Friday, March 27, 2020

Spartan Season Training Plan

I was in the midst of overhauling my training plan in preparation for road race season to slow down here in Florida when things started getting canceled due to COVID-19. As of right now, Star Wars weekend is canceled and my May Spartan race is postponed to a date TBD and my next race that is still on is not until July. I've been focusing the last few weeks on just making sure I'm still working out while I juggle all of the life changes that are going on right now and I can nail down some new fitness goals.

Since it seems like things are going to be volatile for a while, I'm trying to keep my plan flexible so I can pivot when things become no longer an option. My next race is currently the Asheville Spartan Sprint at the end of July with the possibility that the postponed Jacksonville City Sprint could occur early in the summer. So it's OCR training time.


I'm going to be starting my summer off season early. Last season, I had two easy midweek runs with a long run on the weekend. My long run schedule will be 4 miles one week and then alternate 6, 7 and 8 mile runs on the other weekend so I can stay in 10k shape over the summer. I'm also planning on doing one of my two midweek runs over the causeways as long as that is allowed by current quarantine restrictions and I feel that the crowd level is low enough to be safe to run there. I'm still running my winter 60/30 intervals but I'll switch over to 45/45 once we start getting lows in the 70s.

Strength Training

The majority of my fitness focus for the next few months will be on strength training with a minimum of 3 strength sessions a week. My gym is currently closed so I'll be using the community fitness center in my neighborhood (as long as it stays open) as well as some home fitness equipment in my garage. I know working out in a nonclimate controled environment is not going to be fun but hopefully the hot weather conditioning pays off!

My big focus for Spartan training is to continue to work on grip strength. I do have a pull up bar at home so I'll be doing loads of dead hanging on it. I'd love to be able to go out to a local park and try monkey bars some times but we'll have to see if that pans out as a viable option. I'm also going to do deadlifts and famers' carry as long as the community fitness center is open.

I've also got a few more obstacle specific things I'll be regularly adding into my workouts. For the barbed wire crawl, I'm adding in bear crawls and rolling. Let me tell you, bear crawls are a lot harder than they look! It's not going to be a hard obstacle but having my body used to it will mean that I have energy left for other things. I'm also going to be doing a lot of carrying around my neighborhood. I have a sandbag as well as a 5 gallon bucket that I'll fill with my hurricane sand bags that I can use to carry. I don't have to carry heavy things in every day life so I'm just wanting to get my body used to doing it again.

I still want to keep a strong focus on my core strength. I really slacked on core exercises last summer and I regretted it when fall race season came around. So the planks, sit ups and Russian twists are staying. There are also plenty of body weight exercises I'll be doing like squats, lunges and pushups. And, of course, burpees! You can't do Spartan training without burpees!

Spartan has a lot of resources for training on their Youtube channel and they've also been featuring at home workouts on all of their social media outlets to help everyone stay fit during this pandemic so check them out if you are looking for inspiration and ideas.


I had a lot of fun putting in a regular adventure day last summer where I did something different and fun with my workouts once a week. I'm not sure how much adventuring I'll be able to do until the corona virus goes away but I have been thinking about what adventures I'd like to do later this year. The place that was hosting free yoga once a month has gone out of business so I need to do some research to find out about other yoga options in my area. I would also love to start doing rock climbing regularly. There is a local rock climbing and ninja warrior course place that I want to check out (again, probably once things calm down over the summer). I also want to add in some trail running miles. The terrain here will be nothing like Ashville but it's better than nothing.


I've done a great job of building up a foam rolling habit over the last year and I can tell it really helps. Right now, I'm focusing on making sure I drink plenty of water and get enough sleep. Those are two things I really slack on when life gets busy or stressful so I want to make sure those parts of my fitness aren't being neglected just because I'm not in my normal routine.


I'm coming up on my one year anniversary of Vibram fivefingers! I plan on doing a whole post about them to let you know what I did and what my long term goals are with them but I do think they are really helping me build up my foot muscles and force me to focus more on my running form. Right now, I'm currently running 2-3 miles in them once a week as well as wearing them or another pair of zero drop shoes for day to day activities. I do want to get a pair of running Vibrams as well as a pair of trail ones for the Asheville race since the terrain is going to be rougher than I'm used to.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Princess Weekend 2020 Part 4: Fairy Tale Challenge

How do you celebrate your second Fairy Tale Challenge? By going to the Magic Kingdom of course! So after a long nap and some breakfast, we headed out to ride some rides and get some castle pictures. Going into this weekend, I knew it was going to be busy. Princess weekend seems to have the most impact on Magic Kingdom crowds of any race weekend plus it always falls during some schools' winter break. With that in mind, we booked some fastpasses and planned on just hanging out in the park if the lines were too long.

