Funny Fitness Friday: Lessons from Goofy



Watch this oldie but goody. Goofy cracks me up in this classic cartoon. But there are a few lessons in here as well.

1) Achieving fitness has been a goal (and a struggle) for many generations. This cartoon is from the early 1940s - before my parents were even born. Sometimes I think my struggles are unique, or that it is just today's media that is obsessed with a certain body type. But no, every generation has had that pressure. And while this cartoon is over 75 years old, I'm willing to bet in another 75 years - when I am long dead - there will be another blogger (or future equivalent) angsting about her figure.

2) We all come home our jobs tired, and would rather enjoy our easy chair than go work out. Those slick advertisements promising a better body in 20 days, or ten minutes a day, or have been around a LONG time. They will stay around because their premise is tempting, and the claims they make of their results, if true - well - how can we pass that up? Again, 75 years from now - these extreme body makeover programs will still be around - and will still be making grandiose claims.

3) Goofy is trusting and optimistic. That translates into gullible here. The advertising of fitness products has really stepped up its game from the old days of newspaper print ads. Infomercials, viral marketing, product placement in movies and television, social media promotions, and more blitz the fit and the wanna-be-fit alike. We need to be discerning consumers and take a skeptical look at promised claims. We need to find friends in real life (or online) and ask lots of questions. I see "x" product worked for you, how long did you use it? Would you buy "x" again? Did you do anything else in addition to using "x"? It is one reason I am a big fan of fitness and running blogs.  I love to read honest reviews by REAL people.  And it also just one more reason I love the support I get from an online group, Endurance Sports Connection.  We can get immediate feedback on questions - about products, endurance events, fitness websites, and more.  Once again, I'm more likely to trust a real person - not a paid actor.

4) Results will come. But the magic pill or workout in a box doesn't contain it. DG and I have both been struggling with weight loss, me more than him. I sometimes look at informercials and get sucked into the sales pitch, the perfect bodies, the bass-thumping music, and the urgency to order now! now! now! I once owned an Ab-Roller, a Thigh-Master, a Flex-Ab belt, and more complete sets of entire fitness fads on DVDs than I care to admit... But I am more cautious now. Results don't happen in "Just Ten Minutes a Day". Only hard (REALLY HARD) work, consistency, and TIME will yield results.



Go get your fitness on, kids! It's FRIDAY! DB

Virtual Bacon Challenge 5K recap



How does one write a race recap on a virtual challenge?  With a great deal of humor.

The History

A little history is needed.  It all started last year as we were training for the Disney Princess Half Marathon.  DB and I had joined a group of Disney-loving foodie runners: Run Disney So I Can Eat Disney.  The leaders of this group organized the now famous infamous The Three Little Pigs Challenge for the Disney Marathon.  This event was a huge success, so they decided to open it up to runner that weren't able to participate that first time. Thus, the Virtual Bacon Challenge was born.  Like most 5Ks, this is a fundraising event, this one benefits the New England Aquarium Outreach Program.

The Rules

The challenge was simple, and set up to be accessible to all levels of runners and walkers.  The only rules were: (1) Eat three strips of bacon (or bacon substitutes), and (2) complete 3.1 miles between March 8 and March 17, 2013. 

The Packet Pick-up

The virtual challenge had a nice small town, very personal feel.  After hearing so many great things about the custom bibs, I was looking forward to packet pick-up.  Packet pick-up was super convenient, a beautiful volunteer (in order to avoid any confusion, it was DB) woke me up, to personally give me my bib and wish me a great race.  This was a very nice touch.  And I didn't even have to leave the house and stand in line with a bunch of sweaty dudes at my local running store. 

The race bibs had been personalized to each runner, many  with all manner of clever and funny names.  Best of all, the bibs prominently feature the most amazing salted cured meat ever!  These must have taken forever to complete for all 300+ runners. Undoubtedly the coolest bibs in existence.  They were emailed to us as a .pdf, then DB laminated them. 




The Bacon

I gave up bacon during Lent.  So this was pretty challenging.  However, the challenge did allow for substitutes.  I went with turkey bacon.  Turkey bacon is a lie perpetuated by turkey farmers as a way to get you to buy turkey outside of November.  Sorry, but bacon comes from a pig, not a fat lazy bird.  However, I swallowed my pride and ate the liar bacon.  Easter can’t come quick enough.


DB is not a meat-eater, so she ate some kind of soy bacon biscuit.  She said it was good.  I have my doubts.

The Run(s)

This turned out to be the hardest part.  Running this virtual race took far more planning than I imagined.  It actually took us several attempts to get in the mileage.  Had we been unable to run the mileage over several days, we wouldn't have made it.  Don’t get me wrong, DB and I both have trained for a half marathon and can run 3.1 miles. However,  if it’s not a race, I am not running in unfavorable conditions. And even then...

