Friday, September 30, 2011

Favorite Thing Friday

Wow, I haven't done one of these posts in a while.
Best thing about today (and this weekend)... the pool at Disney's Beach Club Resort.
Hope you all have a great weekend!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Last Minute Tips for Wine & Dine Half Marathon

This Saturday is the second running of the Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon and the second time I am running it.  Clearly this makes me an "expert"* on the subject ;)
For my family and friends who aren't familiar with what I will be up to on Saturday night, this is a night time half marathon that starts at 10pm.  The course starts at ESPN Wide World of Sports, heading down Osceola Parkway, through Animal Kingdom, back down Osceola to Hollywood Studios.  You go through the Studios, and down the path leading to the Boardwalk hotel, past the Yacht and Beach Club Resorts and then onto Epcot for the finish line!  There is also a 2-person half marathon relay taking place at the same time.  Runner #1 runs from the start line to Animal Kingdom, where they hand off to Runner #2 who completes the course and finishes at Epcot.
The best part of the night is after the race when we get to enjoy some Epcot rides and the Food & Wine Festival at the Post Race Party! Cannot wait! 

Here are some tips & reminders for fellow runners about the weekend:
1.  Print out your race waiver and have it with you when you go to packet pick-up.  It will save you some time, allowing more time for the important stuff like shopping at the expo or having a glass of champagne.. that they will likely have for sale since this is all about Wine & Dine baby! 
2.  Throughout the weekend, take care of yourself.  Sure, you are at Disney on a vacation of some sort, but on Saturday (the day of the race) you need to take care of yourself.  Try and eat your bigger meal of the day early (and really no later than 2pm or so) and have your typical pre-race fuel as your "dinner".  In this year’s program, Jeff Galloway outlines a great race day preparation routine.  Read it.  Live it.
My plan for Saturday:  Volunteer at Kids Races (kharma people, get out and volunteer!), pool at the Beach Club, nap in the late afternoon and then it is 13.1 miles of party time! 
3.  Make sure you read the Final Race Instructions for all you need to know about where to be and when... and how to get there. 
4.  Go to your assigned start corral for the race.  If you want to be with your friends/family, you need to go back in the corrals, people should not be moving forward.  Respect your fellow, faster runners. 
5.  Love the fact that the weather during the race will be about 70 degrees with about 70% humidity.  Honestly, living in Miami this sounds pretty great to me (I am crazy).  A few days ago it was predicted to be warmer, so I am pretty psyched that it seems to be "cooling off" a bit.  The low for Saturday night is 65, chil-ly! :)  Kidding, I am not that crazy.  The temps will be great, there will be no sun (praise God for the night race) but the humidity may not feel great.  Just get in the mind set, hydrate and you will be fine. 
6.  Thank your volunteers along the way.
7.  Spectators... as you are cheering us on don't forget to shout out our names - they are on our race bibs for a reason!  We love it, appreciate it and sometimes need all the encouragement we can get to finish this thing!
8.  Look for the sign at about mile 12.5 that says "Cold Bear Ahead" and know that is making me very happy! 

I hope this has shed a little light on what to expect during race weekend.  Good luck to everyone, it's gonna be a great night!

* Please note these are my opinions based on last year’s experience.  I am not any sort of professional anything and if you choose to follow this advice it is at your own risk.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

One Looong Week

It's Wednesday?  Really, that's it?
It has been one long week and let me tell you why.
Last Thursday while I was out for my super early morning run, while it was still dark outside, I pulled a real blonde moment and tripped on a crack in the sidewalk.  And I dislocated my shoulder.
Don't worry, once I got home and was taking off my shirt, the forward motion of my arm allowed the shoulder to fall back into place. Aaaahhhh... that felt good.  But I was still in pain for the rest of the weekend.
It hurts a little still now, but mostly it is just very tight and cramped feeling because I am holding the arm steady, moving slow, etc.  I really would like to spin my arm around and around to loosen it up.  But I won't do that, I am being nice to my arm and letting it heal a little bit.
As a result of my fall I did not drive to Orlando for the Miracle Miles 15K :(  
Thanks for the shout out Victoria, but after reading your blog post about the steamy and humid weather, can't say I was super sad to miss it.  Plus I know even though I was a no-show, my registration money went to good use for those teeny tiny NICU babies.  

