Friday, February 28, 2014

2014 runDisney Glass Slipper Challenge Recap

This past weekend, I conquered the 2014 Inaugural runDisney Glass Slipper Challenge. Disney Princess weekend is a runners dream come true, where you can run at the most magical place on earth while accomplishing a goal. This weekend celebrates runners of all ages and levels and is my favorite runDisney race weekend of the year. You see so many groups of women, from those having a girls weekend, to bacherlorette parties, and even mother daughter teams. It's truly a weekend of celebrating women and I was honored to be part of it.
The Glass Slipper challenge consisted of 19.3 miles over two days, starting with the Enchanted 10K on Saturday and finising with the Princess Half Marathon on Sunday. Upon completing the challenge, you received a special medal to showcase your accomplishment. When this race series was announced in 2013, my best friend and I instantly signed up during Annual Passholder early registration week and my Mom offered to pay for my race entry as my birthday present. Best birthday present ever - thanks Mom!

Saturday - runDisney 2014 Enchanted 10K

Keri and I woke up a bit exhausted. Instead of going to bed early the night before, we went to an Orlando Magic game and had an amazing time. While we paid for it on Saturday, it was well worth the exhaustion. If you read this blog, you know I LOVE the 10K at Disney World. I do not mind the first 3 miles on open road....it has a strange sense of calm to it before you enter Epcot and Boardwalk Disney. I loved watching Keri experience her first 10K at Disney - while she has ran a few runDisney 13.1's, this was her first shorter mileage course. She also loved every moment of it. You can read my full recap of the Enchanted 10K here.

Sunday 13.1 - 2014 Princess Half Marathon
So if you read my review on the Princess Half, you know not only how much this race meant to me, but also know I had a breakdown. 2014 Princess Half weekend was my 2 year running anniversary - I ran my first 5K during Princess Half weekend at Disney in 2012. I made a commitment then to run the Princess Half the following year but ended up on vacation and ran Rock n Roll NOLA instead. Princess Half was the final medal I needed to complete my FL runDisney collection. While I had an absolute blast with my best friend (with the exception of the 2 miles I gave her a silent treatment), I can honestly say this was one of the most difficult mental challenges I have had since I began running, tougher than the Dopey Challenge last month. It had nothing at all to do with the course or runDisney - I have ran this half marathon course three times and can tell you the route in my sleep. Princess Half was an amazing experience and lived up to my expectations. I believe the breakdowns were due to being burnt out. You can read my full recap of the Princess Half (and my breakdown) here.
On a positive note, I must take a second to tell any female runner that Princess Weekend at Disney is a MUST do (and if you are a male runner, you get to see thousands of women in tutus running). Glass Slipper Challenge is an amazing 2 day event that is an achievable goal and you get to run two different courses, receive 3 medals and 3 race specific shirts.
Back to the breakdown - When I stated above that I had a difficult time with the half marathon it has to do with self abuse, under training and taking on too many races in 4 months. When I ran the Royal Family 5K on Friday (not part of the Glass Slipper Challenge), I felt as if I was living in Groundhog Day. My mind and body started a protest. Around mile 9 of the half marathon I looked at Keri and proclaimed "I quit". She thought I meant right then and there and gasped at me. I explained that I wanted to quit running. Mind you, an hour later, I was discussing what my next half was going to be. I'm in a love hate relationship with running at the moment and I believe it is due to taking on too much from November to February. As of this exact moment, I can officially state we do not have any races on the schedule. It is the first time in two years that those words have come out of my mouth. Yet don't let that fool you - I am actively trying to figure out the next race on our calendar!

Do yourself a favor and sign up for the 2015 runDisney Princess Half Weekend. Make this your next goal - either your first 5K, first 10K, first Half Marathon or your first distance challenge. Two years ago, when I completed that first 5K at Disney during the Princess Half weekend, I only dreamed of running a half... Today, I have 2 full marathons, 8 half marathons and countless other distances under my running belt and I owe 100% of it to runDisney!

