runDisney – Getting to the Dark Side

Before I review the races in 2017’s Dark Side Challenge, I have to thank the people who got me there.  Having been a runner for nearly 20 years, I can say emphatically and honestly that I could never and would never have achieved what I have without the support of my family.  From the first step, Raymond has been my biggest fan and has done everything possible to help me succeed.  Primarily by believing in me most during the times when I had the least faith in my ability to go on.  He’s seen me through hundreds of training miles, two full marathons, 10 half marathons, more than 30 triathlons, countless local 5K and 10K races, two bicycle wrecks, and one trip to the hospital.  He custom built my dream bicycle, taped my injuries, calculated race times, studied course maps, endured countless hours of waiting on race courses, and produced magical words that kept me going when I needed it the most.  All that, and so much more.

runDisney – Getting to the Dark Side

Setting the example for Megan and Joseph, Raymond taught them the importance of supporting your loved ones’ efforts and they’ve risen to the standards he’s demonstrated throughout the years.  From cheering me on to dog- and house-sitting while we were away at races to finally running with me, I’m a proud and incredibly fortunate mom who cannot wait to see what the future holds for us.  runDisney - Getting to the Dark SideMuch mother/child bonding has gone on during long, hot runs in the Louisiana sun and I’ve gotten to know the adult version of my children – their dreams and plans – better for the miles we’ve struggled through together.  While we’re running, Raymond uses that time to ride his bicycle so win-win for the entire family.  Plus, all this training has meant that we all see each other every weekend and after putting in the miles, we’ve cooked up some delicious meals together.  Joseph’s girlfriend, Lyndsey, has even succumbed and started running with us (though I have it on good authority that the real draw for her may be the food).runDisney - Dark Side Challenge

Completing the Dark Side Challenge with Joseph was unbelievably fun, but we missed Megan (who selflessly stayed home with Junior).  I’m pleased to announce that next February, Megan will make her runDisney debut with Joseph and I when we take on the 2018 Fairy Tale Challenge.

Why did we choose the Princess races instead of returning for Star Wars?

I’ll be giving more detail on the Star Wars 10K and half-marathon over the next few days, but we may have completed our one-and-only Dark Side Challenge for a couple of reasons.  One:  The weather was unseasonably warm and humid.  February is a much less risky choice for good running weather.  Two:  Fewer people dressed up, there were fewer characters and photo ops on the race courses, and the general excitement and celebration that is evident everywhere during Princess Half Marathon weekend seemed to be lacking during the Star Wars events.

For Joseph’s first runDisney events, the Dark Side Challenge was perfect and he thought the races were well-organized and loved the characters and extra Disney magic along the way.  I’ll be curious to see how he feels about the Princess races and how they compare.  As for Megan – I’ve got her working on costume ideas for the three of us.  296 days to go…let’s get running!



RunDisney Events – What to Wear

Princess-Half-Road-to-Magic-KingdomIf you’re considering a runDisney event and have checked out the website, you probably couldn’t help but notice that folks dress a bit differently for these races.  Part of what makes a runDisney event so special is how runners show their DisneySide through their running wear.  Even if you’re not the tutu or sparkly-skirt-wearing kind (I am SO not wearing a tutu), you’ll want to sport a themed outfit of some sort.  No, it’s not mandatory and your are certainly welcome to just wear regular running clothes, but to fully enjoy the excitement and magic of a runDisney event and look extra special in those awesome race photos, you should at least give your Disney race-wear some special consideration.

RunDisney Events – What to Wear

Personally, I prefer my Disney race wear to pay tribute to something Disney (character or attraction, for example) rather than be a full-blown costume.  Disney has recently updated their costume policy, so it pays to take a peek at the do’s and don’ts.  I’m all about comfort. The last thing I want to worry about is fancy accessories and trimmings or any sort of prop.  What I do enjoy, honestly, is seeing people who go all out!  Just because at my (sort of) advanced age I’m more into comfort than runDisney fashion, I totally appreciate the time, effort, and creativity that is required for the fancier, more elaborate outfits donned for those awesome Disney race courses.  Here are some of the best costumes I saw during the Glass Slipper Challenge in 2015:Princess-Half-Princesses Princess-Half-Frozen-Friends

