Square Life Round World

I'm navigating through this round world while living a square life, and it fits exactly as it should.

Magic Carpet Run 2013 5k/10k–A Virtual Run

As you may know by now, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is my favorite charity.  I ran in the 2012 Memphis St. Jude Half Marathon and raised over $600 for the kids of St. Jude. 

The start of the 2012 Memphis St. Jude Half Marathon

The start of the 2012 Memphis St. Jude Half Marathon

This year, my goal is even loftier!  Not only am I raising funds as a charity athlete for the 2013 Memphis St. Jude Half Marathon, but I’m also running as a charity athlete for the 2014 Disney Princess Glass Slipper Challenge.  This means that I will be raising almost $4000 for the kids of St. Jude. 

It costs over $1.8 million a day for St. Jude to operate.  Why so much?  St. Jude never bills patients or their families for anything!  No patient is ever turned away due to their inability to pay.  St. Jude covers the cost of anything insurance does not cover.  Not only that, but they also provide assistance to patients and their families for housing, groceries, transportation, entertainment, and the list goes on and on.  Whatever the need, St. Jude fills it.  In addition, it is the leading children’s research hospital in the nation, which means they are also finding cures.  It truly is an amazing organization.

As some of you know, I ran as Jasmine in the 2013 Disney Princess Half Marathon, and she is my favorite princess.  I thought it would be fun to have an Aladdin-inspired virtual run.  It’s not a race because there will be no winners based on times.  Everyone is a winner and gets a unique, custom medal for this specific event. 

Magic Carpet Run Medal

Magic Carpet Run Medal

The kids of St. Jude are winners because your participation will go a long way towards helping the mission of finding cures and saving children.  So, welcome to the Magic Carpet Run.  You can choose your distance, 5k or 10k, and since the medal is the same for both distances, you don’t even have to decide until you are doing your run.  If at least 100 participants register, everyone will also receive a bonus koozie commemorating the event. 

Everyone will receive this commemorative koozie if we reach 100 participants.

Everyone will receive this commemorative koozie if we reach 100 participants.

The cost for the run is $20 per participant, and that includes shipping!  This event will close out on August 15, and all medals will be mailed in mid-September. 

Register for the run using PayPal by clicking on the Buy Now button below.  100% of the proceeds from this event will go to St. Jude.  If you don’t want to run and you still want to help the kids of St. Jude, you can make your 100% tax deductible donation here on my personal fund-raising page.

Buy Now Button with Credit Cards

Have you ever participated in a virtual run before?

Please follow me on Twitter @myglasssneaker.

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Back on Track–Day 3

Yesterday I fell off the wagon just a bit.  It started off with me getting out of bed on time for my run.  Yay me!  Then I crapped out of it a mile and a quarter short of my goal.  It was hot, legs felt like lead, legs hurt, etc., etc.  All just excuses, yes, I know!  Here are the detes of the day.

Fitness

Even though I crapped out of the entire run, I did manage a decent 263 calorie burn so that’s better than nothing.

Hydration

Another fail here with just a measly 40 ounces of water throughout the day.

Nutrition

I had a banana (105 calories) after my run and breakfast was non fat greek yogurt (100 calories) and 1/4 cup granola (89 calories) for a grand total of 294 calories.

Lunch was at Rotary Club so it was more difficult to stay on track.  I had a salad with tomatoes, cheese, and ranch dressing (231 calories), some sort of beef (I’m estimating 200 calories for this), macaroni and cheese (190 calories estimated), and mixed steamed veggies (70 calories) for a total of 691 calories.

Not only was it a high calorie lunch, but the carbs were not good either.  So, I was hungry about an hour later.  Bad carbs make you crave carbs so I ate pretzels (160 calories).  Then someone in my office had the grand idea to bake double chocolate cookies.  So I fell of the wagon in a major way by eating 2 of them (340 calories) for a total of 500 snack calories.

I still wanted to stay within my calorie budget, so all I could find at home to keep me there was some cereal (80 calories). 

Grand total for the day was 1564 calories eaten minus 263 calories burned in exercise for a net of 1301. 

