She can fly!

When I signed up for the Disney Tinkerbell Half Marathon weekend months and months ago, I had big plans.  The Tinkerbell Half was my first Disney race with Meri and Vic so it holds a special place in my heart.  I had been promising my daughter a Disney race for awhile so back when I was feeling super motivated, I signed myself up for all three of the Tink races and signed up my girl for the 5k.  I had high hopes of training and PR’s and what not, but you know how it goes.  Sometimes you accidentally get pregnant.

Luckily, I was able to get a refund for the half and 10k, which, by the way, I thought was super understanding of the peeps at RunDisney.  We decided to go ahead and run the 5k together.  I thought a Disney race would be perfect for Sophie.  Disney races are super family friendly.  There’s always runners of all athletic abilities and all ages.  Sophie’s a very active 11 year old, she plays soccer and runs a lot at practice so I had no doubt she could do this race.  I was more worried about being able to keep up with her!

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She was so excited to have a bib with her name on it. 

We stayed the night close to the park before the race so we could make the 5 am start time and so we could pick up our bibs and hit the expo the night before.  We didn’t plan costumes, mostly because I couldn’t think of anything pregnant friendly that wouldn’t be suffocating. Also, the more pregnant I get the less motivation I have to do stuff.  So when we got to the expo, Sophie found a Tink tee from Raw Threads that she just loved.  Obviously, a girl can’t run her first Disney race without some kind of sparkle, so Sophie got a sparkle skirt and some fairy wings to go with her shirt.  Because that’s how we roll!

The race started right on Main Street, which I haven’t ever experienced in a Disney race before.  There aren’t Corral placements for the 5k, it’s first come, first Corral, and we ended up in Corral C.  Sophie couldn’t contain her excitement.  She whooped and hollered when the MC’s roused the crowd.  She danced and cheered for her favorite songs.  And she was mesmerized when Tinkerbell flew around Sleeping Beauty’s castle.

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Not bad for a last minute costume!

As our Corral moved toward the start line, Sophie was ready to run.  We planned to meet at the finish if we got separated.  I told her about pictures with characters and so she decided she would stop and get pictures and maybe I’d be able to catch up to her.  However, when we finally started, she took off!  I didn’t even get one picture of her running.  There weren’t many characters out for the 5k, so that plan blew.  The whole race I expected to see her walking or at a bathroom or something, but nope, that girl left me in her pixie dust and never looked back.

 

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Our only picture together!

 

I walked my way to the finish and looked for Sophie.  She was no where to be found.  I began to slightly freak out, trying to ignore every worse case scenario that popped into my head.  I decided to check the post-race area before I panicked, and that’s exactly where I found her.  Shoe-less and fresh out of snacks, she flagged me down with a wild wave.  She finished in 38 minutes. It took me at least an hour, so she just hung out for twenty some minutes.  I had no idea she was so responsible and independent!  We headed back to the hotel with our medals proudly displayed.  She wore that medal later that day when we visited the park until she left it in the seat pocket on Big Thunder Railroad.  Luckily, a cast member found it for her and she promptly stowed it in my bag for the rest of the day.

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Best medal ever! 

 

To be honest, I would have skipped the race if it weren’t for Sophie, but I’m so glad we did this.  She made it magical and I love that I get to share this part of my life with her now.  So many changes are happening in her life this year.  She’s getting a new sibling, she’s going to middle school, we’re moving (again!!!), but I hope these races are something we can share for as long as we’re able.  She even wants to do a Ragnar!  Like she said, this can be the start of a family tradition.  She already has costume plans for next year.  That’s my girl!

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Yes You Can (plan a last minute Disney trip!)

If you know anything about me, you know that I am a planner. Some might say that I’m a bit obsessive or extreme but I don’t look at it that way. I know what I like, I know what works for my family, and when there’s a game plan the chances of things going wrong is dramatically reduced.

However that’s NOT how I operate in Disney World! And surprisingly, it works for my family. Want to learn more? Read on!

