Inaugural Rock N Roll Raleigh Recap

I did it again! I ran another Half Marathon! So 2 Half Marathons for 2014 so far and my third half  all together. This time I ran the Inaugural Rock N Roll Raleigh Half Marathon.  I had heard good things about the Rock N Roll races and how some considered them better than the Run Disney races. This half marathon was my Christmas present from my husband. So after taking a few days off after the Disney Princess Half I was straight back into training mode.

Rock N Roll Half Marathon Recap | Country Girl Gourmet

 

The Rock N Roll Marathon and Half had a expo on Friday, April 11 and Saturday April 12. I ended up going Saturday and brought my younger 2 with me.
Rock N Roll Half Marathon Recap | Country Girl Gourmet

Ballon creations greeted us at the entrance of the expo and people were lined up taking their pictures with them. It was a short trip down the escalator  to the expo floor that we entered by walking under Rock n Roll Raleigh in balloons.

Packet pickup was quick and easy. You first picked up your number and walked around to where the shirts were. Also in this area were people handing out your gear check bag. There were no goodies or treats which was disappointing.

Before walking into the next area I was handed a coupon for Marathonfoto and some Starbucks via.

Rock N Roll Half Marathon Recap | Country Girl Gourmet

The next area was a combined area where you could buy race memorabilia and Brooks stuff. Brooks also had their Run Happy Island set up. I got my “passport” and I won a t-shirt. If I had completed all 3 activities I could have won a bag too but my kids were ready to go after doing their kids scavenger hunt and winning frisbees.

Rock N Roll Half Marathon Recap | Country Girl Gourmet

We walked around the floor. I bought some bigger water bottles for my fuel belt that I know I will need as the temps and humidity rise this summer. Compared to Disney this expo was small and really didn’t offer anything I was really excited to see or really want to buy.

Rock N Roll Half Marathon Recap | Country Girl Gourmet

I spent the night at my parents, set my alarms and went to bed. The race was  to start at 7 and you needed your car parked by 6 so I planned to get to downtown Raleigh by 5:30am. My plan did not work as expected though. I should have been pulling into a parking garage at 5:30am but I was stuck in traffic. It took me over an hour to go a half mile. I began seeing more people walking on the side of the road. Even in the car in front of me the driver got out and left for the race and the passenger took over the driving. I was really worried if I was going to make it. Raleigh police eventually shut down the road to one lane and that helped some. I made it to where I was suppose to turn right just as they closed the road for the race. I had to turn left. If I had brought $10 cash there was a lot I could have  used but at the expo we were told the parking would be free so I didn’t bring any cash. So I drove on. Now I use to live in Raleigh, for decent segments of my life.  I even use to work off Wade avenue but it has been 15 years since I have lived and driven in downtown Raleigh. I sadly didn’t remember all the back ways and Siri is of no help in these cases. After driving my second circle around I somehow got lucky and found my way to the 5th floor of a parking garage with not even 5 minutes to the start. No time for any pre race rituals. I just grabbed my things and went.
Rock N Roll Half Marathon Recap | Country Girl Gourmet

It was after the race I found out that race officials were post updates on the Rock N Roll Marathon Twitter. The race had been delayed by 10 minutes. I can only hope everyone who was trying to get to the race made it! There was an awfully long line of cars behind me that were also waiting.

Rock N Roll Half Marathon Recap | Country Girl Gourmet

I ran/walked about a block or so and found my corral. These corrals were not as strict as Disney’s. they were open and anyone could go to whatever corral they wanted. No one was making sure people were in the proper corral. This made for some bobbing and weaving around people as the race started.
Rock N Roll Half Marathon Recap | Country Girl Gourmet

I was just happy to be in the corral getting ready to run. While waiting I talked to a few ladies around me that were very kind. This was a huge difference when compared to the Disney race. I ran that race alone as well and not a single person said a word to me. This one was everyone saying good luck to each other and just talking to each other in general. Even if it was to complain about the horrible traffic.


Rock N Roll Half Marathon Recap | Country Girl Gourmet The race started and as the corrals would go we made our way around the block to the start. There were plenty of port potties and you could easily jump out of line and go if needed. Heck you could have grabbed a hot dog off the cart on the corner if you were hungry.

