"If you can dream it, you can do it." -Walt Disney

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Twas the Day After Christmas

Christmas has come and gone and we are hurtling towards the new year. I should probably be focusing on run stuff and making all my healthy New Year's resolutions, but I am cold. The wind chill here only just raised to an entire degree above zero within this past hour. It had been below zero all morning. I guarantee I will not be doing any running today because I love this thing called "keeping warm." Only one thing is dominating my mind today: hot tea. Well, that and I realized I don't own any sweaters and my favorite pair of boots were destroyed by a rogue can of hairspray during my Wine & Dine Half Marathon trip. My mind is scolding myself for always looking at happy summer dresses instead of sometimes focusing on warm things.

And yes, I realize this post, so far, has nothing to do with running. But, in case you haven't caught on...it's cold!!

Ok, enough of that. When it is this cold outside, I love hearty meals such as stews and chunky soups. And I especially love shepherd's pie. It is great comfort food. So let me share one of my favorite recipes, but taken to a more healthy level.

Photo source: skinnytaste.com

Shepherd's Pie, Lightened Up
From skinnytaste.com

  • 1.5lbs Yukon gold potatoes, peeled & diced
  • 3/4 cup fat free chicken broth
  • 2 tbsp fat free sour cream
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • paprika

  • 1lb 95% lean ground beef
  • 1 tsp oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • 8oz mushrooms, diced
  • 10oz frozen mixed vegetables
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1 cup fat free beef broth
  • 2 tsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp fresh chopped rosemary
  • 1 tsp freshly chopped thyme
  • salt & pepper to taste

Boil potatoes in water until cooked and soft. Drain and mash with chicken broth, sour cream, salt and pepper. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Brown meat in a large saute pan. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside on plate when cooked. Discard any fat in the pan, add oil, onion, and garlic, and saute on medium heat about 2 minutes. Add mushrooms and celery and saute another 3-4 minutes. Add flour, salt, and pepper and mix well. Add frozen vegetables, beef broth, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, rosemary, thyme, cooked meat, and mix well. Simmer on low about 5-10 minutes. Spread the meat mixture on the bottom of an 11x7 glass baking dish. Top with mashed potatoes, using a fork to scrape the top to make ridges. Sprinkle with paprika. Bake 20 minutes, or until potatoes turn golden. Remove from oven and let cool 10-15 minutes before serving to give it a chance to set.

Servings: 6 Serving Size: 10.5oz
Per serving..
Calories: 290.5  Fat: 11.1g Protein: 16.8g Carbs: 31.5g Fiber: 4.9g

*I make a few changes to this recipe. For an even leaner version, I use lean ground turkey. The only vegetables I use are corn, carrots, and peas. This means I also eliminate the celery and mushrooms. I use garlic powder and onion powder in place of actual onion and garlic since I always have that on hand so it doesn't require I buy additional items. And while I have not tried it yet, this can be even healthier using mashed cauliflower, which is a great low carb alternative to potatoes.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Inaugural Disneyland 10K Announced!

Have you heard the news?

runDisney announced yesterday that the Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend will now include a 10K! This brand new event will take runners through the Disneyland park, Disney's California Adventure, and onto the streets of Anaheim. It is scheduled for August 31, 2013.

And if that isn't enough, you will have an opportunity to register for the Dumbo Double Dare. Similar to Goofy's Race and a Half Challenge, the Dumbo Double Dare are for those interested in completing the 10K AND Half Marathon, a total of 19.3 miles. Finishers will not only receive their medals for those races, but will also receive a special medal for completing the Dare.

Watch the video for your invitation!

Interested in signing up? Registration opens January 22, 2013!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Home is Now Behind You, the World is Ahead

Friday, December 14th, was the opening day for the anticipated Peter Jackson movie, The Hobbit. I won't spend time on this blog giving out spoilers for those of you who have not seen it yet, but I will say there is running. A lot of running.

All this running reminded me of a challenge that I came across several years ago: the Walk to Rivendell Challenge.

The original challenge began in March 2003, as a way for Lord of the Rings fans to combine their love of the books/movies with exercise. The idea was that every mile represented a part of the journey that Frodo, Sam, Pippin, Merry, and eventually Aragorn made from Hobbiton to Rivendell. The cumulative journey was 458 miles.

The original journey ended at Rivendell. But as the popularity of the challenge grew, so did the challenge itself. The challenge now covers the journey all the way to Mt. Doom to Aragorn's coronation, back to Bag End, and even to the Grey Havens and back with Sam. Not only that, but the challenge has now incorporated Bilbo's journey from The Hobbit.

If you are looking for an interesting way to add a bit of fun to your fitness routine, I definitely encourage you to check this challenge out. This won't give you pointers on anything, and it isn't designed to be a specific plan to follow. It is simply a way to see where you are with the Fellowship or with Bilbo as you "walk" through Middle-earth. You'll want a way to be able to track your distance, such as a GPS watch (there are also apps that track this), or make sure you are paying attention to the distance on your treadmill if you are staying indoors. That way, you can check out the challenge and see where you are. One thing I want to point out: the challenge might say something like "18 miles" for any given day. That is not what it is telling you to do for that day. It is simply saying how far the characters traveled on that particular day. Go however far you are able.

Sound interesting and fun? Join the Walk to Rivendell (and beyond!) Challenge! I think I will be participating again.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Disneyland Half Marathon to Open Soon!

Have you been waiting for the 2013 Disneyland Half Marathon to open its registration? Do not fear...the day is arriving!

runDisney has announced that registration for the Disneyland Half will open on January 22, 2013. Taking place on September 1, 2013 with a 5:45am start time, the race will begin in the Disneyland park, go through Disney's California Adventure, and then wind its way through the streets of Anaheim before ending back near the Disneyland Hotel.

If you wanted to complete your Coast to Coast challenge in 2013 but were unable to get into the Tinker Bell Half Marathon, this is your only other chance to participate in the Disneyland portion of the challenge.

Mark your calendars for the registration! As always, spots are limited for the races, but the Disneyland Half tends to sell out considerably more quickly due to the fact that there are only two half marathons at Disneyland. This isn't the race to sit back and dawdle on if you are seriously interested in it. And just in case you forget about registration, make sure you sign up here to be notified of when it opens up.

And don't worry... I will post all the details once they are available!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

2013 Expedition Everest Challenge Registration OPEN!

Ready to take a run on the wild side? The 2013 Expedition Everest Challenge registration officially opened today!

