Health & Fitness,  Orlando

One Girl. Ten Years. Forty Races.

2008 was my quintessential year of change.  I had just emerged from a not so healthy relationship and got into healthier things.  I went to spin classes until my butt got numb, moved a bit awkwardly in pilates, and found a new fitness love…races.

I wish I could remember the individual that introduced me to races (whoever you are…thank you!), but I don’t. Races were something I didn’t expect to enjoy.  I’m not a fan of huge crowds (more on that later), yet seeing thousands of people of all ages and sizes show up to run put a smile on my face.

Don’t let me fool you…I’m not a runner.  I’m more of a “ralker” (pronounced “rocker”).  “Ralking” is a mixture of running and walking.  As much as I would love to pound the pavement at warped speed, I am better-suited for a series of (partial) stops and starts.

Fast forward ten years, and I have finished forty races!  My very first race in 2008 was the Run for the Trees. I knew I wanted to do the same run as a 10th-anniversary gift to myself…and my running shoes.  And guess what?  I signed up for it.  And I knew I wanted to write about it.  So here we are.

Now seems like the perfect opportunity to take you through some of my favorite races, race-related things and what’s next for Work, Play, and Chardonnay…race edition.

Through the years (sing it, Kenny Rogers!) of racing

40 races
This is what 10 years and forty races worth of bibs and medals look like.  I really should get a display case.

 2009 Inaugural Disney Princess Half Marathon

This was my very first half marathon and one I will never forget.  I had NO idea how to train for the race (so I didn’t) but was relatively fit at the time.  My friend, Katie Katie, did the race with me and she thankfully had experience with long runs.  I am pretty sure she physically pushed me around mile 11 to keep some kind of momentum going. I laughed/cried as I crossed that finish line.  It was emotional.  It was tiring.  It was rewarding (and the race medal is still one of my faves).

Princess Half Marathon Number 1
I stopped to take pictures with characters for the first five miles.  After that, all I wanted was the finish line, pancakes, and a nap.

2016 Not Inaugural Disney Princess Half Marathon

Nicole and I trained a bit for this race, but not a ton.  Jeff Galloway would probably shake his head at our “race” method (kind of Galloway/kind of not).  The best part of this day was celebrating the finish of this race with high tea at the Grand Floridian.  Mmm…tea sandwiches…

Princess Half Marathon Years Later
The Princess Half Marathon.  Again.  This time with my favorite (non-Disney) Princess.

2016 Diva Series St. Augustine 5K

Ohhh…the Diva 5K of 2016…it’s one for the record books.  Nicole and I decided that we wanted to finish in last place.  And we did.  Nicole tells the tale quite well.  Check out the story here

Last Place Mile 2
We took our good ol’ damn sweet time taking these photos.  Last place is HARD work.

2018 Run for the Trees

In celebration of organized run #1 in 2008, it seemed very fitting to sign-up for the 2018 Run for the Trees for my “anniversary.”  Lately, my athletic prowess has been limited to…well…nothing so I “strolled for the trees,” and it was quite lovely.  I think the trees were just glad I showed up.

I selfie’d for the blog.  You’re welcome.  #IFilteredWithWildAbandonBecauseIWasntWearingMakeup

Here are a few of my race-related things…

Track Shack – This store is a staple for runners and walkers in the Orlando area.  They fit you for shoes (they’re politely judging how you move) and have a wide array of clothing and accessories to make you sweat and grunt like a pro.  They offer running clinics and host a series of races throughout the year.  I would say half of the races that I have done are through Track Shack.

runDisney – I’ve had a bit of a love/hate relationship with runDisney.  It’s COOL to run through all of the parks.  The entertainment that is set-up along the course ranges from photo ops with characters, marching bands, and DJs.  What I dislike more than anything is the gargantuan amount of people that have ZERO race etiquette. The lack of common sense/courtesy brings my “She-Hulk” to the surface.  I need to think “More Belle.  Less Cruella.” during Disney races.