I also wanted to rest up because this weekend is the Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon!  Woohoo!  I have run a couple times this week and all feels good, so my goal for Saturday night is to not fall and to get to the finish line.  Hope that works out for me.
I'll be heading up to Disney tomorrow night after work because on Friday I get to participate in this: 

You are among a select group of qualified applicants who get to enjoy a special opportunity to preview and prepare for the 2011 Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon next Friday at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.  
This unique event is to include a meet up and Q&A with runDisney’s official training consultant, Jeff Galloway, Olympic track and field coach Brooks Johnson, 2010 Disney Wine & Dine champions Melissa Wisner and Anton Van Zyl, along with nutritional tips with Disney Chef Gary Jones. We’ll have surprises along the way, so make sure you bring your camera! Additionally, you’ll have a chance to preview runDisney merchandise at the Health and Fitness Expo prior to general admission. 

I am so glad I follow Disney Sports on Twitter and was able to RSVP for this event in time when they posted it last week.  Anything that allows me to indulge my Disney dorkiness... sign... me... up. 
Of course, to Annette & I, the following line means only one thing:

Additionally, you’ll have a chance to preview runDisney merchandise at the Health and Fitness Expo prior to general admission. 

Coast to Coast tech shirts!  I really hope they have them, eek!

In other, random TV news... what fall shows are you watching?
How I Met Your Mother is off to a good start, so glad that Zoe girl is gone.  
Grey's was great last week.  Private Practice is back this week, yipee!
I am super excited Idina Menzel is back on Glee... side note about Glee, so glad Quinn is done with her 'rebel' stage... super annoying.
Ringer with Sarah Michelle Gellar, Up All Night with Christina Applegate & Will Arnett, Free Agents with Frank Azaria and the girl from 'How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days' all seem to be good shows. 
When is Cougar Town coming back?  Stupid name, funny show.
Also, does anyone else get chills when Phil on the Amazing Race, starts the race by saying "The World is Waiting"?  Best line on TV. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

My first Group Run

Marathon training has officially begun.  Well, it officially began back on August 6th but I was on vacation.  When I got back I wanted to get in a few longer runs before the Disneyland half, and the group was only running 5 and 6 miles... apparently I am a running snob.
This past Saturday they ran 8 miles and I was excited to jump right in!  There are probably about 25-30 people in my pace group, and about 6 to 8 different pace groups with the running store I am training with.  There were a ton of runners everywhere.  
Saturday we ran out on Key Biscayne.  Parking at the Miami Seaquarium we headed back into town on the Rickenbacker Causeway and over the big bridge.  I loved the bridge!  After the Beach to Beacon 10K I know how weak my hill skills are, so the burning I felt in my lungs and legs was tolerable because I knew this would make me stronger.  
Rickenbacker Causeway bridge   Source
After running through part of a neighborhood, there was a table set up with water coolers for a quick stop.  Running with a group is pretty fun, it's like a little party.  Very social setting and the miles zip by.  I really hope I still think this when we start running 16, 18, 20 miles.
I had never run with anyone before and I had never run 8 miles without music, but really enjoyed both!
After the water break, we ran another mile before turning around and heading back to the Seaquarium.  We were all done by 7:45am, just about the time the sun was starting to feel hot - nice.
I met a lady from my group who lives in my neighborhood and was looking to run with someone early in the morning during the week.  Count me in!  Running in the dark sounds great to me, so we are going to meet up a couple days a week at 5am to get our weekday runs in.  It was great yesterday to be done running and showered by 6:30am.  
This weekend I am heading to Orlando to run the Miracle Miles 15K with Annnette and then I will be back in Orlando next weekend for the Disney Wine & Dine half marathon with Leah, Annette, Brian and some some people from Leah's work.  I am so, so excited for both weekends in Orlando, but I am a little sad I won't get to run with the group for the next couple of weeks.  Oh well, I am still getting the miles in which is the most important thing.
You may have noticed above that I removed the 'Sweat!' tab.  I hadn't been keeping up with it and just got bored, so it's out.  I know I don't need to write everything down to keep motivated.  The fact I have to go 26.2 miles on January 8th is motivation enough.
If you are bored, check out the updated 'Me & My Blog' tab and the 'Bling!' tab.  Someone had a lot of time on her hands Sunday afternoon :)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Remembering 9/11

