So I plan my races by season. I have a spring and a fall. This means I only do short little races in between and give myself a break. Granted my spring and fall are pretty intense. That list of upcoming races is about to get a little more intense.

But it occurred to me today that I only have 12 weeks until my next big race. If you were wondering it’s the National Half Marathon on March 15.

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Are you ready to race in the Happiest Place on Earth? No really are you?

So let me preface: I ran this race 2 weeks before my wedding, so I was an emotional basket case. Everything was amazing, or beautiful and I think I was on the verge of happy tears all 3 days my friend Christine  and I were there for.

Christine and I walking way to much in the parks the day before!

Christine and I walking way to much in the parks the day before! Fuzzy Pic Sorry…

Christine’s sister was part of the Disney intern program so we got all these amazing perks, like free 2 day park hoppers and a half-priced hotel room! AMAZING! Disney is not a cheap race. But let me say now, it’s worth it. I have never been to a more prepared or well laid out race with as much support.

The Disney Princess Half Marathon is a female-oriented race. There is a lot pink, sparkles, and tutus. If that is not your thing, this is not your race. In my book, pink, sparkles, and glitter are all amazing. Christine convinced me to wear a tutu (which I made – it’s probably obvious…). But this is the last time I wear a tutu in a race. they are itchy and fly everywhere.

Christine and I made a huge error the day before. After the expo, we walked for hours and hours through the parks. I mean really how could we not… it’s Disney. Back to the expo… the only downside. It was packed! Unfortunately by the time we got to the merchandise tent around 10am on Saturday most of the really cool race items were gone or there were extremely limited sizing available. So we each picked up a finisher shirt & picked up some arm and calf sleeves by Zensah ( my favorite). I needed hot pink to go with my Sleeping Beauty theme.

Rise and Shine! It’s time for a Race!

Our let's wake up at 3:30am to go run 13.1 miles faces! We make good decisions!

Our let’s wake up at 3:00am to go run 13.1 miles faces! We make good decisions!

Starting Line!

Starting Line!

Disney races are run before the parks open. Therefore, you need to be at the start at 5am. Buses pick you up from Disney hotels at 4am. Using my calculations, if you go in reverse I believe we woke up at 3am. Since humans don’t function at 3am I don’t really remember this. But Christine assures me I woke up and was at the bus with my CoCo Latte at 4am.

When we finally arrived at the starting region outside Epcot, we did the usual race prep… find a bathroom. From there we headed to our Corral. I had read online that the start was quite a hike from the buses, and they were right. It was a good 15 min walk to get to the start. But once we were there is was beautifully organized. All the Corrals were clearly marked and large jumbo-trons showed inspirational speakers, RunDisney videos, and played music. This was a great distraction while we stretched for the next 45 minutes.

Here’s where Disney outdoes themselves. During the first Corral’s departure the “Fairy Godmother” says “bippity boppity boo” with lots of fan fare and a HUGE fireworks display. My was I delightfully surprised when it happened for every start! Granted we didn’t get to watch too many because we were Corral C.

After stretching more than I have in my whole life in the Corral and leaving the hotel 2 hours before we ran, naturally Christine and I had to use the restroom… again. So we essentially sprinted to the first one located less than a mile from the start (see Disney knows how to set up a race)!

Half Marathon Course

Half Marathon Course

This race course begins at Epcot goes through Magic Kingdom and finishes again at Epcot, all before the parks even open. The highlights are running through the parks but in between there was plenty of visuals and photos ops.

This race was mostly smooth sailing but lots of lateral movement around walkers. Do not expect to PR during this race, but expect to have a fantastic time.

Christine doing the dance of her people

Christine doing the dance of her people

The course had these neat banners with characters, unique signs at each mile markers, some kind of human kite hybrids, and lots of other great distractions. My favorite were the photo ops with all kinds of characters. We did not stop for any photos with characters due to craaazy long lines.

At mile 5 you begin to approach the BEST part of the race. Magic Kingdom!!

Show me the Castle!

Show me the Castle! Running and taking photos isn’t my thing… yet!

At this point everyone is excited. You can see the castle in the distance and the half way point is quickly approaching. Course support is giving out water & sports drinks. To my surprise they were also giving away Vaseline and BioFreeze, which is awesome. I grabbed the BioFreeze 2 times to use on my knee.

