Square Life Round World

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

My Quest For Half Fanatics Part One–Memphis Greenline Half

Back in the summer when I was figuring out my race schedule and training plan for the rest of 2013, it occurred to me that on the weekend I had a 12.5 mile planned, there was a half marathon starting and finishing in the very park where I’d be doing my 12.5 and covered much of the same ground I’d be covering anyway.  When I also realized that it, along with the other 2 half marathons I already had planned, would qualify me for Half Fanatics, it became a no-brainer.  A few clicks later, I was registered.

Greenline Half Marathon

Greenline Half Marathon

So Half Fanatics is kind of like a club for people who like to run half marathons.  The minimum requirement to qualify for membership is either finishing 2 half marathons in a 2-week period or 3 in 90 days.  I never really thought that I would get an opportunity to qualify so when I saw that I did, I jumped on it.  I also became really excited about it.

Half Fanatics

Half Fanatics

On October 13, 2013, the day had come for me to begin my quest.

Flat me for Greenline Half

Flat me for Greenline Half

The day started out with fairly good running weather.  It was foggy, so it was humid but temps were not too bad.  Even once the fog lifted it was overcast for a while.  It was right around mile 6 before the clouds lifted and the sun came out.

I am one who obsesses over weather.  That is the one thing that can ruin my run faster than anything, even faster than hydration or nutrition issues.  I don’t do well in heat and sun so as long as it’s overcast, I am usually ok.  If the sun comes out and temps start rising, I can have problems and they can happen fast!  So the sun was not a welcome sight to me that day.  By mile 7 I had abandoned the run for the most part and resigned myself to walking only.  However, here is where I came to appreciate what I would consider my favorite part of the race.  National Guardsmen were riding the course with us on ATVs.  I guess one of them could see that I was having a hard time and kept circling around me, talking to me and encouraging me.  It felt like I had my own private escort, and it helped me so much.  Before long, I was right back at running.  Somewhere between 8 and 9 my runner’s high kicked in and my legs just kind of did their thing without me having to worry about it.  At mile 11 I was struggling again.  By mile 12 I was just ready for it to be over and 1.1 miles later, it was.

Overall, this was definitely not my favorite race, and it has nothing to do with struggling in the sun for a few miles.  It was a very small race, less than 200 runners.  While I appreciate a course that is not crowded, when you have 200 runners spread out over 13.1 miles, not only is it not crowded, it is pretty much empty.  So, except for the National Guard escorts (which I LOVED), it really felt more like a training run with course support than a race.  It was also boring.  The only real scenic areas were in the park and along the Memphis Greenline.  I’m on those trails all the time anyway so it wasn’t new for me.  The spectator support was non-existent.  We went through a few residential areas but no one seemed interested.

It wasn’t all bad, though.  Like I said, I loved having the Guard riding along side me at times.

It was fun having these guys ride along side us on the course.

It was fun having these guys ride along side us on the course.

The awards were really cool, too, for the winners.  I also really loved the start.  Again, it was foggy out, and instead of a vocalist to perform the national anthem, there was a violinist.  It was beautiful and serene.

The start was very peaceful.

The start was very peaceful.

Finishers did get a medal, which is always fun.

The finisher's medal features a buffalo, symbolic of the park.

The finisher’s medal features a buffalo, symbolic of the park.

The after party was fun, too, with a band and Mexican food.  The only bummer about that is they ran out of plates so I didn’t get any food.  A funny story about that is what happened as I was leaving.  I had given up on food and started walking the quarter-mile back to my car, all downhill.  I was almost to my car when I heard a guy behind me trying to get my attention.  He ran all the way down the hill to tell me they had found more plates.  Bless his heart!  I thanked him but there was no food in the world that was worth walking back up that hill for.

The most unique feature of this race is that it is the only green certified sporting event in the state of Tennessee.  Everything about this race is designed to reduce the carbon footprint compared to that of a traditional event.  The tech shirt we got as part of our registration is actually made from recycled milk cartons and feels so soft.

