All American Marathon Recap

It’s been a month since my last half marathon and I wasn’t sure about writing a recap but here it is, my recap of the All American Marathon’s Mike to Mike Half Marathon! My dilemma with writing was because I didn’t actually run the half marathon because I was pacing but I still did the course so why not?

All American Marathon Recap

This year was the second running of the All American Marathon but the first year of it’s expo. It was a small two day expo with plenty of room to grow in the future. On Saturday, I was there volunteering with Team Red, White and Blue. Other booths there included The Runner Spot (a local running store), Bondi Bands, another NC based running store, USAA, UCAN nutrition,  US ARMY and ROTC programs along with a couple others.

All American Marathon Recap
Saturday late afternoon was also when their pasta dinner was held under a tent outside at the expo.  As a pacer I was invited along with a guest. Their guest speaker this year was Ivan Castro, a wonderful wounded warrior who has done many amazing things since his injury to include running the All American Marathon the previous year. Oh and did I mention that he is blind. Amazing stuff right there!
Being gluten free I didn’t really get to enjoy the full pasta dinner but I have been told the pasta, garlic bread and cookies were good. I can vouch for the vegetables though.  They had some fried broccoli and cauliflower that was mighty tasty in addition to a salad of mixed greens. At the conclusion of the meal they even gave away the centerpieces and I was given a jar full of flowers.

Off to home I went to get ready for the next morning. Even though I  was walking not running, I was quite nervous. I was the sweeper and 4 hour pacer for the half marathon, that is a 18:20 mile. Not a 4 minute mile that some people thought when they saw my sign. Can you imagine being that fast?!?

All American Marathon Recap

I trained though. I went from running to walking and rucking. I rucked with a weighted ruck to help slow me down. I was as ready as I was going to be for the next day.

All American Marathon Recap

Sunday morning for the first time ever my husband dropped me off for the marathon. Nervous about traffic we got there nice and early. Another option for runners was to catch a shuttle ride from Fort Bragg to the race start. There was also an opportunity for shuttle rides from the finish to the start line area. Runners who took the shuttles rode the same buses that they use to transport soldiers, white bluebird buses. If you don’t know what they are they are simply school buses that are white not yellow. The buses were there (all at the same time) at approximately 6:30am giving plenty of time for bag check, pre-race photos, and getting to the start line. There were no corrals but you could find a pacer and figure out what area you should be in.

After listening to the Star Spangled Banner we were off with a loud bang in true military fashion.

Marathon start line

Photo from Fort Bragg Flickr

As a pacer and a sweeper I needed to determine how best to pace those in the back of the pack. I chose to go their pace as long as we were under 18:20. That way if they needed to take breaks we could. For the first mile or so I walked with the 7 hour pacer for the full. When he pulled ahead I was left with several ladies, two of which  I stayed with for the entire half marathon.

For the first couple miles we were in downtown Fayetteville and went by the Airborne and Special Operations Museum area  after that it  was to the Haymount area and the dreaded Haymount hill. I was walking and had trained on a hilly route so Haymount Hill wasn’t that bad in my opinion. If I was running though i’m sure it would have been a different story. I know my bicycle escort had issues and the ladies I was pacing were ready to be done with the hills. We then traveled down Morganton road and eventually made it to the All American Highway. By the point we were making it through the marathon route the spectators were sparse, something to think of if you are a back of the pack runner. A huge thank you to those who waited for us before packing up it was appreciated!  Another issue we came across as those in the back of the pack were barricades being moved before we had crossed the street and watching water stations dump water as we approached. The water tables still had water but I had to come to a complete stop when I needed it. There were also some snacks (trail mix and gu’s) and although I brought my own gels I would grab something  just in case those I was pacing needed something. One thing that I was able to easily do as the sweeper was say Thank you to every police person, medic, support table volunteer and soldier on the course. They are critical pieces to good races.

Once we got on the highway it was nice and flat but a bit boring, it is a highway after all. This isn’t Disney but our mile 8 is truly something special. At Mile 8 Wear Blue: Run to Remember was set up. Every person experiences this mile differently. Some cry, some find new found strength to finish, whatever it is this mile is very moving.  I slowed down during this time and pulled away from those I was pacing to allow them to experience this however they needed.

all american marathon 15-8


To give you a glimpse of the Wear Blue: Run to Remember Mile check out this video HERE.