Because of my big snack fail and trying to meet my calorie goal, nutrition suffered by my not getting enough protein, fruits and vegetables.  Here’s where I’m not sure if it would have been better for me to ignore my snack fail and continue on with my meal plan to get my nutrition in or if it was better to do what I did and stay within a reasonable calorie range.  I probably should have done more exercise to burn it off, but se la vie.

I’m still having trouble staying off the scale, but it is still moving in the right direction so there’s that. 

So yesterday wasn’t nearly as successful as my prior days but it happens.  I’m not going to beat myself up about it.  I’m aware of my mistakes and will recover from them.  All will be well.  I will be right back on the wagon today.

How do you bounce back when you fall off the wagon?

Follow me on Twitter @myglasssneaker.

I’m running in the St. Jude Memphis Half Marathon this year and in the Disney Glass Slipper Challenge next year as a charity athlete for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.  I am currently trying to raise $500 for the kids of St. Jude.  If you can make a donation, I would greatly appreciate it.  $25 buys a wagon the kids can be transported in around the hospital (so much more fun than a wheelchair, right?).  $50 pays for a platelet test for a child with cancer.  $75 pays for a birthday party or, even better, a coming-off-chemo party.  You can visit my fund-raising page here.

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Back on Track–Day 2

Day 2 of getting back on track is in the books. It was overall a successful day but there were some hiccups. My first big fail was getting out of bed. The alarm was set for 5 but I apparently kept hitting snooze until I finally realized what was going on around 5:30. I stayed in bed until 6 so no morning workout for me. My next big fail was stepping in the scale. Yep, I just couldn’t stay away. I won’t reveal the results but I will say it’s going in the right direction. Here’s how the rest of the day went.

Fitness
I was able to get my 30 minute total body workout in after work so I’m glad I was able to recover from staying in bed too late. Calories burned = 173.

Hydration
I took in 60 ounces of water throughout the day and 20 ounces of a zero calorie electrolyte beverage before my workout.

Nutrition
Breakfast was coffee with half and half (40 calories), a peach soy shake made with a farmer’s market peach (131 calories), and a Luna bar (190 calories). I actually saved the Luna bar for a mid-morning snack. The soy milk in the shake had protein so I felt like I could save it for later. That was a good move.

Lunch was turkey and cheddar on wheat with Dijon mustard (225 calories), and another roasted beet and goat cheese salad (190 calories).

I had an afternoon snack of cheese (70 calories) and an apple (95 calories).

Again I took the easy way out for dinner with another Weight Watchers frozen entree (290 calories), 2 cups of steamed green beans (70 calories), a farmer’s market plum (30 calories), and 2 mixed berry Newtons (100 calories).

Calorie grand total was 1431 minus 173 for the workout for a net of 1258.

Summary
I was able to stick to my plan today despite my rocky start. I’m feeling good about getting back on track. I was not hungry at all and had plenty of energy for my afternoon workout. I’ll get a do-over tomorrow on getting up early. Tomorrow is a running day and the morning is the best time for me to do it during the summer. I have a new running skirt to wear so hopefully that will give me a little extra motivation.

What are your goals for the fall season?

Follow me on Twitter @myglasssneaker.

I’m raising money as a charity athlete for the kids of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. If you can and are willing to make a donation, please visit my fund raising page here.

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Back on Track–Day 1

Today was the first day of my quest to get back on track for nutrition and fitness (sounds better than diet and exercise, right?) for one week.  It went very well, and I’m quite proud of myself.  Here’s how it went down.

Fitness

I started the day with a morning 30 minute total body workout.  This consisted of wide squats, narrow squats, forward lunges, reverse lunges, plies, side crunches, push ups, reverse crunches, oblique twists, and regular crunches.  My app told me I burned 173 calories, although that feels very low.  I have a feeling Advil will be my friend tonight.

Hydration

I had 20 ounces of a zero calorie electrolyte drink prior to my workout and 80 ounces of water throughout the day.  That’s quite a bit of hydration, but it is summer in the south and I did spend a few hours outdoors so I don’t think it’s too much.

