In Which I Finally Leave the Hotel Room

We went to the public market at Granville Island yesterday.  We found a cool little music shop that had a bunch of instruments I’d never even heard of before.  One of them was a sound cradle:

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The owner was incredibly nice and demonstrated several of the instruments.  With one person sitting in the sound cradle, another stands behind them and plays the strings on the sides of the cradle like a harp.  The effect is a soothing, breathtaking surround sound.  It was very, very awesome. 

He also demonstrated singing bowls, a giant gong (which had to be one of the coolest and scariest sounds I’ve heard in my life…completely mystical), and explained various instruments’ healing powers.  The sound cradle, for instance, is used in Germany to wake up coma patients.  He told us that in one study, a man who had been in a coma for 6 months woke up after 30 seconds or so of sitting in the sound cradle…how cool is that?!

Since my current project is a manuscript regarding healing music, I found all of this especially interesting.  Here’s the link to Gandharva Loka.  I can’t stress enough how awesome the man (owner?) was.  He told us he spent several years traveling and encountering people who were looking for specific, exotic instruments, so he decided to start a shop to cater to them.  Looking at the website, it says the shop will be featured on June 25th on House Hunters International!  (Which I spent about four hours last night watching…House Hunters can be addicting).  Thumbs up for a cool business.

After wandering around the market (where I splurged on a 3-section notebook from Paper-Ya), we took a photo of the Vancouver skyline:Image

There was a cool art show around the market using recycled art, so of course my mom and I took a silly photo.  Traditions.

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There were cool art sculptures everywhere:

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We then headed to Chinatown, where I bought some flipflops (I forgot to pack mine!) and a cheap notebook (no way was I going to scribble in my very pricey notebook, which is becoming a nice, neat reference book for two manuscripts).  I’m writing in pencil, too, just in case I decide to change some details.  I’m ridiculously excited about the graphing section.  I can finally draw some (accurate!) maps and not lose them!  This is going to be so great.

After Chinatown, we headed to the Empire Landmark Hotel to go to the Scotiabank Vancouver Half-Marathon expo.  Even though I wasn’t running the race, I still wanted to check it out. 

Whoa, this expo was super tiny!  I nabbed some (Canadian) running magazines, a free smoothie, and the good workers from The Stick had me roll a little on my head.  Yes…on my head.  It did feel nice, although I don’t know if it helped with the concussion or if the Tylenol just kicked in….

We walked back to our hotel and stopped at A&W for some burgers.  (By the way, my entire family is STILL on East Coast time, so we ate dinner at like 3 pm…the time difference to Vancouver is just enough to be frustrating, but not enough for our bodies to sync up with the new time!  Days feel sooooooo long (we’ve been getting up early and going to bed early…going to bed at 11 last night felt LATE!)Image

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I thought the fries in mini fryers were super cute!

Mmm, I love root beer.  I don’t usually drink soda, but root beer is my exception.  It’s my “it’s going to be a fun time” drink.  Really.  So going to A&W was a novelty; I’d never been.

After watching several hours of House Hunters, House Hunters International, and House Hunters Great Escape, I headed to bed.

It’s off to the cruise (and Alaska!), hurrah!  No internet for the next week or so…do you like being cut off from the internet on vacation? 
I enjoy it sometimes, it’s nice to take a break occasionally, but I like keeping in touch with back home.  (and calling internationally is sooo expensive!)

I’m sipping complimentary chai tea and feeling cool.  Tea: yay or nay?

An Unexpected Rest Day

So…I ended up not going to the park yesterday.  In fact, I spent most of yesterday in bed.  My head hurt so much.  Not going into detail here, but I basically lived in the hotel room for 1.5 days and did not leave.

Well, I attempted to leave, and we went up on the hotel’s roof:

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You can see the mountains from the hotel!  Crazy awesome.  I love our hotel’s location in downtown Vancouver.