Where were you on September 11, 2001?
I do not believe there is any more memorable day in the history of my generation.  
Here is my story...
On September 11, 2001 I was working at a financial services company in Boston.  It was located on the 26th floor of One International Place... if you are looking at the skyline of Boston from the airport, it is the tallest building you will see.  
That morning I had arrived to the building in time for a 7am aerobics class.  There was a gym in my building where I took classes and then got ready for work.  I was particularly happy that day because I was going to a computer software training class instead of to work!
After getting ready at the gym, I remember walking through the Financial District thinking this was a perfect fall morning.  Crisp weather, bluer than blue skies and bright sunshine.  I even remember what I was wearing, black capris, sandals, a green top with a white tank top... the weather was warm enough that day in Boston for sandals!  I stopped at Starbucks on the way to training and got a latte and a piece of pumpkin bread (it was fall after all!) and then I headed to the training.
Since I was not sitting at my desk that day, I was not listening to the radio like I normally would have been.  At about 9:45am I went to the ladies room and as I was in the stall I heard some weird sounding lady say "Someone, like uh, drove a plane into the Pentagon".  She sounded like a lunatic and I thought to myself "What a freaking crazy lady".  I went back to the training room and relayed to my colleague what I had just heard.  We both rolled our eyes.
About 45 minutes later a woman stuck her head into our room and said "The World Trade Center has collapsed and they are evacuating all tall buildings on the East Coast.  We need to leave now". 
Since I was not in my regular building I was only on the 4th floor so I didn't need to walk down that many stairs.  My colleague and I were so confused as to what was going on, we just had no idea.  She actually thought the World Trade Center that had collapsed was the huge convention center with the same name down on Boston Harbor.  She said to me "Do you want to go see?".   I was like "No, I think they are talking about New York".
People were just pouring out of buildings in Boston and heading for a "safer" place.  We ended up walking to my colleague's place in Brookline and watched TV for the rest of the day.  She thought it may be the work of Osama Bin Laden.  My thought.... who the f*ck is that?  I had never heard that name before.
As a result of leaving work on 9/11, the software training was rescheduled for the week after Thanksgiving in NYC.  My colleague and I were able to visit Ground Zero while we were there.  The amount of destruction that we saw over two months later was indescribable.  I can not even begin to fathom what it was like on that day.
Thinking back, it kind of gives me heebies, geebies to think that those repulsive terrorists flew by my building as I was getting ready for work that day.
Also, the colleague I was with on that day does contract work as a private investigator.  After 9/11 she investigated Logan Airport, where of course two of the hijacked flights took off from.  She couldn't tell anyone what her assignment was until about a year or so after it was completed.  I did not want to pry for too much information there.
My thoughts are with the families who lost someone on that day.  
September 11, 2001 is a day I will never forget.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Disneyland Half Marathon Race Recap!

Sunday morning was the 6th running of the “Happiest Race on Earth”, the Disneyland Half Marathon, and I was so glad to be a part of it. 
Amanda, Annette, Jamie & I were running the half marathon and we were all very excited!  Our alarms went off at 3:50 am so we would be dressed and ready to head out to the shuttles by 4:20.  Our hotel, the Anaheim Marriott, is one of the Good Neighbor Hotels that offered free shuttles to the parks/races/expo all weekend for the runDisney participants.  It was easy and very convenient.

Start Area:  The buses let us off at the regular Disneyland bus stop area and we walked through Downtown Disney to the start area.  The start area was situated between the Disneyland Hotel and the DL Parking Garage.
The set-up was great, room to sit on the ground, relax, stretch, etc.  Bag check was set up alphabetically and was quick and easy.  They started sending us to the start corrals by 5:15 or so.  My running watch was still set on East Coast so I wasn’t too aware of what the actual time was. 

Race Goal:  My goal for this race was to finish it in 2:30, giving me an 8 minute PR over the Miami Half Marathon I ran in January.  I knew this would be a good goal for me because I can tell I have become a stronger runner over the last 7 months and wanted a goal to focus on.  I was hoping to run with the Clif Bar Pace Team, but the 2:30 group started in Corral C and I was in Corral D.  Felt pretty bummed about that.

Corrals:  There were 7 corrals in all, A-G.  A, B and C were easy to see and to get into.  Corrals D, E, F and G were a little more difficult to find.  Those corrals were actually what you would call chaos.  I noticed some comments from people saying that no one was telling them where to go.  That is actually not true, there were volunteers there the whole time saying D & E to the right and F & G straight ahead, people were obviously not following directions.  The problem with these corrals were the signs were difficult to see because it was still quite dark outside.  
Jamie & I were in D & E, and had to walk all the end of both corrals before we even saw the D & E signs.  One thing that was confusing us was when we were looking for D and were checking people’s bibs most said E, F or G.  So many people got into the wrong start corrals.  That was super irritating, but more on that later. 
The half marathon started with the usual fanfare of national anthem, fireworks, music and color commentary by the race announcer.  The half marathon had 14,000 runners, 49 states were represented (no one from South Dakota), 66% of the participants were female, over 600 were legacy runners (have run the half all 6 years) and 2,300 were going to complete the Coast to Coast Challenge.

