The view from my room at the Karl Schranz Hotel. (Photo: Cara Morgan)
Sparkling snow, pine tree tunnels and glimpses of blue sky awaited me on the Verwall Trail in Sankt Anton am Arlberg, Austria. St. Anton is known around the world for its lively apres ski scene. But I was delighted to discover that the town is home to a large network of walking and cross-country skiing trails that snake through its corner of the Austrian Alps in the state of Tyrol.
I was staying at the Karl Schranz Hotel, a lovely inn owned by the famous Austrian Apline skier. If I’d never heard of Schranz before I reached Austria, townsfolk made certain I left knowing of his World Championship titles. But I’m no Alpine skier. So I was excited to see what else the Austrian Alps had to offer.
But I cursed silently to myself when I discovered that I’d forgotten to pack my Yaktrax, traction devices that slip onto shoes for running on snow and ice. But that wasn’t going to stop me from getting in at least one trail run in this winter wonderland. Luckily, there was a trail close to my hotel.
About a quarter of a mile up a steep road was the beginning of the Verwall Trail that winds through Verwall Valley. I knew I’d found the trailhead when I found this sign: Loipen und Winterwanderwege, which translates ski trails and winter trails.
The trailhead sign. (Photo: RunKarlaRun.com)
The loipen or cross-country ski trails, with their own magnificent entrance, ran beside the walking and running trails. Read the rest of this entry →
Chef Mickey and Minnie greeted runners at the finish of Disney’s Wine and Dine Half Marathon on Nov. 9, 2013. (Photo: runDisney)
Registration for the Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon Weekend from November 8-9 at Walt Disney World in Florida opens Tuesday, March 4 at 12 p.m. EST.
It’s no secret that the Wine and Dine Half Marathon is my favorite half marathon. I ran the 2013 race as part of a press trip sponsored by New Balance and runDisney. In 2011, the event was my first runDisney race and where my husband proposed. So it will always be a sentimental favorite.
But that’s not the only reason I love this race. Marriage proposals aside, it has the best post-race party I’ve ever been to, at the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival.
The Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon starts at 10 p.m. outside the ESPN Wine World of Sports Complex and takes runners through Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, past Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club Resorts, and finally to the finish at Epcot.
Once there, runners can party until 4 a.m. with Epcot all to themselves. Admission to the Finish Line party is included in race registration, along with a $10 Disney gift card and a complimentary beer, wine or soda at the finish.
My husband and me with the real Aladdin and Jasmine. (Photo: RunKarlaRun.com)
Friends and family can also buy tickets to the Finish Line Party, where select Epcot attractions like Test Track and Soarin’ remain open into the wee hours. The party also includes all the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival kiosks, live bands, DJs, and meet and greets with Disney characters. My husband and I got a photo with Aladdin and Jasmine while we were dressed as Aladdin and Jasmine at the 2013 race. In 2011, we photographed ourselves around the world. Read the rest of this entry →
But I had yet to decide if I would use the race as a sub-2 hour half-marathon personal record attempt or a training run for a PR attempt later in the spring.
This is how I felt after the Newport Liberty Half Marathon. (Photo: RunKarlaRun.com)
Well, I’ve decided.
While the runs I’ve been doing indicate that I am in or near PR shape, I haven’t put in the mileage I’d like to. Rather than have another crash and burn attempt, like my run at the DirectEdge Newport Liberty Half Marathon in the fall, I’d rather keep training, get my mileage up and use the race as a hilly, long run. Then I’ll target another race in April or early May as my big PR attempt.
1) It took me longer to get over jet lag than I would have liked. It was a 6-hour time difference and took me four full days to adjust to the point where I didn’t want to take a nap every moment of every day. Jerusalem is a 7-hour time difference and I’ll have been there for three days before I toe the line. I don’t want to get my heart set on a PR when my body will likely be dazed and confused. Unfortunately, I’m just one of those people who needs lots of sleep.
This trail through the Apls proved slippery for running without traction. (Photo: RunKarlaRun)
2) I meant to run every day on my trip. I really did. But I forgot to pack my Yaktrax. Crucial mistake. In the Austrian ski town of Sankt Anton am Arlberg, where I spent most of the trip, the roads weren’t even remotely safe for running—no shoulder, no sidewalk, steep inclines covered in ice, blind turns, and ski buses speeding by.
Trails abounded, but they were covered in packed snow and ice. I went for one run on a gorgeous trail intended precisely for walking and running, but it was so icy it took me 80 minutes to cover 4.5 miles. After nearly wiping out three times, I realized baby steps were the only way I’d get through the run.
But I cross-trained galore throwing in curling, snowshoeing, cross country skiing, downhill skiing and swimming at my hotel pool.
