Hartford Marathon Foundation’s Surftown Half Marathon is quickly becoming one of my favorite races. This was my second time running the course – I had run it last year. In my opinion it’s a race that is 100% worth a drive to experience. Please note a 5K race is also offered after the start of the half.
Surftown Half Marathon takes place along the streets of Misquamicut Beach and Watch Hill, Rhode Island. It offers beach and ocean views and a flat and fast course (except for 1 little hill at mile 10).
Joining me on my run of Surftown Half was my pal, Perfectly Goofy Gail, in town on business from Arizona. We left my house, just outside of Hartford, Connecticut at 4:30am in order to get to packet pick up at 6am. Since it was an hour and a half drive to the race, I wore my PR Soles to drive. Unfortunately, I had forgotten to put my running shoes in the car! It was a good thing I remember while still in town…
Traffic was non-existent and we made great time even stopping for gas. We arrived a little after packet pick up opening. We quickly picked up our number, tech shirt and bag. We got to use the potties and then Gail & I settled in for a 45-minute nap prior to race start.
The races were both sold out. The start-line was full of energy and the music kept us pumped. The wheelchair athletes started racing first and soon we were off! Having both run the day prior – Gail ran a Half Marathon and I ran a training run of 14-miles – our legs were a little tired. We started off running 2-minutes and walking 30-seconds, but somewhere in mile 2 when we were run/walking a 9:27 mile we decided we did not have the energy to keep this pace and switched down to a 1 minute run and 30 second walk. We managed to keep ourselves at a 11:11 pace the entire race.
We finished the race in 2:27. No where near a PR, but not at all bad for racing on tired legs! After our race, we decided to celebrate with a visit to Sloppy Waffle located on the Berlin Turnpike in Newington!
One of my favorite things about the Surftown Half is the surfboard medal. I’m proud to add it to my collection. I’m also a big fan of all the 2014 HMF tech shirts. The techs are available in both men’s and ladies sizes and the designs have been exceptional this year. I would highly recommend this race to those wanting a PR, a racecation or even a really cool medal!
Did you earn a Surftown Half surfboard? Is this race on your #buck-list?
I experienced my first runDisney The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror™ 10-Miler Weekend last year. I completed both the Happy Haunted 5K Trail Run and The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror™ 10-Miler. I loved both races, not only for their courses and themeing, but for the variety of characters I encountered during each race.
Happy Haunted 5K Trail Run:
If you have ever experienced Mickey’s Not So Scarey Halloween Party, you’ll know the highlight is the parade opening featuring The Headless Horseman. In 2013, we experienced a similar surprise at the start of the Happy Haunted 5K Trail Run. Here are the characters I encountered in 2013.
The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10 Miler:
Character photos during a night race can get a little tricky due to the low lighting. Most of my photos did not come out. So if you are “dying” to grab a photo with your favorite character, I would suggest waiting in line for the professional photographer. Here are some of the characters we encountered in 2013:
- Witch from Snow White
- Jack and Sally from Nightmare Before Christmas
- Queen of Hearts
- Dr. Facilier
- Shenzi, Banzai and Ed
- Wreck it Ralph
What character stop is your MUST STOP SNAP for the 2014 race weekend?
Here’s another tip when exploring our National Parks: journal, journal, journal every evening! I took my laptop and tried to write down everything we saw each day, so when I finally wrote my blog entry and began to SCRAPBOOK, I would have all the details of my trip ready. Here are day 7’s highlights.
Lamar Valley: Woke up early and was out the door and on the road by 6:10am! We saw bison, prawn horn deer and the highlight was 2 black wolves we saw in the distance with the help of a scope.
Petrified Tree: Having been to the Petrified Forest it was a disappointment.
Mammoth Hot Springs: We walked the Lower Terraces Area and drove the Upper Terrace Drive. We spotted some Elk in the distance and were excited to cross them off our “must see” animal list….until we drove into town and we saw elk everywhere!!! And I mean everywhere – laying in front of the buildings in the shade resting.
Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel: We had to stop in the historic hotel to take a peek at the Map Room and visit with a FaceBook friend who happens to work in the park! We also had some exceptional ice cream.
Blacktail Plateau Drive: Took this 6-mile dirt road in order to see more wildlife. We didn’t see anything except for a squirrel.
Have you traveled to any of these places? What was your favorite part?
Here’s my #1 tip to remember when exploring our National Parks: There is very little cellular service and WiFi in the parks so get over yourselves and DEAL WITH IT! That being said, once I got over the cold turkey shakes, I ENJOYED not being connected. I was not able to stay up-to-date with my posts while we traveled, but I did manage to take over 2,000 photos and journal! Here’s the continuation of our trip across America – highlights of day 5 & 6!
Jewel Cave National Monument: We took the 20-minute, 1-room tour included with our National Parks Annual Passport fee of $80 (per family for 1 year). If you have time, I would suggest taking a longer tour because this 20-minute tour was a disappointment, but good enough for our family since we had already visited Wind Cave.
Devil’s Tower National Monument: One of my favorites because it is just TOO COOL! Having grown up in the 70’s and having seen Close Encounters of the Third Kind Devil’s Tower National Monument is just TOO COOL! I had visited here as a young child and again just TOO COOL!! Did I mention that I think it is still wicked cool and takes my breath away!!! We’ve visited Giants Causeway in Northern Ireland and Devil’s Post Pile National Monument in California and this volcanic columnar basalt takes the cake. Next time I visit, I’m going to climb it. #NewBucketListItem
Little Bighorn National Monument: The site of Custer’s last stand and epic battle. Very moving. Very sad. SIGH. I’m not even going to discuss driving through the Indian Reservation.
KOA Cabins: Spending the night in a KOA in Red Lodge, Montana. Clean cabin with electricity for only $67 per night. Campground had clean shower rooms, pool, laundry, and best of all FREE WiFi.
The Beartooth All-American Road: We took the 68-mile Beartooth Highway from Red Lodge, Montana into Yellowstone via the Northeast entrance. The Beartooth is the highest elevation paved highway in the Northern Rocky Mountains. It starts at 6400 feet in elevation and then the road rises to 10,947 feet in elevation at Beartooth Pass. It ends in 7500 feet elevation in Cooke City, Montana. We stopped at Rock Creek Vista Point for view of Rock Creek Canyon and Hellroaring Plateau, the International Summer ski/Snowboard Camp (at 10,737 feet) complete with groomer and lift, Top of the World Store and Crazy Creek Cascade.
Yellowstone National Park: We entered the park via the Northeast Entrance and had a picnic lunch near Soda Butte Creek.
After lunch we decided to take a small hike up to Trout Lake to see the otters and fish. Note – fishing licenses are required for adults and are $18 for 3 days (longer term licenses are available). The hike to Trout Lake was only ½ mile, but it was steep and gave us a quick workout. Unfortunately, we didn’t see an otters and the fish were not biting, but Jack & the kids enjoyed the experience and I got to enjoy the scenery and read a book.
Lamar Valley: After fishing, we drove along the Lamar River and through the Lamar Valley. We saw hundreds of grazing bison and then more grazing bison. Beautiful and peaceful.
Roosevelt Lodge Cabins: We checked into the Roughrider units – little cabins with plank floors, a braided rug and a cast-iron wood stove! Our unit #88 – sleeps 6 and has 3 double beds. It has a shared bathhouse. $74/night (NOTE: I will update my blog shortly to include more photos of the cabins)
Roosevelt Lodge: We had dinner in the dining room. Ribs, bison burgers and Roosevelt beans!!! YUMMY! Bet my bottom dollar Disney Imagineers used this dining room to inspire Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
Have you traveled to any of these places? What was your favorite part?
