half marathon

Monday Miles : Week 7

Woohoo it’s week 7 with 12 more to go until the WDW Marathon. Here are my Monday Miles; what i’ve been up to in the last week!

Monday Miles : Week 7

When it comes to getting my runs in, this week I had a good week. I do have to say it is a struggle sometimes. Between work, homeschool, kids and life in general it is often a matter of squeezing them in. This past week my “short” runs were 6 miles. I felt good doing them except for my feet. They did not like the shoes I wore so on Friday after a doctor’s appointment I got new shoes finally! So far I have done one run in them and I love them! I picked up a pair of Altra’s Superior 2. They  are comfy and I have plenty of room in my toe box. Something my feet desperately need especially since my insurance denied my orthotic.

That run I did in them was just my 17 mile long run on Saturday. I am so happy to have finally to get back on track. My original plan was for 18 and I am sure I could have pushed out 18 but at mile 15 I decided to head back. This past week I was doing loops around an air field on Fort Bragg, well Pope Air Force Base. According to what I found online the route was 6 miles and I planned to do 3 loops. Well, I took a wrong turnkey first lap and ended up at 6.6miles, lap 2 put me at 13.08. I wasn’t feeling 19.5 (plus I like doing whole miles) yet so I planned to go out 2.5 and come back. Mile 14 was hard and I ended up talking myself out of mile 18. Odd enough it was my fastest mile! Go figure. I headed back at mile 15, finished up at 17 and ate my pickles.

I am still working on nutrition for my long runs and this week I learned that Gluten Free pretzels were not what I needed. I have my Gu game down. I have a set schedule for them and as long as I don’t skew from that i’m ok but I have I have a calf cramping problem. I drink Nuun while i’m out but it’s just not enough. Pickles are my at home cure and I have considered bringing them with me on long runs. The pretzels just weren’t salty enough. I wanted to dump the pretzels and eat the salt at the bottom the bag. Then there is the fact I don’t feel the carbs did anything to help and I need the opposite. I need something to help stabilize my blood sugar. When I finished my 17 miles I felt my blood sugar crashing. Thankfully in addition to my pickles I had Mountain Dew in my car I grabbed just in case I needed the sugar and boy did I. I am thinking about going back to almonds but regular almonds, not the lightly salted that I usually buy or even some sort of jerky… I hate beef jerky though. Then I could be just bring pickles or mustard packets but then I would still need something for the whole blood sugar issue.

My shoes and pretzels weren’t the only new things for my run. I also wore new compression capri’s. After getting some CW-X leggings that did not fit at all I started looking for something else. I ended up with a pair of moving comfort capri’s that are like some compression shorts I like. I was so excited to get them and happy they fit. Unfortunately for me though once I was out  on my long run I discovered my capri’s were actually too big. I tightened them up and kept pulling the material up but it didn’t help. I have some pretty nasty chafing on my thighs now. My hips were yelling at me too… the pants just weren’t tight enough. Not sure what i’m going to do about those capri’s now but i’m back in the market for some new compression gear.

My plans for the next week is to start adding more miles during the week. Just do whatever I can. I also have a doctors appointment where I plan to talk about my pre-diabetes. I am hoping to be put on something for it. My girlie doctor last week was pretty sure my weight issues stem from my blood sugar not being on estrogen. So we’ll see. My girlie doctor did adjust my estrogen and put me on a new medicine for the first time in 5 years.  Hopefully, i’ll have some good news to report on that front come next week.

Monday Miles : Week 1

Week after week while doing my long runs I have had one recurring thought. I really should blog about that. Many times the blog ideas disappear by the time I get home but this one hasn’t. It just keeps floating around. Now that i’m going from being half crazy to full crazy I am going for it. Once a week I will be posting an update about my training and any tips I learn along the way. This week it is late, the holiday threw me off but this is week one of Monday Miles.

Monday Miles: Week 1 | Country Girl Gourmet

My first Full Marathon will be January 10th at the Happiest place on earth, Walt Disney World. I have read repeatedly how the Walt Disney World Marathon is one of the best marathons out there and knowing how well run the Princess races are I took it as a sign to enter when registration was on my anniversary. Happy 16th anniversary, your going to run a full marathon! To be fair my husband signed up for his first marathon too, just not WDW.

