Thursday, March 21, 2013

Spring into Action - Week 11 (March 10 - 16, 2013)

5K In Paradise (Kennesaw, GA) - March 10, 2013

In November, Mom and I took part in the Anything is Possible 5K which takes part when the clocks "fall back" therefore you finish before you start.  

Due to growing popularity of the Anything Is Possible races, they added a new race this spring: 5K in Paradise.  5K in Paradise is a summer-themed 5K that celebrates spring and summer coming along with the "springing forward" of the clocks.  Since the race started at 1:50am, Mom and I both went to bed around 8:00pm so we could get a few hours rest before we had to wake-up and get ready to leave for the race by 12:30am.  In order to keep with the theme, Mom and I did luau costumes for the race.

The course for the race follows a route that is two laps of Town Center Mall.  I have ran several races that follow this course, so I know it pretty well.  The race went pretty well, check in was pretty smooth.  However, my one complaint was the attitude given to participants by volunteers.  One volunteer even yelled at us "you all are driving us crazy!"  In two years of running races, I have NEVER encountered something like this.  Granted, the race director on has limited control over volunteers, so I kept that in mind.  Regardless, it was still something I did not expect to happen.

The race started on time, which it really had to in order to ensure that we were on the course when the clocks "sprang forward."  The energy on the course was great as well.  Everyone was there to have a great time!  

Coming up to the finish line (photo by Tim of True Speed Photo)

The post race party was amazing as with the other Run For It races that they host.  On top of typical fruit and bagels, Zaxby's and Domino's were there as well.  In addition to food, there was also a contest for best beach wear, best costume, and a hula contest.  Even though we did not win, I think we looked fabulous (and had a blast).

Me during the costume contest (Photo by Tim from True Speed Photo)

On top of typical race swag, we received a tye-dye race shirt, a hurricane glass, and a lei.  

Race Pros:
Great shirt!
Hurricane Glass
Great post-race party!

Race Cons:
Volunteer attitude given to runners

Overall Race Rating: A-

Question of the week:  Have you ever done a "race after midnight"?  

Time to Run,

Sunday, March 10, 2013

A Run With A View - Week 10 (March 3 - 9, 2013)

Silver Comet 10K (Mableton, GA) - March 9, 2013

Ever since I started running a few years ago, I have always wanted to run on the Silver Comet Trail, but I have never had the opportunity.  I have heard of the Silver Comet Half Marathon that is held in late October, which they added a full marathon option last year.  Unfortunately, my devoted love for football has prevented me from running the half marathon the past 2 years.  Despite its 15th running, I have never known about the Silver Comet 10K until a few weeks ago.  Once I saw that they did a 10K in early March I knew I wanted to do it.  It will give me the opportunity to run on the Silver Comet and it is a good distance for me to run during my 3 weeks between half marathons.

When I woke up at 5:30 the temperature was 41 degrees so I decided to just go with shorts and a tshirt since the high was projected to be in the mid-60s.  By the time I got to the race the temperature dropped to 32!  Thank goodness I was unintentionally prepared for cold weather and had my arm warmer sleeves in my running bag. Before the race started I was a little cold, but a mile or so into the race I became quite comfortable.

The race started in front of Kroger which was nice if you needed any last minute race stuff (water, Powerade, protein bar, etc) or you could run into their restroom.  

The race had a on-time start and we started on the main road for the 1.25 miles or so.  The remaining 5 miles were all on the historic Silver Comet trail.  The trail was absolutely beautiful.  There were so many scenic spots that we passed along the way where the sunrise coming through the trees was breath-taking.  The course is mostly flat along the way which made for good run overall.

About 3 miles or so into the race I came across a runner doing intervals similar to mine.  Nicole was awesome to run with and chat for a bit.  My pace slowed up from hers and she went ahead.  Nicole is a member of Black Girls Run which is such an AWESOME group of women.  We were talking about how our interval running helps us and the importance of just being active whether you are fast or slow. Black Girls Run is such a supportive group that cheers for and supports everyone like the champions that they are.  I always love seeing Black Girls Run at events and feeding off of their amazing vibe and energy.

