monthly miles {may}

May was my lightest mileage month so far this year.

Total miles: 34.42

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Fun places I ran: Greg and I did one stroller run this month in Sarasota. We ran alongside the beach so the views were great! The stroller was heavy! Kenley will likely start riding her bike with us during our family runs. I also ran with the girls at UCF which was a nice change of pace from our normal neighborhood routes.

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Races I ran: None!

Favorite running thing this month: I snagged a new pair of running sunglasses this month in preparation for summer running. I went with goodr Sunbathing with Wizards but already have my eye on a couple other colors. I really like them so far!

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Non-running workouts: Since I didn’t run as much this month, I did a lot more non-running workouts. I finally got back to piyo! It felt so good to do it again. I also did strength training a couple times this month, as well as many workouts on the elliptical. I went to the Y a lot more this month since it gives me an extra 30 minutes of sleep in the morning.

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Next month: Marathon training officially begins! I am excited to be back on a training schedule. I am excited to start training for the Chicago Marathon, but I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a little bit nervous. It’s getting real. I will also be continuing my fundraising endeavors next month. I’m over halfway to my goal of $1,000 and am completely blown away by the generosity of those who have already donated. THANK YOU!

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Happy running!

Dark Side Half Marathon {race recap}

A few weekends ago, I ran my first Run Disney race, the Star Wars Dark Side half marathon! The entire weekend was quite an experience and unlike any other race I’ve done, so I’m going to try to hit on all of the different aspects.

You pay to play.

I’ll get the only con out of the way. Running is an expensive sport and this race is no exception. The Run Disney race fee was the most I’ve ever paid for a race. I also chose to stay on property the night before the race which was an added cost. All in all, it’s a commitment.

Race expo.

The race expo was at the ESPN Wide World of Sports. It started on Thursday since the 5k and 10k races were on Friday and Saturday. I originally wanted to go out to the expo on Thursday, but Kenley ended up having a soccer game. Based on what I have heard, I was anticipating long lines to pick up all of the pre-race goodies. We arrived at the expo a little later than I wanted around 2pm on Saturday. The expo ended at 4pm and I was surprised to find no lines at all! Kenley and I left the boys in the car and walked (and walked) up to get my stuff. The bib pick up station was located in the HP Field House, then we headed over to the Jostens Center. Since there were no crowds, Kenley got her picture with a Storm Trooper before heading in. The t-shirt pick up was at the very back of the expo. There were so many vendors selling so many great things. I wanted to buy ALL the Run Disney gear, but left without anything. Overall, the expo was great and the pick up process was quick and easy, aside from a lot of walking.

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Setting my alarm for the middle of the night.

The race started at 5:30am in the Magic Kingdom parking lot. The start time wasn’t that early considering I’ve ran races that started at 6am. However, we were taking advantage of the Disney buses since we were staying on property and we had to be ON the bus by 4am to ensure we were at the start line in time. Therefore, I set my alarm for 3:00am which was a first for me! We walked down to the bus stop and got right on the bus putting us at the start line around 4am. Transportation was a breeze. There were buses full of people pulling in, one after the other. We joked that if there was ever a zombie apocalypse, Disney should be in charge of the evacuation plan. It was like we were all zombies at that time too, considering it was the middle of the night.

We had more than enough time at the start line before the race started. One thing that surprised me the most were all of the the lines for the characters. There were probably 8-10 characters there for photo opportunities and each character had a publicized wait time. The wait time for Darth Vader at 4am was 70 MINUTES!

We had some breakfast, stretched, went potty, then headed into our corral. We were in corral G based on when we signed up for the race (late!) and corral G was the very last corral. While we waited, they played Star Wars movie clips and did trivia with the participants. The race finally started at 5:30am with fireworks! Each corral that was released got their own fireworks show. The start of the race was a big deal! Unfortunately, we saw a LOT of fireworks. We finally started the race at 6:20am, 50 minutes after the first corral started.

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Course map.

The race course map was released a couple weeks before the race which I studied intently. I don’t normally look at the course map before a race, but I was really excited about this one. I knew the first few miles would be pretty boring since the course took us from the Magic Kingdom parking lot along the back roads into Animal Kingdom.

