Last year for Momma K's birthday I was completely dumfounded as to what to get her. She seriously has everything - seriously! After a lot of brainstorming, I remembered reading friends' blog posts on their race retreat experiences at other runDisney events. Since Momma K is a firm believer that the best gifts in life are experiences and memories so I decided to give her the experience of being treated like a royal at the Princess Half Marathon. Well, we absolutely loved our experience in 2015, so we made sure to add Race Retreat to our race weekend again in 2016.
Race Retreat is essentially a VIP experience offered to runners at runDisney races. You are treated to amenities including climate controlled tents before and after the race, pre-race breakfast (bagels, fruit, water, coffee, water, and soft drinks), character greetings, private restrooms and changing areas, private gear check, padded stretching areas, and post-race breakfast. The Race Retreat area is for runners only until 5:30 then platinum chEAR squad members are invited for breakfast.
With today being our 3rd morning of 2:15-2:30am wake ups, it was a treat to get to the race on an early bus and not have to wait in a parking lot for the corrals to open. We arrived at Race Retreat early and got a table for our group and got our picture taken with some of the characters from The Princess and the Frog.
Afterwards our photo ops, we ate breakfast with friends and just relaxed until we made our way to the corrals.
After a final trip to our private restroom area (it is soooo nice to not have to wait in those crazy lines and there were hand washing stations) we made our way out of Race Retreat. We headed to our corral a little bit before 5:00am and made our way through 13.1 magical miles (more on that during my race recap coming up).
The absolute best part was utilizing the the Race Retreat afterwards. We had breakfast waiting for us which made Momma K especially happy. After 13.1 miles, most of us get a little "rungry" and let's be real, the post-race food doesn't always hit the spot. With a post-race breakfast buffet including muffins, oatmeal, fruit, eggs, sausage, potatoes, and other typical breakfast foods, it was nice to have some good food going into our bellies shortly after finishing the race.
The Race Retreat tent also had its own medical and self-treatment area. Obviously if you have a medical emergency you need to be seen at the medical tent at the finish line (if not sooner), but this was a great feature if you just needed to rub some BioFreeze on your legs or wanted a medical professional to take a look at something for you. So, *spoiler alert*, Momma K ended up needing a little fixing up after wards, so it was nice to have a little bit more private area that isn't so crowded to get her some minor attention and cleaning up that she was needing (more on that in my race recap). The medical team there was absolutely great and got Momma K all cleaned up and ready to go quickly.
There was also a race results area were you could look at your official results and even print up a copy for yourself. Another great touch was that there were TVs inside the tent that you can watch the finish line live. We got to watch the final finisher come across the finish line which was absolutely awesome.
The cost of Race Retreat was about $125 which is a little high if you have multiple runners, but if you are looking to be treated like a royal I certainly recommend it. There are a lot of great perks that we find to be valuable to our race weekend experience, but everyone is different. We have officially been spoiled the past two years, and Race Retreat will be added to our future WDW runDisney events for sure.
Y'all know that I love Jeff Galloway and his awesome running tips including his run-walk strategy. Well, this week I received some tips from Jeff Galloway to share with you guys that I was super excited to read. Jeff Galloway shared his tips on getting faster all while having fun!
Yes please! If you have been following my social media, you know how successful I have been lately in shaving time off of my races...and you know that I am all about having FUN while doing it. Needless to say, I was super intrigued to see what kind of training tips that I could integrate into my training this spring.
***DISCLAIMER: All information provided below was provide to me by the Jeff Galloway Blogger Program to share with my readers. Thoughts are not my own (other than if noted), rather they are the advice and thoughts of Jeff Galloway. ***
Why is running faster a good thing? Short and fast segments not only help you run faster in races. If you run a few faster segments each week you can improve your running efficiency while receiving a better attitude boost.
How long should you be running before you add some faster running in? After 2-3 months of regular running some short accelerations can be added with minimal risk of aches and pains.
Is it possible that running fast can actually be fun? Yes. The secret is be creative and limit the length of the fast segment at first.
How often should you run fast? Playful speed can be done once or twice a week.