Nicole and I at the finish line

Some of the amazing girls from Black Girls Run!
In all of the pre-race communications we were informed that we would finish at a different location than the start/post-race party and we would have to ride shuttles back to start area for the post-race party.  As I came into my last mile or so I kept seeing runners that have finished running and walking back the opposite way.  I didn't think much of this because I have seen a lot of runners at races run additional miles after the race.  Well, I walked the short walk up the parking lot to catch the shuttle - now I know why people were running back.  

There were hundreds of people waiting in line to catch the shuttle.  After about 45 minutes of waiting for my turn to board the 44-person shuttle, I finally made it to the "post-race party."  First I hit up the tshirt table and they had different color options earlier, but as the volunteers told me "I guess this is the color that no one wanted so its all we have left."  Wow, thanks.  It didn't bother me because I love my shirt.  There was not any additional swag - we were just handed our shirt.  This might have been different for those that got back before  me.

By the time we made it back to the start area all of the vendors were packing up and the only food for us was a box that had a few orange slices in it.  We just ran 6.2 miles (some 12+ miles after running back) and there was nothing to eat!?!  I don't expect a buffet, but something with some carbs would have been nice.  I finally got back to my car around 11:00 and by the time I got to a drive-thru it was going on 12:00.  My body was very unhappy with me at this point and did not react well to the situation.  Even though I run 6+ miles frequently, my body had a very hard time recovering after this 10K.  

Overall, the race was great.  My only complaint is about what happened after the race: (1) the shuttle wait (2) no food.  I really want to run the half marathon in October, but I will have to digest my overall impression about how the race went and if my schedule allows me to run it.

Race Pros:
Great shirt!
Scenic route
On time start

Race Cons:
45+ minute wait for shuttles
Lack of food at finish

Overall Race Rating: B+

Question of the week:  One of my favorite post race foods (for 15K+ races) is pizza.  What is your favorite post race food?  

Time to Run,

Will Run For Cupcakes - Week 9 (February 25 - March 2, 2013)

Cupcake Road Race 5K (Cumming, GA) - March 2, 2013

After a week of Princess Half Marathon fun at Disney, it was time to come back to reality.  I contemplated if I really wanted to come home and jump into another race right away.  I have 3 weeks between half marathons so I want to maintain my miles and continue to let my foot heal.  

I order to help keep on track to complete 52 races in 52 weeks, I decided I would go ahead and do a 5K right after coming home.  I signed up for the Cupcake Road Race 5K in Cumming.  The race offered 3 different distances: 15K, 5K, and the Baby Cake Run (kids fun run).  One of the sponsors of the race was Gigi's Cupcakes (hence the name Cupcake Road Race).  As part of the post-race activities, each participant receives a Gigi's cupcake....yummm!  If you know me, you know I love a good cupcake and I love Gigi's!

15K is one of my favorite distances to run and they don't come up in Atlanta too often, but since I knew I would be exhausted from Disney I opted to register for the 5K.  The race had separate start times for the races which was nice.  The 15K started first and started about the time I arrived to the race.  

As with almost every race, participants received race shirts.  When we registered, the registration form asked you for your tshirt size.  Typically the race form would specify "men's small", "women's small", etc and if no gender is mentioned it is a unisex cut.  Well, SURPRISE when I went to check in an received my shirt they gave all females a "women's cut" in the size they specified!  The women's small they gave me would literally fit a 10 year old.  They then told me that I could not exchange the shirt for another size (or even a men's cut).  The crazy part of this is that race-day registrants were receiving shirts on a first come basis and they were selling extra shirts.  The part that upset me most is that it was never mentioned that we were signing up for women's shirts.  Almost every woman there was upset about this as most of us received shirts that we could not wear.

I did notice that there were a lot of runners wearing their Hot Chocolate 5K/15K hoodies and other gear at the race.  I think the trend of races incorporating fun post-race treat is growing and in turn growing the running revolution in the country.

