Monthly Archives: November 2012

Disney Wine & Dine 2012 Half-Marathon Race Recap

At long last, my race cap for the 13.1 miles I ran through Disney World…at night!

Let’s rewind allllll the way back to November 9th. Dustin and I packed our bags and left freezing New York City (it was in the 40’s, so it wasn’t really freezing, but I had my winter coat on) and flew down to Orlando, getting in around noon so we had plenty of time to relax and hit up the expo. For a girl who isn’t a big fan of winter, the jump in temp was exactly what I needed!

We checked out the entire expo and while they had some great vendors there, there wasn’t much that sparked my personal interest. I was on the hunt for a pair of running sunglasses though, and managed to nab a pair for $30 – not bad! At least I’ll stop squinting when the sun decides to show itself for normal amounts of time again.

I also picked up an official race wine glass. I was a little disappointed that the glass wasn’t included in the goodie bag – I’ve done my research on wine-themed races and nearly every one gives you a glass and a bottle of wine, so I was let down. But it was only $10, so I happily handed over some cash to commemorate my fifth half-marathon.

We relaxed for the rest of the evening and eventually met up with my friend Lauren and her sister Kristen for dinner. Fun fact: Lauren and I met on my press trip for work (when I learned how to surf!) and became fast friends. After a lot of chatting, we found out we were both racing the Disney half (this was her first 13.1), so we knew we had to meet up! Since she’s from Tallahassee, FL and ventures around Orlando way more often than I do (read: I hadn’t been to Disney since I was 10), I let her take the reigns for dinner and dessert locales.

We ended up at Giordano’s, a great place known for its deep dish pizza. Um, holy yum. I had chicken parm and it was delicious. And just look at this pizza that Lauren and Kristen shared:

Yeah. That happened.

Oh, and we had frozen yogurt for dessert. Clearly. We popped by this place called Menchies – I must admit, its wide array of toppings and “swirl” option make it a serious contender against 16 Handles for top fro-yo spot in my heart. If only it were in NYC…

Dustin and I explored Downtown Disney on Saturday and hit up a movie in the afternoon so I could rest my legs. Since it was a night race, I didn’t want to do too much walking during the day. We decided not to spend the $90+ on theme park tickets because of this and just enjoyed the free marketplace. It was fun checking out all of the shops and I most definitely stopped by Ghirardelli for my free chocolate sample!

We said hi to Pooh, Tigger and Piglet, too. I mean, how could you not? Classics.

Then it was time to get ready! And by get ready, I mean have a pre-race dance party in my hotel room. By myself, since Dustin won’t dance. Lame.

And then we met up with Lauren and Kristen and meandered over to the race start. We had to get to the pre-race area three hours early if we wanted to catch the shuttle bus over, which was a little ridiculous if you ask me. But Disney did a great job of keeping everything organized and everyone entertained. Lots of music, dancing and people in costume. And tons of porta potties for people to use. The lines still ended up being really long, but that’s to be expected with such a huge race. At least the runners were courteous and moved in and out quickly!

Fortunately, we were in the first corral so we didn’t have to wait a long time once everyone was ready to begin. But about a half-hour before the race began, Dustin shot me a text message with seriously disappointing news:

Race directors won’t let me on the course. No spectators allowed, except for at start and finish. If I try to sneak on, I won’t be able to get back to the finish.

Um, what?!

In case you missed it, I didn’t really train all that well for this race. My longest run prior to race day was 7 miles and I was mentally relying on seeing Dustin at key points in the race to keep my head in the game. I didn’t remember this little tid bit of information being advertised anywhere, so when we got the news, I was a little more than upset. I mean, crowd support is a key component to a race!

After a few minutes of pouting, I sucked it up and decided I would just keep running as much as I could and be OK with whatever happened. If I had to walk then I would walk, but no bitching out. Run as much as you can.