Walt Disney World is a place where planners and non-planners alike strive to grab the best, the latest, and the greatest. Luckily everything is the greatest when it comes to Disney!

It was our youngest son’s birthday trip and we planned it in a month’s time, which is practically no time when it comes to Disney planning. I mean, Advanced Dining Reservations (ADR) open 180 days prior to a Disney trip!

But say you stumble across a last minute trip option, like my family did. Is there still hope? Yes, but you’ve got to be flexible!

The ‘Ohana breakfast in the Polynesian Resort is a favorite of ours. Originally I found a reservation on a Thursday and 11:10am, which I booked. The timing wasn’t perfect but we were willing to make it happen. While checking back, I found an open spot on Tuesday at 9:20! Score! I quickly booked that and canceled the reservation for later in the week, opening it to someone else.

Moral of the story: Check back often! If at first you don’t succeed (or you do but would another time would work better), try, try again!

Speaking of food (because when are we not?) we also got a reservation at Le Cellier Steakhouse in EPCOT. It was the first time ever we were able to nab a reservation… at 3:40pm. We had what we in the Daniel family like to refer to as LINNER, which is lunch and dinner combined. And blew our whole month’s food budget in the process. #soworthit

O Canada!

Who loves steak? This guy, that’s who. (And oh, the rest of us do too!)

We didn’t get to ride Seven Dwarfs Mine Train in the Magic Kingdom. Or Frozen Ever After. There was no Pandora preview for this family. And guess what – we were all a-okay with that. (Although my eldest son was a little disappointed we didn’t get on Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.)

With FastPasses long gone before our trip was even a twinkle in our eye, it was a forgone conclusion that we wouldn’t be waiting 110 minutes in the standby line. Instead, we visited with rides that were tried and true and my kids got to ride “new to them” rides like the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster (Lucas) and Test Track (surprisingly, Lucas and Gabe!).

We had a few FassPasses ahead of time but mostly, we added FassPasses we were interested in throughout the day. Thank goodness for the My Disney Experience app and WiFi in the park! We made choices that were good for our family as a whole, maximizing the fun time we got to spend together.

The Jungle Cruise

It’s a Small World – Gabe and Grandma

People Mover – Grandpa and Lucas

Toy Story Mania – Grandparents working on their photobombing skills!

Test Track!

Finally and most importantly, when you focus on spending time with your family and being in tune with everyone’s needs, every day is a good day in Disney. Disney is absolutely incredible and has so many things to do, it’s easy to hit the sensory overload point. Crankiness at the Happiest Place on Earth isn’t very much fun so we did our absolute best to keep those cranky moments to a minimum.

We embraced water breaks, ice cream breaks, sitting in the shade breaks, watching the fountains dance breaks, etc. And let’s not forget, in EPCOT my husband and I embraced the drinking around the World Showcase philosophy.

So planners, if you find yourself in a last minute Disney trip situation, don’t stress! There is plenty of fun to be had, food to be eaten, and drinks to be… drank! 😉

Have you ever planned a last minute Disney trip? Have any tips to share? Any “must dos” or “never ever agains”?

Here Comes the Sun, Little Darling

Two weeks ago, I was counting down the days until my wedding. Today, I’m sitting back, slowly reclaiming my apartment from the piles of stuff, and enjoying a week of being one half of an old married couple.

In the days leading up to the wedding, I baked and baked and fretted about the weather and baked some more. I had my whole family here, and some of my best friends, and with their help, we were able to put together all the treats, make all the favors, assemble all the supplies, and construct all the bouquets. It was a whirlwind, exhausting week, with a few stressful moments, but by the time Saturday rolled around and our music started, the sun came out and everything was alright.

I won’t bore you with too many details, but I wanted to share some pictures from the day, captured by some of my friends and family. It really was the most perfect.

Photo courtesy Sara Thom Photography

Photo courtesy Sara Thom Photography

I made dat cake. It was yum.

Clay’s face in this is just my favorite.

Volunteering at Run the Vineyards Wagonhouse 10 Miler

This past weekend was the Broad Street Run – a 10 mile race that takes place on Broad Street in Philadelphia.

