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

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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Volunteering at runDisney’s Marathon Weekend

About a month ago, I headed down to my favorite place, the Walt Disney World Resort, to volunteer at runDisney’s Marathon Weekend.  As you may know, I’ve participated as a runner in several runDisney events but never as a volunteer.  Without the volunteers, the races simply would not be possible so I was excited to experience that side of it.

Volunteer registration for runDisney events is just about as popular as runner registration.  Many events fill up within hours of registration so it takes some planning if you want to participate.  Several of my friends and I wanted to volunteer together so when registration opened up, we were in communication with each other almost immediately so we could coordinate our requests.  During the registration process, you actually choose what assignment you want and what location on the course.  The assignments include bag check, screaming fan, water stops, food stops, and even volunteers helping to check volunteers in.  My group chose the food stop for the half marathon, which was Clif gel and the water stop at mile 13.1 for the full marathon.

For this event, volunteer registration opened up about 3 months prior.  Assignments are not guaranteed so even if you register, your request is not guaranteed.  In my group, we all got our requests, though.  About a month before the event, I got a letter in the mail confirming my assignment and giving final instructions.  We were also required to pick up our volunteer credentials prior to the event.  For locals, runDisney had several options prior to the expo.  Credential pick-up was also available at the expo for those from out-of-town.  Since most of us were also running the 10k, we had to go to the expo anyway so expo pick-up was very convenient.  My flight was delayed so my friend Heather ended up picking up my credentials for me.

Both of our shifts were from 4 am to 11 am so we had to get up super early, 2:30 am.  Transportation is not provided to the volunteer staging area so Heather drove us there.  We left the resort around 3:30 for a 4 am arrival because we knew there would be road closures due to the race.  The staging area was at the Blizzard Beach parking lot.  When we got there, a huge tent was set up for volunteer check-in.  We walked in, they scanned our credentials, directed us to jacket pick-up and then to snack pick-up.  For snacks, we were each given a big Ziploc bag and were told to pick out 5 snacks.  I got fruit snacks, Chex mix, an Uncrustables, a granola bar and some trail mix.  Within minutes we were through the check-in area and headed to find our numbered bus, which matched the number on our credentials.  In true Disney fashion it was all super organized and effortless.

Half Marathon Volunteer Jacket and Credential

Marathon Volunteer Jacket and Credential

Marathon Volunteer Jacket and Credential

Around 4:30 am our bus took off for our assignment location.  For the half marathon, we were stationed at the Clif gel stop, and there was quite a bit of setup to be done once we got there.

Mocha Clif Gel with Caffiene

Mocha Clif Gel with Caffeine

Tables had to be set up, and we opened the boxes of gel.  Everything had to be sanitized, too, and we were required to wear rubber gloves when handling the product.

Our Group ready to hand out lots of Clif Mocha gel

Our Group ready to hand out lots of Clif Mocha gel

Once we got everything set up, there was a little time before the first runners were expected so a few of us walked to the Hess station right up the road.  I was thankful for real restrooms nearby.  Once the runners started getting to our area, everything moved very quickly.  There was a little bit of a learning curve to holding the gel so the runner can grab it on the way by.  It really only took a few hours for all of the runners to come through and then it was time to break everything down.  Breakdown was a breeze and pretty soon it was time to get back on the bus to Blizzard Beach.  Once we got back to the staging area, we had to be checked out just as we were checked in.  Once again, our credentials were scanned, and we handed in our one day park ticket vouchers in exchange for the ticket.

The next morning, we did it all over again.  For the full marathon, we were stationed at the 13.1 mile water stop right outside of Animal Kingdom.

Water ready to hand out

Water ready to hand out

In fact, we were right behind the Dinosaur ride building, and once the park opened, I could hear the sounds from the ride.  Again, we had to set everything up including the tables and this time, pour the cups of water.

Our group ready to hand water out

Our group ready to hand water out

Everything once again moved quickly once it started.  Again, there was a learning curve to balancing the cups on your hand so the runners could grab them.  This part was tougher than I thought.  Holding your arm out, balancing a cup of water on it for 3 hours straight was not easy.