Rock N Roll Half Marathon Recap | Country Girl Gourmet

Before I knew it we were off. It was a tough course with a ton of hills and more up hill than downhill. At least it seemed that way. For the first 6 miles I stayed ahead of the 2:45 pace group but someone throwing water on me and the hills slowed me down that mile and I wasn’t able to catch back up to them. I really don’t remember the hills in Raleigh being so steep but they are. I did it though, I finished! Under 3 hours and setting a PR for myself.  Mad at myself for losing the pacer but it was a tough race. In the end finishing matters, not your time.
The course support was just as it was stated it was going to be despite the warm temps and 94% humidity (according to my Garmin). Thankfully I wore my fuel belt but I ended up refilling it at the 10 mile stop. The stops offered cold water and yellow gatorade at each stop and Gu around mile 8. They had flavors other than the ones they said they would be handing out. I got lucky and was given my favorite, Salted Caramel.
The bands along the course weren’t the best and some were better than others. The absolute best was the marching band playing atop a bridge. The worst was a female singer around maybe mile 6 and her tired, slow song. I enjoyed the bystanders that set up and played music more than the bands.  Thankfully I was running with my iPhone and using the one ear piece.
I do have to say the bystanders at the race were great! We were running on Palm Sunday and I was even blessed by a priest as I ran by a church.  There was even a couple who had just gotten married and many great signs and for those who like it, a lot of cowbell. More cowbell than I have ever heard during a race.

Rock N Roll Half Marathon Recap | Country Girl Gourmet

I finished strong and running. Knowing I had PR’ed added to the moment and I felt pretty awesome. After I finished we were given our medals and then a cold wet rag which was awesome. Next they were handing out bottles of water, gatorade and chocolate milk. My hands were full! A little further I found food. First there were Power bars but having never tried them I asked if they were gluten free and they didn’t know so I skipped them. Along with the cookies and pizza, again I couldn’t get a clear answer on if they had any that were gluten free. I was then offered a banana  which I passed up thinking I would just grab something from a food truck.
I was starting to cramp a bit in my calves  so I decided it would be best to find my car and go before I completely cramped up.
I was skipping the free cup of Michelob Ultra  (again it isn’t Gluten free) and concert by New Politics. I had never really heard of them anyways.
Overall except for the traffic problems it was a pretty good race. I am interested in maybe trying another Rock n Roll Race. I am just not sure I want to brave another half in Raleigh with it’s killer hills.
Rock N Roll Half Marathon Recap | Country Girl Gourmet

So here are my race “goodies”.

Rock N Roll Half Marathon Recap | Country Girl Gourmetand we can’t forget my well earned medal!

Rock N Roll Half Marathon Recap | Country Girl Gourmet

 

6 ingredient Cheesy Mashed Potatoes with Sausage

This month with Allrecipes  we are working with one of my favorite brands, Johnsonville Sausage. Right now they have a great sweepstakes going on that centers on “Easy Weeknight Dinners with Six ingredients.” They want all of you awesome Pinterest users to find recipes that you would be made better with their awesome sausage products. All you need to do is pin any recipe with 6 or fewer ingredients, tag it with the hashtag phrase #6IngredientsOrLess with #JohnsonvilleSausage, then register the pin URL(s)  HERE for a chance to win an awesome Simply Calphalon skillet. Sounds easy huh? Well it is! Unfortunately for me but good for you I cannot enter the contest but I was challenged to find a recipe to remake and make. I remade Allrecipes Cheesy Mashed Potatoes with Cubed Ham subbing Italian sausage for the cubed ham. I wanted a recipe that would work with my gluten free diet and wasn’t the traditional italian fair that most associate with italian sausage. This recipe fit the bill and my family loved it! Then again what is there not to love about Johnsonville sausage, mashed potatoes and cheese!

What would you make with Johnsonville Sausage with 6 ingredients or less?

 

Cheesy Mashed Potatoes with Italian Sausage | Country Girl Gourmet

 

Cheesy Mashed Potatoes and Italian Sausage

adapted from Allrecipes.com

Ingredients

  • 5 baking potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 1 pound  italian sausage, browned and grease drained (I used ground but sliced links would work well also)

Directions

Place potatoes into a large pot and cover with salted water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain. Transfer potatoes to a bowl; add butter, garlic powder, and parsley. Mash with a potato masher. Stir in Cheddar cheese and sausage.

