Tuesday, March 31, 2015


A little over a year ago, I got a crazy idea that I wanted to add "running coach" to my fitness resume.  I have been a fitness pro for a little over 14 years, sometimes working full-time, but mostly just doing it for fun while holding down a "real job".  I hold quite a few certifications and licenses, and once I found my love for running, I knew coaching was something I wanted to do!

Of course, there's nothing that says you have to be certified to call yourself a coach, but it's a general rule I follow in life.  I feel like someone needs to say, "You have the knowledge to charge people money for your 'expert' advice." Now, I've been giving running advice for free for a while; in fact, I've been formally coaching for free too to gain experience and have some good testimonials to say, "Hey, this chick knows what she's talking about!"  I've also been a fitness coach/personal trainer for years, so it's not THAT big of a stretch...but I digress...

You can't tell...but it's a BIG BOOK!
Two weeks ago, I finally had the opportunity to attend the Road Runners Club of America's Coach Certification Course in Denver, CO.  These courses are not offered very often, so when there was one kind of close, I jumped on the chance to do it!  The course consisted of a few activities before we arrived, but mostly 18 hours, in a room, talking about running.  I never talked so much about running without ever lacing up a shoe!

Honestly, though, I learned a TON--and I feel like I had already known a lot.  I've "coached" myself through 5 marathons, Dopey, tons of halves and shorter distances, and figured I was pretty knowledgeable about training plans, etc.  I was, but there was a lot more to know.  Once those 2 days were over, we had 30 days to complete the exam.  100 questions.  Had to get 85% or higher.  Some questions were easy, others took a lot of thought, but at the end of the day I PASSED!!!!!  95% (and of course, I just am dying to know the 5 questions I missed...and yes, they will send them to me eventually).  I'm so excited!!!!!

Now, I just need to renew my First Aid and CPR (which I'm doing Friday) and I am a fully-certified RRCA Running Coach!  I cannot wait to coach runners online and, someday, in person and develop this side of my business.

2015 is really shaping up to be an amazing year of me chasing my dreams--I can't wait to see my year in review come December!  Seriously people--go after your goals!  You'll never regret taking a risk on yourself.  Any other coaches out there?  I'd love to connect and here how you got started coaching!  Have you ever used a running coach? 

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Dooney Love

Did you see the new Dooneys for the 2015 Tinker Bell Half Marathon?

A few weeks ago, I (Joann) was looking at one of the regular backpacks online at the Disney Store and thinking, "I'm going to splurge". I just wasn't sure about the closure because it was a leather pull and the reviews said the top was basically open.

And then today I saw the Tink backpack.  Love at first sight!  What a wonderful way to celebrate my first 10K (and Mother's Day, too)!

So I text Alyson, who is supposed to keep me sane and talk me out of it, but, she gave me the go ahead. She said I deserve it. That makes 2 votes.

Oh yes I did!!!

Are you getting a Dooney & Bourke on Tink Half Weekend?
(the link to pre-order is below)

Exclusive Dooney & Bourke Purses

Celebrate with an exclusive Dooney & Bourke purse, featuring a unique runDisney inspired design commemorating the 2015 Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend. Purchase yours today!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Adventures in Rebranding

About a year and half ago, when I came up with the idea for this blog, I never imagined what the next 18 months would bring.  I had always enjoyed fitness.  There was a short time it was my full time job, but I thought those days were behind me.  Fast forward a year and a surgery, and I've really changed my tune.

I've decided to move toward making fitness my business.  Maybe even my full time business again. I'm getting certified as a running coach, and I already work as a group exercise instructor and as a personal trainer.  I'm a Beachbody Coach, too.  Of course, with all of that, this blog could easily turn into ramblings of training plans, nutritional advice, and invitations to join me in my next challenge, but that's not what it was intended to be.  We (by my crazy brain working overtime and inviting my family along) wanted to put this out there because we all love to runDisney and we want others to join us in running at Disney too.  It's a confusing world, so we try to decipher it and give you our best advice from experience.  It was never created with business in mind, which is why you never see ads, sidebars, etc on here, and I don't want to change that!

All that being said, I've made some business decisions that will include SOME rebranding--don't unfollow just yet, though!  This blog will remain the same!!!!  We will continue to blog here as a family and share all of our adventures in Disney, from travel to running to training to...well...any and all things Disney, but mostly running.

