Tuesday, October 21, 2014

My Top Ten Race Tips for new runDisney Runners



Welcome to my Top 10 Race Tips for New runDisney runners. 
I get asked the question over and over..."Do you have any tips for a new runDisney runner?"

I absolutely LOVE answering this question. It usually leads me offering advice, tips, things I like, things I don't like about runDisney. Hard to believe I know but there are actually things that I don't like about runDisney (things that I think other races do better). I won't list those here...I'll save that for another blog post!

So here goes. I've put together my top 10 tips and tidbits of Bamagirlruns runDisney knowledge. :)

1.) DON'T FREAK OUT.---I know. I know. This is your first runDisney event or your first half-marathon. You are nervous as crap. What if you oversleep? What if you have NO idea where to go on race day?? What if you just simply fall apart?? Well. You might just fall apart and you might oversleep and you may have NO idea where to go on race day.  I wish that I could give you a better answer but I can't. The nerves get the most of people and it can make for a disaster of a race day. However, the good news is that runDisney events run like a well-oiled machine. Chances are, there is a CastMember close by that can help you with any situation. Don't be afraid to ask!! If you feel lost or just uncertain about something, most likely you are not alone. Stay Calm and runDisney. :)
Who can REALLY stay calm at Disney?!?! ;) 
2.) HAVE FUN.--- If there's anything that I know for sure, it's that while you are running at Disney, you need to have fun!! ....Be a kid, pose for silly pictures, Believe in the magic!! I know that sounds just a wee bit corny but come on. You can run any boring race at home with no fun along the way. Get involved in the race, go to the pre-race DJ party, meet the characters along the way, dress up!! It's one of the only race series where it's TOTALLY acceptable to run to infinity and beyond with Buzz or Woody, leave a pixie dusted trail through the parks or totally ROCK those Mouse Ears that you've been wanting to break out of the cabinet. You see where I'm going with this?!? I'm totally not a tiara-wearing type of girl but somehow my girlfriends talk me into wearing one during The Princess Half Marathon every single year and I do feel a little more Princess-y. Just sayin.'....You are at Disney. Now act like it!!
REALLY glad that I brought my camera on the runDisney Disney Sports Festival FUN Run...
This is one of my favorite pictures from any runDisney event. Me and my kiddos having fun in World Showcase! 
It's always FUN to smooch on Mickey. <3

3.) BRING A CAMERA.--- While there WILL be photographers on the course, that doesn't mean that you are actually going to go buy those pictures. I like the instant gratification of having my own. Unfortunately, I've handed off my camera to Castmembers to snap a pic of me and a character only to have the picture turn out completely blurry. My best advice?? If you are running alone, try handing your camera or phone off to another runner behind you in line and offer to take their picture as well. You won't be AS rushed that way. I don't always buy my race proofs anymore but for special or first time races, I usually do. I have the very first picture framed of the first time I ever ran through Cinderella Castle. I will NEVER forget that moment. Also, if you are planning on buying the official race photos, take advantage of the pre-purchase deal that the official photography companies send out. Those discounts can save you big bucks!
The first time I ever "officially" ran through Magic Kingdom.
If you don't have anyone to take your pic, lean in for the Selfie. The characters don't mind. :)
Oh hey Kristin and Joey Fatone!
Never know who you're going to spot on the course during the Walt Disney World Marathon!
We even managed to grab a quick pic from a Photopass photographer,
after all, the parks were open when we ran through.
LOVE adding the caption to this one!

4.) STOP FOR PICTURES.---There really is no other place quite like running at Disney so don't you want to remember that?!?! Let's face it. You are running through theme parks....these are not the big spacious streets of New York City. The roads can be narrow, the course will be crowded at times. You will most likely NOT be the winner or place in your age group. So why not enjoy all that Disney has to offer?? There are lots of photo opps along the way, lots of characters to meet! But if you are frustrated with crowds, don't want to stop for lines...try this. Stop for a quick pic in front of attractions, park icons, famous Disney landmarks. While I do LOVE all of my character pics some of my favorite pics are those that are not official race stops. These pics also make your race experience just a little bit different than everyone else's. Be creative!
I love that I had enough sense about myself while running the Full Marathon
to snap a pic in front of all four icons in the parks.
I really didn't plan for them to come out exactly the same but they did and I love it!!

