Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Happy Birthday to my Blog + A Giveaway!

Sunday as I was lounging around the house, I started thinking about my next blog post and I realized that the first post I did was close to a year ago.  I went back to the beginning and saw that my first post was a year ago today...March 26th, so Happy Birthday to my blog!

You've probably noticed that my blog also has a new look!  I've been wanting to do this for awhile, and what better time for a fresh new look than today!  I want to give a big thanks to Bethi over at Disney Mommi for helping me out with it.  I love it and hope you do, too! Let me know what you think!

Remember in my race recap of the Georgia Publix half marathon when I asked if you liked my headband?  Well...I have a giveaway for you!

The awesome duo behind Running Happy, Darlena and Cara, sent me one of their Happy Bands to review.  The one they sent me was a fun green with white polka dots - perfect to wear during my half marathon on St. Patrick's day!

I have a hard time finding a head band that will stay on my head, but this one stayed put during the whole race! (Not to mention that they're super cute)

Running Happy is giving one lucky reader their choice of a Happy Band!  The giveaway will end at 11:59pm on Sunday, March 31th and the winner will be announced on Monday, April 1st (and that's not a joke!)
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Check out Running Happy's Facebook page as well!

Until next time,

Jen

I was not compensated for this review.  Running Happy provided me the headband but all reviews and opinions are my own.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Looks like Dopey is Official!

The Dopey Challenge is coming to Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend, January 8-12, 2014!




Straight from the runDisney site -
Are you ready for the ultimate endurance challenge? Then take part in four days of fun for a total of 48.6 miles in the all-new Dopey Challenge! Participants will run the 5K, 10K, Half Marathon and Marathon, and if you complete all four races within the pacing requirements you will be awarded the Goofy Race and a Half Challenge medal and the brand new Dopey Challenge finisher medal for a total of six pieces of "bling."

Here are the price tags for this ultimate race weekend -

Entry Fees and Deadliness
Walt Disney World® Marathon

$160 by June 18, 2013
$175 between June 19, 2013 and August 13, 2013
$190 on or after August 14, 2013

Walt Disney World® Half Marathon

$160 by June 18, 2013
$175 between June 19, 2013 and August 13, 2013
$190 on or after August 14, 2013

Goofy's Race and a Half Challenge

$340 by June 18, 2013
$370 between June 19, 2013 and August 13, 2013
$400 on or after August 14, 2013

Walt Disney World® 10K

$95 by June 18, 2013
$110 between June 19, 2013 and August 13, 2013
$125 on or after August 14, 2013

Disney Family Fun Run 5K
$60 per participant

Dopey Challenge
$495 by June 18, 2013
$525 between June 19, 2013 and August 13, 2013
$555 on or after August 14, 2013

runDisney Kids Races
$15 per child

Mickey Mile
$30 per child

Race Retreat Packages

$120 Half Marathon Package
$120 Full Marathon Package
$200 Goofy's Challenge Package

Will you be participating?

Until next time,

Jen

Georgia Publix Half Marathon Expo & Race recap

This past weekend I ran my second half marathon....just 3 weeks after my first one.  A little crazy?  Maybe...

I got to the expo Saturday morning as soon as it opened to beat the crowds.  I also wanted to get my knees taped up by the fabulous people at the KT Tape booth, and their line tends to get long as the day goes by.  After getting taped, I picked up my race packet and meandered around the expo for awhile.  I had plans to meet up with a couple of Twitter friends at the runDisney booth, so I had some time to kill.

While waiting for them, I stopped and chatted with Dane from See Dane Run.  He ran 52 marathons in 52 weeks, all while working a full time job!  Now running is not only a job, but a passion for him.  He was a lot of fun to talk to, and I bought one of his books.  If you're reading this, hey Dane!
I met Jenn and Patrick, a couple of Team #runDisney members for a quick picture at the runDisney booth -
And stopped off at the Spartan Race booth for some fun!
Once we were done checking out the expo, we headed to Antico Pizza for some lunch and lots of laughs. 
Now...for RACE DAY!!