Needless to say, I felt awesome throughout the race and my splits have never been so on point. After the first 5K, I made it a goal to stay around a 9:20-9:30 pace for the entire race, which is where I felt uncomfortably comfortable. If I felt really good, I would ramp up the speed at the end, but no pressure. I was not aiming for a PR.

The minimal crowd support was extremely discouraging, in my opinion, and I really had to rely on myself and focus to keep up my pace. My legs felt great, which helped a ton, but there was barely anyone on the course. A few spectators were out (I believe they were volunteers), but most were silently holding signs and not cheering (I must say though, that the Lululemon cheer squad was great and they got a huge smile out of me with their sign that read, “Is that a Gu in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?” BEST SIGN EVER). There were Disney characters around every mile, but it just wasn’t enough to get me psyched about being in Disney. It was cool to run through portions of the park after hours, especially through the Festival of Lights, but most of the race was on back roads and highways, making it no different than a typical long run – except that I knew I would get a shiny medal at the end.

Around mile 8, my legs really started to feel it. But when I looked down at my watch and saw my splits were still consistent, my mind was blown. I realized if I kept pushing it, I could PR. I was starting to slow down, so I pulled out a shot blok and my phone – where I saw a bunch of encouraging text messages from my mom, aunt and Dustin. He was keeping tabs on me with runner tracking and calculating my finish time, so with  his encouragement, I decided then that I was going for the PR.

Nailed it! My legs were screaming by the end, and I had to convince myself not to slow down or walk when it wasn’t necessary, but I powered through and PR’d by about 30 seconds, finishing in 2:06.41. Success!

I’ve never been more proud of the consistency in my splits:

Mile 1 – 9:26

Mile 2 – 9:29

Mile 3 – 9:27

Mile 4 – 9:24

Mile 5 – 9:34

Mile 6 – 9:20

Mile 7 – 9:29

Mile 8 – 10:07 (Walked to take in Gu and fumbled with my phone. Eep)

Mile 9 – 10:02

Mile 10 – 9:36

Mile 11 – 10:11 (Now my legs can tell I didn’t run more than 7 miles before this)

Mile 12 – 10:06

Mile 13: 9:40

Mile 13 – 13.1 – 8:36

Lauren and Kristen both KILLED it and finished under two hours! I have some speedy friends and hope to join the sub-2 world soon.

We met up with Dustin, changed and headed over to the Food & Wine Festival over at Epcot. We grabbed some food at Greece, explored the whole festival and closed down the place at 4am. I continued to get 45 minutes of sleep (yes, you read that right) before Dustin and I checked out of our hotel and drove to the airport to catch our flight back home. It’s safe to say I passed out as soon as I was in my seat.

My final thoughts on the race? I wasn’t expecting to PR, but I grabbed one, so I really am impressed and content with my results. I went in with no expectations, which seems to be when I have my best races. I like night races. I walked a little, but I’m fine with it. If I actually trained for this, I think I could’ve gone sub-2. Oh well. Fingers crossed for the next one.

And my thoughts on this race in general: If you’re a big runner and a fan of Disney, I definitely think you should do one of their races. But I don’t understand all of the hype, nor do I get why people spend a ton of money to run in each one. I’m glad I experienced a Disney race, but I won’t be signing up for another one anytime soon.

Have you run a Disney race? Do you think it’s worth the price? Am I missing something? If you ran the Wine and Dine, tell me how you did! 

23 Thankful Things

Thanksgiving is, by far, the best holiday. There’s no stress of presents, family is all around, there’s a ton of food and, in my family, we play a lot of games and watch football. If we’re lucky, runs,walks and naps can be tossed in, too. Perfect day, right?

This is why I don’t understand why it’s kind of the “forgotten holiday.” Why must stores and radio stations skip over it and go right to Christmas? Every time my mom tried to listen to the radio today, Christmas music was playing! This might be fine for some people, but to me, the celebration of Christmas does not begin until the day after Thanksgiving. Not before. Not on it. After. Give the turkey some respect!

