Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Meet-Up

I apologize in advance, because this post is pretty picture heavy.  I tried to cut some out, but the folks at runDisney took SO many amazing pictures, so it was HARD!

I can’t tell you how excited I was when I received the email letting me know I was in for the Wine & Dine Meet Up.  I attended the one in February before the Princess Half weekend and had such a great time.  runDisney threw everyone for a loop this time around — usually they send out a few teaser tweets before the posting the info about the meet-up, but this time there was only one teaser followed pretty closely by the blog post going up!  Funny thing is, I was thinking about it earlier in the day and went to their twitter page and saw the initial tweet.  I thought it was odd that it was so early, but went on about my day.  A few hours later, a friend of mine called in the middle of the afternoon, which was odd, so I answered and she basically squealed that I needed to hurry and get to the Disney Parks blog for the info and to send my email in right away.  After a bit of fumbling, I managed to fire off emails for myself and my husband, then waited.. later that night, we found out that we were both in  - YAY!

We had to do a last minute scramble to book an extra night at our hotel and to find someone to help out with the kids (thanks Jenn!) but Thursday afternoon rolled around, and we were on our way to Orlando.  We checked into our hotel, got changed, and headed over to EPCOT to check-in for the meet-up.  We were given wine colored runDisney shirts to wear for the night, and a fast pass for Test Track!  I’ve never been on Test Track and we usually stay away from the more thrilling rides since we have little ones, so I was excited to try it out.

It was fun and I think Braden would really like it — especially designing his own car.  We may be spending more time in EPCOT for our next visit to Disney :) Before heading over to Test Track, we met up with an old friend of mine and her running buddy, Andrea and Cori.  The Food & Wine Festival was going on, so they checked out some of the food/drink kiosks and got some snacks, while I tagged along.  Unfortunately, my stomach wasn’t playing nice most of the weekend so I didn’t get to enjoy a lot of the delicious food EPCOT had to offer.  Boo to my belly!

We made our way over to Mexico, where a special area was roped off for our group to watch Illuminations.  I’d never seen it before so it was fun to get the opportunity.  I was surprised at how many faces I recognized from blogs that I read — but since I’m pretty shy around new people and I wasn’t feeling well, I hung back and kept pretty quiet.  Blah!

Once Illuminations was over, we headed over towards America.  We got to sample some yummy vegan wine and Trick’n Chick’n — a vegan chicken curry dish with a side of rice.  Everyone seemed to really enjoy it, but my belly revolted.  I stuck to the hummus, pita bread, and fresh fruit. It was delicious!

We also had some time to visit with a few of the local celebrities! :)  No trip to the Food & Wine festival is complete without a hug from Chef Mickey, am I right?

We all settled down and Farron Kelly and Darrell Fry took the stage to welcome us all to the first night time runDisney meet-up and to give away some nice goodies!  Cori was lucky and scored a free entry into a future runDisney event — I may be just a bit jealous!  They gave us an overview of runDisney in general, some information about the race weekend, and said that their big goal is to create races that make you feel good about yourself — they really do want every mile to be magic!

Next up, Tara Gidus and Jeff Galloway took the stage.  They reminded us a few times how important hydrating before a race is and Tara offered some advice on how to fuel properly for a night race.  I should have paid more attention to her, as my race-day fueling left a LOT to be desired.  She said to eat light, eat often, and hydrate well.  Jeff reminded us to start slow so that we could be the passer instead of the passee in the later miles.  Definitely should have listened to his advice too.

Tara finished up by telling us about some of the health benefits of wine.  She said it makes you run faster — that’s good news to my ears!  We also learned that wine preserves memory and can help lower body mass and reduce belly fat — even more good news!  Apparently moderation is key when drinking wine though and 5 oz is considered a serving of wine? And no more than one per day is recommended for the ladies? Boo!!

Next we heard from some of the chefs and a sommelier responsible for the food and wine offerings at the festival this year.  I was really hoping that my tummy issues would be short lived so I could try some of the delicious stuff they were talking about.