Last year for Princess Half Marathon Weekend I wore outfits that paid homage to Minnie, Donald, and the Evil Queen – all three ensembles were easy to assemble!  I planned them out many months in advance and  I was completely comfortable while running.  Most importantly, I felt like I was truly participating in each event to the fullest extent possible.RM-Enchanted-10K-Minnie-Outfit RM-Donald-costumePrincess-Half-Waiting-Selfie

This year I’m not running the 5K so I only had to worry about what to wear for the Enchanted 10K and the Princess Half Marathon.  This trip snuck up on me!  I didn’t really think about what I could wear until early January and then I had to act fast since I wanted to order several items online.  Before I reveal the chosen themes, I should explain that I pretty much always wear a cap or visor when I run.  When I’m running, sunglasses bother me so I rely on the bill of a cap to shade my eyes.  After 18 years of running, this has evolved into some weird lucky superstitious quirk.  Gotta have a visor!Enchanted-10K-Costume-Daisy

First up is my homage to Daisy outfit!  I found the fabulous Daisy-themed ears on Etsy and already had the skirt, socks, and visor from last year.  I picked up three different pink shirts from the after-Christmas-super-sale at our local sporting-goods store – tank, short-sleeved, and long-sleeved versions to cover any weather conditions possible.

For the half-marathon, I’m going with a tribute to that most iconic Disney attractions, Haunted Mansion!  The Hatbox Ghost ears are again from Etsy, the mansion wallpaper tights from an online store, and the shirt from the Disney store.  I added a black running skirt and the mandatory visor and ta-dah!  I’m pretty happy with the final look.  I’ll try to find a Haunted Mansion pin to add to the visor if I have time.Princess-Half-Haunted-Mansion-OutfitNot too fancy, didn’t have to sew anything, and I’ll be comfortable yet stylish.  I’m ready!  Our plane leaves tomorrow morning at 6:00 am…Glass Slipper Challenge, here I come!

Have you participated in a runDisney event?  I’d love to see your costume pictures!!!  Feel free to post them on our Facebook Page.



Glass Slipper Challenge Prep

Running-Race-BibsThe Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend kicks off in just 75 days.  This fall, my son, Joseph, has been my faithful training buddy – I’m seriously indebted to him!  Long run after long run, Joe’s been there for me all the way.  Every time I asked him to train for and run a race with me, he said yes.  We ran 5K’s a 10K and a half marathon – his first, on November 15th.  All to help me get ready for a special weekend in February – one that he will not be attending.  That alone has made me feel especially loved!  I’ve invited him to join me in 2017 and, of course, he said yes.

Today for the Friday Five, I thought I’d list my five favorite training necessities for…

Glass Slipper Challenge Prep

The Glass Slipper Challenge invites runners to complete both the Enchanted 10K and the Princess Half Marathon.  It comes with an extra medal – and a great sense of accomplishment.  You can read about my 2015 experience here (10K) and here (Half Marathon).

Here are my five most important training necessities:Running-Through-History

A Strong Support System – Joseph keeps me company and encourages me on long runs while Raymond gets us to our favorite route.  Every weekend, at least once (sometimes twice), we drive 45 minutes to the Vicksburg National Military Park to run while Raymond rides his bicycle.  We have no hills where we live (unless you count overpasses), but the park is extremely runner and cyclist-friendly while offering a variety of options for racking up hilly mileage.Running-Nike-Fans

The Right Shoes – I’m a Nike fan.  Over the years I’ve tried some other brands to consistently disappointing results.  I’ve had my gait analyzed to determine the best brand for me and…Nike!  I buy a whole size up and add my favorite Lynco orthotics.  No matter what brand of shoe you like the best, it’s super important that you have good footwear for training and racing.  Be sure to buy a new pair every 300-500 miles.  I keep a training log that helps me keep track of mileage – otherwise, I’d keep the same pair of shoes forever.Running-Age-Group-Award-Winners

Excellent Socks – The older I get, the more this matters.  I have more trouble with my feet than I do with any other running ailment.  I’m picky about my socks!  Hands down (LOL), my feet are much happier when I’m wearing my Balega Socks – I swear by these babies for all long runs and races.  I found them five years ago (Raymond bought me my first pair) and have been a huge fan ever since.Running-Age-Group-Awards-5K

A Training Plan – There are excellent plans for every race distance available free on the internet – find and follow one that’s right for you based on your level of running experience.  Having the proper base mileage is as important as building your weekly mileage gradually to avoid injury.  Pick a plan and stick with it!Running-Dirty-South-Half-Marathon

Happy Listening – There’s no way I could log all the necessary training miles without my favorite tunes and podcasts.  I typically start with a podcast episode or two then switch to music for the last third of my long runs.  I’m not sure how or why that works best for me, but it’s now part of my routine and I have to do it that way.  Sometimes Joseph and I ditch our ear buds and just listen to my iPhone out loud together.  which reminds me – get a good armband phone holder.