After the Wear Blue Mile we came upon Fort Bragg and at mile 10 we walked up an on ramp (well it was an exit ramp if you want to be picky) we were at the full and half marathon split. We took the right to finish the half marathon. I think at this point those I was pacing must have thought I was crazy. I walked backwards up the ramp and down the road and I even was skipping. For a half marathon I was feeling pretty good.  I may or may not have danced  and sang

When we went by the All American Band playing Shake it Off. Really, who doesn’t sing and dance to Shake it off?

All American Marathon Recap

We were coming to the finish though, despite people telling us we were almost there. We knew otherwise.

al american marathon 15-4

The mile markers for the race as you can see were nothing fancy but did the trick.

All American Marathon Recap

I had the girls I was pacing follow the advice of this sign:

All American Marathon Recap

Next thing I knew we were at good ole Iron Mike! The finish was near!

All American Marathon recapAt Iron Mike we were ahead and the ladies I was pacing some stopped and took pics and it was at this point I let them have their much earned finishes on their own.
After receiving my medal from a soldiers in their dress blues and receiving my finisher back pack the ladies found me and took a pic with me to my surprise and thanked me for helping them.

All American Marathon Recap

After the race there was a finish line festival but being  in the back of the pack I had missed much of the entertainment. Since my husband was picking me up I found him and we left to go home so he could do homework and things to get ready for work the next day. Well after we stopped in at Lowe’s first. Yes, I went in to Lowe’s medal, race bib and all.

All American Marathon Recap

It was honestly one of the best experiences I have had “running” a half marathon. It was an incredible honor to help pace those in the back of the pack! This race is one I would recommend to anyone looking at doing a half marathon. My only big complaint was my pacer shirt. It was too small. We were told they were running really big and asked if we wanted to size down. I said sure. Lesson learned… don’t size down in the future. Maybe that person wears smediums…. ya know shirts that are a size smaller than they should wear. Oh well, I didn’t chafe…and the actual race shirt is very comfy and nice!

Check out THIS video recap of the 2015 All American Marathon. There may or may not be a glimpse of me pacing in there.

Want to run (or walk) the All American Marathon in 2016? Check this out-

Adventures in Running: The Back of the Pack Runner

I have been running for several years now. Seven to be exact. In those seven years my pace has stayed about the same. Turtle speed. I have always been one of the back of the pack runners. Well except when I run a Disney or an Rock N Roll race. Those races I become a middle of the pack runner simply because of the thousands of people that run those races. It’s not due to the lack of trying to improve because I have. I build up but then I get an injury. An ACL injury, stress fracture in my foot to my latest one, a concussion and soft tissue damage after my car accident. I keep going though. My pace is comfy at a 12-13 minute mile, sometimes it is a bit faster but sometimes it is slower. My 8 year old daughter is a faster runner than I am but I am fine with that. After all, a mile is a mile, it is the same distance no matter your pace.

Adventures in Running: Back of the Pack

It has been a while since I did a race where I ended up in the back of the pack. I paced a recent half marathon, I was the sweeper pacing the 4 hour half marathon group and all of my back of the pack memories came rushing back.  When you are running it is easy to forget about those behind you unless you are the one in the back. I also wonder if race directors truly consider those that are slower. I understand that race directors pay for roads to be shut down and some course support and then there are all the volunteers and that is why many have course limits. That is understandable, completely. My issue is that everything offered on the course and afterwards should be the same for the first runner to the last runner, especially if that runner finishes within the course limits.

