Race Recap: the 2016 Disneyland Half Marathon

September 18, 2016 § Leave a comment

#NatConDisney: The Races, part 2

Where to begin with the Disneyland Half Marathon?! We went into it not really knowing what to expect and, considering we’d just run a 10K the day before, just wanted to finish the race. Well, I’m so proud to say that not only did we finish the race, we also got a PR, beating our previous half marathon time by nearly 20 minutes!

After the 10K, we went back to our hotel to freshen up and then hit the Expo at the Disneyland Hotel one last time. Connor got an awesome pair of Dumbo-themed New Balance shoes (that came with cute socks that say “fly” on them and were 30% off because we were doing the Dumbo Double Dare) and I splurged on a special RunDisney Dooney & Burke wristlet (I mean…it has Pluto and Mickey running on it and it’s a limited edition for the Disneyland Half Marathon weekend…so obviously I had to get it). Alright, on to the race!

Disneyland Half Marathon | Sunday, September 4, 2016
You know, 3am wakeup calls are really not that bad when you go to bed before 9pm the night before. Just sayin. Keeping our bodies on an East Coast schedule was really one of the best things we did! Clothes were laid out the night before (see below – I wore this really cool Disneyland Half shirt with Mickey and Pluto on it, and a keyhole back, that I got at the Expo) and we enjoyed our usual pre-run breakfast of an english muffin with peanut butter and split a ThinkThin chocolate peanut butter protein bar about a half hour before the race.

For this race we were in corral H and crossed the starting line around 6:10am (official start time was 5:30am). The first 3 or so miles of this course were entirely through Disneyland property and then we were out on the streets of Anaheim! We planned on doing 6 minutes running by 4 minutes walking until mile 10 and then play the rest by ear. Well, that went right out the window at the beginning because of the momentum of running through the parks and being in areas we hadn’t yet explored, like Cars Land (we got so distracted by the cool scenery).

Once we got out on the streets, we were eventually able to get our 6×4 groove back (hello, immediate hill and sunrise)!

Surprisingly, this was the part I dreaded the most; and surprisingly, it went by so fast! I didn’t hit that mile 8 wall that I did back in January during our first half marathon. While we were running through city streets, there were bands and dancers around as well as a huge stretch of classic cars around mile 7 which was really neat. I think all the activity and enthusiasm around us (plus all the different things to look at, haha) really helped propel us through this stretch.

Running through the Angel’s stadium was so cool and also provided some much needed cheering and encouragement. Look how fun it was! (#sorrynotsorry about the shaky video, I was still running!)

I hit my low spot of the run (hey, it happens to us all at some point) right after getting out of the stadium parking lot. I had a weird shoulder cramp and was starting to feel some effects/tiredness of the 10K the day before. During our walk break mid-mile 10, we realized that we were completely capable of whooping our last half marathon time…say what now?! We took a slightly longer walk break until mile 11, then popped open our final GU (saved my fave cherry lime till last!), and decided to just go for it! I mean, we knew we were going to be a little sore anyway, right?

We really dug deep during those last 2-ish miles (which are honestly a bit of a blur for me…and I’m not just talking about being blinded by the LA sunrise). I think we tried to stick with 6×4 for a bit but ended up taking a few short walk breaks while running backstage at California Adventure so that we could finish strong. Obviously at mile 12 we cranked it up a bit (a la Aaron Rodgers #crankitupto12).

We flew through the last 1.1 miles, grabbed hands, and crossed the finish line with a time of 2:32:20.  And we couldn’t have been happier!

I know I’ve said this before, but I feel like it’s always worth repeating: the Run Disney cast members and volunteers are so nice and so organized! After crossing the finish line, it was like a well-oiled machine getting our medals, cooling towels, water/Gatorade, etc. We didn’t stick around the finish area very long (frankly, we were so sweaty and, unlike WDW, there weren’t any post-race character photo-ops). Here’s a bling shot with all four medals: the 10K, the half marathon, the Dumbo Double Dare, and the Coast-to-Coast Challenge.

After we stretched, showered, and cleaned up, we hit the parks! We got some great pics and had our traditional post-race Dole Whip, like ya do. Here are a few other favorite shots from the day: our awesome action shots, running with Pluto (naturally), and of course a castle shot.