Race Start:  The race started at 6am and it took me about 18 minutes to cross the start line.  Once I started to attempt to run I realized that a lot of the people around me were walking.  That’s right, walking right from the get go.  Now if you walked that race and went into the starting corral you were actually assigned to, kudos to you, great job!  I would never have the patience to walk 13.1 miles.

Tisk, Tisk:  BUT if you are one of the people who had an E, F or G on your bib but then decided to take it upon yourself and go into the D corral and then proceed to start the half marathon by walking, you are a selfish a--hole.  Yes, I was the crazy person in the pink shirt who was looking at the walker’s bibs, seeing they were NOT assigned to D and then shaking my head in disgust.  I am not quite sure why you thought you had a right to mess with the flow of the race. 
Start corrals work beautifully when people respect the rules!  Just know that if you ignored your corral placement you disrespected your fellow runners and displayed unsportsman-like behavior.  If you don’t want to be in the last corral, run faster… hell, actually just run.  I couldn’t care less if you are worried about the 16 minute per mile race limit Disney has for its races (which is extremely generous BTW), every one starts the race with an unknown ending and anyone could be out of the race at any time.  I don’t want my speed to be the reason I can’t get my awesome medal at the end, so I spend months training… running in 80 degree Miami summers, soaked through with sweat, I take occasional spin classes to help with my cardio abilities, do yoga and AquaFit to help with stretching and weight training.  And I have the utmost respect for the runners who are faster than me, so I do not go into a corral I am not assigned to.  Would I like to get away from the walkers, hell ya, so I realize I need to be faster and it is something I am definitely working on.

Miles 1 to 4:  The first four miles of the race I had a lot of conflicting feelings.  I was beyond irritated and frustrated with the amount of walkers who started in the wrong corral, but I was also trying make sure I was enjoying the race since we were running through the parks at that time.  At about mile 1.2 we entered California Adventure for our run around that park.  I was frustrated at this point because I hadn’t made it to mile 1 in time to stay on track for a 2:30 finish, so I didn’t concentrate on the characters that were around.  I did see the dog and little boy from ‘Up’ though.  They were cute and I love that movie! 
We came into the park near Tower or Terror, headed through the backlot area, then ran up towards Pacific Pier, down by Grizzly River Rapids and then out of the park towards Downtown Disney.  We crossed the area that separates the two parks and then entered Disneyland.  We ran up Main Street and turned right into Tomorrowland.  Along Main Street I remember seeing a parade float with the Princesses and in Tomorrowland there was Darth Vader and two Storm Troopers.  I loved that Darth Vader was there, very scary looking and cool.  Then we headed into Fantasyland where we saw Mary Poppins, Burt and a couple of chimney sweeps.  Sitting on the carousel horses were the fairies from Sleeping Beauty and Aurora herself!
I am behind the tall guy in blue
Way stupid picture but it is in front of the castle.
The couple behind me look like they got a good picture.
We then ran through the castle (yippee!) and headed right into Frontierland.  I can’t remember the characters in Frontierland, but I saw someone else's pictures and they were Pooh, Tigger and Eeyore, love it!  We then headed into New Orleans Square, passed the Haunted Mansion and into Critter Country.  Once through Critter Country we entered the backstage area.  We ran backstage for what seemed like a mile or so.  It was pretty cool to see that area and we got a good wiff of the horse stables :)  We then ran back into the park for a bit through Toontown, passed It’s a Small World and then into another backstage area .
At this point my 5K time was 37 minutes with an expected finish time of 2:37.  This felt pretty grim to me.  I was 3 minutes behind where I needed to be.  I kept thinking to myself, do I just give in and forget about my goal or do I try and make it up once we are out of the parks?  Would going faster to catch up make me tired and miserable at the end?  Would I end up finishing slower than I wanted?  Ugh, running can be such a mind game!
Just a little side note… I did not run with any music for the first 3.5 miles so I could be sure to soak up all the sights and sounds of the parks.  This is the first time I ran “naked” and I actually really liked running without headphones.  I thought hearing myself breathe would drive me nuts, but I didn’t even notice it.

