Thursday, January 24, 2013

It's almost time for The Jelly Bean Virtual Race!

Yup, that's right-Spring is just around the corner (well, here in SoFla we haven't really even had a winter)...and that means it's almost time for The Jelly Bean Virtual Race!  If you haven't heard about it, head on over to the Run with Jess site and check out the post for the 3rd Annual Jelly Bean Virtual Race.

Haven't heard about virtual races before?  It's like doing an actual in-person, live race but all by yourself...or with a group of local friends if you feel like getting a group together to do your miles.  You basically do the number of miles for the race length(s) you choose, then report your results.  And don't worry about how fast or how slow you may be-it doesn't matter.  Everyone who finishes gets an entry into the prize drawings, and the more events you complete, the more entries you earn...up to 4 entries for the 4 events.  The events are Run 5K, Run 10K, Run Half Marathon and Bike 21K (13 miles).  You can enter 1, 2, 3 or all 4 events and you have from March 20th thru March 31st to complete the ones you register for.

Did you catch the part about the prizes?  Yup, Jess has some fantastic sponsors like Nuun, Racer Frames, Gone For A Run and more and you could win a prize from one of them just for participating.  Again, it doesn't matter if you have the fastest time or the slowest one-if you finish and report a time for one or more of the distances you register for, you get entries into the prize drawings.

Best of all?  It's all free!  Now, if you want some bling (AKA a medal for those unfamiliar with the term) then you can pony up the $10 for the optional race medal but if you'd prefer not to and just want to take your chances with the drawings, you can do that too.  This year there's also team options (5 or 10 person teams) where you can purchase the team pack and not only get the bling for each person but some other goodies as well.

I did the Jelly Bean last year and had a good time (even if my neighbors thought I was a bit nuts out there in my bunny ears) can read my blog post from it here and see some of the pics I took.  I've already signed up for this year for the 5K and 10K.  I still don't own a bike (*sniff*sniff*) so no bike event for me...and while I was thinking about adding the half marathon, I've scaled back my Spring calendar to prepare for this year's Expedition Everest 5K adventure race at Walt Disney World and don't have any training miles over 7 planned so it'll probably just be the 5K and 10K for me again this year.

Anyway, go check out the race info and sign up...and don't forget to buy some jelly beans before your race(s) to celebrate with after...or even along the way-jelly beans are actually pretty good fuel when doing miles!

Have you ever done a virtual race before?  Did you like it, and will you be signing up for the Jelly Bean?

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

2012 Princess Half Marathon Weekend Recap

Yes, I’m aware it is almost 11 months later, but hey-I figure if a year hasn’t passed yet, I’m okay posting my recap.

This was my first time doing the Disney Princess Half Marathon.  I’d actually been to the Princess Half Marathon Weekend may or may not remember that the Royal Family 5K in 2009 during the inaugural Princess Weekend was not only my first Disney race, it was my first race of any kind-ever.  I remember when I was getting ready to check out of my hotel that Sunday (the day after the 5K), runners had already started coming back to the hotel with the shiny Princess Half bling hanging around their necks and that was the first time I thought, “I want one of those!”.  And thus this whole crazy ride started.

I was originally going to be heading up to WDW by myself, but then turned it into a mother-daughter weekend instead, bringing my mom along with me.  If you think I’m a huge Disney fan, I’ve got nothing on my mom.  Plus this would be the first time she’d be there for one of my I was looking forward to a fun weekend.

The expo on Friday was just like most other Disney race expos, though not quite as large and crazy as the Marathon Weekend expo can be.  Packet pickup went smoothly as always, and I wound up in corral G.  Since the corrals went to H that meant I’d be in the next to last at least a little cushion there.  Erica from ROTE was working at the SparkleSkirts booth and after introducing mom, Erica continued calling her “Carra’s Mom” for the weekend.  After, mom and I spent time at Magic Kingdom getting lots of Photopass pictures taken and enjoying our favorites-the Main Street Electrical Parade and Wishes.