Wine Dine Half Marathon registration
runDisney 2014 Wine & Dine Half Marathon opened up for early registration this week for Annual Passholders and DVC members - click here for the link. It will open to the public next week so make sure you are receiving registration emails from Disney. While Princess Half weekend is my favorite runDisney "weekend", Wine Dine Half is my favorite runDisney half marathon. I love the course, I love nighttime races and I love running for wine!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

2014 runDisney Princess Half Marathon Race Recap

This Sunday, I ran the 2014 runDisney Princess Half Marathon, a race I only dreamed of participating in after witnessing it in 2012. Two years ago this weekend, I ran my very first 5K and watched my best friend complete her first 1/2 marathon, at the 2012 Princess Half Marathon weekend. The rest is history.
The video above was taken from the start of the half marathon - I had the gracious opportunity to witness the elite runners and Corral A start the race. It was unlike anything I have ever seen in person and the video does not do it justice.
My best friend Keri dressed me for this race. We were Princess Aurora....I never thought I would wear lipstick at a race, but there is always a first for everything. We started the race running the first two miles with runDisney trainer Jeff Galloway. We dropped off the Galloway train at the first photo opp.
One thing Keri and I agreed on was that we would stop for every photo opp that either of us wanted, regardless of the line. We did just that and received a near 4 hour finish time. I do not regret it though - we were there for fun, not trying to get a PR. This is why we run Disney - to enjoy all of the on course entertainment. We took advantage of early short lines by stopping for photo opps and when I saw Jack Sparrow with only 3 people in line, we jumped in.
The next photo stop was the princes. I felt bad for Aladdin as he didn't have a princess in the photo! I will take this moment to discuss how hot and humid this morning was. Fog everywhere, unable to breathe and sweat within the first few minutes. February in FL was not kind to us this morning.
We rounded mile 3 and saw the evil queens. The line was pretty long but I forced Keri to stay for this one. I knew by the time we hit Magic Kingdom, the lines for Prince Mickey and Princess Minnie would be long - and this is one photo I had to have. 
And we had to sit in the evil chair. I am 4" taller than Keri yet look so short compared to her in this photo!
One of my favorite parts of running through the Magic Kingdom is the section right before you get in at ticket and transportation. I love the crowds and cry every time. I saw the sign that said, Hurry, Channing is at the Finish Line - I practically shoved Keri to take a photo with her. She is Channing obsessed :)
Once the sun rose, the fog did not let up. It was unbelievably foggy when we hit the Magic Kingdom. 
I started getting very cranky at this point. I mean - VERY cranky. Everyone around me annoyed me and I felt out of character. I am not one to throw hissy fits inside of Disney, especially at runDisney events. I even told  Keri I was going to pop some random girls balloons because she was trying to scare people by thinking she was a balloon lady - to which Keri responded "what if it is her birthday?". I glared at her. 
When we arrived in the new Fantasy Land, there was a line so long that it didn't make sense. That's when we learned it was Prince Mickey and Princess Minnie. Construction on Cinderella's Castle prevented them from being at their normal spot. This is the one photo I promised Keri we would take, no matter what. 20+ minutes later, we got the photo.
It was worth it standing in line for the photo for us as we were already way behind pace due to the prior photo opps. We decided to run through the rest of the Magic Kingdom, We passed Princess Tiana and Louis the alligator. Once we got to the back side of Magic Kingdom, we saw another long line and a lot of pink. It was Princess Aurora and we had no choice but to wait for this photo. 
This is about the time when my crankiness mentioned above was explained. Let's just say it's a girls worst nightmare while running a half marathon. 
Once we exited Magic Kingdom, we saw another line - this one was about 10 minutes long. It was Mary Poppins and I insisted we stop for this. Plus my ovaries were screaming at me to stop for a second to take some tylenol. I really needed a spoon full of sugar to help the medicine go down...... Superfragilisticexpialidocious! 
Then we heard some singing! These fine gentlemen were serenading the ladies (and men!) while presenting them with a glass slipper. This was a funny moment in our day and I was in lala land thanks to a 1000mg tylenol. I took my photo and grabbed the phone from Keri, suddenly hearing my name. I look up and see my friend Heidi and her husband. I take off, leaving poor Keri alone with no photographer. Oops. I went back for her and got a ton of crap from the singing guys and everyone around us for leaving her stranded.
I don't think I spoke to Keri from mile 8-10. I was having horrid cramps. All I wanted to do was to have this half marathon over with, find a heating pad and lay down. Meanwhile, Keri wanted to finish and drink champagne. I also agreed with her wants and needs. We finally made it to Epcot and finished the 13.1. When I said nearly 4 hours, I was not kidding. 3:55 or something like that. But we took a ton of photos and had a good time with the race (except my 2 mile silent treatment - sorry Keri!!!). 