Simple things like moving barricades before the final runners have even finished crossing the street. Then there are the various aid tables. There should be plenty of water, gatorade, snacks and/or gels for every runner. I have watched in disbelief as water was being dumped as I was less than a tenth of a mile from the water stop. My first half marathon they ran out of gels and gatorade. Then there is the finish line where there is post race nutrition or more so lack of. It seems in that regard, many times faster runners just take what they want forgetting those behind them. Then again maybe race directors just don’t supply enough for everyone? When it comes to after marathon festivals, that final runner should be able to get food or have a beer, whatever is being offered, when they finish. Instead many times awards and entertainment have been done and over and those who had set up are either in the process of packing up to leave or have already done so. Heck, even race photos are lacking for the back of the pack. I have scoured over hundreds of photos from the race I just paced and there was not a single photo of the back of the pack of the half marathon. It wasn’t until we were nearly finished I was able to get the girls I was pacing to a photographer, yet based on the pictures I have seen there were many, many more photographers and news crews in various areas.  You would think you wouldn’t have to worry about those things especially with a set course limit but you do. After all you are putting down the same money for a race that all of those who finished ahead of you did. Why would your race be any different than theirs?

I am sure there are those out there who think I should stop the whining and just work on my pace and try to get faster, like I haven’t done that and continue to do that already. That anyone in the back of the pack should use these factors to push themselves to work harder so they don’t end up in the back. Despite the media highlighting a couple back of the pack runners runners that were helped to the finish line those back of the packers are largely ignored and forgotten about.

Those in the back of the pack are there for a multitude of reasons but they are giving it all that they have. Many of those in the back are taking great strides to change their health. They have had that wake up call that change needs to happen. They may be running in support of a great cause. They may be running for those that cannot. Others in the back are overcoming something or working to get back to where they once were. They could be coming back from a car accident, major surgery or an injury.  Maybe they just fought cancer and kicked it’s ass.  I will tell you first hand it can be harder than you think it will be. My first 5k after my car accident my leg went numb and I stopped running and walked. I didn’t want to stop, I wasn’t giving up.  A girl I paced was having issues with her back and her hope was just to be able to finish before her back began to spasm. Everybody has a story and their own reason why they run. The fact is they got up and off their couch and they are out there. That is all that matters. They may walk their half marathon but that is fine. They are still doing it. Don’t judge them for coming in last and don’t allow their race to be any different than those who finished way ahead of them. Give them the same race. They deserve it.

Disney Princess Half Marathon Recap 2015

I had originally intended on taking the week of my half marathon off from writing but here I am two weeks later. It may be two weeks but, I did it, again! I ran the Disney Princess Half Marathon. It is really great race full of girl power although  a couple thousand men run it also. Disney is always a good place to start when you want to enter the running world because of it’s usually relaxed atmosphere. After all what is better than running a half marathon with 20,000+ people. Yes, it is a lot of people but it’s all good.

2015 Disney Princess Half Marathon Recap

Princess Half Marathon Weekend starts on a Thursday with the start of the expo and goes until Sunday ending with the Happily Ever After party after the Half Marathon. My journey to Princess began on Friday morning after I got my kid’s off to school. I left our freezing temps of not even 10 degrees and I drove to Florida. Normally I would say warm and sunny Florida but it was in the 50’s. Still that was warmer than what I was coming from.  I made great time and went directly to ESPN Wide World of Sports to Packet Pick up. The packet pick up process is easy even if you forget your waiver. Disney has computers set up so you can print it out onsite. From there you find your bib number and go to that booth. They go over everything with you and send you across the hall to me main expo to pick up your gear check bag and t-shirt.

Disney Princess Half Marathon 2015 Recap
I was excited to get to the expo a day earlier, I had hopes of picking up some runDisney items that are typically sold out by Saturday but unfortunately all of the eBay scalpers had swiped the things up. I guess I can still look on eBay but then you are paying double or more than the original price. I wandered around the rest of the expo looking for things that I need, I mean want. I even tried on an Sparkle athletic skirt but big butts do not lie. Running skirts are not made for everyone and although you wear shorts under a sparkle skirt I’d rather not have someone staring at my booty for 13.1 miles because my skirt was too short. Despite the sales girl saying it looked cute, I knew otherwise and saw what would of been my issue repeatedly on Sunday during the half. So I left kind of disappointed but had decided I would come back the next day. So off to my non- Disney hotel I went.

