The Ups and Downs of the She Power Half

When Cori asked me to sign up for the She Power Half Marathon back in March, I was in a bit of a running funk. I was worried that since I had not really been training, that a half marathon would be too much for me at this time. So when she pointed out that there was a quarter marathon option, I was easily persuaded to tag this race onto my extended summer trip home.

The packet pick up for this race was at one of the branches of the Indiana University Hospital. Pick up was a breeze and there was that extra touch of having each shirt, bib, and various swag in cute little boxes. I felt like I was getting a gift, but then remembered that I actually paid a race fee for this “gift.”


We decided to scope out the race venue before heading back to our hotel for the evening. The race was being held at Eagle Creek Park just north of Indianapolis. We found the entrance and noticed that it was one car entry. Since we knew we had to pay five dollars for parking in the morning, we just knew that getting into the park before the race was going to be a nightmare if we waited too long to arrive. We decided right then and there that we were going to try to make it to the park by 7 which we did with no problem.

It was a good thing that we decided to arrive when we did. There did end up being a traffic jam at the entrance causing the race to be delayed 10 minutes. It was already a humid day, so I was ready to get started before the sun became too much.


One of the cool things about this race is that the medal doubles as a photo frame. With all the downtime, we decided to get our pictures printed before the race. That too turned out to be a great idea because our wait was nominal, but after the race it would have been crazy long.

Finally it was time to begin the race. When I registered, I had the option of running a road race or a trail race. I opted for the road since that was what I was used to. If you were running the half marathon, you needed to complete two loops, and you could choose how you wanted to complete them, both road, both trail, or one of each. When I saw some of the ladies’ shoes at the finish, I was grateful to have kept to the road course. Apparently there was a small lake on the trail that was unavoidable due to recent rains.

The trail was mostly flat, but the race starts us a hill which zapped my energy pretty fast on the extremely humid morning. I pushed through and was happy with the course for the most part. It was hilly at times, but one hill was in my favor, and I picked up a lot of ground running down it.

As I rounded the turn to head back to the finish line, I was so glad that I had picked the quarter marathon instead of the half for this race. I just did not have it in me to complete another five miles. The near seven I had already completed was just enough for this morning.


As I came across the finish line, the race director called out my name, which was a nice touch. Then my medal was placed around my neck. Immediately after I was handed a rose, which was something that I had never been given at a race before, another nice touch. Finally it there was a nice drawstring bag with all the promotional swag. It was so nice to have something to stash all my stuff in and have my hands free for water and post race food.


I loved that they had a snow cone station at the end. It was the perfect way to cool down and wait for Cori to finish her half. For the first time ever, I was finished before her, and I was able to snag some pictures of her crossing the finish line.

Overall, I was pretty happy with the organization of this race seeing how it was an inaugural race. My only complaints were the lack of restrooms and the spacing of the water stations. The race directors were relying on the four bathrooms already in the park along with four port-o-potties to support all the women in this race. We hit the line around 7:15 and people were already having to beg for toilet paper from the stall next door. The water stations were spaced out strangely. I went about a mile and half between most which is normal, but then there would be two within a quarter mile of each other. With the high humidity that day having a few more stations would have been so appreciated. My only other complaint was having to pay to park on race morning. That is something that could have been added to our race fee so that we didn’t have to wait at a gate and cause the traffic to bottle neck. The support of the runners, medal, food, and free photo downloads were excellent and helped offset some of the negatives of this race. As I just visited their website recently, I’ve noticed that they are changing the venue for next year, so hopefully they will have worked out some of the kinks based on this inaugural run. If I was going to run in Indianapolis again, I would probably do this race one more time. Even though I did not complete the half course, I was inspired to get back into the habit of training, and am working towards a half in November. So thanks She Power Half for that bit of a push I needed.