Anyway, I have a whole lot to be thankful for this year. And since I just closed out my 22nd year on Sunday, let’s kick off 23 with a bang – here’s 23 things I’m thankful for.

I’m thankful for my family. Come on, you knew this was going to be number one. Basically, my family rocks. I hope yours is as cool as mine. And now that we’re older, we all get along really well. Even though we’re all living in different cities, I love that we’re still all close enough to reunite for the holidays. We don’t get to hang out together often, but when we do, I find it to be quite epic. Game night is pretty insane.

Insert Scott, Karissa and Stephen here. We weren’t smart enough to take a family picture today.

I’m thankful for my mom’s cooking. Damn, she knows how to make a great Thanksgiving dinner. So full.

I’m thankful for Ryan Gosling. Clearly.

I’m thankful I can run. There isn’t a turkey trot in my hometown, so I made my own and hit the pavement for 4 Garmin-free miles today. I may have forgotten to pack my watch so I technically was forced to go stat-free, but it was glorious. I know a lot of people have had running struggles this year, and I’ve suffered through a few injuries myself, but I’m so thankful I have the ability to lace up my sneakers and sweat out some stress whenever I need it.

I’m thankful for today’s weather. And the weather on my birthday. Both days were pretty phenomenal. Way to go, Mother Nature.

I’m thankful for peanut butter. I don’t know how the world can go on without it.

I’m thankful for my health. Again, I know a lot of people who struggled this year. Fortunately, I had no major setbacks and am in great health. I had a bit of a scare earlier this year, but was lucky that it wasn’t anything serious.

I’m thankful I survived my first year as an adult. I made it a full year (almost a year and a half, actually!) on my own, in my dream city, working at my dream job. Life doesn’t get much better.

Speaking of, I’m thankful for my job. It really is awesome and something I dreamed about doing since I was in sixth grade. I have fantastic co-workers who showered me with love on my birthday, and who are so unbelievably passionate and amazing to work with. I truly am so grateful for every day I get to wake up and go to that office.

I’m thankful for my iPhone. Judge all you want, I love it.

I’m thankful for my bucket listI’ve managed to cross six things off of it in 2012! I’m grateful for each and every one.

I’m thankful for shirts with thumb holes in the sleeves. 

I’m thankful for my roommate. Living with Libby the last two years has been a dream. It’s not very often you find friends that you can actually stand to live with, so I’m lucky she’s one of them. When we part someday, it will definitely be the end of an era.

I’m thankful for FRIENDS. Best TV show ever. And if you say How I Met Your Mother is better, I might hit you. It’s basically the same show, but FRIENDS came first and they did it better. But I still like HIMYM. 

I’m thankful for books. I’ve kept up my New Year’s resolution to read at least one a month and it’s made me so happy this year. I feel so much more balanced about my life if I give myself the time to get lost in someone else’s story.

I’m thankful for Oswego

I’m thankful for bobby pins. I don’t know how I lose so many all the freaking time, but for such a small thing, it does a great job of keeping my hair in check. Whenever I can find one to use, that is.

I’m thankful for New York City. It’s just an amazing city, along with the people who are in it.

I’m thankful for SoulCycle. It totally balances me out from running and there’s nothing like the cardio dance party I get when I’m there. I don’t like to be competitive when I spin, which is why I prefer Soul over Flywheel. At Soul, I’m able to totally let go and just sync up with the beat of the music. It really is a dance party on a bike – the 600-calorie-burn in 45 minutes is just an added bonus.

I’m thankful for Liz, Joey and my soon-to-be baby niece. I may not be blood, but I will be the best pseudo-Aunt ever. Liz and Joey recently let me know that I’m baby girl’s godmother, and I could not feel more honored and loved. I am going to spoil the crap out of that child.

I’m thankful for Twitter. I like it more than Facebook. The people are fun there.

I’m thankful for my friends. Whether they’re on social media or from real life, I love you all. I’ve found some pretty rad people to hang out with me. I don’t know what I did to convince them to let me stick around, but I’ll keep trying to impress you. I can bake! Kind of.

