Thursday, March 22, 2018

The Fairest Week In Review: 3/22

It's been quite an eventful week for running - I ran a marathon, then I signed up for more races - not only Wine & Dine (more on that later), but also the Marine Corps Marathon! How? The MCM race organizers unexpectedly provided a "rush" option Wednesday morning, releasing 11,000 guaranteed registrations, and I snagged one. Once again, I'm gonna run with the Marines!

Workout log, prove I can do it:

Sunday | ran 6.01 miles outside in 60 minutes
I was hoping Moon could join me for a post-bachelorette 10K, but alas, she had to ship up to drive back to Boston.

Monday | walked 2.08 miles outside in 35 minutes

Tuesday | ran 5.21 miles outside in 55 minutes; 60 minute ballet class

Wednesday | ran ran 3.29 miles outside in 35 minutes
One final pre-marathon jaunt.

Thursday | walked 2.01 miles outside in 35 minutes
And then I packed for my marathon weekend trip!

Friday | rest
Drove down to Wilmington. I started in the early Maryland morning at 36 degrees, and by the time I hit NC I had my air conditioning on. It. Was. AWESOME.

I drove straight to UNCW for packet pickup, where the man who gave me my bib did a double-take at the second line. Look, if you're going to ask me to "show my school spirit" at registration and then make the field mandatory, you'd better be prepared for the truth.

The expo itself was otherwise unremarkable - I was there about an hour after opening and it seemed like people were still setting up their booths. I didn't spend much time there, but did stop for a free can of an energy drink called Sunshine that I actually very much enjoyed. Plus I really needed the hydration!

After the expo I rolled over to my parents' place to prep. And then...

Sunday | Wrightsville Beach Marathon, official time 4:33:06


- Elbowglitter ponders mental health and how exercise alone might not be the answer.
- I Run For Wine can help you fuel up for your next race.
- easyWDW performs a thorough exploration of the Magic Kingdom's menu changes.
- The Tomorrow Society considers Disney parks and their place in the consumer landscape.
- On a similar note, The Disney Tourist blog wonders if Disney is relying too much on banked fan goodwill.
- Disney In Your Day got to attend an official Toy Story Land preview event.
- Getting hitched in WDW? This Fairy Tale Life has some tips and tricks to know.
- Living A Disney Life offers an insider look at the Disney College Program.

Don't forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions, leave a comment or email fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

In Which Jenn Recaps The Wrightsville Beach Marathon

And now for a tale of triumph! Comparatively speaking!

My traditional fitful pre-race night's sleep led to me bouncing out of bed before my alarm (still got to sleep until very nearly 5am which for a runDisney enthusiast is a tremendous luxury). I quickly dressed and gathered my stuff, then bolted down some breakfast and headed out.

Race day weather promised to be beautiful, partly cloudy with a high in the upper 60s, although chilly to start. My dad dropped me off at the start about 45 minutes ahead of gun time, and I wrapped myself in my leftover runDisney space blanket and walked laps around the staging area to keep the blood moving.

About half an hour before the scheduled start there was a muffled announcement; what I think happened was that the shuttles from race parking broke down or something like that? And they were delaying start to make sure they got everyone to the corrals in time. We only ended up waiting an extra ten minutes, which wasn't too bad. A quick national anthem from a violinist, a race prayer (awww, the South!), and we were off.

At which point I immediately needed to pee. This happens to me WAY TOO OFTEN of late but I need to figure out how to better manage my fluids, but there wasn't anything to do except hold it until I found a suitable porta potty. Meanwhile dude were stopping off to the side to demonstrate their superior aiming abilities; maybe I should just start lugging a funnel with me.

Aside from that, the first few miles were uneventful. The half and full started together, so the course was a bit crowded, but not debilitatingly so. We were directed into the local gated community, Landfall, which I thought was sort of interesting; apparently the rich people of Wilmington are okay with letting a bunch of runners clog their roads for several hours? And it seemed like they were indeed largely fine with it, as many people were out spectating.

We emerged from Landfall, and I hit the bathrooms around mile 3, where the first relay handoff was - a bit early if you ask me, but nobody did. I multi-tasked by shedding my throwaway layer and took off again.

The next area of note was downtown Wrightsville Beach, and this is probably a good time to apologize for not taking any photos. That's 'cause my phone battery has SUCKED lately and I needed to conserve it for later if I needed to call my parents or an Uber. That being said, we never actually saw the beach OR the ocean, marathon name notwithstanding, and aside from a few piers and a lake nothing was all that noteworthy from a visual perspective. 

