Racecation Top 10 List

I’m always planning my next racecation. A racecation is a vacation planned around running a race, but that’s pretty obvious, right? In other words, where can I go and run a race, experience something new, and have a great meal or two along the way? In honor of tomorrow’s RunDisney Walt Disney World Marathon, I am sharing my top ten list of racecations that are either on my list or have already been crossed off.

#10 Viking Half Marathon – Greenwood, MS, Not every racecation can be in an exotic locale, so number ten on my list is the closest to home. The Viking Half Marathon is a flat, fast race through this Mississippi Delta town where “The Help” was filmed. Your race weekend must include a night at The Alluvian and dinner at Giardina’s. Staying two nights? Definitely book a cooking class at the Viking Cooking School and a spa treatment or two at the amazing Alluvian spa.


#9 Tinker Bell Half Marathon – Anaheim, CA, Disneyland’s companion race to the Princess at Disney World, run both races in a year and you earn the special pink edition coast-to-coast medal. As if you need another reason, the Tinker Bell Half Marathon is a RunDisney race, which means magic at every turn in sunny Southern California.


#8 Rock ‘N’ Roll Las Vegas Marathon & Half Marathon – Las Vegas, NV, I love a Rock ‘N’ Roll race and what sets the Rock ‘N’ Roll Las Vegas Marathon & Half Marathon apart is that it’s run at night. With the Las Vegas Strip as the backdrop, runners finish 13.1 under the neon lights in the desert. I don’t need to tell you how to enjoy a racecation weekend in Vegas, baby.


#7 St. Jude Memphis Marathon – Memphis, TN, I have no excuse for why I’ve never done this race that is literally 90 miles from my front door. The weekend includes a full, half, 10K, and 5K, all benefitting the lifesaving work of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. During the race, you run through the campus, past cheering patients and their families. What a humbling experience. Top it off with a stay at The Peabody, dinner at the Rendezvous for the best Memphis-style ribs, and a visit to Graceland, and your St. Jude Memphis Marathon Weekend is complete.



#6 Seaside School Half Marathon – Seaside, FL, It’s a half marathon, at the beach. Enough said. The Seaside School Half Marathon includes medals and a Vera Bradley bag for every finisher. The weekend also includes a Taste of the Race event with Chef Emeril Lagasse. A flat race at the beach, with great food? Yes, please!

#5 Princess Half Marathon – Orlando, FL, Still my very favorite racecation to-date, the RunDisney Princess Half Marathon Weekend invites runners to channel their inner princess, dress up like her, and run 13.1 miles through Epcot and the Magic Kingdom. The feeling of turning onto Main Street USA and running through Cinderella’s Castle is truly unbelievable. I did the Glass Slipper Challenge and ran the Enchanted 10K the day before, maximizing my time as a princess.


#4 Napa to Sonoma Wine Country Half Marathon – Napa, CA, This race takes participants on a scenic journey from Napa to Sonoma. The Napa to Sonoma Wine Country Half Marathon includes great pre and post events, including a wine and  music festival after the race. Sounds like the perfect couples’ weekend getaway!


#3 Walt Disney World Marathon – Orlando, FL, RunDisney’s flagship race weekend, it includes a 5K, 10K, half, and full marathon, as well as kids’ races. Challenge races include the Goofy Challenge for those who want to complete the half and full, or the Dopey Challenge for runners who can complete every single race that weekend. During the Walt Disney World Marathon you run through all four Disney parks, the only RunDisney race during which this happens. I’m going to do this race, sooner than later. Mark my words!

#2 Rock ‘N Roll New Orleans Marathon & Half Marathon – New Orleans, LA, My very first half marathon and still one of my favorites, the Rock ‘N Roll New Orleans Marathon & Half Marathon is another flat, fast course that takes you through the heart of this city like no other. The Rock ‘N Roll Marathon Series folks do it right with bands every mile and great entertainment throughout the course. And, there is no doubt that the people of New Orleans know how to spectate! Plus, you will have earned all those amazing calories just waiting for you in this city that is all about delectable food. I’m doing this race again in just a few weeks and can’t wait!


#1 Disneyland Paris Half Marathon – Paris, France, Definitely a bucket lister, the Disneyland Paris Half Marathon has the magic of Disney all while you’re running through one of the most iconic cities on the planet. It’s number one on my list because it is so much more than a long race weekend. Combine the efficiency and excellence of RunDisney with the excitement of exploring this grand European city and you’re a winner already.

So, these are my current top ten racecation races. Ask me tomorrow and the list could totally change. The one constant is that I love to use running as an excuse to travel, and am a little partial to RunDisney races. At any rate, I am always in search of my next great adventure.

