My running top 10 must haves

Running gear, running gear how do I love thee? I watch Youtube videos about you, walk and stare at you countless times at fleet feet, mind stroll through amazon reading reviews and endlessly searching on Instagram for the newest little gadget. Runners are notorious for taking a “cheap” and “easy” sport and turning it into an expensive hobby with some fancy gear but in my opinion certain things are necessary.

10. Sweaty bands. I LOVE headbands. In fact on days when I don’t wear a headband to train my clients say “no headband today?” It’s a bit of an obsession, but I always feel a little bit more put together when I have one, mostly because I spend my days in workout clothes. I love them so much that I always pack them for my RunDisney race-cations to keep my hair out of my face in the parks.

9. Balega socks
I am OBSESSED with Balega socks. I won’t run in anything else. From the cute colors to the cushy bottoms, they are all I will buy. They normally cost 12 dollars a pair, but some I’ve had for years and they have yet to wear thin.

8. Zella running capris
I used to run in really expensive running leggings and I recently found the brand Zella at Nordstrom which has totally changed my workout gear. Most come in a tigh compression, which I prefer over saggy bottoms while running, some have really cute cutouts and colors as well. I, as most runners do, went out and bought every color in the same style in order to not wear mine down. I brought a few pairs to Dopey weekend to wear to the parks as well!

7. Honey stinger waffles, dried cherries, larabars
Ahhhh running snacks. We all have our favorites, right? With that, we runners always think certain flavors or brands make us perform better. Sure some of that might be true, but some of it is also the love of the ritual. Running is all about ritual. What you will and won’t do, eat or won’t eat before a training run or race. The best thing you can do is practice exactly how you’ll eat on race day. If you’re all about chocolate gu, don’t use a race morning as a day to test a new flavor. I personally can only have gels without caffiene and I love going the more natural route like dried fruit and nuts. My favorite combo while waiting for a big race to start (anything longer than a 10k) is to pair dried cherries and frosted mini wheats. When you compete at the Dopey Challenge, you have to sit and wait in the corrals for almost two hours so eating back at the hotel and waiting until the fireworks go off is WAY too long to wait to get some fuel in you. Lucky for me, the full marathon course at WDW will have two banana stops and two clif shot stops so I already know what types of snacks I need to practice my long runs with.

6. Hair bling!
When running, I let my inner child come out for sure! Half the fun is getting into a theme and seeing what others come up with! And hey, if you have to be running miles and miles you might as well feel like a princess!

5. Sparkle Athletic skirts
As mentioned before, running with a theme is 10 times for fun! These little splashes of sparkle are perfect to wear over running capris or shorts. In fact, my Dopey challenge buddy (shout out, Kaitlin!) and I are almost done deciding which colors we will need for our four day race!

4. Nathan Hydration vest
I currently do not have one, but since Ragnar relay races do not provide cups, I’m thinking of finally biting the bullet and purchasing one. They have spaces for water as well as keys and snacks – basically everything you need while running. I love this mint green one so much I texted my husband and mom with a “hint hint” caption. So mom, if you read these – don’t forget my birthday is August 14th.

3. Recovery items
I highly recommend trigger point foam rollers, balls, and the rolling sticks. The balls and sticks are perfect for travel as well and key while training! I love that the rollers come in different colors, because….PINK!

2. Garmin Forerunner 230
This is my second Garmin, and I love it! It’s helpful to see my pace and I love that it records your times so the random runs where you see “personal record!” really keeps you motivated.

1. My shoes! Duh!
I normally run in Asics religously (as seen below). Since I’ve been having so many hip flexor issues I’ve been looking to find any solution to help. A running buddy of mine, Renee (Shout out! Love you, friend!) recommended the Hoka Clifton 3, which I recently purchased. Glad to say so far so good! They are a very neutral shoe and so far, they seem to be helping! I will for sure still run in my first loves, but it’s nice to switch it up every once in a while.

