The Baltimore Running Festival - 2015 5K Race

I was back and forth in the weeks leading up to The Baltimore Running Festival on whether or not to sign up for the 5K race.  Ultimately, I decided to register for two main reasons.  I hadn't raced since May 2014 when I became pregnant with my second child and I was in need of a "big time" race feel prior to the runDisney Wine and Dine Half Marathon in November.  The Baltimore Running Festival 5K was a great experience and I was so happy that I made the decision to join the fun!

If you're unfamiliar with race day, Baltimore features a Kids Fun Run, 5K, Half Marathon, and Marathon.  This means that over 20,000 runners descend upon Charm City and take to the streets of Baltimore.  Race organizers highly recommend public transportation, but that's not a good option from where I live in Maryland.  The good news is that there is plenty of free parking in the lots surround M&T Bank Stadium and Oriole Park at Camden Yards.  

The 5K shared a start line with the marathon runners so I spent the morning with friends who were going to be running the marathon.  The marathon runners began at 8:00AM and then those of us running the 5K started at 8:20AM.  The start of the race was well organized and featured music, the mayor of Baltimore, and much more!  I was glad for the chance to start a busy race as that was quite the experience.  I know that I'm not one of the fastest runners out there so I was hanging out towards the back of the start.  I was shocked how much bobbing and weaving had to take place over the first half mile until the crowd thinned out a little bit.  

The first mile and half was up Camden street and featured mostly uphill terrain.  I had planned to run this race at my half marathon pace and kept to that plan during this part of the race.  I've been training using Galloway intervals of 30:30, so it was a "choppy" 5K.  After the block turnaround, the race proceeded onto Eutaw Street and it was truly "all downhill from here!"  At this point, I was feeling like I had too much energy (is there such a thing??) and really felt silly running such short intervals in a 5K so I picked up the pace and ran the rest of the way in.  The finish of the race takes you through the Eutaw Street gates at Oriole Park at Camden Yards and into the parking lot of M&T Bank Stadium.  

One of the best aspects of the race was the tremendous support from the people of Baltimore.  There were citizens literally everywhere along the course cheering us on, waving signs, and playing music in the streets.  It was great to see the city come together for such a fantastic purpose.    Between the well organized race, nice expo, great support, and bling for a 5K race, the Baltimore Running Festival  was a fantastic way to re-enter the wonderful world of racing!

Say Cheese!

While a vacation to Walt Disney World may only last a few days, the memories are sure to last a lifetime!  One of the great ways to remember the magic is to look back on your favorite pictures of you and your family.  The Walt Disney World Resort has so many great opportunities for pictures, you're sure to come back with more then you can even imagine.  But before you leave the "house of mouse," be sure to grab these iconic pictures to cherish!

A ride photograph! Like this one from the Tower of Terror.  Hands up everyone and SCREAM!

Nothing quite says Walt Disney World like Cinderella Castle.  Don't forget to grab a family photo from Main Street U.S.A.

Everyone needs a picture meeting Mickey Mouse!

At Animal Kingdom, the Tree of Life is central to the park - and your family photo!

If you can, grab a picture of your little one when their face lights up as they see Cinderella Castle!

"Hang loose" and have fun with your favorite characters!  Be a big kid no matter how old you are!
When you're in the parks, it's easy to get the whole family in all of these pictures with Disney's PhotoPass and Memory Maker!  That Dole Whip in Walt Disney World won't last forever, but the memories sure will!

The Baltimore Running Festival Expo 2015

Last weekend, the streets of Baltimore were filled with tens of thousands of runners participating in several different races.  And for the first time in the 15 year history of the event, I was one of them!  The Baltimore Running Festival features a marathon, team relay, half-marathon, 5K, and fun runs as it aims to have something for everyone.  With my training for my first half-marathon taking place, I opted for the 5K race as my first "race" after the birth of baby #2 and a chance to get that "big race" feel before my runDisney event in a few weeks.  

