Friday, March 30, 2012

LunaBar Love

Oh, hello, blog!  Sorry about the long time, no write.  I will be back to normal posting soon and fill you in on my training for my next half marathon as well as my other adventures.

But right now, I've got to tell you an awesome story.

As some of you know, today is Foodie Pen Pals Reveal Day.  Sadly, my package hasn't arrived yet (or was eaten by a hungry post office worker) so I do not have a reveal post for you.  In its place, I have an amazing foodie related post.  (If you want to see what I sent my pen pal, go visit Tamara at Fit Knit Chick!)

You might remember me posting this photo on Twitter before we left Florida, with a tweet about how we stocked up on food that we can't get here at home:

Yummy yummy!

When we packed to go home, we put all of the food in The American's bag.  His bag then got lost in the airport without a luggage tag, sent to lost and found where they tried to page us (unsuccessfully - we thought we heard something then tried to call for help and couldn't find out what was happening) and then rifled through by their staff.  Sadly, they have a policy to throw away all food items (understandably, I suppose).  So when our bag finally made it home a few days later, a few important items were missing:

Less yummy. :-(

Luckily the steak sauce was in a pair of shoes so they apparently didn't find it, and the Nuun was just confusing to them I suppose?  They are the only two things that made it home.  I must admit that we were kind of devastated.  Not to mention kind of angry that we had just lost out on probably $30 worth of food.

Like any good blogger, I took my story to Twitter to whine until I felt better.

Shortly after that, @LUNABar replied on Twitter and offered to try and make up for it if I sent them my address and favourite flavours.  I was floored!  I expected a few "airports suck" and "my baggage never came back at all" replies, but certainly not an offer of LUNA Bars from the company itself.

I provided them with my address, a bit of info about what happened, my favourite flavours and many thanks through DMs, and then this week a wonderful package arrived:

Best mail ever.
(I am a terrible food photographer.  Sorry.)

They sent me some LUNA protein bars, which I can't find here, a few regular LUNA bars in flavours I can't find at home, a lovely reusable tote bag, some chocolate covered coconut flavoured lip balm (which is all natural/petroleum free - I can't wait to try it!) and some temporary tattoos that I am going to sport at my races until they're gone!

I ripped open a chocolate mint protein bar right away - so delicious!  I then took a bunch to work to stash in my desk drawer, because I like to have them on hand when I don't have time to eat or I'm going for a run after work.  That stash came in super handy this week when work got crazy and I lived on protein bars for a couple of days while at the office.  :-)

I didn't offer to write a review and LUNA Bar didn't ask me to write one, nor am I being compensated for any of this beyond the awesome care package they sent me.  I'm telling you all of this because I genuinely love LUNA Bar products and think everyone should try them, and now I love the company itself even more because they reached out to me like this.  I think that really shows that they care about their customers beyond selling them products and making money.  Sure, they are getting some word of mouth from this little blog and on Twitter, but I don't exactly have a huge audience and they didn't have to do anything for me at all.  It's not like it's their fault the airport lost my bag and threw away my food!  I really can't say enough how much appreciate the time they took to send this lovely gift my way.  If you haven't tried their products yet, definitely check them out when you have a chance.

P.S. Not to worry about the rest of the missing food - we sent my parents a shopping list before they left Florida and they are bringing us cookies and even more LUNA Bars. Can't get enough!!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Race Report: Disney Princess Half Marathon - Part Three!

Oops! I can't believe I let so much time pass before writing up the final part of my race report.  My apologies!  I just finished my second LSD run in my next half marathon training plan - 10k - and sitting on the couch icing my ankles and knees and drinking chocolate milk seems like the perfect time to tell you the rest of the story.

This is Part Three of my Disney Princess Half Marathon race report.  Check out Part One and Part Two, as well as my post on the Princess Half Meet Up and Expo!