Miles 4 to 9:  The course through the Parks was complete and we took to the streets of Anaheim.  Once we had more space to run, I decided to just put my anger into running, put my headphones on, blared the music and went to work.  Disney did a great job of entertaining us along the way.  There were countless marching bands, dance teams, cheerleaders, hula girls, Mexican fiesta dancers and spectators all along the way.  What I thought would be a long and boring portion of the race ended up being great!
By mile 5 I couldn’t believe it when I checked my pace band and I was pretty much back on track!  I was so happy!!  My 10K time was 1:10 with an expected finish time of 2:29.
Mile 8 was run on the Santa Ana river trail.  Running on dirt feels weird to me, like I am going to slip at any moment.
Mile 9 came and Angels Stadium was in full view!  We entered the park in right field and ran along the warning track on the first and third base sides, exiting park in left field.  I would say this was definitely a highlight of the race!  Very cool experience!  There were even spectators in the stands cheering us on.  Totally loved it. 
Loved running in Angel Stadium!
Need to work on a new picture pose
Mile 10 to 13.1:  As I was leaving the park there was just over 3 miles to go and I was saying to myself “Just a regular run on a regular day”.  I usually hit my wall at about 11.5 so I was feeling nervous about that.  I had just killed my 15K time though, I was a couple of minutes ahead of my goal pace! 
It was all going so well and so quick at this point, I knew this would be a PR!
During mile 10 I felt a charley horse in my right calf.  Oh no.  I have never cramped up while running and was not happy with this.  I pulled over to the side and stretched my leg on the sidewalk curb.  It felt pretty good after that and I continued on my way, just a little slower.
I was still ahead of the 2:30 pace at this point, so I knew I had a couple of minutes to play with.  I want to improve my running, but I also don’t want to get hurt in the process.  I was really listening to my body at that point. 
I did not hit my mile 11.5  wall during this race!  I think it was probably because I was paying attention to any signs of cramping in my right calf.  It was kind of nice to have my mind on that! LOL
Mile 12 had us approaching Disneyland again.  I was getting excited and started running faster when I got another cramp in my calf.  As soon as we entered Disneyland, I pulled over and stretched it out… I was thinking “One more mile, it HAS to make it to the finish line at this point!”
Calf felt good again and I went on my way.  We ran behind California Adventure, ran through a parking lot and then made the left hand turn onto the road outside of the Disneyland Hotel and on to the finish line.  I saw my cousin right before mile 13!  That was fun, I don’t usually see people I know along the way!  The last .1 I ran as fast as I could over that finish line!!  So excited to have run such a great race!
I am behind the lady in the red dress
You can see me looking at my watch
Race Results:  I rocked a 10 minute P.R.!!!  2:282 minutes faster than my goal of 2:30!!   I could not have been happier! 

Finish Line Area:  The finish line area was awesome and easy to navigate.  They were handing out cold, wet towels... AMAZING!  Wiping that salty sweat off of my face never felt so good. 
I got my beautiful Disneyland medal and then got in line for my amazing Coast to Coast Medal.  Love them both! 
Best medal picture I have ever taken.  Yes, this is a good picture.
After collecting my bag from bag check I took off the shoes and socks and put on my flip flops.  While my toe was not as sore as it has been in the past, it got bruised again :(
I then went over to the porta-potties to change my shirt.  There was one lady coming in and out of each one.  I asked her if they were all filled with poop and she started laughing.  For those of you who don’t know, when your running mileage gets up over 10, your insides get all rumbled around, so the bathroom is sometimes necessary following a run! :)

"Meet by the 'Lilo' sign":  I met up with Amanda & Annette at our meeting place to wait for Jamie.  Annette & Amanda also had PRs on Sunday too!  Amanda at 1:50 and Annette at 2:11!!  Needless to say we were a happy bunch.  While waiting for Jamie to finish we sat around, stretched, took pictures, it was fun!  

Jamie then showed up with her shiny new medal having happily completed her first ever half marathon – woohoo!  She, too, got a PR and I think she may be interested in running for some more Disney bling in the future.  We’ll have to see what we can coordinate with her :)  She had told me that morning that when she saw pictures of me and Annette’s medals she was like “Yea, those are nice, but I am not sure I know what all the hype is about”.  But at the expo when she saw her first Disney medal in person and was like “Whoa that is awesome!”
Unfortunately I did not get a chance to meet up with any other bloggers (next time Fruit Fly & Girafy!), but the weekend was a whirlwind blur!!

Overall thoughts:  I thought this was a great runDisney event.  Very organized, easy to get around, definitely could not have asked for more... well maybe just better signage for the corral system/walkway to get to them.  The entertainment along the course was good.  Annette & I thought it was the same amount of entertainment as Wine & Dine, but paled in comparison to Princess.  The Princess half was no holds-barred awesome entertainment the entire time.  I will be interested to see what it is like along the marathon course in January.  
Once out of the parks it is a flat, fast course, so PRs are definitely achievable here.  Amanda & Annette said it was not crowded at all running through the parks, they were in A & C.  So I guess the faster you are, the easier the first few miles were.  If you get stuck with a lot of walkers, just enjoy the time in the parks and pick up your speed one you hit the city roads.  If you are walking the course, a run/walker or a first timer, Disney races are great because there is a no pressure, have fun atmosphere with participants of all levels and abilities.   
I can definitely say this is a course I would want to run again and I will be back next year for another Coast to Coast Challenge!