Good luck to everyone running the Walt Disney World Marathon. Run fast! Run hard!

2017 Miles to Go: 591

#Global Running Day

Runners across the globe will commemorate Global Running Day this Wednesday, June 1. A celebration of running, this day is about lacing up and running, whether it is through the yard with your kids, around the block with your dog, or putting in several miles solo or with your running group. On Global Running Day, we celebrate the joys of running with a goal of inspiring others to get out and do the same. I pledged to run three miles tomorrow, on the Global Running Day site, and look forward to hitting the pavement along with runners from over 165 countries around the world.

 

Miles at the RunDisney Kids’ Races

As part of this celebration of all things running, kids are being asked to join the Million Kid Run to promote running as a fun, healthy activity. I am so excited about this, as it encourages kids to turn off the television, put down the video game console, get outside, and run. Since John and I are both runners, we have let Miles join us from early on, so he too would find enjoyment in the sport. His first race was the RunDisney Kids’ Races at Disney World during the Princess Half Marathon Weekend, and we knew he was hooked. I look forward to the day that he can run his first 5K with us and I am already certain that he will leave both of us in his dust!

Individuals aren’t the only ones planning to celebrate Global Running Day. There are tons of brands, event organizers, and companies with promotions and special events planned to encourage runners to be a part of this day.


The Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series is one of the most fun series of races around. With “tour stops” in cities across the United States and around the world, they specialize in making the experience of racing as important as actually running. The Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series folks plan to celebrate Global Running Day in a major way with deep discounts on all of their upcoming race dates. John and I have run the New Orleans Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon twice, and with bands every mile and a fantastic party waiting for you at the finish line, you should definitely sign up for this discounted race first thing Wednesday.


Brooks is inviting runners to join the party by letting you print your own bib for Global Running Day, sharing group run information, and giving runners a place to share their pictures throughout the day. Plus, they are offering participants the chance to win a pair of the new Brooks Neuro shoes, so visit their Facebook page to learn more about the contest.


Perhaps my favorite promotion for Global Running Day is courtesy of the folks at Runner’s World Magazine. They are holding the world’s biggest RUNch June 1, encouraging colleagues to go for a run during their lunch hour. They have described perfectly how to get this done and get back to the office in time on their site, so if it looks like lunchtime is your only opportunity to participate in Global Running Day, Runner’s World can help make that happen. They even have an excuse you can give to your boss should your RUNch run (pun intended!) a little long, signed by the Mayor of Running and Chief Running Officer!


Yet another pretty fabulous company that plans to celebrate Global Running Day, is Sparkle Athletic. These purveyors of sparkly running apparel are like a big family, as every runner who adorns their skirts are part of #teamsparkle. You can RSVP on their site to be a part of their Global Running Day virtual group run no matter where you live and will be entered to win a Sparkle Athletic prize pack. Tag your pics with #teamsparkle for another chance to win.
There are so many exciting ways to get involved with Global Running Day, I hope this will inspire you to run a few miles tomorrow.

 

 

 

Existing Within a Virtual Reality

One of my running resolutions for 2016 is to run a virtual race. What is a virtual race? Well, I’m glad you asked. In its simplest form, a race of the virtual variety enables you to run where you are. No need to travel. No need for complicated race day logistics. No need to spend a ton of money. Just pick your date, pick your time, and run. Oh, and shortly thereafter your shiny, new race bling magically arrives in the mail. Pretty straightforward, right? Well, it’s not quite that simple.

There are a plethora of different virtual races out there. In fact, RunDisney announced last week that they are jumping into the virtual game with their Virtual Running Shorts Series that will be held throughout the summer. This is your chance to get a little piece of the Disney Magic without the larger price tag that is usually attached. There are three different races, and a challenge race if you want to run all three, each with its own signature medal. These races are 5Ks and if you complete the challenge, four bright and shiny medals will be headed your way, courtesy of the mouse himself.

In choosing the virtual race to meet my running resolution this year, I have sifted through site after site containing all of the benefits of running that particular race. Through research, I have decided that my race will have to meet three distinct parameters in order to be the one.

#1: It supports a charity 

With a myriad of races out there some are for profit, others simply want to cover the cost of their bling, and a great deal of them exist to give back. I love a race that gives all or a portion of your race fee to a nonprofit organization. Races for Awareness offers an array of virtual races, all dedicated to a specific charity, with 80% of entry fees going to that charity. I like this site because they offer so many different races for lots of nonprofit organizations and the medals are pretty fabulous! Will Run for Bling is another great resource for virtual races that give back.

