After the Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon expo, we were scrambling to make it our reservation window at the Magic Kingdom. Buses had been running fairly smoothly so we hopped on a bus to Caribbean Beach Resort and dropped our stuff off in the room. We then re-boarded another bus to make our way to Magic Kingdom. With a bit of hustle we were able to make it in time for our reservation for lunch at Be Our Guest.

Wow! Just wow inside and out!

Wow! Just wow inside and out!

Hubby and I in main dining area!

Hubby and I in main dining area!

Try the grey stuff it's delicious... no really delicious!

Try the grey stuff it’s delicious… no really delicious!

After our amazing lunch (I had the quiche!), we made our way over to Buzz Lighyear’s Space Ranger Spin. Which we all took way too seriously. Like waaaay tooooo seriously.


Did someone say game faces?!? Mr & Mrs. RockymtnPearls are above.

Hubby and I in front of Cinderella's Castle

Hubby and I in front of Cinderella’s Castle

the whole gang. yes we are wearing mickey ears.

the whole gang. yes we are wearing mickey ears. My hubby and I are on the left and Mr. and Mrs. RockyMtnPearls are on the right.

During our fun-filled day we rode Voyage of the Little Mermaid, the Haunted Mansion, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, It’s a Small World, Jungle Cruise, Seven Dwarves Mine Train, and munched on yummy snacks all over the park. Our group separated briefly because Space Mountain is not my scene… but we joined up shortly there after.

We ate a fantastic dinner at Liberty Tree Tavern. If you have the chance go, it’s the best parts of Thanksgiving dinner in a cute “Americana” environment. #YUM. After dinner we were all in a food coma and meandered more around the park.

Elsa turned the Castle into ice!! (Also Frozen was EVERYWHERE!)

Elsa turned the Castle into ice!! (Also Frozen was EVERYWHERE!)

We also had tickets for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, which thankfully turned out to be a great time! We practically walked on rides, enjoyed our hot chocolate, meandered through the shops, and enjoyed the snow fall on Main Street.

It's beginning to look a lot like .... Christmas!

It’s beginning to look a lot like …. Christmas!

Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Parade

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Parade

We watched the parade and fireworks shows! Overall it was a fantastic day and we were all exhausted. Our plan was to tire ourselves out on Friday and sleep late Saturday for the race!

Are you a big Disney fan? What’s the one ride you have to go on? Do you enjoy Fireworks shows? How to prepare the night before an evening race? 


This past weekend was spent in Disney World! That’s right Disney! Months of planning was finally enjoyed over a long weekend of racing, adventures, and spending time with good friends. I am truly sad that it is over, but I’m glad we had such a wonderful trip. So let’s start with our first official day!

We arrived super late on Thursday, so that we could enjoy the entire day at the expo and in the park on Friday. We didn’t actually make it to our rooms until 1am on Friday morning. That’s okay though because we were in Disney World. We work up bright and early to make our way to the Expo on Friday morning, which was being held at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.

FYI... this place is HUGE

FYI… this place is HUGE

Do they make champagne bottle this big... cause I know what I want for the holidays!

Do they make champagne bottle this big… cause I know what I want for the holidays! (I’m on left and Ms. RockyMtnPearls is on the right… check out those Polynesian Pants)

Once in the expo we waited on our separate lines, because we were mostly in separate corrals. Hubby was B cause he’s speedy, the RockyMtnPearls’ were both in G and I was the slow poke in Coral H. The lines were long for packets, but for some reason my line was moving at a glacial pace. Like everyone else was done and I was still like 45 people back.

That's a sea of people

That’s a sea of people


So hubby was nice enough to hold my place while I headed into the merchandise tent that was onsite. It was there that I found out the larger merchandise tent was in the Jostens Center where the race shirts were being held. So I picked up 2 headbands and a magnet. At that point hubby was 5 people away, so I rushed over to grab my bib. After I finally received my bib, we headed over for shirts. The expo was PACKED! We were able to weave through the crowd for shirts then I headed into the expo looking for a very specific black zip up jacket that said EAT, DRINK, RUN on the back. However, I couldn’t find my size. Just as I’m about to ask a women for more sizes, she’s bringing back one jacket…. it was the LAST one available in my size! WHAT! So I scooped that up, tried to find another person for help, then just got frustrated and gave up.

