Race Day – Wine & Dine Half Marathon 2014

Saturday. Race day, for the kids and for me. :) This was my first time bringing the whole family along to a runDisney event. The kids were very back and forth about whether they wanted to participate in the kids’ races. Initially, I only registered Aidan, because Neely didn’t want to run. About a month later, she changed her mind, so I registered her, too. After we got to Florida, nobody wanted to race. We left it until the very last minute to decide. Before bed on Friday night, I showed them their t-shirts, race bibs, runDisney mouse ears, and they decided they would go to the races. We gave them the option to back out at any time. I’m really glad they didn’t, though.

The kids’ races are a lot of fun. There was music and dancing to warm everyone up beforehand. They had different distances for each age group. Neely ran the 200-meter dash, and Aidan ran the 400-meter dash. There’s no real rhyme or reason to how they line up. A group of kids lines up across the track, and they let them go in waves. Of the groups that my kids were in, they each finished second. Pretty impressive for Aidan, considering most of those kids were a head taller than him.

When everyone was done racing and had their adorable Duffy bear medals in hand, we made our way over the EPCOT to meet the rest of the family. We probably would have been better served just hanging out at the pool. This was the last weekend of the Food & Wine Festival at EPCOT. It was a madhouse. We went on a couple of rides in Future World, and literally spent the afternoon just trying to find a spot to sit in the World Showcase. There were wall-to-wall people, and let’s just say I’m thankful that my kids didn’t question any of the adults who were being loud, silly, or wearing t-shirts that said things like “Drunk 1″ and “Drunk 2.” Not a family-friendly day at EPCOT. We only stuck it out, because we had an early dinner reservation at Le Cellier Steakhouse in Canada.

The plan was for us to eat dinner at 4:30pm, and I would go back to the room and rest before race time. It took a lot longer than expected for us to be seated at Le Cellier. By the time we were, I was panicky. I’ve never run a night race. I knew I needed to be off my feet for a while. I knew the weather was probably going to be bad. I knew I shouldn’t actually eat most of the things on the menu. I settled for ordering soup and salad, and when I finished – adios. I went back to the room on my own to try and get some rest.

I didn’t. 6:00pm is not a quiet time at a Disney hotel. There are lots of kids moving up and down the hall, doors slamming, etc. I closed my eyes and laid on the bed for a while, but I never slept. Which made me even more panicky.

I finally gave it up and began getting dressed. Yes, there was a 98% chance of rain beginning at the exact time the race was supposed to start. Yes, I knew that a costume probably wouldn’t hold up, but I had nothing else to wear. So here it is, the costume -

Figuring out how to get white in my hair was a big pain in the butt. I tried white hairspray straight out of the Halloween section at Target, but it never made my hair white. No matter how much I used, it was gray. I considered chalk, but that would have been way too time-consuming. I finally found this tube of white hair gel online and decided it would have to do. I didn’t end up putting it on the entire half of my head, because the amount I had to glob on the turn it white? It took forever to dry. I streaked enough in my hair to make the rest of my costume make sense, then moved on. I was freaking out pretty badly by the time I was getting dressed, so at that point in the game, I really didn’t care how the costume turned out. That’s probably why I don’t have very good photos of it.

I got on the bus for the ESPN sports complex around 8:15pm. We made a few stops at other resorts and watched a good chunk of I, Robot, so it was closer to 9:00pm by the time I was headed to my corral, and the giant line for the bathroom, of course. At 9:30pm, the rain began. I wish I had brought along a poncho. I don’t think I’d have run in it, but it would have been nice to stay dry during that last 30 minutes hanging out in the corral, waiting for the race to start.

The race kicked off with fireworks at 10pm, and we were off! I knew very quickly that this was not going to be as much fun as I had hoped. I enjoy Disney races, because the spectators are awesome, my favorite characters are stationed along the course, the scenery is fun…but in the dark? In the rain? There weren’t many people out to cheer us on. There were only a few characters, most of them tucked away under awnings in Animal Kingdom…which we hit around mile four.

The next several miles were brutal. The Animal Kingdom parking lot is ginormous. You hit mile 4 in the back of the park and by mile 6, you’re almost out of the parking lot. Then, there was nothing to see but other miserable people and wet pavement until mile 9, when we reached the Hollywood Studios area.

