Tuesday, November 25, 2014

BTC Triple Crown Challenge...36.3 Miles, Mission Complete!

Welcome to my Birmingham Track Club Triple Crown Challenge Recap!
     Training for a 48.6 mile race that takes place over the course of four days (aka runDisney's DopeyChallenge) is just tough. It takes determination. It takes focus. It takes ALOT of willpower. Quite frankly, it can be exhausting and mentally draining at times. Training for me began on June 1st so I knew going into it that there were to be a ton of miles to run between June and January.  When I decided to register for the 2015 Dopey Challenge, I knew how long I would be training and I knew that I would need to mix up my long runs. But hey, I wanted to run with my peeps anyways so this was just another way for us to meet up on the weekends. Not too shabby of a plan.

      There's one thing that I know for sure...my friends are just crazy and I love each and every one of them dearly. They make me laugh, keep me in the right frame of mind, they call me out if I'm being a pansy, they keep me motivated and they are absolute FOOLS when it comes to making fun of each other. And please oh please don't let there be a staircase for them to run up and down after a race...because that's what they do. They are insane. Most of this insanity unfolds on my Facebook on a daily basis and I love it. All of this to say...AKA: They rock my running world!

2014 Birmingham Track Club Triple Crown Bling!
Earned Double the Bling!
     I decided that if I was going to be running a ridiculous amount of mileage, I might as well run those long runs and earn a few medals along the way. I registered for the Birmingham Track Club Triple Crown Challenge. This is where you run (3) Half Marathons within three months for a total of 36.3 miles. The races that were included in the Triple Crown Challenge were the Talladega Half Marathon in Talladega, Al. (September), the UCP Life Without Limits Half Marathon in Florence, Alabama (October) and the Magic City Half Marathon in Birmingham, Alabama. (November). After each race, you receive a medal and then you receive an additional medal upon completion of all three races. Bring on the Bling!

     There were four of us that completed all three races together, earning the extra medal. The other friends either ran one or two of the three and if they weren't there for whatever reason, they were at home cheering us on. #BEST.

Talladega Half Marathon:
2014 Talladega Half Marathon Bling!
     13.1 Miles around the Nascar Talladega Superspeedway....Kachow! This is one of my most favorite races. I've ran it five years now and plan to always run it. I mean, how can you go wrong with running around an official NASCAR track. Who am I? Tom Petty?? Oh wait, wrong Petty. Lol. Just kidding Richard and Kyle...I know my Petty boys, I grew up about 15 minutes from this Nascar track!
Come on....it doesn't get much better than this!
Running on the Nascar track!

     Talk about feeling like a Superstar...oh yeah, that's me as I'm lapping around the racetrack like a winner.  The race benefits Prostate Cancer and finishes on Pit Row with a great after party in the pit garages full of Beer, Bands and BBQ! It's Dega Baby!!
Before we headed to the Start Line of Talladega Half!
Earned the Bling!
Hanging out on Pit Row with the Peeps!
Start Line with my Sis!
This is a race we always meet up for!
Finished this race with Rachel....super fun!
UCP Life Without Limits Half Marathon:
2014 Life Without Limits Half Marathon Bling!
     Life Without Limits Half Marathon in Florence Alabama takes you on a 13.1 mile scenic tour of beautiful Florence, Alabama., crossing over the Tennesee River twice and running us through corn fields! I'm not kidding...I loved that!  Proceeds went to United Cerebral Palsy and the community came out in tremendous support for this cause! After the race, we ate a DELICIOUS BBQ Chicken meal complete with all of the fixins'. Welcome to Alabama ya'll!
Running over the Tennessee River!
Seriously. A quarter of a BBQ chicken for a post race meal...
Now THAT'S what I'm talking about!
Earned the Bling!
This is our "One of these are not like the others pic"
Could be the guy with the banana stuffed in his mouth, just sayin'. 
Magic City Half Marathon:
2014 Magic City Half Marathon Bling!
     The Magic City Half Marathon located in Birmingham, Alabama takes you on a "running" tour of some of Birminghams legendary Sporting locations. We passed by Legion Field, (Home of the 1996 Olympics), Rickwood Field (The oldest Ballpark Stadium in the country) and finished up at the new Regions Park in Downtown (Home of the Birmingham Barons). This is a great course, great post-race venue with lots of craft beer on tap and they hit it out of the ballpark this year with the medal. It was PRETTY SWEET!
Rickwood Field Selfie!
Earned the Bling!
After the Finish at Magic City Half
     The race benefits the Ruben Studdard Foundation for the Advancement of Children in the Music Arts. Ruben Studdard, American Idol Second season winner, always helps out on race day either handing out awards, making announcements, running the race and cheering on the runners. Let's just say....I've been known to bust a move with Ruben post-race. Just sayin'. I'm proud to say that I've helped out on the committee for this race since day one. This is a race that will always be near and dear to my heart! Love that sweet Hometown boy.
Ruben gave me the thumbs up on the Bling!
     Overall, I can honestly say that training for a big marathon event like Dopey Challenge really doesn't suck the life out of me too bad.....I would run these races with my friends a million times again even if I wasn't "in training". We ran in the heat at Dega, in the cold in Florence and in the rain at Magic City. Three completely different races, three completely different courses, three completely different cities but three of the best experiences that I've had. I owe it all to my peeps who continue to make me laugh and keep me doing what I love to do. And oh yeah, those Race Directors and Committees for these races....You're not so bad either! See ya next year Triple Crown Challenge, me and my peeps will be coming for that triple bling again! :)

