Sunday, February 27, 2011

Sports Enthusiast for Disney Princess Half Marathon

That was me and my mom, along with 1400 other volunteers, this morning for the Walt Disney World Princess Half Marathon.  Disney always does things big and this race was no exception.  There were over 16,000 "princesses" (and a few "princes") running this race through the back roads and parks of Disney World.  

Usually I write about running a race, but today my mom and I volunteered as members of the Information Team and got to experience a race from a different point of view.  Our shift was from 2 - 7 AM, so it was an early morning.  I got in bed around 7:30 PM last night and read a little of the current book I am reading, Fly Away Home.  I had some difficulty falling asleep, but finally around 9 PM I was out.  I just got a few hours of sleep before my alarm beeped at 12:30 AM.  Oh boy was I tired; I really did not want to get up.  After dragging my feet out of the bed I got dressed, grabbed some snacks, and double checked that I had my credentials and we were out the door at 1 AM.  
There was not much traffic at that time of night, besides people heading home from parties, so we got there pretty fast.  We checked in and got our t-shirt and snack bag before loading onto the buses.  After a short ride, we filed out of the buses and headed to our respective volunteer zones.  They had some coffee, hot chocolate, and tea set up for volunteers so I went to grab a cup of tea to help wake me up.  As I was pouring the hot water though I accidently touched it and burned the tip of my finger - it was certainly hot!  I picked the English Breakfast Tea, but it wasn't what I wanted.  I was hoping for a different taste, so I chunked it. I should have gotten the hot chocolate!  Oh well, next time I know.

Our location was in the main staging area by the information tent.  Upon arrival we were given the details of what our job entailed and were outfitted with papers, pins for running bigs, D-tag clips, candy, an orange "Ask Me" apron, and a light up Mickey Sorcerer hat.  

Our group then dispersed into the open area as the runners and spectators began to arrive around 3:30 AM.  It was great to see how everyone dressed up for the race.  There were lots of tutus, fairy wings, tiaras, and Disney character costumes.  Lots of first timers run this race so I offered encouragement and well wishes to a few nervous runners.  I also answered lots of questions about where the corrals were, where the port-o-lets were, if I could take their picture, where the finish line was, where to get to the spectating areas, pretty much the logistics of how things were going to run for the day.  Wearing the big hat and orange apron certainly caught people's eye - I was even asked to pose for a picture with one of the runners!  

Being a runner in the half this past January and a spectator during my mom's full was helpful in being a volunteer because I knew where things were and good spectating locations.  It was a busy morning, but I really had a great time talking with and helping all of the guests.  

Once the runners were in their corrals it quieted down a bit so I snacked on a Peanut Butter Clif Crunch bar.  These things are so darn good.  They have a great peanut butter flavor and a nice granola crunch to them.  I also munched on some apple slices. 

In the staging area they had a jumbo-tron so we got to watch each corral start the race with the wave of the Fairy Godmother's magic wand - there were fireworks and all in true Disney fashion.  We continued to direct several more spectators to the monorail and finish line as the sun started to rise.  Have you heard the saying "It is coldest before dawn?"  Well it really is.  The temperature was comfortable most of the morning, but just before the sun came out it got much cooler.  I tried to keep walking around to help keep me warm.  Soon after the sky became lighter our shift was over just in time to see the first "princess" cross the finish line.  She finished around 1 hour 22 minutes with loud cheers and a burst of confetti.  
Then we headed backstage to get back on a bus.  When we returned to the volunteer tent we received our free Disney ticket for volunteering.  If we ever get a free park ticket we like to hold on to it and use it when family comes into town.  

Andy, my step-dad, was nice enough to have breakfast ready when we got home.  I had a spinach, cheese, and tomato scramble and some hash browns.  I was pretty much exhausted from our long morning so I headed upstairs to take a nap.  Unfortunately, I didn't get to sleep as long as I wanted because one of our cats, Callie, decided to jump on the bed, meow, and wait by my pillow.  I got up and decided to get in my cross-training for the day so I headed out for a simple bike ride through the neighborhood.  This coming Saturday I have nine miles to tackle.  After being at the race today it made me even more excited about the IronGirl Half Marathon coming up in April!  