Shortly after we left the Magic Kingdom, we hit the half way point of the course.  They had Kelly Clarkson's "Stronger" blasting (which had been picked in a poll on their Facebook page, which I thought was clever).  It somehow felt like we were further than halfway because I had read somewhere that it was "as you left the Magic Kingdom" but my definition of leaving the Magic Kingdom was apparently very different from theirs.

I rode the high of the Magic Kingdom for a while, feeling pretty good.  There were spectators out near the Grand Floridian and the Polynesian Resorts.  Julie and I had ridden around the Disney property the day before with our families, partly because our Dad really likes riding the Monorail around and seeing everything (and I can't lie, so do I).  We saw a lot of places we had seen on our Monorail ride and joked that Dad wasn't allowed to ride the Monorails anymore to see Disney - he had to run.  (We told him this later and he didn't find it nearly as funny.)

Somewhere around Mile 8 I started to hit a bit of a wall.  I was getting tired.  The route wasn't fun anymore - just highway and trees to look at.  Everyone around was starting to drag a bit too.  The energy of the first few miles was over, the excitement of the Magic Kingdom had passed, and at least 3 miles stood between us and the crowds at Epcot.

More awesome costumes.
At Mile 8.5 there was a Clif station giving out all sorts of Clif Shots.  I had never had Clif Shot before and was a little worried about trying something new, but Julie obviously knew I needed something in me and fast to get me going again because there were still almost 5 miles to go.  When I think about it now, I can't believe there were 5 miles to go at that point and much less that I made it through them.

They had big flags up to indicate the different flavours.  I saw that the Mocha flavour had caffeine in it and headed straight there.  I had no idea what to do with it, but I figured out how to rip it open and sucked back as much as I could.  It was like eating thick, coffee flavoured brownie batter.  It wasn't the best thing I'd ever eaten but it was definitely the best thing for that moment.

Major down side though - it got all caught in my throat/mouth and there wasn't a water station for almost another mile.  Julie and I both commented that we could have really used some water at that point.  From what I understand you should always hydrate when you eat something when running so we thought it was strange there wasn't a water station there.  We made it to the next station, grabbed some water (Powerade for Julie) and kept on trucking.

Around Mile 10 we faced another highway ramp, which was so much harder than the one at the beginning of the race.  The energy was starting to increase again because we knew Epcot wasn't far away, but it was still tough.  What was really neat though was looking back as you crossed over the ramp to see everyone still coming behind you.

The last few miles of the race were really hard.  In my mind I knew that I had never run this far before, but also that it was only five more kilometres so how hard could that be?  Turns out the last 5km are pretty hard!  Julie was really encouraging and only joked about leaving me behind a couple of times.  We finally passed a character station with less than three people - it was even Chip and Dale, my favourite! - but we kept on trucking because at that point I wanted to be DONE.

So close to the end!
Running through Epcot gave me a burst of energy, though I did take a couple quick walking breaks in the last few kilometres.  When I knew the finish line was around the corner, it was a sprint to the finish.  I couldn't believe the energy I found deep in my legs somewhere, but I wasn't going to slow down until I was done.  Julie and and I grabbed each other's hands, I high-fived Mickey Mouse, and just like that we had finished our first half marathon!!

We crossed the line in 2:31 officially - only 1 minute shy of the goal I had set of running it in 2:30.  I couldn't believe it!  (But I must admit that my second goal of beating Julie did not come true, as she crossed the line apparently one step before I did in the official standings.  :-))

We did it!
The man who gave us our medals was awesome.  He posed for pictures with us and was full of smiles.  Just what we needed to see.

And what is finishing a race without getting glitter pixie dust sprinkled on your head?  Of course we lined up to get some of this action.  Julie was a lot more willing to line up for things once the finish line had been crossed.

We even got the pixie dust to prove it. 
They had lots of bottles of water and Powerade available right after the finish line, which was great.  The snacks were available further down the path.  Before we reached the bag check and snacks, they had logo boards set up with Brightroom photographers taking pictures of everyone.  It was a really great system, with lots of boards and photographers available (and really no way to pass without getting a picture, but I suppose they have to make some money somehow and these pics are probably popular).

