Showing posts with label runDisney. Show all posts
Showing posts with label runDisney. Show all posts

Castaway Cay 5K - What to know before your run!

We're fresh off our latest Disney Cruise Line vacation in January 2020 and during our sailing on the Disney Dream we made a stop at Disney's Castaway Cay - a private island paradise in the Bahamas!  This island has it all. . .sun, sand, crystal clear water, food, a kids club, and much more.  But running friends will be happy to know that there is a FREE, yes you read that right, FREE 5K run available on every stop at Disney's Castaway Cay.  This was my second time participating in the run, but while many things remained the same, a few have changed and it's important to note what you need to know before you run.

It's a fun run, not a race - If you're a regular reader here, you know my deep love of runDisney races.  Alas, this is not considered a runDisney race.  In fact, it's considered an "onboard activity" for cruise guests.  When you are planning all of your cruise activities on the Disney Cruise Line website you can "register" for the race.  Once on board, stop by guest services and pick up a waiver that will need to be completed before the race.  Or, you can walk up to the race start and get the waiver to fill out.  Trade your completed waiver for a bib and you are good to go.  The start is a simple "1, 2, 3. . .Go!" announcement and there is no chip timing - just a simple clock at the start finish area.  

But you do get a medal! - The other thing you probably know about me is that I care about the bling. . .deeply.  All finishers in this fun run will get a fun rubber medal.  Yes it's only rubber, but it has a cute ribbon and a fun design to commemorate your accomplishment.  I mean, you ran on a cruise vacation while most people on cruises only run to the buffet line!  Wear it proudly and be sure to stop by and see the characters around the island after your run for some pictures showing off your bling.

Getting off the ship - So this was a change from the last time I ran this particular event and the guest services staff told me it started just a few months ago.  In the past, runners would receive a "shore excursion" ticket the night before and meet in a specified lounge around 7:45.  As soon as the ship was cleared, the runners disembarked first together as a group to take the nearly 10 minute walk to the start line.  That's in the past now.  Runners just meet up at the start line which means that you have to join the pack of people exiting the ship when it's cleared at 8:30 and make your way very quickly to the starting point near the bike rentals.  I have to say, I was not a fan of this change. . .even if I got to sleep in an extra 30 minutes!

This run is for everyone - You will find serious runners here who go all out and others who are 100% walkers just looking to stretch their legs with some exercise and take home a unique cruise souvenir.  I know sometimes we all find ourselves being self-conscious with our abilities, but don't be nervous about joining this fun run.  The course is a super simple out and back and the island terrain means you will encounter no elevation change whatsoever.

Speaking of the island - Regardless of what time of year you run, there are a few things to keep in mind.  Even with an 8:50AM start time, you are running on an island. . .in the Bahamas.  It's hot and oftentimes it humid.  The sun is intense most days too.  Even the walkers in this event want to take hydration very seriously.  Think about it in the days leading up and drink plenty of water on board.  Along the course of the fun run, you pass a water aid station 4 times - take advantage of it!  I saw a lot of people stretching out cramps along the way.

The Castaway Cay 5K is truly a family fun event that casual and serious runners will want to check out on your Disney Cruise Line vacation.  Kids as young as 10 may participate.  If you need a space to check-in younger children while you run, Disney has a kids club, Scuttle's Cove, on the island which is open as you make your way to the run.

You may also want to pack some extra money for the race apparel that you'll find at the finish line! There is a cute collection of hats, tanks, tees, and long sleeve shirts along with pins and much, much more to further commemorate your fun run on the island.  I picked up a Castaway Cay 5K hat to bring home as my cruise souvenir and something I can use on cold training days to remind me of the island vibes this run leaves you feeling!  Enjoy the scenery, the fun, and the bling. . .then enjoy the sun, sand, and drinks!


Tales from a Self-Proclaimed Slacker

So here's the down and dirty truth - I've been a slacker.  Life has gotten in the way these past few weeks and I need to get myself back on track.  I can't say it's been a bad few weeks - it's actually been really exciting around our house!  Both of my boys celebrated birthdays the first week of February which meant birthday fun and a big birthday party.  February is also the busiest month of our friends and family birthday parties too so we've been running each weekend to parties.  We've also been doing lots of fun things like visiting the Baltimore Auto Show and renewing our membership with our first visit of 2019 to the Maryland Science Center.

The weather has been dampening my training plans - literally.  Between the polar vortex, snow, ice, and rain, I am once again renewed with my feelings of bitterness for training in Maryland winters.  Bring on the sunshine and warmer temperatures!  My treadmill has been getting me some miles, but it's admittedly not the same.  And with my hubby traveling a lot for work lately, getting to my elliptical at the Y has become more difficult.

And diet - don't even go there.  Training diet went out the window with the birthday cakes, pizza, and Super Bowl food about a week and a half ago and I haven't gotten that ship righted either.  In January, I lost 9 lbs and in February I've found 2 of them again!  I've been a yo-yo dieter most of my adult life so I'm used to this ride, but I'm hoping to end that cycle.  This time around I'm not doing a "diet" - I'm working to balance healthier eating choices with exercise to take weight off once and for all.


via GIFER

So now it's time to refocus and get back on track.  But how?  Getting back into a routine is HARD - like seriously hard people.  How do you do it?  I need to hit back with consistency.  Whether it's what's on the training plan or not, I simply need to do something every day.  Training for a marathon is, well, a marathon not a sprint.  I know ups and downs will happen over the next 11 months and my success next January won't be determined by one or two weeks where I fell down on my plan, but by the weeks where I pulled myself back and kept pushing forward.  That's a good metaphor for life too. We're all bound to fall down from time to time, but it's not how far or how hard you fall.  Instead, it's about how you pull yourself back up.  And remember you are not alone - in life or training.  Admitting our failures and our struggles as well as celebrating our successes with family, friends, or total strangers on the Internet means we find support and encouragement.  So today, let's lift each other up and make each other stronger!