3) I came home from the trip with a mystery pain under the ball of my left foot. I don’t notice it at all while walking. But it was bad enough that I curtailed my first run at home after just a mile and hopped on the bike instead. I did three more runs of increasing mileage, but still felt the pain lurking, especially on the road more so than the treadmill. I’m guessing I bruised a bone or something. I’ve been babying it in case it’s something more serious. Read the rest of this entry →
In case you live under a rock, the Avengers are a Marvel Comics super hero team that includes Captain America, Thor, Hulk, Black Widow, and Iron Man, among others. The Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon Weekend themed around the Marvel universe will include a Half Marathon, 5K, Kids Races, Health & Fitness Expo, Pasta Party, and, of course, super hero themed entertainment and characters.
“runDisney races are a natural fit because our comic book Super Heroes embody many of the same brand attributes as runDisney, such as heroism and intensity with a heavy dose of fun,” said Dan Buckley, president of TV, Publishing and Brand Management for Marvel Entertainment. “This race weekend will have a very distinct atmosphere that will appeal to comic book fans and runDisney fans.”
The 2007 Marine Corps Marathon (Photo: U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Monica McCoy)
If you want to run the 2014 Marine Corps marathon in Arlington, Va., and Washington, D.C., on October 26, now’s your chance throw your running shoe in the ring. Registration for the Marine Corps Marathon lottery opened Sunday, February 23 at 12 p.m. EST. The lottery will be open through Saturday, March 15 at noon EDT.
Runners ages 14 and older can register to enter the random draw any time in that 21-day period. Unlike years past, it is not first come, first served. Registrants will be notified via e-mail of the lottery’s results on March 19.
Registration is $110. There is no fee to enter the lottery. Runners will only be charged if they get a spot in the race. Read the rest of this entry →
If Disney characters were runners, what kind of runners would they be?
The Disney Princess Half Marathon weekend of races kicked off today with the Cinderella Royal Family 5K, and continues Saturday with the inaugural Disney Princess Enchanted 10K and the Disney Princess Half Marathon on Sunday. Not to be forgotten is the first ever Glass Slipper Challenge, where runners complete both the 10K and half-marathon. Talk about medal envy; I’ve got it bad. You know I love me some Cinderella.
So in honor of the Disney Princess Half Marathon, I thought I’d share another installment of my runDisney Running Profiles.
Previous installments have looked at Sleeping Beauty as the runner who needs some rest and recovery, Alice in Wonderland as the newbie runner who has fallen down the running rabbit hole, and Cinderella as the hard working back-of-the-pack runner.
But who better to spur runners on this Princess Half Marathon weekend than Disney’s best cheerleader, Belle?
Beauty & the Beast: The Coach and the Runner
Great coaches—in running and in life—are the people who bring out the best in us. They cheer us from the sidelines, encourage us when we’re down, expect more of us when we give them less, and help us show the world, and ourselves, just how great we really can be. Never is that more apparent than when watching the Olympics.
In the Disney universe, the greatest coach of them all is Belle from Beauty & the Beast. And the Beast is a quintessential runner.
I attended the 2013 Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend as part of a press trip sponsored by New Balance and runDisney, where they gave runners a first glimpse of the new New Balance Disney shoes. I’ve subsequently gotten a lot of questions about how to buy them. Here’s the scoop on how to get your hands on them at the Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend.
First, the New Balance Disney shoes are only available at runDisney race expos. Unfortunately, they are not sold online. Though I’m sure some enterprising individuals will hawk them for obscene amounts of money on eBay, as happened last year, or offer their services as virtual personal shoppers.
But New Balance is now offering runners with bibs at the Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend a way to register early to buy the shoes before all those non-runners, who are merely trying to capitalize on the craze.
How To Buy New Balance Disney Shoes For Runners With Bibs
Starting at 6 a.m. each day of Disney’s Fit For a Princess Expo from Thursday, February 20 through Saturday, February 22 at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, runners can visit www.nbvirtualqueue.com to enter their bib number and sign up early for a reservation at the New Balance expo booth. There, they can try on and purchase the New Balance Disney shoes.
Runners can reserve one style in a specific size ahead of time, and can buy three additional pairs in any style and size from the non-reserved inventory. Once registered, New Balance will send you a confirmation text with your group number, confirmation number, return time and requested style and size.
I thought this would be the perfect time to share an essay I wrote back in August 2007 called “I’ve Got Peace Like a River.” I was one month into training for my first marathon—the New York City Marathon—and at the end of a religion reporting fellowship. I’d spent the previous eight months immersing myself in the world of belief, traveling to India and across the U.S. to uncover stories of faith.
Near the end of the fellowship, my colleagues and I went on retreat at an Anglican monastery that observes complete silence for 12 hours every day, from 8:30 p.m. to 8:30 a.m. It was a unique experience to play Scrabble in silence and eat breakfast at communal tables in quietude.