Around mile 4, we entered Animal Kingdom as the sun was starting to come up. We stopped for the potty by the safari ride when we got into the park then ran around the entire park and out the entrance.

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The course then took us through the Animal Kingdom parking lot and up the main roads for the next couple of miles. After one large on-ramp just after mile 9, we entered the back side of Hollywood Studios and ran through the park.

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We passed mile 10 while in Hollywood Studios are were only another 5k away from the finish. At this time, the sun was up and blazing. It was hot! We headed out of Hollywood Studios and made our way towards Epcot and the finish line. Along the way, we ran pass the Swan and Dolphin Hotel and along the Boardwalk.

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We finally entered Epcot in England just before the mile 12 marker. The International Flower and Garden Festival was happening so it was great to see all of the fun foliage! We ran through all of the countries and out the entrance of Epcot. The finish line was in the Epcot parking lot which was lined with spectators and fans as we ran out of the park.

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Final verdict.

During the race, the course was insanely packed. I was bummed that we had to start in corral G because we were bobbing and weaving through people the entire race. We started behind the 3 hour and 30 minute pace group while our goal time was around 2 hours and 15 minutes. I now know the importance of submitting a time during the registration process for Disney races. I know the experience on the course would have been completely different if we were running with others who were our same pace.

Overall, the race was amazing! I was shocked by all of the entertainment along the way. I knew there would be characters to meet and greet, but I was surprised to see all sorts of other entertainment, such as sound effects, light shows, music, and movie clips along the way. What I thought would be the boring part of the course was actually just as fun as the rest of the course. We didn’t stop to meet any characters since there were lines at each stop. I also am too competitive with myself to think about stopping during a race. This was by far the most fun race I have ever done. We finished in 2:31.44 which I am considering a great time for a Disney race. It may not be anytime soon, but I will definitely be doing another Disney race in the future.

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monthly miles {april}

We are creeping back into the heat here in Florida and it’s only going to get worse!

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Total miles: 52.48

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Fun places I ran: Disney World! Other than that, just the normal routes in our area.

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Races I ran: Run Disney Dark Side Half Marathon — I am working on a full race recap to come with a lot of pictures!

Favorite running thing this month: REST. As much as I hate to say it, I took a FULL WEEK off this month from running and working out. Following spring break, I was having what I thought to be groin pain. I stopped my first long run of the month after two miles because I didn’t want to push it. I ended up at the chiropractor and he said it was my hip flexor and psoas muscle, as opposed to my groin. Aside from resting, I have been focusing on stretching. I ran my race last weekend and it hurt pretty badly on Monday, but has healed up nicely this week. I definitely will be listening to my body over the next few months. I want to go into marathon training completely healthy!

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Longest run: 13.44 miles

Non-running workouts: I got on the elliptical a few days this month. I say it every month, but now that I don’t have any races on the calendar, I will be doing a lot of strength training in the coming months.

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Next month: I am dedicating the month of May to fundraising for Team RMHC and the Chicago Marathon. If you’d like to donate to a great cause, visit my Team RMCH page!

monthly miles {march}

Another month has come and gone!

Total miles: 67.67 (I couldn’t do that again if I tried)

Fun places I ran: Other than our normal neighborhood routes, I ran in downtown Orlando, Jacksonville, and overlooking the port of Nassau, Bahamas from the Disney Dream!

Races I ran: Best Damn Race half marathon and Gate River Run 15k

Favorite running thing this month: Free race photos! One major perk of the Best Damn Race is that they have free race photos for you to download. I’ve never purchased a race photo because they are usually about $25 per photo. Hopefully more races opt for this perk in the future!

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Longest run: 13.16 miles (BDR half marathon)

Non-running workouts: I was on point this month with my Monday morning non-running workouts at the Y. I did the elliptical every single week this month, which was one of my monthly goals. We didn’t make it to the Y as much this month on the weekends because of my race schedule and spring break, so that’ll be on the list for next month. And also, strength training. I failed miserably at that goal this month.

Next month: I will be running my first Run Disney race!

