Run to Napa – and a few words on Inspiration

1606887_10152268395498777_1563428910_nWhen the “Run to Napa” contest was announced this week, I was ecstatic. I mean, who wouldn’t be – the opportunity for an all-expense paid trip to an incredible destination with the added bonus of bringing a reader? Wow! I entered immediately, and began to  rally for votes.

Since the voting process is done through Facebook, and is essentially a tally of clicks, within hours, I began to realize that this was a popularity contest that would be challenging to win. Now, I don’t state that in a defeatist way, but as a realistic one – the person with the largest online network is going to be the one who wins. No sour grapes – building up yourself as a brand is rough! However, I did want to take the opportunity to address the theme of the contest, which is Inspiration.

You’ve inspired us and your readers, now we want to invite you to ‘Run to Napa’ with ZOOMA’s inspirational blogger contest,” the image announces…and here, a few days after my first ZOOMA experience, I can definitely attest that attending a ZOOMA event is the perfect venue to celebrate life in a wholly motivating and inspiring atmosphere. But, if this contest is measuring the MOST inspirational blogger, is that synonymous with the highest number of votes? I can see both sides of that argument, and over the past few days, have been working to express my thoughts on the matter.

As much as I believe that I am AN inspirational blogger, I know 100 percent that I am not THE most inspirational blogger. I receive messages, emails, and simple notes from readers, twitter followers, and fellow bloggers, which is incredibly gratifying to me, and provides the inspiration for me to continue to share my stories. To my husband’s chagrin, I don’t make money off of my blog – I do it for the love of it, and do my best to keep it free of senseless advertisements, choosing instead to highlight products/services I actually use, and when a sponsored opportunity comes about, any income it produces goes toward charity – either my own fundraising efforts, or that of a fellow charity runner.

My story, in itself, as not the most inspirational one – I mean, I started running to get active, and almost four years later, I’ve learned a lot, shared a lot, and have discovered my love of endurance events. I train regularly to achieve my goals. With the right mindset, I really do believe that you can do anything.

No, I am not the most inspirational, but through my blog, I have had so many amazing opportunities to meet others who are, and share their stories. Here are just a few I’d like to share:

inpspiration

(1) Robin Nichols – I can’t pinpoint the moment, the date, or even the year that I first came across Robin, but I feel like we became instant friends. She’s a mommy of two that challenged herself to run the Walt Disney World Marathon as a kickstart to her weight-loss journey, and has since rocked 16+ marathons, even qualifying (multiple times) and running Boston.

(2) Dani Holmes-Kirk – As a weight-watchers leader, Dani demonstrates daily (see that alliteration!?) that losing and maintaining weight is a challenge that is worth it everyday. Through her race recaps, twitter chats and more, she provides inspiration daily with her positive, yet realistic outlook on healthy living.

(3) Jamie Brubaker-Wane – Working on the front lines of Amercia’s most popular destination was incredible, and an experience I will never forget – and this is all thanks to the people – guests, colleagues, and of course, my fellow Cast Members. In 2007, I worked at Soarin’, and met a lovely young lady named Jamie – probably the sweetest and most caring person I had ever met. Tragically, her life was taken far too soon, and she left behind a husband and daughter – but no one could take her spirit! In 2012, I ran the Baltimore Marathon and saw her face once again, on the back of a charity runner. Her legacy of giving lives on, and I truly believe love and inspiration are things that last forever.

(4) Michele King – Juggling life and shattering personal goals – these are two things that Michele showcases daily on her blog. As a Military Veteran, Michele demonstrates the challenges and reward of maintaining discipline in one of the most hectic and wonderful careers possible: motherhood! She never boasts about her accomplishments, though they are many!

(5) Erin Henderson – Whenever I feel like I have too much on my plate, I think about Erin. Not only did she log 3,480 miles last year on her quest to qualify for the Olympic Trials, but she did it while caring for 12-children – and no, that is not a typo! She and her husband have 12 amazing children, and her youngest has severe disabilities – a challenge she only sees as inspiration.

(6) Krysten Siba Bishop – her blog “The Misadventures of a Darwinian Fail” may sound like fodder for a humorous story, but the truth is, her real-life struggles are anything but – though she never wallows in them. Positive energy, an incredible support system, and an innate drive to succeed showcase her incredible attitude through any challenge that is in her way.

