31 December 2013

Space Coast Recap

Flying Across the Causeway to Kennedy Space Center
My final race of the #90daysofinsanity was the Space Coast Half Marathon.  I had been looking forward to this race for two reasons: (1) the BIG BANG SERIES and (2) dressing up as the Toy Story aliens with my #CorralG peeps.  

Let me explain a little more.  The Big Bang Series was announced earlier this year, as a five-year series for the Space Coast.  This event takes place in Cocoa, FL and has been a small, local race for a few years.  #CorralG member Jen had done it the year before and had good things to say.  I had wanted to do it last year, but it didn't work out with my schedule.  However, once the series was announced, I knew I HAD to figure out how to get to it not only this year, but for each of the next five years.  See, the series is in honor of the Space Shuttle fleet - each medal representing one of the five shuttles in the recently retired fleet.  If you completed either the half or full for three of the five years, you earned the Milky Way Challenger medal, and if you completed all five, you would earn the Intergalactic Finisher medal!  And let me tell you - having seen the ACTUAL medals in person at the expo, you can bet come hell or high water, I will be at EVERY event until 2017!

#CorralG getting ready for the start
The other exciting part of this race was that a lot of the #CorralG peeps, being Florida locals, were planning on running.  Originally, Captain Linzie was planning on making the coast to coast trip a second time in three weeks, having just joined us at Wine and Dine, but unfortunately, he couldn't make it.  Krafty Kira put together some AWESOME headbands for all of us, and even sewed both her and my sparkle skirts!  So krafty!  We met up that morning, having come from a variety of places around the area, and just managed a group photo before it was time to head over for our 6:00am start time.  The sound system was having some issues, so the singing of the national anthem was different, but once they started playing the launch countdown video, complete with shuttle launch, we were ready to go.  Well, we tried to go.  Things were a little crowded right at the start line, and we slowed down to a walk... let's just say since this was the first sell-out year, there were some logistics that needed figuring out.  But once we cleared the start line and moved through Cocoa Village, the crowds thinned out and we were on our way.  We planned on 2:1 intervals and I was pumped to have Coach Marcia chiming on our "running/walking" intervals!

The race was along the river, on the mainland side, through a very residential area.  A lot of the neighbors were out cheering us on, which was fantastic considering it was very early on a Sunday morning, and not so great weather.  We were off before the sunrise, and we basically missed the sunrise because it was so overcast.  And MUGGY! Ugh, so muggy.  Let me tell you - it is the strangest thing to run a race in below freezing conditions on Thursday, and 98% humidity on Sunday!  Quick promotion: I'm sure the ONLY reason I didn't get sick was thanks to ENERGYbits.  Super pumped to be #poweredbybits and you can be too - use "PREACH" for 25% off!  Ok - back to the recap.

I HAD to take my photo with the Shuttle
The half marathon course was an out and back.  The best part of the morning was when we made the turn around and Jen shouted out "I didn't know part of this race was a trail!"  Yes folks, we ran through about 2 feet of grass, which in Jen's mind qualifies as "trail running."  Ah, we love her!  Each water stop had a theme - down at the turn around they were parrot heads, and even had a Key West buoy.  There was also Star Wars and Star Trek stops, Buzz Lightyear (we were pretty popular at that water stop), and they were run by various local groups.  My favorite water stop was a Star Wars themed one, where a man dressed as Darth Vader let us take a photo with him, and then whispered to us, "this is Luke, and I'm his father. And, yes, that's really his name."  HILARIOUS!

We found these guys hanging around!
As we ran back into the park, we made our plans for crossing the finish line.  We decided no conga line for this one, but we would take up the ENTIRE course holding hands.  Partly because some old guy yelled at us for doing that at one point during the race.  But mainly because #CorralG is the awesomest!  

We grabbed our swag - the kicka$$ medal and a towel - and then headed to grab FREE PIZZA AND BEER! We had a few other friends running the race, including Jeff Galloway and Krazy Aunt Krissy (KAK), so we hung around for a bit to watch them finish.  Jeff managed to qualify for the Boston Marathon using a :30/:15 interval plan. Yes, that's 30 SECONDS running, 15 SECONDS walking - AND HE QUALIFIED FOR BOSTON!  This man is AMAZING!  Our friend Krissy was also hoping to "BQ," but the weather got the best of her.  Waiting at that finish line for her to cross, I was so nervous watching the minutes tick by.  I was so proud of her when she came through the finish shoot, and can't wait to see how she does at 26.2 with Donna, our next marathon in February.  

Me and My Bling!
Seriously, this race, aside from the logistics of having 5,000 runners in a smallish space, was fantastic.  This being the first year with that many runners, I can't wait to see how they adjust for next year.  Because you KNOW I'll be there again next year, and the year after that... I highly recommend it to anyone.  Although, don't take my spot!  You can still earn that Milky Way Challenge medal, along with four amazingly beautiful medals honoring the shuttle program.  

