Monday, March 28, 2016

Accountability Monday: March 28, 2016

Well hello there friends! It feels like ages since I've posted though, in reality, it's only been a week and a half. Lately, my life has been very... full.

It looks something like this: March/April are the busiest months of the year at my work- think 50-60 hours per week including regular nights and weekends. I'm leading two Weight Watchers meetings on Monday and Thursday nights so I don't get home until 7:30 pm. There are only eight weeks left until Matthew and I get married so our weekends and other "free" nights are filled with meetings with our vendors, fittings for gowns/suits, writing our vows, creating a seating chart, wrapping wedding party gifts, planning our wedding day 5k, etc.

So yeah, life's felt a little hectic lately.

When there's a lot going on in my life, some things inevitably fall to the bottom of the priority list. Unfortunately, it seems like training and blogging have been the casualty of my busy schedule. Yuck. I hate even writing that sentence :-/

I love running. I love training. And I love blogging. I'm not willing to give any of those up permanently. But, I might have to temporarily adjust the frequency based on the other super-exciting things happening in my life.

So what does that mean for this space? I'll still post as often as I can though there may not be an "Accountability Monday" each week. Race recaps and reviews will still happen- I've got a Shamrock post in the pipeline and still have a few races on the schedule between now and the wedding/honeymoon. While I might not be posting here as often over the next eight- ten weeks, I'll still be micro-blogging/posting on instagram a few times a week so if you're not already following me there, please do!

Here's my last week, in typical "Accountability Monday" form!

Saturday- 2.86 miles, 11:07 pace. 45 minutes hiking with my family.
Sunday- Strength training circuit including squats, lunges, and glute bridges.

Rule-breaker hiker.

Food Find of the Week:
In a recent Weight Watchers cookbook (the one that comes in the Starter Kit), I found a recipe for overnight oats that includes a mix of dried fruit, fresh fruit, cinnamon-vanilla soy milk, and pecans- so good! I even made them in a mason jar for the full, pinterest-worthy effect. :-)

Mine looked almost as good as that picture.

147.4 as of 3/24/16.

Non-Scale Victory: 
With my bridal shower rapidly approaching, I went shopping for a dress this weekend and ended up with a beautiful, cream sleeveless dress with a navy and light blue flower pattern that makes me feel confident and gorgeous. It's kinda awesome to feel confident and pretty in a light-colored dress :-)

And your fun fact for the week? Five years ago today, I met Matthew and my life changed for the better in so many profound ways. Five years down, a lifetime to go. Happy "day-we-met" anniversary, Matthew! :-)

This dude makes my heart super happy.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Race Recap & Review: Disney's Princess Half Marathon Weekend Part II; We Run Social Meet-Up and Half Marathon

This post recaps the second part of my Disney Princess Weekend. Find Part I (expo and 10k) here!

When we left off in the magical recap of Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend, Jen and I were headed to Downtown Disney Springs to do some shopping and then meet up with friends at the We Run Social meet-up.

Once we got off the bus at Disney Springs, we headed to Raglan Road for lunch. I love this restaurant and really love that they have quick service options including their very yummy fish and chips. Also, a bird literally stole a french fry off my plate as we were sitting outside. Not important to the recap but still notable :-) On our way there, we happened to run into Brandi and her mom- who were wearing their new Ariel shoes and 10k shirts just like me and Jen! And of course, we had to snap a picture for proof :-)

Great minds think alike. 

A little after one, we headed over to the carousel for the We Run Social Meet-Up. In a nutshell, we hung out, won some prizes, and took some awesome selfies. I finally got to meet Dani, got to chat with Gelcys, and got to see some of my running ohana!

Photo credit: Justin 

After the meet-up, a few of us grabbed some beers and sat around telling funny wedding and running stories and laughing our asses off all afternoon. We eventually went back to Art of Animation to relax and get our gear and costumes ready for the half marathon. I talked to Matthew around six and we said our goodnights then because he told me his phone was dying (more on this little fact later). Going to bed that night, I was super worried about my knee. It had been bothering me all day and I wondered if I would be able to make it through the half the next day. I barely slept, tossing and turning all night. When our alarms went off at 3:00 am, I seriously questioned what I was doing and how in the hell I was going to get through 13.1 miles on a bum knee.