Clearly not an official race photo opp but there's a really funny story behind this.
You can get a delirous when running. It happens. #MagicalHeadWashingBall
Stopped for a quick pic in Epcot...Loved the landscaping at Flower and Garden Festival....
AND it looks like I'm wearing a crown on my head. #PerfectPrincess
Love catching characters out at the races that are sometimes hard to find in the parks!
Not an official race photo opp but this is one of my faves of me and my sis from the Disneyland Half.
Selfie with my good friends Mary Jo and Carrie with the Geosphere in the background!

5.) CHECK A BAG.---Checking a bag is easy although that's one of the things that people get so stressed over. You literally have to walk right past the gear check area on the way to your corral so why not drop off your bag?!? This may sound elementary to experienced runners but I remember having NO idea how to get my bag ready. What if they lose it? How will they know it's mine? Again, there is a system in place. At the expo you will be given a sticker that matches your race bib. Simply attach that sticker to the outside of your bag and you're good to go! Once you arrive at gear check (go to the letter that corresponds to the first letter of your last name.) for example, my sticker might be 1234-L. Hand the volunteers your bag and you're all set. To pick up your bag after the race is over, go back to the same letter that you dropped it off at and then show the volunteer your bib number. It's that easy. It has never taken me more than a minute or so to drop it off or retrieve my bag. And knock on Disney wood, they've never lost my bag either.
Gear check was a breeze after the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler.
We picked up our bags on the set of Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular!
I thought that was pretty Epic indeed!!
What to pack in your gear check bag?? I'm sure that everyone will have different things than me but these are the things that I never leave "home" (aka my resort) without.
-My refillable resort mug. When I get back to my resort after a race, I want a hot cup of coffee. I don't want to walk to my room and then go back to the food court....kind of crazy after you've just run a zillion miles but it's true.
-Jacket or long sleeves. It's Florida or California right?? Right. However, I'm the person who freezes after I cool down. My bones can't take it. It can be 80 degrees out and I'll throw on sleeves.
-A Banana. I know that they give you snacks, bananas, etc. after the race is over but I get pretty psychotic about eating bananas. I cramp like a maniac and I hate that feeling so I'm always sure to eat an extra one after a long run. One of my many many post race quirks. I also don't eat things that I've never tried before after I run. I'm not playing around with new foods just because they gave them to me in a box. I go with what I know.
-Back up Phone Charger. By the end of the race, I'm usually floating on about 1% of battery life left so I bring my back up and cord and charge it up! I like to upload pics while I'm on the bus back to my resort too so that helps.
-Room Key. Whether you wear your Magic Band, bring a plastic hard copy card or whatever. You gotta get back into your room.
-My friends' junk. Like it or not, usually at least one of my other friends always says to me..."oh are you checking a bag? Do you mind if I throw in my _____ ?"(fill in the blank) I never mind doing that. I'm just the type that would rather have all of my stuff with me than to be without.

6.) IF YOU WANT IT, BUY IT. I cannot tell you how many times that I've gone to a race expo, saw a super cute event t-shirt, jacket, visor...whatever. I would either get back to the room or home and think...ugh. I wish I would have just bought that. Now it's sold out. Now there are none left in my size. Now I've got to walk around the parks all day seeing 20,000 other people wearing the shirt that I wanted. Just do it. Seriously, $20-$30 bucks is not worth stressing over. You may never run another race. Then again, you may run hundreds of other races and that "I Did It" shirt may become your new tradition. If you want it, then you want it. Buy it. Just don't go crazy and spend your mortgage money. I know of people that have done that too. ;)
I'm kind of embarrassed to say that I bought both pair of the runDisney New Balance shoes..but not really.
I waited in line for four hours for them during Marathon Weekend.
I've gotten my money's worth out of them!
I almost talked myself out of this Coast to Coast shirt.  However, I'm glad that I bought it...
I run in it all of the time now. Love it!
7.) STAY ON PROPERTY. I cannot stress this enough. Stay on Disney property and take advantage of the event transportation. I have stayed off property before and plan to do so again very soon but I also feel like I'm kinda in the know now and don't stress too much about race days anymore. HOWEVER, when I first started running at Disney, I would never have EVER considered driving on race morning. The bus system is just so easy. The buses are plentiful. They are a no-brainer. They do the work for you. But do be on time....when they say that the last buses quit running at 4am, that doesn't mean 4:15am. 4:15am means that you've missed your bus. :(
Event Transportation signs are out to help you figure out which way to go.  :)