The race tech shirt is made from recycled milk cartons.

They asked that we bring our own water bottles to cut down on race waste, which I always do anyway.  They had battery and cell phone recycling stations at the start/finish line area.  The awards that I mentioned earlier were made by locals artists out of reclaimed wood from the park, and were really neat.

The awards were made by local artists and were really cool!

The awards were made by local artists and were really cool!

Would I do it again?  Maybe if I needed a training run of around that distance at around the same time, as was the case this time.  As a stand-alone or target event, I wouldn’t recommend it unless a person needs a race with virtually no crowds.  I do hope the event continues for many years to come.  It raises funds for the Shelby Farms Greenline, which is important to me.

With that, I was one-third of the way toward my goal of becoming a Half Fanatic.

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My Disney Side @ Home Celebration

This past Saturday I hosted my Disney Side @ Home Celebration.  Thanks to a partnership with MomSelect and Disney Parks, I received a kit full of fun to help me host my party.  I had so much fun hosting this party, and I think everyone else had a great time, too.
Show Your Disney Side

First let’s talk food!  I wanted to feature all four parks at Walt Disney World Resort as well as Disney Cruise Line in my menu.  So, this is what I served:

My menu card

My menu card

  • Fantasmic! Firecrackers (Hollywood Studios)
  • Farmer Mickey Grilled Cheese Sandwiches (Epcot)
  • Living with the Land Tomato Soup (Epcot)
  • Chilled Strawberry Soup (1900 Park Fare at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort)
  • Mickey on Safari Rice Crispy Treats (Animal Kingdom)
  • Dole Whip Push Ups (Magic Kingdom)
  • Nemo’s Konk Kooler (Disney Cruise Line)
    This is most of the food I served.  I forgot to take a pic of the soup but here are some garnishes I put out for it.  I also forgot to take a pic of the sandwiches after they were toasted, but you get the idea.

    This is most of the food I served. I forgot to take a pic of the soup but here are some garnishes I put out for it. I also forgot to take a pic of the sandwiches after they were toasted, but you get the idea.

For some items, I actually used Disney recipes, like the Konk Kooler (minus the alcohol, thus Nemo’s) and the Chilled Strawberry Soup.  Everything else, I merely made as a representation of the Disney Parks theme.  I really had fun developing the menu, and everything was really easy to put together.  I also used some popcorn buckets I’ve gotten in the past at the parks and put some different store-bought flavored popcorn in them.

No party is complete without great decorations!  My kit contained plates, napkins, cups, a table cloth, and swirly decorations. 

Cups, plates and napkins were included in the kit.  I also used a flower pot I bought at World of Disney last year for the utensils.  I took it on my DCL Dream cruise last year and had the characters sign it.

Cups, plates and napkins were included in the kit. I also used a flower pot I bought at World of Disney last year for the utensils. I took it on my DCL Dream cruise last year and had the characters sign it.

I used everything except the table cloth.  I had a different idea for the table.  The kit also contained runDisney/ESPN ChEar cards, as used at runDisney races and ESPN sporting events.  I covered the cards in clear contact paper to protect them, and used them as place mats. 

ChEar cards make great place mats.

ChEar cards make great place mats.

I also picked up some containers from the dollar store, added some ribbon and tulle fabric to them, and made some fresh flower arrangements for the center of my table. 

I made three of these flower arrangements and placed them down the center of the table.

I made three of these flower arrangements and placed them down the center of the table.

My finished table

I used the swirly decorations on the back drop to a photo booth I made along with plastic table cloths, also from the dollar store.

Back drop for my photo booth

Back drop for my photo booth

My friend Beth picked up some of these celebration buttons for me in the parks and sent them to me. 

I used these celebration buttons as name tags.  Beth even included a penny for good luck!

I used these celebration buttons as name tags. Beth even included a penny for good luck!