**I have a special affinity for this race because my grandfather (my dad's dad) worked for NASA, first when it was NACA in Cleveland, OH, and moving to the Cape in 1959 to begin the great space race.  My grandfather served as the Director of Launch Operations for Mercury and Gemini and gave President Kenneday a tour around the now-named Kennedy Space Center.  My grandfather also worked on the design team for the shuttle before he retired and I am so proud of that family legacy.  During the final two years of the shuttle program, I drove down to Florida for five shuttle launches, and was thrilled to watch the final launch, Atlantis, in July 2011, with my dad - who, while he had seen almost all the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo launches, including Apollo 11, he had NEVER seen a shuttle launch.  I cried at every one, and still cry every time I watch Apollo 13, because of the bravery and sheer insanity of these men risking their lives to expand our scientific horizons.  I am grateful to the men and women of NASA, from my grandfather's generation to today, for pushing us to think outside the box and taking us to new frontiers.  Because of this personal connection to NASA and the Cape, I am beyond excited to participate in this race series.
This was a display in the KSC Visitor's Center!

28 December 2013

Thanksgiving Day Half Marathon Recap

So, one of the hardest parts about moving from Atlanta was leaving my running buddy, Jason, behind.  Jason and I met many moons ago and reconnected two years ago when I moved to Brookhaven.  We were essentially neighbors for six months and kept talking about running together, but ironically it wasn't until I moved back to Roswell that we started making real plans to run races together.  In 2012, the year I ran an event every month, I completed 6 of my 12 races with Jason.  We even traveled to Walt Disney World together in January so I could run my first marathon and Jason could run his first half marathon.  Each time I came back into town, we tried to get together for a run - there was even that time we went to Stone Mountain and Jason locked the keys in the car!  But I digress....

Race start at Turner Field!
Jason had been talking about signing up for the Thanksgiving Day Half for awhile, but hadn't made a commitment.  (I have to say, I'm so excited to see how many 13.1 events he's done since Donald and that he's even got 26.2 in his sights!)  We chatted off and on about it, and finally both pulled the trigger about a week before.  I had already committed to a pretty crazy fall - remember my #90daysofinsanity?!  Let's recap real quick: beginning Labor Day Weekend, I completed 2 full marathons, 2 half marathons (with the final one planned for December 1), 2 10Ks, and a 5K, not to mention almost 300 miles on my bike over 5 days.  I was really hoping I'd be able to convince the folks at Half Fanatics to let me in to the club with my three half marathons in 91 days (technically), but just to be sure, and more importantly, to enjoy a race with my original BRF, I was pumped to be participating in the Atlanta Thanksgiving Day Half!  

DANGER: Water/icing
stop ahead
I obviously HAD to take this photo!
I had been wanting to do this race the last two years, but it never worked out.  I had still managed to get out and do some miles (13.1 in 2011, 24 in 2012), but was excited to cruise through downtown on the official course.  The ONE downside to doing the race this year - it was COLD!! It was in fact the coldest Thanksgiving in a CENTURY!  And since it was a race, it meant I HAD to be up at 4:30 for a 7:00am race start.  Did I mention it was COLD?!  So, the temperature was around 20 degrees at start time, which meant I was bundled up.  I had on tights, wool socks, a base layer turtleneck, mid-layer Ink n Burn ugly sweater, and a warm jacket.  Not to mention gloves (with hand warmers tucked inside), a headband, and a hat!  Jason and I drove separately, and parked on different sides of the start, so we met each other down by the start corrals with about 15 minutes to spare.  We were hard pressed to get out of our warm cars!  We jogged around a bit to stay warm, and then headed to the start.  My plan was to stick with him for the whole race - it had been awhile since we'd been able to do that.  We took off and I had a great photo bomb when Jason stopped to take a photo of the Olympic Torch right near the start line.  Then we cruised around behind Georgia Tech, past Centennial Olympic Park, up through Atlantic Station, and over to Piedmont Park - we're only about halfway through at this point... we'd been keeping a pretty good pace, but Jason started having some issues, so we slowed it down.  We left Piedmont Park and headed down to East Atlanta and Oakland Cemetery, then it was back into downtown, past the Capitol and back to Turner Field!  We had a GREAT time, even though there was some pain, and even managed to beat Christy's time from Wine & Dine!

It was a fantastic way to start the day, and I had no guilt packing away the potatoes that night at dinner. I highly encourage everyone to get out there on Thanksgiving morning for a run - it's fast becoming the BIGGEST race day of the year!

26 December 2013

Wine & Dine Weekend Recap

Thanks to Clint for this amazing photo!
I was so looking forward to this race weekend, because we had decided long ago that this would be a #CorralG reunion weekend.  On top of seeing all my favorite #CorralG peeps, I'd be seeing many of my new runDisney friends AND watching my friends Christy and Courtney finish they FIRST half marathon!  It was definitely going to be a spectacular weekend.

