A 2014 Nutshell by DisneyBride

I can't believe it has been just over 2 years since DisneyGroom and I began this blog, and this running journey odyssey.

During 2013 DG and I must have have signed up for every single race we heard of - as our race calendar was jam-packed.

In 2014 things took a different turn. We both scaled back.  Me more than him.  This year, he has twice the number of medals I do. And I have taken on a lot more volunteering at races - in several different capacities.  In fact, I'm harboring crazy notions of being a race director some day, and perhaps even a race photographer when I am no longer able to run.

I still find Race Day very exciting. I've just realized that sometimes I'm perfectly okay with cheering and working from the sidelines.  

And the races I did run? Well, I worked hard for that race bling. I'm proud of every last one of these medals - and I cherish the memories attached to each.

My 2014 Race Bling

There were many high points and happy moments.  But there were a few not-so-great (at the time, but great in retrospect) ones too. 

Two of the toughest events of my life took place this year: a single-track trail half marathon  and a Spartan Race. I never got around to writing recaps of those - as I was left mentally, emotionally, and physically exhausted by both. And that lingered longer than I wish it had. But I will get to a write-up eventually.

As I've taken on other activities in my life after work (animal rescue ... and one I haven't mentioned through the blog, but takes up a big chunk of time -- I'm on the planning committee for the Inaugural North Florida VegFest), the training and the blogging has definitely suffered.  But I do still have some BIG goals for 2015 and 2016 (a full marathon, a Ragnar, and a 70.3 Ironman) - and then of course races that will be purely for fun (Gasparilla, Expedition Everest, Wine & Dine.. and the other runDisney events).

DG and some of our local race-obsessed friends ask me constantly to sign up for more races.  It's a running joke actually.  But like many things in life, priorities and whims ebb and flow.  

DG is a social butterfly, so he does his training runs and races with a pack, and chats the entire time. I am okay with that... sometimes. But my priorities are on quiet, reflective, and long trail hikes with my pup. It's my ME-Time. Yes of course there is running happening when one or both of us feel like it. But that urgency of "I HAVE to get in 7 miles today at such and such pace"  has been removed.  We finish when we finish. 

I'm never going to be fast, but I want to stay injury-free, and I want to keep enjoying what I do. So this formula works for me, at least for now.  

And my whims? Well, those change often - but my heart is constant and loyal to Mickey Mouse. So God-willing, I'll be run/walking his events for a long, long time.

Happy New Year everyone!  
Wishing you all PRs and podium finishes in 2015!

Run Happy!

Deep Reflections (on 2014) by DisneyGroom

I pity the fool who doesn't wear all his medals!

2014 race bling 

The year started with the Inaugural Dopey Challenge, so it's only fitting that it ends with me looking forward to completing the challenge again next week.
First, a look back. 2014 has been full of amazing races, great trips, and runs with great friends.

A few disappointments:
  • Apparently, runDisney hasn't taken any of my merchandising suggestions.  Perhaps with Star Wars Weekend right around the corner, runDisney is waiting to announce the Jabba the Hut anti-chafe gel. Remember, you heard it here first!
  • I am still looking forward to an out of state marathon.  Hopefully, I'll be able to make that happen in 2015.
  • DisneyBride isn't racing as much as in previous years.  I hope she signs up for more races this coming year.  
This year  we have enjoyed a few last minute races, the runDisney Tower of Terror 10 Miler for example.  It is still pretty amazing to me that with a few minutes notice, I can just agree to run 10 mile race.  Just a couple of years ago, a 5K seemed like a never ending race. 

I have enjoyed helping others to cross the finish line.  I have created a couple of training plans for people who wanted to complete their 1st race.  I even put together a plan to help a friend successfully complete her 1st marathon. 

Sharing many of the hard learned lessons only helps to remind you how far you have come.  Always make sure to take time to answer questions from friends and colleagues. You never know who may want to begin running.