I got to the World of Coca-Cola at around 6 a.m. to get a group picture with the members of Team #runDisney before the race.  I headed into the park and ran into Ramona and her boyfriend and chatted with them for awhile before heading to my starting corral.  As I was walking that way, I ran into Leigh, a Twitter friend, and we decided to start the race together.

The race started, and we headed down through Georgia State University's campus.  We got close to mile 2 and I had to make a bathroom stop, so Leigh went ahead and I told her I would catch up.  The crowd support was awesome throughout the whole race.  I kept plugging along and made it to the Jackson Street Bridge and got the money shot of the day-
Soon we passed Ebenezer Baptist Church and The King Center -
I loved the different neighborhoods that the course took us through.  The Old Fourth Ward was probably one of my favorite cheer stations.  They had some pretty awesome signs -
 We ran into Inman Park followed by Little 5 Points -
Something new to the course (and new to me) were food stations.  There were two along the half marathon course, and the first one had Jelly Belly jelly beans!  Don't mind if I do!
By this time (just before mile 6) I had FINALLY caught up with Leigh!  We started talking and came to find out that she used to live in the same town I grew up in, AND I graduated with her sister-in-law.  What a small world!
I made sure to go the right way!!  We kept chugging along, talking the whole way.  It was nice to have some company.  It was around this time that my feet started to hurt...when we got near and into Piedmont Park.  (The same thing happened to me during the Princess half marathon!).  Going through the park was nice, and CBS Atlanta had a well manned cheer and water station.  Once we got out of Piedmont Park, O.M.G.  It was almost all uphill for the rest of the race!
Shortly after, we got onto the Georgia Tech campus.  Too bad I wasn't wearing my UGA gear...I'm sure that would have gone over well.  We passed Bobby Dodd stadium and some other Tech landmarks that I'm not familiar with :)
Just before their water station was another food station, this time with M&M's.  I grabbed a cup as well as some water and Powerade (I did this at just about every station to make sure I stayed hydrated).  I've gotta give it to the Techies...they had a good cheer section.
Leigh caught up to me here (I had run ahead just before Piedmont Park) and I could barely keep up with her walking...my feet were killing me!!  We came up on a photo op and had a little fun-
I was shooting for a 3 hour finish, but with the hills, hardly any runs between the Princess half and this one, and my feet killing me, I knew it wasn't going to happen.  The hubby texted me and told me to let him know when I was rounding the corner to finish.  The rest of the way to the finish was uphill, so I decided to walk and conserve my energy so I could run to the finish line.

As I turned the corner to the finish I started looking for the hubby and found him...he was videoing me finishing the race. :)  He snagged this picture from the video -
As I headed to the finish I picked up to a sprint and passed a few people just before the finish line - I actually really like my finisher photo!
I had done it...finished my second half marathon AND have a new PR - 3:18!  That's a 19 minute PR off of the Princess half, and I know I can do better.  Now I have a new goal!

Leigh and Marie waited for me at the finish (they finished a couple of minutes ahead of me) and we went to get our medals, water, and chocolate milk.
The hubby found me, and we made a quick stop by the Information Tent so I could exchange my race shirt - they gave me the wrong size by mistake at packet pick up, and the shirt ran SUPER small!  Then we walked toward the food tent where we ran into Patrick and some other Team #runDisney members, so we decided to get another picture, complete with our finisher medals.
Overall, I really enjoyed this race.  It was well organized, the course was great, and I hope to get revenge on it next year and tackle those hills!






Like my headband?  Look for a giveaway this weekend and you could win one!

Until next time,

Jen







Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Dirty Girl Mud Run

I am so excited to be a blogger ambassador for the Dirty Girl Mud Run here in Atlanta next month!






Haven't heard about this before?  Kind of wary about doing an obstacle course mud run?  This particular one is a 5k for women only!  It's an untimed obstacle course for women of all ages and athletic abilities, so it's perfect for those that want to see what it's all about without the competitive edge that some of the other mud runs have.

