Square Life Round World

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

Blog Rewind Wednesday–Disney Dream Cruise May 2011

I’m very excited because I’ll soon be going on my 2nd cruise with Disney Cruise Line aboard the Disney Dream. I’m a creature of habit, so yes, I’m repeating the same ship. Lately I’ve been reminiscing a lot about the last cruise in anticipation of this one. So I thought I’d share with you a few of my thoughts from last time. I will have a much more in-depth account of my upcoming trip when I return.

The iconic DCL smoke stack and horn

The iconic DCL smoke stack and horn

First of all, I cannot even begin to explain the level of excitement when we saw the ship for the first time. We drove from Pop Century at the Walt Disney Resort to the port the morning of boarding, and for some reason, we thought the port was much further from WDW than it actually was. We knew we would cross a bridge over a body of water but we incorrectly thought the port was another 30 minutes away after that. We were in no way prepared for the beautiful sight of the ship as we topped the bridge. I was much too excited to take pics, and we were almost there before I thought to snap this pic.

Approaching the ship

Approaching the ship

The food aboard the ship was just wonderful! I consider myself a foodie and had no trouble finding things I liked and am even looking forward to having again. My favorite main dining room menu was the Royal Palace regular menu. I had a lobster/shrimp appetizer, french onion soup, filet mignon, creme brulee, and Grand Marnier souffle.

Royal Palace Dinner

Royal Palace Dinner

Yes, I had 2 desserts. They let you do that on Disney Cruise Line. In fact, you can have 2 of anything you want (or more). Don’t get me wrong. I’m not condoning gluttonous behavior, but it’s nice to know you can have something if you really want it.

Palo brunch was another highlight. Palo is one of 2 adult dining venues with a surcharge on the Dream (Remy being the other one). Palo serves dinner each evening and brunch on sea days for a $20 per person surcharge (advance reservations are required, and there is a dress code). At brunch, each person gets 1 included glass of champagne or a mimosa, which is always a great way to start brunch. I had the best chicken parm I’ve ever had.

Chicken Parm from Palo

Chicken Parm from Palo

It’s legendary, and now I know why! There was also an extensive brunch and dessert buffet to enjoy in addition to the entrée ordered from the kitchen.

Desserts from Palo Brunch

Desserts from Palo Brunch

Castaway Cay is Disney’s private island and most of their cruises make a stop there. It was gorgeous!

Castaway Cay

Castaway Cay

I wish they would build a resort there so it could be its own destination. That’s how much I loved it! Castaway Cay has 3 beaches. One of them is an adult beach (nothing crazy, though) called Serenity Bay, and that’s where we stayed most of the day. I also parasailed, and my parents did a glass bottom boat tour (both excursions are for an additional fee and advance reservations are required).

The view of the ship from the air while parasailing

The view of the ship from the air while parasailing

Lunch was a barbecue right on the beach featuring steak, Mahi Mahi, chicken and ribs in addition to the usual hamburgers and hot dogs.

Serenity Bay Lunch Menu

Serenity Bay Lunch Menu

Castaway Cay is also the sight of one of my top 5 favorite cocktails I’ve ever had, the Konk Cooler. I’ve even re-created my own recipe, which you can read about here.

I also really enjoyed getting room service whenever I wanted it. Mickey ice cream bars are available from room service 24/7 as is a fruit and cheese plate that made for a great snack while getting ready for the evening activities.

All Hands On Deck fruit and cheese plate ordered from room service with our own champs that we brought on board with us

All Hands On Deck fruit and cheese plate ordered from room service with our own champs that we brought on board with us

The room service menu is pretty generous, although these were the only items we ordered. Room service is included, however a tip for the delivery person is appreciated.

The shows were also wonderful. Disney really does a great job of making sure something is available to entertain everyone. There were so many shows and other forms of entertainment that you really had to pick and choose what you saw and did. This time I’m looking forward to experiencing some of what I missed last time. My favorite was Pirate Night.

Pirate Night

Pirate Night

There was a stage show on deck, cute light-up cocktails (with and without alcohol both for a charge) and fireworks!

Pirate Night Cocktails, with and without alcohol

Pirate Night Cocktails, with and without alcohol

Pirate Night Fireworks at Sea

Yes, fireworks at sea! Disney was the first cruise line to offer this. There was also a late night pirate themed buffet, but we were still full from dinner and didn’t have any of it.

Pirate Night Buffet Decorations

Pirate Night Buffet Decorations

Then there’s the Aquaduck!