Johnsonville Amazing Muffin Cups

Easter is almost here! Although it is later this year how can it be that it is time for Easter already? I know many people who are having their oh crap moments and wondering what are they going to do for the day.  From putting together Easter baskets to planning Easter Brunch and dinner. This year I can say I am thankful for Johnsonville Sausage.  If you have read some of my other social media postings  then you may already know that my family loves Johnsonville Sausage. It is seriously some awesome sausage.  Well, I have discovered yet again another Johnsonville recipe that my family loves and it is perfect for Easter brunch! Johnsonville’s Amazing Muffin Cups are the perfect addition to any Easter brunch. They have a base of hash browns that are topped with sausage, cheese, red pepper, green onions and eggs. Sounds pretty good, huh?  Add some fresh fruit and you are all set to go with an amazing Easter brunch.

Amazing Muffin Cups | Country Girl Gourmet

 

Amazing Muffin Cups

from Allrecipes.com

Ingredients

  • 12 links Johnsonville® Original breakfast sausage
  • 3 cups frozen country style shredded hash brown potatoes, thawed
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 6 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 cups shredded 4-cheese Mexican blend cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • chopped fresh chives or green onion

Directions

  1. Prepare sausage according to package directions. cool slightly and cut into 1/2-inch pieces; set aside.
  2. In a bowl, combine hash browns, butter, salt and pepper; divide evenly into 12 greased muffin cups. Press mixture onto sides and bottom of muffin cups.
  3. Bake at 400F for 12 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from oven, divide sausage pieces into muffin cups.
  4. In a bowl, combine eggs, cheese and bell pepper. Spoon mixture evenly into muffin cups. Sprinkle with chives or onion. Return to oven, bake 13-15 minutes or until set. Serve.

Amazing Muffin Cups | Country Girl Gourmet

Homemade Carpet Cleaner

 Last week in the early hours of the morning my husband was getting ready for work and accidentally spilled his coffee. He did put a towel on it and soak it up some but he didn’t have time to clean it properly. When I came down later that morning I saw the towel and spill and planned to clean it up as soon as I got the kids all on the bus to school. It became one of those days where things just were not going as planned and when the kids got home the spot was still there and remained there until today. With 4 kids and 3 dogs messes are not uncommon and I have a little green machine to spot treat as well as a full size steam cleaner. We have light colored carpet that I have grown to hate because it is a dirt magnet so cleaning carpets happens on a semi regular basis around here. The only problem is I have yet to find a cleaning solution that works well. I have used different store-bought solutions hoping each one was better than the next but I never found one that got my carpets really clean. I then started trying different DIY solutions that I found by Googling or by Pinterest.  Want to know what happened when I put solutions with dawn dish soap in my carpet cleaner? Bubble-geddon, that is what. It was a combo of bubbles coming out of the machine and dumping the dirty water container because it wasn’t full of dirty water but soap bubbles. While it took longer my carpet was cleaner than when using the different store- bought solutions but I wasn’t thrilled with the results. Back to the internet I went searching for a solution. While searching for a solution I repeatedly read that soap leaves behind residue that attracts dirt! My journey then became how to clean my carpet without detergent. What I found were different combinations of borax, oxyclean, hydrogen peroxide, white vinegar, fabric softener, baking soda and hot water. So I experimented and found a combination that worked well and is now my go-to                              Homemade Carpet Cleaner.

After cleaning up an almost week old black coffee stain with ease I knew this was the homemade carpet cleaner for me!

Homemade Carpet Cleaner | Country Girl Gourmet

Homemade Carpet Cleaner

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup Baking Soda
  • 1/2 cup Hydrogen Peroxide (3%, This is what you find at the drugstore/Walmart/Target,etc.)
  • 1 cup White Vinegar
  • Hot Water

Directions

  1. In the clean water tank of your carpet cleaner add baking soda, peroxide and vinegar. Add hot tap water to the fill line. After closing tank gently shake to make sure your your solution is thoroughly mixed.
  2. Pretreat stains as needed and follow your carpet cleaner’s instructions for cleaning.

Happy Cleaning!

Simple Savory Pork Roast

Some of the best things in life are simple. This goes for food too. There is just something about when simple ingredients combine creating something that is just spectacular.My favorite pork roast recipe falls into this category. It is delicious and simple but fancy enough for a special meal. It would be perfect for  Easter dinner, Sunday dinner or just a Tuesday night. Try it for yourself and see how wonderful simple can be.

