Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Ummmmm... Change Of Plans, Guys


You may recall how last week I was all, hey! I signed up for the WDW Marathon! Duh!

You may also recall how a couple months ago I was like, runDisney challenges aren't for me, man.

And if you read that post, you may further remember that I rather prophetically noted that this mandate would likely go out the window the second someone suggested I do a challenge with them.

Which leads me to a couple days ago, when Erika (remember Erika?) texted me to ask if I was doing the WDW Marathon next year. Of course, I said.

Well, she said, do I recommend she do the half or the full? I said that she should do whatever makes her feel most excited.

And then I STUPIDLY added, if you the half, I'll probably sign up for that too, ha ha!

And then she said, oh, if you do both, I'll do both too!

And then, like an idiot, I sent her the link to the Goofy Challenge.

Moving it along: the next day she sends me a screenshot of her Goofy registration, I write runDisney and ask to transfer, they tell me how (I'll explain later), and bang zoom, I'm registered for Goofy.

I've been Dopey before, so I know I can do it. And it's practically fiscally responsible, right? I mean, with Erika sharing my room, I get half my money back there. Logic!

So anyway, I'll see you bright and hellishly early on the mornings of January 11 and 12 for the WDW half and full marathons. Remember, once you're awake the hard part is over!

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!

Saturday, April 20, 2019

The Fairest Week In Review: 4/20

Hola y salutations! Hello! Happy 4/20 if you celebrate!

Okay, first things first: if you are a pale person in Puerto Rico, you need to wear MORE sunscreen. I didn't say you need to wear some sunscreen, I said you need to wear MORE sunscreen. MORE. You can't even trust the umbrellas with the margaritas under them. MORE. SUNSCREEN. ¿Entiendas?

Next thing: I am cranky because I only brought one pair of running shoes, which was wise because we were way over the maximum weight for a lot of our luggage as it was. But I am feeling annoyed that I've spent 3 weeks in the same exact pair of shoes. Oh my God, I am such an entitled Runner Type Person. What can you do.

Third thing: last week I ran 4 miles and change every weekday. I'm still easy into this Running In Puerto Rico thing. It's hot out here.

Fourth thing: roundup!

- Just Me & My Running Shoes has some marathon stats.
- The Disney Tourist Blog reviews WDW's "worst" restaurant, which I really thought was going to be ABC Commissary but as it turns out is the Electric Umbrella.
- My beloved easyWDW reviews this new DAK tasting menu thing.
- The Tomorrow Society thanks the Phoenicians.

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, April 17, 2019

In Which Jenn Is Registered For 2020, Obviously

Today in surprising turns of events: yesterday I registered for the 2020 Walt Disney World Marathon. I KNOW! Shocking! I've only done it the last 5 years in a row while periodically gushing about how it's my favorite thing to happen all year.

It feels especially important to me right now as I am on a temporary runDisney hiatus given our move to Puerto Rico. Indeed, preliminary research seems to suggest I don't have a ton of races to choose from here at all. I hope to get right back in the thick of things next year, but for now the WDW Marathon is the only definite event on the ol' race schedule.

I also locked down a room in advance: once again I rented DVC points and am staying in Kidani Village for 3 days! Yay! I must admit I'm experiencing the teensiest skosh of buyer's remorse, only because I have stayed there before and maybe I should've chosen something different? But none of my other options were super compelling and anyway I did love Kidani last time. Next year I'll have to get on my reservation sooner so I have more choices.

I haven't yet decided if I'll be going into the parks this time, but I'm leaning toward yes. Probably DAK since it's my favorite park and maybe also the Studios since I still haven't seen the new Toy Story area? I know Galaxy's Edge will be open at that point too and full of crowds but I can give that a wide berth for the time being... many things to ponder.

In conclusion, I am, as always, hella excited for the WDW Marathon and I hope to see you there! :D

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!

Monday, April 15, 2019

In Which The Seven Dwarfs Wear Shoulder Pads Or Something?

I come to you today with another Disney Dandy discovery. Sort of. I might not wear this one. It is... different.

My grandmother died a couple years ago - ah, memories - and my parents were finally able to sell her house early this year. This facilitated a major clean-out, as she was a collector. (Not a hoarder, mind you, a collector.) (But also possibly a hoarder.)

Anyway, she had a lot of stuff. She mostly liked Judy Garland and The Wizard of Oz by extension, Shirley Temple, and dolls, but she had some Disney things too. Among the Disney items I was bequeathed was a t-shirt. And oh, what a t-shirt it is!