I had a pounding headache.  I started to feel really, really dizzy and thought going to the park was a bad idea.  So I spent the day in the hotel room (sigh).  It is a nice hotel room, though, and my mom was nice enough to bring me a sandwich from Finch’s!

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Edam, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, oil, vinegar, salt and pepper.  Yum.

And raspberry and brie for dinner:

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Delicious (the brie is sooo good), but I think I prefer the salty, slightly bitter sandwiches over the sweet ones.

I spent the day feeling reaaally dizzy if I turned too quickly, and with a throbbing headache.

Totally love vacations like that.

I made the most of it with an ice pack:

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Although that morning I walked about a block, thinking I *might* be able to run, I quickly threw that thought away.  Better to take a week (or more, if needed) and completely rest than end up having to take several months off!  I’ve made that mistake before…yikes….

Have you ever been injured on vacation? 
I had a broken wrist in Florida once…I still rode all the roller coasters.

What do you do on a rest day?

I read, edited, and watched a lot of Supernatural (new guilty pleasure!).

The Land Up North

Woke up at the oh-so-late hour of 3:30 am yesterday to catch a flight to Vancouver, BC. Yikes. Luckily, I did have a window seat so when we flew over the Rocky Mountains it was INCREDIBLE. Top 10 wondrous sights I’ve seen in my life, easily.

Unfortunately, on the way to the hotel, we were in a minor car accident while in the cab. We were stopped at a light, so the car that rammed into us from behind wasn’t going *too* fast, but I feel like I have brain whiplash and my head is killing me. Not exactly a great start to the trip!

Free internet at this hotel (yay), so after some quick research online, we decided to go to Finch’s Coffee and Tea House for sandwiches. It’s a cute little cafe place with fresh baguettes and sandwiches. I ordered the blue brie with lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes, salt, pepper, oil and vinegar. It was sooo good and flavorful. Highly recommended if you’re ever in the Vancouver area! There is a generous wait for sandwiches (not much staff makes the sandwiches), so if you’re in a rush, beware.

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Seriously, that sandwich was so good. My roomie just told me the other night that it’s a good thing I love to run and exercise, because I talk about food like it’s my third hobby…she might be right.

I woke up really early (5:30 am) because a phone kept ringing next door. Agh. I tried to go for a run at 7, but I felt really blaaargh and dizzy just walking, so I’ve decided to take some time off and not risk it. As I’ve learned, it’s better to take seven days off and feel 100% rather than push it and have to take several months off!

So we’re off to Stanley Park and general sightseeing today! Woo!

What’s the first thing you do when you’re on vacation?

Do you pack snacks for plane rides? (I brought a pb sanwich, a chocolate croissant, tea bags, Sun Chips…yeah, prepared!)

Running Conversions

I enjoy running alone when I just want to wake up and go for a quick run, no fussing, or if I need some alone time.  I like to think life decisions out on long runs.  I always come back with a clear head, endorphins, and an idea of what I want to do.  (Or, if it’s a situation where I can’t do anything, at least some peace of mind that I need to leave it up to the universe, and it’s out of my control.)

Flow.  I like being on that running flow, when all your thoughts just swirl around and you can focus on your breathing, and the air, and the sunshine (if you’re lucky), the breeze, or that delightful, slightly obnoxious hum of lawnmowers.

But yesterday, during my shopping trip, my friend Deanna and I made a pact: running today!

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Awwyeah, ready to run!  We were shooting for three miles.  We took a little detour to the beach, parks, and a quaint residential area I never knew existed!  We ended up running 3.18 in ~38.  Woo!

After all, we ate a lot of cheesecake yesterday:

The Cheesecake Factory’s 30th Anniversary cake.  Yuuuuuuuuuum.  Sugar coma

Deanna got the oreo cheesecake.  I’ve never tried it, but I don’t think you can go wrong with any flavor there!

I also had the gigantic (lunch portion!) barbeque chicken salad from The Cheesecake Factory that lasted for three meals (seriously, I just ate some more of it for lunch).  Craaaziness, what a deal, they really give you a lot!

