Sunday, September 29, 2013

"Life's too short to not go for broke" - Hogsback Half Race Recap

I hope I remember everything I wanted to say about this event. There is a chance I will update it as I recall things.

WARNING: this will be long my adventure to the Hogsback Half Marathon started on April 13th when I completed my registration. It seems like so long ago now. Because there is so much going on in my head I will apologize in advance for any rambling.

The reason I even attempted to entertain the idea of running this half marathon was, well, for 2 big reasons. 1. it was being held in Connecticut and 2. Running for Rescues benefited financially from this race. I do not think I can actually gush anymore how much I love Running for Rescues. The woman in charge of the organizations is amazing and they help so many animals in need. I had also heard great things about this half from others both online and one woman I met at the Cheshire Sea Dog 10k, I thought to myself how bad could it be?! Well, I should not have challenged myself... Since registering in April my health has been less than ideal. My training has been less than desirable. Truthfully, I was hoping I'd be able to pull off a miracle.

From the beginning of this race everything seemed very organized and calculated (in a good way). I had initially registered for the 9am 'runners start' but once I heard about the 8.15am 'walkers start' I emailed the Race Director and asked to be switched. Just like that, nice and easy. I was also asked to choose my shirt color. Green or Pink....obviously I chose pink, how could I say no!

It wasn't until August 29th when I was contacted by Sonic Endurance with a notice I had won a free entry. I attempted to raffle off that entry but was unsuccessful. I had not heard of a race doing this before and I loved the idea. I was also thrilled to win even if I wasn't going to use it. I didn't want to take money away from Running for Rescues.

Within the last week runners received 2 emails about race day information. I appreciated that greatly considering I like a good amount of contact before a race.

Friday was my half marathon prep day, I 'took the day off from work' and rested with Ace. We also went for a 2 mile walk. I got my oil changed and filled the tank. Got new compression socks from Old Navy, my favorite (pictured below), and packed my post race bag while laying out my clothes. 

 My outfit.

Now to race day morning!

I'm not sure if he was upset I was leaving or was wishing me luck...I'm thinking it was both.

I set my alarm for 5.15am and 5.30am...thinking I might hit the snooze once. I did in fact hit it once but woke myself up before the second alarm. I kt taped my knees and got dressed. When I GPS'd Goodwin Dam it said about 50-60 minutes. The bad part being it's alllll back roads once you get off 91. I got on 84 around 6am, I thought I was making great time. I was on track to get to the Dam by 7.15am. Of course even though there were 2...yup 2 emails with directions to the correct entrance of the Dam, yours truly did not fully comprehend it. I drove 2 different ways and ended up at the same closed it was 7.25am, I was later than my anticipated arrival. I do not like stressing about directions to a race the morning of. I looked at the email one more time and noticed the Route 8 to Eno Hill part. I put that into my GPS and ended up pulling down the very large hill to the parking lot at about 7.30am still 45 minutes before my start. 

This has to be one of the most gorgeous views I have seen the morning of a race.


When I got there I took a second to catch my breath...yes, I think for a moment I may have stopped breathing because I was so nervous about being late. Luckily I got there in perfect time. I was able to park in the actual lot and not on the course. Also, without knowing it, I parked next to Jodi, the President of Running for Rescues. I walked over to the tents they had set up for bib and shirt pick up. This was another race where I had to go to a board to see my bib number and then go tell that number to a volunteer. I guess this is more and more common than I had previously thought. What I did like is that the volunteer did have a list of the names and bib numbers in front of him, just in case. I got my bib and pink, long sleeve tech shirt. One of the best I have gotten so far, I am so in love with the design and the material. After getting my bib and shirt I realized how cold it was. Like cold cold, like frigid cold (obviously dramatic). I was beginning to kick myself for not bringing a long sleeve. Luckily I had a hoodie to wear before the race to keep myself warm.

After I got my bib I thought I noticed Jodi and went over to introduce myself. We had only ever spoken on Facebook before the race. She was so genuinely excited to see me and gave me a huge hug, I needed it so badly. It helped calm my nerves big time. (Thank you Jodi <3) We then went back to our cars and I met her husband and family and stretched before the early start, which she was part of too. I was so excited to know someone at the starting line. I wish I had taken a picture of the hill you had to walk up to get to the start line. I am so happy it wasn't part of the actual course. 

