Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

Race Morning:

The race started at 7:00am, which meant we got to sleep in, by RunDisney standards. We were meeting Kerry and Kathleen in front of our building at 5:45am to walk to Starbucks, before heading to the corrals. It was a bit chilly so I wrapped myself in a foil blanket to keep the crazy out – I mean, keep my body heat contained! Once at Starbucks I got some water for my water bottle and took advantage of a real bathroom for a quick pit stop. Our timing was great as the line behind us was super long by the time we left. We headed to the expo building to try to meet up with our group before going to our corrals, but everything had been taken down and the designated meeting spot no longer existed! We got a group photo and made our way outside toward the corrals. Everyone needed a port-o-potty by this time, so we found a line and waited only a few minutes. They had some type of urinal system for the guys, and the regular port-o’s had these foot levers in the floor that “flushed” when you pumped them. Amen to no stinky port-o’s on race morning! We regrouped and headed to the corrals.

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Whaaaaat?

In the Corral:

Since I was by myself in my Corral (well, without any of my friends) I used the time to relax and stretch a little. Around 6:45am I started wondering if I should jump out and use the port-o one more time so I wouldn’t have to stop on the course. Once I had the thought, it was inevitable that I would need to go, so once my corral started moving forward, I got out and got in line for the third (and final!) pit stop of the morning. I shed my foil blanket at this point and another girl used it as a privacy curtain to go behind the port-o. This line wasn’t moving as quick and my corral started starting, but I’d already committed so I stuck with the plan. These port-os were not as clean as the earlier ones as people stopped “flushing”, but it was a quick stop for me and I was on my way and back in the corral.

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Waiting to start!

Wave Start:

There were only four corrals for the race, but the way they started us was brilliant. We started in waves within our corral. Volunteers funneled about 100-150 or so of us at a time to the start line, we waited about a minute, and then they released us. This cut down on so much course congestion throughout the entire race and made for a much less stressful experience, especially when it came to narrow parts of the course, as it gave everyone a chance to spread out and find their groove without having to dodge and weave through a heavy crowd of over a thousand runners at one time (I’m looking at you, Dark Side Weekend 10k!)

The Course:

I thoroughly enjoyed this course. I know some people are tired of hearing it, others think it’s just because it’s “new”, etc, but even a month later after more reflection, I still think this is my favorite RunDisney course. First of all, the wave start, as mentioned, had a lot to do with this being an excellent experience – not being crowded and being able to run freely when my intervals dictated was fantastic! Next was the amount of time spent in the parks. Given their size, I feel like we spent a good amount of time  running in the theme parks. The course support and characters inside the parks was fabulous and I wish I had stopped for more character photos. I did stop for a few selfies and two PhotoPass photos in Disneyland Paris – once in front of the castle, where I worked on my jump shot, and once for Little John

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Castle Jump Shot Photo

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Sheriff of Nottingham

After leaving the parks, we made our way out to the surrounding village, and the course support was great! The community was out to cheer us on, there were bands, performers, a large cheer group, and fuel stops all along the course, in addition to water and Powerade stops.

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Two kids from the cheer group

The middle part of the course was full of beautiful scenery throughout the French countryside. There was one part of the course that was basically trail running around a lake, which I walked most of, because I don’t trust my ankles not to roll! Then we were back on pavement for the last quarter of the race. This is where I ran into Lynda – it was soooooo good to see her beautiful friendly face and talk to her for a few seconds! Shortly after seeing Lynda, I made a new running friend, Patrice and we leapfrogged each other and then ran together for a little bit, until Kathleen caught up to me. She was killing it, and I walked with her for a few minutes while we chatted, until she was ready to take off again! By this time, we were running into Hotel Sante Fe, and then Hotel Cheyenne, including running right by the building where I was staying. For some reason, I always love running past/near my hotel – it happens frequently in Disneyland and Myrtle Beach, so it was a nice familiar thing to have happen here, too. I’m a dork, I know, but if you know me, you know it’s the little things that make me happy. 🙂

From there, we followed the same path we took to the parks toward Downtown Disney, past Sequoia Lodge and The New York Hotel, before going up, up, up, and over the bridge to the Newport Bay resort. I had reconnected with Patrice by this point, and she was staying here at Newport. Her roommate (who had already finished the half) was on her way back to the resort and ran the bridge with us – if she was still running, so should we, right?  😉  The finish was so close, and we stopped for photos at the 21k banner that was still being painted! We crossed the finish line together, received our medals and took photos of and with each other to send home, and parted ways – Patrice was so encouraging and great to run with!