One of my favorite parts of volunteering was being able to see the race from start to finish.  Runner interaction was great for both races.  I also got to see all of my friends who were running, some of whom even stopped for pictures with us.

Our friend Aimee took time out of her race to stop for a pic with us.

Our friend Aimee took time out of her race to stop for a pic with us.

Day 2 Erica and Aimee stopped for a pic with us, looking great at the halfway point!

Day 2 Erica and Aimee stopped for a pic with us, looking great at the halfway point!

I saw one of my sorority sisters from college whom I’ve not seen in 18 years!  I also was able to spend quality time with some of my favorite running friends volunteering with me.  I loved getting to know them better!

As an incentive, volunteers always get snacks and a piece of apparel to wear for the shift, which you get to keep.  In this case, we got jackets both days, and we were thrilled when we found out they were different for the different events.  When volunteering for a half or the full marathon, volunteers also get a one day park ticket, so we each got two.  What I was given doesn’t expire until March of next year so hopefully I can plan a trip between the time my annual pass expires and the time these passes expire to put them to use.

I learned some things from volunteering.  You’ll get dirty, much dirtier than I anticipated.  The water stops are WET!  Yes, that should go without saying, but I didn’t think to wear old shoes.  About halfway through the second day I started calling out names on the bibs to give as many people as I could a little lift.  The response from that was overwhelming!  I wish I had done that from the very beginning.  I had no idea what hard work volunteering was.  Many runners thanked us, and yes, it felt great when they did.  I was actually almost as tired and sore after volunteering as I am after running.  Almost.  Would I do it again?  Absolutely!

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I’m a Disney Side @ Home Celebration Host

Show Your Disney Side

I’m so excited because a couple of weeks ago I was notified that I was chosen to host a Disney Side @ Home Celebration.  This means that through a partnership with Disney Parks and MomSelect, I would be receiving a free celebration kit with which to host a party.  Last week I got my party kit and was blown away by the generosity of the sponsors.

This sticker let me know something special was inside my box!

This sticker let me know something special was inside my box!

I knew the kit would contain lots of items to help me host a great party, and I knew it would contain a special hostess gift for me.  However, I had no idea just what was in store.

I was thrilled when I opened my box to find a carry-on sized piece of American Tourister luggage, the official luggage of Disneyland and the Walt Disney World Resort as my hostess gift.

American Tourister is the official luggage of Disneyland and the Walt Disney World Resort.

American Tourister is the official luggage of Disneyland and the Walt Disney World Resort.

Their official hash tag #PackMoreFun really came to life when I unzipped the bag to find it stuffed full of wonderful things to help me plan and host my party.  There were decorations, plates, napkins, cups, cupcake liners, balloons and games, all to use for my party.  There were also more hostess gifts for me like measuring cups from ABC’s The Chew and cookie cutters, which will both also come in handy for party preparations.  There were party favors for adults and kids such as runDisney ChEar cards, runDisney rubber bracelets, runDisney/ESPN bumper stickers, HP photo cards, stickers, temporary tattoos, Craisins and Mickey and Minnie Valentine’s Day posters.  So much party-planning inspiration was inside that luggage!

So much awesome was inside the box!

So much awesome was inside the box!

I’ve already started putting together several ideas for my party, including my menu.  My menu will feature items to represent each of the four theme parks at the Walt Disney World Resort (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom), Disney Cruise Line, and a couple of the Walt Disney World Resort Hotels.  I’m so excited to host this party, and I plan to make it a great one!

For ideas on hosting your own Disney Side Celebration, visit www.disneysidecelebrations.com

I received free products in order to host the Disney Side @ Home Celebration.  The opinions expressed here are my own.

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WDW Inaugural Minnie 10k

On Friday, January 10 I got to participate in the Inaugural Minnie 10k as part of Marathon Weekend at the Walt Disney World Resort.  For daytime races, this always means a very early wake up call.  2:30 came very early, especially since my body was on Central time which means it felt like 1:30 to me.  Buses started running at 3:30, which seems a bit insane for a 5:30 start.  However, it really does take that much time to get 10,000 runners in place for an on-time start.

Minnie 10k starting line

Minnie 10k starting line

The first 3 miles were a bit boring.  I knew this part was outside of the parks but I thought there would be lots of character stops and other entertainment to distract us from 3 miles of boring, straight road.  Unfortunately, there was only a DJ right after the start and one character stop that I saw before entering Epcot.