Run Eat Repeat – Monica Olivas is a blogger/podcaster that is a treasure trove for racing/training tips, eating/talking about all the foods (especially watermelon!) and is just darn fun to read.  She’s raced around the world, and I envy her splits (the running kind).  I would love to go on a run with her but would be better off biking beside her (the woman is FAST).

So what’s next?

Although I am 90% sure that half marathons are on my “never going to happen” list, I feel like training again.  Maybe for 10k?  I miss hearing the “thud-thud” of my feet on the ground and the beeps of my Garmin.  I also miss making up songs about what I want to have for breakfast when I am done.  I just need to figure out which race I want to train for…

Gotta start somewhere…

Do you run or run/walk?  Have you ever participated in a race?  What are your tips to JUST KEEP RUNNING?  Please tell me all of your secrets!  Or just say, “hi.”

Work Hard.  Play Hard.  Drink Chard.



  • Laura Beth

    I love this post! I’m always in awe of runners. For me, I’ve worked up to a light jog on the treadmill at the gym. Cardio feels amazing!

    • lauriegannon1

      Thank you, Laura Beth! I’m also in awe of runners. I get passed by octogenarians during races but still enjoy myself! What is your secret for loving cardio? I need to get myself into the mindset (especially due to the fact that I have been sedentary for more than a wee bit!)

      • Laura Beth

        You’re welcome! Those octogenarians are putting EVERYONE to shame – Wow!

        I love that cardio makes me sweat, makes my muscles ache and burn. I love it much more than my husband. We’re opposites at the gym. I’ll spend the whole 45 minutes there doing stretches, and alternating between the treadmill, elliptical, or the bike, whereas, he’ll doing all sorts of crazy weightlifting and some of the machines. No thanks, haha!

      • lauriegannon1

        Could you send me a smidge of your motivation? I need to get reacquainted with my boyfriend, Gym. 🙂

        Does your husband do you the funny breathing in and out “thing” while he lifts weights? It’s almost like “Choo! Choo!”. Like a weight-“train”-ing sound.

        I get entertained by the little things. 🙂

  • Tonya

    I love this blog. I had one wacky year that I did 3 marathons and 2 half marathons…I did them “ralking” and I didn’t even know that was a “thing” With all those miles and all the training I did…I lost 7 lousy pounds and my feet gained a whole size….glad I did it but never again. My hips will never be the same! I envy all those runners out there running miles and miles, and it doesn’t even look painful. Now I like 5K Color Runs where they blast you with colored powder…I’m going for theme runs now. I love your stroll for the trees idea.

    • lauriegannon1

      Hi, Tonya! You did 3 marathons and 2 half marathons in a year? I think that would have rubbed my feet down to the nubs. 🙂

      I haven’t done a color run because I am afraid of the color staining my hair (I had a pink streak for six weeks after a failed art installation).

      Themed runs are fun. I once did a Zombie 5k in which zombies chased you around the 5k course. It was a hoot!

      • Dr Nic

        Hey now! We did that color run where we stood around while colored bubbles fell all over us. Although we actually left before the run started—too dark to run in the woods. Stained mom’s bathtub trying to wash that color off! So maybe that doesn’t counT!?

  • Tiffany

    I’ve heard the Disney race is awesome!! Way to go with all those races, I’ve done a few 5ks then had kids and now feel like I would die tying to run again 😂

    • lauriegannon1

      Disney races are definitely something to experience at least once if you can. It’s fun seeing so many people dressed up as characters to run.

      If I had tried to run last weekend, I probably would have died. I did a nice stroll. My joints and lungs high-fived me for that. 🙂

  • Claire

    I love this! It’s a great accomplishment! I’m also a fellow rwalker and had my first race just over a year ago and have completed 3 so far. I cant wait until I get to 40!

    • lauriegannon1

      Hi, Claire! Congratulations to you! What is your favorite distance? Have you done a themed run?

