Sunday, January 31, 2016

Countdown to 2016 Princess Half Marathon Weekend

2/5/16 Update: Waivers and corral placements are now available. See details below!

We are less than three short weeks away from the start of Princess Half Marathon Weekend!  To say that I cannot contain my excitement is an understatement.  Princesses like me have been checking on Track Shack multiple times per day (or hour!) to see if waivers have been made available because CORRALS, ladies.  Everyone is anxious to see what corral they may be starting in!  Runners are also dyinggg over the Official Event Guide and the beautiful mermaid theme. First-time Princesses may not have a clue what I'm talking about. 

That's OK!  I was absolutely clueless going into my first runDisney race.  Mine was in February 2014 at the Princess Half Marathon.  If you think I'm making an overstatement by admitting I was clueless, I'm unfortunately not exaggerating.  I don't want that to happen to anyone else!  I didn't know anything about challenges and missed signing up for The Inaugural Glass Slipper Challenge.  If I had actually taken the time to read the events of Princess Half Marathon Weekend, I would have taken on the challenge of running a 10k on Saturday and a Half Marathon on Sunday in order to earn three medals.  In hindsight, I can just look back and laugh at how I missed it.  I won't be laughing if they ever decide to make Glass Slipper Challengers legacy status though...

Also, I hate to admit this, but I didn't go to the expo.  I didn't read the event guide and had no idea of the events going on that weekend.  At the time, I was working as an Event Coordinator and the biggest event of the year was rescheduled due to snow to the day of my Half Marathon.  I was frantic to get as much work done as possible before I left and disregarded all emails regarding the race because I was preoccupied.  HUGE mistake.  So my first advice is to read The Official Event Guide from front to back.  You don't need to print it out because they'll give you a nice one at the expo as a souvenir.  Seeing Ariel and her friends all over the bright and cheerful pages will not only keep you well informed, but it will just elevate your excitement to a whole different level!  This race is such an exciting one!  Even going into my third year I'm still as bright-eyed and enthusiastic about becoming a Princess Half Marathoner as I was for my first one.

My next advice is to make sure you do NOT skip the expo.  This is where you pick up your bib, shirts, and anything you may have pre-ordered such as pins.  It IS possible to receive your bib on race day, but I do not advise this.  I arrived to my first Princess Half Marathon three hours early in order to pick up my bib and I would have liked that extra sleep instead.  Picking up bibs on race morning is limited to runners with unusual circumstances that prohibit them from picking it up during the expo.  It is not advertised that this option is available, but it is.  There were no shirts.  Just bibs.  I was lucky enough to have them mail my shirt after the race, though.  I did, however, miss out on the pin that I prepaid for.  My pin collection is now missing a commemoration from my first runDisney race, and you don't want that to happen to you!

Corral Placement and Waiver Update: 
Waivers are now available to all Princesses participating in any of the races this weekend and corral assignment has been posted for all Half Marathon and Glass Slipper Challenge runners! Bib numbers are indicated on waivers. Here is the bottom right corner of my waiver for The Pixie Dust Challenge in 2015 for your reference. 

Runners of The Glass Slipper Challenge will only need to print one waiver for the 10k and Half Marathon, but any other runners participating in multiple events will need to print a waiver for all events which they are registered. For example, I have printed my Glass Slipper Challenge waiver and 5k waiver as I will need both forms to pick up bibs for all three races. 

After obtaining you bib number, see the below charts to determine corral assignment. Bibs are in numerical order according to the POT submitted back in the fall. Here are the corral assignments for runners of the Princess Half Marathon: 

Bibs range from 1-17,160 indicating there are 17,160 registered Half Marathon runners in addition to Glass Slipper Challengers. 

Below are the corral assignments for The Glass Slipper Challenge:

Again, you see a bib range of 20,001 to 28,129, indicating 8,129 Glass Slipper Challenge runners. Based on the 2015 corral placements, 7,875 runners took on The Glass Slipper Challenge last year. 