#2: It has a set distance

Some virtual races let you pick your distance and go as far as you want, as long as you pay the entry fee.  Others are distance specific ranging from a 5K all the way to those 100-mile plus endurance races. I’m shooting for a 10K for my first virtual race because that distance can be challenging, but makes for a great run whether it’s first thing in the morning or later in the day. I also want a race that requires you to log your distance and time.

How do you track your distance if you don’t have a set course? I run with a Garmin Forerunner 10 run watch. It is just fancy enough so that I know how far I’ve gone, how fast I’m running, how many glorious calories I’ve burned, and my total run time. You can also use Map My Run or RunKeeper, both great running apps for tracking. 

#3: It doesn’t have a set date 

Just like an actual race, some virtual runs require that you run on a specified date. They often bring people together from all over the world to support a cause on a specific date or require that you run on a certain day in order to award prizes and ship medals in a timely fashion. I am looking for a race that has no timeline. I want to run when I want to run. This is just one more reason that virtual races are so easy to do. 

So, what race am I going to run? I’m still not sure, but I’m learning a ton through research, as I look for the perfect race for my running resolution. Have you run any virtual races? If so, what do you recommend and why? 

2016 Miles to Go: 881

What Next?

  After a brief running hiatus, mostly due to all of the rain, I hit the pavement for 3.14 glorious miles this afternoon in honor of Pi Day. The sun was shining, the flowers were    in bloom, and it seemed that all of my neighbors had the same idea to get out and enjoy Spring, who finally found her way to Northeast Mississippi.

Still basking in the glow of being accepted to run the TCS New York City Marathon, John put in his first training miles today, too, taking advantage of the beautiful weather. He won’t start the serious training until a little further into the year, but we both jumped at the chance to just get outside today and run.

I am at my best as a runner when I am working towards a goal. Having spent the past seven months training for the Glass Slipper Challenge, today’s “just for fun” miles felt very different from the ones I logged throughout much of 2015. I don’t want to get lazy and lose all of the mileage I have built up, so what’s left to do? Run more races! 

There are some local 5Ks, 10Ks, and half marathons in which I am planning to participate. But, what I really want to know, is what are your favorite races and why? Having done both RunDisney and Rock and Roll Marathon Series events, I absolutely love a fun race environment, but also enjoy experiencing unique small town races. Whatever it is, I can’t wait to plan my next adventure.

2016 Miles to Go: 919

Magical Miles

 “All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.”  Walt Disney

A week later, I am still celebrating. I did it! I completed the Glass Slipper Challenge, running 19.3 miles by finishing the Enchanted 10K and Princess Half Marathon, during RunDisney’s Princess Half Marathon Weekend at Walt Disney World! From start to finish, it was an amazing experience that I will never forget.

We arrived in Orlando bright and early Thursday morning, and after catching Disney’s Magical Express to the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, we made our way to ESPN’s Wide World of Sports to pick up our race bibs and check out the RunDisney Health & Fitness Expo. Each time I visit Disney World, their efficiency and attention-to-detail never cease to amaze me. Races at Disney are no exception. With thousands of eager princesses, young and old, clambering to grab bibs, tech shirts, commemorative items, and every sparkly princess running accessory available, cast members and volunteers moved us seamlessly through the process. With bibs in hand, and a few extra purchases, we high-tailed it to Hollywood Studios for a day of fun in the park.

Mickey cappuccinos at Mama Melrose's

Mickey cappuccinos at Mama Melrose’s

Our day began with a 3:45 a.m. wake-up call, so the wonderful waitress at Mama Melrose’s kept us going with her special cappuccinos. We ate there as part of the Fantasmic dinner package before seeing the show that night. We have tried to see Fantasmic the last two times we were at Disney, and finally managed to see it this time, and it was fantastic! After a long day of traveling we headed back to the resort for a good night’s sleep prior to Miles’ big race the next day.

Friday morning began with Mickey waffles before heading back to ESPN’s Wide World of Sports for the Kids’ Races. Miles ran the 200 meter dash with other kids four to six years old. I have no doubt that he will turn out to be the fastest one in our family. Out of his wave, he was fourth place and was so focused on the finish line, he missed high-fiving Minnie Mouse at the end.

Finish line at the Kids' Races

Finish line at the Kids’ Races

He loved every minute of it and can’t wait to run his next race! We spent the rest of Friday at the Magic Kingdom before going to Epcot for the Pasta Party that night.