Sorry it looks like I am so far away, really I was only on the other side of the road. This is the Start Line.

The race began a little after 8.15am and off we went. For the record I was in 3rd place for .10 of a mile! Guaranteed to never happen again. Jodi took off and I reminded myself to keep to a pace I would be comfortable with. The course was GORGEOUS. I found myself looking around at the houses, the trees, the foliage. Yes, I said foliage. I half wanted to just stop and take it all in. The cold stopped bothering me once we started running which was fantastic. I don't think I actually stopped to take a picture until Mile 3. This was the first time I stopped at all and it was for a split second.

 So. In. Love.

Sonic Endurance was the company who put the race on. They did a fantastic job with setting up the signs so runners could see and having volunteers placed in the correct locations. I usually do look forward to having Gatorade/Powerade as my electrolyte replacement during a race but they opted for Skratch. I had recieved a sample I believe in my Bulu Box a month or two before, tried it and was NOT impressed. I figured I would give it another try. Huge success. I am so happy I give it another chance. I didn't know they had more than the lemon flavor too. I will be looking into the red colored one this week. There were tables set up every 2 miles, it ended up being perfect for me. I didn't feel thirsty at all.

Once I hit Mile 6 I knew there would be energy gel, water and Skratch. This was the first time I actually stopped! A milestone for me. I kept such an amazing pace for myself and felt untouchable...until I stopped to walk and get water & gel. All my aches and pains hit me at once: knees, ankles, shoulders, back, hips, arms, fingers. I was not even half way done. I took a tube of Honey Stinger Strawberry gel, but noticed it had caffeine in it. I took the tiniest taste of it and realized I was going to have a replay of my Clif Shot Blocs episode and tossed it. I had gotten so excited when I saw the Powerbar energy gels but no strawberry sadly.

 Mile Marker 6

At this point the 9am runners had already taken off and I was sure by now they would have passed me.. NOPE. Not until 6.60 did the lead guy pass me. WOOHOO! I felt amazing! I made it to the half way point before he ran by. Unfortunately at about Mile 6.75-7 a little white dog saw us running and decided to either say 'keep going' or 'stop and play with me' either way, he ran out into the road and a car was flying towards him (open course). The guy in front of me and I ran into the road. I waved like a mad woman trying to get the cars attention and the other runner ran towards the dog. The man finally, after what seemed like yards, put the breaks on and chose not to make eye contact. I apologize to those around me who heard the unladylike things come out of my mouth. I was a little shaken up. After rounding back towards the start line, over a bridge with another GORGEOUS view (sorry I didn't take a picture) I saw the most peculiar site...I thought there were children playing with malamutes, large Alaskan dogs. Upon closer inspection I noticed they were goats. Goats in trees. Goats roaming, no farm in sight.

I turned to the woman behind me and asked if she was seeing the same thing. Her mouth dropped open too and we crossed the road to take pictures. Her name was Giselle, she said to me "I'm from Ohio, you don't normally see things like this!" I responded with "I'm from Connecticut and you don't see things like this!!" We laughed and I asked her a couple questions about Half Fanatics and learned that she was going to run Rock n Roll Providence the day after!! What dedication! We spoke for probably about a mile which was a fantastic break for my legs. Another runner approached and joined us. Her name was Hilary and she told us about obstacle course racing. It was so fantastic to meet other runners who were at different stages than myself. Ladies, I appreciated your time. Thank you :)

After Giselle took off, Hilary and I walked a little while longer, but I had a goal. Break 3 hours. I picked up my pace about Mile 10. Miles 10-13.1 were the hardest miles I have probably run up until this point. The most encouraging part was all the faster runners passing me, giving words of encouragement. At first I felt embarrassed but then I felt connected. I have never seen or been part of a race like this. Like everyone mattered, I'm not saying Disney isn't all about fun or family but this was different. Mile 11 I thought I might actually die. Mile 11.5 I thought I was close to finishing and had plenty of time to do it, so I walked a little. Mile 12.....yeah.....Mile 12....UP.HILL. Holy sweet love of all that is good. I was not anticipating it to be as uphill as it ended up being. Yes I looked at the elevations, and humorously enough I had driven it at 7.15am this morning looking for the correct entrance. In a car it doesn't seem so impossible. Again the words of encouragement from other runners came in. The finish line was in sight! As I crossed the finish line I looked at the clock! 2:11...yeah I know that wasn't my clock. I looked down at my watch to stop it..... 3 hours! 

