RACE RECAP: 2014 Disney Princess Half Marathon

Rapunzel-tangled-34260942-1008-755Okay, WOW!!  Just WOW!  I have never seen so many princesses in one place before in my life!!  I definitely needed a tutu or a sparkle skirt or a tiara or something.  Oh well, next year.

I signed up for this race on the day registration opened last year on June 11th.  2 days later it was sold out.  Over 25,000 people showed up this weekend to run this race – AMAZING!!

I am certainly no race circuit veteran, but this was the biggest event I have ever participated in by a factor of 10!!

After I registered, I talked my step-daughter, Nicki, into registering too, so it was kind of a family affair!

About 6 weeks from the event, I started looking into logistics and it became clear that we needed to spend Saturday night before the race on Disney property so we could make use of Disney transportation, rather than driving from home and HOPING to get where we needed to be when we needed to be there.  Staying at one of the host resorts (we stayed at All-Star Movies) took a lot of stress out of the equation – and I’m all for that!!

Then I started reading blog posts from previous years races and found a lot of mixed reviews.  Many ladies were just excited to be able to dress up and run and stop along the course and get their pictures taken with Disney characters.  But there were some that griped and grumbled and panned the race from start to finish – I’m not quite sure what they were wanting…

Nearly EVERYONE mentioned that this was NOT the race to seek a PR in, because there were just so many people and you couldn’t really RUN.

So, I really didn’t know WHAT to expect going in.

What I DID know was that, regardless of the the outcome, as long as I finished it WOULD be a PR for me, because I had never run a half marathon before.

First stop when we got to Orlando on Saturday afternoon was the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex where the “Fit for a Princess Expo” was being held so we could pick up our race bibs and such.2014-02-22 001 2014-02-21 008

2014-02-23 001 2014-02-23 003Disney is considered a MASTER MARKETING company for a reason – they have this shit DOWN!  You pick up your race bib in one building – very smooth, not much in the way of lines, I was able to pick up Nicki’s bib without hassle – and then you have to go to another building (where the actual Expo is being held) to get your t-shirt (and let’s face it – the PR is cool and all, but we all race for the freaking t-shirt and the finisher’s medal, right? 🙂 ) and you have to walk all the way through the expo to get to the t-shirt distribution place, and then that area dumps you right into the runDisney merchandise booth so you can then BUY t-shirts, pins, jackets, magnets, bumper stickers, and all manner of other stuff.

2014-02-23 002 2014-02-23 001Well played Disney, well played!!

We walked around the expo and Deb bought me the one thing I wanted as a souvenir of this race – a medal rack.  And the one I found was PERFECT for me – it exemplifies everything I think about fitness goals.  You just have to BELIEVE!!!

As we were leaving the Expo area we passed a large pink and purple wall that lots of people were taking pictures of.  As I looked closed, I realized that the name of each person who was registered for the race was listed on that wall – how cool.  So in an ego-filled moment, I had to snap a picture of my name.

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One of the highlights was walking past an area where a guy was talking about race strategy and nutrition and realizing that it was JEFF GALLOWAY!!  So yes, I had to get my picture taken “with” Jeff Galloway! 🙂

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Race day started WAY before 0-dark-thirty!  I woke up at 2:28 a.m. (2 minutes before my alarm was to sound), had my Spark, imagineered, downed a shake, and generally just got pumped up for the morning.

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I am so amped up in this picture!!!

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Nicki? Not so much…

Nicki and I walked down to the bus loading area at 3:10 and walked right onto a bus.  We were at Epcot by 3:45.

There is quite a bit of walking involved once you are dropped off by the buses.  We walked from the parking lot, through bag check (which was incredibly fast and efficient) to the Family Reunion/gEAR check/Party Zone area,  and each ate a peanut butter and banana sandwich.  Then we went through the check point to a holding area where we just hung out until about 5am.  It was super humid and foggy, but warm.  I had brought an old sweatshirt to wear while we were waiting that I could just throw away when it was time to run, but I really didn’t need it.  At 4:45-ish, we were herded – yes, I think “herded” is an appropriate term – through another parking lot and down another road to the starting corrals (HA!  Another cattle reference).