Well, it’s off to pack for my upcoming trip to Vancouver/Alaska/San Francisco! Woohoo!

Have you been to any of these places? Are you going on a vacation soon, or did you have one already?

Favorite type of cheesecake?

 

A Whole Week of Awesomeness?!

This week started off great.  Monday, I wasn’t up to anything, so I went shopping with my best bud M.  We were in the garment district and we must have gotten lost four times trying to find this one block of bead stores (M runs her own Etsy shop, Cool Jewel Creations.  It’s awesome and you should check it out.)

After grabbing a quick bite to eat at the 38th St Diner, we were off!  We circled back to find this one shop….

And circled over and over again, trying to find it.  Instead, we found banks upon banks.

ImageM’s a little peeved by then (no worries, we found the store .002 seconds after this photo was taken).  Hurrah!  Happiness and bead shopping ensued. 

I decided to make my own bracelet (running-themed, of course).  I love bracelets (and rings!) because I lose jewelry easily and these stay on.  A lot of bracelets are big for my wrists so I like adjustable ones (or kiddie bracelets, those fit too…err….)  This one fits well with a watch-style strap.

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We took a victory photo outside the bead store!  (I almost smacked a tourist in the head with this one.  But, luckily, I avoided doing so.)

We headed to pinkberry (M had never been, and I’d only been once, soooo, yes, this was very necessary).  Froyo is always necessary between us.

Ahh, true friends.  They let you take photos of them with food and then post them on the internet. 

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The staff working was so nice and they pretty much bombarded us with samples.  I tried the original, strawberry, peach, and caramel…and ended up with caramel, chocolate pretzels, brownie bites, and a wafer cookie.  Oh my gaaawsh.  Soooo gooood.  I really like pinkberry’s yogurt, but it’s kind of pricey compared to the pay-by-weight froyo shops I usually go to.  It’s great for a treat, though!

I can’t believe they fit all of that into a mini cup!

(One staff member asked if I still required the caramel sample after I decided to order it…why yes, you can never have too much froyo!)

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On Wednesday, I hung out with my HS crew, and we spent several hours decorating these delicious morsels:

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My attempt at making star flowers:

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Not bad for my first time decorating with icing! 

And today I woke up super early (well, for *me* on summer break, 8 am is a tad earlier than usual!).  I ent for a two-mile run (21:21! I love times like that) before heading into Manhattan. I had the pleasure of having lunch with Janae, Meghann, Abby, Catie, Jen, Celia, and other lovely ladies.  (I’m sooo bad with names, but it was lovely meeting all of you!)

No photos from today, (bad blogger bad?), but I had a delicious spinach and artichoke slice of pizza.  It was my first blogger meetup and a wonderful experience!  Refreshing to talk about running, running clothes, desserts and just life for a bit.  What a cool, cool experience!

Disney Princess Half-Marathon: Part IV

I was getting tired.  I had passed double digits, there were no more characters on the road, and I was overwhelmed that I had less than a 5k to go.  Many, many people were walking at this point, but I kept up a slow jog.  I was still feeling good (I had to use my inhaler again around mile 9, right when I passed the Central Florida Accordion Club playing Disney tunes (it’s a real thing).

Careful spectators (or Disney workers?  There were people with camping chairs cheering runners on, including little kids.  High-fiving a little girl lifted my spirits) had placed pine cones in a YOU ROCK formation.  Hehe.

Mile 11!  I was overwhelmed.  I’ve always liked the number 11, and I was especially glad to see it here.  “I’ll Make a Man Out of You” started playing on repeat in my head….

Right around this point, there was a turn and we headed (slightly) uphill.  Now, I go to college next to the mountains, and I didn’t think it was a big deal, but it was definitely an incline and we were all tired at this point.  There was an announcer with a video camera and microphone, and as you ran by, he asked you where you were from.  It was pretty cool (I said my college town, not my hometown, because I had already heard someone say my hometown).