Nutrition

I started with 2 cups of coffee this morning, each with 2 tablespoons of half and half (80 calories total).  Breakfast was Greek strawberry yogurt (100 calories), 1/4 cup granola (89 calories), and a plum from the farmer’s market (30 calories) for a total of 299 calories for breakfast.

Strawberry Greek yogurt, granola, and a plum from the farmer's market

Strawberry Greek yogurt, granola, and a plum from the farmer’s market

Right after my workout, I had a banana (105 calories).  Because I always think it’s a good idea to eat protein with every meal, even snacks, I had a piece of cheese as well (70 calories) for a total of 175 calories for my post workout snack.

For lunch I had a turkey and cheddar sandwich on thin sliced wheat bread with 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard (225 calories) and a salad made with roasted beets and goat cheese on romaine lettuce with my homemade balsamic vinaigrette dressing (190 calories) for a total of 415 calories.  I was very excited about my salad because both the goat cheese and the beets came from the farmer’s market.

Roasted beet and goat cheese salad made with farmer's market ingredients

Roasted beet and goat cheese salad made with farmer’s market ingredients

I just love using locally grown and made products.

Dinner was steamed green beans (35 calories), a Weight Watchers frozen entree (280 calories) and some mango slices (68 calories).  I was also able to round the meal out with a “dessert” of sorts and had 2 mixed berry Newtons (100 calories) for a total of 483 dinner calories.  I took the easy way out for dinner because I spent so much time today prepping my food for the week.  I think it’s so much easier to stay on track when my food is all ready to go during the week and I don’t have to think about or prepare too much.

So for the day, I had a total of 1372 calories minus the 173 calories I burned with my workout (again, not sure that’s accurate) for a net intake of 1199 calories.

Summary

I felt great after my workout, my hydration was right, and I feel good about my nutrition for the day.  I feel like I had a good balance between protein, fruits and veggies, and good carbs.  I also feel great about the fact that I have my food prepped for the rest of the week.  I think it’s important to set yourself up for success.  I’m looking forward to another salad with beets and goat cheese tomorrow.  I’m also going to try really hard not to weigh myself until next Sunday.  I usually weigh myself every morning, so it’s going to be hard not to step on the scale.

I’m already looking forward to my 4 mile run on Saturday.  I’m hoping to find that by getting and staying on track this week, I’ll lose that sluggish, legs-of-lead feeling and I’ll feel more fit and focused.

What are your best tips for ramping back up after an off-season?

Follow me on Twitter @myglasssneaker.

I’m raising funds as a charity athlete for the kids of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.  If you’d like to make a donation, please visit my personal fundraising page here.

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Getting Back on Track

In a few weeks, I’ll be officially beginning my training for my fall race schedule. I have a pretty ambitious season planned, with 3 half marathons by the end of the year, a fall road race series consisting of 10 separate races of various distances from a 5k to a half marathon (in addition to the other 3), and a 10-week women’s program. I’m having just a little trouble getting back into the swing of things, though.

I’m still doing some exercising and running each week, though not as consistently as in the past. I still feel very close to my peak fitness level. I didn’t gain any weight in the off-season. I didn’t even gain any weight on my cruise. Yet, still, I’m having a very hard time getting back into my normal fitness and diet routine. I wanted to be back into my good habits before my official training begins, but with only 2 more weeks to go, it’s looking like that’s not going to happen. Last year at this time, I had no trouble hopping out of bed at 4:30 am to run. This year, I’m reminded of just how much I love sleep, and my bed just wants me to stay in it.

I am feeling very frustrated with myself, and that’s just not acceptable. I need some additional accountability. So, for the next week, I’m afraid you all are going to have to put up with posts about my workouts and food intake. For 1 week, I will be blogging daily about exactly what I ate, when I ate it, and what physical activity I did. It takes 30 days to make or break a habit so after a week, I hope to be well on my way to being back on track. I’m also hoping to get some positive feedback from you, my readers, that I can use as motivation. Please follow along and feel free to add any input or training suggestions. Last year was about just doing it and finishing. I want this year to be about being the very best I can be.

