My Dopey training guide and friggin hip

Yes, I know. Yes, you know. Yes, the world know my hip hurts. I complain constantly. I worry endlessly. Now I’m finally ready to fight back.

The first time I trained for the Dopey Challenge, I felt pretty good. I followed by training plan religiously. I was getting plenty of sleep (as much as I could with an 18 month old), and I kept up with my boot camp classes to get in some extra strength. Right around the training point of about 18 miles, my hip was done. The pain was so great that it was hard to lift my leg to put on pants. I noticed my left hamstring and glute were painfully tight so much so that it felt impossible to stretch it properly. Instead of asking for help, I simply thought this was my cross to bare with training for a marathon. Now that I’m having the pain at such an earlier stage in the game, I’m getting help.

Next week I’m going to Results Physical Therapy to get my running form analyzed and hopefully get some help on what I can be doing to improve my stride and posture. I also have an appointment with a physical therapist to get some answers as well. I’m praying it’s just an issue of being overly tight and needing to add some deep stretching, corrective exercises and some yoga into my routine. I’m making a promise to myself to fit in yoga once a week, stretch nightly and make sure to properly warm up before any run.

With that said, I have some training tips for my fellow Dopey Challengers, or anyone currently training for a marathon.

1. Nutrition
Running means you can eat as much as you want, right? Wrong! In fact, a lot of times people gain weight while marathon training because they over eat to “make up” for the calories burned. You want to be sure you’re getting an adequate amount of carbohydrates, but getting enough protein is equally important. I usually take in 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight. Now, I’m not a doctor so please remember that when changing your diet, but .08-1.0 gram of protein/body weight is a good healthy range to preserve muscle mass. Post run, I normally try to take in 20-25 grams of protein and about 20 grams of carbohydrates. In my opinion, the perfect combo for me is a smoothie with protein, berries, spinach, and half of a banana (potassium). I also sprinkle in some pink Himalayan sea salt to replace some of the sodium lost while running. Sodium, magnesium and potassium are all very important when thinking about hydration. A big, green smoothie is a great idea for a recovery meal because it’s loaded with micronutrients as well.

Try using an app like Myfitnesspal to track your calories and keep your diet in check. Healthy fats are important for hormone stabilization I just wouldn’t consume them directly after a long run. Quick carbs and proteins are your friend after a training run. A Nuun tablet during a long run (in my opinion, anything over 6 miles) is important in the summer months as you’re likely to sweat a lot more.

2. Get your shoes checked!
Finding a good pair of running shoes is almost as important as signing up for the race itself. If you’re running in the wrong pair, you’ll quickly notice body aches and pains after your training runs. Here in Sacramento, we have Fleet Feet where they will watch you run and advise you on the right type of shoe. It’s always a good thought to keep track of how many miles you’ve been running in your shoes to see when you should buy a new pair. I always notice the bottoms of my feet get a little bit tired or sore when it’s time for a new pair.

3. Know your course!
I’m a visual person and when I train for a big race like the Dopey Challenge, I want to imagine I’m there in order to really get myself motivated. I love to look up vlogs on Youtube of the races I plan on running. A lot of times you can see the course you’ll be running and get a feel for the vibe. I love to see the excitement in people’s faces and the sheer joy at the end of accomplishing something major. It’s so helpful to find training videos along the way to keep you focused and feel like you aren’t alone. I highly recommend watching Joyful Miles on Youtube! Not only do they show you the course for the RunDisney races by videos and pictures, but it’s set to great music to get you excited. All of the girls (and Rob!) who run have adorable outfits and positive attitudes. Course maps are almost always online as well. It’s helpful to get those out so you know where you’ll start, finish, and of course…the bathrooms!

4. Warm up and cool down

Making sure you are properly warmed up and have properly cooled down is just as important as the run itself. You’re preventing injury and making sure your muscles are awake and ready to work. Here is a video I took of some of my favorite warm up techniques.