I knew I was going to finish with a smile on my face.  I was so, so excited….

And they must have heard me humming, “I’ll Make a Man Out of You,” because I got to pose with Mushu, too:

I was so tired at this point.  I remember passing an older spectator in a wheelchair with a sign that almost made me cry…I just wish I could remember what it said!  I was too tired to take a picture…if anyone remembers what it said, it would be awesome!  She was after the characters, but before entering Epcot.

I see the ball!  I was grateful that it was almost over, and was feeling really tired.

Chip AND Dale?!  Awesome, awesome.  I knew the finish line was close and I was excited to run through the World Showcase…or so I thought.

I consider myself a Disney enthusiast, but I’m still puzzled as to whose Fairy Godmother this was.  The fairy godmother of runners?!  Maybe….

I was really, really looking forward to running through Epcot and finally finishing! Yeah!

Just kidding…you don’t really run through Epcot.  You just run slightly under the monorail, into a little turnabout, and run right back out the way you came.  I was sad (note to self: CAREFULLY READ course description!).  It wasn’t a big deal (I had most been looking forward to running through the MK, anyway), but at this point in the race, it was a let-down.  I did, however, hear tons of things about the gospel choir that was coming up near mile 13!

Right before the gospel choir, it started to drizzle.  I whipped out my camera to take a photo of mile marker 13, and my lens got a little foggy.

But then I saw the finish! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!

There weren’t too many spectators at this point, but it was still really cool.  One of the spectators I saw throughout the race must have been following someone close to my pace, because I saw his just keep swimming sign several times.

I picked up my speed to run through the finish line.  Then I did a double-take and ran in the OPPOSITE direction from the finish. I almost missed THIS:

The perfect photo finish!  Now only if my lens hadn’t been foggy…I still think it’s pretty cute, though.  (Do I look like I just ran a half-marathon?!)

After I waited for my parents (unfortunately, they got stuck on a monorail when it broke down, and missed me finishing by minutes), we took the bus back to the hotel and showered.  I was too revved up to sleep and I was dying to go to the parks to show off my medal.  So we headed to Hollywood Studios.  On no sleep, pretty much, having been up since three am.

I’m exhausted, but happy.  We grabbed something to eat:

Then we went on Star Tours, watched a parade, and I started to have a gigantic headache.  It’s hard to fight your body, even if you really want to have fun.  We headed back to the hotel for some much-needed snooze time.

Then later that night, around 7, we headed back to Hollywood Studios!  Even though I know it’s not MGM anymore, sometimes I still call it that….

We caught my favorite Disney show in the history of Disney shows…Fantasmic!  I bought a giant Mickey rice krispy treat (that would be a giant rice krispies treat shaped like a Mickey head, covered in chocolate, and covered in M&M’s on top of that…yum.  I was definitely thinking about getting one of these at mile 10!)

We rode Toy Story Mania (another great ride!), Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster (okay…only I did), The Great Movie Ride, and the Tower of Terror.  I had never been on this last one (my mom has been teasing me, saying she’s going to take me on it since I was five).  Supernatural things and heights scare me (even though I LOVE roller coasters…go figure), and some people in the lobby were saying it was the scariest ride in Disney and be prepared to be terrified…I was cursing like a sailor the whole time (the elevator was pretty empty), but the drop was really mild!  I was pleasantly surprised and I thought the coolest part was when the doors opened and we got to see the whole park lit up at night.  My mom thinks it would be cooler during the day, because you can see more, but I always think rides at night tend to have just a little bit more magic.

As if I didn’t have enough sugar in my life (true fact: every stomach has a compartment just for dessert.  The dessert compartment.  This is how I always managed to go, “I’m sooo full,” when I ate real food and still had room for dessert.  Now you know!

Mmm, ice cream sundae.  Delish.  We took the bus back to the hotel and I fell asleep quickly.  What a magical day.