Hollywood Studios and EPCOT are pretty close together, so the last portion of the race was more bearable. There were no characters in Hollywood Studios. It’s a good thing I’ll be seeing the Star Wars guys in January, else I might have been upset that they weren’t around. Darth Vader can’t handle some rain, y’all. Save that tip for a rainy day, Jedi. They had sort of a disco tunnel set up in Hollywood Studios, through part of the old Backlot Tour, and thankfully, I did get to do the one thing I signed up for this race to do…

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…run through The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights. This was my first time ever seeing it. It is indescribable. I loved it! I tried to take a selfie, but I am a mascara-smeared mess. I’ll save you the agony of looking at the photo.

There is a little treachery between Hollywood Studios and EPCOT, when you run down the wooden boardwalk between the EPCOT resorts and the International Gateway entrance. It’s narrowish. It’s slippery. A lot of my concentration was focused on not getting hurt with barely over a mile to finish.

Once we were actually in EPCOT, I picked up the pace. It’s amazing what the prospect of a dry, warm bed will do for your motivation when you’ve been trudging along like a wet noodle for a couple of hours. My finish time for the Wine & Dine Half Marathon was 2:27:32. My best time is about six minutes faster, but I really wasn’t expecting to PR given the weather conditions and my state of mind anyway. On the upside, this wasn’t my slowest finish time, either.

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See? Hot mess.

I wish I could share a little insight into how the Finish Party was. It sounded like fun. They kept a lot of the attractions in EPCOT and the Food & Wine Festival booths open until 4am. We sat down to celebrate at the Rose & Crown Pub in the U.K. Pavilion, and shortly after received a phone call that sent us sprinting (hobbling quickly, in my case) back to the hotel at 1:30am. What I have insight into instead is how amazing Disney is when a child wanders out of a hotel room (adjoining my brother and sister-in-law – she was not left unattended) in the middle of the night.

All in all, it turned out to be a successful day. Although at this point, I don’t really have the desire to attempt this particular race again, but I’m glad it’s been crossed off my bucket list.

 

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Disney 2014 – Animal Kingdom & Magic Kingdom

On our first day at Disney World, we spent part of the day at Animal Kingdom and part of the day at the Magic Kingdom. I missed some of the Animal Kingdom adventures, because I took a midday detour to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex to pick up my race bib for the Wine & Dine Half Marathon.

Good times. You’ll start to see a few of our Memory Maker photos here. I really love this photo package that Disney offers now. As part of the package, you get unlimited downloads of all photos taken of your family by Disney photographers during your trip. Which means, this time, there are actually a handful of photos with me in them! You know, to prove I actually went on the trip. (ha!)

We knew we’d be back in the Magic Kingdom later in the trip, so this was a very laid-back day. We ate lunch, watched the parade, ate ice cream, rode a few rides, and were out of the park by 6:00pm. We rode the ferry across the lake to the Polynesian Resort, where we enjoyed dinner at ‘Ohana. I think we were back in our room by 9:00pm, which is fairly early when you’re working on Disney time. ;) It gave us a chance to make use of our balconies for a bit of relaxation. My brother’s and parents’ rooms had a great view of the fireworks show at EPCOT. (which means this travel agent now knows what room to request for you)

It was a fun first day at Disney World. At this point, I wasn’t worried one bit about being too worn out for the race the next evening. More on that soon, though.

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Disney 2014 – Arrival Day

We’ve been home from Disney World for a few days now. It’s taking me a little bit of time to get through all the photos. I took some of my own on both my phone and my camera. I used my dad’s GoPro to shoot some video. I also purchased Disney’s Memory Maker photo package. Needless to say, our Disney vacation is well documented.

After a 4am wake-up on Thursday, we were more than ready to arrive at the Yacht Club Resort and chill out for a bit.

The kids and I also wasted no time inspecting the pool area – Stormalong Bay.

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This first night, after everyone arrived, we headed to the Contemporary Resort to enjoy dinner at Chef Mickey’s and meet a few characters.

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This dinner was such a fun way to kick off our trip. The kids really enjoyed meeting Mickey Mouse and all his friends first thing! Just a tip, though – try to keep yours from pulling Pluto’s tail. He doesn’t like it at all. (Sorry, Pluto! Levi was just excited to see you.)

