just that but transportation to the Expo also. Disney has resorts at all prices too and from time to time offer various different specials. Last year I stayed at the Caribbean Beach resort and it was great. Although I had rented  car to drive to Orlando there was no need for me to drive it around and that saved me some money. Disney has a great transportation system that you are able to utilize to go all over the Disney property. I went to Downtown Disney and the restaurants and gift shops at my resort. You do have to wait on buses and depending on your resort you may have several stops.
I have to add in that Magic Bands are pretty cool. You have your room key on your wrist so you don’t need to worry about where you are going to stash your room key especially if you don’t check your bag.
Everyone has their own favorite resort so I won’t suggest one over another but will say if you want to stay at a particular resort I suggest that you book your room early. The longer you wait the fewer resorts that will have availability.
If you choose to stay off Disney property remember to leave with more than enough time to get to the parks on race day.

IMG_7264
Are you planning to run the Disney Princess Half Marathon? Check out these tips! #princesshalf

To wear a costume or to not wear a question

I remember last year spending a ton of time worried about the costume question. I decided on wearing one, I wanted to dress like Cinderella. I pinned different outfits on Pinterest. Then I started to get worried about what running 13.1 miles in a costume would be like but on the other hand I didn’t want to be the only person not in a costume. I decided on making my own sparkle skirt but I waited too long to make it. I waited until February and at that point I couldn’t find the correct color fabric to make my skirt. It was too late to order fabric or skirt. I planned to go with my DIY Sweaty band and blue shirt and either capris or shorts. I debated buying a spark skirt at the expo but I decided against it. I didn’t want to wear something new on race day. I was perfectly fine in what I was wearing too! Not everyone wears a costume or even just a sparkle skirt.  There is a large variety of running outfits on race day. There is a variety of costumes, sparkle skirts, princess colored clothes, matching shirts and outfits to their favorite running clothes. Where what you want and what is comfortable for you! Wearing something 13.1miles and chaffing isn’t fun so if you choose to wear a costume test your run day outfit out before the big day.

 

Corrals

When signing up for the half marathon you were asked for a time you expected to finish and if you had a finish time for another 10k or half marathon. For corral placement  they are looking for that official time otherwise you will be placed in one of the last corrals. I highly suggest running at least a 10k  before December 1st and submitting a time for corral placement. Submitting a time and hopefully being placed in a higher corral will give you a bit of extra time for the race when it comes to taking a break for photos. You need to be able to run/walk a 16 minute mile including any stops if you are in the last corral. If you cannot maintain that there is a good possibility that you could be swept.

Are you planning to run the Disney Princess Half Marathon? Check out these tips! #princesshalf

 

Injuries, Pregnancy Etc.

It happens sometimes and there is nothing you can do to prevent it. Something comes up and you are no longer able to run the half marathon. Unfortunately you cannot get a refund but you can defer your entry  for a fee until the following year.

Bib/Packet Pick up

Bib Pick up is on Thursday, Friday and Saturday at the Expo. There is no race day bib pick up. Pick up is pretty simple. In the weeks prior to the half marathon you will be emailed your waiver form. If you forget your waiver don’t worry! There are computers set up so you can print it out at the expo. If you cannot make it to pick up your race packet you can no longer have someone pick up race packets on your behalf.

Are you planning to run the Disney Princess Half Marathon? Check out these tips! #princesshalf

Expo

The expo for Disney Princess Half Marathon weekend is huge. Even saying it is huge is an understatement. It is a runners dream. Everything you could possibly want for running can be found. If you forgot your gels, you can most likely find the type you use here. Same for GPS’s, compression socks and more. They also have a great Run Disney area but I will add things sell out fast. I didn’t get to the Expo until Saturday last year and 13.1 car magnets/stickers and the t-shirt I wanted to buy my husband were sold out.  Last year you could go to the KT tape booth and get taped, for free. Yes there was a line but it wasn’t too bad. In addition to KT tape there were all sorts of free goodies being handed out. Jeff Galloway can also be spotted near the Run Disney tent at times. Plus they give great lectures.

Are you planning to run the Disney Princess Half Marathon? Check out these tips! #princesshalf

Dooney And Burke Purses

Are you a purse person? Every year there is a special Dooney and Burke purse that is sold at Disney Princess Half Marathon. To help with some of the craziness of the Expo these purses can be pre-ordered. Yes, you get a preview of what the purses look like ahead of time. Keep a look out for the email.

New Balance Shoes

New Balance makes a few pair of commemorative shoes for the half marathon that are well sought after every year. After all who wouldn’t want running shoes with Cinderella on them? Last year they used a Virtual Queue system for those interested in buying the shoes. If you are interested keep an eye on your emails for how they will be doing the shoes this year.

