Square Life Round World

I'm navigating through this round world while living a square life, and it fits exactly as it should.

RUNway Gear and Giveaway

I don’t know about you but I like to wear cute athletic gear when I work out.  One of my favorite things is running skirts.  I like to feel like a girl, even when sweating.  Plus, the skirts cover up my, um, backside.  Those of you who know me also know that I love theme races so I can run in costume.  That’s one of the things I like about Disney races.  As soon as I’ve registered for a race that lends itself to a costume, I get to planning.  Here is where my friend Vicky comes in.

RUNway Gear

RUNway Gear

Vicky has an Etsy shop called RUNway Gear, and she makes the most adorable running costumes.  If you can dream it, she can do it!  Some of the things she has made in the past include Mrs. Potato Head, a cowgirl, Jessica Rabbit, coronation Anna from Frozen, Dopey, and a NASA space suit for the Spacecoast Marathon, just to name a few.

Bettina as Mrs. Potato Head

Bettina as Mrs. Potato Head

Vicky in her NASA space suit ready for Spacecoast Marathon

Vicky in her NASA space suit ready for Spacecoast Marathon

Bettina as a Cowgirl

Bettina as a Cowgirl

Dopey

Dopey

She also makes super cute skirts either for racing or just training.

Love this cute skirt from RUNway Gear

Love this cute skirt from RUNway Gear

She sources out the cutest fabrics, and if you are looking for something in particular, she will stop at nothing to help you find it.  And yes, the fabrics she uses are suitable for athletic wear so no worries there.  She also makes headbands and can even customize them for you.  She can use the same fabric as she uses in her skirts if you like to be matchy-matchy (me) or she can embroider most anything you’d like on them.

Vicky can embroider what you want to make a custom headband for you or your team.

Vicky can embroider what you want to make a custom headband for you or your team.

I can see this working out great for cheer and dance teams, too.  She even makes other things runners would like such as lounge pants (hello comfort after a cold run), dish towels, and coffee sleeves.

Comfy lounge pants

Comfy lounge pants

Kitchen Gifts for the runner

Kitchen Gifts for the runner

Coffee Sleeves

Coffee Sleeves

Check out her Etsy shop here.  She also recently launched her Facebook page so be sure to check that out here.

Vicky has been generous enough to offer up one of her headbands for one of my readers.

One lucky ready will win this headband from RUNway Gear.

One lucky ready will win this headband from RUNway Gear.

You can enter by clicking the Rafflecopter link below.  Sweepstakes is open to US residents with a US shipping address only and is void where prohibited.  All entries are subject to verification.  The winner will be announced on Tuesday, July 8 and there are daily entries available.  Good luck!

Disclosure:  Vicky is a friend of mine and is providing a headband free to one reader.  I have not been provided any products for free nor have I been compensated in any way.  As always, all opinions are my own.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Navy 10 Nautical Miler Race Report

A little over 2 weeks ago, on June 8, I completed my first distance event since physical therapy, and it was awesome!  Well, the event was awesome!  My performance was a different story, but that was expected.

This is the only road race sanctioned by the US Navy.

This is the only road race sanctioned by the US Navy.

I went into the event almost completely untrained, and logic would say that I probably shouldn’t have even done it at all.  However, I wanted to do it, and so I decided to throw caution to the wind and went with the school of thought that it’s better to be under-trained and healthy than be over-trained and injured.  I decided I would run/walk as far as I could then just walk the rest.  I was confident I could finish without further injury by using this strategy, and I was right.

Before going forward, I will say that I don’t recommend this.  I don’t want anyone reading this thinking to themselves, “if she can do an event untrained then I can, too!”  Please keep in mind, I have trained for and completed several half marathons so I know how to hydrate, fuel, and pace myself.  I do think this is more than half the battle.  Training is more than just getting yourself physically ready.  It’s also practicing and experimenting with hydration and fuel so you know how to keep yourself going.  I know what works for me because I’ve spent a lot of time figuring it out.

Now about the event.  I really wanted to do this event last year.  Unfortunately it was cancelled due to the government sequester.  It is presented by the Navy, just like the Marine Corps Marathon is presented by the Marines.  While I don’t know all the details, the government cutbacks meant last year’s event had to be cancelled.  So, I was thrilled to learn it was on for 2014!

