Best Damn Race- Orlando

This post could also be called "my first time running a non-Disney half marathon."

Up until this point, my race experience at the half marathon level had been limited to Disney races. There's a lot to be said about all the entertainment and spectators involved when you're running on Disney property. The adrenaline that kicks in as you see tons of people in ridiculous costumes and parade floats with your favorite characters on board really helps push you from mile to mile.

So what happens when you don't have those things to depend on?

I will say it helped that I had run up to 18 miles through regular residential areas while training for my full marathon. So I wasn't completely oblivious to the idea of running without constant cheering. Not to mention all the mileage I put in on a regular basis when I'm not doing a race.

So piece of cake right?

To be honest, I was a little nervous about it.

My sister and I signed up for Best Damn Race here in Orlando as part of our goal to run one race every month. She added the stipulation that the race needed to involve receiving a medal and what better way to insure that than by picking a half marathon rather than just a 5k.

Did I mention this half would be just 6 days after we had run all the Disney Princess weekend runs? 

Meh! You only live once, right?

We actually had a few friends signed up to run it as well so at least we were in good company!

Right smack in the middle of a very busy week for both my sister and I (she headed to the run straight from an overnight rehearsal!) but we were still pumped and ready to take on the race.

The course was centered around one of my favorite spots in Downtown Orlando- Lake Eola. Its gorgeous, the houses are adorable, there's tons of trees and neat side parks that the course went through, and there's tons of brick roads... Yeah that last part- not so awesome. 

Seeing as I still hadn't taken time off since the full marathon, I was still having some IT band knee trouble. That combined with the brick roads meant we had to stop to stretch and walk a bit more than I had planned because I was hurting so bad.

"You can do it Kryssi!" "OH! Oh! I'm GONNA do this!" What would I do without her?

And so we got to the finish line! Despite the pain and lack of extra "pixie dust" encouragement- we P.R.'d! Imagine that. New best time for a half- 2:22:55. Maybe slow for most people, but for us? This was a huge accomplishment!

AND BEER!! Another upside to non-Disney races- free beer at the finish line! Ignore the fact that its 9am. This little finish line treat kicks serious booty.

All in all- I've gotta say running a non-Disney half marathon was pretty awesome. There was so much more natural beauty to look at as opposed to having to run a lot of big highways. The price tag is WAY easier on the pocket and the amount of runners out on the course actually allows you the space to try to set personal records. I'll definitely be looking for more of these in the future.

What a great way to spend a Saturday morning! Running with my sister through parts of our city that we ordinarily don't get to see. Perfect.

But let's not get crazy... I'll still be doing Disney runs. :) 


My adventures in "Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend"-ing...

Ok, so maybe I'm hooked...

In my defense it did all start with running the Disney Princess Half! I had wanted to run my first half in 2010 but never signed up because I couldn't get up the courage. So my first half ended up being the Princess in 2011 and I've been doing it every year since. No sense in stopping now!

Well- this year when registration information came out, they had this grand idea. They added a 10k to the weekend and said "Hey! If you want to run the 10k and the Half, we'll give you an extra medal and call it the Glass Slipper Challenge!"

For how much?!?!

My first born child?!?

Don't care! I'm in!!!

But wait! There's more!

About a month out, the 5k still hadn't sold out so they decided to bring the Cast Member discount back. Granted, our discount is a couple dollars but that was incentive enough for my sister and I and a few of our friends to decide to run the whole weekend! 

RUN ALL THE RACES!!

So that's where this adventure begins...

These are the banners they set up outside of the expo at Wide World of Sports.

These are the banners they set up outside of the expo at Wide World of Sports.

Lesson 1 in running Disney- the expo tends to be pretty nuts. There's tons of people running these races (more and more every year in fact!) and unless they have someone else filling out a waiver and doing packet pick-up for them, they all pass through there! Give yourself enough time to enjoy it without being stressed trying to get in and out quick. There tends to be long lines at the Official Disney merchandise area so just be ready for it.

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Because we would be running every day, we had to make it out to the expo the first day. My sister was a little worried about special "Glass Slipper Challenge" merch selling out but she couldn't go to the expo until she got off work at 5. So! I ventured to the expo on my own when it first opened. Even then there was a line at the official merch area! But I got us our special event sweaty bands and "Glass Slipper Challenge" jackets and made it out unscathed. Then returned a second time later when she got off work to do all our packet pick-up stuff together.

