Picking up our bibs was very quick and easy. Becky had issues with her proof of time and had been in correspondence with Track Shack in the weeks prior. The line for Runner Relations was a decent size, but moved super quickly. Becky just had to show her email from them stating her proper corral and she received her new corral assignment and we were on our way.
After cheering on our amazing friends at the half marathon, we zipped over to Grand Floridian via monorail to enjoy some breakfast. We joined Mary Poppins and a few of her friends for a Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious breakfast at 1900 Park Fare. Seriously though, what better way to get your pre-marathon carbs than at a buffet? The food was on point (complete with gummy bears on the buffet for Becky) and the hosts were ridiculously awesome.
When we were done with breakfast, our plan was to ride the bus from Grand Floridian to the expo since the expo was about to open at this time. Well, when asking for information on where to catch the bus, we were told that Grand Floridian was not providing transportation to the expo on Saturday. We were told to ride the monorail to the Ticket & Transportation Center then take a bus to Wide World of Sports. Well, when we finally got to Ticket & Transportation Center we were told that buses there don't run to Wide World of Sports. Frustrated enough, Becky and I walked over to the Polynesian where we ran into my "friend of the interwebs", Ivie.
After finally getting through all the transportation "drama" (mind you we were on 2 hours of sleep), we finally arrived at Wide World of Sports to get our expo on! I think this was the point when it really sank in that I am here to run a marathon. EEEEK!
The expo opened at 10:00am and I was really surprised at the size of the crowd when we arrived at 10:30ish. The only runners that were left to have to attend the expo today were those running "just the marathon" (that sounds beyond dumb to say). I quickly remembered that the Kids' Races were taking part today as well which added a lot of families to the Wide World of Sports Complex.
Becky and I both agreed that our first stop would be the official merchandise. We both had things that we were hoping to score. For me, I had my eyes set on a hoodie/jacket and a magnet. I had my fingers and laces crossed that they would still have decent inventory on these items come Saturday. We were in luck! We both got everything that we were hoping to get. #TakeMyMoney
After getting our official merchandise, we headed over to the New Balance booth to check out the 2016 runDisney New Balance collection. New Balance did not utilize their queue system on Saturday, so it was walk up only. I was nervous that the line would be insane based off of what the lines have been line previously. Nope. We walked right up. Seriously, the 2016 collection is so cute! I think the big favorite of the collection is the Little Mermaid themed shoe. The beautiful mint color is even more fabulous in person! For more information on the runDisney New Balance collection, check out their website.
After some fresh kicks, we headed around the expo and visited with some of our favorite vendors. Of course one of my first stops had to be to visit the ladies of Sparkly Soul! I always enjoy getting to chat with these ladies and see what new and fabulous headbands they had at the expo. They debuted some darling new bow headbands which were wildly popular to say the least!
As we made our way around the expo hall, I stopped by Fitletic, Raw Threads, and KT Tape to score some limited edition tape! We didn't shop around too much as we were both ready to get off of our feet to be ready for tomorrow's marathon.
Our final stop of the expo was packet pickup. Remember, I always stress to do this last because it isn't going to go anywhere. If you are in hopes of trying to purchase any expo specials or limited merchandise, do that first. I also like to get my bib last because it is less time that I have to stress out about losing it somewhere in the expo while trying products or shopping.
Picking up our bibs was very quick and easy. Becky had issues with her proof of time and had been in correspondence with Track Shack in the weeks prior. The line for Runner Relations was a decent size, but moved super quickly. Becky just had to show her email from them stating her proper corral and she received her new corral assignment and we were on our way.
It was definitely a quick expo trip for sure, but this was a different type of runDisney trip. It was time to go get some food in our bellies, rest our feet, and make a quick trip to Downtown Disney (I know, I know, "Disney Springs") before getting ready to head to bed.
If you read my post earlier this week, you already know some background of 'Operation Secret Marathon' last weekend. Long story short, Becky and I were heading down to Walt Disney World during Marathon Weekend to surprise our friends. First, we were surprising them with the fact that we were there to cheer them on. Then we will shock them even more by telling them that we are running the marathon on Sunday!
Our journey started with what was supposed to be a 7:30 flight ended up with a 1 1/2 hour delay which put us into Orlando a good bit later than we expected. The flight was entertaining to say the least which involved a pretty epic battle of in-flight trivia. When you are answering trivia questions tired while competing against your BFF things are bound to get competitive, yet silly.
Becky and I knew that our friends from Atlanta were staying at Art of Animation, so when it was time to book our hotel we knew exactly where we wanted to stay. We arrived to the hotel slightly before midnight, got checked in, and found our way to our room. Neither of us have stayed at this resort before, so we were both beyond excited about opening the door and instantly being 'under the sea' with Ariel and friends! Seriously, this room was so adorable!
Our dear Team Awesome runners are notorious for always being early to races and on the first bus at runDisney races. After a refreshing 2 hour 'nap', Becky and I headed down to the lobby to wait on our runners to arrive. As Chuck and Nicole spotted us the looks on their faces was absolutely priceless! Seriously, their reaction made the past year of planning and scheming all worth it!
We hoped on the first bus to the race together and headed over to EPCOT to wait to surprise our other runners. Most of our other friends arrive slightly later, so we had a bit of time to kill. Lucky for us there was barely any lines for some character pictures so of course we had to take advantage and get a few photos!