Simple Savory Pork Roast | Country Girl Gourmet

Simple Savory Pork Roast

adapted from Allrecipes.com

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh rosemary
  • 2 garlic cloves,minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • sea salt, to taste
  • 3 pounds boneless pork loin roast
  • approx 2TB olive oil

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. In a resealable plastic bag, mix rosemary, garlic, salt, thyme, and pepper. Place pork roast that has been drizzled with olive oil in the bag, seal, and toss until thoroughly coated. Place pork roast in a medium baking dish that has been drizzled with olive oil.

3.Cook pork roast covered for 45 minutes and then uncovered for 15 minutes.The pork roast is done when the internal temperature is 145 degrees for medium  or 160 for well done. It is ok for pork to be a bit pink.

Check out THIS chart for helpful pork cooking times.

 

Lemon Blueberry Bread (gluten free)

While i’m not sure what the weather is doing, this time of the year has me wanting to get ready for spring. That includes making all of my favorite spring time foods. What is different this year is I am gluten free but I am learning I can still have many of my favorite foods like my favorite Lemon Blueberry Bread.

Lemon Blueberry Bread is the perfect springtime treat. It is the perfect addition to any Easter table or a perfect after school snack. This bread never lasts very long around my house.

Lemon Blueberry Bread (gluten free) | Country Girl Gourmet

 

Lemon Blueberry Bread (gluten free)

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup oil (vegetable, canola, etc.)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • zest of one lemon (approx. 2TB)
  • 3TB fresh lemon juice
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup greek yogurt
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2cup gluten free all purpose flour blend
  • 1tsp xantham gum
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2tsp salt
  • 1 1/2cup blueberries
  • 2TB lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup sugar

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray loaf pan with non stick cooking spray.
  2. In a small bowl combine blueberries and 1/2cup flour and coat berries. This helps prevent your berries from sinking.
  3. In a large bowl, cream the oil, sugar and lemon zest until light and fluffy.
  4. Beat in eggs and then add 3 TB lemon juice and vanilla extract and mix well.
  5.  Next add in flour, xantham gum, baking powder and salt. Mix in yogurt
  6. Finally fold in blueberries being carefully not to break the berries but to mix in remaining flour.
  7. Pour batter into loaf pan and bake for 60 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  8. In a small bowl mix 2 TB lemon juice and 1/4cup sugar and create a glaze for the lemon bread.For the glaze, combine 1/4 cup sugar with 2 tablespoons lemon juice. Drizzle over bread while it is still warm

Lemon Blueberry Bread (gluten free) | Country Girl Gourmet

Healthy Dinner Ideas with Mazola

It’s no question that I am big into feeding my family healthy dinners. My track stars cannot fuel themselves on junk just as I cannot fuel myself on junk while training for a half marathon. As a result of my healthy eating and exercise I have low blood pressure and beautiful blood work to include high HDL Cholesterol levels which are considered protective against heart disease. This month with Allrecipes we are working with Mazola Corn Oil and they have asked us to make two great healthy recipes, Pork Carnitas with Cilantro Tomatillo Sauce Sweet and Spicy Salmon with Grapefruit Salsa.  With some adjustments both recipes were perfect Healthy Dinner Ideas that my family enjoyed.

The first recipe I tried was the Pork Carnitas with Cilantro Tomatillo Sauce.

This recipe calls for the carnitas to be cooked on the stove top but I cooked them in the crockpot instead and they came out perfect. After searing the meat I cooked them for 6 hours on low (note- crockpot times vary and I know mine cooks hot) The cilantro tomatillo sauce is more of a salsa than a sauce. I added lime juice and a couple of dashes of garlic salt and it was perfect for us. Definitely something we will be having for dinner again.
Pork Carnitas with Cilantro Tomatillo Sauce | Country Girl Gourmet

Next up was the Spicy Salmon with Grapefruit Salsa. This recipe I did have to change more than I normally would for a sponsored activity but we were assured this was ok.  My substitutions were boneless skinless chicken breast for the salmon and instead of the grapefruit salsa  I made a cucumber salsa. Grapefruit interacts with a lot of different medications from heart medications to hormone replacement. So while this meal is heart healthy if you are on any medications you may want to double check and see if your medication has a grapefruit warning.