I have to do a quick aside - this has been my favorite Disney race, and I have run it now three times.  I first found out about this race when I was reading about the Food and Wine Festival at EPCOT.  I had wanted to go to this festival for YEARS - basically since I lived in Florida.  When I realized there was a half marathon weekend in conjunction with the festival, I was sold!  I have always wanted to make a real vacation out of it, spending time enjoying the Food and Wine Festival and doing the race - that has YET to happen - maybe in 2015!

The first year that I did the race, they had the half marathon relay, and tried really hard to get my other friend Christy to run with me, but she wasn't ready to commit, so I went ahead and signed up - and was on my way to my first half marathon distance back in 2011.  As a night owl, this is also the perfect race for me because it starts at 10pm.  

So back to the story of this year's race.  I got into town on Thursday night, while many of my friends were making their way to the runDisney Meet Up at EPCOT.  Well, I had missed out on getting in to this meet up, as had my friend Brandi, but that didn't stop us from having our own meet up in the hotel!  It was so great catching up with Brandi, and reading through the twitter feed of what was happening over at EPCOT.  Soon enough though we were both ready to head to bed since we'd both had long days traveling to Florida.

The next morning we met up in the hotel lobby - with Erin, Jen, and Kim, and then headed over to the expo!  We met up with Linzie at the expo and some of the other #CorralG peeps like Jen (and her husband Clint) and Jill.  However, I just came over to say "hi" before jumping on a bus to head over to Hollywood Studios to meet up with my friend Courtney, and her friends Elinor and Lauren.  They were down from Columbia Theological Seminary and deserving of a super fantastic weekend - especially since they were each completing their first half marathon!  We hung around at Hollywood Studios for a few hours, hitting up some shows and rides, and grabbing some lunch.  I headed off to ride Aerosmith's Rockin' Roller Coaster before heading over to EPCOT to meet up with Marcia, Linzie, Jen and Clint for a little #CorralG fun.  But soon enough it was off again to meet up with Christy at the expo to grab our bibs and do our shopping.  

The day flew by pretty fast and before I knew it, it was time for our #CorralG dinner at the karaoke sushi restaurant at the Swan (or maybe it was the Dolphin - I can never remember).  Kira and I got there first and waited.... and waited... there was an issue locating a car in the parking lot (instead of just walking over from EPCOT).  But it was all good.  We had a rocking good time catching up over dinner - no cocktails because we were getting up early for the Jingle Jungle 5K.  All too soon it was time to part and head to bed... but since we were all running together in the morning, it wasn't too hard saying goodbye temporarily.  

We all met up and got in line for photos with Mickey and Minnie... but wait, where was Linzie?  We tried calling, texting, but got no reply.  So it was time for desperate action - we called the front desk and had them ring his room.  It was about 5:30... verging on getting late.  He picked up the phone, a little dazed, realized what time it was and that he'd missed his alarm, and hung up quickly, vowing to be out the door in less than 2 minutes!  Sure enough, about 15 minutes later, there he was bounding across the parking lot.  Luckily, the line was long and he hadn't missed our Christmas card photo!  Soon enough we were heading to the start corrals and getting ready to go.  We were all decked out in our Ink n Burn ugly sweaters (we got so many compliments AND saw so many others in their sweaters) and had decided it was just going to be a fun run this morning, so we didn't get too tired for the Wine & Dine half marathon later that same day.  We had a blast!  Stopped for every character stop and even some "non-character" ones!  

These guys were so confused about why we wanted a photo
After the race was over, it was time to head to our family breakfast at Ohana - AND to finally find out #whatsinthebox!  #CorralG member Adam wasn't going to be able to join us because Princess Caitlin, his newborn daughter was too young to travel and he knew it wasn't fair to leave his wife home alone for Disney.  So he had started tempting us with sending a package to make up for him not being with us.  Well, let's just say that deserves it's own post!  Breakfast at Ohana was SOOOO good - if you haven't been there, definitely check it out.  It's a great character breakfast and the food is DELICIOUS!

Then it was time for a little park fun and castle photos before a little rest before the evening fun.  We rode the Jingle Cruise, and seriously, that was about it!  We were all wanting to make sure that we had fresh legs for our evening race.  

Merida and Mouseketeer Courtney

I had made the decision to run with Christy since this was going to be her first race - so I met up with her and the #CorralG peeps, and we tried to get a photo with Mickey... let's just say that's a sore spot from the weekend...