The first attempt was a Sunday evening, we donned our bibs and headed to a park to run our mileage.  However, after about 1.5 miles it got creepy-movie-dark.  We both had visions of some driver not paying attention and mowing us down, so we called it a night.





Monday we attempted to run again.  On Mondays we run with our local running club. However, this week the rain was horrendous and we both passed. 

Tuesday is our Galloway Group run.  But we didn't have a run scheduled that day - it was a track session.  We both ran a magic mile and a few extra laps for finish out our time.  We added another 1.5 miles to the tally. 

Wednesday through Friday I did hit the gym at lunch for a run on the treadmill, but DB was not with me, and I didn't count it for the race.  Since Monday and Tuesday failed to get us to our 3.1, we decided to sign up for a local 5K.  (BTW the packet pick up was nowhere near as fun... Yep, it was standing in line with sweaty dudes at my local running store.)

We get up Saturday and once again put on our bacon apparel.  This time we have two bibs: the amazing bacon bib and the very boring track club bib. We head out, but are foiled once again.  On the way to the race, I stop to help a motorist in need.  By the time it is all over, we have missed the race.  The Bacon Gods were not with us it seems.  

Later that day, we head to Torreya State Park to enjoy a beautiful hike. (If you are ever in North Florida, check the park out.  Very beautiful trails).  We managed probably 2.5 miles that afternoon. 



Finally, we made the total mileage even if it wasn't in one attempt. 

The Summary

Great race!  Was cool to see other runners posting race recaps with photos of themselves running, wearing their bibs, and of course enjoying delicious bacon - both plain and prepared into tasty looking dishes.  I look forward to competing in future bacon challenges.    An e-book is forthcoming to document the Bacon Challenge and highlight the runners and their recipes.   Makes you want to sign up right?  Well, then check out the group, and stay tuned for future bacon events.  

Here is an image of the medal we will each receive for completing the challenge.



I KNOW, RIGHT?  Without a doubt, the coolest medal EVER.  It is a combination of metal and stained glass, with metallic paint accents.  Awesome! However, I do hope that weather and other forces do not spoil an amazing experience next time.  One more “Thank You” to that beautiful packet pick-up volunteer. 

And a super big thanks to the very awesome Endurance Sports Connection (parent group of Run Disney So I Can Eat Disney) for holding the Virtual Bacon Challenge, especially Linda Bachand, group founder and admin; Greg Itahara, designer of the awesome medals and artwork for both groups; Ron Fraser for painstakingly creating the personalized bibs; and Cheri Fraser for tireless admin work as well. 

Can't wait for my first Bacon Challenge On the Road event!  Hope to see you all at the Space Coast Marathon!

~DG


Motivation Monday: Lessons from an UltraTrailrunner




Kilian Jornet was profiled a few days ago by the New York Times in this article: Creating the All Terrain Human.   Read his incredible accomplishments, and marvel at his age.  The term "super-human" comes to mind. And grounded and humble as well, evidenced by this National Geographic interview from Sept 2010.

Looking at Chasqui runners of the ancient Inca Empire, and today's East African runners, it appears the 'naturally gifted' endurance athletes have the common denominator of enlarged lung capacity, due to a lifetime in the mountains.  Those of us sea-level dwellers will never have that advantage.  But these 'super-human' athletes will tell you - they weren't born fast or born able to cover long distances.  It came with year after year of hard work.  And it came with an understanding of his training environment.  Jornet is not motivated by shattering more and more world records, but by a deep passion for nature, an appreciation and respect of the beauty around him, and wanting to connect with it.

I've been slacking on longer distances lately.  But, a local trail running group starts up in a few weeks.  I'll be there.  I may not be 'part-mountain goat', but I do find inspiration, traquility, and even a tiny bit of speed when I go off-road.  Best of all, I find the desire I have been lacking to go farther.

-DB 

Run ALL the runDisney races! #DopeyChallenge



Surely by now, you've heard the buzz over runDisney's new Walt Disney Marathon Weekend event:  The Dopey Challenge.
A four day challenge: Thursday the 5K, Friday the NEW 10K, Saturday the Half Marathon, Sunday the Full Marathon.  Disney, you've really outdone yourself.  This promises to be EPIC. 



DisneyGroom is in for the whole shebang.  Six official medals (and one unofficial Bacon medal from our Run Disney So I Can Eat Disney group) are too good to pass up.  As for me, I'm thinking of passing on the Half and doing the Inaugural 10K.  I will definitely be volunteering for either 5K or Half, plus working the bacon tent at the full Marathon.   So excited to cheer on my husband!

Registration opens April 9th, so be ready for the mad dash to sign up!

~DB

Thank You Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend Volunteers

Today I received the following email and certificate.





