Square Life Round World

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

Things That Won

I have had a week and a half, people. The week totally and completely beat me. Without a doubt, I can say the battle between the week and me was won by the week. That doesn’t happen often. As I sit here pondering my game plan for next week’s counter-attack, I’m reminded of a few other things that won this week as well.  

I did not win this week, so, Sadness!

The return of football is winning, for sure! While much of my news feeds are celebrating the return of the PSL (that’s Starbucks speak for Pumpkin Spice Latte), I’m loving that football is back. All is right with the world, or at least my TV.  

Speaking of football, the Denver Broncos won this week. I’ve loved Peyton Manning since his days as a UT Vol. His season has started out as rocky as the mountains that surround his home field, but this week Peyton showed up and silenced his haters.  

Go Broncos! (photo credit: Denver Broncos)


My dog won. She got to see her grandparents twice this week. She loves her grandparents. She’s the queen of the house when they come to visit. Let’s face it. She’s the queen of the house all the time. She always wins.  

Jasmine always wins.


Finally, my dad won. My lawnmower died last week. I was ready to lay it to rest, but my dad was not. He and my mom came down on Monday to pick it up. I was fully prepared to spend my weekend lawnmower shopping. Can we say, snoozefest? However, my dad truly is the best. For about the 4th time in the last 10 years, he brought the thing back to life.  

Dad of the Year

So, no lawnmower shopping for me this weekend. That will free up my time for football while snuggling with my pup. Who’s winning now? 

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Remembering 9/11 Through Facebook

I struggled to think of a way to properly address today.  The events of 14 years ago still leave me just as speechless today as they did then.  That’s why I shared a single photo of the 9/11 Memorial on all my social media channels today.

9/11 Memorial

9/11 Memorial

I had planned to leave it at that since I just couldn’t find the words.  However, sometimes the words find you.  I found inspiration on Facebook from a few of my friends, and I had to share.  With permission, here are a few of my friends’ stories.

Aimee

Aimee

Aimee: “This morning, as I do on every September 11, I asked the boys what today is and why it is significant.  Gavin told me he has to wear red, white and blue and asked if I got today off like the 4th of July.  Brendan said it was when the bad guys drove airplanes into buildings, and Declan said it was when the first responders saved as many people as they could from dying because of terrorists crashing into the twin towers and that some people were able to save the President by taking over a plane before it could crash.

No matter how they remember, I am glad they do.  Our country needs to remember, and our kids who were not even born in 2001 need to take this memory to their children.  As I told my boys, we remember three things: 1) those who lost their lives and the families who miss them; 2) the heroes who did all they could, many losing their own lives in the process; and 3) the bad guys–let’s not forget them because we need to remember that they are out there and that if we don’t do all we can to work toward good, the bad guys are out there waiting for a chance to do harm.  We have to remember them, too, and do all we can to make sure good wins.”

Jennifer

Jennifer

Jennifer:  “So it’s been 14 years and I feel ready to tell this story.  Apologies in advance if this is long or too horrible to read.  I won’t be offended if you don’t.

On the morning of September 11, 2001, I took the PATH train into the World Trade Center on my way to work.  My company was in the Woolworth building, across the street from the WTC.  I never went to work early but that day I was there to catch up on some school work before the day began.  We felt our building shake when the first plane hit the World Trade Center but thought nothing of it.  Then we got a phone call from some colleagues who were supposed to be at the Top of the World for the Oracle conference that day, that something awful had happened.  We put on CNN and were watching when the second plane hit the WTC.  At that point, we knew that this was not an accident and that we were under attack.  The Woolworth building is the third tallest building in NYC and we did not feel safe staying put so we all decided to leave.  I called Paul who told me to stay put but, of course, I didn’t listen.  That was the last he heard from me, since all cell and phone landline signals went out afterwards.

Leaving the building was total chaos, and on the street it was even worse.  There were people standing in the street crying and screaming.  I remember one woman in particular who was inconsolable because she calculated that the airplane was sticking out of the building near her company’s floor and she thought all of her coworkers were probably dead.  I grabbed a colleague who was visiting from Japan and had no idea what was happening, and we started to walk uptown.  We tried not to look back because if you did, you saw a complete horror movie.  The one time we stopped, we could see people jumping from the buildings.  And all of the pieces of paper and building floating down looked like confetti against that sky.  Along the way, people were truly helping each other.  Taxis that couldn’t move anyway pulled over and opened their doors and windows and blasted the radio so we could get updates on what was happening.  We kept a man company who was very disheveled.  He had escaped from one of the towers when the plane hit.  He couldn’t believe that he survived the first WTC bombings and now this.  He vowed never to go back again.