I loved volunteering at race and it something I will definitely do again.  
Congratulations to all of the runners who completed the Princess Half this morning- you all rock! 

Have you ever volunteered to help with a race? Did you participate in the Princess Half this year?   

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

IronGirl Half Marathon Training & Volunteering

Today was the first meeting of Girls on the Run.  I am the assistant coach and will be there once or twice a week.  Today was all about getting to know each by doing some fun movement activities.  We have a small group, but all of the girls are great.  I am so excited to be apart of this organization and I think we are going to have an amazing ten weeks!

I am into week four of my half marathon training. 

 Easy 3 mi
35 mins Yoga Meltdown
Speed Workout 4 mi: 1 mi w/ 1/2 mi rest x2
45 mins Kettlebell & Just Dance
Long 5 miles
Easy 4 mi
35 mins Yoga Meltdown
Tempo Workout 4 mi 2 mi @ tempo
Long 6 miles
30 mins walk
Easy 4 mi
50 mins Shred It w/ Weights & Sprints
Tempo Workout 4 mi 2 mi @ tempo
Long 7 miles
30 mins Kettlebell
Easy 2 mi
35 mins Six Pack Abs
Speed Workout 4 mi: 1 mi w/ 1/2 mi rest x2
XT 30 mins
Long 4 miles

I combined the Runner's World Smart Coach plan and Marathoning for Mortals plan to create this one.  This training is a bit different from what I did for my first half, because this time I am working on building my speed and making sure to get more strength training in.  So far things have been going well.  After plugging in my race times into the Smart Coach I have an estimate as to what speed each of my runs should be.  With my previous plan I was just running, which ended up working out fine, but this time I am making sure to watch my pace during the different runs.  This has taken some getting used to because the long runs are supposed to be done 30 seconds to 1.5 minutes slower than your usual runs so you can have more time on your feet.  The speed and tempo workouts are new to me as well because in my last plan I was just doing some sprint/stride drills.  These workouts are definitely tough, but I know they are improving my speed.  Plus I always feel pretty good about myself when I finish a strong workout!

I have also started some kettlebell workouts.  We bought Bob Harper's Contoured Kettlebell which came with a short workout DVD.  The workout is quite different than anything I have done before and works muscles I didn't even know I had.  I was sore for about three days after the workout and the soreness finally subsided when I did the workout again.  I have done it a few times since without any issues.  I really like the kettlebell because it is just a little bit different than hand weights and helps you work different muscles.  I also tried Jillian Michaels Shred It with Weights and her 6 Week Six-Pack thanks to ExerciseTV on Demand.  They were both intense workouts and I sweat a ton doing both.  I like mixing in a few different activities throughout the weeks, especially new or different workouts.

Also this upcoming weekend my mom and I are volunteering for the Disney Princess Half Marathon that is happening this weekend.  The council director for GOTR works with the volunteer program at Disney and mentioned that volunteers were needed for the race so I offered to sign up.  We are apart of the Information Team and are there to answer any questions runners may have.  Our shift starts at 2AM so it will be an early morning.  We will be in the first holding area of the race, before you head to the corrals, so if you are running the race you should stop and say hi (we are wearing big Mickey Sorcerer hats and orange aprons).

Are you a fan of workout DVDs?  Which ones are your favorite?  Anyone running the Disney Princess Half this weekend?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Traveling, Birthdays, Family, and Food

Let's go back to Thursday - my actual birth day.  By the time I woke up I was already 23.  My morning began with a few phone calls and texts from friends and family.  Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on how I look at it, there were no sub jobs available so I got to spend the day at home.  My day consisted of catching up with shows on the DVR and making lots of sweet treats.  I made snickerdoodle cookies, rice krispie treats, and an orange cake.  They were for my siblings who we were going to see the next day.   
For my birthday dinner we had steak, homemade french fries, and asparagus - some of my favorite foods - it was a fabulous dinner!  Of course, a birthday is not complete without birthday cake.  I asked for a chocolate cake with raspberry jelly filling and cream cheese frosting.  Mom and Andy (my step-dad) made it happen with a delicious homemade cake.  Truth be told the cake was made the night before so I had a piece then.  On my birthday night I enjoyed it with some ice cream.  Perfect.