Oh, man.  After this series of posts, I’d love to go back to Disney.  My roomie plans to run the Tower of Terror 10-Miler in two years, and I think that’s probably the next time I’ll be back.  Have you ever been to Disney World?  What about Disneyland?

I’m a huge fan of thinking about what I’m going to eat after the race to get myself through some tough mileage…do you ever think about food when you run/work out?  How do you motivate yourself?

Disney Princess Half-Marathon: Part III

Right as I was about to run through Cinderella’s Castle, I saw Minnie in true princess fashion!  So, so excited.  The attendant warned that the line was closing in two minutes, but I made it!  Hurrah!

While I was on line, I saw the two unofficial balloon pacers walk by (they were walking a 16-minute-per-mile pace, the minimum needed to stay in the race, not get picked up & driven to the finish line).  I had always trained at about a 12:15 mile on my long runs, so I wasn’t worried–but I didn’t take into account walk breaks because I was sick, photo stops with characters, and a bathroom break.  Still, I wasn’t giving up a photo with Minnie!

Or The Princess and the Frog characters:

I LOVED their costumes and they were so friendly!  Definitely one of the highlights of the race.  At this point, the bikers informed me I was two minutes behind pace and I needed to catch up.  I asked if I stayed ahead of the bikers–would I be okay then?  They said no, I had to be in front of the balloon pacers–the ones that had passed me while I was on line for Minnie!  Aaaagh.  I sped off through Frontierland and rocketed forward.  I skipped the HUGE line for Sleeping Beauty as soon as I got out of the MK because I did NOT want to get driven to the finish line!  I must have been running an 8:00/mile pace; I was so terrified I would be picked up during the race.  I knew it was not an empty threat and I had been in a completely empty Adventureland (minus two women, but I’ll get to them later).  Luckily, I caught up to the balloon pacers and walked slightly ahead of them for a while.

At mile 7, Kelly Clarkson’s What Doesn’t Kill You was blasting on the speakers.  We were running on a VERY narrow strip of road backstage, and the walking and the song provided a much-needed boost.  I decided to pick up the pace to give myself a little wiggle room.  One man cheering on racers said, “Run faster! There’s free beer at the finish line!”  When no one picked up the pace, he started singing, “Iiiiit’s a small world after all, iiit’s a small world aaaaafter all…” over and over.  He was hilarious (and I obligingly picked up the pace).  As cute as that ride is, that song never gets stuck out of my head!
Stitch just went on a break when I passed by, but Lilo was still there!  Lilo & Stitch is definitely one of my favorite Disney movies, so I was psyched.  I was also feeling good, well ahead of the pacers, and running strong.

I saw my parents again at mile 8!  They made it!  Based on my 5k and 10k automated text updates, they weren’t expecting me for another twenty minutes at least.  I gave them a quick hug, explained I need to be speedy because of the balloon pacers, and took off.

I saw Goofy and golf gear and I had to stop…I mean, why not?! (Well, because I was terribly aware that the pacers were very close behind.)

Now, I had to wait in line for Goofy.  No problem.  But it was behind the same two women whom I had been behind since Adventureland–and they brought their autograph books with them.  Both of them.  It was incredibly, incredibly frustrating that I had to wait for the two of them for three photos while the characters signed.  With the pacers so close, this really shouldn’t be allowed.  Luckily, the character attendant for Goofy refused and I took off soon after.  I was determined to get ahead of them before the next photo.

Which I did!  Hi, Pocahontas.  I was a little nervous here because I could SEE the pacers from here! AAAH!  We were circling past the MK again and back down the other side of the highway, the opposite side from where we came.

In reality, when ants aren’t purple and cute, I hate ants.  But here I stopped for A Bug’s Life photo.

It was past mile 10 (I passed it around A Bug’s Life!), my first time in double-digits as a runner.  This Toy Story soldier was telling me to keep on keepin’ on!

More and more people were walking as we neared mile 11, but I kept on running!  As we ran over an overpass, they had cars clearing the highway of runners.