We got confirmation that there WILL be a new runDisney/New Balance shoe for 2014 and they gave us a few details about it.  The 2014 shoes will have race specific inserts and lace decorations to customize your shoes for each race weekend.  Fun!  New Balance gave away a few pair of the 2013 model, and I hope you got your hands on them at the expo if you wanted them, because it was your last chance!

Last on stage was Jenny Simpson.  She ran the fastest mile this year in 4:19 in her New Balance shoes.  That’s crazy fast!!  The fastest I’ve ever run a mile was just under 7 minutes and I wanted to lay down and die when I was done!  Since the race fell on Veteran’s Day weekend, runDisney invited a service member from each branch of the military to run.  After they were all up on stage, they received (a very well-earned) standing ovation.  I may have teared up, just a bit.

Finally, it was time to run!  This is the highlight of the event for me — I absolutely love running through the parks after they’re closed with such a small group.  We split into two groups – the first ran 20/20 intervals with Jeff Galloway and the second did a straight run at a relaxed pace (I’d guess somewhere around 10-10:30?  I wasn’t wearing my watch so I’m not sure.)

It was really nice having my husband along for the ride this time too.  The last meet-up I was on my own.  Even though we don’t run races together, it’s fun to do these types of events together.  He kept giving me a hard time because I wasn’t really running with him — I think he’s full of it, almost every picture of us running has us together :)

We made our way up to the front of EPCOT and took a group picture in front of Spaceship Earth.  I have to tell you, I was impressed that they fit all of us in!  There were 125 participants this year, the biggest meet-up runDisney has hosted yet!  I really hope they keep the group size on the bigger end so I have a chance of getting in for the next race weekend too!  Can you find me??

After the big group picture, we split into our run and run/walk groups for a smaller photo.  Adam and I decided to do the straight run, here’s the rest of the group.  The girls in the coral colored jackets are a group of bloggers that were there with New Balance — I had total jacket envy every time I saw them over the weekend.  I kept telling Adam he needed to stop by the New Balance booth to pick one up for me, but the $175 price tag and the shopping spree at the lululemon outlets over the weekend made him tell me no.  Maybe next time ;)

We did a quick jog up to the front of the parks, where Farron Kelly did a quick toast to the weekend and thanked us all for participating.  His toast was really cute, I wish I could remember it.. but I have the worst memory.

This picture makes me laugh — I held the champagne flute for the picture but couldn’t drink it.  Thankfully I had Adam there to help me out, he’s always ready to take one for the team ;)

Thanks for a great time runDisney — here’s to a great weekend!

Five Things Friday

This week has absolutely FLOWN by.  I feel like it just started and it is already over with.  I thought work was going to slow down a bit, but it hasn’t at all — we’re still crazy busy and probably will be at least through mid-November.  It’s keeping me from blogging, so I figured a quick Five Things Friday post would kind of get me caught up!  Here we go!

1.  Adam and I got into the runDisney Meet-Up for Wine & Dine weekend!  I am SO excited and cannot wait!!  I was able to participate in the Meet-Up back in February for the Princess Half weekend and had a blast, but this one sounds even more amazing!  Here’s what we know about it so far:

We’ll kick off the event with a special viewing of IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth, the nightly laser, light and fireworks show. After that, selected participants will get to taste and learn about some of the extraordinary cuisine and wines that are part of the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, hear from some Olympic endurance runners and get some expert advice on safely running at night.

Then, selected participants will get to put some of that nighttime running knowledge to work during a starlit fun run “around the world” at Epcot well after the park closes. And of course there will be a few magical surprises throughout the night.

I’ve never seen IllumiNations and we never get to spend time in Epcot since the kids aren’t fans — so we’re REALLY excited about it.  I’m super thankful to some amazing friends who are making it a possibility too — we are so, so blessed!!