Where was I? Oh yes, the downtown area. We passed multiple shops and restaurants before running across a bridge and through some neighborhood areas... and then somehow we ended up downtown again? And also somehow it had turned into an out-and-back?

I saw a pace group leader headed toward me, on the back part as I ran out. I craned my neck around to see what his timing was.. and he was doing 3:40. Almost an hour ahead of me. One of the longest out-and-backs of my life.

But at least there was reasonably interesting scenery, and I was amused to see the same restaurants and shops three times in a race, not to mention the bewildered tourists who were just trying to swing into town for some breakfast. Super bonus points for the girl in the inflatable T-Rex suit, who was there for all three downtown drive-bys and gave me an enthusiastic high-five.

Points to the race organizers: at the turnaround point they had officials carefully taking note of which bib numbers were passing by, lest anyone try to cheat. Gotta keep those race results honest!

From there we cruised down some streets until about mile 8, when the half split off to head toward the finish while the marathoners (and relay folks) trudged on. Those of us in it for the long haul were directed into a pretty back neighborhood along a marina. As I emerged from a wooded trail onto the street, I was greeted by a small cheering section of locals. "You don't even look tired!" declared a very nice man who really should've stuck around to see how I looked around mile 24.

A few streets over and I was hitting that halfway point, and feeling pretty solid for all that. I was a little sad not to have music (battery conservation again), so I cheered myself up by pretending I was running the WDW Marathon again. Since it's mile 13, I said to myself, you'd be passing the Thirsty River Bar and Expedition Everest right about now. I continued to use this tool to bolster my spirits throughout the race and it even kind of worked.

Through the whole race aid stations were solid, offering water, Gatorade, and gels at reasonable intervals. Which reminds me, just before the mile 16 station I saw a girl stop suddenly and blow chunks onto the road. She apologized to me - I assured it it wasn't necessary and asked after her status - and she assured me she was all right. I hope things ended well for her.

I plodded on, beginning to feel the length of things but still in decent spirits. So far I was on track to PR - and, if I was very lucky - PR hard. I adjusted my A goal to be 4:35 or under, a new record by well over ten minutes but some quickly mental math told me as long as I didn't slow down too much I could do it!

Mile 20 brought with it music, a pirate randomly positioned by the side of the course, an aid station - and confusion. See, I saw the 20 mile marker, took like 10 more running steps... and saw the 23 mile marker. Fearful I had missed something important (like, oh, a few miles), I backtracked just a little and asked a bystander if they knew what was going on. She assured me that I would be running the same section twice, and like that the course map lit up in my head - she was totally right and I had just forgotten. 

So I marched forward, my feet beginning to hurt a bit but enjoying the lakeside scenery. From there we wound up in neighborhoods again, some with just enough incline to make me a bit sad; but seeing as how the course had been fairly flat overall, I couldn't really complain. 

The course split again a bit later, with those who had already completed two loops of the completed portion bearing left to head toward the finish (lucky jerks). Those of us on loop one headed to the right, and as we neared completion of lap 1 a group of volunteers gave us wristbands. These wristbands were our ticket to head toward the finish upon lap 2 as described above. As I said, the race organizers were very on top of potential cheating. And hey, free wristband!

So I made it to the final stretch, slowly but steadily pounding toward UNC Wilmington. As it always does, by mile 25 my spirits were lifting, and I actually found it easier to get through than some previous miles.

When we turned onto the UNCW campus for the final stretch I was feeling pretty spent. But the sight of the finish line galvanized me, and somehow without even thinking about it I picked up significant speed, powering past the finish line for an official gun time of... wait for it... 4:33:06. BAM. New PR by like 14 minutes!!!

And so as you might imagine I finished my tenth marathon feeling rather more pleased with myself than I probably deserved. All that running outside has paid off, people? ... Oh, crud. Now that I run outside, how can I improve more? Is there, like, a outer-outside I can start running in?

Unfortunately the medals had gotten lost in the mail, so I didn't receive one upon completion (they're sending it to me). I did get a small reusable tote with some snacks, and there was also a runners-only room set up with additional food, including sodas, chips, muffins, and hot oatmeal. One of the pre-race emails had warned there would NOT be pizza this year, which leads me to believe that there HAS been pizza in previous years, and I was kinda bummed by its omission. Maybe next year!