You make your way through about 12 obstacles, and if you feel you're unable to complete one, no worries!  You can take one of their adventure race detours.  Many women form a team, and some go solo, but no matter which you decide, you'll feel a sense of camaraderie throughout the course.  Take a look at some of the obstacles here.  Come ready to get down and dirty!

The dates for the Atlanta run are April 20-21, and it will be held at Lake Lanier Islands.  I will be participating on April 20th in the 9:30 wave.  Haven't signed up yet but want to?  Use the code DGATLBLOGGUEST to receive a 20% discount off of your registration! (This is only good for the Atlanta event)

If this is your first mud run, here are a few things I learned after my first one -

**Bring a towel and change of clothes (unless you plan on riding in the back of a truck on the way home)
**Don't bring jeans to change into...shorts are much easier to get on
**Wear capris or something that covers your knees and shins...I still have bruises and scrapes from the Spartan Race
**Wear old shoes that you don't mind getting dirty...I have a pair of shoes set aside for mud runs
**Baby wipes are great for getting mud off of you!
**Bring a trash bag to throw your muddy clothes in

I hope you'll consider joining me in Atlanta for what will be a fun and muddy day!

Have you done a mud run before?  Any additional tips?

Until next time,

Jen

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Biggest Loser Run/Walk Challenge Recap

A couple of months back, I was contacted by Christina from The Biggest Loser Run/Walk Challenge to see if I would be interested in participating at their Georgia event.  I jumped at the opportunity and am so glad that I did.

The Biggest Loser Run/Walk Challenge is designed to be a non-intimidating race series to get America off the couch and moving.  They have a variety of different races - 5ks, 10k, half marathons, and the off-road challenge, which is what I participated in.

After doing some research I realized that the course was the Spartan Race!  I got a little intimidated but went into it to have a good time.  Participating in the Biggest Loser Run/Walk Challenge allows participants to maneuver through the Spartan course, try the obstacles without paying the Spartan penalty of 30 burpees for not completing one! (We could if we wanted to though)

We got to the Georgia International Horse Park (where the race was being held), checked in and got my bib and t-shirt, and walked over to the Biggest Loser Run/Walk Challenge tent.  They had a private gear check for just us as well as snacks, heaters, and private changing tents.  It was nice not to have to share with the Spartans!
Everyone was hanging out, chatting, talking about their transformations and success stories - it was a great atmosphere to be in!

About 15 minutes before our heat, Dan and Jackie Evans (Season 5) and Lauren Lee (Season 13) gave us all a pep talk about what to expect from the course.  They also recognized everyone that had lost weight.
See the guy in the foreground?  He started his journey at over 600 pounds and is now down into the 200s!!  It can be done with diet and exercise people!
Group picture before the race!
Soon after, we all headed to the start line to begin our heat.  I was running alone, but Jessica came to be my own personal photographer and cheerleader!
Our wave started, and we were off!  I didn't take my phone on the course and I'm so glad that I didn't...there was quite a bit of water and I had to use my hands for a lot of obstacles, so I'm going off memory of what we did since Spartan does not post their obstacles on their website!

The first one was an easy up and over those plastic roadside baracades into ankle deep puddles of water.  The next one was an under-over-under-over-under (get all that?).  Then we ran down a trail and trekked through a small stream.  At this point in the course we saw a paralyzed man that was making his way through.  What an inspiration!  He was a rockstar!

It was about this time that I made friends with some other Bigger Loser Run/Walk participants - Amanda and Brian.  We stuck together for the rest of the race.

After this obstacle, I have a hard time remembering what came next.  I know we did an up-over-through obstacle, and the log hops (logs sticking up from the ground that we had to make our way across).  At this point of the course we got back to the spectator area and made our way up the cargo net (one of my favorite parts!)

video
After the cargo net was the "crab crawl on a wall" (well...that's what I call it).  There were small pieces of wood that you had to balance on and make it all the way across...super hard!  After this obstacle we had our first water stop, then the tire flip.