After the race we headed back to the hotel for a shower and toasted our runs with Alaskan Amber.
Jamie drove the beer down from San Francisco, since it is my favorite and I can’t buy it anywhere on the East Coast.  I loved every sip Jamie, thank you!  
Do you think we cared that we had beer at 10:30am?  Not at all.

*Thanks Brightroom for being the source of my race pics.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Disneyland Half Marathon Expo & Pasta in the Park

What a fun-filled, fast paced weekend.  I spent 48 hours in Anaheim over the weekend and loved every minute of it!  I arrived in Orange County at noon on Saturday.  Annette & Amanda picked me up from the airport and we went straight to the race Expo.  It was held at the Disneyland Hotel.
Annette had already been on Friday, but wanted to go back without her children so she would be free to look around at all the goodies.  I was very excited to get my race bib, wristband for the Coast to Coast Challenge and Pasta in the Park ticket. 
At the expo I bought a Disneyland half marathon women’s tech shirt – love it!  I would have loved to have gotten a Coast to Coast tech shirt, but they ran out within 2 hours of the Expo opening on Friday.  Hopefully they will be at the Wine & Dine expo (only 24 days away!).  
I thought the Expo was fine, very organized for packet pick-up and all the same vendors you see at other expos.  I was not in need of anything, but Amanda did pick up a few things.
On our way back to the car we got a sneak peak at the finish line!
After the Expo, we dropped my things off at the hotel, got to say hi to Jamie & Leah, and I got to meet Jamie’s sweet baby girl, Katie.  So cute!  She looks just like her big brother Robbe it is crazy.  You can’t really tell when you see her in pictures, but I noticed it the second I saw her!
Jamie & Leah were then off to the expo to pick up their Pasta in the Park tickets.  Jamie & her mom had spent Friday night in the ER with her two boys who were sick and dehydrated :(  Leah stayed with Katie Friday night and all this happened before I even got there!  Luckily the boys were feeling a little better on Saturday, and Jamie and Leah got to catch up on some sleep Saturday morning.
Me, Amanda, Annette & her family headed over to Disneyland to get in a few rides before dinner at Pasta in the Park.  We rode Pirates of the Caribbean, Winnie the Pooh, Indiana Jones, Space Mountain and went to see Captain Eo.  Annette’s daughter called Michael Jackson a girl.  Funny.  Loved all the rides we went on as they are all a little bit different from the versions in WDW (Florida doesn’t have Indiana Jones at all).
Then it was on to Pasta in the Park for dinner.  This was a separate ticket you needed to buy as part of the half marathon weekend.  It did include a Twilight Ticket to Disneyland (we could go into the park after 3pm), so we thought it would be worth it to give this event a try.  It ended up working out perfectly for us!
When there is a large group of people traveling together with 7 adults and 5 kids, this was a great stop for dinner.  It took place in the Festival Arena in Frontierland.  Dinner was buffet style with two types of pasta, chicken, vegetables, salad, rolls and some yummy desserts.
Round tables were set up, there was music, dancing and character appearances.  The area was not crowded, yet big enough that the kids could roam free and enjoy themselves… something that would not have been possible in a restaurant.

There were also character appearances.  They all had their running suits on and were ready to go for the half marathon.

Annette’s daughter Addison and Jamie’s son Robbe especially liked seeing the characters!