Aquaduck

Aquaduck

That’s the water slide/roller coaster that is the first of its kind at sea. It can only be found on the Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy. It was so much fun! Lines can get long, so in true Disney fashion, a little strategy can go a long way. I also recommend riding it both during the day and at night. It’s a completely different experience at night with the lighting effects.

There is no way I can share enough about this cruise in one post, but these are the high points. I remember when I booked the last cruise, the first thought that came into my head was that I was going to get to ride the Aquaduck. This time when I booked our upcoming cruise, my first thought was that I’m going to get to do the Castaway Cay 5k. How I’ve changed in just 2 short years!

Have you been on a Disney Cruise? What were your favorite parts?

Don’t forget to enter my giveaway to win a Cravebox! Find out how here.

Advertisements
3 Comments »

Blog Rewind Wednesday–Feeling Like A Runner

I often get asked at what point I began to feel like a runner.  For me, getting there was a process.  I can’t say there was any one moment when I realized I was a runner.  Rather, there was a series of events that cumulatively contributed to my identifying myself as a runner.

When I first began, I wanted to be invisible.  I didn’t want people to look at me and think I just needed to give it up like there was no hope.  I suppose I had a case of something like I’ll-go-to-the-gym-when-I-lose-weight syndrome.  So I would run a lot at night when it was dark.  When I started building my distances I’d find trails and times that weren’t very busy.  Eventually I got more comfortable around other runners and realized that no one was paying any attention to me.  They were all too busy focusing on their own activity, and I was perfectly happy with this.  I began to relax a lot more.  After a few months, I started noticing the same people on my favorite paths.  There was super-intense-girl who was always running no matter what day or time it was.  There was the old man who always nodded his head as our paths crossed.  There was super cool guy on the elliptical bike.  There were dog owners walking their dogs, kids riding bikes, moms with their jogging strollers.  I could go on and on.  I began to love the familiarity of it.  It didn’t occur to me that if I was noticing them, they were probably noticing me a little, too.  If that had occurred to me, I probably would have stopped going, sadly.  Fortunately, I didn’t realize this until I reached the point when I no longer cared what others thought.  For me, this was the first step in feeling like a runner.

A few months into my training, I signed up for a local 5k that also had a half marathon as an option.  I went to packet pick up and gave my name to the volunteer.  I figured he would assume I was doing the 5k and start looking for my packet in that file.  No, he asked which race I was doing.  Um, the 5k of course, but thank you for thinking I could be doing the half marathon.  His response was that I could do it as long as I train for it.  I shared with him my plans to complete the St. Jude half later on in the year and that it would be my first half.  He congratulated me on picking a great race to start with and wished me the best of luck with my training.  That was the first time I admitted to anyone other than friends and family what I was trying to do.  Having the confidence to tell complete strangers what I was doing was the next step in feeling like a runner.

One morning in August 2012, I met the St. Jude Heroes running group at my local park in training for the St. Jude Half Marathon and Marathon.  As I was stretching before the run, a guy began stretching next to me and asked me which running group I was with.  I looked around, thinking there was no way he could be talking to me.  Surely he cannot possibly think I was a runner.  Sure enough, it was me he was talking to so I answered him.  He was there with a different group and we chatted for a moment before it was time for our runs to begin.  It was a great feeling to be recognized as a fellow runner and was another step in feeling like a runner.

One of the great things about training as a St. Jude Hero is that it gives you access to the national St. Jude Heroes running coach, Kevin Leathers.  So a few weeks after that group run encounter, I asked Coach Leathers about how to warm up before the race.  He asked me if I was doing the half or the full.  Um, the half of course!  As if there was any way possible I could ever do a full!  I was shocked that was a question he would even ask but flattered at the same time.  A national running coach with 20-something years experience had just asked if I was doing a full marathon!  Being acknowledged by such a respected industry professional definitely was a major step in my feeling like a runner.  By the way, his answer was to not bother with warming up the morning of the race.  Using only the walk to the start as a warm up would help prevent me from starting out too fast.

Then several weeks after that, I was again out at the park for a long run.  A woman came up to me as I was filling up my water bottle and asked me how far I was running that day.  After I answered her she said, “you’ve been doing this for a while.  Do you mind if I ask you some questions?  I haven’t been doing this as long as you have.”  And she proceeded to pick my brain on pacing, hydration, fuel, and several other subjects that I confidently could offer help with.  At that moment, with this encounter, I had finally come full circle.  Gone was the girl who wanted to be invisible.  Gone was the girl who assumed no one took her seriously.  There I was, a runner, from whom knowledge was being solicited, and I was thrilled to share.