I love getting my medals signed by the theme character so one of our fastpasses was to meet Cinderella and Elena. I was actually pleasantly surprised that the meet and greet line didn't seem too crazy since Cindy was the half marathon princess this year.

Medal autograph accomplished!

 Elena is always a bunch of fun! I don't really know anything about her but she's always super spunky and talkative. I really need to check and see if any of her movies are on Disney+ so I can find out her story. So many of the Disney princesses are sweet and reserved that it's fun to interact with someone who is so different! (That's also why I love meeting Cindy's stepsisters! They're a hoot!)

After the meet and greet, the day started to go a bit off plan. We had another two fastpasses plus a few bonus multiple experience passes given to me by a cast member because our room took so long to get ready but even the fastpass lines were crazy! After a PR race, I was just too tired to deal with the crowds so we took some more medal photos and headed over to the Polynesian to find a shorter Dole Whip line.

Except that the Poly had a new special Dole Whip snack that everyone was trying to get so its line was even longer than the one in Adventure land. Ok, on to plan C. We took a bus from the Polynesian over to Disney Springs to escape the crowds and find some dinner. We ended up getting the allergy fish and chips from Cookes of Dublin. It was so good!

We ended up spending the rest of the evening chilling in our hotel room. It ended up being a very low park time weekend but I was really ok with that. Will and I both needed some extra recovery time physically and mentally and I was so glad that we took that space to just relax. We did manage to have an amazing park day on Monday so stay tuned for that recap!


Part 1: Expo
Part 2: 10k
Part 3: Half Marathon
Part 4: Fairy Tale Challenge-You are here.
Part 5: Disney Magic at Animal Kingdom-coming soon!

Friday, March 20, 2020

Excalibur 10 Miler Race Recap

So I need to start with a bit of back story for this race recap. This race happened to land on the weekend after general registration for the Wine and Dine half marathon weekend. When I registered for this race, this fact didn't seem significant. I had already purchased my bib for Wine and Dine race weekend through a travel agent and so wouldn't be fighting with opening day registration drama. But the week prior during passholder registration, it came out that the POT pace requirements had been updated and runDisney would only be accepting POTs for 2:30 or faster half marathon times. General registration confirmed that this was not a mistake and all of my beautiful POTs including my new PR from Princess weekend were now useless......

I had been chasing that sub 2:30 half (and equivalent 10k) because that would have gotten me into the next corral and I was so close but I had not yet made it. This all really sucked for me because there was not going to be great running weather between the release of this new POT requirement and the deadline in August because summer starts way early in Florida. Guess I was going to have to have a pretty ambitious time goal for my first 10 miler so I could have a POT for Wine and Dine 2020 and Marathon Weekend 2021.

COVID-19 was starting to pop up more and more in the US and some people were already freaking out about it but I wasn't too concerned until Thursday afternoon before race weekend when I got a message from a friend (who also wanted to use this race as a runDisney POT race) that the race was canceled. I was really upset. I was already not happy at runDisney for changing the POT requirements with no warning and now I wouldn't even have a shot at a POT because people couldn't wait to freak out about the coronavirus until Monday. Plus, I had only just registered for the race and there would be no refunds or options to defer until next year. I really felt like I had just flushed a whole bunch of money down the toilet. Since I didn't need to taper any more, I headed to the gym for some serious strength training and angst relieving activities.

 Disney also announced that they were closing both parks for the remainder of the month so the next day, Will and I went to Epcot for our last Disney trip for a while. That really helped my mood and made me feel better about the race cancelation. I had run runDisney races in nonPOT corrals before and had a great time. Plus I knew if I ran the first half of the race fast, I could still do lots of character stops with short lines near the end of the race. It was going to be OK.

I decided to run the race as a virtual so I could still feel like I earned my medal. I took my 10 miles nice and easy on Saturday morning. It ended up being a really nice run. We had picked up our race packets including t-shirt and medal on Friday on the way home from Disney so my medal was waiting for me when I got done with my run. In the end, crap happens. Races get canceled. You may have to DNS. But staying upset about it doesn't change anything. Keeping up my commitment to training and working towards my fitness goals will change things.