Conquering Excuses

Spending quality time with my treadmill
this week.
"It's too cold."
"It's snowing." 
"It's too late." 
"Why does it get dark so early?"
"I'm too tired."

Any of those sound familiar?  I know I've been guilty of saying them before, but I'm working on ways to conquer excuses in 2019 when it comes to working out and my training.  As I've heard from much wiser people than me, it's not about "not having time" for something - it's all in how you prioritize your time. 

Full disclosure - this was a rough week in meeting my training goals.  My excuses for the week include busy days at school that kept me later, my husband traveling for work which meant I had both littles to manage, and the brutal winds and snowy weather.  So while my Galloway training calendar called for 2 30 minute runs and a 3 mile run this week, that didn't happen. . .well, it didn't happen exactly that way.  This week, I conquered excuses by modifying and simply doing the best I can.  

This would have been a really easy week to say that I wasn't going to work out since I wasn't able to run the way I wanted to, but instead I made modifications to my Galloway plan to keep me moving without (hopefully) losing too much progress.  I am fortunate to have a treadmill at home which means I can still walk even when I can't run.  Running on a treadmill tears my body up and I've just reached a point where I don't do it anymore.  So this weeks running workouts became walking workouts.  I followed the same plan, just walking instead of running.  And I stayed true to my yoga video as well, logging 3 yoga sessions this week.  

At the end of the day, even when you can't stick exactly to the plan, my motto is that it's better to do something rather than nothing.  We'll see what the week ahead brings.  It's another crazy week of schedules and looks like another snow storm is on the horizon, so more treadmill miles may be in store, but I have plenty of time to continue training before the Frederick Half Marathon.  

Until next week, keep moving friends!  

Training Plans!

Time to lace up those training shoes, Mickey!
One of the best things about keeping a blog are the connections you make with others along the way.  I've met so many fabulous "virtual" friends over the years who share both a love of running and a love of Disney with me.  So in the spirit of connecting with others, I'm starting a weekly post this year that will allow me to share my week in training.  My hope is that this will be a place where I can hold myself accountable by publicly sharing what's going on with my running while also hoping to create a community space where all of you who are also enjoying the ups and downs of a fitness journey can share your own stories.

So here we are at week one - let's talk 2019 goals first.  Actually, to tell the story of my 2019 goals, I need to tell you a 2020 goal.  I'm planning to run the Walt Disney World Marathon in January 2020 along with the Castaway Challenge which means that 2019 is a year for me to seriously pile the miles back on!  I generally do better sticking with a training plan when I have a race to train for so I have two half marathons on the books this year.  In May, I'll be running the Frederick Half Marathon.  This race was my very first half back in 2016.  I'm also signed up for the Baltimore Half Marathon in October.  This will be a return to this race after a three year hiatus.  By completing both of these races, I'll also earn the Maryland Double medal.  And, because I love medals and it's really only one more race, I may add the Baltimore 10 miler which would get me "King Crab" status for the second time.  Ultimately I'm running Maryland in preparation to runDisney again in 2020!
Pretty much. . . #truth

Those of you who have been following me for several years now know my deep love of Jeff Galloway and his training plans so it should be no surprise that I'm once again turning to him for guidance on my training this year.  While I continued a regular exercise routine in 2018, I didn't run any races, so I'm back at staring in square one for half marathon training.  I'm following Galloway's Beginner Half Marathon training plan that can be found on the runDisney website.  It's a 19 week training program which works perfectly since the Frederick Half is 19 weeks away.  This week, I ran my three training runs - two 30 minute runs and a 2 mile run on the weekend.  It actually felt pretty good being back out there with minimal adjustment for my body.  I'm supplementing my non-running days with either walking or yoga to keep moving but hopefully without putting too much stress on my muscles and joints.

What are your fitness goals this year?  Any runners out there with exciting races on the calendar?  Or maybe you're changing up and trying something new.  Whatever your goals are, I can't wait to follow your journeys too!

2017 Princess Half Marathon Race Recap

Leg 2 of the Glass Slipper Challenge found me with another early wake-up at 3AM to get ready to join the thousands of women (and lots of men too!) at Epcot for runDisney's Princess Half Marathon. Like other runDisney races, the start time is an invigorating 5:30AM and they ask runners to arrive by 4:30AM at the latest.  We boarded our bus from Coronado Springs at 3:45 and were inside the waiting area at Epcot by 4:15.  Since we had time to spare and nothing else to do, we opted to get in line to try and meet a princess before the start of the race.  We cut it close before the line was closed, but were able to grab a picture with Tiana.  Christine and I also found a minute to pause for a quick photo before heading to the corrals.  As you can see, I went with a Belle inspired look for the race which was fitting as the race weekend theme was Beauty and the Beast.