Running up Main Street in Magic Kingdom is one of the greatest experiences I have ever had as a runner. You are accomplishing a half marathon, while running through Disney World. It’s an exhilarating feeling and makes for great photo ops.

Why yes I'll take this castle please. thank you

Why yes I’ll take this castle please. thank you

It’s all downhill after Magic Kingdom. There is still the same great course support, but now the sun is coming up, more people are walking, and it’s just a race to the finish. Around mile 8 I began to seriously question my life choices about why I do this. Christine was prepared, she busted out her phone that had a special Disney playlist and began to play that song from Mulan. You know the song…

really… we should

After my mini-melt down, I moved on. Thanks entirely to this song. I began to focus on just having some fun. Christine and I took more walk breaks and started to fantasize about the amazing Mickey Mouse waffles we’d get after the race. As we headed towards the end of the course we stopped at the power station, but I was prepared after Miami and stuck to my Espresso Love GU! There is only one semi-hill toward the end and it’s more of an overpass.

This overall was a fantastic experience and Christine’s 1st Half Marathon! I would absolutely do another Disney race again! We did notice that we raced 13.6 miles according to my super accurate Garmin. Our assumption is that the lateral movement from jogging around walkers caused the additional half mile.

Another race for the books.

Another race for the books.

We finished in 3:29:53. It wasn’t fast but we had a great time! (see what I did there) Ha!

Oh and the Mickey Mouse Waffles were amazing!! What was less amazing was Christine dragging me around Magic Kingdom all afternoon. In the end, I have to thank Christine I woke up the next morning with almost no pain or stiffness and was able to easily drink back down to Miami.

Jussi and I before the race.

Jussi and I before the race.

In case you didn’t already guess that’s me on the left. Justine and I decided to run this race on a whim. We had originally intended on running the Baltimore Marathon 2012 together, which I had convinced her to do. Well… that didn’t happen. I busted my left knee and was out of comission. (but she still ran it and rocked!) So when the amazing doctor at UMiami Sports Medicine Center gave me the all clear, I immediately called Jussi so I could convince her to fly to Miami to run the race with me. 🙂 By convince, I mean force. (I am such a good friend)

Maps of the Course
Maps of the Course

Maps of the Course

This races starts super early. So get ready to wake up! The race starts in the middle of Miami next to the AAA Arena. This almost forms a bottleneck of people, which transferred into the corrals. We had a difficult time getting to our corral. We were in corral G and due to the massive congestion and inability to get there, we ended up in Corral C. Not a great place to start when you intend on prancing/skipping/dancing/mildly jogging through the course.

Biscayne Blvd

View from Biscayne Blvd during the 1st mile of the race

Now this is a beautiful race, at least the half is a gorgeous course. There is fantastic race scenery, course support, and the volunteers are the best.

So for the breakdown… It is packed until around mile 4. The entire time you are on the Biscayne Bridge you are shoulder-to-shoulder. Once you’re on South Beach it starts to open up a bit more and the crowd support kicks in. For those who are not familiar with Miami, you do not see the beach when you are on South Beach. It’s like 100 yards away behind a sand dune. But you do run down Ocean Drive and get to see the amazing Art Deco buildings that make Miami such a landmark.

Winding through the city continues thru mile 6-7. Which is where they set up a marching band and a GU station. The GU was island nectars and it was officially the worst GU I’ve ever tried. This stinks because, I love me some gu. (I know it’s weird, don’t judge… okay judge, I judge me too) Especially, after you’ve been running for 9 miles and need a boost GU hits the spots. To this day, I’ve been able to tolerate (and even like) most other flavors with the exception of this one.

After mile 7 you begin to see the return back to Downtown Miami. You run the Venetian Causeway. This bridge is more like a small road that happens to traverse the waterway… I mean I guess that’s a bridge. But while on this causeway you go through several little islands that really give you that Miami feel. The best part about the part of the race is when you finally cross back into Downtown Miami you are just shy of mile 11! So you have less than a 5k left.

The last part of the race is full of crowd support and it is PACKED! You get the best of both worlds, a beautiful scenic course and a big city atmosphere. The course signs were hilarious and provided a much needed distraction. The last mile is packed with people and is absolutely thrilling.