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The 21k banner

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Patrice and me with our Half Marathon medals

Next I went to get my Castle to Chateau Challenge Medal, and meet up with Kathleen and Kerry who had also finished around the same time. The post-race snacks were awesome – water, Powerade, chocolate “milk”, bananas, peanuts, apple slices, cereal bars, and trail mix. It was refreshing to receive real food, even if I couldn’t have any of it, but I did miss the tortilla chips and cheese just a teensy bit. 😉

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Post Race Photo

We stopped for a castle backdrop photo while waiting to hear from Jen and Jamie. They weren’t too far behind us, but we had lunch at 2:00pm, three people in our room who needed to shower, and it was already 11:30am, so we started walking back to the room. 😁

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L to R: 2016 Marathon medal, Castle to Chateau medal, and Disneyland Paris Half Marathon medal

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Disneyland Paris Half Marathon Expo

Last month, I had the privilege to run the Inaugural Disneyland Paris Half Marathon. I had a fun day with my friends, Jen and Jamie, in Paris, and three fantastic days at Disneyland Paris enjoying the parks and time with friends, old and new.  This was a great experience and a fantastic race!

The Expo:

The expo was small for a RunDisney race, but it was sufficient – with opportunities to buy shoes and race fuel, and fun photo ops – what more does one need?

We picked up our bibs and our Castle to Chateau wristbands then checked out the merchandise booth. I was on a mission for pins, and a Rapunzel shirt for Mel. The only pin they had remaining when were there was the Semi Marathon Pin. I think it’s fantastic that the pin card has so much detail, but I especially love the phrase “Semi Marathon” to describe a half marathon!

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Semi Marathon Pin

We looked at the other merchandise – race shirts, I Did It shirts, a coffee mug, a key chain, a headband, a Remy plush, and a couple of hats. There was also a jacket, but it was a generic Disneyland Paris Parks jacket, nothing specific for the race. We paid for our merchandise and started wandering around the vendor booths. We stopped by the Hoka OneOne booth to check on an issue I was having with one of my shoes, and even though the rep couldn’t help me, I did score this great hat!

Time to Fly

Then we picked up our shirts and immediately exchanged them for a size up, as they were EU sized and a tad bit small (I would’ve ordered the size I needed in advance, if I’d been able to, as I was expecting EU sizing, but it wasn’t an option when I registered). We also stopped by the RunDisney booth to check out the medals for upcoming races, and to pick up our complimentary Castle to Chateau Challenge 2016 buttons.

My Upcoming Races

 

Free Castle to Chateau Challenge 2016 Button

One last fun stop before we left the expo was at the booth for the water sponsor, Vittel. They had a trampoline in front of a backdrop where you could take a great jumping action shot and get a bottle of water. It’s important to hydrate before a race and we couldn’t find anywhere at the expo to buy water – so on the trampoline I went! I’m sure my “action shot” looks strange, but it was fun, and most importantly, I got a couple of bottles water! I’m not sure where that photo ended up, but here’s another one from the expo. 😉

Run, Mickey, Run!

Race recap coming soon! 🙂

Update!

Hi everyone! Did you miss me? I managed to get way behind on blog posts over the last few months, so I’ll start with a little update since my last post.

In January, we once again ran the Walt Disney World Marathon.
In February, we ran the UNCC 5k and I ran the Disney’s Princess Enchanted 10k.
In April, we ran the Star Wars Dark Side Challenge and 5k.
Posts about these races will be coming soon!

It’s been a busy year for races, and I took some much-needed time off from running to strengthen and heal before the fall running season starts.

On the schedule for the fall are:

The Disneyland Paris Half Marathon – this was a recent decision, based on Get Travel still having open registrations and my friend Jen and her husband still looking for a roommate. Throw in affordable airfare, an extra day in the City of Lights, and how could I say no? I couldn’t. I’ve been dreaming of returning to Europe and now I’m going!