Another quick tip regarding the buses is that after the race is over, the lines start getting LONG to board the buses back to the resorts. The value resorts seem to be the longest so if you are in a hurry, you may want to keep that in mind. When standing around the Family Reunion area, reuniting with family might need to happen in the bus line.

8.) EAT RIGHT, EAT EARLY & HYDRATE HYDRATE HYDRATE.  It's so tempting to eat all of your favorite not-so-healthy snacks when you are on vacation. Please keep in mind that your body and race does not care that you are on vacation. Garbage in=Garbage out. I want you to have a good race so PLEASE save the giant cupcakes and the endless amounts of sugary sweets until after the race. Go for the Mickey Pretzel. Carbs and Salt on Main Street USA, yes please!!
My idea of the perfect runDisney snack.

Make your dinner reservations well ahead of time and get early reservations. By the time you eat, take transportation back to your resort and get settled, it can be midnight before you know it. Trust me....I'm the worlds' WORST at going to bed early so I need to take my own advice on this one. I usually shut the parks down every night. So really, this is a good theory and I'm going to work on it. Maybe. ;)

The Florida/California heat and humidity is not a joke. Even when you don't think that you need to drink. Drink. And then drink more. There are PLENTY of water/Powerade stops on the course so race day is not the issue. The issue is being out in the sun all day in the days leading up to the race. Most people travel in from all over the country and are just not used to this kind of heat/humidity. It can break you down.

9.) MAKE NEW FRIENDS.---I cannot tell you how much my runDisney life has changed because of all of the new friends that I have made along the way. Some people I see at every runDisney event, some people only have certain events that they attend. I absolutely LOVE running into friends all over the place. We meet up. We go to dinner. We play in the parks. We run together. You name it. It's FUNNNNNN.  If you are feeling a little weird about this. Don't. There are TONS of Facebook groups, running groups, charities and other ways to meet people. And hey, don't forget about actually meeting people face to face. That's my favorite way. Striking up a conversation while you are running, in line to meet a character, or waiting in your corral. You never know where it will lead you. Maybe nowhere or you may become the best of friends. Think about it. You already have a few things in common. You obviously like Disney. You obviously like to run. Shake off the nerves and go for it! And then go follow each other on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter...you know you're gonna take a pic together and then post it. :)
We are SO not the Princess types but we got the medals.  Lol.
Jindy and I met years ago at a runDisney meetup and have remained friends ever since!
Love this girl!
Carrie and I met an ESPN WWOS event two summers ago
 and have been running besties ever since!
10.) CELEBRATE YOU.---Whether you schedule a massage, go eat an $80 steak at LeCellier (which is what I did after Dopey Challenge), have a full photo shoot in front of the Castle....It's YOUR day!!! Celebrate it however you want to. I get SO annoyed at the people who are not tolerant of this. I love nothing more than seeing people jumping in the air with the Photopass guy for 30 minutes in front of the Castle wearing their medals. Wear your medals proudly and do whatever YOU want to do. I know it's hard sometimes with a large group or with a group of different kinds of personalities. My advice?? If you want a picture with Goofy after completing Goofy Challenge. Then go find Goofy!!! Who cares what everyone else thinks!!! You will never get this day back and don't let anyone take it away from you either. Your accomplishments are just as important as anyone else's ideas of how they think the day should end. Sorry, but it's true...I've known too many people that have said "well I wanted to get my picture wearing my medal in front of the Castle but my friends or family wanted to go to Epcot. So we went to Epcot." Ummmm no. Meet your friends at Epcot. I've learned in my old 40+ year old age, that pleasing others is not celebrating YOU. YOU ran the race, YOU trained, and most likely YOU are bringing your family with YOU. Do not feel guilty. Do not make excuses. Do not please others. Go get that pic (or 50 if you want that many) in front of the Castle and flash that medal proudly. I CANNOT say this enough. And then go get that $80 steak because it was freaking delicious. ;)
I wanted a pic of all five of my Princess Half Medals.
I wouldn't have brought all of them back to Walt Disney World if I didn't.
And to this day, I'm glad I have this.
I froze my butt OFF in 2010 after the WDW Half. I wanted this pic with Daisy,
so I waited in line with purple lips and got it. :)
PhotoShoot on Main Street USA with all 6 of my Dopey Challenge medals...
I will never apologize for this moment!
Took the Castle pic. Sported my bling and
even got the crane in the background....Perfection!! 
After my first Goofy Challenge,
I wanted to strut around with mouse hands and ears on...So I did. Yo.
A few more quick things that I just thought of.....in an ideal perfect world, I would tell you to read through the Race directions and the official event guide and that you would do that and remember everything. All of that goes out the window on the race day. Crowds are big. Things can be confusing. And for the love, THERE'S NO INTERNET SIGNAL!!!!! My solution? Screen-shot directions or times or anything else that you may think that you might need. As of now, there is no runDisney app. (Please refer to some of the things that I don't like about runDisney, not having an app is one of them). The event guide is available digitally now but...when that signal goes, so does the event guide. I can quickly refer to things that I need on my camera roll and that seems to work for me.