However, this post isn’t about that 10 mile race!

When I didn’t get into the Broad Street Run via the lottery system, I was bummed for a few days. Then I settled on the fact that it wasn’t meant to be this year and quickly shook off my disappointment.

I decided that if I wasn’t going to be running, I could and should volunteer my time at a local race. Good Day for a Run hosts their Run the Vineyards series at a local vineyard winery and knowing that, I clicked the volunteer form and signed up! The previous weekend I ran their 5 miler and as I am a “professional philanthropist” I was very much looking forward to lending a hand.

The race director, Ken, and his wife, Beth, are great with communication and for me, communication is key. I’m a planner and Type A to the extreme so I want to know everything. About a week prior to the event I heard from Beth with instructions of what time I should be at the site (7:45, the race began at 9am) and where to head once I got there.

Immediately after arriving at 7:45am, I found Beth at the bib pickup table. While last week’s 5 mile event had over 650 runners, this one was capped at 120, due to the space the vineyard had to host the runners at the after party. There was a bib pickup the previous day at the local Running Co. however many opted to get their bibs the morning of the race. I grabbed a spot at the table and jumped right in handing out bibs to runners.

For the next hour there was a steady flow of runners getting their bibs, checking out the course map, and asking general questions. Local races are always good for seeing familiar faces and while I didn’t know anyone personally, I did recognize people from other events.

You know when you enter an established crew of people and you’re never sure if you’ll fit in? The potential for it to be awkward is high. Thankfully that was NOT the case! Beth and the other volunteers (who were seasoned pros!) were so warm and welcoming, I felt like I knew them for years.

Once the race began we knew we’d have at least an hour and change, which is when we set up the tables for post-race which held water, KIND bars, soft pretzels, finisher’s glasses and medals.

The weather was not consistent at all – there were moments of sunshine but it was mostly cloudy and occasionally a brief shower came out of seemingly nowhere so we wanted to make sure that everything was covered (rain and soft pretzels do not go well together). We wanted everything to be just right for the runners when they crossed the finish line.

Once the runners started to come toward the finish area, we all stationed ourselves at different locations.

There was an area where you could very well turn and go to the finish, but there was a last little loop through the vineyards. I stood right at that area and clapped for everyone as I pointed them in the right direction.

I got a lot of smiles, a few people pulled their earbuds out so they could hear me, and I heard a lot of groans, too. “But the finish line is RIGHT THERE!” Oh, do I know that feeling all too well!

I’ve volunteered at a few races during my time as a runner and I have to say that this was far and away the most enjoyable atmosphere I’ve ever experienced. While I might not have gotten to run down Broad Street with 40,000 people, I can honestly say that this is where I was meant to be on Sunday morning. Other than being cold and having to wrap myself in my dog’s WALL-E car blanket, I loved every moment!

Another perk to volunteering for the Run the Vineyards races, besides feeling really good about helping out? I scored an entry to a future race! Now which one should I choose?

You know what I’m going to say here, don’t you? Considering volunteering for a race? DO IT! Haven’t considered volunteering for a race? Well, I hope you are now because it is absolutely worth it!

Next race for me is Ragnar PA! After Ragnar I’ve got a break on my race calendar until September when I return with the Shenandoah half and Rock ‘n Roll Philadelphia. Who will I see where?

Why a 60 Minute Yoga Class?

Recently, I made some folks angry on Facebook which isn’t hard to do these days. It started when, silly me, I commented on this story from the Atlantic where the author laments that anything more than thirty minutes of yoga class is just too hard to fit into her busy schedule. My comment on Facebook was something to the effect of, “if you’re complaining about the class being too long, I suggest you’re missing the point. Yoga is a spiritual practice, not a newly invented fitness crazy to get you a six-pack in 8 weeks”. Because really, if that’s all you’re getting out of it, then there’s a plethora of other fitness classes you can take in thirty minutes. Seriously. SO. MANY. CHOICES.

