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I am getting all excited just looking through the photos to create this post!  This is my recap of the Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend.  We arrived in Orlando on Thursday, and we made our way over to the Expo after checking in to our hotel.  The weekend had a bit of a rough start, because we had planned to travel to the hotel via the Magical Express, however, when we went downstairs to get on a bus, the sheer amount of people waiting to make that trip the same way was insane.  My husband gauged my mood correctly, and made the suggestion that we take a taxi.  It was not cheap, but then again, nothing really is cheap when you are doing a Disney vacation.  The cost was worth me not getting in a very bad mood waiting for an hour or more to ride a bus to the hotel.

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At the Expo, I did not have a negative experience, the way many of the bloggers who have posted about this Expo have.  I didn’t get there until Thursday afternoon, and therefore was not there for the crush of people at the opening, so it was relatively painless.  I will say, however, there was some merchandise that appears to have been sold out by the time I arrived.  Honestly, I love “stuff” but if it meant getting in the brawl, I will do without.  As seen above, I was able to have a quick meeting with Cinderella’s footmen, they were so regal.

Later that afternoon, we visited Animal Kingdom briefly, before heading to our reservation at Chef Mickey’s.  It was awesome dining with Mickey and friends, and as you can see, I had gotten my nails done in a Minnie Mouse theme, and she was very, very impressed.  Minnie is my favorite of the original Mickey Mouse characters, so I was extremely excited.  Friday brought about a trip to Epcot, which I had never previously been to.  It was awesome!  I did not see everything by any means, but I did not feel any huge need to do so, as we have annual passes and are going back for multiple races.  Friday night, I set out my outfit, and it was time to try to get some sleep in preparation for the Enchanted 10K.

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I did not plan a costume, I decided to just make sure I was comfortable.  I had a pink theme going on which I feel absolutely works with a princess weekend, and I was good with that.  The next morning came early, and we were on a bus to the starting area by around 3:30am.  I have heard various things about the way Disney handles race transportation, so I was a little bit concerned, however, it really did go quite smoothly.  We walked down to the front desk area and got right on a bus.  The walk from the buses to the starting area was a good way to keep warm, and they had lots of music and it was exciting.  There were several areas where you could stand in line to get your picture taken, I think some of those lines had characters at them, however, I was simply too nervous to do so.  As soon as they allowed us to go to our corrals, I headed to my corral.  I had heard the horror stories of the dreaded walk to the corrals, and so I was anxious.  Come to find out, the dreaded walk is only for the half marathon, so I worried (and stood alone for 30 minutes instead of with my husband) for no good reason.  I was in corral E, but there were tons of people in the corrals, and there was probably 10-15 minutes between corrals, so the elite runners were probably getting ready to finish before I even started.

The race itself was unremarkable for the first three miles or so.  I got to see Anna and Elsa on the overpass, and that was kind of cool, and there were character stops, but the lines were too long and I was too worried about not being fast enough, so I didn’t stop.  I mostly tried to relax and take in the moment.  The first three miles that was difficult because there were sooooo many people!  Nobody respected the etiquette rules, I was passed on the left and right (even though I was very much to the right, as walkers are supposed to be) and more than once someone nearly tripped me up.  The people in front of me that I ended up passing didn’t respect etiquette either, often moving in big groups, or walking 3-4 abreast, making it hard to move around them.  Despite all this, I really just wanted to have fun, not be annoyed, so I tried to relax.  Around mile 2, I passed a sweeper bus, just sitting there, but there were actually a lot of people on it, who I guess, for whatever reason, were quitting.  It was not a point of actually being swept when I passed it, but it was clearly poised for action.  It made me a little nervous just seeing it, however, there were hundreds of people behind me so I just kept on moving.

Once we entered Epcot, I was so excited!  The race changed dramatically for me, and I was super pumped!  Even the backstage areas were infusing me with that Disney magic, and I was happy.  The last 3 miles of the 6.2 mile race were amazing.  I LOVED it and cannot say enough about it!  When I finished, I felt so good, and I was totally excited about running the next day!  I collected my medal, met up with my very encouraging husband, and we were off to enjoy the parks, starting with breakfast with the Princesses.