Four Faster, Fun Workouts
1. Speed play that you can do on your own. ACCELERATE AND GLIDE. After an easy 10 minute warm up of slow running, pick up the pace for 10 steps, then coast off the momentum for 10-20 steps. Don't be obsessed about the number of steps as this is just a guideline. Don't sprint--be playful. Gradually pick up the pace, and then glide back down to a jog. Repeat 2-3 times on your first attempt, and take a one minute walk break. Each week you could increase the number of accelerations as you wish, with a recommended walk break of 1-2 minutes between each.
2. Speed play you can do with one friend—CHASE game. After an easy 5 minute slow run together, one person takes the lead. As the leader changes the pace (speeding up, then slowing down, speeding up) the follower tries to stay close but not pass. After 3-5 minutes, take a 1-2 minute walk break and repeat with the other runner leading. Repeat as many times as desired.
3. Speed play you can do with two friends—SURPRISE game. Following the same format as game 2, the follower tries to surprise the leader by passing gently but quickly. While there should be no sprinting, it is OK to run fast for 10-30 steps to pass.
4. A speed play workout you can do with three or more friends—INDIAN RUNNING. The group is running single file for a minute or two at an easy pace. Then, the last runner, passes all of the other runners and takes the lead for a minute or two. The current leader sets the pace, and takes a walk break. When the running resumes, the last runner starts to move to the front. Each runner gets to take the lead at least once in this game.
I know that I preach about it a lot, and I am going to do it again - one of the things that make race weekends so amazing are the people! Period. Over the past few years, I have met some of the most amazing people and made some of my best friends through running. Obviously one of the highlights of my Princess Half Marathon weekend was getting to seeing many faces that make the weekend so awesome, and of course the #WeRunSocial meet up!
The #WeRunSocial crew hosted a meet up at Disney Springs to allow all of "those people of the interwebs" to come together, hug, hang out, laugh, snap selfies, and win prizes! While a majority of us ran or cheered at either the 5K or 10K earlier, it is hard to meet up pre-race at large races just because there are so many people and a lot going on so this gave us time to easily find each other and hangout without the stress of getting to corrals. If you heard loud squeals coming from the carrousel area of Disney Springs, sorry - not sorry. These people are amazing and worth every single squealing second.
What makes a meet-up with some pretty awesome friends and new friends even better? PRIZES! PRO Compression sent some sweet prizes to our ambassadors to hand out and Carrie from Sparkle Athletic came by and hooked up so many princesses with some awesome prizes! From their skirts, arm sleeves, trucker hats, visors, and more, there were so many prizes up for grabs! Prizes were given out for answering trivia questions, being "the person who..." (traveled the furthest, has the youngest baby, etc), and showing specific items that they were looking for.
A huge thank you to my friends at Sparkly Soul for hooking us up with some awesome race weekend themed headbands to help us all look fabulous on race day! Mermaids to princesses to bows, Sparkly Soul had us covered for the weekend's races.
Last but not least, a big thank you to the team at Fitletic who provided us with a running belt and shirt to giveaway! Congrats to our lucky winners - I think it is safe to say that we all had an awesome time playing along!
When you have a group of close to 100 social media enthusiasts and selfie professionals together, of course a ton selfies are going to happen. A lot of pre-race chatter was going on as everyone was getting ready for the Princess Half Marathon tomorrow. We all had our different goals - some were chasing after awards, some going for PRs, some running their first half marathon, and of course ones like me going for an awesomely FUN time! Regardless of what your goals are, we are all covering the same 13.1 miles, just in our own different ways which makes the running community so beautiful.
Before people started to go our separate ways, we had to take a big group photo. Seriously, that is a lot of awesome in one picture. From all over the country (and some from even further), we all came together today to share our love for running and of course sharing that love across social media - that is #WeRunSocial.
A huge thank you again to our awesome sponsors for their support and of course prizes for our meet up. Also, this would not have been possible without the wonderful @PastryChef_Dani and @PinkCupcakeGirl for hosting today's meet up - you ladies certainly ROCK!
It was great to be able to meet up with both old friends and make new ones today. Race weekends can get chaotic and even stressful at times, so it is great to have time to relax and hang out with such amazing people for a little bit over the weekend.