Christy and me, ready to go!
We parted ways and headed off to our corrals and got ready for the start.  Christy and I kept a pretty consistent pace, and chatted most of the way (it cracks me up that she thought we would run out of things to talk about over 13.1 miles)!  As we were coming out of Animal Kingdom, I saw Linzie, Marcia, and Jill, but we kept on going at our own pace.  I was so proud of Christy for taking up running only a year earlier and working so hard to meet her goal.  We only stopped for one photo - with Darth Vader - because I made her take it for her husband!  We both got a little sore around mile 10/11, but kept on pushing, and finally came in view of that finish line.  I was so proud of her, and made sure I got to be the one to put the medal around her neck.  

After we crossed the finish line, we headed in to the park for the post-race festivities.  I hung out with Christy for a bit, and we went on Test Track with her husband, before I headed off to meet up with the #CorralG peeps for a bite to eat.  It was an amazing night and I am so proud of my friends - Christy and Courtney - for conquering 13.1!  Courtney is already looking forward to Disneyland weekend and considering the Dumbo Challenge.  Christy is still debating about another half marathon, but she and I are running this week so hopefully I can talk her into another fun one.  

I will be back for Wine & Dine in 2014 and hope to see you there!!

23 December 2013

Marine Corp Marathon Recap

OMG! I cannot tell you how excited I was for this weekend.  It all started back in the spring, when I spent 75 minutes getting myself registered for Marine Corp Marathon - dealing with the insanity of Active.com - and then another 45 minutes getting Marcia and Christine registered so we could all enjoy the awesomeness of running in my favorite city.  On the Climate Ride, I had met another Virginian who lived right near the start line for the race, and offered to let Marcia and I stay at their house!  Such wonderful generosity, not to mention an AMAZING home.

Together again!
So, Saturday morning rolled around and I was at the airport to pick up my friend Marcia.  It was so great to see each other again, even though it had only been two weeks since we'd seen each other at Chicago, and would see each other again in another two weeks at Wine & Dine.  We headed straight to the expo so she could get her bib and check in with the 26.2 with Donna folks and help out at the expo as the official Social Media Butterfly!  Yeah, I know some pretty awesome people.

Leaving my mark on the wall
We soaked up all the awesome expo-ness that we could, help avoid a mild catastrophe at a booth, and then were off for the rest of our fun.

We were famous - made it on the official photo feed!
It was off to the official pasta dinner, with Runner's World CEO David Willey as the keynote speaker for the evening.  Before his talk we had some fun entertainment from "the wait staff" who were actually professional singers.  Quite entertaining seeing the Italian and French guys have a sing off!  David's talk was about the most inspirational runners he's met in his role with Runner's World, and it was great to hear about runners I knew and some that I didn't - I can't wait to finally start receiving my own copy of the magazine every month!  Dinner was yummy, and afterwards when Marcia went over to say hi to the Runner's World gang we even got a personal invite to their post-race party!  But soon enough it was time to head to be so we could be ready for our big morning - 26.2 miles of blissful running in our nation's capital.

The alarm went off early - but not runDisney early since we were so conveniently located near the start.  We bundled up before heading out to the start, and decided to take the metro down to the Pentagon station, instead of trying to walk.  It was really about the same either way.  It was chilly, and we got to the start as the paratroopers were jumping in with some gigantic American flags.  We unfortunately missed the National Anthem, but we parted ways once we finished breakfast and dropped off our bags at bag check, since we were each running our own race that morning.

I spy the start line!
I found my pace group and tried to warm up before I discarded my clothes to donate to local charities.  I broke all the rules and wore my new Newton Gravity for the race - I'd run a few times in them, but of course hadn't gotten any "major" miles in them.  But they were spectacular!!

In Chicago, I had forgotten my headphones, so I had a tough time keeping on my intervals.  This time I made sure I had my headphones, and did my best to stick to my 4/1 intervals.  I did start getting sore, so I slowed down and stretched some, and was able to get back in the groove.

The course took us through Arlington, out and across I-66 (I think that's technically the Crystal City area... I'm not totally up on my geography around DC), back down and along Rock Creek Parkway, into the District, around the Mall, across the 14th Street Bridge, through Pentegon City and back in for the finish near the Marine Memorial!  If you haven't seen my multiple Runkeeper posts in DC - I absolutely LOVE running in this city.  This race was fantastic because it took me through so many different parts of town.  For 2014 the Marine Corp Marathon is going to a lottery, and I highly recommend this race to ANYONE, whether it's your 1st or 1000th marathon.

I did it!
After I crossed that finish line, I soaked in all the amazingness of completing my third marathon in a year, and especially of conquering this race.  I tried to thank every single marine I passed along the course, but I definitely made sure to look the marine in the eye and thank him when he handed me my medal!  The freedoms we enjoy every single day are thanks to the men and women that serve in our military and there is nothing I can ever do to repay them for that service.  If you are a service member reading this - THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR ALL YOU DAY!  And thank you also to your family, that makes the sacrifice of sending you off to defend our country.