(7) Laura Rose Monk – when I first became involved with Team in Training, I did not have a personal connection to cancer, but within weeks, I found out what drove me to the cause: an honored hero. You see, Laura became a very young widow when her husband, a 22-year old soldier in the U.S. Army, lost his battle, not on a field worlds away, but to Leukemia. Losing a spouse is never easy, but even at her young age, she moved forward with grace, and she continues to be an inspiration to many in her work toward providing support and encouragement to other young women.

(8) Morgan Crutchfield – Have you ever dreamed of packing up everything to follow a dream? Well, she’s doing it, and despite the struggles, she’s pouring blood, sweat and tears into her vision of providing the most timely and helpful information for optimal Disney Vacation planning. Morgan demonstrates everyday, to her young son, her supporters (and haters!) that no matter what your passion is, it’s worth pursuing it.

(9) runemz – It wasn’t until I started writing this list that I realized I don’t even know Emily’s full name, but really, here’s what you NEED to know: she’ll make your whining about a short treadmill run look just silly. I mean…SHE RAN 24 HOURS. 100+ miles! To raise money for a non-profit that serves students and teachers in India. Need I say more?

You see, through blogging, I have met some of the most inspirational, incredible role models, and fantastic women – and this is why I want to continue to give back, to share, and celebrate inspiration.

I’d really appreciate your vote, and even if I don’t make the top 3, I just want to thank YOU all for inspiring me to even ask. And while you’re on the voting page, I challenge you to check out some new bloggers, add them to your reader list, so we can all continue this cycle of inspiration.

Who inspires you? Please leave links, I’d love to share them!

Recap: 2013 Colonial Half Marathon

Me, Katie and the GRIFFIN.
Me, Katie and the GRIFFIN.

I am not exactly sure what happened today, but there’s good news and bad news. Shall we start with the bad?

First, I didn’t PR.

Hmm, okay, that’s it 🙂

Everything else was good:

  • As seen above, WE MET THE GRIFFIN. Seriously awesome
  • Got to hang out with Katie! We had a great convo all day, ride up and down & lunch.
  • Met up with other fun #teamrunDisney pals!
  • Met BRIANA! She is a badass. Check out her mission and her webpage here.
  • Although Williamsburg Cupcake was closed (TEAR) we did stop at Krispy Kreme before the race so that was a win. Had a HOT NOW donut ❤
  • Got to ‘sleep in’ – sure, I think I also found out that I am not a fan of afternoon races in general, but still: sleep 🙂

Didn’t get official results yet, but my Garmin said 13.17 in 2:00 flat. Given the fact that I didn’t realize the course would be mostly muddy and squishy trail, I will take it 😉 Sure, there were hills, but I guess I am just a mud wimp – further proof I am not Tough Mudder/dirty girl/ etc material!

So, short story long – THE PRINCESS PR still prevails…but I’ll keep chasing it down!

Did you race this weekend? How did you do?

2013 Tinker Bell Half Marathon Recap

Spoiler alert: this recap will not have as many pictures as the EPICALLY awesome WDW Marathon recap…but I sure hope you still enjoy it!

On January 20, 2013 (just a week after running a marathon!) I was waking up on the opposite coast getting ready to run 13.1 miles with two friends I had never met in real life: Heather and Becka. We were on a mission to accomplish one thing and one thing only: to have the most fun EVER, as they had not only run the marathon last week as well, but they had actually gone GOOFY (13.1 on Saturday of Marathon weekend and 26.2 on Sunday)! Our costumes were loosely based off of the Sugar Rush portion of the recent Disney animated feature, Wreck it Ralph so I was ready to sparkle as Vanellope!

Vanelloppe costume!
Ready to race!

I woke up at 3:30 AM (the race start was 5 AM and the corrals were literally across the street from the hotel we were staying at, Paradise Pier) and texted H+B Since H is a So-Cal local, they were driving in and I was going to meet them at Corral A. In true ‘it’s a small world’ style, I ran into a handful of pals from one of my running clubs, Pacebook! That was cool 🙂

Ran into some Pacebook pals!
Ran into some Pacebook pals!

It was pretty chilly that morning, but since I warm up fast running, I was pretty stoked about that – totally different than the marathon the week before!!

A little before 5 AM, I met up with H+B and before we knew it, we were OFF, running around the Disneyland property (my mom and sis were spectating and saw us early on, the first of many times!) before crossing into the parks (course map) which meant one thing: CHARACTER PICTURE TIME!

