How I survived a half marathon

I survived my first half.

I don’t know how I finished the Disney Half in time but I like to think that it was faith, trust, and pixie dust.

Your state of mind, focus, and faith in yourself play a huge role in your motivation and determination and while I’m sure that in my Disney obsessed mind that pixie dust does help, in reality the things that physically helped me get through the race were a bit more concrete.

1. Kind Snacks:

Basically, these are amazing. Like everyone else, I’m sure, I’ve tried all kinds of protein and energy snacks and bars. There are plenty that I enjoy but none come close to Kind snacks, particularly the Cranberry Almond bars. They just taste so good. This one has my 2 favorite snacks; cranberry and almonds. I always carry a snack bag filled almonds or the mini on the go dried cranberry boxes to eat when I’m in need of a snack so for the both to be combined is just amazing for me. The ingredients are healthy, it gives you a great boost of energy, and fights off sweet cravings. I carried one in my fanny pack belt while I was running in case I felt like I was getting hungry but I had one right before the race started so I was good to go.

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2. Running belt

I have no idea what brand this belt is because I bought it off of eBay and the title is 20 key words. There were a couple of really awesome looking belts that I’ve seen at expos (ahem, Flipbelt) but by the time I realized I was going to need one, I wasn’t in a place to purchase one after having had to pay for too many other expenses that come with running a [half] marathon. A quick online search brought me plenty of results and for a lot less. This one was only $6 but it does what I need it to. It comfortably held my kind bar, 2 Cliff shots, my ID, uNu charger, and USB cord. I was even able to fit my phone in the same pocket where the Kind bar was held and it zipped without any trouble. It clipped on, it matched, it worked!

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3. Vita Coco with pineapple

This drink is delicious. I’m a big coconut water fan and we all know that it’s incredibly healthy for you; it’s high in potassium and mineral content, antioxidants, and has low levels of fat, carbohydrates, and calories. It’s basically the perfect hydration and energy drink, it’s all natural. I’ve learned on training runs that water alone is not enough to keep me going but I strongly dislike gatorade, powerade, and any flavored water sports drinks. Coconut water worked best and it certainly pulled through during the race. I filled half of my water bottle with Vita Coco’s coconut and pineapple juice, froze it overnight, and filled the rest of my bottle with regular water. I was taking sips throughout the entire race at certain intervals that work for me specifically, and never once did I feel tired, dehydrated, or sluggish. If you haven’t tried coconut water yet, and you do like it, I highly recommend giving it a shot. It changed everything for me.

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4. uNu Enerpack Battery Pack 5000 mAH

iPhone users, how’s that battery of yours holding up? If your phone is crazy like mine, it holds up only when it wants to. I’ll be at 75%, open my camera to take 2 pictures and it’ll drop to 42% and then turn off. I plug it in and it instantly jumps back up to 88%. I don’t know, man. It’s a brat. I’ve had my phone die on me way too many times while at fashion events and, I mean, how am I supposed to let all of instagram know what a certain dress looks like or what drinks I’m having when I’m out at dinner? After much research, I was pleased with the reviews I read about uNu products and decided to buy the smaller 5000 mAH battery pack. It’s the perfect size, it’s pink, and it charges my iPhone 5 from 12% to 100% in about an hour and a half. Not the fastest but quickly enough. It also charges my phone 3x one on a single charge and the price is very affordable. I kept it in one of the pockets of my belt and would just connect it while I was jogging. It also has a handy little flashlight.

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5. Adidas Falcon PDX running shoes

These shoes are like pillows for my feet. We all know that when it comes to running shoes, you have to wear what works for you. You have to try on dozens of shoes until you find the right fit, you can’t buy a pair simply because your friends have it or you like the colors.  I’ve always been a big fan of adidas, I’m talking having 5 or 6 pairs of their Superstar 2 shoes with all color stripes when I was in high school, so I knew that they would be my go-to shoe for running and they didn’t disappoint. Having properly fitting shoes is so, so important. My proof of these loving on my feet is that after the half  I had no pain in my knees, ankles, feet, or toes, no lower back pain, and no black or falling off toenails. Gross but that is a very common occurrence for runners. I had the normal soreness the next day but nothing severe and nothing during the race. I love my shoes!