I'm loving the colors of the expo merchandise

I’m loving the colors of the expo merchandise

By now we’d been at the expo for way too long, and needed to hustle to make our reservation window for Be Our Guest lunch in Magic Kingdom. On the way out though we picked up some SparkleAthletic visors, because the weather was predicting rain and we needed something to keep the water out of our eyes. Overall, we waited in a lot of lines! But we got what we came for were ready to make our way to the Magic Kingdom!

Stay tuned for our adventures in Magic Kingdom!!

What’s your fav gear to purchase at an expo? If you knew you were about to run a race in pouring rain what would you make sure you had on you? 


In 2013 I ran the Run for the Parks 10K in early November. To read all about that experience check out my review here. I decided since I enjoyed the race last Fall, I would run the race again. The race took place on November 2, 2014. It’s a nice, simple out and back course. The race is put together by a local running store, Potomac River Running. This year’s race, was a little different. I don’t live biking distance from the start and it was super cold. Okay maybe not super cold, but it’s not quite summer anymore.

I picked up the packet the day before at the Tysons Store. I ran in grabbed my bib, commemorative race pin (how fun!), and the half zip. One of the things this race is know for is providing a top notch premium. This year did not disappoint. The half zip is quite nice.

They had men's and women's sizing too!

They had men’s and women’s sizing too! The logo is also this felt fabric which is fun and random. 

Race Morning my hubby dropped me off near the start cause we could not find decent walkable parking. While digging through the trunk for a water, I hit my head. So that kind of sucked. Then I make my way over the start and it is COLD. However, I know I warm up quickly while running so I chose to forgo the hat and gloves. Turned out to be a smart decision later but made for an extra chilly start.

Eventually we start. I run. It’s fine. There really wasn’t anything too exciting going on. There was a water stop at the turn around of mile 3.1 ish. It was pretty. I was moving pretty slowly because I just couldn’t get into a good rhythm then became unexpectedly nauseous. So I took my time. the last 2 miles were a pretty solid headwind that was whipping my face. So that was less than pleasant. Overall, it was fine. I don’t know if I would do it again. This is the type of race, that when the weather is a wonderful fall day, it’s straight up majestic. However, when it’s cold, windy, and my head it pounding from just whacking it on a trunk… it’s less than ideal.

It's quite apparent that winter is on her way!

It’s quite apparent that winter is on her way!

Post race, while walking back to the car, I decided to play tourist. :)

Post race, while walking back to the car, I decided to play tourist. 🙂

Are you ready for winter running? What’s your favorite winter accessory? What’s your favorite thing about running in the winter?

Last weekend, my husband did the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, DC. I was originally signed up for this however, opted to defer to 2015 due to lots of unexpected training interruptions over the summer. While I thought to defer my husband decided to try out completing the marathon. He had done races before on very little training so he figured why not another.

He's going to do what... yeah....

He’s going to do what… yeah….

On race morning, I dropped him off in the Pentagon parking lot which happened to be down the street from our old apartment and made my way over to Clarendon to meet up with my bestie. She and I planned to be Michael’s course support through the day. I got there super early and we made signs! Who doesn’t love signs?!? One side read, “Run Michael Run” with a little stick figure that said ZOOM! and the other said, “YOU LOOK AMAZING!” I think it’s fun to have signs for all the runners that pass.

Look at all those runners!

Look at all those runners!

It was amazing watching all these runners accomplishing an amazing goal. Bestie and I saw hubby at mile 1.5 in Arlington. We JUST missed him at mile 5. So we headed over to roughly mile 11 to see him by the steps of Rock Creek Parkway by the Lincoln Memorial. The Marine Corps Marathon is a walker friendly race if you can walk fast and know the running trails. Thankfully, Bestie and I run these trails often and know the paths of how to get from one place to another and NOT cross in front of runners. After seeing him at 11 and giving him his Green Machine Juice we made our way to mile 16. We were actually directly in front of mile marker 16! So we took some photos and send them to hubby and our friend Ms. RockyMtnPearls who was running a half that day.

You Do LOOK Amazing!

You Do LOOK Amazing!

There's something fun about cheering people on!

There’s something fun about cheering people on! Yes, we texted this to Hubby and provided support to Ms. RockyMtnPearls via text too!