Starting at 10pm on May 4, 2013, the Expedition Everest Challenge is a timed endurance event that combines a 5K through an obstacle strewn course with the fun of a scavenger hunt. Set in the Animal Kingdom park, you will take on your own adventure to the finish line where you will receive a special edition compass finisher medal. Then, after your race, enjoy the rest of the night at the Expedition Everest Challenge Post Race Party, which starts at 11pm! This is runDisney's only other night race.

Check out the course map!

Here are the details...

Expedition Everest Challenge (10pm)
Individual Registration
  • $110 between December 11, 2012 - January 29, 2013
  • $120 between January 30, 2013 - March 20, 2013
  • $130 between March 21, 2013 - May 4, 2013
Team Registration
  • $220 between December 11, 2012 - January 29, 2013
  • $240 between January 30, 2013 - March 20, 2013
  • $260 between March 21, 2013 - May 4, 2013
Challenge participants will receive a Champion unisex short-sleeved tech shirt, personalized race bib (if you register before March 8, 2013), ChronoTrack B-Tag Timed Event with live runner tracking sign up for family and friends, a finisher medal, post race refreshments, and admission to the post race party.

runDisney Kids Races (11am)
  • $20 (ages 4-10)

Pre-Race Picnic (11am - 2pm)
  • $18 per person
Food includes 1 sandwich item (chicken sandwich, pulled pork sandwich, hot dog, hamburger or veggie wrap), chips or fruit, a cookie, and water, juice, or soda.

Post-Race Party Tickets (11pm - 3am)*
Adults (ages 10 and up)
  • $49 on or before March 20, 2013
  • $59 on or after March 21, 2013
Children (ages 3-9)
  • $25 on or before March 20, 2013
  • $30 on or after March 21, 2013
Children 2 and under
  • Ticket not required
*Note - Challenge participants do not need to buy a party ticket. Admission is included with race registration.

Need some fine print details? Here ya go!
All Challenge participants must be at least 9 years of age. Kids 13 years and younger must be teamed with an adult. Children ages 4-10 can participate in the kids races, and distance is determined by age group. Entry fees for the 2013 Expedition Everest Challenge are non-refundable. The transfer deadline to/from a team or individual registration is March 8, 2013. No exceptions will be made.

Transportation will be provided to and from race events to the host resorts. The host resorts are:
You are welcome to stay at any resort of your choosing, but be aware that Disney will not provide event transportation if you are not staying at a host resort. Transportation will be solely your responsibility.

Sound like the race for you? Head over to the event page to register!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Product Review: Reebok Play Dry Jacket

Ever since I spotted it back in September, I have been wanting the Reebok Play Dry Jacket, preferably in aubergine. Cooler temps would be arriving as winter grew closer, and I knew that I couldn't just run outside in my tech tank the entire time. I needed something to keep me a bit warmer. But, the jacket was $55, and the money was needed elsewhere. With a Reebok outlet store nearby my apartment, I signed up to receive their text notifications. Hey, if there's a sale, I want to know! I finally received a text that made my day: 40% off my purchase through the end of December! So last week, I made my way to Reebok, and bought the jacket I had longed to own.

This is the size small. The jacket is meant to be slim fit, though it still is a relatively relaxed fit on me. Originally, the sizes ranged from extra small to extra large. But since this had been out for several months by this point, only a handful remained in stock at the store and I missed an opportunity to try on and potentially purchase a better fitting extra small. But, I will take 40% off over that. Not to mention that the extra room leaves the door open for extra layers if needed. The color is richer in person, which I like.

There are a couple hidden gems here.
First, the Play Dry technology (the inner white lining). This helps the moisture from your body evaporate, but is designed in a way that allows for breathability. This is a bonus for me. Even as I wear the jacket now, I feel warm without feeling like the heat is trapped. That ventilation will come in very handy. It is also very soft, so there is no rough rubbing against the skin. Every aspect of this jacket is designed with movement in mind, so it sits comfortably against you without being restrictive in the slightest. The second gem? That neon orange (which is very neon in person). Really isn't much more than an aesthetics things, but I love it. Especially since my Zigs have the same color scheme.

And this is probably my favorite part of the jacket...

Thumb holes! It may seem like such a simple feature, and it is. But I have a tendency to pull my sleeves over my hands when I am cold, so I absolutely love that this simple feature takes care of that for me. This also prevents any potential of the sleeves riding up.

I am quite happy with my purchase. The only down side to Reebok's promotions is that they are not stackable. Now I understand that many stores won't allow two different promotions at once if they require the cashier to enter in more than one coupon code. So let me explain: if an item is on sale and automatically rings up on sale without having to enter in a promotion, it is not uncommon for a coupon code to be applied on top of that. The Reebok outlet store had this jacket on sale for 25% off. But the 40% off could not be applied to that sale price, only the original price. I had to choose between the 25% off or the 40% off. Obviously I went for the 40% off, but the many years of retail experience in me was a bit disappointed as this is not typical shopping policy. The difference between getting the 40% off the sale price or the original price was about $8. Not a make it or break it deal in my opinion, but I like to get bargains where I can. But that's ok, I got the jacket I wanted for considerably less than the original price.

Bottom line, if you are looking for a good running jacket, I highly recommend you try this one out!

*Disclaimer - I was in no way compensated for this post. I purchased the jacket with my own money with no prompting or recommendations from anyone. I am simply reviewing my purchase to help others in case they are researching jackets.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Winterizing My Run Gear

Ok folks, it is getting cold outside. Alright, well, not completely here just yet as it has been in the 70s and 60s this week. But starting next week, we are going to start seeing temps in the 40s and low 50s. And colder temps will eventually follow suit. I hate running when it is cold outside. My body does warm up a bit, but my ears wind up freezing and my lungs feel like they are tearing apart. It is time to winterize my running gear.

Fortunately, I don't have to do a ton. I already have a pair of pants I will be using. They are not officially "running" pants, but they will work just fine. I got myself the Reebok jacket last night from the Reebok outlet store, since I had a 40% off coupon code*. Being my fashionista self, I was saving the money to use towards a custom dress I spotted on etsy a while back (link goes to pinterest since the store owner temporarily took the dress down for the holidays to work on current orders), but figured my money would be better spent on something I would get more use out of. I also have a long sleeve tech shirt, courtesy of my swag bag from the Wine & Dine Half Marathon. It is definitely not the best tech shirt I have ever owned in terms of how the material feels, but it will help keep me warm and that is what I am looking for right now.