We grabbed lots of snacks - they had neat pre-packaged snack boxes full of goodies, yummy Luna Protein bars I had never tried before and Disney themed gummy snacks.  Then got our bags at bag check. The girl who handed me my bag said she was really impressed and she maybe would try a 5k someday - I told her to do it!  I told her I had run my first 5k less than a year ago and now I had just finished my first half marathon, and that she could definitely do it.  I hope I inspired her a little!

At some point we found the "self treatment" area and I grabbed a much needed bag of ice.  My left knee, that had been giving me trouble since my 10k last September, had felt like poured concrete almost as soon as I stopped moving when we crossed the finish line.  My chiro told me later that was definitely my popliteus muscle, the one she has been working on with Graston for the past few months.  In hindsight it's probably a very good thing we didn't stop for character pictures, or I might not have got moving again.

While Julie found her bag (we were in different lines because she uses her married name) I pulled on my sweater because my body temperature was starting to drop (they didn't give out any mylar blankets).  I was so glad I packed it.  Julie found our boys near her bag check and they found me waiting by mine.  I was so happy to see The American and so exhausted I almost cried when he hugged me.

Julie was a little disappointed that I had put my sweater on already because she wanted pictures, but we made do.  My sweater still matched my outfit!

We did it!
And of course I had to get a picture with my #1 fan, The American himself:

After I pulled myself together.
We did not stay for long after that in the finish line area.  There was a lot to see and do, including race merchandise (not much though, just what was left from the expo), food, champagne for sale, places for pictures (even with characters I think, though I didn't see any), etc.  But it was just starting to rain and we were pretty beat.  We found our way to our bus - which had almost no line, thank goodness for staying at Saratoga Springs and not at a busier or bigger resort - climbed aboard very gingerly, and headed back to our hotel.

At the hotel I iced my knee and checked out all my friends' adventures at the Princess Half on Twitter.  I congratulated the many people who had met their goals, and felt sad for the many who didn't make it for some reason or another.  I read so many messages of congratulations from friends on Twitter and Facebook who had followed my progress through the automatic splits (although somehow my 5k split had posted at around an hour and some friends were very concerned).  It was amazing to sit and soak it all in.  We took turns showering off the sweat and the pixie dust, put on our street clothes, and headed back to our parents' house for breakfast.

On the way back we stopped at the grocery store for bacon (they were cooking some in the Race Retreat and it smelled so good!)  We made the boys go in the grocery store while we sat in the car, too tired to think about moving.  When we got home, our Mom made us pancakes and bacon, and we told stories of the morning.  Shortly after that we all crashed for a few hours, exhausted from the wake up call, the race, the excitement of it all, then we lazed around the pool and the deck for the rest of the day.

All in all, it was an amazing experience and I would recommend it to anyone who loves running and Disney.  I may put up a final post with the details - our splits and things like that - just to have the whole story here.  And if you liked our arm warmers, stay turned for a giveaway of the extra pair I ordered!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Larabar Giveaway Winner

The winner of the Larabar giveaway is Laurel!  Laurel, please e-mail me within the week with your mailing address.  If I do not hear from Laurel within the time limit, I will pick another winner.

Thanks to everyone for entering.  I loved reading everyone's answers to my questions!

Stay tuned for the grand finale of my Princess Half Marathon race report!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Training Plan: TO Women's Half Marathon

And now for something completely different... My training plan for the TO Women's Half Marathon, as it stands right now.

I can't say I'm 100% committed to this plan yet because I've included speed and strength workouts that I'm not sure about yet.  Ideally I would like to get in some strength training using the New Rules of Lifting for Women and some speed work as well to decrease my time from the Princess Half.  However, I am not sure if I want to pay for another gym membership or where I could use a track in the city (suggestions from locals on that one are more than welcome!)

I know I definitely want to run at least three times every week, ideally four, and I want to do something else other than running too.  If not the NROLFW workouts, I might start hanging out with Jillian Michaels again.  I have done The 30 Day Shred before and it was pretty good.