On Saturday, June 7, I went to packet pickup, which was held in the gym at the Navy base in Millington, TN.  I was expecting a normal packet pickup but when I got there, I found more of an expo set up.

I expected a small packet pickup but found an expo instead.

I expected a small packet pickup but found an expo instead.

There were several vendors and swag was plentiful!  Just from the vendors I got a tech shirt (not the race shirt), a fan, a pocket notebook, a thing to hold small items and hang around your neck, a plant, and a sweat towel.  Also, this does not even put a dent in all I could have gotten, but I only picked up things I thought I would use.

Freebies from vendors

Freebies from vendors

The official race swag came in a reusable tote, which contained my race bib, race tech shirt, event sticker for my car, koozie, cup with race logo, hot/cold pack with race logo, a motivational book, Gu, KT Tape, and Biofreeze.

Official Race Swag

Official Race Swag

This was by far the most generous goody bag I’ve ever gotten from a race and really set the tone for the rest of the event.

On Sunday morning, I left my house at 5 am for a 6 am start.  We had to line up 15 minutes early so the Captain could address us.  He explained the significance of the event, which I could create an entire story on.  The short version is that this event is the only road race measured in nautical miles (10 NM = approximately 11.5 land miles).  At sea level, 10 NM is the distance to the edge of the horizon.  Also, 10 NM is the distance the Allied Forces traveled on D-Day.  The first Navy 10 Nautical Miler was held on D-Day in 2010.  After the National Anthem and the Captain’s address, the wheelchair division got their start.  Before long, we were off, too!

The weather was gorgeous, mild and overcast.  It was a perfect day to run.  The course was beautiful, too.  We went around a golf course, through some rural areas, residential areas, and through the base.  I saw horses, and even a live skunk within spraying distance.  Luckily, it left me alone.  Course support was plentiful!  They had water and Gatorade at every nautical mile.  There were orange slices at 2 of the stops, and about halfway through, there was even a beer stop (not official).  In the residential area, neighborhood kids had their water guns, giving sprays to whomever wanted one, which was a fun touch.

It definitely took me much longer to finish than it would have if I were well-trained.  I walked most of it, but I did finish in relatively decent shape.  I was so excited to get my finisher medal!

I was thrilled to earn my anchor!

I was thrilled to earn my anchor!

I had been waiting a long time to earn that anchor.  I was also handed a cold towel, fresh from the cooler, right after getting my medal.  I think that was the most refreshing thing I’ve ever felt!  The post-race party got high marks from me, too.   Food was plentiful!  Beer was freely flowing, and water and Gatorade were in abundance!  I also saw chocolate milk available, too.  Food items I saw included chicken and biscuits, macaroni and cheese, breakfast potatoes, pizza, waffles, and Krispy Kreme donuts.

Overall, this was one of the most well-run local events I’ve done.  I enjoyed every aspect of it, and I hope to have the opportunity to do it again next year and redeem myself.

Don’t forget to enter my Coppertone Clearlysheer sunscreen giveaway!  Click here for details on how to enter.

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I’m a Bad Blogger!

I guess you’ve noticed by now I’ve been a little MIA lately.  Sorry for that!  Have you ever felt totally overwhelmed with life in general to the point that you can only focus and complete what absolutely has to happen at that particular moment and everything else gets put on the back burner?  That’s been me lately.  Between work, a huge list of things around the house that need attention, and my running woes, I haven’t really had the mental capacity to fill you all in on what’s been going on.  I’ve been doing some fun things that I’m sure you all would love to read about, and if you follow me on Twitter and Instagram you might already know about some of it.  However, when it comes time to share after the fact, I’m already in the mentality of handling what’s next on my it-has-to-get-done-now list.   I deeply apologize and hope you’ll stick with me while I catch you up.

So, here are a few of the things I’ve been doing this year (I do plan to write more in-depthly in the coming weeks about these things).

  • I took a semi-last minute trip to New York in January with a girlfriend of mine.  It was my first time going!
  • My family booked our third Disney Cruise Line trip, which will be coming up next year.
  • I once again registered as a St. Jude Hero for the Memphis St. Jude Half Marathon.  To support me, visit my fund-raising page here.
  • Over Memorial Day weekend I spent 24 consecutive hours in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World for the Rock Your Disney Side 24 Hour Event.
  • I also took some extra time to enjoy some of the special things happening during Star Wars Weekends at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
  • I finished my first distance event since being injured–the Navy 10 Nautical Miler.
  • I’ve been working with a company called BzzAgent and will be bringing you a Coppertone product review and giveaway soon.
  • I’m also working with a company called Influenster and will be reviewing their Spring Fling Vox Box.
  • I’ve also had a request from a reader to share exactly how I went from couch to half marathoner.  I’ve touched on my story a little bit but I never really shared what happened between point A and point B.
  • Finally, I have developed a summer slush recipe that my family loves and I hope yours will, too.