This DJ was right after the start of the Minnie 10k.

This DJ was right after the start of the Minnie 10k.

I did take time to stop at each and every mile marker to have my pic taken, which I’ve never done.  Lines were really long for the character stops but not too bad for the mile markers.

All the Mile Markers

All the Mile Markers

After the first 3 miles, we headed into Epcot by way of a backstage entrance close to Test Track.  There were several more character stops in Epcot, but lines were still longish.  We ran about halfway around World Showcase before heading out to the Boardwalk area.  A great part about this leg of the race is access to real restrooms.  I took the opportunity to stop in Germany.  Here, I ran into my friends Heather, Katie, Sarah, Jenn, and Penny, who were all running together.  They passed me shortly after I saw them.  We ran past Boardwalk, circled around by the Swan and Dolphin resorts, past Yacht and Beach Club resorts, then back to the International Gateway.

Football Goofy by the Boardwalk

Football Goofy by the Boardwalk

I ran into my friends again, who were in line for Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum.  They motioned for me to join them in line so I did.  We only took one pic with all of us, so it’s not like my joining them held the line up.

Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum at the Minnie 10k

Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum at the Minnie 10k

I stuck with them for most of the rest of Epcot.  We spotted Chip and Dale, and since we were close to the end, we took time to jump in that line, too.  I love how this pic turned out.

Chip and Dale at the Minnie 10k

Chip and Dale at the Minnie 10k

I again kept up with them until we got to the 6 mile marker.  I wanted my pic with it so I got in that line and they kept going.

I had plenty of energy to sprint to the finish and just like that, the Inaugural Minnie 10k was over!

The finish line at the Minnie 10k

The finish line at the Minnie 10k

My thoughts about this race are mixed.  I loved the race shirt, bib and medal!

Love the shirt, bib and medal!

Love the shirt, bib and medal!

I also really loved that lots of people were dressed in costumes, and most everyone I saw was running for fun.  It makes for a very fun race when everyone around you is enjoying it.  I really thought they should have stepped up the entertainment for the boring first 3 miles.  There were also too few water stops, only 3 for the entire race.  It was a very warm and humid morning, and 3 stops for more than 6 miles is not enough.  There were also all water stops only, no electrolytes.  This needs to be corrected.  I did like the post-race food box.

Minnie 10k runDisney food box

Minnie 10k runDisney food box

These tend to still get mixed reviews but I think they are great.  They seem to be stepping it up on the contents, too.  Hello, Skittles!

Would I do it again?  I don’t know.  Maybe.  I like the distance for what it was to me, a way to participate without having a race be the center of my vacation.  The purpose of my trip was to volunteer (more on that later).  It was nice not to have pre-race jitters, not have to deal with the usual taper stress and not have to watch what I ate and drank the days before.  I was also ready to head straight to the parks after a quick shower, so it was nice to have that extra energy.  I still like the half distance for when the race is the main part of my vacation, though.  Minnie seemed impressed to finally have her own race, too.

Minnie loved that she was featured on the 10k medal!

Minnie loved that she was featured on the 10k medal!

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How I Got Into a runDisney Meet-Up

Squeeeeeee!!!!  I’m so excited!  Yesterday was a great day because I got into my very first runDisney meet-up, which is pretty much like hitting the runDisney lottery.  This is something I’ve wanted about as long as I’ve wanted to do a runDisney race, which is as long as I’ve been running.

runDisney

runDisney

Traditionally, these meet-ups have taken place early in the morning before the expo opens on marathon and half marathon weekends at Disney Parks.  A week or two before the event, a post will appear on the Disney Parks Blog that will instruct those interested to send an email to a designated email address.  Once the blog post goes up, runDisney will send out a tweet telling people to go visit the blog.  Usually the tweet happens about a minute after the blog post goes up, although not always.  Disney doesn’t say exactly when this will happen, but they usually send out a series of “teaser” tweets alerting everyone that the time is close.  So, people will literally stalk the blog for days for their chance.  They fill up so fast that usually if you don’t send the email within 2-3 minutes of the blog post going up, you are out of luck.  Even then, it comes down to whose emails got there the fastest.  I honestly never thought I’d actually get in, so I’m thrilled!