Holy wow, did I strike a chord with folks. Many people were offended that I was telling them how to be spiritual and/or how to be fit, when I wasn’t doing any such thing. I was simply trying to point out that the original purpose of Yoga isn’t about fitness. Increased flexibly and strength are aspects of yoga that enable you to find focus, concentration, meditation, and liberation (to name a few benefits). It’s all connected. Yoga helps you join your body and mind into a harmonious unison through focus, breath and movement. And that’s just scratching the surface.

Of course you don’t have to subscribe to the ancient traditions of yoga in order to enjoy or receive benefits from yoga. Of course I don’t think everyone who walks into a western yoga studio needs to have read the Yoga Sutras or the Bhagavad Gita. I don’t expect everyone to set intentions for their practice that include opening the Chakras and/or rooting oneself to the Earth’s energies. These aspects of yoga are not for everyone, I get that.

But I ask you, as a member of our shared human culture, to please respect the ancient origin and traditions of yoga as a spiritual practice first and foremost. Know that there are some folks in your class who may be there to connect with their bodies in a way that is very spiritual for them. For people like me, going to yoga class is more akin to going to church than going to the gym. Those of us who are there for these benefits ask that those of you who aren’t be respectful of the history, the religion, the quiet, the peace, and most of all, the sacred savasana.  (Hint, stop talking during savasana.)

With a little digging, you’ll soon see that yoga has been misappropriated by western culture. You don’t have to look far to see what I mean, after all, baby goat yoga is all the rage. I saw bunny yoga classes on my morning news today, complete with cute bunnies hopping around leaving little round brown presents for all the yogis in class. Gross. I honestly can’t imagine any physical benefit to allowing baby goats to climb on your vertebrae while you’re in child’s pose. I really cannot.

I want to state here and now that I’m not a Yoga teacher (#futuregoals), nor am I a spiritual authority, guide, teacher, prophet, or anything at all. I’m still learning about the history of yoga and all its forms, so in no way am I an expert. But if you’re going to yoga and don’t like that the classes are an hour or more, please consider why they are this length. Do some research. Understand the meaning behind what you’re participating in. If all that new age sounding stuff isn’t for you, that’s totally okay. Just be aware and be respectful. Namaste!

It’s the Final Countdown

Well, folks. It’s nearly here.

Wedding Week.

Photo courtesy Sara Thom Photography

This time next week, I’ll have had a rehearsal dinner, a bachelorette party, made bouquets, baked and decorated a wedding cake, and probably overthought literally all the things. Only one thing will be left: the actual getting married.

It’s hard to believe that it’s already here – but at the same time, I feel like… “damn, it took FOREVER to get here.” Mostly because I’m impatient and excited. I’m also really ready to just enjoy all of the things we’ve spent the past few months poring over and thinking about.

I’ve spent the last month or so eating Whole30 (the last week has been a little bit less strict, since I finished my 30 days last Wednesday), trying to run everyday (I’ve had a couple days, two exactly, where my body said “hey dummy, you need to rest,” so I did.) I feel healthy and strong and not too stressed – the workouts really help with that – and I’m hoping that feeling can carry me through the next week.

My house, on the other hand, is kind of a disaster – the wedding is taking over any free space we had. The closet? Cram-jam full of favors and decor and a dress and shoes and little extras. The laundry room? Currently housing half of our alcohol supply. The living room? Holding the other half. It’s almost comical – but every time I see these things, I get excited about finally being able to put all the pieces together.

I know that the next week will feel a little crazy and I’m probably going to forget something important (or not important), but at the end of the day Saturday, it won’t matter. I get to celebrate with my guy and my friends and my family and that’s the most important part.

So now, I just have to make it through a weekend of work, and it will be full steam ahead to party time!

Cheers!

My make up trial went really well – I’m lucky to have friends that know what they’re doing with that stuff… considering I wear mascara. And that’s it.

Heels at an outdoor wedding seemed dangerous to me, so I opted for sparkly sneaks. I think I made the right choice.