Finally, we made it up to NYU, where I was attending school at night.  The staff let everyone in and made the computer labs and the study labs open to whomever needed them.  I had lost track of all my colleagues, except the woman from Japan. By now, all cell service was gone, and we were only able to check in via email or AOL Instant Messenger to make sure everyone was safe.  That was when Paul finally heard I was ok.  We watched the plane hit the Pentagon on the TV at NYU and watched the buildings fall. I was so glad that I didn’t listen and left the downtown area.

A friend of mine got in touch and graciously invited us to her apartment where I stayed for a very long day until we got word that the PATH trains were running and I could go home.  Those PATH train workers probably lost quite a few friends that day but they were heroes, getting the service running again so people could finally go home to their loved ones.  That colleague from Japan came home with me, since we thought her hotel was probably destroyed.  She had to stay for almost a week until NEC chartered a flight to bring all of its employees home.

I know people who are far better writers could express some big life lessons that came out of this experience.  I never truly felt safe after that day.  Things do change in a heartbeat, and everything is temporary.  I am grateful that all of my friends and colleagues made it through the day, and I am grateful to have these 14 years to get over this experience.  Oh, and the other lesson learned is to listen to your gut and do what makes you feel safest.  And if you wear heels to work, bring sneakers to change into.”

Please share your 9/11 thoughts in the comments.

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Palo Inspired Snacks

Earlier this year, I visited the Eastern Caribbean on my 3rd Disney Cruise Line cruise aboard the Disney Fantasy.  This was my first time on the Fantasy and the first time on a 7 night cruise.  It was also my first time in the Eastern Caribbean.  You could say it was a trip of firsts, for so many reasons, but one of those firsts was especially yummy.  We dined in Palo one night for dinner.

Palo aboard the Disney Fantasy

Palo aboard the Disney Fantasy

It was not my first time dining at Palo.  In 2011, we enjoyed a most delicious brunch in Palo aboard the Disney Dream.  You can find a snippet of that here.  However, it was our first time having dinner at Palo.

Palo is 1 of 2 adults-only restaurants aboard the Fantasy.  It features upscale Northern Italian cuisine, and it is outstanding.  It requires advance reservations and comes with an extra charge of $30 per person.

I’ll share more about this meal later but for now, I wanted to tell you about one of my favorite parts of the meal, the antipasto.  Shortly after we were seated and our orders were taken, our waiter wheeled a cart to our table containing an assortment of Italian meats, cheeses, olives, roasted veggies and flavored olive oils.

This cart contained an assortment of Italian meats, cheeses, olives, roasted veggies and flavored olive oils.

This cart contained an assortment of Italian meats, cheeses, olives, roasted veggies and flavored olive oils.

He placed a generous amount of each on a plate for us to share and drizzled it all with aged balsamic vinegar and the flavored olive oil of our choice.

The waiter placed a generous amount of each item on a plate for us to share.

The waiter placed a generous amount of each item on a plate for us to share.

It was a great way to start the meal!  One of my favorite things about it was the simplicity of it.  It’s something that I can easily replicate at home and feel like I’m right back on board the Fantasy anytime I need a mini staycation.

A few weeks later, I was at our local farmer’s market and spotted a new vendor selling locally cured meats.  One of the meats caught my eye.  It was bresaola, which is an aged, cured beef.  For my southern friends, think country ham, only beef.  I was planning to attend an outdoor concert that evening with friends and needed to make snacks for us all to share.  A light bulb went off in my head, and I decided to let that be the inspiration for my contribution to the night out.  On the way home from the market, I picked up a nice chunk of parmesan cheese and some olives marinated in Italian herbs.  I cut the cheese into chunks and since everything is better on a stick, I skewered all the components into my Palo-inspired antipasto bites.

My finished Palo-inspired antipasto bites

My finished Palo-inspired antipasto bites

No outdoor concert is complete without wine or champagne so I also picked up a bottle of Italian Prosecco, which paired perfectly with my antipasto bites.  One of my friends brought orange juice for mimosas, and we had a great evening.