Another thing to remember (especially if you are a girl)...BRING BOBBY PINS, SAFETY PINS AND SCISSORS. I can't remember running a runDisney event when someone in my room didn't need one of these items. When you have costumes and Mouse ears that have to stay in place, these things are a MUST.

I hope that these tips have helped....These are just all things that I've learned over the years. :)

Happy Running, Happy Training and See YOU at the Castle!!

Monday, October 20, 2014

runDisney: When You Run By YourSelfie #HappyHaunted5K


Welcome to my Happy Haunted 5K Race Recap!
   A couple of weeks ago, I was in Orlando, Florida at Walt Disney World Resort running runDisney's Happy Haunted 5K Trail Run. This race was a little bit different for me.  Don't get me wrong, this is my THIRD time to run this race but this time I was running it alone. I love running runDisney events because I'm usually surrounded by friends that I either bring with me or that I meet there and I love the parks so it's a no brainer. This year--NO friends at the Happy Haunted 5k. What in the world??? How did this happen??? Be prepared for ALOT of Selfies in this post. :)

     I was running Tower of Terror 10-Miler later that same night for a total of 13.1 miles for the day with a mix of types of friends on this trip. I had my bestie, Carrie and I knew that we would be step for step. I had three friends from back home, Dorothy, Eric and Wendi. The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler was going to be their first runDisney event as well as their first official race longer than a local 5 and then I had my pal Jason...he's a Disney pro so he knew what's up. But overall, strange mix.....but the most fantastic mix. When I say that we had a BLAST. I mean we had a BLAST!!! More to come about my pals and their race results soon in my Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler Race Recap.

     We all went to the runDisney Health and Fitness Expo together, so nothing out of the ordinary there. Saturday morning arrived and I decided to drive my car over to the Wide World of Sports Complex even though I was staying at a host resort. I had lots of things that I wanted to do after the race so it's just easier for me to zip around in my car. Luckily for me, I know my way around Walt Disney World Resort. ;)

     I left Pop Century by 5:30am. Race time was 7:30am. I like to be early to runDisney events and I was expecting traffic but there just wasn't any! I made it to ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex by 5:34am and I was in my parking spot by 5:37am. Seriously, driving my car was the best decision that I ever made. As soon as I parked, I was getting out to find my running shoes out of my trunk and the rain started coming down. Whaaaaaa???  So yeah, I sat in my car for about 45 min. Hey, I'm not complaining though. I was dry when the race started so it's all good.
Waiting out the rain in the car Selfie. 