I thought that was pretty nice.  DG and I volunteered at the 2013 WDW Half Marathon, at the first hydration stop.  We had a very early morning, to report by 3am, and I was sooo tired. But once we were out on the course, setting up, and especially hearing the telltale fireworks of the first corral, we were wide awake and alert.  Very thrilling morning.  Our assignment was hard work, but it went by very quickly.  We didn't even realize how tired we were until we got back to our room.  You can read our recap of the volunteer experience of the Half Marathon here, and of our afternoon volunteering at the Expo here.

I really can't recommend the experience enough.  And you don't just get this lovely certificate, volunteers can earn tickets to the Disney Theme Park of their choice, too!

Check out disneysportsenthusiast.com for a list of volunteer opportunities at runDisney and other ESPN Wide World of Sports Events.  You will register through active.com, just as if you are signing up for a race.  Openings are posted a few months before the desired event.  Keep a watchful eye though!  Assignments are limited, and I've seen volunteer slots fill up in a few days - that's much quicker than most of the races.  The Expedition Everest Challenge currently has these openings shown below, but that will surely change by tomorrow.



Have you volunteered at a runDisney event?  What type of assignment was it?  Would you do it again?



Wordless Wednesday: Greetings from the Future


Wordless Wednesday: Happy Birthday DisneyGroom!

March 13, 2013

The A B C's...and D's... and DD's+ of Running Bras

I've noticed a flurry of blog posts on running bras recently, so let me throw out my perspective too.  A few months ago, I was put in touch with Women's Running Magazine for some product testing.   My first products for review were sports bras.


March 2013 issue

There are many personal preferences on style, material, fit, comfort, and support.  No 'one style fits all' approach exists, not for something so personal.  This is still 'intimate apparel' after all - just in performance material packaging.  I highly recommend the article, Girlfriend's Guide to Sports Bras in the March 2013 issue.  And not just because I was involved.  They rate several bras and make recommendations according to cup sizes: Straight -A Students, Queen B's, Fan-C-y Girls, Major D-ivas, Above and BeyonDD+'s.

My priority was support, followed by a desire to avoid the uni-boob look.  My winner was Champion's Double Dry Distance® Underwire Sports Bra. Doing the product review was a great experience.  I tested these bras out on several short runs and a few long runs (10+ miles) as well.  The highlight for me was FINALLY finding a bra that does the job on its own. No layering required. Now I can go spend an afternoon bouncing on a trampoline! Not that I would, but it is nice to have the option.  There really is nothing like the freedom that comes in finding that perfect athletic bra.

At the risk of TMI, I'll post a snippet of the page that includes my review.



I love how they call me an "Expert"


The editors did what they do best, and edited my summary.  They do have to keep things family-friendly, after all.  In reality, until I received a truly well-fitting bra, I did layer two intentionally under-sized sports bras, plus a tank.  However after a long sweaty run, I could never pull them off over my head myself, and had to call in back-up, i.e. my poor DG to start tugging and release my head and neck from its lycra prison.  Other well-endowed running ladies reading this might have the same support issues that I do (or rather did).   If so, give a well-made underwire running bra a try.

Tips:
  • Get a proper fitting at a lingerie shop and know your TRUE size.
  • Try on as many styles in your size as you can.  Jog in the fitting room, do some burpees or jumping jacks to make sure everything stays where it should.
  • Break out of the S, M, L mindset and consider cup-sizing for your running bra.
  • Expect to spend $50 or more for a quality, well-made bra.
  • Life span of a sports bra is one year.  Think of it like running shoes.  After a certain number of miles, the material breaks down and it should be replaced.  If it is old, pitch it.
  • Even the best, or most expensive bra might start to rub you wrong after 10+ miles of running. BODY-GLIDE is your friend. Everytime! Apply around the band, the straps, and any sensitive areas you may have.
I'd love to hear what favorites you have for running bras: all shapes, styles, and sizes welcome!

Notice: I was not compensated for this post or for product testing.  I was sent bras selected by the magazine for review purposes only.

Jeff Galloway Runner Retreat in Blue Mountain Beach, Florida

The Greatest Gift for a Novice Runner!

This post is long but I hope you enjoy the re-cap of my experience

So for the last few weeks, DisneyBride had been telling me to leave the weekend of March 1st open.  Apparently, she had an early birthday surprise.  She had mentioned a while ago that there may be a trip involved.  Disney Bride REALLY hates surprises, so I was intrigued that she had planned one for me.  I did not press the issue, selfishly hoping that  now I can surprise her sometime in the future.  I guess my lack of bugging her for clues started driving her crazy, so she started dropping hints in the week leading up to the event.  Boy, did I guess wrong.

I had guessed different cities and scenarios. All wrong. The clues that I pieced together and stuck in my mind was that I would need running clothes, and that I would be seeing a familiar face, that had an Atlanta 'connection'.  I immediately thought that we would be heading to Atlanta to see one my oldest friends and his fiancĂ©e.  I assumed that the four of us would do a local race and spend the rest of the weekend seeing the sights.