Cheers to a lovely evening with great friends.

Cheers to a lovely evening with great friends.

Have you ever made a vacation-inspired dish?  Tell me about it in the comments.

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2016 Disney Parks Moms Panel Search Day 1

Today was quite exciting as the search began for the 2016 Disney Parks Moms Panel. It didn’t exactly go as I thought it would, but with Disney things rarely do. They certainly like to keep things interesting.  I can honestly say I felt all of the emotions from Disney-Pixar’s Inside Out–Sadness, Fear, Disgust, even Anger, and finally Joy.  

Today’s the day!


 

Here’s how it went down.  I, and many of the other finalists from last year, mistakenly thought we would get to coast through round 1 of the search. No such luck! In fact, it appeared from the way the application looked, that our FastPasses into round 2 would not be honored.  Finally, someone was brave enough to submit her application and was rewarded with a beautiful sight.  

Congratulations!


 

This was very encouraging, and I got my head in the game. Due to my schedule over the next week, I knew I had to get my essay questions answered and submitted today. So, I did. And I, too, was rewarded with a beautiful sight.  

Just because looking at it never gets old


 

Once I got over all the negative emotions, I actually really enjoyed the questions.  More importantly, I really enjoyed my answers.  That’s all I ask of myself out of the process, that I do my best and submit work I’m proud of.  If I do that, I can be at peace with the outcome. 

The rest of the day was really fun, too. The Twitterverse and Interwebs were all a flutter with #DisneyMP chatter.  I wish Twitter could be like that all the time!  

Best of luck to all of my fellow 2016 hopefuls!  Here. We. Goooooooo!!!!

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2016 Disney Parks Moms Panel Rope Drop

Disney Parks Moms Panel

Disney Parks Moms Panel

Today’s the day!  It’s rope drop for the 2016 Disney Parks Moms Panel search.  For my non-Disney peeps, rope drop is what is lovingly referred to by Disney nerds as park opening.  How is today rope drop when I’m hundreds of miles away from the nearest Disney park, you ask?  Today and for the next few days, applications are being accepted for the 2016 Disney Parks Moms Panel, thus rope drop.

Last year, I didn’t talk about the search on here until the process was over.  I think I had a fear of “jinxing” myself.  I’m not sure just how much I’ll have to say about the search this year, but as there are updates, I’ll share them.

What is the Disney Parks Moms Panel?  It’s a group of people who share a love of Disney and a desire to help people plan their trips.  Each year, a new group of Panelists is selected to represent the Disney Parks brand in their declared specialties and answer trip planning questions submitted by other Guests.  Basically, the Panel is an official place to go to get your Disney questions answered.

What is involved in the process?  We won’t really know for sure until the process begins and each stage is reached.  However, most years round 1 has included a few essay questions, round 2 has involved a video submission and more essay questions, round 3 has been a phone interview and last year, we were surprised with a super secret round 4 immediately after the conclusion of the phone interview, which consisted of one final question.  It’s a process, folks!

Why am I doing this again?  Easy!  I want the gig!  The search is like a roller coaster ride, and because it’s 2 and a half months long, it can take up quite a bit of one’s attention, if you let it.  I’m determined to once again submit work I’m proud of, but this year, I intend to not let the search be as big of a personal distraction as it was last year.

Why do I want the gig?  Truthfully, I’m not sure that I have a good answer to that question.  I love to plan.  I love all things Disney.  I love having an excuse to keep up with all the new things happening at the parks.  I love writing.  I love helping my coworkers and friends plan their trips.  Everything about the job is appealing to me.

As a finalist from last year, I am thrilled to have a FastPass to round 2 this year.  So, even though I still get to submit an application this week, I’ll have approximately 5-6 weeks of peace knowing I’m advancing to the next round.

It’s such an exciting process, and I’ve met so many lovely ladies along the way.  I can hardly wait to see this year’s process unfold and get to know the new Panelists.  Hopefully, I’ll be among them.  If not, I’ll try again next year, because as always, “There’s a great big, beautiful tomorrow shining at the end of every day.”