So, what story should I tackle first?  What are you most interested in?

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Rock and Roll Nashville–The Verdict

Peeps, this post kind of kills me a little.  If you will recall, a few weeks ago I posted about the decision I was trying to make regarding whether to do Rock and Roll Nashville or not.  I got lots of great feedback, and y’all were so encouraging to me.  I confess I did leave a pretty critical piece of information out of that post, the most important piece, in fact.  So, here goes.  I’m injured.  I have been diagnosed with Insertional Achilles Tendonitis.

It's just not in the cards for me this year.

It’s just not in the cards for me this year.

This thing has been nagging me since last September.  I have babied the heck out of it.  I’ve rested plenty, even taking off completely since January.  Truth is, I have been very fearful that it wasn’t gone, even with that much rest.  I think deep down inside I knew there was still an issue that would show it’s ugly head as soon as my feet hit the pavement again, and that it did.

Now, I don’t really mind pushing through the pain.  I know as runners, a few aches and pains along the way are going to happen.  I also know that we have to be smart and listen to what our bodies are telling us.  The pain got to a point that I would call excrutiating after a 4-miler.  I knew I had to see a professional.

The good news is that after 6 weeks of physical therapy I’ve been cleared to resume my normal intensity again.  The bad news is normal intensity does not equate to normal mileage.  In fact, my therapist told me to not even think in terms of miles for a while, think time instead.  How much time?  Um, 20 minutes.  So, yeah, a half at the moment is out.   

There are so many things I hate about this.  First of all, I have never missed a half that I was registered for, except for St. Jude, which was cancelled.  Second, I really wanted to do the race.  I know it was going to be fun!  Just a few weeks ago, an announcement was made about a bonus medal St. Jude Heroes would get for raising at least $100 for Nashville and Memphis this year. 

This would have been some nice bonus bling!

This would have been some nice bonus bling!

No bonus bling for me!  Also, within the hour of my diagnosis I got an email announcing the line-up for the post-race concert.  I can tell you, that didn’t help at all!  Finally, not being able to run, not knowing when I’ll be able to distance train again, not knowing how to plan for the future, and not knowing how long it will take me to get back to where I was just plain sucks!  I’m not going to lie.  I’m cranky about it.   

So, there ya have it!  You can bet I’ll be finding alternate forms of working out so I don’t lose fitness while I’m rehabing.  I’m not going to take this lying down, or even sitting down.  I’ve been doing T25 for cross training, although I have to stick to the low impact modified moves so as not to put more stress on my Achilles.  My next big event is in June so I’m keeping my eye on that one.

Good luck to all my runner friends this weekend!  It looks like y’all have a nice day ahead of you.  I really wish I could join you!

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My Quest For Half Fanatics Part Three–Herb Parsons Trail Half Marathon

In case you missed it, parts 1 and 2 were about the Memphis Greenline Half and the runDisney Wine and Dine Half, respectively.  Part 3 was supposed to be about the Memphis St. Jude Half but Mother Nature intervened with an ice storm that caused the race to be cancelled.

Just to review, the basic Half Fanatic requirement is 3 half marathons in 90 days.  Since the first of 3 was on October 13, I’d have until around January 13, to get the third.  With this in mind, I spent the week after the cancelled race scouring the interwebs for anything within driving distance that would help me reach my goal.  I came up empty and resigned myself to just having to try again later.

Then fate intervened, or something like that.  Right before the new year, one of my local friends posted in a Facebook running group we both are members of that she was doing this local trail half on Sunday, January 5, so she could “moon up” this year in Half Fanatics (you can achieve higher levels of membership by completing more half marathons in a year, among other things).  I was elated!  I was going to get to be a Half Fanatic after all!  I completely ignored the part about it being a trail run.  I don’t have trail shoes.  I’m not trail trained.  I’m not sure I’ve ever even set foot on anything that can be considered a bona fide trail for longer than maybe a quarter of a mile.  I had no idea what I was in for.  I also completely ignored the weather, until after I had registered.  Pretty much as soon as I got the email confirmation of my registration, it was only then that I thought to check the forecast.  Freezing rain and snow.  Here we go again!