Also worth noting is the possibility of a different corral placement for the 10k. Since the 10k has less corrals (and less runners), Glass Slipper Challenge runners were assigned a different corral for the 10k than they were for the Half Marathon. My bib for the 2015 Glass Slipper Challenge indicated my corral placement for both races, as shown below. I'm predicting they will implement the same plan this year. We will find out at the expo upon picking up bibs if our POT puts us into different corrals. 

Since the expo is super important, I'm going to provide you with all the information you need regarding the expo so you take full advantage of everything it has to offer.  First of all, dates and times:

10:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. on Thursday, February 18, 2016
9:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. on Friday, February 19, 2016
9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, February 20, 2016
Location: ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex

I will be at the expo when it opens on Thursday, and not because I'm terrified everything will sell out.  Merchandise doesn't sell out within minutes like the horror stories online claim.  I just want as much time in the parks as possible with my Mom and Sister.  Plan your arrival schedule around the expo.  You'll be relieved to get it out of the way, but also SUPER excited once you immerse yourself in all the race weekend activities.  Walking up the hill to ESPN just amplifies your anticipation and completely puts you in a runner's mindset.  One of the best aspects of a racecation is seeing everything through a runner's eyes and starting your trip at the expo will definitely set the tone for this. 

I really enjoy the expo.  There are several photo opportunities and I recommend taking advantage of as many as possible.  You'll love looking back on memories from race weekend once you've traveled back home.  Here are some examples of photos I've taken at past runDisney expos!
My first stop will be the Field House where bib pick-up takes place.  Make sure to bring identification because they require it in order to pick up packets.  Pictures will be taken of Glass Challenge runners with their bib.  These pictures are used to verify runners at Glass Slipper Challenge tents following The Princess Half Marathon. 

Included with bib pickup is a voucher with shirt size for runners to claim their race T-shirts.  Glass Slipper Challengers also pick up their T-shirts in The Field House.  T-shirt pick up will be at Jostens Center for the 5k, 10k, and Half Marathon. This is the same building the vendors are set up in.  Since I'm running the 5k and Glass Slipper Challenge, I'm picking up my bib first to avoid going back and forth between buildings. 

All the fun happens at the expo.  This is where you will find most of the vendors.  My favorite is Raw Threads.  They have a new Princess Mantra collection- just in time for Princess Half Marathon Weekend.  Guest speakers are also part of the expo and their schedules will be posted prior to the race weekend.  I will share this information with you as soon as it becomes available! 

This post is intended to prep you before the race, so I will update it as more information becomes available.  Feel free to check back continuously, as runDisney will be releasing waivers and corral placements soon! 

I'm looking forward to earning my glass slippers again with all you running princesses!  See ya real soon. 


Thursday, January 28, 2016

Zero to Hero

For the 2016 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend, I participated as a St. Jude Hero in The Dopey Challenge.  This was my first time running for a cause and I want to start by saying it was a humbling and rewarding experience.  When I registered as a St. Jude Hero, the fundraising minimum of $2,500 seemed larger than life to me.  After raising $2,300 (I still have a few days left to reach my goal), I can only look back and say "WOW."  This has been an experience too great not to share!  

Many races throughout the world offer runners an opportunity to run for a reason, using their race to raise awareness and money for a special cause.  The benefits of racing through a charity include free race registration, a guaranteed spot in the race (even if it sells out), a sense of accomplishment and so much more.  Back in 2013, I had my eyes set on The Tower of Terror Ten Miler at Disney's Hollywood Studios.  I was hesitant to sign up because I didn't know if I could complete the miles and then it sold out.  It was still months prior to the race and I contemplated running for Noah's Light Foundation.  I believe the fundraising minimum was around $600-$700.  I talked myself out of it because I didn't know how to fundraise.  

I deeply regret that decision and I want to help anyone who has ever considered fundraising for a race.  In addition to sharing my once-in-a-lifetime experience fundraising for my first marathon at Walt Disney World, I'm going to share some tips with you on how to make your miles count and run for a reason!  If fundraising for a race is a goal of yours, you can do it.  Don't let the fundraising requirements scare you away!