Now I need a warm headband. The two headbands I have are sufficient for wicking away moisture, but are definitely not intended to keep me warm in the cold. I am currently considering the adidas Women's Yukiko Cold Weather Headband in purple.

It is a decent price, looks like it will do the job, and the color will match the rest of the purple theme I seem to have between the aubergine of my jacket and shoes. Hopefully I can pick one up soon...it has been far too long since my last run and I am itching to go back out. But I need to be prepared for it.

*When making your purchase, mention code 8801757 as the employees will need it to enter in the system. This code is only valid at Reebok outlet store locations and applies a 40% discount towards your entire purchase (exclusions apply, so ask ahead). Offer expires December 31, 2012. I have received NO compensation for this, just sharing an awesome deal!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Giveaways, Dooney & Burke, and Race Updates...Oh My!

It is giveaway time again! Two different running blogs are offering two different giveaways.

The first is from We Run Disney. They are giving away a copy of the book Magical Miles: A Runner's Guide to Walt Disney World. I want this book!! But I won one of their giveaways that they hosted in October. As much as I would love to win this book, I feel it is only fair if I sit out a few of their giveaways before entering again. But I do want to make sure I let any readers know of the giveaway! There are a few ways to enter, so make sure you read the entire post here. The giveaway ends December 9th at 8pm.

The second giveaway is from Run With Wes. The blog owner, Wes Lashley, is giving away one men's or women's Under Armour Charged Cotton Storm Full Zip Hoody. These retail for $74.99, so this is a great opportunity to get one for free! There are a few steps you need to take to enter, so make sure you read the full post here. The giveaway ends December 10th at 11:59pm PST.

And now for the moment many women have been waiting for...

The preorder of the Tinker Bell Half Marathon Dooney & Burke bags!!

If you are looking for a lasting way to commemorate your run in a way that you can always keep it with you (since we can't always wear our medals as much as we would like to), this is a great solution. Keep in mind that a designer bag has matching designer prices. The wristlet is $92, the cross body is $209, and the small shopper is $246. You can preorder these bags here, but just remember that these will not be mailed out. You must attend the expo and pick it up. Quantities are limited and they do sell out fast. Expect to see a similar preorder for the Princess Half Marathon within the next month. I do wish they would release something like this for the Wine & Dine!

In some "finally!" news, runDisney announced on their facebook page that the 2013 Expedition Everest Challenge would open for registration on Tuesday, December 11th. If this is the event you have been waiting for, make sure to sign up early through the event page, or at least sign up through this link to be reminded of when registration opens...I know it is easy to forget! The race will be held on May 4, 2013.

Happy running...and good luck if you enter the giveaways!

Friday, November 30, 2012

The Color Run

After going back and forth on whether I was going to participate in the OKC Memorial Half Marathon, I remembered another running event that I wanted to participate in this past spring but was unable to. This is changing this coming spring!

Spring 2013, I will be participating in The Color Run!!

The picture is exactly what it seems... you dress in white, run a 5K, and get blasted with color along the way. Now this is my kind of run! If I can't do a Disney race, I might as well participate in one that still promotes fun as the purpose! It does not appear to be competitive, and I kind of like that. I am kinda just wanting something fun with no pressure to make a certain time.

I would definitely not be wearing my Zigs at this run. While I love the idea of color all over me, I am not keen on the idea of my shoes being colored and having to spend a ton of time cleaning it off. For this reason, I am really glad I kept my super old gym shoes around. I am going to use it just for this.

The run takes place on April 20, 2013, which is why I think I will be skipping out on the OKC Memorial Half Marathon as it takes place only 8 days later and I have no idea what my schedule will be like at that time that I would be able to devote two weekends to two races (especially as The Color Run will be about 2 hours away from me).

I can't wait for this run!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Running Wish List

December is just a few days away, which means Christmas is less than a month away. I could post here talking about the perfect gifts for the runner in your life, but in my days of training, I have learned something very important: running items are not a one size fits all. Meaning, what I might suggest to give to someone may be something that would never work for them. Just because it works for me doesn't mean it will work for you, and vice versa. So I am taking a different approach...I am sharing my wish list. Maybe this will inspire you to think about what to get that runner by seeing what another runner likes.

1. runDisney Mickey Mouse Performance Tee for Women. Just last year, I never saw any tech shirts offered by runDisney that were not race specific or that didn't have a year on them. I am not terribly fond of "dated" shirts, whether they are for races, concerts, or even a year I visited Disney World. Just not my thing. So I was excited they came out with these undated and non-race specific shirts. I can train in them or even wear them to local races...as all of those will be considered my Disney race training.

2. Race bibs and medals holder by runningonthewall. This is a quick, easy, and great way for me to display my bibs and medals from any races I have and will be participating in. While I love the Lasting Commemoratives options, they are just way out of my price range...especially since it would only display one race.

3. Reebok Women's Play Dry Jacket in Aubergine. This would be perfect for runs that take place in colder temps. I love that the sleeve go over the hands a bit with a slit to put the thumb through. Plus, I love the color.
Update 12/6/12: Just bought this for myself last night! If you have a Reebok outlet store near you, they currently have a code out to get 40% off your purchase (exclusions apply). When making your purchase, mention code 8801757. The offer expires December 31, 2012. Admittedly, I would not have made this purchase if not for this code.

4. Peppermint Cooling Foot Lotion. Peppermint lotion has always been a great choice for those who have sore feet. The nice thing about this one is that there is added menthol to also cool the skin. There is also a Peppermint Cooling Foot Spray and a Peppermint Cooling Leg Gel, but if I had to choose, it would be the lotion.

5. Garmin Forerunner 10 Small (in pink). This handy GPS run watch tracks and records pace/distance, has run/walk alerts, as well as auto pause and auto lap. This would completely eliminate my use of phone apps, unless I wanted to use them.

6. iFitness iPhone/iPod Window Armband. This will allow me to use my phone to listen to music without having to carry in my hand or shove it in my belt or pocket. I saw a lot of people at the Wine & Dine wearing an armband of some sort for their music, and I kept thinking, "why didn't I think of that?" Well, now I am thinking about it.

So there you have it, my running wish list. This list is not exhaustive, but these are my top 6 at the moment. You can also feel free to gift me a race registration, a trip to the race, and.... ;)

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

We Run Disney Goodies!