For more information on The Birmingham Triple Crown Challenge, please visit BirminghamTrackClub.com.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Build Your Race Calendar with Rock 'n' Roll Tour Pass! #MyRNRTour

Register Today for prices as low as $59 then build your personalized race calendar and share your plans!
     One of the things that I really dig about the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon Series is that occasionally they will do a quick one-day sale! The prices are really good and worth getting in on the action! Today, for one day only, they are offering prices as low as $59! Gosh!! That's insanely inexpensive for a quality race.

What is a Tour Pass? 
--With a Rock ‘n’ Roll TourPass, choose from several registration packages and gain entry to multiple Rock ‘n’ Roll events during the calendar year.

Choose from these races/locations: 
Dec 06 - 07, 2014San Antonio, TX
Jan 17 - 18, 2015Arizona
Jan 25, 2015New Orleans, LA
Mar 14, 2015Washington DC
Mar 15, 2015Mexico City, Mexico
Mar 22, 2015Dallas, TX
Mar 29, 2015San Francisco, CA
Mar 29, 2015Carlsbad, CA
Apr 12, 2015Raleigh, NC
Apr 25, 2015Nashville, TN
Apr 26, 2015Madrid, Spain
May 17, 2015Portland, OR
May 29, 2015San Diego, CA
Jun 13, 2015Seattle, WA
Jun 14, 2015Liverpool, UK
Jul 18 - 19, 2015Chicago, IL
Aug 02, 2015Dublin, Ireland
Sep 05 - 06, 2015Virginia Beach, VA
Sep 20, 2015Montreal
Sep 26 - 27, 2015San Jose, CA
Oct 18, 2015Denver, CO
Oct 18, 2015Lisbon, Portugal
Oct 17 - 18, 2015St. Louis, MO
Oct 25, 2015Los Angeles, CA **
Oct 25, 2015Vancouver, BC
Nov 07, 2015Savannah, GA
Nov 13 - 15, 2015Las Vegas, NV
TBAPhiladelphia, PA

Hurry over to RunRocknRoll.com to learn more information as to how you can snag your own Tour Pass! 

I know that I have at least 3, maybe four Rock 'n' Roll events on my calendar for 2015. Hope to see you there!

Happy Running and Happy Shopping! 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

My ContourSide Pillow by Relax The Back Review #SideSleeper

Stress Free Mail Day!
Welcome to my ContourSide Pillow Review by Relax The Back
  I have been under a tremendous amount of stress lately so when I was selected to review The ContourSide Pillow from Relax The Back as part of a Fitfluential Campaign, I was BEYOND excited. I've said it one million times... I just don't get enough sleep! Lack of Sleep=Stress. 