"You're crazy," "That's nuts," "I don't even want to drive that many miles."  These are all common reactions I received when I told people how many miles I was running for The Dopey Challenge.  Those opinions quickly changed when I added that I was running all these miles for St. Jude.  I still can't decide what I'm more proud of- finishing the miles or helping St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.  Regardless, I was motivated by helping patients and families at St.  Jude.  Find a charity that really speaks to you and encourages you to run.  You will need that motivation on days you don't want to put in the effort to fundraise. 

There were so many well-deserving charities I could have selected in my journey to becoming a marathoner.  So why did I pick St. Jude?  Treatments invented at St. Jude have helped push the overall childhood cancer survival rate from 20% to more than 80% since it opened 50+ years ago.  I respect the progress St. Jude has made in ending childhood cancer and I wanted to contribute to their fight.  I highly encourage you to share why you chose the charity you are running for.  People want to hear your story and they especially want to hear what the charity does to change the community. 

I began my fundraising efforts in the fall and was elated when I received my first donation.  After reaching the $100 mark, I received an email stating that I had earned a St. Jude Heroes singlet.  At the time, I didn't even know what a singlet was!  All I knew was that my efforts up to that point had raised enough money to provide a pair of pediatric crutches to help children maneuver during treatment.  

In the beginning, I used social media to share my story.  Next, I contacted close friends,  receiving many donations just on the first day!  Off to a great start, I continued contacting people I knew.  At $250, I was congratulated for raising the amount of money needed for one red blood cell transfusion.  The numbers kept growing.  By the time the ball had dropped on New Years Eve, I had almost reached $1,000.  I couldn't stop there.  

I left for Florida on January 6th with over $1,600 towards my fundraising goal.  I received notifications while I was down at the race that more and more friends were donating.  It was encouraging to see the numbers growing.  It gave me motivation to keep running with the knowledge that I was helping St. Jude.  My race weekend consisted of four races- a 5k, 10k, Half Marathon and Marathon.  After realizing what a singlet is, I wore it for my third day of running.  

Before my corral even took off, I saw an announcer wave at me and for all runners to hear he thanked me for being a St. Jude Hero and praised the organization for what they do for the children.  I couldn't imagine a better way to start off a race.  I received "Go St. Jude" cheers and high fives all 13.1 miles of the course- from complete strangers!  I met fellow Heroes on the course, too.  Even if we didn't have the time to stop and talk to each other, all St. Jude runners made it a point to encourage each other on the course.  After the race, I made my way to the St. Jude hospitality tent to chat with the Event Specialist and let her know how the race went.  After telling her how much recognition I received as a Hero, I knew I had to wash my singlet and wear it the next day for my 26.2 mile adventure through all four theme parks.  

So, I wore my singlet the next day.  Running double the distance definitely meant getting double the high fives and "Go St. Jude" cheers.  I also met twice as many fellow Heroes.  

Even since I've returned home from the race, friends and family members have continued to donate towards my fundraiser.  Waking up at 3:00 am for four consecutive days and running 48.6 miles definitely wasn't easy, but I would do it all over again in order to benefit the kids of St. Jude.  I never doubted that I would finish the races, but the fundraising aspect got me discouraged at times.  I had friends, family, former teachers (from high school and college), cousins, neighbors, friends of my parents and grandparents, classmates (going all the way back to elementary school), an old babysitter, former co-workers, virtual friends (who share my passion for running or working out), even the two women who mentored me for my Bat Mitzvah- all generously donate.  With only $200 to go, I'm positive I can reach my goal.  Also, I'm positive I can do it again!  My goals for next year's Dopey Challenge are to run faster, have more fun, and raise more money.  