Remember the giveaway I talked about in this post hosted by We Run Disney? I am excited to say that I was one of the winners! I found out the weekend before I left for the Wine & Dine, and my package arrived the day before I left. I just have not had a chance to blog about it until now.

I loved that Pam and Christine took the time to "Disney-fy" my goodies. The envelope had a Pluto sticker and the note was written on Minnie paper. I dug right in.

This was an excellent treasure trove for me! I loved getting a couple fuel samples to allow me to try more than what I was used to. I took the Sport Beans with me on the trip (though I have discovered I only like the lemon-lime ones). I left the Clif Shot at home because I didn't want to use something for the race that I had not tested before. Of course, I did wind up trying one during the race around mile 8 or so, and found I didn't like it. I am excited about the extra shoelaces from Sweat Pink I now have, which is an extra a runner should always have. But what I was most excited about was the Bondiband. I have heard people sing praises of these headbands, but I had not used one before. I have to say that I absolutely love it. It is very lightweight and comfortable, and it stays in place. I definitely will be ordering from them in the future. They also included their blog's card and the business card to a travel agency they use.

Thanks so much, Pam & Christine!! It was such a delight to go through my goodies!!

Monday, November 26, 2012

So What's Next?

I spent much of this year prepping myself physically and mentally for the Wine & Dine Half Marathon. Registration opened back in March and the race was just over two weeks ago.

So what now?

Here is what I really want: the Coast to Coast medal.

Seeing it in person made me love it more than I did when just seeing the picture. Admittedly, there wasn't the same dreamy feeling I had when I first saw the Wine & Dine medal, but it was pretty close. To get that medal, I have to complete a half in Disneyland and a half or full at Disney World within one calendar year. That gives me two races in Disneyland to choose from, and four in Disney World. Well, really only three in Disney World because no way am I doing the full any time soon.

Logistics seem to be the biggest obstacle I am facing. Ideally, I would like several months in between races. The races take place during these months...
  • Disney World Half - January
  • Tinker Bell Half (Disneyland) - January
  • Princess Half - February
  • Disneyland Half - September
  • Wine & Dine Half - November
If I want to stick to my ideal plan, the best options would be the Disney World Half + Disneyland Half, Tinker Bell Half + Wine & Dine Half, or the Princess Half + Disneyland Half. (For the record, "half" starts to look misspelled once you type it several times.)

2013 is out of the question for the Coast to Coast. The Disney World, Tinker Bell, and Princess Half Marathons are all sold out (well, Tink is technically "open" as part of a Black Friday/Thanksgiving weekend offer until tonight). Not to mention that they would be too soon for me to even consider registering. That would leave the Disneyland and Wine & Dine. But those are only just over a month apart and travel expenses wouldn't work out. 2014 may also be out of the question. I will be in a wedding that spring in California, and the date doesn't fall in line with the races there. I considered possibly registering for the Princess that year, but that will be the 5th anniversary of the Wine & Dine. If runDisney holds to its own pattern, there should be a medal redesign for that year. If I am going to do two Disney races in a year, I would prefer I save the expenses and use it towards my Coast to Coast. Unless I am already living in Florida by that point (which is a possibility), in which case swinging two Disney World races in a year isn't as big of a deal.

So what is next? I really don't know. I do need to get involved in some local races. I need to keep that running stamina up, no matter how slow I may be. I am considering doing the OKC Memorial Half Marathon in April. There really aren't a lot of running events between now and then, so I may just use the time to train. I am still up in the air on whether I really want to do it. I find that running long distances just along the streets bores me easily. I am ok with a 5K or 10K...but any more than that and it becomes a mental strain. That is why I am now addicted to Disney races. Aside from it being Disney, the on course entertainment and the ability to run through the parks is enough to keep me going.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

runDisney Black Friday Offer: 2013 Tink Half Marathon!!

The 2013 Tinker Bell Half Marathon in Disneyland has been sold out for a while now. But runDisney announced yesterday that they would have a limited time offer starting on Black Friday, at 12am Eastern.

That offer?

Limited registrations are available!! So if you have been wanting to do this race and didn't want to wait another year, register NOW!! This offer is good through November 26th, but bear in mind that registrations are limited and will likely not last that long.

To get started, please visit the runDisney facebook page. Good luck!!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Wine & Dine Half Marathon Reflections

Now that the race has been over for more than a week, I have had some time to reflect a bit on the things I have learned.

1. Fuel is important. But not just for the physical aspect of it, but the mental also. One thing thing that kept me going was the idea of getting to enjoy a fuel "treat" every so many miles (usually 1.5-2 miles for me). If I knew I had something to look forward to, then I felt a bit more motivated. Also, I had two types of fuel: Honey Stingers and glucose tablets. This helped the mental monotony of only one type of fuel.

2. Race day nutrition is important. A given. But I am amazed at the number of people who blow this off. I came across runners that mentioned eating throughout the Food & Wine Festival that day. Or those who were at their resort bar. I heard a woman during the race say, "That huge meal we had before the race may not have been a good idea. It isn't sitting well with me." Her running partner agreed. I have no idea how they made out from that point on. Post race, I saw a lot of people vomiting. Now some of it may be due to overexertion, dehydration, or something else. But some of it is also due to poor race day nutrition. I am not a huge eater. I become even less of one on running days. I had one "big" meal on race day, when I stopped at Earl of Sandwich.

The Caprese
I had the Caprese, which is fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, basil, and balsamic vinaigrette. I also had a cup of fresh fruit and the Earl's Grey Lemonade. It was enough to satisfy and fill me, but not so much where it felt heavy. I later had a banana and some water. That was it until post race where I got myself some fish and chips, and enjoyed a glass of wine. While I was hungry and felt my stomach growl before the race began, I was very happy I didn't eat more than what I did that day. The hunger disappeared during my run. I remembered how many times during training that I felt sluggish if I had a bit too much to eat that day.

3.It is ok to be slow. There is no shame in it. There is no shame in being a walk/runner. For the longest time, I was embarrassed by it. But there are so many of us out there. And when I was finally doing the race, it didn't even cross my mind. I know I will never finish a half marathon in just over an hour. That is ok with me. I am just happy to finish at all. I no longer feel intimidated by the likes of Anton Van Zyl. I realize he is in a different category than me, but we are both running the same race. I have a tremendous amount of respect for him and love that I got to share the road with him. The same goes for Jeff Galloway. How blessed am I to run in the same race as an Olympian that I look up to...and who has personally encouraged me? And he taught me that it is ok to be slow. And by slow, I mean slow.