Here’s how it went down.  I’m off work this week with no plans and nowhere to go, which almost never happens.  I originally had the week before last off and was going to do fall cleaning on my house.  I had a hunch that the meet-up post for the upcoming Wine and Dine Half Marathon Weekend would happen this week, so I figured I could fall clean this week as good as I could two weeks ago and moved my vacation to this week.  That would put me in a better position to at least be watchful.  I had my Twitter alerts set so that I would get a notification for all runDisney tweets, and I already had an email drafted from my gmail account (I’ve read that gmail sends faster than yahoo).  I really wasn’t expecting the post until later in the week, but I was as prepared as I could be.

Yesterday morning, I had to go to my weekly Rotary Club meeting.  I am the President, and our District Governor was coming for his official annual visit.  So, I couldn’t skip that.  About 20 minutes into the meeting, the first (and what ended up being the only) “teaser”  tweet came.

Teaser Tweet

Teaser Tweet

I thought to myself, “Please don’t do this now!  This is literally the only obligation I have all week!”  So, I went ahead and pulled up my email draft so it would be ready for “go time”.  After the meeting was over, I had to have my official photo taken with our District Governor, and of course, his wife had to take about a bazillion photos (it was probably only 2).  I shook his hand, thanked him for coming, said a few pleasantries to his wife, and then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw my phone on the table light up.  I practically leaped over to it and saw that it was the Twitter notification for THE tweet!

THE Tweet

THE Tweet

I didn’t even read it.  I went straight to my email, hit send, watch the circle go round and round for what felt like 5 minutes (more like 20 seconds) and THEN went back to read the tweet.  I then read the blog post to make sure they hadn’t changed anything about the method to register for it (they hadn’t).

It was also then that I saw it was going to be the very first nighttime meet-up and would feature a viewing area for attendees to watch Illuminations, Epcot’s nightly fireworks and laser show.  Attendees would then get to sample food and wine featured as part of Epcot’s International Food and Wine Festival and hear Olympic athletes share training and nighttime running tips.  The evening would be capped by a run through an empty Epcot and many other surprises.  This was one meet-up I wanted to get in very badly!  Not only is the Wine and Dine Half Marathon my inspiration race and the reason I started running 2 years ago, the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival is my favorite event at Disney.

So, for the next 3+ hours, I anxiously waited for them to post the list of attendees!  I hoped with every ounce of hope I had that my name would be on the list.  I knew I sent the email as fast as I possibly could, but did it get there fast enough?  Finally, the list was up, and I found my name there!

I made the list!

I made the list!

So, in a couple of weeks when I head down to the Wine and Dine Half Marathon Weekend, my trip will begin with this awesome event, and I cannot be more excited!

This cute pic was in the teaser tweet.

This cute pic was in the teaser tweet.

I’ll be tweeting live and posting on Instagram during the event so make sure you follow me if you want to join the fun.  Look for a blog post later about it, too!

Have you ever done a runDisney meet-up?

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2012 Tower of Terror 10 Miler

This time next week, thousands of runners from all over the world will be at Walt Disney World for the second Tower of Terror 10 Miler.  My very first long-ish race was the Inaugural Tower of Terror 10 Miler last year.  Since I wasn’t blogging yet back then, I didn’t do a race report.  So, I thought, better late than never!

Tower of Terror 10 Miler

Tower of Terror 10 Miler

I was so incredibly nervous for this race since it was my first double-digit race.  I had done the training but was still very fearful of the dreaded sweepers.  Disney has a strict 16 minute mile pace requirement, and while that is a generous requirement, I’m pace challenged to say the least.  I knew I wouldn’t be able to stop for pictures, and even a potty break was questionable.  There were only 4 corrals for the race last year, and I was in C, meaning I would only have a 7 minute lead on the sweepers to start with.  Still, I went into the race completely confident in my ability and in my training.

I arrived at the expo as early as I possibly could.  Like everything at Disney, you must strategize if you are going to get the most out of it.  My plan was to hit the runDisney merchandise booth, get my packets and shirts, and then meander around the rest of the expo to see if there was anything else I was interested in buying.  Because I was staying at a host resort, I was able to take provided transportation to the expo. 