What will be changing, though, is our other social media.  If you follow us on Twitter or Instagram, the user names are changing to follow suit with my new business.  I would love for you to join me on that adventure too and follow along for fitness advice, training tips, and coaching nuggets!

So...drum roll please...I'd like to introduce to you Fit Fun Life, my new coaching business!  All things fun about fitness--from fun runs to dancing to 21 Day Fix-ing, to recipes to business consulting.  I've got over 13 years in the fitness industry and tons of experience with many different areas.  It's time I start to "Live My Passion" (it's my team name) and share what I love with the world.  I hope you join me in some of those adventures too... and of course, continue to follow me and my whole family as we take on all runDisney has to offer! 

Head over to Facebook and give my page a "Like"!!!  I'll be announcing my first runDisney specific coaching group soon--I've got SO MANY fun things planned!!!  I hope you'll join me!!!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Race Report: Princess Half Marathon Expo

Since this is our year of running Disney, I had to try my hand at my very first Princess Half Marathon weekend.  Since the course is the same as the January races, I have never gone down for these races.  This weekend is the second-largest of the runDisney races.  This year, when they announced the Frozen theme, I was in for all the races.  That meant I had to be at the expo on the first day to pick up my packets…well…and of course SHOP! 

5k Swag
The expo opened at 10 am on Wednesday, February 18th.  Knowing we would have three early mornings coming up, we slept in a little and had a breakfast at our hotel.  We were at our bus a little after 9:30, but we waited a long time for a bus, and ended up having to get a second bus.  It was freezing, but we made the best of it and talked to many other runners. 

Glass Slipper Swag
We got to the expo and headed straight to the official runDisney booth.  I had my eyes on a wine glass and a jacket.  We got everything but the Magic Band pretty quickly and headed to checkout.  The lines were HUGE, but they were very well organized and it went fast.  Unfortunately, the Magic Bands were only at the other location, so off we went to the next official booth.  Since we were there, I also picked up a Sweaty Band and got my hubby the cutest shirt—“My favorite Disney princess is my wife” (but he wouldn’t let me take a picture of him in it).  He’s such a trooper! 

Just SOME of the damage I did at the expo!
Once the stress of getting the official merchandise was done, I leisurely moved toward getting my bibs, my shirts, and my free bookmark.  I also picked up a new Raw Threads shirt for the Tink 10k.  We were able to spend some time checking out booths and had a snack before heading back to the hotel.  We tried to scam ourselves a spot in the New Balance booth—the newer shoes are pretty cute, but our return time was too late.  Guess I know what’s on my list for Tink! 

Just like most expos, this one was BUSY and a little stressful, but filled with awesome stuff!  It always seems to take much longer to get through the expo than what I had planned.  If it’s your first time, definitely plan at least 3-4 hours to check out all of the cool stuff.  Disney goes ALL OUT for Princess—I think this was the best merchandise and expo for women.  Sorry guys, this one is all about the ladies.  It was definitely an indication of the rest of the weekend, too.  Honestly, even at the expo I knew this would be a race I’d return to in the future!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Race Report: Surf City Half Marathon

A few months ago, I entered a random drawing on one of my fave blogger’s pages, Patty from My No Guilt Life.  I won, and with that won 2 entries into the Surf City Marathon or Half.  I quickly texted my family, and I knew my cousin Kelly was planning on running, so the two of us signed up (thanks again to Patty!).  She was going to take on the full marathon, I was only doing the half.  It was two weeks after Star Wars and three weeks after Goofy.  I knew there would be no way to do the full! 

Thanks to my hubby, we got to stay at the host hotel for free (yippee for Hilton points), and it was literally right across from the start, finish, and expo.  Score!  This is the way to roll when you do races!  The expo was well organized, albeit a bit crowded, and the race swag was great.  The shirts were long-sleeved and pretty colored.  You also got a great reusable bag and the vendors had great offers.  It took all I had to not register for a few more races while I was there.  I didn’t get any official merchandise, but from browsing, there were a lot of great options.  There were even fun photos to take. 

This race was also a comedy of errs for me when it came to packing.  It felt like I literally forgot everything!  About 2 hours into my drive to California I realized I forgot my Garmin and my Galloway timer.  Yes, I considered turning around, but decided that would really be crazy.  I also forgot my ibuprophen, which I desperately needed due to some dental work I had just had done and my hair brush.  Those were forgivable, but the Garmin nearly killed me!  And for the record, yes, I looked to see if there were any on clearance or something, but I just couldn’t justify spending money on one when I had a great one at home.