After dinner and a quick trip to the Magic Kingdom ticket booth to activate our military tickets, we went home to rest. We had an early start planned for Friday!

 

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Countdown – 1 Week till Disney World!

 

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Only one more week until my family’s next Disney vacation! I’m so excited! I’m so excited that, even though I talked about it just the other day, I’m going to talk about it again. :)

This trip will be my second visit to Disney World this year, and it will also be my second time staying at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort. This wasn’t our original plan. We wanted to stay at Boardwalk Inn, but when military rates came out, there weren’t rooms available for our travel dates there. Yacht Club was available and still in the EPCOT resort area, so we went with it.

It is lovely, isn’t it? These are my photos from my trip in March. I can’t wait to get “home.” I can’t wait to be part of my nephews’ first time meeting Mickey Mouse. I can’t wait to hug my Mom & Dad. I’m really excited about experiencing the Food & Wine Festival for the first time, too. I think I am even going to have a roller coaster buddy this time around. My little daredevil is finally tall enough, and she says she is IN! Whoop! Whoop!

Anyway, I hope I’m not making everyone crazy. You’ll probably get to see me packing to go, too. I apologize for that in advance.

And in case I don’t have time to swing back by here tomorrow (which is entirely likely since I still have costumes to wrap up and I managed to volunteer myself at both kids’ class parties), HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

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Papa’s Pumpkin Patch

We visited the pumpkin patch in Bismarck a couple of weeks ago. You know the drill. It takes me a little while to get the photos out of the camera.

These kids of mine are such goofs. I try really hard to get good pictures of them. One wants no part in it; the other wants to see how silly she can look. I’ve mastered the art of closing my eyes and snapping ten times, hoping for a decent shot. It didn’t work out this time.

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We visited the same pumpkin patch last year. I’ve seen a list of the best pumpkin patches in the country circulating Facebook this fall. Guess who made the list? Papa’s Pumpkin Patch in Bismarck, North Dakota. How about that?

Here’s our “How Tall This Fall?” photo from last year…

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Yes, Neely wore flip flops. We had no idea until we’d arrived – two hours from home. This was when we learned that “put on jackets and bring gloves” doesn’t always translate to “wear warm shoes” in our kids’ minds. Not to worry. This year, we knew better.

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They’ve both gotten taller…and Neely’s hair is a lot longer.

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That thing I said earlier about trying to get good pictures of my kids? It applies to my husband, too. Family photos are always…interesting.

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We had a good time, and we got to stay longer and enjoy more since we all dressed appropriately!

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We bailed almost right after I took this photo. It started to rain, so we snagged a few little pumpkins and headed home.

 

 

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It’s almost time to runDisney again!

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In just three weeks, WE’LL BE AT DISNEY WORLD! I might be just a tiny bit excited. I get to see my parents for the first time since Easter. I get to see my brother, his wife, and their boys for the first time since Easter…it’s the first time my husband will meet our sweet nephew Henry, and he hasn’t seen any of the others since last December! Oh, and it will be Levi and Henry’s first time at Disney World. I’m so glad I get to be there.

In addition to all the normal planning and excitement that goes into a Disney vacation, I’m also preparing to run the 2014 Wine & Dine Half Marathon. Some of you may remember that I ran a half marathon with pretty much no training in September…and PR’ed. So weird. I have been running more since then, but I completely ditched the Jeff Galloway training plans. I’ve been alternating a pretty laid-back week of running with a more intense week that includes a long run. I ran 13.1 two weeks ago – on a treadmill, because the weather was horrible that day. I had a lot of pain in my quads for several days after that. I’m blaming that on the treadmill. Blech. It didn’t make me very excited about winter coming.

Anyway, I’ve got one last long run planned for next week, and that will be it until race day! I can hardly believe it’s this close. Bib numbers and corrals have already been assigned for race day. I’ll be wearing #4388, which puts me in corral F. I’ll be right in the middle of the pack, exactly where I am most comfortable. :)

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Is my costume ready? Of course not! I completely forgot to add it in my big list of costumes the other day. I decided to run as Cruella DeVille. I have most of the components sitting around, ready to go. I’ve got my sparkle skirt, my running shoes (which I thought were red when I ordered them, but they’re pink), my tank top, and my running sleeves. The tank top needs a little dalmatian embellishment, and I’d like to find some big, green earrings like hers, too. I’ll skip the cigarette.