The rub on the chicken was perfect and my family really enjoyed it. The cucumber salsa became a new favorite of ours as well. Spicy Chicken with Cucumber Salsa | Country Girl Gourmet

Cucumber Salsa

adapted from Spicy Salmon with Grapefruit Salsa

  • 2 cups diced seeded diced cucumber (2 decent sized cucumbers)
  • 1/3 cup chopped red onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeds removed and finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic,minced
  • juice of 1 lime
  • garlic salt, to taste

1.Combine all salsa ingredients  and refrigerate and allow flavors to meld.

2.Serve with chicken/salmon. Great with tortilla chips too!

Cucumber Salsa | Country Girl Gourmet

 

Learn more about the healthy benefits of cooking with Mazola® HERE .

Mazola #sponsored | Country Girl Gourmet

Disney Princess Half Marathon Recap

I did it, why yes, I did! I ran my second half marathon, the Disney Princess Half Marathon! I can say without a doubt it was a very positive experience and definitely worth all my training and even those ice baths. It has been a week and i’ve started my training for my next half marathon but I couldn’t not give a Disney Princess Half Marathon recap for anyone who is interested in running this race in the future.

The Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend actually started on Thursday but I wasn’t able to make my way down to Disney World until Friday. I rented a car, drove threw severe thunderstorms in South Carolina and stopped to pee more times I would like to share (good hydration starts way before the race!) but I finally made it to Florida and Disney World. Childhood happiness and giddiness came over me when I saw the Disney World sign.
Disney Princess Half Marathon Recap

I found my way to my resort on Disney property. I stayed at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort. There was a sign for the Princess Half Marathon as soon as I entered the door. I got my self checked and off to my room I went.

Disney Princess Half Marathon Recap

After driving around and finding Trinidad South I found my room and saw that I had been upgraded to the Pirates room. This made me wish my family was with me. My youngest son loves Pirates of the Caribbean  and would have loved this room.
Disney Princess Half Marathon Recap

The fridge was hidden in the barrel. No microwave in the room though but those who need their coffee in the morning there was a coffee maker (with coffee of course but no tea).

Disney Princess Half Marathon Recap

The details even continued into the bathroom and the bathtub. Flying Dutchman bathtub anyone?

Disney Princess Half Marathon Recap

There of course were also Mickey soaps that smelled like citrus.

Disney Princess Half Marathon Recap

Overall the Caribbean Beach Resort was a pretty nice place to stay!

Saturday morning I woke up and the first thing I did was head over to the Disney Princess Half Marathon Expo at the ESPN Wide World of Sports.

Disney Princess Half Marathon Recap

Packet Pickup was quick and easy. I had brought my waiver but for those who didn’t they had computers set up so you could do it there. After picking up your bib you were sent across the street to the expo.

Disney Princess Half Marathon Recap

Walking into the expo it was pretty impressive.
Disney Princess Half Marathon Recap

Most anything running related could be found at the expo. Chiquita banana’a were there giving away banana’s, KT tape was there taping people up for free,you could try different types of luna bars and a local hospital was doing body composition analysis along with many other free things. You could find Sparkle skirts, Sweaty bands, Bondi bands, running GPs’s from Garmin to Polar, Gu’s to Cliff shots, hydration belts, running shirts and more. There was also official Run Disney merchandise but unfortunately every single thing I had hoped to pick up from Run Disney was sold out.
At the expo I saw Jeff Galloway and could have said Hi and had my picture taken with him but since I was by myself I didn’t… should have but didn’t. Instead I picked up my bag and browsed  and left picking up some free Dannon Oikos greek yogurt on my way out.

Disney Princess Half Marathon Recap

Not without finding my name first.

Disney Princess Half Marathon Recap

Curious about what you get when you run. Look no further! You are given a clear bag for race day bag pick up, a champion tech race shirt, race “bible”, some Craisins and…

Disney Princess Half Marathon Recap

 a mini Luna Bar. I gave mine away on the bus. Darn Coconut and Soy.Disney Princess Half Marathon Recap

After the expo Icaught a bus and walked around Downtown Disney for a bit. I loved seeing how so many things were the same from 11 years ago when I lived in Orlando and all of the new things.

Disney Princess Half Marathon Recap

 After a bit of shopping I made my way back to the buses and back to the resort. Stopping in at at the Resort’s Old Port Royale Food Court. There were several food options. Pizza, Pasta, Hamburgers and more. I stuck to some of the and more and had roast chicken rice and broccoli  for my pre-race dinner. Breaking my gluten free diet and getting some pizza or pasta sounded good but I was good.