If you’ve made it this far, congratulations! We hope you’ve enjoyed reading about our Dumbo Double Dare adventures as much as we enjoyed doing it! As many of you know, in addition to our running challenge, we also had a fundraising goal to meet in support of Autism Speaks. Well, I am so proud to say that not only did we exceed our goal (by around $175), but we were among the top 5 fundraisers running during the Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend. Our most sincere thanks to everyone who donated and support us both through the last 6 months. We could not have done it without you!

Race Recap: The Disneyland 10K

September 13, 2016 § Leave a comment

#NatConDisney: The Races, part 1

Where to begin?! So it’s been a little over two weeks since we completed our Dumbo Double Dare challenge at Disneyland…we’re still beaming about it and can’t believe that it not only happened, but it’s over already. We had so much fun! Running 19.3 miles over the course of two days was no easy feat by any means.

The best thing we did during our trip was not switch over to Pacific Standard Time; we stayed East Coast. So yes, while we were going to bed between 8-9pm most nights, getting up at 3am on both race days felt relatively normal (or as normal as that can be, I guess). This is the first post in a multipart Disneyland set. You ready? Let’s start with the 10K!

Disneyland 10K | Saturday, September 3, 2016
It’s a good thing Aladdin and the Genie were the 10K hosts, because this race went by faster than a magic carpet flying through the streets of Agrabah! We were in corral E and started around 5:50am (official race start time was 5:30am). The route was mostly on Disneyland property, with the exception of a mile or so at the beginning on the road and through the Anaheim Convention Center. We kept with our training of 6 minutes running X 4 minutes walking and did that up until mile 4. We walked the entirety of mile 4, then picked up our 6×4 scheme again and ad-libbed till the end of the race (I mean, you just gotta run all the way through Fantasyland and down mainstreet!). We crossed the finish line at 1:22 and were clearly quite excited! (I had a knack for getting photos taken mid-jump…couldn’t quite time it right to get an actual leaping shot…oh well, maybe next time!)

The Disney Photo Pass folks were on point the whole weekend. TBH, we totally had our eyes peeled for them. There’s a new weekly photo pass package that gives you unlimited photos and downloads for only $69, plus direct-downloads from the Disneyland app. So knowing that we’d have puhhh-lenty of photo opportunities during our trip, I splurged. And we got some sweet money shots! Here are a few faves:

This was also the first race that we dressed up in costume for. Coincidentally for us, the theme of the weekend was dynamic duos, and we happened to dress up as Judy Hopps and Nick Wilde from Zootopia. So naturally, we had to get a photo with Judy herself along the race route. The line took a good 5 minutes to get through, but it was worth the wait because she was very excited to see us!

Not gonna lie, I’m pretty proud of our costumes. I wanted whatever we wore to be completely functional and comfortable to run in (no non-moisture wicking clothes for these two sweaty runners). I managed to score some decent deals on the clothes and got a little crafty on the accessories to make them both happen. Here’s a before and after — look how cute we are (with our little police badges and everything)!

I got my navy shorts, shirt, and tank from Eastbay (Wisconsin-based, holla!) for $39 total, my Pro Compression running socks for $25,  and Connor’s shirt from RoadRunner Sports for $26. Here’s where #CraftyNatalie comes in! I cut up the tank to make Judy’s top, then cut up the bottom portion to make her little wrist sleeves. I went to JoAnn Fabrics sans coupon (tsk, tsk, I know) and nearly broke the bank making Connor’s tie…haha, kidding! I bought a strip of fabric for a whopping $1 and used paint I already had for the stripes. I’m so proud of that damn tie! Then I made our police badges from some thin cardboard I found in the closet and drew some ZPD stuff on them. All the clothes we bought can be worn again (or turned into Halloween costumes perhaps?) which is great. Here’s Flat Judy/Natalie and Flat Nick/Connor the day before the 10K.

I’m really not sure what it was about this race that made it fly by! I was a little concerned about an ankle/calf/shin flare up that I’d been dealing with in the weeks leading up to the run. And while it wasn’t a completely pain-free run, it was manageable and not debilitating (whew!). All-in-all, it was a really fun route and we had a blast! Then we realized that we still had to do a half marathon the very next morning…

 

The #NatConTraining Home Stretch

August 25, 2016 § Leave a comment

This is not a drill people.

Connor and I are in the home stretch of the epic Dumbo Double Dare #NatConTraining cycle. Awww, yeah!!!