Be sure to follow #WeRunSocial on social media so you don't miss out on future meet ups at races near you! Trust me, you don't want to miss out!
With the Princess 5K behind us, it was time to gear up for the Enchanted 10K! For this year's 10K we went with a Snow White theme (you can read more about it here).
As we did the morning before, we arrived to the race site a "dark and early" and hung out with friends before heading over to the start corrals. I love each and every one of my friends, but I was most excited to see Sarah (Sparkly Runner) because I haven't seen her since the Pittsburgh Marathon in May....WAY TOO LONG!
We got into our corral and waited for our turn to head to the start line. As corral A walked by everyone cheered for them which was really cool. There was about 10 minutes or so between the corrals starting (A-F) and before we knew it, it was our turn to take the 6.2 mile journey. Papa J decided to run his own race this time, so it was just Momma K and I together for the 10K.
As you exit the Imagination Lot and head Epcot Center Drive for the first 3 miles or so, we were greeted by the crew from Frozen. Of course Elsa decided to "Let It Go" and make it snow on everyone, but at least she didn't make it as cold as she did last year! We ended up running into our friend Laurie and her daughter, Grace, from back home and race most of the first half of the race together.
This part of the course was definitely crowded. Between a narrow road, thousands of runners starting at once, and it still being dark I must admit that it was a little unnerving at times. While Momma K and I practice proper run-walk etiquette and signal our walk breaks and stay to the right, there are always those that find it necessary to act "un-princess like" and shove people. Yep, I was shoved by a runner as I was all the way to the right of the road and she yelled unkind words as she did-so. Yes, it can be frustrating if people aren't following race etiquette such as walking 4 abreast in narrow spots, but shoving and yelling is not necessary. Anyways, I was not going to let her ruin my time that is for sure!
The first character stop was around mile 1 where Pocahontas and Meeko were there to greet runners. The line was pretty long by the time so we just kept on going. We ran into some of our favorite "characters" at this point though - Kimberly and Gail from RunAllTheRaces.com. These ladies always have some awesome costumes, and today was no exception.
As we entered into the backstage area of Epcot, there were some pretty interesting characters on hand to greet us. For some reason, they seemed upset about me giving Momma K and apple to eat...I don't understand why?!?! :)
We entered World Showcase around mile 3 near Japan and was greeted by magnificent lighting and some pretty awesome volunteers at the water station. We made our way around World Showcase counterclockwise heading towards France.
When you are dressed as Snow White and the witch, of course you have to stop in Snow White's country of Germany for a few fun photos, right?
Country by country we made our way through Epcot. There seemed to be less characters in World Showcase this morning that there were for the 5K, but we did run into a few of Belle's friends while passing through France.
We finally made it through International Gateway and headed towards the boardwalk around. At this point we were about 4.5 miles into the race. While you aren't in the parks for this part, it is still an awesome part of the course! There is so much course support during this mile (or so) stretch from people purposely coming out to chEAR, to unsuspecting resort guests just heading to grab a cup of coffee. Regards on their initial intentions, I am always down for free high fives and cheers along the way.
Speaking of chEARleaders - I have the best around! Seriously. My friend from back home, Danielle, and her daughter were at Walt Disney World to run the 1/2 Marathon and came out to chEAR for the 10K runners. After stopping for a brief hello with these ladies, we made our way around the boardwalk and suddenly all the squeals were happening...loudly. The one and only Lauren was out to chEAR! I swear that Lauren is one of the most amazing people...ever! I will go ahead and apologize on behalf of both of us for anyone that we woke, startled, or injured their hearing as a result of our excitement to be reunited.
After all of that was over, we continued our journey through Boardwalk and past the Swan & Dolphin hotel before heading towards Beach Club.
Our level of ridiculousness was being amplified by the minute at this point. With less than a mile to run, we got photo happy for sure. I decided that I needed a snack and chose an apple....wrong choice (see below - haha). We ran into another friend from back home, Julia, and ended up running the last mile and a half with her. It is always a great time running with friends, so it was awesome to run a bit with Julia.
I love the part where you are entering/existing the boardwalk because runners are high-fiving and cheering each other on. Now THAT is the way that a princess should act! As we started to enter in the final stretch in Epcot we ran into Sophia the First. Poor Sophia had no line waiting for a photo op, so we stopped and gave her some love.
