Friday, April 24, 2015

What to pack for a runDisney race: gear check bag

Before my first half marathon, I had no idea what to expect to feel after a race of that distance, much less what I would need. Added on top of that was all of the additional needs of a trip to the parks. So, after doing several runDisney events, I've got my list of post-race essentials here for you today!

First you need to know what a gear check bag is. Most long distance races (races over 10k) will offer a gear check. Basically this means you may leave some of the things you would want after your event with race volunteers at an organized booth so that you don't have to worry about your stuff while you run, but it's all there for you at the finish line.

At runDisney events this is even more involved. You are given a large sturdy plastic bag (think extra large shopping bag, like toys r us) and a sticker with your bib number on it when you pick up your race packet at the expo. You can fill the bag with whatever odds and ends that you will want at the end of the race and make sure to put the bib number on your bag! (Sometimes the bib number is actually a tag you tie to the bag - either way it's for the same purpose). Before the start of your race you bring this bag to the gear check area and the volunteers will take it for you. At the end of your race, after you collect your medal you can go back to the tent (with your bib still on!) and collect your bag. No one goes in your bag so you are safe to leave things like a wallet. I wouldn't necessarily recommend that at other races, but I trust Disney! Always make sure you get the right bag. I've been at another race and accidentally been handed the wrong bag and it would've been bad if I hadn't noticed!

So what should you pack in your runDisney gear check bag?

What to pack: rundisney gear check

I should mention that this is a list of items assuming you want to visit the parks after your race with no trip back to the room. I totally and completely understand if you want to go back and relax after, but I'm a person that likes to go, go, go! I think there is something extra magical about literally leaving the race and hopping onto a ride!
  • A clean change of comfortable clothes 
    • No one likes being in sticky/stinky clothes all day after a race. Clean clothes are essential. Try to think about what would be comfortable if the worst happens in your race: chaffing! No clothes that would rub on those tough spots. 
  • All your usual park touring gear (including magic bands)
    • If you can, pack lighter than you might normally. You don't want to be schlepping around tons of weight after running so much. 
  • Power Shower Wipes
    • These things are AWESOME. Nothing is as good as a real shower but a good wipe-down with these in a bathroom stall makes a huge difference.
  • Instant Cold Ice Packs
    • After Disney races they always have ice bags readily available to you and medics to tape you up if you need it, which I totally recommend taking advantage of if you need it. However, if you spend a long day in the park after you will need something after your first bag melts. These work great. I remember  sitting at electric umbrella with my mom, both of us with our legs up in chairs icing our knees after our first race!
  • Tylenol
    • The parks usually have pain reliever, but it costs much more than if you just bring your own. Ibuprofen (Advil) is bad for runners so stick to Tylenol. 
  • A backup battery for your phone/camera
    • If you are doing a runDisney race right, you took tons of pics during your race. You will want to recharge your camera/phone so you can still capture memories of your post-race festivities. 
  • Blister bandaids
    • I love these! Some people like moleskin but these are my personal favorite. Whatever your preference, pack something to prepare for some nasty blisters. 
  • Perfume and Deodorant
    • Because obviously. Haha. Even if it doesn't really help with the odor, it makes you feel cleaner somehow!
  • A headband or hat
    • If you are a human, you will be one sweaty hot mess after your race. Bring a headband, hat, or plan to braid your hair so you can get it in check. 
  • Comfy Sweatshirt
    • I don't know if it's just me but I'm always freezing after a race! Even on the warmest days I bring a sweatshirt for extra warmth. As a silly side note, Disney medals aren't super comfortable on your neck all day, a hoodie would really help with that! 
  • Gallon Ziploc Bags
    • Good for lots of reason, but I like to stick my smelly clothes and shoes in them so they don't stink everything else up. Also great for putting ice in as an impromptu ice pack.
  • Really comfortable sandals or shoes
    • I love the feeling of peeling off my shoes and socks and letting my feet breathe after a long race (gross? sorry?) and the last thing I want to do is put on sneakers. I recommend bringing some extra comfy sandals. Again, keep in mind that you may have blisters so try to wear ones that won't rub. I got these when I was pregnant and LOVE them. They are like memory foam for your feet!
  • Makeup if that's your thing
    • I feel naked without my mascara so I try to pack a small bag of makeup because nothing is left after that many miles!
In case you are curious, after a Disney race we (my mom and I) have a little routine of what we like to do. We grab our medals and let our heart rate slow down a little. After that we watch runners finish and cheer on a few people. When we finally feel up to walking again we head into the park. The finish line is usually a 5 minute walk (even at turtle pace) from the park entrance. Once we are inside the park we find the lockers and rent one. In Epcot the lockers are very close to a bathroom, so we use that bathroom to wash up using the power wipes and everything from our gear check bag. We change into clean clothes and put all the smelly stuff and things we don't need in our locker so we have as little weight (and smell) as possible to carry around the park all day. Finally we head off for some fun in the park with our medals proudly around our neck! 