My friend Ashley had these Dopey-inspired tanks and tees designed to raise awareness of childhood cancer.  All proceeds benefit St. Jude.  If you can design something to raise awareness for your charity- do it!  People are more likely to support your fundraiser this way.  We have gotten such a positive out pour since we released these shirts.  Prices range from $22-$25 and you can purchase them here

I wanted to share some of the comments I've received from complete strangers thanking me for running St. Jude.  I couldn't have done it without the support from so many people, and their words of encouragement and gratitude should be extended to everyone who made this race possible for me.  I became a marathoner and a St. Jude Hero all at the same time! 

"Congratulations! Running for St. Jude is wonderful."
-Anne Marie Brock
Boston, Massachusetts 

"Thank you from St. Jude's patient #9977,  That's me, a 29 year survivor.  Keep up the great work.  These kids and their families need you.  May God bless you."
-Billy Beavers
Powell, Tennessee

"God Bless. Amen Sister."
-Raymond N Kyndra Julian
Radcliff, Kentucky

My favorite comment is the one below.  The St. Jude Heroes Facebook page shared a photo of me alongside my story and I received an overwhelming amount of praise for my race.  One woman found me on Instagram to tell me about what St. Jude did for her daughter.  I asked her daughter's name and was delighted to hear that it's Lily.  My absolute favorite clothing company is Lilly Pulitzer.  If that wasn't a sign I was meant to run this race for the children of St. Jude, I don't know what is!

If you'd like to make a contribution to my St. Jude fundraiser, click here now.  If you've ever considered running for a cause, I highly encourage you to do it.  $2,500 seems out of reach, but I was able to achieve it with a little help from a lot of kind-hearted people.  The Rock N Roll Nashville Marathon and St. Jude Memphis Marathon are two large race opportunities for runners to raise money for this life-changing organization.  I am hoping to run both races in the future.  My next run for St. Jude is The Chicago Marathon!  This race is a  great opportunity to fundraise because of the lottery systemSo many runners apply that they cannot guarantee entry to them all.  Running with a charity secures your registration and waives your fee!  

Were you a St. Jude Hero?  Leave comments below on your experience running St Jude- or any charity!  I'd love to hear how your fundraising went!  


Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Hummus Recipe

Hummus is a chickpea-based dip that's great with vegetables and packs a ton of protein.  Most pre-packaged hummus contains a lot of olive oil and extra fat, though.  To be honest, it's not even that great.  Fresh hummus is where it's at and I've got a recipe I want to share that is smooth and creamy WITHOUT the extra fat!  Prepare to be amazed.

(2) 16 oz. cans Garbanzo Beans (Chickpeas)
Juice from 1 lemon wedge
Head of Garlic
Dash of Salt
1/2 cup Tahini*
1 tbls. Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Roast Head of Garlic in the oven at 350 for an hour.
Meanwhile, strain the liquid from one can of chickpeas and empty chickpeas into blender.  Use all contents (liquid included) from the second can of chickpeas and pour into blender.  Add remaining ingredients and blend until smooth.  After the garlic is done roasting, squeeze garlic into blender.  It will come out with a paste-like texture.  Blend again and refrigerate.
Serve with vegetables or pita chips.  

Add a jalapeno or habanero for a little extra spice
Add a sundried tomato for a more robust taste
Add an avocado and replace lemon with lime for guacamole-hummus

*If you have a high-powered blender like me, you can make your own Tahini!  Simply replace 1/2 Tahini paste with 1/2 cup of sesame seeds.  I've also used pine nuts and cashews in lieu of sesame seeds before.  Either option will give it a unique nutty taste that you'll love. 

I'm Dopey for St. Jude!

I'M FINALLY A MARATHONER.  Like, a full marathon.  Not 13.1 but 26 point freaking 2!  To top it all off, I went out with a bang and ran 48.6 miles in four days as a Dopey Challenger!
This past weekend was a lot of firsts for me.  In addition to completing my first marathon, it was also my first Dopey Challenge, first RunDisney 5k, first time participating in WDW Marathon Weekend, and first time running for a fundraiser- St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.  Now that it's over I feel so fortunate to have been able to experience all these firsts this weekend.  Here is my story behind The Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend as a Dopey Challenger and St. Jude Hero!