There were 16 start corrals,  I was in Corral E (I submitted my pitifully slow 10K time from the Beat the Heat Triathlon back in November) and Nicki was in Corral M.  The start was staggered by corral in 3 minute waves.  It was timed like clockwork – so well done.  There was a stage and big screens that were projecting the announcers, there was great music, and a really energized atmosphere!  And princesses EVERYWHERE!!!  There were also lots of PRINCES!  I felt mightily under-dressed in my purple Under Armour running shirt and running shorts, but just couldn’t stomach the idea of running in a tutu and a tiara – maybe next year…

My goal for the run was to finish in under 2 hours.  I knew if I just RAN I would likely run out of gas somewhere along the way.  So my plan was to run 3:30 and then walk 30 seconds, and to do that over and over and over again until I crossed the finish line.  I figured if I did that, I could maintain close to a 9:00/mile pace.  So, that’s what I did.

The route was mostly in the dark.  And maybe it was because I had the good fortune to be in one of the early start corrals, but there were only a handful of times when I couldn’t run as fast as I wanted to go.  There were 5 times that I can remember in the first half where the course narrowed so much that we were all pressed together pretty tightly and we all slowed to more of a trot for a bit, but those were short lived.

Nicki said the crowding was a lot worse further back and she had to walk more than she wanted to because there was such a mass of people at times!

I promise to buy all my race pics as soon as they are all uploaded - this is just a placeholder - I PROMISE!!

I promise to buy all my race pics as soon as they are all uploaded – this is just a placeholder – I PROMISE!!

Just as we were entering the Magic Kingdom I saw a familiar face – a man – and quickly realized it was JEFF GALLOWAY!!!  So I shouted, “Hey Jeff Galloway!  You’re my hero!!”  And he stopped, smiled, said “Hey!  Thank you very much!!”, gave me a hug and I was on my way – PASSING Jeff Galloway! 😉  That was so cool!!!

Running through Cinderella’s Castle was really cool.  I’m posting this picture, and I realize it’s not mine to share yet, but I will replace it with when the photographer finishes uploading all the pics and I can buy the downloads.  I really was still running with a smile at this point!

Before I knew it, I was turning back onto Epcot property.  I had 10 minutes to go to run 1.4 miles – it was just barely doable on fresh legs for me.  My legs and feet were aching, but I decided to go for it.  As I rounded Spaceship Earth I was running faster and faster, but I was running out of gas fast!

Where was the damned Finish Line!  Then I realized that there was a turnaround and I had to run back to Spaceship Earth and THEN to the Finish Line!  OH MAN!!!

The 2 hour mark passed as I hit the turn, but I wasn’t all that disappointed – I was still going to finish my first half marathon with a decent time.

As I crossed the finish line, I heard the announcer call my name, which was cool!

I got my medal – which is really nice and HEAVY!

I made my way to the Family Reunion area to the place where Deb and I had planned to meet and found her and Josh right away.  I was soooo relieved to be finished.

An hour or so later, Nicki crossed the finish line.  Considering she really procrastinated training until about 3 weeks ago, I am damned proud of how she did!!

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We have decided to come back next year and run the Glass Slipper Challenge (10K on Saturday/Half Marathon on Sunday).

Race Advice:

  1. If you want to register for this race, find out when registration opens and register that day!  Don’t wait or it will sell out.  This is an Aim-Fire-Ready thing.  You’ll get ready along the way, I promise!!
  2. If you have a previous 10K or half marathon time, do yourself a favor and submit it to runDisney so you can get in one of the earlier corrals.  My race and Nicki’s race were entirely different experiences because of our corral placements.
  3. Dress up and have FUN!  I will dress up to some degree next year.  I mean seriously, why not?
  4. Disney was awesome and prepared well for everything.  There were ample port-o-potties (although finding one to use after the race that didn’t look like a someone EXPLODED inside it was a trick – sorry TMI), so the call of nature is not a big concern.
  5. There were water/Powerade stops every mile or so and a Clif product stop between miles 8 and 9.  I stuck with what I had been eating/drinking in training, but there was plenty there for those who weren’t carrying their own nutrition.
  6. The volunteers were AMAZING!!!  THANK YOU to any of them who happen to read this! 😉

Either Disney has learned a lot in the past few years or some of the harsher race reports I read were written by divas or folks with incredibly inflated expectations, but I really have nothing negative to say about the event – AT ALL!