Your turn!  I’d love to hear about your must-have training items.  Also, if you’ve got any costume suggestions for me (I’m not into sparkly tutus or princess-y themes), I’d appreciate the help!


RunDisney Race Recap- 2015 Enchanted 10K

Enchanted-10K-PinThe Princess Enchanted 10K on Saturday, February 21st was the first race of the two-part Glass Slipper Challenge.  I’d run the Frozen 5K the day before and would run Princess Half Marathon the next day.  The most challenging thing about the day of the 10K for me was getting out of bed at 3:15 am.  Confession time:  I am a 50-year-old woman attempting to run multiple races over a 3-day period – getting up at what (for me) was the middle of the night was actually the single most difficult part of the entire ordeal.  I’m not a girl who can go without her beauty sleep!

The morning of the race came all too soon.  My homage-to-Minnie outfit was ready to go and, like the previous morning, I ate my energy bar and banana, suited up, and made for the monorail from Bay Lake Tower to get to the race on time.  You can see how tired I am – look at my eye-bags!!!  RM-Enchanted-10K-Minnie-OutfitAgain, Raymond was left behind.  This time, though, instead of just waiting for me to come back, he was charged with booking all of our Disney Cruise excursions for our summer vacation.  February 21st happened to be the first day we could go online and choose our activities and we didn’t want to wait or risk missing out.  He may have had a few tense moments when the Disney Cruise Line website went down, but he managed to book everything we wanted (Good job, Honey!) long before I returned from the race.  If he’d thought for a second I would have benefitted from his presence along the race course or at the finish line, he would have done anything necessary to be there.  He and I both knew I would really need him to help me through the half marathon, so we agreed he’d save his in-person support for when I needed it the most. RM-Enchanted-10K-PreRace-Waiting-Area RM-Enchanted-10K-PreRace-Crowd

It was a full 10 degrees warmer than the day before (which made a huge difference)!  I love running in cool (40’s or 50’s) weather!  After my inaugural runDisney race on Friday, I felt a lot more confident finding my starting corral and lining up for the race.  I made my way to the designated holding area and felt more awake when it came time for me to line up in corral “B”.  Before I knew it, we were off!  This race will stand out in my memory for two reasons – the fun and beauty of the course combined with feeling incredibly comfortable the entire time.  I cannot recall enjoying a run more!RM-Enchanted-10K-Frozen-Characters

The first part of the 10K course took us out on the roads circling the Epcot parking lot – it was dark and I just followed the crowd.  The most magical part of the race at first was seeing Anna and Elsa up above the runners on an overpass – they spoke to us as we ran beneath them which was cool, but wasn’t nearly as remarkable as the fact that it was “snowing” on us!RM-Enchanted-10K-Frozen-Characters-Closeup

The second part of the race took us (like the Frozen 5K) through the World Showcase and then we went out the International Gateway to the Boardwalk area.  There were a few die-hard cheering guests that made me feel so special – and they were complete strangers!  I finally found Donald!RM-Enchanted-10K-Boardwalk-DonaldWe ran all around the Boardwalk and the Yacht and Beach Club area before going back through Epcot, back to the parking area to finish.  RM-Enchanted-10K-Mile-Marker-4 RM-Enchanted-10K-Sunrise RM-Enchanted-10K-Princess-MinnieI stopped and took a few pictures of the gorgeous sunrise, soaked up the atmosphere, saved my legs for the next day’s half marathon and had a wonderful time!

For those of us who care about results:

  • Women in the Enchanted 10K = 9753, I was #1455 with an official time of 1:06:16
  • Women in the 50-54 age group = 708, I was #82 (If I’d known how close I was to the top 10%, I believe I would have taken fewer pictures and stepped it up a bit!)

I had the most amazing time and felt wonderful.  I was really looking forward to the next day’s Princess Half Marathon and the second part of the Glass Slipper Challenge – please check back for the race recap on that event next week!

Are you a runner?  What’s the most fun race you’ve ever run?  Are you an aspiring runner?  What’s your dream event?