Right now, the rest of my spring running season is so up in the air. I'm still working to maintain my half marathon base for the Star Wars Rival Run in April but we'll have to see if the parks reopen at the end of March or if Disney decides to keep them closed. I'm also working towards my next Spartan race which is in early May. (They have also canceled all events through mid April.) There is a definite chance that either one or both of these races will get canceled or postponed but until then, I'm going to keep training as if they are going to happen. Races will not be canceled forever and when I get to run my next race, I want to be ready to crush it.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Princess Weekend 2020 Part 3: Half Marathon Race Recap

For the Princess half marathon, my husband Will decided to join me. He had promised to run Princess weekend with me in a tutu if I ran a Spartan race. Which I did.... So he got to dress up as Cinderfella while I went as Lady Tremaine. We opted for a Sparkle Athletic skirt instead of a tutu as tutus can be very itchy!! But he was a great sport about it and even wore a running tiara.

The corrals for the half are actually quite a walk from the prerace area so we walked over with some of our running friends. I had a really nice chat with Jen from the Go Find Your Awesome Podcast. We talked about my goals for this race (a sub 2:30 and new half PR). She told me that no matter what happened today, I was awesome! Those words of wisdom would come in handy later.

Since the weather was really great for running, I had decided to go for another PR attempt and see if I could hit the 2:30 mark. Just like for Wine and Dine, the 2:30 pace group was in my corral and they used the 60:30 interval that I train with. One of the reasons I do PR attempts at runDisney races is that they offer Galloway pace groups! Will joined me back in corral E and we found the pace group. It was not as cold as the 10k the day before but I did bring a throw away shirt and mylar blanket to wear in the corral. I'm such a pansy about being cold!

Then we were off! I love running with a pace group at the beginning of a race. It's super easy to go out too fast or to get bogged down by the initial crowding on the course and go too slowly. We maintained a great pace through the beginning of the course. The beginning of the Princess half marathon course is pretty boring. It's dark. It's on the high way and there's not much to see in the first few miles except a few character stops. I do remember seeing character stops but there's no stopping during a PR attempt!

I felt ok during the first three miles or so but not amazing. I definitely could tell that I ran the 10k the day before a bit faster than I probably should have. But the conditions were so great that it was hard to hold back even as much as I did! The two pacers were really fun and up beat so that definitely helped. And I had Will to chat with. We also ran into Jar Oxandspoon going under the bridge between the Magic Kingdom parking lot and the Contemporary. Will ran up and hung with him for a bit before rejoining me in the pace group.

We hit Magic Kingdom after mile 4 and that really gave me a boost of energy. Because we hadn't stopped for characters, there wasn't much crowding at the course despite having started in a later corral. There was plenty of space to get action shots from the photopass photographers and still stay with the pace group. Even the pacers were really getting into the action shots so it was a lot of fun!

Running through the castle is my favorite part of this course and we both ended up getting a castle action shot! Woohoo! Knowing that I was going to have at least some photos from this race made me really happy and was definitely an energy booster which I knew I would need for the long highway stretch back to Epcot.

But during Magic Kingdom, something started to rub on my rib cage under my left arm. I'm not sure what it was as I had worn all of the pieces of my running costume before and never had any issues. Thankfully, I knew from previous races on this course that a med tent was just past Frontierland in the back stage area before we hit cone alley. I had Will run ahead of me and grab some vaseline for me. I was able to apply on the go and not risk losing the pace group because I had to stop. Thankfully, that completely took care of the rubbing so I was fine the rest of the race. Will was also great with running ahead to the water stops so I could drink water during a walk interval even if we ran through the water stops.

I had probably my very best cone alley experience this race. This stretch between Magic Kingdom and the highway is a huge choke point and can be really hard to navigate. I'm not sure if it's just because I was going faster or if my pace group was just really good at staying together but it was really not bad. It's good to remember that each and every race experience is different and just because one section of the course was bad for someone else, that doesn't mean it's also going to be bad for you.

Then it was back on the wide highway towards Epcot. I actually like the highway stretches of the course because there is so much room to navigate between other runners but it can be brutal if the weather starts to get warm and the sun is beating down on you. This race started in the 50s so it was really nice for the beginning half or so of the race. On the way back to Epcot, I started over heating and struggling to stay with the pace group.

I had a hard time deciding what to wear for this race. For the 10k, I definitely needed pants and a long sleeved shirt for the whole thing but it was going to be about 10 degrees warmer for the half. I decided to wear pants but a throw away long sleeved shirt so I could run in a sleeveless top. I ended up choosing which pants to wear with which outfit based on which colors went best together but that was a mistake. The blue pants I wore for the 10k are actually nice cooling pants from Under Armor that are meant to be worn in the heat. The black pants are cheap running leggings from Walmart with no cooling properties. I really could have used the cooling properties during the half marathon!