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Back to the Blog

Hey, everyone!  Remember me?  I just looked back and saw that I haven’t posted in, oh about 10 months.  Oops!  So, what have I been up to?  I have been through a life-changing event, which has been the subject of the majority of my focus.  More on that later.  I’ve been doing a few other things, too, though.

Since my last update, I finished the 2014 St. Jude Memphis Half Marathon.

I finished! It wasn't pretty but I finished!

I finished! It wasn’t pretty but I finished!

That deserves its own post.  The stories around that day are many.  I also finished a quilt for a friend,

Minecraft Quilt for a Friend

Minecraft Quilt for a Friend

had a December staycation,

Oshi Burger as part of my December staycation

Oshi Burger as part of my December staycation

celebrated Christmas with my family, quit my job (insert major life event), started my dream job

My first day on my new job

My first day on my new job

(reality is even better than the dream), registered for the 2015 St. Jude Memphis Half Marathon, spent time at Magic Kingdom Park with some girl friends,

Magic Kingdom before the family cruise

Magic Kingdom before the family cruise

tried out the new Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto at Disney’s Polynesian Resort,

Yes, I kept the glass!

Yes, I kept the glass!

went on my 3rd Disney cruise with my family aboard the Disney Fantasy (that deserves its own post, too, several of them, in fact),

Disney Fantasy docked at Castaway Cay

Disney Fantasy docked at Castaway Cay

registered for the Memphis Runners Track Club Road Race Series and registered for the 2016 runDisney Princess Half Marathon.  Oh!  And I’m on Periscope now, too.  I’m @myglasssneaker, same as Twitter.  I haven’t done much videoing yet, but that will change soon.

What have I not been up to?  Well, I haven’t done a ton of running.  This is a bad thing considering my upcoming race schedule.  I did complete the 2nd 5k

This was my first official race of the year.

This was my first official race of the year.

and the first 5 miler

Aaaaaand...my 2nd official race of the year

Aaaaaand…my 2nd official race of the year

in the Road Race Series, though.  The first 10k is coming up in less than a week.  The jury is out as to whether I am going to attempt it or wait until the 2nd 10k.  The reason (or excuse) for the struggle deserves its own post, too.

Based on the list above, it looks like I’ve got a lot of catching up to do.  Please hang in there with me.

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Thanksgiving and My Award-Winning Peanut Butter Pie

Happy Thanksgiving!  This is one of my favorite days of the year.  Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, football, food, family, shopping, and the start of the holiday season are just a few of my favorite things about this day.

For most people, Thanksgiving is all about turkey and trimmings, but it’s also all about the desserts.  Judging by my Facebook and Instagram feeds, I think most people would agree.  Get your stretchy pants ready because I’m finally about to share with you a Thanksgiving staple in my family, my award-winning Flutter Nutter Peanut Butter Candy Bar Pie.

Back in January of 2010, I saw a program on Food Network about the Crisco National Pie Championship held each year in Celebration, Florida.  That’s the cute, quaint town right outside of Walt Disney World Resort so naturally, my ears perked up.  The winners all got huge gift baskets.  I wanted a gift basket.  Seriously, that’s how this whole thing got started.  After a little research, I learned the competition was in April and was open to everyone who could submit an original, not previously published, not previously submitted for other competitions, pie recipe.  There was just one problem.  I had never made a pie, much less developed my own recipe.  That didn’t stop me, so I began experimenting with flavor combinations and different types of pies.  After many failed attempts at made-from-scratch pie crusts and fillings, I quickly realized a no-bake pie was my best bet.  After much experimentation, I finally came up with one I liked, and my Flutter Nutter Peanut Butter Candy Bar Pie was born.

The competition itself was really fun.  I chose the bake on-site option, and I had so much fun talking to all the spectators and explaining what I was doing step-by-step, almost as though I was hosting my own show.

Me and my pie at the competition

Me and my pie at the competition

I really didn’t think I had any chance of winning, so my goal was to have as much fun as possible, and I did!

The next day was the awards ceremony.  When I saw all the lovely gift baskets lined up on stage, I remembered why I wanted to do this in the first place.  I realized I really wanted to win.  I can honestly say I was completely shocked when they called my pie as the first place winner of the peanut butter category.  I got my gift basket!  I also got a sweet cash prize to go along with it, but the gift basket!  Be still my heart!

It's a major award!

It’s a major award!