Anyway, we both got up and got ready for the race. We met Nathan at the bus stop (he stayed the night at AoA) and got on a bus around 3:50 am. Since we got on a later bus, there was a little bit of traffic getting to the race start at Epcot. We got there around 4:25 and I asked Nathan to text our ohana to let them know we were running late to our "regular" meet-up spot; right next to the first bag check tent. Once we got off the bus, Nathan kept texting someone and I assumed it was Lauren or someone else in our ohana. I mean, who else could he be texting repeatedly at 4:30 in the morning?!

We eventually found our group and exchanged hugs and good luck messages to each other. All of the sudden, someone came up behind me and said, "is that Sparkly Runner?" It was Matthew!!! I was in shock! I think I said, "What are you doing here?!" followed by "Who's taking care of the dog?!" He quickly explained that when his phone was "dead" the night before, he was actually flying to Orlando, renting a car, spending the night in the parking lots of Disney Springs and Epcot, and coordinating/texting with Nathan all morning to find out where we were just so he could watch me and Jen run the half- does it get any sweeter than this?! Seriously, I am the luckiest woman in the world and cannot believe that I get to call him my husband in just a few short months!

Best. Day. Ever!

After getting over the shock of seeing Matthew and then discussing his spectating plans, we made our way back to the corrals. Jen was supposed to be in F but she hung back and went into G with me. It was awesome to be on "this side" of the road when we walked to the corrals. It was insane how close we felt to the start line! I've never started in a corral that low before. For Dopey, we were all the way back in L.

The start of corral A from the viewpoint of corral G.

Before we knew it, it was time for us to race! Our plan was to just take in all 13.1 magical miles, enjoy the race, and finish upright and smiling. We stuck to the intervals that we'd used the day before, 30 seconds running, 30 seconds walking. Since I'd done this race before, I knew we'd run about 4.5 miles to Magic Kingdom, spend about a mile in and around the park, then finish the race on the highways as we made our way back to Epcot.

After a three highway miles, we ran under the Magic Kingdom sign. Even though we still had a few miles to go before we got to the castle, it was still exciting to be so close! Also, we knew Matthew and Nathan would be at the Ticket and Transportation Center (TTC) at the mile 4 marker so we had something to look forward to before we got to the castle.

All smiles as we head toward Cinderella's Castle!

We ran toward the TTC, taking breaks when we needed to and taking lots and lots of pictures. My friend Bill, an Orlando native, had tweeted at me to let me know that he was also at the TTC, cheering for runners. As we came into the TTC, we kept our eyes peeled for Bill and Matthew/Nathan. Even though it was super crowded with spectators, we were able to see them both. I can't tell you how awesome it is to see familiar faces (especially my hubby-to-be!) out cheering for you. Bill grabbed a quick picture and then Jen grabbed a quick shot of me and Matthew.Then we were on our way to Main Street, USA!

Action shot, courtesy of Bill.

We kept running towards MK. We enter the side of Main Street so we actually entered the park near Space Mountain. Because we had started relatively early in the race, there was not any crowding on the course. In the picture below, it looks like Jen and I have the course to ourselves! After hearing how crowded this race usually is, it was a pleasant surprise to not feel overwhelmed with people.

To infinity...and beyond!

After we passed Space Mountain, we were finally on Main Street, USA. I won't lie, I definitely teared up when we turned onto Main Street- hundreds of people cheering and clapping, Disney music playing through the speakers, and the beautiful sight of Cinderella's castle off in the distance. This, my friends, is pure Disney magic.

A beautiful sight. 

We ran up Main Street, stopping for lots of selfies, and then turned right into Tomorrowland. We made a quick pit stop off-course at my favorite bathroom to use during races- the one in Fantasyland by Pinocchio's Pizza- it's never crowded.