Phineas + Ferb + Fireside Girls
Phineas + Ferb + Fireside Girls
Monsters!
Monsters!
Carousel horses, Mary Poppins + Bert!
Carousel horses, Mary Poppins + Bert!
Cars!
Cars!

B had a “real” camera that she would slip back into her SPI belt, so that was super cool. Some character spots had character attendants and some didn’t…thankfully there were people willing to snap our silly selves 😉

Longest line...
Longest line…

Crossing into Disneyland Park, we ran into some friends of H+B so we took a pic with the pirates (and TINK on the top of the float) thought this definitely took FOREVER.

Tomorrowland.
Tomorrowland.

We were getting really silly around Disneyland – and in this pic above, B suggested we do yoga poses with Darth Vader and the Storm Troopers…apparently, H and I don’t know what that meant…

You can fly!!
You can fly!!

Seeing Peter and Wendy was pretty neat!

Toontown...Clarabelle Cow and Clarice!
Toontown…Clarabelle Cow and Clarice!

I legitimately freaked out when I saw Clarice, one of my pal Theresa’s most favorite characters! I tweeted it immediately to her.

Flynn Rider + Rapunzel.
Flynn Rider + Rapunzel.

Seeing these pals in front of it’s a small world was pretty magical too…and hey look….

Cindy!
Cindy…
Snow White...
Snow White…
Belle!
Belle…and…
MERIDA!
MERIDA!

I was incredibly excited to see Merida, as I had never met her in the parks before! She even had the accent 😀 That was a definite highlight, but definitely wasn’t the longest  wait…like this guy:

Jack Sparrow
Jack Sparrow

I SWEAR this was the REAL, LEGIT Jack Sparrow! He seemed to like B a lot! 😉 Oh, and somewhere in there we also saw this cute couple:

Aurora and her Prince in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle.
Aurora and her Prince in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle.

Character-palooza, right? Well, it couldn’t last forever, unfortunately 😉 After about 5 miles, we were running through Downtown Disney (and I saw my cheer squad again! YAYY!) and then past the enthusiastic Red Hat ladies and then onto the streets of Anaheim. It certainly became a lot quieter at that point, but it was kind of nice to have wider streets and a calm vibe.

Cute house
Cute house 🙂

I haven’t been out to Anaheim too many times so I actually really loved this part of the race too, it was quiet and it was a nice time to chat…

Anaheim Library!
Anaheim Library!

I had to take a picture of the library, of course! Here you can see how much the crowd had thinned out 🙂 We were running a really easy pace (10 min-ish?) and thus could really just enjoy the course…sights like these:

photo-4
Pretty rainbow man!

Now, this is weird, but around Mile 11, I started to get really sad! I knew there were only 2.1 miles left and that would mean the end of the race…and my epic racecation!  But I put my smile back on when I glanced back and saw my pals!

:)
🙂

…and really, how can you have a frowny face when you see a monorail?

Don't see this on your run everyday ;)
Don’t see this on your run everyday 😉

We could hear the sounds of the park and soon enough, the roar of the crowd at the finish line…side note: after the race, I heard that people didn’t like the finish because of the extra twists and turns instead of a straightaway toward the finish line – I loved it for that reason 😉 More race! And another bonus…saw my mom and sister one last time! That definitely put a pep in my step!!

Coming in to the finish!
Coming in to the finish!

After 3 hours, 11 minutes and 24 seconds – our magical journey through Disneyland and Anaheim was complete! This was my wayyyy slowest race ever (by an hour and seven minutes) but definitely the most pixie dusted – and extra bonus…absolutely no pain after the race! There’s something to be said about taking a race easy!

Screen Shot 2013-02-15 at 8.38.24 PM

I was able to find my mom and sister pretty quickly after the race…and was sooo stoked to run up to them and get a picture with the AMAZING sign that my sister had held through the race!!!!!

<3

I couldn’t have asked for a better experience than what I had at the 2013 Tinker Bell Half Marathon. No complaints, whatsoever…so many fabulous characters, countless places for spectators to see their runners and of course, SOO much Disney magic!!

So, if you’re thinking about earning your Coast to Coast medal with runDisney in the future, you really cannot go wrong with either West Coast option (this or Disneyland Half Marathon). I cannot wait to head back out to Disneyland for the 2013 Dumbo Dare – sure to be another weekend to remember!

Where would you rather run…Walt Disney World or Disneyland?

Can’t believe it’s been three weeks…

Post-Neverland 5K.
Post-Neverland 5K in Disney California Adventure.