The starting corrals for this particular race are a good walk from the waiting area.  Definitely heed the warnings by the DJ beginning around 4:30 to start walking there.  We began heading in that direction around 5:00 and didn't make it to our corral until after the race had officially started.  That's a benefit though of being slow - my corral placement was so far back, I didn't miss my starting time!  We saw many, many people running hard to try and make it to their corrals before the race started and some early corral runners who missed their start and had to drop back.  Regardless of where runners started, everyone was treated to the usual pomp and circumstance that accompanies the start of every runDisney race - fireworks and music!

The race featured a number of unique and fabulous character stops.  We bypassed the long line for the group of handsome men waiting to greet runners, but don't worry ladies - I grabbed a quick photo as we jogged past.  This course takes you from Epcot to the Ticket and Transportation Center and then onto Magic Kingdom.  There is nothing quite as exciting as seeing the signs for Magic Kingdom, running down Main Street USA, and through Cinderella Castle.  There were a number of character stops in Magic Kingdom, but I was feeling very tired and sluggish from being undertrained and tired from the 10K the day before so we continued to push on to not loose momentum.  I had said that I would stop for Gaston no matter how long the line was, but when the line was back past Under the Sea - Journey of the Little Mermaid, I changed my mind and just settled for a quick pic on the way past.

After leaving Magic Kingdom, we ran past the Grand Floridian and saw a very famous and familiar face.  Many Disney regulars will recognize Richard as the long time greeter at the Grand Floridian.  This was one picture I couldn't pass up.  As we made our way back to Epcot, I started to really lose it physically.  As we were on the bridge crossing into Epcot, I was doing way more walking than running, but I was still moving in the right direction.  After entering Epcot, runners circled around the  fountain in Future World and then back to the parking lot.  The Gospel Choir at mile 13 was just what this exhausted runner needed.  Princess Minnie was greeting runners right before crossing the finish line and we were done!  19.3 miles in less than 30 hours was an impressive feat for me and I couldn't have been happier to pick up my beautiful Princess Half Marathon AND Glass Slipper Challenge medals.  I also couldn't have been happier to return to the hotel for a shower and lunch that was waiting for me.  The Glass Slipper Challenge was a memorable weekend and I look forward to my next runDisney adventure!



Enchanted 10K Race Recap

Walt Disney World is a place where dreams come true and runDisney weekends there help those dreams become reality.  This year, my friend and I traveled for a girls weekend to Walt Disney World as part of the Princess Half Marathon festivities where we participated in the Glass Slipper Challenge which includes the Enchanted 10K and the Princess Half Marathon.  Given the princess theme for the weekend, I opted to go for race costumes inspired by two of my favorite leading Disney ladies.  For the 10K, I sported a green skirt and purple top along with a red headband to run in an Ariel inspired look.  

Saturday morning began early as all runDisney race days do with a 3AM wake-up call and a 3:30AM bus ride to Epcot for the start of the race.  The DJ had us all pumped up and ready to go.  We decided to jump in line for the chance to try and meet a princess before the race.  No one can queue up a line like Disney and they had the hour plus line well organized - even if there wasn't a FastPass+ option to jump ahead!  After finally snagging a picture with Jasmine, I joined some very enthusiastic ladies in the parking lot for the Cha-Cha Slide and then it was off to the corrals.  

The Enchanted 10K featured a staggered start within each of the corrals in an attempt to spread runners out on the course.  My friend and I were in one of the later corrals and found congestion prevalent along the way as the race began for us.  Typical of runDisney races, characters were out in full force on the course.  Because our starting corral was not that great, we skipped most of the character stops.  However, I couldn't resist stopping for a rare opportunity to meet the Evil Queen from Snow White.  The line was massive, but I decided to take the chance and wait.  We ended up waiting nearly 30 minutes and as we were getting our pictures taken, I saw the cyclists ride by warning about sweeping and could easily see the balloon ladies - YIKES!  That was a first.  We hightailed it back onto the course and continued along the highway until we entered Epcot through World Showcase.  

Getting that close to the sweepers scared me to death and we didn't end up stopping for any more character pictures along the way.  As we wound through World Showcase and onto the Boardwalk, the sun was rising higher and the so was the temperature.  The final character stop featured Princess Minnie, and a line that was probably 45 minutes long.  I felt like there were a great number of character stops, but I couldn't get over how long the wait was at each one - even larger than what I remember from previous Wine and Dine races.  

The finish was truly a celebration for runners with music, characters, and medals.  We were so exhausted by the end of the race from the late night out the night before and the early morning, that we opted to head straight back to the hotel for a shower, some food, and a nap.  After all, we had only completed one leg of the Glass Slipper Challenge with another 13.1 miles less than 24 hours away!

Taking Time for Mom

Over the past three months I've taken an unplanned hiatus from blogging.  I can't say that I'm sorry about it either.  While I was in Walt Disney World for runDisney's Princess Half Marathon weekend, I had a blast with my good friend, but realized just how out of shape I was for someone who was a "runner."  Yes, I would run using Galloway's interval training, but since the birth of my second child, I had a hard time dropping the pounds.  The pictures from the weekend revealed this to me more than I liked to admit.  So I decided to get serious about getting back in shape and focus on me.

In order to take more time for myself, I had to find some extra time in my schedule which meant that blogging took a back seat.  I have to say that it felt good to do something for me each day.  And the results have felt good too.  I've lost roughly 20 lbs over the three months and refocused on my health, career, and family.  And while I still have work to do in all of those areas - I'm ready to return to the blog to talk about my journey over the past months, summer family fun plans, and the magic of Disney!  I look forward to connecting back with each of you again over the next few weeks!!

I'm officially a runDisney Princess!