Click to see the larger image of the results
My chip time was 3:32. Obviously I am not a fast runner. I have accepted that. I am good with it. Maybe that time will decrease with more races. But for now, I am happy. The important thing is that I finished.

4. Training is important. Several times throughout the race, I heard the phrase, "this is the farthest I have ever run." I heard it around mile 8, mile 10, mile 11...some in between. No worries. But I think there were a couple of times that my eyes widened a bit. This happened when I heard the phrase spoken between miles 3 and 5. The first race I ran was the only race I ran prior to this half. It was a 5K, which is only 3.1 miles. But it is not the farthest I have gone. When you are training for a half marathon, you cannot train as though you are only going for a 5K. A half can definitely be your first race, but you have to train for it. If you don't train, you risk injury...you risk being swept. Even though I trained, I still battled really sore legs (not quite an injury, just my body being unhappy with me). People who did train were swept. So don't go into a half marathon thinking that you don't really need to train for it. 13.1 miles is no easy feat. Admittedly, there were days I did not want to go outside for my runs. Sitting and relaxing or sleeping in was a much more desirable choice. Looking back on it now, I am so thankful I went out anyway. If I was in pain after finishing the race, I can't imagine what it would have been like if I hadn't done the proper training. The hardest step for a runner is the first one out the front door. It gets easier the moment after.

5. I know my abilities...and I am not limited by them. We all have an idea of how much our body can handle. That is why many of us may stop a run or a workout the moment we get tired or sore. We worked within our abilities and and stopped when we felt like we could do no more. But by doing that, we live within limited abilities. We don't realize that our bodies can do so much more. It can withstand quite a lot. I learned that at the race. Yes, I was tired. It was late, and I have never been out running at 1am. But the biggest things I had to push through were the sore legs and feet. Even though I had trained, it hurt. And I wasn't at home where I could simply call it a day (or night) and head back inside. Stopping meant being swept. Stopping meant a DNF. Stopping wasn't an option. I did not know my body was capable of pushing through the pain. I did not know it was capable of completing a half marathon. Just last year, I was amazed at my ability to complete a 5K. This race and my body taught me I do have abilities, but I am capable of more. It really is mind over matter. Those mental roadblocks are tough. But our bodies are tougher. When you overcome those mental roadblocks, you will be amazed at what your body can accomplish. It is far greater than you think it is.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Product Review: iFitness Belt

Throughout my training, you could typically find me with several items. This ranged from my phone to fuel and everything in between. With the exception of one small pocket that one pair of shorts had, all these items were held in my hand.

Something had to change. There was no way I could run a half marathon with all I had in my hands.

I had been mentally drooling over the iFitness belts for a while. I first heard about them through runDisney, since they are a sponsor. But that was not my reason for wanting one. It was simply the first time I had been introduced to the concept of a running belt. Yes, I was a newbie runner. Everything was a new concept to me. I mean, I honestly didn't know there was something, aside from pockets, that I could hold everything in.

After checking out the different types of running belts available and reading different reviews, I decided that iFitness was the way I was going to go. I hadn't really read any bad reviews about them, plus I really liked the sleek design. After hemming and hawing over which belt and color to go with, I finally chose the Neoprene Double Pouch. I used a coupon code given to the Wine & Dine Half Marathon registrants, which saved me 15%.

I love this belt. Now, admittedly, I never did a training run with it. I never really recommend trying anything new on the day of a race. But since I had been carrying everything in my hand anyway, I didn't see much of a difference. The one thing I did do with it was a jumping jack test. It passed. No bouncing, riding up, or anything.

I am particularly fond of a few things...

On either side of the pouches, there is a little grey tab. They don't look like much at first glance. But take a picture with flash, or run in the dark while light is shining on you... suddenly you have two reflectors on you.

Another feature I loved was that one of the pouches had two slots for credit cards, IDs, hotel room keys, or whatever else you need. I put in my ID, my resort room key, and a bit of cash. I felt this added a bit more security instead of just having it sit freely within the pouch, risking them falling out if I tried to pull something else out from the pouch.

And what I loved most...

The stretchability. In the above picture, you can how nicely one of the pouches stretched out. That is with only some of my fuel. I had more on race night. The other side held my phone and camera. The great thing about it stretching so well is that it holds the items snugly. Nothing bounces around. And the pouches retain their shape once everything is removed.

I had considered getting a hydration belt from iFitness, but I knew there would be plenty of drink stations (as well as medical tents that would also have water if needed), so I didn't feel the need to carry extra with me. I felt this was just perfect for me. And it proved to be exactly what I needed when it came to the half marathon.

Looking back now, I have no idea how I managed to do my training runs with everything in my hands. What a pain!

*Disclaimer - I was in no way compensated for this post. I am simply sharing race gear that works for me.

Monday, November 19, 2012

2013 Princess Half Marathon at 95%!

 11/23/12 Update: The race is now SOLD OUT.

Are you still on the fence about whether you will be participating in the 2013 Princess Half Marathon?

This is your last chance to register!

The race is currently at 95% full, and it won't be long before it is completely sold out. If you want to run it, don't delay with your registration! This will be its fifth anniversary, so there is a new medal design!

Hopefully, you have entered in the Run Like a Princess sweepstakes. Tomorrow is the last day to submit your entry. This gives you the chance to win a trip to Disney with an entry to the Princess Half Marathon (among other things). To "celebrate" the end of the sweepstakes, runDisney is currently have a flash sale with the registration fee. So while it is normally $170, it has been rolled back to $155 for a limited time. Since the race is at 95%, I wouldn't expect the sale, nor the amount of remaining registrations, to last very long at all.

Sign up now!

11/20/12 Update: The race is currently at 97% full. Expect it to sell out within a day or two. 

11/21/12 Update: The race is currently at 99% full. 

11/23/12 Update: The race is now SOLD OUT.

The Power of an Encouraging Word

Sometimes we don't know how powerful words can be. I think we can understand the depth of them when it comes to an argument, or speaking vows, or anything of the sort. But do we really understand how powerful they are when it comes to a race?

On the runDisney facebook page several weeks ago, there was a person who had asked how to prepare for a race. There were responses about the physical training, the nutrition, the fuel, and more. I chimed in mentioning that the mental training was part of it as well...because all it takes is self doubt to stop a person from crossing that finish line.