     Being a runner, I am always just pounding my joints and I know that my back and posture suffer because of it. I wouldn't say that I have back pain but I would say that I use the heck out of my foam roller. I couldn't live without trying to take care of my back in some way.  In my next life as a runner, I will be able to afford weekly massages and really take care of myself but as it is now, I just do what I can minus the massages so getting quality sleep should help. :)

Let's Talk Sleep.
      The first question that I asked myself when I received this pillow in the mail was..."How do I really sleep?"  It takes me all of about 5 minutes or less to fall asleep once I lay down. I don't really toss and turn too much and I'm definitely a side sleeper. I sleep like a log. I don't get up in the middle of the night. I'm not a snuggler. I like my space. I am a BEAR if you wake me up for no reason while I am sleeping.  My problem is not falling asleep and staying asleep, it's more the unwinding and actually shutting down my brain and getting into the bed. I'm a night owl so my brain is swirling at that time of the day.  TMI, I know but hey, we're talking sleep so there ya have it.

     I checked the website and figured out that I was going to order the ContourSide Pillow in a size Large. It stated that the Large was for people who are 5'10" and taller with broad shoulders. I'm definitely not a tiny mite and am about 5'8" so I figured that was close enough and I ordered it.  Plus....my hubby is 6ft tall so I thought he may like to try out my new pillow.....maybe. Most likely I will not let him near it. Sorry hubby but you know that it's true. ;)

     When it arrived in the mail, it was HUGE! I had no idea just how flat my pillows at home are now until I tried this one out. The dimensions are 24"x12"x5". That's 5" deep. It has a cradle in the center so my head just kinda sinks down into it while providing great support. I had no back pain for sure when I woke up the next morning. Here's to great nights of sleep ahead!

     I slept on it last night and the one thing that I realized is that I don't just sleep on a pillow, I actually turn the pillow kind of sideways and use the whole thing to wrap up on. I'm pretty sure that I sleep with my mouth open when I'm really tired and I dream ridiculously. Kind of weird I know, but hey...again, we're talking sleep and we've all got our quirks. So mine is laying sideways with a pillow and dreaming!?  Definitely not the worst habits in the world!
This is me about to test out the ContourSide Pillow by Relax The Back for the first time.
It's kinda hard to take a serious "I'm about to go to sleep pic". ;)
More information on the ContourSide Pillow by Relax The Back:
More Facts on the ContourSide Pillow
The pillow’s airflow system maximizes airflow to improve breathing. Cream, cotton velour cover is removable for washing. The full facial cradle offers soothing comfort while reducing pressure on the jaw and ear and the shoulder cradle provides orthopedically correct support for the head and neck, which means proper spinal alignment, less impact from body weight on the shoulder, and improved circulation. 

Latex free pillow and cover:
Standard: (3", 4", and 5"): 24"x12"
Travel: (3" or 4"): 16"L x 12"W

Sizing Chart:
Travel: (available in Small 3" and Medium 4")
Small: 3" - For 5'4" and shorter.
Medium: 4" - For 5'5" and taller
Large: 5" - For 5'10" and taller with broad shoulders
Please allow 5-10 business days for order processing and ground shipping.

Facebook Contest:
Now for the fun part! You can WIN your own ContourSide Pillow by heading over to Relax The Back's Facebook Page and either liking or leaving a comment on the photo below. Good Luck! I would love it if one of my readers actually won their own pillow!!

**For more information on the ContourSide Pillow by Relax The Back and other great products, please visit RelaxTheBack.com or visit your local Relax The Back Store for your personal pillow fitting.

Marathon Weekends at Hilton Bonnet Creek

Welcome to my Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek #MarathonWeekends Review!
 Rarely ever do I stay off property when I visit Walt Disney World Resort for Marathon Weekends, however, last week I had the opportunity to stay over at Hilton Bonnet Creek Resort to check out their Race Amenities and Runners' Retreat....and WOW. I'm so glad that I did. Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek and Waldorf Astoria Orlando offer runners a VIP experience fit for an athlete!