My Results

All-in-all, I am very pleased with my results in this event.  I stuck to my plan and feel like I did my best, although I probably did go out a bit too fast.

Here are the numbers:

resultsMy time was 2:03:20.
I came in 891/20,751 overall (top 4.2%)
I was 733/19,282 females (top 3.8%)
I was 36/1,582 in the 45-49 Age Group (top 2.2%)
Not too shabby for an old chick!! 🙂

DPHM14_Results

Finally! I’m So Excited!!!

It’s TOMORROW!!!!

princess

I’m so stinkin’ excited I can hardly contain myself!

One conference call and then we are out the door, Disney bound!

Race clothes – check; Race fuel- check; Garmin – check; iPod – check; Mapquest directions – check; ID – check; Hotel confirmation – check…

First stop:  ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex to check in, get race bib, SWAG, and empty my wallet at the expo.

Then to the hotel to check in and figure out the transportation situation for the morning.

Then dinner and attempt to unwind and go to sleep.

1st alarm at 2:30am to eat, imagineer, and catch the 3:30am bus to the start line (well, to the drop off point… I understand there is then a 20 minute walk to the actual corrals.

Can you tell I am excited?  And I haven’t even had my coffee yet!!

I know these past months of training will pay off.  I’m ready.  Can’t wait for 5:30am!!

 

Figuring It Out

ironmanThe other evening Deb and I started a conversation that we were both too tired to finish; but it’s one that we need to have.

It’s about my Ironman FL 2015 goal – not so much about the actual race, because that’s just one day in time in the grand scheme of things, but about the training timeline leading up to it.

Now mind you, I’m a full YEAR from seriously jumping into the Ironman training fray (most training plans are 6 months long and the event is the first weekend in November), but there is a mindset shift involved – for all of us – and those expectations need to be understood, negotiated, and agreed upon now.

Otherwise, we get a year down the road and I’m off swimming, biking, and running twice per day, 6 days per week, and frustrations mount all around.  Deb gets frustrated that more of the household duties are on her, more of the kid care.  I get frustrated that I can’t do it all myself.  Josh gets frustrated that I’m not around. Or whatever…

Fortunately, the long suit in my relationship with Deb is our ability and willingness to openly and honestly communicate with each other.  Things don’t fester around here – we get it out, deal with it, and move on.  It is SO freaking refreshing!!

The coolest thing is that I have complete family buy-in on this goal.  Deb and Josh are my biggest cheerleaders and they want this for me almost as badly as I want it for myself.  And they are willing to sacrifice for it.

I polled a Facebook group that I am a part of for a real-life estimate of the time required to train properly for an Ironman and it looks like between 10 hours (at the beginning) and 25 hours (at the peak of training) is about average.

But what I was gratified to learn is that most of these women and men who have spouses, kids, jobs, etc. do a lot of their cycling and runs on bike trainers and treadmills in the wee hours of the morning before their kids and spouses wake up.  See, I can DO that!!

I don’t believe I will have to “give up my life and my work” for 6 months in order to participate in an Ironman triathlon.  If that were the case then the vast majority of people who race these events would never be able to.

What I DO believe is that I will have to put systems into place that make me the most organized and focused person on the planet!  I see a lot of combining family time with training time (trainer ride during family movie night anyone?).  I see a lot of 3am rides and runs.  I can do this!

Oh, and I wanted to share this video from my friend, Meredith Atwood (aka Swim-Bike-Mom) about her Ironman journey.  I cry every time I watch it because it so beautifully illustrates why I want to do this.  Enjoy it!

Tri-Mantra

A friend on a Triathlon forum shared this poem by Olivier Blanchard today and I thought I would share it with you!

Tri-mantra
(to be hissed or groaned at any unfriendly hill)

by

Olivier Blanchard (Greenville, SC)

In my world,
The water is cold,
The wind is hard,
And the road never ends.

In my world,
There are no losers.
Only competitors
still on their way,
And spectators
waiting to be inspired.