Hopefully this list will help you pack a great gear check bag! Even if you don't hop straight into the park, most of this stuff is good to have after anyways! 

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Embracing The New Me

When I started life's a wheeze things were very different. I was different. Back then I was starting to get into running, dead set on actually achieving my goal to run my first half marathon, and really frustrated that there wasn't more information out there about running for people like me, people with asthma. I had tons and tons of free time (although I didn't know it then) and my biggest struggles were designing the perfect running tutu costume. I was living on my own, didn't have a strict schedule, and my life revolved around my love of running. Above anything else I was a runner, Running always came first.

I started this blog based on those things. I wanted to provide more information (and hopefully inspiration) to other asthmatics. I wanted accountability to keep me pursuing my goals. And honestly I just loved sharing and creating a discussion about my passion for running and running events. As I grew more confident as a runner and finished more races, I became more and more attached to the blog and I met a lot of amazing people through it.

When I got pregnant, I naively assumed everything would stay the same. I thought I would have to take things slower, maybe back off of distance events until Audrey was here, but I'd continue with running and my blog just the way things were. There are moms that do that right? Soon after I found out I was pregnant (I found out late into my pregnancy - 15 weeks) I learned of some complications I had and was told not to put any stress on my body. I could walk but I wasn't allowed to lift more than 15 lbs and definitely no running. That was a major blow. Later some restrictions were removed but I was never really able to run.

When Audrey was born I chose to breastfeed as doctors encourage all mothers to do. I knew it would be hard, but I didn't realize I wouldn't be able to take any of my allergy medications as a result (not true for everyone, but it was for me).  I struggled hard to run even a mile here or there without having a major asthma attack. I'm just now getting to the point where I can run again (no more breastfeeding hallelujah) and it's like starting over completely new, maybe even harder. My lungs aren't conditioned, my muscles aren't strong, my joints are loose, and oh yea, finding free time as a mom is crazy hard.

Now, who I am as a person and my priorities in life are so completely changed from who I was when I first started this blog. Above anything else, I am a mother and a wife. Kevin and Audrey are my entire world and running will always come second to my family. Instead of picking out what costume to wear at my next race, I'm endlessly playing games of hide n go seek or coming up with some fun new learning activities. Instead of paying for several 5k races a month, I'm buying diapers and miniature socks that will only be lost under the couch in a few hours time. The Sara that started this blog would never believe it, but I absolutely love every second of my new life. I'm lucky beyond belief.

But what does that mean for the blog? I've missed life's a wheeze so much. I've missed running SOOO much. I kept wanting to post, but I never could run and felt like I couldn't post without any running stories to share. I really want that to change. I still hope to be a runner, I have plans for races coming up now that I'm more capable. However the blog can't be just about running anymore when the reality is, that's just not the biggest part of my life anymore. I will still post about making healthy choices, running, and you better believe family running costumes will be in the future. But I also want to be able to talk about my other passion in life: my family and being a mom. I'm always evolving as a person and I've learned that the blog needs to as well.