The next morning I gathered up my stuff and left to head back to the Expo and meet up with someone from Team RWB Fort Bragg. On the way I learned a very important travel tip. Always call your bank and let them know you will be traveling out of state. Otherwise they may freeze your card because they think the purchases are fraudulent. I learned that while trying to get gas and my card was declined when there was no reason for it to decline. After fixing that problem and filling up my tank, back to the expo I went. This time they had Minnie, Aurora and Cinderella’s horsemen out for pictures so I went ahead and hopped in line for pictures. After spending some more time at the expo we left and headed to Downtown Disney until I could check into my Disney resort. The expo just didn’t seem to grab my attention this year like it did in 2014.

This year I stayed at Disney’s Pop Century resort. It is one of their value resorts but it is a really cute resort with a ton of things to offer. It is decorated very kitchy.  Disney style kitchy. It has a great running path and  it is just fun to explore. There is also a food court and souvenir shop. The food court did have a few gluten free options too.  My only downside was the room I was in. I was right next to their main pool, the hippy dippy pool where the DJ hangs out, they play night time movies etc. It didn’t matter that I had the do not disturb sign on my door. Going to bed early was not the easiest thing to do and neither was taking an after half marathon nap.

Disney Princess Half Marathon 2015 Recap

Alarms were set and off to bed I went. As expected that 2:30am wake up came sooner than expected. I got myself up and going, no caffeine needed. Had my breakfast and off to the buses I went. Once entering the pre race area, I wandered a bit and had my picture taken with Cinderella. I still hadn’t decided how I was going to run. Was I just going to run or was I going to enjoy the race and stop for pictures? After a trip to the port-a-potties I met up with some people from my corral which made the wait until the half started go by in no time at all. I was in corral J again this year. I have no clue how or why since I had hoped I had moved up one corral. I know others with my half times were in corral I. It was, what it was though. J is in ok corral, it is right in the middle so it gives you plenty of cushion if you do decide to stop for pictures. The balloon ladies are still quite a ways back. The down side is J can be crowded. Within minutes after corral J started I knew how I would be running. I dropped my prescription sunglasses and had to retrieve them. At that moment I decided to let it go and enjoy my half. This year I didn’t go out of my way to weave around people. I stopped at some of the shorter lines for pictures too. Those long lines for the heroes and the villains still scared me.  I even stopped and went to the side to take pictures instead of trying to run and take pics at the same time. Yes, it made a difference in my official race time. My overall time was 1 minute slower than my time from last year but from the 2 times I did remember to pause my Garmin my time was much faster and on par with my typical pace.

Disney Princess Half Marathon 2015 Recap

The overall run takes you from Epcot to the Magic Kingdom and back to Epcot. You put on a lot of typically boring highway miles but Disney has that covered. Even the overpass you go up and over really isn’t that bad. Just watch for that soldier who will make you do push ups. They have something for you from a DJ to a character all along the route. Then there is the course nutrition and medical which is the best i’ve seen in any race i’ve ever done. The miles in the Magic Kingdom are typically among my fastest. Main street and seeing the castle is always magical. Plus, hello, you are running down Main Street USA! The castle this year was perfect with Elsa, Anna and Christophe. My favorite part is at the end, right before the finish. The high five from Minnie and Mickey right before you cross the finish line.

Disney Princess Half Marathon 2015 Recap

Once you cross the finish line you are given your medals, a mylar blanket if you wanted one, your mesh bags (these were the same as 2014’s), a powerade and water, you are sprinkled with pixie dust and you make your way to finisher photos. It was after photos you were given your food box  and you could go through gear check and back to the pre-race area. In this area they now have the massage tent set up which is now one of my favorite things. After long runs I have issues with my calves cramping. I always ice bath and my husband will roll out my legs. I was by myself and really didn’t feel like rolling myself out. Since I learned last year it was cash only I remembered to zip some cash away in my shorts pocket. It was the best $10 I spent all weekend. Afterwards I walked around a bit. I checked the runDisney tent with optimism that maybe they had some new stuff but they didn’t. Then waited in a couple lines for more princess pictures before heading back to Pop Century.