Fast forward to 9:00 pm, Thursday night (2/28), I am packing clothes for what I still assume is a trip to Atlanta.  We are still not entirely unpacked from Princess weekend, having just returned on Monday night.  DB tells me to pack some running clothes (for what I assume is a race in Atlanta ) and she then tells me I probably want running clothes for Friday through Sunday.  Now, I am quite confused.  She tells me that we are not going to Atlanta, and to guess again.  Eventually, I put it all together and guess that I am doing a Jeff Galloway Running Retreat. (We had dinner with Jeff and Barbara, and our local program director's family a few weeks ago,  after the Tallahassee Galloway Run/Walk Training Group kickoff.  Jeff had told us he was going to be in Florida a lot this month.  He and Barbara were doing the Donna Marathon that weekend in Jacksonville, Disney Princess Half the next, and his retreat the following weekend.  That is the first and only time I had heard about his retreats.) 

Finally, I am correct.  She tells me I am going solo, and the retreat is in Blue Mountain Beach .  It sounds amazing and I look for more running clothes for the beach weekend. The next morning is crazy busy at work, and I don’t have any time to look into what is involved in a Galloway Retreat.  I am going into this totally blind.  I assume it will be a grown up version of basketball camps I had done a child.  I had visions of classrooms full of people and sleeping in a dorm room.  Wrong again!

I leave the office at noon and grab a quick lunch with DisneyBride (she is now a big fan of Bean Burritos "Fresca style" from Taco Bell - since finding out that is what Jeff eats when he is on-the-road).  I take care of a final few errands  and then plug the address I was given into the GPS.  A few hours later, I arrive in Santa Rosa Beach, home of Blue Mountain Beach.  I make a quick trip to the Disney Store to get DisneyBride a thank you gift for the weekend.  I then head to what I assume is a hotel or dorm style housing.  Once again, boy was I wrong. 

I pull up to this beautiful home, less than a block from the beach.  The only tip-off I am in the right place is that there is a “Jeff Galloway Running Injury Free” t-shirt on the mailbox and a “Welcome to the Galloway ’s” sign next to the stairs.  I am staying at his place!  (Actually Jeff and Barbara have another house right around the corner - where they stayed.)  I knock on the door and a familiar voice, the same voice I have been hearing on my 13.1 training app for the past four months says “Come On In"!  Jeff and one of the other participants is sitting in the living room having a conversation.  Jeff offers me a drink, shows me where I am staying, and invites me to take a seat.  I can't believe I will be spending the weekend in a beautiful beach home for this running retreat!





Over the next 30 minutes or so, the three of us chat about running goals and anything else that comes up. A third runner arrives and soon after we change to go out on a warm-up run.  I have not run 30/30 intervals and after running with him several times that weekend, it appears to be Jeff’s favorite interval. We run down to the beach, get a view of the sunset, keep running down the beach, and then hit some trails before returning to the house.  The run probably totals about 40 minutes and I feel pretty good, even though I think the 30/30 is too much start and stop for me (I usually do a 4min run, 1min walk, but I am now thinking about a shorter run interval). While on the beach, Jeff points out Mike Huckabee’s house and also Sheryl Crow’s home off in the distance.  Not a Sheryl Crow fan, but I was pretty disappointed that I didn’t get a Huckabee sighting.  


Huckabee 'Fortress'


Beach View


We return to the house and Barbara Galloway has prepared dinner for us.  The whole weekend Jeff and Barbara made me feel like a member of the family.  During dinner we discuss Jeff’s experiences in the Munich Olympics, his travels for marathons, and we just chat like any group of people would at dinner.  He briefly describes the next day's events and then heads home for the evening.  The third runner returns to her hotel and the first runner and I hang out for a little while before retiring to our respective rooms.

Saturday morning, I eat breakfast and then head down to the beach for a few minutes before going back to the house to start the day.  





Upon returning we learn that the fourth runner had some flight delays and will finally be arriving at about 11:00 am. We were also briefly joined by Tony and Stacey Conticello, Program Directors of the newly formed Tallahassee Galloway Run-Walk-Run Training Group. These fellow runDisney aficionados were in town this weekend to run the Seaside Half.

Jeff moves around Saturday’s run and we get right into the sessions.  The sessions included nutrition, motivation, running form, injury prevention and treatment, training, and several more.  Each session was like it was just you and Jeff having a conversation.  I have had the opportunity to talk with Jeff in the past and had always wondered if he was just as enthusiastic in person as he was at an appearance.  Like many other elite athletes in the public eye, my assumption was the enthusiasm came from contractual obligations or a desire to sell books.  Once again, man was I wrong.  Jeff loves running!  He loves helping people learn the joys of running.  He is extremely genuine, and I believe truly motivated by the idea of helping others learn to enjoy running.