My verdict on this race weekend is that it is a must do for any female runner. If you are someone looking for inspiration to start running, sign up for the Royal Family 5K - look what it did for me! Two years later, I have completed 2 full marathons, 8 half marathons, a 10 miler and countless 5K & 10K's. 

Princess Half Weekend is also the perfect girls weekend out and I had an amazing time with my BFF. runDisney Princess Half Marathon weekend is the reason I became a runner and if it weren't for that magical day in 2012, this blog would not exist!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Introducing The Better Chip - and chipotle chicken tenders


While I am not much of a snacker, I have a weakness for all things crunchy and salty. Chips are my weakness and I have been known to take down a bag on my own during stressful times. I was recently introduced to a new line of snacks called The Better Chip with fresh, simple and bold ingredients. Oh - and A LOT OF FLAVOR!!

The Better Chip is a vegan-friendly, verified Non-GMO option and is available nationwide  Two brand new flavors joined The Better Chip family this week,  Chipotles and Beets. Other flavors are Jalapenos, Spinach & Kale and Corn. We were both instantly impressed with these chips, which have a ton of crunch and are not bad for the upcoming bikini weather!
 
I was asked to create a recipe using The Better Chip so I asked the man of the house what I should create. He instantly responded chicken tenders. Such a boy :) I used the brand new Chipotles flavor and the Corn flavor. Chipotle was pretty spicy!!
This is a super easy recipe, less than 5 ingredients and takes less than 20 minutes. No other spices are needed.

The Better Chip Chicken Tenders
1 cup blended The Better Chip crumbs (I placed mine in a food processor)
1 egg
1/4 cup milk
1lb chicken breast, thawed and cut into strips

Blend egg and milk together, place chicken strips into the mixture.
Coat the chicken with the chip crumbs
Bake at 425 for 20 minutes, flipping after the first 10 min.

We were very impressed! Click here to join The Better Chip Insiders advocate hub to gain access to exclusive offers, content and prizes!

The Better Chip provided me with product and/or compensation for this post, however the opinions I shared are my own.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Juil shoes #giveaway, because you and your shoes are important

I fell in love with the shoes with copper dots.....

I was recently invited to try out a pair of Juil sandals, known as the shoes with copper dots. Living in FL, I practically live in flip flops throughout the year so I happily accepted the invitation to try out the shoes whose motto is that by wearing them, you will feel better.
What caught my attention regarding Juil shoes is that they recreate that calming feeling one associates to walking barefoot. Have you ever heard of "earthing"? Earth is a giant magnet with an endless supply of electrons. Through earthing/grounding, these electrons are absorbed to neutralize and release the free radicals in our bodies, cleansing stress and toxins. That's where the copper dots come into play.
Stress and Toxins come from anywhere and exposure to them lead to a buildup of free radicals in our bodies. These free radicals attack healthy cells and cause inflammation, which is the root of almost all medical ailments. Earth is a giant magnet with an endless supply of electrons and we stay connected by wearing earthing or grounding shoes. The electrons are absorbed to neutralize and release the harmful free radicals in our bodies. While the easiest way to stay grounded is to walk barefoot and most footwear has rubber or plastic outsoles that insulate our bodies from making a connection with the earth. The copper dots in Juil shoes act as a conduit and allow you to stay truly connected and balanced.
I decided on the Juil Teya, shown above. Upon receiving, I was instantly impressed with the comfort. They felt like broken in pillows - meaning tons of support and cushion while giving me zero blisters. I knew they would become instant favorites of mine and have worn them nearly every day since.
wearing my Juils at Magic Kingdom
In fact, I brought these shoes with me to last weekends runDisney Princess Half Marathon weekend. From past experience, I hate wearing shoes after running multiple days in a row. Yet I was able to wear these shoes the day after my third consecutive running day in a theme park!! The photo below was taken an hour after a half marathon and I was perfectly comfortable walking around Disney Hollywood Studios!
Wearing Juils at Disney Hollywood Studios after completing 3 consecutive races, a 5K, 10K & 13.1 in 3 days
Juil is featured in NordstromAthleta, and recently in a Huffington Post article titled, “6 Awesome Yoga Accessories You’ve Never Heard Of.”