The expo preceding the running events on Saturday was held at M&T Bank Stadium (Home of the Baltimore Ravens) on Thursday and Friday evening.  The event was well organized and easy to navigate with plenty of helpful volunteers along the way.  When you made it upstairs to the club level area where all of the vendors were set up, participants had to walk all the way to the left to claim their bibs and then turn around and walk all the way to other side of the stadium to claim their race premium - ensuring that you had to walk past every vendor along the way!  The vendors ranged from apparel and shoe sales to registration for other running events and everything in between.  You can also keep your eyes open for Blue, the official mascot of The Baltimore Running Festival.  When I stopped for a picture, he wasn't even "crabby!"

While the expo was busy, it didn't feel crowded.  Parking for the expo was free in lots F, G, and H around the stadium and there seemed to be plenty to support everyone who was arriving.  You can also use the Baltimore Light Rail.  Whether you're just stopping by to pick up your race materials, or spending a few hours shopping the expo, you will not be disappointed!  

#TravelTuesday - Your First Trip to Walt Disney World, Part 1

Since many of my friends and family know that I love traveling to Walt Disney World, I get a lot of questions from first time visitors.  For first time guests, Walt Disney World vacation planning is overwhelming and I frequently get asked, "what do you recommend?"  There are so many pieces of your magical vacation puzzle to put together, it's simply too much to sum up in a few sentences.  With that in mind, I'm going to break down my best first time visitor advice in a few posts to help spread a little pixie dust to those of you planning your first vacation.

First things first, decide on your when to go and where to stay!

For most families, this process begins about a year prior to their big trip.  However, don't fret if you're throwing together a last minute Disney trip.  As I've shown, it can be done!  Regardless of how far away your trip is, deciding when and where to stay is usually the first step.  Walt Disney World has many great festivals and holiday celebrations throughout the year that add to the already fantastic attractions at the parks.  If you're looking for the least crowded times to travel, avoid major holiday breaks and summer as times that children are usually off school tend to drive up attendance numbers in the parks and wait times on the rides.

Sunset at Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa
When deciding where to stay, the first thing you need to know is that you have both "on property" on "off property" choices when staying in Orlando.  For first time visitors (and even the experienced Disney traveler), I highly recommend staying on property.  You get free transportation to and from Orlando International Airport, easy transportation to and from each theme park, extended park hours, advance FastPass+ reservations and so much more!  There are also over two dozen resort hotels to choose from in various price categories so that there is something for every budget.

There are some other options outside of the traditional vacation package booked through Walt Disney World.  There are several companies, such as David's Vacation Club Rentals, that will allow you to rent Disney Vacation Club points from members to stay at Deluxe Villa Resorts without the full price tag.  You could also consider staying off property where you will find some cheaper prices, but without the extra perks of staying inside the "Disney bubble."  Whichever option you choose, your family is well on it's way to planning a magical vacation!

The Turf Club Bar and Grill

After making the trip to Walt Disney World, families are either anxious to hit the parks right away or relax at their resort.  When we arrived on our last trip in July, the flight down to Florida with two kids wiped my husband and I out and we were ready to check into our room and spend a quiet evening in at our resort.  We also needed a place to grab dinner at our resort, Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa.  Since we had eaten fast food at the airport earlier in the day, we were pleased to be able to grab walk-in availability at a table service restaurant at the resort, The Turf Club Bar & Grill.

The Turf Club Bar & Grill continues the larger theme of this resort as a rich history of horse racing is celebrated.  Just outside of the restaurant is a full service bar and a billiards table as well as TVs and comfortable chairs.  When you enter the restaurant you'll be greeted by rich, dark woods and a dimly lit atmosphere.  There is both interior and exterior seating depending on your preference.

For dinner, my husband and I both ordered the Turf Club Pasta with Grilled Chicken.  The garlic and spices helped to flavor a very light dish as the fettucine, chicken, and vegetables were tossed with olive oil.  The menu here wasn't extensive, but the food was tasty.  The large portions also meant that we were able to each take some pasta back to our room for lunch later in the week.

With over 300 dining choices on Walt Disney World property, there are many great choices.  I think it takes a truly special dining experience to pull guests into a resort restaurant and The Turf Club Bar & Grill doesn't have a standout meal or unique character interaction to make it worth the effort to "resort hop" to get here.  However, if I found myself at Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa again, I wouldn't hesitate to visit this restaurant for a good dinner and relaxing evening.