I have also spent more time running in groups, not only in training, but for races as well.  Running with others is a fantastic way to keep motivated late in a race.  Make sure to run with someone who will laugh at your cheesy jokes even when you're at mile 23 of a marathon.

Looking forward:
  • The Destin Beach Ultra Runs 50K in February will be my 1st ultra.  It is both awesome and scary at the same time.  I always said people who do ultras are crazy, someone better get me a strait jacket.
  • I want to start being a little more selective about my races.  I really enjoy trail runs and hope to add more trail races to the  calendar. 
  • I want to spend more time running for the enjoyment, not just because of an upcoming race. 
  • I want to be more consistent with my running and training. 
  • I want to be more proactive about blogging my race recaps and training updates. 
My #DopeyAintEnuf race season is in full swing, but the bulk of it will be happening in 2015.  I continue to look forward to finding new trails, cool new races, and new running friends. 

What lessons have you learned this year?

What are you looking forward to in 2015?


P.S. Be sure to follow me on Twitter and Instagram to see all my upcoming running hijinks. 

Recap: Space Coast Marathon

Check out our Space Bling!!!

Finally got my recap of the Space Coast Marathon in Cocoa, FL on Nov. 30, 2014 complete.

Travel and Expo

We arrived at the expo pretty late in the day.  We had an almost 5 hour drive from Tallahassee to Cocoa - and we left our chilly town (okay chilly for us) to arrive to much warmer Central Florida temps.

On the way, we stopped for lunch at Sinbad's, a little falafel place in Merritt Island that DisneyBride really likes.  DB used to live in this area in the late 90s, and this little family-owned restaurant is still around from those day, so it has become our tradition to go there every time we are in town. Tasty food, so I'm not complaining.

The expo seemed to be better laid out this year.  The packet pickup/expo was moved to a host resort instead of the Kennedy Space Center.  The parking was not so great, but the expo floor itself was larger.  

To the Finish Line and Beyond!!!

Many of the Space Coast Marathon items were already sold out upon our arrival.  Fortunately, I did get a Tervis this year, as a friend of ours was kind enough to buy me one as soon as the expo opened.  DisneyBride also got some 'gaiters' for her trail running. She was pretty excited about them. 

A couple of  #DisneyGroomSelfies
Tony and Stacy from PBRC

The running dynamo, Megan Sullivan

Pasta Dinner

I really enjoyed the dinner and Bart Yasso is an entertaining speaker with lots of great stories.  DisneyBride has something of a little crush on him actually.  She refers to him as The "Real" World's Most Interesting Man.

There was plenty of food and it was quite tasty.  I generally eat really boring food the night before a marathon, but I appreciated having a few pasta options.  And we had a good time catching up with friends.

Blurry Bart Yasso- yeah I take amazing photos

Bart Yasso gives talks all around the country at various marathons. We also heard him speak in February this year, at the Tallahassee Marathon expo. If you have never had the opportunity to hear one of Bart's presentations, do it!  It is a lot of fun to hear about all his running adventures.  I won't give any of the details here; I can't do them justice.  Just know that he probably has about the coolest job any runner could ever have. 

Recommendation: For $25, I thought the pasta dinner was worth it. Last year, we headed to Cocoa Village, and had to fight for parking spot, and we braved a crowded restaurant, only to wait over an hour for pizza.  This year, knowing we already had dinner taken care of - that is one less thing to worry about the night before the race. 


We opted to drive to the race start.  The night before, we scoped out a couple of parking lots we thought would be empty race morning.  We were wrong, the lots we expected to park in were already full when we arrived.  I lucked into a spot on the street just a couple of blocks from the start.  We need to arrive earlier next year if we decide to drive. 

The pre-race photos always look good!  We all have that "I just woke up" face! From left to right: me, Michelle, DisneyBride, and Patty

Becky from Endurance Sports Connection, dressed as a rocket ship

 Linda from Endurance Sports Connection

I really enjoy the enthusiasm of the race start festival area.  So many runners in one place, all excited to begin their respective races.  We snapped a couple of photos with runner friends and running groups (we missed a few as well) and before we knew it, I was kissing DisneyBride goodbye as she headed to the start area.  Recommendation: take advantage of the real restrooms at the riverfront start park.  Real bathroom beats portapotties everytime. 