Jeff is one of the absolute most amazing runner friends that I have. Over the past two years he has done so much for me with his amazing pep talks and words of encouragement when I need them most. I knew that without a doubt that I wanted to surprise Jeff at the pre-race area that morning. After a little bit of scheming with my friend Nathan, I found out when and where my friend Jeff would arrive so I could surprise him. Since Jeff lives in Pennsylvania, we don't get to see each other often and I knew that it would likely be an emotional moment. Luckily, Becky was able to capture the moment for me.
Yes, there were tears. Yes, he 'yelled' at me for not telling him that I was coming down. Yes, he might have called me a name for not telling him that I was marathon training. It was so totally worth keeping this secret for a year!
It was so awesome to travel around the pre-race area and surprise a number of friends with the fact that I was here. One-by-one I surprised them and the reactions were absolutely priceless.
As our runners started to make their way to the start corrals, Becky and I headed via Monorail to Magic Kingdom to chEAR on Main Street! We got there shortly before 5:30 which was when the park opened to spectators. We knew exactly where we wanted to stand, so we were happy to beat a lot of the crowd.
The trip to Walt Disney World was going to a short one and very focused on what we were there to do - run a marathon. With that said, we opted to not purchase park tickets because we knew that it would not be a wise decision to spend all day Saturday walking around Magic Kingdom and standing in line for rides before running 26.2 miles. Lucky us, we were at least able to enjoy the sights of Main Street while we chEARed for our runners. Let me tell you, no matter how many times you see it, there is just something beyond magical about Cinderella Castle (especially lit up for Christmas).
We got our spot on Main Street, took turns using the restroom, and before we knew it the first racers were coming through. Let me tell you what, the push rim and hand cycle wheelchair participants are absolutely amazing to watch! They actually went by so fast that the picture that I took didn't come out. Shortly after the first male runner came through soon followed by the first female who was 2nd overall at this point (spoiler: she ended up 3rd OVERALL).
Our first runner to come through was my speedy friend Nathan. Seriously, he is speedy. He ended up finishing 580th out of almost 21,500 finishers (with running a 5K and 10K the days before and knowing he has the marathon tomorrow). While he is speedy, he did make sure to spot us and give us a wave as he flew on by. At the pace he was going, he would certainly give Tinkerbell a run for her money...
After a few minute passed and the 1:50-2:00 pace groups started to come through, the crowds of runners really grew. It got harder to find our runners as the packs of runners grew. You would be surprised how the runners all start to look the same as time goes on. Thanks to runner tracking, we received text messages when each of our runners passed the 5K mark along with their current pace so we were able to guess an approximate time for each of them to pass us (around mile 5).
Lucky us for Becky's bright orange shirt our friends were able to spot us easily as they approached the turn at The Hub. We even got a few selfies and sweaty hugs as they went by! A few of our runners were on the other side of the course so we missed getting to get pictures of them, but don't worry they heard our cheEARs I am sure!
As the sun started to rise with some fog happening, it created an absolute beautiful backdrop on Main Street! As the last of our runners had gone by and dining reservations for breakfast calling our name, we took advantage of the castle and snapped a few pictures.
This was my first time ever chEARing at a runDisney race, and I loved it! It was a lot of fun to watch runners of all paces go by, family/friends running together, and of course the costumes were totally on point! It was amazing to be there to chEAR them all on as they made their way through the Magic Kingdom!
...now on to the rest of the day including breakfast and expo time!
Question of the Day: Have you ever spectated at a runDisney race? What is your favorite spot to chEAR?
You probably saw it on my Instagram and Twitter last week, but I am thrilled to announce that I have been selected to be a 2016 PRO Compression Ambassador! I am joining a team of amazing athletes and cannot wait to be a part of the team this year!
In celebration of this announcement, I found it fitting to do a "What I am Loving Wednesday" featuring PRO Compression. I have sworn by PRO Compression for the past 2+ years, so there are a ton of reasons why PRO Compression socks are packing my dresser drawer and what I rely on from casual wear, to race day, to recovery.
(1) Made in the USA
This pretty much speaks for itself. It seems like fewer and fewer companies are made in the USA anymore. PRO Compression is proudly made in the USA! Yes, there are other manufacturing options, but PRO Compression prides itself on their quality and by producing in the USA they are able to hold firm onto the quality they are known for.
(2) Variety of Use
While PRO Compression is probably most know for their rockin' Marathon compression socks (over the calf style), their product line has many other great items. From calf sleeves to low trainers there is something for all of your needs. Whether you are looking for some compression gear for running, traveling, recovering, or even casual wear, PRO Compression has you covered.
(3) Fresh Designs
While how running products perform is what really makes us rely on them, a good looking product is an added bonus! PRO Compression is always putting out some awesome designs with their 'Sock of the Month' release at the beginning of each month. 2015 brought use some crazy awesome designs including stripes, swirls, and their "BOOM" and Swirl socks in various colorways and multi-colored stripes deemed by the interwebs as #TheGibblers. Sometimes it is a holiday theme (especially around Valentine's Day, Fourth of July, and Christmas). In early December, PRO Compression released their 2015 holiday sock which seriously about broke the internet! The #UglySweaterSock sold out in record time (about 3 hours) and left many fans being sad pandas that they didn't these beauties. HINT: Sign up for the PRO Compression email list to be the first to know when new releases come out!
(4) Amazing Customer Service
I cannot speak enough awesome things about the team at PRO Compression. On top of amazing products, they take a great deal of pride in their customer service! Their orders ship out quickly and if you ever need anything from their customer service team, they respond back insanely fast! It is one thing to have great product.