The runners-only area also had a massage area, and there was a beer tent somewhere around, but I was tired and kinda just wanted the Reese's egg and coffee I knew were waiting for me at my parents' house. So I picked up an Uber and headed home.

And that was my Wrightsville Beach Marathon experience! I liked it - pretty flat course, good volunteer support, good location. I could do with some better scenery, but hey, they can't all be at WDW. I would probably do it again.


Do you think anyone wants to take a roundhouse kick to the face while I'm wearing these pants?!

Don't forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions, leave a comment or email fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

Thursday, March 15, 2018

In Which Jenn Goes After Marathon #10

This Saturday, I embark upon a historic milestone: my tenth marathon. 

"OMG, how did you get there???" you ask? Well...

"Damn, you need to branch out more," you say? Your wish is my command: I'm heading down to NC for the Wrightsville Beach Marathon. I hear the course is flat and fast, and my dad can drive me to the start line, which is another perk I look for in a race.

Some interesting (and dare I say heartening?) coincidences here. The weather forecast for Wrightsville Beach calls for a high of 66, which sounds lovely. Except the race starts before 7am, and when I look at the hourly I'll probably be starting with temps in the upper 40s and maaaaybe finish in the low low 60s if I'm very lucky.

I'm a warm weather girl, but these temperatures aren't too far off from what I experienced during my last WDW Marathon... when I PR'd HARD.

Also? My bib number is exactly the same as it was for last year's Parks Half Marathon... in which I PR'd for the half.

So. My IT Band has been behaving lately. I felt strong and capable during my 17 miler. I have good omens on my side. Am I looking at a really great race?!

Probably not, now that I've suggested it. Dammit, why did I have to take up blogging?

Oh well. Wish me luck!

Don't forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions, leave a comment or email fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

The Fairest Week In Review: 3/14

I had planned to begin this post with a joyous "I'M REGISTERED FOR WINE & DINE!!!" but alas, it is not to be - if you haven't already heard, registration has been delayed. Unknown as to why, but supposedly more information will be released later this week. In my heart of hearts, I want it to be because they're changing it back into a night race... but I doubt it. All I can do is keep an eye out for the new registration date. Happy Pi Day or whatever.

Week in review!

Sunday | ran 9.21 miles outside in 1:35
And I was exhausted afterward. No idea why. Low level cold, maybe? I did plow my way through several sneezing fits.

Monday | walked 2.12 miles outside in 35 minutes; 60 minute ballet class

Tuesday | ran 5.28 miles outside in 55 minutes

Wednesday | ran 5.22 miles outside in 55 minutes

Thursday | walked 2.01 miles outside in 55 minutes; 60 minute ballet class
I was frickin' FREEZING during my walk. Whatever happened to March coming in like a lamb?

Friday | ran 5.3 miles outside in 55 minutes

Saturday | rest
Running around DC with my girl Moon! Why? For her bachelorette party, of course! We went to Kramer Books and had dinner at a pretty sweet restaurant complete with a champagne toast and awww, remember when Moon and I used to blog together? Good times, good times.

My bestie!


Don't forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions, leave a comment or email fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

In Which Jenn Needs WDW Music To Work Properly

A couple years ago I did a pair of posts about my favorite Walt Disney World background music. I find Disney background music to be incredibly soothing when at work in particular - it cheers me up and helps me focus. It's been awhile, so I thought I'd check in with some of music loops I've been particularly enjoying lately, especially at work.

Let's start with the Disney Springs background music loop. I'd heard several people mention they enjoyed it, but when I first took a listen, I was NOT into it. It's basically Disney songs interpreted as smooth jazz, and I do not enjoy smooth jazz. Yet somehow over time it grew on me - all those familiar songs from my favorite movies hit my brain right in its nostalgia center. Before I knew it, I had gotten past my jazz aversions and totally dug the loop. And at close to 2 hours long, it's great when you need your music to last through a large project or activity.

The Magical Express loop isn't one that would've occurred to me to seek out, but when I saw it pop up on YouTube it felt natural to give it a go. This is a classic Disney mix, featuring songs from both the movies and the parks, and if you close your eyes you can pretend you're sitting on the bus waiting to leave for your resort.

I've mentioned the Innoventions background music before, but it really is one of the most evocative loops for me. Everything about the music screams YOU ARE IN EPCOT. It's also a convenient 20 minutes, perfect for projects you don't want to do but can stand to tackle in small chunks. Tell yourself you only have to hack at it until the loop is over, and there you are!

