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

Star Wars Dark Side 5k Flashback

Star Wars Rival Run Weekend

Welcome to Star Wars Dark Side Half Marathon Weekend!

It’s runDisney race week again! This time it’s the Star Wars Rival Run Weekend, and no, I’m not going. I broke up with running, remember? However, since I never shared my race recap, I thought it was high time for a flashback to the only time I’ve ever participated in this weekend. Allow me to take you back to the 2017 Dark Side 5k.

2017 Dark Side 5k

I love these photo opportunities at the expo.

This is one runDisney weekend that was never really on my radar. I don’t know why because I’ve been a fan of Star Wars for as long as I can remember, starting way back with A New Hope. I remember being terrified of Darth Vader as a child. To help calm me down, my parents told me the ones in white are the heroes and always win. The ones in black are the bad guys and always lose. I was confused because, Stormtroopers. They had to explain they were the exception. I wasn’t so sure.

Anyway, back to the race. Flashback to two years ago. At some point before the 5k sold out, it dawned on me that I was going to be there for the 5k and 10k. We had a cruise booked (shocker!) that was leaving the day of the 10k and we had planned on going to Epcot the day before, which was the same day as the 5k. Wait, what?! Hello, lightbulb! I thought long and hard about both races but ultimately settled on the 5k only. We like to get to the port as early as they will let us in the parking garage, and I didn’t want to hold us back.

So, Operation Costume Planning was in full swing. This was one of my favorite costumes ever, and soooooo cheap, too! I was Captain Phasma. It was a Dark Side race after all, back in the day.

Captain Phasma Running Costume

“Flat me” as Captain Phasma

My approach to runDisney race costumes has evolved to become a nod to the character I’m trying to represent as opposed to a dead ringer, so to speak. I already had the Sparkle Skirt from my Hades costume for the final Tower of Terror 10 Miler (can we please take a moment of silence in memory of this awesome event?) as well as the gray tech shirt. I purchased a child’s Captain Phasma costume on the Shop Disney website during one of their Twice Upon A Year sales for super cheap, like $10 or something, essentially free. Disney math, yo! From that, I attached the mask to a Sparkle Athletic visor and used the cape. I also took the belt from the costume and pinned it to the waistline of my skirt. I found out my friend Andrea was also registered, and I shared what I had planned with her so we could be matchy-matchy. I do love when people are matchy-matchy at these events, and I love it even more when I get to be matchy-matchy!

The morning of the race came, and I got up in the middle of the night, as runDisney racers do.

Star Wars 5k Start

Zero dark thirty, the worst part of these races

I was thrilled to see my girl, Captain Phasma as a pre-race photo character.

Captain Phasma at the Dark Side 5k

Me as Captain Phasma with Captain Phasma

I found Andrea, and we collectively became a trio of Phasmas.

A Trio of Captain Phasmas

Andrea and I together with Captain Phasma collectively became a trio of Phasmas.

That line was looooooong, y’all! That was the only pre-race photo I got. That’s ok, though, because I stopped for ALL the photos on course.


The first stop was the Ewoks. I die of the cuteness!

Emperor’s Chair

Up next was the Emperor’s Chair.


R2D2 was next and had the longest line. Also, I have no clue what’s happening here.


Up next was Chewbacca and another long line.

Ezra and Sabine

Next came Ezra and Sabine. I got an oddly placed shadow as a bonus.

Spaceship Earth

Next came a photo opp in front of Spaceship Earth. There was a Photopass Photographer here, otherwise I would have skipped it.


Finally, Stormtroopers. There was no Photopass Photographer here so I was glad I had my phone.

Stopping for ALL the photos means a lot of stop and go, and a really looooooong 5k. I think it took me around 2 hours to finish.

After the race, it was time to get cleaned up and meet my family for a fun day at Epcot.

Epcot Character Spot

Fun with Mickey and family

One of the best things about race weekends is seeing friends you don’t get to see throughout the year. My friend Aimee was in town for the other races, and I met her later for dinner at Flying Fish at Disney’s Boardwalk Inn and Villas.

Flying Fish

Pre-dinner drinks at Abracadabar and dinner at Flying Fish was a delicious way to celebrate the day.