I’m thankful for Dustin. He really, truly is my best friend and I would be lost without him. He listens to my crazy talk, puts up with my mood swings and well, he just gets me. He supports me and encourages me to go after my goals. He’s one of my biggest cheerleaders, and I can always count on seeing him on the sidelines at my half-marathons, most likely at the point when I feel like I’m going to die. He always knows how to make me laugh, even if he was pissing me off two minutes before. And he likes a lot of the same weird stuff I like. And if he doesn’t, he puts up with it. Which is kind of awesome.

Now it’s your turn to get your thankful on: you don’t have to tell me 23 awesome things going on in your life, but it’s cool if you do. I want to read at least one. Everyone has cool stories.

Grateful for Oswego

It’s safe to say that these last two weeks are ones that won’t be easily forgotten. Sandy ripped through NYC and changed many people’s lives, and it’s going to be a long time before we’re back to “normal.” I give major props to Mayor Bloomberg and the NYC companies, though, who have worked tremendously hard to help this grand city bounce back quickly and safely. And as I said in my last post, this community is amazing. I’ve never been more proud to live in the city that never sleeps, and I hope the rest of the country realizes how much we all care about one another.

Since Sandy hit land, I’ve had a lot of time to think. The main emotion coursing through my veins? Gratitude. I am so grateful for so many things. I have a great job, live in a wonderful city, have amazing friends, a kind, loving family, a roof over my head. I could go on and on, but I imagine you don’t want to hear about every tiny thing I’m grateful for. There really are a lot.

One thing I’m really grateful for? My education. I went to college upstate at SUNY Oswego and really bonded with a lot of people there. I know I can say with complete confidence that there’s no way I would be where I am today, doing what I’m doing, if I hadn’t gone to school at the little college on Lake Ontario. It was truly the perfect fit for me and I look back on every memory I made with nothing but pure happiness.

Last weekend, I was fortunate enough to head back up to Oswego for three days. But not just for any ole’ visit – I was officially invited back by the college as a guest speaker for the creative writing Living Writers Series class. To me, this is EPIC.

I remember when I took that class during my sophomore year of college and fell in love. I was already thoroughly immersed in my college experience and loved all of my classes, but LWS took the cake. I loved meeting people who were successful in my chosen fields, and I loved that their experiences spanned over so many different genres. I remember telling my friend that it would be so cool to come back one day as a guest speaker myself.

Little did I know I’d be asked back a year and a half post-grad! And let me tell you, they welcomed me back with open arms.

The topic for my presentation was about how I went from “Subscriber to Staffer” at FITNESS, so I talked a lot about my experiences in college and how the steps that I took back then really helped me succeed once I graduated and land my dream job. I spoke for about 40 minutes, then opened it up to Q&A for a half hour. Let me tell you, students have a lot of questions!

I couldn’t have been happier. I really had such a great time speaking with the students, answering questions, telling stories and basically just telling them what I did so they can think about stuff to do while they’re still in school. I guess I’m a role model now. I can dig it. I mean, they took me out to dinner. Free food = Sam is there.

I got to reunite with a bunch of friends who are either just finishing up school now, or randomly happened to be in town the same weekend I was, too. It was a big mix of fate with a smidgen of planning, which made for one hell of a reunion weekend.

I got to meet up with a ton of people who I haven’t seen in a very long time, which gives me all sorts of warm and fuzzy feelings.

Anyway, I’m just feeling very, very grateful these days. I’ve had such a blessed life and I wanted to gush about my school for a bit. And since this is my little space on the Internet, I can do it 🙂

Oh, and for those of you who followed my Facebook and Twitter feeds, you know I nabbed a PR at the Disney Wine and Dine half-marathon this weekend! I promise to be back with my race recap and thoughts on Disney races in general. Right now, I hear a foam roller desperately calling my name…

Now it’s your turn: tell me one thing you’re grateful for these days!