On the day of the race, in true forgetful fashion, we were up around 6 to get ready.  The full started at 6:30 and I was convinced that the half started at 7:15.  We watched the marathon get started, then a friend posted on FB about his 8:05 start time.  Good thing he did…the half didn’t start until 7:45.  Ugh!  Luckily our hotel was so close I was able to go back to the room and relax for another half hour. 

We headed down a few minutes before the start (seriously…this hotel thing was the BEST), and I was off pretty quickly.  No timer, so I just used some music to gage about how long I was running, then counted out steps for a walk break.  The course was really flat and the coastline was beautiful.  It was a bit warmer than I would have hoped for, and if we did start earlier like I thought, I think it would have been perfect.  The only trouble I had was the electrolyte drink they were using on the course did not sit well with me (again…proper planning would have avoided this).  Luckily, though, they also had Clif Bloks and those were great!  It was really well organized and there was plenty of aid stations fully staffed.  Funny enough, I kept missing mile markers, and since I didn’t have my Garmin, I had a lot of time to just get lost in the run.  I love runs like this, but I usually prefer them in training, not on race day!

It really warmed up the last 4 miles, but I kept my pace and kept focusing on passing people in front of me as I ran.  You can almost forget that there is beautiful shores right next to you as you run, but I made sure to soak it in as much as I could. 

The finish line was quick and the medal was great.  Again, plenty of food and drink at the finish, and well organized.  I even got a huge shout out as I crossed from John Pelke of The Marathon Show—he was one of the race announcers and happened to also design our running team shirts, which I was wearing.  I met up with my hubby, and he quickly told me that our cousin was in the medic tent and was pulled from the course.  She had hurt her foot around mile 8—might be broken or a ligament tear.  Either way, it was a good idea to stop and get some medical attention.  We had to wade our way back to the tent, and she was ready to get her beer and forget the whole experience.  We then headed to the finish line to watch her boyfriend finish his first marathon—and John gave him a great shout out too!  I wish I had taken more pictures at the finish and gotten more creative…or at least gone to the beach for one pic.  Oh well…guess I’ll just need to run it again!

All in all, Surf City is an awesome race!  I would totally do it again!  The course was quick and beautiful, the expo was great, and they really took good care of the runners.  I guess the only drawback is if you’re a football fan, it’s always on Super Bowl Sunday (but we were done in plenty of time to watch the game).  Oh…and the best part: Even without a Garmin, I had a post-surgery PR of 2:15!  But, of course, my first thought was, “Darn, if I had known that, I would have pushed a little more.”  Guess that’s just my competitive, “there’s always room for improvement” way of thinking.
My 2015 count...so far: 5 races, 3 halves, 1st Surf City

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Mom's Take on Every Mile is Magic

I have been struggling with my training for the Tinkerbell 10k.   I’ve been doubting myself and wondered why the heck I signed up for this.  It has been an awful winter.   Snow after snow, and in between that, single digit and even negative temps.  This does not agree with my arthritic knee and back.   I would get up to go to the gym and easily convince myself I could start tomorrow.  I actually kept searching for new, shorter, training programs.

How did I get here?  In 2012, Alyson decided it would be a wonderful Mother’s Day gift to give me an entry in the 2013 WDW Marathon weekend 5K.   During the race, at mile 3, I told her to go on without me …I couldn’t do it.  She actually had to shake me and point out the finish line up ahead.  This was my “aha moment”.  The gift my daughter gave me has changed my life. 

I knew I had to do something, so I went on a strict diet and lost 70lbs.   I realized I needed to get healthy.  I wanted to see if I could do this 5k thing again.  I did.   Alyson and I did the Jingle Jungle 5k and I did much better.  I realized having this race goal kept me focused on healthy eating and
exercising.  I decided to tag along with the rest of the family in 2014 during the Disneyland Half Weekend.   I did even better at that 5k.

I thought about runDisney’s tag line “every mile is magic”. To me every mile IS magic.   I love Disney.  I have lots of family memories at WDW and I’m making new ones with .my daughter and “son” in law at both WDW and Disneyland.  I've adopted this as my running mantra.

I found in order to continue my healthy lifestyle, I need to have a goal.   For me, Disney races make the perfect goal.   Each mile reminds me of how far I’ve come.   Each mile holds a memory dear to my heart.  My love of Disney gives me incentive to want to do this.   And, frankly, running through Disney distracts me from what I’m actually doing.  I find myself enjoying the atmosphere, marveling at everyone’s costumes, soaking up the cheers from the spectators.    As a reward for signing up for a race, I get to go to Disney!     