I am beyond honored to be a part of the 2016 PRO Compression Ambassador team! They are an amazing company to say the least and I will be surround by some pretty amazing athletes, social media lovers, and 'professional' selfie takers in 2016.
Since we all love saving some cash, I have a special discount code for you all as well. Use code PRO16 to save 40% off of your order + free shipping at www.procompression.com
Make sure to follow PRO Compression on the interwebs for new product announcements and of course pictures of people doing epic things!
PRO Compression Website: www.procompression.com
PRO COmpression on Facebook
PRO Compression on Twitter: @PROCompression
PRO Compression on Instagram: PROCompression
After two hard-fought journeys of 26.2 miles, I decided that there was something missing from those experiences - FUN! If you knew me in 2012 you know what a difficult time my first marathon was. I will be the first to admit it, I was not trained and did not respect the distance. My second marathon, WDW Marathon 2014, was a much better experience but it missed the "fun" aspect of it. Well, last January my friend Becky and I decided that we were going to run the 2016 WDW Marathon. The thing is, we aren't telling anyone that we are doing it. The only people in my life that knew about what was going on were Becky, Momma K, and Papa J. There are a few reasons why we are keeping this a secret but the biggest is we are going to fly down on Friday night and surprise our Dopey running friends on the morning of the 1/2 Marathon! It will be a blast getting to cheer them on during the 3rd leg of their Dopey weekend. Another reason was that I just thought it would be fun to train for a marathon and have no one else know that I am doing so. Yes, little "Ms. Social Media" was keeping all of this off the interwebs (and even in person).
Our goals for the marathon are simple - FINISH and HAVE FUN (yes, a fun marathon)! We plan on enjoying every step of the 26.2 mile trek through Walt Disney World and cannot wait to share the experience with everyone. In preparation leading up to race day, I have been logging my thoughts throughout "Operation Secret Marathon" - I hope you enjoy seeing what all you have 'missed' over the past 12 months :)
January 25, 2015
While running the Hot Chocolate 15K, Becky and I came up with this "brilliant idea" at around mile 5 of the race. We were going to run a marathon together. Becky was just 2 weeks off of her first marathon and I was 'done with marathons' but the birth of "Operation Secret Marathon" was born. Over the next 4 miles we came up with the plan of registering, training, and totally surprising everyone in 50 weeks. Yes, this was the start of the best kept secret of 2015 (well at least for us).
April 28, 2015 - Registration Day!
10:45AM - This morning has been a feeling of mixed emotions for sure. I am excited because it is registration day and I am registering for a runDisney race! However, the realization that I will be spending a lot time training in October, November and December has set in. Yes, Disney races are a BLAST but people have to remember the hard work that is put into the training to get to race day. Honestly, I feel like I want to vomit right now - that is how nervous I am. Registration opens in 1:15 minutes and I have my credit card ready to go. Here goes nothing....
12:15PM - I am in. I am officially running my 3rd marathon in January. While I am excited beyond words about taking a 26.2 mile journey around WDW with one of my best friends by my side, the thought of a marathon is still scary. It is a long way to run! Seriously, the next time you are in your car figure out how far 26 miles is. For me, it is the distance between my house and the mall. Yeaaaa. Don't get me wrong, I am honestly excited to start this journey. This was my face as I hit "register"
May 28, 2015 - Proof of Time
It still hasn't sunk in that I am running my 3rd marathon. Becky and I keep calling it "that thing we aren't doing" - lol! After running a half marathon PR a few weeks ago, I was pumped to have a new proof of time to use. While it was only 1 1/2 minutes faster, it is still an improvement. I have a few more months to try to get a better one, but for now I am happy with where runDisney thinks I will finish.
With summer quickly approaching and fall races coming out, I am trying to narrow my training plan a little more. Since 13.1 is where my heart is, I will be running a lot of half marathons this fall and tacking on a few extra miles afterwards for my training. I am nervous yet super pumped to go on a 26.2 mile journey with one of my best friends in 225 days!
June 25, 2015 - Training Plans are Out
runDisney recently released the 2016 WDW Marathon training plans. I have looked over it and I am ready for this. I have a very heavy late summer and fall race schedule and I plan to use my races for training. My plan is to run my fall half marathons and add on a few extra miles as needed to hit my training goals. Now the hard part will doing so without y'all noticing. I have a number of friends running a lot of the same races as I am this fall, so this could get interesting later on trying to avoid them.
July 29, 2015 - Booking Travel
Becky and I are officially booked for our stay at Walt Disney World in January! We will be staying at Art of Animation. We chose this hotel because our friends Chuck and Nicole are staying there. They are running the Dopey Challenge, so our plan is to surprise them at the bus stop on Saturday morning when they head out to run the 1/2 marathon. Their faces will be priceless when they see us there for sure. I am excited to stay at Art of Animation because I have never stayed there before. It is weird booking a trip to Disney and not sharing the details with everyone, but I know the reactions will be worth it for sure.
October 31, 2015 - The First Long Run
With a very heavy fall and early winter of half marathons, I am tackling training differently. Since my base mileage is pretty high, I am going to be running past various half marathon finish lines for extra mileage for my long runs. Today I ran the Silver Comet Half Marathon with Momma K. Once we crossed the finish line, I headed back out to get a few extra miles in (roughly 16 miles total). I felt really strong and proud of the pace that I kept along the way. I was a little nervous going into it because it is my longest run since WDW Marathon 2014 (22 months ago). It all went well though and I am excited to continue to build my mileage up over the next few weeks!