Justine and I finished in 3:07:57. It was an awesome race with an awesome medal. I would totally run this again! Oh and some church gave out oranges at mile 12 which made we way happier and more excited than it should of. I think I was delirious.

Oh btw... Michael ran too but he was about an hour ahead of us! But we can still all celebrate together!

Oh btw… Michael ran too but he was about an hour ahead of us! But we can still all celebrate together!

Tomato Bisque with a Kick

So after watching a friend make homemade tomato soup I figured I could give it a whirl. And since today was a grey gross rainy day, so it seems there’s no day like the present.

Here’s the rundown, keep in mind I use a lot of dash and pinch measurements! Therefore i approximated with tbs and tps. More of these are too taste so feel free to add more or less whether you like spicy or more mild. Additionally, feel free to sub out ingredients based on dietary needs for example if you are gluten free use rice flour.  (I’ll get better with measurements,I promise!!)

Ingredients:
3 tbs of butter or butter substitute
4 cups chicken stock
1 medium sweet onion diced
3 medium-large cloves of garlic diced
1 tbs. flour (I prefer Unbleached organic)
4 large tomatoes cut in slices along the core
2 14.5oz cans of fire roasted diced tomatoes
4 slices of turkey bacon
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 tsp Basil
Salt
Pepper
2 tsp Chili pepper
2 tbs Cholula (hot sauce)

Directions:

Take a medium pot with medium heat and put butter in. As butter melts add diced onion and diced garlic cloves. Watch and stir as the butter mixture begins to summer and add 1 tbs of flour. Continue to stir butter, onion, garlic and flour until the flour is evening coating the mixture.

In a small skillet cook 4 pieces of turkey bacon. This should only take a few minutes. Once browned, let them cool to touch and slice them. After sliced add the turkey bacon to soup base of onion, butter, flour, and garlic.

Add sliced tomatoes, chicken stock, basil, chili pepper, pepper, salt, and got sauce. Bring to a simmer while continually stirring. Ensure the flour does not adhere to the bottom of the pot. Now add the canned tomatoes and fold in.

Almost all the ingredients are in the combined. Let this simmer for about 15-18 minutes.

Almost all the ingredients are in the combined. Let this simmer for about 15-18 minutes.

Once fully mixed and simmering allow mixture to cook for an additional 15-18min, stirring occasionally.

Add 1/2 cup of heavy cream to simmering tomato soup. Season with additional chili pepper, hot sauce (Cholula), salt, and pepper to taste.

Okay so here’s the tricky part to really make it a bisque the mixture needs to be blended. I use a hand/immersion blender. It can simply be out into the pot and pulsed 5-8 beats until you reach your desired consistency. I personally prefer less creamy and chewable pieces.

Let cool a bit and serve! On a side note I use the small sauce pan from the turkey bacon to make grilled cheese sandwiches!

Enjoy!

Finished product! You can still see the steam!

Finished product! You can still see the steam!

A bit about me….

Happy 1st Post Blogging World!
So in an effort for you to get to know me. This post will be entirely made of pictures 🙂

I love to run races with friends! Half the joy of racing for me is getting to do it with those I love. Who better to embrace your vehement distaste for everything after running 9 miles than a friend!

Disney Princess Half with Christine! Feburary 2013

Disney Princess Half with Christine! February 2013

ROC Race with hubby and Juliet (she also will answer to juliet because she's from Agraba)

ROC Race with hubby and Juliet (she also will answer to juliet because she’s from Agraba)

BTW I now hate obstacle course races that aren’t the Shape Diva Dash. I have absolutely no upper body strength. So gorilla bars, scaling walls, and Tarzan swings are not an ideal Sunday to me.

Gluten Free Sugar Cookies! Post Thanksgiving Treat!

Gluten Free Sugar Cookies! Post Thanksgiving Treat!

I cannot follow a recipe. This isn’t new, I’ve been this way my whole life. I follow them as guidelines. But I always taste the batter or sauces while cooking and if it’s not right… I amend. I have lots of my “secret” ingredients. My weirdest and favorite way to tell if it’ll be good is just by smell, especially cookies.