Gate River Run 15k {race recap}

On March 11th, I ran the 40th Gate River Run 15k in Jacksonville, Florida. Greg and I picked up the kids on Friday afternoon and we headed north. It was our first time in Jacksonville, so I was excited for the kids to stay the night in a hotel and go exploring the next day. We walked over to Jacksonville Landing on Friday night for dinner with the hopes of watching the IU game, but no such luck. We had a good view of the first bridge I would run the next morning.

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Heather had a good view of the second bridge, the green monster, from her hotel room. Yikes.

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The race didn’t start until 8:30am, so I was looking forward to getting up a little bit later on Saturday morning, but no such luck again. Crosby was up several times in the night and we all were up at 5am when he woke up throwing up. Not the best way to start the morning. I considered just going home right then and there, but Greg told me I needed to run. I headed out to meet Heather and Nathan to walk to the race around 6:30am. Considering what I had left Greg with in the hotel room, I was incredibly anxious and jittery leading up to the race.

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We met up with Juliana at Everbank Field (where the Jacksonville Jaguars play) and waited until it was time to get into our waves. I made a rookie mistake when I signed up for the race and entered the non-seeded division putting me in wave 2. Heather planned on starting with me, but they wouldn’t let her into wave 2 since she was seeded in wave 1. I was bummed, but she ended up waiting to start in wave 2 with me.

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There was a lot of down time since we got to the race super early. I was bouncing around like crazy, still very anxious and nervous. I didn’t know the city or the race route and I kept texting Greg to see how Crosby was.

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Wave 1 started around 8:30am including the elite runners. The Gate River Run is the largest 15k in the nation so there were tons of professional runners running the race, which was really cool to witness. Wave 2 moved up and we were ready to start.

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Our first mile was really fast (8:27) but I knew we would slow down a bit moving into the first bridge right after the first mile. I slowly ran up the bridge being careful on the grates of the bridge. We continued on our way and had a solid first 5k before we slowed it down again. The weather was really great when we started but it quickly warmed up.

The middle of the race was really great as we ran through the neighborhoods in Jacksonville. The houses were gorgeous and the spectators were awesome. Each neighborhood had their own little block party. The spectators were having more fun than the runners. They were tossing donut holes to the runners and were offering Jell-o shots, beer, mimosas, and food as we passed. Before heading to the second bridge, several spectators were spraying the runners with a hose.

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Just after mile 7.5, we headed up towards the green monster. My legs were hurting, but the bridge was so steep that it almost felt better to jog up rather than walk. We found Juliana again while we were towards the top of the bridge, so the three of us made our way down towards the finish. The bridge was just as steep coming down and there was a lot of turns since we were coming down the ramp. We had to wind around the stadium to get to the finish. About .2 miles away from the finish, Heather tripped and fell. It was so scary. The road was packed so as I bent down to help her, Juliana immediately started blocking people from running into us. Another nice gentleman stopped to make sure she was also ok. She was able to get up and finish, thankfully, but she was bleeding from her knees and hands. After all of that, I finished with a 1:39:47 which was a PR! It wasn’t the finish I was hoping for, but I’ll take it.

The end of the race was insane. There were people everywhere and the area around the finish line was so small and tight. We met up with Nathan and Heather headed to the medical tent to get cleaned up. We all skipped the after party, which looked just as insane, and I headed back to the hotel to check on everyone.

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Overall, the race is a really good race, but I wish I was able to enjoy it more. I was worried about Crosby the entire time and then worried about Heather after the race was over. We had hoped to explore St. Augustine on the way home, but Crosby got sick the entire morning, so home we went. Both kids napped the whole way home. By that night, I was so physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted. It was a long 24 hours. I’m not sure I’ll be back to Jacksonville for the Gate River Run anytime soon, but maybe eventually?

Best Damn Race Half Marathon {Race Recap}

On Saturday I ran the Best Damn Race half marathon downtown. This was my third time running a Best Damn Race, but my first time running the half marathon. My last two BDR races were the 10k in 2015 and 2016. Both of those races resulted in a 10k PR so I was pretty fond of the BDR race. However, I wanted to do something different this year.