Rockin’ and Rollin’ Through Downtown Chicago

Chicago is my favorite city.  I love the reflection of the city in the bean, the sparkle of the lights on the Chicago Theater, the smell of Garrett’s popcorn wafting in the air, the breeze off the lake.  All of these things I was able to share with my running buddy as we tackled the Chicago Rock and Roll Half Marathon.

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Staying at the Palmer House was one of the highlights of the trip for me.  Upon entering the revolving door I felt like I had just stepped into The Great Gatsby.   Golden peacock doors (with their own history) greet you once the revolving door deposits you inside the lobby.  Then up a short staircase one’s eyes are greeted with a fresco covered ceiling that makes you feel like you’ve just entered Rome, not a Chicago hotel.  The peacock theme is continued throughout from the wall paper to the carpeting.  And upon entering our room, the most inviting olive green velvet chairs beckoned us to sit, put up our feet, and sip on a mint julep.  I never wanted to leave Old Sport.

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But I had a race to run…

Pre-race was a breeze.  It started with a 4:45AM wake up call, lounging in the hotel room until 6, then finding the Half Fanatics on the steps of the Art Institute of Chicago for a group picture.  This was my first time running as a member, and I have to say they are the most supportive group.  I was so glad I wore my Half Fanatics shirt and was a true member of the asylum.

From there it was off to the corrals which were more of a suggestion than a rule.   The humidity was stifling, and I was worried about finishing, so we may have moved up several corrals to provide a little bit of a cushion between me and the cutoff time.

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The race started at 6:30, but my feet didn’t cross the start until 7:15.  I hit the start on my Garmin, and I was off telling my running buddy I’d see her at the end.  We started up Columbus Drive before heading under a bridge where I immediately lost signal on my GPS.  This continued to happen throughout the race.  It would go in and out, and at mile 3 it said I had done a 35 minute 5K which is five minutes faster than normal.  I decided I was going too fast, so I slowed down.  However, my GPS was not accurate, and when I passed the real 5k marker, I was at 45 minutes.  From there on out I stopped paying attention to my Garmin.  It was so off that at the end of the race it said I had run 15 miles.  Apparently lost GPS signals is a common problem while running through the city.

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The humidity was brutal, but there were the occasional lake breezes which provided some relief.  I know that I train in this kind of humidity in Florida, but it is still hard to cope with.  The race advertised eight water stations which there were, but it was too few for as humid as it was.  I was glad to have my hydration belt.  I had to fill it up twice in addition to hitting every water station.

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Ice bags and a misting station were a welcome relief along the course, but the best part was the sponges and ice packs towards the end of the race.  They were a welcome distraction from the blazing sun.

Around mile 9 there were boxes of salted watermelon Gu, but I didn’t want to try anything new, so I stayed with my Honey Stingers.  Mile 12 had us passing Solider Field.  And then it was over.  With a medal around my neck,  I was searching for my running buddy and a place to sit and cool off.

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Entertainment was sparse throughout the entire course.  There were three bands and a few stilt walkers.  Miles 11-12 had a DJ blasting music on the course.  There were three bands performing after the race, but we didn’t have time to get over to see those.  I enjoyed the scenery for the most part, and with my own playlist I was never bored.

The finish line area was very organized.  After crossing I snagged my medal, a water, and was handed a popsicle.  The popsicle was the best post race food I’ve had in a long time.  There was also chocolate milk, bagels, and a variety of other things to eat.    Then it was back to the Palmer House to wrap up our Chicago weekend.

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The Rock and Roll series is great at communication and post race goodies.  I loved the t-shirt, medal, and the Palmer House, but the advertised entertainment on course seemed to be lacking.  I might give them another chance before saying I would look for other racing opportunities.  Perhaps another city might give a different experience.  At least I can cross Chicago off my list of cities to run in, and I got to add another state to my half marathon list.