  • Joi Savery

    Loved reading about your experiences! I have a love/hate, mostly love though, relationship with running. I take small breaks from it here and there, but the miles are siren songs calling my name. I love the 10 miler. It’s not as exhausting as the half, but just long enough to feel accomplished and strong. Keep racing!

    • lauriegannon1

      Thank you, Joi! I think 10 milers are great! Disney used to have a Tower of Terror 13k that I really, really enjoyed. I just need to get back out there and move zee body.

      By the way…I LOVE the name of your blog! It brings me joy/Joi!

    • lauriegannon1

      Thank you so much for the kind comments! I just wish I could figure out a way to integrate all of my hand gesticulations into my posts. 🙂

  • Cristine

    I did my first Disney Run last month. Can’t wait to do another one because it’s just fun
    Other races are about times & goals. Definitely need a balance

    • lauriegannon1

      Did you get your photo taken with Chewbacca? He was soooo popular when I did the Star Wars race a year or so ago.

      What other races have you enjoyed? I’d love to find a new one!

  • Annemarie LeBlanc

    Congratulations! I wish I could still run, but my health is not in tip top shape right now. I love the idea of having an accountability partner to help us stay on track.

    • lauriegannon1

      I wish I had the will to run. My willpower is low. I hope my running partner is ready to do some work with me. It was much, much easier when we lived closer together.

      I hope your health gets back to tip top shape! Nothing but the best of thoughts to you!

    • lauriegannon1

      Ten miles is nothing to sneeze at (what a weird saying…)

      Thank you for the kind words!!!

    • lauriegannon1

      What type of race would you like to do? Would you do a full marathon?

      I need to figure out which one/type I would like to do next.

  • Jaye Shields

    This is so inspiring. I never signed up for a race because I’m definitely a “Ralker” myself, and always thought it would be embarrassing to have people pushing passed me constantly. This has been inspired to get back into it though and own my Ralking 😉

    • lauriegannon1

      Races have such a wide array of people that participate from people that appear to have wings to those that are looking for fitness/their own personal best. It was a bit shocking to have an 80-year-old man speed walk in front of me in his men’s undershirt (more than once!) but I quickly determined that he “rocked.” 🙂

  • behindeveryday

    I used to do the Turkey Trot 5k every year. It was my one and only race for the year. I did it because the course follows the road that is two blocks from my house – easy for the kids to come watch if they want. I did a 5k in a vineyard while living in CA. The problem was that I spent the whole time looking at the ground so I wouldn’t fall and didn’t get to enjoy running through the vineyards. I haven’t done a race in about 5 years and pretty sure I would definitely be last if I tried to do one. 5k is my max distance for sure. 🙂

    • lauriegannon1

      I’ve done the turkey trot a couple of times in Orlando and I’ve enjoyed it. Some of the outfits are a sight to behold!

      What a bummer that you looked the ground the whole time while doing the 5k in the vineyard! I absolutely understand, though. I have a tendency to trip over imaginary logs, so when in a vineyard…

      I really like a 5k. It’s nice way to kick of a weekend morning (IMO). 🙂

  • Cathy Ennett

    Laurie, I may have told you before…you posting on FB about running the Princess for the first time way back when actually inspired me to train for my first half. I’ve lost count how many races I’ve done since then (although my running mojo is on hiatus lately). You are a great writer and I look forward to hearing about more of your shenanigans!

    • lauriegannon1

      Cathy, I remember that now! Your comment has absolutely given me the hugest smile and made my morning. 🙂

      Even though your running mojo may be on hiatus at the moment, I have seen how many races you have participated in over the years. Do you think you will compete in another one this year?

      Thank you so much for the kind words about my writing! I really appreciate it and can’t wait to share more shenanigans. 🙂

  • Kelly Berryman

    If I am running, you had better run, too, because something is clearly chasing me. What I really want to know is was it really Kenny Rogers singing, or was it Kenny Rogers voice coming out of someone else’s face? He should have gone to see Dominick.

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