I took my medal, grabbed my water and walked straight for my car. I needed to sit. I knew I'd be walking plenty later and decided against the most obnoxious and dramatic approach of throwing myself to the ground. However, it most definitely crossed my mind. I sat down for a couple of minutes to mentally recap what I just accomplished. My first non-Disney half marathon. I PR'd a half marathon. 12 minutes. I took 12 minutes off 13.1 miles. Wow.

 Medal and Bib

 Gorgeous Medal

After I realized my clothes were soaked with sweat and I needed to change I got up. The line for food was already so long but I couldn't even fathom walking another step in sneakers. I put my Uggs on and immediately felt them hugging my poor aching feet. I went and changed, only took me 15 minutes. A nice look into my Senior Citizen future. Then I got in line for food...mmm mmm mmm. The line was silly long but Kelly (I didn't know it was her till later) the Race Director was kind enough to walk along the line of people waiting to give out orange slices. Definitely hit the spot. The line moved at a slow but bearable pace. Once I was about 20 people away from throwing my face in an apple pie Kelly started the raffle prize giveaway. As ridiculous as this sounds I was so happy I didn't win because I wasn't about to give up my spot in line. Although a takeaway would have been nice.

 The line for food.

 Line for food

Chicken and potatoes

First there were some desserts, chocolate chip cookies, rice crispie treats and brownies. Then salad, followed by chicken and potatoes. Sadly by the time I got to the food all the pasta was gone. I will admit I was very sad and dissapointed. I had really been looking forward to it. After the empty spot where pasta once stood was apple pie and pumpkin pie. I snagged a piece of the apple pie and found a seat on the grass.

 My plate

After announcing all the raffle winners and overall winner and age group winners Jodi got up and thanked everyone.

 Jodi on the megaphone

Once everyone was thanked and fed and awards were given out Kelly announced she had some volunteer cookies left over! I couldn't say no! I grabbed a hedgehog and introduced myself to her. She gave me the same warm welcome as Jodi did. I couldn't stay around to help clean up because I had an hours drive back home and 2 events to try and make, otherwise one of those fabulous pint glasses would be in my kitchen right now.


 Here is the shirt and my bib again.

So a couple shout outs need to happen...

Kelly and Shaun- You put on an amazing race! Congratulations on a job well done!
Jodi- Your volunteers were amazing! And thank you for such a great welcome.
Pregnant lady- Thank you for passing me at Mile 5 and giving me another reason I don't have any excuses....
Man in long sleeve white shirt- Thank you for running into traffic with me.
Children with Goats- Just thank you.
Lynyrd Skynyrd & iPhone- Thank you for playing Free Bird at Mile 10. I needed that.

Positives on the half:
-Gorgeous course
-Well marked course
-Plenty of water stations
-Well organized from start to finish
-Fabulous shirt and medal
-Cheerful volunteers
-Encouraging fellow runners
-Early start option
-Skratch as opposed to Gatorade
-Communication from RD

Things that could possibly be improved:
-Parking, I can only imagine how it would have been had I not gotten there earlier.
-Offering different flavors of energy gel without caffine (I know, picky me)
-More pasta
-Maybe road signs directing people who are lost or confused (even if we got the email haha)

Overall I was blown away by how successful I think this event was. I will most definitely be in attendance next year and will be better prepared for that darn hill.

My race bib is already up with the rest of them :)

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Wordless Walt Disney World Wednesday - Topiaries

Taste Bud Tuesday - Sanaa

This past Princess Half weekend my parents and I stayed at the Animal Kingdom Lodge-Jambo House. We decided one of our nights there to walk to Kidani Village and go to Sanaa. It was a first time for all of us to eat there. We decided on sharing an appetizer.