The problem? I hadn't been following my own advice. And I knew it when I was responding.

I wasn't trying to be hypocritical. I had a deep fear that I would be swept during the race. I did not believe I could do it. But I didn't want anyone to go into their races feeling the same way, which is why I said what I did. There was never a moment leading up to the race where I had a boost of confidence and "knew" I would cross the finish line. That moment didn't come until mile 10, when I finally felt the worst was over and there was only a 5K ahead of me.

But what carried me through? Aside from the fear of the balloon ladies, I mean.... ;)
It was the encouragement from a friend. The ongoing and never ending "you can do it" and "I believe in you" and many others. The words that reminded me of my ability and offered hope. The support and "I would still be so proud of you" words even if I were to get swept. You have no idea just how meaningful those words are until you are in the midst of your struggle and pushing on to get through it. Those words carried me. When I doubted myself, there was someone with enough faith in me to make up for it.

Self doubt or confidence can go far in making or breaking a runner. But never discount the power of your words with someone else. You don't know how many people might have told her she might fail, or how many people blew it off as if it wasn't an accomplishment at all, or how many times she believed those very things. Encourage her. And don't stop. When all the self doubt is pouring in during her run, it just may be your very words that gives her the strength she needs to finish.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Post Race Recap

I had lofty aspirations for the day after the race. I was going to sleep in, go to Animal Kingdom Lodge for lunch, and spend the rest of the day at the Magic Kingdom. Oh, such high hopes. But here is the thing with those hopes and aspirations...they required me to be able to sleep. And walk.

I could not sleep. I could not move.

I woke up around 9am, only a mere 5 hours after I had fallen asleep. Like race day, I laid around some, hoping that maybe I would be able to fall back asleep. The Magic Kingdom would be open until 1am, so there was no reason for me to rush anywhere. Not that I could...my legs were in so much pain that even the slightest movement felt like someone was whacking me with a sledgehammer. At one point, I broke down in sobs from the pain. Was finishing the race really worth this?

It took what felt like forever to finally get ready (and proudly wearing my race medal and the race accomplishment necklace I bought myself), and I slowly made my way to the resort gift shop to look for some Advil. Of all the things I could forget to pack, it just had to be some kind of pain reliever. The cashier noticed my medal and saw that I was looking at the Advil, and joked about how she couldn't understand why so many people were over in that section that day. I am glad I wasn't the only one who forgot such an item. After my purchase, I quickly took the Advil and headed towards my lunch destination.

The Mara. This place is one of my favorite quick service dining locations. I wanted something hearty for my meal and I knew exactly what I was going to get.

African stew and zebra domes. I love this meal in a way I cannot explain. The stew is absolutely amazing, with tender hunks of chicken, raisins, peas, peppers, and potatoes all in a magnificent stew sauce that has a slight coconut flavor. The zebra domes...I can't even properly explain the deliciousness of those other than to say they are little bites of heaven. That is how I always describe them.

After lunch, I hobbled my way over to the bus stop to go to the Magic Kingdom. The park was already decorated for Christmas, as the first Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party had taken place just a couple nights earlier.

It was beautiful.

I only really made it onto a few rides. Not that I didn't want to do more. But my legs were not happy with me in the slightest. New Fantasyland was doing passholder previews, and I walked by in the hopes that maybe a cast member would see my medal and notice my hobble. Then, by taking pity on me while congratulating my accomplishment, the cast member would let me in. Hey, I did say I had lofty aspirations. No such luck. In all honesty, I didn't actually expect anything like that to happen. But I did want to get a glimpse, however far away it may have been. I did snap a couple pictures of what I will eventually see much closer.

By this point, my legs weren't wanting to take much more. But I mentally yelled at them because I wanted to do a bit more at the park before calling it a night. I may have been in pain, but I still wanted to have fun.

That's right, legs, don't argue with pirate Mary!

My biggest goal for the night was to see the castle decked out in its holiday lights, as I hadn't seen it that way in person since 2008. It is gorgeous.

Like the Osborne lights, the pictures of the castle decorated this way just don't do it justice. Not at all. It is magnificent!

There was only one thing left I wanted to do here...watch Wishes. I have seen that fireworks show so many times now, yet every time I am blown away at how well done it is. I was especially excited when the end of the show incorporated the holiday lights.

Absolutely stunning!!!

The fireworks were over at about 8:20pm. Those hopes and aspirations of staying in the park until 1am were long gone. I was heading back to my room. I took a final look at the castle, and made my way out.

After what seemed like forever standing on the bus for the ride back, I was finally settled in my room for the night. I watched some tv and laid around (again). My legs were in an unbelievable amount of pain. I had only stayed at the Magic Kingdom for a few hours. But I loved my day. It had been the last full day of my trip to Disney and it felt like a whirlwind. I would be leaving the next morning. Cast members and guests had been congratulating me throughout my time at the park after noticing my medal, and that was a good feeling.

The pain has been gone for a few days now. My legs, however, are still not completely ready for going back out for another run. They still kinda feel like heavy lead. Although I don't particularly care what they feel like as long as they don't hurt. 

And, in spite of the pain, finishing the race was definitely worth it.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Wine & Dine Half Marathon Recap

Saturday, November 10th.

I woke up much earlier than I had hoped, probably around 8am. I laid around for a bit, debating whether or not to get up, head to the food court, and get some breakfast. My intention all along was to have something like an english muffin with peanut butter and a banana to start prepping my body. But I am not typically a breakfast eater, and I didn't think it was a good idea to start adjusting my body to an unusual food regiment on the day of my race. That, and I liked the warmth of my bed. I did enjoy a bit of Downtown Disney where I stopped at Earl of Sandwich for a caprese sandwich. Not long after, I returned to my room in the hopes that I could take a nap. Never happened. I think I was just too excited about the race.

Finally, I started getting ready. Not long before heading towards the event transportation, I ate a banana and some Sports Beans. And the time came to head towards the race.

The field was full of runners and their spectators. Some (ok, a lot) were in line for a Mickey meet & greet. Some were standing around chatting. Some were on the field dancing and warming up to the songs they had playing. After checking in my bag, I decided to join the last group. It was probably a very good choice since I was freezing and had forgotten to pack a throwaway shirt. After dancing my heart out to songs like "I Gotta Feeling" (which I had been hoping they would play) and "Gangnam Style" (Yes, I danced to that. There is photographic evidence. I will not post it here.) I headed to a meet up with my fellow DISboards friends...