Next up will be the Myrtle Beach Coastal 5k and Mini Marathon (half marathon distance, long story over the name). This one is exciting because J and I designed medals for their contest and we both won! J’s medal will be given out after the 5k and mine will be the finisher’s medal for the half!

In November, I’ll be traveling to Disney again for the Wine and Dine Half Marathon weekend. I love this race weekend because it was my first half back in 2012, but I’ll only be running the 5k and 10k this year. The 10k is new, so I’m really excited for this one. After the 10k, I’ll drive to Savannah and meet J there to run the Rock ’n Roll Savannah 5k on Sunday together. It will be a busy weekend but a ton of fun because I’ll be spending it with friends and J.

The next weekend, the sibs and I head to Disneyland for the Superheroes Half Marathon weekend. We’ll be running the Infinity Gauntlet Challenge which consists of the Dr. Strange 10k (super-psyched for this movie, too) and the Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon.

Marathon weekend in 2017 is going to feel a bit strange for me – J and the sibs signed up for the Goofy Challenge (1/2 marathon on Saturday, Full Marathon on Sunday), but I am only signed up the half marathon. It’s probably best for my health, and with aspirations to run Dopey again in 2018, I will give my body a break and take a year off from the full distance. On that Sunday, I will be the best cheerleader possible and look forward to supporting my family and friends running the full.

As much as I’ll miss the full next year, I came up with a consolation prize of sorts. I will be running the Star Wars Light Side Challenge in Disneyland the weekend after Disney World’s Marathon weekend. Kessel Run, here I come, as we plan to run the Dark Side Challenge again next year!

Recap: Wine and Dine 2012

One week from night we will be running Disney’s Wine and Dine Half Marathon! Which makes me think a race recap from the past is overdue. In November 2012, Amy and I ran the Wine and Dine half as our first half marathon. It was an interesting learning experience and one that Amy will definitely need to tell from her point of view, as well, as my memory of the night is a bit hazy in places.

Leading up to the race, I felt good about my training, better about my nutrition, and I’d even made us some basic, but cute, shirts to wear for the race. Now, if you belong to a running group, you may have heard that you shouldn’t try anything new on race day. But I had this new protein shot I wanted to try, and I figured that since it was just a little 4-5 oz drink, I should be okay. Right? Maybe not so much. I drank the drink and ate my honey stinger waffle about 30-45 minutes before the race started and I thought I was good to go. The race started at 10pm, our corral started about 10 minutes after.

The first 5 miles went pretty well, but then I started to feel sick. I ate another honey stinger waffle hoping that would help, and I felt a little better – we had this race and were maintaining a strong 14:45 minute per mile pace. Soon, we were out on Osceola Parkway, on our way toward Hollywood Studios. But the nausea was still there and around mile 6.5 it reared its ugly head in the worst possible way and I had to step off into the grass on the shoulder and throw up. I remember hearing Amy tell someone I was ok (maybe it was me?) – and for about 2 minutes afterward, I was ok! I said we could run again, I thought I felt better. That was until every muscle in my body cramped up simultaneously. We basically walked the rest of the race, with me having to stop every 1/10 -2/10 of a mile to stretch. We were warned that we were off pace in Hollywood Studios (I didn’t comprehend it at the time), and by the time we reached the path to the Boardwalk, I was having to stop more often. I have to say here, I appreciate the medics and volunteers on bikes circling me like sharks every time I stopped to stretch, because if I had needed them it was good to know they were there and attentive!

Amy patiently stayed with me for the entire race, even though I must have told her at least a dozen times to go on and finish – that I would be fine! We finished our first half in an abysmal 4:05:19. By the time we left medical, the finish line area was deserted. We made our way to the after party, had our free beer/wine (had to go to the cash bar, because: deserted finish line), and then called it a night.

For a while, I was disappointed in myself, because I held Amy back and I knew we could do better. But when it’s all said and done, we finished the race. We earned our medals. We were not swept. We would redeem ourselves next year. Perhaps most importantly, it was a great learning experience, as I WILL NEVER EVER TRY SOMETHING NEW ON RACE DAY!