5. Practice makes perfect
Always always always always use your long training runs as a faux race day. Wake up early enough to fuel yourself exactly how you would race day. I’m pretty easy when it comes to what I eat before a long run. For me, easy on the stomach foods are what I go with. A banana, some peanut butter and a piece of toast is the way to go. I never train with caffeine in fear of any stomach issues so I make sure that my gels and chews are also caffeine free. In fact, while I’m running I often look forward to that big cup of coffee after a nice hot shower. I practice timing my gels and chews as well in order to not BONK on race day. When running Dopey, you’re not just fueling for one run but four. Because of this, you’ll want to fuel even more during the smaller races. Normally I only eat something around mile 6 and 10 of a half marathon but for Dopey, I try to have a little something every 4 miles. Directly after the race I try to have at least 20 grams of protein and carbs (minimal fat) in order to help my muscles recover quickly for the next day.

When packing for Dopey, I will bring some plain oatmeal, peanut butter and bananas to have in the hotel before we leave for the buses. While Kaitlin and I are sitting the dreaded two hour wait in the corrals, I will have some frosted mini wheats and dried cherries (dry food and easy on my stomach). I plan on bringing a premixed protein shake and 1/2 of a bagel in my race bag to check before the race. This way, I can start my recovery immediately on the bus back to the hotel. (And on that note, ALWAYS BRING ZIPLOCKS TO A RACE-CATION!)

Not only is it important to practice nutrition, but it’s really important to practice running in the outfits you’ll be wearing. Costumes are a no brainer when it comes to running at a Disney race. If you plan on running in some crazy big costume, you need to make sure you can actually run in it. Costumes aside, trying out a new pair of pants on race day could end up in saggy butt syndrome and be incredibly annoying during your race. Make sure what you’re wearing is comfortable and you know all the places you’ll need Body Glide to prevent chaffing.

June training:
Strength training 4-5 x week (focusing on legs 2-3 times per week)
ONLY walking until I see the PT
Core 1-2 x week
Yoga 1 x week

Days until:
The Disneyland Half Marathon 19.3 miles – 83
Ragnar Napa – 147
The Dopey challenge 48.6 miles – 208
The Princess Half Marathon 22.4 miles – 257
Tinker Bell Half Marathon 22.4 miles – 335

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

What makes a food bad or good? And other thoughts…

We are currently less than 50 days out from our family vacation, and I couldn’t need it more! I’ve never been one to freak out over needing to lose weight for a vacation. This is mostly because I try to eat healthy all year and quite honestly, whoever sees me on a beach in a bikini will never see me again so who cares. Seeing as I had Max 5 months ago, I have my mommy tummy going which is 100% ok with me. I do not consider being pregnant as a “before” status. I grew a baby. This world of Instagram that we live in creates unrealistic expectations, and I try to be gentler to myself mentally. THAT BEING SAID – I still want to be as healthy as can be and lately I’ve fallen into a lazier style for food choices. I’ve done a lot of protein powders, bars, and just whatever I can grab because I’m so exhausted. I still manage to squeeze it into my macros, which is the beauty of eating that way, but I’m not getting in as many whole foods as I’d like.

Max staying comfortable in there too long.

My baby and me, 17 weeks old

So until our trip, on Mondays through Saturdays, I’m committing to my old “bro diet” and then relaxing on Sundays. I really don’t mind eating this way; it just takes some mental strength for eating more whole foods and relying on processed protein bars. Meals have been pretty easy, and I’m learning that new combos can be quite delicious like this scramble I had this morning – egg whites, avocado, butternut squash, and lean ground turkey. I’m still sticking to my usual rule for macros for protein – .8-1.0 gram per lean body mass.