November 26, 2015 - The 17 Miler
Y'all have been making it so hard for me to get training in without being detected for marathon training. I knew that I was needing to add additional miles onto my Thanksgiving Day Half Marathon, but I had to do so discretely. At first I was going to go out and run a few extra miles around the race finish area (Turner Field), but things didn't quite work out as we had to get back home to get stuff in the oven for Thanksgiving dinner. So, Plan B it was - logging a few extra miles through the neighborhood. This wasn't ideal as during the marathon I will not have an hour rest in the middle of the race and my muscles started to tighten a bit, but I got the miles done without any of you knowing.
I got my 17 miles in and felt good. I was quite surprised with how I felt considering that I just PR'ed my half marathon by 9 minutes then did 4 more miles on top of that.
December 5, 2015 - The Long One
If you read my recap from the Rome 1/2 Marathon, you know the mental disconnect that I was having that day. While it is was totally true about the foot issues that I had, I wasn't completely truthful about why I was running slower and more steady that day. I had 5-6 extra miles to do after the half marathon! This was the absolute perfect race for me to make my peak mileage because after crossing the finish line of 13.1 miles, I had paved trails and parks right there to go get my extra miles on. Momma K was awesome enough to be my support and joined me (even though she ran the 5K first). ..
It was tough y'all - I will not lie. I may have broken down around mile 16.5, but I wasn't feeling well (sinus issues) and just wanted to be done. These tough runs are what make training so valuable. Yes, you must be physically trained for endurance events, but metal/emotional training is just as important. All in all, I made it through 'peak week' with a solid pace and now it is time to taper! Let the taper-crazies begin.
December 8, 2015 - Waivers and Corrals Released
I knew this was when our marathon secret would start to get tough. Anticipation of race weekend was amplified A BUNCH this week when runDisney released the waivers and corral information for Marathon weekend. To have to continuously steer clear of posting my bib number/corral in all of my running groups is tough and to refrain for making comments that make it seem like I even have the slightest bit of interest in the information is even harder. Now, to add to the struggles, Becky received the incorrect corral assignment. There was an error that caused her proof of time to not be tabulated, so she got placed in the 2nd to last corral. (***insert sad trombone music***)
Fortunately, Becky had proof that her proof of time was correctly submitted and email the team at Track Shack to request a corral adjustment. After a grueling 48 hours of waiting, Becky received confirmation that their was an error in her corral placement and that they will adjust her corral at the expo! Thank you Track Shack/runDisney for your awesome assistance with this!
December 27, 2015 - A Mental Blow
As I ran my final race of 2015, it was by far one of the hardest and most mentally frustrating runs. We have had a crazy heat/humidity wave come through here which lead to temps in the upper 60s with 98% humidity for my 10K. I really struggled during this race. While my pace wasn't horrible, I felt emotionally drained by it. I got extremely frustrated and kept thinking "how am I supposed to run this plus another 20 miles in 2 weeks!?!?!" It is all a part of the gloriousness known as taper madness. Thankfully, Becky came to cheer at the race so I was able to express my frustrations in myself to her.
December 30, 2015 - Post Holiday and Taper-Crazies
I am now in the height of taper time along with the holidays. It would be totally easy to just give into all the crazy food that is around me right now, but the last thing that I want (or need) is to gain weight right before the marathon. Trust me, I still had a few treats (I mean, come on, Christmas cookies are amazing!), but I kept it as treats and did not over do it.
Yes, there is a part of me that is starting to freak out - hello "taper crazies". Right now I just have to trust in my training and get ready for an awesome weekend ahead of me in about 10 days. 10 DAYS!!!!!! Ahhh! As Becky and I start to finalize all of our plans and even start to pack some little things, it is really sinking in. I am totally pumped, but a little freaked at the same time. I mean, 26.2 miles is a long way :)
January 1, 2016 - Happy New Year! Last Race Before WDW Marathon!
Today I ran my first race of 2016 (and last race before the marathon), the Resolution Run 4 Miler. Becky also ran a 5K today and both of our goals were simply "don't do anything stupid & don't get hurt." While running conservatively, I still ended up PR'ing. Yes, I know that I probably shouldn't be PR'ing right now, but it hasn't been forced. WIth my first two marathons, my pace dropped significantly both before and after them, so this is something totally new to me.
Well, the next race I run will be at Walt Disney World! 26.2 miles of awesome memories with one of my best friends by my side! Yes, I I am on a roller coaster of emotions right now. I go from being nervous to being super excited all within a few minutes. It is time to put the final touches on my outfit and packing! EEEK!
January 8, 2016 - We are heading to DISNEY!
Today is the day we head to Walt Disney World! I seriously cannot wait to surprise everyone tomorrow morning. It has honestly been so hard to not say anything about the marathon to people. I will go ahead and put it out there that I never did lie to any of my running buddies asking me if I was running Marathon Weekend. When asked about the weekend, I simply said "I would really love to run Dopey or Goofy, but I can't take the time off work right after the holidays." This statement is 100% true, however I did fail to mention that I would be arriving late Friday night and running "just" the marathon (that is the dumbest statement ever).
Just for the record, taper craziness is a real thing. It is an even more real thing when you don't mention that you are tapering. I feel bad for my coworkers and other people around me the past few weeks because it is madness. Thank you all for bearing with me and my minor fits the past month. :)
Well folks, that is what you have missed the past year! It hasn't been easy keeping this a secret for the past year, but it will totally be worth it this weekend! It is time to head to the Mouse House!