So, when I’m asked how I keep the weight off, I talk about how I am training for another Disney race.  Alyson has given me a training program for March and April.  I’m trying to stick with it.  I’m not sure how I’ll do at the 10k.   Maybe I should be happy doing the shorter races.   But I signed up for this one and I’m not going to back down.  Finish or not, I’m going to try.  So if you see me on the course, say hi and know I'm enjoying every magic mile!


Sunday, March 8, 2015

Race Report: 2015 Star Wars Half Marathon (Rebel Challenge Part 2)

Sunday, January 18th was the Inaugural Star Wars Half Marathon and Part 2 of the Inaugural Rebel Challenge.  If you missed out on Part 1, check it out HERE.

If you read it, you know that I was sick for this race weekend.  My hubby and I ended up shortening our day at Disneyland on Saturday and getting back to the hotel early.  A quick trip to Target for every kind of medicine they had, and I was out cold by 6 pm.  With that, though, the 3:30 am wake-up call didn’t sting as much as it usually does.  For maybe the first time ever, I woke up with pretty good energy.  Unfortunately, I was still sick, so I was sure to pack plenty of cough drops and tissues for the race.

The Training is Strong with This One
We did our usual morning routine and caught the bus to Disneyland.  We knew the starting area from the day before, and definitely did not get there too early or too late.  Just enough time to hit up my favorite bathroom (the Lego bathroom) and my 2 port-o-potties (since I checked a bag, we had 2 chances to go).  This morning, we split up because I had finally got a corral A bib!!!  I’m not a fast runner, so it really was luck, but there I was, lined up with all the fast folks.  Let me tell you…you get SPOILED in that corral!  It makes me want to train even harder to crush my PR...just for the corral placement! 

Corral A was off swiftly at 5:30 am.  I was using a 3/1 run/walk/run formula.  Actually, I got to talk a little to Jeff Galloway at the start about how his method has really helped me after surgery.  He and his wife, Barbara, are always so kind!  Corral A perks!  Oh, and of course there was a guy in a FULL ON Wookie costume!  Don’t know how he did it, but later that morning I did see him, and he finished, still in costume. 

Last selfie before the start!
The first bit was similar to the previous morning, but it took you down a little different path through the parks.  Still no castle, and still very different from the September race.  You had a good mile + in before entering the parks.  Some of the effects and details were the same as the previous day.  This morning, Darth was at Star Tours, and the line was still huge!  I somewhat raced this one, trying to get a decent time, so no stops, no pictures.  My pace was great and there were no spots that were overcrowded.  Corral A perks!

After Disneyland and DCA you head out onto the streets.  Having done the Disneyland Half many times, these street miles were so much better!!!!!  It was flat and the roads were in better condition.  There were new things to look at, and they even brought you down to this cute Main Street area of Garden Grove.  Oh, and I got to run/walk for a while with Sean Astin.  Corral A perks! 

I think my favorite street part was around mile 11-12 when the up and back crossed us with the back of the pack runners.  A lot of these folks are first-time half marathoners, some coming back from injury (and I know all about that one), some walkers (which honestly, I think requires more determination than running a half), and all the time with the fear of the balloon ladies in their minds.  I loved getting to cheer for them, give tons of high fives, and even see some of my friends from my running team (shout out to the Mickey Milers).  It was the perfect boost for me, and I hope it was a boost for some of them too. 

Done--Bling Collected!
At around mile 12 the course turns by the convention center and you are back to Disney, finishing in the Downtown Disney area.  I was rationing myself—one tissue and one cough drop per mile.  It actually worked great, because I ended up running a 2:17 half!  This was my fastest time since surgery, and I really felt like I was back.  I didn’t let being sick be an excuse.  I ran hard, and even had a little fun too.  I think the cough drops were the magic bullet.

I collected my medals: the half, the challenge, and my coast to coast.  Clanking along, I got my food and headed to get my bag and wait for my hubby.  The medals were awesome!  My 2015 collection was already impressive, and it was only January.  I made sure to get my coast to coast picture with the Goofy & Rebel Challenges together. 

Even being sick, I definitely give this race an A.  The only thing, which always happens, was the lack of merchandise for those of us who couldn’t be there on the first day of the expo.  This is just the way it is now for runDisney.  If you really want something, you have to get there early. 