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6. Benefit Brow Zings

If you know me personally, or follow me on Instagram,  you know how important my eyebrows are to me. They’re my entire face. Eyebrows frame your face, they need to be taken well care of because they can either age you or bring youth back into our face depending on how you maintain them. One thing I refuse to go out in public without is my eyebrows. The way some girls feel without mascara is how I feel about eyebrows. Running 13.1 miles isn’t something you want to do with a full face of makeup. Gross, it’s sweaty, hot, and not fun. I did put on some powder and a little bit of blush so I wouldn’t look like the walking dead at 3am but eyeshadow and mascara, who cares? But my Benebrows were in full force and not once did they smudge (nor do they ever) thanks to my favorite eyebrow powder by Benefit Cosmetics. And they totally had my back, check out this tweet they sent me. I may have been running a race but no way was I going to look like a zombie. My brows were perfection and I totally kicked ass.

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7. Disneyland Half Marathon Facebook group

This group is so awesome. I found this group about a month before the half and everyone in this group helped me so, so much. There are thousands of members consisting of veteran runners, coaches, and new runners. Everyone is so helpful and willing to offer their tips and tricks for runDisney races and running in general. I love the positivity of all the members and how dedicated and welcoming they are. It’s not just for runners that have signed up for the Half Marathon weekend, any runDisney race runners are welcome. If you haven’t joined, go do it, NOW!

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Most Importantly: My husband. 

What good would any of this have been if I didn’t have Alex supporting me all the way? From accepting my crazy, completely out of nowhere, idea of signing up for the half to going on runs with me and pushing me to keep going and not give up. For not strangling me for spending so much money on the 21 Day Fix and Piyo videos, running gear, and shakeology. And especially for his patience as I would go shopping for work out clothes and would take forever as I would search for only pink clothes. The day of the race, I told him he could sleep in and arrive around 8:30 to be there in time to watch me cross the finish line but he got up with me at 3:30 am, went to the starting lines, and stayed until I got back. Instead of roaming around Downtown Disney, he stayed with the folks of St. Judes and helped them set up decorations and kept them company as they waited for the runners to finish as well. Alex has the biggest heart and has always been so incredibly supportive of all the crazy ideas I come up with. Thanks Alexander! <3

PicMonkey Collage

Those are my running essentials.

There are so many amazing products out there and I love discovering them all, what is that helps you during your runs? 

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Disney Half Marathon Recap

This past weekend I ran my first half marathon.

 

When I first signed up for it, I have no idea what kind of endorphins I was high on. The entire time leading up to the race was a crazy wave of emotions. I was so excited; it was Disney, I was going to be running through the parks, dressing up, getting a medal! It all sounded so fun and exciting so I signed up at the end of May. I had gotten back into a great workout routine, started going on hikes couple times a week, changed my eating habits, I was going to kick ass and run a half! Muy chingona! Being that it was a runDisney race, it was long sold out when I went to sign up so I chose to go the charity route and sign up through St. Judes Children Research Hospital. I have a lot of respect for all that St. Judes has done and continues to do so I had no problem choosing them to run and raise funds for. Talk about the perfect motivation to run.

About a month in, I guess I finally really thought about what I had gotten myself into and panic started to set in, not so chingona. What was I thinking, I’m not a runner. I had never run before, I actually used to hate it. But I had already signed up and committed to raising money for St. Judes so I couldn’t back out now. I had to suck it up, train, and prepare. Well, I quickly learned that training was going to be hard because I couldn’t go on runs because of  my boys and A. Everyone suggested getting a jogging stroller and just running at the high school so the boys could run and play around the track while I ran, but seriously? I wasn’t going to shell out the cash for a new stroller and even if I let my boys run free I would have to keep an eye on them. I needed to be able to focus, concentrate, and figure out what pace worked for me. I also had so much trouble with my breathing. From June to race day, August 31, I ran a total of two 3 mile runs and one 1 mile run. My “training” was a joke and only added to my doubts.