Another recent discovery is the Animal Kingdom entrance loop. This is a total no-brainer for me, DAK being my favorite park, and I find it to be one of the most relaxing loops in my rotation. The African vocal tracks in particular feel very DAK to me.

Do you like to listen to Disney background music? What are your favorites?

Don't forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions, leave a comment or email fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

Friday, March 9, 2018

Happy Friday: Winnie The... Uh... Er...

This week in things you'll never be able to unsee:

Don't forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions, leave a comment or email fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

Thursday, March 8, 2018

In Which Jenn Reviews Planet Fitness

When my old, walking-distance gym's lease was bought out, I was presented with a dilemma. All the reasonably close gyms were expensive - like $100+ per month expensive. Or there were cheaper options a lengthy walk away. Or for very little money, I could drive... to Planet Fitness.

Which is where we are today.

I have historically relied pretty heavily on the treadmill for my training. In fact, there was a time when I hardly ever ran outside at all. But I slowly came around to face the truth that real terrain and inclines are what really train you for better races. More and more of my runs are now outside. Indeed, when a trip to the gym requires hopping into the car with a backpack full of supplies as opposed to just stepping out the door, the great outdoors become much more inviting.

But lightning and snow and ice and driving rain and prohibitive cold do not cease to exist, and as such, I need a backup plan. Enter Planet Fitness. It's a 20 minute drive from home, but only 10 to/from work. And at $15/month ($10 if you pay for the whole year at once), you're hardly going to find a better price.

That said, it might not be right for everyone, which is why I thought I'd put together this review of the facilities from a runner's perspective. I've only used the Rockville, MD location - you'll want to check out your own closest franchise. But perhaps this quick overview can give you an idea of whether it's worth it.

To that end, let's give Planet Fitness the ol' fashioned pro/con treatment, shall we?


Lots of treadmills. I've never had a problem securing one, regardless of the time.

Multiple TVs with the captions all on! Seriously, there are like 20 TVs in front of the treadmill area.

Great price. Natch.

Open 24/7.

Large locker room with plenty of lockers, vending machine, and changing rooms. I've never needed to use the vending machines, but they have things like protein bars, hairbands, and headphones - little things you might leave behind but kinda NEED for a good workout. My old gym didn't have any changing rooms so they're nice to have.

Timed circuit workouts. I've never used them but it's nice to know there's a guided format if I suddenly want to use the machines.

Water bottle filler. Mind you, sometimes it's broken, but when it's working it's a nice alternative to awkwardly tilting your water bottle under the water fountain spout.

Near places to buy replacement items, supplies, gear. This may not be the case for all locations, but the Rockville spot is in a big ol' shopping center with restaurants and stores. If you need something or forget something, you might have a replacement a few minutes later.

Easily accessible bathrooms. I note this because my old, two-story gym required you to go alllll the way downstairs and back if you needed to pee. The more centrally-located locker and bathrooms is nice.

Free parking with plenty of spaces.


Hair is EVERYWHERE in the bathroom. Seriously. It's in the friggin' SINKS. WHY IS IT IN THE SINKS???

There are tanning machines...? Like, are we trying to get fit or are we trying to die of skin cancer? Which???

Treadmills turn off after an hour. This seems to be a weirdly popular "feature" with treadmill programmers, and PF's models are no different, sadly. :/

Only three showers. That said, I've never had trouble getting one, and that includes when I've worked out in the morning before work. But depending on your timing you might not be so lucky.

Only two changing rooms. This is legit not quite enough - I've had to wait awhile on more than one occasion.

Shower water could be warmer. But then as I once stated on this very blog I prefer my water to be pumped up from the hottest pits of hell, so it could easily be fine for you.

Equipment is supposedly limited? I don't know anything about workout machines but they claim they have a "basic" set. Do with that information what you will.

Equipment doesn't hook into modern tech. All the treadmills are equipped for old iPhones with the bar chargers.

Temperature is uneven. For some reason the treadmill area tends to be warm and the locker room is chilly. I would REALLY like to reverse that.

There you go! Some of my initial thoughts on Planet Fitness. For a backup treadmill place, it totally fits the bill. 

Have you used Planet Fitness? What do you think? Or have you found the mythical gym with treadmills that keep going as long as you do? If so, WHERE???

Don't forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions, leave a comment or email fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!