Thursday, March 22, 2018

Disney Princess 10K & Half Marathon Recap + My Top Half Marathon Training Tips

Hey y'all! If you've been following along on my Instagram, you probably saw that I recently went to Disney World to run, not one, but two road races {yes, I know I'm crazy}.  Luckily I have a friend from college who is just as crazy as me and we made a fun girls' trip out of it!  We both ran the Disney Princess Fairy Tale Challenge which consisted of running a 10k {6.2 miles} on Saturday, 2/24, and a half marathon {13.1 miles} on Sunday, 2/25.  We had the BEST time but came home with extremely tired legs after running 19.3 miles and walking the parks for 5 days.  Today, I want to share the pros and cons of the Disney Princess races, as well as, some of my top half marathon training tips.

                                               Running Top - Running Shoes Running Shorts - Sports Bra - Running Socks

First, can we talk about how cute my running costume was?! Beauty and the Beast is my favorite Disney Princess movie {Lion King is my all-time favorite Disney movie}, so when I saw this top on Etsy, I knew I had to have it for these races!  Okay, back to the running...My plan for the weekend was to run the 10k for a PR {Personal Record} and to take the half marathon easy.  I finished the 10k with a PR of 46:44 {7min, 30sec per mile pace} and had a blast enjoying the atmosphere and stopping to take pics with the characters during the half marathon.  I still finished in 1:49 {8min, 19sec per mile pace}, which is not too shabby!


Pros of Disney Princess Races:

1. Well Organized: Along with everything else at Disney, these races are extremely organized.  Everything from registration, check-in, transportation to/from the expo and race, race corrals, and the finish line festival are very efficient and easy to navigate.
2.  Flat, Scenic Course: With the races being in Orlando, Florida, the courses are super flat {which was a nice change of scenery to all of the hills here in Atlanta}.  You also get the opportunity to run through Epcot {during 10k & half marathon} and Magic Kingdom {only during half marathon} before they open, which is a REALLY cool experience.
3.  Costumes and Characters:  Almost everyone {including men} dress-up as their favorite Disney Princess or character.  I dressed up as, Princess Belle from Beauty and the Beast, and my friend Jordan dressed up as Tinkerbell from Peter Pan.  It's so fun to observe the other runners' creative costumes along the course.  In addition, there are Disney characters set up along the course for you to stop and take pictures with.  As you can see, there's a LOT to look at throughout the race which makes it so fun and makes the time go by much faster!
4.  Medals:  When you cross the finish line, Cinderella's Fairy God Mother sprinkles fairy dust on you and you get coolest medals of any race I've ever participated in.  With the Fairy Tale Challenge, we got 3 awesome medals - 1 for the 10K, 1 for the half marathon, and 1 for completing the challenge.
5.  Champagne: Last but certainly not least, they serve champagne at the finish line festival.  Enough said.

Cons of Disney Princess Races: 

1.  Expensive: Just like everything else at Disney, these races come with a hefty price tag.  Race registration will put you back $150+ per race and that's before paying for travel, lodging, park tickets, food, etc.
2.  Early Wake-Up Call: Since the races must be completed before the Disney parks open, that means waking up at 3 AM to get to the start line in time for a 5:30 AM start.  Waking up at 3 AM two days in a row was rough, but totally worth it.
3.  Hot & Humid: With the races being in Florida, the heat and humidity was expected but something to take into consideration if you prefer cooler temps when running.

Overall, the pros far outweighed the cons, in my opinion, and we had a great experience!

Since this was my 14th half marathon, I wanted to share a few of my top training tips to keep in mind when preparing for your next race!

Invest in good running shoes {and socks!}.
Having a good pair of running shoes is imperative.  I highly recommend going to your local running store to do a foot analysis.  They will analyze your strike and stride and recommend the best shoe for your foot.  For example, when I had my foot analysis, I learned that I over-pronate {meaning that my foot rolls inward when it hits the ground} so I need a stability shoe to provide sufficient support for my knees and ankles.  Running in the right type of shoe is key in preventing injuries - which makes the investment worth every penny!  Also, when you're logging a lot of miles during your training, having a good pair of running socks helps prevent calluses and blisters and provides extra support and comfort.  Below are the three stability running shoes, as well as, the only kind of running socks that I wear.

Incorporate Cross-Training
I LOVE to run - I used to run 5-6 days a week and it was the only type of exercise that I did.  There was no variety in my workouts, no strength training, and the same muscles were being used over and over.  This eventually led to a running injury, surgery, and 6 months of physical therapy {that's another story for another day}.  Then about a year and a half ago, an Orange Theory Fitness opened up down the street from our house.  I decided to give it a try and was instantly hooked!  Since incorporating Orange Theory into my training just two days per week, I've become a stronger and faster runner and have not had any injuries {knock on wood!}  Adding any kind of variety into your training such as spin, yoga, kick boxing, etc. gives your running muscles a break, increases your strength in other areas, and prevents you from getting burned out from running all the time.

Train in what you plan to run your race in
Be sure to run at least 1 or 2 long runs in the clothes/accessories you plan to run your race in.  This includes your top, bottoms, sports bra, hat/headband, arm band, hydration belt, socks, and of course, running shoes.  There's nothing worse than wearing a new pair of shorts on race day only to find out that they ride up and you end up spending 13.1 miles tugging at your shorts. Or that your new sports bra causes major chafing. Or that your hydration belt bounces when you run.  Trust me, learn from my mistakes!  Test out all of your gear prior to race day!  You can shop some of my favorite running gear below.

If you're a seasoned runner, what are some of your tried and true training tips?  If you're new to running, what topics do you want to learn more about?  Tell me in the comments below!

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