As the weather forecast continued to materialize over the course of the rest of the week, here’s how things were shaping up: a balmy mid to upper 40s at the start with a cold front moving in throughout the morning, bringing rain and wind, changing over to freezing rain and snow by early afternoon.  Cool!  I’ll be way done by early afternoon, I thought.  And that’s pretty much how the weather went down.  Except I wasn’t done by early afternoon.  See, here’s what happens when 30 mile per hour winds combine with pouring rain and falling temps in the mid to lower 30s within a half hour of race start:  the trail gets muddy.  You get soaked.  No amount of layered wicking clothing can keep you anywhere close to dry in that kind of rain.  A muddy trail without being trail trained and having no trail shoes means you fall down in the mud.  A lot.  Falling in the mud means you become muddy on top of being wet.  And sore.  There were parts of the trail where I literally had to climb up hills while holding on to tree trunks.  Another runner had to pull me out of the mud at one point, otherwise I might still be lying there (I kid). 

This hill was more steep than it looks.  It's where I took my first muddy tumble.

This hill was more steep than it looks. It’s where I took my first muddy tumble.

Other parts were so slippery I had to hang on to trees, almost swinging from trunk to trunk to keep moving forward while trying to stay vertical.  Also, the trail was not marked very well, and I thought I was lost more than once or twice.

Where do I go?

Where do I go?

 

I could go on and on about how miserable it was and how long it took me to finish, but I think you probably get the idea.  It wasn’t all bad, though.  The aid stations, although there were only 3 (well, 2 but we passed one twice), were very well stocked.  Of course you would expect water and electrolyte of some sort but there was also sodas, cookies, chips, m and ms, and chocolate candy bars.  This was much welcomed because I did not anticipate taking as long as I did to finish, and I was out of fuel by the halfway mark.  The sugar and salty snacks helped tremendously!  Also, Herb Parsons is a beautiful lake area, and had it not been pouring rain, I think it would have been very peaceful and enjoyable.

Herb Parsons Lake

Herb Parsons Lake

I’m so glad I did it, though.  Not only did I reach my goal of becoming a Half Fanatic, I found an inner strength I didn’t know I had.

Some of my clothes did not make it.

Some of my clothes did not make it.

 

I finished!

I finished!

I could have quit at three points in the race, but I didn’t.  Quitting is just not an option as far as I’m concerned.  Would I do it again?  Not in those conditions.  I would do a trail again, though, even that trail.  I would incorporate trails into my regular workouts and work my way up in trail mileage, however.  I completely underestimated how much more challenging a trail can be.  I would also get some trail shoes.

What’s the most challenging race you’ve ever finished?  What did you learn?

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My Quest For Half Fanatics Part One–Memphis Greenline Half

Back in the summer when I was figuring out my race schedule and training plan for the rest of 2013, it occurred to me that on the weekend I had a 12.5 mile planned, there was a half marathon starting and finishing in the very park where I’d be doing my 12.5 and covered much of the same ground I’d be covering anyway.  When I also realized that it, along with the other 2 half marathons I already had planned, would qualify me for Half Fanatics, it became a no-brainer.  A few clicks later, I was registered.

Greenline Half Marathon

Greenline Half Marathon

So Half Fanatics is kind of like a club for people who like to run half marathons.  The minimum requirement to qualify for membership is either finishing 2 half marathons in a 2-week period or 3 in 90 days.  I never really thought that I would get an opportunity to qualify so when I saw that I did, I jumped on it.  I also became really excited about it.

Half Fanatics

Half Fanatics

On October 13, 2013, the day had come for me to begin my quest.

Flat me for Greenline Half

Flat me for Greenline Half

The day started out with fairly good running weather.  It was foggy, so it was humid but temps were not too bad.  Even once the fog lifted it was overcast for a while.  It was right around mile 6 before the clouds lifted and the sun came out.