I’m not sure if there necessarily is an art to running multiple races in a day or weekend, but I do know it takes months of training and planning to make your races a success. Here are my tips for running multiple races in a weekend – assuming you put in the effort into training!
Get Your Game On: Or mentally prepare for your races. What I’ve learned from running multiple races on the same day or consecutive days is you must be mentally prepared for the long haul. The trick is to take each day at a time, with the emphasis on the last and longest race. So remember to pace yourself through the weekend, keeping your eye on finishing the weekend injury-free and smiling. And remember it is not advisable to run all the races for time – choose 1 race as a goal race and the others run for fun!
Layout Your Race Outfits: When packing for the trip, it makes sense to lay out your running clothes/costumes and fuel for each day so nothing is forgotten. I bring a pair of shoes for each race, cut my KT-Tape strips, count my bottles, count my NUUN tablets and ACCEL Gels, and prepare my race belts. I also pack each day together so when I arrive at my hotel everything is race-ready.
My race check-list:
- Hat/Sweaty Band/Bondi Band
- Chapstick – remember to put into race belt
- Deodorant – I use a double mixture for races – Ladies Speedy Stick & Ban (roll-on)
- Sports Bra
- Costume top or tech shirt
- Costume bottom or tech skirt
- Sports watch
- Road ID
- Wrist sweat band or towel
- Bib on Race Belt – gels, bottles of NUUN
- Compress sleeves or socks
Be Prepared for Anything: Anything will and can go wrong, so I like to be prepared and bring the following with me to the race: KT-Tape, BioFreeze, Glide, Advil, Sunblock, Ban Aids, blister powder, foam roller and stick. When running multiple races it is important not to injure yourself prior to finishing – especially when a Challenge medal is involved!!! Remember it’s best to tape, use BioFreeze PRIOR to the onset of pain. I also wear compression socks and always, always, always roll, roll, roll to flush out the toxins after each and every race. Both compression socks/sleeve and rolling help aid recovery. If you can schedule a massage the 2nd to last race that’s key as well!
Rest & Relax: runDisney races are amazing and I love enjoying the Disney Parks post-race. When running runDisney it is important though not to explore the parks at your normal touring speed. Maybe the day of your middle race is a pool day instead of a touring day. I always park tour while on a runDisney weekend, but I take it slow. Slow your speed to a more leisurely pace, enjoy yourself, but please take time to sit, relax and recover. Also, remember to turn in early for the night earlier than normal – you have a race to run tomorrow!
Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate: Hydrate prior to the races. Hydrate post each race. If you are going to partake in an adult beverage, remember to replenish your fluids. When traveling to the race, bring water with you in the car, on the plane, or train. Carry water on your person at bib pick-up, through the expo and ESPECIALLY while park touring! Drink early and often!!!
Plan Your Fuel Wisely: The rule is nothing new on race day. That being said, remember to pack your breakfast or make sure it’s available at your hotel. If you are racing multiple days, pack for each day and don’t be shy about packing extras. Remember you are running multiple races on multiple days so it is vital to fuel and fuel properly. There’s nothing easy about running multiple days – sleep, fuel and hydration are the cornerstones to a successful race weekend. Remember to take special care when selecting your dining reservations. There’s nothing fun about the runner’s trots. Nothing.
What’s your favorite tip for running multiple races?
I’m sharing our family’s adventures as we travel across America to visit some of our Nation’s National Parks! Some of these sites we have visited as children and now to experience them as a family is beyond exciting! I hope you enjoy as we journey in our car for 2 weeks without TV, limited WiFi and zero cell reception and I hope we all survive!
Travel day was uneventful – which is EXACTLY how you want your car trips to be! Spent the night in Toledo, Ohio.
Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore: After examining our car Atlas, I found that we were passing, literally right off I-90, Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. It’s a life goal of mine to visit all our National Parks so we HAD to stop to take a quick look around and do the mandatory photo in front of the park sign and passport stamp! We also managed to stick our tootsies into Lake Michigan and hike up a dune back to our car. Next time I want to factor time in to take a cool refreshing swim.