What do you do to get yourself out of a slump?

Follow me on Twitter @myglasssneaker.

I’m raising money as a Hero charity athlete for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. If you would like to make a donation, please visit my personal fund-raising page here. Any amount helps!

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Disney Cruise Line Dream Cruise 2013–Pirates of Nassau Museum

Yo ho, yo ho! A pirate’s life for me! Most kids (and adults, too, for that matter) have dreamed at some point of being a pirate. Many have even dressed up as one, making pirate costumes some of the most popular and most sold of all time. The pirate lifestyle has been dramatized and romanticized by books, movies, TV shows and attractions for decades as a fabulous life on the high seas of eating, drinking, and being merry. There are no rules. Do what you want, when you want, however you want. Pirates seem to get away with everything so who wouldn’t want to be one? On our Nassau day, we visited the Pirates of Nassau museum and learned it wasn’t quite the glamorous and care-free lifestyle of our pirate dreams.

Pirates of Nassau Museum

Pirates of Nassau Museum

Pirates were a big part of Nassau’s rich history so it’s only natural to preserve it with a museum dedicated to the pirate’s life. The museum is located at the intersection of King and George streets, very easy to remember (King George). It really is a very short walk from the port so no need to get a taxi and maps are available at the information desk at the port.

The information desk at the port in Nassau

The information desk at the port in Nassau

The cost for the museum is $12 per person, but I’ve read that if you go on a slow day or later in the afternoon, there might be a guy standing out front ready to cut you a deal. They had plenty of patrons when we went so no deal for us! We were directed to the gift shop to purchase our wristbands (clever of them to start you in a gift shop) and then we were free to start the tour.

Wristband for Pirates of Nassau Museum

Wristband for Pirates of Nassau Museum

It was a self-guided tour, and it was VERY dark inside the museum.

There weren’t very many (if any) actual pirate artifacts, which was kind of a disappointment. I wanted to see some real, bona fide pirate stuff. Instead, displays were created to give visitors the feeling that they were stepping into a pirate ship and into the lives of pirates. The tour guided us through the “ship”, showing us the sights and sounds of a pirate’s life.

Displays depict the life of a pirate.

Displays depict the life of a pirate.

Placards were on the walls, giving information and also true/false trivia questions testing your knowledge of facts versus myths.

This placard sets the stage as you enter the museum.

This placard sets the stage as you enter the museum.

While it wasn’t exactly what I expected, I did learn some things. For starters, most pirates got their start as legitimate ship workers, where the hours were long, the work was hard, and punishments were severe. The only escape from this very difficult lifestyle was to become a pirate. Instead of long days of hard work and punishment, pirates enjoyed days filled with drinking, games and merriment. Of course, the only way to fund this lifestyle was to steal, cheat and kill by overtaking other ships that passed through the pirate-infested waters of the Caribbean. Greed was prevalent and oftentimes they would turn on each other to get a bigger share of the loot. Also, most pirate ships didn’t have a doctor on board so any amputations and other surgeries had to be performed by the ship’s carpenter, using carpentry tools such as saws, with no anesthesia.

Pirate surgery without anesthesia--ouch!

Pirate surgery without anesthesia–ouch!

It didn’t take long for me to decide that rum or no rum, the pirate’s life was definitely not for me!

Another thing I found quite surprising was their attitude toward and respect for women. The rape of a woman was totally against “pirate code” and was punishable by a very cruel death. Also, if a female pirate (yes, although rare, they existed) were caught and sentenced to death, she could easily get her sentence reduced to life in prison by simply claiming to be pregnant. Death sentences were normally carried out immediately, and because the judges of that day didn’t want to be responsible for the killing of an unborn child, they would not call for the execution of a pregnant woman. I also found it odd that there was no follow up to this. Wouldn’t they have caught on to her lies after 9 months in prison and no baby had popped out? Chances are, she was going to die of natural illnesses in prison anyway (according to the museum), so I guess they thought it really didn’t matter.