     I was thoroughly impressed with this resort. From the resort itself, to the race amenites, to the transportation, to the service....perfect! I am already making plans to stay again during future runDisney event weekends.

     Marathon Weekends are currently available for the following races:

Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend, January 7-11, 2015--Complimentary transportation is provided to and from the races on January 10&11.

Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend, February 19-22, 2015--Complimentary transportation is provided to and from the race on February 22.
Wine and Dine Half Marathon Weekend at Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek
     I want to do a few posts on my experience as one will post will simply not do it justice.
The walkway in between Hilton Bonnet Creek and Waldorf Astoria.
     I honestly had no idea that the Hilton Bonnet Creek Resort and Waldorf Astoria were so closely related. I knew that they were located in the same area but once I checked in, I was taken on a guided tour of both resorts and there were SO many things to do at both resorts! They are huge and can accommodate lots of guests, activities and events.

There was a also a Disney gift shop located inside of the lobby of Hilton Bonnet Creek.
I enjoyed going back to my resort after a full day in the parks and doing some of my shopping there.
All of the comforts of "Home". 

      When I think of describing Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek and Waldorf Astoria Orlando, one word comes to mind. LUXURY. I really felt like I was on a relaxing vacation. With all of the hustle and bustle in the Disney Parks, it was just nice to come back at the end of the day to a relaxed environment. The details of the hotels were beautiful, the meals in the restaurants were delicious and the service in my room....well it was just perfection.
Beautiful Chandy Candy in the stairwell at Hilton Bonnet Creek.
My room at Waldorf Astoria Orlando

     Attention to detail is everything. As a runner, I REALLY appreciated that from the resort. The little things just meant so much. More to come about those details....
This table FULL of fruit infused water was by far one of my favorite amenities in the lobby at Hilton Bonnet Creek. From a runners' perspective, one of the main things I'm always aware of is my hydration before a race. Every time would walk by this table, I would grab a cup of this deliciousness!

A Snack Basket that is available for additional charge
 that can be delivered right to your room! 

      Another concern that I had while staying at the Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek versus staying on property was the convenience factor.  On this trip, I drove my car so leaving the resort and going over to the parks was a breeze. These resorts are located near other Walt Disney World Resorts so I had no issues navigating my way around. The transportation stations were conveniently located just outside of the resort lobby and ran on a schedule. No guess work. Shuttles were on time also. HUGE plus when you are trying to make it to the race on time. The shuttle schedule can also be found on your smartphone at www.bonnetshuttle.com. How cool is that??
Race Transportation signs throughout the hotel to guide the runners.

     I was concerned about dining options before I checked in. Would there be things that I liked? I'm a picky eater before I run...will I be able to eat foods that I normally eat before a run? Would the options be too expensive at the hotel?

      Upon check-in, I was given a list of 12 restaurants to choose from at both resorts and I have to say that there was MORE THAN ENOUGH variety to choose from. Prices ranged from inexpensive to very expensive depending on your taste. Again, I was very pleased with these options.
La Luce by Donna Scala.
Modern Italian Country kitchen serves dinner nightly and features thin crust pizzas, family style pastas, Meditterranean-inspired drinks and a Trattoria-style wine program.
La Luce is a runners' dream restaurant!
How cute are these cookies?!
Perfect post-race yummy found in Muse, 24 Hour Pastry Shop and Coffee Bar located on the lobby level at Hilton Bonnet Creek.

Zeta Bar...Sushi Bar and Lounge
Sushi is MY favorite way to carb-load!
Grab a burger while laying by the pool at Beech!

Runners Retreat:
     As a guest of Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek or Waldorf Astoria Orlando, runners who are running the runDisney events are given a Runner's Resort Guide to inform them of all of the activities that will be taking place over the Marathon Weekend at the two resorts.