After dinner we headed over to Big Thunder Mt. with the Fast Passes we got as part of the dinner package.  Fast Passes essentially let you cut the line at select rides, they are awesome!  Surprisingly, Addison (who’s 5) and Robbe (who’s 4) wanted to go on the “Fast Train” too.  
Me, Amanda, Leah & Brian took them on the ride.  Let me tell you that was the scariest ride for the adults, but the kids loved it (well maybe Addison just liked it).  That train goes fast enough that even I was getting thrown around.  I honestly can’t believe that the kids did not go flying out of the cars, I was really worried about them!  Amanda was sitting with Addison and Leah was sitting with Robbe and they were both holding on to the kids for dear life.  Brian and I were sitting in the front seat and when the ride would slow down we would turn around to see how they were doing.  I don’t think I will ever forget seeing Robbe sitting there with the biggest smile on his face.  He looked like he was having blast.  After the ride he said “I flat out loved that”.  Is that one of the funniest things you ever heard?!  Adorable.  
I have been going to Disney Parks with Addison since she was a baby and I can't believe she is now tall enough to pretty much go on any ride.  Plus she is up for anything, which is awesome, because I love the fast rides!
After that Brian & I attempted to go on the Matterhorn Bobsleds (we are the wild ride people).  Unfortunately as we were walking up to the entrance there was an announcement that it would be closed for 25 minutes due to technical difficulties.  Bummer.
Annette and her crew headed home; Jamie, her mom, kids & Leah went on Pirates and me & Amanda went to ride It’s a Small World.  Nope, that ride was not gonna happen.  It was closed for the fireworks that would be happening in an hour… grrr...
We were then going to walk through Toontown (it is sooo much cuter in Cali then it was at WDW).  Nope that was now closed for the night too.  How about the Storybook Land boats?  Not this time, closed.  After being denied several times in Disneyland (and laughing about it), we ended up going on Pinocchio’s Daring Journey.  It was cute, they don’t have it at Disney World, and we had just wanted to go on one more ride! :) 
If you have never been to Disneyland, I really suggest going.  It’s different from Walt Disney World and I love it!  The two parks, Disneyland and California Adventure, are so close together, you can actually walk from one park to the other.  In Florida you need to take a bus or a boat or the monorail.  You can even walk to Downtown Disney and the hotels.  Everything is super convenient!  I also love that almost everything is open to the outdoors. I guess that is one advantage of being in dry SoCal versus the humidity and crazy rain of central FLA.
After leaving the park, we headed back to our hotel for bedtime.  It would not be long before our alarms went off for the Half Marathon Sunday morning!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Bag Check

Since I will be boarding my flight tomorrow morning for California and the Disneyland Half Marathon, I thought I would show you what I will put in my bag check bag on Sunday morning before the the start of the race.  I wonder if I could have written a longer run-on sentence? :)  I think I am too EXCITED to care!!
runDisney will provide us with a clear plastic bag at packet pick-up.  This is the bag we will need to use if we want to utilize the bag check system during the race.  There will also be a sticker we receive with our race bib number on it.  We will need to put that on the plastic bag before we check it.  The bib number is how the volunteers will match up runners and bags at the end of the race, since who is going to run with their ID?  Not me... your bib is your ID (don't forget to write an emergency contact on the back of it, as well as any medications you take.  I don't usually do this for shorter races, but for a half marathon, it is best to fill it out)
Bag check at the Disney races are usually set up alphabetically and I assume this is how it will be set up Sunday morning.  Sometimes it can be set up by bib number, so who knows which approach they will take here, but there will be signs directing you where to go.
Inside of the clear plastic bag, I will put this little mesh backpack:
Publix is a local grocery store here in Florida and they were giving these away at a couple of Miami races last winter.  I love using these bags, because after the race I can throw away the plastic bag Disney gave me and put on the little backpack.  This way my hands are free to look, touch and admire my newest piece of bling.  :)
Inside the mesh bag will be:
Bengay & tylenol for any pre or post race aches
A baggie with a glob of vaseline to prevent chaffing
Moleskin for the inside of my right foot where I got a blister last week
Chapstick 'cuz my lips are always dry after 13.1 
Gum because I got a serious case of cotton mouth while running in Vegas a couple weeks ago, and I want to be prepared if this happens in Anaheim
And a towel just to ring out the severe sweat that will no doubt develop in my hair during the race
I also pack a dry shirt and a pair of flip flops.  
I am absolutely done with my shoes and socks the minute I cross the finish line, so the flip flops will make me a much happier person on the walk back to the hotel.  I also have the need to change shirts immediately as the one I wear during the race will be soaked in sweat.  To illustrate, take off the shirt you are wearing now, run it under the faucet, ring it out and put it back on.  Is that a shirt you want to walk around in?  Exactly.  So I have a nice dry shirt waiting for me at the end!
Also included in the bag will be my phone (to meet up with my friends) and my camera (for post races photos!).
A few other things I will bring with me to the race...
My shuffle and Nike+ sports bands for my listening and running enjoyment.
Pre race fuel will be a Luna bar and a coffee.  I will use 3 GUs during the race.  One before it starts and the other two at 4.5 and 9 (I was thinking about this yesterday)
As my Disney dorkiness knows no bounds, I will also be including my Princess Half Marathon medal in my bag check bag.  Why you ask?  Since I will be receiving not only the Disneyland Half Marathon medal, but the Coast to Coast medal on Sunday....

I want to get a picture with all three medals after the race.
The runDisney Coast to Coast challenge is when you complete either a half marathon or a marathon at both Walt Disney World and Disneyland in the same calendar year.