Tower of Terror 10 Miler transportation board at the resort

Tower of Terror 10 Miler transportation board at the resort

Even though I got the earliest bus I could, lines were already longish by the time I got there.  It already resembled disorganized chaos.  However, my plan worked fairly well.  I got all the merchandise I wanted, my dad and I got our packets and shirts (he and I also ran the 5k so I had 2 packets to get), and we even got to see one of Jeff Galloway’s presentations.  All this and we were in and out in about an hour and a half, maybe two.  Not bad!

Race Shirt and Bib

Race Shirt and Bib

The next day was the big day.  For night races, the 5k and the main race are held on the same day, which makes for a long day if doing both.  I wanted to get the most out of the experience so I did both.  Dad and I were up around 3:30, I think, in order to be at the buses by 5.  The pre-race festivities were fun with Farmer Mickey photo opps, a DJ, and fun Halloween decorations.  The race went through the woods of the Wide World of Sports complex.  I thought it was a pretty boring course with very few character photo stops.  After we finished, we got our medals, snack box, etc. and headed for the buses back to the resort.

Dad and I after the 5k

Dad and I after the 5k

The rest of the day was spent resting up for the big night.  I began to get ready around 5 pm and got on a bus at 7. 

Tower of Terror 10 Miler flat me

Tower of Terror 10 Miler flat me

Ready to run!

The pre-race staging area was a big party, and some racers were already drinking.  I’m sure they regretted that later.  I headed straight for the corrals because I wanted to be at the front.  By the time I got into position, it was only about an hour until the start so I made a few friends in my corral and took it easy, trying to relax.  Before I knew it, it was time for the walk down to the start. 

The thing I remember most was the heat and humidity.  My plan was to run a minute and a half and walk a minute all throughout the race.  That’s how I had trained and felt confident I could stay within the pace requirements with this.  However, a mile and a half in, I was finding it hard to breathe.  Not only was it so hot and humid, the course was so crowded, I felt like I couldn’t even get my share of air.  By mile 3 I had abandoned my intervals and ended up walking the rest of the race.  I stayed in front of the sweepers until somewhere between miles 6 and 7.  Luckily for me, mile 7 was the last hard cut off point, and I was just barely behind them so they let me through.  That was too close for comfort, though.  I think they only let about 20 people behind me through.  I didn’t stop for any pictures, and I didn’t even stop to potty.  Considering I walked all but the first 3 miles, it was so hot and humid, and I could barely breathe, I’d say finishing was a win.  I think about 25% of the participants didn’t.  I was so worried they would run out of medals that by the time I got into Hollywood Studios, I kept asking all the volunteers if there were medals left.  Yes, I know that’s silly.  Crowd support was heavy around the hat in the Studios and I almost cried.  Everyone was yelling and cheering, and since I was one of the last finishers with no one else around me, they were all literally cheering for me.  The finish line was right behind the Tower of Terror but by then I was so exhausted I didn’t even notice it.  I wish I had.  It would have made for a great photo. 

Photo my dad took of me at the finish.

Photo my dad took of me at the finish.  Notice I lost my head band somewhere along the way.

All I wanted when I finished was to get back to the room.  I had planned on staying for the after party, getting some food, riding some rides (Tower of Terror, hello!) and maybe getting my medal engraved.  It just didn’t happen.  I was afraid if I didn’t get back to the resort immediately, I would never make it.  That was probably the right call, too, because lots of runners got very sick afterward due to dehydration and heat exhaustion. 

I don’t remember much about the course itself.  For some reason I’ve blocked so much of it out of my memory.  I know I did it.  I know I was there.  However, I’d never be able to prove it by sworn testimony.  I do know that in comparison to the Princess Half Marathon, there were very few character stops and little on course entertainment.  I hope they change this because the theming has the chance to be outstanding.  Some changes runDisney has made for this year’s race based on last year’s event are that they moved it back a week in hopes that the weather would be enough better to at least be manageable and to have LOTS more corrals to help with course crowding. 