Water and Fuel on the Course

Another question that is often asked is if you should carry your own water or rely on what RunDisney provides. This is a personal choice some carry there own and others rely on what is on the course. There are several water and gatorade stops along the half marathon route so have no fear of not being able to get water if you need it. I train with a fuel belt with water and Nunn and that is what i’m used too so I choose to wear my fuel belt during the half’s I have run. It is what i’m used to and it is what works for me. As for fuel on the course they offer Cliff gels around mile 8-9. When it comes to gels and nutrition try different types and find what works for you. There is nothing worse than trying a gel and it doesn’t agree with you. That is something no one wants to deal with on race day. I prefer Gu’s especially the Salted Caramel ones but there are all different types of gels and other fuel choices available. Some people skip the fancy fuel and go with things like pretzels, raisins or even honey packets.

Balloon Ladies

There is something that strikes fear into slower runners at Disney races, the Balloon Ladies! Yes they actually have balloons and if your pace is slower than their 16minute mile you will be picked up and not allowed to finish. These ladies are volunteers and are in the last corral and are the last people to cross the start line. Once they cross the start that is when the 16minute mile starts. They are rumored to be very friendly so don’t be scared of them but if you see them coming you may want to pick up your pace.

Character Meet and Greets

One of the great things about Disney races are the character meet and greets along the half marathon route. The Princess half marathon has several great characters that will be out including some that are rarely seen such as the villains. Bring a small camera or use your phone’s camera to catch these memories. Since I was running alone I had no issues having a cast member take a picture for me when I asked. Marathon Photo is also at some stops as well as sprinkled all over the race route.  Just remember the clock doesn’t stop because you did, watch your time at character stops.

Are you planning to run the Disney Princess Half Marathon? Check out these tips! #princesshalf

 

Florida Hills

Huh, Florida Hills? Growing up in Florida I learned hills are few and far between. Florida is pretty flat. Florida does have plenty of overpasses and during the princess half you get to go up and over them toward the end of the half as you return to Epcot. To help motivate you the green toy soldier is out there to umm, motivate you. Don’t forget hills when you train if you can.

Training and Nutrition

I am only going to briefly touch on nutrition and training. This is a subject that needs to be personalized to each person as what works for one person may not work for another. While some people have done this race with little training and lived to tell about it. The road to success starts with training and to stick to your training. Many people use couch to 5k to get them started and Galloway has a good program for running and walking, Galloway also has free training schedules on Rundisney, there are also tons on Pinterest and runners world. I will suggest to train for more than 13.1 miles with whatever training program that you do choose. The reason for this is simple. On race day you walk from the parking area to the pre race area and then you walk about another mile from pre race to the corrals. This walking is awesome to help warm you up for your run. In addition to all the walking you do to get to the start during the race any weaving you do will add up and in the end you rack up more miles than 13.1.

As for nutrition how well you fuel your body will help you when it comes time to run. When you fuel up on junk you can feel it. I know when i’ve tried to run after eating junk I always felt sluggish and heavy.

Final Thoughts

Disney Princess is a fun and supportive race. Women you have never met before will be there to say an encouraging word or just sing a silly song. On race day remember your training, you have seven months of training ahead, make them count. Disney races are typically not races to plan to PR but it can happen. I know first hand, I PR’ed last year. It just made my race day more magical. The biggest thing I can tell you is to take it all in and have fun while you are out there!

Are you planning to run the Disney Princess Half Marathon? Check out these tips! #princesshalf

 

 

 

****disclaimer***** I was NOT compensated for this post. All opinions are my own****

 

 

5 Tips for Avoiding Volunteer Burnout

Just a year ago my life and what was my normal changed. The Army had decided it was time for our family to move and we had started making our way to our new duty station, Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Fort Bragg wasn’t a new destination for us. It is where we started our families’ journey in military life. I knew what to expect for the most part. I had bloomed when I was planted at Fort Bragg before and I was sure it would be no problem to do it again. PCSing always brings with it all sorts of unique challenges and new adventures and even though we had spent 7 years at Fort Bragg several years prior I need to start over and bloom where I was being planted once again.

It didn’t take long to unpack and once I had it was back to what I had always done, volunteering. I jumped back in wasting no time at all. I stopped in a Blue Star Families, Books on Bases event  and lent a hand and offered my help for future events. Soon there after I volunteered with the USO at a Jack Daniels Salute to the Troops care package event with country singer and former 82nd Airborne soldier, Craig Morgan and EJ Snyder possibly best known from Naked and Afraid  one person over from me.

Volunteer Burnout (Craig Morgan) | Country Girl GourmetI applied for volunteer jobs online through Army Community Service, became an Operation Homefront volunteer again… well at least according to email correspondence I was one. I also told my children’s teachers if they needed volunteers I was more than happy to lend a hand.  I even became a Family Readiness Group  volunteer once again. Once my kids were back in school I suddenly found myself with “extra” time I once spent working on one of my varied volunteering jobs.

I spent my mornings job hunting and working on my blog and other Allrecipes activities. I started work on a family cookbook. I could go run without a worry. It was during one of my half marathon training runs I came to the realization that not volunteering may be just what I needed. In all honesty sometimes it takes time to realize things and I realized I had fallen victim to one of the things I always tried to fight against. I had Volunteer Burnout.