I am one who obsesses over weather.  That is the one thing that can ruin my run faster than anything, even faster than hydration or nutrition issues.  I don’t do well in heat and sun so as long as it’s overcast, I am usually ok.  If the sun comes out and temps start rising, I can have problems and they can happen fast!  So the sun was not a welcome sight to me that day.  By mile 7 I had abandoned the run for the most part and resigned myself to walking only.  However, here is where I came to appreciate what I would consider my favorite part of the race.  National Guardsmen were riding the course with us on ATVs.  I guess one of them could see that I was having a hard time and kept circling around me, talking to me and encouraging me.  It felt like I had my own private escort, and it helped me so much.  Before long, I was right back at running.  Somewhere between 8 and 9 my runner’s high kicked in and my legs just kind of did their thing without me having to worry about it.  At mile 11 I was struggling again.  By mile 12 I was just ready for it to be over and 1.1 miles later, it was.

Overall, this was definitely not my favorite race, and it has nothing to do with struggling in the sun for a few miles.  It was a very small race, less than 200 runners.  While I appreciate a course that is not crowded, when you have 200 runners spread out over 13.1 miles, not only is it not crowded, it is pretty much empty.  So, except for the National Guard escorts (which I LOVED), it really felt more like a training run with course support than a race.  It was also boring.  The only real scenic areas were in the park and along the Memphis Greenline.  I’m on those trails all the time anyway so it wasn’t new for me.  The spectator support was non-existent.  We went through a few residential areas but no one seemed interested.

It wasn’t all bad, though.  Like I said, I loved having the Guard riding along side me at times.

It was fun having these guys ride along side us on the course.

It was fun having these guys ride along side us on the course.

The awards were really cool, too, for the winners.  I also really loved the start.  Again, it was foggy out, and instead of a vocalist to perform the national anthem, there was a violinist.  It was beautiful and serene.

The start was very peaceful.

The start was very peaceful.

Finishers did get a medal, which is always fun.

The finisher's medal features a buffalo, symbolic of the park.

The finisher’s medal features a buffalo, symbolic of the park.

The after party was fun, too, with a band and Mexican food.  The only bummer about that is they ran out of plates so I didn’t get any food.  A funny story about that is what happened as I was leaving.  I had given up on food and started walking the quarter-mile back to my car, all downhill.  I was almost to my car when I heard a guy behind me trying to get my attention.  He ran all the way down the hill to tell me they had found more plates.  Bless his heart!  I thanked him but there was no food in the world that was worth walking back up that hill for.

The most unique feature of this race is that it is the only green certified sporting event in the state of Tennessee.  Everything about this race is designed to reduce the carbon footprint compared to that of a traditional event.  The tech shirt we got as part of our registration is actually made from recycled milk cartons and feels so soft.

The race tech shirt is made from recycled milk cartons.

They asked that we bring our own water bottles to cut down on race waste, which I always do anyway.  They had battery and cell phone recycling stations at the start/finish line area.  The awards that I mentioned earlier were made by locals artists out of reclaimed wood from the park, and were really neat.

The awards were made by local artists and were really cool!

The awards were made by local artists and were really cool!

Would I do it again?  Maybe if I needed a training run of around that distance at around the same time, as was the case this time.  As a stand-alone or target event, I wouldn’t recommend it unless a person needs a race with virtually no crowds.  I do hope the event continues for many years to come.  It raises funds for the Shelby Farms Greenline, which is important to me.

With that, I was one-third of the way toward my goal of becoming a Half Fanatic.

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Mission: Bondi Band Ragnar Team

Bondi Band recently announced it will be sponsoring a team at Ragnar Adirondacks and at Ragnar Las Vegas. I read this one morning as I was trying to wake from my sleepy slumber. I first thought, “Oh, cool! I can’t wait to follow along with that!” Then I kept reading. They are looking for female bloggers to be on their teams. Wait! What?! I’m a female blogger! That got my attention. I was wide awake then.

Bondi Band announces its team sponsorship for Ragnar Adirondacks and Las Vegas.

Bondi Band announces its team sponsorship for Ragnar Adirondacks and Las Vegas.

Ragnar is totally on my race priority list (I don’t like the term “bucket list”). It’s a 12 person team relay across 200 miles of wherever that particular location is. It’s a constant race, so that means middle-of-the-night and daytime running. It’s basically a two-day road trip meets camping trip meets road races of varying distances. It’s pretty much everything I love about life. Sounds like a BLAST! So, I want in!