Always line up way in the back

Miles 0 - 13

After waiting for the half marathoner's to start, it was our turn.  I would recommend pacers carry slightly bigger pace signs for race morning.  The street is pretty dark at 6:30 am and with so many runners, they were almost invisible.  The countdown to start the race is an experience all to itself.  Completely different than any other race I have attended.  There is the national anthem of course, but there is also a large screen that plays a shuttle launch countdown.  Just in case you forgot this was a Space-themed race.

The Buzz Lightyear water stop! Well done Space Rangers!

I dream of a cold beverage

Ummm. No!

Stephanie looking good while completing her #Marathonapalooza

BRAWNDO!  It's also what runners crave!

I ran this race with two friends from Tallahassee who were concerned about finishing the race.  Helping people cross the finish line is a terrific experience.  We all trained together for several weeks, but we do have different paces. I didn't plan to go for a PR, I ran at their pace for this marathon - so we lined up near the 6 hour group.  We kept just ahead of that pace group the entire first half.  People were pretty honest about where to line up; there was very little passing at the beginning of the race. This makes for a smoother first couple of miles, particularly helpful when you start out running in the dark and the course is already crowded.

The first half of the course runners we all head north for 6.55 miles, then turn around and head south on same road for 6.55, following the street that runs along the Indian River.  Runners head out and back, crossing the halfway point at the starting line.  The first half, I got my runners into a groove, running a 1:1 (run/walk ratio).  Making jokes and cheering for runners along the way.  Side note: the jokes are always free, enjoy them!  I still think my best line went right over the runners head- I yelled out "You're a Machine" to a runner dressed as R2D2.  Take a moment to let that cheesy glory soak in.  Again folks, the jokes are free.

Awesome views!

It was pretty cool to see the leader with such a commanding lead.  I estimate he was about 4 minutes ahead of the 2nd runner at about the 11 mile mark.  He made it look so effortless! 

My only complaint about the 1st half of the course, is that there aren't many spectators along the course.  However, the volunteers monitoring the roads did a good job of cheering runners on. 

Awesome traffic volunteer.

Miles 13.1-26.2

The three of us arrived at the half point feeling pretty good.  My friends didn't want to kill me yet and we headed out to crush the second half of the course.  The second half of the marathon course follows the half marathon course, also an out and back.  And this is just as beautiful as the 1st, as we continue running along the riverfront - south for 6.55 miles then back.  But what made it special was knowing I would catch DisneyBride heading north on the last few miles of her half.

DisneyBride looked great during her race

About mile 16 my left knee started to get annoyed at me.  I need to start running on the road more before my next marathon (Disney) in January.  I spend so much time on trails, I am just not accustomed to the impact from roads. 

The second half required a little more "Drill Sergeant" DisneyGroom.  The pace slowed and my friends were starting to feel the mileage.  Less smiles were seen and more "really Walter???" looks were received upon hearing my cheesy jokes. I was told after the race that they were thankful for the motivation on the course and that I was perhaps, the greatest pacer of all time.

Patty- still talking to me at the half way point.

The volunteers and the spectators were awesome - and there are many more out on the second half.

A special shout out goes to the group that had the bar out in their front yard.  

They also had a hose to help cool runners off, nice touch.  

The Parrot Heads came through again this year with their Hawaiian and tropical music.  The creepy house, yep, still creepy.

The most formal and informal Capt. America I have ever seen. Major props to any dude confident enough to run a marathon in bikini underwear and a bow-tie.

The turnaround point for the half --- that signaled the last 6.55 for us was staffed by these smiling volunteers.

Approaching the last few miles, it is always nice to see other finishers come out to cheer on their fellow runners.  Thank you to the runners that stopped and let me use their medals as a tool to encourage my friends to pick up the pace and finish the race. 