Minxie is equally perplexed.

Based on the tag inside, I'm going to guess this shirt was obtained from the Disney Store in the '90s. The tag also denotes this item as a size L; if you ask me it looks more like an XL at least. Although based on vague memories of outfit descriptions in Babysitters Club books, I want to say oversized t-shirts were in at the time? I have never been truly cool a day in my life so someone else who is old+ please confirm.

In addition to a snazzy print of the Seven Dwarfs engaging in a little competitive cheerleading, the shirt emphasizes the gem mine setting by adorning the shirt with bedazzled gems. Fozzie says: it's threeeeeeeeeeeeeee-D!

All right, so, we're not exactly looking at a tres chic item here. But wait, there's more! Peek inside the sleeves and what do we find? Why, it's... SHOULDER PADS!!!

I know shoulder pads were a big thing in the '80s that probably bled into the '90s at least a bit, but in a t-shirt? I thought it was just, like, blazers and suit coats and crud like that. Shoulder pads in a t-shirt? How? Why?

So I don't know what to do with this one. I certainly can't imagine wearing it, but it's so charmingly bizarre I can't imagine getting rid of it either. I think I'll look at it once in a while and giggle to myself.

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, April 12, 2019

The Fairest Week In Review: 4/12

Hello and welcome to week two of Jenn Lives in Puerto Rico! I continue to enjoy being warm all the time, even if it comes at the cost of very sweaty runs. I talked about running here a bit yesterday.

Although I just realized I forgot to include the fact that while I do all my runs in the morning, and I see quite a few people running at twilight, I witnessed a guy running at noon the other day. In the full sun! And humidity! Mid-80s! There is not a big enough water bottle in the world!

I suppose for short runs it wouldn't be so terrible. And short runs is mostly what I've been doing, to get the feel for things. I don't have super accurate data right now because my other computer is in the process if being shipped over and that's where it all lives, but I did a 5k or so every weekday morning last week. Huzzah!

Jeez, without the full day-by-day workout recap these week in review posts look kinda anemic. Ummm... here is a picture of Ruffian being adorable. There, now it's been worth your while!

Okay, roundup time.

- Elbowglitter knows that comparisons are odious.
- Darlin' Rae reviews an Insta-famous sports bra.
- Fairytales & Fitness ponders some memorable runs.
- Disney In Your Day reviews the new Dumbo live action movie.
- easyWDW does the legwork on another research topic: does the day you visit a WDW park matter?
- Skyway to Wonderland explores one of my favorite Disney Springs stores, the Marketplace Co-op.
- Davelandblog shares images of a forgotten Mary Blair mural in Disneyland.
- Pixie Dust Savings calls out the places to hang with characters outside the parks.

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, April 11, 2019

In Which Jenn Runs In San Juan

While we apartment-hunt for a permanent place, Pat and I are staying in a little place by the beach in Ocean Park, in the northern part of San Juan on the coast. It's not a proper hotel and there's no gym... but like any good addict, I'm not about to let my training just drop, y'know? Mama needs her mileage! ... Ew. Why did I say that? I mean, it's true, but why did I say it like that?

Anyway. So it's hot here in Puerto Rico (WUT) and humid, and even in the middle of the night it's 75 degrees. But I'm a warm weather person so that's okay. The first week I did a series of 3 milers, and then a series of 4, and it's working out fine.

The routes are a little weird, though. I mean, not weird, just not ideal. The neighborhood we're in is compact so I do a lot of doubling up around blocks and stuff. A nice feature, though, is a park about a third of a mile away from our place. I mean, can't hate on that view, can you?

And this sidewalk... embossing? Or whatever. It's pretty cute.

There's even a track in the park, although I'm not a huge track fan. I've used it once or twice but I prefer the neighborhood streets.

The sidewalks are rough, though, man. There are uneven curbs and potholes and random uneven bits. All throughout my ballet career my teacher has told me to stop looking at the floor, but in running this particular skill has served me well. You gotta keep your eyes on the ground or you're going down. Hell, I almost broke my ankle this morning while walking. Thank God I have flexible joints.

I'm still hoping to snag an apartment with a treadmill when the time comes, but for now, this is working out fine. Now if I can only find a good race series...

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!

Saturday, April 6, 2019

The Fairest Week In Review: 4/06

Did I say service would be uninterrupted? Okay, well, I guess technically it hasn't been as I did make a post this week, but I'm obviously a little behind... like 3 or 4 days behind. Oh well. I'll get into this Puerto Rico rhythm yet!