Overall, I don’t think I’d ever want to do this race again.  I’m happy to have done it the first time.  The medal is absolutely awesome!  I mean, it has a MOVING elevator, and parts of it glow in the dark!  If I hear reports of the theming reaching its full potential, I MIGHT be persuaded to do it again.  I really wish I could have stayed for the after party.  I REALLY hope I’m in good enough shape after the upcoming Wine and Dine Half Marathon to stay for that one. 

I felt much more human the next day.

I felt much more human the next day.

Did you do the Inaugural Tower of Terror 10 Miler?  Are you doing this one? 

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How to Get into a Sold Out Disney Race

runDisney races have become so popular that they often sell out the first day registration opens. 

runDisney

runDisney

Since registration can open up to 8 months before the event, you have to be an uber planner to get in lately.  I love to plan, just not always that far in advance.  With the exception of the Inaugural Tower of Terror 10 Miler, all 4 of the other runDisney races I’ve registered for have been more of an afterthought, months after registration opened.  Lucky for me at the time, the races weren’t selling out in a day and I was able to get into the ones I wanted.

My luck ran out when I decided I wanted to run in the Inaugural Minnie 10k being held during Marathon Weekend next year.  

2014 will be the Inaugural Minnie 10k

2014 will be the Inaugural Minnie 10k

I had not initially intended to participate in Marathon Weekend at all.  With a half marathon planned in October, November, and December, my mind and body could not handle January, too.  That all changed when some of my runner friends suggested volunteering.  We could split the room 4 ways and I could fly virtually free on miles, making it a fairly inexpensive trip.  I have to admit, the thought of enjoying a runDisney weekend without any pressure was appealing, as was the different perspective.  I was in!

Of course it wasn’t long until my thoughts turned to running again.  I still was not willing to take on another half, but the Minnie 10k started looking better and better. 

Bling makes everything better.

Bling makes everything better.

Even though it was already sold out, I knew that closer to the event, people would back out, and I’d likely be able to buy a spot from someone else.  The thought totally crossed my mind to do this, but it’s not ideal for several reasons.

  1. It’s against the rules!  runDisney has a policy against bib transfers from one runner to another.  Rumor has it that anyone caught buying or selling a bib in this manner can be banned from runDisney events for life.  I don’t believe I’ve ever actually read this in black and white, and I know I’ve never heard of anyone who actually got banned for this reason.  However, rules are rules, and that’s the rule.  No bib transfers!
  2. Lack of recourse.  These “illegal” bib sales can happen months before the event.  Even if you use PayPal, often the time to file a claim has expired before you would ever know there was a problem.  Unless you happen to be lucky enough to know the person you are buying from, you are trusting a complete stranger to be honest and deliver on their part when it’s time for the expo and bib pick-up.
  3. Wrong name on your bib.  Ok, this may not be a big deal to some, but I bet if you are a guy named John, you don’t want to run wearing a bib with the name Heather on it. 
  4. runDisney can choose to crack down on the rules at any time.  They could easily say only the registrant picks up the packet, meaning you could have paid someone for a bib you can’t even pick up.  Do I think they will do this without warning?  No.  With Disney’s track record for changing things with little or no notice, I don’t think I’d want to chance it, though.  Edit:  runDisney has, in fact, changed the rules, and starting with Avengers weekend at Disneyland in November 2014, they no longer allow packets to be picked up by anyone other than the person registered. 

So, what to do?  The answer is right on the runDisney website.  You can register through various charities and/or travel groups.  Yes, a lot of the charities ask you to raise thousands of dollars, often in exchange for race entry fees, accommodations, even air fare and other amenities.  There are some, though, that just ask you to raise a few hundred dollars in exchange for race fees only.  Then there are the travel groups.  Many require you to book your entire trip with them in order to buy the race entry.  However, there are some that will just let you register for the race, hoping you will book something with them at some point.  At any rate, you do have to dig through the lists to figure out what the requirements are for each one.  I found one travel group that didn’t list what they had available or what the requirements were.  I just had to fill out an interest form online telling them what I wanted.  Within a couple of hours, I got an email back saying they had a Minnie 10k registration available, and for me to call them to get it set up.  I called, still thinking they might at least want me to buy park tickets from them in order to get the registration.  Nope!  I gave them my information, paid only the race entry fee, and got my Active confirmation the next day.  I could hardly believe that I had just successfully, legally, and in my name, obtained an entry for a race that had been sold out for months.  Two of my other friends also registered for other sold out runDisney races using these methods. 