Anyways, I've missed you all tons and if you're still interested in hearing what antics my family and I get up to, I hope you stick around. I see big adventures in my future and I can't wait to share them here with you.

QOTD: So, what posts would you like to see coming your way? If there's any topic you are interested in, please leave a comment. I'll be listening!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Mommy Workout Series: Mickey Mouse Clubhouse

Hey guys!

Like most moms of active toddlers I've got a very little free time. I count myself lucky if I can pee alone these days, let alone squeeze in a workout. As a result, I've had to get a little creative in the ways I get my daily burn. After a particularly rough day with Audrey, I was laying in bed trying to honestly think of a point in my day where she was even remotely occupied enough that I could workout AND not in need of my help and it hit me: During her morning preschool shows!

We don't watch a lot of tv around here, but every morning I usually turn on one of the typical toddler shows (like Sesame Street or Sophia the First) and she likes to watch, dance to the songs, and bring her toys to show her tv friends. It's not like I can leave her long, but generally she is occupied enough that I can do my own thing nearby, so that's where I got the idea to create workouts specifically for that golden hour of not-so-free-but-slightly-less-hectic time.

I present to you, The Life's a Wheeze Mommy Workout Series! I will be featuring a new kids show regularly (hopefully once a week) with a workout to go with. I'd love to hear what suggestions you have for shows and any feedback on the workouts (too hard/easy) but I tried this one out and it kicked my booty! I will try to keep these equipment free so that there's even less excuse to miss a workout. I have a few others already started, but the first in the Series is the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Workout! We love Mickey Mouse around here and Audrey does too.  Enjoy!

Monday, September 1, 2014

I'm back! First Post-Baby 5k Recap

Hey guys! I'm really back! A week ago I ran in my first 5k back after baby and it felt awesome to get back out there!  (Exclamation Point!! Sorry - can you tell i'm excited??)

I had been meaning to do a race for a while now ( I have been walking a lot and even running a bit) but I just haven't felt like I was ready for a race. However lately a bunch of awesome things fell into place:
  • Kevin got a great new job! It was really hard to give up working together because we really do love it, but this was an amazing opportunity for him so he decided to take it. This was super awesome because it helped lead to....
  • I went part time! We kept debating doing this for a while and we finally decided that it was the best thing for our little family if I could be home more with the baby and we could avoid daycare (grandma watches her 2 days a week). I will also be starting a new job next week and I'm really looking forward to a less stressful environment. Obviously this will make it a lot easier to sneak in some running time on my days at home too!
  • I quit breastfeeding! I made it 9 months with her but I was sooooo ready to give it up even if I did feel guilty about it. I may do a post on my thoughts about it one day, but for now the big thing is I can now take all of my allergy and asthma meds again and I feel healthier than I have in ages. This was huge for me. 
  • Audrey can run! She is officially old enough to ride in the jogging stroller and she actually seems to like it. Yay for being able to run without coordinating babysitting, although I still have to worry about mosquitos and the 100 degree heat.
So all of these things sort of happened at once and then on top of it Kevin's sister (Katie) has started trying to do a couch to 5k program and asked us if we wanted to do a glow run with her again. We agreed and that's how I ended up doing this race. 

The race she chose was the Oklahoma City GloRun 5k. Here's a snippet about the cause it supports:
Proceeds from the race will benefit The Referral Center (TRC). TRC is a local government funded non-profit medically supervised detox facility located here in OKC. We provide full medical care and counseling to those going through drug or alcohol rehabilitation.
The race was pretty pricey for a 5k with no medal ($40 when I signed up) but I was still excited to try it out and the park it was hosted in is the park I do a lot of my training runs in anyways so I knew it would be a good one to start back up.

Packet pickup started at 6pm that night near the start/finish line of the course and there were a few fun activities. Once you picked up your bib there was a DJ playing fun dance music, glow paint stations, places to buy glowing tutus and tiaras, and a shaved ice truck. There may have been more going on but we got there fairly close to the start of the race and it was a little crowded so we didn't do much wandering around.