It's been quiet for a few weeks on the blog as I've prepared for and traveled to Walt Disney World for my very first Princess Half Marathon Weekend.  I'll be posting more details on each of these experiences in the weeks ahead, but I wanted to take a minute and give you a quick weekend recap from my trip.

Where We Stayed - For this trip, I was back on Disney property and stayed at Coronado Springs Resort.  The moderate level hotel is also a Convention Center and as such boasts several dining options, a spa, and beautiful grounds.  We were only here for two nights, but enjoyed our stay.  It's definitely one I will recommend to friends and family in the future.

Where We Ate - We had two new dining experiences on this trip.  We visited Chef Art Smith's Homecoming in Disney Springs for dinner one evening where we were delighted by some down home southern cooking.  And on Sunday, we enjoyed the Gospel Brunch at House of Blues - also in Disney Springs.  The Gospel Brunch, which features a buffet of New Orleans favorites and a gospel concert, had been on my "must-do" list for a while now and it didn't disappoint!  I also had the pleasure of introducing my friend Christine to California Grill.  If you're a regular reader of my blog, you know that dinner while watching the fireworks from California Grill is one of my favorites and I was excited to do it again.

What We Did - We ran the Glass Slipper Challenge!  When you spend less than 50 hours in Walt Disney World and run both a 10K and Half Marathon, there's not much time to do anything else.  Both races were a lot of fun.  In typical runDisney fashion, characters and entertainment were everywhere you looked.  And the bling. . .oh, the bling!  It was a fabulous weekend of race medals - my new favorites in my ever growing collection.  Princess Half Marathon weekend had a very different vibe then my previous experiences at Wine and Dine.  It felt "crazier," but I guess that's what happens when you have 20,000+ women running in tutus!

As you can see, it was a short trip, but I was able to pack in many new experiences.  I can't wait to share them with you in the weeks ahead and I'm already counting down to our next trip in November - a return for runDisney's Wine and Dine Half Marathon weekend events!!

My Top 5 Posts of 2016

In what has now become an annual tradition on the blog (I think I can call it that if I've done it two years in a row, right?), here is a countdown of my top 5 posts from the past year.  Thanks to everyone who stops by to check out my posts and I can't wait to share more memories and magic in 2017!

5. Why We Won't Be Going to MNSSHP - Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party has been on my Disney bucket list for a long time now and we were finally taking a Fall trip that would put us there not only during some of the party dates, but actually on Halloween.  So why did we decide not to go? Find out here!

4. runDisney Inaugural Wine & Dine 10K - The inaugural runDisney Wine & Dine 10K was an amazing race.  Hosted by Chef Remy, the race featured a familiar course through Epcot and around the Boardwalk with some great characters and all the runDisney fun that you expect from their events.

3.  A Beginner's Guide to Epcot's International Food & Wine Festival - One of the most popular events in Walt Disney World can be overwhelming when you don't know what to expect.  We attended for the first time in 2015 and I used my experiences to write some tips that I learned which might benefit other first timers.

2.  Best Bets for Preschoolers in Epcot - Traveling with the little guys to Walt Disney World has meant seeing the parks through the eyes of my kids.  Epcot gets a bad reputation sometimes as not being a kid-friendly park.  This post highlights some of our favorite things to do around Future World and World Showcase!

1.  Things that May Terrify Your Kids in Walt Disney World - My husband will probably laugh out loud that this is my top post of the year.  His biggest complaint about Disney is that our kids are scared of some of the things there.  It's a true statement.  I don't think that ruins a family vacation - just review some of these experiences that might terrify your kids.  Moral of the story, there is so much to see and do in Disney; do what makes your family happy rather than trying to push through things that scare them.

How to Survive a runDisney Expo with Your Sanity

If you look up the definition of "insanity" in the dictionary, you may see a picture of a runDisney event.  From the breathlessness that accompanies registration day ("Will I get in?") to the organized chaos mass of people loading into corrals on race morning - no race that I've ever experienced comes close to the excitement and adrenaline rush that runDisney enthusiasts know far too well.  The expo at runDisney race weekends is no different.  After having a few runDisney events under my belt, here are some tips to help make the expo a little less stressful and allow you to hopefully enjoy everything there.

1. As Scar would say, "be prepared." - At it's very core, the expo's prime purpose is for you to pick up your bib so you can actually run in the race.  In order to do this, you need to have your race waiver ready to go.  runDisney typically sends these out a week or two in advance and you can print it out to bring with you.  If you forget, the expo does have printers available for you to print there, but it just adds more time and another line for you to wait in.  Also, make sure you have your ID.  runDisney has a strict no transfer / no sale policy and they will verify that you really are the runner who registered.  Another thing to keep in mind is that you may only pick up your own bib; not for anyone else unless you are picking up for a child in the Kids Races.

2.  Choose your time wisely - I would not recommend going to the expo when it opens on the first day. . .unless you would like to be trampled by all manner of ebay sellers and crazy merchandise shoppers.  The pictures I've seen on social media in the first hours that the expo have kept me away.  I have attended the expo on the first day later in the afternoon and have been able to purchase official merchandise without any problems.  Now if there is something that you are desperate for, maybe you will need to go early - may the Force be with you.

runDisney celebrity sighting!!
3.  Shop the merchandise like a pro - First things first, if you want a jacket or pin go ahead and pre-order it through Active.  It will save you a lot of time and hassle at the expo to pick up what you ordered rather than worrying about whether or not they will still have what you want in stock.  The pre-order jackets are also unique to the online pre-purchase so you won't be able to find those exact ones there.  Secondly, when you go to the official runDisney merchandise section, be sure to shop the whole area before getting in line.  These lines can be lengthy and you don't want to have to get out and get back in.  It's also good to note that at the official runDisney location, you can access all of your typical Disney discounts - 10% off $50 or more with a Disney Visa and current percentage off discounts for Annual Passholders and Disney Vacation Club Members.  They also accept Disney Gift Cards at that location.  Lastly, if you're in search of the runDisney New Balance shoes, sign up for the virtual queue to reserve your spot.  These are at the New Balance location at the expo, not with the runDisney merchandise.  Disney discounts and Disney gift cards can't be applied towards the shoes. 