As for birthday gifts I got some money to contribute to my Chicago move savings, some iTunes money, and a Terramundi money pot.  My sister got one several years ago and I have wanted once since.  It is colorful piggy bank with a twist.  With the first coin you put in you also write down a desire you have on sheet of paper.  Filled with coins the pot can hold more than $500.  When it is full you are supposed to smash the pot and use the money on "good things."  I can't tell you what my desire is, but I can't wait to fill it and break the pot open! 

Friday my mom and I decided to get our long runs out of the way for the weekend, so we got up early and headed out.  She passed me when I was a little over halfway as she was finishing her last mile.  After showering and some last minute packing we got in the car and were on our way to South Carolina.  We arrived in Charleston that afternoon to see my sister, Caroline, and we were very hungry.  We munched on some snacks in the car, but were so ready to eat when we pulled up to her apartment.  We headed to a great local place called Five Loaves Cafe.  They use natural, organic, and local food in all of their meals.  Caroline and I went in December when I had a great chicken sandwich and black bean soup.  I had a hard time making a decision this time, but went with the chicken parmesan.  It was just OK.  Caroline got a sandwich and salad and mom got a chicken salad sandwich and potato soup.  I tried the soup and it was fabulous.  They definitely make good food I think I just got the wrong thing.  
After dinner we walked down to Cupcake.  Can you guess what we got there?  This place makes awesome cupcakes and a visit to Charleston is not complete without a stop here.  We shared a cakepop and I enjoyed a black & white cupcake.

Saturday was my younger brother's, Patrick, 19th birthday.  He attends college at USC in Columbia so we got in the car for a two hour drive to visit him for the day.  He gave us a quick tour of his dorm room and we walked around the campus.  We were so excited to see each other we jumped for joy!

After our informal tour we headed out to get lunch at Pawley's Front Porch.  We checked out Trip Advisor and discovered that this place was well reviewed and was even featured on Diners, Drive Ins, and Dives.  After watching the video we knew we had to check it out.  They have tons of great burgers that are named after the different places in South Carolina.  We started with an order of fried pickles with ranch dressing.  I had never had fried pickles before but they were quite tasty.  The batter had a great flavor.  
For my meal I went with the Sullivan burger.  It is a huge eight ounce patty with lettuce, tomato, onions, homemade guacamole, citrus jalapeno mayonnaise, pepper jack cheese, and grilled pineapple.  Oh boy this burger was SO GOOD.  I wasn't sure about the grilled pineapple, but I thought what the heck and decided to try something different.  The flavors worked so well together and that homemade guacamole was jam up, seriously.  I thought I was only going to eat half, but ate the whole thing, minus half the bun.  I got fries with it as well but they were seasoned with cinnamon and not really the flavor I wanted on my fries.  They were cooked so well, but I wanted them to be salty.  
We ended the meal by splitting a big chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwich for Patrick's birthday. 

We spent the rest of the afternoon hanging out and then Caroline, mom, and I got back in the car to head back to Charleston.  It was so nice for all of us to spend time together, even if it was only for the day.

Sunday morning we got up, pulled on our workout clothes and took a walk to a local breakfast place Toast.  Luckily we got there right before the rush.  I ordered the Eggs Meeting Street.  It consisted of a fried green tomato and crab cake topped with a scrambled egg.  It came with remoulade sauce, a giant biscuit, and grits.  This thing was DELICIOUS.  
After our lovely breakfast we walked down some old Charleston streets, checked out the old houses, shops, and waterfront.  Charleston is a great walking city and there is so much to see.  

The combination of family, food, and fun always make for a great weekend!
What are your favorite activities to do with your family?  Any favorite cities you like to visit?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

My Favorite Running Gear

Guess what?  I totally won my first giveaway today!  I was on a break at work and checked Twitter to see that Kara, at It's a dog lick baby world, mentioned I had won her giveaway - my own Road ID!  
It is kind of like an early birthday present since my birthday is this Thursday.  Plus my winning comment happened to be 11, which is, in fact, my favorite number.  Pretty. Stinking. Cool.  (At least I think so.)  Thanks Kara and Road ID for such a great gift! 