Umbrellas out everywhere before the race started.

      Regardless, I got out of my car when the rain let up. I had about 45 minutes until the start of the race. I walked to my corral. Again...totally weird going it alone.

      This was not my first runDisney race to run alone (I ran Goofy Challenge and Neverland 5K by myself and had so much fun by myself) but.....I was walking in and hanging around pre/post race with friends. So yeah. runDisney weirdness was happening. For sure.
Corral A Selfie.
      I was in Corral A so I had a plan in my mind. I was going to run this race pretty fast (or at least fast for me) and then go spectate at the end before I had to leave to head over to Flying Fish for breakfast.
Sounds good to me.
Bob Hitchcock Selfie. :)
     I ran into Bob Hitchcock from runDisney as I was just about to enter in my corral...we immediately start chatting it up about other races that we are running. Chicago, Marine Corps, Vegas....Good Luck at MCM, Bob! That's on my race bucketlist for sure. Bob is the one who put the bug in my ear that I need to add LA Marathon to my schedule. He said it's a MUST. Since then, I've asked another guy that I totally respect his running opinion of and he said the same thing. LA Marathon is a MUST. So there you have it. I MUST. ;)
Happy Haunted 5K Trail Run Start Line

Headless Horseman
     So off to Corral A I go. I did manage to run into my sweet New Yorker friend @pastri_chefDani at the start. We chatted for a few and then we started to move up so it was time to get the show on the road.  The race announcers did their usual best "country" impersonation skits (which I think is hilarious because they are so not from the south and sound absolutely ridiculous!), Scarecrow Mickey came out to welcome the runners, the Headless Horsemen ran across the field to warn us about running through the trails, the National Anthem was sung and we were off!!!
Running on the rocky road..headed to the woods.


     I ran like a bat out of heck...trying to make it to the first character stop without slowing down. First up were Honest John and Gideon from Pinnochio, The Hag from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. I hit Mile one at 9:41. Not bad for two character stops with pics.

Me and the Hag.
Mile 1 Selfie. 9:45min.
     Next up were Brer Fox and Brer Bear from Song of the South. Mile two Selfie at 19:35....Still running through the trails.
Brer Bear and Brer Fox....just chillin' in the woods.
Another Blurry Woods pic.
Mile 2 Selfie. 19:35 min.
Still running on the trails......
     The Big Bad Wolf was around the corner, I'm still in the woods, bugs in the trees and I'm a HOT, SWEATY, MUGGY MESS.
Who's Afraid, YO.
Running Fast Selfie. Tried to capture the moss in the trees ....
didn't quite turn out the way that I thought it would.
     I'm headed out of the trails and running towards the track where I find the GraveDiggers waiting for me as I enter.  One lap around the track and then the finish line is just up ahead. One quick pic with some Zombie Athletes and I'm outta here. Mile 3 Selfie at 31:45.  Whoop Whoop. I'm DONE!
I'm out of the woods and headed to the track!
Grave Diggers....spooky dudes with bad attitudes.
Seen on my run: Grave Digger Scene
Headed toward the Finish Line!
Zombie Athletes at the fence.
Zombie Atlete Selfie. BAD pic of all of us. lol.
Mile 3 Selfie.
Running it in for a spook-tacular finish!
     That was a quick and fun 5k....Grabbed my medal, a box of runDisney snacks, a pic with Mickey and a GIANT pumpkin and then I went back to spectate and cheer on the rest of the runners just before the Finish Line!!
Oh hey there, BEST MEDALS EVER.
Totally in love with this bling!!
Finish Line Fuel...even the boxes are cute. 
As I'm standing in line to have my pic made with Mickey Mouse, I look down and see this.
How GROSS is this?!? Sweat just dripping off of my legs.....Welcome to Orlando!!
Seriously. How adorable is this mouse?!?
     I've been wanting to be a spectator at ESPN Wide World of Sports for a while now. I love hanging out here and wanted to have a different race experience this year. Since I didn't really have anyone in mind to chEAR for, I thought I would just go make new friends. Glad I did!
chEARing at the Finish Line.
Go #HappyHaunted5K Runners!!
     In true runDisney fashion, I quickly realized that when you runDisney...you are NEVER alone. I found Mike Rahlman chEARing also from Be Our Guest Podcast and Be Our Guest Lizards (which I'm a proud member of). I found my friend Kristen and of course I spotted three Hitchhiking ghosts that are also friends of mine. I met some new friends on the sidelines and couldn't ask for a better experience!
Me and @BeOurGuestMike chEARing on the runners, being silly,
representing the Lizards and sporting our SEC Love.
He's a Mizzou boy and I'm a Bama Girl...We'll get along for most of the season. Roll Tide. ;)
chEARing on Disbroads Kristen and Suzanne!
Ghostly Friends, Gail and Kimberly...Hatbox and All!
These ladies looked great!
Look who I found on my way out! It's my buddy Marc Acosta!
It's always a fun time running into him....just the nicest guy.
     As much as I wanted to hang around and see the runDisney Kids' races, I also wanted to go eat at the Flying Fish over at Disney's Boardwalk Inn. I'm not much of a breakfast eater, but this restaurant is only open for a limited time for breakfast so I wanted to make sure that I ate there. Sometimes I have to force myself to stop and eat at Disney....I just get so busy that I don't want to spend the time being still. I run crazy miles and crazy hours there so my system is all out of whack. Eating properly is the key to success. So I left to go eat.