4.  Take your time to enjoy - You have worked hard and trained hard for this race weekend, don't rush through it!  I love exploring the booths, checking out the medals for upcoming runDisney races, and listening to guest speakers.  I was so excited to meet Jeff Galloway and talk about my training with him.  Know your travel party on your Disney vacation.  I leave non-runners at the hotel or at the parks so that I can enjoy the expo at my own pace without my little ones (or my husband for that matter) asking "are we done yet?"

5.  Manage expo transportation - Transportation to and from the expo is provided from the Walt Disney World Resort hotels on a continual basis (about every 15-20 minutes).  The bus parking lot is well signed with which busses are going to which resorts.  If you are not staying on property, you can drive to ESPN Wide World of Sports or take a taxi.  Parking is free and taxis are also readily available.  Cast members are more than happy to help point you in the right direction whichever option you choose!  

Favorite Mickey Meet and Greets in Walt Disney World

A trip to Walt Disney World isn't complete without a visit to the mouse himself, Mickey!  If Mickey Mouse is on your "must-do" list (and we all know he is!) there are plenty of opportunities to meet him around the theme parks and in resort dining.  With all of those chances to say hi to Mickey, where does one begin?  Here are my favorite places to meet Mickey Mouse around the Walt Disney World Resort!

Meet Mickey Mouse at Town Square Theater - I'm starting off my list with one of my all time favorites.  This meet with Mickey is located just inside Magic Kingdom.  Mickey Mouse is dressed as a magician and greets guests before he is set to go onstage at the theater.  What sets this meet apart?  The fact that Mickey talks!  Kids (and adults) have the chance to interact with Mickey in a way that is totally unique to this location.  We can't make a visit to Magic Kingdom without visiting "talking Mickey." FastPass+ is available for this meet, but may not be necessary as I've rarely seen lines longer than 30 minutes and often have spotted wait times of 15 minutes or less.


Garden Grill - Inside of Epcot's The Land Pavilion is a semi-hidden character dining gem, Garden Grill.  This restaurant features Mickey Mouse, Pluto, Chip, and Dale in their best farming gear as they serve up homestyle food, family style.  We had breakfast here and delighted in the character interaction and the delicious food.  As someone who travels a lot with small kids, the fact that breakfast is served family style is a nice touch so I don't have to juggle kids at the buffet.  Another unique aspect of this restaurant is the fact that it is circular and rotates through the Living with the Land ride.  This dining experience is not as crowded as others which meant that the characters really took their time at each table - and farmer Mickey Mouse is adorable!  A great tip is to book a character breakfast here before the park opens and you can be among the first in line for popular attractions like Soarin' when you have finished eating.  For more information on Garden Grill, check out my review here.


Chef Mickey's - If you'd like to meet Mickey Mouse without visiting one of theme parks, you can have a meal at Chef Mickey's inside of Disney's Contemporary Resort.  This character meal is energetic and upbeat.  The open air concept of the restaurant with the monorail zooming through the hotel above adds to the fun.  Here you can meet the "Fab Five" in one spot - Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, Goofy, and Donald.  The price of this character meal is steep and reservations are hard to come by, but it's a great way to meet your favorite Disney friends without the lines and while enjoying a buffet breakfast, lunch, or dinner.  It's also easy to access this restaurant as you can take any transportation to Magic Kingdom and then either take the short walkway or hop the monorail to the Contemporary.  If you're interested in learning more about Chef Mickey's, check out my review here.

At a runDisney race - I love meeting characters out on the course of my runDisney races and coming across Mickey is one of my favorite stops!  Mickey Mouse can typically be found as runners are waiting to move into corrals and once the race ends to pose for pictures (and Minnie is usually by his side).  We all know that when you runDisney, "every mile is magic" so what better way to capture the fun and memories of the race then with a photo op with Mickey!

There are so many places to meet Mickey on your vacation, that it's easy to follow Walt's advice and never forget "that it was all started by a mouse."  Happy 88th Birthday Mickey Mouse!  See ya real soon, pal!

runDisney Inaugural Wine & Dine 10K

After running my first runDisney races in 2015, I was hooked and couldn't wait to plan a 2016 race getaway.  We ended up planning a weeklong family vacation that would end on Wine & Dine weekend once again.  And with a new menu of racing choices including the addition of a 10K and Lumiere's Two Course Challenge there was a lot of excitement in the air during the months leading up to the event.  Due to our travel schedule, I wasn't able to do the half marathon so the inaugural challenge was out for me, but I was thrilled to be part of the Ratatouille themed 10K.