So, here it is.  Now, I realize most food blogs give you a step-by-step explanation of how to do everything in the recipe before giving the recipe itself.  Well, I’m not a food blogger, and truthfully, I usually just look at the photos and skip to the recipe anyway so that’s what I’m giving you.

I do want to toss in a little disclosure here first, though.  As a previous winner in the Crisco National Pie Championship, this recipe is the property of me and the American Pie Council.  It is published in America’s Best Pies, a cook book produced by the American Pie Council.  So, publishing this recipe or producing it for remuneration (money) is prohibited without the written consent of the American Pie Council.

Now that we have that out of the way, on to the yummy stuff!

Really, could anything that starts out with this be bad?  I think not!

Really, could anything that starts out with this be bad? I think not!

Nutter Butter cookie crust

Nutter Butter cookie crust

Next is the Nutella layer.

Next is the Nutella layer.

Chopped up Reese's go on top of the Nutella.

Chopped up Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups Miniatures go on top of the Nutella.

Yummy peanut butter mousse filling

Yummy peanut butter mousse filling

Finally, more Nutter Butters and Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Miniatures get chopped up to garnish the pie.

Finally, more Nutter Butters and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Miniatures get chopped up to garnish the pie.

Flutter Nutter Peanut Butter Candy Bar Pie

Ingredients
Crust
12 peanut butter sandwich cookies, such as Nutter Butters
1/4 cup granulated sugar
6 T butter, melted

Candy Bar Layer
1/2 cup chocolate hazelnut spread, such as Nutella
8 miniature peanut butter cups, coarsely chopped

Filling
1 8 oz package cream cheese
1 7 oz jar marshmallow cream
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1 8 oz container frozen whipped topping, thawed

Garnish
2 coarsely chopped peanut butter sandwich cookies, such as Nutter Butters
3 coarsely chopped miniature peanut butter cups

To Make Pie
For the crust, process the peanut butter sandwich cookies in a food processor until fine crumbs are formed. Add in melted butter and sugar and process until blended, about 30 seconds. The mixture will resemble wet sand. Press mixture into a 9 inch pie plate. For the candy bar layer, spread chocolate hazelnut spread on top of the crust and sprinkle with the coarsely chopped miniature peanut butter cups. For the filling, blend the cream cheese, marshmallow cream and peanut butter with an electric mixer until smooth. Add in the whipped topping and mix with an electric mixer until blended. Spoon the filling on top of the candy bar mixture and smooth out so that it is evenly distributed. Garnish by sprinkling the remaining coarsely chopped peanut butter sandwich cookies and miniature peanut butter cups. Chill for a minimum of 2 hours. Serves 10.

I hope everyone has a happy and safe Thanksgiving!

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Disney Parks Moms Panel 2015–When Failing Isn’t Failing

If you follow me on Twitter and Instagram, you may know that for the past couple of months I have been a candidate to become a member of the 2015 Disney Parks Moms Panel.

Disney Parks Moms Panel

Disney Parks Moms Panel

Why have I not been more vocal about this here?  It’s simple.  I’m not a mom.  Some might think it’s quite silly for a childless person to want to be a part of something called a Moms Panel.  However, the Disney Parks Moms Panel really has very little to do with being a mom.  More than anything, it’s about helping Disney Parks Guests plan their vacations.  Anyone who knows me well knows that something like this is right up my alley.  Still, for years I have applied and the selection committee has never even blinked at me twice.  I always assumed it was because I lacked the whole kids thing, but this time was different!

See, looking back, I really think the reason I never advanced past the first round of applications had less to do with my lack of children and more to do with my lack of effort.  As much as I wanted to be a part of the panel, deep down inside I never really tried.  I think somewhere in the dark recesses of my psyche, I thought if I didn’t really take it seriously, it would be easy to assume my failure was due to my childless state and not because of me.  It would also be really easy to get that rejection, and it was.

This time I did something else.  I tried.  I tried really hard!  I put everything I had into the process.  Not only that, but I liked the work I submitted.  I still assumed that as soon as the selection committee found out I didn’t have kids, I would be done, but I was going to ride that wave for as long as they would let me.

The first round did not contain any questions that would give it away that I wasn’t a mom.  We did have to submit a Disney family photo, but my favorite family photo is of our whole clan, my parents, my sister, her husband, and their 4 kids.  It wasn’t obvious in the photo that none of the kids were mine so even my Disney Side photo didn’t give it away.