With a quick little backstage stretch before re-entering Epcot for a bit in World Showcase before the grand finale in Future World, we made our way through the last mile.
As we rounded through Future World by The Seas with Nemo & Friends, we had some truly beautiful "creatures" out for a quick photo. I decided that in my next life I want to be a stilt walker ;-)
We were almost there! With a beautiful sun-rise reflecting off of Spaceship Earth, we were about .2 mile away from the 2nd finish line of the weekend!
Done and done! 2 races and 9.3 miles down, 1 race and 13.1 magical miles to go! It was such a wonderful morning of running with a number of friends along the way. Thank you to everyone who made this morning so special and magical!
After the race we grabbed a quick bite to eat at the resort and freshened up before heading to Disney Springs for the We Run Social Meet-Up and Hollywood Studios for some dinner.
Question of the Day: What is your favorite part of the Enchanted 10K course?
There are a number of reasons why I always enjoy runDisney 5Ks. Perhaps the biggest reason why our family takes part in the 5K is because they are casual - they are untimed and provide a great opportunity for some great character pictures along with a shakeout run to get ready for the 10K and 1/2 Marathon in the next two days.
Oh yea, and it provides another day of costume fun! If you followed my blog and social media over race weekend, you already knew what our theme was. If you didn't follow along (first, shame on you - lol), our theme for the Princess 5K was Sleeping Beauty.
We got to the race "dark & early" - like 4:30am early. Rather than dealing with stress of bus chaos for the later buses and backups at security, we always prefer to get on the early buses and just hang out and relax a bit before the race.
Since we got to the race so early, we decided to take advantage of character photo opportunities. Since the weekend was Little Mermaid themed this year, Ariel and Prince Eric were out for photos along with Sebastian. I couldn't resist a selfie opportunity with my favorite Disney crustacean, so we skipped the insane line for Ariel & Eric and went straight for Sebastian.
On our way to the corral, we met up with a number of friends along the way. Seeing my 'seagull singing' buddy, Meghan, is always a blast for sure. In the corral we met up with our friends from Atlanta - Kierstn and two of her daughters and Jennifer and her blazing fast son.
It was go time! With Rudy and Carissa joined by Ariel and Prince Eric, we were sent on our way of a 3.1 mile journey through Epcot.
The first mile is through the Imagination Lot of EPCOT before you enter into Epcot via a back-stage area. As you can probably imagination, there aren't any pictures from here because it was a parking lot at 6am. Don't worry though, you are still entertained with chEARleaders, cast members, and runners in some pretty awesome costumes. You enter Epcot's World Showcase and you can feel the magic instantly (if you haven't already).
Since the runDisney 5Ks are strictly about fun for our family, we obviously had to stop for some pretty great character pictures! While the characters out were a lot of the typical characters you can meet throughout the resort, they were in their beachy attire which was very appropriate for the Little Mermaid theme.
One of my absolute favorite places in Epcot's World Showcase is standing in Japan and admiring Spaceship Earth glowing across the lagoon.
I might have totally squealed aloud when we saw that Genie was on course this morning - and in his tourist attire at that. He is one of my favorites so of course we had to make the stop here. At this point, it had taken us about 30 minutes to go 1 1/2 miles - haha!
After heading through most of World Showcase, you take a brief exit just past France at International Gateway at around the mile 2 point.
With a brief portion backstage we hit our 2nd water station (runDisney is fabulous about making sure there are enough aid stations on course). We re-entered World Showcase by England and made our way continuing to visit the nations of the world.
We finally arrived at Spaceship Earth! Whooop! Don't get too excited yet, you have to take a slight detour over towards Future World by The Land and The Seas with Nemo and Friends before heading back towards Spaceship Earth and ultimately the finish line.
Done! Race 1 of 3 is done - 3.1 miles down, 19.3 to go!
We collected our bling, snapped a few pictures and headed back to the resort.
It was a great morning full of great memories (and pictures). I am glad that our family decides to run these races together because they create a lot of awesome memories for us.