My recaps for Tinkerbell Half and Neverland 5K are coming…for real. I know, I know…it’s been three weeks…but I guess I kept denying to myself that I am back in reality after that magical trip.

*sigh*

Thanks for all of your patience!

How did your weekend go? Did you catch my 14K recap from yesterday?

Blue Moon Wicked 10K recap!

I had been holding off on writing this recap because I thought there would be some wonderful Brightroom pictures to share. Unfortunately, there are ZERO pics of me and just one of hubs! Oh well – that’s my only criticism from this event. Here’s the recap anyway, might just need to use your imagination for some of it… 😉

Oct. 27, 2012 – Virginia Beach, VA.

The Blue Moon Wicked 10K was held on October 27 in Virginia Beach. It was my second race from the awesome folks at J&A Racing (they’re the superstars behind the Shamrock Marathon) and hubby’s first. We were really excited about this race, but on account of the scary forecast, we were prepared for the worst! Fortunately, all we really had to contend with was wind! But back to the recap…

The race was set to start at 8 AM, so naturally, I was up at 6ish, headed down to the hotel’s breakfast setup to grab a bagel, PB, etc. – and then took the obligatory self-shot of the race outfit!

I was pretty proud of my DIY costume – Team Sparkle makes it super fun and easy to create all kinds of costumes! Sure enough, there were no other caffeinated costumes like mine on the course…haha. Hubs of course opted to keep it simple with his “Starbucks customer” outfit 😉

About an hour before the race start, we were finally out the door, walking to the VA Beach Convention Center. It was already quite windy and I was contemplating my race strategy for the day…it didn’t seem like a great PR day – on account of weather, and the long run / injury I sustained the day before, but I was still pensive on the topic.

Luckily, I didn’t have to make the decision, as hubs asked if I wanted to drop back to Corral 3 and run with him! He never lets me run with him, so I was glad to take advantage of the opportunity 😀

The race began without a hitch, spaced out a few seconds between each corral, which had its own start. Soon enough, we were OFF! I told hubs that we should try to keep it at a slower pace to start so he could feel good at the end.

The first two miles ticked off pretty quickly! There was a lot of wind, but there were so many fun people/costume watching opportunities that I never got bored. This was hubby’s first race without headphones so I tried to chat it up with him a little but he seemed to want to focus on the run, so I pulled out my phone and tried to grab some random pics (they weren’t very good, lol).

The race was comprised of the run down 19th (?) street, then North on Atlantic, down to Rudee Inlet, onto the Boardwalk for a while, cut off back South onto Atlantic, then finishing on the Boardwalk again (map here). It was pretty crowded, but not annoyingly congested.

Mickey, is that you?

Hubs was doing really great – we were hitting each mile between 9-9:30. After we turned the corner back onto the Boardwalk, it was already almost over! He asked me if I could pick up the pace a little and he’d be right behind me – so I took off…whoops! I did a 7:25 mile there and had to wait to the side for a while.

Soon enough though, we rejoined and we headed toward the finish line. I grabbed his hand and we crossed the finish line together!! I was so hoping that picture would be captured, but alas…so here’s a great pic of hubs in all his glory:

Wicked 10K finisher!!

After we exited the finisher’s area, we headed back to the convention center for the post-race party! Usually the event is held right on the beach, but due to the high winds, organizers moved it inside for everyone’s safety and comfort. There, we were treated to yummy chili in breadbowls and of course, Blue Moon beer (yes, at 10 AM)! I also was so excited to see some familiar faces!!

Pam and Christine, of We Run Disney, their friend J and me!

It was so awesome to meet Pam and Christine IRL and I cannot wait to see them again next weekend! After a quick hug, they went off to celebrate Christine’s awesome PR and hubs and I headed back to the hotel to clean up and get ready for the rest of the day…but not before this memorable encounter!!

I was beyond excited to run into the awesome person that ran in this amazing costume!!! I had seen it featured on the FB page that morning, but was even more excited to see them in person! I asked for a quick pic and it easily made me smile the rest of the day…and even more so after we received official results:

57:59!

So, even though hubs and I didn’t get a finish line photo, we do have these awesome race results to show our identical finish time, which is ALMOST as wonderful 😉

We had a really fun time and would recommend this race to anyone – although it was WICKEDLY WINDY, it didn’t blow down our spirits 🙂 I cannot wait for our next duo race…one week from today!!

Did you run a Halloween race?

Pepsi 10K recap!