It is with no real surprise it happened. I have volunteered in some way or form since high school from planting trees in the community to tutoring middle school students. Once I married my husband  and became part of the Army family community I started volunteering with his companies Family Readiness Group(FRG). Well, back then it was called a Family Support Group. It was while my husband was on recruiting duty that my volunteering went to a new level. I was a FRG leader, I was always at my kid’s school helping with something and I had started advocating for military families. I was constantly busy doing something, helping out. I just did and did some more, I felt horrible saying NO.  Volunteering just became what I did and continued to do when we moved to the Fort Bliss area. I was always sure to say thank you to my volunteers and was always concerned that I was asking too much of them but I never did the same for myself.  I was the FRG leader running a 5k and answering my phone to help a fellow spouse. Yes, I did that.  Her questions were not emergencies and were something that could wait 20 minutes until I was done. I did this too many times to count. Blame my type A personality, the wanting of things to be perfect and the people pleaser in myself I put my volunteer responsibilities above my personal needs.

I did this for years, yes years. Becoming yet another victim of volunteer burnout ultimately was no surprise. Don’t get me wrong I loved and still do enjoy volunteering. It is something that I will never completely stop doing. Now I will just do things a little differently. I will put myself first and make sure I have time for myself. Over the last year I have been getting back to what makes myself me and have found myself less stressed out. Others have even noted how I even seem to be happier. A wonderful comment but it has me wondering how I must have appeared before, yikes! While this change was forced upon me it has made me a better person. I still volunteer but I am a much happier volunteer now and keep a few tips in mind.

5 Tips to Avoid Volunteer Burnout | Country Girl Gourmet

 

5 Tips for Avoiding Volunteer Burnout

1. Schedule your volunteer time.   When taking on a volunteer job most give you a description of the expected hours per week that are expected. Yes, sometimes you will need to spend more hours than expected while others less. A huge things you can do for yourself is set hours you are “on the clock”. Do you have an email account associated with your volunteer job? Stop checking it all the time! Have set hours that you set aside for responding to emails. As a volunteer you are not expected to work nonstop. That is not good for you. You need your breaks. Remember your time is valuable!

2. Take Care of Yourself. Get enough sleep. Eat healthy foods instead of junk food. Exercise regularly. Take time for you and your hobbies.  Go on vacation and leave your volunteer work at home. Be sure to make time to relax and unwind. You may think you don’t need a break but take one anyways.

3. Learn how to say NO with grace.  When I was joking that when I moved my email was going to be sexybooty69 to avoid being contacted it should have been a sign that I was on burnout road.  If you are coming up with ideas in your head about how to avoid volunteering instead of just saying NO you may be on the road to burnout. Saying NO isn’t a bad thing, it can be difficult especially when you feel like you are letting someone down. Over committing and spreading yourself too thin can have an adverse effect on your volunteering efforts and you. Volunteering is good but moderation is key. Remember, they don’t give a special award for being a volunteer martyr.

4. Ask for Help. For some asking for help is hard. I have friends that know if i’m asking for help I must need it because i’m one of those that rarely asks for help. I will try to be Superwoman and do it all myself. Being Superwoman can leave you more stressed. You don’t have to do it all yourself though. Delegate, ask for help. Give your volunteers more responsibility. Just remember, if they say no or seem hesitant, don’t push them to do something they don’t want to. Remember they are volunteering like you and like you the best volunteers are typically more prone to burnout.  Good volunteers are hard to find so like it is important to take care of yourself it’s important to make sure they take care of themselves also.

5. Don’t Worry, Be Happy. This for the control freaks out there. Stop worrying about things you cannot control. This is a HARD one but mastering this skill will help you. Yes, asking for help can lead to interesting situations sometimes but what will be, will be and it will be ok. If there is one thing I have learned in my years as a military spouse it has been to adapt and overcome. Things may not turn out exactly the way you hoped but in most cases things will be ok and if not it is a valuable learning experience.

 

These tips aren’t fool proof , just good suggestions from someone who has been to burned out. What do you do to avoid Volunteer Burnout?

 

 

Inaugural Rock N Roll Raleigh Recap

I did it again! I ran another Half Marathon! So 2 Half Marathons for 2014 so far and my third half  all together. This time I ran the Inaugural Rock N Roll Raleigh Half Marathon.  I had heard good things about the Rock N Roll races and how some considered them better than the Run Disney races. This half marathon was my Christmas present from my husband. So after taking a few days off after the Disney Princess Half I was straight back into training mode.

Rock N Roll Half Marathon Recap | Country Girl Gourmet

 

The Rock N Roll Marathon and Half had a expo on Friday, April 11 and Saturday April 12. I ended up going Saturday and brought my younger 2 with me.
Rock N Roll Half Marathon Recap | Country Girl Gourmet

Ballon creations greeted us at the entrance of the expo and people were lined up taking their pictures with them. It was a short trip down the escalator  to the expo floor that we entered by walking under Rock n Roll Raleigh in balloons.

Packet pickup was quick and easy. You first picked up your number and walked around to where the shirts were. Also in this area were people handing out your gear check bag. There were no goodies or treats which was disappointing.

Before walking into the next area I was handed a coupon for Marathonfoto and some Starbucks via.