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This past Sunday, we each did our last long runs in our respective cities and both rocked it! On tap for me: 11.5 miles. I ran it all without music (though I did have my headphones in my running belt just in case) and felt really great afterward. I don’t know why that keeps surprising me lately – how good I’ve been feeling post-run. Of course it was a great run – I just kicked it through 11.5 miles and am still standing! Despite the hot and humid New Jersey summer (and those dreaded treadmill days), the number of days where I had a “bad run” were actually quite few, which I am very thankful for. Some days you’ve got it; some days you just don’t and that’s ok. This kind of venture is never just about the running; it’s about the entire journey.

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My fuel plan was a few Honey Stinger Grapefruit Energy Chews (I just discovered these and am in love with them) about 30 minutes before the run—in addition to my standard pre-run multi-grain English muffin with peanut butter about an hour or so before—plus two GU Energy Gels along the way, one sea salt caramel and one cherry lime. Much to my surprise, I actually went through both my Gatorade and water quicker than I thought (they’re only 9 ounce bottles…and yes, they definitely slosh as I run). Thank goodness there was a bubbler along my route to refill!

I’ve mentioned this one part of my route before that always gives me a rough time: Alexander Road. There’s a little hill at one part and then the rest of the road is a very steady incline that you don’t notice when you’re driving on it, but when you’re running…woof, it’s a doozy. Plus, it’s pretty much in full sun the entire way. Well, this past Sunday, for the first time all summer, I dominated Alexander Road! I don’t know what was different this time, but I took the road in stride and when I got to the top, snapped this quick pic kinda sorta in the middle of the road because I was so proud. Take that Alexander!

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Also in other fabulous news – drum roll, please – Connor and I have surpassed our Autism Speaks fundraising goal! Thank you so much to everyone who contributed to the cause and helped us get there. We literally could not have done it without you!

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With our trip just over a week away, I’m finally starting to look forward to it. Not that I wasn’t excited about it before, but as quickly as parts of this past summer have gone by, much of it has crept along at a snail’s pace for me. I haven’t done a whole lot of planning for our upcoming vacation and, even though it’s a Disney trip, I’m oddly ok with that. Though we should probably buy those park tickets…note to self. After this final long training run was when it really started to hit me. And now every time I think about the trip and the run, I pretty much look like this:

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You may be wondering what’s up with all the Zootopia gifs (or not, that’s totes fine)? Well, for the 10K, Connor and I are going to run in costume as Nick Wilde and Judy Hopps! When we saw Zootopia over the summer, we pretty much fell in love with it (the DMV scene is Connor’s favorite). And we also figured that the 10K would be a fun run to do in costume. One of my weekend projects is to finish putting our costumes together. I’ve literally had the entire summer to do this and yet…there’s nothing like waiting until the last-minute, eh? Sometimes craft projects are just more fun that way. Only a few more days of #NatConTraining fun…before we have to change our hashtag. Stay tuned!😉

Running Isn’t the Only Challenge

August 10, 2016 § Leave a comment

The countdown begins…

After I finished my long run on Sunday, a thought came into my head. Ok, there are often many, many thoughts and conversations roaming around my head at one time (#introvertproblems), but there was one in particular that came in loud and clear: “girl, there’s only one more long training run left!”

My first reaction:
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Then it sunk in:
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Yes, I do think in GIFs sometimes. Occupational hazard. So what’s in store for these final few weeks? Well, I’ll tell ya…not much! Two weekend 4-milers, plus 30-45 minute weekday runs (twice a week), and then that final long training run. Basically, we just need to be smart, listen to our bodies, and put in the miles.

I’ve mentioned before that summer training has been a challenge unto itself. The heat, the humidity, the intense sun, all of the sweating (so much sweating!), training solo…it’s taken some crafty navigation to make it manageable. In addition to that, I’ve been battling some muscle pain in my shoulders and upper back for the last few months, and those of you who know my back history also know that back pain isn’t something I take lightly (more on that here: My 15 Year Spinal Fusion-versary).

I started doing physical therapy last month (which I think is slowly starting to help…ask me again in September). Right now we’re doing a lot of shoulder and back muscle strengthening moves, plus stretches to help with my limited thoracic mobility as well as posture exercises (just because I’ve got stainless steel rods attached to my spine doesn’t mean my posture is perfect #funfact). One of the therapists I’m working with is also a runner (she’s training for the Chicago marathon right now) and totally understands everything that’s going on, which has been really helpful so far.