Even though it wasn’t quite what I expected, I really enjoyed the museum. It was very interesting and informative and it only took about 30 minutes to tour. It’s very close to all the shops, which makes it a great add-on if you are only planning on shopping in Nassau anyway. It’s probably not something you’d want to go out of your way to make time for if you are planning an all-day shore excursion.

Have you been to Nassau? What’s your favorite thing to do there?

Follow me on Twitter @myglasssneaker.

I’m raising funds as a hero for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. If you’d like to donate, please visit my fund raising page here.

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How To Avoid (Or At Least Postpone) The Post Vacation Blues

I don’t know about you but I always seem to come down with a serious case of the post vacation blues (PVB) after returning from a big trip. I was expecting my most recent case to be really bad since it was such an awesome vacation. However, my first week back was so incredibly busy and fun-filled that I didn’t have time to suffer. Here’s what I did.

First off, we usually have to stop for the night on the way back from Disney, and this normally means a business-travel-type hotel. That’s usually my first slap-in-the-face from the real world and is a stark contrast to the magical accommodations I’ve been accustomed to for the previous week. This time, however, we made a detour to Biloxi, MS to spend the night at the Beau Rivage Hotel and Casino. Even though it’s still not quite the fairy tale of a Disney cruise ship, it has a very vacationy feel to it. Everyone is still happy, and there’s no real world slap. The $43 I won within 10 minutes of playing the slots helped as well.

Our view from the Beau Rivage Tower--I'm not complaining!

Our view from the Beau Rivage Tower–I’m not complaining!

The first few days back from work were relatively event-free, which always helps. I didn’t have a mess to return to, and nothing earth-shattering happened while I was away, so no PVB-inducing work needed to be done to fix anything.

Then on Wednesday after returning, I went to an outdoor concert at Levitt Shell, which is an amphitheater in Overton Park, located in Midtown Memphis. Levitt Shell is a free venue, and people simply bring their chairs or blankets, coolers filled with their favorite libations and noshes, and maybe a few dollars for food trucks and an optional donation to the band. Most of the time these concerts are held on the weekends but this one was a make-up date from a previously rained-out show. The band was mediocre but the vibe was cool and it turned out to be a very relaxing evening.

Free outdoor concert at Levitt Shell

Free outdoor concert at Levitt Shell

The very next night, on Thursday, I got to volunteer with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital at Target House Bingo. In case you missed it, read all about it here.

On Friday, I got to play hooky from work for the afternoon and attended the Fed Ex St. Jude Classic, an annual PGA golf tournament in Memphis.

Fed Ex St. Jude Classic Tickets

Fed Ex St. Jude Classic Tickets

Fed Ex St. Jude Classic Entrance

This year, the biggest player in the tournament was Phil Mickelson, winner of 4 majors, including the Masters. It was funny because almost the entire grounds crowd, including me, was following Phil from hole to hole.

Almost everyone was following Phil Mickelson.

Almost everyone was following Phil Mickelson.

Apparently, cameras were not allowed, and I got reprimanded when I took this shot.

Phil Mickelson at the Fed Ex St. Jude Classic

Phil Mickelson at the Fed Ex St. Jude Classic

They didn’t kick me out or confiscate my phone, though, so it’s all good. The Golf Channel was there filming, being super-serious.

The Golf Channel Camera Man

The Golf Channel Camera Man

Unfortunately, I can’t recall who won the tournament, but I know it wasn’t Phil. It made for a relaxing, PVB-avoiding afternoon, though.

Then that night I was invited to the opening of The Crossroads of Memory: Carroll Cloar and the American South, a new art exhibit at the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art.

Faculty and Honor Roll Students, Lewis School by Carroll Cloar

Faculty and Honor Roll Students, Lewis School by Carroll Cloar

I’m a member of the Brooks, and this was a perk of membership. The wine was freely flowing, and there were tables practically overflowing with cheese, crackers, and fruit. The exhibit itself was beautifully curated and seemed to go on forever. Room after room was filled with his art depicting the rural American South of days gone by. It was all so gorgeous and detailed. I cannot even begin to imagine the amount of time it took him to create each piece.