After mile 16 and handing hubby a red bull and cliff bar we wander over to roughly mile 21, which is the 14th street bridge. Here we sat on a median (i think that’s what it’s called) and just sat. We were walking WAYYY more than we thought we would. After we saw him on the bridge, we headed toward the finish line. Thankfully I run that bridge often, so I knew there’s a pedestrian path if you enter by the Thomas Jefferson Memorial, from there we took the Mt. Vernon Trail to the Arlington Memorial Bridge then headed toward Arlington Cemetery. After walking around what is usually a turn to get onto the 110 (highway), we were looking at mile 25.8ish…. We cheered on runners here for bit then when we finally saw hubby, we walked him in. It was a rough race and he went a tad bit slower than anticipated. So we were able to keep on eye on him for the last bit.

All in all we walked almost 10miles! Yeah…. we didn’t run a marathon (although we both have in the past), it was rougher than I expected. I was just happy I was able to support Hubby during the race. Running races are a blast, but sometimes it’s nice to step back and help someone else out. I do enjoy going out and cheering at race, because I know that I love it when I’m on the receiving end.

photo 3At one point the Find My Friends App told me he was swimming otherwise… this feature is the best for race tracking.

Congrats Hubby!

Congrats Hubby!

Did you run a race last weekend? Did you run with the marines? Do you every go to races to provide support to friends or family? What your fav race sign?

I don’t even know where to begin writing this recap. So let’s start chronologically at the beginning. Friday night I hurried home, grabbed the hubby and we hit the road post work to head to Baltimore. I snagged a Priceline hotel room for the night before the race to make both our lives easier. Turns out it was a solid investment. We made it to the hotel in about an hour and half, threw our stuff in the room and walked the .2 miles to the expo. Since we arrived at the expo at 8pm and the expo closes at 9pm, we could see booths beginning to wrap up or either shut down. We made our way downstairs, grabbed my bib and shirt. It was a quick easy procedure and well-marked.

I took a quick pic of the course and we hurried out of there.

I took a quick pic of the course and we hurried out of there.

The next morning I crawled out of bed at 7:25 for an 8:45 race start. That’s right. We were staying literally across the street from the starting line and I intended to use that to the fullest. It was actually really great being able to take my time, not have to use a porta-potty, and not head down to the start until 8:35. That still gave me plenty of time to take a few pics and kiss the hubby good-bye!

Starting line!

Starting line!

This is a city race. That was never more clear than when we first took off. We were running through a city. It also seems that not all the streets were totally vacated before the runners invaded. During mile 1 we literally ran through traffic. A few dozen cars found themselves in the middle of a foot race. They didn’t look thrilled… From here we made the trek over to Patterson Park. I only know this because it was lovely. Really this little park area was super cute. Unfortunately, since we were still in the beginning of a race stopping to take a photo would have been a challenge. I did witness a girl fall here, because she clipped the heel of another runner. (There were lots of race etiquette rules that I saw fly out the window during this race… but more about that in another post….)

The weather was perfect, the sun was out and there was a breeze that always seemed to hit at the right time. Leaving the pretty park area is where we had our first water stop. This is also where we met up with the full marathoners. The merge area was done very well. I chugged down water and had one of my strawberry cliff blocks. I find it’s easier on my stomach if I take one at a time over 20 or so minutes.

These middle miles kicked my butt. The hills were ferocious and I thought my legs were on fire. I did my very best to run them all but eventually I just said screw it. I’m not running this for time and just want to finish.

check out those hills

check out those hills

It was right around that moment when I started to really look around and see what I was running through. I saw a little girl squeaking out a  “Hi” to runners as they passed from the third story of a townhouse. I saw a lot of other people struggling just as much as I was. Miles 3.5 – 6.5 were rough for me. Hills have a way of really bothering my knee and throwing me off my game. The strangest part is, I remember the course being hilly, I just didn’t remember how hilly.

Oh look another hill....

Oh look another hill….

I have selective memory and guess I must of just blacked out during these hills last year.

I have selective memory and guess I must have just blacked out during these hills last year.