Rock N Roll Half Marathon Recap | Country Girl Gourmet

The next area was a combined area where you could buy race memorabilia and Brooks stuff. Brooks also had their Run Happy Island set up. I got my “passport” and I won a t-shirt. If I had completed all 3 activities I could have won a bag too but my kids were ready to go after doing their kids scavenger hunt and winning frisbees.

Rock N Roll Half Marathon Recap | Country Girl Gourmet

We walked around the floor. I bought some bigger water bottles for my fuel belt that I know I will need as the temps and humidity rise this summer. Compared to Disney this expo was small and really didn’t offer anything I was really excited to see or really want to buy.

Rock N Roll Half Marathon Recap | Country Girl Gourmet

I spent the night at my parents, set my alarms and went to bed. The race was  to start at 7 and you needed your car parked by 6 so I planned to get to downtown Raleigh by 5:30am. My plan did not work as expected though. I should have been pulling into a parking garage at 5:30am but I was stuck in traffic. It took me over an hour to go a half mile. I began seeing more people walking on the side of the road. Even in the car in front of me the driver got out and left for the race and the passenger took over the driving. I was really worried if I was going to make it. Raleigh police eventually shut down the road to one lane and that helped some. I made it to where I was suppose to turn right just as they closed the road for the race. I had to turn left. If I had brought $10 cash there was a lot I could have  used but at the expo we were told the parking would be free so I didn’t bring any cash. So I drove on. Now I use to live in Raleigh, for decent segments of my life.  I even use to work off Wade avenue but it has been 15 years since I have lived and driven in downtown Raleigh. I sadly didn’t remember all the back ways and Siri is of no help in these cases. After driving my second circle around I somehow got lucky and found my way to the 5th floor of a parking garage with not even 5 minutes to the start. No time for any pre race rituals. I just grabbed my things and went.
Rock N Roll Half Marathon Recap | Country Girl Gourmet

It was after the race I found out that race officials were post updates on the Rock N Roll Marathon Twitter. The race had been delayed by 10 minutes. I can only hope everyone who was trying to get to the race made it! There was an awfully long line of cars behind me that were also waiting.

Rock N Roll Half Marathon Recap | Country Girl Gourmet

I ran/walked about a block or so and found my corral. These corrals were not as strict as Disney’s. they were open and anyone could go to whatever corral they wanted. No one was making sure people were in the proper corral. This made for some bobbing and weaving around people as the race started.
Rock N Roll Half Marathon Recap | Country Girl Gourmet

I was just happy to be in the corral getting ready to run. While waiting I talked to a few ladies around me that were very kind. This was a huge difference when compared to the Disney race. I ran that race alone as well and not a single person said a word to me. This one was everyone saying good luck to each other and just talking to each other in general. Even if it was to complain about the horrible traffic.


Rock N Roll Half Marathon Recap | Country Girl Gourmet The race started and as the corrals would go we made our way around the block to the start. There were plenty of port potties and you could easily jump out of line and go if needed. Heck you could have grabbed a hot dog off the cart on the corner if you were hungry.

Rock N Roll Half Marathon Recap | Country Girl Gourmet

Before I knew it we were off. It was a tough course with a ton of hills and more up hill than downhill. At least it seemed that way. For the first 6 miles I stayed ahead of the 2:45 pace group but someone throwing water on me and the hills slowed me down that mile and I wasn’t able to catch back up to them. I really don’t remember the hills in Raleigh being so steep but they are. I did it though, I finished! Under 3 hours and setting a PR for myself.  Mad at myself for losing the pacer but it was a tough race. In the end finishing matters, not your time.
The course support was just as it was stated it was going to be despite the warm temps and 94% humidity (according to my Garmin). Thankfully I wore my fuel belt but I ended up refilling it at the 10 mile stop. The stops offered cold water and yellow gatorade at each stop and Gu around mile 8. They had flavors other than the ones they said they would be handing out. I got lucky and was given my favorite, Salted Caramel.
The bands along the course weren’t the best and some were better than others. The absolute best was the marching band playing atop a bridge. The worst was a female singer around maybe mile 6 and her tired, slow song. I enjoyed the bystanders that set up and played music more than the bands.  Thankfully I was running with my iPhone and using the one ear piece.
I do have to say the bystanders at the race were great! We were running on Palm Sunday and I was even blessed by a priest as I ran by a church.  There was even a couple who had just gotten married and many great signs and for those who like it, a lot of cowbell. More cowbell than I have ever heard during a race.

Rock N Roll Half Marathon Recap | Country Girl Gourmet

I finished strong and running. Knowing I had PR’ed added to the moment and I felt pretty awesome. After I finished we were given our medals and then a cold wet rag which was awesome. Next they were handing out bottles of water, gatorade and chocolate milk. My hands were full! A little further I found food. First there were Power bars but having never tried them I asked if they were gluten free and they didn’t know so I skipped them. Along with the cookies and pizza, again I couldn’t get a clear answer on if they had any that were gluten free. I was then offered a banana  which I passed up thinking I would just grab something from a food truck.
I was starting to cramp a bit in my calves  so I decided it would be best to find my car and go before I completely cramped up.
I was skipping the free cup of Michelob Ultra  (again it isn’t Gluten free) and concert by New Politics. I had never really heard of them anyways.
Overall except for the traffic problems it was a pretty good race. I am interested in maybe trying another Rock n Roll Race. I am just not sure I want to brave another half in Raleigh with it’s killer hills.
Rock N Roll Half Marathon Recap | Country Girl Gourmet

So here are my race “goodies”.