They are truly a great group of people, and I was excited to finally put faces to the names that I have been chatting with for so long in preparation for this race. They became my running family. I do hope that I will have the pleasure of enjoying future races with them.

After the meet up, I headed to my corral. Since I was in the very last corral, I wanted to be as close to the front as possible. In other words, I wanted to be as far away from the balloon ladies as possible. Jeff Galloway called them the grim reapers of the race, and they truly are. They are the ones who make sure that the runners are keeping up with the the pace. If they catch up to you and/or pass you...you are swept. I waited in my corral for the start...which wasn't going to be for another hour and forty five minutes. Finally, 10pm came. The National Anthem had been sung a few minutes before, and fireworks went off to set the first corral loose. In five minute waves, each corral had its own fireworks send off. Then, it was my turn.

About one minute before the start
At 10:25pm, our corral's fireworks went off (amongst our cheers) and the running began. The first part is kind of a blur. It is really the momentum and adrenaline of the start that carries you through those first few miles. I do remember seeing runners on the other side of the highway going the opposite way, meaning that about 30 minutes or so into the race, they were already half way done. I am almost positive that I saw Anton Van Zyl leading the pack (who would also go on to win the half for the third time in 1:14).

I decided not to take pictures of all the mile markers for a few reasons...
I didn't want to fight through the runners to get over to the markers.
I didn't want to stop my own momentum when I had found a pretty good pace.
I didn't want to waste precious time and risk seeing the balloon ladies.

But I did get a few momentous ones.

Mile marker 4 came within Animal Kingdom. Only single digits left for the race miles! I have never seen Animal Kingdom in the dark. It is beautiful. How it is lit up just reminds you of small villages with little lighting, and it gives a wonderful intimate feeling. I loved looking around as I ran through.

After leaving Animal Kingdom, I knew the worst part of the race was in front of me: the stretch to Hollywood Studios. I knew that if I made it to Hollywood Studios, I would likely be able to finish the race. But that stretch is just pushing myself to get there. I quickly stopped at a porta potty (after checking to make sure no balloons were chasing me down), pumped out a bit of hand sanitizer, and ran back out on the road. Then the fatigue started to set in around mile 6. It was late, my legs were starting to get a bit worn out and sore. I wanted to finish, but didn't know how it was going to be possible. Yet, at the same time, I couldn't bear the thought of being swept. So...I started talking to myself. Literally talking to myself. I kept my voice so low that it was audible only to me. But it was the only way to keep myself going. I told myself to just make it to mile 7. That's all I had to do because then I was past the half way point. Just make it to mile 7.

I made it to mile 7. :)

Once I got there, I told myself it was all downhill from there. Poor choice of words, because that came just as I was starting to go uphill on some ramp. Which, by the way, felt like I was scaling a mountain. I was amused by the green army man they had who was motivating us to keep going. I then started telling myself to just make it to mile 8, because there will be food and drink stop. And in spite of "full food stop" signs, food (by race definition) is a Clif Gel Shot. They shouted out the flavors, and I decided to grab a raspberry one to try. I took a bit of it and threw it away. UGH gross!! And it was a big risk to take...trying anything new during the race is never a good idea, especially if you don't know how your stomach will react to it. I was fortunate it didn't do anything to me. I stuck with my honey stingers and glucose tablets. And by the way, I am glad I brought both to break up the monotony of having only one type of fuel. Yes, I did also talk to myself about rewarding myself with some fuel at certain points. I began telling myself to just make it to mile 9, because shortly after that, I would reach the 15K point (and the final tracking point before the finish). 15K came within Hollywood Studios. I had been looking forward to reaching it because I knew we would see the Osborne lights. Oh how I have wanted to see that!! But first I needed to get to mile 10. Come on, make it to mile 10. If you can make it to mile 10, you only have a 5K left to do. Only 3 miles. You can do this!


Then came the sight I had longed to see....

I have a few pictures of this section. And really, pictures don't do it justice. It took my breath away with how amazing and beautiful it was. Most people just walked through this, stopping for pictures along the way. I had kept up with my run/walk intervals. There were only 3 times I walked through my run interval and it was due to a side stitch. No matter how beautiful this area was, I didn't want to give up on my intervals. I kept going. We left Hollywood Studios and we were in the path between that and Epcot. And along that path, I found my friend who said she would be waiting to cheer me on. She called out my name and a huge smile came across my face. I was so happy to see her. I was so happy I made it that far. But it wasn't over yet. Epcot was just ahead of me. Finally, I made it in. I ran through Future World, briefly stopping for only a moment to snap a quick picture of Spaceship Earth. It was a bit odd running through there since the after party was already going on. I felt like I was just running through the park on any normal night. And there was a bit of frustration with this as in one area, some spectators seemed to lose sense of "courtesy" and were cutting through us to get to whatever side they wanted to be on. Not ok. Not ok for us to have to watch where WE are going for the spectators to cut through. But it was almost over. I kept talking to myself. You are almost there. You will cross that finish line and enjoy a celebratory margarita at the party. Absolutely.

YES!!! Strobe lighting, laser effects, loud music, and only .1 miles to go. I abandoned my intervals and ran that last bit. There was no way I was crossing that finish line walking. I crossed it running, smiling the entire way. I finished, threw my hands in the air...and started crying.

I couldn't believe it was over and I made it. I checked my tracking, and I finished in 3:32:14 (the clock time in the above picture shows the time elapsed since the first corral started). It was longer than I had hoped it would take me to finish, about 30 minutes longer. I don't care. The important thing to me was that I finished, period. My medal hung around my neck. I was happy. I grabbed the handouts (bananas, Powerade, and a snack box). I took my finisher's picture.

About a moment after the picture was taken, the pain set in. I started hobbling instead of walking. My legs did not want to function. I decided that the after party was just not going to happen. Besides, I made my appearance by running through it and that was good enough for me. I tore off the "drink voucher" part of my bib and picked up a sangria, and eventually (and slowly) made my way to my bus. And at some point, I also made my way back to my room and into my bed. This, of course, was after throwing my shoes away from my body and saying, "I hate you, I am never running again!"

I finished. In spite of continually looking behind my shoulder, I never even saw the balloon ladies. I have no idea what they look like. I hope I never have to find out. There were nearly 14,000 registered runners according to runDisney. There were 11,617 finishers. I was one of them. Me. The girl filled with self doubt crossed the finish line. I am a half marathon finisher. And yes, I WILL be running again. This will not be my last race.

