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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my weekend in photos

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we kicked off the weekend with crosby’s soccer game on friday night at 6:15pm… the perfect time for three year olds, right? oy.

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kenley’s team play on saturday morning after another game for crosby. her team played great and she scored her first goal of the season!

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crosby loved bulldozing anderson’s cheerios as he dropped them.

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post-soccer shopping and lunch at lucky’s market.

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we headed down to disney on saturday afternoon. the first stop was the expo at wide world of sports to pick up my packet.

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kenley and the storm trooper!

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ready to hit the pool at the caribbean beach resort.

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this morning i ran my first run disney race, the dark side half marathon. it was so fun and i’ll be sharing more pics soon!

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another fun time at the pool today before heading home. we had so much fun playing at disney this weekend.

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we had a busy weekend, it was so fun, but also exhausting!

how was your weekend?

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.

Lighthouse Loop Half Marathon {Race Recap}

My first half marathon of the race season was on Saturday, October 30th. It was my first time running the Lighthouse Loop Half Marathon, so it was a great way to end a very busy month of October for us.

The race started in Port Orange which is just over an hour away from east Orlando. The race wasn’t scheduled to start until 7:00am which meant my alarm was set for 4:00am. I carpooled over with some other running mamas from the area and we arrived around 6:15am, which was enough time to go to the potty, stretch, take some selfies, and head to the start line.

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Leading up to the race, I didn’t do a whole lot of mental preparation which is normal for me. I know I’ve logged the miles so I typically just go out there and run.  However, I was preparing for a hot and humid day, which was a bummer considering we had amazing weather the weekend before. I got the normal pre-race jitters, but nothing crazy, mostly because I had never been to the area so I wasn’t familiar with where the race started and ended. Thankfully, I was with a lot of other mamas who had ran the race before.

The race started and we were off. We planned to walk through the water stops to get water at every stop since it was so hot. I also brought a water bottle with Cocogo in case I needed something more than water. Our first three miles were solid — 9:54; 9:59; 10:10 — but once I saw mile 4 was 10:28, I was annoyed. Based on my own reaction, I knew today could be a good race day, so I kicked it into gear.

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Miles 5 through 9 were between 9:44 and 10:05 and I was feeling pretty good. The course took us down the Ponce Inlet until we were forced to turn around and run back up. We made a loop around the lighthouse around mile 6 or 7, which was pretty anticlimactic at the time, but looking back it was pretty cool. I should have brushed up on the history of the lighthouse before running the race and I may have appreciated it more.

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Around mile 10, I started to slow down a little bit. The sun was blazing down on my back and there was very little shade coming back up the inlet. It was hot and my feet hurt. I could tell my walks through the water stops were getting a little bit longer. Miles 10 and 11 were 10:17 and 10:32 and I just couldn’t help it. It’s always around this time that I start to think about my projected finish time. I knew it could be a personal record (PR) for me, but I couldn’t help to think about what was coming for me at mile 12… the bridge. I started to get anxious and short of breath (even more than I already was) so I forced myself to not think about it.

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After making my way back up the inlet, I turned the corner from the flat road and there it was…the bridge. I slowed down on the way up the bridge and even walked a little bit. I forced myself to not look at my watch. I knew if I started to think about my finish time then I would start to get anxious again and all I really cared about at that point was making it over the bridge, and then to the finish.

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Miles 12 and 13 were 10:31 and 10:25 and I was able to pick it up for the last .1 miles of the race. Thankfully, I saw Jaime who had already finished, she yelled at me that the finish was just around the corner so I busted it. I came in with a finish time of 2:13.19 which was my fastest half marathon yet.

I went back out to watch Heather and a few other moms finish before I made my way over to ring the PR bell and get my much-deserved beer(s).

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Despite the weather, it was a really good race and I couldn’t have been more pleased with the outcome, especially considering the steep bridge at the end which slowed me way down. I wasn’t expecting a PR for this race, but I am happy with the progress I’ve been making and now looking forward to breaking it again next month at Space Coast where I know there are no bridges!

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Now, on to the next race and a new pair of shoes!

Training in the off season

I ended race season in March with my tenth half marathon in Sarasota. Since then, I have taken a much needed break from a rigorous running schedule, which has allowed me to try some new workouts and classes to stay in shape. I’ve been utilizing our YMCA membership a lot more and I have really enjoyed the wide variety of workouts.

H.I.I.T.

HIIT stands for high intensity interval training and I take the class at the Y before work. Depending on the day, it’s a good mix of cardio and strength training. It is indeed high intensity and very fast paced. The class is about 45 minutes and our instructor has been known to call certain exercises “30 seconds of pain”. On other days our 30 second “breaks” between exercises were actually 30 seconds of various types of planks. Ouch. After class, I feel like I got a really good workout and I am usually pretty sore the following days.

PiYo

PiYo is a mix of pilates and yoga and is done on the yoga mat, barefoot. In the past, I have felt that yoga wasn’t a good workout because it didn’t get my heart rate up, but once I started doing piyo, I felt very different. It is hard work!! The class is about 50 minutes of continuous movement and strength training. My heart rate definitely is up during the class and I love that she does a nice, yoga-like cool down with us. I really wish I could go to this class every week, but I’ll settle for a couple times a month.