Question of the Day: Have you ever trained for a race without anyone knowing about it? How did you keep the "secret"?
A few years ago, I started my New Year's Day tradition of taking part in a Resolution Run. What better way to start the new year than with a run. While the race that I have ran has changed ownership, location, and distances over the past few years, it is always a great time! Last year, Atlanta Track Club moved their Resolution Run to Brookhaven and instead of a 5K/10K, they ran a less frequently seen distance of a 4 Miler. Y'all know that I love Atlanta Track Club events and I certainly always enjoy running different distances, so of course I would be at the Resolution Run 4 Miler to kick of 2016!
It was a beautiful (yet fairly 'cool') morning here in Atlanta. If you remember my recaps from the past week or two, we have had some crazy weather leaving us with unseasonably warm temperatures. Mother Nature finally got over her attitude, and some more seasonable weather came through. Don't get me wrong, it was lovely wearing short sleeves for a few days in December, but sweltering in a tank top during a 10K in late December is a little wacky.
The nice part about the Resolution Run is that Atlanta Track Club has a lovely 10:00am start time for the event. That means even if you stayed up to watch the ball drop or even had a few beverages, you can still get to that first start line of 2016 while still getting some ZZZ's!
Atlanta Track Club is absolutely wonderful about promoting an active lifestyle for all members of the family. While the 4-Miler was the most popular event of the morning, there was also a 1-Mile and 50m Dash. I will tell you, it was pumping at packet pick up with so many runners ready to get 2016 started! Thank you to the awesome volunteers and Atlanta Track Club staff who got everyone trough packet pickup quickly. There was also a great DJ getting everyone pumped and ready to go along with tons and tons of port-o-potties (always a great sight!).
Resolution Run is a lot like most of the Atlanta Track Club events with several self-seeded corrals. I chose my appropriate corral and waited for my wave to start. When waiting I ran into a few of my fellow Atlanta Track Club Ambassadors. It was great to chat with them for a few minutes before getting this party started!
After running this race last year, I knew that I absolutely love this course. There are a few rolling hills along the way with a good amount of gradual downhill and "flat" portions. Things started a little congested, but thinned out pretty quickly. There was an uphill portion right towards the start of the course which caused a good amount of runners to slow down a good bit right away, but within about 1/2 mile in things were pretty clear.
My absolute favorite part of this race (aside from the not-as-hilly course) is the awesome course support. A lot of the course is through neighborhoods in Brookhaven and a lot of residents come out and cheer for runners in a grand New Year fashion. You got that right, the silly NYE headgear and noise makers come out in full force to cheer the approximately 1800 runners along the course. I am sure some of the neighbors weren't too keen on it, but it made for great support!
PR'ing was never my intention today. While I knew it was very possible to do so, I wasn't pushing it - I just wanted to enjoy the run. Well, as I passed mile 3 I knew that a PR was pretty much mine. I tried not to get to caught up in time/pace and kept on pushing through. To be completely honest, I was holding my 5K pace still at this point and just really wanted to see how I would finish holding it. I wasn't too sure if I could hold it for the .9 mile longer, but was willing to push to see. That's what bettering ourselves is about, right? Well, I ended up with a new shiny PR and finished with an average pace of just about :08/mile slower than my 5K PR pace. Not a shabby way to kick off 2016!
After crossing the finish line and snapping my obligatory post race selfie, I headed back to the final turn of the course to cheer on the runners with a few of my fellow Atlanta Track Club Ambassadors. It was awesome seeing so many people starting off 2016 on 'right foot' with the Resolution Run. There were even some junior runners out there logging their miles - I hope to see some of them rockin' at other events this year and especially at the Peachtree Road Race on July 4th!
Before I knew it, Momma K and Papa J both rounded the final corner to head towards the finish line! When you know the cheering group, you might just get some extra (and super LOUD) cheers!
After all 3 of us finished we made our way to the post race area where a bountiful amount of snacks and drinks awaited us. While we were there they were announcing some of the 1-Mile award winners...oh my goodness there were some true speedies in full force today! I must say, I have never ran a 1 Mile race, and I am kind of intrigued to try it out some time just to see what I can do.
It was an absolutely wonderful morning and a perfect way to kickoff 2016. After leaving the race we stopped and got some brunch before going on the rest of the day. Thank you to the awesome Atlanta Track Club team and of course all of the wonderful volunteers and emergency personnel for making this morning possible.
Atlanta Track Club hosts some of the absolute best races in the Atlanta area each year. The 2016 Atlanta Track Club Event Calendar has been released and there are already a number of races that I am excited to run in early 2016. Be sure to check out these races and get registered!
January 23 - Peachtree City 8K & 15K (FREE for Atlanta Track Club Members)
March 20 - Publix Georgia Marahton & Half Marathon
March 26 - Atlanta Women's 5K
There are so many benefits to being a member of Atlanta Track Club including race discounts, discounted training programs, and more. Perhaps one of the most sought after perks is guaranteed entry to the Peachtree Road Race 10K on July 4th. Remember, you must me a member as of February 1, 2016 to be eligible for member registration in March. To become a member (or renew your membership), go to the Atlanta Track Club website for more information.