We are at 17 weeks and a few days before the marathon now and with my foot being cleared to go, it is go time. During my time off from running I was still active. During the week I was out in my garage working out with my husband, 15 year old and sometimes lil miss joined us. I would also go with my husband on his long runs during the weekend. The only difference is that I would ride my bike (ok and walk some of the steep hills but each week that was less and less). Once my foot was cleared I started walking instead of running. I wanted to test out my foot plus I was going to be sweeping a half marathon in a few weeks. 10 miles is a slow start right? I was able to do the 10 miles within the half marathon’s time limits easily with no foot problems. The following week I did 13 with my husband. I was set to go.

Sunday morning came all to early and before I knew it myself and the 3:30 pacer for Fayettevilles Race 13.1 were walking down the All American Highway. Moving right along, chit chatting and all that fun stuff.

 

We stayed together until around mile 7 when I picked up someone from the 10k. I helped him until around mile 8, well a bit before. I have to give this guy mad props. He was out there after having both of his hips replaced! He just wanted to see if he could do it and he did! I stayed with him until his wife came up to finish with him and her urging me to go ahead, she had him. I went ahead and saw my husband who was working as a course monitor and sped up trying to catch back up. Right about mile 9, I did my first scope on Periscope and sent a video out on Instagram.

It took about a mile but I caught back up to the back of the pack. Where I stayed for the rest of the race. I carried the American Flag and kept making sure everyone was doing ok. Outside of aches and pains and being a bit tired the ladies were doing good. One of the complaints was an achy hip from a mom of a 6 month old. She didn’t want to stop to stretch so I had her do some lunges which helped some. I also suggested she invest in a pair of good compression shorts. I explained to her the compression will help with her core which often becomes weak when having kids as well as additional stability in the hip. There are many claims that compression does this, that and the other thing but the stability is the stand out for me.

We kept on going and I kept doing what I could to encourage the back of the pack ladies. When another said they didn’t think they could do it at mile 12 I told them to stop and that they could. I explained running is in your head first. If you say you can you will. We made it up the on ramp and down to the mall and with encouragement I slowed down so she could run it in and own her half marathon finish. She worked hard for it and finished running. I came in last, like I was suppose to. It was the first time i’ve come in dead last it was very weird. I was given water and handed my medal and then I wandered my way to the Team RWB tent as most of the vendors had broken down or were in the process of doing so.   My feet were killing me, I wore the wrong shoes and I am back on the quest to find a pair of shoes for the WDW Marathon. My feet are full of hot spots,blisters and i’m pretty sure I have new black toe nails.

I took Monday and Tuesday off. Well I tried to run Tuesday but my feet were not having it. My feet have not been this bad since 2012 when I did my first half marathon. I am going to try again today but we’ll see how it goes. It may be a cross training type of day.

Are you a runner? What has your training schedule looked like for the past week?

Misadventures in Running Rattler Trail Run

This really isn’t the post I had planned but it is, what it is. On May 9th I ran my last half marathon, the Rattler Trail Run. It was the hardest half marathon that I have ever done. It was a my first trail half marathon. It was a technical trail. I thought I would be ok, I train on a trail. I had prerace jitters, I kept seeing this technical trail run being discussed, I was nervous about getting hurt. I knew I would be fine though. I had no problem walking if I needed to. As long as I did that I would be fine, or so I thought.

MisAdventures in Running:Rattler Trail Run | Country Girl Gourmet

Race day came and I woke up early and drove to San Lee Park in Sanford, North Carolina. It was a beautiful looking park! The race would be in the woods surrounding a lake, it seemed perfect. I was ready!

Rattler Trail Run time! #rattlertrailrun #trailrun #halfmarathon #run #runningmama

A photo posted by Debbie (@myhotsouthernmess) on

 

Race directions were given, we started and up the hill we went to the trail. That is where everything changed. I now knew what technical trail meant. It meant roots and boulders  and not being able to look up without tripping. We were running on mountain bike trails. My son would love to ride on the trails. Running on them was a different story.

MisAdventures in Running:Rattler Trail Run | Country Girl Gourmet On the first 10k loop I was feeling ok other than my calves being mad at me. My times were horrible and after recent improvements it bothered me but I kept at it. After all no one was going to come out on the trail and save me. I tripped and stubbed my toes on rocks multiple times but was lucky as I never fell down. I passed and I passed others. I ran with strangers, each of us commenting on the grueling trail. Then right as I was near the finish of the 10k I tripped and then stubbed my toe, yet again. The girl I was running with repeatedly asked if I was ok. It hurt like nothing else but I told her I was fine I could walk it off. I can say now that trip was much worse than what I ever thought.
MisAdventures in Running:Rattler Trail Run | Country Girl Gourmet
I continued on and finished the first 10k. My time was horrible but at this point I no longer cared. I went on to do the next loop. With this loop I didn’t trip nearly as much and my confidence was building back up despite my horrible mile splits. I was determined to finish even if my time sucked.