I finally made it to the finish village and met up with Marcia.  We tried really hard to make it to the Runner's World party, but we just couldn't manuever our way back to where it was, so we gave up and headed to our pad for the weekend, got a shower and a recommendation for a burger joint, and headed off for some yummy post-race goodness.  It was another early bedtime, as we were both worn out from our early wake up call and - oh yeah - we ran 26.2 miles!

Here's my confession: I actually got sick around midnight that night.  As I was laying on the bathroom floor I started thinking back to the day I got sick on the ride, and I realized that for both instances, more than likely, my problem was dehydration.  While I didn't actually throw up that night on the ride, I did this night, so maybe it wasn't the same, but who knows (and sorry to share so much).  But once I threw up I felt much better and went back to bed.  And I'm pretty sure this is the first time Marcia is hearing of this... sorry I didn't tell you!

The next morning she was flying back to Florida, but before I dropped her off at the airport, we made another trip in to the District for some sight seeing.  We hadn't really had a chance to do this Saturday or Sunday, and even though we had run 26.2 miles the day before, we still conquered the steps of the Lincoln Memorial!  It was an all around fantastic weekend - even with the midnight sickness - and I was so glad to share it with one of my #CorralG sisters :)

We conquered those stairs!
I'm a superhero!!

16 December 2013

Chicago Marathon Recap

I can't believe I'm really here!!!
So, back in January I ran my first marathon at Walt Disney World.  Before then, I would have laughed at the idea of completing ONE 26.2 distance race.  So how is it I find myself 10 months later gearing up for my 2nd... with my 3rd only two more weeks away?  I remind you of #90daysofinsanity.  After completing the Dumbo Challenge in Disneyland over Labor Day, and the Climate Ride - 300 miles from NYC to DC - in late September, here it was October and I was gearing up for the Chicago Marathon!

In case you missed the craziness surrounding Chicago and the #ActiveCrisisof2013, signing up for Chicago was a disaster!  Active.com, the website dedicated to processing thousands of race entries, crashed in the middle of the registration process.  As in thousands of people were unable to register for the available slots and registration had to be SHUT DOWN and a two-week break taken to figure out how to address the problems.  I had intended to try to register during the first enrollment, but didn't set up an alert so I missed out.  After some internal discussion, they decided to do a lottery for the remaining slots, and I threw my name in the hat.  I did not get picked, but very soon an opportunity popped up for me to run, and I couldn't turn it down!

This year, I took a course at McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago - A Certificate in Environmental Ministry and Leadership - with class meeting in Chicago in March and in October, conveniently wrapping up right before the marathon.  When I was there in March, I thoroughly enjoyed running the lakeshore in frigid temps and I couldn't wait to come back and run the marathon in October!

We had an option to stay on campus, which I took advantage of in March, but this time decided to stay with a classmate, which was SUPER fun.  BUT - she is vegan and prefers that visitors adopt a vegan diet when in her home.  I completely respect that and when we made plans for me to stay with her, I completely forgot about the marathon.  Only when I arrived and realized I'd be vegan for the four days leading up to the marathon did I start to panic - if only slightly.  Luckily M is a fantastic cook and I ate VERY well in her home!  We had a blast doing some shakeout runs in the park near her home at up at Glacial Park in northern Illinois after our field trip.  I was more than ready to head to the expo and meet up with my #CorralG buds - Captain Linz and Coach Marcia - and get the marathon party started!  I cannot begin to describe how amazing it was to be in this venue with this two people.  Linzie would also be running, and Marcia was there to rep for 26.2 with Donna and cheer on her besties.  We hung out together at the expo for a bit and then grabbed dinner together - oh yeah, Marcia and I had grabbed Chicago-style pizza for lunch while Linzie was hanging out with his other friends, but of course that didn't mean we couldn't have Chicago-style pizza AGAIN for dinner!  #eatallthepizza

Then it was time to tuck in for a HUGE day ahead - Linzie and I would be running our first WORLD MARATHON MAJOR!!! OMG!! Linzie was so stoked about this - it was only begining to sink in for me.

The course winds through 29 different districts in Chicago, first heading north out of Grant Park, then back towards the city and out west, then back in and south before coming back up and finishing in Grant Park.  I absolutely loved every minute of it.  Unfortunately I forgot my headphones in the hotel room, so I had a tough time keeping pace with my intervals, and had some knee pain around mile 22, but I pushed through and finished in 5:42 and change - knocking AN HOUR AND TEN MINUTES off my WDW Marathon time!  I wore my compression pants again, and probably lost about 25 minutes in bathroom breaks, but I think my knee probably would have been hurting even sooner if I hadn't been wearing them so it was totally worth it - and this time there was no one waiting on me to get out of the restroom!

After I finished the race, I enjoyed the amenities of the race retreat tent, and then ended up walking back to the hotel, since I had no idea where to pick up the shuttle.  It was all good - I need to walk anyway to keep my legs from getting too stiff before my flight to Little Rock the next day.