After freshening up, we headed over to Grand Floridian for breakfast at 1900 Park Fare. This has become a family tradition for us to go to after the Princess 5K each year. What better way to carb-load for the 10K and 1/2 Marathon than with a buffet and Mickey waffles - duh!
After breakfast we headed over to Magic Kingdom for a little bit and enjoyed a few rides. We made sure to stay off of our feet too much though as we did have a 10K the next day. Also, early bedtimes were critical since we had to wake up at 2:30 the next morning...oh the joys of Disney races (but they are so worth it)!
The first finish line is crossed and two more to go!
Question of the Day: Who was your favorite character on the Princess 5K course?
It is time to kick off the 2016 runDisney Princess Half Marathon weekend! First stop of the weekend (other than the hotel for a few hours of shut-eye) - the expo! Y'all know that I love race expos - between checking out vendors, shopping for merchandise and meeting up with friends it is just time that I always enjoy about race weekends.
Mom and I knew that we wanted to get to the expo early that morning. While the Disney hotels offer complementary race weekend transportation to the races and expo, we opted for a $12 taxi ride instead since the buses did not start running until 9:30 and we wanted to get there a bit earlier than that. On opening morning, the lines for expo can get quite long as runners (and eBayers/personal shoppers) line up to be the first to get their hands on official race merchandise.
We arrived to ESPN Wide Wold of Sports about 8:30 to line up for the expo's 10:00 opening. When the taxi pulled up, there were a few others arriving as well, but not too many yet.
As we approached the buildings, there were two separate lines formed - one for official race merchandise and another for Princess Half Marathon Dooney & Bourke bags. While I used to be a handbag girl, they are not really my thing anymore (and the design didn't excite me much), so off to the official race merchandise line we went.
While the expo was not scheduled to open up until 10:00am, runDisney opened the doors at 9:30 at the 2016 Princess Half Marathon weekend was underway!
As we entered the expo, Kierstn (Kierstn's Marvelous Mouse Travels) and I both made the same observation - everyone was acting calm and civilized. No pushing, shoving, or running as we all entered the expo floor.
About a week before race weekend, the official race merchandise was released via Disney Parks Blog (well, a good portion of it). Everyone has now had a week to analyze what they were wanting to get their hands on so it made it easier for me to know what I was looking for. From tank tops, to hats, to jackets, wineglasses and more, there was a lot of gear fit for a princess.
As I entered the official race merchandise area, I knew that the three main things that I was wanting were the Glass Slipper Challenge hooded shirt, car magnet, and Tervis Tumbler. I swiftly gathered my items and moved off to the side to try on the shirt for sizing. Can I just say how annoying women's cut shirts can be sometimes to try to judge what size you need. Anyways, I digress.
There is a limited amount of space for the official merchandise, which means that only a limited amount of inventory can be on the shelves/racks at a time. For example, about 12-15 or so of each size jacket can be on the rack at once. Within minutes, the racks of jackets and wineglasses were wiped clean. Well, mass hysteria broke out!
"Princesses" were getting their tiaras in a tangle to say the least. While there was a lot of stock in the back to restock, things got CRAZY. As cast members were bringing out more merchandise, people were throwing fits (and even reports of punches) over items. I witnessed some of the absolute worst behavior out of grown people in the few minutes that I was in the official merchandise area. People were literally ripping jackets and wine glasses out of cast members' hands as they attempted to restock and shoving and grabbing items like it was a $399 70" TV on Black Friday. One person was purchasing 3 boxes of wineglasses! Seriously, dude!?!?! You and I both know exactly what he was doing with those 36+ wineglasses and it is not restocking his wine cabinet at home.
I was absolutely appalled watching such behavior go down. Momma K and I got what we wanted and quickly checked out before things got even crazier.
After leaving the official race merchandise area, I had an appointment to get my runDisney New Balance shoes! In the past, the New Balance virtual queue opened the morning of each expo morning to make your appointment, but they changed things up this time. The virtual queue opened at 7:00pm the night before for sign-up and still quickly filled up in just a few minutes. For more info on the New Balance Virtual Queue for future runDisney race weekends, get the details here.