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Race to Wrigley

If you know anything about me, you know I love the Cubs.  I can remember getting my first Ryne Sandberg baseball card and teaching my youngest brother how to say Sammy Sosa as some of his first words.   I’ve been to countless Cubs’ games and attended the Cubs’ Convention.  And even though I’ve lived in Florida for nearly fifteen years, I still make it a point to pilgrimage to Wrigley Field almost every year.

This year’s pilgrimage was not the usual kind.  There would be no baseball game this day.  Instead, I headed to Chicago for a whirlwind weekend of running.

Cubs’ Charities has been putting on the Race to Wrigley for the last nine years.  This year, for the 10th anniversary, they were expanding the race to include a 10K in addition to 5K.  So when I found an airline ticket for less than two hundred dollars, it seemed that I just had to do this race.

I don’t mind running races alone, but my sister-in-law had done this race before, and I roped both her and my mom into participating in the 10K.

Race weekend arrived with me flying into O’Hare after work on Friday.  I took the Blue Line into the Loop.  From there it was one block to the hotel.  Seemed easy enough, but when I emerged from the train station it was raining, my Google Maps wouldn’t load, and I got a little turned around.  So I hailed a cab and told him I wanted to go to the Allegro Hotel.  He turned, looked at me and said, “Really?”  I played it off that it was the rain that made me hail the cab, not that I was turned around and a little creeped out.   So I took my one block cab ride and headed up to meet my mom and sister-in-law.  It was late and both were already settled into bed.  I did the same excited to see Wrigley the next morning.


The race began at 8, but I started my day at 6.  I ate my obligatory banana, got dressed, and by 7 we were hailing a cab to take us to Wrigley.  As we left the hotel, the weather did not look promising.  It was a chilly 42 degrees and trying to rain.

We arrived at Wrigley a little early and passed the time hanging in Starbucks, taking a few pictures in front of the iconic statues and marquee, and looking in the shops.

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By the start of the race the threat of rain had turned to a steady drizzle.  The National Anthem played and we were off.  I was happy to start running because it helped chase away some of the chill.   The 10K route snaked us through the Wrigleyville neighborhoods.  We did the 5K loop essentially twice.  The race was well supported with a few water stations and encouraging volunteers.  Unfortunately due to the construction at the park, we were not able to run through the concourse like past years which disappointing.

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Overall, I wasn’t the biggest fan of this race.  Yes, I was glad to be able to run around the Wrigley area, and I really enjoyed my beer at the Cubby Bear afterwards, but I found the whole race experience to be somewhat disappointing.  My biggest gripe is the amount of time the course was open for the 10K.  It was only open for an hour and fifteen minutes.  Every race I’ve ever done allows an hour and thirty minutes for a 10k.  I had to really push myself to finish in an hour and seventeen minutes.  By the time I crossed, they were already breaking down the finish line.  I had run my fastest time, and I didn’t even get to enjoy my finish.  I hope if they continue to offer a 10K they will change that time.  A finisher medal wouldn’t hurt either.  Despite that disappointment, I was happy to spend the time with my mom and sister-in-law and see my beloved stadium even if it was only from the street

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Bridges and Blisters: Sarasota Half Marathon

Whether it was cruising around St. Armand’s Circle, patio dining downtown, squishing my toes in the silky Sarasota sand, or running over the John Ringling Causeway, my Sarasota race weekend did not disappoint.

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I signed up for this race last March after seeing its adorable dolphin medal on Pinterest.  And for the bargain price of $50, I anxiously awaited March 2015.  So, one year later my race buddy and I hit the road.  What should have been a two hour drive easily stretched to three due to numerous accidents on both I-4 and I-75.  We passed the time playing the license plate game (finding 34 states), catching up, and discussing our other upcoming races (Chicago, and Disneyland).

Arriving in Sarasota, our first stop was packet pick-up at Fit to Run downtown Sarasota.  The line looked rather long, so we ignored our growling stomachs in order to get bibs and t-shirts.  After a 30 minute wait we held our swag bags equipped with the most obnoxious neon green shirt.  The bright spot in the bag was an adorable light blue race jacket and First Watch coupons.