Just this little sneak peek for now… but stay tuned for more after next week! Eeeeek!

I’ve baked more cake in the last six months… but I think I’ve perfected my recipe and I’m excited to do it for real next week!

Mary Poppin Bottles – Run the Vineyards Heritage 5 Miler

You might have noticed that I’m a girl who likes to run for food and drink.

Yes, medals are awesome however throw in a beer, chocolate, chili, ice cream, WINE, and I’m yours. I suppose many runners are like that and the folks at Good Day for a Run know it!

Heritage Vineyards is located 2.4 miles from my house and hosts festivals and other events throughout the year, including the Run the Vineyards 5 Miler. Run the Vineyards is a series put on by Good Day for a Run and has events at over 20 vineyards in New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, and Pennsylvania.

Last year I registered for the race at the coaxing of friends and quickly fell in love with everything about the race. It’s a challenging course but also familiar as it’s right near my home. The packet pickup is at the local Running Co. AND if you pick up your packet there (rather than race morning) you can save 20% on anything in the store. Guess who has a new pair of Mizunos! Moi!

My time from last year was 1:01:48 and I was pretty pleased with that once I saw the course and the terrian. It’s got grass, it’s got sand, it’s got a bit of road, and it’s got tons of rolling hills. The goal for this year was to beat last year’s time and if I managed to get under an hour, even better!

Kate, Brandi, and myself! We’ve been friends since our kids were in strollers.

This event sells out every year so I made sure to register early, back in the fall of 2016. My bro in law and sis in law made the trek down from Central Jersey to watch my younger son while I ran; we planned to picnic and hang out at the race after party, filled with music and fun running themed booths.

The race began at 9am and due to a rough start, my fam rolled into my driveway at 8:48. Normally I would have been freaking out but I knew that we would still get there with time to spare. I jumped out of the car as we arrived (8:52), found my friends (8:55), and was ready to run at 9am. How’s that for timing?!

There was no official corrals, so the 655 runners had to place themselves in the spot where they thought they’d fair best.

It’s difficult because the first stretch of the race is narrow and if you don’t put yourself in the right area, you risk either going out too fast or holding up people around you. I think I did pretty well placing myself this year and tried to be mindful of the people around me.

The first mile. Thanks to Chad at Photo Runner!

Ya’ll know that free race photos rank high up there on my list of things I love to see at races and the Run the Vineyards races not only has them but they’re ready for download the day of the race.

I had my phone tucked into my BibRave Buff on my wrist so I didn’t take many pictures at this race. When there’s a professional out there capturing the day, there’s no need!

My Garmin was a little off from the mile markers, reading about .06 behind. Interestingly, my first two miles were the exact same pace (11:45) but my legs were feeling tired, which didn’t bode well for the next 3 miles. The hills seemed to be non-stop and while the day was perfect in terms of weather (gray skies and 66 degrees), the pollen count must have been high and I was feeling it.

There were three water stops so I grabbed a cup of water at the second and third ones in an attempt to ease my throat (no dice).

Miles 3 and 4, I clocked in at exactly 12:27. Way to be consistent, huh?

The last mile consisted of one last hill, a nice downhill, and then a few more turns around the trail. I heard the announcer say “these runners are going to come in at just under an hour” and that was all it took for me to hit the gas!

Thanks to Chad for making me laugh – “Just a spoon full of sugar helps the wine go down!”

I crossed the line at 59:36, which means that I got a PR of over a minute! Woohoo!

My sister is law is the best, isn’t she?

Immediately after I finished my son gave me a hug, let me know that I was sweaty, and then requested that I buy him pizza.

At 10:00 in the morning.

So I did.

Because if I could drink my free wine from my finishers wine tumbler, he could surely eat pizza. After all, fair is fair.

This coming weekend I’ll be giving back and volunteering at the Run the Vineyards Wagonhouse 10 Miler and I can’t wait!

My next running adventure comes a month from now when I’ll be at my first ever RAGNAR. Holy moly. However I have some fun travel plans lined up for mid-May, too!