So what do you think?  Am I forgetting anything?

Enjoy the long weekend everyone, I know I will be loving every minute!!
And please pray that I have NO DELAYS with my flights tomorrow!!  Thanks :)

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Vegas High Roller

Here's a Vegas tip for you:  Check into Bellagio on a Sunday night when you know there is a big conference going on.  Ask for a room on a low floor (I hate elevators) and maybe, just maybe, they will give you a Presidential Suite.  Yup, I got to stay in huge Vegas suite for 4 nights!  It was super fun.
The lady at check-in was funny because since I had asked for a room on a low floor but nothing was available, her response to me was "The lowest floor we available is the 29th, but we are upgrading you to a Presidential Suite, will that be alright?"  Ummmm, yes... yes that will be fine.
Walking into the room I felt like the guys from 'The Hangover' with Rihanna's "Live your Life" in the background.  The room was huge... 3 bathrooms, 4 TVs, dining area, living area, definitely larger than my apartment.  Yes I did use all of the bathrooms and the TVs.
Everyone's hotel room looks like this in Vegas, right?
Loved the view from the bedroom.
Slept with my curtains open every night!
In the "Lady's Bath" (not even kidding, it was called that) there was a huge, jetted tub that overlooked Caesar's Palace.  I definitely took advantage of that awesome tub a few times!
They did call me the next day to let me know a room was available on a lower floor if I wanted to move.  That was super nice of them to call, but I told them I was all set :)  Sure I am "that" girl who is a freak and hates elevators, I have no problem with that.  But I am not going to be "that" girl who moves out of a huge suite to go to a lower floor.  That would be just crazy.
I'll stick with this view, thanks
And this one too...
This is the third year I have attended this particular conference, so I knew it would be long days and long nights.  It is a very busy week, but you meet a lot of interesting people representing some of the most unique and luxurious vacation spots in the world.  This year my boss and I met the owner and sales manager of the Clayoquot Wilderness Resort.  I was intrigued by what they told us about this place so I had to look it up online when I got back to my room.  Wowza, it looks amazing!  And of course, amazing does not come cheap.  An example: it's about $8,000 for a couple to go there for 4 days.
They did tell us that Dave Matthews brings his family there every year.  They said he is a super nice guy and will even take out his guitar and play for the guests.  This year he did 5 songs, plus one on his ukulele.... I love Dave Matthews Band, so I was obviously eating up every detail they gave :)
Amazing chocolate left as a turndown gift by Bellagio one night
The nights in Vegas consisted pretty much of dinners with clients.  Tao at Venetian, Sensi at Bellagio & Holsteins at Cosmopolitan (which my boss & I had gone to on Wednesday when everyone else from our company was gone - yummy burgers!).  I have been to Tao before and I love it, but I had never been to the other two before.  Both really, really good!
Monday night we were at Tao and since it is an Asian restaurant we got fortune cookies after our meal.  Everyone was reading their fortunes out loud and the senior vice president of sales from my company was adding "In bed" to the end of each one.  Is that appropriate for a business dinner?  Probably not, but it sure was funny.
She definitely did not need to add "In bed" to my fortune, it was most definitely implied...  "Sex is nobody else's business except the three people involved".  Mine was the most risque of the fortunes, so that was not embarrassing at all :)
Random pic of Bellagio
After dinner on Tuesday night my boss & I went to a party thrown by one of the agencies at Studio 54 at the MGM Grand.  It was nice to get out of the hotel for a little while, but I really wanted to just go to bed.  I have been to Studio 54 before and it was just as I remembered... Dark, loud, crowded club.  The DJ that night was great though and the music definitely got me dancing!  After fighting through my tiredness, I was glad I went.
While in Vegas I did get up two of the mornings to get in a 4 mile run outside before the temperatures went above 100... it was like an oven outside during the day and at night.  The mornings were great though, temps right around 75 and it was nice and dry.  I am probably the sweatiest person on the planet after a run, but after 4 miles there my shirt was barely wet.  Loved it.  I ran out of the hotel, went to the left and got to run by the Venetian, Palazzo, Wynn, Encore, Treasure Island, Mirage... I ran all the way down to Circus Circus and Riviera.  Vegas is another great place to run in the morning.  The streets are not crowded at all and it is fun to see the people still out from the night before.  
Paris, across the street from Bellagio
Looking down LV Blvd. towards Mirage, Venetian, Wynn, etc.
Whether you are in Vegas for work or play it always guarantees a good time!  Can't wait to go back, but I don't think I will be so lucky with the Presidential Suite next time :)