Race disappointments: Really, there were only a couple. There were plenty of interval runners like myself. But many of them lacked the courtesy of moving to the side during their walk intervals. Several of us had to weave around people to do our running. This was particularly frustrating in the path between Hollywood Studios and Epcot, where it is already narrow and some walkers were side by side in groups of 4 or 5 people. That should never happen. Second, I did see someone in front of me at the finish who had their medal placed around their neck. I had to grab mine from a volunteer who looked disinterested. Look, I know it is a long time. I know there are thousands of people crossing that finish line. But this is an accomplishment for each and every runner. We are putting forth more effort into running those 13+ miles than it is taking you to hang a medal around our necks and congratulate us. If you are going to volunteer, please make us feel as accomplished as we really are.

Race highlights: Well, everything else! This was an incredible experience. The volunteers were incredible with their constant encouragement throughout the course. I recall one specifically saying, "you all are half marathoners!!" It took everything in me not break down in tears at the realization that I was exactly that. The on course entertainment was so much fun. Floats from the Main Street Electrical Parade AND Spectromagic, character photo ops (I didn't take any), bands/DJs along the way...it was great! Then there were the parks, the Osborne lights, the amazing finish. That feeling of accomplishment. I can be excited and proud all I want for days to come...but nothing will top that very instant where I crossed the finish line and knew I did it. And that trumps any disappointment.

Sunday, November 11th. I am a half marathon finisher.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Wine & Dine Health and Fitness Expo Recap

One of the things I was looking forward to doing was attending the health & fitness expo. This is where runners pick up their packets, explore vendor booths, and listen to any talks different speakers may give. I had thoroughly enjoyed myself at last year's expo and was excited about this year's.

Let me preface this recap by saying I did not get a lot of sleep the night before. I had used Disney's Magical Express to get to my resort, and though it is a service I typically love, my bag did not arrive to me until a few minutes shy of 3am . Bags are supposed to take up to three hours after check in to get to your room. Mine took well over four, because their system showed I checked in two hours after I actually did. That, coupled with my internal body clock waking me up much earlier than I wanted, meant I only got a few hours of sleep and wasn't overly thrilled about doing anything but laying around. I wasn't the cheeriest of people on Friday morning.

I mentioned in an earlier post about host resorts providing event transportation. My resort was one of them. Transportation ran quickly and smoothly, and I was at the ESPN Wide World of Sports before I knew it.

In several trips to Walt Disney World, this has only been my second time at this complex. The first time was last year. The complex is only open when an event is going on, so Disney buses are not normally running to it. You would either need event transportation, or your own method of getting there. And though I have been in there a couple times, I have only seen the inside of the same two buildings.

First stop? Packet pick up.

There was a streaming line of people going in the door. They kept it running efficiently, with only one way in and one way out. This prevented any human traffic jams. Half marathon and 5K packet pick ups were separated. I quickly got in the line for my packet.

My bib number was 12244, so this is where I stood. The lines moved slowly. I can partly attribute this to the fact that there are thousands more runners than the 5K. That was the line I waited in last year, and I had no one to wait behind then. When I finally got to the front, I was quite literally handed a packet. It was a large white envelope that had few contents in it. The gentlemen then explained it contained my after party information. He then handed me my bib and informed me that I needed to get my B-tag verified to make sure it would properly track me as I ran through the course. I could then go to the expo to pick up my bag which would contain my event shirt. This was a bit different than last year for my 5K, as everything was handed to me all at once. Aside from getting my bib, the bag was what I was excited about. Last year, the bag contained a couple product samples as well as discount cards to use at a couple vendors.

I took the obligatory "I got my bib!" picture, checked my B-tag, and headed to the expo.

If I thought packet pick-up was busy, the expo itself was far busier. Crowds of people gathered at each vendor booth. I quickly headed to the very back of the expo, where the runner bags were waiting to be picked up. To be honest, it was disappointing. My shirt was in the bag, as well as the program for the expo. But that was it. Gone were the samples and the discount cards. It was the bare minimum. Suddenly, I found myself thankful that I used a coupon code back in October for the iFitness belt I had been wanting. I had read reports that there had been an iFitness discount card in the runner bags, and I am glad I did not listen to such reports.

Even the expo was a bit disappointing. Last year there were a ton of giveaways, freebies, and samples. This year it was limited. And it wasn't as if I went late in the day. I was there within the first hour of it being open. Last year I got all kinds of goodies...a couple water bottles, a ton of fruit, yogurt, pens, and on and on. I quite literally had a very full bag. This year, I got a yogurt, sampled a shot's worth of brewed chocolate (like hot chocolate, but brewed like coffee), sampled a couple cubes of cheese, and got a pen. That was it. I don't know if vendors were being selective in what or who they were giving away things to due to limited quanties, or if they simply weren't giving out anything. Not that I was there solely for free stuff, but I tend to be more likely to purchase items if I first get to try it. This is not a mark against vendor who sell products such as shirts, belts, and the like. But other vendors should take this into consideration...especially ones who want your personal info. Sorry car insurance vendors, you are not getting my info if you aren't going to give anything in return but spam (for this reason, I only give out my "junk" email address so nothing is sent to my regular one).

I did make a stop at the Lasting Commemoratives booth to pick up a poster. I had a voucher that entitled me to a free one, and I was excited about that.

I want to get this one framed and have it displayed with my medal whenever I figure out how I want to showcase that.

I had intended on listening in on a Jeff Galloway talk where he would be discussing race day nutrition, but wound up missing it because I had spent so long in packet pick-up. Fortunately, I remembered most of his tips from the year before, and had been researching it on my own. I did, however, manage to snag a picture of him.

After a bit more glancing around, I finally just went back to my room. I still relatively enjoyed the expo, just not to the extent of the previous year. I do hope this isn't a continuing trend.

Remember how I just mentioned earlier in this post how my bag was full after last year's expo? Here is what it looked like this year...

This had my shirt, program, packet, poster, a pen, and a couple flyers. Pretty paltry.

My packet contents did make me smile. Inside was the final race instructions, the after party guide, my wristband to get into the after party, and a gift card valued at $10.

And, ultimately, the freebies and giveaways weren't why I had traveled all that way to Florida. There was only one reason why I was there, and I had picked it up before even walking into the expo....

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