We enjoyed ourselves, I was so happy, and we headed to bed relatively early.  This is where I will mention the hotel stay.  We had chosen to try to be economical, and we chose to stay at the Disney All Star Movies Resort.  I was not happy.  We were in a room quite far from the front desk, our room, while clean, really was in need of updating.  The fan in our bathroom would stick in the ON position after the housekeeper put it on, every single day, after we turned it off, afraid of breaking the timer switch every day.  The air conditioning locks out at 68 degrees.  This might not seem like a big deal to the average person, however, when I am staying at a hotel, I really like to be able to bundle up and like the temperature to be around 66.  Those two degrees coupled with the humidity of Florida were really annoying.  I just didn’t feel the Disney Magic at the All Star Resorts.  I have stayed at them before with no complaints, so perhaps my standards have just changed over the years, but before we even left Orlando, I changed our reservation for the April trip, and we will be staying at Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa in a one bedroom villa.  I was sold when I saw the whirlpool soaking tub, and we got a decent rate based upon the passholder discount.  My husband agreed, and we will be staying at the nicer resorts for all future visits.

Anyway, so heading into the half marathon morning, I really didn’t get the greatest night’s sleep because the bed really was not comfortable, but I still arose in good spirits, ready for the day’s excitement!  After all, we had sprung for the Race Retreat for both myself and my husband, and I was about to get to run a race through Cinderella’s Castle and run down Main Street!  What!?!  I had been looking forward to and planning for this for months and months.  Then I took a step out of the bed.  Heh.  I had a nasty pain on the outside of my foot, between my ankle and my heel.  I tried to stay positive, I got dressed, and I thought, I will just stretch it out and walk it off.  As we were walking towards the bus to head to the starting area, the pain intensified, to the point I was unable to walk without a limp.  I was starting to get worried, but I still was hoping I could walk and stretch it off.  I will not continue to belabor the point, but ultimately, I decided not to participate.  I was unable to walk without a limp no matter how hard I tried, and I knew that would mean there was no way I could keep up with the 16 minute mile pace, and getting swept would have been heartbreaking to me.  I don’t want to take anything away from individuals who do not complete the course and still decide to take the medal being swept, that is their choice, but for me, if I don’t earn the medal, I don’t want it.

I tried not to let it get me too down, I was very disappointed, and my foot hurt, but we did finish out our vacation with some time in the parks.  I didn’t walk much, Sometimes I just sat and let my Disney nerd husband go off on his own, and twice I returned to the hotel and rested while he stayed and did some things he found enjoyable, and I was very happy for him to be able to do that.  I just kept reminding myself I have more races coming, and not doing the race and risking serious injury for trying was the smart thing to do.

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Overall, this was an amazing first runDisney experience, even with the disappointment of not getting to do the Half Marathon and complete the Glass Slipper Challenge.  I am super excited to return in April for the Dark Side Challenge, and I am keeping positive thoughts that I will be able to complete the challenge.  I am more prepared, we have made rookie mistakes (hello Magical Express, Disney All Star Resorts) and I fully expect our next runDisney adventure will be even more magical, and full of pixie dust!

 

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Tonight, after work and after the Gators nearly made me open that Italian moscato d’asti hanging out in my refrigerator, I went out for my weekly outside run.  Last week, I ran a 5K in 58:34.  I was attempting to do 1:1 run:walk intervals, but I found that very difficult, and I skipped a couple (several) of the running intervals.  I did a little bit more reading, and I found where many people were able to achieve better results by altering their run walk ratio.  I decided to give it a shot, and it was amazing how much better things went.  I felt stronger, and that in turn made me go faster, and so on.  I switched to a 30 second run: 90 second walk pattern, and voila!

IMG_3526Almost 5 full minutes off my time in 1 week!  Obviously this was not because of someone sprinkling pixie dust on my admittedly gorgeous hot pink New Balances, the run/walk ratio just fit me better.  Not only do I think the time I was running was faster, but I was able to walk faster as well.  The boost I got mentally from not having to skip any of the running intervals was noticable.  I would rather run shorter time and feel successful than struggle with running longer time and feel discouraged.

FullSizeRenderHubby and I really did feel great doing this together.  We don’t really talk, but it is really helpful to have him right there with me, believing in me, and supporting me.  He has issues with the anatomy of his knees, so running is definitely my thing, but he is hanging in there with me for now, just to be the amazing man and husband he is best at being!  I do realize as my training starts to kick up and I have to run longer distances, he might not be able to stay with me because of his physical issues but I wouldn’t be able to accomplish half the things I do without his support and belief in me.  Sometimes, I think he believes in me more than I believe in myself.