Up next: Mile 11 and the Magical Finish!  Disney Princess Half-Marathon: Part IV

Disney Princess Half-Marathon: Part II

A princess race…but there was no line for the race car drivers of the Richard Petty Driving Experience!  So of course, I jumped on it!  At this point in the race, I wasn’t feeling very well, and I was determined to pace myself (one of my strengths as a runner is I’m very, very good at determining my pace and sticking with it, I run very even splits most of the time), walk as needed, and make it to the Magic Kingdom at all costs.  I remember walking quite a bit around the Speedway, and it was really discouraging that I was only a bit over a 5k at this point.  I was coughing a lot.

I had a long way to go, and I doubted I could make it.  I was coughing a lot at this point, (I’ve mentioned this before, but I’ll mention it again…the night before the race, I was sneezing my brains out and coughing up hairballs.  It was just so, so awful, and as an incredibly optimistic person, it had been a long time since I felt so low and so hopeless.  I thought there was no way I could run in just a few hours.)  I had to just keep moving forward.  I kept a smile on my face because it’s DISNEY WORLD and I had been dreaming about this for so long.

I loved seeing all the strong, evil Disney villains–I’d never seen ANY of these in the parks before!  I was especially excited to see Cinderella’s step-sisters and step-mother, who were hamming it up and were absolutely evil.  This whole line-up made my day completely amazing.  I began looking forward to ditching my sweater (here, I ditched it in line before the photos every time), because carrying it was getting really annoying.  I began to have a little hope that I would make it past the Magic Kingdom, and more people in costume cheered me up. I blasted my music and focused on enjoying as much as I could.  My coughing, for the most part, got a little better, and I settled into a regular walk-run pattern.

A blurry photo as I ran past the Contemporary and under a tunnel.  Here was a DJ, and I really liked waving to him.  There were also acrobats on trampolines!  Whoa!

As we ran toward Space Mountain and the Magic Kingdom, I began to feel like utter crap.  I mean, the race was mostly flat, and I trained on hills, but I was still sick.  I could not stop coughing.  I dug out my inhaler (I can only use it twice in a four-hour period, so I knew I had to use it sparingly) and…

it made a WORLD of difference.  Here I am at the next mile marker, happy and upbeat, right before entering the TTC.

At this point, I knew I was going to make it through the race.  I was so, so happy and I felt SO much better.  I also ditched my sweater, giving it to a Cast Member (not even sure if they were on duty…oops), and I felt FREE!

I also saw my parents as I ran through the TTC!  They shouted my name and I almost tripped because I ran past them.  I wasn’t expecting to see them till Mile 8, and it made me INCREDIBLY happy and gave me a huge boost.  As excited as I was to race, running such a huge race, and my first race in another state, alone can be a little intimidating.  I told them I was running strong and I’d see ’em later.  I could only hope that they’d make it to Mile 8 with plenty of time, because I knew that although I ran strong now, I would need a pick-me-up later.  I’d heard traveling from viewpoints could be difficult.  I ran past the drummers from Epcot and all I could think about was running down Main Street.

I had dreamed of this moment for so long.

After asking a CM where the nearest bathroom was (a real bathroom! Not a port-a-potty!), I used a precious four minutes to duck out of the race and it was SO worth it.  My favorite parts were smiling at the little girls in the bathroom (who were wide-eyed that I had a tutu on!), and re-ducking under the line to run back onto Main Street! Hehe.

Everything was all lit up, and it was truly breathtaking to be running down this street.  It was over far too quickly.

I grabbed another photo in front of Cinderella’s Castle (after all, when else is there going to be an unobstructed view?!):

You can see my running shorts peeking out from under the tutu here…it may be silly, but I actually loved wearing it throughout the race.  It made me feel like a true princess for the day.

It was in the MK that I began to feel unstoppable.  I was on such a Disney high–and there were even more characters!

I was excited to see tons of characters I’ve never taken photos with.