If you are a runner, when did you begin to feel like one?

Leave a comment »

Blog Rewind Wednesday–My Very First 5K

Welcome to a new feature on my blog I like to call Blog Rewind Wednesday. I have a lot on my mind that I’d like to get out, and some of it happened before I ever thought about blogging. So, this is where I’ll blog about things from my past.

Today I wanted to share with you about my very first 5k, the 2010 Move It Memphis 5k. However, I’m so sorry I don’t have many photos to share with you. I was so nervous that day, I was only trying to get through it without embarrassing myself.

I always liked the idea of running. I just never liked the activity of running. I think I’ve always had a runner inside of me, but she was dormant for most of my life. I tell the story that runDisney is what got me into running, and it’s true that was the catalyst for my consistency with the sport. However, running was on my radar long before I ever heard of runDisney.

In 2008, I was involved in the Greater Memphis Chamber of Commerce membership drive, in which I had the opportunity to earn a trip to Cancun. I was really close to hitting my goal to earn the trip, but I needed another $1500 in sponsorships raised. I went to my company’s marketing department and got them to sponsor the inaugural Move It Memphis 5k/10k. Part of the deal was that I would run and work the booth before and after the race. Well, I never actually signed up to run, but I did work the booth. The day of the race was a very cold February morning in 2009, and I was miserable. I was so glad to not have to run in those temps. Yet, everyone had these goody bags and matching shirts. Have I mentioned I love swag? Then as the runners finished, they were given medals. I wanted a medal! Also, the runners were the only ones who were not shivering. Maybe running in the cold wasn’t so bad after all. Once the day was over, I really didn’t think much more about it. I got my trip to Cancun, so I was happy.

2010 rolled around, and much to my surprise, my company was sponsoring the race again. They were asking for people to run in it, and I couldn’t help but think I still had some unfinished business to do. Even though I was convinced I was going to embarrass myself in front of my coworkers, I signed up for the 5k. I even thought there was a real possibility I might finish last. See, I had already looked at the inaugural results. I knew how long it took the last finisher, and I knew about how long it was going to take me. I signed up anyway.

My very first race bib!

My very first race bib!

I think I “trained” for an entire week before the race, mainly just to convince myself I could actually finish it. I didn’t have the right shoes, or the right clothes. I didn’t know anything about hydration and nutrition. I’m not even sure I ate breakfast beforehand. The morning came, and it was a chilly but gorgeous day. I recall the running conditions to be pretty near perfect, which I would wish for any first time racer. I was so nervous I could barely breathe. I saw all the fit athletes, and I was certain everyone was wondering what I was doing there. The announcer told us to make our way to the start, and I did what all first timers should NOT do–I started near the front. Yeah, don’t do that unless you are in contention to place. So I tried to keep up for about a block or two, but I obviously couldn’t. Eventually the turtles like me caught up, and I was able to find a groove with people of similar paces. By mile 1, I was actually enjoying it. I absolutely LOVED that there was a police officer at every intersection in downtown Memphis stopping traffic for me. ME! By mile 2, I was walking with a lady who was having a hard time, and I was able to encourage her. I was actually encouraging someone during my very first race! Before long, the finish line was in sight, and there were still people behind me! I spotted some coworkers who were there to cheer me on. Other spectators told me great job! I finished, got my medal and made my way back to my company’s booth. One coworker told me what an inspiration I was. Complete strangers came up to me, patted me on the back, and told me, “Good race”! It felt great! I didn’t finish last, and no one laughed at me. The day was a success!

My very first race medal!

My very first race medal!

I learned a few things that day. First of all, no one really cares about anyone else, not in the negative sense anyway. Everyone has their own goals and reasons for being there and are focused on their own race. Second, the running community is highly inclusive and encouraging. There will always be someone there to lift you up when you need it. Likewise, there will be times when you will need to lift someone else up. Never pass up those opportunities. Finally, like I’ve already said, don’t start near the front unless you are trying to win. You will be forced to start way faster than you should and will use up too much energy in the beginning. Plus, you will likely tick someone else off who is trying to win, not to mention the fact that it just isn’t safe.

So, that’s the story of my very first race. I wish I could say it was the beginning of my love of running. It wasn’t. It would be another year and 8 months before my feet would hit the pavement for exercise again. You can read more about that in the “about” section of this blog.

Now I’d like to hear from you. What do you remember about your first race? Was it the beginning of your love of running? If you don’t run, do you have another memorable first you’d like to share?

2 Comments »