All changed however, near the beginning of August, when I found the Disneyland Half Marathon FB group and it is amazing. No, not it, they are amazing, everyone in the group. I also participated in the Virtual Run Blog Hop, which is loaded with info from experienced runDisney racers. I found so much information about the races and got so many tips and tricks from people that I started feeling excited about the race again. Every question or concern I had was answered and I was reassured again and again by everyone. I also learned that I wasn’t the only one completely freaking out. I was reminded that runDisney races are about having fun. I met some awesome people and even ran about half of the race with one of the ladies from the group.

Race day was arriving a lot sooner than I wanted it to and even though I was looking forward to the race again,  I was so afraid that I was going to get picked up by the “sweep of shame”, a vehicle that picks up the stragglers that can’t keep up. A week before the race I started having anxiety attacks, I’d think about not being able to keep up, my total lack of training, and getting swept all the time. My mom saved me with some Valeriana to calm my nerves ((All natural valerian root pills. Do your research, I’m not suggesting anything to anyone)). 

I drove up to Disneyland on Thursday with my friend, Amanda, to pick up my bib and check out the expo. It started becoming real and… I wasn’t freaking out anymore. I’m pretty sure the energy and excitement, or stuffing myself with herbs, had me pumped up and wanting it to be Sunday already. Since the first races were on Friday morning, they were getting things ready for set up on the streets and it was awesome to hear everyone else talking about it.

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10843 is the lucky number!

On Saturday, Alex and I headed back to Disneyland to attend a pasta dinner at Buca di Beppo for all the racers that signed up through St. Judes. Disney has their own “pasta in the park” dinner but I wanted to meet the other St. Judes runners and enjoy dinner in a more intimate setting. Dinner was delicious of course, we met a lovely couple from NorCal and another runner who is also from San Diego. To my, very pleasant, surprise there was a little girl at the dinner name Brooke who had been receiving treatments from St. Judes Hospital for several years for an inoperable brain tumor and she gave a beautiful speech about how St. Judes Hospital has saved her life and how donations truly do allow St. Judes to continue to do what they do; research, discover, learn, treat, and save lives!

I loaded up on lots of carbs and water. Headed out to a store to buy a banana nut muffin and coconut water to have before the race for some running fuel. I was hoping to be in bed by 8pm but didn’t get back to the hotel until 9pm and the couldn’t fall asleep due to the Disneyland fireworks and my thoughts just swirling out of control. I kept waking up every 2 hours. Ay!

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St. Judes Children’s Research Hospital is amazing!

3:30am. That’s the time I had to wake up. That sucked. I got ready, aka did my eyebrows, took 2 bites of the muffin and was out the door by 4:45. I was taking my sweet time because I was trying to keep calm. Surprisingly, I didn’t get any weird looks leaving my hotel at 4am in a minnie outfit, not that I’d have cared but I was expecting some is she on crack? stares. I walked outside right as the shuttle was pulling up and as I sat down, panic set in yet again. As the shuttle went around the other hotels and more runners were boarding and talking about how they’ve all done over a dozen halfs and they’re times were under 2 hours, I kept doubting myself. And doubting myself is not something I ever do but these people were basically pros and talked about how a half marathon was like a walk in the park for them.

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3:30am wake up call, headed out the door at 4:45am.

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Trying to make my way to the very back to find corral J.

We arrive at the parks right at 5 and I missed the group photo of the St. Judes runners because I still had to walk all the way from the shuttle drop off area to the disneyland hotel to get to the corrals. As I’m walking towards Disneyland Dr. I really start to freak out. For a second or two I felt like bolting out of there but my damn feet kept moving forward. And then Alex had to leave. This was it. I was on my own. Off to find corral J!

There were about 18,000 people running the half marathon. It was crowded and it took me a good 10 minutes to get to my corral. It was so loud but seeing everyone’s costumes and hearing the excitement and cheering in the crowds started to make me feel better although for a moment I wished I had someone there with me. There were groups and couples all around me and I was there alone but I definitely couldn’t escape now.

The race started at 5:30am but because there were so many people it took 30 minutes for my corral to start. I was getting really anxious, I just wanted it to start so I could stop thinking about everything that could go wrong and I was so worried about the sun coming out and burning us all alive. 6am came around and we were let loose to run through the Disney parks and the streets of Anaheim. The adrenaline finally set in and all was good with the world run!