Disney Princess Half Marathon Recap

After dinner and a rain shower I went for a easy 2 mile run/walk around the resort.

Disney Princess Half Marathon Recap

Under the bridge these guys made me smile!
Disney Princess Half Marathon Recap

After my run I had bought a special dessert for after dinner. A cupcake from Babycakes at Downtown Disney. Their cupcakes are Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Soy Free, Egg Free, Vegan and made without refined sugar. So needless to say I was excited to finally have a treat I could eat.

Disney Princess Half Marathon Recap

I took a bite and decided to look and see what they were made of and I became instantly sad. This Gluten and Soy Free girl is allergic to coconut and I found the allergy warning on their website. The cupcakes had coconut in them. My throat got a scratchy and a few hives popped up. I just hoped for the best. It was to sad to think of coming so far to be sidelined by having a bite of cupcake. Off to shower drink more water (and a bottle of Skratch) and to bed I went hoping for the best.

Disney Princess Half Marathon Recap

Of course setting my alarms. I am not a morning person and going to bed before 9pm was HARD!

Disney Princess Half Marathon Recap

I didn’t sleep that well but I was rested and excited for the day, at 2:30am. I still had a couple hives but otherwise I felt ok. I got myself dressed and gathered up everything I needed and ate a quick breakfast. I brought my own breakfast. I didn’t want to be left trying to find something at grab and go or running out to a store. I ate my usual rice cake with peanut butter with maybe a tablespoon of marshmallow fluff on top. It is my gluten free version of a fluffenutter. I then left for the bus stop. I walked up to the bus stop as a bus was leaving at 3am but that was ok because there were 4 buses behind it. They even let the next bus pass and I got on the next one and off to Epcot we went.

Disney Princess Half Marathon Recap

We get off the bus and we are left to walk. I thought this was the 20 minute walk that Disney tells you about but I was wrong. Spaceship Earth looked great at 3am- ish.
Disney Princess Half Marathon Recap

Couldn’t help but take a selfie like so many others were doing. Really when else do you get this opportunity?

Disney Princess Half Marathon Recap

Then it was back to walking to the race area with all of the other runners.

Disney Princess Half Marathon Recap

 In this area they had a DJ playing music to get us going, they had a couple areas to take pictures but I didn’t see any characters. This is also the same area you go for Race Retreat if you had bought that option. I didn’t and didn’t have any issues without it. It was warm, I had my water and I had no issues sitting on the ground.  There were lounge chairs you could grab and take a nap on. I did some light stretching and drank the rest of my water while in the pre race section. Around 3:45 I made my way over to the porta potties and then left for what I thought was the corrals. Just a note the porta potties are dark… I used the flashlight on my phone for light.
I was wrong though alike some others who were off to the corrals at the same time.  We thought the letters outside related to our corrals. What they really were for was for gear check. I fully blame my blonde hair.

Disney Princess Half Marathon Recap

It was after going through gear check that the 20 minute walk that Disney tells you about begins. We walked and we walked. There were marathonfoto photographers along the way and volunteers helping tell us which direction to go. I found my corral and ended up in about the middle of it.

Disney Princess Half Marathon Recap

Then as time grew closer we had a few people from RunDisney emcee’ing, Miss America spoke and there was a special birthday message to a lucky military spouse. Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother came and started the races. Each corral was counted down and had their own fireworks. Sadly though the Fairy Godmother only counted down the first few corrals and then she had to go.

Disney Princess Half Marathon Recap

Before I knew it my corral was off. I started off running and had issues with my water belt so I made my way to the right after being annoyed long enough. I walked and adjusted it and that is when I fell into a group of walkers and those running intervals. I then ran when I could and otherwise walked, weaving and going around others. Even going into the grass but training on muddy trails I was ok with that. I first came across kites from Mary Poppins and was in love. Next up was Jack Sparrow, there was a long line and it was still dark so I skipped him and decided to stop on my way back to Epcot. I continued running and even more excitement came over me as I entered the Magic Kingdom.

Disney Princess Half Marathon Recap

The character stops continued as we went on. On our way into the Magic Kingdom there were the Heroes, a couple race car drivers and cars and Villains such as Malificent. As much as I wanted to stop I had already decided what characters I wanted to stop for if I could. I had a huge fear of the balloon ladies despite my being positioned in a decent corral to start. I took pictures as I ran. Some weren’t the best though. Like this one was running downhill under the bridge to enter the Magic Kingdom from a backstage area I haven’t seen since I was in High School and preformed with my high school choir at Candlelight Processional each Christmas season. On top of the bridge was a DJ with giant Mickey hands.