Back to the events of the day; after a few sessions Saturday morning, we take a break for the third runner to get her sister (the fourth runner) from her hotel.  The final runner arrives and we set out for a pre-lunch run.  Again we head down towards the beach and then we are off for our run.  During this run, Jeff teaches us how to do acceleration gliders, improve speed with cadence drills, how to approach hills, and how to use the down hills to our advantage.  The run ends with our form evaluation, and apparently I was the only one with form issues (I bounce too much and I had too much excess movement in my stride).



We eat lunch, and once again it’s just like I would imagine being treated by Jeff and Barbara if I was a close friend sharing lunch on a typical Saturday. We return to the sessions I described earlier, this time Barbara stays and provides her input, especially helpful for the session on nutrition.
   



Don't you love my awesome Bacon tervis tumbler?


We finish in the mid-afternoon and set a time to meet for dinner at a local restaurant that Jeff and Barbara enjoy,  The Red Bar.   (Random “cute moment":  After finishing the afternoon session, the Galloways leave for their house, and I leave a few seconds later to walk down to the beach.  They don't see me, but I see Jeff and Barbara run walk 30/30’s side by side on their way home.  Jeff LIVES this stuff; it is not just for race day.) Dinner conversation that evening mostly focuses on running, but does run the gambit of topics.  It’s like everyone has been friends for an eternity.





The Red Bar


I got up early on Sunday to cheer on runners for the Seaside Half Marathon.  I hope the runners found my corny sense of humor motivational, and it did appear that 'almost' everyone enjoyed my roadside jokes and entertainment.  Since we are a reasonable drive from Tallahassee, I did see several friends from home at the race, some I knew would be there and some who were a total surprise.  It looked like a fun race and I hope to run it in the future.

Now to the final event, the last run with Jeff.  Barbara joins us this time as we run though picturesque  Seaside (made famous as the setting of Jim Carrey's movie, The Truman Show) and Watercolor.  This was the longest run of the weekend, taking probably a little over an hour through the scenic neighborhoods.  While running I was able to get Jeff to help me with my form, by the end of the run I finally have it down pat. 









We all return to the house, get our books signed, say our goodbyes, and then head home.  If you are thinking about attending any of Jeff’s retreats- DO IT!  They are small intimate groups where you will get plenty of time for your questions. Hopefully you too will experience the great time that I did.

-DG



A list of upcoming Galloway retreats, on Jeff's website is here.




Princess Half Marathon: Close Encounters of the Sweeper Kind


Race Day was here at last.  My journey that began last summer when I registered for this race was finally at an end. I was so excited, I woke up several times in the night, and finally at 1:45 realized I couldn't get back to sleep.  My race outfit was ready and waiting for me so I got dressed while DG slept on.




We left our resort at 3:40, anticipating ten minutes to drive there and park, as had been customary in our two 5Ks.   HA!  No such luck.  We sat in slow-moving traffic until 4:15.  We parked and began jogging up to the race village.


Using our "Divide and Conquer" approach, DG went off to drop our stuff in Bag Check, and I texted our friend from Tallahassee, Laura, until I found her.  She was meeting us there - but was starting in a different corral.   Unfortunately with the bottleneck of cars - then the mass of runners, I missed the Pacebook Running Club pre-race meetup and group photo with Sean Astin.  I was sad because who doesn't love Rudy?




We said goodbye to Laura, and DG and I headed into our corral.  I look pretty anxious, nervous, maybe even a bit frightened here, while DG looks relaxed.  



The start line is so far away. Seems surreal.



Getting closer...






We are near the front and by the stage, and finally our corral is set to go.  The Fairy Godmother is on the right of the stage - and with her Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo and a flash of fireworks, we get our send-off.  DG gives me a kiss goodbye and disappears into the sea of runners.  It is still quite dark, and I won't see him again for several hours.



My race strategy was to keep the best pace I could until I got to the castle.  Then I would relax a bit.  That also meant I skipped all the water stops, character stops, photo ops, and restrooms for the first five miles.  I carried my own water, took a small sip every 10 minutes, and trudged along.  It was still quite dark for the first few miles, so I rationalized that pictures would not have come out well anyway.
I really was so worried about the sweepers that I tried very hard to keep a decent pace, despite the crowds.  My biggest fear at this point was getting swept before entering Magic Kingdom.  

The day was overcast, but the temps were climbing and conditions began to get difficult for some of the runners. It actually felt pretty good to me, and I was once again very grateful to be a Floridian.

At last I made into Magic Kingdom and onto Main Street USA.  I had read about the experience on other running blogs, and while I had been on Main Street many times in the past for parades, shopping, etc. - I was still blown away.  The people, the noise, the excitement, the dancing, laughing, hugging, cheering, photo-snapping, it was PURE JOY!