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Ready. Set. GO!!

I’m not going to lie, what I was most excited about was running through Disneyland and California Adventure and getting pictures with the characters. I’m no stranger to Disneyland, we’ve had passes for a couple years so I know the ins and outs of DL and DCA but getting to see the characters is something that will never get old. I get as giddy as a 3 year old whenever I see any character.

The lines to take pictures with the characters were pretty long, of course, so I ended up becoming a selfie queen that day. I cheated and stood nearby to take my pics. The only 2 that I actually waited for were the Toy Story soldiers since soldiers hold a special place in my heart and with Cinderella’s stepsisters, stepmom, and Prince Henry Charming. Yes, that is his actual name!

The run through the park was the easiest and most fun part. It all happened so fast and I didn’t want to head back out to the streets. I wondered if anyone would notice if I snuck into Ariel’s Undersea Adventure and just stayed there. But the crowds of people were quickly moving and I was pushed along the route and didn’t have a chance to sneak in anywhere.

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Running through Carsland, needed a pic of the Cozy Cone Motel for the Golden Boys.

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Mater and McQueen

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My favorite kind of people, er toys, soldiers!

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Darth Vader and the Stormtroopers had a loooong line for pictures.

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Maleficent was a favorite, no surprise, the line was even longer for her

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Katherine! Fellow Disney Half Marathon FB group member

Out to the streets of Anaheim we went!

Once we left Disneyland, the real work began. As I was looking around I realized just how many people there were running, I looked behind me as we ran up one of the streets and relief set in as I realized that I actually had a chance of making it if there were 18,000 people.  There were hundreds of people behind me. Yes!!!

I had also worried that running through the streets would be difficult since it was probably going to be boring. I was so, so wrong. For the most of the 8 miles we had left, there were people all around cheering us on. Random strangers holding up encouraging signs and clapping, people playing music, a mariachi and dancers, hula dancers, cheerleaders, local high school bands, our very own car show. It was nuts. I was so excited about seeing what was next or up ahead that I just kept going. The miles were passing by much faster than I had imagined they would.

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Couldn’t pass up a photo op with my own kind

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The energy at the Angel’s Stadium was insane

photo

13.1 for you Glen Coco, you go, Glen Coco! – My favorite sign!

I tried to keep a steady pace and even intervals of jogging and sort of power walking to catch a breath but lucky me, I forgot my Garmin at home. I don’t know what I did, but it worked. I ran when I could, slowed to a jog when I started to feel tired, and walked if I had to. I was feeling great throughout most of race and didn’t feel tired or sore until I got to mile 12, right as we got back to the park. I slowed down to drink some water and my right lower leg was feeling like it was wanting to cramp up. After a quick prayer asking God to spare me the cramp to avoid looking like a fool, it started to ease up but I didn’t feel like running anymore. There was less than a mile left and I needed to catch my breath so I chose to walk until I got closer to the finish. I ran across the finish line, high-fived Minnie Mouse, and it was all over. I did it, I actually did it!

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Could it be? The finish line?! Finally!!!

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Crossed the finish line!

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Yes!

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The reason we all ran, for the bling

 

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After 13 miles, you bet I scarfed that banana down!

Once I crossed the finish line, I was handed my medal and I felt like a damn champion! Muy chingona once again.

At the end they had bananas for everyone and a box filled with some great post race snacks. We all got a nice cold towel and more pictures for everyone to show off our bling. I made my way over the the St. Judes booth to hang out for a bit.

Right after I finished the race, the pain hit me almost immediately. My legs and feet felt like they were going to fall off and I was limping as I was walking around.

After the race was over I realized how unnecessary all of my worrying was. I honestly thought that I wasn’t going to finish the race in time and that I was going to become too tired too quickly but I was wrong about everything. Everything was so awesome; the experience, the energy, the people. Completing the half is honestly one of the funnest things I’ve done. The 2 days following the race had me feeling like I had been hit by a truck, my hips were so sore, it hurt to sit and stand, and to walk, oy. But I am already looking into signing up for more runDisney races, everyone was right: they are addicting!  Next time though, I might consider training!

I want to give a huge THANKS to everyone who donated to St. Judes. YOU TOTALLY ROCK!

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