     Runners check in with the Runners' Concierge where they receive information regarding Marathon Bus Transportation, runDisney Health and Fitness Expo information, Race information, Hotel information and various running supplies. The Runners' Concierge was available for several hours on Friday and Saturday during runDisney Wine and Dine Half Marathon Weekend.
Runners' Concierge
What is available at Runners Retreat???
     Runners' Retreat at Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek is just a weekend full of FUN!!! My goodness, they have created their own hashtag, #MarathonWeekends and basically rolled out the red carpet for their guests!! Before boarding the buses to the race, guests arrived outside of the the lobby for "THE BIG SEND OFF" and were treated to tables FULL of granola bars, Power Bars, Water, Bananas, Coffees, Teas, Ponchos and even Glow in the dark necklaces!! There were photo opps, fun signs, dancing, group pics and party music!! Again, the attention to detail was just phenomenal.
The Hilton team behind the #MarathonWeekends Fun!

Time to run a night race...LET'S GLOW!!!
The runners meeting outside of the lobby before boarding the bus!
Runner Fuel! Bananas, Power Bars, and TOYO Granola bars!
Hot Coffee and Encouragement.
Anyone that knows me knows just how much this one
little cup of brew means to me before and after a race. :)
Thank you #MarathonWeekends.

     I sat comfortably on cozy couches sipping on hot coffee and watched as the runners boarded the buses and listened to the Marathon Weekends coordinators coordinate the party events. One of the things that I was MOST impressed with was that evening the rain chances were predicted to be 90-100%. The hotel wanted to make sure that the runners had ponchos to take to the race with them. They thought the runners may be cold and wet on the bus ride back so they loaded the bus down with fresh towels to use. I absolutely LOVED that they were making decisions at the last minute with the runners in mind. It was not about budget or things that were already in place but about making sure that the runners needs were met. To me, as a runner, those are the types of things that make the difference in a good experience and a GREAT experience. The HOT COFFEE was a major score with me too. :)
The runners took the Disney Cruise Line bus to the start of the race.
Nice and Comfy!

Hot Tea Station.
A variety of creamers and sweeteners.

     Guests could also participate in "Hilton Bonnet Creek's Runner's Challenge"---Participants of The Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon have a chance to WIN A WEEKEND STAY at Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek by predicting their expected finish time. Entry forms were given to the runners and the runner closest to his or her time will be named the winner. Super fun contest!

Harvest Bistro located on the Hilton Ground Level.
Carb Loading at "Harvest Bistro"....One of the most popular restaurants at Hilton Bonnet Creek, offers a "carb-loading" dinner menu pre-race $16 per person, plus tax and service charge. I thought that this was an excellent value for the menu that was offered. Guests who have reserved the Marathon Weekend rate will receive a discount by showing their Food & Beverage savings card.
 On the menu:

  • Penne with Spinach and Roasted Tomatoes, Roasted Garlic, Fresh Oregano and Shaved Parmesan
  • Fettucini with Chopped Shallot, Pan Seared Garlic, Parsley Finished with Olio Verde
  • Rigatoni with Turkey Bolognese, Grated Parmesan and Toasted Crostini
More of the delicious fruit infused water outside of Harvest Bistro!

How cute is this little candy shop??

Large seating area inside of Harvest Bistro

Forget something? Need a snack on the go?
Harvest Bistro is where you will find it!

Harvest Bistro Menu
Casual Dining.
     I thoroughly enjoyed my weekend experience staying at Waldorf Astoria Orlando and Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek! I am registered for two more exciting runDisney race weekends in 2015 and will most definitely make plans to attend #MarathonWeekends again!

P.S....This is where I hung out most of the weekend resting my runner legs! Just don't tell my hubby and kids....ohhhh Cabana boy!! ;)

**For more information on Marathon Weekends at Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek and Waldorf Astoria Orlando, please visit HiltonBonnetCreek.com or WaldorfAstoriaOrlando.com and definitely follow along on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram by searching the #MarathonWeekends Hashtag!

Disclaimer: I was provided a complimentary two night stay at Waldorf Astoria Orlando in exchange for my review and opinions on Hilton Bonnet Creek Marathon Weekends Experience. I absolutely loved the race amenities that were offered to the runners, therefore I give these resorts an extra dose of Bamagirlruns love! I can't wait to share this experience again with my friends during future runDisney events. Thank you again Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek!