Friday, April 25, 2014

So You Want To Run Disney--Part 6: Taper Time!


It’s taper time!

If you’ve taken the advice of many, many before you, you have trained hard and feel ready to take on your next runDisney race!  If that race includes longer distances (like a half or full marathon), it’s time to enter the taper zone! 

Your training plan likely already includes a smaller number of miles in the weeks leading up to the race.  Marathon taper is the longest, but even shorter races should include some rest and recovery leading up to the big day.

So, why do we taper?  Simply, it’s time to let your body heal and get to the start line fully recharged and ready for peak performance.  I’ve written about this before the 2013 Dumbo Double Dare, so I’m going to borrow from that post to write my rules of the taper.

No matter how terrible your training, DO NOT try to make up for it during the last weeks.  You may have skipped a long run or a few speed training sessions.  The worst thing you could do now is try to overcompensate and spend the next 2 weeks sore and tired.  Just stick to your original training plan and adjust your race goals if necessary.  

My Recovery Tools
Do some serious recovery!
That means something different for everyone, but in general, address all those little aches and pains.  Stretch a little more.  Find your love for your foam roller.  Do some short runs to keep your muscles loose.  Taper doesn't mean abandon all physical activity.  You are just changing your focus. 

Start getting good nights of sleep in now.  I can never sleep before a big race.  Magnify that by 2, 3, or 4 days depending on certain runDisney challenges (ahem…Dopey…) and you can really start to log many missed hours of rest.  Your goal is to be as well-rested going into the race as possible.

Clean up your diet & plan out your carb-loading.  Yes, I love to eat, and it's not always the
best choices.  I always try to really clean it up in the weeks leading up to race day.  I try to increase my carbs, especially for a full marathon, but I try to be sure to do it early.  My worst half marathon was the one after I participated in Pasta in the Park the night before the race.  Now, don't get me wrong, the party was fabulous!  I enjoyed it immensely.  The food was delicious, but I ate way too much and felt like I was running with a ten-pound bowling ball in my stomach for 13.1 miles.  Now I plan to eat my last "meal" at lunch and just snack lightly the rest of the evening the day before a race. Carb cycling (limiting then increasing carbs) is becoming more and more popular again. You might want to look into it. Remember, carbs can be more than pasta!

Stop drinking alcohol.  While this may be a me-specific thing, I really love the wine and I refuse to give it up for running.  I know there are plenty of runners who won't touch alcohol during training.  I'm not one of them, but I will cut it out completely 2 weeks prior to the race if I'm trying to really compete (with myself, of course, no age group awards for me!).

Take your vitamins.
  This is my last part of getting my body as healthy as possible before race day.  I’m not a dietician or a doctor, but we all have deficiencies, and sometimes diet alone doesn’t solve the problem.  Also, don’t forget you may be traveling.  That always means I’m loading up on extra C and zinc to ward off colds and other illness. Since I've been drinking Shakeology, I no longer take a multivitamin, but it covers the same bases (and more).

Get a massage and pedicure.
  This has became part of my ritual when I was running faster.  One week out, I get a long (1.5-2 hour) sports massage, which includes sport specific massage and stretching.  I also always get a pedicure, and my place knows I'm a runner and is really good about making sure I have no hanging skin, short nails, and they are even super nice at massaging my calves.  If nothing else, be sure to do a little foot care for yourself, and give it a little time “just in case” you slip with the clippers!

Review your training and goals.  Tracking your training is super important.  I "grade" each workout as a win or loss.  Even in my worst weeks, looking at my overall training shows that, without a doubt, I have worked really hard.  It has helped me turn off that negative talk.  It doesn't matter that on that one day, 4 weeks ago, I decided to spend time with my husband instead of running 5 miles.  When I toe the line, I can see that calendar with WIN, WIN, WIN written all over it.  Yes, I've missed workouts.  That's just real life, and it's okay.  Getting to the start line is a huge accomplishment that many will never reach.  Have fun.  Get a PR.  It's your race to run!

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Saturday, April 19, 2014

Journey to a Fit(bit) Me - Part 2

This “Frozen” winter in the Northeast has left me a little lazy.  I (Joann) was not very active the last couple of months.   My fitbit goal was rarely reached.  There were days I actually dressed for the gym in the morning, sneakers and all, and used the single digit temps as an excuse not to go.  It’s April and I need to get back into good habits.  How are you dealing with your training/workout slumps?