Disney Parks has complimentary buttons for pretty much any occasion and it’s not uncommon to see lots of people in the parks with them.  I thought they would make really fun name tags since some of my guests didn’t know each other. 

After we had spent some time eating and chatting, it was time to play Bingo, which had been generously included in my hostess kit.  After a few minutes, it was pretty apparent that all the cards were very similar and it was likely that everyone was going to Bingo at the same time.  It became a race to see who could yell it out first. 

We played three games of Bingo before it was time to have fun with the photo booth I set up.  HP was a sponsor of the party and had included some photo cards for my guests.  I thought it would be fun to take some pictures and play around with the Disney Memories app on my iPhone.  The kids had such a blast with it!  They enjoyed putting borders, stickers and characters on their photos with the app.

My Pic

My Pic

This pic won the day!

This pic of my mom won the day!

Later on, I texted all the photos to my guests that they could print out at home using the HP photo cards each family took home with them.

Each guest also received goodies from the sponsors.  The adults got a poster, the HP photo cards, a runDisney/ESPN bumper sticker, and a Muppets calendar.  The kids got runDisney arm bands, Craisins, stickers, temporary tattoos, and a few other things I threw in for them.

All my guests got goodies to take home with them.

All my guests got goodies to take home with them.

It was a really fun way to spend an afternoon, and I’m very thankful to all the sponsors who helped put together the generous hostess kit.  I especially love my hostess gift from American Tourister!

Decorations, gifts for my guests, and this piece of luggage from American Tourister were all included in my hostess kit.

Decorations, gifts for my guests, and this piece of luggage from American Tourister were all included in my hostess kit.

Disclosure:  I received free products from MomSelect and Disney Parks with which to host a party.  As always, my opinions are my own.

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Mission: Bondi Band Ragnar Team

Bondi Band recently announced it will be sponsoring a team at Ragnar Adirondacks and at Ragnar Las Vegas. I read this one morning as I was trying to wake from my sleepy slumber. I first thought, “Oh, cool! I can’t wait to follow along with that!” Then I kept reading. They are looking for female bloggers to be on their teams. Wait! What?! I’m a female blogger! That got my attention. I was wide awake then.

Bondi Band announces its team sponsorship for Ragnar Adirondacks and Las Vegas.

Bondi Band announces its team sponsorship for Ragnar Adirondacks and Las Vegas.

Ragnar is totally on my race priority list (I don’t like the term “bucket list”). It’s a 12 person team relay across 200 miles of wherever that particular location is. It’s a constant race, so that means middle-of-the-night and daytime running. It’s basically a two-day road trip meets camping trip meets road races of varying distances. It’s pretty much everything I love about life. Sounds like a BLAST! So, I want in!

So, why do I want to be on Team Bondi Band? First off, I love the idea of running as a team sport. I started running for myself, by myself over two years ago. Along the way, I’ve met some of the best people and have made some really amazing friendships. It’s the camaraderie that keeps me going. That’s what makes Ragnar so appealing.

Next, I’m a huge Bondi Band fan! I cannot think of any other product I’d be happier to be associated with than it. Don’t believe me? Check out my collection!

My Bondi Band collection

My Bondi Band collection

Finally, I’m ready for a new challenge. My initial goal when I started running was to complete a half marathon. I’ve completed 5 now, the biggest challenge of which was a trail half marathon, in rain, sleet and snow, with 30 mph winds, in the mud.

I've completed 5 half marathons and several other races of varying distances.

I’ve completed 5 half marathons and several other races of varying distances.

I’m not afraid to try anything. I set a goal, and I work toward it. Finishing is the only option. I’ve lost 30 pounds so far on this journey, and my speed improves every month. Ragnar will be a huge challenge, maybe the biggest I’ve faced so far. I’m 100% confident I’m up to it.

Stay tuned to see who will be on Team Ragnar Las Vegas and Adirondacks. I hope I’m lucky enough to be a part of the story. It will definitely be the experience of a lifetime!

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