Back on the Training Bandwagon

Hi everyone! I apologize for being MIA for almost two months but there’s a good reason…

I decided in April to actually try again. Try what? Well, try to care enough about running to actually train for my big race this year. I know I have done a lot of races but I haven’t been in shape nor have I trained – for any of it.

In April, I set out to gauge myself with a 5k. I picked the Philly Hot Chocolate 5k/15k. My plan was to try to run the first mile, intervals the second mile, walk the third and finish with a run across the finish line. Yeah…that didn’t happen. I got maybe a quarter mile in before realizing I lost my running mojo more than I thought and holy shin splints Batman! Decided to walk it out with attempts to run sprinkled in (my shins made their objections known with each attempt). It was seriously embarrassing and it didn’t help that I was humiliated throughout those 3.1, I finished completely defeated.

The following week, I had a 10k. Obviously, I wasn’t trained but I went into it knowing it was another test run. If you are ever in the area in April, sign up for the Sole of the City – it’s an awesome road race in Baltimore with typically an awesome premium and a fun post race party. After the previous week still very much in my head, I had an unusual pre-race melt down. I actually was in my car crying and contemplating heading home. I have never been terrified of a starting line. After giving myself a pep talk and some kind words from my friends, I headed to the start area.

While the race did not go as stellar as I wanted, my heart melted at the end of the race. A girl, slower than me, got close enough to tell me I had been her rabbit the entire race. She said my pace was consistent and she had been trying to catch me. I can’t remember if it was her first 10k but I could tell she was more pooped than I was. We chatted along the last of the course. I pulled back so she could finish but she wanted me to cross with her. We actually raced (literally) across the line. I think we both surprised ourselves that we still had some gas in the tank! It was an awesome moment and a good reminder that while I am slow, someone slower is behind me and maybe trying to “catch” me.

That week, I sat down and made myself a schedule. I wanted to start small so I started with cross training. Going from zip to 6 days a week is a major adjustment. I settled on two days of cross training. I found a strength workout on Runner’s WorldΒ and ordered a few supplies from Amazon (exercise mat and stability ball). The first week I modified the exercises to do them without the equipment.

Week 2, I added a third day. Day 3 was just another day of cross training but a more gentle form of cross training – yoga. This workout I found on my Nike Training Club app.

Finally, I started adding some running. I did a few days with the Couch to 5k app but I quickly gave up on that. I did the program when I first started in 2013 but this time around, I wasn’t into it. Instead, I started walking a mile. I had moved and my mile markers were different since the last time I ran in the neighborhood. I found where a half mile was from my place and sometimes walked, sometimes did jog/walk/jog and sometimes just tried to run.

Once I had established this routine, I made an actual training schedule. I have my crossing training 2 days a week. I run 3 days a week with one of those days being a long run (long runs didn’t actually start for a good month so don’t panic thinking I lost my mind). I scheduled 1 day for yoga which could be switched out for pilates if I need to work more on my core. And I scheduled 1 rest day.

Here’s the May training calendar

It’s almost July and I am just 2 workouts away from completing 2 full months of a self imposed “try to care again” session. I can’t say I’ve made leaps and bounds physically but I am sleeping better. I am also doing pretty good on my diet and making smarter decisions (like just last weekend, I discovered the most delicious meal at Panera and it’s only 200 calories but it is filling and mmmmmmmmmm). This weekend’s long run is 6 miles! 6…miles…

Those 6 miles will be slow and painful and very not pretty but they will get done. I can tell you I am hoping by trying so hard in the heat of summer, this fall when I actually train for my half marathon in February, some form of speed will be with me.

There is no shame in being slow. There is no shame in walking. There is no reason why you should steer clear of road races if you are slow or walk (I have actually been told to switch to other racing where walking is “allowed”).

Your pace. Your race.

Happy running from your favorite snail πŸ™‚

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Disney in February

February brings a lot of my favorites with it! Valentine’s Day…Disney’s Princess Half Marathon…my birthday… follow along with me as I go through my magical birthday weekend!

The Hotel:

I stayed at Art of Animation this time around! AoA is a value resort (along with the All-Stars) and bursting with theme! It’s broken down into four areas: Cars, The Little Mermaid, Lion King and Finding Nemo. I stayed in a Little Mermaid room.

As you can see, both outside the room and inside are very Little Mermaid. This is definitely what I expect at a Disney resort. Unlike the All-Stars, the theme doesn’t really carry into the room.

I’ll fast forward a bit. I spent some time on my last day in the lobby. You’ll find a large gift shop, arcade, food court and entertainment area – perfect for anyone’s needs either coming from or going to the airport.