Days until:
Disneyland Half Marathon 19.3 miles – 88
Ragnar Napa – 152
The Dopey Challenge 48.6 miles – 213
The Princess Half Marathon weekend 22.4 miles – 262
The Tinkerbell Half Marathon weekend 22.4 miles – 340

My running update and success story!

Most of you know I’m counting down the days to the biggest race of my life. Not only am I going to run a marathon but I’m going to run a marathon after running a 5K on Thursday, a 10k on Friday, a half marathon on Saturday and the grand finale is running 26.2 miles! 48.6 miles in just four days!

Over Labor Day weekend, I went back to Disneyland to run the Dumbo Double Dare as well as the 5k before. This was a total of 22.4 miles in three days and when I had registered I thought this would be a perfect practice for my upcoming road ahead.

As I completed all three races with a smile on my face, I kept thinking what a huge difference a year can make. The year prior, I was 25 pounds heavier, still breast feeding my baby girl, and even though I tried and tried as hard as I could, I was still so out of shape. As we came upon mile 13 of the half marathon, I knew my body was toast. I was limping all the way to the car fighting back tears as my abs felt like they had been cut in two, my hip flexors were screaming, and my knees were about to give out. Make no mistake, I trained! On top of that, I had a very healthy and active pregnancy. So imagine my disappointment when six months later I couldn’t do something that just before I had my baby, felt like it was a bit easy. When Ryan picked me up from the race I just let it all out from tears to curse words as I told him “I’m not doing dopey.” There’s no way the next day I could have survived a full marathon. My dream of earning those 6 medals was quickly fading away.

I cried in the shower as all of my joints stiffened up and I looked in the mirror and didn’t recognize who this person was anymore. I don’t give up easily and I was ready to throw in the running towel. A few days later as the pain faded and (just like child birth) the torture seemed “no so bad” I told myself to get out and keep running.

In that time I’ve completed 5 half marathons not counting my Dumbo Double Dare. It hasn’t been pain free or particularly fast, but I finished which is what’s most important. My first half which was 3 months after having Emma I finished in 3:30 and in July, about a year and some change later, I finished in 2:13. This certainly isn’t my “dream” time, I’d like to finish a half marathon in 2 hours, but it’s quite an improvement. I think I learned a lot about struggling through the pain and trying as hard as you can to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

So here we were, 5am on the start of the first race of three for the Disneyland Half Marathon weekend. My wonderful friend, Andrea, and I were set to do the 5k. We knew going in this was going to be the race we enjoyed. We planned on mostly walking, taking a lot of pictures, and just taking in all of the sights and people.
We wanted to stop with some of the characters, but the line for Pinocchio was ridiculous. The castle was decked out for the 60th anniversary unnamed-9
Just like that we were done, ready to have breakfast and get some rest for our 10k the next day. This is exactly how I plan on doing the 5k during the Dopey challenge. I want to enjoy it since I’ve only been to Florida once so the more pictures the better. I’m hoping for a great full time, so I’ll give my legs a bit of a rest and save my energy for the last few days.

Day two of waking before the sun is up and we were all ready to head to corral B to get started. My friends, Danielle and Lauren, met me there as we got ready to start. I really love the course for the 10k. Six miles is the perfect distance to cover both parks. Once you get started it’s a short hour before it’s over and you’re on your way. This time instead of walking, we would run until we wanted to take a picture, maybe every ten minutes or so. I guess you could say those were intervals but we were consistently out of breath.

All of us spent the rest of the day resting at the hotel for the half marathon morning we were about to complete. I thought the running would be the hardest part but to be honest, it was waking up at 3am all three mornings. Especially since we didn’t want to miss anything at the parks so we stayed out a little longer than anticipated.
But just like that, I woke up, changed, had a quick breakfast and was on my way.
With picture stops, I finished about 2:30 which is a great improvement from last year. I think with the long lines for pictures this is a pretty good time.
I’m still a bit 50/50 on how much I plan on stopping for the full. I might make my half marathon the one to stop and enjoy a bit more so I’m not running for hours and hours AND HOURS. Plus, I will have a beer waiting for my at the Germany pavilion in Epcot so there’s no need to waste time!