After getting cleaned up I decided to head to Downtown Disney for the Happily Ever After party. The only deal I took part in was saving a little bit on my Starbucks Shaken Black Tea. There just weren’t the freebies or great deals that were there in the past. Even at Fit2Run’s booth. My free gift was a coupon for $5 off a purchase of $20 or more. In my opinion if I hadn’t needed to walk around the Happily Ever After Party could have easily been skipped.

Overall, I enjoy this race but I think this year was my last Disney Princess Half Marathon and not because I brought the flu home as a souvenir . It just didn’t feel the same as it had the year before. There was absolutely no wow factor for me this year. I’m not quitting runDisney races though. I have my eyes on the Disney World Marathon. Yes, the marathon. I think i’ve gone past being half crazy to being full crazy.


***Country Girl Gourmet was NOT compensated for this recap.***

Run-cation Packing List

Have you gone on a Run-cation? A vacation where you go run a race. Yeah, i’m sure that may sound crazy to some people but if you are into running it can be fun! I have done a couple and have a few more destination races on my dream list of half and full marathons that I want to do. If it just wasn’t for that whole money thing (why must things be so expensive!) Destination races are a ton of fun but they do take some extra planning. Since you aren’t going to be at home you need to plan ahead and pack what you are going to need in advance for your race. It sucks when you get to your destination to find out that you are missing something. When it is an extra important item like say your running shoes you could be in a bind. Most larger races have expos but when they do not or do not have what you are looking for you could be left driving in a strange town looking for a running store and hoping for the best. Making a run-cation packing list for your race day necessities is a must! After all,  “A ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”.  Take a few moments and plan for your next runcation. It may help you more than you think to go into your run-cation organized.

Runcation Packing List | Country Girl Gourmet

Here is my Run-cation packing list:

  • ID and/or medical id
  • Cash and/or credit card
  • Any medicines
  • Flight info
  • Hotel info (if going to Disney- Magic Bands)
  • Race waiver
  • Running clothes (Dress for the weather, bring  alternate weather running clothes- just in case)
  • Costume (sparkle skirt, 1970’s tux, clown wig.. dressing up can be fun!)
  • Costume fixers – in case your costume falls apart mid-run, its helpful to have extra tape, safety pins,scissors or even a hot glue gun on you to fix costume emergencies!
  • Compression sleeves
  • Sports bra (it’s amazing how many ladies forget this!)
  • Running underwear
  • Socks
  • Running shoes (they might be important!)
  • Throwaways- sweatshirts/ sweatpants or blankets for prerace. Garbage bags work too!
  • Hat/ visor
  • Cold weather gear (hat’s and gloves)
  • Rain Poncho
  • Sunglasses
  • Flip flops or alternate pair of shoes for after race
  • Postrace clothes
  • Simple cinch bag (if not provided) for gear check
  • Group identifiers – if you’re in a group like team rundisney, or another meetup, wear identifying pieces, like a pin or badge, so other group members can find you
  • Food – It is helpful to bring foods you usually eat so something new does not upset your stomach.
  • Race fuel-gels, wafers, sports beans,chews etc.
  • Electrolyte replacement- ex. Nuun
  • Extra water/sports drinks
  • Fuel belt/ camel back/ handheld water bottle
  • Running belt/flipbelt/ spibelt
  • Phone and charger
  • Ipod and charger
  • Headphones
  • Armband for phone/ipod
  • Gps and charger
  • Heart rate monitor
  • Camera
  • Batteries
  • SD card for camera
  • Chapstick
  • Body glide / chaffing prevention
  • Vaseline/ chaffing/blister prevention
  • Kleenex or wet wipes in case porta potties are out
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Motrin/tylenol
  • Band aids, mole skin etc.
  • KT tape and medical wrap
  • Biofreeze/tiger balm, neosporin
  • Hair things, headbands, hair ties, bobby pins, clips, etc.
  • Ziploc bags (for if it rains)
  • Laptop/ iPad/ tablet
  • Chargers (Don’t forget your chargers for all of your electronics!)
  • Powerstrip (esp. if sharing a room)

*If flying Carry On race day items (running clothes and shoes)*


I hope my list helps you out! If I forgot something please let me know so I can add it to the list!