My 3:00 a.m. wake-up call came way too early Saturday morning. After getting ready, I hopped on the bus and headed with the rest of the princesses to Epcot’s Imagine parking lot for the race. While we waited for the 5:30 a.m. start, a DJ played dance music, Disney Princesses posed for pictures with runners, and participants completed their pre-race rituals. I was in corral C for the 10K and managed to get a great spot towards the front of the pack. Before I knew it, the fireworks were going off and we were on our way. Much of the race was spent on the highways surrounding Disney, but there were several magical miles in and around Epcot. The highlight for me was running into the World Showcase with all of the countries lit up and glittering at dawn, as Disney music blared all around us and characters and cast members cheered us on.

Enchanted 10K

Enchanted 10K

A fellow princess that I met at the expo the day before, who had previously completed the Glass Slipper Challenge, advised me to take it easy on the 10K so I could handle the half the next day, but I felt better and better the further I went and ended up with a PR for the Enchanted 10K!

Following the race, I met up with my boys and we went to the Princess breakfast where we dined with the likes of Ariel, Snow White, and Cinderella.

Gingers at the Princess Breakfast

Gingers at the Princess Breakfast

After a quick shower and rest for me and pool time for the boys, we went to Epcot for the afternoon. I was a little anxious about the half marathon the next morning, not so much about whether I could run 13.1 miles, but more about whether my body would shut down after two mornings of waking up at 3:00 a.m. and walking around the parks a little more than I probably should have.

Just like “Groundhog’s Day,” my alarm went off Sunday morning at 3:00 a.m. I got ready and headed to the Monorail. I joined my fellow princesses for a half-mile walk from the Monorail to the staging area where once again music was pumping, princesses were posing for pictures, and everyone was going through their pre-race rituals. I noticed that the start line was not where it had been the day before, so I followed the signs and literally one-mile later I was sitting in Corral H with the other runners. I was very thankful that I started walking when I did because from the comfort of my corral, I watched other ladies booking it to get to theirs prior to the start. Miss America sang the National Anthem and the Fairy Godmother used her magic to let us go, corral by corral.

Fireworks to start each corral at the Princess Half Marathon

Fireworks to start each corral at the Princess Half Marathon

Disney did not disappoint as each start had its own display of amazing fireworks. Before I knew it, I was off.

I was surprised how well I felt as I settled in to my pace. Disney doesn’t let you get bored, as there is constant music, characters, and entertainment along the way. Before I knew it, we were making our way onto Main Street USA towards Cinderella’s Castle. This experience was like no other experience I have ever had as a runner. Cast members and spectators lined the way and were cheering us on, as we turned the corner towards the Castle. From there we ran through Tomorrowland, into Fantasyland, and back through the Castle, before heading to Frontierland, and out of the Magic Kingdom. Those were by far the most amazing miles of the race, perhaps the most amazing miles of any race I have run to date.

Sweaty pic in front of the castle during the Princess Half Marathon

Sweaty pic in front of the castle during the Princess Half Marathon

Miles seven through ten were brutal. I don’t know whether it was the climbing temps, the let-down after running through the Magic Kingdom, or just exhaustion setting in, but it took all I had to get through those miles before closing in on the finish. Running up on-ramps near mile 12 is a sick joke, but it all worked out and I completed the Glass Slipper Challenge. We celebrated with dinner at Ohana that night and sleeping in the next morning.

We enjoyed our final two days in the parks. I wore my Glass Slipper Challenge medal proudly around the Magic Kingdom Sunday afternoon and was constantly congratulated on my accomplishment by Cast Members, other runners, and random kind individuals.

Token castle pic with my medals

Token castle pic with my medals

What set this race apart for me was the sense of comeradery between all of the women on the course and the encouragement that seemed to come from everyone along the way. Maybe it was because we were all adults dressed up like princesses for the day, or maybe it was because so many were either running their first race or first Disney race, but it definitely was that we were all in it together, in a magical place where a little pixie dust makes you think you can do anything.

I definitely plan to be a repeat princess, and I am certain that the only thing that would make this experience even more magical would be to experience it with my friends. In the words of the man himself, Walt Disney, “The way to get started is to quit talking and start doing.” Now, who’s in for 2017?

2016 Miles to go: 922

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We’ll be back!

It’s Race Week!

It’s race week, ya’ll! By this time next week, I will have completed the RunDisney Glass Slipper Challenge. I am so excited I can barely stand it! I’m going to put in a few more short training runs before we leave to keep my legs loose, but as John put it this morning, three more sleeps to Disney!

February has already been a month filled with all things fabulous. I spent this past week in NYC at the Receptive Services Association of America annual summit, inspiring travel to Tupelo by sharing our story with tour operators from around the globe. Usually, before I can open my mouth, they want to talk about Elvis (I mean, really who doesn’t want to talk about Elvis?!?!), but when I get to share Tupelo’s list of impressive sites, bites, events, and shops, people are truly surprised at all that our special town has to offer.

