Princess Half Marathon Recap

Well, all of the training and time spent preparing for this half marathon was well worth every second. I just absolutely can’t believe how quickly the even came and went. We decided to stay on Disney property so we could take the Disney transportation to and from the expo and the race as was suggested. (we are so glad we did!) We chose a less expensive resort and did not expect it to be even half as nice as it was! (What were we really expecting though- its Disney!) We stayed in the Pop Century Resort. It was the cutest resort!
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We hit up the expo on Saturday and hit pretty much every stand. I was going crazy over the merchandise. I don’t think I realized quite how big this event was going to be. The highlights of the day were 1) seeing the actual medal in person. It was an even bigger motivation to actually hold it. 2) Meeting Jeff Galloway! If it was not for him and his program, I don’t think we would have stuck out training! It was an honor to meet the man that had been talking in my headphones for the last 5 months.
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We had a healthy, light dinner that evening and hit the sac early. I did not take into consideration that we were at a vacation resort at Disney and that the pool would probably be loud in the evening all the way through 11pm when it closed. I definitely should have brought earplugs since our room was facing the pool!

We were up dark and early at 2:45am. I actually woke up amped and ready to get dressed to do the race. I ate a light breakfast on the bus ride over to the race. Ryan and I did not know what to expect but we were in for a shock when we saw how many people were there! Disney provided a great environment for getting people pumped for a long distance. We found our corral (F) and decided to stay to the back so we could be at our own pace without being pressured to run and/or walk right away. I couldn’t believe we were actually there! I was thrilled to be dressed up as my favorite Princess with Ryan rocking a light grey tee and red shirts to match Prince Charming’s red pants.
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When the national anthem was being sang it really hit me that it was real and a half marathon actually was ahead of us. The corrals starting with the fireworks and the Fairy Godmother starting each one made it even more magical. Disney always does a good job. Always.
Once we started running, it didn’t seem like we had started the race. We ran for a few minutes to get warmed up then started our 30sec/30sec intervals. The first couple of miles passed SO much faster than they do during a training run! We were at Magic Kingdom before we even knew it.
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Like many others, my favorite part was actually running down Main Street where I’ve spent much time wondering through the shops on beautiful Magic Kingdom days. The place where dreams come true, like running 13.1 magical miles and earning a medal I never even dreamed of wanting. And it was an absolute blast being dressed up as Cinderella in the presence of her castle! 🙂
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I actually felt better throughout this race than I had for our longer runs. The excitement of actually being there and the adrenaline that was running through me made it so much better than a regular training run. I’ve gotten the notion that that happens at any race though. Both of the 5Ks I did prior I did much better in and enjoyed myself more than running at home :). The only thing that was really difficult was the crowding. There were literally parts of the race that running was not an option at all. Being in corral F, there was not much we could do about that. We had actually ran 12.5 miles in a training run in 2:33 so we technically would have done our half in 2:45. Unfortunately, we would have needed proof which we did not have as this was our first half marathon. But other than the crowding, it was still a blast! After going through Magic Kingdom, I started picturing the next goal: medal. We were officially on our way back to Epcot and my adrenaline was even stronger than before. My parents drove over to see us finish and my best friend who lives in Wisconsin happened to have been down for a wedding and stayed with my parents the night before so she could see us finish too. Mind you, I had not seen her in almost 3 years since our wedding! So just knowing that they were also there at the finish line made me even more excited :).
The Powerade and water stands were very frequent which was awesome. I started to feel weak in mile 13 like I might pass out, but I pushed through and once we saw the finish line I was golden.
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I crossed the finish line with a huge high-five to my buddy Donald Duck. He’s a new favorite of mine now 🙂
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It was a 5 month dream that became a reality and it was extremely surreal that we had finished the Princess Half Marathon that used to be a distant, incomprehensible thought. I could have cried!
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It was an absolute blast to have been a part of such a massive Disney event. I would definitely do another half marathon. The word “marathon” is definitely not in my vocabulary right now though. Since the half, I’ve been more consistent with shorter runs and running more and longer (like in my goal in my last post). I will make a post about that next :).
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Half Marathon Training

The Disney Princess Half Marathon 2013 was my first ever half marathon. As I mentioned in my last post, I do not know how I got bit by the running bug but it bit me hard! I started jogging on the treadmill for 2 minute intervals and it made me feel as if I had ran miles when I was finished with that 2 minutes. I would even have to take a 3 minute walk break to even begin to feel like I could run another 2 minutes. After a week of this with no progress, I was looking at the RunDisney website and I found Jeff Galloway. I looked at his program schedule and the intervals that he suggested and it seemed so different than what I had in mind for training. So I gave it a trial run on the treadmill- I would run 20 seconds, walk 40 seconds. I did that for about 20 minutes and discovered that I felt great at the end. I was running at some point of every minute and I liked that. So I downloaded his half marathon app. And that is just the beginning :). 

My husband was doing this with me. I told him he didn’t have to, but he did not want to miss out on the torture fun of 13.1 miles apparently! (hehe) So after a couple weeks I began to run outside. I was scared of running outside because I knew it was going to cause more pain and be more difficult to keep going but that was how I needed to train as a beginner so I could get used to running outside where the actual race would be. The first time I ran outside, I actually increased my intervals that same day to 30 seconds run, 30 seconds walk. So increasing the interval on the first day of running outside was challenging and I ended up with shin splints (that is how brand new I really was). But I stayed with that interval and running outside. 

We did the program for about 22 weeks and we decided to let the 30sec/30sec ratio be our race ratio as well because it was enough running each minute but it gave us rest as well to keep enduring for the long mileage. I think this was a great first half marathon ratio for us because we were able to finish and not feel like we were dying. (we were ready to be done though!)