So, why do I want to be on Team Bondi Band? First off, I love the idea of running as a team sport. I started running for myself, by myself over two years ago. Along the way, I’ve met some of the best people and have made some really amazing friendships. It’s the camaraderie that keeps me going. That’s what makes Ragnar so appealing.

Next, I’m a huge Bondi Band fan! I cannot think of any other product I’d be happier to be associated with than it. Don’t believe me? Check out my collection!

My Bondi Band collection

My Bondi Band collection

Finally, I’m ready for a new challenge. My initial goal when I started running was to complete a half marathon. I’ve completed 5 now, the biggest challenge of which was a trail half marathon, in rain, sleet and snow, with 30 mph winds, in the mud.

I've completed 5 half marathons and several other races of varying distances.

I’ve completed 5 half marathons and several other races of varying distances.

I’m not afraid to try anything. I set a goal, and I work toward it. Finishing is the only option. I’ve lost 30 pounds so far on this journey, and my speed improves every month. Ragnar will be a huge challenge, maybe the biggest I’ve faced so far. I’m 100% confident I’m up to it.

Stay tuned to see who will be on Team Ragnar Las Vegas and Adirondacks. I hope I’m lucky enough to be a part of the story. It will definitely be the experience of a lifetime!

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To Do Rock and Roll Nashville or Not

To do Rock and Roll Nashville or not, that is the question.  If you recall back in December when the Memphis St. Jude Marathon Weekend was cancelled (I was registered for the half) we were given an option of registering for one of three upcoming Rock and Roll events in lieu of a refund.  I chose to register for Nashville.  Fast forward 2 months and now I’m having second thoughts.  Let’s go through the pros and cons and hopefully I can make a decision once and for all.

Rock and Roll Nashville

Rock and Roll Nashville

Pros

  1. It’s a race that’s always been on my radar and it’s unlikely I’ll ever get another opportunity to participate without paying a registration fee again.
  2. I’ve heard so many great things about this race.  Local spectator support is supposed to be second to none.
  3. There are country music bands at each mile marker.
  4. It’s a destination race within driving distance.
  5. My sister and her family live there. (Whether or not they would come out to support me is unknown at this point but it’s nice to know I have family nearby.)
  6. It’s a goal to work toward that would get me back on a training plan, which is always good for my personal fitness.
  7. Training weather should be great.
  8. Race weather should be great as well.
  9. runDisney usually is there, and they give out pretty sweet sling bags if you register for one of their races.  I’m planning on going back for Wine and Dine weekend this year.  While I’ll already be registered for the half by then, I plan to do the 5k and can register for that then.
  10. I’ve never done a Rock and Roll event, and it would be an opportunity to try one out.

Cons

  1. I would have to board my dog for yet another weekend trip.
  2. Hotel rooms are pretty outrageous in downtown Nashville for that weekend.  (I already have one booked, and I’m still suffering from sticker shock.)
  3. Hills!  Oh the hills!  I don’t have access to hills here in Memphis to train on that would even come close to the hills on that race course.
  4. For some reason even though it’s a random weekend in April, three people in my office want that Friday off.  Only one of us can have it and since I’m the manager I get to decide.  I feel guilty taking it away from someone else.
  5. I would have to get on the training pretty immediately since I haven’t run since the Minnie 10k.
  6. I’m not sure my heart is in it.  This is probably the biggest con.  If I’m going to spend that much for a race weekend, I feel like I need to be excited about it.  For some reason, I’m not.

So, what do you think?  Should I do it or not?  I probably need to decide this week.  I’m open to any and all thoughts.

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Volunteering at runDisney’s Marathon Weekend

About a month ago, I headed down to my favorite place, the Walt Disney World Resort, to volunteer at runDisney’s Marathon Weekend.  As you may know, I’ve participated as a runner in several runDisney events but never as a volunteer.  Without the volunteers, the races simply would not be possible so I was excited to experience that side of it.

Volunteer registration for runDisney events is just about as popular as runner registration.  Many events fill up within hours of registration so it takes some planning if you want to participate.  Several of my friends and I wanted to volunteer together so when registration opened up, we were in communication with each other almost immediately so we could coordinate our requests.  During the registration process, you actually choose what assignment you want and what location on the course.  The assignments include bag check, screaming fan, water stops, food stops, and even volunteers helping to check volunteers in.  My group chose the food stop for the half marathon, which was Clif gel and the water stop at mile 13.1 for the full marathon.