After the tire flip we came up on some mounds of Georgia Red Clay!  We climbed up to the stop and slid down into some pretty chilly water....and did it two more times!  After this, we had to pull up a large cement block and let it down slowly, and then (I believe) were the monkey bars followed by a steep climb up a hill!

Some of the other obstacles included carrying a sandbag up and down a hill, getting over two 7' walls and one 8' wall, dragging a cement block down a hill and then back up, and a spear throw (I don't remember the order of these so please forgive me!)

Then, we came onto the home stretch.  The first obstacle we stumbled upon was a rope climb...that started in knee deep muddy water!  I don't have much upper body strength as it is, so you add the water element and it was next to impossible for me to even attempt this!
After the rope climb we rolled through some mud and under a barbed wire fence.  Then, made our way up an inclined piece of wood using a rope.  It was pretty slick with all the muddy and wet Spartans that had gone before us!

Once we got past this obstacle, it was a LONG roll in the mud under more barbed wire to the finish!
Then under a bridge where spectators were standing.  Hi Jessica!
A little more rolling, and then onto the Gladiators! (He had nothing on me)
And then I crossed the finish line!  We were given our Biggest Loser Run/Walk Challenge medal, and I got a picture with my new friends!
Then, of course, I had to get Jessica to take one of me alone :)
We headed over to the "showers" (aka freezing cold water out of water hoses) so I could rinse off the best that I could, then back to our tent where I could change and grab a snack and water...I was starving!

I got a few minutes to chat with Jackie, and she is so incredibly nice and inspiring.  She lost over 80 pounds while on the show and has kept it off.  She looks amazing!  I didn't get much time to talk to Dan and Lauren but I did get a picture with the three of them.
A few things that I learned during my first mud run -
1.  Don't bring jeans to change into after the run - you will feel gritty and gross in them.  Shorts are better.
2.  Be prepared to throw away your socks.  I saw no need to keep them!
3.  Bring a towel and baby wipes - much easier to "bathe" yourself after the race
4. Wear tighter fitting clothing - cotton gets really heavy when it gets wet
5.  Don't expect not to get muddy - it's awesome!

I had an absolutely amazing time at this race!  Knowing that it was untimed and getting to check out the Spartan race course made it way less intimidating, especially since this was my first mud run.  It did make me want to come back next year and get that Spartan medal, too!  I definitely recommend checking out the Biggest Loser Run/Walk Challenge to see if there's an event near you!  Jessica has already said she wants to do it next year!

Have you done a mud run?  What piece of advice would you give a first timer?

Don't forget that the Season Finale of "The Biggest Loser" is Monday, March 18th!  Don't miss it!

Until next time,

Jen

Disclaimer: I was given free race entry through Girls Gone Sporty and the Biggest Loser Run/Walk Challenge.  I was not compensated for this post.  All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Disney Princess Half Marathon - Part 2

If you missed my other recaps, you can find them here!

Disney's Fit For A Princess Expo - Day 1
Disney's Fit For A Princess Expo - Day 2
Disney Princess Half Marathon - Part 1

And now...the conclusion of my first half marathon!

Once I sent Amanda ahead, I stopped at a medical tent for some Biofreeze and kept on going.  I finally began to follow my run/walk intervals when we came to the halfway point.

A couple of weeks before the race runDisney asked on the Facebook page what song you wanted to hear at that halfway mark.  People gave recommendations, and about a week before the race, the final choices were posted for everyone to vote.  I didn't really have a preference, but the winner was "Girl on Fire" by Alicia Keys.