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Leaving Fit to Run, we headed past the growing line which had doubled in size since we had entered it and began our search for lunch.  We settled on Mattison’s City Grill with it’s charming outdoor patio.  While the location was quaint, the service was less than desirable.  Our burgers were tasty, but our server was overly busy and not as attentive as one would like.

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Stomachs satisfied it was time to hit the beach.  We decided to hit Lido Beach which was closest to our hotel.  It also allowed us to drive the race course and see the dreaded bridges we would be running over the next morning.


Lido Beach was pretty crowded considering it was already 5:30 when we arrived.  We walked away from the crowds on the silky sand looking for shells.  However, high tide isn’t conducive to shell collecting, and alas, we came home empty handed.

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Dinner was at a locally owned place called Joey D’s, a Chicago-style restaurant.  We both love our Chicago dogs and thought they would make the perfect pre-race dinner.  Not disappointed, we scarfed down our Vienna dogs and headed back to the hotel to turn in for the night.

Race morning started at 4:15 with a quick breakfast of a banana.  By 5:15 we were in the car heading to the start line.  The race didn’t start until 7, but parking was rumored to be difficult, so we arrived early as not to stress.  Getting there so early allowed us to move to the front of the corral, use the port-a-potties before long lines formed, and relax.


The temperature hung around 66 degrees, but the humidity was 100%.  So while it wasn’t hot, it didn’t take long after starting for my face to turn bright red and the sweat to cling to every inch of my body.

My running buddy stayed with me for the first two miles so we could snap a picture on the causeway.  Then she took off and I kept to my 1:1 intervals.  I hadn’t run in three weeks due to a terrible case of bronchitis, so I was a little nervous about being able to breath.

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Miles one through six had me on pace to break my half marathon record by 15 minutes.  I took the bridges in stride running up them as much as I could and running down them without stopping.  However, around mile seven I hit both a physical and mental wall.  The physical wall being that I did not honor the cardinal rule of running:  thou shall not introduce anything new to your run.  I tested out a new pair of socks on this run which caused me to get four terrible blisters on both feet.  Three days later they are still very painful to walk on.

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Mentally, the humidity was making me miserable, and several times I wanted to stop at a water station and wait for race support to transport me back to the car.  I trudged along watching my pace slow from turtle to snail.  Any ground I had gained in the first half of the race was slipping away in the second.  By mile 11 my mantra switched from one more mile to one more step as my lower back tensed up, my knees ached, and feet burned.  Seeing mile 12 was the greatest relief as I knew I could walk the entire thing in no more than 15 minutes.  At this point my feet were in such pain I could no longer run.  Finally, I passed the mile 13 sign and turned to see the blessed finish line.  I did not want to walk across the finish line so I sucked up the pain and ran the last tenth finishing only five minutes longer than my personal record. If only I hadn’t worn those stupid socks.

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After crossing the finish line a volunteer put the comically large dolphin medal around my neck.  Grabbing a bottle of water I hobbled over to the grass to get off my feet for a little while.  My running buddy found me, and we watched the final runners come in.

First Watch was the sponsor of the race and provided a post-race breakfast of some of their menu items.  I scarfed down a Siesta Key Cocktail and a blueberry muffin.  We stopped for a few post-race photos, and I swapped out my jacket for a larger size.  Then it was back to the hotel for quick showers before driving back to Orlando.

Overall, I really enjoyed the Sarasota Half Marathon.  The 5000 runner cap made the course comfortable.  The race route was scenic and portions were shaded which was quite appreciated once the sun was blazing.  The bridges were difficult but not impossible and provided for a great view of the sunrise.  While mostly the race was positive, it would have been nice to have a few more water stops along the route.  I had brought my hydration belt, so it wasn’t an issue, but with the humidity I would have struggled more without it.  My other complaint is the starting time.  Although it would mean getting up earlier, I would have preferred a 6 A.M. race start in order to avoid the sun at the end of the race.