Now for the GIVEAWAY! FREE SHOES!!!


Visit Juil.com and let me know in a comment below which shoe you would love to own. Then visit http://info.juil.com/run4wine to enter the contest! This contest will run for 7 days and the winner will be chosen at random. The selected winner will have 3 days to respond to my email and claim their shoes. After 3 days, another winner will be selected.

Follow Juil on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Online

2014 runDisney Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon Weekend

I received an email last week from a friend who has connections - the email stated that there were rumors floating around about a new runDisney race to take place in Disneyland. My curiosity peaked and this Sunday, runDisney announced the rumors with chalk art at the Princess Half Marathon Ever After Party.
Following the hashtag #smashthehalf, everyone started their own theory's. I instantly thought Smash was referencing the Incredible Hulk and the event would be Marvel Comic related, wishing for an Avengers themed race. While my favorite color is pink and I sometimes have a hard time believing I was not born a princess, deep down inside I am a tomboy and I grew up as a huge fan of the Avengers (I blame my mother).
Well my wish came true at 11:35am this morning when runDisney announced the new Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon Weekend at Disneyland Resort on Twitter, Facebook and on runDisney's blog. The series will take place in Anaheim, CA November 14-16, 2014. It will be a three day race weekend for super heroes of all ages, featuring a half marathon, a 5K and kids races. Along with the races, there will be several family-friendly events such as a Health & Fitness Expo and a pre-race Pasta in the Park Party.

New 13.1 Course:
The Avengers Half Marathon course will be a new 13.1-mile route through the Disneyland Resort and surrounding areas that will differ from the Tinker Bell and Disneyland half marathon courses. Runners who successfully brave the new Avengers Half Marathon course will receive a commemorative Avengers-themed finishers’ medal.

Registration:
Registration will open on March 25 at www.runDisney.com. It is safe to say this Super Hero-themed race will sell out in record timing, following the trend of the other two Disneyland race weekends. If you are interested in running this event, I strongly encourage you to get runDisney email sign up & notifications via email and place a calender reminder to sign up the first minute registration opens on 3/25.

“We couldn’t be more excited about this Super Hero collaboration to create this new runDisney race weekend for runners everywhere,’’ said Tom Wolber, senior vice president of Disney Sports Enterprises and Downtown Disney. “Our runDisney events continue to be hugely popular and by joining forces with the Avengers brand, we expect this race will appeal to an even broader range of runners in Southern California whom we hope will see this event as the perfect opportunity to unleash their inner Super Hero in a race to a personal triumph.’’

“runDisney races are a natural fit because our comic book Super Heroes embody many of the same brand attributes as runDisney, such as heroism and intensity with a heavy dose of fun,’’ said Dan Buckley, president of TV, Publishing and Brand Management for Marvel Entertainment. “This race weekend will have a very distinct atmosphere that will appeal to comic book fans and runDisney fans.’’

Overall, runDisney race weekends attracted more than 163,900 runners last year – a 40 percent increase over the previous year, making the runDisney series one of the largest in the nation. The Avengers Half Marathon Weekend will be the eighth runDisney event and third at Disneyland Resort, joining the Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend (May 7-10, 2015) and the Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend (Aug. 28-31, 2014) at Disneyland Resort.

Make sure to follow runDisney on TwitterFacebook and email sign up. I stated a few days ago that after Princess Weekend, we didn't have a race on the calendar for the remainder of 2014. I decided over the weekend that we would be participating in the Wine Dine Half following our Honeymoon. With the Avengers  Half Marathon weekend following Wine Dine, it may look as if we will add a few additional runDisney medals to our collection this fall because the Avengers race is one I will not miss!