So, needless to say, this summer has been full of challenges: training to run 19.3 miles over two days, adjusting to running in warmer temperatures, training separately, and dealing with angry shoulder and back muscles (and some temperamental calves/shins). But there’s still one more challenge that Connor and I need to tackle: raising money for Autism Speaks. Hey, they don’t call it the Dumbo Double Dare for nothin’.🙂 We running in support of Autism Speaks, one of the world’s leading autism advocacy organizations. Throughout both of our theater careers so far, we’ve seen the positive effects of autism and sensory-friendly performances both on Broadway and at McCarter Theatre in Princeton, NJ (where I currently work and where Connor previously worked). And we want to help contribute to Autism Speaks, not only to help support their advocacy and research efforts, but also their commitment to bringing the arts to the autism community while providing a safe and supportive experience. We are almost half way to our goal with only a few weeks left! Any amount, large or small, will help contribute to this great cause as well as assist us in completing our elephant-size challenge. Here’s a link to our Autism Speaks donation page: NatCon Dumbo Double Dare Challenge.

Lastly, here are a few fun shots from this week’s runs. I finally got a photo with Bruce #2! After running past this statue for so long now, I figured he could use some selfie love.

Getting creative with my stadium mileage poses. Though I only sat here for a few seconds because WOW do those bleachers get hot in the sun!🙂

Gotta love that iPhone self-timer. And, not gonna lie here, I really love the color of my Brooks Ghosts and my CEP socks. Plus the band of my Garmin watch and my momentum wrap matches too. Fashionista runner!

 

Dumbo Double Dare Training Log: Weeks 10 + 11

July 17, 2016 § Leave a comment

Sometimes even the best laid plans get bamboozled.

I was supposed to be in Wisconsin this weekend but between multiple canceled flights and running around Newark airport like a tired lunatic at an ungodly hour of the morning (yup, that was me in the Packer hat), I pushed my entire travel itinerary to next week. I missed the Storm the Bastille nighttime 5K through downtown Milwaukee, but oh well, there’s always next year! I was working on a draft of our week 10 #NatConTraining log, but between work stuff and the epic travel kerfuffle, I just couldn’t finish it, so here’s a week 10 + 11 combo post.

July 10, 2016 – 9.5 and stayin’ alive!
I did not want to get out of bed Sunday morning. My arm buzzed (gee, thanks FitBit) at 7:20am and I frantically tapped the device (eyes still closed and half asleep mind you) to shut it up…oops, I mean shut it off. At that moment, getting out of bed was as unappealing a task as the other important one staring me in the face: running 9.5 miles. After about 20 minutes of staring at the ceiling, just me alone with my thoughts, the sarcastic side of my brain said: “ya know, that half marathon isn’t going to train itself”…so, perhaps a little begrudgingly, rolled out of bed. Luckily, I had my clothes, shoes, and fuel all prepped the night before in case of such an event.

For all the half marathon training long runs so far, I haven’t run to music. I’ll occasionally use it on the shorter 30-45 minute runs (I mean, who doesn’t love running to some Springsteen, am I right?), but not for the longer runs. Running the race with music isn’t something I plan to do (it is Disney after all; gotta enjoy all those sights and sounds!), so I definitely don’t want to train with music and then get used to running with it and be mentally effected during the actual race. This past Sunday was an exception. And boy did it help!

I went into the run with no time expectation or goal; I just tried to relax and do what I needed to do. Which, interestingly, I ended up actually achieving that while focusing on form. The run still had its rough patches (this one stretch of road along my route always ends up being my slowest mile), but of this I can often be certain: the runs that seem difficult at the beginning, end up surprising you in the end. Also – I had way too much fun taking post-run pics this day. Had to make sure I was between 9 and 10.

So on my current route, I pass a statue of The Boss on Nassau Street (at least once, if not twice) and every time I pass by, I tap the top of his head. Because why not? #BornToRun Toward the end of my 9.5 miler, I happened to be walking by, which was a little unusual, so I stopped for a quick selfie.

July 17, 2016 – 4 miles
It was a hot, humid, and sweaty 4-miler today. I got a later start than I wanted to this morning (Between all the travel stuff last week I was getting up much earlier than normal and thought I could try to get into a better and earlier morning routine…yeah, nope. This girl needs her 7-8 hours of sleep. But I’ll keep trying), but still made it work and finished before the temps got above 85 degrees.