This year's runDisney New Balance collection includes Mickey and Minnie along with Ariel and Dumbo. Mickey and Minnie are only available in adult sizes while Ariel and Dumbo were available in both adult and child sizes.
The New Balance process was very quick and easy. We arrived to the New Balance booth, checked in with a team member, and waited about 5 minutes for a sales associate to assist us in getting our sizes/styles.
I scored the yellow Minnies to complete my 2016 collection (I got Dumbo and Ariel at Marathon weekend last month) and Momma K picked up the Ariels.
Next we made our way through the expo floor checking out vendors including our favorites Sparkly Soul and Sparkle Athletic to see what new products they had for the weekend.
As we made our way around the expo, it wasn't too crowded on the expo floor. We were able to approach all of the booths easily and check everything out pretty easily. Granted, there were some booths that were a little crazy busy, but it wasn't bad. Of course we had to take advantage of some photo ops along the way - when else can we "break the tape"? ;-)
Remember how I said the official race merchandise line wasn't bad? Well, it GREW....A LOT! The line to check out was wrapped around out of the merchandise area. I must say though that the staff kept things very well organized and it was seeming to move pretty quickly.
After we were done shopping we made our way over to pick up our race bibs. Remember, your race bib won't go anywhere, so I always recommend getting this last if you are planning on shopping at expos.
After collecting our bibs, we had to head back over to the main expo to get our race shirts. At this point (around 11ish), there was a line formed outside to get into the expo building. While I was frustrated at first (and needed a snack), it was a continuously moving line and we were in within 3 minutes. The expo floor was definetly getting more crowded at this point.
We got our race shirts and gear check bags and made our way out within just a few minutes. Princess Half Marathon weekend expo 2016 was a success - now let's head to Epcot!
As I walked around the expo, I reflected on the situation that I just witnessed. While I could just dwell on the horrific and disgusting behavior of some people, I questioned about why this happened and how it could perhaps be resolved.
Limit Official Merchandise Purchasing to Runners Only First Day
While this seems like a great idea, I think this would only escalate the sell-out rate of already widely popular races. From the standpoint of a eBayer or personal shopper, if buying a $80-200 race entry was the ticket to be able to buy loads of merchandise then resell it at a ridiculously high premium a few hours later, races would sell out even faster. I could go on about my personal opinion of this practice, but that is how some people chose to make cash and I don't support it and I will just leave it at that.
Pre-Sell of Merchandise
runDisney has recently started offering pre-sale merchandise such as jackets and tumbler/hat/magnet combos of different merchandise that you cannot buy at the expo. I personally hate the idea of coughing up $90 for a jacket that I have no clue what it will look like (or how it will fit). If runDisney would release photos of the merchandise that they are pre-selling then do race weekend pickup for those items, it could definetly help with the matter. I think that a lot of people don't like the idea of buying sight unseen or spending that kind of additional money when registering for an already pricey race.
As I mentioned earlier, there was someone buying 3 cases of wineglasses. I am sorry, but that is just stupid. There needs to be quantity limits on items - PERIOD. I know that runDisney wants items to sell, but seriously?!?! If there were quantity limits of 2 or 4 per item per person (especially on the first day), runDinsey would still sell out of the same merchandise by the end of the expo because runners coming in later would be able to purchase as well. It is just deflating to see so many runners getting to the expo later in the day and not be able to buy merchandise. Yes, it is "stuff" and materialistic, but we all worked so hard to get here and it would be nice to be able to purchase a token of your race weekend experience.
Wide World of Sports is a HUGE complex. There has to be a better way to space things out so the official merchandise has more adequate space. There are actually two official race merchandise areas (the main one and a smaller one in another building), however only having 12-15 of each size jacket out is only asking for chaos/panic to happen when people think their size is sold out.
The "I Did It" shirts are set up in what I call a "concert t-shirt" style where you request a design and size and a cast member hands you the item that you are looking for. While this would require some extra effort on Disney's part, I think having a similar set up for jackets might be a good idea. Yes, we would all need to be a bit patient waiting in line for our size, but I would rather spend an extra 10 minutes in line than getting decked over a jacket.
Question of the Day: What is your favorite part about race expos?
I love to run and most importantly I love to have FUN while I run....I am the "Funner Runner"
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