We ordered the Indian Style Bread Service which is a choice of 5 breads and 5 accompaniments and serves two (works for 3 as well). Cost was about $9.99

The best part of this is that you DON'T have to choose the breads, you get all of them: Naan, Garlic Ginger Naan, Spiced Naan, Onion Kulcha and Papadum. All delicious but my favorite was definitely the Spiced Naan. It was warm, had a kick to it and was easy to pull apart.

You also get to choose 5 accompaniments - Red Chile Sambal, Cucumber Raita, Coriander Chutney, Mango Chutney, Coconut Chutney, Garlic Pickle, Spicy Jalapeno-lime pickle, Roasted Red Bell Pepper Hummus, Tamarind Chutney. We chose the red chile sambal, the mango chutney (my favorite), spicy jalapeno lime pickle, coriander chutney and tamarind chutney. While they were all refreshing and very different from anything I had eaten before I would probably eat the mango chutney with the naan bread for the rest of my life if I could. (Descriptions from

I also decided on the Malawi Mango Margarita for my dinner drink, which is a frozen blend of Tequila, Van der Hum Tangerine Liqueur, Mango Puree and freshly squeezed Lime Juice for about $9.75 (Description from It wasn't awful but I remembered why I only get margaritas on the rock after having this one. It was way too thick to drink and gives you a cold headache. Plus although the paper straw you get to drink it with is awesome, it gets damaged with the liquid.

Have you eaten at Sanaa?

MegLovin' Monday

Hey heyyyy!

This week I am MegLovin' on.....

I cannot remember how I found April's blog but I can remember immediately connecting with what she was writing about. I love her honesty and positive outlook as well as her enthusiasm for running. She is a genuine, kind soul. I do tend to laugh at some of what she writes because she is able to add humor into otherwise humorless situations.

Please check her out! You will love her!!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Taste Bud Tuesday - Downtown Disney - Raglan Road

If you haven't been to Raglan Road in Downtown Disney you are seriously missing out. This is one of my favorite non-Disney-Disneyesk restaurants on property. My Nana's maiden name was Cahill and my mothers Moran and let me tell you, the food made here is like nothing I have ever savored. I truely believe Raglan Road brings a different atmosphere to the traditional Irish Pub. Although there are some familiar aspects. For instance, the exterior of the building...this says pub to me with the brick and the bold, gold sign lettering and my favorite the lantern looking lights on the corners.

With the exception of one time where we had a larger party, we like to sit in the bar area. I love the coasters they hand out. It's always nice to know how to answer the question "Where are your children?"

I am not completely sold on Irish Hard Cider but Magner's isn't unbearable. I truthfully am just not in love with the flavor. It has hints that don't necessary appeal to me the way English Hard Cider (ex: Strongbow).

That being said, 
Welcome to Irish Meat Fest "Enter Year Here".

Ladies and Gentleman, let me introduce you to the Appetizer D'Lirrah for Two -  it includes their Dalkey Duo, Scallop Forest (not pictured), Heaven on Earth, and Drunk Chicken Skewers (not pictured) for around $27 (From Deep fried sausage, baby back ribs in a Guinness sauce and the Nom Nom Wings which are sweet n' spicy wings. Although they say it's for two, you will both be stuffed if you do eat it all! The Dalkey Duo, battered sausage is by far my favorite. The outside is crispy and the inside is flavorful and moist. UGH! I wish I had some now.

My favorite spot on the bar is right here. <3 Also if you are lucky you will be at Raglan Road when the Irish Step Dancers perform. They will get up on the tables and dance so everyone can see.

Have you eaten here? What's your favorite food?

Monday, September 16, 2013

MegLovin' Monday

This week on MegLovin' Monday I am MegLovin' on.....

Jen has one of my favorite blogs to follow. She posts delicious recipes for you to try, is of course a runDisney Addict, has an adorable furry son named Guinness and she is enthusiastic and dedicated to running! I look to her for tips on gear and truthfully I am in love with her Lilo costume choice of this years Dumbo Double Dare Challenge! You won't be disappointed if you follow her blog!

Check her out!!!

If you've missed any of the past weeks:

Kristy at KristyRunsKato
Meranda and Lacey at Fairytales and Fitness