Drove the remainder of the day and spent the night in Mitchell, South Dakota.
Corn Palace – Mitchell, South Dakota: The Corn Palace gets redecorated every year. Unfortunately, their annual face-lift was in process right when we were visiting. However, we did manage to see the sketches for the 2014 theme.
Badlands National Park – South Dakota: All of a sudden you go from the prairies to eroded cliffs of the Badlands. Winding roads take you around the Badlands with scenic overlooks and nature walks bringing you into the park.
Hiked Notch Trail: The best way to see a national park is to get off the main road and hike into the park. We took Notch Trail’s 1.5 mile moderate/strenuous hike into the Badlands. I personally wouldn’t call it strenuous. The most strenuous part was the ladder climb and that was it. The trail end view was amazing and worth the hike, but the highlight was seeing a herd of mountain goat.
Wall Drug, Wall, South Dakota: We had to stop. Here at Wall Drug you can get anything – AND I MEAN ANYTHING – you need on your trip! Kitchy and a self-proclaimed tourist trap, you need to experience Wall Drug. My favorite part was looking at the historic photos and enjoying a cone of smores ice cream.
Custer State Park, Black Hills, South Dakota: We spent 2 nights in Blue Bell Campground’s cabins. $50 a night – a bargain really – will get you a cabin with electricity, AC and heat. The cabins have a deck, grill, and bunk beds with mattresses. You are barely able to call it camping, but so perfect for our trip! The shower house was a few steps away and had 4 bathrooms equipped with a shower, toilet and sink.
Wind Cave National Park, South Dakota: We took the 80 minute tour into the dry cave. The highlight of the Wind Cave is the box work formations – the most in the world. I especially love when they turn out the lights!!!
Drive on the Needles Highway, Custer State Park: Note – there is a vehicle height limit and RV’s are prohibited due to the tunnels. Worth the drive to see the Needles and surrounding views.
Sylvan Lake, Custer State Park: We had a picnic lunch at Sylvan Lake. This is also where they filmed some scenes from National Treasure 2. It’s very pretty and I was kicking myself for not having packed the kids swimsuits. The park offers kayak, canoe and paddle boat rentals.
Sunday Gulch Trail, Custer State Park: After lunch we took the 3 mile moderate/strenuous Sunday Gulch Trail. We started the trail counter-clockwise. The way down was FUN, FUN, FUN!!! Railings helped to keep us upright as we hiked down the gulch to the forest. We got an up close viewing of the destruction of the 2000 fires. Making the turn and hiking back up to the lake was a moderate hike with a total elevation of 700 feet.
Mount Rushmore National Historic Site: What can you really say about Mount Rushmore? It looks EXACTLY like it does in the photos, however, man when did they build the 3-level garage and why am I paying $11 to park when I can see it RIGHT THERE?!!!!
State Game House, Custer State Park: We took a 5-minute stop to check out Coolidge’s Summer White House. It was a beautiful inn with a bar casual and fancy restaurants. Perfect for those without children, so we quickly hightailed ours out of the Inn.
Wildlife Loop Road: My daughter and I overruled my husband and son who didn’t want to finish the remaining loop of Wildlife Loop Road. It was getting late and we were tired and hungry. However, we hadn’t gotten our fill of buffalo. We had seen deer, prairie dog, prawn-horn antelope and about 4 buffalo. I knew the herd was out there somewhere and I was determined to look. Good thing we forced them to go because we found the herd – at least a couple hundred. You must do the loop. Your children must see the buffalo, you’ll be glad you did.
More to share shortly! I hope you enjoy our journey. Have you ever visited these parks? What were your favorite memories?