The race it self was a little chaotic.  There was a big inflatable shote that said "START" so most people thought this was the start line and started lining up there.  Well, that was the finish line and it just happen to say start on one side.  After they clarified where we needed to line up, the race started fairly promptly.  There was a HUGE bottle neck at the start as everyone was funneled into one lane of road.  The worst part of the race happened for me within the first mile of the race.  A portion of runners (me included) were sent on a .5 mile loop that was part of the course - I think it was part of the 15K course.  I realized something was wrong when I saw part of the runners going one way and the other part going another way.  Then when I hit what they considered the 1 mile marker my Nike+ watch showed I was at 1.47 miles.  I looked at the girl next to me who had a Garmin watch and hers showed 1.48 miles.  Hmmmm.  

The course had a lot of chaotic moments.  Some portions had us running on major roads/highways with a lane closed for us.  Well, about half way we did a U-turn in the middle of the highway which required us to cross from the left lane of one direction to the right lane/sidewalk of the other direction.  Police would be real nice to help direct this right!?!? We were on our own! 

After I made it back to the finish about 3.6 miles later, I just wanted my cupcake.  There was a HUGE line waiting to get to the Gigi's tent.  After standing mostly idle for 10-15 minutes, all the sudden the line moved rapidly.  I think the Gigi's workers were trying to place the cupcakes on display for runners to take vs. just handing them out of the box, but I really don't know.  


My cupcake was amazing and was worth the extra .5 mile and the wait in line.  YUM!  When I was leaving the post-race party they were handing out left overs, so I actually scored 2 cupcakes!

After the race, I did get my shirt issue resolved.  They gave me a "defective" (sponsors not printed on the back) race shirt in a bigger women's cut.  I was just happy they semi-resolved the issue for me.

If I am not mistaken, this was the first time the race was ran.  Hopefully the race director will see the hiccups as learning opportunities.  This race was a great concept, just some things could be implemented better.

Race Pros:
GREAT post race party - I LOVE cupcakes!
On time start

Race Cons:
Shirt sizing 
Start line confusion
Being sent off course

Overall Race Rating: B-

Question of the week:  Have you ever done a food themed race?

Time to Run,

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Forget the Glass Slipper, This Princess Wears Running Shoes (and a tiara)- Week 8 (February 18 - February 24, 2013)

Princess Half Marathon (Orlando, FL) - February 24, 2013

At a race expo about 2 years ago, I came across the most amazing race...EVER! A race hosted by DISNEY and it had a PRINCESS theme!!!  For the past two years I have dreamed about the opportunity to run the Princess Half Marathon at Walt Disney World.  In July, registration opened up for the 5th anniversary running of the race.  I knew for months leading up to registration that I was going to cross this race off of my running bucket list in 2013.  I quickly registered for the race in mid-July (about a week or two after registration opened).  For the next few months I was thinking of costume ideas (you cannot run at Disney without a fabulous costume) and saving up money to make this an amazing trip for my family.  

Thanks to some inspiration on Pinterest, I decided that my costume would be a running version of my favorite Disney Princess - Aurora (Sleeping Beauty).  For my costume, I purchased a pink Team Sparkle skirt, added some princess flair to a pink running top with some help from my mom (back of top is shown below), and what princess doesn't have a fabulous tiara?!? 

As the race day got closer and closer, the weather forecast started looking scary.  At first it just looked like it would be hot (and probably humid).  Even though it has been a while since I ran in heat, I could handle it.  However, come Friday it started showing a forecast including thunderstorms during the race.  I have never been in a race during a storm (yes, rain but not thunder and lightening).  I know it is Disney and they plan things well, but what would they do with 25,000+ runners plus all the volunteers in the event of dangerous conditions such as lightning?  I just had to have faith that everything would work out...

The race had a 5:30 start time with resort buses offering transportation to the race from 3:00-4:00.  One would think that a 2:30 wake up would mean one cranky Princess Brandi...WRONG!  I sprung out of bed so fast because I could not wait to get into my pretty pink costume.  My number #1 cheerleader (my mom) and I caught a bus to the race around 3:10.  