As many of you might have seen last week, I ran my final race of 2015 which was also my 70th race of the year. Yes, 70 races in one year. My picture about this achievement on social media and various running groups on the interwebs prompted a lot of different questions and "are you nuts?!?!" comments from fellow runners and non-runners alike. I wanted to take a moment to share my thoughts on the achievement and how I got there in 2015.
Where to start....In 2012 my goal was to run 40 races. After achieving that goal, I decided to up the ante each year. In 2013 my goal was to run 52 races (one for each week in the year) and I ended up running 58. Then I followed up with 62 in 2014 and crushed it with 70 races in 2015. Yes, that means I averaged about 1.3 races per week.
Q: There are 52 weeks in the year, how did you get to 70?
A: Basically I had a race every weekend (I think I had 1 "race-free" weekend). There were a lot of weekends that I ran 2+ races including Princess Half Marathon and Disneyland Half Marathon weekends where I ran 5K, 10K, and Half Marathon over 3 days, Rock 'n' Roll Vegas that included 5K and Half Marathon, and two weekends with back-to-back half marathons (one with a 5K before hand as well). I like to call this a "special type of crazy" to say the least.
Q: What distances were all of the races?
A: Half marathons are totally my favorite distance - there is just something about half marathons that I love. In 2015 I ran 20 half marathons and the other 50 races were a mixtures of 5K, 10K, and 15Ks along with some other more unique distances like 4 Milers, 6K, and a 12K. I am a firm believer that variety is a good thing sometimes. I don't like getting too comfortable with a particular distance :)
Q: How do you find time to run all these races?
A: This is were organizational skills come to play. I have my calendar marked strategically with which races I want to run and try to schedule races as training runs even. There is a period of time in the summer where half marathons are few and far between, but then comes the fall with a ton of half marathons on tap so I use 10Ks and 15Ks as training runs leading up to 'half marathon season' each year I figure, if I have to go get the miles in I might as well get a shirt, course support, support different charities, and get to see friends each weekend.
Q: Races are expensive - how can you afford all of these?
A: To be honest, when I had several people ask me this, I wanted to give a snarky answer such as "when you pay my bills or lend me money, then you can question my financial situation." In all seriousness, there are a lot of different answers here. First, racing is my passion and hobby. Everyone has their different hobbies that they choose: golfing, going out to eat at trendy restaurants, going to concerts, checking out the newest movie, etc.
Once again my organizational skills come into play here as well. A lot of my races ran are small, local races with minimal fees ($20 range) and I even had a few complimentary entries and even won a few. I carefully map out when I am going to register for races based on payday schedule, price increases, and coupon codes (I am all about saving money when possible). Yes, I had a few splurge races (Rock 'n' Roll Vegas, runDisney races, etc), but for the most part a lot of the races that I run are fairly inexpensive and cost less than one some people spend on a few cocktails on the weekend. We all have our things that we like to do on the weekend - racing is mine.
Q: Was it hard to do? (Isn't your body tired?)
If it was easy, everyone would do it. I am trying to remember, but I think there was just one weekend that I had "off" over the course of 2015. Yes, there are times that I wonder what it is like to just sleep in on a Saturday morning, but I remember all of the great memories that I have made and how much I have enjoyed running the races over the year. Yes, I sacrifice Friday nights to getting ready for races and heading to bed early, but when you love something as much as I love running races, it isn't a chore.
In all honesty, it has just come my norm. I start most Saturday morning with an early morning wake up call, get my run in, have some breakfast, come home and shower and start the rest of my day by mid-morning.
Q: So, you sacrifice time with family/friends for races?
A: Absolutely not! I am lucky enough that I have family that like to ride the crazy train with me! Momma K runs most of the same races as I do (she ended up with 63 races this year), so we get a lot of mother-daughter bonding time each weekend. While we rarely run 'together' we are always there to support each other at the finish line and enjoy post race breakfasts together. I also get to spend a lot of time with friends at races. Whether we are running together, volunteering at races, cheering each other on, or enjoying breakfast together afterwards, it is a special time for all of us. When you have friends/family that do the same things as you, it makes sticking to your lifestyle and reaching goals a lot easier. The running community is simply amazing and I have met so many amazing friends over the past few years. Seriously, my race mornings are comparable to the excitement that many get over "Friday nights" out.
Q: What race was your favorite?
A: While I don't have a favorite race per-say, I must say that I am grateful to not only get to travel to some awesome places in 2015 (especially Vegas, Pittsburgh, and Disney) I also really enjoyed getting to run in my own town and support some amazing charities and organizations within my own community.
Q: So what is the goal for 2016?
A: To keep it 100% honest with y'all, the past two years have not had a number of races as a goal. It wasn't until late October that I realized I was going to hit 70 races (and I had no idea that I was even that close). I just want to be a happy runner by finishing each run with a smile, enjoying the journey, and becoming a better me each and every day.
I always love being transparent with everyone and showing all different parts of my journey. Hopefully this helps gives some insight on what the past year had been. It wasn't always easy to get out of my nice warm bed at 5:00am on Saturday mornings, but the feeling of accomplishment crossing the finish line is amazing. I genuinely appreciate the support of each and every one of you. From your likes on Instagram to cheers on the race course, it all means so much to me! I cannot wait to see what 2016 has in store for me - it is going to be a GREAT year!
I told you last week that I had some exciting news heading into 2016. Well here we go....I have been selected to be a 2016 Fitletic Brand Ambassador! Ahhhh! Sorry, it is still crazy and surreal just writing that statement! I am one of 16 Brand Ambassadors selected to represent Fitletic in 2016 and I am in the company of some absolutely amazing athletes.