The part that is the HARDEST for me are the mornings when I’m up at 4:45am to teach boot camp. I still haven’t found my grove of fasting, having a small snack, or eating a full meal. I’ve tried all three and each choice leaves me equally hungry at 8am. I’ve tried just simply having tea and eating at 7am, I’ve tried eating Ezekiel bread and eggs with coffee, and I’ve tried just a shake. They all come with the same lame results – starving and tired. It’s still such a struggle for me because I’m not sleeping more than 2-3 hours at a time so literally the second I wake up I want SUGAR. Like bags and bags of cereal/bathe me in chocolate syrup type cravings. This is more proof that when you’re not sleeping, you’re not letting your body reset and get ready for the next day. One day I’ll figure out these early mornings, maybe when Emma is in high school! ☺
The purpose of this experiment from now until Hawaii is to see if macros matter more, or if really being diligent about not eating processed foods matter more. Now remember, calories are KING. I could eat 1,000 calories only of Twinkies a day and lose weight. Will I look and feel like crap? Of course I will. Overall, I’m hoping my old vacation clothes fit a little bit better, I have more energy, and I’m able to increase my carbs a bit to fuel some longer runs. While we are there, I have a goal of running 6-8 times out of the 10 days we will be gone. I don’t plan on running as punishment for what we plan to eat; I don’t live my life like that. I am going to eat some coconut shrimp on vacation, and you can bet your butt I will enjoy it. Running is going to be more of a meditation and a commitment to my long training ahead.
I think a lot of times we put food into categories or BAD or GOOD. Right now high protein is GOOD, carbs are BAD, fats are GOOD. What makes a food bad or good? The main breakdown of gaining or losing weight is a calorie surplus or calorie deficit. You could take a person and give them a serving of pasta at every meal, keep them in a calorie range lower than they need, and they would lose pounds. Am I a bad person for eating pasta? Do you hear that question? We are literally giving personalities attached to food. When you live in constant deprivation, you demonize these foods. “OH GOD, WHAT WILL HAPPEN IF I EAT A SNICKERS BAR?” I’ll tell you…nothing. You’re a person. You’re a person with a metabolism, a digestive system, and the ability to make the next meal better. Sometimes you just really need a candy bar. Sometimes you are craving it for reasons other than hunger, and those reasons should be addressed, but that’s a post for another day.
My point to this is that you have to live your life. When you go on vacation, let it be that. A mental and physical break from your daily life when you can look around and not stress about what you’re eating, how much you weigh, etc. Truthfully, you’re already there. There’s nothing more you can do about your fitness level when you’re on vacation. So have a damn margarita, enjoy it, and then work your butt off in the gym when you get home. Don’t come home and regret not sharing an ice cream cone with your kid.
Here’s a look at the menu I have going for this week:
Side note – I am a terrible food photographer. Most of the time these are pictures of me dumping my food onto a plate from a container and saying to myself “Shoot! Take a picture!”
2 whole eggs – I need the fat and Vitamin D for breast milk, 2 slices of Ezekiel bread or oatmeal.
6 scrambled egg whites, 4oz of ground turkey, 1 oz. of avocado, 85 grams of roasted butternut squash. I have just recently started this combo, and let me tell you – it’s amazing!
100 grams of rice, 150 grams of broccoli, 5oz of chicken – How BORING, right? Not for me, I love this combo. I always feel so satisfied and full eating a serving of rice and veggies. Truthfully I probably eat WAY more broccoli than listed because – it’s broccoli. I’m not going to kill myself over it.
Pre workout:
100 grams of sweet potato, 100 grams of green beans, 3 chicken skewers (bought pre-made from Costco, all natural and so yummy!)

Post workout/Dinner:
5oz of salmon, 100 grams of asparagus, 100 grams of roasted brussel sprouts, 1 cup of berries.
If I’m still hungry before bed, I have a TBSP of PB to keep me satiated. I also pack a quart size bag of veggies (peppers, snap peas, and cucumbers) and am sure to snack on those while I’m cooking to stop myself from snacking while hungry.

Remember that carbohydrates feed the brain and muscles. If you’re keeping track of calories and serving sizes, carbohydrates are very beneficial when working out and building muscle. Fruits and vegetables also have natural sugar and carbohydrates, but with that they have vitamins and minerals as well as an abundant supply of fiber to help keep you full. Until next time! I’m off to run!