Robyn near the finish line

Festival Area

Completed #2 of 5!

Crossing the finish line - ahh... it just never gets old. It's even better when they announce your name as you cross. After collecting my medal and my awesome finisher towel, I headed to meet DisneyBride and grab some food.  DisneyBride met me with beer at around the 26.1 mark.  

After taking a couple of sips, I headed to get some hot food.  The race director did a great job this year.  Last year, they were out of pizza when I crossed the line.  This year, they had all the hot food, cold beer and soda, snacks, eggs, and pancakes anyone could want.

You'll notice the lack of pictures here.  The beer was cold, the soda was cold, and the food was hot and delicious.  I was too rungry to take a picture.  Just know that it was all delicious. 

Final Thoughts

It really was a great day.  The weather conditions were cool and clear.  Race start was 60 degrees, by late morning it was low 70s.  That is perfect long run conditions in my book.  However a few of the runners from colder parts of the country didn't think so, as we all saw a few suffering from heat exhaustion.  But then again, I probably wouldn't last 10 minutes in a marathon up north this time of year.

It seemed like the volunteers at the water stops really got into the theme.  It appears more of the volunteers dressed up this year. They definitely were far more animated.  Also, with as many water/food stations as there were, I could have left the hydration pack at home.  However, I am pretty partial to my sports drink.   

Run with friends if you can.  DisneyBride had running companions at the beginning and at the end of her half; I ran my entire full with friends. You share some great memories and all the laughter makes the time pass much quicker... even when you are at the back of the pack.  Well, at least we think so.

Patty... so inappropriate - it's why we love you

DisneyBride w/ Shelly and Victoria

Unfortunately this year a few too many drivers were out on the road before they were re-opened.  Also, it seemed like they had no issue flying down the road at an extremely unsafe speed.  I hope organizers can find a way to keep people from the roads before they open.  Luckily I didn't hear of anyone getting hurt.

You may have heard about the medals issue.  Some of the Half Marathoners that finished at the very end got Marathon medals instead because they ran out of Half medals. DisneyBride - much to her relief - was not one of the very last finishers, but her Half Medal did come on a full Marathon ribbon. So we don't know what happened there...

We can't wait to run this race again next year.  I still haven't decided if I am going to run the half or the full.  My running partners have all promised to scale back to the half - so I may be out there alone. Anyway, that decision will have to wait until my #DopeyAintEnuf 2014 - 2015 race season concludes. I do hope the organizers continue to improve the race.  

One last idea for improvement.  The last shuttles for the hotels leave at 1:30.  A marathoner finishing within the time limits could miss the buss while getting their medal and perhaps stopping for a bite to eat and something to drink.  Perhaps, the buses should run until 2:00?

Post Race

Tired but happy, DisneyBride and I headed to one of our favorite places.  

And we had our celebratory dinner at Raglan Road in Downtown Disney.  A good meal, a show, and my partner in crime.  What could be better?  It is only about an hour's drive from the race area, so no surprise, there were a lot of Space Coast runners at WDW that day.

If you didn't read my recap from the 2013 Space Coast marathon, it is here.  In 2015, we both expect to receive 2 medals - one for the race itself, and another for the Milky Way Challenge - completing 3 consecutive years. Yay for more Space Bling!

Have you ever run Space Coast?

What is your favorite themed race?

Running Skirts, Costumes & a Rock City Skirts Giveaway {Closed}

This Giveaway has closed.  Check our most recent posts for other great giveaways.

Last year, I discovered the very awesome Rock City Skirts.  At the time, I was a brand new runner still learning to 'love' running.  I found the motivation to keep training and to keep signing up for more races in an unlikely outlet: race costumes and running skirts.

I am not always comfortable just running in capris or tights. I prefer to be covered up from behind.  These lightweights running skirts are the perfect cover-up to just pull on over whatever you are already wearing.

Whether or not the race had a theme, I found a way to dress up for it in a costume, or at least wear a cute skirt. 