Over the last year I've been on a mission to get healthier, losing 70 lbs and trying to step up my exercise. When the Disneyland Half weekend went on sale, I decided to “win” a position in the 5k and join the rest of the family in Disneyland.   I know to a lot of runners, a 5k is something they do daily on a treadmill, but to a novice runner it’s not that easy.  I need to train.   I've gotten to the point where I can power walk that distance easily.   Now, I want to run/walk and finish in a respectable time.   My goal is to do a Disney 10k next year and in the process take off about 10 more pounds, and, I have a plan!

Monitor my weight:
My Aria (by Fitbit) scale just arrived from Amazon.  I love it already.  This scale, besides weight, measures body fat and wirelessly syncs to your Fitbit account.  It’s like getting weighed in by someone, you can’t fake the numbers!  I have My Fitness Pal and RunKeeper synced to fitbit and I’m ready to go.  I set my daily steps to 15,000 and I’m determined to keep it up.

Strength training twice a week:
I have been training with a good friend (she’s a personal trainer) of mine for years.    Since she moved to
Florida, we actually have been training by Skype!   I get an amazing workout and it’s just as good as training with her at the gym.   It’s not necessary to have a very large area.  I set up my laptop so she can see me and we’re good to go!  I have accumulated some workout gear:  a step, bosu ball, weights, bands and a medicine ball.  I think this is a great idea for working out.   I don’t have to leave the house, so excuses disappear (this is the one thing I kept up with during the cold winter months).  You should try it!  Get a friend who is willing to do this with you.   Set up a weekly time, then Skype and workout together!   You will encourage each other and be less likely to “cheat” on your reps when you are accountable to each other.    Take turns making up your workouts or get some online.   Have them planned before you begin. 

Cardio for a minimum of 4 days per week:
I can easily do this at the gym, but I’m hoping for some nice days to add the outdoors to my routine.  I’ll be logging both my strength training and cardio in RunKeeper.

Keep a food diary:
I’ll be logging everything into My Fitness Pal.   I’ve been doing that on and off, but have never really committed.  Now is the time.

Follow a 5k training plan to be completed right before the race:
I’m not sure which one I will follow yet.   Most plans I've seen average 8 weeks.   I want to see where I am physically as it gets closer to those 8 weeks.   Will I still be at a beginner stage or will I have progressed?   It's all up to me and my dedication to my training. 

As I continue my journey into a healthier lifestyle, I’m setting my sights on that 10k goal for next year.  I’m really excited to do my first 5k at Disneyland and cheer the rest of the family on during the Dumbo Double Dare.   Initially, I wasn’t sure if I would do the 10k at the World or the Land.  I assumed my daughter was going for that pink Coast to Coast so I was thinking about Princess or Tink.  My daughter suggested coming out to CA and joining them for Tink on Mother’s Day weekend 2015.  How could I refuse? I guess that settles it!  Only decision left...The Costume!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

To Tink or Not To Tink...

Yep, that is the question plaguing me!  No, registration is not happening too soon, but if you haven't guessed by prior posts, I'm a planner.  There is also the consideration of getting the mega, super-duper, crazy annual passes if we do decide to jump into more races this year.  And of course, there's also the pink coast to coast, which means Tink & Princess, so it's really to Tink & Princess or not to Tink & Princess.  Oh, and throw in the new Goofy anniversary medal and...UGH!   I clearly have an addiction.

I (Aly) have not personally run either race, but have really wanted to for a while.  Katie has, and loved Tink, and I think if I start working on her now, I might be able to convince her to run too (hint, hint Katie).  I even spun it to my hubby, "They are women's races, so I won't even ask you to run.  It would just be like a vacation!"  Clever, huh? 

Cost is probably the biggest hurdle, as we are trying to save for some possible major changes in our lives.  I'm trying to justify it by using points for flights and hotels, but plunking down the $1000 per ticket price of those annual passes is enough to make your wallet run the other way.  Oh, and then of course add in the race fees--those will likely set us back another $600 + the obvious need for merchandise for all these events.  Okay, okay...I won't be able to financially justify it, BUT...

There is always the goals excuse, right?  My goal is to run a sub-2:00 half this "season" and by running Tink and Princess, that would give me two more chances at reaching my goal.  Tink is "only" a half, so with the proper preparation there's a good shot I could do it!  Sounds legit, right?

Then there's the bucket list of races, of which these are both on, and with the added carrot hanging over my head--the pink coast to coast--who could pass this up?!?!?!  We all know runDisney is known for making changes, so what if this is my last chance ever to get a pink coast to coast medal?  Okay, again, it's not the most dire of needs, but hey, I like the bling. 