Saturday we checked out Animal Kingdom, taking more Photopass pics until a little after lunchtime, then headed back to the hotel for relaxing and an early bedtime since those 3am buses on Sunday would be coming up pretty quickly!

I brought my mom along to the family area where I met up with the other Running of the Ears peeps at the H tent.  I introduced her to some of my friends and asked if she could follow some of them who would be cheering over to the Magic Kingdom until it got light outside (thank you so much Steve!).  Once it came time to head to the corrals, I made my way over while mom hung with the cheering ROTErs until they went to catch the monorail to the Magic Kingdom.  It was a bit cool out...I also did have a cheap poncho in my pocket just in case since the forecast was looking like it could rain.

Once in my corral I got as far forward as possible.  My speed was not really where I wanted it to be and I wanted to make sure I got as much cushion as I could to avoid those pesky sweepers.  Once we were on our way, the race was pretty uneventful...I didn’t stop for any characters and I was already familiar with the course from the Disney Half Marathons I’ve done.  The cool temperatures made it easier to keep up my pace.  I did start seeing the bicycle people with their little orange flags around mile 7.5 or so.  Around the time I got to mile 9 the weather had gotten a bit misty out but I didn’t bother breaking out the poncho.  There’s one lady from the bike people who would ride by letting us know how far ahead of pace we were.  I’ve seen her at previous WDW races and she’s pretty good at keeping the runners informed.  

Once I hit about mile 9.5, I was just so tired of trying to keep my pace up-I’d stopped doing any intervals a couple miles before.  I think after doing the back-to-back halfs during Marathon Weekend, then the ING Half three weeks later, then Princess was just taking its toll.  But I kept going and pushing because what was foremost in my brain was the fact that my mom was going to be at the finish and I didn’t want to get swept at a race she came to see.  Between mile markers 10 and 11 was the hardest...because just after 10, the pace girls with those blasted balloons passed me at that point.  During mile 10 my pace had dropped to around 17:30/mile.  

As I and my fellow runners/walkers were pushing through mile 11 towards a looping turn that would take us toward the final approach to Epcot, a couple of us asked one of the male bike guys if there were any more sweep points.  He said ,”Nah, no more” and looked very relaxed just hanging out on the side of the course as he was watching us go by.  We made a looping turn toward our last overpass when the lady bike person came around again.  She wasn’t saying anything about how far behind pace we were, so we asked again about sweep points.  She kind of fumbled her response with a ,”Um, well, you just need to keep on going, keep on moving forward”.  We looked at each other (us runner/walkers that is) and we knew we were safe--you could tell she was trying to say something to keep it vague so we wouldn’t just slow to a crawl without actually saying there were no more sweep points.

And so yes, I did slow a little, maybe by 15 seconds/mile until I passed the 12 mile point-knowing by then I was definitely not getting swept.  At that point it was kind of drizzly out and I was not going to rush it anymore.  I wound up finishing in 3:45 and some change...and finally got that Princess bling around my neck!

Once I stopped moving I got chilly and the line for the bus back to the resort was waaaaaaaaay long so mom and I hung out in the empty bag check tent to stay warm (mom was freezing from mostly standing in the wet and cold) until the line went down, then hopped the bus back to the hotel.  We both wound up taking a nap for a couple of hours to rest and warm up before heading out to a celebratory meal at Outback.

Sunday night was Epcot, then Monday was Hollywood Studios and a little more Epcot (taking lots more Photopass pics of course!) before finally heading home.  It really was a great weekend, especially being able to spend it with my mom, so we had a fun girls’ weekend-appropriate for Princess, don’tcha think?  As we were driving home, mom asked if I could let her know when we could see the Photopass pictures online after we got home since she would probably want to get some of us.  That’s when I sprung a little surprise on her...that we’d be getting ALL of them since I’d be getting the Photopass CD (thanks to a bunch of ROTE friends sharing discs!).  While it took me a while to get around to copying the pictures over onto a disc for her, I did finally get it to her along with a framed 5” x 7” of one of my favorite pics from the weekend (no, not the one pictured here).