For those who don't know, Dopey is a four day event, challenging runners to 48.6 miles in four days.  Broken down, it is a 5K on Thursday morning, 10K on Friday morning, Half Marathon on Saturday morning and a Marathon on Sunday morning.  Also, when I say "morning" what I actually mean is a 5:30 am start time.  For most, the miles is not the difficult part.  Changing your entire sleep schedule for a week is the most draining part of the challenge.  You've gotta really love running to commit to The Dopey Challenge! 

Sooo in April 2015 I was bored one day and decided I wanted to register for The WDW Dopey Challenge. Registration had opened up early for pass holders so I went through registration and when I got to the checkout screen I had a mini panic attack.  Not because the miles LOL I already knew Dopey was 48.6 miles in four days.  I was shocked at the price.  It was $600!  So I decided it would be a good opportunity to run for a charity and committed to raising $2,500 for St. Jude like it was nothing.  Yeah, I have a problem with committing to very large projects without thinking it through.  For example, signing up for my first half marathon on a car trip home from Florida, registering for Dopey because I was bored... You get the picture. 
The fundraiser went well, though.  To date I have raised $2,100 for St. Jude.  If you're interested in making a donation, my fundraising page is still open.  Only $400 to go!  To be honest, I actually put more effort into fundraising than I did training. 

I drove down to Florida early Wednesday morning on my own.  The expo began on Wednesday at 10:00 am at ESPN Wide World of Sports.  I scheduled my appointment first thing in the morning for the New Balance booth to purchase my Ariel Vazee Pace running shoes.  My appointment wasn't until 5:30 pm so I was in no rush to arrive in Orlando for another race weekend.  I didn't even head to get my bib when I arrived at the expo- I made a beeline straight for my new running sneakers.  I was beyond excited to get my hands on some mermaid shoes.  Plus, Ariel is my favorite Princess!  I didn't want to break in a new pair of sneakers during a race so I waited until I got home to try them out. 

I then went to pick up my Dopey Challenge bibs and shirts.  I also bought runDisney merchandise from the expo (wine glass and trading pin are my go-to souvennirs for race weekends).  A little pit-stop I couldn't help but make was to the medal rack at the exit of the expo.  Princess Half Marathon Weekend medals had been released last week, but I knew I would have the chance to look at them in person!  They're even prettier up close.  They almost took my focus away from the six medals I would be earning this weekend.  Almost. 
Before leaving ESPN Wide World of Sports, I made one last stop at the St. Jude Heroes booth.  They gave me a St. Jude Hero singlet to wear during race weekend along with some tips to hit my fundraising goal.  It was also nice to meet girls who work for St. Jude and feel like part of a team.

After leaving the expo, I spent some time at Hollywood Studios and witnessed the last EVER Osbourne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights show before heading to bed around 10:00pm.  I woke up at around 3:30 am for the WDW 5k at 6:00am.  The weather was a little chilly, but it could have been much worse.  I wore my Lilly Pulitzer Luxletic crop pants for this race to keep me warm. 

Because of the short distance of this race, the course constantly felt crowded.  With six corrals taking off only a few minutes apart, there wasn't much room for the 20,000 runners participating in the 5K (12,500 5k runners and 7,500 Dopey Challengers).  I didn't let the crowds bother me and stopped to take pictures with characters.  First up was Chip & Dale at around the 3/4 mile mark.  I also ran into Rafiki when I entered Epcot.  I saw other runners post pictures with Timon at the same spot, so it seems they were rotating throughout the race. 

After crossing the finish line, I was awarded my 5k medal and given a snack box.  This was the first time I found a pack of Oreos in the snack box, and I was excited to see that!