So then comes the real question--do we forgo other vacations and do one more year of "heavy" runDisney?  We can't do everything, so something's gotta give!  With the annual passes, we'd probably end up taking all our short trips to Disneyland too.

And there you have it, my latest dilemma--  to Tink or not to Tink?  That IS the question.  What would you do?  Anything I hadn't considered? 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Disneyland's Top 10 Tastes

Congratulations! You've survived all of the pre-race training, you've pushed yourself through every magical mile, and you've made it to the finish line of a runDisney race. Now it's time to go out celebrate your big accomplishment!  And quite frankly, what better way to celebrate than to go into the parks and enjoy some of the great foods that the Disneyland Resort has to offer? So, without further ado, here are my top 10 foods that you don't want to miss while enjoying the parks. 

10. Clam Chowder Bread Bowl (Boudin Bakery-California Adventure)
There are several places to get bread bowls throughout the Disneyland Resort, and plenty of choices as far as what goes in it, but my personal favorite is the clam chowder bread bowl served up at the Boudin Bakery. If you find yourself near Paradise Pier near lunchtime, this is a great option for a quick, tasty meal (and opportunity to get off of your feet for a bit) before getting back to the rides. Watching the bakers baking and preparing the sourdough on premises is an added bonus!

9. Bleu Cheese and Bacon Burger (Taste Pilot's Grill-California Adventure)
This was was definitely an unexpected find. Located in California Adventure near Soarin' Over California, this unassuming quick-service burger restaurant serves up this tasty burger topped with bacon, bleu cheese crumbles, and steak sauce. If that's not enough for you, head over to the toppings bar and personalize it with onions, pickles, or anything else you just can't do without. 

8. Cajun Chicken Salad (French Market Restaurant-Disneyland)
After running 13.1 miles, sometimes you just want something a little lighter. If that's the case, head over to the French Market Restaurant near The Haunted Mansion and order yourself the Cajun Chicken Salad. Hearts of romaine lettuce, chunks of blackened chicken, seasoned corn, and peppers are sure to leave you satisfied and ready to run another half-marathon... or perhaps not. 

7. Créme Brûlée French Toast (Goofy's Kitchen-Disneyland Hotel)
Goofy's Kitchen is a character breakfast buffet that is clearly geared for families with children. However, whether or not you have children or are a fan of buffets, the Créme brûlée french toast served here makes it a must as far as I am concerned. Yes, it is as good as it sounds. 

6. Royal Street Seafood Jambalaya (Blue Bayou-Disneyland)
If you are currently planning a trip to Disneyland and have never eaten at the Blue Bayou, please stop reading this blog and go make reservations now. You will need them! One of my recommendations is the jambalaya. Shrimp, fish, chicken, ham, and andouille sausage all tossed in a spicy Cajun sauce and served over "dirty rice" makes for an outstanding meal while enjoying the boats of Pirates of the Caribbean pass by. Great ambiance. 

5. Dole Whip (Tiki Room-Disneyland)
What trip to Disneyland would be complete without enjoying a Dole Whip? Enjoying this delicious Pineapple Soft Serve while strolling around the park on a warm, sunny day or while sitting in the Enchanted Tiki Room is sure to bring instant happiness. Better yet, kick it up a notch and make it a Dole Whip Float and they will add pineapple juice.

4. Beignets (Jazz Kitchen Express-Downtown Disney)
After a long day of running and walking around the parks, you are probably going to want to get back to the hotel and crash. Do yourself a favor, though, and take a side trip to Jazz Kitchen Express in Downtown Disney and order a batch of these square-shaped pieces of dough smothered in powdered sugar. In fact, order extra and reheat them the next morning for breakfast. You can thank me later. 

 3. Vinter's Table Prix Fixe Menu (Napa Rose-Downtown Disney)
Go with the chef's five course recommendation at this 5-star restaurant located in the Grand Californian. Trust me.
Main Course at Napa Rose

2. Monte Cristo (Blue Bayou-Disneyland)
You might not want to go with this choice immediately after the race (a mistake I made once) because to say that this sandwich is heavy is an understatement. But, wow, is it amazing! Ham, turkey, and melted Swiss cheese battered and deep fried is simply Heaven on a plate. Period. 

1. Firecracker Duck Wings (Carthay Circle-California Adventure)
If you like spicy, then this is THE appetizer for you! These duck wings are fried and then tossed in a lime and Sriracha sauce that left me on the verge of licking the plate, canceling my entree, and ordering another round. Seriously, do not ask me to share these. Get your own!

So there you have it, the 10 best things to eat while at the Disneyland Resort, Obviously, there are many other great things to eat while there as well. What are some of your favorites?