     I'll do a post on Flying Fish Breakfast soon.
 
     Overall, I have to say that I love the Happy Haunted Trail 5K and am super sad that it's going away next year. The theming of the race is phenomenal and one of the best that runDisney has to offer! In my opinion the medal was "to die for" and I LOVE running at ESPN Wide World of Sports so this is one of my favorite races...see what I did there?? ;)
The event shirt from Disney's Happy Haunted 5K Trail Run.
The Bling! It Glows in the Dark Too!

Hope to see ya again, Happy Haunted 5K!
     However, I do have a few negative thoughts on this race.

1.  This race is cancelled. Terrible runDisney, just terrible. I totally get the fact that this race weekend is probably not as prosperous as the others or but it's also not as wound up as the others either. There's a totally laid back vibe about this weekend and we like it. Who knows why they cancelled this race?!?! I'm sure they have a good reason but I LOVE running at The ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex. It's Gorgeous! Please bring this race back in the future.
Entry to ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex....home of Sports Awesomeness.
2. Although my bib was one of the most FABULOUS runDisney bibs that I own to date, the font on the #HappyHaunted5K bibs were just AWFUL. As a spectator, I could not read any of the names on the bibs and neither could anyone else around me. I kept asking to make sure that I'm not just old and blind. Nope. I'm not. The scripty/scrolly font is no bueno. Go back to BLOCK please for future races....if the spectators can't read the names when runners pass by, there's no reason to have the names on them. 
My Happy Haunted 5K Bib. 
3.  Even though this is not a "Challenge" race like the other weekends, it's still a ton of folks' first 5K or runDisney event....there was no hype leading up to this race. I totally felt that before I ever even left my house so it all made sense once I realized that this race weekend was cancelled. Runners want hype! Especially the forgotten races.....I even wrote a post about it. Read it here.

     So there you have it. I'm glad that I ran this race by my Selfie...I was able to take it all in. I paid attention to the race and not just my happy experiences with friends. Next up, Disney's Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-miler race review. Stay tuned.....


 *For more great runDisney events like this one, please visit runDisney.com and for more information on sporting events happening at ESPN Wide World of Sports, please visit www.espnwwos.com.

Check out all of the highlights from this year's event...you may just see a familiar face. ;)


Happy Running and See you real soon!