I ran through Tomorrowland and Fantasyland (under construction for the extension), where I *just* missed the line closing for Cinderella & Prince Charming.  I’d NEVER seen them in the parks, so I was super bummed, but the sight of the carousel quickly cheered me up.  And at this point, I had stopped at every character available…one of my goals for the race (okay, besides finishing, it was my only goal!)  I was determined to make the most of my race!  Even when I registered for the race, I knew I wanted it to be my first one so I wouldn’t be shooting for a time goal.  As long as I continued feeling great and not coughing, I knew I’d be good.

I kept about a 12-min-per-mile pace through the MK, and then I heard trumpets:

Aaaah!  I was so excited to run through the castle!

Up Next:

In Which I Meet Two Princesses, Get Passed by Orange Bikers, and Run Like Mad: Disney Princess Half-Marathon: Part III

Disney Princess Half-Marathon: Part I

(Note: This post was originally on Blogger, March 20th, 2012)
This winter has not really been the best for me, health-wise.  I posted a while back about being sick and falling behind training, but on top of that, I got sick right after Valentine’s Day and skipped a TON of classes because I was so ill right before the half.  I was a nervous wreck I wouldn’t be able to even WALK the thing, let alone run it.  Despite everything, I went home a little earlier, slept a ton, and caught a  Friday late-night plane to Orlando to race.
I had paid the entrance fee, after all.  I might as well go to Disney World, one of my favorite places ever.  The whole reason I signed up for this race in the first place, to be my first half-marathon, was because 1) I wanted to be a princess 2) Since I never ran the distance before, I wouldn’t be self-conscious about my time, and 3) Running through the Magic Kingdom–can it get any more awesome than that?!
So I tried to dispel my worries and went to the Expo (see above).  I still wasn’t feeling well simply walking around, and the race was TOMORROW.  I was more than a tad worried, and kept praying I would at least be able to walk it and not be picked up by the 16-min-per-mile pacers, something I had NEVER worried about while training.
I got some freebies (LUNA bars!  Yogurt!) and gear, including an I DID IT! shirt.  I was dying to wear it.  I knew I had to earn it.  I could only hope that I would.

There was even an awesome running “glass slipper” on display.  I can only say, wow, Disney is so great with attention to detail….

I had to sit down because I started feeling lightheaded and dizzy.  This, in turn, made me freak out even more.  And did I mention I still had a DEEP chest cough?  Nowhere near ready to run the next day.

Even then, as I was feeling pretty crappy, I couldn’t resist posing with Gaston and my “muscled bod.”

After a 3:30 pm dinner (I kid you not, I went to bed at 5 pm…but didn’t fall asleep until 7) at the All Star Movies Resort, my parents and I went to bed.

I have never, ever been in bed that early before.  Even though I was exhausted from the previous week, I tossed and turned (and coughed).  I freaked out around ten pm when I woke up coughing.  Thank goodness I had my inhaler, and that seemed to help the coughing.

With one very early wake-up call, we boarded the buses and headed to the Epcot parking lot!

But not without a few fiascos.  I have read OVER and OVER not to do anything differently from training on the morning before the race.  So I brought peanut butter to eat, and some crackers.  Great.  It was three am–I forced a spoonful down and had to be satisfied that that was all my body would accept, and I counted on the fact that I had eaten well the day before.

Additionally, packing for the race, I planned to wear shorts, a tutu, and a wicking tank top.

It was only about 35 degrees out at 3 am, and would be in the 40s to low 50s all day.

Tank top?  I don’t think so.

Luckily, I had thrown in a shirt I had just bought and still had the tags on at the last second into my suitcase.  Relieved, I went to put it on…and the security tag was still on.  You know, those bulky, ink-filled plastic things cashiers sometimes forget to remove with their handy-dandy machine?

Need I remind you, it was three am on the day of the race.  I certainly wasn’t going back to the store.

Thank goodness that Disney always has places open.  My mom ran to the hotel store and they used their machine–backwards–on my shirt, and it came off after a little finagling.  If they hadn’t, I would’ve frozen!