I held up my phone and snagged a few minutes of video.  Unfortunately, I had some technical difficulties and could not get it posted here.  Main Street USA was over all too quickly, and I found myself wanting to walk through the rest of the MK route to take it all in.

The course took us through TomorrowLand, and I had to stop to get a photo with DG's bestie, Buzz Lightyear.  I had a feeling DG has already made this stop earlier, despite his avowal to run without character stops.  (I was right. ha ha)



Entering FantasyLand I saw Gaston, several Princesses, Mickey & Minnie and more.  Around the carousel and near the castle walls was a hub of several lines for characters.  The lines were moving but they all seemed long to me, so I skipped them.

There was a predictable bottleneck through the castle.  Lots of runners taking pictures of the murals and just soaking in the experience.  I was not prepared for how slow it would be to get through the castle.  But I guess every Princess wanted her moment, and I can't blame them. I wanted this moment to be magical too!

I exited Cinderella's Castle and was so emotional here. Hadn't believed I could actually make it this far and am absolutely ecstatic.  I mentally tell myself, if I get swept later, I won't be devastated because at least I made it that far - farther than I thought I would.






I run into my friend Laura at this point and we jogged through Liberty Square and FrontierLand.  I had yet to use a restroom, so I figured this was the time.  The men's room was empty - so YAY for no lines, and double YAY for not having to use a porta-potty.  Laura and I parted ways.  She said there were thousands and thousands of runners still behind us, so no fearing the sweepers.  (Hearing this - I got a little cocky and began to make some mistakes I regretted later.)
I walked through the rest of the park, and just felt SO happy to be a part of this.  I really wish I was with my husband, or that I could find a familiar face in the crowds to share this with me.
I left the park skipping on Cloud 9.  Oh, how short lived that was!  Right up ahead was the Half Way There marker. There were several runners waiting to take a photo with it, and I started to head in that direction myself.  Then I heard several runners yelling, THERE THEY ARE!   EEK!  The Balloon Ladies!!!  They were right behind me.  The guys on bikes came by, and said - stay with them or just ahead and you are fine.  Well, unfortunately, I didn't have enough left in me to keep up with them.  I used up my best efforts on the first half.  They announced to our group, "You are 30 seconds behind pace".  They later came and said "You are 2:30 behind pace - you have 3 minutes to get to Mile 8.  There will be a big pickup there."  Well, I made it to Mile 8 by a hair.  The big buses were parked there and a cop stood out in front of me, arms crossed - presumably the first of those that would be blocking the path.  I didn't look back.  I kept going, and the crowd was no more.  There was now a small group of us lagging behind, and I could no longer see the huge pack  accumulated around the balloon ladies. It was VERY VERY quiet.  I passed the Clif Bar station, and was handed a gel.  I knew better than to try something unfamiliar, so I put it in my SPIbelt.  I talked to a few of the guys on bikes.  They told me that there were stilll 'a few more' pickup stops ahead. I called DG to tell him I would be swept any minute now.  He had already crossed the finish line and told me that my sister, brother-in-law, and mother had driven out from Tampa to meet us at the finish!  My heart broke a little here.  I was so devastated that I would come in on a bus, and have to tell my family that I had failed. I kept thinking of my sister and I when we were little.  I was seven years older than her, and she looked up to me so much back then.  She was now eight months pregnant - with her first baby, my first nephew.  I fought back tears, thinking of her face, and my husband's face. I was so disappointed in myself.I kept trotting along and took turns running on the grass, and walking on the road.  I had resigned myself to getting picked up, it seemed inevitable with nearly five miles left, but I was going to keep going until I was told I HAD to get on a bus, and not one moment before.  I wiped my tears and approached a few photo ops.  Check out these handsome heroes and try to ignore the eyeliner that was streaming down my face.  There were also some cute bachelors in tuxes, with a glass slipper, in front of the Wedding Pavilion.   Since I was dressed as a 'Disney Bride', I REALLY wanted to stop - but I began regretting every stop I had made so far, and I just waved to them.The last few miles of road were brutal.  I came up on the next water stop just before the hills.  One of the volunteers jogged along with me, and pepped me up.  She moved me to tears with her enthusiasm.  She finally high-fived me, told me I could do it, and I trudged up the overpass hills.  I was greeted at the top with R. Lee Ermey's recorded voice and army men from Toy Story egging me on.  A long straightaway began and I glanced back.  There was NO ONE behind me.  NO ONE.  But less than 50 yards back, a long line of sweeper buses was crawling along.Having NOTHING between myself and those buses - well it really scared me.  So I moved into the grass, and I began to run until I couldn't run anymore.  My 30/30 intervals were out the window at this point.  The last big cluster of runners had already disappeared far ahead, (I was more than 8:30 minutes behind pace) but there were a few stragglers ahead.  I caught up to them and jogged along.  I passed a medical tent and there were runners lying in the grass nearby, injured or tired and waiting for their bus ride. (M*A*S*H, the television show flashed into my head for a moment.) I said quick prayers for them and myself, and kept focusing ahead.  Everything felt like a dream and seemed to be happening in slow-motion.There was one more water stop before the overpass into the EPCOT parking lot.  Another volunteer walked with me, gave me a great pep talk and a hug.  I tried to remember her name, but my brain was fuzzy at this point. No one told me there was yet another hill ahead.  I still can't run up a hill, but I was very glad I had learned to run down hills.  I got a little mental boost from picking up speed, even if it was only a few seconds.  I knew those buses were creeping closer - eager to snatch me up, so I didn't look back. The left lane of the road was cleared for outgoing traffic and the cars streaming past were full of Princesses cheering us on - waving their arms - and proudly holding up their medals to show me.  Their happy faces were tinged with a tiny bit of horror at the sight of all the sweeper buses behind me.  But, can't think about that.  WHAT A GORGEOUS MEDAL!  I wanted it so bad.  I kept going and finally rounded that turn into the park. 
Then I spotted her! The irrepressible Peggy Sue!  This amazing lady has become a fixture at runDisney races with her "Hello Complete Stranger, I'm Proud of You Too!" sign. She didn't know me from Adam, and I had never set eyes on her in real life before, but I called her name and ran up to hug her.  She hugged me back and asked my name. I told her and also said I was a member of PbRC - and that she was a bonafide ROCK STAR in our group.  She told me that she liked to stay to the end of the races, and cheer for us that seem to need it most.  Then she told me the sweetest words I heard all day, "You are safe from the sweepers now."  My face crumbled for the umpeenth time that day.  I got one last hug, and her husband took a photo of us - one for me, and one on her camera.  Then I headed into EPCOT for my last mile.