After that, I capped my evening and first week back from vacation at Chiwawa, a new bar in Midtown Memphis’s Overton Square that serves Mexican influenced bar food and drinks. This is definitely not your typical Tex-Mex, pick-a-number-from-one-to-twenty-three type places. I wouldn’t exactly call it upscale, either, though. It’s more of a hip, modern place with a Mexican flare. I started off with a Strawberry Watermelon Sno Cone topped with vodka and some guacamole with chips. The “drink” was so refreshing! It appears as though there was a lot of ice, but it was plenty strong. The guacamole was chunky and flavorful, and the chips were house made. I followed that up with a brisket taco and a pulled pork taco (pastor style). Both had the most inventive and delicious house made toppings and were so good! I also had their version of Mexican street corn, which is slathered with mayo, cheese and other spices. I’m pretty sure they also soak it in milk or something because every kernel popped and exploded with juiciness with each bite. I would say it was the best corn I’ve ever had, and I’m not really a corn fan.

Chiwawa Memphis

Chiwawa Memphis

It was the perfect ending to a week of avoiding PVB!

How do you recover from PVB?

If you haven’t figured out by now, St. Jude is my favorite charity. I’m running in the St. Jude Memphis Half Marathon in December, and I’m trying to raise $500 for the kids of St. Jude. Please visit my fundraising page here, and I would love it if you can make a donation. Any amount helps.

Also, follow me on Twitter @myglasssneaker.

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Disney Cruise Line Dream Cruise 2013–Castaway Cay 5k and a PR, Well Maybe Sort Of

If you’ve been reading along, you know that strangely enough the thing about this cruise I was looking forward to the most was the Castaway Cay 5k.  On Tuesday of the cruise, the day had finally come.

Castaway Cay is Disney’s private island that most of their cruises sail to.  It is gorgeous!  The water is so blue, and the sand is pristine!  There is plenty to do on the island.  There is snorkeling, a sting ray interactive area, water toys, character experiences, parasailing, a glass bottom boat tour, and even a water slide.  There is yoga on the adult beach (Serenity Bay), and massage cabanas for those who want to indulge on the beach.  Then there is my most anticipated activity, the 5k.

Our personal Navigator for the day (a printout that tells you everything that is going on) said we should meet in Evolution at 8:15 am.  Running also were my dad, my brother-in-law, and 2 of my nieces.  So at 8:15 we signed in, were given our bibs, and Briana (a member of the activities crew) went over the course map with us. 

We all met in Evolution to get signed in for the 5K.

We all met in Evolution to get signed in for the 5K.

Ok, this is not a great picture but they had the course map on the big screen.

We all got bibs, and they say runDisney!

We all got bibs, and they say runDisney!

My dad was wearing his t-shirt from the Mickey’s Happy Haunted 5k Trail Run from last year, which got Briana’s attention.  She ran the 10 miler last year.  When dad told her I ran the 10 miler also as well as Princess this year, she came looking for me.  She is planning on running Princess in 2014 as part of the brand new Glass Slipper Challenge.  From that point on, she kept calling dad and me her runDisney family.  I thought that was really fun.

So about 8:45, we made our way as a group to the gangplank to exit the ship.  We walked all the way to the second family beach.  It felt like a long walk, but that is pretty typical of runDisney races.  At one point during the walk to the start, my brother-in-law said, “Is this 5k almost over?”  I thought it was a good warm-up, though.  I like to walk for a bit before I start running.

We got to the start and I had the bright idea to go ahead and buy our 5k shirts.  The gift shop is right next to the start.  I’ve read that many people have their family members buy them while they are running, and if you wait until you finish they may be out of your size.  Since none of our family members who weren’t running were planning on getting off the ship before we would be done, that wasn’t an option for us.  So I grabbed the shirts and went to pay, thinking I’d be in and out in 2 minutes.  The Cast Member was super friendly and talkative, wanting to know EVERYTHING about our trip so far.  I told her we were about to start running and I needed to get to the start.  Then she proceeds to tell me ALL the reasons she can’t run.  Yeah, yeah, let’s pick this up!  I was about to be left behind.  She was SUPER careful to make sure they were folded perfectly in the bag, too!  Well, needless to say, the other runners took off while I was walking out of the store.  They have a box by the start for everyone to put their belongings, and I still had to do that, too.  So, not only was I the last one to start, there wasn’t anyone in sight when I started.  I wish I had checked the clock at the start to see just how far behind I was, but I didn’t.  I’m going to estimate 90 seconds.