After we got off the bus and took some pre-race pictures, we made our way towards a gathering area near the bag check and port-o-pots.  Only runners could go past the bag check so I stayed here with mom for a while before I headed on my journey to the corrals.   

I had my pre-race meal: Crunchy Peanut Butter Cliff Bar with a Diet Coke.  Please do not lecture me on how Diet Coke is bad for me in general and the caffeine is horrible before a race - I am well aware of all of this, but it is my one vice in life ;)  Around 4:15 I left mom and made my way towards the corrals.

The walk to the corrals took about 15 minutes to get there, but there were so many energetic people to talk to along the walk.  Despite it being 4:30 in the morning, everyone there was ready to go - come on, we are at DISNEY and we are dressed up as princesses!  

For those wondering, of the 25,000+ runners there were over 1,000 men in the race.  YES, even the men dressed up for the race!  Some dressed up as Princes, wore shirts referring to their princess, and some even "dressed the part" wearing tutus, wings, and tiaras.  This is a women focused event, but I must say the guys were absolutely amazing.  My goals for the race were to (1) HAVE FUN (2) take lots of pictures (3) make memories and (4) feel great at the finish.

I made it to my corral, now I just had to wait for corral C to be sent off...

There was about 7 minutes between each corral being sent off, so even though we just had to wait 14:00 or so for our turn it could not come soon enough.  Fairy Godmother sent off each corral and fireworks were our "go" signal.  

The two miles were just some side roads of the Disney property.  However, just before the mile 2 marker I was greeted by some of my favorite Disney characters....PIRATES!  

I started in corral C which had a 35:00 jump on the last corral which is when the 16:00/mile pace clock started.  I knew I had about an hour or so that I can play with and stay head of the "balloon lady" (she marks the 16:00/mile pace and if you fall behind her you are in danger of being swept).  I saw the line for pictures with the pirates and contemplated if I wanted to stop....uh, YES! After about 15-20 minutes of waiting, it was my turn.  I must say that I LOVE LOVE LOVE this picture and do not regret waiting for it.  This is probably the closest I will ever get to "Johnny Depp" so I needed to make this picture epic.

I made some friends in line and we were talking about how it is not possible for us to stop for every picture along the way.  Well, shortly after the pirates there was another photo opportunity....EEP!  I had to stop!  I turned around in line only to find my friends from the pirate line right behind me!  Another 20 minutes late and I had my turn with......PRINCES!

When you are running along side 25,000 women, the sight of handsome men is very exciting!  My "photo friends" and I made a pact that we had to stop the insanity of stopping for pictures.   I setup myself to receive text notifications of my pace at the 5K, 10K, and 15K splits.  Well, when I passed the 5K marker I received a text that I was on pace for a 5:00 half marathon - UH OH!  I knew I needed to stop standing in line for 15-20 minutes at a time for pictures.  Even though my goals consisted of taking pictures and having the time of my life, I knew that if I kept this up I would risk being swept.  

I did pass up the villains, but I managed to snap a picture of them while passing.

As I approached the entrance to Magic Kingdom, I knew I needed to snap a picture.  I slowed up to snap a picture and who was beside me - that is right, my picture pals!  We took turns taking pictures of each other then went along our way.

For the next 2 miles or so I just ran and tried to make up some time for the photo stops that I did.  I tried to take some pictures of characters along the way still.  

Nothing felt more amazing that running into Magic Kingdom along Main Street USA and seeing Cinderella Castle greeting you!

The crowd along Main Street USA was amazing and there were some great signs!  I like this sign, despite the error on it....

Lucky for me, just as we passed the castle and headed towards Tomorrowland there was a prime photo spot that no one else noted.  I quickly darted to the side along with another girl and we did photos for each other and we were on our way in under a minute.

I even found an unexpected "celebrity"coming out of the restroom along the way - of course I needed a photo!