Fitletic is one of my favorite pieces of running gear and has been my running belt for the past year and a half, so I wanted to share a "What I am Lovin' Wednesday" with you featuring some of their awesome gear. For the first few years of running, I struggled with finding the right running belt for me. I absolutely hated most belts that I tried because they bounced (seriously, who wants a bouncing belt whacking you as you run).
My first piece from Fitletic was their Race I belt which is a race bib belt without any pockets. They also have the Race II belt which is almost identical but with 6 loops to hold your gels. These belts are great for minimalist runners and triathletes who need a great belt to hold their bib on race day, but don't need the extras such has hydration bottles, pockets, etc. Plus, you don't have to pin your bib to your clothes - no more safety pin holes in your gear!
While my Race I belt is great, I wanted to have another option to be able to carry my phone, cash, etc. Whether you are wanting to carry you phone with you on a long training run, carry your car key, or have some cash/credit card with you, the Neo Collection is perfect. The pocket on it is big enough to hold my iPhone 6 (with Otterbox case) and a few bucks in it. There are different options with bib holder toggles, double pockets, gel loops, etc. I originally purchased the Neo I at an expo and also purchased removable toggles that I can add on race day. No matter if I am going on a training run at the park or running a half marathon, this has become my go to belt over the past year.
(For those wondering, yes, I do wear my Fitletic Neo I belt "backwards" with the pouch in the back. It is just the way that I prefer it.)
Just before the heat of summer came along here in Georgia, I made my next Fitletic purchase - Extra Mile 06 hydration. Up until this point I was very dependent on my handheld hydration bottle. I was finding carrying the bottle to be cumbersome at times and was ready to go hands-free. The Extra Mile bottle allows me to add a 6oz hydration bottle to my beloved Neo I belt whenever I want to. One of my favorite parts about the Fitletic sports belts is that you are able to customize their pieces to your specific needs. If I am just going on a nice family walk at the park and don't necessarily need a hydration bottle, I can remove it - no big deal.
My favorite feature of the Neo collection is that the pouch also has 2 little pockets inside that are perfect to put your license, cash, or credit card into. Like I mentioned, I love putting my phone in my Neo, so having a special spot for my credit card/cash is perfect so I don't fall victim to that "dropping of the $20 bill" that we have all done before at some point. While this is perfect for going on runs, it is also great for traveling. When I went to Greece to study abroad a few years ago, I had purchased a money belt to secure my personal items on me. I wish I had a Fitletic belt back then because it seriously would have been great to use traveling!
While I have the basic Neo I, there are a number of other great Fitleic belts to suit whatever your needs are. Whether you want a belt with loops for gels, 2 pockets, or built in hydration bottles, there is a Fitletic for you. They also carry a Armband collection and Visibility line that offers various products to help you be visible to cars and other runners during those early morning or nighttime runs.
As you can tell, there are so many different reasons why I love Fitletic and there is truly something for everyone in their product line. From great products to their top notch customer service and support of all athletes out there, they are truly the best in the industry.
I am completely honored to be running and representing Fitletic in 2016! It is going to be an awesome year full of amazing adventures!
Question of the Day: Do you prefer running belts or armbands to carry your phone on your run? Why?
I am excited to announce that I have been selected to be a 2016 ZOOMA Race Series Ambassador! ZOOMA's mission is "to inspire women to live healthy, happy, & active lives" which is something that I totally support. There is something special about women supporting and encouraging each other and I am thrilled to be a part of a ambassador team helping promote women to live healthy, be happy and get active!
This year's ambassador team is made of some amazing women from all different walks of life sharing a common goal. I look forward to sharing my training journey as well as race day tips leading up to race day as well as the loads of fun happening on race day! Whether it is sharing virtual high fives with you while you are training, or sharing a celebratory hug at the finish line - I cannot wait to help celebrate each other's triumphs and share words of encouragement when needed the most.
The 2016 ZOOMA Women's Race Series is made up of the following race cities:
Annapolis, MD - 1/2 Marathon, 10K, and 5K - June 4, 2016
Cape Cod, MD - 1/2 Marathon and 10K - September 24, 2016
Amelia Island, FL - 1/2 Marathon. 12K, and 5K - October 22, 2016
I want to have you come run with me this year, so of course I have a discount code for all of you as well! Use promo code BRANDI16 to save 10% off ANY ZOOMA 2016 race (Annapolis, Florida and Cape Cod)
New to the ZOOMA Women's Race Series for 2016 is the ZOOMA Run Love Virtual Challenge in February. That's right, you can run with ZOOMA where and when you want! Gather your girlfriends and go out and run together on February 14th!
ZOOM Run Love Challenge participants get hooked up with some pretty awesome swag to say the least. This year's perks include:
For more information on the ZOOMA Run Love Challenge or to register, go to the ZOOMA Run website. Registration closes on January 11th, so be sure to get in before it is too late!
2016 is definitely going to be an exciting year! I cannot wait to see what kinds of adventures I go on while working on my health and fitness goals! Once I have more information to share with you on the upcoming ZOOMA Women's Race Series, I will be sure to keep all of you in the know.
Be sure to follow ZOOMA Women's Race Series as well to stay in the loop on all the fun to come to a location near you in 2016!
ZOOMA Women's Race Series on Facebook
ZOOMA Women's Race Series on Twitter
ZOOMA Women's Race Seriesa on Instagram
Question of the Day: Which ZOOMA Women's Race Series race are you most looking forward to in 2016?