Race countdown:
Disneyland Half Marathon – 154 days
Ragnar Napa – 218 days
Dopey Challenge – 279
Princess Half Marathon – 328
Tinkerbell Half Marathon – 406

Life and training updates

I realize it’s been PAINFULLY long since I’ve posted anything, but it’s time to get back in the swing of things and start journaling my training. I have many updates, one being the most important, and that’s MR Wentworth himself, our baby Max. He has managed to come into our lives and make it so full of joy and happiness we can’t seem to remember life before him. Emma says he is her best friend, and we wouldn’t want it any other way.

Thank you, Kathleen Curto Photography!
Thank you, Kathleen Curto Photography!

My pregnancy with Max was much easier the second time in terms of staying active and eating healthy. Having a two year old running around left me little couch time so we tried to make all of our activities active ones. Fortunately I craved pretty much the same things as I did my first pregnancy – bananas, plain oatmeal, and apples. Well….and the occasional mint chip but that was mainly left for the last few weeks. I was able to keep running until about 8 months, which really helped keep me strong. I even did a 22.4 mile race with my little nugget at about 17 weeks! My friends and I completed all three races for the Tinkerbell Half Marathon weekend in 2016 – the 5k, 10k, and half marathon over three days.






Now I sit here, 4 months postpartum, I am registered for a long list of races and challenges this year and next. I have many strength goals I need to hit because I lost a lot of It while pregnant, which is extremely normal but it kind of sucks at the same time. I somehow find myself registered for the Dopey Challenge again, and those of you that know me will laugh because we all know how THRILLED Ryan is about that! I joke, but he is the most supportive husband and without his faith in me, I don’t think I would have the courage to do it! On top of Dopey, I have the Disneyland half challenge, the Princess half marathon weekend (all three races) 2018, the Tinkerbell half marathon weekend (all three races) 2018, and the ultimate challenge – Ragnar Napa with 11 of my friends scheduled for this November.
Could there possibly be any more or better reasons to document all of this running? Tips and mistakes that I find along the way will be passed on to you as well. My goals are to keep my body as healthy as possible to avoid any injury, and have a blast along the way!
When Max was about 4 weeks old, I started back up with some heavy lifting (heavy at the time for being 4 weeks postpartum – nothing crazy!). Twice a week, my husband and I would take a class to focus on back squats, deadlifts, overhead press, and bench press and increased the weight each day. Once I felt strong enough with this class, we added in a third day and I started very slow jogs around the park by our house.

After having Emma, I had to use the Jeff Galloway method of running where you run for an amount of time and then take a walk break. I actually improved my best times overall by running for 2 minutes and speed walking for 30 seconds. I almost never get sore joints or overly fatigued too soon. Around 4 weeks after having Max I started by running a minute and walking a minute and just trying to go slow in order to really protect my joints. After having a baby and while you are nursing, your body is so pumped full of hormones it’s really easy to injure yourself, so be careful!
Since I only have until October 3rd to submit a proof of time for the Dopey Challenge, I really have to try to up my intervals and work on speed. Right now I can do about 8 miles with my 2:1 intervals (2 minutes on, 1 minute off) but as this week rolls around I’m going to try either shortening my walk break, or running for 3 minutes instead of 2. A lot about running is trial and error so if you feel yourself not being able to keep going or if you feel too tired too soon, play around with your intervals.

With two babies being at home with me, some days going to the gym feels like packing up and leaving for a European vacation. I’ve started to do the one thing I truly hate the most – HOME WORKOUTS! I’m thrilled to say I’ve actually come up with a few that are not boring, keep me focused and make the time go by so quickly! All I used were 20 lbs free weights.
Run around the block once – roughly 2-3 minutes
45 seconds on, 15 seconds off of:
Split lunge with a shoulder press
Bicep curl to a shoulder row
Single leg dead lift to a reverse lunge
Tricep exstentions
Goblet squats

I did 4 rounds and finished with 5 minutes of abs.