Then we got to actually run through the castle, which was just as magical as I remember it being :-) Usually, this is insanely crowded and it takes forever to get through the castle due to the bottleneck of everyone trying to get their picture taken in front of the castle. In fact, Matthew and I have never stopped in front of the castle during a runDisney race because it's such a cluster. But, this time, it was awesome! There were five photographers at the front of the castle so there was only a few minutes wait to get the famed castle shot. While we were waiting, a blog reader called out to me- she was behind me in line. I didn't catch her name but we wished each other well and then Jen and I headed off on the next part of the course.

All Minnie, all day. 

Jen and I made our way out of the park :-( and back out onto the highway. We had planned on meeting Matthew and Nathan around mile seven to swap out Jen's glasses for sunglasses. On our way to mile seven, we saw a very short line for Mary Poppins, Burt, and some penguins so we stopped for a picture. I think this was the first character stop we'd made during the whole race- most of the lines were pretty long.

We met up with Matthew and Nathan and made a successful glasses switch! Matthew told us where he'd see us next (mile 12) and then we continued on to finish out the race. Around mile eight, we gladly took candy and pretzels from strangers and then around mile 11, we stopped for a quick picture with the army men from Toy Story.

Excited to see Matthew!

Twizzlers are the greatest race treat ever.

Almost finished!

Pretty soon, we were back in the Epcot parking lot to meet Matthew for mile 12. By this point in the race, my knee was starting to get a little cranky. But it lasted a heck of a lot longer than I'd thought it would- I think the Minnie KT tape did the trick :-)

We met up with Matthew one more time and then looped our way through Futureworld in Epcot, stopping once for a picture with Spaceship Earth before heading back toward the finish. We passed the amazing gospel choir that marked the last little bit of our magical 13.1 mile journey and then we finally saw it- the finish line! And then- even better- we saw Donald! Since Jen was dressed as Daisy, we just had to get a picture with him. Hugs acquired; we crossed the line and became Glass Slipper Challenge finishers!

Almost finished.
The best high fives in the world come from this gospel choir. #truth

One of my favorite photos from the whole race! <3 

We got our medals, grabbed some Gatorade and water, and then headed through the "challenge tent" to pick up our Glass Slipper medals. They'd taken a picture of us when we picked up our bibs at the expo and the race officials checked this picture against us when we walked through the tent and then gave us our medals.

Then we got our runDisney standard box of food and headed towards bag check. Both Jen and I checked a bag with clean clothes and flip flops because we were headed to the parks directly after the race. Who needs a shower, anyway?! We did have some Shower Pill wipes which were pretty awesome and made us stink a whole lot less :-)

We met up with Matthew and Nathan and just hung out in the parking lot for a while- it felt so good to sit! We ate our food boxes, recapped the race, and took lots of selfies and bling pictures. Matthew's flight was at noon so he wouldn't be coming to the parks with us :-( I still can't believe he flew to Orlando for less than 24 hours just to see me race! And he even wore his Princess Half Marathon shirt from 2012 for support. I seriously love this guy <3

Great memories.

Eventually, we got up and started making our way towards the parking lot to see Matthew off. We visited the merchandise tent and I bought an "I Did It!" shirt for the half- mainly because these shirts have the course map on the back and this one had little tiara mile markers- so cute!

Reluctantly we said our goodbyes to Matthew and then headed into Epcot. We drank beer in Germany, ate school bread in Norway, and got some pictures with Jasmine in Morocco. Nathan met up with us and we continued walking around World Showcase, just enjoying the park. Then we headed to MK to watch the 3 pm day parade (which is amazing, by the way!) and get some bling shots in front of the castle. Jen and I had fast passes to rides in Hollywood Studios so we said goodbye to Nathan and headed to DHS for the evening. After dinner and roller coasters, we ended our night at MK with the Electric Light Parade and Wishes. We might have fallen asleep on the bus on the way back to Art of Animation :-) According to Jen's FitBit, we did over 25 miles on Sunday!

Just hanging with some friends.

Overall, this was a fantastic race weekend! Neither race was as crowded as I thought they would be, we got to meet/spend time with new and old friends, and Matthew flew over 1,000 miles to come watch the half marathon- that's more than enough reasons to put the "fantastic" label on a weekend!

I really, really love this race weekend. There's just something about running a women's focused race that makes my heart incredibly happy. Also, this was my first half marathon four years ago so I might have a little nostalgia attached to it.

Would I run Princess again? Yes, absolutely, 100%. For as much as Disney races cost (plus flights, hotels, park tickets, etc.), they are a one-of-a-kind experience. As I said earlier, running towards Cinderella's Castle down Main Street, USA is pure Disney magic. There's no other race that offers that perk.

I can confidently say this was one of the best runDisney race weekends I've ever had. HUGE shout out to Matthew for coming to see us and many thanks to Jen for being my friend and running buddy. Until next time, runDisney... see ya real soon! :-)

Happy finisher.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Accountability Wednesday: March 9, 2016

Hello, friends!

Not much to report on this end for Accountability Monday Wednesday. As you might remember, my knee has been giving me a hard time for the past month so per doctor's orders, I've been resting it and have done nothing for two weeks. While I feel super bloated and lazy, my knee feels awesome. I ran four easy miles with Jen last night and so far, so good. The knee seems to be on the mend! Fingers crossed it stays that way- Shamrock is just a week and a half away- yikes!

Excited to head back to VA Beach for running and cookies.

In other, more exciting news, I got to meet Molly Barker last week at work! She is the founder of Girls on the Run, an organization that helps educate young girls on life skills, health, and empowerment all while training for a 5k- pretty cool, right? Though she's no longer with Girls on the Run she told us awesome stories about running, growing up, love, and compassion. I both cried and laughed quite a few times. It was such an honor to meet her.

Also, the wedding countdown is in full effect! I had my first dress fitting last week and this past weekend, I had my hair and make-up trial. If you live in the south central PA area, I highly recommend you check out Mood Swings Salon. LeeAnn (hair) and Ali (make-up) were so awesome to work with- I can't wait to see what they come up with for the wedding day!

Ali is super talented with make-up AND lighting.

In case you missed it, I posted my recap of the Princess Half Marathon Expo and 10k this weekend. I should be posting my recap of the second half of the weekend, including the We Run Social/Ohana meet-up and the half marathon, sometime this week/weekend.

Happy hump day! Enjoy the rest of your week! :-)

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Race Recap & Review: Disney's Princess Half Marathon Weekend Part I; Expo and 10k

A few weeks ago, my friend Jen (from All Four Love Blog) and I headed south to Walt Disney World in Orlando, FL for Princess Half Marathon Weekend. This was my first half four years ago and Jen's first runDisney event so it was bound to be special- and it definitely was!

We flew into Orlando on Friday afternoon and went straight to our resort- Art of Animation (AoA). Both Jen and I are super fans of The Little Mermaid so staying in the Ariel section of AoA was a no-brainer!

After a little mix-up with the type of room we wanted, we quickly settled into the room and then hopped on a bus to the expo. We got there around 4 pm and grabbed a few pictures then headed to pick up our bibs and race information- which was super easy. Then we walked over to the other building and got our beautiful race shirts! We were participating in the Glass Slipper Challenge so we got three shirts; a sea-foam/teal 10k shirt, a raspberry/fuchsia half marathon shirt, and a black glass slipper shirt. 

Ready for our Princess weekend!

After getting our shirts we headed to the New Balance shoes area. We had forgotten to sign up for the virtual queue the night before but on a whim, we decided to see if they had any open slots. They did! We chatted with the New Balance folks and we were able to get right in to try on the shoes we were both hoping to get- the Ariel Vazee Pace! Jen and I both bought a pair... and the extra Flounder clips- they were only $5!

Can you find the hidden Mickey? Photo credit: Jen

And then I got to meet Rudy Novotony! He is the race announcer for all the runDisney races and he was unbelievably sweet and kind to us. We grabbed a selfie and then he ran off to MC one of the expo speaker sessions.

Could I be cheesin' any bigger?!

We meandered through the rest of the expo looking for free samples and some of our favorites. I ended up buying some crazy expensive Minnie Mouse KT tape but it was totally worth it since I would be Minnie Mouse for the half marathon.  

Around 5:30 pm we headed back to AoA to grab some dinner and get to bed early. We were planning on being on a bus by 3:45 the next morning! As we were getting ready for bed, we got a little surprise- fireworks. I think it may have been the new night show at Animal Kingdom but either way, we got a 15 minute show right outside our hotel door. 

Our own personal fireworks show!

After all the squealing excitement while we watched the fireworks, we finally got into bed and got some sleep, After what felt like minutes, our 3 am alarm was going off and we were crawling out of bed, questioning our sanity for being awake this early. Luckily, we'd set out our costumes and running gear the night before so it was relatively painless getting dressed and out the door. We'd planned to meet up with some friends once we got to the Epcot parking lot and with some tweeting and facebooking, we finally met up with Justin and Brandi

Jessie and Sorcerer Mickey are ready to run!
Photo credit: Justin. Crappy lighting credit: Epcot parking lot at 4 am.
Photo credit: Brandi

Eventually Jen and I made our way to our corral- B! I still don't know how we managed to be in the second corral but it was pretty awesome! We were able to make our way up to the very front of corral B and were underneath the starting line scaffolding as the fireworks went off for our start- it was awesome and super loud!

Literally at the front of the tape for the start of corral B.

The first part of this race is a two-mile out and back stretch before we run into World Showcase in Epcot. At the first overpass, we ran under Anna and Elsa as fake snow came sprinkling down on us. It was kinda sorta magical :-)

Then we ran around World Showcase and onto the Boardwalk. Jen and I were using 30/30 intervals and as I was still nursing this stupid knee, we were pretty much taking it easy and just absorbing the race. Since I've already run quite a few runDisney races, I let Jen decide when we stopped for pictures. We sang "I've Got a Dream" as we ran past the mile three marker, grabbed some awesome shots of a pre-dawn Epcot, posed with Genie, and then ran into these interesting coral dudes outside The Living Seas. In a word- totally rad! Well, that was two words but you know what I mean :-)

We ran through the last little stretch of Epcot and then headed towards the finish line. We saw a guy with the best shirt ever- front: Does Prince Eric have a brother? back: Just trying to catch a prince like the rest of you! Then we slowed down at the finish (only at a runDisney event!) so we could have less people around us for a perfect finish line photo- ha!

After crossing the finish line in style, we got our medals, food boxes, and bottles of water and headed back to the resort. We had an awesome breakfast, showered and then headed to Downtown Disney for the We Run Social meet up and some shopping. Of course, we had to get some cool shots of the clam shell medal first though. :-) 

Enchanted 10k finishers.
I think she liked the medal. 

Headed to Downtown Disney Disney Springs in style.

Overall, I like this 10k course at WDW. This is the third time I've run it (Dopey 2014, WDW 10k 2015, Princess 2016); they use the same course for each 10k at WDW. I do wish we spent more time in Epcot but there isn't much they can do with the size of the park. Starting in corral B was a completely different experience than starting in corral D during Dopey in 2014. The course wasn't ever really crowded and while many characters had lines, they weren't totally insane like they were in 2014. 

The amount of entertainment on the course was decent. I really enjoyed seeing the coral people- I don't think I've ever seen them before during a race or in the parks. Anyone know where you find them regularly? 

It was weird that Ariel or Sebastian weren't out; especially because this weekend was Little Mermaid-themed. I remember seeing the witch from Snow White, Cogsworth and Lumiere from Beauty and the Beast, and Princess Sophia (Disney Junior). I'm sure there were more but I can't seem to remember the ones we didn't get pictures of! 

All in all, we had a great time and I'm so glad we decided to do this race!

Have you ever run a 10k at Walt Disney World? What did you think of the race?

Stay tuned for the Part II recap of Princess Half Marathon Weekend: meet-ups, running ohana, and the half marathon!