Now, I had done a lot of reading about what the beginning of this race was like.  With about 19,000 runners, most of them women, things can get a little crazy.  The lines for the Port-A-Potties appeared ridiculous, but I headed toward the back and only waited two minutes.

Aaah, the little things in life.

I was still coughing, but not as much.  It helped that the weather was warmer.

Here I am, all bundled up in my throwaway hoodie (…I still really liked that hoodie, but I was ready to admit it doesn’t fit me anymore).  After the LONG walk (it really was about 15-20 minutes) from the Port-A-Potties, backstage, past MORE Port-A-Potties (if they had come to life, the runners would have had absolutely no chance of escaping the Port-A-Potty army), and finally, I arrived at Corral C.

My mom sneaked in and took a pic while I waited nervously for the start.  I felt very alone and with a bunch of older runners.  There were, oddly enough, quite a few guys in my area, many running with their own princesses.  Awww.

Eventually, my mom left me, and I stretched a little and tried to keep warm.  After the wheelchair start (and each start had fireworks!  How cool was that?!), it was soon time to go.  I expected a crowd, and I thought running the Rock ‘n’ Roll 10k had prepared me for a decent crowd, but nothing like this!  Here’s the crowd right before the starting line:

I started way too fast.  I did my best to keep to the side and let runners pass me, but the crowd swept me up.  I think I covered about an 11:40-12:15 mile pace at first.  Now, that’s plenty normal for me while I was training, but I kept in mind that I was still sick and I wanted to go as slow as possible in the beginning, at least for the first half of the race.

I wanted too badly to finish.

I kept coughing.  I knew I could only use my inhaler twice during the race, so I wanted to wait and use it sparingly.

I was feeling bad at mile 2 and unsure if I would make it.  I decided to take a ton of walk breaks and persist with a slow jog.

It’s worth mentioning all the mile markers were storybook scenes, and very nicely designed.  I enjoyed passing them, and they made each mile more special (after mile 8, every one after that was a new distance PR!).  I also decided to keep my hoodie as long as possible (when I’m warm, I cough less).

Here’s what began my time lapse.  Now, I knew going into this race that I was going to take a ton of pictures (why wear a tutu, after all, if you’re not going to be in photos with it?!).  So, I stopped at the first character stop–Jack Sparrow and a giant pirate ship.

I waited about ten-fifteen minutes in line, and the photo’s still dark because the sun is still not up (My corral start? Approximately 5:57 am).

I also read that this race is all highway. If you are reading this, thinking about doing the Disney Princess Half or the Regular Half, it is!  Still, I entertained myself looking at other people’s costumes, and I’m such a huge Disney geek that I loved running behind the scenes, or  “backstage,” in Disney lingo.

I loved that I have driven this same route a zillion times in my life.

This next photo stop was COMPLETELY worth the wait.  All the princes?  The “smolder” of Flynn Rider?  I was so there.  Did I really have to keep running after this?

Well, yes, I did.  I wasn’t even halfway finished.  But here is one of my favorite, unexpected parts of the race:

That would be running through the Magic Kingdom toll booths.  Really.  I run through TWO theme parks and pass a ton of awesome characters, and one of my favorite parts was a toll booth?

Well, yeah.  The operators (I assume?) were out there, directing people and cheering people on.  As I passed the speed bump, I thought, I am not a car, and that thought kept me amused for a very long time.  Hey, it was only six am, okay?  I am easily amused.

Unexpected moments during a race can be good (tollbooths!)…or bad (I certainly didn’t expect to be sick).  Have you had any unexpected moments in your life lately?
 Non-running related, I ran into my boyfriend the other day in one of the strangest places in an academic building on campus.  Unexpected, but it totally made my day!

I’m on spring break right now!  Woohoo!  If you could take a vacation RIGHT NOW, where would you go?
Well, I’m currently in a beautiful place, so I think I’ll stay right here.  =D