The 10K was set to run on Saturday morning with the typically early runDisney start time of 5:30AM.  I was staying offsite at the Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek so I had to provide my own race transportation, which I did via taxi service to the start line at Epcot.  I arrived right around 4AM and couldn't be more excited to be at the party that greets runners.  Characters, concession sales, and a DJ all provide a fantastic atmosphere to get pumped up for the race.  Since I didn't have much else to do until the start time and I was by myself, I hopped in the very long line to meet Remy and Emile from Ratatouille.  The DJ kept announcing that the characters would leave at 5AM and I wasn't sure if I was going to make it.  Remy disappeared about 4:45, but I remained in line for Emile and ended up being the last person who got to meet him before the race started.


After meeting Emile, I headed over towards the corrals.  runDisney is nothing if not efficient at getting their races off and running on time.  By the time I made a stop to use the bathroom, corral A had already headed to the starting line and my corral, corral B, was already opened up to follow.  With the typical runDisney fanfare including music and fireworks, the first corral started promptly at 5:30 and corral B was off about 10 minutes later.


This was my first runDisney 10K and, although this was an inaugural race for Wine & Dine weekend, my understanding is that it was a familiar course.  The first 3 miles were on the roads out and around Epcot.  There were two character stops along the road including the penguins from Mary Poppins and  Flik and Princess Atta from A Bug's Life.  I was feeling energized and neither stop was overly appealing to me, so I kept on running past those characters.  Shortly after the mile 3 marker, runners enter Epcot through a backstage area and burst into World Showcase inside the Norway Pavilion.  The cast members inside World Showcase were phenomenal - cheering runners on in languages native to each country!  This also led to the next few character stops which included Geppetto and Pinocchio in Germany and the Genie in Morocco.  I was feeling like I needed some character interaction as I was already past the halfway point so I stopped for each of these.  Runners then continued out of Epcot via the International Gateway to circle Disney's Boardwalk and the Yacht and Beach Club Resorts.  Chip and Dale greeted runners at the ESPN Club and there were a lot of spectators out in the resort areas to cheer everyone on.  As we re-entered Epcot, a large Sebastian met us and the party continued into the United Kingdom.  We exited the park after running through Future World and accepted the inaugural bling in the parking lot near where we started.  As always, the course was flat and fast.



I have to say that once again I was incredibly impressed with runDisney.  Everything was organized, well-supported, and fun.  I can't say that any other races I've run have come close to the experience of runDisney.  I was also really pleased with the runner's etiquette on display this week.  Many runDisney runners follow Galloway's run/walk intervals.  Everyone I encountered on the course was signaling breaks and not walking in large groups.  I would definitely come back for another Wine & Dine 10K and can't wait for the Glass Slipper Challenge in about 100 days!!

Quick Trip Recap

We're fresh off our latest trip to the Walt Disney World Resort and I have so much to share about our vacation!  We traveled with my parents and stayed at the Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek.  This was the first time we've stayed off property with kids and I have to say that the Hilton was a perfect choice.  I'm going to update my review of the property with everything that we enjoyed with the kids, but in short, the pool, breakfast, and transportation made it easy to enjoy all the parks had to offer as well as relax around the resort during our "down time."

Daddy and Caleb enjoying the pool at the Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek
Our week long trip included a 6 day Magic Your Way base ticket where we visited one park per day.  We opted to spend 2 days each at Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom with 1 day each at Epcot and Hollywood Studios.  Inside the parks, we tried a few new experiences including The Pirates League at Magic Kingdom and the Jedi Training Academy: Trials of the Temple at Hollywood Studios.  Brody, our 4 year old, loved all of the Star Wars activities at Hollywood Studios in particular.  While Hollywood Studios is getting a bad rap lately due to so much of the park being closed for the addition of Star Wars Land and Toy Story Land, I think this might have been one of Brody's favorite days.

My handsome Captain Hook!


Brody was an extremely brave Jedi as he battled Darth Vader and Kylo Ren!
We also tried a few new dining and evening experiences.  The Pirates and Pals Fireworks Voyage was a memorable evening and one that I would highly recommend to anyone with young kids.  We also enjoyed a fabulous date night out at Jiko with it's delicious South African cuisine and tried out the breakfast at Akershus inside of Epcot.  I was also thrilled to run in the inaugural runDisney Wine and Dine 10K my last day in Walt Disney World.

Meeting my doppelgänger, Snow White, at breakfast!
Just a few quick pictures from the inaugural runDisney Wine and Dine 10K
I'll admit that the week long vacation with a 1 year old and 4 year old had its trying moments, I still think that the boys enjoyed their time in the most magical place on Earth.  I can't wait to share all of the experiences with you from my trip over the next few weeks.  Stay tuned for some new and exciting posts!

What makes Walt Disney World Resort #WonderFALLDisney?

A few weeks ago, I turned into the Disney Parks Live Stream from the Walt Disney World Resort to catch a glimpse of the Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular Show that is part of Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party.  During the broadcast, Disney Parks commentators shared some of the reasons that Fall is one of the best seasons to visit.  I've had the pleasure of taking part of some of these events before, and others I'm excited to experience for the first time when our next trip begins in just about a month!

Epcot's International Food & Wine Festival - This classic festival that has been a part of Epcot for over 2 decades showcases food and drinks from around the world as well as some of the best celebrity chefs one can imagine.  Last year, we had a wonderful time eating our way around Epcot.  One of my best tips for beginners to the festival - don't bother making lunch and dinner reservations.  You'll be so full from snacking at the delicious kiosks, you won't need to stop and sit down for a full meal!  And don't forget to check out the Chase Lounge if you have a Chase Visa credit card.

Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party - I have to confess that I am a little bummed were going to be missing this.  In case you missed my previous post, we opted out of attending this annual event due to the late night with young kids and ridiculous Halloween weekend pricing.  However, when I was watching the Live Stream from the party in September, I have to admit that the whole event looks fantastic.  I'm sure we'll end up going at some point when the kids are older.  Here's wishing all of you attending a spooktacular time!

runDisney - The first weekend in November means that runDisney has once again returned to the Walt Disney World Resort.  As the only fall race in Florida, this is a very popular ticket.  I ran Mickey's Jingle Jungle 5K and the Wine and Dine Half-Marathon in 2015 and can't wait to see the changes for 2016.  With a new Wine and Dine 10K and Lumiere's 2-Course Challenge added to the menu, as well as the time change for the half-marathon to a morning start, there is sure to be lots of excitement and opinions surrounding this event.

Good Weather, Lower Crowds, and Great Deals - Long gone are the high temperatures and paralyzing humidity of the summer.  Instead, you'll find pleasant temperatures and smaller crowds with school back in session.  Fall can also feature several great travel deals.  This year, free dining once again made a return to the Walt Disney World Resort as did percentage off offers for room only reservations.  While the booking window has passed for most of these great offers, deals are still available for the popular holiday season and Disney Visa cardholders have their preview this week of special offers for the beginning of 2017.

We're counting down the days to our #WonderFALLDisney vacation.  What are your favorite events of this season?


Running Etiquette for runDisney and Beyond!

There are several things that you will find at every runDisney race - costumes, characters, fun, and lots of people.  I mean tens of thousands of runners all looking to make memories running the most magical races on Earth.  With so many runners participating in each race of a runDisney weekend, race day etiquette becomes even more crucial.

runDisney races draw runners from all skill levels - the elite to the just beginning.  And with Jeff Galloway being the training face for runDisney, there are plenty of participants using run/walk intervals - myself included.  There is nothing wrong with taking ample walk breaks during your runDisney race, but keep these things in mind:

  • Don't walk (or run for that matter) more than 2 across.  Friends and family make great running friends, but when you run or walk 3, 4, or 5 wide, it's hard for anyone to get around you - especially in the narrow areas of the course like the walkway between Disney's Hollywood Studios and Epcot.
  • If you're using run/walk intervals, remember to signal your walk breaks by raising your hand.  This will prevent those who are running behind you from running into you from behind.  When you're walking, you should also move to the right so that those who are running can pass on the left.
  • Be honest with your proof of time - and don't try to sneak into a different corral.  This is a biggie.  Respect the race rules and let the faster runners get out in their corrals.  Jumping ahead or lying about your time only creates more backlog on the course for everyone. 
And remember, race etiquette isn't just for runDisney, but for all of your races - to infinity and beyond!

Tips for Packing for runDisney

Getting ready to race can be a daunting task as you train, prepare, and figure out logistics.  Add to that, getting organized for a Disney Parks vacation at the same time and it may seem overwhelming.  Here are some of my favorite tips to get ready to runDisney so that you can enjoy your race weekend and your vacation!
Who is ready to runDisney??
  • Put essential race gear in your carry on. This becomes even more important if your flight is close to race day. I've read horror stories of runners who fly to their race location and have their shoes or racing outfit in luggage that was lost. This is a highly unlikely situation, but it doesn't hurt to plan accordingly.
  • Speaking of running clothes - pack what you know is comfortable and will work for you. One of the most enjoyable parts of any runDisney weekend is checking out some of the amazing costumes of runners. Personally, I have a lot of fun planning my own outfits, but I always make sure that the costume will be comfortable for the 13.1 miles ahead of me. 
  • Don't forget snacks and energy gel that you like to use. While you can find food in whichever Disney Parks location you're running in and there will be plenty of gel options for sale at the expo, you don't want to mess with success on race day if you know a certain protein bar or flavor of energy gel carries you through a race.  
  • Leave the bulky bags behind. runDisney provides each runner with a clear plastic bag and bib stickers to use for gEAR check - a process which runs amazingly smooth. This means you don't need to worry about packing bags to bring your change of clothes or end of race essentials. 
  • Bring a "throwaway" layer of clothes. I'm just going to point out that Florida weather is CRAZY. There have been some race weekends with freezing temperatures and others with heat and humidity warnings. Like the Girl Scouts taught me like I was young, you always want to be prepared. If it is a little chilly out while you're waiting in corrals or beginning the race, you can keep this extra layer on and then simply pitch it on the side of the road as you begin to run. runDisney will collect these extra clothes and donate to charity.
runDisney vacations are a lot of fun and a great way to celebrate your months of training.  Be sure to pack for success - and maybe leave a little room to spare in your luggage for those goodies you might want to pick up at the expo!

It's All About the Bling

One of the things that sets runDisney races apart from all others in my book is the amazing bling.  When it comes to Disney races, rather it's been a plastic medallion, a rubber medal, or the real deal, I've always been proud of and impressed by the medals. You can count on fun designs that are themed around each race and part of the fun is waiting for the big reveals leading up to the races.

And now that bling is even blingier (yeah. . .that's probably not a word).  Gone are the days of rubber medals for 5K races in Walt Disney World and Disneyland.  runDisney released today new medal designs for the Disneyland 5K, Mickey's Holiday 5K, and the Captain America 5K - all of which are coming up this fall.  Check out the new shiny designs below in this image from runDisney.

