Becoming a Princess with RunDisney

Almost two years ago I ran the Disney Princess half marathon with RunDisney at Disney World Resort. It was a magical experience, but I had a few regrets. I thinkĀ if I had researched more about the races, I could have had a better run and much better experience overall. I thought I would share a few tips that might make your transition from regular runner to Disney Princess a little more magical.

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Running for My Life

July 21, 2013

There is a saying that food is the most over-abused antidepressant while exercise is the most underutilized, I whole heartedly believe this is true. I have found myself in that vicious cycle of overeating to calm my nerves on more than one occasion. It took me years to realize what I was doing, and what I was doing to my body. The last few months have been some of the most tumultuous of my life. I am dealing with my own emotions, the hurt I feel for my son, and a complete overhaul of my personal, social, and professional life. I worry about getting drawn back into an unhealthy lifestyle, and trying to cope with day to day stressors without turning to food.

I am generally a healthy eater. I grew up on a farm and we always had a garden. I have helped stake tomatoes, hoe potatoes and turnips, and pick beans. I am not a fan of fried foods, they actually hurt my stomach. I do have a vice for chocolate, and just about anything sweet. My great grandmother and I would make homemade peanut butter fudge, blackberry dumplings, peach cobbler, or some other delicious treat several times a week. My active childhood made it easy to burn off the calories but my metabolism slowed down with age. I gained a significant amount of weight following my brothers murder, the birth of my son, a terrible injury associated with his birth, and serious problems in my marriage. I am pretty sure I ate my feelings, and I cared for a baby alone so I was unable to be as active as I had been. Oh and there was the breastfeeding, I have never had such an insatiable appetite in my entire life! I ate double what I normally did, and I didn’t loose weight like everyone else. I wasn’t having any sex because of the problems in my marriage, so I wasn’t even getting a workout from that! And although its fun, visiting hd porn video doesn’t have the same calorie-burning effects as sex.

Two years ago, to everyone else I had everything I ever dreamed of. A beautiful son, a successful spouse, and a very comfortable life. Sadly, I looked in the mirror and I was miserable. In my eyes, I was fat and unhappy. The only source of joy in my life was my son. We were living in Bogota, Colombia so my options were limited. I was stuck in a hotel suite with Gabe while Arturo worked, and he didn’t get in til after 5pm. Bogota gets dark shortly after 6pm, and it isn’t the most hospitable city after the sun sets. The weeks were very long and lonely. I missed my home, my friends, and most of all the woman I use to see when I looked in the mirror. It wasn’t just my weight, I was unhappy with myself, and choices that I had made.

We lived at the J.W. Marriott and luckily they had a well equipped gym. I heard my friends chattering on Facebook about the Couch to 5k program, and I decided to check it out. I would be ready to go to the gym when Arturo arrived from work, and I pounded the treadmill. It wasn’t fun. I suffered a slight bought of altitude sickness after I arrived in the city, and I was unable to use the local remedy because I was still breastfeeding. Coca plant leaves are boiled to make coca tea, and routinely sold legally on the streets of Bogota. It is the same plant used to manufacture cocaine, and I was always apprehensive about ingesting it. My overweight, out of shape, post-pregnancy, and breastfeeding body really struggled the first weeks at 9,000 feet above sea level. I just pushed through the lack oxygen and tired muscles.

Physical pain is nothing compared to true emotional pain, and I used this motivation to just keep running. My sweat felt better than tears. I found a positive way to channel all my negative emotions. Less than a year later, I would finish a 12 mile Tough Mudder, and start my journey towards a full marathon. I have several half marathons under my belt and I completed those without great difficulty. Two of my prized possessions are my Tiffany Blue Nike running shoes, and my Tiffany & Co. finishers medal/pendant which I received for completing the inaugural D.C. Nike Women’s half marathon.

In two weeks, I am helping Bluegrass Junior Woman’s Club with our Foam Run Foam 5k which will benefit our charities. It will be a very easy course at Masterson Station Park here in Lexington, Kentucky. I hope runners and non-runners alike will come out to help support us. It will be a great way to help out several very worthy causes. A great way to help out several national charities is to use the smartphone app Charity Miles. You can earn money for each mile ran, walked, or biked.

There are days that I feel like I am running for my life, but in reality I am. I run for my health, my sanity, and my love of cupcakes. I want to set an example for my son about living a healthy lifestyle, physically, mentally, and emotionally. The next few months I will have to push myself, and I appreciate all the encouragement from others. My first full marathon will be the Marine Corps Marathon in October, and the weekend before I will run my first Bourbon Chase relay with the team Merry Pranksters. I have my eyes set on a triathlon, and who knows maybe even an Ironman one day. I am trying to make the best of each day and each run, one step at a time.