Misadventures in Running- Rattler Trail Run | Country Girl Gourmet

I completed the loop and was ready to tackle the final loop but not without being told I needed to eat something first. So I ate a few potatoes. I didn’t think I needed it, I had my gels, nuun and water but I ate a couple and off I went for the last and final loop. This time I ended up pacing another runner. We chit chatted most of the way. We stayed together or her right behind me the entire way. I was constantly checking on her and we remained in earshot of each other when I did get a bit ahead. It definitely helped as that last lap was a hot mess. Heck the whole race was, I couldn’t imagine those doing the full. They had to do the half marathon route twice!
MisAdventures in Running:Rattler Trail Run | Country Girl Gourmet
We finished though. Thirteen point freaking one. We were given our medals. I recouped from some low blood sugar we took pictures and I hiked back across the park to my car to drive the hour home.

MisAdventures in Running:Rattler Trail Run | Country Girl Gourmet

 

By the time I got home some stiffness had set in and my feet hurt. It hurt to walk, I was now limping around. I showered and elevated my feet. It was after my husband looked at my feet and noticed some bruising in addition to the swelling that he told me I should probably go to the emergency room. We debated and he won, off to the ER I went. After a quick X-ray showing I didn’t have any major breaks I was sent home to RICE my foot and see my Primary Care Doctor Monday.

MisAdventures in Running:Rattler Trail Run | Country Girl Gourmet

 

I made that appointment, she looked at it, put me in a boot, told me no running and told me to come back in two weeks if I was still having problems. Three weeks later I went back. I felt incredibly stupid for going in. It was my big toe and it just would not bend at the 2nd joint as well as still being swollen. So she x-rayed it again and referred me to a podiatrist so I could get a MRI. I’ve since learned that my insurance,Tricare, is picky when it comes to ordering MRI’s. So, a few more weeks down the road I go to the podiatrist. More x-rays again showing no major breaks and his diagnosis was Turf Toe. If I wasn’t better in 4 weeks he would send me to physical therapy and after 4 weeks of that he would do a MRI. Say What? I have Google and as someone who hates the doctor I googled my problem further than Web MD (and yes I know doctors hate this,lol). I knew I did not have turf toe. Back to my Primary Care doctor asking for a second opinion which she readily agrees too. It is now July and i’m finally sent to an orthopedic doctor and he finally sends me for an MRI. His concerns are that I have a stress fracture or a tendon injury.  At this point I am happy to be getting the MRI finally, my injury was months ago now and my stupid big toe does not bend! Just call me random injury girl. Heck after receiving my MRI results my doctor pretty much did, he called me a mystery girl. My MRI was helpful and it helped give us some answers.

MisAdventures in Running:Rattler Trail Run | Country Girl Gourmet

Like the MRI said I had multiple stress fractures in my foot that I had no clue about! Other than that my doctor has decided that I needed to see another orthopedic doctor that specializes in feet. At this point I just wanted to run, i’m all for it if she could fix me.

MisAdventures in Running:Rattler Trail Run | Country Girl Gourmet

I finally saw the foot specialist and I am glad I did. She thinks several of my supposed stress fractures are an anomaly she often sees on MRI results. I tend to agree with her because I had no issues with that area of my foot. As for my toe I learned some interesting things. Like that last joint of your toe does need to bend to run and each person has a different degree. My toes are just more bendy than some others. The good news is I have just enough bend to be able to run. I ended my appointment with a cortisone shot to my toe. Thank goodness they have freeze-y spray! That was definitely an experience. While I don’t have a diagnosis and i’m waiting for the shot to do it’s thing I was given the green light to start running again and guess what I already have a half marathon in a couple weeks! I will be sweeping a local half, so it’s ok that I will be slow. Slow and steady wins the race and this girl has a Full Marathon to get training for! I hope my foot is ready!

 

What are your best tips for bouncing back after a race injury?

 

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.

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 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.

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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****

 

 

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