A quick IronGirl half marathon training update:  I am currently in the middle of week two and so far so good.  I completed my first speed workout, which was actually a little faster than was scheduled.  I am not super fast or anything, but I don't want to burn out or get injured by doing too much too soon, so I am working on figuring out my pace.  Tomorrow I am going to have a go at a tempo workout. 

So to run you really don't need a lot.  When I first started running I got a pair of running shoes and began around the neighborhood running 30 seconds at a time with just my iPod.  However sometimes it is fun to have a few extra things, especially for longer distances.  I want to share some of my favorite running gear with you.   These are really not necessities, but are simply things I like to use during a run or race.

1. iFitness Belt
My mom had one of these first and after borrowing hers I fell in love.  I got one for Christmas and it is great to have.  I usually wear it just on long runs or during a race.  These belts are worn when running and can hold your gels, iPod, phone, keys, whatever.  But the best thing about these belts is that you don't even realize you are wearing it.  No bouncing or sliding - this thing stays put!  Plus it is waterproof.  They come in a few different styles and colors too (mine is blue).

2. Yurbuds
These little things look weird, but they are fabulous.  After attending a race expo in October I have been intrigued by these little things.  I was sized and got to try them at the expo.  Unfortunately I didn't get a pair then, but I asked for them for Christmas and did!  They are designed to fit snugly in your ear so they don't fall out.  Plus the design allows for great sound quality.  Because of the unique design you can hear your music without turning the volume up all the way.  I used them during my half marathon and for all of my runs now - they are wonderful!

3. Garmin Forerunner 305
Yes, this is a big purchase, but it changes your running, seriously.  After following several blogs and seeing these fancy gadgets and then my mom getting a Garmin herself I had to get one too.  It was an early Christmas gift that has benefitted my workouts.  This gadget does everything, tracks time, pace, calories, distance, and heart rate.  Plus you can set it to do interval workouts, quick bike rides, advanced paths, almost anything you can imagine.  I really like using it so I don't have to map out my long runs.  I simply put on the watch and run until it tells me I have gone X miles.  The Garmin also connects to your computer so you can get a read-out of how the run went including splits, elevation, and pace.  I truly cannot say enough good things about the Garmin Forerunner.  There are a few different styles depending on what features you  want.  If you are dedicated to running you should consider getting one.  You can find some pretty good deals for the older versions on Amazon.  

4. iPod Nano
I love music in general and listen to it a lot.  Listening to music while running really adds a little umph to your workout.  For Christmas I was fortunate enough to receive the new iPod Nano, the small, square one.  It has a nifty touch screen and is so light and compact.  I got the 8GB one which holds plenty of music.  The iPod also has clip back so you can snap it onto your shirt collar or waistband and be on your way.  This thing even has a pedometer function to track your steps.  There are volume buttons on the outside so you can just click the top if you need to adjust the volume instead of using a click-wheel.  I think it is perfect for runs since it is so lightweight; you don't even realize it there.

5. Compression Socks
There is some back and forth about whether compression socks can do anything for you, but I love the ones I have.  There are lots of different brands, but I happen to have some lululemon ones that are just great.  The compression socks are said to relieve sore legs and help repair muscle tears.  After a long run they are so nice to put on and relax in.

6. Ultimate Direction Handheld Water Bottle
It can get pretty hot here in Florida so making sure I stay hydrated during a run is important.  I picked this bottle up at Track Shack and use it on almost every run and race  I usually fill it with half G2, half water and it lasts me through most runs.  The strap makes it easy to hold so I don't have to worry about gripping a bottle.  The holder also has a small pocket which is nice.  

Now that you know what I like to have during a run tell me: What's your favorite running gear?  

*No companies asked me to write about these.  They are simply products that I own and like. 

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Accent Vlog

After seeing several other bloggers make accent vlog videos I decided to join in on the fun and make one myself!  

Just curious: Do I have any kind of accent you recognize?  Is my voice different than what you expected?

If you haven't done one, you totally should, it was a lot of fun to make.  Plus I am finding it quite interesting to hear what other people sound like!