I was extra lucky that day because I also managed to squeeze in 6 miles that morning. FOAM ROLLING….LOTS AND LOTS OF FOAM ROLLING!

Race countdown:
Disneyland half marathon weekend – 163
Ragnar Napa – 227
Dopey Challenge – 288
Princess half marathon weekend – 337
Tinkerbell half marathon weekend – 415

The Dopey Challenge – Half Marathon Day!

Day 3 rolled around and I very reluctantly rolled out of bed. It’s not that I wasn’t excited to complete this race but the early wake ups left me more tired than I had ever been. I think because I couldn’t really fall totally asleep out of fear of missing my alarm left me restless and anxious. I was also extremely upset and disappointed with how injured I felt. My hip flexors had been giving me trouble, probably from over training a bit, and each step hurt. Like a sharp twinge each time my knee would come up in my stride so of course I was so fearful that this would either be very painful, or that my legs would just give out.

Today’s corrals were far away from the first two days and as we all walked like “The Walking Dead” all the way there , I started to pep up a bit. There’s nothing quite like hearing the announcers and music to lift your spirits. Hannah and I got there early enough to be in the front of the corral and take a little snooze on our mylar blankets before the race started. Whispers of the humidity had started and so when we checked our phones, it already said 90%. I really noticed it because the announcers kept stressing that we need to take it easy and drink tons of water.


Corral G crossed the start line about 5:45 and we made our way past the few freeway miles heading to Magic Kingdom. I was SO excited to make it to the entrance of Magic Kingdom to see finally hear “Caution runners, speed bumps ahead.” That’s when it finally hit me, “Oh my gosh, we’re doing this!”

They did provide some entertainment on the course which we skipped but did see this cool hot air balloon while waiting for the bathroom. As we stood there, being at mile 2, we saw the fist place runner go by! He was already at mile 11! The whole crowd lit up screaming “GO GO GO!!!!” It was so inspiring!

Running through Main Street either in Florida or California is about as magical as it can get. It’s from this point on I don’t even bother with music and just soak it all in. The crowd couldn’t be more supportive or excited for each runner, and the smiles couldn’t be brighter! To make it even more amazing, the Christmas decorations were still up!


We ran through Main Street to Tomorrowland and as we turned a corner in Fantasyland, we saw Anna, Elsa, and Kristoff waving to up from the balcony.
This is usually where a bottleneck starts to happen so I was pretty prepared to slow down and just look at the beautiful lights.

As you can see, the sky behind the castle looks like a green screen! The air was so thick and dense, I felt like I could chew it.

Fortunately, we were careful with our electrolytes and water that so far, we felt pretty good. My hip was starting to scream a bit so I made sure to keep my stride small, use my intervals, and try to run slower than normal. We passed through Frontierland, by Splash Mountain to end up looking at a dead end with a dazzling float from the Festival of Fantasy parade.

When you leave Magic Kingdom, you start to run past the golf course on your right and the Grand Floridan on the left, which is a pretty long stretch but we were happy to see a character stop shortly after.
Donald had just walked away so we just got Goofy alone, maybe Donald needed a port o potty!

The second half of this course is a bit boring to be honest. I’ve heard a lot of chatter about how Disney World halves are “WAY” better than Disneyland. As someone who has done both, I would say California has them beat, and mostly because since Disneyland is so small, you start there for the first 4-5 miles. It takes a good 3-4 miles to get to Magic Kingdom alone so it’s a bit of a treck. They did have a few army men who spotted us walking while eating our gu and told us to “quit being sissies!”
At least he didn’t make us do burpies!

The course winds you back to Epcot where we noticed you couldn’t even see the top of the Epcot ball because the air was so thick! We did meet a new friend670caf95-df2e-4c78-bf8f-90404f9fddad though!

We finished this very muggy day proud, tired, and a little nervous for the next day. After a stop at the medical tent for ice, we proudly displayed our medals and went back to the hotel for a full rest day.