But it gave me a chance for reflection; I think that was the point. In the stillness, I found that running, rowing, and swimming—the exercise of my life—have been the conduits of my own spirituality.
I’ve Got Peace Like a River
A tree on the Hudson River. (Photo: RunKarlaRun.com)
Floating. The sun stares down, turning the inside of my eyelids red. The water feels warm, but a cold current tickles my fingers, rolling over them in tiny waves. My arms above my head, my toes pointed, I stretch as long as I can, tensing all my muscles, then relaxing. Little splashes of water wash over my face as the wake of a boat crosses the river toward me.
I float downstream. I am all alone. Just me and my river.
The Hudson runs past my home in Manhattan. But here, at the Holy Cross Monastery in upstate New York, it’s a retreat. A retreat from my work-a-day world into the inner sanctum of my own being. Read the rest of this entry →
Greetings from Switzerland! I’m in the land of cheese and chocolate for a six-day getaway.
Two of my friends, who work for two different companies in two completely different industries, were both transferred to Switzerland for work.
So my husband, Phil, and I thought we’d use it as an excuse for a European ski vacation.
We cashed in some airline miles and got ourselves two tickets to Zurich, where we’re staying with friends. It’s going to look like “Cathy” cartoon up in here. Chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate.
Canada and Team USA face off in the 2010 Olympic men’s gold medal hockey game. (Photo: RunKarlaRun.com)
Then it’s off to St. Anton in the Austrian Alps, which is known as much for its après ski scene as for its slopes. I see a lot of Winter Olympics viewing in Austrian bars in my future. That is, if Austrians watch TV in bars.
Phil is already excited about being in Austria for the Austria v. Canada men’s hockey game. Yes, Phil is Canadian… and a hockey fan. He packed his Canadian flag to bring to watch the game. Sigh. The hills won’t be alive with the sound of music, but with the sound of Olympic hockey. Read the rest of this entry →
The start of the 2013 Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler. (Photo: runDisney)
I already reminded you that registration for the 7 Mile Bridge Run in the Florida Keys opens Tuesday, February 11 at 6 a.m. EST. But another popular Florida race opens registration the same day: the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler.
I’ve never run either race, but have run other races at Walt Disney World as media courtesy of runDisney.
Registration for the 2014 Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler Weekend from October 3-4, 2014 at Walt Disney World opens Tuesday, February 11 at 12 p.m. EST.
This race doesn’t sell out as quickly as, say, the Disneyland Half Marathon or the 7 Mile Bridge Run, but it will sell out.
The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler Weekend is dedicated to the villains as the Disney baddies come out in the dark with a nighttime race that starts at 10 p.m.
At the 2013 race, 9,480 runners finished the 10-mile course that starts at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, heads to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex and Champion Stadium, and finishes at The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror back at Hollywood Studios.
Runners disguised as Cinderella’s step sisters pose with Snow White’s evil queen disguised as an old woman. (Photo: runDisney)
But what I imagine is the best part of the race comes after the finish at the Disney Villains Hollywood Bash at Hollywood Studios, where rides like The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith, Star Tours and Toy Story Mania stay open just for runners and their guests. Admission to the party is included in race registration for runners. Friends and family can buy tickets too.
Other races at the weekend include the Disney Happy Haunted 5K Trail Run and runDisney Kids’ Races, including a Diaper Dash for babies and 1-mile run for older kids. Disney’s Health & Fitness Expo will be in full swing too. All those events take place at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.
The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler Weekend benefits Autism Speaks, a charity that funds research for treatments, causes, prevention and a cure for autism, raises awareness of autism, and advocates for autistic individuals and their families. Read the rest of this entry →
The Olympic rings in Whistler, Canada. (Photo: RunKarlaRun.com)
As a kid, I eagerly anticipated the arrival of the Olympics. My family would gather around the TV night after night and watch the spectacle unfold. I was dazzled by figure skating and skiing in winter and obsessed with swimming and running in summer.
And since this was the dark ages before the Internet, I’d keep my own medal tally like the nerd that I was—and still am—drawing gold medals with yellow and blue markers (for the metal and ribbon, naturally), silver with grey and red, bronze with brown and orange. Forget Leap Year. The Olympics were the event I waited for every four years.
Once again, they have arrived.
As I watched the opening ceremonies of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi (holy jellyfish/dove of peace dance!) I was transported back to 2010 when I was lucky enough to attend the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver as a reporter. It was not only a career highlight, but also a personal dream come true.
She-Ra rides Swift Wind “For the honor of Grayskull!”