It’s nice to have another half under my belt.  And now that I’m healthy again, I can get back on the training band wagon to prepare for the Iron Girl in Clearwater next month.  As for Sarasota, I’m still contemplating whether or not I want to sign up for next year.  For $50 it’s hard to ask for a nicer race.

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Run Disney’s Glass Slipper Challenge

It’s a little (insert sarcasm) known fact that I love Disney.  And since I love Disney, why wouldn’t I love to run at Disney.  It’s the perfect opportunity to get some exercise, dress up like your favorite character, and commune with other Disney freaks like yourself.  So in 2010, my running buddy and I signed up for our first Disney race, the Royal Family 5k held during the Disney Princess Marathon weekend.

At that time, I could barely wrap my head around walking a mile let alone running three point one of them.  And we walked and jogged the course stopping for pictures and generally having a great time.  But that finishing time of 58 minutes was not okay.  So we trained, built up our endurance and by 2014 we had run 10 Disney races, two of them being half marathons, my friend at much faster pace, and me at a little bit faster pace.


This was me and my running buddy in 2010. It was our very first Disney race and very first 5k.

After getting two half marathons under the belt, I was ready for a more difficult challenge, but was most definitely not ready to commit to a full marathon.  Who runs 26.2 miles for fun?  So when Run Disney opened up the Glass Slipper Challenge it was the perfect combination of challenge, fun, and bling.

This picture was taken before my very first half marathon in 2012.

I spent three months seriously training and finally the weekend had arrived.  We started off by going to the Expo to pick up our race packets, t-shirts, and pins.  We walked around the vendors, and I had to purchase a track jacket commemorating the weekend for the bargain basement price of $70. Disney is no fool about marketing.  Our race shirts actually fit us thanks to the accurate sizing and the switch to Champion Tech Shirts.  Since I was running the challenge, there were three shirts, white for the 10k, gray for the half, and blue for the challenge.  At the Expo, there were characters to snap a few photos with as well.


Me sporting my 10k medal and 10k shirt on a return trip to the Expo.

Fast forward to Saturday at 2:00 A.M. when my alarm was blaring at me telling me it was time to run!  So I got into my running costume, Snow White for today, ate a quick breakfast of oatmeal and a banana and left to pick up my running buddy.

We pulled into the EPCOT parking lot about 3:30 and proceeded to relax in the car for about 45 minutes.  During that time our conversation went something like this:

“Oh, I love her fairy wings.”

“Those are no fun to run in, they whack you in the head.”

“I love her pink Nike’s.”

“I really need to get some compression socks.  I hear they really work.”

And on and on as we watched the parade of runners pass our car.  Pinning our bibs on our shirts, we too left the car and joined that parade on the way to the corrals.  Since this wasn’t our first rodeo race, we followed our normal routine.  Hang out by the DJ for awhile, comment on other people’s costumes, takes some obligatory pre-race photos and post them to Facebook, hit the porta-potties, and get in the corrals.


Day one of the Glass Slipper Challenge. Boy have we come a long way since we started running in 2010.

For the 10k, there were 5 or 6 corrals and we were in D.  Meaning I would have a nice cushion of runners ahead and behind me.  At this point is when my stomach started rumbling.  This is the worst feeling on race day especially since our corral was the next to go.  I began a little mental pep talk to myself about starting slow, and the rumbles would stop once I got into the race.

The fireworks exploded and our corral surged forward.  I stayed to the outside knowing I would be going slower than normal.  The 10k course is fantastic.  It starts with a lap around the EPCOT parking lot before entering into Mexico.  Then the course proceeds to follow around all of the countries in the World Showcase, many of which have character stops.  At Great Britian, the race is diverted out of EPCOT and around the Boardwalk area before returning to EPCOT and finishing back outside of the park.