So, have you ever had a race weekend away with your mom ladies (or dad for the guys)?  Did you have as much fun as I did with mine?  :-)  Cherish those memories!

Monday, January 7, 2013

The Biggest Loser RunWalk 5K-Fort Lauderdale

Just a quick recap from today’s event.  Back sometime last fall I had seen an email for The Biggest Loser RunWalk 5K that was coming to Fort Lauderdale on January 6th.  I originally looked it over and then though, nah-not interested.  The second time I saw an email, I thought about it and then decided, why not?  They actually give you a whole hour and a half to complete the 5K...I could walk the whole thing R E A L L Y slow like a turtle and still be just fine (not like there would be a sag wagon for a 5K, but still).  Plus you would get a tech shirt, a finisher’s medal and (drumroll please...........) free downloads of your race pics!  Yeah, bet most of you haven’t seen that one before.  And so I went ahead and signed up.

Here we are on January 6th and it’s time for the 5K.  Packet pickup was yesterday at a local running store.  On the website they had said that Dan Evans (season 5 Biggest Loser contestant, orange team) would be performing race morning...he was actually at the store helping with setup when I got there.  We got a bib, drawstring backpack and our tech shirts.  One thing I was a bit puzzled about was the women’s shirts (they had both women’s and men’s sizes)--being that this is a Biggest Loser event, you would expect to see many larger-sized people, right?  The women’s shirts only went to XL, but these were your average women’s tech shirts-that “slim” type cut-where an XL is not what a real XL is in regular clothes...and so I got a men’s XL instead.

This morning I headed down early since it was being held in Downtown Fort Lauderdale and I almost never go there and didn’t want to lose my way.  It had been raining before I left the house so it was really humid--like 93% humid--and 70 degrees.  Thankfully the rain cleared out and a light breeze was going on by the time the 5K started...unfortunately the humidity didn’t really go away though.  We’re having a warm winter this year with highs in the 80s, I was hoping for today that we could have had cooler and drier weather but that just wasn’t happening.  I met up with a friend from ROTE (Hi Tracy!) and was re-introduced to someone from my high school class (over 24 year ago, wow!) and we hung out until the start.  Dan Evans would be performing but before that he was again helping with setup, then he and his mom (Jackie) got up on stage at the start line and got us all started.  Dan even sang the national anthem before we started ( a little off-key for the first line, but overall did pretty good, especially since it was 7:30 in the morning).
At the start line-Dan and Jackie (season 5, orange team) are on the stage to the right at the front
I decided to just walk the course, aiming to just be under an hour since I really haven’t done much training the past couple of months.  I started going too fast (as always) and my shins and calves immediately let me know.  So I slowed down a find a little drawbridge after our first turn.  The incline wasn’t too bad, but have you ever walked over a drawbridge down here?  The top of the bridge is a metal grate.  Which wouldn’t have been an issue...if it hadn’t been raining.  I saw a few people slip so told myself to be careful...and still slipped a little myself (yeah, my back loved that).  After that I settle into a steady walk.  We walked thru downtown a little, then through an long-established neighborhood with beautiful, fancy homes...and cars-like the gorgeous red Ferrari and cream-colored Bentley I passed about halfway through the course.  Back into downtown and around another corner to----another drawbridge.  This time I got up on the sidewalk since the streets were still wet.  I sped up a little bit, headed for the finish line and squeaked in at 59:16.  I did walk the entire way, just trying to enjoy being out there and not trying for any kind of time...except to just be under an hour which I did do.  Got my medal (yes an actual metal medal!) but didn’t feel like hanging around-there were a couple of booths set up with some vendors, but nothing that really caught my eye-and so said my goodbyes and headed home.

Overall the event was good, it was just too bad that the weather was so humid.  Topped the day off by watching The Biggest Loser season premiere tonight.  Not sure if I’ll watch all season since I’m not a fan of the scheming and head games that start up as the season goes on, but it was a good end to the day.  I’m using today’s 5K as my re-start for my own weight-loss program since I majorly fell off the wagon this past year.  I’ll post more on that in another blog entry, for now it’s time to finally head to bed.