I had grand intentions of attempting to run in a wig for this. I even bought one, but the more I think about it, the more it scares me. If my head is overheating, I will lose my mind, and will probably end up throwing the wig away. I can’t really bear the thought of just tossing a $30 wig, so I’m trying to come up with a new plan.

I think that I will either a) wear two braids, or b) wear some crazy, teased-out pigtails. Whichever of those I choose, I’ll spray one half black and the other half white. What would Cruella do? Braids or pigtails? I really do need help deciding, if anyone wants to throw their two cents into the pot.

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Catching up…part two…

I know you’ve just been sitting around for the last two days, wondering what else could possibly be keeping me so busy that I’m not updating my blog. I’m back to add to the list, and ease your curiosity. (ha!)

HALLOWEEN COSTUMES!

This year, Aidan has chosen to dress as a Minecraft skeleton, and Neely is going as Anna from Frozen…with the request that I dress up with her, as Elsa. She comes by it honestly. I love a good group costume.

After many stops and restarts, I finally finished the Anna costume last week.

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The skeleton is still a work in progress. I’ve got the body/sweat suit done. It’s the stinking box head that I need to buckle down and finish. I know it won’t even take that long. I’m not sure why I haven’t motivated myself to get it done yet. Poor Aidan. This will probably be the costume that isn’t ready until October 30th. At 11:59pm.

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The Elsa dress is nowhere near finished. I got the bodice sewn together, three weeks ago, and when it came time to attach the skirt, I realized I’d cut a piece out with the wrong side of the pattern on the fold. No problem, I’ll just go get more fabric, right? Wrong. I bought the last of the bolt. I waited a week to see if our Joann’s would restock it, and they didn’t. They can’t ever tell you if they’re going to get more of something, either. It’s ridiculous. So I ordered more online. One week later, my order is canceled, BECAUSE IT IS OUT OF STOCK ONLINE!!! I checked my local store again. Still nothing, and there wasn’t anything left in the same color to make due. My super wonderful fantastic mother saved my butt. She went to her Joann’s, in Tennessee, found something in the same color, and shipped it to me. It arrived yesterday, so I need to get back in gear on this dress. At least all the other material I bought and already cut out won’t be going to waste, the way I was afraid it would be.

I’m a bit afraid to share the last costume I’m working on. This one is for me, too. We’re attending a Halloween-themed event on November 1st, and I’m weird. I don’t want to use my Halloween costume for it. This dress is a major work in progress.

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Does anybody have a guess? I may not share it unless it turns out. We shall see…

 

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I’ve got some catching up to do!

Time has been getting away from me lately. Last week, I sat down and started to write a big post about what’s been keeping me busy, but it was extremely disjointed, not to mention crazy long. I’ve decided to break it down into small bites throughout the week. You may start reading and think, “Who cares?” And that’s fine. Come back another day. ;)

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To begin with, I’m still getting over the end of summer and the kids starting school. Even though I’m not the one going day after day, I still feel busier. I have to be out of bed before everyone else. I’m packing lunches. I’m making sure everyone is awake in enough time to eat, get dressed, fight in the bathroom, etc. I haul my kids to school in the morning and pick them up in the afternoon. I unpack (often mostly untouched) lunch boxes. I empty backpacks and make sure homework is done. I help practice spelling words (painful), and I sign behavior charts. Daily.

Sometimes, I get to throw in PTA meetings and trips to the school to volunteer. We’ll be having Halloween parties soon, and a Book Fair, and parent-teacher conferences, and Turkey Bingo, and Popcorn Day…EEEEEK!

This is not even the only place I volunteer. I also have to, you know, find time to do the work I’m being paid for. I feel like I’m still in the adjustment period, even though we’re two months into the school year. By the time I learn how to balance everything just so, it’ll be time for summer break (which I’m totally cool with – I love summer break!).

Anyway, there’s reason #1 that I’ve been away from the blog for a while. I’ll come back with reason #2 another day. Small doses, people. This is all I can handle right now.

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Neely’s Frozen Birthday

My baby girl turned 6 this week. We had her Frozen birthday party last weekend, mainly because I thought it’d be a gigantic pain to make her wait until after her actual birthday to celebrate.

So you know, here I am, almost one week later, finally getting around to sharing the party pics.