Happy Smitten Sunday,


Sevenly and the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors: Where Fashion Becomes Charity

May 22, 2013
Have you ever witnessed the pain of someone else and counted your blessings?  When I was running the Disney Princess half marathon this spring, I caught a glimpse of a red t-shirt with the photo of a soldier on the back.  I was curious, so I sped up to get closer.  A military widow was running for the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors also known as T.A.P.S.  I nearly started sobbing on the spot.  I come from a very large military family and we have been fortunate enough to have our service members return home, countless others aren’t so lucky.  The T.A.P.S. program provides a multitude of services to the family members, friends, and battle buddies of service members who died for our country.  The pain and suffering they endure can be relentless.  T.A.P.S. developed summer camps for children, grief counseling, emergency funds, and other forms of very necessary assistance. 

Photo Credit: Sevenly

The trendy clothing line Sevenly has partnered with T.A.P.S. this week to help raise money for this incredible organization.  

                                              About Sevenly:

Sevenly is a social good fashion brand that partners with a new charity each week, promoting and selling limited edition graphic tees and other lifestyle products. Seven dollars from each sale goes towards the charity of the week, helping raise funds and awareness.  Sevenly’s foundation is that People Matter, and since their launch in June 2011, Sevenly has continued to lead a generation towards generosity, raising over 2.1 million dollars to date.

Photo Credit: Sevenly

Photo Credit: Sevenly 

The trendy clothing line is comfortable, stylish, and affordable.  Why not shop for an great charity and help military families recover from a devastating loss?  You can help raise awareness for T.A.P.S. and the Sevenly fundraising campaign by sharing this blog post on your social media sites.  It would be a great way to kick off your Memorial Day weekend plans!  

Happy Wonderful Wednesday,


Why do you run?

Lately I have been getting the question, “Why do you run so much?” I have the simplest response, “Once you have endured real emotional pain, you figure out a little physical pain never killed anyone”. I survived the emotional turmoil that was caused by the murder of my brother and a few miles definitely won’t kill me. My brother was a runner, actually the true runner in our family. When I hit mile 10 of the Disney Princess Half Marathon the remix of Forever Young came on my shuffled playlist.
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I knew my brother Brandon was running with me. He will always be forever young to me.

I also really like the motto of Sean Astin and his Run3rd crew.

“I run 1st for my myself, I run 2nd for my family, and I #run3rd for you.”
~Sean Astin
Running is very cathartic for me, just like writing. It helps relieve some of my pent up stress. I think, I sing, I cry (and rarely from physical pain). There is no drug – in my humble opinion – that could ever give me the stress relief or mental clarity that running does. Though I recognise we all have our different ways of coping.
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I do have friends who use galaxy glass pipes to take medical marijuana to help navigate their stress, as well as their exersise routine. Apparently it doesn’t just serve as a destresser but also as a reliver of joint and muscle pain so it may be an option if you’re considering running as well. Nowadays several online shops sell low odor strains for those who need help but don’t like the smell, which means that more can enjoy it and feel that sense of relief. I know for me, the run is what I need the most and I highly reccomend you try it out, not just for your mental health but for the health of others?.

How can we run to help others? Thanks to Smartphones and an app from Charity Miles, it is super easy to do charity while you run (walk or bike). You simply download the Charity Miles app which is free, swipe your screen to start and select your charity from a vast list of organizations.

I am not sure they could have made Charity Miles easier to use. I have heard of people using it while they are shopping at the mall, working (great for healthcare professionals who are on their feet in a clinical setting or hospital), and you can even help a charity while doing very dreaded house work!
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The app is absolutely free and ridiculously simple to use. They don’t spam your email or harass you. They use our everyday tasks to help out a whole variety of charities.

Two of my favorites are:
United Nations Foundation Shot@Life campaign which advocates for global vaccination
Wounded Warrior Project which provides life saving and sustaining services to wounded service members.

All of the current charities include:
United Nations Foundation Nothing But Nets
United Nations Foundation Girl Up
United Nations Foundation Shot@Life
United Nations Foundation World Food Programme
RED the Global Fund
Every Mother Counts
The Nature Conservancy
Pencils of Promise
Partnership for a Healthier America
Habitat for Humanity
Autism Speaks
Feeding America
The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research
Stand Up To Cancer
Wounded Warrior Project
Ironman Foundation
Achilles International

Please help spread the word about the Charity Miles app and the wonderful organizations that profit. It is an incredibly easy app to help some very deserving charitable organizations.

Happy Thoughtful Tuesday,

So you think you want to be a Disney Princess?

February 28, 2013

Due to popular demand I am blogging about my race experience with Run Disney at the Princess half marathon at Walt Disney World Resort.  It wasn’t as “magical” as I dreamed it might be but it wasn’t a completely poor experience either.

My personal race bib and my team bib.  

The Race Expo was moved from the Disney Wide World of Sports Complex to the Coronado Springs Resort due to events being held at the sports complex.  It was very congested (like most of the race) and very hard to get around.  I picked up my race packet, and made it through half of an aisle before I got frustrated and we left.  I don’t understand why they crowded the aisles into such a very small space, there was still a significant amount of space left in the ballroom.  There were things I really wanted to pick up but I just couldn’t bare to deal with the crowds.  My family and I spent the rest of the day on Friday at Magic Kingdom but I will blog about our vacation experience in a second post.