You'll notice a big gap in Week 8 - my mom, sister and I are taking a trip to Europe together (side note: I can't wait!) so I'm not putting anything in that week other than dreams of running in the streets of Europe if we can squeeze it in.  I based my schedule on a Hal Higdon plan and I think I will be okay with bumping around some of the LSD distances to accommodate a week off.

Mostly I'm just hoping that I haven't aimed too high by scheduling another half marathon so soon after my first, and that my success at the Princess Half wasn't just a fluke.

Here's to logging some serious miles in some warmer weather.  I'm really looking forward to it.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Race Report: Disney Princess Half Marathon - Part Two

This is Part Two of my Disney Princess Half Marathon Race Report.  For Part One, go here.  For my post on the Princess Half Meet Up and Expo, go here.

And again - Dear Past Jenn: I swear all of the stuff below is true.  Really.  You are going to run a half marathon and you are going to kind of love it.  Love, Present Jenn

We left off with me hanging around in Corral E finding it hard to believe that I was about to run a half marathon.  A singer performed the national anthem and suddenly I realized I should probably be paying attention because the race was about to start!

The Race Itself

The Fairy Godmother counted down the first start, which was the wheelchair athlete who was competing in the race.  Fireworks lit up the sky and everyone suddenly had an amazing amount of energy, like a switch had been flipped.  They counted down for every wave and the Fairy Godmother said her magic words for everyone.

I made this picture bigger because I love it so much.

At the beginning we were in a swarm of people and it was hard to hit a good pace.  On top of that, people had dropped all sorts of things in the first few hundred meters - tiaras, random accessories, chews and other fuel, and even a travel sized BodyGlide that Julie stepped on which nearly sent her out of the race before it started.  Luckily she just stumbled a bit and kept going.  The first few kilometres were slow between the congestion and me not wanting to go out too fast.

Along the highway there was various entertainment - a high school marching band, a hot air balloon, some music, some characters (like Jack Sparrow and a giant pirate ship booming awesome music - so cool) but it was mostly dark and I was focused on running running running.  The line up for Jack Sparrow was massive - as were the rest of the lines we encountered, as you might have guessed.  That means no character photos for us, though we did take various blurry photos of other people with the characters while running running running!

We did take pretty regular walk breaks - I would estimate around every 10 minutes in the first half of the race, and more towards the end - but no stopping breaks.

It didn't feel like much time had passed before we reached the Magic Kingdom sign that Julie and I both know and love from many childhood trips.  I was so excited to reach this point!  It turns out not much time had passed because not much time had passed.  This was only around the 4km point if I am looking at the right point on my map.  There's still plenty of highway stretching between this sign and when you actually get into the Magic Kingdom, so don't push too hard yet!

Magic Kingdom Parking "Entrance"

At the five kilometre mark I was feeling amazing.  I saw my Garmin showing five kilometres and told Julie we had to pause for a moment (our thoughts, not our feet) and she asked why.  I said we had to think about how less than one year ago I couldn't fathom running a 5k race and here I was, at the 5k point in a freaking half marathon.  Seriously.

I think it was around this point that I checked my pace band and realized we had to pick it up a notch if we were going to finish in 2:30.  (I picked up an awesome pace band at the Clif Bar display at the Expo.  It was printed on one of those bracelets you would get at an amusement park or something - waterproof paper that had a sticky part so you could fasten it on.  Amazing.)  We were behind by about three minutes if I remember correctly.

At this point, I started to find out how Julie was interpreting the "Jenn sets the pace" rule.  If I wanted to get to 2:30, she was going to get me there.  The race was filled with lots of "it won't hurt more to run a few seconds faster", "it will hurt more to walk" and Julie running away from me if I told her to leave me there to die.  (I promise this was all done in a supportive, loving fashion and I love her for what she did for me in this race.)

In the Magic Kingdom parking area, Julie finally gave in to her bladder but refused to line up for a bathroom as did a lot of other people.  She ran off to the bushes while I got a walking break without her asking when we would start running again.  (At this point I'd like to brag that I didn't stop to use a bathroom once.  Not sure if this is a good thing or not.)