In terms of my splits, the first mile was 16:35, the second mile was 16:55, and the third mile was 16:42.  This was fairly equal, so I am happy with that.  We are running on the sidewalk around where we live, and there are some slight hills, so I think we kept a pretty steady pace.  The very best part of all of this is my first Disney race is still 144 days away, I am at the beginning of my training, and I am already close to the 16 min/mile pace I have to maintain.  I am encouraged that with continued training and weight loss, I will be properly prepared, and I am so excited!

Now, if anyone wants to help me try to convince my husband I should sign up for this on October 6th, I would appreciate it!

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This past weekend, the Disneyland Half Marathon was held at Disneyland/in Anaheim, CA.  I was pouring over the various runner’s blogs I like to read, anxious for any race recaps or photos I could get my virtual hands on.  It was during this weekend I realized I am done.  There is no hope for me, I am addicted to runDisney.

All of this really started back in July when my husband and I agreed we wanted to lose weight, get healthy and be more physically fit.  We are both in our 40’s, and we want to be able to enjoy the second half of our lives to the best of our ability.  I am nearly six years out from a serious breast cancer diagnosis (stage IIIb), graduated from a master’s program and transitioned from a registered nurse to a nurse practitioner a year ago.  I have raised three young men and helped raise a young lady into adulthood.  We started going to the gym and I started thinking I would really like to be a runner.  It was time.

As a teenager, I wanted to be a runner.  I used to watch some of my friends and classmates run effortlessly, and I was jealous.  You see, I was blessed (really?) with very large breasts.  Running was a painful endeavor, and not something I enjoyed, and that was primarily due to my anatomy.  There really weren’t enough sports bras in Upstate New York to hold those puppies down!  Fast forward 30ish years, and now I do not have that particular issue.  When you deal with a life-threatening illness like breast cancer, and you have to have a double mastectomy, you deal with that how you can.  I like to look on the bright side of things, and voila! Bright side!  I could theoretically become a runner now!

I started slowly (who am I kidding, I am still moving slowly) and followed the Couch to 5K app on my phone for a few weeks.  I have a trainer at the gym and did some metabolic testing, and she tweaked my running intervals some, and on I ran.  Now, I am running 3 days per week using run-walk-run-walk intervals, and walking another 3 days per week.  I am becoming a runner!

So, I am the kind of person who needs goals.  I have to be working towards something that is significant enough to help me overcome obstacles and days when I just feel like lying in bed watching Netflix and seeing how infrequently I can get up to use the bathroom.  This is no easy task for anyone, but I had made the commitment to myself.  I started browsing running stuff on the internet, and I ended up on the runDisney website.  I LOVE all things Disney, as does my husband.  Disney World was where I had my second date with my husband.  The Magic Kingdom opened the year I was born, and I am pretty sure for the first 18 years of my life, I went at least once a year.  I thought to myself, A half marathon though?  Aren’t you getting a little carried away?  Well, of course I was, but no, that was not good enough.  In true Julie style (jumping in head first) I decided to do the Disney Princess Half Marathon Glass Slipper Challenge.  This means I will run the Disney Enchanted 10K on Saturday and the Disney Princess Half Marathon on Sunday.  Yeah, you haven’t met me, but if you had, you wouldn’t be surprised.

Now on to the reason I have started this blog.  As I will discuss in coming weeks, I am committed to participating in runDisney events, more than just a one and done approach.  Currently I am also signed up to run the Pixie Dust Challenge at the Tinkerbell Half Marathon in May 2016, and I am going to sign up for the Rebel Challenge at the Star Wars Half Marathon – The Dark Side in April 2016.  I am obsessed with running Disney!  In order to fuel my obsession, I scour the internet looking for blogs written by people who have run or are planning to run at Disney events.  I have come across some really good ones, and I feel inspired to track my own journey with a blog, and maybe even give someone else some inspiration along the way!

Plentyofpixiedust.com was born today, and the name was chosen because I love when Peter Pan tells Wendy and the other children all they need to fly is faith, trust, and a little pixie dust.  All things considered, I figure when you are an overweight, middle-aged breast cancer survivor, you might need plenty of pixie dust!  I plan to write about my running progress, races, Disney, and my weight loss.  No doubt for me, the highlights will be runDisney events.  I am eagerly counting down the days (163) until I am living the magic and I will be able to blog about my own experiences.  Come fly with me!