For this event, volunteer registration opened up about 3 months prior.  Assignments are not guaranteed so even if you register, your request is not guaranteed.  In my group, we all got our requests, though.  About a month before the event, I got a letter in the mail confirming my assignment and giving final instructions.  We were also required to pick up our volunteer credentials prior to the event.  For locals, runDisney had several options prior to the expo.  Credential pick-up was also available at the expo for those from out-of-town.  Since most of us were also running the 10k, we had to go to the expo anyway so expo pick-up was very convenient.  My flight was delayed so my friend Heather ended up picking up my credentials for me.

Both of our shifts were from 4 am to 11 am so we had to get up super early, 2:30 am.  Transportation is not provided to the volunteer staging area so Heather drove us there.  We left the resort around 3:30 for a 4 am arrival because we knew there would be road closures due to the race.  The staging area was at the Blizzard Beach parking lot.  When we got there, a huge tent was set up for volunteer check-in.  We walked in, they scanned our credentials, directed us to jacket pick-up and then to snack pick-up.  For snacks, we were each given a big Ziploc bag and were told to pick out 5 snacks.  I got fruit snacks, Chex mix, an Uncrustables, a granola bar and some trail mix.  Within minutes we were through the check-in area and headed to find our numbered bus, which matched the number on our credentials.  In true Disney fashion it was all super organized and effortless.

Half Marathon Volunteer Jacket and Credential

Marathon Volunteer Jacket and Credential

Marathon Volunteer Jacket and Credential

Around 4:30 am our bus took off for our assignment location.  For the half marathon, we were stationed at the Clif gel stop, and there was quite a bit of setup to be done once we got there.

Mocha Clif Gel with Caffiene

Mocha Clif Gel with Caffeine

Tables had to be set up, and we opened the boxes of gel.  Everything had to be sanitized, too, and we were required to wear rubber gloves when handling the product.

Our Group ready to hand out lots of Clif Mocha gel

Our Group ready to hand out lots of Clif Mocha gel

Once we got everything set up, there was a little time before the first runners were expected so a few of us walked to the Hess station right up the road.  I was thankful for real restrooms nearby.  Once the runners started getting to our area, everything moved very quickly.  There was a little bit of a learning curve to holding the gel so the runner can grab it on the way by.  It really only took a few hours for all of the runners to come through and then it was time to break everything down.  Breakdown was a breeze and pretty soon it was time to get back on the bus to Blizzard Beach.  Once we got back to the staging area, we had to be checked out just as we were checked in.  Once again, our credentials were scanned, and we handed in our one day park ticket vouchers in exchange for the ticket.

The next morning, we did it all over again.  For the full marathon, we were stationed at the 13.1 mile water stop right outside of Animal Kingdom.

Water ready to hand out

Water ready to hand out

In fact, we were right behind the Dinosaur ride building, and once the park opened, I could hear the sounds from the ride.  Again, we had to set everything up including the tables and this time, pour the cups of water.

Our group ready to hand water out

Our group ready to hand water out

Everything once again moved quickly once it started.  Again, there was a learning curve to balancing the cups on your hand so the runners could grab them.  This part was tougher than I thought.  Holding your arm out, balancing a cup of water on it for 3 hours straight was not easy.

One of my favorite parts of volunteering was being able to see the race from start to finish.  Runner interaction was great for both races.  I also got to see all of my friends who were running, some of whom even stopped for pictures with us.

Our friend Aimee took time out of her race to stop for a pic with us.

Our friend Aimee took time out of her race to stop for a pic with us.

Day 2 Erica and Aimee stopped for a pic with us, looking great at the halfway point!

Day 2 Erica and Aimee stopped for a pic with us, looking great at the halfway point!

I saw one of my sorority sisters from college whom I’ve not seen in 18 years!  I also was able to spend quality time with some of my favorite running friends volunteering with me.  I loved getting to know them better!

As an incentive, volunteers always get snacks and a piece of apparel to wear for the shift, which you get to keep.  In this case, we got jackets both days, and we were thrilled when we found out they were different for the different events.  When volunteering for a half or the full marathon, volunteers also get a one day park ticket, so we each got two.  What I was given doesn’t expire until March of next year so hopefully I can plan a trip between the time my annual pass expires and the time these passes expire to put them to use.