Another thing I'm way behind on: The Barkley Marathons. I know they've been a huge thing since that one documentary in 2014, but when news reports of the 2019 version once again lauded its incredible toughness (no one finished for the second year in a row) I finally decided to take a second look. And boy howdy, it is fascinating.

The original documentary, The Race That Eats Its Young, is no longer on Netflix, but I was lucky enough to stumble upon it on YouTube yesterday morning. By that evening it had been pulled for copyright infringement. Right place, right time for me, but unfortunately I can't share it.

However! There's another, more recent YouTube documentary that, if not as explanatory, is just as interesting and soul-destroying. Please enjoy this account of Gary Robbins' attempts to finish. The ending rips out your heart and stomps all over it. You'll love it!

Anyway, back to the usual week in review stuff: I still haven't fully set up my Strava account after the untimely demise of Daily Mile, but I can tell you that last week I did a practice half, two 5 milers, and then moved to Puerto Rico on Friday. Wee!

And now for the roundup:

- easyWDW tries out the new VIP Taste of the Magic Kingdom tour.
- The Tomorrow Society continues its deep dive into Spaceship Earth's scenes.
- Living A Disney Life considers although those recent internet-breaking Disney parks rule changes.
- EPBOT explores this year's Epcot Flower & Garden Festival.
- WDW For Grownups selects the best cookies WDW has to offer.
- This Fairy Tale Life tries out a Disney Princess Breakfast Adventure.

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, April 4, 2019

In Which Jenn Lives In Puerto Rico Now

¡Qué sorpresa! I moved to Puerto Rico!

Yep, Pat got a job here and after much planning and packing and a very traumatic plane ride for the kitties, we are now San Juan locals. Luckily we had an assist from the federal government (and how often can you say that these days?).

Obviously this will have reverberating life consequences. I need to properly learn Spanish, for one - no me recuerdo mucho español de mi escuela. I'm also going to have learn to drive LIKE A MANIAC. And while I'm teleworking with my old job for now, I may ultimately need to find something new.

As far as this blog is concerned, well, I'm still running! Just morning 5Ks so far - I need to get used to the heat and the neighborhood. I hope to get a hold of a treadmill at some point to help with the really long runs.

Now comes the sad part. Since life and livelihood are still up in the air at this point, I can't do any runDisney halves this year. Pour one out for that MAJOR bummer. Thank God I already asked my parents to subsidize a WDW Marathon trip as my Christmas/birthday present this year - you know I can't live without that one!

So that's what's up! On the off chance you're interested, Pat and I have put together a little blog about our Puerto Rico trip. The idea is to keep our friends and family apprised of our doings, but we're all friends, right? Check it out! losdulanys.com

In the meantime, keep checking back weekly. I still love running and Disney and I still love writing about them!

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!

Sunday, March 31, 2019

In Which Jenn Makes A Contingency Plan

Heeeey! So like I alluded to earlier, I am in the midst of a very big move. I don't anticipate any real lapse in service (this blog provides a service, right?) but I do want to provide for all possible eventualities. With that in mind, this seems to me to a prime time to do my annual Trip Reports & Race Recaps From The Last Year post.

As you are no doubt aware, I have two recap pages in the above navigation bar: one for races and one for trip reports. But if you haven't been here in awhile, there may well be much newness to read!

Okay, sure, but not YET.

In the past I've listed ALLLLLL the possible trip reports and race recaps, but I the list is getting quite lengthy I'm just going to put the ones that are new since last year below. For a breadth of your options, click the links above.

Here are my new multi-day trip reports:

Here are my new day trip reports:

And here are the new race recaps:

Have thoughts on what you read? Feel free to comment no matter how old the post - I can assure you I'll see it. And if YOU have a particularly good trip report you'd like to share, let me know; I love those things!

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 27, 2019

The Fairest Week In Review (Of Sorts): 3/27

Oh boy. Okay. I'm in the middle of a pretty big move (more on that next week), and like 90% of my stuff is gone and I'm sitting on an air mattress nervously eyeing two cats who are currently sleeping angelically but THEY BETTER NOT PULL OUT THEIR CLAWS.

Please observing paws containing dainty claws.

Also while I was sweeping the apartment for inspection I got a bunch of dust in my lungs and it triggered some mildly asthma which really wasn't too terrible except it gave me a cough that made it SUPER hard to sleep and most of my blankets are also gone with my stuff so I was soooo colllld and therefore I am kind of loopy and exhausted right now.