A family vacation across the United States to our great National Parks is a rite of passage. Nothing says family togetherness like a spending a week(s) in the family truckster. Here are our top tips to surviving the family trip across America:
- Embrace the “family truckster”: Get the kids use to being in the car, early and often. Seriously, we started them on long car rides when they were both babies. Driving is one of the most economical ways to see America and I highly recommend the experience (even though I complain about it every time).
- Get comfortable: The car will be your “home base” for the length of your vacation. You are going to be in there awhile so comfort is key. Bring pillows, blankets, DVDs, WiFi hotspots, books, magazines, etc. Stop at RedBox to pick up new movies or the classics. Nothing says happiness to parents like quiet children.
- Make your pit stops efficient: I have three rules for a pit stop – 1. Top off the gas tank 2. Clean the windshield Go the bathroom – because if one person has to go we are all going. Nothing drags out a trip than having to stop every hour.
- Pack snacks: I’m a big believer in packing a cooler and eating what we have with us. Go to the store prior and stock up on things you may not normally give the kids. HAVE FUN! You’re on vacation a Twinkie isn’t going to kill you.
- Don’t bring the kitchen sink: It’s taken me years to learn this, but Pack Light, it will help save on gas and you are never going to wear all those clothes! Do laundry on your trip. If you forgot something – no worries, there’s at least one Wal-Mart and Target in every state.
Have you taken the family across the USA to visit our National Parks? What’s your tip to share?
Wednesday at 12pm EST early registration opens for Disney Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend – May 7-10, 2015 (NOTE – New date for 2015 – Mother’s Day Weekend)! General registration will open 12pm EST on Tuesday, August 12, 2014.
The Tinker Bell Expo will open on Thursday, the Never Land Family 5K will be held on Friday morning, the Tinker Bell 10K on Saturday morning and the Tinker Bell Half Marathon on Sunday morning at 5:30am! NEW for 2015 the Pixie Challenge (running both the 10K and the Half Marathon).
Earn the Pink Coast to Coast Challenge Medal: Run both the Tinker Bell Half Marathon and the Disney Princess Half Marathon in the same calendar year to receive the pink Coast to Coast Race Challenge medal.
The Pixie Challenge (running both the 10K and the Half Marathon) will probably fill first. If you are planning to run in 2015 then book quickly to not be disappointed. Do not wait to register.
- Know your Disneyland Annual Pass or Walt Disney World Annual Pass or Disney Vacation Club log in and password for early registration.
- Know your Active.com account and password prior to 12pm – EST. If you do not have a Active.com account and password please register for one prior to 12pm registration day!
- Remember to stay calm and block off your calendar and silence your phone for no distractions!
- Know which races you are planning to register for PLUS your best 10K or Half Marathon finish time for corral placement.
- If you are registering others: have their home address, phone number, email, date of birth, In Case of Emergency Contact Name and Phone Number, shirt size, and time for corral placement (remember you will need the race name, date the race was run and the time completed).
- Know if you want to purchase additional items – like pins, parties, cheer squads, jackets. Note – you’ll be able to add these on at a later date, but it never hurts to be prepared!
- Have your credit card available for serious damage!
Are you signing up for the 2015 Disney Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend? What are your registration tips?
When my husband and I plan our Walt Disney World vacations, we always plan one adult’s night to a nice restaurant. I look forward to this alone time. We have had the best time “escaping” to the parks for a couple of hours or simply resort hopping!
When we plan our nights out, we have used the services of a Walt Disney World Children’s Activity Center or a Disney recommended outside agency Kid’s Nite Out. Our kids have been to the Neverland Club at the Polynesian Resort more times than I can count. We have used Kid’s Nite Out twice, most recently during the 2014 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend. I highly recommend each option.