Things finally started to level off when I got to the Lake, which is my fav part of the course. It beautiful and FLAT! I’m not that familiar with Baltimore, and quite frankly it is not one of my favorite cities. So a lot of the appeal of racing around some more well-known parts is lost on me. But I do appreciate how beautiful this part of the course is. I also love how the fuel station is at the far side of the lake… this year they had Salted Caramel Gu… (OMG YUM!)

Lake Selfie! 1.5 miles of serenity

Lake Selfie! 1.5 miles of serenity

After the lake the rest was a blur to me. I knew that I was close to 4 miles from done, so I just powered through. I took more photos and admired the cute little houses that I saw and enjoyed the high energy of the spectators that I saw.

At mile 12 when I felt like I was totally out of steam, my husband surprised me! He had walked from the finish line to give me an extra push to finish strong. He could tell from my texts the race wasn’t going as well as anticipated. I love having him at races. 🙂 It was just the push I needed to run most of the way in and kick it in to the finish.

The highlight of this race is the downhill finish into Camden Yards. It’s an amazing experience to see all the spectators and have the opportunity to finish the race through an iconic baseball stadium. I love this.

Tried to capture the glory but pretty much just got glare

Tried to capture the glory but pretty much just got glare

Baltimore Half (Bottle Opener) Medal and the Maryland Double Medal.

Baltimore Half (Bottle Opener) Medal and the Maryland Double Medal.

Overall I’m glad I completed the race to finally finish the King Crab Challenge and Maryland Double. I also did finish the race 12 min faster than in 2013. However, I think this may be my last Baltimore Half Marathon. I may have had a blast last year, but for some reason it just wasn’t as fun for me in 2014. If you are looking to do a well run race on a challenging course, I say give it a try!


Did you race this weekend? Do you have any race etiquette pet peeves? What do you think of hilly course? What’s the most difficult course you’ve done? What has been your favorite race finish thus far? 

Looks like I’m going back to Baltimore this Saturday to run the Baltimore Half Marathon and the FINAL LEG of the King Crab Challenge. I am no stranger to this race and completed the half in 2013, to read more about it check it out here. It is a great race, the crowds are fantastic, lots of volunteers and who wouldn’t love an Under Armour premium. I will admit a lot of planning for this race has been super last-minute. I knew I was doing this race March. I had no idea how I was getting to packet pick up or the race until about 4 hours ago. I pricelined a hotel when I realized that there’s no way I was going to make it there in the AM. So I snagged myself a 4 star hotel at the start line for a 2 star price! BOO-YAH!

Yes, Boo-yah!

Yes, Boo-yah!

Also let’s talk about how Friends is coming to NETFLIX!! Fun fact Friends is my favorite TV show. I use to drive my roommates crazy in college and play the entire DVD box set of all 10 seasons from start to finish over and over. In truth I still do this about once a year. But I digress… back to Baltimore.

Anyway, I threw a bunch of items in a bag last night and hopefully something will work out for the race. I am really just running this race to complete the challenge. I’m sure you’ve heard me mention that if you run the Frederick Half Marathon, Baltimore 10-Miler, and the Baltimore Half Marathon you are a Maryland Double finisher and King Crab Challenge Finisher. Essentially you get an extra medal for completing both half marathons and a super sweet backpack for doing all 3 races. What can I say… I love a challenge and schwag.

Is there any other kind of challenge? really?

Is there any other kind of challenge? really?

I’m looking forward to this race, I know what to expect, I’m familiar with course, the weather is supposed to be beautiful and this year I don’t have an upper respiratory infection. Baltimore is a very hilly course so I plan on having a great time and taking it all in.

Are you running a race this weekend? Have you ever completed a multi-race challenge? Could Friends BE a better show? Are you running Baltimore? 

Over the weekend, I made the journey to Dickerson, MD to go to one of my fav places in the DC region, Sugarloaf Mountain. My hubby and I made the hour-ish drive to and met some friends for a leisurely Saturday mid-day hike. We skipped the long portion and drove to the West View parking lot to make the .3 mile steep ascent to the top to check out the view, then we took the long way back to get more hiking in. Below are a series of photos I took from our fun filled day playing around the mini-mountain. I figured, I’d let the photos do the talking today, because it really is such a beautiful hike.



Obligatory summit view

Obligatory summit view

Oh look Foliage! It must be fall!

Oh look Foliage! It must be fall!

Picture to get a scale of how big the rocks at the top are.