The Good Dinosaur - Coming Nov. 25th

One of the things I love most about having a three year old is listening to him ask questions and interact with movies.  He loves being transported to another place and time as his imagination runs wild.  The newest film from Walt Disney Motion Pictures Studios and Pixar, The Good Dinosaur, stomps into theaters on November 25th.  The movie considers what life would be like if dinosaurs never went extinct as one dinosaur makes an unlikely human friend.  As a mom with young boys, I can't wait to check out what promises to be a great family film.  Enjoy the trailer and below and be sure to check out the movie coming to theaters soon! #Good Dino

And if you're looking for some fun things to do with your kids while waiting for the release of the movie, check out these #GoodDino activities!

Coloring Pages

Memory Cards

Make a Hexaflexagon

Why B-less When You Can B-more?
This week marks the 15th anniversary of the Baltimore Running Festival and I'm excited to be joining the fun for the first time.  The big day includes a 5K, Half Marathon, Marathon Relay, and Full Marathon which are all preceded be an expo spanning two days at M&T Bank Stadium - Home of the Baltimore Ravens.  I'll be running the 5K on Saturday morning as a "big race" tune up for the Wine and Dine Half Marathon next month.  The last time I ran a large scale race was back in May 2014 during the Frederick Running Festival and Baltimore promises to be even bigger.  Hopefully the field of roughly 4,500 5K runners will begin to slightly prepare me for the almost 15,000 runners I'll be joining in Orlando in November.

If you're interested in following along with the festival activities this week, check out #BaltRunFest, #RunHon, and #RunforPride on social media.  I'll be sharing pictures and tweets throughout the week @dsnyrunrgrl and here on the blog too!

Running on. . .Chick-Fil-A!

Some of you are already aware that I was invited to join the Chick-Fil-A Moms Panel this year and couldn't be more excited!  I can't remember exactly when my love of Chick-Fil-A began, but I know it was love at first bite of their delicious chicken strips and then my introduction to Chick-Fil-A sauce took our relationship to the next level.  As a busy working mom, Chick-Fil-A is one of my favorite places to stop on and pick up a quick lunch or dinner for the family.  And as a runner, I enjoy the fact that there are some healthier options on the menu too that are equally delicious.

As a member of the Chick-Fil-A Moms Panel, I will be responding to inquiries, answering questions, and giving a moms point of view on programs and products from Chick-Fil-A.  So far, I've found a few other Chick-Fil-A Moms from the Maryland area and I am looking forward to connecting with even moms from around the U.S.  If you're interested in following our fun, search #chickfilamoms on social media networks!
As a runner, I think of food for my body as fuel.  While I certainly enjoy indulging a bit from time to time, it's great to have a place like Chick-Fil-A where I can get healthy fast food options to keep me running - as an athlete and a mom!

Disclosure - I am an invited member of the Chick-Fil-A Moms Panel and occasionally receive free products or promotional items.  All opinions are my own.

Walt Wisdom Wednesday

"Happiness is a state of mind.  It's just according to the way you look at things." ~ Walt Disney

I've always considered myself a glass half full kind of gal.  The way I see it, you can't always control what life hands you, but you can control how you respond to it.  Choosing to be happy is just that - a choice.  There is certainly enough bad news in the world to bring you down if you let it, but where does that lead you?

Yesterday I was disappointed to learn that my ongoing quest to one day be a part of the Disney Parks Moms Panel ended this year at Round 1.  This was an especially tough blow after having made it to Round 2 for the first time last year.  The email came through at 12:48 AM so I saw it on my phone when I woke up to feed my 8 month old son at 3:30 AM.  While the disappointment is certainly there, I have to say that the adventure and excitement each September is something I wouldn't miss for the world.  I've often said that Disney pushes me to be the best version of myself and even though I will once again not be joining the fabulous men and women of the Disney Parks Moms Panel, I have met some wonderful people along the way, continued to grow as a blogger, and am always finding new ways to share my love of Disney and the trip planning knowledge I have with those I meet.

By choosing to keep a positive frame of mind, you are opening up yourself to new ideas and finding solutions rather than focusing on the problems that may be plaguing you.  The attitude and demeanor you bring to a challenging situation can have a huge impact on the outcome.  Surround yourself with positive people and look for the ray of sunshine that may be trying to peek through the clouds.