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Me & my girl. She’s a kindergartener. She’s 6. I don’t know how much more of this growing up business I can take. This is my baby!

There were decorations. It was difficult, hanging fake snowflakes everywhere, knowing that I will soon be looking at real ones outside. The snowflakes and garland are from CSarber on Etsy. I’m sure if you have a Cricut or similar crafty device, you could make these on your own.

 

There was food. I found these adorable printable tent cards and water bottle on Etsy as well, by CE Marie Prints. We kept all the food Frozen themed, of course. The sandwiches and chips are pretty self-explanatory. The snow balls are just large marshmallows, dipped first in melted white chocolate, then in sugar sanding sprinkles. Frozen Waters punch? I found a lot of weird recipes for blue punch in my online searches. I ended up using one big jug of blue Hawaiian punch, one two-liter of Sprite, and I added scoops of vanilla ice cream to the top. I think it turned out well. The kids enjoyed it. :)

Do you want to see the birthday cake better?

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OK. I was having fits over this one initially. I’ve never tried to ice a square cake before. It isn’t easy. Thankfully, I had a lot of little extras to hide my lack of skill, and the critic that matters? Well, she’s six, and she really just cares that Anna & Elsa are on her cake. Olaf was an added bonus.

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This is the moment you know you’ve pulled it off. When you get a grin like this out of your kiddo. She had a great time celebrating with all her friends.

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We had almost every little one on the block, plus a few extras, crammed around our kitchen table. They’re not all in this picture. I think there were 16! It was one of the craziest things we’ve done in this house to date, but it was wonderful. At the end of the day, we had one happy little girl.

Happy birthday, Neely Bug! You are going to be one super six-year-old!

 

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Bomber Run Recap

I ran a half marathon yesterday. I know. What?!

My friend and I signed up to run ONE WEEK AGO. Because we are crazy people. The longest training run I’ve accomplished to this point was 6.5 miles, so you know, why not double it?

I’ll be honest. It took me all week to get my brains in check. Mentally, I did a lot of freaking out. What if I hurt myself? What if I die? What if I have to crawl across the finish line? On Thursday, I finally got myself in check. I have run this distance before. Yes, it’s been a while, but I’ve been running and cross training pretty consistently for the last few months. I should be in fair shape to pull this off. Especially since I’m not trying to win, and I’m not ashamed to walk a little.

I got all my gear ready that night, so all I had to do on Friday morning was get dressed, feed the little ones, and pack them off to school. Well, mostly that was all. We had a little incident where my boy scraped up his face pretty badly in a skateboard accident on Thursday night. Yesterday morning when he got out of bed, his eye was swollen shut. I got a little panicky, knowing I’d need a little extra time to go talk to his teacher about why he can’t see out of one eye before school and getting myself to the starting line. Regardless, everyone made it where they needed to be on time. Sometimes, I like to worry myself for no good reason.

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Here we are – before, during, and after the half marathon that neither of us trained for. The Bomber Run was a fairly small event. We were told there would be 300 runners, but I don’t think that many actually showed up. I’m used to being a middle-of-the-pack runner, but when you’re running a race on a military base, the game changes. We were squarely in the back from pretty much the very beginning. We maintained a steady pace the entire time (no walking!), and by the end, we started to pass people who’d burned out early.

Our finish time? 2:21:21. Without training. Y’all, I am ecstatic. As far as chip-timed races go, this is a PR for me. I finished the Princess Half at 2:26, and that was my best time to date. I fully expected Courtney to be dragging me across the finish line at 2:45. But we did awesome! Especially considering it was our first time running together. I really felt like we were evenly matched in pace, and I’m extra glad there was no judgment coming when I needed to dance or sing along to the iPod to make it through the next mile…because she was doing it, too. ;)

Here’s the catch, though. I just ran a half marathon without training, and not only did I live to tell the tale, but I BEAT MY OWN BEST TIME! I’m traveling for my next half marathon in two months. “The Plan” had me up to 9.5 next week. I’m really tempted to ditch “the plan.” I just ran 13.1. Maybe I should just do a long 10-ish mile run every other week until the race and call it good. My goal, as usual, is to finish in the upright position and to have fun, because, hey, it’s Disney World!

What would you do? Stick with the plan? Wing it with mostly maintenance runs and a few long runs thrown in for good measure?

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