Disney Princess Half Marathon Recap

One of my favorite moments was running down Main Street USA. One of my must get pictures was of myself in front of the castle and after waiting my turn a cast member took my pic for me. Then off to Tomorrow Land I went and off to storm the castle!

Disney Princess Half Marathon Recap

This was probably my next favorite part of the half marathon. It was a little slow moving but awesome!

Disney Princess Half Marathon Recap

The trumpeters were out and playing as we approached and went through the castle. It was also at this point my phone crashed as I entered the castle. Thankfully I got it up and running again.

Disney Princess Half Marathon Recap

I continued on through Frontierland and exiting to another back stage area I had again not seen since I was in high school. In this area was Princess Aurora and Prince Phillip and a bit later the 10K check point. We continued on seeing the Train that goes around the Magic Kingdom and more character stops. I can’t forget to mention we heard our “power song” Let it Go.

Disney Princess Half Marathon Recap

I kept on going more walking than running but a lot of weaving.  I looked at my time and saw that I was on my way to a PR so I just kept going. Up and over an overpass was next. My first half marathon was up and over the Franklin Mountains and my training had been on hilly trails so this was not that bad for me. I especially loved the green soldier. He was a mean drill sergeant who was making us laugh as we went up. Once we got up to the top and I saw over the overpass and how many people were still behind me the fear of the balloon ladies completely went away. I didn’t slow down my pace though. Although Disney races are typically more for fun and not PR’s, I was going to PR.

Disney Princess Half Marathon Recap

Next thing I knew there it was, Spaceship Earth and the last mile. There were so many people out cheering and clapping. Every Starbucks cast member was standing and clapping as well as many other Epcot cast members. I ran past the Fairy Godmother and Sophia the First. Then a Gospel Choir right before the last stretch. I ran (dropping my phone and having to go back) and gave Mickey a high five and finished triumphantly with my hands held high.

Disney Princess Half Marathon Recap

I did it, again. Thirteen point freaking one in 100% humidity and I PR’ed.

Disney Princess Half Marathon Recap

Those photos’s I had wanted. I missed Mickey and Minnie. I’m still holding hope that Marathonfoto got a pic of me high giving Mickey at the finish. Jack Sparrow well he decided to take a break as I was approaching the pirate ship. It’s all good though after the race I got a pic with my favorite princess, Cinderella.

Disney Princess Half Marathon Recap

I wandered around after for a bit. I checked out the Run Disney tent but it was the same merchandise as the Expo. There was a massage tent that I would have loved but it was cash only. There were various food trucks and champagne for sale at the finish also. I ended up going back to my bus line which moved quickly and back to my room with my post race goodies.

Disney Princess Half Marathon Recap

We were first given cooling towels  after finishing the race and then our medals. Mine was put around my neck where other people had theirs handed to them. Next we were sprinkled with Pixie dust. We were given our mesh bags drinks and food boxes. Finisher photos were in there somewhere too.

Disney Princess Half Marathon Recap

The boxes were all pretty much the same. Pop chips, hummus, chocolate covered blueberries, a piece of toffee, more craisins and a Luna bar.

After rolling my legs with my foam roller and a hot shower. I got myself ready and headed for the bus to head to Downtown Disney for the Happily Ever After Party. I made it there just in time for the start of the free socks giveaway at little mismatched and then I went over and spun the wheel at fit2run’s booth and won a great Brooks tech shirt. I am all about Finding Your Happy Pace!

Disney Princess Half Marathon Recap

Overall the Disney Princess Half Marathon is a good race! I would love to do it again but I have to say it is a race that you do with friends. It’s not nearly as fun to run it by yourself. I hope to run it again someday!

I think I have found a new love for RunDisney races!

Apricot Sriracha Wings

Are you ready for some Nascar? The Daytona 500 is coming up this weekend! My boys loves Nascar. They each have their own favorite drivers, my oldest is a Dale Jr fan, my middle son likes Kasey Kane and my youngest son likes Tony Stewart. A few years ago we even were lucky enough to take our entire family to a race in the Poconos and my boys became even more hooked. Hopefully now that we are back in North Carolina we can make a race in Charlotte or even Darlington. I know my boys would love it.  Until we get back to the track my kids will have to watch the race on TV and for us that means race day snacks.