The park was open to guests, and there were cones and roped off sections for the last runners to get through.  There was a wall of people on each side of the cones - and they were cheering for us like we had just won the Superbowl! Some Princesses in the crowds waved their medals and chanted: Almost There.  Almost There. 

It was a blur really, I was so overwhelmed.  I somehow made it through EPCOT and as I finished Mile 13, I thought I heard a choir of angels singing!  I'm not even a fan of gospel music, but I was never so happy to hear and see this lively group.



Around this spot, I realized I was walking next to Jenna Boyd.  She is famous to runDisney fans for completing her first half-marathon, Tinker Bell in January.  She came in last during that race and got an amazing reception at the finish line.

Exiting the park, and approaching that last 0.1 of the course, my beloved DG is waiting for me at the last bend before the finish line stretch. He snapped this photo, waved to me, and said he would see me in a few minutes.  


At last the long awaited finish line was in sight.  Here are some screen grabs from me before and after the finish line. I actually gave Donald Duck a big hug at the finish, but I couldn't find a pic of that in the official race photos. (Edited to add:  I contacted Marathonfoto - and they said they don't have ANY photos of me with Donald. sob!) It does show up in my finisher video, if anyone is curious enough to take a peek. My MarathonFoto pics link from my certificate, at http://mydisneymarathon.com/princess, under the results for bib number 33336.  

The second photo is Donald hugging Jenna Boyd - you can see the confetti and hoopla.  She started in corral A and walked the entire course.  But, I can see why she wanted to be the last to cross the finish again. They do make a fuss.




I got my medal and snack and wandered out to race village in a blur.  I found my wonderful sis was waiting for me!   She had made us a cute 'trophy'.  See the closeup of the title below. For Awesomeness. ha ha. Pregnant and huge-bellied, I know it was hard for her to get around under normal circumstances - not to mention the crowds, plus riding the monorail, navigating the parking lot, etc.  I was so touched that they came out for us.






We found Laura again, and she had gotten sick, hurt her hip, but still managed to finish. I'm so proud of her!  She is a Zumba, Bollywood Dance, and Bellydance instructor, so she has a good fitness base - but doesn't do a lot of running, until she had to start preparing for Princess.

 

I'm sorry this is such a long post.  This was difficult to write actually, because it stirred up a lot of emotions (good and bad).  It also triggered a lot of self-flagellation.  My official results are here:


I was next to last to physically cross the finish line - going by clock time, but by net time, I was 21213 out of 21222 finishing women.  In Team Results:  Team Disney Bride & Groom came in 325, out of 361 finishing teams.  This is all due to my husband's awesome performance, of course.

It is embarrassing for me to post my results and what follows. I've analyzed what I did right, and what I did wrong. For experienced and fit runners - this day wasn't a big deal.  But for many first-timers and the 'out of shape' Princesses - this was very difficult and a very big deal.  I didn't get dozens of photos and fun stops - but that's okay.  I will do this race again - and do better.  This was my first half and a learning experience.  This post is to remind myself to stay on track at future endurance events, and also in case it may help future slow Princesses, that like me, are "borderline to being swept".