Humidity and I are not friends (wait, is anyone friends with humidity?). Alone with my own thoughts this morning (no music today), I kept thinking about my high school self and that inhaler that was a constant presence in my bag during basketball and track season. Humidity was always the x-factor in triggering the hyperventilation/exercise-induced asthma for me, particularly during basketball (gyms with no AC, bring it!). After high school, I never used that inhaler again. There’s a strong possibility it could be hiding in my senior year pair of track spikes…mmm, gross. Aren’t running thoughts interesting?

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In an attempt to get creative with my stadium mileage tracking photos (points for trying?),  today’s is below. Though I still had to at least take a selfie since today I could put up the mileage on one hand and I just like taking pics with my Packers running hat. Next week, weather/Mother Nature/United Airlines-permitting, I’ll get crafty with some Milwaukee shots so stay tuned!🙂

Dumbo Double Dare Training Log: Week 7

June 21, 2016 § Leave a comment

Our Dumbo Double Dare #NatConTraining is in full swing and Saturday’s 8 mile run concluded week 7. That’s right, we are already on week 7 of 19! Time flys when you’re having fun (running).

We haven’t quite been the documentarians we were during #WDWNatConTraining for the Disney World Half Marathon this past January, but we’re working on that (just wait until we get into the weeks with a big walking day followed by a run day!). An exciting career opportunity for Connor came up early this month and he’s spending the summer working up in the Berkshires. So that means we’re both navigating a majority of our training solo. It was a little hard to get used to during the first week as our entire training and race journey thus far has been together (we ran the half marathon side-by-side and crossed the finish line holding hands), but this will certainly strengthen our mental toughness and help make us better runners.

The 8 miles I ran on Saturday went so much better than I remember the first time around; maybe I just have a different frame of mind now (or maybe it’s weather-related, who knows?). It’s also the farthest I’ve ever run solo and I did it without music (I’ve been listening to music during the short weekday runs, but not for the longer runs as I don’t want to make it a habit since we won’t be running with music during the actual race). Knowing how hot it was going to be this weekend, I made sure to have my clothes and fuel all prepped the night before so I could get outside before it got too hot. I had been thinking of what my run/walk strategy would be for this particular training run for a while. My recent MO had been 7 minutes running/3 minutes walking, but when I did that for the 6.5 mile training run two weeks ago, I realized that it was not quite a sustainable pace for me just yet. For our half marathon in January, we followed the Jeff Galloway Run Disney training program and our strategy was 5 minutes running/3 minutes walking for the first 5 miles, then 6 minutes running/4 minutes walking for the rest of the way with an added minute walk at each hour mark (plus GU time!). Using that as I guide, I decided to try 6 minutes running/4 minutes walking for the first 4 miles (then GU time!), then 7 minutes running/3 minutes walking for the remaining 4 miles.

The run definitely had its ups and downs, but overall it felt pretty good (I also took my new Packer hat for a spin, that must have helped)! I was very aware of my pace—not only because of the heat, but also because we’ve noticed that our paces quickened somewhere during our April/May training runs (must have been those two short beer runs we did, haha)—and kept it pretty well in check while still maintaining mostly sub-12 minute miles, save 2 of the 8 miles.

Next weekend the real fun begins: 1 mile walking on Saturday followed by 7 miles on Sunday. Stay tuned!

 

Daringly Dumbo

April 2, 2016 § Leave a comment

The last time we wrote about running was way back in January following our first-ever half marathon at Walt Disney World (read about it here: Post-WDW Half Marathon Thoughts) and we teased about not quite knowing what race to do next…well, that day has arrived, my friends!

Connor and I will be running the Disneyland Dumbo Double Dare Challenge this September (a 10K on Saturday followed by a half marathon on Sunday of Labor Day weekend) in support of Autism Speaks, the world’s leading autism science and advocacy organization dedicated to funding research into the causes, prevention, treatments and a cure for autism; increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorders; and advocating for the needs of individuals with autism and their families.

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We are raising $1,930 (for our 19.3 miles) for Autism Speaks! To celebrate World Autism Awareness Day today, April 2, we are asking our friends, families, and colleagues to contribute to this great cause. Any amount given is greatly appreciated and will go a long way toward autism research. Head on over to our fundraising page for more information:
NatCon Dumbo Double Dare Challenge 19.3 miles for $1930.

Like our months leading up to the Walt Disney World Half Marathon, we’ll be documenting our Dumbo Double Dare training on social media via ‪#‎NatConTraining‬. Follow along, share your comments and enthusiasm, and help us meet our goal to support Autism Speaks.