The moral of the story is that you do not have to buy a bib under the table and run in someone else’s name.  Just do a little digging and research and you can either book through a travel group or find a great charity to help support.

Course map for 2014 10k

Course map for 2014 10k

Follow me on Twitter @myglasssneaker.

Like my Facebook page www.facebook.com/myglasssneaker.

I am a charity athlete for St. Jude.  To donate, click here.

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St. Jude Heroes Fund-Raising Kickoff Breakfast

This past Saturday I had the privilege of attending the St. Jude Heroes Kickoff Breakfast at Lichterman Nature Center in Memphis.I attended last year’s breakfast as well, and I must say they kicked it up a notch this year. I’m so excited about all the things they have planned to support us through this fund-raising and training season.

Lichterman Nature Center

Lichterman Nature Center

The only money St. Jude receives from the St. Jude Memphis Marathon Weekend is the money raised by Heroes. All of the registration money goes to pay for the event itself. I didn’t know this until last year. All someone has to do to become a Hero for St. Jude is commit to raising funds. The success of the Heroes program has made the St. Jude Memphis Marathon Weekend the biggest single fund-raising event of the organization, even bigger than their Dream Home campaign. Because of the success of the Heroes program around this event, St. Jude has expanded its Heroes program to include other athletic events around the country, including the Chicago Marathon, NYC Marathon, and even the Boston Marathon. That’s right! Can’t qualify by time? You can fund-raise your way into Boston with St. Jude. They’ve even partnered with runDisney to offer race entries for Wine and Dine Half and Princess Half for fund-raising.

This particular breakfast was specifically for Heroes raising funds for the Memphis event in December. I’m always impressed by any event this organization puts on, and this breakfast was no different. Everyone was so friendly and welcoming, making sure we all had what we needed. There were table decorations to set the stage, and even a swag table that we were invited to help ourselves to.

Table Decorations

Table Decorations

Swag Table

More Swag

More Swag

Breakfast was provided by McAlister’s Deli, and coffee was provided by Community Coffee. They even gave each of us a training journal, a magnet with the entire calendar of events throughout our training season, a note pad, and pen.

Yummy breakfast provided by McAlister's

Yummy breakfast provided by McAlister’s

Once the program started, we found out they have some surprises in store for us in the coming months. I cannot wait to find out what that’s all about!

St. Jude Fund-Raising Kickoff Breakfast

St. Jude Fund-Raising Kickoff Breakfast

We heard from Kevin Leathers, the national St. Jude Running Coach and owner of Can’t Stop Endurance coaching and consulting. I loved working with him last year, and I am excited for even more opportunities to work with him this year. Last year, he hosted monthly group runs with us and I attended every one of them. This year, I was excited to find out he is hosting WEEKLY group runs starting this Saturday. That means I get to work with him every week from now until the race if I want to. He will also be repeating the monthly training clinics he held last year as well. I will for sure be attending as many of those as I can. Additionally, they will be supporting us through training and fund-raising Facebook chat events. These are great since not all Heroes are from Memphis. Participants from all over the world can take advantage of these Facebook events.

We then met a young man named Ramon and his mother. Ramon was treated at St. Jude for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma when he was 6. His mother told the emotional story of his diagnosis and their fear of not only the dreadful disease but also of how they were going to financially afford his treatment. They were shocked and ecstatic to learn that no patient is ever billed for anything. They were also thrilled that St. Jude didn’t look or feel like a hospital. Kids were laughing and having fun despite their diseases. They put Ramon and his needs first and took care of everyone’s emotional needs as well as Ramon’s physical needs. Ramon is 13 now and cancer-free! She truly feels that if it were not for the work of fund-raisers like the Heroes program, her son would not be alive and countless more kids would die of cancer than do. Her gratitude was genuine and hearing stories like theirs is always emotional.