I’m looking forward to bringing my 6 medals home!

Dumbo weekend was such a great motivator and confidence builder for me. I’m so proud that I kept pushing myself all year. I’m completely terrified of running a full but I only know that it will make it all more rewarding at the end. I keep trying to picture that finish line after 26.2 and how that’s going to make me feel. I only wish I could go back a year and give that sad runner a pat on the back and tell her to keep going! It’s always the set backs that make for a great come back!

Using the Jeff Galloway method for the Dopey Challenge

First off, I’m super annoyed it’s taken me over two weeks to write a new post. For those of you who haven’t read my previous blog post, my father in law passed away so I needed to take some time for me and my family to regroup.

A week ago I signed up through Acclaim Travel for the RunDisney Dopey Challenge along with my three cousins. The Dopey challenge is MY Olympics! I have been patiently waiting through a pregnancy and the first year of Emma’s life to finally be able to sign up. This race consists of a 5k, 10k, a half marathon and a full marathon – 48.6 miles in four days! Now I only have to wait another 254 days, but who’s counting?

One of my discoveries along this journey is the Jeff Galloway method of running. He’s the spokesperson for RunDisney and of course I have heard of him from time to time, but I never tried his run/walk/run philosophy. Honestly, I had too much pride to walk. I wanted to run the whole darn thing! While reading his marathon book, he had a list of signs you’re running too long without letting your body recover appropriately. This right away stuck out to me. Every time I run 10 + miles I’m useless to the world for the rest of the day. After a half marathon, I’m a Netflix and “become one with the couch” kinda girl. So after reading the first few chapters in his book, I thought trying it out couldn’t hurt.

Ever since I had Emma, my right hip flexor has been really sensitive. Anytime I lift my knee hip level, take a step, or even put on pants I could feel how tight it felt. I’ve been stretching and foam rolling like I’m supposed to but something just didn’t feel right. This could mean a few things such as: tight or weakened hips, tight or weakened quads, and weak glutes. Oh man. And I thought my legs were my strong suit! I work with a lot of really talented and smart trainers at Fitness Rangers and asked a few of them on their advice. They gave me some great stretching ideas which I will post below.

So over the last few weeks I’ve been running anywhere from 3 to 10 miles by running 3 minutes and walking 30 seconds and you know what, I have no pain! My hip flexor hasn’t been bothering me like it was and best of all, I feel like I could run all day! I now see how this will help me so much over the Dopey Challenge weekend. Training will mostly consist of running days back to back to simulate a mini Dopey. Training doesn’t technically start until July but since I have another RunDisney challenge in May, I feel like training has already begun.

This stretch (shown above) helps separate the joint a bit to really allow the muscle to stretch. This targets that hip flexor in a more intense way than without the band.

Since my quads could also be an issue, here is a way to completely relax the leg (notice how his foot is under the ledge of the table) and get a really deep quad stretch.

Today was the Capital City Classic in Sacramento. My friend and I decided to do the 10 mile race in order to get in our last long run before the Tinkerbell Half Marathon weekend.


Today was the day I put the Jeff Galloway method to the test. I told myself I wanted to run as fast as I could for 3 minutes and then speed walk for 30 seconds. My goal was to stay under a 9 minute mile during those three minutes at least until I got to the 10k mark. (I would LOVE to make it into the A corral for the Dopey Challenge) I’m happy to say that even with a bathroom break around mile 1, I made it to the 10K mark around 58 minutes! I couldn’t be happier! I was a little skeptical about having to walk thinking for sure it would slow me down but in reality, it made me run faster during the 3 minutes. I felt like I had more energy because of that quick break. I was able to get control of my breathing and focus for the next run.
I’m SO excited to use this method as see how fast I can get my sprints. Now, the REAL challenge – seeing if I can do a full marathon with this! Stay tuned for more updates on using this method, I’m excited to see how it will help me especially when I get into the longer distances!