Also I still haven't figured out a replacement workout tracker now that Daily Mile is gone and while I have it in my GPS watch I'm not, like 100% sure what happened but I can tell you I'm pretty sure I did, um, I want to say a 3 miler, a 7 miler, and two 5 milers last week and went to ballet twice.

Sorry this is such a weird week in review installment! I promise to get it together shortly. In the meantime, allow the roundup to introduce you to some much less whackadoodle bloggers. A lot of food posts this week; everyone likes those:

- The Main Street Gazette examines DAK's Harambe Market...
- ... while Disney In Your Day reviews the food.
- This Fairy Tale Life has the lowdown on this year's DCA Food & Wine Festival.
- easyWDW reviews Jaleo in a way that makes it sound way better than my local Jaleo. My local Jaleo is, like, okay. But also very soon not my local Jaleo anymore, so, hmmm.
- The Disney Tourist Blog takes the rare opportunity to dine at Aunt Polly's.
- Living A Disney Life dines at Skipper Canteen.

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

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

In Which Jenn Doesn't Get Liberty Inn


Okay, so I'm not trying to get up on a high horse here,* but there is one Walt Disney World behavior I simply do not understand: in all the food joints in all the World Showcase, why would you walk into the Liberty Inn?

I would happily accept a low horse. Any horse at all, really.

Epcot is an epicure's dream. Well, ish. I mean, a lot of the restaurants are serving native food and drink that some would accuse of being dumbed down for tourist palettes. But still, you've got Moroccan spices, a full English pub, Bavarian pretzels as big as your head, gravlax and weird Norwegian liqueur, A WHOLE CAVE OF TEQUILA, and you choose... a domestic beer and a burger in the American Adventure's quick service restaurant. In the modern parlance... wut?

suppose you could argue that not everyone who visits WDW is American, and maybe those international visitors find American cuisine interesting. I'm not convinced at all that that's what's happening, but okay. But you can get burgers and fried shrimp lots of other places around the parks and resorts. Why wouldn't you take the opportunity to change it up a bit?

The other potential defense I could see someone using is that their kids are picky. Fair enough. But I've never heard any parent utter any sentence along the theme of "My kid is so picky and I LOVE IT!" I can't think of a single better opportunity than the vast food pantheon of the World Showcase to find SOMETHING, ANYTHING EVER SO SLIGHTLY DIFFERENT your kid might deign to try. Why not seize your chance?

Admittedly I am neither an international visitor nor a parent. I may well be jaded (yes), stupid (rather), or child-unfriendly (broadly). I just don't get why Liberty Inn is a thing. Do you?

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

Thursday, March 21, 2019

The Fairest Week In Review: 3/21

Ah, but let us pour one out for Daily Mile. The run tracker I've been using for at least five years died yesterday. I finished yesterday's run and then, like I always do, immediately opened my phone to track my time and mileage. And then I frowned, deleted the Daily Mile app, and shoved my phone back into my pocket. An era has ended.

Anyway, anyone have any suggestions for a new run tracking site? Right now I'm looking at Strava because it's all you ever hear about, but it seems much more complicated. I just want to input my freaking runs and there are tooooo many doohickeys cluttered up the screen. Anything simpler but also free you can recommend?

Speaking of workouts, things were pretty quiet last week, it being my post-marathon rest week and all. Here's what we've got:

Monday | walked 2.04 miles outside in 35 minutes; 55 minute ballet class

Tuesday | rest
Can't remember why I didn't walk. Crappy weather, probably. No, wait, I think I took my car to get its oil changed on my lunch break. Yeah, that's the one.

Wednesday | walked 2 miles outside in 35 minutes

Thursday | walked walked 2.06 miles outside in 35 minutes
Skipped ballet to go to the MVA. Found out while there I was missing paperwork. Needless to say it was a thrilling evening.

Friday | walked 2.09 miles outside in 35 minutes

Saturday | rest

And here's the roundup:

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

In Which Jenn Eats An Enormous Cookie Sandwich

I'll just come out and say it: I've had zebra domes and I think they're... fine.

Mind you, that was almost a decade ago now; maybe my tastebuds misremember. But all I can recall about my zebra dome experience is that it was tasty enough but underwhelming after all the hype.

So when I found myself at The Mara, the Animal Kingdom Lodge food court, perusing the bakery case for a post-marathon* treat, I did not first go to the refrigerator case for zebra domes. I was after bigger fish. Sorry, not fish; SUGAR.

Although there were many interesting cupcakes and such to be had, my eye was on the Kudu Cookie, a massive confection stuffed with my number one favorite food: FROSTING. (No joke, my favorite food is frosting. FIGHT ME.)