In my world,
Victory is not weighed in gold,
But in determination and courage.

In my world,
There are no boundaries,
No limits,
There is no end.
Every day is the last day of my life,
And the first.

In my world,
The word “can’t” does not exist,
And nothing is impossible.


I love it!!  It summarizes my feelings about triathlon perfectly!  It’s never been about “winning” – unless I’m beating the crap out of the “old me.”

It’s about just getting out there and being better today than you were yesterday – and BELIEVING in yourself and all that your magnificent body is capable of.

Hope you have a fantastic day!!

Don’t Stop Believin’

old_meSeveral days ago, I passed a younger man (mid-30’s if I were to guess) during my run.  He was jogging on the path in the same direction as me, but I was in the last mile of a fast interval set, so I was moving quickly (for me).

As I passed him, he asked, “What are you training for?”

Without much thought I said, “An Ironman.”

He shook his head, laughed, wished me luck and that was that.

It occurred to me that I get A LOT of head shakes and giggles when I share my goal with folks.

Shoot, I still shake my head and laugh at myself half the time!  It’s such a crazy goal – so far beyond ANYTHING I have ever done before.

And I know there are those people who don’t believe I will actually do it – plenty of them.

It’s one thing to SAY you’re going to race an Ironman…

It’s quite another to do what it takes to actually TRAIN for one (and I’ve barely even begun upon the path)…

And if the stars align just right and you actually FINISH in under 17 hours, well then, that’s just MONEY!  No one will ever be able to take that finish away from me, no matter what!!

I know Ironman Florida in 2015 is a great goal for me for several reasons:

  1. I just don’t see the path to get there.
  2. I want to hear Mike Reilly say “Angie Flynn, YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!” as badly as I want to breathe!!  (YOU are an Ironman)
  3. i-willI live to do things people tell me I just can’t do!  There is not a more satisfying feeling in the world – even if it is not proper to say “Nanny-nanny-boo-boo” 😉
  4. I will grow into the person who can call herself an Ironman along the journey – and really now, isn’t that the purpose of any worthy goal?  The person you become along the way?
  5. I want the M-dot tattoo!!! 😉

I believe in myself.

good-enoughMy family believes in me and supports my goal (even if they think I’m silly and foolish half the time).

And yet I still have to shake my head, laugh, and just tell myself “Good Luck with THAT!!”

21 months to go!!

I’m Ready…

Wow, what a whirlwind the past week has been!

Work has been a series of jumping from one event to the next and preparing for upcoming events, and taking steps toward the announcement of a HUGE initiative by our company (Shhhh, can’t talk about it yet, but rest assured I will spill it all very soon).

So sadly, personal blogging had to take a back seat to the work that actually pays the bills.

My training schedule last week as ALL OVER THE PLACE!!!  I was getting up at 4:30 a.m. to jump on the bike trainer just to get in any workout at all, and my training runs that Coach Pam scheduled were stacking up at the end of the week.

On Friday night, I got the text I was dreading from Coach Pam…

text

I immediately felt a huge amount of guilt for reworking her training plan.

I hadn’t even completed my long run of the week (10 miles) – UGH, I was a bad mentee!!!

Saturday morning I woke up at 3:30 a.m. so I could get a pile of work done before my run and then taking my son to his swim meet  The first thing I did was email Coach Pam:

Thanks for the text last night.  This week has been – hmmm, how to put it – challenging!!

We are in a period of incredible growth in our business, which is awesome and pretty amazing, but it comes at the price of time to do what I want when I want.  It has definitely been a “nose to the grindstone” kind of week that has had me up wicked early every day to even get a workout in at all.

Soooooo, I’ve needed to flex and flow a bit..

Monday:  Still sore from Saturday’s 14 miles, I opted to do 10 mi on the elliptical – it felt fine.
Tuesday:  Upper body strength and karate
Wednesday:  1 hour hard aerobic on bike trainer
Thursday:  Off (Deb’s Birthday)
Friday:  30 minute sprint on bike trainer
Saturday:  Running 10 miles (Wednesday’s scheduled workout – will let you know how it goes)
Sunday:  5 miles – hard intervals with easy jog during “walk” breaks (Friday’s workout)

I owe you a brick!!! 🙂

At 7am I headed out for my 10 mile, negative split run.  It was hard, but at the end I was pretty sure I could have managed 3.1 miles more.