I highly recommend to take this day easy. A nice, slow, active rest is probably the best way to go. We ended up at the hotel, relaxing, walking around, and somehow back at the Kona Cafe for that amazing coffee! My cousin took an ice bath while I totally chickened out. I remember texting a good friend asking her if she does them after running and all I got back was “OH GIRL, NO!!!” Needless to say, I’m not as tough when it comes to that! In bed by 8, clothes laid out, trashy T.V. on, and we were ready for what was to come. 26.2 or bust!

The Dopey Challenge – 10k day!

The 5k seemed to come and go very quickly which left us most of the day to eat brunch at Kona Cafe (HIGHLY recommend the french press Kona coffee mmmm), we then spent the afternoon at Animal Kingdom. We made sure to leave about 4pm after a late lunch so we could get to bed by 8 for our 3am wake up call. That didn’t stop us from having some great pizza, meeting King Louie and Balou, and riding Expedition Everest a few times!



We got on the bus the next morning around 3:30, another 3am wake up call, and I sat next to a really nice runner who had done a few Dopeys in the past. I told him my worries and he quickly set my mind at ease by saying “We’re all scared, but you just put one foot in front of the other.” He also made me feel confident because I was in the G corral so he said I would have plenty of time to finish.

That morning was rainy so we (fortunately) could sit in the massage tent that happened to be empty that day. TIP: Always keep the mylar blanket they hand out after each race. This was a LIFE SAVER the next morning while standing in the rain for an hour. It wasn’t necessarily cold, but it kept us from being wet and uncomfortable. My cousin, Hannah, and I sat, stretched, closed our eyes, and ate a snack until 5 when we went to go to our corral. The corrals were in the same spot and configuration as the day before so it was really easy to get into B corral and get started. The crowd wasn’t even phased by the rain, everyone was cheering and ready to go!

We ran about 2 miles before entering back into Epcot and finding Mulan in China!


I just love Epcot in the dark with all the little lights twinkling. It’s just so magical. I especially loved being in my favorite pavilion, Germany while dreaming about the caramels we’d have after marathon day!

We both didn’t have much more than a banana that morning thinking that we’d be done soon and breakfast would be right around the corner. Boy were we wrong! We should have brought something because when we smelt the croissants being baked in France, we were ready to pounce! The other good thing besides the smell when we got to the France pavilion was that I finally got to meet Remy the rat!

I have to say the 10k course was my second favorite out of the 4 races that weekend. I’ve never been to the Boardwalk area of Epcot so that was a fun surprise. There were a ton of families out there cheering and giving out high fives. I love being able to run by the different Disney world hotels, in my head a make a wish list on places I want to stay in the future. I have to say, one of the benefits of running any Disney race is all the scenery to distract you in the wee hours of the morning!
Soaking wet from either sweat or rain, we finished happily and were off to shower and take accidental naps. Oops, sorry to the family that wasn’t running that day! The hardest part of this race so far wasn’t the miles, it was the exhaustion! It’s hard being with people you want to hang out and do things with while trying to focus on a race. I think a lot of times people think that because the race is a Disney event that it’s not as challenging as a “normal” race. I have to say it’s quite the opposite. Local races don’t distract you from your normal routine where as a race-cation tempts you with junk food and late bedtimes!

My daughter was….less than thrilled about her 100M dash. I figured that my girl who loves to jump and do burpees would totally sit and no nothing when it came time. Of course out of the 10 days we were there this was the one day it POURED. She did love splashing around in the puddles before we started so at least she wasn’t bothered by the rain!


After we went back to Pop Century, showered and got dry (again), we made our way to Hollywood Studios to shake out any stiffness, have lunch at the Sci Fi Diner, and do some of the big rides. Fortunatley for us, the rain had stopped around noon so we got to enjoy a little sunshine.

Enjoying turkey sandwiches at the Sci Fi Diner.
Enjoying turkey sandwiches at the Sci Fi Diner.
Such a cool atmosphere!
Such a cool atmosphere!

We ended the day with one of my most favorite things at Hollywood Studios, the Beauty and the Beast show!