I even decided to take a little video clip of the halfway point -
video
When I got to mile 7, I decided to text Sharon to see how far back she was.  She was only about half a mile, so I decided to wait on her so we could run together for a bit.  We started off and in the sea of people almost immediately got separated.  Amanda had texted me earlier to let me know Lilo and Stitch were close to mile 8, and since it's one of my favorite movies AND having just gotten home from a 2 week Hawaiian vacation, I wanted to get a picture with them.
Giving the "shaka"
Shortly after I saw Genie from "Aladdin", and since he didn't have a long line I jumped in for another photo op -
Between miles 8 and 9, an accordian club was playing some fun tunes.
After the water station at mile 9, I saw this, and it just cracked me up-
My dear friend, Jessica, had big plans to come down and watch me run, but it didn't work out that way, but she followed me through the texts from the runner tracking and texted me words of encouragement, so I sent her this lovely picture of me in return -
At mile 10 I believe I hit my "wall".  My feet were absolutely killing me, it hurt to run, and I felt so incredibly sluggish.  BUT...I kept telling myself "You only have a 5k left...you can do this"  And, of course, at mile 10 is the dreaded on ramp that you have to climb.  The Green Army dude from "Toy Story" was there helping the Princesses stay motivated to get up the ramp.  Honestly, I didn't think it was too bad.  Even if I wanted to run up it I couldn't...there were sooooo many other Princesses!!
The Princesses behind me!
Running on the overpass was actually a lot of fun.  Car after car of people driving into the parks were honking their horns and shouting words of encouragement.  I'm really glad I decided to run without my headphones!  We came to mile 11...not much further!  We were right outside Epcot and a very animated DJ was rocking some tunes and chatting it up on the microphone.  I ran by and saw Mulan and Mushu, and since the line wasn't long and I was almost done, I stopped for another picture!
As I mentioned before, one of my favorite things about the race was looking at all the awesome signs made by the spectators.  This one, just past mile 12, was one of my absolute favorites -
When we got behind the scenes at Epcot I knew we were sooooo close!  At the last water stop, I saw Sharon, sprinted up to her and said "We're finishing this race together!"  We were both in pain at our feet, so we decided to walk a majority of the way and save our energy to run across that finish line.  I saw Pinocchio and had to get a picture with him....but not before the Cast Member that was with him took one of himself with my phone :)
Thanks, random CM!
As we made our way to the edge of World Showcase and looped back around, that Epcot ball never looked so good.
We went to the right of the ball and saw the gospel choir - that's your signal that you're in the home stretch!!
At this point I texted J and tell him we were almost done!  He texted back to let me know where he and D were standing, and Sharon spotted them out.  They had huge grins on their faces (hopefully because they were proud of us?) and so did we.  We rounded that last turn and saw the finish line!!  As we crossed we hugged...we had done it!  We were half marathoners!  The volunteer put that beautiful medal around my neck and we walked to the area where they were handing out water and Powerade, then went to get our finisher pictures made.

We grabbed our runDisney snack box and went to find the boys. 

We hung out for awhile and I decided to take a seat on the ground to change out of my shoes and just relax.  J snapped this (cute) picture of me -
As we went to head back to the resort, i saw that Snow White was out taking pictures.  Of course, I had to get my picture made with her seeing as I chose to dress up as her!  J stood in the bus line and waited for me.  She complimented me on my sparkly skirt as we took a picture (for whatever reason the picture the CM took with my phone is really washed out - will have to post the pro pictures when I buy them).

We headed back to the resort to shower, pack up, grab some lunch, and head to the airport.  I was a little bummed to have to leave so soon, but the overall weekend was something that I will never forget.

On the way home, I sported my awesome new Team Sparkle shirt and my gorgeous new bling.  While the first half of the shirt might not be accurate (yet), I definitely kick ass.


I had such an amazing time doing the Princess half marathon as my first.  Will I do it again?  Hard to say - there are so many other awesome races that runDisney puts on that I want to do first, but maybe in a few years.  My next runDisney race(s) will be the Dumbo Double Dare in August.  I've never been to Disneyland before, so I plan to take it all in, check out the parks and see how it sizes up to Walt Disney World.  Maybe I'll see some of you there!

Before I end this post, I want to say thank you to my husband, Sharon, Amanda, my fellow Sweat Pink, Girls Gone Sporty, and Energybit amabassadors, my friends, my family, fellow bloggers, and you...my readers.  This journey wouldn't have been as memorable had it not been for all of you.  I hope that you'll stick around to see what happens in the next chapter of my running career, because I'm not ready to hang up my shoes yet...I'm just getting started!

Until next time,

Jen