Rock N Roll Half Marathon Recap | Country Girl Gourmetand we can’t forget my well earned medal!

Rock N Roll Half Marathon Recap | Country Girl Gourmet

 

Disney Princess Half Marathon Recap

I did it, why yes, I did! I ran my second half marathon, the Disney Princess Half Marathon! I can say without a doubt it was a very positive experience and definitely worth all my training and even those ice baths. It has been a week and i’ve started my training for my next half marathon but I couldn’t not give a Disney Princess Half Marathon recap for anyone who is interested in running this race in the future.

The Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend actually started on Thursday but I wasn’t able to make my way down to Disney World until Friday. I rented a car, drove threw severe thunderstorms in South Carolina and stopped to pee more times I would like to share (good hydration starts way before the race!) but I finally made it to Florida and Disney World. Childhood happiness and giddiness came over me when I saw the Disney World sign.
Disney Princess Half Marathon Recap

I found my way to my resort on Disney property. I stayed at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort. There was a sign for the Princess Half Marathon as soon as I entered the door. I got my self checked and off to my room I went.

Disney Princess Half Marathon Recap

After driving around and finding Trinidad South I found my room and saw that I had been upgraded to the Pirates room. This made me wish my family was with me. My youngest son loves Pirates of the Caribbean  and would have loved this room.
Disney Princess Half Marathon Recap

The fridge was hidden in the barrel. No microwave in the room though but those who need their coffee in the morning there was a coffee maker (with coffee of course but no tea).

Disney Princess Half Marathon Recap

The details even continued into the bathroom and the bathtub. Flying Dutchman bathtub anyone?

Disney Princess Half Marathon Recap

There of course were also Mickey soaps that smelled like citrus.

Disney Princess Half Marathon Recap

Overall the Caribbean Beach Resort was a pretty nice place to stay!

Saturday morning I woke up and the first thing I did was head over to the Disney Princess Half Marathon Expo at the ESPN Wide World of Sports.

Disney Princess Half Marathon Recap

Packet Pickup was quick and easy. I had brought my waiver but for those who didn’t they had computers set up so you could do it there. After picking up your bib you were sent across the street to the expo.

Disney Princess Half Marathon Recap

Walking into the expo it was pretty impressive.
Disney Princess Half Marathon Recap

Most anything running related could be found at the expo. Chiquita banana’a were there giving away banana’s, KT tape was there taping people up for free,you could try different types of luna bars and a local hospital was doing body composition analysis along with many other free things. You could find Sparkle skirts, Sweaty bands, Bondi bands, running GPs’s from Garmin to Polar, Gu’s to Cliff shots, hydration belts, running shirts and more. There was also official Run Disney merchandise but unfortunately every single thing I had hoped to pick up from Run Disney was sold out.
At the expo I saw Jeff Galloway and could have said Hi and had my picture taken with him but since I was by myself I didn’t… should have but didn’t. Instead I picked up my bag and browsed  and left picking up some free Dannon Oikos greek yogurt on my way out.

Disney Princess Half Marathon Recap

Not without finding my name first.

Disney Princess Half Marathon Recap

Curious about what you get when you run. Look no further! You are given a clear bag for race day bag pick up, a champion tech race shirt, race “bible”, some Craisins and…

Disney Princess Half Marathon Recap

 a mini Luna Bar. I gave mine away on the bus. Darn Coconut and Soy.Disney Princess Half Marathon Recap

After the expo Icaught a bus and walked around Downtown Disney for a bit. I loved seeing how so many things were the same from 11 years ago when I lived in Orlando and all of the new things.

Disney Princess Half Marathon Recap

 After a bit of shopping I made my way back to the buses and back to the resort. Stopping in at at the Resort’s Old Port Royale Food Court. There were several food options. Pizza, Pasta, Hamburgers and more. I stuck to some of the and more and had roast chicken rice and broccoli  for my pre-race dinner. Breaking my gluten free diet and getting some pizza or pasta sounded good but I was good.

Disney Princess Half Marathon Recap

After dinner and a rain shower I went for a easy 2 mile run/walk around the resort.

Disney Princess Half Marathon Recap

Under the bridge these guys made me smile!
Disney Princess Half Marathon Recap

After my run I had bought a special dessert for after dinner. A cupcake from Babycakes at Downtown Disney. Their cupcakes are Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Soy Free, Egg Free, Vegan and made without refined sugar. So needless to say I was excited to finally have a treat I could eat.