We spent Saturday at Animal Kingdom.  I waited to pack my race bag which was a huge mistake.  My ear phones disappeared.  I frantically ran out to the local Winn Dixie to pick up a pair.  I ended up not getting in bed til about 11pm which isn’t great when you are getting up at 3am.  If you can’t handle getting up really early, this isn’t the race for you.  I was out the door by 330am and still managed to forget my breakfast.   I drank a 16oz coconut water and some gatorade on the drive over.  

My first piece of advice is stay at a Disney Resort.  Run Disney provides transportation from all Disney hotels.  I stayed at a Disney Good neighbor hotel, Marriott Residence Inn Buena Vista.  It was just a few miles down the road and it still took over an hour for me to drive into the parking near Epcot.  If you are military affiliated, stay at the Shades of Green resort (I will discuss this at length in the vacation post).  The grounds are beautiful, the staff is so friendly, and they have Run Disney transportation. 

Like many large races you will be herded into your corrals much like cattle, and there is a pretty significant walk from the starting entrance to your actual physical corrals.  It is a good way to stretch your legs and stop for a potty break.  Bag drop ends at 430am.  The actual first gun and wave starts at 530am.  You are suppose to be physically in your corral by 5am.  I was in wave G which was 7th.  It started at 617am.  Someone told us that it was easier to get out of the starting gate in the later corrals if you were a decently swift runner.  This wasn’t the case at all.  I am pretty sure you were going to hit traffic no matter what start time you got.  I don’t advise starting later, it gets boring standing around waiting.  Even if a Fairy Godmother is entertaining you…. 

My adrenaline was starting to wear down before the gun fired and I was exhausted trying to get around 
people out of the gate.  There is something to grab your attention most of the course, so you won’t get bored.  There are forms of entertainment, water stations, character stops, the usual Disney sights, and all the volunteers cheering you on around the course.  I have a love/hate relationship with the character stops.  There are plenty of options but be prepared for significant wait times on all the popular characters.  Mickey/Minnie and Cinderella were both 20+ waits for personal photo opportunities.  I regretfully stopped for both and my photos have yet to appear (I am still crossing my fingers).   I also stopped for Cinderella’s evil step sisters and the castle which were about 10 min waits each.  

I realized later in the race it would be easier to just go back to the park with my medal and get photos later.  The only official race photo I have found so far is my finish line photo.  I really hope my other photos turn up.  This is one I had them take with my Iphone.  The next photo is of Minnie and I on Monday before we left the park.  

It would be much less stressful and the run would be more enjoyable if the wait times weren’t so long for most of the characters.  I don’t see that changing in the foreseeable future, so I would strongly suggest unless there is someone you really want on the course or maybe the castle, don’t stop.  Otherwise, I would wait and take photos on a visit day in the park.  

The run was pleasant.  I wasn’t so winded when I finished that I needed to lay down.  I actually had a phone conversation with my dear friend Myrdin right after I crossed the finish line.  I could never build up any speed on the course it was so congested.  I probably paced about a 10 min mile.  There was an overcast so it wasn’t too hot.  The last 3 water stops I grabbed a powerade to drink and a water to pour down my back.  I strongly suggest hydrating on each stop even if you don’t feel the need.  

I saw alot of people ditching their costumes.  There were people who didn’t run in costume, so don’t feel obligated.  If you decide to run in costume, make sure you do at least a training run in it.  Running skirts are popular.  I did a tiara and tutu.  

It was an overall fun experience.  How many times will you get the chance to run through Cinderella’s Castle?  I am hoping to do it again next year with some friends, and maybe do Wine and Dine in the fall to see if my experience is any different.  I don’t expect the issues with congestion to change.  It is a popular race series and you probably aren’t going to set any personal records on the course.  

I have two other half marathons in the next two months.  I am doing our locally owned and operated half marathon Run the Bluegrass.  It is on the beautiful grounds of Keeneland and set to be a wonderful race experience.  I know Eric Marr and his team have worked very hard to set the bar high for this race.    If you are moving past a 5k but don’t think your quite ready for a half marathon, he is offering a 7 miler which is a good introduction to distance running.  The Rookie’s Run the Bluegrass info can be found by clicking the link.  They are also offering .9 mile kids races which benefit Girls on the Run and the YMCA of Central Kentucky.  I am looking forward to seeing many of my friends Run the Bluegrass. 

I was also fortunate enough to be drawn for the Nike Women’s Inaugural half marathon in Washington, D.C. in April.  Who wouldn’t want a cute fireman in a tuxedo and Tiffany’s finishers medal waiting on the finish line?  

If you have any running or race specific questions please feel free to post in comments or email me.  I will be happy to answer them to the best of my ability.  I am by no means an expert.  I am hoping to do my first full marathon soon and I would love if some of my friends would commit to join in.  I am going to be doing a separate blog post with general Disney vacation tips and another about using the Charity Miles app for organizations like the United Nations Foundation Shot at Life campaign.  

Happy Fairy Fast Friday!