Disney Side Family Photo

Disney Side Family Photo

We often travel to Disney the same week each year, and we’ve been on a Disney Cruise Line cruise together.  So, it’s not like I don’t know what it’s like to travel with kids or even plan a trip with their needs in mind.  About 5 weeks later, I got a magical email!  For the first time in forever, I had advanced to Round 2!

Round 2 Email

Round 2 Email

My elation quickly turned to panic when I saw what Round 2 entailed.  There were 8 essay questions and a 71 second video that had to be submitted.  Two of the questions were the source of my panic.  I had to tell the committee about myself in 100 words or less and I had to tell about my family in 200 words or less.  There was no way around it.  They would know my secret and surely toss me to the curb.  I agonized for days about this.  Do I talk about my nieces and nephew without referring to them as such and let them draw their own conclusions?  Do I skip over the fact that I have no kids and pretend it’s not there?  What I finally decided to do is wear it like a badge.  I dealt with it head-on.  I wanted them to know I am childless and I wanted them to want me anyway.  Guess what!?  They did!  About 3 weeks later another magical email arrived inviting me to Round 3!

Round 3 email

Round 3 Email

I really started believing this could be possible.  I began to want it more than I think I’ve ever wanted anything.  I knew I was still a long shot, but the thing about being a long shot is you still get a shot.

Round 3 consisted of a 15 minute phone interview with Gary Buchanan, a man I admire and respect a great deal.  For me, he embodies the spirit of Walt Disney himself.  When I found out I was actually going to get to talk to him, I felt like I had already won.  Following the interview was a Round 4 Moms Panel question that had to be answered in 45 minutes or less.  Then came the longest week of my life.

Yesterday was announcement day, and was filled with enormous anticipation!  Finally, my email came, and for the first time in this year’s process, it was not what I had hoped it would be.

The nicest rejection letter I have ever gotten

The nicest rejection letter I have ever gotten

I cannot even begin to explain the emotions I felt.  Sadness for not making it, pride for being a finalist, pain for others who didn’t make it, pain for Gary because it wasn’t easy for him either, excitement for those who did make it, confusion over what I could have done differently, emptiness for something I tried so hard to get but didn’t, love from friends and family who supported me are just a few of the emotions I went through.

So, why is failing not failing?  What I got out of this may be worth more than a spot on the panel.  I got validation.  I’m an easy one to say no to.  I don’t even fit the profile of what they are looking for.  Yet, members of the Disney marketing and PR team noticed me.  Me!  They noticed my writing ability.  They noticed my passion.  They may not have ultimately picked me, but I know I made them pause and think about it.

Would I still like a spot on the panel?  Absolutely!  At the same time, I wouldn’t trade what I’ve learned about myself through all of this for one.  Don’t think for a second I won’t be trying again next year, though.

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runDisney Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10 Miler Race Recap Part 1

It’s hard to believe that the runDisney Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10 Miler (#Tower10Miler) was over a month ago!  This was the second time I’ve been lucky enough to run this one, and it stands as the only runDisney event I’ve ever repeated.  In fact, other than this, there are only 2 local 5ks I’ve repeated.  I guess I’m not really one to repeat races, but my experience in 2012 with the #Tower10Miler was so bad it almost made me stop running.  I needed redemption.  Did I find it?  Hmmmmm, I’m not too sure, but I did have a much better experience so there’s that.

My issues with this race in 2012 were partly runDisney’s fault and partly not.  The expo was awesome and more than exceeded my expectations!  It was a great first impression as this was my first runDisney event.  The event staging area and event transportation were also huge hits!  The corrals were much more organized and closer to the drop-off than I thought they would be.  There were even port-a-potties in each corral, which was awesome.  However, it was all downhill from there.  The heat and humidity really got to me and made for a miserable night.  Also, I felt the entertainment and course theming were lacking, even for a newbie like me.  Fast forward to 2013, and from reports I read and heard, course theming and entertainment had really been stepped up.  When registration opened for 2014, the event date coincided with an already-planned family vacation so adding this on to the beginning seemed like a good idea.

I went into this event ridiculously under trained.  I considered bailing at least a hundred times.  I just couldn’t let it go, though, and I’m so glad I didn’t.