Disney Running Playlist


Just over a year ago I ran my first RunDisney Half Marathon, the 2014 Disney Princess Half Marathon and I became hooked on RunDisney races. They are absolutely the best races I have attended. They are very organized, they have awesome course support and the crowd support is really nothing like i’ve ever experienced. If I was a millionaire I would run all of their races but sadly I am not. I am lucky to get one RunDisney race in a year, well that is unless someone out there would like to support my habit. Any Takers? I’ll make you cupcakes!

Next month I will be running the Princess Half Marathon again and I have been busy training. I am at the point in my training where I am racking up more and more miles on my long runs.  While out on my last long run I thought to myself I really need more Disney music on my running playlist. So I have come up with a Disney Running Playlist. I am sure I am missing some songs but it is a pretty decent list if you want to add all or just pick a few of your favorites. I included songs from Frozen,of course because what is a Disney Race without hearing Let it Go now? I also included songs from other Disney movies to the Tiki Tiki Tiki Room song and the Main Street Electrical Parade Music.  The songs are perfect whether you just love Disney or you are training for an RunDisney Race Weekend. They help mentally prepare you for your upcoming races as well as just put you in a good mood. An extra plus to my list is that there are plenty songs on my list to keep going for your whole race.
Disney Running Playlist



Disney Running Playlist

  • Let it Go -Frozen
  • Love is an Open Door- Frozen
  • Fixer Upper- Frozen
  • For the First time in Forever- Frozen
  • Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious- Mary Poppins
  • Step in Time – Mary Poppins
  • Spoonful of Sugar- Mary Poppins
  • Lets Go Fly a Kite- Mary Poppins
  • Go the Distance- Hercules
  • Life is a Highway- Cars
  • Something I Want (Grace Potter) -Tangled
  • I’ve got a dream- Tangled
  • Touch the sky -Brave
  • Dig a Little Deeper-Princess and the Frog
  • Almost There- Princess and the Frog
  • He’s a pirate- Pirates of the Caribbean
  • Yo Ho (A Pirates Life For Me) -Pirates of the Caribbean 
  • (Lana Del Rey)  Once Upon A Dream -Sleeping Beauty/Malificent
  • Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo- Cinderella
  • A Dream is a Wish your Heart Makes- Cinderella
  • Whistle While You Work – Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
  • Hakuna Matata- The Lion King
  • I Just Can’t Wait To Be King- The Lion King
  • The Lion Sleeps Tonight- The Lion King
  • The Glory Days- The Incredibles
  • He Mele No Lilo- Lilo and Stich
  • Hawaiian Roller Coaster Ride- Lilo and Stich
  • Kiss the Girl- The Little Mermaid
  • Part of your World- The Little Mermaid
  • Under the Sea- The Little Mermaid
  • Be our Guest- Beauty and the Beast
  • Something There- Beauty and the Beast
  • Bare Necessities-The Jungle Book
  • Friend Like Me- Aladdin
  • A Whole New World- Aladdin
  • I’ll Make A Man Out Of You -Mulan
  • (Owl City) When Can I See You Again? -Wreck it Ralph
  • Sugar Rush- Wreck it Ralph
  • Tiki Tiki Tiki Room
  • Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah
  • It’s a Small World
  • The Main Street Electrical Parade
  • Once Upon a Dream (Lana Del Rey)- Maleficent
  • Try Everything (Shakira)- Zootopia
  • Just Like Fire (P!nk)- Alice Through the Looking Glass
  • How Far I’ll Go- Moana


So there it is, my Disney Running Playlist. What do you think? Did I miss a song? If so comment below and I will add it to the list.