Walt Disney World’s Children’s Activity Centers:
There are 5 centers in Walt Disney World Resort:
- Simba’s Cubhouse at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
- Club Disney at Disney’s Polynesian Resort
- Cub’s Den at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
- Sandcastle Club at Disney’s Beach Club Resort
The hours vary, but are normally 4:30pm to 11:55pm. The cost is $15 per child with a 2-hour minimum. The cost includes dinner – chicken nuggets, mac and cheese, hamburgers, cheeseburgers – and my kids love the pudding. There are different activities for your children to enjoy like a game center (with Wii and Play Station), dress up (with every princess costume known to man), arts and crafts, movies, and toys. Disney Vacation Club members receive a 10% discount. Reservations can be made 180 days in advance by calling (407) 939-3463.
Kid’s Nite Out:
Another in-room option is Kid’s Nite Out. A professional caregiver will come right to your door. Don’t worry, you will have all their details prior to arrival and they will be wearing the Kid’s Nite Out shirt and name tag. The caregiver will be prepared and bring age-appropriate toys, activities, books, games, and arts & crafts.
We recently used their services when staying in Disney’s Treehouse Villas. The best part about the service – when you arrive home, your children will be in bed sound asleep. That right there is worth its weight in GOLD!
Advance reservations are recommended – especially for Walt Disney World runDisney races. Reservations can be made up to 3-months in advance by calling (800) 696-8105, extension 0.
|1 child||$16.00 per hour|
|2 children||$18.50 per hour|
|3 children||$21.00 per hour|
|4 children||$23.50 per hour|
5 or more children, please call 1-800-696-8105
Have you used a Walt Disney World kid’s club or Kid’s Nite Out? What did you think?
I’ve been running in runDisney events since January 2009, but the first time I wore a costume was for the 2013 Princess Half Marathon weekend. I wouldn’t necessarily call it a costume – it was a tutu with a tiara! However, adding this new element of dress up to the weekend heightened my excitement for runDisney races!
So should you dress up for a runDisney race? You don’t have to, but it really makes the races more fun! Here are some of my favorite photos from my runDisney races.
Here are my top tips for running in costume at a runDisney event:
Know the “official rules“ – Per the runDisney website, “Are you allowed to wear a costume in runDisney races? Yes, however, your costume cannot include a face mask. Anyone seen in violation of this will be removed from the course. If your costume is questionable or offensive to others, we reserve the right to either have you change into something more appropriate or remove you from the event.”
Begin your planning early: Costumes take time to sew, purchase, and put together. The more people you include, the more time you’ll need. runDisney has an entire blog series dedicated to costumes. Here you can see photos for the Princesses, Maleficent and The Evil Queen.
Look for inspiration: Go Google runDisney Running Costumes! There are so many websites and blogs that are dedicated to runDisney. Here are a few of my favorites: According to Kelly and This Momma Makes Stuff Snow White Tutorial This Momma Makes Stuff Sleeping Beauty Tutorial - I made and wore both these costumes at the 2014 Princess Half Marathon Weekend 5K and 10K. Here’s some more from my runDisney inspiration Pinterest Board.
Remember you are going to be RUNNING: I’ve seen many fancy costumes tossed to the side of the road during a race. I don’t run in my costume prior to the race, but I do make sure my costumes are made to withstand a half marathon and that means using tech light-wicking fabrics. If sewing isn’t your thing, my favorite one-stop shop is Sparkle Athletic. Another is Sparkle Skirts and Raw Threads. Remember these vendors will be at the runDisney expo so if you decide the last minute to dress up – you will have options!
Try it out: I don’t do a test run, but I do sit, go to the bathroom, get dressed myself in my costume prior to race day. No one, and this includes your family, wants to help you into your costume at 3am. It’s best you can do it yourself – family members then to be cranky at 3 in the morning….
Don’t stress: runDisney is supposed to be for fun – remember you can always purchase a costume!!! Some of my favorites include iGlowRunning, ThisPrincessRuns, and Harvester Products. Don’t forget about online costume shops like Spirit Halloween and Amazon.com
What are some of your favorite places to find runDisney costumes? What’s the best costume you have seen on-course?