Monday, February 24, 2014

2014 Inaugural runDisney #Enchanted10K recap and #SmashTheHalf race announcement!

Saturday morning marked my second runDisney 10K at Walt Disney World. The 10K distance is my favorite of all so when they incorporated them into the 2014 race series, I had to sign up.  The Inaugural Enchanted 10K was part of the Inaugural Glass Slipper Challenge (two races in two days).
photo from runDisney facebook
I ran Glass Slipper Challenge with my best friend Keri and we dressed up as Minnie Mouse for this event. I have been Minnie Mouse on one day during each of the runDisney race weekends I have participated in (with the exception of Tower of Terror). Since we were fortunate to stay on property, a bus took us to Epcot and we didn't have the stress worries of traffic. The peace of mind was very well appreciated!
We enjoyed the race retreat prior to the start (I will write a separate post on that experience!) and quickly headed to our Corrals right before the cutoff. Upon walking to Corral B, I saw a small group of people taking photos with ladies with balloons. Upon closer glance, I realized it was the Balloon Ladies!! The Balloon Ladies run a perfect 16 minute mile (Disney's Pace Requirement) and start in the final corral. If they pass you on the road, you will be swept (if you are already inside of the final park of each event, I hear you are safe but I never want to find out for myself). The balloon ladies were very nice but I did tell them I hoped to never see them again during race day :)
Although we didn't have much time before the 10K started, I ran into so many friends! My friend Heidi (top left) and I met while working together many years ago in Palm Coast, FL. Now, we both live in Tampa and I am so proud that she has taken on this running journey. Pamela (top right) and I met on Instagram through our shared love or runDisney. We found out we were from the same town (Daytona Beach) but a few months ago, we found out we have the same cousin - talk about a small world! I ran into my running buddy Nicole and her boyfriend Chad (bottom left) right before we started - Chad wore a tutu and a tiara, love him! I ran into Christine (bottom right) who I met through Gabe and is now a good friend of ours. She ran her first full marathon last month at Disney and is officially hooked on runDisney.
While I ran this exact course last month during the Dopey Challenge, it was Keri's first runDisney 10K. She hasn't ran a Disney 5K either, so it was her first time running through the worlds of Epcot, which she LOVED. The first 3 miles of the course are on the roadways but they go by very fast.
Once you are inside of Epcot, there are so many photo opportunities and I really enjoy how peaceful Epcot is first thing in the morning. runDisney is truly a place to take in everything while running and not worry about your pace, just beware of those above mentioned Balloon ladies! I am never one to stress over my finishing time and like to enjoy everything about the race. This is why people pay the big bucks to run at Disney - the experience!
While we took a ton of photos, we only stopped for one character - Jiminy Cricket. We waited in line about 10 minutes for this photo and I couldn't be happier. Since Keri and I have both ran so many runDisney races, we have photos with a lot of characters. I do try and stop for those who we haven't had a photo with and ones which are unique, that you don't see everyday at the parks - like Jiminy.
Keri and I also took photos in every land - we joked that we ran through China to get to France for sunrise. Literally!
Once we got out of France, the course took us into Boardwalk Disney. I sometimes assume that everyone goes to Disney as much as my family does. I forgot this was Keri's first time at Boardwalk and she about freaked when she saw the property.
I need help convincing her to get an Annual Pass! It only took me a year to break down and get a seasonal - now 3 years later, we are premium passholders. I have a feeling this weekend may have helped the cause just a little!
After we rounded the boardwalk portion, we were on the beach side. I will never be able to look at this part of Disney the same. This was around mile 25 of the Walt Disney World Full Marathon last month and I was quite delirious when I got to this portion! Very happy to share a non-delirious moment with Keri at this beautiful location.
After we exited the beach, we quickly found our way to the finish line, collecting our first of three medals from the weekend.
Overall, I really love the runDisney 10K. Once we left race retreat, we boarded the bus on our way back to the hotel. We stayed at Animal Kingdom Lodge and were greeted by giraffes and zebras upon our return! I cannot put into words how peaceful it was sitting on that balcony animal watching.
Congrats to everyone out there who completed the Inaugural runDisney Enchanted 10K this weekend!
Click here for my race recap on runDisney 2014 Cinderallas Royal Family 5K