I have come up with some great  Apricot Sriracha Wings that I get to eat also because they are gluten free. The wings are not breaded and baked instead of fried. I came up with a sweet and spicy sauce that my family has fallen in love with. It gets the sweet from Apricot Preserves and Brown Sugar and it’s spice from Sriracha Sauce.  I will be recovering from the Disney Princess Half Marathon while my family is home watching the Daytona 500 but these wings are easy to make and I am sure my husband will have no problem whipping them up.

Look at how easy it is!

You start with 4 pounds of chicken wings. You lay them in a single layer on a parchment lined cookie sheet and then sprinkle with fresh ground pepper and salt. Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven.

Apricot Sriracha Wings | Country Girl Gourmet

 

They will need to bake 30-40 minutes until golden, skin looks crispy and the juices run clear.
Apricot Sriracha Wings | Country Girl Gourmet

While the wings are baking you make the wing sauce. In a saucepan add apricot jam, brown sugar, soy sauce, sriracha sauce and ground ginger. Cook on medium, stirring occasionally and bring to a boil. Boil for 3-4 minutes and then reduced heat to low and cook for an additional 10 minutes allowing the sauce to reduce and thicken. If the sauce coats a spoon like below and is thick like syrup, it is done.
Apricot Sriracha Wings | Country Girl Gourmet

Place cooked wings in a bowl and add about a 1/2 cup of the apricot sriracha sauce.
Apricot Sriracha Wings | Country Girl Gourmet

Toss the wings and sauce evenly coating the wings.
Apricot Sriracha Wings | Country Girl Gourmet

and then Enjoy! Any remaining sauce can be used for dipping.
Apricot Sriracha Wings | Country Girl Gourmet

Apricot Sriracha Wings

Ingredients

  • 4lbs chicken wings
  • sea salt, to taste
  • fresh cracked  pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup apricot preserves
  • 1/4cup soy sauce
  • 1tsp ground ginger (1 TB grated fresh ginger can be used)
  • 2 TB sriracha sauce

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. On a parchment lined baking sheet place wings in a single late and season with salt and pepper. Place in oven and bake 30-45 minutes until juices run clear.
  3. In a saucepan add apricot preserves, brown sugar, soy sauce, sriracha sauce and ginger and cook on medium and bring to a boil stirring occasionally.
  4. Boil for 3-4 minutes and then reduced heat to low and simmer  for additional 10 minutes allowing the sauce to reduce.
  5. When wings are done place in a large bowl and drizzle about 1/2 cup Apricot-Sriracha sauce on top. Mix wings until well coated.
  6. The remaining sauce can be used for dipping.

Spinach and Strawberry Salad

One of my favorite things to eat are strawberries and growing up I have memories of picking strawberries that my family grew in our back yard and going strawberry picking with friends. Spending my teens in Florida I was well aware of strawberry season and the Strawberry Festival in Plant City. I can remember my grandmother buying a huge flat of strawberries and eating strawberry shortcake. There is just something about in season fresh strawberries. Living in El Paso our strawberries came from Mexico and California where the growing season is year round. While delicious the berries taste and even look different.  Living back on the east coast I get excited when I see Florida berries in the grocery store during winter months.  Plus it is a reminder that the North Carolina strawberry season will be here soon.

One of my favorite things to make with strawberries is a simple spinach and strawberry salad. It is easy to put together and takes minutes to make. The honey balsamic dressing compliments the spinach and strawberries well. It is fresh, tasty and filling. If you want to you could add some gorgonzola or goat cheese but I prefer the salad without it. I usually eat this spinach and strawberry salad for a quick lunch but have made it for dinner adding a chicken breast.

Spinach and Strawberry Salad | Country Girl Gourmet

Spinach and Strawberry Salad

adapted from Allrecipes.com

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch fresh spinach (I use organic baby spinach)
  • 1 cup sliced fresh strawberries
  • 1/2 cup raw pecans
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • salt and ground black pepper to taste

Directions

1. Combine the spinach, strawberries and pecans in a large bowl.
2. Stir the balsamic vinegar and honey together in a bowl; slowly stream the olive oil into the mixture while whisking continuously. Season with salt and pepper. Drizzle the dressing over the salad just before serving.
Spinach and Strawberry Salad | Country Girl Gourmet