I didn’t arrive until Saturday morning, so the expo had already been open for a day when I got there. 

The expo was practically empty when I got there Saturday morning.

The expo was practically empty when I got there Saturday morning.

I did arrive shortly after it opened on Saturday, which was right after the Happy Haunted 5k.  I enjoyed seeing all those runners with their cute Hitchhiking Ghosts medallions and all the cute costumes.  The kids races were about to get underway, too, so there was a lot of hustle, bustle, and excitement in the air, perfect for setting the stage.  The expo, on the other hand, was completely empty.  This worked to my benefit because my first order of business was getting the special runDisney New Balance shoes.  I wanted both the Minnie and the Cinderella ones and anticipated long lines.  However, I walked right up and 5 minutes later had my shoes in hand!  Next up was merchandise.  My only complaint about the event is that they were out of almost all merchandise.  I only got an “I Did It!” t-shirt, and had to settle for men’s at that.  I don’t understand why they can’t get the merchandise right.  They either have way too much and lots ends up in the outlets weeks later or they run out very early, and late-comers don’t get anything.  I’ve even heard reports of things being sold out at the expo, only to show up in the outlets weeks later.  What’s up with that?  I digress.  My next stop was the KT booth for the special Minnie KT tape.  I’m a sucker for all the things I can only get at a runDisney expo.  I needed tape anyway, so what of it?  Next I stopped at the Florida Hospital booth to pick up my free draw string bag.  Have I mentioned I love bags?  I do.  All types of drink ware and bags are totally my thing!  My dad came to the expo on a later bus than I did, so next I met up with him, picked up my bib, had a cute runDisney Instagram photo taken, picked up my shirt, and started to make our way back to the buses. 

I love that runDisney offers these special photo ops for free.  You just have to show them you follow runDisney on Instagram.

I love that runDisney offers these special photo ops for free. You just have to show them you follow runDisney on Instagram.

On the way back, I noticed the beer carts were selling beer in cute runDisney cups.  I didn’t want beer at 9 am on the morning of a long race so I stopped to see if they would sell me just the cup (hello, drink ware!).  They did, and $4 later we were on our way back to the buses for real this time.

Stay tuned for Part 2, where I’ll share my experience with the race itself.

Have you ever seen an almost-empty runDisney expo?

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The Fitness Games App Review

The Fitness Games and Sweat Pink

The Fitness Games and Sweat Pink

Through a partnership with Sweat Pink, I recently was given the opportunity to try and review The Fitness Games app.  This app is available for iPhone users and uses the power of social media to help keep yourself motivated.  Inside the app, you have the ability to challenge other users or accept challenges from other users.  After each of you complete a workout, a winner is declared, usually based on who finishes the workout with the fastest time.  There are a number of different workouts available so boredom is not an issue.  The workouts are also categorized based on fitness level so it works for novices and fitness experts alike.  After I downloaded the free app, I was to be upgraded to the platinum version at no cost to me for the purpose of this review.  I honestly could not tell the difference in the 2 versions so I’m not sure if I really was upgraded or if they are just that similar. 

The Fitness Games

The Fitness Games

This app works best if you use it with friends.  I did challenge a few Sweat Pink users but as far as I could tell, my challenges were not accepted.  So, I really wasn’t able to test this app with other users.  However, I still really enjoyed using it.  The real benefit of the app for me was the tutorials.  When I first looked at the workouts, I was a bit intimidated.  The majority of my exercise comes from running or DVDs.  I have ventured to weight machines in the past but other than that, I’m pretty much in the dark.  What’s a Superman?  I read the workouts and immediately thought I would never be able to figure them out.  To my delight, I discovered short video clips showing the correct way to do the exercises, right inside the app.  I learned all kinds of new moves, things I had never heard of and things I had heard of but just didn’t have a clue what it was, like the aforementioned Superman.

The Fitness Games App is available in the app store for iPhone users.

The Fitness Games App is available in the app store for iPhone users.

I think the app is great for cross training, and I can see how it would be really fun with friends.  I’m sure all fitness enthusiasts can find something they will love in this app.  If you are an iPhone user, you can find it in the app store.  Check it out and challenge me to a workout!

Disclosure: I received the platinum version (I think) of The Fitness Games for free to review through a partnership with Sweat Pink.  As always, all opinions are my own.

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