I think Graham Watanabe, who competed for the U.S. in Snowboard Cross, summed it up best:
“Try to imagine Pegasus mating with a unicorn and the creature that they birth. I somehow tame it and ride it into the sky in the clouds and sunshine and rainbows. That’s what it feels like.”
By the power of Grayskull! Apparently, being an Olympian is like being She-Ra.
It’s kind of what it felt like to attend the Olympics too. What struck me most was this: I was not only watching athletes doing what they do best, but doing what they do better than anyone else in the world. At that moment in time, there would be no faster speed skater, no lovelier figure skater, no more daring snowboarder. I witnessed the pinnacle. And we all get to witness it every four years. That is magical. Almost as magical as She-Ra riding Swift Wind, her winged unicorn.
My Cinderella storybook cassette. (Photo: RunKarlaRun.com)
Olympic Childhood Dreams
How many of us as kids dreamed of being Olympians? I’m guessing a lot of us.
I always dreamed of going to the Olympics someday, albeit as an athlete. Swimming was my sport back then and I was sure I was going to be the next Janet Evans.
Side 2 of the tape contained my Olympic warbling. (Photo: RunKarlaRun.com)
Not too long ago, I unearthed a cassette tape I had made on my purple boom box (it was the ‘80s after all) when I was about 8-years-old. Appropriately, it was the backside of a Cinderella storybook cassette. Regular readers know I’m officially obsessed with Cinderella. What you may not know is that I was equally obsessed with She-Ra. Like Cinderella, she is a princess. But she is the Princess of Power! A warrior. And what are athletes if not modern day warriors?
The recording reveals an intrepid young journalist (played by me) “interviewing” an Olympic swimmer (also played by me).
My first running medal from the 2007 New York City Marathon. (Photo: Christy Hourihan)
I wore it for the rest of the day, unable to believe that I had actually finished a marathon. But the medal eventually found its way into a drawer. Over the years, medal after medal joined it.
No more. Those medals aren’t just pretty pieces of metal and ribbon. They’re tangible representations of all the hard work that went into each race. More importantly, they’re reminders of what I’ve overcome as a person and as a runner.
I came to the sport from square one, having overcome a bone tumor that plagued me for a decade and caused me to walk with a limp. I’ve gone from hating running to loving it to rearranging my life and career around it. I’ve gone from running 11:30 minute miles to 8:00 minutes miles. And I’m still growing as a runner, running personal bests and loving experiencing races all over the world. I think that’s important to remember. Read the rest of this entry →
The Seven Mile Bridge Run near Marathon, Florida crosses the longest bridge span in the Florida Keys. (Photo: Andy Newman/Florida Keys News Bureau)
Registration for the 7 Mile Bridge Run in the Florida Keys opens Tuesday, February 11 at 6 a.m. EST. The race, in the appropriately named town of Marathon, Fla., will take place on Saturday, April 5, 2014. The 6.8-mile race is capped at 1,500 runners. Registration will be open until Thursday, February 13 at 9 a.m. EST or until the race sells out. And guess what? It sells out every year.
Runners cross the Seven Mile Bridge’s highest point at 65-feet. (Photo: Andy Newman/Florida Keys News Bureau)
If you happen to be lucky enough to be a Florida Keys resident, registration for a limited number of entries opens Thursday, February 6 at 6:00 a.m. EST.
Talk about a scenic run. The 7 Mile Bridge Run covers the entire span of the Seven Mile Bridge, the eighth longest bridge in the U.S. It’s part of the 113-mile Overseas Highway that connects the Florida Keys to the mainland. Read the rest of this entry →
The Jerusalem Marathon and Half Marathon. (Photo: Nati Shohat/Flash90-IsrealTourism/Flickr)
In exactly seven weeks from today, I’ll be on the starting line of the Jerusalem Half Marathon as part of a press trip sponsored by the Israeli Ministry of Tourism in cooperation with El Al Airlines. Last week, I wrote about how meaningful this race will be for me. Now, it’s time to dive back into my half marathon training plan.
After the Walt Disney World Half Marathon on Saturday, January 11, which marked the end of my 46-day running streak, I took two weeks off from running. My body needed it. I did run once during that time: On Saturday, January 18 to participate in Meg’s Miles, honoring a runner killed by a drunk driver and raising awareness for runner safety.
Come Saturday, January 25, it was time to ease back into training. The Jerusalem Marathon and Half Marathon is an odd duck in the running world in that it’s on a Friday. So my new training schedule is Saturday to Friday, instead of the usual Monday to Sunday. I’ve got an eight-week half marathon training plan mapped out and am happy to say that Week 1 is successfully behind me.
I’m not the fastest runner and I’m not the slowest, but I am a running nerd. A journalist by trade, I love to research, read, learn and cogitate. So stick with me. Like all good nerds, I’ll do the homework and share it. But the running is up to you!