Making our way back to the hotel, we wanted to have a quick dinner at the hotel and then be in our jammies by 7pm. We knew the hardest two days were coming up next so we had to get as much rest as possible. Even though I kept telling my body this, it was still very hard to sleep!

Running the Dopey Challenge – 5K day!

After a 14 hour day at Magic Kingdom, my 4am alarm came very quickly. Since the 5k doesn’t start until 6am, we actually got to “sleep in” the first day which was nice. The weather was a bit chilly so I’m glad I packed my Nike waffle zip up. We hoped on the bus about 4:20am which was perfect because the bus line at Pop Century wasn’t too crazy just yet. When we arrived, the Epcot parking lot was so full of smiles, music, flashing lights, and so much excitement. In fact, the DJ was blasting a (new to me) song called “Verge” by Owl City that I immediately downloaded and am obsessed with.

As we sat in our corral, I looked around and thought about how long I’ve wished to be right in that exact spot. The journey that took me to get here wasn’t easy and had me in tears after quite a few runs but that all didn’t matter now, I was actually running my dream race. After having Emma, it felt like my body would never go back to the way it was. Running often felt excruciating physically and mentally. I often looked to social media to my favorite runners to see how they were training and what they were doing. Looking to people who inspire you for the right reasons, can sometimes give you that little boost to get out the door. Over the last year and a half, I worked on my goal of losing 30 lbs from baby weight and as I left for my trip, I hit my goal. Not as quickly as I had “planned” but hey, that’s life sometimes.

My cousin and I sat down in the corral about 5am which was perfect because we ended up being towards the front and away from the crowds. Since we don’t live in the same state, it was nice to have an hour to sit and talk before we started. Our strategy for this race was to walk the 5k, run/walk the 10k and half and then for the full, just do our best!


The race started and we spent the first mile behind the Epcot parking lots heading into World Showcase. Before this trip, I had planned on doing EVERY character stop but once I saw that the lines were quite a bit longer (think 3 times) than Disneyland, we took a pass. We were so exhausted this first day that we wanted to finish and go to bed!

Before the mile 1 marker, they did have Chip and Dale while “Rescue Rangers” was blasting, which of course made me a bit sentimental! All the 90’s kids I’m sure can appreciate that one! So taking it slow and steady for the rest of the way, we got to see Epcot with all of the lights on which was breath taking. I love all RunDisney 5k’s because they are so family orientated and just a fun, relaxed vibe.

Passing the entrance of Epcot, we go our medals and jumped back on the buses to go home to change.

My hip flexors were giving me some trouble so I was defiantly anxious to get home and ice them before heading out to brunch at the Kona Cafe – and boy oh boy was that worth every calorie! Tonga toast with a french press pot of Kona Coffee was the PERFECT way to spend our morning after the race.

Next up: the 10k!

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!

Running in memory and keeping a positive road ahead

Today was the 35th anniversary of the Fair Oaks run in Sacramento, CA. My father in law had this marked on his calendar for him and I do together as the last short run before my Tinkerbell Half Marathon weekend. Since, sadly, he passed away we all decided to go and do it in memory.

Even Emma came along for the ride!

We took it easy just as something we could do together, nothing competitive. I’m so glad we all decided to do it.


The best part – you won’t even believe it – Ryan wants to start doing some small races with me! I’m so excited! Maybe on some level, this gave Ryan a small part of his dad’s love for running. Wouldn’t that be amazing that if after all of this, Ryan picked up the running right where his dad left off.

With my last short run over with, I have some packing to do and some last minute workouts. Since everyone is supposed to be tapering down on their workouts and running, I’m only running two small 3 miles runs on Tuesday and Thursday with a boot camp class in between. Now that the suitcases are pulled out, it’s time to pack away! Along with all of the regular things you need for Disneyland here are my running essentials and tips:

1. Wake up the day or two days prior around the time you will wake up on race day. Not only will this help you reset your clock a bit but by waking early and not napping, you will be SO tired come 8 pm and hopefully it will be easy for you to think happy thoughts and drift off to sleep. Since I have to train people very morning at 6am this week, it’s my goal to be in bed my 8pm. Race time starts at 5 am for the 5k on Friday, and 5:30 am for the 10K and half marathon on Saturday and Sunday. If you’re running the Pixie Dust challenge like me, you’ll be up for both the 10k and half marathon. On race day, I set my alarm for 3:30 am, and that usually gives me enough time to dress up, stretch, sip some coffee and eat half of my breakfast (I eat half around 4am and the other half on the walk over).