Through the weekday maintenance runs, we began upping the ratio. Instead of doing the 30 sec/30 sec, we would run for 2 minutes and walk for 1 minute. This was so difficult for me but this let me know how much I was getting myself into shape considering after a 2 minute run I would have to walk at least 3 minutes prior to this program! I feel that pushing myself throughout the week on the shorter runs made the 30 sec run/30 sec walk ratio seem easier on the long weekend runs. So we kept this up and pursued the long weekend runs as the program called for.

Our long runs were usually enjoyable but the longest ones (12.5, 13, etc) got to be unbearable by the end. I just knew that race day would have to be better with all the adrenaline and people and music (and my Cinderella costume). But I remember how I felt after the long ones. I couldn’t believe it when I paced myself for 3 miles for the first time. Now 3 miles has turned into my maintenance runs! I remember the first time I even used my running shoes. It was going to be on our 7 mile run and we got stuck in the pouring rain- literally- and our shoes both had to be dumped out when we got home. (Nice way to break in brand new running shoes).
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But training truly allowed me to bring my body into submission to the discipline of running. I always thought I was in shape in college and even after for the most part. I could do the elliptical for a long time and walk forever. But running is a whole different story and I don’t think I really knew all the work it takes to get to be able to even run a 5k. I appreciate the runners that can run straight through long distances and I strive to get to that point someday. I have been inspired online with blogs, tweets, and other runners who share their journey and it makes me want to be better- and to share mine. I actually have kept a written journal of every single run before the half marathon. Someone told me to do this and I’m so glad I did. Anytime I thought I had a bad run, I would flip back to the first pages of my first few weeks and just see how far I’ve come. I used to dread 2 minutes of running, now I can run a 5k (on a good day) straight through. 

My goals for now-

1. KEEP running!

2. Improve my running endurance with fewer walk breaks

3. Get to where I can always run a 5k distance no matter how I feel that day

4. Run beyond a 5k distance up to 5 miles

5. Picking out the next half (Wine & Dine!)

I will be posting our recap on the Princess Half weekend. I loved seeing everyone else’s. I am behind on starting but I don’t think I have too many readers at this point anyway, hehe. (Not yet at least!) 

Blessings,

Ashley

Just an Intro

Hey everyone!

Thank you for stopping by and taking time out of your day to read. I just wanted to do an intro blog to properly introduce myself. My name is Ashley and I am 24 years old living in the beautiful city of Orlando, Florida. I was born and raised here, so I am 100% Floridian.

I am married coming up on 3 years in June to my Prince Charming and best friend Ryan. We met in our youth group right out of high school, so we are college sweethearts. We both graduated from college the same semester in 2010 and got married not even 2 months after that. We have one dog named Lilly and no kids just yet! We look forward to that day though :). (Ryan has been by my side on the pavement since August, when I started running).
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I am a registered nurse and have been working as one for almost three years. I have worked in several different areas in my current hospital- the orthopedic floor for 8 months, the orthopedic operating room (yes, lots of hammering and blood splattering) for a year and a half, and now I am working in critical care. I got a little burnt out in orthopedics even though the floor and the operating room were a total 180 from each other. I started getting passionate about critical care and made the major leap from surgery back to floor nursing back in July 2012. I currently work on a cardiovascular progressive care unit (which is an intermediate level, or “step-down” from ICU) but I actually am getting ready to endeavor into that final level of nursing- intensive care- come May. I am very excited and scared at the same time. It’s some very serious and scary stuff but it can be very rewarding at the same time. I am just amazed with the heart and how God designed it to work. I learn something new all the time in my job. Never a dull moment, that’s for sure! (The photo on the left is me in a “toga” which is used in total joint replacement surgeries. I did not scrub in usually though. Ortho was fun!)
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Some other things I absolutely love are the beach, laying out, cruising, ice skating, and gardening (which is brand new for me too!) I added a couple images in my header to try to capture a little bit of who I am- running, vacationing, me and my husband, etc.

I have made a couple of blogs prior to this but I wanted to start fresh and include my running adventures in this one. I do not know what got into me back in August of 2012, but I got my eyes locked on the Disney Princess Half Marathon. I had been “bitten” by the running bug. I have never, ever been a runner. I have been athletic through all of my school years (cheer, gymnastics, ice skating, volleyball) and I worked out often during college, but I have never been the slightest bit interested in running. That is why this was so odd for me! I told myself and my husband that 13.1 miles was incomprehensible and that Disney had a 5k that same weekend. I figured this would be fun and much more doable. Little did I know I would be running a half marathon in the months to follow.

I will leave my training and then the actual half marathon weekend for two other blogs to be coming soon. I am a running novice. It has been a difficult journey of self-discipline and some days I realized that it brought many new frustrations into my life. But this was because I was taking it seriously and I liked that. I am excited to start talking about this with other runners. It is so much easier to make myself get out and go for a run when I’ve seen a blog or two or some tweets about PRs or someone having a great run. It makes me want to do that myself! There is definitely no lack of support online.
So thank you for reading and I can’t wait to make more blogs!

I have also seen numerous tags for different fitness organizations (ex: FitFluential) that I would absolutely love to become a part of. Any tips on how to become involved in things like these?

(Just to name a few inspirations- Through Heather’s Looking Glass (“Running with Sass”), PopFitLife, According to Kelly, and of course Team Sparkle 😉

I had to insert a picture of Lilly my Cavachon. I can’t leave her out! (Cavachon = CAVAlier King Charles Spaniel + BiCHON Frise)
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Blessings,
Ashley