NYCSNOW

Walking in the snow with my mother in NYC

My mother joined me in the city, and In between meetings, networking events, and exploring the city, I managed to get in a couple of training runs. Since technically this is my taper week for the Princess Half Marathon, three-milers on the treadmill worked just fine. I did a ton of walking this week, too, so that cross-training counts toward all the steps I’ll take in the parks later this week, right? And, walking through the city in the snow counts double, I am certain. According to a statistic I heard today, last week was the coldest week on record in New York City, of course.

Frozen’s Princess Anna

I feel confident about my races as a result of the training I have put in and am looking forward to all that is in store. On a side note, my race outfits are all ready. Apparently, half the fun of running RunDisney ev

The Little Mermaid’s Princes Ariel

ents is dressing the part, so of course I drew my inspiration for each of my races from a couple of ginger princesses. I’ll give you a sneak peak, for now, but I promise to share the full outfits, complete with accessories, on race day! I did a practice run in my new, fabulous skirts from Sparkle Skirts, and they are amazing. Other than the fact that they have built-in shorts that don’t move at all, they have lots of pockets to hold anything you may need on race day. I will keep running in these skirts, even when I’m not dressed as a Disney Princess, and I am really looking forward to checking their booth out at the race expo.

After all of my training, it is hard to believe that the races are almost here. Miles still doesn’t know that we are leaving for Disney World this week, or that he is running in a kids’ race when we get there, so I may be more excited about telling him than anything. Thanks for your support and encouragement throughout this process. I have run three half marathons prior, but never two races back-to-back, especially waking up two mornings in a row as early as I will have to wake up, but I look forward to sharing every single fantastic detail of my experience with the Glass Slipper Challenge, when it is all said and done.

2016 Miles to go: 945

 

A Dismal December Calls for Jumpstart January

To say that December has been a less than ideal training month is an understatement. Between my travel, “the incident,” the endless rain, and a few lazy mornings thanks to the craziness that is the holidays, December has done little to help propel me to the finish line of the Princess Half Marathon that is a mere six weeks away.

Despite the fact that I despise running in the cold, I am confident that I will be ready for the Glass Slipper Challenge in February. With such a short amount of time to go until my races, I have three items in my arsenal to help me get finish line ready.

First, did I mention how much I hate running in the cold? I really cannot stand the way my body feels when I run outside in frigid temps, yet my favorite races always seem to be held in February, and I am not a fan of the treadmill. My husband, and coach, hooked me up this Christmas with an array of cold weather running gear. My favorite new accessory is the Under Armour Coldgear Infrared Reflective Beanie. It is super warm, has a hole in the back for my ponytail, and, of course, it’s pink. Being both warm and well accessorized will definitely help with those last few long runs I have to get in before February. 

Second, I always seem to eat terribly during the month of December. Once Thanksgiving hits, it’s pretty much a downhill spiral until the new year begins. Having tried all of the fad diets and miracle products out there that promise to melt away those pesky December pounds, it wasn’t until I made the decision to change my lifestyle that I became more healthy and lost weight as a result.

 I participated in the Arbonne 30 Days to Healthy Living program last January and truly experienced how clean eating can change everything. Sure, I lost 14 pounds during the 30 day cleanse, but the healthy living practices I learned through participating have helped me run faster, sleep better, and have a stronger immune system, thus staying well.

I am not participating in the full cleanse this January since I am in training mode, but I am using some of my favorite products to stay strong and feel great. I love the vegan protein for my morning smoothie and homemade protein bars, and I can’t live without the probiotic. With all of my travels, the probiotic has kept me well when traditionally I would catch a cold everytime I hopped on an airplane. They also have a PhytoSport line with a pre-workout, post-workout, and hydration product. We love them! As a bonus, John loves his Arbonne as much as I do, so it helps us both when training for races.

Finally, I may be the last person on the planet to discover podcasts, but I’m hooked, and I love that I can lose myself in listening to one while on a long run. I am currently listening to “Serial,” and “This American Life,” but have also discovered “Runner Academy,” which is a wealth of information on every facet of the sport of running. Running is such a mental sport and if I can focus on what I’m listening to instead of how much further I have to go, my long runs get easier and easier. Do you have a favorite podcast? Please share!

With just six weeks to go, I am getting really excited about my races. I have my Enchanted 10K running attire all ready to go (more on that soon!) and am working on the Princess Half outfit. Our reservations are made, FastPasses booked, and all that’s left are a few long runs before I’m Princess-ready. Thanks to my secrets weapons, I should be good to go!