10 Reasons Why I Run

Early in my marriage my husband and I would long after our own exercise equipment. He wanted his weight stuff and I wanted a treadmill. I don’t really have any rhyme or reason why but I did. After my third son was born I joined a gym and used their treadmill but they had this ridiculous rule and set time limits for how long you could use the cardio equipment. Seriously, it was like 15 minute turns. Adding in the gas to drive across town and a baby that constantly getting sick in the gym day care I stopped going to the gym. It just wasn’t worth it. Eventually though my husband bought me my own treadmill and I used it everyday. Then I got pregnant with number 4. I still used it, well until the morning sickness started. Then my dear treadmill became somewhere to hang clothing. After all isn’t that the real use of a treadmill? It wasn’t until after my daughter was over a year old that I ran again and this time it wasn’t on the treadmill. I signed up my Army son for the Navy kid’s run (yes, I asked to make sure he was allowed) and at the same time signed myself up for my first 5k. It was free so why not. I had no clue what I was doing.  My son won that Navy kid’s run.  A fact those Navy parents hated… umm sorry, not sorry?  Since he won I knew I had to do my race and I did and I was bitten by the running bug at age 30. The day after I turned 35 I ran my first half marathon and survived. I think i’ve gone crazy because the idea of a marathon keeps popping in my head. It would be fitting when I turn 40.

There are so many reasons to run out there. In those early days I just wanted to lose the baby weight but for me running has become so much more. These are my 10 Reasons why I run:

10 Reasons Why I Run | Country Girl Gourmet

10. Running gets you outside. So much of our lives are spent indoors today. We are stuck on our computers working and doing who knows what. There are so many positives to getting outside and soaking in some Vitamin D. Plus anyways don’t you want an awesome runners tan?

9. It’s my me time! Running is meditative… when I run I think. I think about things going on in my life to what I am going to blog about. I might not remember it all but it is my time to be alone with my thoughts.

8. Builds confidence.  When you run and keep up with it you will soon begin to amaze yourself with your progress. I remember when I started I never thought I would do a half marathon so looking back on that is a huge whoa, I did that moment. Then there are the cars who honk at you while your running. They have to be honking because you are awesome. It’s either that or your rocking pink headband.

7. Running helps you look and feel better. So when you exercise it does things to your body, good things. You lose weight, you tone up, you have this awesome glow to yourself and you just look good. Losing weight and toning up you have more energy too. Who wouldn’t want that?

6.It gives you goals to work toward. Races are expensive (seriously, would you like to support my addiction?) but I try to run some every year but in between races I am always pushing myself to beat my previous time. I am slow and steady but my I have gotten faster over the years! Getting my half marathon time under 3 hours was a huge accomplishment for me!

5. It’s good for my overall health. Running improves your cardiovascular health, improves lung health, improves your cholesterol levels, boosts your immune system and more! I have beautifully low blood pressure, my bloodwork is a thing doctors dream all their patients had, knock on wood i’m rarely sick (Ok i’m a bit of a germ freak too)… running does a body good!

4. To be a model, a role model. Yeah, i’m not model material but I can be a role model especially for my kids. Showing them that hey, mommy is out there doing this is a good way to teach them that they can do it too! 2 of my kid’s are runners. I like to think that was in some part because of me.

3. It is good for your mental health! When you run your body releases endorphins. Endorphins are magic chemicals that your body makes that have the ability to make you feel good! They are the things that allow for that runners high and help keep depression and anxiety at bay. Running is also and awesome street reliever! All I have to do is head outside and almost instantly my stress disappears.

2. It boosts your metabolism. I have had a complete hysterectomy and got thrown into menopause early and let me tell you. I use to think they were kidding when they said your metabolism slow downs when you hit menopause . Well, it’s no joke.  I like to eat and can’t eat like I use to anymore. As long as I can run I kinda can. Ice cream is a necessity in my life.

1. Because I can. Once upon a time I was told I would never run again. I didn’t like that so I pushed myself and I did a half marathon and cried as I was running down a mountain. For me I had a doctor who was a quack but there are so many people out there who for whatever the reason may be, will not run again. I run for them.

So there they are, my 10 reasons I run. They are simple and common sense but they are my reasons. Do you run? What do you think? Why do you run?

Runner Problems #1

As I head back into training for my next half marathon, I thought I would share some runner problems. You know those pesky typically first world problems that runners have. Here’s my first one…

Runner Problems |Country Girl Gourmet

What do you think? What are some of your runner problems?

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?

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. 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


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 –
Silver –
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.

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.



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


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****



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