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A free activity also takes place in the lobby. Everyday at 11a, 2p and 5p, the resident artist comes out and will teach you how to sketch a Disney character. I got to partake in the 2pm session on Sunday. We learned how to draw Jafar…

Artist I am not, but I enjoyed learning! I did make it back for the 5pm session as I waited for my bus to the airport. We drew Jasmine during that session however I made Jasmine look like an alien so that sketch will remain hidden πŸ™‚

Friday:

My birthday!! After volunteering, I started MY day at Magic Kingdom. I scheduled the Keys to the Kingdom tour for myself. Unfortunately, I got to the park seconds before the rope drop and that is an experience I am not sure I want to have! So many people! I made my way through the crowd to the Main Street Theater. I checked into the tour, received my name tag, bottled water and sound equipment, picked my lunch and then got ready for the magic to begin.

I won’t go into too much detail because I don’t want to ruin the tour for you if you haven’t done it but it was awesome! Starting at Main Street, small details were pointed out to the group. Some of those details are just fascinating!

We were a little ahead of schedule once we got to the central hub so we got to pause and watch the new Welcome Show!

We then made our way to Adventureland and the tour continued. Throughout the next few hours, we covered Frontierland, Liberty Square and just a touch of Fantasyland. We were only in Tomorrowland while we ate lunch which was at Tomorrowland Terrace.

We did go on a couple rides and went to backstage areas. I don’t want to ruin it but I thought the tour was well worth the money.

Tip: I would recommend to a solo traveler, a couple or a family with older kids – I’m not sure if a family with younger kids would get as much out of it (mostly because I don’t think the little ones would be entertained enough).

After the tour, it was time to use my fastpasses, character photos and Tiana’s Riverboat Ice Cream Social!

Tiana’s Riverboat Ice Cream Social is a brand new (ok in February, a 3 months old) experience! It’s a special ticketed event – like most dessert parties – on the riverboat! We checked in at the riverboat landing.

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Once it was time, we were let onto the landing. We received Mardi Gras beads and then were free to help ourselves to ice cream, desserts, drinks or finding a seat.

I helped myself to a scoop of ice cream and picked up the 3 desserts that were offered.

I totally scored a seat in the shade (and I totally was that person that dragged a table to me – oops). However, I was quickly joined by others so the idea crossed other people’s minds but I’m the one that acted πŸ™‚

As refreshments were served, Tiana and Prince Naveen joined us on the landing. We were able to take pictures with them and were handed autograph cards.

Once it was time to board the riverboat, Tiana and Prince Naveen left to join the parade and we boarded the boat.

Once on board, the Mardi Gras theme continued and there were all you could enjoy snacks. I helped myself to some popcorn, apple slices and water then headed to the top to find a place to camp out for the parade.

My vantage point was in the shade and had a nice breeze. I made myself comfortable on the floor and settled in. I was soon joined by other guests. As parade time drew near, we moved away from the landing (where cast members had donned Mardi Gras masks and noise makers to send us on our way). We moved maybe 50 left from the landing and were in place for the parade.

Once the parade started, we could hear the music from the speakers along the route (it is not “piped in” like at other events). We also had a tree that was in the way – but it did not block the view of the floats.

As the parade ended, we headed back to the landing. Tiana and Prince Naveen joined us again on board. They led a Mardi Gras parade on the lower level of the boat and guests could interact with them freely. We also went on a cruise around Tom Sawyer Island. Cast members handed out a scavenger hunt to any guests who wanted to participate.

I don’t know when it was I last took a ride on the riverboat and I just enjoyed the breeze and the ride. I did eventually make my way to Tiana again. I wanted to try for a better picture.

Tip: totally recommend! It’s an all you care to enjoy experience -from the ice cream and desserts on the landing to the snacks on the riverboat. Snacks included popcorn, candied popcorn, apple slices, Mickey bars, Mickey sandwiches, Uncrustables, and various drinks. There is very limited seating on the landing and limited seating on the riverboat. Also, no bathrooms on board! However for the best view of the parade, you want to be on the top level (and I just sat down on the floor). The tree is annoying but it does not ruin the view. I loved this event!

Next up was dinner at Disney Springs and then back to Magic Kingdom for the Wishes Dessert Party!

I attended the Wishes Dessert Party a few years ago and loved it. However a few changes have happened since and I think it just enhanced the experience. Anywho!

Checked in and was taken to my table. After dropping my stuff, I made friends with all the delicious desserts that were out! I noticed some sparkling cider and helped myself. I also saw they had milk along with the water, tea and coffee. After helping myself to a plate, sparkling cider and milk, it was time to sit down and enjoy the show!

I love this dining experience. Wishes is my favorite and combining it with desserts (and a seat with an awesome view) just makes it worth it to me. They have also added a little extra pixie dust which is a really nice touch!

hahaha…and you thought my birthday was over! Not! A friend of mine who is DVC got me into the after hours, DVC party that was taking place! I decided I wasn’t going to stay too long since it had been a very long day already. I am glad I stayed! I got to meet: Cinderella and Charming, Princess Elena, Ariel and Eric, Belle and Beast!