2. Pack food! I can not stress this enough – do not, I repeat do NOT eat anything new on race day before, during, or immediately after the race. I’m a bagel and peanut butter girl all the way. There’s no need for me to start with oatmeal randomly the day of my half marathon. I suggest you pack what you normally like or find a grocery store near your hotel the day before. With waking up earlier than normal, you’re body is a little thrown off so it’s best not to try anything new that will upset your stomach. My favorite things to bring with us to any RunDisney race weekend are: apples, bananas, organic chocolate milk (GREAT recovery drink when you get back to the hotel), sprouted grain bagels, natural peanut butter, dried fruit, and Quest protein bars. Obviously I won’t be eating all of that before the race, but if you’re racing multiple days, it’s a good idea to keep your diet healthy until the races are over. Even though I would love to be fueled by churros, it probably isn’t the best choice.

Just a spoonful of sugar helps the run go faster!
Just a spoonful of sugar helps the run go faster!

3. Fuel during your race. Luckily, if you forget yours, Clif supplies some energy gel between miles 8 and 9 just in case you run out. During the 10k, I usually don’t need anything but my phone for music and pictures. The course for the 10k is so lovely and fun, and it’s over so fast which leaves me no time to stop and eat. I will be doing all of that at the Storyteller’s Cafe right after!

4. “Forget the glass slipper, this princess wears running shoes!” For challenge weekends where you are running back to back days, I highly suggest bringing one pair of shoes for each day. I have two pairs in the exact same brand and style, just one for the 10K and one for the half. The reason is, if it rains and your shoes are soaking wet, they probably won’t have time to dry in just one day. I also notice that by changing shoes, the padding isn’t worn down from the day before.

5. Costumes! This is the best part, right? This was such a fun thing for me to plan, I’m sure I will have a ton of photos of my outfits for the race recap but I’ll let you in on the secret now, for the 10K I am going to be Minnie Mouse and for the half I found the cutest Sleeping Beauty running skirt! I must stress the point that just like fuel, you should never test out new costumes the day of the race. One false move (or thousands of running strides later) you could end up chaffed and tangled! So maybe a few weeks before your race, take it out for a test drive. Run a few miles with that tutu. If you’re like me at the Disneyland Half Marathon weekend last year, you’ll find out your tutu needs a severe hair cut! You don’t want to be messing with that thing for 13.1 miles. I like to pack mine in separate ziploc bags as well. Everything from underwear to socks are all nicely folded in one bag so when 3:30am rolls around, it’s a no brainer as to where you put your leggings!

Don't you just love the peek of the castle behind us?
Don’t you just love the peek of the castle behind us?

6. Sunblock, sunglasses, and a hat. This is probably pretty obvious since the race takes place in Southern California, but you’d be surprised how many times I forgot one of these things. A hat is a good option here because around mile 4, you might be sweating so much you have sunblock dripping in your eyes! I prefer the sunblock (forehead down), sunglasses, and hat option. Or who knows, you could even put a pair of Mickey ears up there to block the sun!

7. Emergen-C – In case of an emergency of course! I always bring a packet for myself and Ryan to have each morning with breakfast. Walking the parks all day and going to bed with too little of sleep always gets your immune system down so I try to be one step ahead.

Well friends, there you have it! My go to packing list for any RunDisney vacation. I know once Dopey rolls around, I might have a few things here and there to add, but for now, this is it! I’m so excited for this race and to bring home THREE new shiny medals!
Our first stop with the Monster's Inc gang!

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!