What I did Right:

  1. I may have started from a zero fitness level five months ago, but I did train for this race.  I am very overweight and lost about 20 pounds in this process - not a lot, but it helped.  My walking pace is still around 18 mm, and my running pace is 14mm.  Averaged over a 30/30 run/walk ratio, I knew coming in to the start line on Sunday, that I was at a  16-17 minute mile at best. In other words, I would be lucky to get halfway.  But if I did go the distance - I would be on track to finish in 3:45.
  2. I worked with a sports psychologist one-on-one these past two months for mental preparation and overcoming my fear of failure,
  3. I joined a local Galloway Run/Walk/Run training group a few weeks ago;
  4. I followed Jeff Galloway's Princess Half Marathon Training Plan for Beginners as strictly as possible,
  5. I sought professional advice from track coaches and I worked on form, technique, nutrition, and hydration, 
  6. I mentally ran through my race day over and over again many times in the past few weeks - trying to anticipate what could go wrong and how I would react.
  7. I ate boring, predictable, and 'safe' foods in the days leading up to the race.
  8. I got plenty of sleep several nights leading up to the race - so even though I didn't sleep well just before, my body was well-rested.
  9. I drank lots of water.  Over half a gallon/day the week leading up to race day.
  10. Race morning, I brought my own water and my customary fuel - to avoid surprises and unnecessary stops.
  11. Every time the sweepers (guys on bikes) asked me how I felt, I said in a very chipper voice, "I'm doing great and feeling good!".  Then I plastered on a smile and started up a little trot.  Nearly everyone I was walking with after mile 8 was swept. The few people I passed, I never saw again.  If you showed signs of fatigue they brought you to the medical tent. I saw it happen to several people.  It was only because of my perpetual thumbs up and big frozen grin that I was "allowed" to finish. And finish I did, by the skin of my teeth and the grace of God.
What I did Wrong:
  1. I stopped for photos and a bathroom break wasting too much time.  I calculated I spent about 45 minutes on bathrooms, slowing down at water stations, and standing in lines for photos.  Well - guess what?  I finished 43 minutes later than I had calculated I would/could. So yes, it cost me dearly.
  2. I strolled through Magic Kingdom gawking at the characters, getting pixie dusted at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. I should have kept running.
  3. I drained my phone battery taking videos, forcing me at mile 7 to turn off my Galloway app, my music, and the built in interval timer.  I had to think about when to run and when to walk, instead of doing it with my now-conditioned Pavlovian response to the bell.  It was like being in a canoe without a paddle.  I could follow the current, but lacked my usual tools to steer myself. Next time, bring a small camera for photos and video.
  4. I got the flu last December and was out of commission for nearly 3 weeks.  Not only did I spend Christmas and New Year's (also my birthday) coughing and shivering on the sofa, I missed several key training runs to increase my distance.  In mid-January, I was finally able to start running again - but my fitness gains from September through December had been almost completely lost.  Next year, I'll get a flu shot.
  5. I wish I had called/texted/found a friend that was running and stuck with her to help pace me.  Lots of first timers finished, and credit this to their pacers or an informal pace group.  I will try for that next time instead of feeling out there alone and forgotten at the end.
My lessons to takeaway:  
  1. Find a solid training plan and stick to it. 
  2. Keep yourself healthy.
  3. Consult experts as needed for training, nutrition, and recovery advice. (Their advice will come back to you when you need it and pull you through.)
  4. Have a race strategy, and a plan B 
  5. Know when you expect to finish to help you stay on track for time.  
  6. If you are at or below runDisney's required 16mm pace, then run/walk with a friend to pace you. 
  7. Bring your own fuel and hydration so you can skip the aid stations.  
  8. Don't waste time stopping for long lines - be they photos or a restroom.
  9. Use the men's room. It's EMPTY! (for a women's race only - ha ha)
  10. Think about whatever will motivate you to continue- block out any negative thoughts.
  11. When sweepers ask how you are doing: Smile big and say you feel great.
  12. Finally: keep moving forward until someone tells you to stop!

-DB

Read DisneyGroom's recap here.  His is much more upbeat and brief, I promise. :)
Edited to add:  This post has gotten a lot of views since I posted it, and I am overwhelmed and grateful for the positive and supportive comments.  But, I think some readers have the impression that I actually wanted to be the last to cross the finish line.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  I am still beating myself up for my  performance and always will.  I definitely did not want to cross last and would have been really embarrassed by that kind of attention.  I'm not a good athlete, but I am competitive in other areas of my life.  That last half mile, I felt guilty because I was still jogging and trying to pass the others - unsuccessfully for irony's sake.  I wanted to finish and get a hug from Donald (my Disney crush) and that was it.  I collapsed into Donald's arms and I hugged him too long.  I think it freaked him out. It really is some kind of miracle that I finished at all.