Image from www.instagram.com/rundisney
I'm glad to see runDisney adding real medals for 5K finishers.  While I know a medal for a 5K is a rare occurrence, when you shell out $75 plus Active fees to run, you deserve a little bling with your t-shirt and your memories.  I don't know about you, but these medals make me wish I had a runDisney 5K on my race plan soon!

Hold Onto Your Tiaras - I'm Running Princess Weekend!

Well runDisney fans and friends, I'm excited to share that I'll get to cross another runDisney event off my bucket list!  Look out Glass Slipper Challenge - I'm coming for you in 2017!  Yesterday, my friend and I registered for the annual challenge which includes the Enchanted 10K on Saturday and the Princess Half Marathon on Sunday.

Princess Half Marathon weekend is the ultimate girls running weekend in Walt Disney World.  Each year, a different princess takes center stage.  When I saw the ads for the 2017 registration coming from runDisney featuring Belle, I couldn't pass it up.  Belle is my favorite Disney princess and Beauty and the Beast still remains one of my favorite Disney movies of all time.

My friend, Christine, and I are already anxiously awaiting our big trip.  We are planning to stay on Disney property - most likely at one of the value resorts - to make this a budget friendly trip.  In fact, since we're flying in Friday and flying home Sunday, while needing to squeeze in the expo and two races, we're probably not even going to do park tickets.  While there, our plan is to spend our free time at the pool and spending time exploring all the fabulous shopping and dining options in Disney Springs.

As far as training, I'll need to roll right from the runDisney Wine and Dine 10K in November to start getting ready for race weekend.  This will be the toughest running challenge I've faced yet with back to back race days of these distances, but if anything will motivate me, it will be a mouse!

Who else will I see at Princess Half Marathon Weekend in February??

One more way runDisney can take all my money. . .

It's no secret that I love the magic of a runDisney race.  About the only thing that has saved me from going broke running several a year is the fact that each race requires paying for flights and other vacation necessities in addition to the cost of the races.  But what if runDisney created a way for me to run races and earn cute bling without the expense of a Florida trip?  Well, they just did. . .

Image from www.rundisney.com
Welcome to the era of runDisney virtual races!  For those of you unfamiliar with the concept of virtual races, it's very simple and, some might argue, a little silly.  You pay a race entry fee and in return typically receive a bib and a medal.  Some races allow you to purchase shirts at an extra cost.  Then you run the race distance - on the treadmill, around your neighborhood, with friends, or alone.  You can connect with other runners via social media who are doing the same race in their own city and show each other support.  There's no fanfare, no crowds, no other runners - just you, the pavement, and a medal at the end.

runDisney has just announced their first virtual race series.  The series is made up of three different 5K races.  You can purchase each one separately or pay a combined "challenge" package where you complete all three.  Like typical virtual races, you'll receive a race bib and a medal in the mail - all with an adorable Mickey theme.  The races in this inaugural series include theming around Mickey's famous yellow shoes, red shorts, and white gloves.  Races cost $39 each or $142 for the entire series. This is a steep price compared to most virtual races, but is a bargain price compared to the typical runDisney 5K.

As for me, I'm debating whether or not to sign up for one of these races.  While the lure of runDisney bling always calls to me as a siren song, my favorite parts of the runDisney experience are the characters and the camaraderie among my fellow runners.  But if I know the runDisney community, it will be buzzing with excitement and encouragement for all runners out there tackling these virtual races.

Oh, who am I kidding?  Go ahead and take all money runDisney. . .

Lumiere invites you to "Be Our Guest" for a Wine & Dine Challenge!

Big menu changes to Wine and Dine Weekend!
Now we invite you to relax, let us pull up a chair, as runDisney proudly presents. . .your new challenge!

runDisney announced major changes to the Wine and Dine Half-Marathon weekend today after rumors have been swirling for some time and registration was pushed back two weeks.  So what has changed?  Just about everything.  While Wine and Dine weekend has always been a unique event for runDisney, it now takes on a much more traditional race weekend look.  Mickey's Holiday 5K (notice the change from Jingle Jungle 5K??) has been pushed to Friday which means that the race expo will now open on Thursday.  Also on Friday, an additional day of Kid's Races have been added.  

Brand new for 2016 - the Wine and Dine 10K!  Join Chef Remy from Ratatouille for an all new 10K race on Saturday morning.  Since the weekend has added a 10K race, a new challenge is also on the menu of appetizing races.  Lumiere's Two-Course Challenge invites runners to finish the 10K on Saturday and the Wine and Dine Half-Marathon.  Runners who complete both races and had registered for the challenge will receive a special finisher medallion for the challenge.  And the runDisney changes didn't stop there.  In addition to adding the 10K and the challenge, the start time of the Wine and Dine Half-Marathon was moved to 5:30AM on Sunday morning.  This half-marathon was the last nighttime race left standing on the runDisney calendar after the Tower of Terror 10-miler and the Expedition Everest Challenge both disappeared in recent years so this news was controversial to say the least in the runDisney community.

While reaction to the changes has been mixed, I'm willing to guess that the new challenge and 10K will sell out very quickly and we'll once again see all races that weekend reach capacity, even if the half-marathon itself doesn't sell out in under 30 minutes again!  Even though this year will certainly be a very different experience, check out my coverage of the events from last year for a taste of Wine and Dine weekend.  Bon Appetite!

Registering for Wine and Dine Weekend
Wine and Dine Expo 2015
Jingle Jungle 5K 2015
Wine and Dine Half-Marathon (well. . .not really a half-marathon) 2015