Picture to get a scale of how big the rocks at the top are.

There's something gorgeous about fall... oh here it is!

There’s something gorgeous about fall… oh here it is!

Later that afternoon, we made our way over to the Sugarloaf Mountain Winery that happened to be having their annual stomp the grapes festival. So we hung out had a few glasses of wine (try the Comus!) and enjoy cheese plates. It was truly a wonderful Saturday, spent with good friends.

If that weren’t enough, we found an Oktoberfest Carnival happening later that night by my house. Naturally, we had to stop by. It was a lot of fun, but way colder than anticipated. Hubby and I rode a few rides, played some games, and enjoyed a funnel cake together. Our friends were a bit more adventurous with their choice of ride than we were.

Now that's a festive carnival!

Now that’s a festive carnival!

Did you do anything fun this weekend? Do you enjoy hiking, wine or carnivals? 

I have started my countdown for the race-cation that I have been looking forward to for the last few months. In case you were wondering it’s 36 days until I head off to Disney World to enjoy the International Food and Wine Festival… AND… you guessed it run a the Disney World Wine and Dine Half Marathon with my girl, RockyMtnPearls, her husband, and my hubby. If you’ve been here before, you know that the only thing I enjoy more than racing is racing while on vacation. I strongly believe that if you want to see a great view of somewhere while traveling, check it out on foot. As for Disney races, not much compares to that feeling you get when running through the parks. I will admit, at the Disney Princess Half Marathon in 2013, I may have teared a bit while entering main street and seeing the castle. I expect a similar feeling at the end of Food and Wine because fun fact, Epcot was my favorite park growing up. I loved pretending the countries were real and stamping my “Passport” in each one. What can I say, I’ve always loved to travel.

While in Disney... this is me. Everything is wonderful and glorious. Oh look pixie dust.

While in Disney… this is me. Everything is wonderful and glorious. Oh look pixie dust.

Knowing that Disney is around the corner literally makes me giddy like a small child. However, I realized over the weekend, that I have lots of race-cations coming up! This spring I’m heading to Key West, Asheville, and I just found out that in May I’ll be returning to Annapolis, to do the Zooma Annapolis run as a race Ambassador. I have to admit, I’m kind of surprised by how many race-cations I’ve already managed to get in the books for 2015. Earlier this year, I completed the Zooma Annapolis 10K with my mom and we had a fantastic time. This is the kind of race you could run every year and still love it. Annapolis is one of the cutest cities I’ve ever been to, yeah I said cute. It’s like that small town that you always wanted to be a part of so you could think that you lived in Stars Hallow. Annapolis, has this old world charm that’s tangible while there.

So I am thrilled that I get to be part of Zooma Annapolis as a race ambassador. This also means that I am turning this into a race-cation. Yes, it may only be an hour from house however, a girl needs some girly time every once in a while. Therefore, I’ve decided I’m turning my Zooma experience into a fun girls weekend.

Purple dresses not included. But mocktails are!

Purple dresses not included. But mocktails are! Also I think I dance like the one in the middle.

If you’re planning to Zooma this year in Annapolis. And yes, Zooma is a verb. Then join me! AND I happen to have a 10% off code that’s good for the 10K or the Half. The code is: SAMANTHA15. It’s good till 5/27/15. I would get in before the price increases over and over and over. (Ugh I hate that). This year’s races take place on 5/30/2015.

Are you excited for any upcoming race-cations? Is there somewhere that I just have to go? Are you going to Zooma with me this year? Have you done Zooma Annapolis or another Zooma race this year? 

Disclaimer: I am being providing complimentary race entry to Zooma Annapolis, but all opinions are my own!

I have mentioned here before that I would like to try my first triathlon in 2015. Well I think I picked which one I’m going to do, I just haven’t officially registered yet. For the past month, I have been swimming at our local rec center. I grew up by the ocean, with a pool in my backyard, and was on the summer swim team for several years. Swimming is not something foreign to me.

Not really, but how awesome would that be!

Not really, but how awesome would that be!