Here I am, more than a year and a half later, and I still love to put together fun outfits for running - and I keep coming back to Rock City Skirts to feed my addiction.

Amy, the owner of Rock City Skirts, has endless amounts of creativity. And she has the skill to make her designs a reality.  In fact, some of my favorite race outfits have come from her shop. 

Remember these?

This morning for my local Turkey Trot, I sported this super cute Pocahontas skirt!  I had my eye on this skirt for a good long while - and I think the theme works for Thanksgiving, don't you?

All the Rock City Skirts come in little girl sizes and adult women's sizes. Whether you are a petite pixie or a plus size gal --- you will find a skirt to fit.  Yes, I'm talking to you - us bigger gals have not been forgotten.

And if that wasn't enough, look at some of her other fun designs.  Princesses, Villains, Fairies, Holiday themes, Space themed.... and did I mention custom?  Yes, she does excellent and very speedy custom designs as well.

So you want one of Amy's creations, do you?

Well, she has generously allowed me to do another giveaway.  In fact, this is my THIRD Rock City Skirts giveaway.  If you have been reading my blog since last year, you might remember this one here, and this one was particularly sassy.  If you didn't win either of those - you know what they say:  Third time's a charm! Here is your chance. So check out the terms below and enter for your chance to win.

If you can't wait for the giveaway to end - and you need a running skirt right away, from now through November 30, you can save 15% off your order with the code:  blackfriday2014  That is a great deal.

Terms of the Giveaway
1) No Purchase Necessary.
2) Giveaway begins Thursday Nov. 27, 2014 and ends Wednesday Dec. 3, 2014 at midnight. Winner will be announced on the Facebook page and this blog post.  He or she will be notified Thursday, Dec. 4, 2014.
3) Must be 18 years or older to enter. Must be a U.S. resident. 
4) One (1) winner will be selected. The winner will receive one (1) running skirt valued up to $30.
5) Sign in through Rafflecopter below to enter. With your first entry, the app will capture your e-mail or facebook name. This is so we can reach you if you win, in accordance with sweepstakes terms. Your contact info will ONLY be used to contact you if you win.
6) There are additional opportunities for multiple entries.
7) The winner will be chosen at random using the rafflecopter app below. Odds of winning are determined by the number of eligible entries received.
8) In the event winner does not respond to contact attempts via e-mail or facebook name provided within a one week period, another winner will be selected at random.
9) Void where prohibited.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure of Material Connection: No financial compensation was received. I  received product from Rock City Skirts in exchange for this review. Regardless, we only recommend products or services we believe will be good for our readers. All opinions stated on this blog are our own. We are disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

2014-2015 Race Season- #DopeyAintEnuf

It seems like all the cool running kids are coming up with names for their racing seasons.  Here are a couple of examples:
Not to be left out, let me introduce my race season name  #DopeyAintEnuf!  

I started contemplating a name for my race season a couple of months ago. 

No offense to Dopey, he and I go way back... but my running journey has brought me a long way in just one year.

I can't believe it was one year ago that I had just completed my first marathon (Running for the Bay) and was gearing up for my second (Space Coast), and then my first multi-day challenge: the Inaugural Dopey Challenge.  

The months of training was a lot of hard work, but completing the Dopey Challenge just left me with a taste for more.  

More distance
More multi-day challenges
More running

And that is what I am going for this year.

Originally, DisneyBride did not like the name, her Inner Grammar Cop was silently screaming. We batted a couple of other ideas around but never came to a decision.  Weeks passed and this package from Tervis arrived one day in the mail.

Apparently, a marathon is just not enough for me anymore.  I am either crazy (current leading theory) or I just haven't found my limit yet.  Either way, my upcoming schedule features a couple of marathons, several halfs, a pair of multi-day events, and my first ultra.  Some guys make their wives sports widows, I guess this season my wife will be a running widow. 