On a related issue - I can't remember when this happened so I'm telling you now - I should have remembered everyone's advice about not drinking Powerade if you haven't before while training.  I usually drink plain water or Nuun.  I was worried about having enough steam to finish when I wasn't eating my chews as regularly as I planned (hey, I was distracted!) so I tried the Powerade.  At some point my stomach started sloshing around and I had to take a walking break so I wouldn't toss my cookies.  I drank water from then on.  I think Julie laughed at me, or at least she did after the race was over.

Magic Kingdom lot.
Ahead, villains and porta-potties.
Right, perfect bathroom break bushes.
Self portraits are awesome, clearly.
Running by the villians.
All our character pictures are blurry!

After the Magic Kingdom lots, we ran under an overpass - one of the many "hills" we faced during this race.  The energy was great.  Everyone knew that the Magic Kingdom - and maybe more importantly screaming, encouraging spectators - was not far away.

Julie and I generally sped down the downhills, letting ourselves take advantage of the speed instead of fighting it and trying to slow down as that would have hurt more.  At some point we were hitting a downhill and another pair of runners was close by.  One runner said to the other "slow down on the hill" and the second runner agreed.  Julie and I looked at each other and both said "SPEED UP ON THE DOWNHILL".

Towards TTC, from my memory.

We ran through the Ticket and Transportation Centre, where there were spectators and awesome drummers who were hitting just the right beat to get my pace up.  We turned a corner and there it was!  Cinderella's castle!  And suddenly we were running down Main Street USA and towards the castle.  It felt like a dream.

OMG we are here!
So incredible. 
We took a loop around the park, hitting up Tomorrowland and Fantasyland.  The line for the teacups was super short.  Julie suggested stopping.  I said that I didn't feel nearly as bad at that moment as I do after riding the teacups, so I guess I was feeling pretty good!

My view for the race - "you coming?!"

And just as suddenly, we were about to run through the castle.  My pace through the Magic Kingdom was the fastest I ran for the whole race, other than the last 2.1 km (which I'm shocked by because by the last 2.1km I wanted to die).  I was so happy, everyone else was happy, I was in an amazing place that I love, I was running.

They trumpeted us in!

And here's a pause to talk about our awesome spectators, because they took pictures in the Magic Kingdom too!

The boys planned to see us at the start, near the castle, and near the finish.  It didn't quite work out as we never saw them but they did see us run by near the finish.  They took pictures to prove they were there.  Maybe they thought we wouldn't believe them?  (We had a plan to tell them we saw them even though we didn't because we didn't want them to feel bad.)

My sister's DH

Apparently the big space in the photo below is part of the "Chear Zone".  Not sure why that area was set aside when the route went to the left of this photo?

Crowds at the Magic Kingdom
Awesome spectating job!

The boys had quite the adventure trying to find us, riding a monorail where the doors kept opening on the track and then riding one of the boata (which apparently was much faster and relatively quiet compared to the packed monorails).  They managed to get to the Magic Kingdom on schedule and back to the finish by time we were there.  In the future we might plan our spectators' stops a little better, but it's hard with 19,000 runners who all have at least 2-3 spectators wanting to see them.

And we're back on route!  Running through the castle...

"How are you feeling? Good?"


Then we ran through Liberty Square and Frontierland.  I wanted to stop at the Country Bear Jamboree.  I don't think they were even awake in there yet.

Liberty Square

Somewhere there is an awesome picture of me giving the thumbs up next to the Indian statute that I believe is in Frontierland.  Taking that picture made me laugh super hard.  We took it for my brother and a friend of his who both have childhood memories of the Indian statute.

After we left Magic Kingdom I took a walking break - one of the few I remember as I didn't follow a particular schedule but instead went with walking when I needed too.  I was getting tired through the Magic Kingdom but wanted to run the whole thing.  When we were through I got a break.  Phew.