Since moving back to the DC area in June 2013, I haven’t really swam, like at all. So a few weeks ago, I decided if I’m actually going to do this triathlon thing, I should get in a pool and see if June 2015 is even feasible. Well, I forgot how much I LOVE to swim! No really. I love it. It reminds me of when I was younger and I’d play mermaids in the pool with my 2 sisters. It brings back summers spent surfing (which I haven’t done since I was 20). It reminds me of that wonderful chlorine smell that I was covered in when I first met one of my lifelong friends while in the slow lane of the swim team. Swimming has been my joy these last few weeks. I find that I look forward to the end of the work day so I can rush over to the pool and start my laps.

Last week my hubby joined me for laps. He is a 7:30-8 min miler for half marathons. I’m am accustomed to him being faster, it’s just life. So I wasn’t shocked when he suggested we race a few laps. I was intrigued. He knows I swim well and for once, this was actually a competition. Well turns out that in the water I am a fish and MUCH faster than my husband. This for some reason made we wildly happy. It also gave me a huge boost of confidence, that I hadn’t’ expected.

Well you won't (bazinga!)

Well you won’t (bazinga!)

Besides my swimming adventures, I’ve been doing regular training runs in DC during the week and lots of exercise videos. I’m trying to work on muscles that aren’t just running and it’s helping! I can already feel a difference in my strength and speed on my longer weekend runs. The best perk, is I’m enjoying myself more.

Mid-week runs are the best when the reflecting pool is your track.

Mid-week runs are the best when the reflecting pool is your track.

In more fun news… I got a bike. I already have a mountain mike, but my parents had a road bike lying around that my mom had won in a raffle last spring. Who knew? It’s men’s however, it’s for 5’6-5’8, which is me… barely! So I’m super stoked to take that on a test drive this weekend.

I’ve also signed up for a few smaller races this fall including the Run the Parks 10K, which I thought would be fun again this year. Last year I ran it and had a great time! I also convinced a friend to sign up for her first road race ever with me! We’re doing the Frosty 5K in December. I am beyond thrilled that I get to be there for her first ever finish line crossing!

 Do you love swimming? What will you do once it’s gets cold to stay in shape? What was your first finish line? Did you sign up for any fun runs this fall and winter? Any cycling tips, before my first ride? Do you have a schedule or take it day by day?

On Saturday, I ran my first half of fall! I was very weary about this race due to all the last-minute reviews that I read. Let’s start with I was pleasantly surprised. If you remember from earlier this week, I had a mild panic moment regarding the race itself. I arrived in Leesburg, VA after taking a half day from work last Friday. I’m glad I took that time off, it took me 1.5 hours to go 45 miles. After arriving at Lansdowne Resort, which was the host hotel, I followed the signs for parking, which was clearly marked. Let’s start with…the resort is gorgeous. I was really taken back by how pretty it was. After wandering around for a few minutes and grabbing my bib and shuttle pass, I went in search of my friend and her mom who were doing the 5K that evening.

Look at that view

Look at that view

This was a Julie Andrews kind of weekend

This was a Julie Andrews kind of weekend

While they ran the race, I wandered the expo, which was small but had some cute merchandise. It was also very obviously geared towards women. The whole race/weekend/swag was all geared towards women. Hey, I’m a girl and I’m totally okay with that. 🙂

That evening after the 5K we had dinner at Tuscarora Mill. I was slightly confused by the decor and thought I was in the old west… turns out it was a mill (my bad).  It’s a tad fancier than what I usually eat before a race but wow, this place was delicious! Like OMG, wish I could have licked my plate good. We shared the cauliflower gratin, eviscerated the bread, and I looooved my shrimp and grits.

Every restaurant should have gargoyle lamps!

Every restaurant should have gargoyle lamps!

We finally made it to the hotel at 10pm. There wasn’t anything very close to the Tarara Winery (where the start and finish is located), so we stayed at a holiday inn. Thankfully, our hotel of choice was only 4 miles from our shuttle location. Due to major congestion last year, Diva’s decided to implement shuttles with designated parking lots. We were assigned to lot A at Tuscarora High School with a 5:15am shuttle bus time. I slept through all the alarms and Juss woke me up at 4:30am. We ran around the hotel room like crazy people pulling ourselves together and finally got out the door at 5:05am!

Getting to that 5:15am shuttle on time was a miracle

Getting to that 5:15am shuttle on time was a miracle. Also I’m pretty sure my friend did this like 4 times on Saturday morning.