I changed into a long sleeve race shirt in my car and took the monorail over to Magic Kingdom for the rest of the day.  When I got there, I immediately saw Pluto and knew I needed a picture with him.  He seemed to really like my 5k medal!
I went to bed early again on Thursday, preparing myself for a 3:00 am alarm and 5:30 am race.  I woke up on Friday morning to rainy weather.  The temperature was also a little chilly so I put on one of the long sleeve race shirts for the weekend.  The corrals actually took off ten minutes apart on Friday morning.  This actually made a significant difference in course crowding. The rain, however, didn't stop.  Runners were drenched the entire race.  This happened to be the only race that got rain all weekend, so I'm just happy it wasn't a longer distance.  I don't think anyone wanted another 13.1 mile Splash & Dash!
I rested on Friday and spent time that night cooking dinner.  One of my running resolutions for 2016 was to fuel better for races, so I stuck to it!  I had pasta with grilled chicken and sauteed vegetables.  I also may have broken in my new wine glass with a little Sauvignon Blanc.
On Saturday morning, I started the Half Marathon at a steady pace and consistently ran slower than I normally do.  The course is the same as the course used for The Princess Half Marathon so I was very familiar with it.  I stopped for pictures with all the characters, too.  I was advised not to attempt a PR or go all out on Saturday's race.  It was pretty solid advice.  I got through it without any pain and still had plenty of energy upon crossing the finish line.  Enough energy that I spent few hours in Hollywood Studios with my cousin. 
After cooking another health-conscious meal on Saturday night, I went to bed early.  Like 8:00.  The two nights prior I didn't make it to bed until 9:00.  You don't really get a lot of sleep the weekend of The Dopey Challenge in case you were wondering.  I wore my St. Jude Hero singlet again for Sunday's race (I washed it, of course).  On Saturday, I got tons of high-fives and "Go St. Jude" cheers.  It was motivating and rewarding all at the same time so I needed to wear it again.  Race commentators even thanked me at the starting line of the Half Marathon for supporting St. Jude.

My Strategy for the Marathon was to start slow and finish strong.  My strategy did not include stopping for pictures but I did have enough time to stop and ride Expedition Everest right before hitting the 13 mile mark.  The single rider line was full of runners and only took about ten minutes to get to the front.  Getting high fives from other riders and the rush of riding a roller coaster was a great enough jolt of energy to push through the second half of the race.  I highly recommend riding Everest during The WDW Marathon if your pace permits it.

Once I got into ESPN World of Sports, I had a brief encounter with the balloon ladies.  Before this race, I didn't think the balloon ladies existed.  Well, I'm with Myth Busters: runDisney Edition here to tell you they are real.  No myth behind the balloon ladies!  They start after everyone else and run a 16:00 pace.  There are buses along the course titled "Parade Bus" that will sweep you to the finish line if you come across that point AFTER the balloon ladies.  From what I understand, its OK if they pass you on the course but you'll need to pick up the pace and ensure you're ahead of them by the next sweep point.

I saw them behind me just before crossing the 18 mile mark.  I called up a friend who ran Tinkerbell with me (yeah, I was THAT person who whipped out their phone and made a call during the race).  She was watching the race live and saw a hug sweep at mile 14 about 45 minutes prior.  She then proceeded to tell me that maybe I could become friends with the balloon ladies.  My response was "I don't want to get that close to them!"  I hung up and ran my little heart out.  At the next mile marker, they told me I was 3:30 ahead of the balloon ladies which was a relief since they were only about 15 seconds behind me at one point.

ESPN seemed to drag on forever.  Once we finally got back on to the stretch of road leading up to Hollywood Studios, an officer told us we had just passed the safe mark from being swept for the rest of the race.  This was after mile 21.  Come to find out, he was wrong.  So was the next guy who told us we were past the safe zone.  Come to find out, you are not actually safe until you leave the Hollywood Studios parking lot- in between miles 23 and 24.  A lot of runners clapped as they passed that part because they were in the safe zone to becoming marathoners.  I say I never want to be that close to being swept again.  Next time I turn out of ESPN, I want to see hundreds of runners turning into ESPN with the balloon ladies out of sight!  #goals

The race finished its course through Epcot.  I originally planned to stop and get a margarita while in Mexico, but at that point I just wasn't feeling it.  Next year I'm stopping for my frozen concoction, though!  I crossed the finish line without a drink in my hand but received what is now my absolute favorite medal.  Disney was nice enough to put my castle in the middle!  I went through the Dopey tent where they checked my photo and awarded me with Goofy and Dopey Challenge medals.  Then I clanked my way to the St. Jude hospitality tent to ice my knees, charge my phone, and stretch.