Post race DONUT! Mmm.

This morning, I woke up at 6 AM with a definite pep in my step! Not only was today a race day, it was a special race day: hubby would be lacing up his shoes for his first road race as well! 😀

Since the race start was 8 AM, I was able to conduct my pre-race routine pretty leisurely…coffee, bagel thin, bathroom and outfit change (from PJs to my running gear, of course). I woke hubs up a little after 6:30 AM, as we wanted to be on the road right around 7, since we didn’t pick up our packets the day before.

We got to the start (Meriwether Lewis Elementary School) a little earlier than predicted (it’s so nice when there’s no traffic) and so we had a lot of time to put on our bibs and store our stuff back in the car. Before lining up, we hit the restrooms one more time (yay real bathrooms) and after a little confusion (the race was supposed to start at 8 sharp) we were OFF!

Hubs and I stayed together for like 30 seconds before the massive influx of people (there were 467 runners) just took over. I tried to go out as easy as possible and not weave (to conserve energy) but it was a bit challenging! Still, I was feeling pretty good, trying to get into a groove – my one goal was to match (or beat) my standing PR from 2010 of 49 minutes, though I wasn’t sweating it too hard because I knew this course was hilly.

The first portion of the race was a right turn onto a country road, about 1 mile out and back, before headed the opposite direction for a 2 mile out and back. The temperature was NEAR PERFECT – about 60 degrees! The first leg of the race was pretty shady too, which was nice.

I was coasting along at around 7:50 pace. It felt comfortable – not easy, but definitely not all-out. The crowd narrowed down a little after Mile 3 (which is also when this song popped on to my playlist, whoo!) and I even passed a few people at that point.

Thank goodness for that song, because around that point, the straightaway portion of the course was completely in the sun, which had seemingly appeared out of nowhere! So glad I wore a hat! The hills weren’t stressing me out, because I was practicing (and seemingly rocking) my Perception of Effort on them, but aiiiyyyeee the sun! I couldn’t wait to get in the shade again!

Before I knew it, I clocked in Mile 5 at the fastest pace of the race (7:35). My head was a little achy – but the thankfully, my playlist came to the rescue once again, this time with Gymclass Heroes’ The Fighter. Nice! That mile zoomed by, and before I knew it, I was done! 48:01(7:45 pace) – a 59 second PR for me!

After going through the chute and turning in my tag (they use the tag to compile results, the race is not chip-timed) I grabbed a Gatorade (yay for having Pepsi as a sponsor!) and headed back to the finish area to cheer and look for hubby. I ran into Leah (faster twin of Twins Run) and chatted for a moment.

The clock was around 55, then 1 hr, then 1 hr 10 min…so I was wondering where hubby could be! I was getting a little worried that he had injured himself or something, when I turned back and saw him by the place we decided to meet if we couldn’t find each other!! I had missed him! I ran over and asked how he did, and get this, it was his FIRST RACE and he finished in 57:16 (9:15 pace)!! I was so proud of him!!

Hubby, post race, looking great!!

We then headed over to get a few post-race snacks; me, a donut (as pictured at the top of the post – OMG it tasted so good – can’t remember the last time I have had a donut) and hubs a bagel. We stuck around for the raffle and the age group awards and though neither of us placed (I finished 8/49 in my AG, 141 overall; hubs 21/27 in his AG, 308 overall) we DID take home some great prizes: $5 gift card to a local ice cream place, and a free night stay at a local Marriott! Since a lot of people had already gone home, we also were invited to take some of the donated food home – so I brought back a bag of oranges and a bag of Nature’s Path granola bars!

Overall, it was an awesome morning and I couldn’t have asked for a better experience! This race also reminded me that you can really accomplish whatever you put your mind to – so I look forward to my marathon training with even more excitement now!

Did you race this weekend?

Headin’ North as the Tables Turn…

Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run!

Hopefully by the time you’re reading this, I’ll be on the road, headed North on 29 to the Washington DC area for the exciting Cherry Blossom 10-Mile Run! No, you didn’t miss a post from me announcing this race registration…for this event, I will be on the course…but volunteering!

I am really excited about this opportunity – I’ll be a Course Marshall (so I am not sure WHERE on course I’ll be staked out) volunteering with my company. The race is on Sunday, and the call-time is pretty early (0530) so I decided to book a room in DC and head out the day before to enjoy the blossoms and fun in the District.

So….I am so excited about this weekend!

Any must-do’s for me in DC?