Close to the exit of the Magic Kingdom we hit the halfway point.  We were almost there!!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Race Report: Disney Princess Half Marathon - Part One!

(These posts are pretty picture heavy and mostly star my sister because we took pictures of each other.  More pictures of me to come later perhaps!  I'm splitting the report up because apparently I have a lot to say!)

For my post on the Princess Half Meet Up and Expo, go here.

And while you're hanging out, why don't you enter my Larabar giveaway?

Dear Past Jenn: I know when you read everything that's written in the posts about the Princess Half you are not going to believe that it happened or that you were capable of even thinking about achieving this goal.  But you did!  Good on you! Love, Present Jenn

The Rules

My sister and I decided that we would run the race together the whole time, even though she is much faster than me.  I had put my estimated finish time as 3:00, so I was in Corral E.  Julie was in Corral D so she dropped back with me.  I wish I had estimated better so we would have had to deal with fewer crowds, but what's done is done.

I knew we had to establish a few ground rules if we were ever going to make it through the race without driving each other up the wall (or me dying).  First, I got to call the walking breaks and set the pace.  (You can see how that turned out in Part Two.)  Second, we wouldn't stop for character photos unless there was three or few people/groups in line ahead of us.  Third, which was established on the course, Julie got to weave through the crowds as much as she wanted when we were running and I had to keep up.  All fair enough.  Ready, set, go...

The Night Before / Getting There

About a week before the race, we panicked a little bit about staying off resort, so we booked a room at a host resort.  At that point we had a choice between a family suite at an All-Star resort and a studio at Saratoga Springs, both about the same price.  I picked Saratoga Springs (a little cheaper).  A few nights before the race we decided our DH would stay with us as well.  Nothing says cozy like a four person sleepover in a studio room with one bed and a pull-out!

Before we left for the race, the boys made signs to hold up for us.  My nephew helped.  (He stayed with our parents during the race because we figured it was way too early and crowded there for a toddler - we were right.)

Probably lucky he only
wrote on the sign with that

After we flipped a coin to figure out who got the bed (we won! yay!) we laid out our gear and each went for a walk with our respective DH around the grounds.  Mission - ice cream.

All laid out and ready to go.
Pre-race bedtime snack!

When we got back, we set our alarms for the ridiculous hour of 2:45 a.m. and went to bed.  We agreed to try and get on the bus by 3:40 a.m.  Julie told me I better not be slow or she would leave me behind.  I believe it was something along the lines of "I promised to get you to the finish line, but you have to get yourself to the starting line."  My sister is awesome and really nice (really)!  We pre-set the coffee maker so we didn't have to worry about measuring stuff in the morning (I am my father's daughter) and went to bed.

When my alarm went off, I stumbled in the dark to turn on the coffee and realized the coffee maker wasn't plugged in.  Fixed that, got it going, and we got ready for the day.  As we ate and drank coffee/water/nuun, we put BodyGlide on everywhere we could think of, put our awesome throw away clothes on (wish there was a picture of my "leisure suit").

There was a table in the room but it was on the other side near the sleeping boys, so Julie set up camp on the floor while I made a whole wheat bagel/PB/banana sandwich to take with me on the bus.

Breakfast time!

Julie set a second alarm for when we should be leaving the hotel room, and we left almost right on time!  She didn't leave me behind!  We made our way to the bus area (I was super happy we figured out where it was and how to get there the night before) and the bus was there waiting with plenty of room on it.  I don't think many runners were at our resort, which worked out very well for the buses there and back as we never had to wait in a line.  Also, the boys were able to sleep in and walk over to the starting line much later - Saratoga Springs was about a 25 minute walk to the starting line.

The bus drove by thousands of runners already walking to the starting area, and finally dropped us off a short walk from the first stop on our starting area journey, which turned out to be the finishing area as well.

So dark. So early.
Entering the "athletes' village"/finishing area.
Someone else called the starting area porta-potty heaven and I didn't believe it until I saw it for myself.  So many porta-potties!  But still always a line, although not too long.

Porta-potty heaven.