Immediately after the race, some profane words about Dopey may have come out of my mouth.  Some innocent ones were along the lines of "I hope someone kidnaps that little Dwarf" and "Dopey should be considered a Disney Villain."  The thought of running The Dopey Challenge again never crossed my mind... until I woke up on Monday morning.  Pain is temporary but those medals are forever!

I'm finally a marathoner.  I may not be an elite runner, but I'm part of the 1% of people who have completed a marathon.  What an accomplishment!
So, here I am, looking forward to Dopey 2017.  My only goals are to run faster, have more fun, and raise more money for St. Jude.  I'm looking forward to seeing all you Dopey Challengers next year!


Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Running Shoes & Roller Coasters: 2016 Run & Ride Race Series

After running the 2015 Carowinds Half Marathon, I called it "the greatest thing since beer runs."  Where else can you combine the thrill of running with the rush of riding roller coasters?!? That would only be in the Run and Ride Race Series.  It's so great, Running World magazine recently named it the BEST Half Marathon Postrace Party.  I had a ton of fun participating last year so I decided to double my fun for 2016- I'll be running at Carowinds and Kings Dominion!  Here are all the details for the 2016 lineup of Run and Ride races. 

To read my race recap from the 2015 Carowinds Half Marathon, click here.

The race series is stopping at six Cedar Fair parks this year.  Races range anywhere from one mile to a half marathon.  All distances guarantee bling, bragging rights and fun.  With the exception of the one mile fun runs, registration includes park admission for one day.  For just $15 more, you can turn that park ticket into a weekend park pass. This race series is VERY reasonably priced.  The 5k starts at $40 and goes up to $65 for the Half Marathon. You can run for less than the amount of daily admission.  It's such a GREAT value!  Remember to register early.  The prices increase the longer you wait.  You already know you want to run this event, so you might as well register now! 

Other benefits registrants receive include:  free parking on race morning, bib-chip timing and race pacers, Run & Ride T-shirt, prizes for top three finishers in each category, post-race food, and high fives from Peanuts characters on the course.

2016 Run and Ride Stops:

Valley Fair- Shakopee, MN
May 14th & 15th
Valley Fair is celebrating their opening weekend with two days of races and four distances to choose from!  Whether running one mile or 13.1 miles, all runners can hurry over post-race to ride Wild Thing- a 207 ft. hyper-coaster reaching 74 MPH speeds.  If that's too fast for you, the upper Mid-West's largest amusement park has plenty of other thrills to choose from.

Kings Dominion- Doswell, VA
May 22nd
New to the Run & Ride Race Series, Kings Dominion is offering a one day event with a one mile, 5k, and 10k race.  Their recently-expanded water park will be open this weekend, so pack your swim suits!  Also, prepare yourself for Volcano- one of my absolute favorite roller coasters.  It actually shoots riders out of a volcano! 

Cedar Point- Sandusky, OH
June 11th & 12th
With coasters such as Millennium Force and Wicked Twister, Cedar Point is known for delivering top thrills.  New to 2016 is Valravn, the world's tallest, fastest, and longest drop coaster.  You don't want to miss this one!  Also unique to this race are the views of Lake Erie on both the 10k and Half Marathon course. 

Carowinds- Charlotte, NC
September 10th & 11th
Sitting on the North and South Carolina border, Carowinds offers the most thrills in two states!  In 2015 they launched Fury 325, The Best New Ride according to Amusement Today.  In 2016, they open Carolina Harbour- their newly expanded and re-designed water park.  It's the largest in BOTH Carolinas!  All four race distances make their way through both states. 

Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom- Allentown, PA
October 2nd
You can choose from a 5k, 10k, or Half Marathon during Dorney Park's one-day running event.  10k and Half Marathon participants will run through Lehigh County Sports Fields after weaving their way through the parks.  Afterwards, ride Hydra, Pennsylvania's first and only floorless roller coaster.

Kings Island- Mason, OH
October 21st and 23rd
With the only night race in the entire series, Kings Island will be hosting a 5k Glow Run on Friday night with admission to their Halloween Haunt included.  The 10k and Half Marathon races take off on Sunday morning, so runners could easily participate in both.  Spending a weekend at Kings Island will give runners plenty of time to ride The Beast- my favorite wooden roller coaster!  Opening in 1979, The Beast is STILL the world's longest wooden roller coaster and the longest roller coaster in the U.S.

With so many races to choose from, I know most of you will be participating in multiple events!  I highly encourage you to register now since prices will be increasing.  Use discount code RUNBARBIE15 to receive 15% off any distance and location for the 2016 Run and Ride Race Series

4/4/16 UPDATE: Run & Ride has released pictures of their medals for the 2016 races.  Each distance represents a different Peanuts character in a roller coaster.  The medals connect magnetically so that all your TRAINing will pay off.  The more races you run, the longer the coaster! 

This being said, I'm going to squeeze a few more races into my schedule in order to earn all four.  I will be running the one mile race in addition to the 10k at Kings Dominion and will turn my Carowinds Half Marathon into a two day adventure with the addition of the 5k the day before.  You know I'm all about race bling! 

How many Run & Ride medals will you collect in 2016?

Good luck with your training!


Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Princess Half Marathon Weekend Medal Reveal

It's almost here!  We've been training throughout the winter and have endured some bone-chilling runs to get ourselves in shape to run like a princess.  With Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend approaching, Run Disney has given us a sneak peak of what's ahead for Princess Half Marathon Weekend.  It's so great, I want to hi-light (and scream and cheer about) it all.
First, we saw the 2016 New Balance reveal yesterday of their Run Disney shoes.  We've known for quite some time that Ariel from The Little Mermaid would be the featured Princess for this event- there were seashells and seahorses on the training shirts and Ariel and her friends were on the training cover photos released back in October by Run Disney. 

I'll be purchasing these shoes on Wednesday and can't wait to share my review and some close-ups!  Run Disney and New Balance have been great in the past about including fun details in all their collaboration shoes.  Below are pictures released of the shoe yesterday.  You know these shoes were made for a mermaid when they come straight from Ariel's Grotto.

To say that female race participants have been anxious for the medal reveal is an UNDERSTATEMENT!  After seeing the first medal reveal photo posted on social media, my notifications have been blowing up my phone!  It hasn't stopped vibrating for the past 30 minutes.  Well, here they are... The 2016 Princess Half Marathon medals.

First, I want to start by commenting that Run Disney truly outdid themselves by using images from Under The Sea: Journey of The Little Mermaid as backdrop for the medals.  Snaps for Run Disney!  Even without the intricately themed ride, these medals speak for themselves.  They are absolutely gorgeous.  The fact that they are mermaid themed alone makes me SQUEAL WITH JOY!  I'm like a 12 year old-girl freaking out over the Backstreet Boys all over again.  I love that they went back to gold.  The 2015 Princess Half Marathon Weekend medals were featured in silver.  The purple and green ribbons look great and will match amazingly well with the New Balance sneakers.  I'm particularly a fan of the seashell on the 10k medal and the green gemstones on the Half Marathon medal.  The 5k was everything I thought it would be, especially since it uses the same image found on the 5k training cover photo. 

It's no secret that I'm a lover of all things mermaid.  When creating my blog, I contemplated the name "Mermaid Marathoner," but my friends already called me "Run Barbie" and it came off the tongue a little better.  The 2016 Princess Half Marathon Weekend is going to be one I'll never forget.  It's also my Mom's first Run Disney event!  She'll be participating in the 5k with me.  I can't wait for this weekend to get here and immerse myself in all the fun mermaid shenanigans. 

Good luck with the rest of your training, mermaids!