Pre race selfie

 Post race flats (back of our shirts)

Race Report – Myrtle Beach Mini Marathon

It was truly a game time decision for me to run this race this morning. As the corrals started shifting forward, waiting for the starting gun, I asked J for the car key, because I was not sure I would make it a tenth of a mile out of the mall parking lot. I started off running, no interval timer, just going until I needed to walk. Amy and J started off walking and when they caught up to me, J pointed out another place I could turn around and come back if needed.

Once I started moving, and I didn’t feel sick, and my foot pain was not excruciating, I decided I would pace with Amy and J for a mile or two to get ahead of the time and then I could run my own pace after that. Soon after the first water stop, I decided to let them go on – I knew Amy wanted to try to set a Personal Record (PR) today and J was going to pace her. I went ahead and set my interval timer to :20/:50 and tried to find my own rhythm. I put in an earbud, found some tunes, and ran my race.

It was a great morning! I had a smile on my face for most of the miles and really just enjoyed running and the scenery around me. I may have even jumped for joy a bit when the ocean came into view around mile 7.5…ok, I did jump for joy when I saw the ocean. No one around me seemed to share my enthusiasm, but that was ok, I was having a great time! The entire race was a great experience with great support and lots of water stops, and I hope to do this one again next year.

Amy did get her PR by four minutes, and Mel and Jamie also PR’d! As to my goal to just go as far as I could, whether I finished or not – not only did I finish, but I also got a 16 minute PR! Made all the sweeter by having my friends and family waiting for me at the finish line (thank you!!)

Bad news/good news – my feet do hurt, but I’ve been icing them and they don’t seem to be any worse than after a short 2 mile run, and definitely not as bad as 2 months ago. I will see how recovery goes this week and I’ll have a better idea of what I’m in for with next month’s races.

    

 

Pre Race Report – Myrtle Beach Mini Marathon

Ok I know the first question is likely, what’s a Mini Marathon? In this case, it is a half marathon. It’s a fairly flat and the last few miles are very scenic – running right along the ocean and finishing on the boardwalk!

We’ve got quite the crew here for this race weekend! The best brother in the world picked me up this morning so that I could rest my foot today, and the best sister in be world will be taking me home tomorrow since J will only be in town long enough to sleep tonight and run tomorrow. Goose’s girlfriend Mel drove up from Florida to run her first half marathon. Sue and Kate also drove up from Florida to cheer with the best mom in the world, who comes out to cheer us kids on whenever she can! It was great to get everyone together for dinner along with one of my friends from high school, Jen, and her husband, Jamie – we still run in the same circles! We missed J and Amy at dinner, because they have to work late and won’t be here until midnight and 1:30am

So about the race – I walked this race last year as I was coming off of a hip injury. This year I’ve been dealing with PF as well as some other intermittent issues. I really do not know at this time of writing (8:45p on Saturday, race day eve) whether or not I will be starting this race tomorrow. I will listen to my body and see how I am feeling in the morning.

  

Update

I know it’s been a while since you’ve heard from me. I’ve been working on old race recaps and rehabbing my feet. I’ve gone out for a couple of runs and gone back to the gym to test my foot out and so far it seems to be improving. Slowly, mind you, but steps in the right direction. I am still nervous about my upcoming races, as I’m not sure how much running I’ll actually be able to do without excruciating pain, but what I’ve noticed is that once the excruciating pain starts it does not matter what I do, the pain will still be there, so I need to find a happy medium before I get to that level of pain.

I also have concerns about my recovery time between the Wine and Dine half and the Infinity Gauntlet Challenge. If I only had to do one of the races over the two weekends I probably wouldn’t feel as overwhelmed as I feel right now. Beyond that I also have the full marathon coming up in January. I am very nervous about this race even though I have already completed the distance twice and near the distance once before that. I tend to think of myself as having a very high threshold for pain, however this pain is almost intolerable when it’s as bad as it has gotten in the past, and every step feels like there’s a nail being driven into the bottom of my foot.

          
I am on my way to the gym and to run now so we will see how it goes.  