Once we arrived at the high school, there was tons of people and tons of buses. It was also raining. BTW… thanks Angie for suggesting garbage bags. We may of looks like hobos but we were warm and dry and very happy!

Is trash bag chic a thing?

Is trash bag chic a thing? I know it’s out of focus, it’s also 5:15am.

They checked our wristbands and we made the 20 minute bus ride to Tarara Winery. The buses were fine and you could feel everyone’s excitement. There appeared to be lots of first time halfers and veterans alike. It was a fun mix to hear all the different conversations of the people around me… yeah I eavesdropped on you sorry I’m not sorry. When we arrived, the buses dropped us off on a gravel trail that leads to the winery. I have no idea how far we walked. I do know that it was very rocky and I was very careful watching my step. It was after all pitch black outside. My only suggestion would be adding more lights for that early morning crew coming through. It also occurred to be that I’d forgotten my water bottle in my car to drink after I take my starting line GU. Whoops. Since we’d arrived at 5:50am and the race didn’t start till 7:30am we wandered. Thankfully, at 6:15am we heard an announcement about coffee and water for sale! Woo Woo! We walked back over to that other area and each grabbed a coffee and a water bottle to share. The coffee was delightful. The rain had stopped awhile ago so I laid down my garbage bag to allow me to sit on the floor and enjoy the coffee and people watch. Eventually, we picked ourselves back off the floor and walked back to the start, which was now bright and we could see how pretty it was. I also now had a water bottle for the GU, so I was thrilled. No really, I am easily excitable before races.

Who's ready to run 13.1 miles! We ARE!

Who’s ready to run 13.1 miles! We ARE!

My friend and I decided to do a 3:1 Run/Walk ratio for this race. We knew the Northern VA has lots of hills and I didn’t want to upset my knee. So we took it easy. To my friend’s surprise during those 3 minute run portions I was averaging a 10 minute mile. The best part though was my lack of pain! My IT band felt fine and my knee wasn’t hurting. Most of mile 1 takes place on trail. The key to this was to go out a bit slower and try to stay as close as possible to the middle. Mile 1 flew by! As did 2 & 3!

Where am I? I think I love it.

Where am I? I think I love it.

We ran through some developments of pretty houses and thus began the “gently rolling” hills. Juss and I knew this was likely to occur. Our 3:1 plan remained mostly intact. Occasionally, we would walk a bit more but we’d try to balance with more running.

Not sure why were' so happy at mile 7?

Not sure why were’ so happy at mile 7?

This course featured several out and back loops. There was one that was about a mile out and a mile back. Then another that was much shorter than one more that was also very long with its only little loops at the end before you turned back around. I actually loved these. Many of the outs were downhill, the entire time you’re thinking OMG I have to run back up this!! Well turned out that running back up wasn’t so bad. It was more mental than physical. Only once did we actually walk the up fully and run the down and that was around mile 9.25. The awesome thing was we knew that as soon as we finished the loop and got back out to the main road, we were at mile 11.

Check out those out and backs!

Check out those out and backs!

The rain began again as we approached mile 12. It felt glorious. Not a downpour, but just enough to cool us off so we could finish strong.

Are we sure this is an hour outside of a major city?

Are we sure this is an hour outside of a major city?

The last mile felt good. I ran most of it, and was in a bit of pain but I was so happy. That it didn’t really matter. When we hit the boa and tiara stand at mile 13. I was just so excited to finish. The last mile or so was on a trail and it was actually quite beautiful. Overall, I had a blast at this race! It was gorgeous, very well run and the weather was perfect. My fueling worked out well, there was plenty of course support and the scenery was so pretty! On a side note, the medals are HUGE and I love that.

Woo Woo!

Woo Woo!

After the race, we rushed back to the hotel and cleaned up before heading over to IHOP for some glorious pancakes! Then I dropped Juss off for a wedding in Leesburg and I headed home. I spent the afternoon watching movies with the hubby and icing.

I would recommend this race to really anyone. I’m actually considering doing it again next year too! The only change I would make would be to either purchase VIP parking or stay at the host resort just to make leaving easier.

Have you run a Diva’s Race? Ever run a race you were nervous about and ended up liking it? What’s the hilliest race you’ve run? Did you tackle a long run or race this weekend? Tell me about it!