And with that, this birthday girl went back to the room and fell into a deep and happy sleep!

Saturday:

After my very busy birthday celebration, Saturday was a very tame day!

For the first time ever, I got to attend a spring training game! The Atlanta Braves use the Wide World of Sports at Disney for spring training. I missed my O’s by a few days but I wasn’t going to pass up the opportunity.

My seat was in the grassy area of the stadium – which was fine with me! I took my shoes off and enjoyed the sun and breeze as I watched the game.

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Only bad thing was I couldn’t really tell what was going on! It was still a very enjoyable way to relax and spend a few hours.

My last scheduled activity was a pedicure. I went to the Yacht and Beach Club this time around (I’ve now been to all 4 spas on property). While a little hard to find, it was great once I got there!

The salon/spa overlooks the HUGE pool. Big windows let in natural light and the staff was very welcoming. I was shown to the lounge after I checked in. They had spa snacks (pretzels, candy, dried fruit) and citrus water out for guests to enjoy. I made myself a little snack and got comfy in one of the over-sized chairs.

I was the last appointment of the day and it was wonderful! Justin was my tech and his level of service was above and beyond! I will definitely be going back next time I go.

As I paid, I was gifted with the polish they used, my nail file and some Disney chocolate. I also got a little bag of spa snacks and off I went πŸ™‚

See! I am totally capable of having a low-key kinda day!

Sunday:

Well after my morning didn’t go the way I wanted, I didn’t know what to do with myself. As described above, I did attend 2 of the animation classes. I was also able to get a round of mini golf in.

I got to play at Winter Summerland. I chose the summer course (I didn’t realize there were 2 courses – I will need to play winter next time!).

It was a really great trip besides the craziness of my morning on Sunday. I am loving adding some free activities into my Disney trips as well as paying for some additional experiences. Time and money well spent!

Off to plan the next trip!

Making Magic: Advanced Dining Reservations

It’s that time of year again – when I FINALLY get to book my reservations for all things Disney (and I’m not talking about the room)!

This past weekend, I got to book my Advanced Dining Reservations (ADRs) for the Princess Half Marathon weekend.

Princess Weekend holds a special place in my heart – not only was it my first half marathon but it also falls around my birthday. In 2017, my birthday actually falls on the Friday of race weekend.

I decided before I even registered for the race that I wanted to spend the day at Magic Kingdom and since it’s a solo trip, I was going to do things I wanted to do. I started looking into events and activities that might not be awkward for a party of one to partake in. The game plan: Keys to the Kingdom Tour (loved the Epcot tour I did in April) and the Wishes Dessert Party at Tomorrowland Terrace (it is my birthday and I need to carb load…and I love the Wishes fireworks!). I also plan on riding the Dumbo ride at least twice (I love that elephant).

But back to the reservations…

Disney advises guests to book most dining/events/tours 180 days (yes – 6 months in advance) from your arrival date. Not only does this ensure you have a shot at doing or eating what you want, you also get a better shot at the time frame you would like to do it.

My mother always said when she planned our Disney trips, she planned where we would eat and when first. From there, the plan for the rest of the day followed. Eating dinner kind of late – well, we would either sleep in or come back to the room mid day to rest up for our late night. Eating at a certain park – guess where we were a few hours before our reservation. I’ve applied this same logic to each trip I have planned for myself as an adult when going to Disney.

It may sound crazy to plan where and when you are going to eat 6 months in advance but trust me – it will make your trip that much easier and more enjoyable.

I planned a trip with my extended family this past year and they really liked knowing they needed to be at x at y for z to happen. There wasn’t any figuring out the game plan for the day on the day – it was done ahead of time and everyone could just enjoy the vacation.

ADRs are especially important if you want to eat somewhere really popular (Cinderella’s Royal Table) or exclusive (Victoria and Albert’s Chef’s Table) or limited (Afternoon Tea at the Grand Floridian).

Can’t get your reservation the first time you call? Keep trying – plans change and spots will open up closer to your arrival date.

Saturday marked the 180 day mark from my arrival for Princess Weekend. I was able to book my tour no problem; my dining reservation – my date hasn’t been loaded yet so I can’t book. I am bummed but I will keep calling until I get my Wishes and dessert (it will be my birthday after all!)

Some things I have booked in advance for past trips and for near future trips: a carriage ride, spa/salon appointments, dining, tours, special event seminars, birthday cakes, special surprises for friend’s celebrating a birthday, and I am sure there is more I can’t think of…

Plan for the necessities (like dining) and allow the vacation to build itself around those plans πŸ™‚