The Disney menu describes this spectacular confection as a butterscotch cashew cookie with vanilla buttercream. Close, but you forgot an important note, Disney: it's a butterscotch cookie SANDWICH. There are two of those babies, dipped in white chocolate and garnished with a dark chocolate piece.

So we know it looks spectacular. But the taste? It is unabashed SUGAR. An assault of the sugar senses. If you do not like sweet things, you will NOT enjoy this. I do, so I did, with an important caveat: as I often complain, I thought the ratios were off. The cookies, while of pleasant texture, were maybe a bit too hefty and crunchy for the frosting, of which there was not enough. But then I never think there's enough frosting. Next time I'll just bring a can.

Overall it was a pleasant experience for your friendly neighborhood dessert monster, but if I came back I'd try something else. Nyala peanut butter brownie, I'm coming for you!

* I wound up eating it immediately upon getting back to my room. Sue me.

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

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

In Which Jenn's Dad Offers A Marathon Insight

My parents don't have a ton of opinions on my running career. They think the exercise is good, of course, but they're not into it or anything. They've never come out to spectate or what have you. Likewise, they've never discouraged me from running either. Their thought process regarding my running is pretty John Oliverian, all told.

But occasionally they'll offer an insight, and here's a good one from my dad.

After the Wrightsville Beach Marathon, my parents and I met up with my honorary aunt and uncle for dinner downtown. "So are you going to go home tomorrow and run again?" my uncle asked.

"Oh, no," I said. "I have next week off. I always take a week off post-marathon. The best part of a marathon is the week you don't run after!"

"I see," replied my dad. "So it's kind of like beating your head against the wall because it feels so good when you stop."

And... I kinda can't argue with that.

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

Friday, March 15, 2019

Thursday, March 14, 2019

In Which Jenn Has A New runDisney Race Outfit

Y'know how I said that I've developed a Minnie ears addiction? Well, I have to justify those purchases SOMEHOW, and on my last trip I did it by planning a brand new runDisney race outfit around my new pair of ears!

Normally I wait to post these until it's almost race time, but I'm just too excited to wait. Behold, during my next runDisney race I shall be running as...


You may remember those pants as the pair I stole off a mannequin that one time, and I think the stripes vibe old school Epcot.

The shirt I got off Etsy; there are lot of shirts available there thanking the Phoenicians and to be honest this wasn't my favorite BUT I thought it was one of the more readily legible. That's important for spectator callouts! I also like that it was available on a tank. Unfortunately it's not tech material, but I did a test run in it and didn't suffer any chafing so I think it's fine.

As per usual with my race outfits, it's less a costume so much as an homage, but I think it's pretty evocative of the source material. I look forward to my next race and thanking the Phoenicians left a right!

P.S. Does anyone know if there's a perfume that smells like Rome burning?

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

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

The Fairest Week In Review: 3/13

Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to present... a post-marathon body in a state that does not worry me!

Okay, that's a weird thing to say. Let me explain.

After the Marine Corps Marathon, my inner knee was doing its weird unexplained one-day-delayed pain thing. After the WDW Marathon, my inner knee was fine but my IT Band, which I THOUGHT I had fixed years ago, acted up a bit. After the Wrightsville Beach Marathon last weekend? I am fine!

Frickin' IT Band.

Well, to be clear, I am definitely stiff and sore in areas. I do think I have some imbalance areas to correct. And my inner knee did hurt the tiniest little bit for a hot second the next day. But any pain was all gone by Monday. Nothing wrong with me now that a little rest and some stretching can't fix, baby!

And on that happy note, let us proceed to the workout recap:

Sunday | ran 5.08 miles outside in 50 minutes

Monday | walked 2 miles outside in 35 minutes; 55 minute ballet class

Wednesday | ran 3.21 miles outside in 30 minutes

Thursday | walked 2.13 miles outside in 35 minutes
Skipped ballet to do laundry and prep for my race weekend.

Friday | rest
Drove down to North Carolina, stopping first at UNC Wilmington for bib pickup and the race expo. I'd say it's a medium-sized race, and it has a medium-sized expo to match, but several local businesses and running stores were represented. I grabbed my bib and bought a couple energy gels, but mostly I wanted lunch so I didn't linger long.

Saturday | Wrightsville Beach Marathon
I lived!

Roundup time!