It wasn’t too long, though, before I was passing people, mainly the walkers.  Then I had my dad in sight, who was mostly walking.  I wanted to catch up to him, but every time I was almost to him, he would take off running, putting more distance between us.  He can actually walk faster than I can walk/run so with him adding some running in, it was almost impossible.  Then came the first water stop.  Dad was stopped at it, and he spotted me.  I stopped to refill my water bottle, and I was sure he would wait on me.  But noooooooo!  Dad, you’re KILLING me!  I’m 38 years old.  I’ve been running for a year and a half.  I’ve completed 2 half marathons and a 10 miler in the last year.  I have on expertly fitted running shoes and tech running clothes.  And I’m being smoked by a 69-year-old man who doesn’t run or walk regularly, wearing 10-year-old Reeboks, khaki shorts and a cotton t-shirt.  That was a lesson in humility.

The course takes you down the air strip,  has you make a loop through the 5000 foot long bike trail, finish off the air strip to Serenity Bay, circle back and make another trip through the bike loop, then head home.  It’s pretty clear to go counter-clockwise through the bike loop the first time, but for the second loop, some were going clockwise and some counter-clockwise.  I was in the clockwise group and met my brother-in-law and one of my nieces heading the other direction.  He indicated that he thought I was going the wrong way.  I told him I didn’t think it mattered and continued on.  At this point I vaguely remembered Briana mentioning that if you do something wrong, it could add a half mile to your trip.  I couldn’t remember what that was, and I started questioning myself.  The bike loop is marked in feet by thousands in both directions, and I had just passed the 2000 feet mark.  I decided to try to estimate another 500 feet and turn around and head back the other direction (remember the bike loop is 5000 feet, so by my estimation I would be at the 2500 feet mark and doubling back would equal 5000 feet).  I have no idea how close I was, but I don’t think I could have been that far off. 

I headed to the finish and the clock said I had a PR by about a minute and 20 seconds.  Since it’s not a certified course, I got stared late, and I got turned around, I have no idea how accurate this was.  We all collected our medals, and I got a pic of Briana. 

Briana gave us our medals!

Briana gave us our medals!

We retrieved our belongings and headed to find a spot on the beach for the day.

Me after the race, with my medal and the ship

Me after the race, with my medal and the ship

Dad and I after the race

It was really a lot of fun!  I kept hearing about how hot this run can get, and it would have been much harder had the sun been out.  It was overcast all day, though, with a good breeze blowing.  It was very enjoyable.  Plus, with this run, I can now call myself an international runner.  The experience exceeded my expectations, and if I ever get the opportunity to go on another Disney cruise that stops at Castaway Cay, I will do it again for sure!

Have you ever done a 5k on vacation?  Where was it?

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Feel Good Friday–Target House Bingo for St. Jude Patients

Last night I had the opportunity to volunteer with a charity that is near and dear to my heart, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. By far, it is my favorite charity. I’m going to apologize in advance because, out of respect for the patients and their families, I did not take any photos. I have a friend who works in the marketing department for ALSAC, the fund-raising arm for St. Jude, and in the future, I’ll have him use his channels to get a blog post with photos approved. Until then, all I have to offer are words.

Memphis has three houses that support St. Jude.  Grizzlies House is a very short-term housing facility for families to use when they first come to St. Jude.  Ronald McDonald House is a medium-term housing facility.  Families can stay there for up to 60 days, I believe.  Target house offers long-term, indefinite housing and is the only facility that actually operates under the St. Jude budget.  Each month, Bingo is played at each of the houses for the kids to have an hour of fun.  When I say an hour of fun, it’s like Christmas fun! 