It has been a wild few weeks of weather here in the South. 2 weeks ago when I ran the Santa Hustle Half Marathon in Seiverville, TN I had to make a night before wardrobe change due to it being so crazy warm. Well, we had a long stretch severe storms the past few days with some flash flooding in the area as well. It is crazy that they even have to watch for tornadoes in December! Anyways, a crazy, unseasonal, heat wave hit Atlanta once again for Christmas which lingered around for a few days afterwards. The weather for race day was crazy warm (upper 60s) with 98% humidity! For comparison, typically our weather in the mornings here this time of year is in the 30s or low 40s. Here it is, Peachtree Corners Christmas 10K in a tank top...so festive!
I ran this race last year, so I knew a little bit what I was in for in terms of size, organization, etc. The race announced earlier this fall that they redid the course from last year and the race was start/finishing in a different location than last year. Momma K and I got there nice and early, but not as early as our awesome cheer squad, Becky.
I must say, it was really weird watching everyone lining up at the start line in shorts and tank tops at the end of December. Typically we are bundled up and even have throw aways. Not the case today.
The race offered a 5K and a 10K. Momma K took on the 5K while I took on the 10K which was a double loop of the course. I am never much of a fan of double loop courses - for the most part you mentally note the parts of the course that you are dreading to have to run a second time. Well, today was no different.
Most of the first mile was grueling uphill followed by mild-to-moderate rolling hills the remaining two miles of the loop. I was slightly annoyed as the race advertised this as "flat to slight rolling hills" which was not accurate (and was a general and vocalized opinion as Becky heard finishers crossing the finish line). The course took you mostly through residential areas and office parks with a water station at mile 2. Yes, the hilly course was tough (and the heat/humidity didn't help), but my biggest gripe of the race was that there was only a water station at mile 2. While this wasn't a big deal for the 5Kers particularly, it did leave the 10Kers without a water station from mile 2 until 5 (3 miles without a station). It would have been nice to see a small table set up at the point were the 10K started their 2nd loop (the finish line of the 5K).
The second loop around was an emotional beating for me - I won't lie. I struggled. Period. Not every run/race goes the way you want them to, but each run does make you stronger. Sometimes the challenging races/runs are the ones that you learn the most from.
After I finished, we hung out for awards. The post race food included red beans and rice which was a big hit amongst the crowd. While it wasn't my jam, a lot of others were really enjoying it. As they were announcing the awards, they had a mid-award correction. A young lady missed a turn on the course and therefore did not complete the entire 3.1 mile course. She in turn, did the honest thing and had them correct the results and award the medal to the runner that in fact did earn it. I must acknowledge her honesty and allowing her fellow runner to have her moment of celebration. Later on in the awards, Momma K ended up taking 2nd place in her age group! Wahooo! Way to go, mom!
Before we left to head to breakfast, we had one last celebration to take care of. If you have followed my adventures of 2015, you have probably realized that I have ran a lot of races this year. Well, today was my 70th race of 2015! Yes, 70 races in a year! It was an amazing (yet crazy) year of adventures and I absolutely loved it! While it involved early wake up calls nearly every Saturday and even a lot of Sundays (and some Fridays), I wouldn't change it for the world.
No, it was never my 'goal' to run this many races this year. To be honest, I didn't even know that I was going to reach 70 races until late October. Stay tuned to my blog later this week for a recap of my thoughts this accomplishment along with answering some questions that I have been asked about my races over the past year.
Thank you again to Becky (aka my "tall sparkly friend") for coming out to cheer for us today. Seriously, you know someone is an amazing friend when they continuously support you and your crazy race addiction. I am sure deep down she is like "can you calm down just a bit", but she knows the joy it gives me. Even when she isn't running the races or physically cheering at the races, she is always supporting me. Thank you Becky for being such an amazing friend and supporter - lets see what kind of memories 2016 will bring!
I cannot believe that my 2015 race schedule is done! It seems like just yesterday I was kicking off 2015 with the Resolution Run 4-Miler. Here I am 1200 miles, 70 races, 6 states, and countless memories later! 2016, you have big shoes to fill, but I am excited for a new year of fun!
I am honored and thrilled to announce that I have been selected as an Official Blogger for the 2016 Dick's Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon! My level of excitement has not simmered down about this as I still smile and slightly squeal as I am writing about it. (In case you wonder, I 'might' have cried when I read the email a few weeks ago).
If you read my race recaps from May, you know that running the 2015 Pittsburgh 5K and 1/2 Marathon were huge highlights of my year. It was an awesome race weekend full of fun times with friends, great course support, and memories of a life time.
2015 Pittsburgh Marathon Expo Recap
2015 Pittsburgh 5K Race Recap
2015 Pittsburgh 1/2 Marathon Race Recap
I want YOU to come run in Pittsburgh with me! Use promo code GILBERT2016 to save $10 off of your race registration and you can also use it at the P3R Gear Store to save 15% off of official Pittsburgh Marathon training gear!
I am excited to share my experiences leading up to race day with you! Over the next few months, the Pittsburgh Marathon Blogger team will be sharing our training, race day tips, and more. Be sure to check out the rest of the blogger team, but in particular my awesome friends Lauren (who will be running her first marathon in May) and Chelsea!
I hope to see you in Pittsburgh! #GameOnPGH
I love to run and most importantly I love to have FUN while I run....I am the "Funner Runner"
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