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

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

In Which Jenn Recaps The Wrightsville Beach Marathon

The quote myself on Twitter: 

As a non-Disney race, the Wrightsville Beach Marathon was never gonna be the joyous march to glory that characterizes the WDW Marathon. And it wasn't. But it went well enough. Now that I've sufficiently built your excitement, let's dive in.

I hopped out of bed at 5am (which to runDisney enthusiasts is definitely sleeping in), down an Uncrustable, slapped on some tape, and was out the door half an hour later. My dad graciously drove me to the start line, and I was able to eat another snack and hit up a porta potty with plenty of time to spare before the 6:40am start time.

There were no corrals, but the staging area was peppered by pacers with large signs indicate their expected final time; we were instructed to place ourselves accordingly. A couple minutes after 6:40am we were walked a short distance from the staging area to the official start line, and then we were off!

The course was slightly different than last year, although not wildly so. This time we ended up on the main street right next to the beach pretty quickly, a period of time that was also marked by a rain shower. Combined with the mid-50s temperatures I wasn't exactly thrilled with this, but it wasn't a total downpour so it was okay.

Shortly after that we ended up in Landfall, a gated community of considerable size - we were in there for a good 4 miles or so. It being early there wasn't a ton of spectator support, but a couple people were out including one excellent neighborhood group blasting music and waving to the runners as they perused a table of donuts. They weren't sharing, but at least they were getting into the spirit of the thing!

A few miles later the half marathoners split off from us, while us marathoners began our lonely trudge to the faraway finish line on separate grounds. Which were pretty lovely to start - we ran by the bay and over a bridge with some very nice views. Of course, this was followed by a horrific, multi-mile labyrinth of Inception-style out-and-backs made all the more exciting by more rain at one point, but I suppose they can't all be winners.

And how was I doing by this deep-in-the-marathon point? Okay. My energy wasn't roaring, but I was keeping my pace pretty steady and none of the body parts on Injury Watch were acting up. Though I felt the lack of character stops acutely, I was impressed by how much the race organizers had boosted the volunteer support. In addition to water stops, there were a bunch of people along the course expressly there to cheer us on. Some of them were super into it, too; it may interest you to know that according to some NC high schoolers, I AM A QUEEN.

Unfortunately a rough part was coming up: the Double Lake Loop. There was a several-mile loop you had to take twice before breaking off for the finish line, and boy was that first loop rough as you watched people ahead of you peel off to the end while you trudged along on your first loop. 

In order to prevent cheating, you picked up a wristband just before completely that first loop, which served as a sort of ticket to the finish line. Some middle school kids were holding them out like jousting rings so you could just thrust your hand in without stopping, and at least that was a nice morale-boosting moment.

And then... to the finish! ... Which was still about three miles away. At this point my mood took a bit of a dip. I never did break out any music, because I was afraid that if I stopped to get out my headphones I'd lose my momentum. Although I didn't have far to go I knew the numbers weren't adding up for a PR, and I just wanted to be done. Specifically I wanted to sit down on the side of the course and burst into tears. But I kept running, because nobody gets a medal for tears!

Luckily, a bright spot popped up unexpectedly. A lot of the water/Gatorade/Clif Shot stops (there were ALWAYS Clif Shots, which was nice, but only strawberry and vanilla, boo)  were specifically themed to local colleges and universities and manned by alums. At the West Virginia University stop, they were advertising beer... and expressly NO WATER. This a) made me laugh and b) they gave me some Bud Light or something that totally scratched the itch that was making me crave some seltzer water. I was not cured of my malaise, but I was bolstered. 

Finally, finally, we turned onto the University of North Carolina Wilmington campus, and I knew I was almost home. Half a mile later and then finish line was in sight! I managed to push it a little to the finish, and wound up with a final time of 4:38:38, which is not my BEST time but it is my SECOND best time so I guess that's pretty good?

The post-race party is modest compared to some bigger races but proportionally pretty impressive. We got water, bundt cake, and a small bag of snacks at the finish, plus there was more food and massages in a runner's only area. And of course any race that gives out good free beer at the end is a plus - there was a Dogfish Head tent and I took two small cups of Sea Quench sour ale (YEAH BABY!) before dragging myself off to meet my dad, who in addition to drop-offs can also perform pickups on request.

This was the 10th anniversary of the Wrightsville Beach Marathon weekend of races, and based on last year versus this year I think it's starting to pick up steam. There were a lot more participants and more course support, and I enjoyed it about as much as anyone can enjoy a non-runDisney race. If you're in the general area, I would absolutely recommend it.

When's your next marathon? "Never" is an acceptable and understandable answer.

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