Is it too early to start #DisneyMP2017 trending for those of us already in that waiting room?

The times they are a changin'. . .

Blogging is one of those outlets that constantly pushes the author to stretch beyond his or her comfort zone.  I've loved every minute of my blogging journey so far and am excited about a "re-launch" of this little endeavor.  I'm still A Disney Loving Mom, but my adventures reach far beyond that and you'll find a broader range of topics on my revamped blog.

You know the commercials for Dunkin' Donuts?  They say "America runs on Dunkin'"?  Well, I run on pixie dust. . in many different ways.  My love of Disney has inspired me to be the best version of myself, as a runner, a mother, an educator, and a friend.  I hope to spread some of that pixie dusted magic to the lives of others through sharing my own experiences running along the road of life.

I hope you enjoy the new blog and I look forward to hearing comments and feedback from each of you along the way!

Happy 44th Birthday, Magic Kingdom!

Walt Disney World Resort's Magic Kingdom opened 44 years ago today!  It's hard to even begin to fathom how many people have passed down Main Street U.S.A. or how many memories were made with magical first glimpses of Cinderella Castle!  To honor this birthday, here's 44 things you don't want to miss in Magic Kingdom:

1. Walk through Cinderella Castle

2. Meet Mickey at Town Square Theatre

3. Grab a Dole Whip in Adventureland

4. Take time to read the windows on Main Street U.S.A.

5. Get a hair cut at Harmony Barber Shop

6. Make your little princess a real princess at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. . .

7. And give kids the chance to become a pirate at The Pirate's League.

8. Dine with the Beast inside his castle at Be Our Guest restaurant.

9. Ride the horses on Prince Charming Royal Carousel

10. Take flight with Dumbo the Flying Elephant

11. Watch Wishes explode high above Cinderella Castle

12. Will you have what it takes to remove the Sword in the Stone?

13. Find Cinderella Wishing Well on the path between the castle and Tomorrowland.

14. Try breakfast with your favorite princesses inside Cinderella Castle.

15.  Don't miss your chance to meet Anna and Elsa at Princess Fairytale Hall.

16. Take a spin on the Jungle Cruise - you may even get to be the Skipper!

17. Conquer the mountains - Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain, and Splash Mountain.

18. Ride around the park on the Walt Disney World Railroad.

19. Get your family picture taken in front of Cinderella Castle.

20. Become a part of the story at Enchanted Tales with Belle.

21. Have an ice cream at The Plaza Restaurant.

22. Battle Zurg in Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin.

23. Buy a pair of Mickey Mouse ears.

24. Take in the nighttime spectacle of the Main Street Electrical Parade.

25. Ride the monorail!

26. Visit Tom Sawyer Island.

27.  Check out the 999 haunts of the Haunted Mansion - I've heard there's always room for one more. . .

28. Listen to a performance by The Dapper Dans on Main Street U.S.A.

29. Join Alice and friends for a spin on the Mad Tea Party ride.

30. Watch the moving tribute to America and our military veteran's during the Flag Retreat.

31. Hum along to Zip-a-dee-doo-dah on Splash Mountain with the Brer Rabbit and his friends.

32. Join the fun of the Move It! Shake It! Dance and Play It! Street Party

33. See Walt's vision of the future on the Carousel of Progress in Tomorrowland.

34. Watch good battle evil at the Dream Along with Mickey stage show.

35. Participate in pin trading with Disney cast members.

36. Take a tour to learn backstage secrets of the Walt Disney World Resort.

37. Get "spit" on by one of the camels outside of The Magic Carpets of Aladdin.

38. Cross swords with Jack Sparrow at Captain Jack Sparrow's Pirate Tutorial.

39. Get to the park at rope drop and see the Magic Kingdom Welcome Show.

40. Attend a special event like Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party or Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party.

41. See the tiki birds at The Enchanted Tiki Room.

42. Visit the mines with 7 of your closest friends on the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.

43. Fly to Neverland on Peter Pan's Flight.

44.  Get the theme song from It's a Small World stuck in your head for the rest of the day!

And that's just the beginning!  There's so much to see and do at Magic Kingdom!  Here's to many more birthdays, or as Buzz would say birthdays "to infinity and beyond!"

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