Lesson 2 in running Disney- Expect early bed times all weekend! Like most races, start time is early but it's especially true at Disney. 3 am (at least) wake up calls all weekend to make it to the start line in time!

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The Royal Family 5k was the first event of the weekend and I kind of loved it! It had been a couple years since I'd done a Disney 5k. Start time was a little later since it was a shorter race which is always a plus! The course was pretty simple too. Just around part of the Epcot parking and back in around World Showcase and up to the front of the park before finishing. Honestly- this was just such a fun way to start the weekend. There's still a few characters but mainly it's just low key and awesome. And after training for the full in January and then the half, I kind of feel like a rockstar when I do a 5k! So a little confidence boost going into the weekend is a great way to start.

As for costumes- there's a lot of them at Disney runs! Since the 5k was a last minute addition, we kinda pooped out in that department for the 5k. But I did manage to wear a skirt! This is huge for me! You see- I cannot run in shorts. There's this bermuda triangle situation that happens to shorts as I run and chaffing is not my idea of a good time. But for a 5k? Sure, I can do that! 

All in all- amazing kick off to a long weekend of running! 

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Next morning was the Inaugural Enchanted 10k! I dressed up as Sofia the First. I thought it was only fitting since I perform with her 5 days a week over at Disney Jr. Which actually leads me to lesson 3-

Lesson 3 in running Disney- Do not take running in a tutu lightly! That thing, as adorable as it was, was a pain in my booty! Because of the volume, it made me hold my arms differently for the whole run. My arms were killing me by the end! Just keep in mind whatever costume pieces you decide on should still be runner friendly- I started off with her amulet too but ripped that sucker off 2 steps in!

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I LOVED the 10k course! I can't imagine why they wouldn't keep it but I really hope it's an event they hold on to. This course took you around World Showcase and Disney's Boardwalk. The stretches of Disney courses that are just on and off ramps to and from the parks and stretches of highway are always difficult. But it makes running the pretty parts of property all the more awesome.

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Plus- there's the whole "treat yourself to awesome breakfasts after your runs" part! Running for banana chocolate chip pancakes is phenomenal motivation.

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Then finally- the main event! The Princess Half Marathon.

Why yes. My sister and I did dress up as Anna and Elsa from Frozen... along with half the runners out there that day. But I've gotta say, we were my favorite. I could not have survived the weekend without her!

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Soooo ordinarily I LOVE this run. I did still love it but it was a real challenge for me this year. It was so foggy and humid out that water droplets were collecting on our heads. When I run, I tend to pick points out in front of me to run to. Well- thats wasn't an option in the fog since all you could see was what was directly around you.  Then there's the whole "holy poop! so many runners out here!" thing. There's good reason people don't recommend you try to P.R. at a Disney race...

Lesson number 4 in running Disney- Corrals are in place by pace for a reason. When you register, you put in your pace so they can split you up into corrals based on how fast you run. If your friends happen to be in another corral, you are welcome to fall back with them but no one is allowed to move up a corral. The thing about falling back is that you're then trying to weave in and out of runners that may not go as fast as you go. So you kinda can't go as fast as you'd like. And you get frustrated. And you want to pull your hair out because you fall behind pace since you're stuck walking behind large groups of people...

In other words, if P.R.ing is your goal- stay in your assigned corral and get as far forward in the group as you can!

Otherwise, just take a deep breath and enjoy it! That is why you do this, right?

But maybe don't stop for pictures because the lines get really long and then you'll REALLY fall behind pace. 

:)

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And then there's this guy. 4 years of finish line love from my biggest fan and supporter.

Lucky, lucky me.

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So there it is! 3 days, 22.4 miles, and 4 medals. Check out all that bling!

I'm always so proud of myself when I cross a finish line- regardless of the mileage that got me there. Running is something that I feel like, when it comes down to it and even though it helps to have amazing family and friends cheer you on along the way, I'm the only one that can get my little legs to the finish line. Every time I do, I surprise myself a little more. And that's an incredible feeling.

This weekend especially since I did it all before celebrating a birthday the next day!

And of course, the only way to wrap up a Princess Half weekend is with mimosas at Mimi's with some amazing people...

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And maybe just a little extra celebrating in the glass I had made for my sister, our friend Erin, and me...

I mean, it was the day before my birthday!

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Cheers and happy running! Till the next one...

Which just so happens to be another half 6 days from the Princess weekend.

:)

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