We checked out everyone's costumes while we waited.  There were a lot of princesses and groups of friends in matching outfits.  One girl was dressed as the "poor" Cinderella (think blue/brown and kerchief) which was adorable.  My favourite costumes were the unexpected ones, that were either not Disney at all but somehow Princess-y, or were superhero/Marvel costumes (Disney just purchased Marvel).

Best costume ever.
Custom printed back. AWESOME.

We checked our bags (super efficient and well organized, by the way!) and then waited in the starting area for what felt like ages.  I think we arrived around 4:00 a.m. because we were told it was a long walk to the corrals and you had to be in your corral by 5:00 a.m.  There was a dance party going on with a DJ but we were mostly frustrated that we had gotten up so early and it was clear that no one was even moving towards the corrals.  There was also vendors with snacks, etc. but we hadn't thought to bring any money, counting on our DH bringing money at the end if we wanted souvenirs.

We sat and stood around in this area for probably 45 minutes.  In the future, I might pay for the Race Retreat (another $99 but from the posts I have seen on it, very worth it).  Then we began the very long walk to the starting corrals.  Someone said they felt like cattle which is an apt description.  Sparkly cattle.  There were lots of port-potties along the route but the lines were long.  We stopped a few times anyway because we were both nervous about needing to go during the race.  The path was kind of creepy, a back Disney road with a lot of broken or otherwise not being used tram cars and such on the sides.

Waiting to get to the corrals.

We finally made it to Corral E shortly after 5:00 a.m.  There were still thousands of people behind us on the path to the corrals.  We were among the first people there but didn't realize at the time that we should have claimed a spot near the front.  We were too worried about making another half dozen trips to the bathrooms.  At some point, people (including us) gave up on the lines and started making their way to the bushes on the far side of the road.  They definitely need more porta-potties here in the future!  My sparkly skirt got burrs on it and I was scared of alligators, but that one last pit stop was what I needed to make it through the whole race without needing a bathroom.

Hanging out in the corrals in our
throw away clothes.

The corrals were packed and huge.  To to give you an idea, here's a panoramic shot that The American took that shows from the Elite corral to the end of Corral C at the overpass:

You know, just a run with 19,000 of my closest friends!

Ee decided to strip our throw away clothes shortly before our corral was called up to be certain we were ready to run.  It was pretty chilly but the adrenaline and other bodies kept us warm, and we were worried about stripping them off while we were running in a crowd.  A lot of people stripped their clothes around the 1st mile marker - it looked like a princess graveyard because people were even throwing away tutus and other sparkly things at that point.

Costume reveal! Not shown - green
and purple Team Sparkle skirts!

We chatted a bit in the corrals with people around us and each other, but mostly listened to what was going on with the interviewers and DJ and tried not to be too nervous.  I was still in disbelief that this was even happening - a half marathon?  Me?  I couldn't believe that 13.1 miles laid ahead of me.

The Race Itself

...will be in the next post!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Giveaway: Larabars! (closed)

Here's a little giveaway to tide you over while you wait (with baited breath I am sure) for my Princess Half Recap.  Please note this giveaway is only open to US residents (sorry my fellow Canadians!)

Do you watch The Biggest Loser?

I am catching up on last night's episode as I type this, and I am loving the girls at the ballet studio.  They are so confident and adorable.  Not to mention the fact that Dolvett looks kind of awesome in those tights.  This episode is reminding me that I want to try the barre class at the new studio here in town.

On this episode, Dolvett also shared a quick, healthy snack idea - Larabars!  You know them and love them already, and if you don't, don't you want to try them?  Now is your chance to satisfy your craving or try a great new to you snack!

If you haven't seen the clip yet, check it out here.  I think Emily says it best - "The more pure something is, the better I feel about putting it in my body."  Larabars have no more than nine ingredients, and they are all things you will recognize and can pronounce.