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Spin

Spin or spinning is simply indoor cycling. If you want a class that definitely gets your heart rate up, spin it is! I have been to spin classes on and off since we moved to Florida. Thanks to my Little 500 days, I still have my padded shorts that come in handy for this class. If you’ve never done a class, I highly recommend it, but I also know that it’s not for everyone. I definitely go as often as possible.

Other

When there is no class to go to, I’ve been getting on the elliptical at the Y. It’s great because I can watch TV while I am working out, which seems silly, but it’s just a nice break from reality where I don’t have to focus on anything for 30 minutes. It’s even better when there is an episode of Friends on. Aside from cardio, I have also been doing a little bit of weight training… and by little, I mean very little. I would love to have a personal trainer to tell me exactly what to do since I just go in there and wing it. Over the next year or so, I would love to work on getting stronger, so we’ll see how it goes!

Race season is quickly approaching and our training schedule begins in a few short weeks, so my mileage is going to start increasing a lot! I’ve enjoyed mixing up my workouts this summer, but I am also ready to start racing again…if only it would get cooler here!

What are your favorite non-running workouts?

Sarasota First Watch Half Marathon {Race Recap}

Last month, we packed up the car and headed down to stay at Grammy’s house for the weekend. I was scheduled to run the Sarasota First Watch half marathon on Sunday so we decided it would be fun to make a weekend out of it. I registered for the race quite a while ago when they had their registration blitz, so I got a pretty good deal for the race. {Side note: people seem surprised when I say that I had to pay for a race… yes, people actually PAY to go out there and torture themselves. Running can be a very expensive hobby!}

We arrived in Sarasota on Friday night after LOTS of spring break and tourist traffic getting out of Orlando… not one of the best times to live in Central Florida, I tell ya. We made a quick stop at the mall so I could pick up my race bib, shirt, and packet. The packet was a little disappointing, as there was only First Watch coffee inside, no other swag. Bummer! The shirt was super cute though, so that made up for it a little bit.

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The race fell on the same day as Daylight Savings Time, so we lost an hour of sleep on Saturday night which made Sunday morning come even earlier! I was nervous about my phone changing times, my alarm going off, the kids sleeping okay at Grammy’s house, finding parking, and getting there in time, so I had a pretty restless night of sleep. I ended up getting up and out the door on time, but the traffic was worse than I expected. I had to do a little jog to get the start line and I wasn’t waiting in the corral long before the race started.

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I texted Greg when the race started to try to buy him some time before having to wake the kids up (thank to DST). The race took us down very close to Grammy’s house so they all came to see me just after the 5K marker. It was so good to see them and definitely gave me something to look forward to as I was crossing the monster bridge. I only stopped to chat for about a minute, then it was time to turn around and head back to the bridge.

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As I was going over the bridge for the second time, the sun was finally coming up (thanks DST). It sure was pretty, but it was already getting hot.

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By mile 6, I had run the bridge twice and was ready for the rest of the course, which was flat! We ran down by the water and all the way down to the Ringling Brothers museum. It was a pretty course and there were two parts that were down and back so I was able to people watch and saw several moms from the running group who made the trip down too.

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Going into the race, I didn’t have a time goal in mind and knowing that I was going to stop and talk to Greg and the kids, I wanted to go out and just have a fun run. The problem is, once I start the race and the miles keep going by, I think about my pace and time a lot. After the first couple of miles, I knew I wanted to keep each mile under 11 minutes. I also dropped intervals so this was my first race since my very first half marathon that I was running straight through. I stopped and walked through the water stops since I wasn’t wearing my Camelbak, but other than that, I was running.

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I ended up finishing in 2:18:32 and my Garmin clocked my total moving time at 2:17:29, which is my second best half marathon to date. Considering I ran that bridge twice and this was my first race dropping intervals, I was pretty excited. This was my second best race after my PR run at Space Coast in November.

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The after party was great. I wish it wasn’t so hot or I would have indulged in more of the yummy breakfast food that was provided by First Watch, but nothing but oranges sounded good to me. Except the cold beer, of course.

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Two other great things about this race: the huge bling and the free race photos.

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I have now completed 10 half marathons! Sarasota is definitely one of the best races I’ve run and I am already signed up for the 2017 race!

my weekend in photos

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after a road trip to sarasota on friday that took entirely too long, we headed straight to the beach on saturday morning to put our toes in the sand.

crosby loved feeling the sand on his feet.

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the weather kept getting better and better throughout the day, so we headed out on the canoe for a family ride.

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after nap, we took a boat ride. the water was so blue!

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fun with grammy!

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checking out the dolphins!

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sweet boy…. most of the time.

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jumping!

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crosby’s turn!

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these two were a little bit blonder and completely wiped out by the end of the day.

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after losing an hour of sleep, i got up for the sarasota half marathon today! greg, grammy, and the kids came down to see me just past the 5k marker, which was awesome!

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the rest of the race was good, but hot! more pictures to come.

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car naps and jake & the neverland pirates on the way home.

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after we got home, the kids gave their car a good wash and greg and i tried to get ready for the week.

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we had a full weekend of fun and we are all exhausted from it.

how was your weekend?