All in all I had AN AMAZING time and have decided that I want to attempt to run all of the WORLD MARATHON MAJORS by the time I'm 40.  Let's hope that happens!!

15 December 2013

Dumbo Challenge Recap

Inspired by Sean Astin, our Castle jump shot
So, I'm going to make myself put together my race recaps from my #90daysofinsanity... and as I get ready to start doing these I realize I haven't even recapped the Dumbo Challenge from Disneyland back over Labor Day!  Geesh - I am so behind and I apologize.  So, without further ado...

I had been looking forward to this weekend for months! It was going to be the first time since WDW Marathon Weekend that I was going to see Captain Linz, Jen, and my brother from another mother Joe, fellow #CorralG members.  Linzie and I checked in a few times in the weeks leading up to the race weekend, and it was going to be so much fun to see him and to catch up with our other #CorralG buds!   I kept hoping my Disney CM friend was going to be coming out, but life was a little crazy for her, with ordination exams being right before the trip, so she opted for a different trip.  I was able to secure a spot in a room at Disney's Grand Californian Resort with the wonderful folks from the Bacon Challenge, and again bought myself a ticket via my Delta Skymiles.  The room was gorgeous but a little cramped because it was 5 of us in one regular style room!  But that didn't really matter because we were hardly in the room.  The best part of the Disneyland resort overall is everything being right there!

I got in Thursday night and my chariot was waiting - a special pick up from the Captain himself, even though he had secured a spot in the meetup early the next morning and my flight got in late.  Gotta love family :)  On Friday morning we headed over to the expo after Linzie finished up the fun at the meet up, and it was a ZOO!!  I'm not even going to bother with a recap of the expo - there are plenty out there.  It was not the best Disney experience but it was fun running into all my Disney buds: Krissy, Jen, Brandi, not to mention seeing Diet Diva Tara on stage and Carissa announcing.  We grabbed the important things and stood in line for over an hour to check out - but then it was on to the real fun of the weekend.

Best ride photo of the weekend!
I had secured a three-day park hopper ticket and it was so much fun to hang out in the parks, and see Carsland (and ride Radiator Springs Racers multiple times) with my #CorralG buds.  And the highlight of the weekend was definitely getting the call that #babyChambo had finally made her appearance!  Oh yeah - and hanging out with my fam at Club 33!  I have to say - there are some things about Disneyland that I love more than WDW, but there are some things that Walt just made better once he got to Florida.

I was lucky enough to run the Dumbo Challenge for Team for Life with Lazarex Foundation.  The Lazarex Foundation is an amazing foundation that assists terminal cancer patients in identifying and applying for trials, and also helping both the patient AND a support person (family member or friend) get to the location of the trail for the duration of their treatment.  And 100% of funds raised go to patients - the founder has donated her own funds to the administrative costs of the foundation!  I initially started my fundraising efforts in honor of our family friend Steve, who is defeating stage 4 pancreatic cancer.  Given a 6 month diagnosis over two years ago, Steve is still here and we are so grateful for the treatment he is receiving.  While he is not a Lazarex patient, he is undergoing nontraditional treatment for his cancer, and this is what has saved his life.  But as I continued fundraising, I learned of other friends that were impacted by cancer and realized that #cancersucks.  So I began raising money for every cancer warrior I know, those we have lost and those that keep fighting, and met my goal.  I'm also super pumped that my friend Adam, another #CorralG member, whose dad I ran in honor of at Dumbo, will be running the Boston Marathon for the Beth Israel Medical Deaconness Medical Center who has been crucial in his dad's success fighting cancer.  It's so amazing to raise money for great charities like this, and then to run races in honor of those we raised the money for!

10K Team!
10K Team Castle Shot
Wow - I've already written so much and haven't even talked about the races!  Yes - races, plural.  This was my first challenge - 10K on Saturday and Half Marathon on Sunday - in my craziness.  I have to say, I really loved the 10K course because so much of it was in the parks.  The downside of racing at Disneyland is that it is so much smaller, so most of the half marathon takes place out in Anaheim.  A group of us were pacing with a friend who was doing his first challenge as well, not to mention his first half marathon on Sunday.  We were taking it easy on the 10K, since we were all running the next day and didn't want to burn out too early on the half course.  We stopped for some character shots, but there were some long
lines, so we skipped those.  I had a ton of fun running with Erica - who blasted her music from her iPhone on her arm so we could both listen - especially when we turned around to go back because we realized we'd missed the photographer!  It was a PR in terms of my slowest 10K time, but it didn't matter because we had so much fun as a group!