Unfortunately the only park entrance that you get this day is the part when you are running through it.  If you want to return to the park later you must shell out more money for admission to reenter.  Having been to Disney hundreds of times, we decided not to enter the park and return home to rest up for the half the next morning.


A little bling for a job well done.

So at 2:00 A.M.  Sunday morning, the whole process repeats again.  Today I began in corral K, so it was quite a bit of time before the fireworks sent me on my way.  I was feeling much better today and was really excited to run through the Magic Kingdom despite the fact that it was very foggy.


Day two Glass Slipper Challenge

Mile one progressed nicely with me staying strictly to my preplanned running and walking paces.  I was so excited to see that in the first mile and a half our entertainment was Elsa from Frozen.  She was standing on the bridge we were all passing under offering words of encouragement and of course making it snow.

From there it’s a long stretch of road running with a few water/Powerade stops and character interactions along the way.  At mile five and a half or so is when I entered the Magic Kingdom.  Nothing is more exciting to me than making  the right turn down Main Street and seeing the castle in distance.  Even though the course is very narrow here, there are so many spectators cheering you own, you can’t help but feel proud.


It feels kind of eerie seeing all this fog upon entering the Magic Kingdom parking lot.

The path winds into Tomorrowland, back through Fantasyland, and down through the castle.  There, you can continue to the right onto the race or left for a quick picture in front of the castle.  I took the few minutes to stop for the picture.  This is the one line for pictures that actually goes quickly.  Lines for characters can sometimes take up to 10 minutes or more.  Being a slower runner, I did not stop on this race very often for pictures since I was trying to improve my time.


This has to be one of my favorite views in Magic Kingdom. It’s on the bridge into Tomorrowland.

Leaving Cinderella’s Castle, the route takes a twist through Frontierland and then backstage before leading onto the road that passes in front of the Grand Floridian hotel.

Passing in front of the Grand Floridian is about the halfway point of the race.  I checked my watch and it told me that I was on pace to finish about 30 minutes faster than my previous halfs.  This is because I hadn’t been stopping, and I had been sticking to my pacing.  Feeling proud, I continued on to “Let It Go” blaring from the DJ.

The fog still hadn’t subsided, and I ran the long road back toward EPCOT.  At mile 8 there is a  Gu Energy Gel station.  I like Powerade Performance Energy Blasts, so I didn’t eat the Gu.  In fact, I was eating about three gummies every 40 minutes and alternating Powerade and water at every station.  This seemed to work really well for me because at mile 10, I didn’t hit my usual wall.  Instead I felt really good.  From there the route goes up an onramp to an overpass.  Besides the castle, this is also my favorite part of the race because I was able to see all the runners that were still behind me, no being swept on this race.

Miles 11 and 12 passed without incident, and soon I was back inside of EPCOT running behind the giant sphere.  From there it a short quarter mile to the finish line.  I checked my watch one more time seeing that I was going to finish about 3:12.  I picked up the pace and and sprinted when I saw that 13 mile sign.  Before I knew it, I was crossing the finish line, arms in the air.  My third half marathon under my belt.  Not only that, but I had shaved nearly 30 minutes off my time, and I had just run 19.3 miles in two days.  It was quite the accomplishment.

I swung through the finish line chute, grabbed my medal, Powerade, water, Glass Slipper Challenge medal, and food box before collapsing on the ground in exhaustion.  I found my running buddy and told her I just might be up for that full marathon she keeps talking about.  Perhaps that was just the “runner’s high” talking or perhaps it wasn’t.


Since I was doing so well with my time, I allowed myself one quick character photo during the race.


My costume inspiration, Rapunzel, was found at the after race party.

Despite the high race fee and sometimes crowded course, I love running Disney.  I would recommend that anyone that loves to run try out one of their races at least once.  And with the new Star Wars and Avengers themed races, these races aren’t just for Disney fanatics anymore.


19.3 miles, one personal record, and 3 awesome medals.