Disney Princess Half Marathon Recap

I took a bite and decided to look and see what they were made of and I became instantly sad. This Gluten and Soy Free girl is allergic to coconut and I found the allergy warning on their website. The cupcakes had coconut in them. My throat got a scratchy and a few hives popped up. I just hoped for the best. It was to sad to think of coming so far to be sidelined by having a bite of cupcake. Off to shower drink more water (and a bottle of Skratch) and to bed I went hoping for the best.

Disney Princess Half Marathon Recap

Of course setting my alarms. I am not a morning person and going to bed before 9pm was HARD!

Disney Princess Half Marathon Recap

I didn’t sleep that well but I was rested and excited for the day, at 2:30am. I still had a couple hives but otherwise I felt ok. I got myself dressed and gathered up everything I needed and ate a quick breakfast. I brought my own breakfast. I didn’t want to be left trying to find something at grab and go or running out to a store. I ate my usual rice cake with peanut butter with maybe a tablespoon of marshmallow fluff on top. It is my gluten free version of a fluffenutter. I then left for the bus stop. I walked up to the bus stop as a bus was leaving at 3am but that was ok because there were 4 buses behind it. They even let the next bus pass and I got on the next one and off to Epcot we went.

Disney Princess Half Marathon Recap

We get off the bus and we are left to walk. I thought this was the 20 minute walk that Disney tells you about but I was wrong. Spaceship Earth looked great at 3am- ish.
Disney Princess Half Marathon Recap

Couldn’t help but take a selfie like so many others were doing. Really when else do you get this opportunity?

Disney Princess Half Marathon Recap

Then it was back to walking to the race area with all of the other runners.

Disney Princess Half Marathon Recap

 In this area they had a DJ playing music to get us going, they had a couple areas to take pictures but I didn’t see any characters. This is also the same area you go for Race Retreat if you had bought that option. I didn’t and didn’t have any issues without it. It was warm, I had my water and I had no issues sitting on the ground.  There were lounge chairs you could grab and take a nap on. I did some light stretching and drank the rest of my water while in the pre race section. Around 3:45 I made my way over to the porta potties and then left for what I thought was the corrals. Just a note the porta potties are dark… I used the flashlight on my phone for light.
I was wrong though alike some others who were off to the corrals at the same time.  We thought the letters outside related to our corrals. What they really were for was for gear check. I fully blame my blonde hair.

Disney Princess Half Marathon Recap

It was after going through gear check that the 20 minute walk that Disney tells you about begins. We walked and we walked. There were marathonfoto photographers along the way and volunteers helping tell us which direction to go. I found my corral and ended up in about the middle of it.

Disney Princess Half Marathon Recap

Then as time grew closer we had a few people from RunDisney emcee’ing, Miss America spoke and there was a special birthday message to a lucky military spouse. Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother came and started the races. Each corral was counted down and had their own fireworks. Sadly though the Fairy Godmother only counted down the first few corrals and then she had to go.

Disney Princess Half Marathon Recap

Before I knew it my corral was off. I started off running and had issues with my water belt so I made my way to the right after being annoyed long enough. I walked and adjusted it and that is when I fell into a group of walkers and those running intervals. I then ran when I could and otherwise walked, weaving and going around others. Even going into the grass but training on muddy trails I was ok with that. I first came across kites from Mary Poppins and was in love. Next up was Jack Sparrow, there was a long line and it was still dark so I skipped him and decided to stop on my way back to Epcot. I continued running and even more excitement came over me as I entered the Magic Kingdom.

Disney Princess Half Marathon Recap

The character stops continued as we went on. On our way into the Magic Kingdom there were the Heroes, a couple race car drivers and cars and Villains such as Malificent. As much as I wanted to stop I had already decided what characters I wanted to stop for if I could. I had a huge fear of the balloon ladies despite my being positioned in a decent corral to start. I took pictures as I ran. Some weren’t the best though. Like this one was running downhill under the bridge to enter the Magic Kingdom from a backstage area I haven’t seen since I was in High School and preformed with my high school choir at Candlelight Processional each Christmas season. On top of the bridge was a DJ with giant Mickey hands.

Disney Princess Half Marathon Recap

One of my favorite moments was running down Main Street USA. One of my must get pictures was of myself in front of the castle and after waiting my turn a cast member took my pic for me. Then off to Tomorrow Land I went and off to storm the castle!

Disney Princess Half Marathon Recap

This was probably my next favorite part of the half marathon. It was a little slow moving but awesome!

Disney Princess Half Marathon Recap

The trumpeters were out and playing as we approached and went through the castle. It was also at this point my phone crashed as I entered the castle. Thankfully I got it up and running again.

Disney Princess Half Marathon Recap

I continued on through Frontierland and exiting to another back stage area I had again not seen since I was in high school. In this area was Princess Aurora and Prince Phillip and a bit later the 10K check point. We continued on seeing the Train that goes around the Magic Kingdom and more character stops. I can’t forget to mention we heard our “power song” Let it Go.