New Race Event! #SmashTheHalf
Also, make sure you are following runDisney on Facebook and Twitter. They will announce a new race event tomorrow morning at 8:35PST (click here for the Facebook Invite). I am pretty certain this race will take place in Disneyland as the announcement is in Pacific Time. The Hashtag is #SmashTheHalf and I want to make a wish on a lucky star that this will be a Marvel themed event. If it is an Avengers race, Gabe and I will absolutely be heading to California for this event. Stay tuned for more details which I will post tomorrow!
photo from runDisney Twitter

Saturday, February 22, 2014

2014 runDisney Cinderella's Royal Family 5K recap

It's Groundhog Day - that is the first thing that crossed my mind when my alarm went off on Friday morning for the Royal Family 5K. After four back to back Disney races in January during the Dopey Challenge, my body was fully prepared for runDisney Princess weekend but I'm not quite sure my mind was!

I was very fortunate this weekend and had the opportunity to stay on property at Animal Kingdom Lodge. Since we had transportation to Epcot, we had to board the bus no later than 5am for the 6:30 start on Friday morning. Although I stayed on property for Wine and Dine Half Marathon a few months ago, this is the first time I had transportation deadlines inn the morning so that was a bit of an adjustment (not a morning person)! I now see and appreciate why it is better to stay on property for a runDisney race - convenience is everything.
If you follow this blog, you already know that I ran the Royal Family 5K with my friend (and co-worker) Nicole. We started our running journey together at this very race 2 years ago and have both accomplished 2 full marathons and after Sunday, 8 half marathons. We decided to dress up as Cinderella for this race, as it was Cinderella's Royal Family 5K!
When I mentioned to Nicole a few weeks ago that we should honor our two year race anniversary by completing the 5K, she agreed and I couldn't be any happier! While we do many of the same races, we don't get to run together that often and we had a great 3.1!
Prior to the race, we saw a lot of Prince Charming's. This one with a sneaker was definitely a photo opp waiting to happen!
This was the third 5K I have done in Disney with this course. It is my favorite 5K course anywhere in history. We start outside of Epcot, do a loop around the parking lot and mile 1 is right outside of the park. We enter through Epcot at sunrise which is an amazing peaceful time in the park.
The photo opps are endless as the worlds are all lit up.  If you are looking to get into running or are looking to runDisney, the 5K is how to start. My friend Christine ran her first Disney 5K on Friday (she completed the Full Marathon in January) and was so excited about how fun this course is.
We only stopped for one character during the 5K course - BEAST! I was so excited to see him there. We would have stopped for others but a lot of the characters out were the same from the Dopey Challenge 5K or 10K.
I saw many outfits that were blog worthy but this one took the cake and I am so mad I didn't get a pic with him. Princess Jas-MAN. He was wearing a tutu and a womens shirt. While most men couldn't get away with wearing a tight form fitting ladies shirt....well let's just say I will keep this family friendly. Moving on!
Now, if you have ever ran a runDisney race in Walt Disney World, you are familiar with post race photos. We stand in line for a finishers photo w/ the medal just earned. Always having to place your water, powerade, arm bands, phones, camera's, etc. on the floor. Not this year!!! There were high top pub tables available to place our stuff on. THANK YOU runDisney and Marathonfoto for that. Seriously, the little things make people happy and this was one of them.
Nicole and I went ahead and took this photo together as I am not sure if we will see each other post race on Sunday. I cannot say how thankful I am for Nicole - we have pushed each other so far over the past two years and our friendship has grown from our love of running (and runDisney). I encourage any new runner out there to get a runner buddy and I suggest not your significant other or best friend as those are people you can make excuses to and slack off with.

I am looking forward to today's inaugural runDisney Enchanted 10K! Be on the lookout tomorrow for that recap.

Cheers!