Around mile 9, I decided to stop to roll my pant legs up to see if that would help with the over heating. I also switched to a 45:45 interval to give my legs more of a break. Running without the pace group meant that I could walk the water stops and hydrate better. I've definitely noticed that running through the water stops really makes it harder for me to maintain pace. For the rest of the race, I drank two glasses of water, a swig of my pickle juice for electrolytes and dumped a cup of water over my head at each water stop.

I still wanted to try and PR and possibly catch up to the pace group so I decided to keep a good pace for the next stretch and see how I was doing. If I got to a point where I 100% knew I couldn't PR, then I could always stop for a bunch of short character lines in Epcot. We were actually a bit ahead of pace so I knew a PR was still possible if I could continue to push for the rest of the race. I turned on my inspirational Disney running playlist and kept going. The changes I had made definitely made me feel a lot better even if I hadn't been able to keep pace with the group so I think breaking off from them was the right decision.

They were playing Into the Unknown during one section of the Epcot backstage area which was one of my inspirational songs. That was a big motivator for me and I had some really great paces for the intervals during that section. I still hadn't caught up with the pace group but I was still in range of possibly PR'ing so I kept going. Things were getting really rough as we exited Epcot to head towards the finisher's shoot. I had to keep taking my intervals the whole way through, even if there were photographers so I got some pretty awkward face photos.

I really wanted to just stop and walk the rest of the race since I was so tired but instead, I dug deep and found just a bit more for one final (and actually pretty pathetic) push towards the finish line. I stopped my running app and checked the time. It was definitely over my previous PR from Wine and Dine weekend. My app time is usually a bit longer than my actual time as it starts before I start and I stop it after crossing the finish line but it definitely looked like it was too much longer than my PR for the difference to get me an official PR.

And I was surprisingly ok with that. I gave it my best effort and I pushed myself all the way to the very last seconds of the race. It was still an amazing time and I had a blast doing it. And either way, I was awesome and not PR'ing at an incredibly crowded race that I dressed too warmly for was not going to change that. We were both really tired so we decided to head back to the hotel immediately instead of hanging out in the finish area to wait for everyone else to finish. We had breakfast and then napped. I woke up from my nap to a lovely text from my running friend Audrey who had been tracking my race bib and wanted to congratulate me on an awesome time and ask if I had PR'd.

This was the first I had seen my unofficial time from runDisney and it was lower than I thought it was. I almost texted back that it was not a PR but I decided to hop onto the runDisney website to double check my past PR since I was going purely on memory. And I had misremembered the seconds from my last PR which mean that my unofficial time was two seconds faster than my PR. I was pretty stunned but decided to wait until my official time was posted before calling it an official PR. But the official time matched the unofficial time and I had myself a PR. While celebrating, I realized something.

Every second of that race counted. Each extra interval I had pushed to stay with the pace group before breaking off counted. Every time I wanted to stop my run interval early but didn't had mattered. That last tiny little bit I found in myself to push in those last yards towards the finish line made a difference. If I had chosen to give up on any one of those micro decisions along the course, I would not have had a PR. In the end, I'm so glad I decided to keep pushing myself to see what I could find because I found awesomeness.


Part 1: Expo
Part 2: 10k
Part 3: Half Marathon-Your are here.
Part 4: Fairy Tale Challenge-Coming soon!
Part 5: Disney Magic at Animal Kingdom-coming soon!

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Princess Weekend 2020 Part 2: 10k Race Recap

Saturday morning for the 10k came dark and early and chilly! Last year, we had a heat wave for princess weekend but this year we had a cold spell. It was about 45F at race start! As a Floridian, I was not mentally prepared for standing in the corrals in that kind of weather. My original costume idea was to be Jasmine but in the week leading up to the race, I was scrambling to find a way to make my costume more weather appropriate. I had a pair of teal leggings to wear and I grabbed my 2020 Marathon Weekend shirt since the colors coordinated with everything else I was wearing. No one knew who I was but it still looked cute in photos.

I also bought some throw away gloves to wear. I wanted to grab a mylar blanket but I couldn't find any. A trash bag with a hole in the top also works in a pinch so I had a super glamorous look prerace. The character lines were super long by the time I arrived at the race site so I skipped character photos and instead met up with some friends I'd met on Instagram. The runDisney community is so awesome and it was awesome to get to meet more people in real life!