Disney Princess Half Marathon Recap

I kept on going more walking than running but a lot of weaving.  I looked at my time and saw that I was on my way to a PR so I just kept going. Up and over an overpass was next. My first half marathon was up and over the Franklin Mountains and my training had been on hilly trails so this was not that bad for me. I especially loved the green soldier. He was a mean drill sergeant who was making us laugh as we went up. Once we got up to the top and I saw over the overpass and how many people were still behind me the fear of the balloon ladies completely went away. I didn’t slow down my pace though. Although Disney races are typically more for fun and not PR’s, I was going to PR.

Disney Princess Half Marathon Recap

Next thing I knew there it was, Spaceship Earth and the last mile. There were so many people out cheering and clapping. Every Starbucks cast member was standing and clapping as well as many other Epcot cast members. I ran past the Fairy Godmother and Sophia the First. Then a Gospel Choir right before the last stretch. I ran (dropping my phone and having to go back) and gave Mickey a high five and finished triumphantly with my hands held high.

Disney Princess Half Marathon Recap

I did it, again. Thirteen point freaking one in 100% humidity and I PR’ed.

Disney Princess Half Marathon Recap

Those photos’s I had wanted. I missed Mickey and Minnie. I’m still holding hope that Marathonfoto got a pic of me high giving Mickey at the finish. Jack Sparrow well he decided to take a break as I was approaching the pirate ship. It’s all good though after the race I got a pic with my favorite princess, Cinderella.

Disney Princess Half Marathon Recap

I wandered around after for a bit. I checked out the Run Disney tent but it was the same merchandise as the Expo. There was a massage tent that I would have loved but it was cash only. There were various food trucks and champagne for sale at the finish also. I ended up going back to my bus line which moved quickly and back to my room with my post race goodies.

Disney Princess Half Marathon Recap

We were first given cooling towels  after finishing the race and then our medals. Mine was put around my neck where other people had theirs handed to them. Next we were sprinkled with Pixie dust. We were given our mesh bags drinks and food boxes. Finisher photos were in there somewhere too.

Disney Princess Half Marathon Recap

The boxes were all pretty much the same. Pop chips, hummus, chocolate covered blueberries, a piece of toffee, more craisins and a Luna bar.

After rolling my legs with my foam roller and a hot shower. I got myself ready and headed for the bus to head to Downtown Disney for the Happily Ever After Party. I made it there just in time for the start of the free socks giveaway at little mismatched and then I went over and spun the wheel at fit2run’s booth and won a great Brooks tech shirt. I am all about Finding Your Happy Pace!

Disney Princess Half Marathon Recap

Overall the Disney Princess Half Marathon is a good race! I would love to do it again but I have to say it is a race that you do with friends. It’s not nearly as fun to run it by yourself. I hope to run it again someday!

I think I have found a new love for RunDisney races!

My Best Running Advice

Back in 2007 I started running, for fun, for fitness and overall good health. I had signed my oldest son up for a race on the Navy base we lived on and at the same time I signed myself up for my first 5k. That was the moment it all began. My son went on to win his race as well as being an Army child winning the Navy kid run. Myself, yeah I didn’t win but I finished and I wasn’t dead last so that was good for me. I went on to run in more of the free 5k’s that the Navy base held, PR’ing every single time. I read all sorts of advice that of course was the best running advice to see what I needed to do to improve my running.

My Best Running Advice | Country Girl Gourmet

There are so many things that I have learned over the years but there are a few pieces of advice that I can give to anyone who is  wanting to start running.

My Best Running Advice

1. Every person is different and what may work for one person may not work for you. You have to figure out what works best for you.

The moment I figured this gem out my world of running changed for the better.

Being a runner does not depend on what you look like. Runners come in all shapes and sizes.

Being a runner does not matter how fast or slow you go or even if you walk some of the time.
 If you walk it doesn’t make you any less of a runner. There are great programs out there that incorporate walking like couch to 5k or the Galloway program. Just remember everyone starts somewhere.

The clothes you wear do not make you a runner. You need clothes that fit YOU well, not clothes that someone else says are the best. It may take trial and error but you will figure it out. Something to look out for in clothes is if it is going to make you chafe. Anti-chafing sticks like Body Glide or simple petroleum jelly can help out if you do. Another factor is dressing for the weather. What you need to wear on a cold day may not be the same as the next person. Like I hate it when my ears are cold and depending on the temp I will wear a hat or a headband. At the same time though I have gone out when it was 25 degrees in a cold weather top and a hoodie and I was too warm. That is me though you may want more or less.

Same thing goes for shoes. While I highly suggest going to a running shoe store and getting properly fitted. Every person out there has a different foot and what works well for me may not for you. There is variation in the different shoes for your type as well. Find what feels good for you not because the shoe is a certain brand. I learned my lesson the hard way. I picked a popular stability shoe  and ended up with Plantar Fasciitis. Personally, I now wear minimals and they have helped me tons but again they are not for everyone.