Later, we strolled around World Showcase in Epcot tasting a few of the libations from the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival.

Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival

Drinking around World Showcase is always a good idea.

It really was the best day ever, and I think the fact that the race was so impromptu, as impromptu as a runDisney race can be, made it even better.

Star Wars Dark Side 5k Medal

My attempt at an artsy medal photo

As always, I’ll be following along, living vicariously through the participants from the comfort of my couch. I wish the best of luck and lots of fun to everyone making their way to the Galaxy. May the Force be with you!

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Disney Cruise Line Chocolate and Liquor Tasting

That groundhog really pulled a fast one this year, didn’t he? Winter keeps holding on for dear life and just won’t let go! As the temperatures creep ever so slowly upward and as daylight shifts from morning to evening (because it’s not really an extra hour of daylight), I’m dreaming of warm, tropical weather.

I thought I’d share a favorite activity aboard a Disney Cruise – tastings. As part of their onboard fun offerings, tastings are available for a nominal fee. You can either prebook when you schedule other activities in advance or visit Guest Services to sign up on board.

One of their more popular tastings is Mixology. At $25 per person, five drinks are prepared by participants taking turns under the tutelage of a bartender.

Disney Cruise Line Mixology

In Mixology, all of the glasses are set up at the bar and each person takes a turn making some drinks. Everyone ends up with five different drinks made by fellow participants.

I have to admit, this one’s not my favorite. In my experience, you either have the timid folks who only pour in a splash of alcohol or the jokesters who think it’s funny to dump half the bottle in. Either way, I’d rather the bartender just do it as a demonstration class instead of hands-on. After doing this one twice, I’m good to skip it going forward.

One that I really did enjoy, though, was the Chocolate and Liquor Tasting.

Disney Cruise Line Chocolate and Liquor Tasting

Each person gets their own set up of wines and liquors paired with different types of solid and melted chocolate bliss and Parmesan cheese.

This one was $35 and included a champagne (real stuff from France), a red wine, a port and a fairly high end scotch. In fact, the bartender told us our pour of scotch would cost $38 on its own in the bars on the ship, making it a bargain as part of the class if scotch is your thing.

Paired with the liquors were various types of solid and melted chocolate and chunks of Parmesan cheese, which we were instructed to taste with each liquor. I don’t recall having a favorite combination, but it was interesting to experience how the notes of each liquor changed with different pairings.

Each person got his/her own set up, which is great for those who don’t like to share. The class was set up for a full group, even though it wasn’t full. The scotch, chocolate and cheese were already on the tray when the class started, and the wines were poured as they were presented. Since the class wasn’t full, that meant some of the scotch, chocolate and cheese went untouched. That simply was not acceptable so the bartender offered up the extras to the rest of us. One scotch fan was very happy as he got several extra glasses.

One thing to note is that I did not book this in advance. I don’t even recall this particular class being available to book in advance on my sailing. In fact, I didn’t sign up until about 5 minutes prior to start time. So, if you find all tastings sold out in advance, never fear! Head to Guest Services and check availability.

For my next cruise, I already have the Champagne Tasting, Stem to Stern (a wine tasting), Martinis and Tequila and Margaritas booked. I probably won’t keep all of them, depending on what other activities I find on the Navigator once I’m on board. I just have to cancel 24 hours in advance to avoid being charged.

Do you have a favorite on board activity? Please share it in the comments.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Free outdoor concert at Levitt Shell

Free outdoor concert at Levitt Shell

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

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

Fed Ex St. Jude Classic Tickets

Fed Ex St. Jude Classic Tickets

Fed Ex St. Jude Classic Entrance

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

Almost everyone was following Phil Mickelson.

Almost everyone was following Phil Mickelson.

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

Phil Mickelson at the Fed Ex St. Jude Classic

Phil Mickelson at the Fed Ex St. Jude Classic

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

The Golf Channel Camera Man

The Golf Channel Camera Man

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

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

Faculty and Honor Roll Students, Lewis School by Carroll Cloar

Faculty and Honor Roll Students, Lewis School by Carroll Cloar

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

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

Chiwawa Memphis

Chiwawa Memphis

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

How do you recover from PVB?

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

Also, follow me on Twitter @myglasssneaker.

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