My Coast to Coast Within 9 Days!
After I met up with the hubs, we headed to our bus to get back to the hotel—EPIC RACE FAIL!  This is important for anyone running next year—if you stay on Katella, you can’t get back to your hotel by bus or car until the race is over!!!!  This was a total fail on my part!!!  I never thought to look at the course map and where our hotel fell on the map.  It was too far to walk, and smack in the middle of the last few miles.  They let us on the bus, but once on we waited almost 2 hours to get going to the hotel.  If I had known, I would have brought our park passes, gotten breakfast, or at least brought warmer clothes.  Note for all Disneyland runs: check the course and be sure you can get back to your hotel!  Now I know for the future, and so do you!

So…are you planning on taking on the Rebel Challenge in 2016?  If you ran, how did you do? 

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Race Report: 2015 Star Wars 10k

I’ve been running so much, I haven’t had time to recap races—get ready—there’s lots coming your way!  

Just a few days after coming home from Disney World, I was packing up again to head to Disneyland for the Inaugural 2015 Star Wars weekend!  This was a much-anticipated race, and I’m not even a huge Star Wars fan!  I knew it would be a blast and Disney would do it big, and boy, they did not disappoint.

Every once in a while, I actually HAVE to work, so I couldn’t get away to be at the expo on the day it opened.  I knew this meant I would miss out on some of the merchandise, and I definitely did.  In fact, I ended up with nothing from the runDisney official booth.  I went on Friday morning, parked at Downtown Disney (it’s free for 2 hours) and pretty much made it in and out within that time.  The expo ran very similar to the Disneyland Half Weekend, with the bib pickup being on the lower “parking” level of the Disneyland Hotel and the merchandise being in the ballroom.  They continued with the current practice of taking your photo for the challenges, and that was right next to bib pickup.  I would imagine that Thursday was madness, but by Friday the expo was pretty manageable.  With that said, I saw tons of cute stuff I wish I could have had the chance to purchase.  Maybe next time…

The 10k started at 5:30, so we were in for an early wake-up call.  My hubby and I were running the 10k together, focusing on all the fun and not so much on time.  I’ve always been a procrastinator, but this took the cake-I was actually sewing my costume at 3:00 in the morning, the day of the race.  It didn’t help that I was nursing a cold I got sometime in Disney the prior weekend, and all I wanted to do was sleep.  It turned out pretty good, if I do say so myself, and I got a ton of compliments on the course. 

We stayed at a hotel on Katella Ave, so we used the Good Neighbor Hotel Transportation which is free for the weekend for runners (be sure to stop by the transportation booth at the expo for vouchers).  It was definitely too far to walk, so this was a great option!  No one is awake enough to drive at that hour!  We walked from the buses to the start to meet up with some friends; we honestly were running a bit late.  The start line was right outside Paradise Pier hotel, which left only one bank of port-o-potties for me to hit prior to the race start.  I’m a bit of a ritualistic personality when it comes to races…two stops for me.  I figured I’d be okay since it was a 10k. 

We started in corral B.  Instantly we were impressed by the costumes and theme of the start line.  I cannot say enough how much I love 10ks at Disneyland!  They have so much more park time, and it seriously flies by!  We were off quickly heading away from Downtown Disney. 

We started in Disneyland.  Even though this park is usually all about fantasy, they really kept the theme going—there was no princess in sight!  Tomorrowland was where the best action was, and the line for Darth was HUGE!  We opted to not stop for characters and just enjoy the scenery.  I did sneak a little Stormtrooper action in the background.  Oh, and because it just makes sense, don’t be surprised that you don’t run through the castle.  That wouldn’t be very Star Wars like…

Once you exit Disneyland, you head into DCA through the front entrance.  Even the marque had the theme going on! 

We always love our Tower of Terror pic—we are starting to collect these from quite a few races.  Maybe we should come up with a new pose?

We came up around the back of DCA and we were done.  It was a great race!  Great finish line, great bling, great runners, just all around a great race.  Even though I’m not a Star Wars aficionado, I would definitely run this course again!  I’m definitely recycling this costume too—it was one of the best I’ve ever done.  I considered a Wookie Princess, but chickened out.  Look out for it soon, though.  I can’t wait to wear it again!

Up next, the Star Wars Half Marathon, and Part 2 of the Rebel Challenge!