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The race started at 7:25am, which is later than normal, but it was nice to have the sun up at the start of the race. It was chilly and I even considered wearing my long sleeve shirt, but I am so happy I didn’t. The weather was great, but I was definitely hot during the race.

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The race started and we were off. Leading up to the race, I hadn’t thought much about my race goals, other than to finish. I wasn’t too concerned about my projected finish time. When Michelle started having issues with her music, I decided to stop with her so she could get it figured out. Even with the quick stop, we still had a 9:59 first mile. I immediately thought about keeping each mile under 10 minutes, but tried to push those thoughts out of my head.

We were moving fast for the first half of the race. Each mile was well under 10 minutes, two of which were even under 9 minutes – 8:56 and 8:59! I was feeling it. I knew I started off way too fast and I told myself I wouldn’t be able to keep that pace for the whole race. My mind started to get in the way. At the mile 7 water stop, I got some water and went to the potty. It was a good excuse to let Michelle go ahead of me so I could slow down a bit.

I did slow down and I started taking more walk breaks than I care to admit. I walked through the water stops and took an extra walk break here and there between miles 8 and 13.1. After crushing the first seven miles, the next six were between 10 and 11 minutes each mile. It also didn’t help that the last half of the race had a lot more cobblestone than the first half. My feet and legs were taking a beating so when my mind was telling me that I couldn’t do it, or to slow down or walk, I listened.

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I knew Greg and the kids were heading downtown so that is what I focused my energy on after mile 12. I thought about trying to come in under 2 hours and 10 minutes, but once I saw them, I stopped to say hello and give kisses before heading to the finish. The kids cheered “go Mommy go!” as I ran off, which completely melted my heart. I crossed the finish line and my watch clocked me at 2 hours and 11 minutes exactly. My chip time was 2:10.55.

Based on time alone, this was my second best half marathon. But taking into account all other factors of the race, I am disappointed in myself. I have (over)analyzed everything about this race and have come to the conclusion that I started out too fast but that I could have continued at that pace. I am fully capable of doing it, but the mental struggle was real. I usually can push past it and just focus on finishing the race, but this time was different. I am still super stoked with my time, but can’t help to think about what it would have been if I didn’t stop to walk a few of those times.

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The Best Damn Race is a really well organized race and a fun one at that. One thing I didn’t like about the race was the course route. There were way too many brick roads and I have officially sworn off ever running downtown again. One thing I loved about the race was the after party. It was so fun to have a drink and chat with so many people! The kids played at the park then we walked around Lake Eola before heading to lunch. It was such a fun morning.

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It was so good to see so many familiar faces at the race. I sure do love this little running community here in Orlando.

monthly miles {february}

February has already come and gone! Here is a quick recap of my monthly miles.

Total miles: 46.06 — It was definitely a light month thanks to a round of antibiotics due to bronchitis.

Fun places I ran: All of my runs this month were at our usual spots, either starting at the YMCA or at Starbucks. I also ran on the treadmill at the Y more this month which is fun when there is someone to run with!

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Races I ran: No races this month!

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Favorite running thing this month: The first thing is my LED running light. This was free in my swag bag from the Celebration half marathon and I really love it! There is no brand name on it so I am assuming it’s a generic light used for promotional purposes, but it gets the job done. I wear it around my ankle for our early morning runs. The other thing is podcasts! I listened to more podcasts this month thanks to my treadmill runs. I am still loving I’ll Have Another with Lindsey Hein and a new favorite is Ali on the Run.

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Longest run: 8 miles on two separate Saturdays. I opted to stop after 8 miles instead of doing 10 miles one of those days and my body thanked me later.

Non-running workouts: PIYO! I finally got back to piyo this past Saturday and I am so happy. I have missed it tremendously! I also got in several workouts on the elliptical at the Y, which was nice. Update on last month’s goals: I failed miserably at keeping up with BBG. I just couldn’t really get into it. I started out really strong with the plank a day challenge for February but quickly got sidelined thanks to the days of coughing. I started it back up afterwards, but didn’t ever get back to doing planks daily.

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Next month: I am looking forward to a lot of fun miles in March in different places. I have two races and we are going away for spring break so I’ll have a lot to report back on at the end of the month.

Happy running!