As I approached the Tea Cups, I spotted a character photo spot that I could not pass up.  I have been hauling butt the past 3 miles and haven't been stopping for longer than a minute to do photos, so I justified this stop!

As we came by the new Fantasyland, there were lots of characters (with VERY long lines).  Since I just stopped for Alice, I did not want to stop again.

We FINALLY made it to the castle!

My run through the castle ended up being very bottle-necked, but I still loved every minute of it!

Mom purchased a chEAR Squad pass which gave her premium viewing areas at the castle and finish line along with other goodies like free drinks, t-shirt, blanket, etc.  It was great to come out of the castle and have my mom waiting for me.  She had been standing there for a LONG time waiting for me to come through so being the proud mom that she is, she snapped a picture and kindly told me that I need to step it up a little (thanks mom!).

I continued pushing forward without stopping and just did "run by photos"  

Right before the 10K split was AURORA!  Even though I did not want to stop again, I decided to wait for her.  After waiting about 10 minutes and being about 4 back from having my turn, it came!  That is right, the balloon lady!  She was yelling that we needed to come on or we were getting swept.  WHAT!?!?  This could not be happening!  Heartbroken, I left the line, took a picture of her with random runners and started hoofing it!

I run a 12:00-12:30/mile typically in half marathons - there is no way I was getting swept.  It was a lot of pressure knowing the balloon lady was hot on my tail.  There was a lot more at stake than just being swept - I am running Dumbo at Disneyland over Labor Day and if I was swept I would not be able to receive my Coast to Coast status!  

Ok, no more photo stops now.  It is time to run!  I took pictures as I ran instead.

From this point forward I ended up doing pictures of the mile makers as I had been doing (see end of page) as well as anything I could run and snap.

As I ran through miles 8 and 9 I reflected back to the pain that I was in during the last few miles of my marathon and that lonely feeling that I had for 14 miles.  As I thought about this, I saw the pain on my fellow ladies' faces.  I decided that I needed to take this opportunity to support how amazing the women are beside me:  not only for coming this far, but for having the courage to start this journey.  I would find a woman that had the look that I had around mile 21 at the marathon - the "I don't know if I can make it to the finish" look.  I would run up to them, share a smile and a few kind words of encouragement and move on towards another runner.  It was just amazing to receive a smile back and know that I hopefully gave them a boost to make the final miles a little easier for them.

Coming up to mile 12 I ran into one of my photo line friends.  She ended up standing in the 25 minute line to get a picture with Mickey and Minnie before the castle.  We both laughed at how we started 35:00 sooner than the last corral, yet we were in jeopardy of getting swept due to our love for photo opps!  Shortly after the mile 12 marker my dad and Aunt Vicki were long the route to cheer for me.  They are pretty amazing.

After around 12.25 miles we entered Epcot.  We are almost there ladies (and gentlemen)!

During the final mile I found some of the best shirts of the race....

After a short run through Epcot, it was here...THE FINISH!

After about 4:05 I finally made it to the finish!  This was my worst half marathon time, but I had the BEST time doing it!  I avoided the sweepers, made great memories, got some great pictures, and made some friends along the way.

I am so grateful that I have such an amazing family to come cheer for me and my wild adventures.

I had an amazing time at my first RunDisney race weekend.  Yes, it was crowded.  Yes, there were parts of the course that were tight and crowded (mile 7-10 particularly).  Yes, it was HOT (but rain and storm-free).  Thanks to reading other bloggers recaps of other Princess Half Marathons or other RunDisney events I knew this was expected (maybe not so much the weather part).  You just have to set reasonable goals for yourself and remember those goals along the way.  The way I saw it was that I can run for a PR back home, I am at Disney and paying a lot of money for this race so I wanted to just enjoy the morning.

I cannot wait for the Dumbo Double Dare Challenge at Disneyland on Labor Day weekend!

Dumbo - you are next!

Have you ever done a RunDisney race?  Which one did you do?  What is on your RunDisney "bucket list"

These are all of the mile marker signs from the Princess Half Marathon:

Time to Run,