Group photo before the race
The next day, we all split into our respective corrals and ran our own races.  Linzie, Joe, and I met together in the corral and crossed the start together, but I knew they were working towards a goal I wasn't ready for, so I sent them off.  It had been awhile since I'd run a race by myself, just for me, so I set myself to my pace - 4 min run, 1 min walk - and took off.  I enjoyed the scenery and took a few photos, but for the most part, just ran.  I loved getting text support from Jill, and even later seeing my sister's response to my Facebook post a mile 10 - where she got confused that I was at mile 10 but posted "only 5K to go!" - mixing of units and all!  I set myself up to listen to my favorite Disneyland music - World of Color - as I was coming in to the finish.  And as I came back onto Disney property, I started thinking about what I set out to accomplish with this race, racing for Team for Life.  I thought about Steve and how amazing his cancer story is.  I thought about Adam's dad and Cindy's mom who are fighting cancer.  I thought about my Aunt Marsha who had breast cancer, but is in remission.  And I thought about my friend Chelsea, who lost her dad to cancer when she was younger.  I started to get emotional - there were definitely tears in my eyes as I crossed that finish line and received my half marathon medal, and then my challenge medal.  I had done what I set out to do - raise money for an amazing charity and conquer a super fun challenge!  And then I saw Linzie and Joe, who had finished just ahead of me.  There were hugs all around and we were so excited about our day.  And then I realized I had gotten a PR!!  It was a great day.

This was the second year that I've run the Disneyland Half Marathon weekend for a charity partner.  I am seriously considering doing it again - and making this my charity race each year.  And I would love to run for Team for Life again.  Keep an eye out for that announcement :)

Celebrity Sightings of the Weekend:

Sean Astin, Paul, me
Me, Dennis, Erica
Me, Joey Fatone, Erica
My Disney CM friend is already scouting rates, and with her first runDisney half under her belt, I think I've converted her.  Can't wait for next year.

Sweet Weekend Bling!

09 December 2013

ENERGYbits Brand Ambassador

 Recently I became one of the newest ENERGYbits® Brand Ambassadors!  I am so excited to have a product to share with you that I believe in myself and that I was introduced to from a fellow runner I trust.  I wanted to tell you a little bit about this new partnership and what it means for me and you.

I am constantly looking for the best information and natural products that help you stay fit and healthy, so I am thrilled to be introducing you to ENERGYbits®. ENERGYbits® high concentration of protein provide a steady stream of energy that prevents fatigue and their high concentration of antioxidants and Essential Fatty Acids (like Omega 3) reduce inflammation and muscle soreness.  Remarkably ENERGYbits® have just one ingredient, organically grown spirulina algae. Not only has spirulina algae been a favorite of Olympic athletes for decades, it is the most environmentally sustainable food in the world, has been endorsed for thirty years by the United Nations and NASA and is only ONE calorie!  And you all know how much I love sustainable things AND NASA!!

I started taking ENERGYbits® a few weeks ago on a regular basis and I have noticed a difference.  I checked in with my fellow ambassador SeeSharpRun about his daily plan and began following a similar plan of 30 bits with breakfast - my vitamin for the day.  For Thanksgiving, I drove from VA to Atlanta on Wednesday, November 20 since I would be dogsitting for some friends starting the following day.  I love going home to Atlanta, but it always means cramming in as much as I can in terms of visiting friends, grabbing meals at my favorite local spots, and of course running.  This trip was no different, and especially with the added benefit of hanging out with two precious doggies, it was a busy, tiring one.  I ran a half marathon on Thanksgiving morning with my ATL BRF, Jason, and then hung out with my family the rest of the day.  On Friday I hopped in the car and headed down to Florida for the Space Coast Half Marathon that Sunday.  On Monday I was back in the car for the all-day drive to Virginia.  I will recap those events in a separate post, but I include all that to say - I did not get sick!  The temp at the start of the Thanksgiving Day half was around 23 degrees and then I got to Florida where it was around 70 degrees and humid.  Normally temperature changes like that, not to mention the exhaustion of all that I was doing over those 10 days would make me feel a little weak.  But being #poweredbybits, I was able to get everything done I wanted to get done AND get back home feeling ready to conquer my busy week of work.  I can honestly say, I don't think this would have been the case if I wasn't regularly taking bits. 

I’m not aware of anything that offers your body and the environment the blend of benefits you get from ENERGYbits® so I am excited to be working with them.  They are great for increasing your race performance, but don't neglect the idea of using them as a daily vitamin.  SeeSharpRun also uses Recovery bits regularly, so I'm hoping to add those to my regimen to stay healthy this winter/holiday season. 

I hope you’ll try them soon and when you do, use my promotional code PREACH to get a 25% DISCOUNT!  You can only purchase them online at www.energybits.com so when you check out, just enter discount code PREACH into the coupon box and your discount will immediately show up on screen. The discount works on all products.

I'll soon be getting my own batch of samples to share, so keep an eye out on the blog for my first giveaway and your chance to see why so many of us are #poweredbybits!