A Diagnosis

On my last long run, on August 22, I started developing pain in my right foot a couple of miles into the run. The pain only got worse and by the time I got home, it was excruciating. I could barely tolerate any weight on the foot. Fortunately, my plans for the rest of the weekend allowed me to rest and stay off of my foot for the most part, and by the middle of the week, the pain eased up a bit. J told me I should take some time off and rest until I was pain-free. I bought a couple of night splints and tried to sleep with those (nearly impossible), and I iced and stretched my feet each night. Three weeks later, I was still in a fair amount of pain, and a dear friend encouraged me to see a doctor.

So, after a full month of not running, to rest my feet, I finally went to the doctor yesterday. I saw a foot and ankle specialist. X-rays confirmed no stress fractures, no arthritis, and no heel spurs (yay, all good news!). However, I have Plantar Fasciitis (PF), which consists of micro-tears in the tendons running along the bottoms of my feet. He gave me a list of therapies and stretches to do on a several times daily basis and hopefully these will help. He also has me wearing little arch sleeves on both feet that should help (he swears by them). I am looking at 3 to 18 months for recovery – let’s hope it is closer to the 3 month time frame.

The best part (crazily enough) – he told me to start running again. I am not sure how I am going to run with this burning pain in my foot, but I’m going to give it a try tonight and see how it goes.

Injuries

Leading up to our first Disney race, I spent a lot of time injured during our training My calves were always tight, my inner thigh was always strained, I needed to lose about 100 pounds (still do – but this isn’t about weight loss; if that happens it’s a bonus). Our longest run prior to the Tower of Terror 10 miler was about a month before the race at 8 miles.

And here I am today – once again injured. We are 34 days out from out next scheduled half marathon, and I haven’t been able to run (let alone walk without pain) since August 22nd. It’s a miserable feeling. Especially missing the group runs with my family – sure, I get to make sure there’s a patio table waiting for everyone at Starbucks when they’re done, but I’d rather be running!

The race we have next month is one that J and I signed up for last November. We did this one in 2014, too. I had to walk it due to a hip injury. I was really excited to do this one running this year! It’s a super flat course with some nice views at the end, but now it looks like I may not even be able to walk it this time around. It’s disappointing, but it’s not the end of the world. I am still hopeful that I will fully heal in time to participate this year!

Meanwhile, I’m excited about early Annual Passholder registration for runDisney’s new Star Wars race weekend at Disney World, which opens (and probably closes shortly afterwards) tomorrow at noon. I know I’m currently injured, and I have a half dozen other races between now and then, but I have so much fun at Disney races that I can’t deny the irresistible force.

Our First Race – February 4, 2012

About three weeks, and 8 training runs later, I ran my first 5k. It was the UNCC Gold Rush 5k at J’s alma mater. We signed up at the last-minute and figured we wold just see how it went. My mom came out to cheer us on at the start and the finish. It was cold and damp and rainy. I told J he did not need to run with me, he could go at his own pace, and I would see him at the finish.

I zipped up my jacket to ward off the elements, and soon was moving along with the rest of the back of the pack. Run 15 seconds, walk 45 seconds, run 15 seconds, walk 45 seconds. Keep moving forward. All sorts of thoughts start running through my head – my training routes did not have hills like this – how did I forget there were so many steep hills on this campus? Why am I wearing this jacket? How can I be this hot and cold at the same time? How am I NOT done yet?

As I was nearing the track and field complex, where the finish line was hiding, I saw J running back toward me to run in with me. Well that was too much for my super-sensitive, somewhat-over-emotional self to process while running, and I started to get choked up and have trouble breathing. It probably did not help that I was still wearing my jacket and felt like all of Charlotte’s humidity was suffocating my body underneath a layer of some polyester nylon blend with zero breathability. I waved him off when we entered the stadium, tried to pull myself together, and finished my first race. It felt pretty damn good.

After I caught my breath and cooled off, we went to Starbucks for coffee and breakfast and race-recapping. My Nike+ app did not record my race, but my official finish time was 48:02 with an average pace of 15:28 per mile. When I got home, I showered and climbed back into bed for the rest of the afternoon.

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