I learned some things from volunteering.  You’ll get dirty, much dirtier than I anticipated.  The water stops are WET!  Yes, that should go without saying, but I didn’t think to wear old shoes.  About halfway through the second day I started calling out names on the bibs to give as many people as I could a little lift.  The response from that was overwhelming!  I wish I had done that from the very beginning.  I had no idea what hard work volunteering was.  Many runners thanked us, and yes, it felt great when they did.  I was actually almost as tired and sore after volunteering as I am after running.  Almost.  Would I do it again?  Absolutely!

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WDW Inaugural Minnie 10k

On Friday, January 10 I got to participate in the Inaugural Minnie 10k as part of Marathon Weekend at the Walt Disney World Resort.  For daytime races, this always means a very early wake up call.  2:30 came very early, especially since my body was on Central time which means it felt like 1:30 to me.  Buses started running at 3:30, which seems a bit insane for a 5:30 start.  However, it really does take that much time to get 10,000 runners in place for an on-time start.

Minnie 10k starting line

Minnie 10k starting line

The first 3 miles were a bit boring.  I knew this part was outside of the parks but I thought there would be lots of character stops and other entertainment to distract us from 3 miles of boring, straight road.  Unfortunately, there was only a DJ right after the start and one character stop that I saw before entering Epcot.

This DJ was right after the start of the Minnie 10k.

This DJ was right after the start of the Minnie 10k.

I did take time to stop at each and every mile marker to have my pic taken, which I’ve never done.  Lines were really long for the character stops but not too bad for the mile markers.

All the Mile Markers

All the Mile Markers

After the first 3 miles, we headed into Epcot by way of a backstage entrance close to Test Track.  There were several more character stops in Epcot, but lines were still longish.  We ran about halfway around World Showcase before heading out to the Boardwalk area.  A great part about this leg of the race is access to real restrooms.  I took the opportunity to stop in Germany.  Here, I ran into my friends Heather, Katie, Sarah, Jenn, and Penny, who were all running together.  They passed me shortly after I saw them.  We ran past Boardwalk, circled around by the Swan and Dolphin resorts, past Yacht and Beach Club resorts, then back to the International Gateway.

Football Goofy by the Boardwalk

Football Goofy by the Boardwalk

I ran into my friends again, who were in line for Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum.  They motioned for me to join them in line so I did.  We only took one pic with all of us, so it’s not like my joining them held the line up.

Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum at the Minnie 10k

Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum at the Minnie 10k

I stuck with them for most of the rest of Epcot.  We spotted Chip and Dale, and since we were close to the end, we took time to jump in that line, too.  I love how this pic turned out.

Chip and Dale at the Minnie 10k

Chip and Dale at the Minnie 10k

I again kept up with them until we got to the 6 mile marker.  I wanted my pic with it so I got in that line and they kept going.

I had plenty of energy to sprint to the finish and just like that, the Inaugural Minnie 10k was over!

The finish line at the Minnie 10k

The finish line at the Minnie 10k

My thoughts about this race are mixed.  I loved the race shirt, bib and medal!

Love the shirt, bib and medal!

Love the shirt, bib and medal!

I also really loved that lots of people were dressed in costumes, and most everyone I saw was running for fun.  It makes for a very fun race when everyone around you is enjoying it.  I really thought they should have stepped up the entertainment for the boring first 3 miles.  There were also too few water stops, only 3 for the entire race.  It was a very warm and humid morning, and 3 stops for more than 6 miles is not enough.  There were also all water stops only, no electrolytes.  This needs to be corrected.  I did like the post-race food box.

Minnie 10k runDisney food box

Minnie 10k runDisney food box

These tend to still get mixed reviews but I think they are great.  They seem to be stepping it up on the contents, too.  Hello, Skittles!

Would I do it again?  I don’t know.  Maybe.  I like the distance for what it was to me, a way to participate without having a race be the center of my vacation.  The purpose of my trip was to volunteer (more on that later).  It was nice not to have pre-race jitters, not have to deal with the usual taper stress and not have to watch what I ate and drank the days before.  I was also ready to head straight to the parks after a quick shower, so it was nice to have that extra energy.  I still like the half distance for when the race is the main part of my vacation, though.  Minnie seemed impressed to finally have her own race, too.

Minnie loved that she was featured on the 10k medal!

Minnie loved that she was featured on the 10k medal!

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