After we picked up our packets we pinned on our bibs and got our glow sticks all lit up and ready to go. I decided not to dress up a lot this race (I'm still feeling a little self-conscious post baby) but I'm pretty sure I will start back up again soon. Katie did dress up and got lots of compliments and it made me really miss running in a tutu! I did have really awesome led laces and some glow face paint. By the way: glow face paint doesn't glow during runs. Lame.

We snapped a bunch of pics and then it was time for the 1 mile race to begin. The race was a little weird because the start and finish line were the same location for both races. The problem with that was that they had the 1 milers run and then made the 5k runners line up and then the 1 milers were coming back into the mob. The DJ saved it when he told the 5k runners to make a tunnel and cheer on the 1 milers but it seemed pretty disorganized. In addition there were no volunteers stationed at the parking lot that connected to the race route so there were people accidentally driving down the race route for the 1 milers. That got straightened out fairly quickly though!

After the last of the 1 milers made it back it was time to start the 5k. The course itself wound around the park through trees and plenty of dark areas and had small rolling hills. It was cool with everyone wearing LED and glow in the dark gear. Before the race, Kevin and I agreed we would walk most of it since he hasn't run at all in over a year and I've only done a few 1 mile bursts. That plan went out the window when Katie wanted to stick to her training plan (she's doing couch to 5k and it had set intervals she was supposed to run that night) and we didn't want to get split up, so we decided to try sticking with her as long as we could.

The course itself was pretty simple, with  two "glow tunnels" along the way (big black tunnels with black lights and bright paint designs) and not much else to make it a glow run. We could hear the DJ for the majority of the race and it was a fun way to cheer us on. There were also volunteers every quarter of a mile or so with flashlights pointing in the right direction (the path was very well marked).

I felt great the first mile or so but then started to have a little trouble keeping up with Katie (she was supposed to run 5 min straight at one point) so we had to slow down and take shorter intervals. We did manage to keep an average pace of about 14:40 overall including stops to take pictures and fix my shoelaces (they were the light up kind and they kept falling off!) several times. We had seriously planned to walk it so I was glad that we managed to jog as much as we did.

fake running shots are a must

Running next to Kevin again was great. We don't get a lot of time for us as a couple anymore because of the baby so it felt great to be next to him doing something that made me feel like I can only describe as "home". I had no idea how much I missed running in general, but especially having time for the two of us. When we run together we tease each other and talk about the course or silly little things that pop in our heads. Getting too cheesy here sorry, but spending time with him without cell phones, computers, work talk, or baby talk really is the best feeling. I'm one lucky girl!

After about 2.5 miles I guess Katie finished her training plan and started to slow down (it has set intervals for a certain amount of time) so we caught up with her and kept together to almost the finish line. She wanted to sprint to the end about a quarter mile away and we waited a little longer. Once we finished we got our finisher ribbons and cheered on other runners behind us.

Overall I had a great time, but there were some things I didn't like, so I'll break it down for you:

  • The good:
    • The DJ was a nice touch and he was playing some great music and saved a lot of awkward situations
    • The event in general was run by really nice people. Everyone we talked to seemed really sweet and supportive and there was a lot of cheering going on along the sidelines. 
    • The course was well really well marked.
  • The bad:
    • The parking situation was not clear at all. The race blocked off one of the major parking lots for the park so a lot of people (myself included) were trapped until the last people finished the race and as I said before, some were even driving down the course. 
  • The ugly:
    • There were no water stops along the course. The race was advertised as a family race and there were lots of small kids (under 10) trying to run and these poor kiddos were complaining they were thirsty. Considering we were running in the dark in 100 degree heat, I think it's even more important to provide water for everyone.
Well that wraps up this race recap! I had a blast getting back out there, but I don't think it was the most organized race. I think I'd do it again if they could make a few improvements and/or lower the price. See you soon guys!

** Sorry night races = crappy pics. I promise to take better pics next time!