10-mile-splitIt was a good run, but I was still dreading Coach Pam’s response to my “massive justification” email (yes, yes, I know, I’m on Day 4 :p )

I was not prepared for what I found on social media…

pam-fbSeriously?  How freaking awesome is she?  I am not even kidding!!

So, here I sit 12 days out from my first ever half marathon and I know that I am ready.  I can do the distance.  My run has quantum leaped in the past few weeks.  I have a long way to go to  reach my ultimate goals, but I am pretty darned tickled with how far I have come since November.

And just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, I received the following email:

Subject:  Ready to go!

Thank you for being so coachable…

I got your other message – challenging week, time pressed and you are doing great – slightly re-routing the schedule is fine… cause here is the deal – you are trained – everything from here out is to keep you focused and confident.  I know you understand that, but you will worry anyway if you don’t keep moving.

Keep me posted – you are an absolute champion.  Congratulations in advance for your enormous success.

Your imagineering assignment now is to race that race over and over and over… each mile enjoying the negative splits.  Being patient hearing the crowd, seeing the smiles, watching the great stories of courage and determination.. seeing the finish line clock with the number that you want to see – not the one you know you can do… the real one you want to see.  🙂

You have to believe it to see it.  Your thoughts determine your destiny.  Imagineer the results you dream of.

Pam

You just HAVE to love it when your coach throws your own words back at you.

I’m ready… I just want to go, go, GO!!!  12 days!

Keeping It Simple…

fogMy Mom is a HUGE advocate of keeping things simple.  She has a whole shelf of books devoted to the concept of living a simple/simplified life (Sarah Ban Breathnach, anyone?) that she has read over and over again.

I get the idea and I like things clean and simple – I really do.

However, when life gets overwhelming (as it tends to do often these days) I turn into a squirrel – over here, no there, no, back over there…  Things get “cluttered” – literally and figuratively – my desk, my house, and most of all MY MIND!!!

And that generally doesn’t work so well since I share my life with an OCD, neat-freak.

Eventually there comes a point where I snap and I can’t stand the clutter anymore – literally and figuratively – and I clean – my desk, my house, and most of all MY MIND!!

How does one go about cleaning their mind, you ask?

Well, I imagine the “gurus” all have their techniques, but for me, I just have to stop – EVERYTHING!  I go to a quiet place, sit down, close my eyes, and empty my mind.  I repeat “Every complex problem is just a series of simple steps – keep it simple” over and over again.

It’s as if I swiffer out all the cob-webby thoughts that were cluttering up the dark corners.

Sometimes it only takes a few minutes… Sometimes it takes an hour, but I ALWAYS feel refreshed and rejuvenated when I do this exercise.  I come back to my very complex world and start breaking things down to simple tasks, and the overwhelm does go away – for a while. 😉

Believe it or not, this post was not intended to be about my mental swiffering, but rather to share the thought that sometimes simple is just BETTER!!

Last night’s dinner was a perfect example.  We had steamed Old Bay Shrimp and corn on the cob and it was so, so good!  Nothing fancy, no recipes with 20 steps and 30 ingredients, just simple, real food.

I just wanted to share the recipe:

Steamed Old Bay Seasoned Shrimp

Steamed Old Bay Seasoned Shrimp

Steamed Old Bay Shrimp

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. shrimp in shells
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 Tbsp. Old Bay seasoning

Directions

  • Bring vinegar, water, and Old Bay to a simmer in a large saucepan.  Add shrimp to pan.  Stir well.  Cover.  Shrimp should be opaque when cooked (only a few minutes).
  • Drain shrimp.  Peel and eat.

corn-on-the-cobCorn on the Cob

Ingredients

  • 4 ears of corn, shucked
  • water

Directions

  • Put corn in a stockpot and add water to cover ears by a couple of inches.
  • Bring water to a boil
  • Turn heat back to Low and allow to simmer for 10 minutes
  • Drain water, add butter, Voila!!