It works just like normal Bingo.  The game is played, spaces are marked off, someone yells “Bingo” and wins.  There is a wall, literally a wall, full of toys for the kids.  As they win, volunteers (moi) hand out tickets to the winners.  They go to the wall, pick a toy, hand in their ticket, and it’s a pretty continuous parade of cancer patients getting toys for the entire hour.  Everyone wins so much, garbage bags have to be handed out to haul all the loot.  Another thing that makes it special is there are no Bingo police checking cards to see if actual Bingo happened.  We pretend to check, but the idea is that everyone wins!  A LOT!!

Target House is where I volunteered last night.  Like I said, I have a friend who works in marketing for St. Jude, and I was asked if I’d like to help.  He knows that I ran as a fund-raiser last year in the St. Jude Memphis Half Marathon, and thought I’d enjoy the interaction with the kids.  He was so very right!  I plan to become a regular Bingo volunteer.  True to what St. Jude always does to me, I was so happy to be able to help and bring joy to the kids and their families.  At the same time, it’s heart-wrenching that they have to face this terrible disease.  Sickening, even!  Yet, for an hour last night, there was a room filled with happy kids and their families, doing what kids do, playing Bingo, and being normal.  The visual evidence of cancer was everywhere, all over the room, but cancer can’t kill the spirit of a child.  When a child yells “Bingo” and high-fives you then excitedly collects the very toy he or she has been eyeing, cancer doesn’t exist in that moment.  That’s pretty cool.

What’s your favorite charity or volunteer effort?

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Things I Like Thursday–FOE Hair Ties

As a runner, one thing that is very important, especially in the summer, is getting and keeping my hair out of my eyes and away from my face.  My hair is about medium length, but the only time I ever wear it pulled back is when I’m running or doing other physical activities.  The problem with traditional hair fasteners is they tend to break your hair, which is not good for me since I wear it down most of the time.  I recently have been introduced to fold over elastic hair ties, which solves the breakage problem.

Fold over elastic (FOE, for short) was created to be a trim or a binder for edges of fabrics.  It has a line down the middle for easy folding, so you fold it over the edge of your fabric, sew it on, and you’re done.  Then someone realized its softness made for great baby head bands.  Baby head bands led to adult head bands, which led to hair ties.  I’m really not completely sure of the exact chronology of events, but this seems logical in my mind.

If you buy FOE hair ties in a store, they can be kind of costly.  They cost almost nothing to make, though, and they are a snap!  First of all, get yourself some FOE in whatever color(s) you want. 

Fold Over Elastic--it comes in all different colors!

Fold Over Elastic–it comes in all different colors!

I find the internet, specifically Etsy, to be an excellent source for this.  Then you just need to cut it in 10 inch lengths. 

10 inches of FOE

10 inches of FOE

Yes, I know that sounds long but once you fold it in half and tie it off, you really need that much.  This leads to the next step, which is, you fold it in half and tie it off.  Just loop it around your finger and make a simple knot for this.  Easy peasy!  At this point, the only other thing you need to do is heat-seal the ends.  I know this sounds scary, but it’s really easy.  Just light a match or a lighter, hold the flame really close to the edge, as close as you can get it without catching it on fire. 

You need a match or a lighter to heat-seal the ends.

You need a match or a lighter to heat-seal the ends.

You will see the edges start to melt a bit, and that’s it!  That’s all there is to heat-sealing.  If you do happen to catch it on fire, no biggie.  Just blow out the flame, trim the ends, and go again.

FOE burnt ends, oops!

FOE burnt ends, oops!

You could also heat-seal the ends before tying them off, if you wanted to.  I’ve done it both ways, and really, it makes no difference.  In fact, I’m pretty sure I sealed the ends before tying when I took the pics you see here.

The finished product, made in less than 30 minutes, probably more like 15.

The finished product, made in less than 30 minutes, probably more like 15.

So, if you are like me and love the FOE hair ties, do yourself a favor.  Get yourself some FOE, take about 20 minutes to make a bunch, and save yourself some money!  They also make great gifts.  I’ve actually made more to give away than I’ve made for myself. 

What’s your favorite quick craft?

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