Here are the current races on the #DOPEYAINTENUF schedule (subject to more crazy additions):

    • Oct. 4th      Tower of Terror 10 Miler
    • Oct 11th   Pine Run 20K
    • Nov 27th  Tallahassee Turkey Trot 5K
    • Nov 30th  Space Coast Marathon
    • Jan 3rd     Swamp Forest Trail Half Marathon
    • Jan 8th     WDW 5K- Dopey Challenge
    • Jan 9th     WDW 10K- Dopey  Challenge
    • Jan 10th   WDW Half Marathon- Dopey  Challenge
    • Jan 11th   WDW Marathon- Dopey Finale
    • Feb 15th   Destin Beach Ultra Runs 50K
    • Feb 21st   Gasparilla Distance Classic 15K & 5K - Ultra Challenge 
    • Feb 22nd  Gasparilla Distance Classic Half Marathon & 8K - Ultra Challenge 
    • Mar 1st     Excalibur 10 Miler
A few other races may get inserted into the calendar in the upcoming weeks. This racing thing has really become an addiction. Follow me on Instagram and Twitter; I'm @Disney_Groom on both platforms. And check in with the blog for more on my running Odyssey as it unfolds. 

What does your race season look like?

Are you running a Turkey Trot this week?


Review: Success Rice {sponsored post}

Now that we are in the middle of running season, let me take a minute and talk about a very serious topic:  runger.  Runger can appear just over your shoulder at any time, waiting to make you cranky. Runger will tell you: pick up takeout or junk food. Feed me now!

But as athletes - you, yes you, you are an athlete, we need more healthy options, preferably fresh and home-cooked.  DB and I both have full-time jobs, plus running and other hobbies that leave us with little time to cook at home.  When runger takes over, we need quick, yet wholesome meals - and we need them now. So we have found a few staples that work for us - that have the convenience factor we so desperately need.

Success Rice is one of our kitchen staples.  They actually reached out to us recently, as the marketing rep is also a runDisney aficionado and a reader of our blog. In fact, they usually have a booth at the runDisney expos, with a wheel you can spin for prizes. 

What is Success Rice?  I'm sure you've seen it.  It is a boil-in-the-bag rice that's ready in just a few minutes.  Super convenient for adding to left overs, or heating up to go with whatever you are making.  Given our love of food, we decided to create our own Autumn Curry recipe for the Basmati Rice they sent us.  The recipe follows:

Autumn Curry
1 bag of Success Rice Basmati Rice
1 large eggplant
2 medium onions
1 acorn squash (or other seasonal veggie)
2 cubes of Golden Curry Sauce mix

Slice up eggplant, sprinkle with salt and set aside (salt removes any bitterness)
Dice onions
Cut squash into cubes (feel free to leave the skin)

Sauté the onions until soft
Add squash to the pan
Add 3/4 cup - 1 cup water to your pan, this should cover the squash
Add 2 cubes of curry (I was cooking for DB, otherwise I would have added 4 - since I prefer extra spicy)
Simmer for about 10 minutes
Lightly stir from time to time, adding a small amount of water as needed. (You want enough water to keep the squash and onions simmering, and to make a thick curry sauce)
Add eggplant
Cook until the eggplant is done (no more than 10 minutes)

In a large saucepan, bring a quart of water to a boil.

Add your bag of Basmati Rice and keep boiling for an additional 9 minutes.

Remove bag from water, and allow to drain
Carefully cut bag open and plate your rice.

Enjoy your meal!

Note: DB plated the food, and added roasted brussels sprouts and tomatoes, for color. That's why it looks good.  But it tasted even better.

For more recipes visit- http://www.successrice.com/en-us/recipes/search/default.aspx

The rice bag can even be cooked in the microwave(see box for instructions), to be used when eating leftovers during the week. 

Hopefully some healthy rice dishes will silence your runger.

Run Happily!

Disclosure of Material Connection: No financial compensation was received. We  received product from Success Rice in exchange for this review. Regardless, we only recommend products or services we believe will be good for our readers. All opinions stated on this blog are our own. We are disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”