The 10k corrals are really close to the character area so I popped into my corral pretty early. It definitely felt odd being in corral A. I definitely don't run at a corral A speed but I decided to just enjoy the corral A experience incase it's my one time to be at the front of the pack. It was really chilly in the corral but the trash bag definitely helped. Pretty soon we were moving forward to get in position for race start. Unfortunately, I tossed my trash bag while we were getting into position. Usually, once I'm in the shoot, race start is imminent but in corral A, you are in the shoot before the preshow even starts. Oops! I still had enough layers that it was bearable but I was still colder than I would have liked.

Then it was time for race start! I've seen video from runners who start in corral A and actually run corral A pace but I was still amazed at how much space there was!! I opted to run the first mile before starting my intervals as it was cold and I really wanted to warm up. The first character we passed was Pocahontas. She was up on the overpass so she wasn't available for photos. I was kind of disappointed that she didn't have any photo opportunities the entire weekend but there were plenty of Pocahontas characters during the race which I really appreciated. There was John Smith, Meeko and Governor Ratcliffe. I stopped for a photo with John but I wanted to keep moving. Brr!

There was one section of the highway part of the course I really did not like. We ran back through part of the Epcot parking lot which was nice because it was a convenient place for spectators to go after the race start. Unfortunately, all of the buses that shuttle people back to their resorts were lined up along the course. They were all running so there was a really bad exhaust smell in the air. Nasty! It was bad for the runners but I felt really bad for the spectators who just had to stand there and breathe that gross air.

I made it into Epcot in the dark which was amazing! I wasn't going very fast as I wanted to save my legs for the half but starting right at 5:30 allowed me to get to the park in the dark. So beautiful! I absolutely love running through the parks in the dark. It's one of my favorite parts of a race weekend. The lights were all on and it was an amazing sight. I stopped for a few photos but didn't stop for a character until France. Esmeralda and Quasimodo were out! Esmeralda was out for the Marathon Weekend half but her line was super long so I didn't stop that weekend. The line was so short when I got there so I had to stop.

The course then headed out around the Boardwalk area. I do enjoy running the Boardwalk and for once it was dry! I ran into Kristen from Running in Makeup and Theresa from Running with Shinsplints who were cheering on the Boardwalk. Thanks for the support ladies! My next character photo was Clarice. She's a chipmunkette who appeared in some Chip and Dale cartoons. I've seen her with Chip and Dale during several races but the trio always has a super long line. She was kind of tucked away in a corner at the bottom of a hill right by the Swan and Dolphin hotel so I think a lot of people didn't see her. There were only 4 or 5 people in line for her so I had to stop!

Then I ran passed the Yacht Club and Beach Club resorts before heading back into Epcot. At the very center of the lagoon, Flora, Fauna and Merriweather were available for photos! Since they were the challenge characters, I was really excited to see them on the course. The line wasn't too long when I stopped but by the time I got my picture and left, it had really picked up. (The ended up also being on the half marathon course too so hopefully lots of people got the opportunity for photos.) 

After that, the course was almost over and headed out of Epcot and to the finish line. We got to run through some of the Guardians of the Galaxy construction area which was cool. I'm so pumped for that ride. I did start to get cold again during the last mile or so of the race. I had tossed my gloves around mile 3 and my hands started getting really cold at this point! I did check the weather later in the day and the temperature did actually dip a few degrees towards the end of my race. I took my time crossing the finish line and made sure to get a great finish line photo. They did have mylar blankets at the end of the race which I needed!

The character lines were pretty short so I grabbed a photo with Aurora and Princess Minnie. I got in line to see Anna and Elsa too but I only stayed a few minutes. For whatever reason, their line was moving really slowly and I was just too cold to stand outside anymore. I headed back to my resort for a hot shower and a nap. Since I got done with my race so early, I was able to nap and still make it in time for breakfast at my resort. Mickey waffles for the win!

After breakfast, I headed over to Disney Springs for some window shopping. I stopped by Erin McKenna's for some allergy friendly treats. Some Disney resorts carry mini cupcakes from this bakery in their cafeteria but no such luck this trip. I got my favorite-a mint brownie cupcake. Then I attended another meet up! Yay for friend time! It was a bit smaller than the Marathon Weekend meet up which was nice because I felt like I actually could catch up with everyone and not miss people. After the meetup, it was back to the resort for me. Since the weather was so great for running, I planned on going for a PR attempt at the half marathon so I needed to rest my legs. I got in an epsom salt bath and spent the evening watching HGTV in bed. A lot of people enjoy getting in tons of park time during race weekends but I really enjoy having some quiet resort time.


Part 1: Expo
Part 2: 10k-You are here.
Part 3: Half Marathon
Part 4: Fairy Tale Challenge-Coming soon!
Part 5: Disney Magic at Animal Kingdom-coming soon!
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