This giveaway is for a four pack of Larabars - two cherry pie and two peanut butter cookie, just like these:

Want to get these delicious bars in your belly?  Enter using the Rafflecopter below!  There are two (2) mandatory entries and the rest of the options are optional.  I am using this giveaway as a chance to get to know my readers a little better so I am asking you questions!  Only I will see the answers associated with each person.  I may do a summary post of the responses but won't identify anyone.

The giveaway will be open for entries until 12:01 a.m. on Thursday, March 15, 2012.  I will announce the winner here that day (time permitting) and contact him/her by e-mail if one is provided.  The winner will have one (1) week to claim their prize, at which time if I haven't heard from him/her I will pick another winner.

If you are tweeting the giveaway, please include a link to this post.  If you use the "Tweet" button in the Rafflecopter, it will automatically include a link!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Princess Half Meet-up and Expo at #RunDisney

Before I tell you about the race itself I want to fill you in on the Princess Half Meet-up that occurred on the Friday before the race.  My sister and I were lucky enough to RSVP in time to join 98 of our closest friends at a run with Jeff Galloway, Suzy Favour Hamilton, Rachel Booth, Betty Wong from Fitness Magazine and a few other RunDisney staff members and guests.

I have included a lot of pictures in this post and made them small so hopefully they will load relatively quickly.  You should be able to click them to view them larger.

After going the wrong direction the I-4 for a while, we got our bearings and arrived at EPCOT around 6:15 a.m. on the Friday morning.

Spaceship Earth looked amazing! 
After we signed our waivers, we headed into the park where we got awesome tech t-shirts with the runDisney logo.  I may or may not have worn that shirt constantly during the following week, it was that comfy.

Right away we met Jeff Galloway.  We didn't talk to him for very long because we were getting ready to go out for our run around EPCOT, but he was super friendly to everyone and willing to pose for pictures.

We had a choice between running straight through with Rachel Booth and Suzy Favour Hamilton or doing a run/walk with Jeff Galloway.  Although Julie was fan-girling pretty hard for Suzy, she let me pick and I went with Jeff Galloway.  I'm really glad we did because I heard after that the straight running group was going super fast (less than 8:00 minute miles!)

Julie running through EPCOT
The Mexico pavilion 
The China pavilion
Our running group
When our run was over, we all met at the Germany pavilion for beers breakfast.  We listened to all the celebrity guests speak and it was incredible to hear about so many women balancing raising families, working and running.  Jeff Galloway also chatted with us for a bit, mostly focusing on answering people's questions.

The Germany pavilion.
We all got tiaras!
They then announced that we would all be getting free one-day Park Hopper passes!  What an awesome surprise.  I didn't expect more than a run, a t-shirt and maybe some breakfast.  Julie and her husband used the passes after the race to go to Animal Kingdom with their little boy, which worked out really nicely.

We then met some more celebrity friends.  The RunDisney staff were awesome about taking our pictures for us with our own cameras:

Hello, Princess Minnie!
Rapunzel complimented my
skirt and told us to always carry
our frying pan!

We also had the chance to chat with some new friends, including Courtney from Run Courtney Run (@runcourtrun) (who I chatted with for hours on Twitter making sure neither of us missed the RSVP time for the meet up!) and Kelly from According to Kelly (@according2kelly) who was generous enough to hand deliver new Team Sparkle skirts to anyone who wanted to order one at a discount (I'm bought a new pink one for my next half marathon!)

On our way out of Expo I made Julie take my picture with the panda topiaries in the China pavilion.  I love pandas and topiaries.  Win.

After the meet-up we headed to the Expo.  We were hoping to beat the rush by being there relatively close to the opening.  Of course we were wrong on that one!  It was packed, especially the official merchandise area.  We picked up our bibs and shirts, spent a little money on official merchandise and Nuun, grabbed some free samples and headed home.  

Not our ride.

I know there have been some complaints that the goody bag was "virtual" rather than an actual goody bag, but I really liked not receiving a bag full of coupons and pamphlets I may never use.  There were plenty of free samples at the Expo so you could grab the ones you liked.

All in all it was a great day.  I would definitely recommend trying to sign up for the meet-up if you ever attend a runDisney event!