Hydration is important in running but how you hydrate is up to you. Some people carry water and other hydration drinks and others don’t. Some only carry if they are going a certain distance. Some think it is ridiculous to wear a fuel belt in certain races but it doesn’t matter.  You have to do what is right for your needs. I use to always carried water while I ran, it was easy. I pushed my daughter in my BOB stroller and just brought a bottle even if I was only doing a couple miles. As she grew and I no longer pushed her in a stroller I tried out hand held water bottles but they annoyed me so I started running without water and did fine until one day. It was a nice cool day and I was going out for 10 miles but I severely cramped at 9 miles and was stuck sitting on the side of the road waiting for my husband to rescue me. I now have a fuel belt that I always wear on runs that are 4-5 miles and longer. I carry a bottle of water and a bottle of Nunn or Skratch Labs, sometimes I drink it sometimes I don’t.

When it comes to gels, chews, beans and things of that nature everyone has a favorite. Gel’s bother some people and they eat raisins, gummy candy like swedish fish and even pretzels. The point is to help replenish your bodies glycogen levels and calories burned during your run. There isn’t a one fits all solution though because timing and frequency to avoid bonking depend on the individual using them and how their body processes it.

My Best Running Advice | Country Girl Gourmet

 Some people run with music while others do not. Those who run with music all have different opinions about what the best music to listen to is. I know my favorite running music differs greatly from my husbands. Just as some run with both earbuds in and others just one.

Some use a heart rate monitor and others do not. Just as some use a Garmin or other GPS tracker. That in itself is a huge debate. Who has the best running app? Is it Nike+, Runkeeper, MapmyRun, Garmin. I know with the apps I had my favorites and had friends who had completely opposite opinions. Then there are those that use the different GPS watches.

With running it is very individualized to each person’s needs. There is no clear cut answer to what is best. What is best is what works for you.

2. Running is mostly in your head.

Yes, you read that right, Running is mostly in your head. It is a battle with your brain. Some days it will be easy while others it will be hard. On those hard days doing a mile will be difficult but you just have to tell yourself that you can do it and push yourself. Just remember it will be worth it. Don’t give up, you can do it, dig deep, you are a rock star!

3. Listen to your body

You need to listen to your body and what it is trying to tell you. If it is telling you to rest then rest. If you are in pain then take a break. If the pain doesn’t get better after a couple days see your doctor. It isn’t better to take a few days off instead of making a possible injury worse and needing to take a month or longer off. Again, I learned this the hard way.

My Best Running Advice  Country Girl Gourmet

As I prepare for my second half marathon this month this running advice I can safely say has been the best things to keep in mind when I run. Running isn’t all about form. It is about running your own run and enjoying it. Running is easily the cheapest therapy out there. It allows you to go out and be alone with your thoughts. It is about being grateful for the opportunity  and the ability to run when there are those who cannot. It’s about pushing boundaries and seeing what your body can do and being amazed with yourself. Running is simply a variety of so many different amazing things.

My Best Running Advice | Country Girl Gourmet

“I run because long after my footprints fade away, maybe I will have inspired a few to reject the easy path, hit the trails, put one foot in front of the other, and come to the same conclusion I did: I run because it always takes me where I want to go.” 
―Dean Karnazes

So you want to get DIRTY!

Recently I completed my first mud run. It was a cool morning and the mud was cold and honestly I sadly didn’t get really muddy. Here are some of my best tips for a successful mud run!

1. Pick your teammates carefully. Running with someone you know is more fun than someone you meet the day of the run.

2. Weigh your options when picking your heat. We went for fresh “germ free” mud but that also meant out mud was pretty cold since it was only in the 40-50’s out. If we had chosen a heat later in the day the mud  would have been warmer. Those competed later in the day were covered in mud while those of us who competed first thing, not so much.

3. Exercise. Although many races have been simplified so anyone can do them it helps to be in good physical condition.

4. Make a plan. If you are part of a team decide beforehand if it is ok to break apart or if you are staying togethers. Sometimes teammates can get separated during obstacles. This happened with my team after our first obstacle and was how I ended up doing the mud run with someone I did not even know.

5.Dress accordingly. Leave the cotton at home and go for tight fighting spandex-y clothes. I chose to capri’s to protect my knees during obstacles but saw others wearing tight booty shorts. I chose a dry-fit shirt. When choosing the color of your clothes keep in mind you will be getting wet and your clothes may become see through. I ended up wearing a black tank under my shirt for that reason.

6.Skip the socks. They add to the squish factor especially if you choose cotton.

7. Don’t give yourself a pedicure the day before. The grit from the sand will wear down the polish.

8. Shoes.. there are a couple options here. You can wear old shoes and donate later or rinse and wash when you get home. I wore minimals and they were the perfect shoe for this. While my teammate complained of squishy shoes after a couple seconds out of the mud my shoes were fine. Double knot your shoes tightly. You will be stepping in mud and nothing is worse than losing a shoe.

9. Bring a change of clothes that you don’t mind getting mud on for after the race, cheap flip flops and a towels you don’t care if they get muddy. Rinsing the mud off afterward may not be an option. I was lucky enough to be able to rinse off but those in a couple heats after mine did not have that luxury. I was able to change by covering myself in a large towel  (beach towel). If you are unable to rinse off you will need the towels to cover the sets in your car.

10. Have fun!

So those are my tips for a successful mud run. I have my second mud run coming up in less than a month and I cannot wait!

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