The entire event reinforced for me why I am a St. Jude Hero. We truly are running for a purpose. We are making a difference in the lives of these kids and countless more to come. Ramon’s mother mentioned that she often wonders if Danny Thomas knew what he was creating 51 years ago. I’m not sure if anyone will ever know that answer to that, but we know now what he did create. He created what would become the world’s leading children’s research hospital, a place where kids and their families can come, financially worry-free, to be treated for cancer and other life-threatening illnesses, where their child comes first, where there’s hope.

Follow me on Twitter @myglasssneaker.

Like my Facebook page at www.facebook.com/MyGlassSneaker.

To donate to my personal fund-raising page or make a donation, visit www.heroes.stjude.org/Melanie_Adams.

There is a little time left to register for my virtual run to benefit St. Jude. To register or for details, click here.

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Half Marathon Training Week 1

Training for my fall race schedule has officially begun, and week 1 is in the history books.  If you will recall, I was a bit concerned since I had gotten a little off track.  However, so far, so good!

Just to recap, here is what I’m doing for this race season.  I’m currently doing the MRTC Women Run/Walk Memphis training program. 

MRTC Women's Run/Walk Memphis

MRTC Women’s Run/Walk Memphis

This is really just a training program that includes 8 weekly group run sessions capped off by a “graduation” 5k.  I am using this as one of my weekly training runs, and hopefully, because it’s with a group, I’ll be pushing myself a little more.  I’m also currently doing the MRTC Road Race series. 

MRTC Road Race Series

MRTC Road Race Series

This is a 10 race series that runs from July to November and consists of 2 5ks, 2 5 milers, 2 10 ks, 2 10 milers, and 2 half marathons.  To be considered a series finisher, you must complete either 6 of the races or 1 race in each distance.  My plans at the moment are to complete the first 6 (and still be a series finisher).  The 10 milers and the half marathons do not line up with the rest of my training schedule, so unless I miss a week somewhere else and need to make something up, I don’t plan to do the last 4.  I am registered for the Greenline Half Marathon, the Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon, and the St. Jude Memphis Half Marathon.

Greenline Half Marathon

Greenline Half Marathon

Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon

Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon

St. Jude Memphis Marathon Weekend

Seems like a lot, right?  Not really.  See, when I wrote my training plan for the fall, I realized most of this is in line with my schedule.  The women’s program takes care of roughly a third of my training until September.  The Road Race Series is actually designed to be in line with training for St. Jude so that takes care of some of my weekend runs.  There was really only one decision to make.  I could have used Wine and Dine as a training run for St. Jude and there would have been absolutely nothing extra added to my training plan for that or I could have signed up for the Greenline Half and used that as a training run for Wine and Dine.  The downside to that was that would mean I would likely have to scratch the longer races in the Road Race Series, and St. Jude would be extra, creating the need for a month of maintenance.  Clearly this is what I went with, and here’s why.  Wine and Dine is the only destination race in the schedule.  It is also the most expensive, and has the most stringent pace requirement.  Why would I want to spend at least $1000 and travel all that way for a training run?  I wouldn’t.  So that automatically meant I would need to skip the longer races in the Road Race Series.  On the weekend of the Greenline Half, which is held at Shelby Farms, I was scheduled to do 12.5 miles anyway (which I would also do at Shelby Farms) so why not add another 0.6 miles and get official credit for the run?  This option also will qualify me for something called Half Fanatics, which is running 3 half marathons in a 3 month period.

So week 1 started with the first group run with the women’s program.  It was so hot!  It started at 6:30 in the evening and the heat index was still 99 degrees!  My pace was a good 2 minutes slower than my normal training pace.  I got through it, and that’s all that matters.  I was able to work in my other week day run, according to plan.  Then I also had race 1 of the Road Race Series.  This was a great run!  I even got a PR by 6 seconds.  My pace was actually around 3 minutes faster for the race than it was for the super hot group run.  That’s more like it!

Now on to week 2!  I hope to get more cross training in for week 2 than I did for week 1.  Other than that, I’m happy with my progress and where I am compared to a year ago.

What do you have on your fall race schedule?

Follow me on Twitter @myglasssneaker.

Please remember to register for my virtual race, the Magic Carpet Run 2013 to benefit St. Jude.  For more info or to register, click here.

I am running as a charity athlete for St. Jude.  To make a donation, click here.

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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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