The company explains why ENERGYbits®are so popular with runners, athletes and fitness enthusiasts: When a handful of ENERGYbits® are swallowed 10 -15 minutes prior to a workout, race, game or run, they provide a steady flow of energy, eliminate fatigue and speed recovery, all naturally and all without digestive distress.  The reason is simple. ENERGYbits® do not contain any caffeine, sugar or chemicals yet they have the highest concentration of protein in the world (64%), all in amino acid form which are absorbed instantly to provide a steady flow of glucose. ENERGYbits® also contain 40 vitamins/minerals, natural nitric oxide to open blood vessels, antioxidants to fight free radicals, Omega 3 to reduce inflammation, iron to prevent fatigue and electrolytes to prevent dehydration. All this from just one ingredient –organic spirulina and all for just one calorie per tab.   

For more information or to buy yours, please visit:

Twitter: @energybits and #poweredbybits
Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/energybits

02 December 2013

Boston Aspirations

So, in October this year I finished my first World Marathon Major - the Chicago Marathon.  All the hype about this race being one of the big six really got me excited to run ALL the races!  And so I devised a plan... run one event each year for the next five years, and then the year I turn 40 - run Boston.  I can't think of a more amazing way to celebrate - and look forward to 40 - than qualifying for and running the world's most elite marathon.

As I started doing my research, I realized most of the events are in the spring, with Chicago and New York being the only fall events.  Which means, New York is my only 2014 option... and the lottery opens TODAY!  Now, I could wait until March to apply, but if I go ahead and put my name in today, I could win a guaranteed entry!  I'd still have to pay the WHOPPING $216 (wait, actually $255 since I'm not a NYRR member!)- but I'd know tomorrow that I had a spot.  Hmmm... the dilemma.

I also spent part of my drive down to Florida for Space Coast on Friday discussing my plans with my dad.  And considering what I would need to do to get down to the ~3:40 qualifying time.  My current marathon PR is 5:22:11, so I need to drop 1:42:11.  I did manage to drop 1:30:15 between my first and second official races, but that's because the first was Disney.  Not thinking I'll be able to just drop that much again without some serious training - and not just running.  However, I've got some time if my plan is to do Boston at 40.

What I did realize is that I have a plan to participate in Space Coast for each of the Big Bang Series years, and it's supposed to be a great BQ course.  Which means, I could sign up to do the full in 2017 - the last year of the series - which would be perfect timing to qualify me for Boston in 2019 - the year I turn 40!!  When we got to Florida, I headed out for my #rwrunstreak mile of the day and did an 8:30 pace.  According to pacing charts, a 3:40 marathon is an 8:24mm pace.  So I just need to keep up the pace I ran for that mile (roughly) for 25.2 more miles!  Piece of cake... right?!  At least I know what I'm aiming for.

So, here's hoping 2014 means running NYC Marathon, and then 2015 - Berlin? Tokyo? London? Guess it's time to renew my passport, eh?

29 November 2013

Where Oh Where Have I Been??

I have been absent, I know, but for good reason.  You see, as I was sitting in the airport, working on my computer and hydrating after an amazing first fall marathon, a tragedy occurred.  I had my water bottle open while my Nuun fizzed, and I must have bumped the table because the next thing I knew, half the contents of my water bottle were all over the table - AND MY LAPTOP!  I immediately grabbed the computer and put it safely out of the way so I could clean up my mess.  A few hectic moments later, I picked up the computer and the screen was off.  I figure it had just gone to sleep since I hadn't been using it for almost 10 minutes... so I wiggled the mouse (well, I mean, wiggled my finger on the trackpad) and nothing happened.  Still not panicking, I thought maybe the battery died since I wasn't really paying attention to the battery life.  So I went and plugged it in... to no avail.  It appeared that my computer had gotten some Nuun-water inside... but I wasn't really sure.  I mean, I was at the airport!

So, I did what any person would do - I went immediately to the Apple Store (I had a MacBook).  Well, immediately in the sense that I got on my plane from Chicago to Little Rock and once my friend picked me up I broke the news that I had a minor emergency and needed to go have my computer inspected.  Once we got there, it was about an hour wait to see a "genius" so we tooled around the shopping center waiting for the appointed time.  Much to my disappointment, the genius diagnosed my trouble as water damage.  He took the hard drive and RAM out to dry and suggested I let it air out for a few days and see what happened... in the meantime I needed some sort of device to prepare my presentations on for the conference I was attending in Little Rock so I picked up an iPad.

Low and behold, the computer never revived and the blogger app does not get along well with photos.  So, that is why I have been mysteriously absent from blog world.  I have so much to recap.  I finally finished up the Climate Ride recaps, but I haven't recapped any of my running events from my #90daysofinsanity, so I know I owe those to you.  I promise to work on them soon... but at the top of my priority list for using this laptop I have for my contract work is to turn in my paper for the class I was in Chicago for in the first place!

Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving!  I know I did :)