2.  It’s my birthday weekend!  We’re going to dinner tonight at one of my favorite restaurants with my family and some friends and I can’t wait to see everyone and eat LOTS of yummy food!  My actual birthday isn’t ’til Sunday, but this weekend is crazy busy with family pictures, a friends sons birthday party, a race, and general weekend craziness so we’re doing it tonight.

3.  Adam and I are doing the Pumpkin Run 10-Miler on Sunday and I’m crazy excited about it.  I’ve mentioned before that I’ve been a bit burnt out on my long runs lately and I love the idea of doing a race for one of them.. I just need to remember to take it nice and slow.  The race is at EverGreen Cemetery, the same place we did the St. Patty’s Day 10K in March.  It’s gorgeous out there and they line the entire course with pumpkins — I can’t wait!

4.  I was recently introduced to a really cool program that I knew nothing about – Beads of Courage.  A friend of mine lost her son a few days after he was born and she and her husband have started a charity in his honor.  Their first project is to establish a Beads of Courage program at the NICU at our local children’s hospital, Wolfson’s.  They held a tasting benefit a few weeks ago and were able raise a good chunk of the money they need to get the program started, so she and a group of our friends have been working like crazy to get the bead bags sewn so they’re ready to go.  They’re always in need of bead bags (they are hand made) so if you like to sew and would be interested in donating your time to make them, let me know and I can get you the details!

5.  I did my long run last weekend out on Amelia Island (home of ZOOMA Florida!) and it was fantastic!  Such a pretty area, tons of shade thanks to the beautiful old trees, we ran on the road right along the beach and saw amazing homes and a wonderful sunrise.  I ran 18-miles with my friends running group and the miles FLEW by thanks to the company and the pretty surroundings.


There was a race going on later in the morning, so a lot of the streets were lined with boots and American flags.  Each boot had tag clipped to it with a photo and a persons name.  I’m not sure if they were local soldiers, those who were hurt or killed in action, or something else.. it was so lovely to see though.  Another part of our run took us through their historic downtown area, where there was a car show going on — I loved running through there, saying good morning to the car owners and checking out the cars!  We also ran for a bit on this trail just after sunrise.  It was seriously so, so pretty.

If you want to run in a gorgeous area too, you should come run ZOOMA with me in January!!  Use code FLAAMB5 to join me and save 10% off the race fee!


I hope that you have a wonderful weekend!  Are you celebrating anything?  Do you have any big plans?

runDisney Tower of Terror Race Weekend

This post is going to be long.. just a warning. I should probably break it up into a few posts, but I’m in the mood to get it all done now.. so here we go!

Back in February, after I finished my first half marathon, Adam said that he thought he might want to run one. He really liked the idea of doing a Disney race for his first BIG race since they’re not such serious races — not so much focus on having killer times, more on having a killer time. We looked at their upcoming races and he thought Tower of Terror sounded interesting, along with Wine & Dine. I knew I definitely wanted to run Wine & Dine, so we decided to run that one together (next month!!) and that Tower of Terror would be his big race weekend, since Princess was mine.

After Braden finished his homework after school on Thursday, we worked on race-day signs for Adam and our friend Jenn, who was also running.  I’ve been telling her for weeks that I had the perfect motivational sign for her and I couldn’t wait for her to see it.. you can get a small sneak peek on the left hand side of this picture..

Since I’m right in the middle of marathon training, I took Friday off and after getting the kids off to school, I set out for my long run so I wouldn’t have to do it while we were in Orlando.  Note to self — leaving for a long run at 8:45am is NOT a good idea.  It was hot.  The run was ugly, but I got it done.  Adam got home just as I finished my run so he loaded the car while I got cleaned up.  We picked Braden up from school just a few minutes early to avoid the end-of-the-day rush and were off to Orlando!

We got stuck in a bit of traffic, but it wasn’t too bad.  We made it to the Wide World of Sports with plenty of time to wander around the expo a bit and for the boys to pick up their race packets.  I was surprised at how small the expo was — it was tiny compared to the last two we went to at Disney.  I didn’t realize how small this race weekend was compared to the others!


After the expo, we were all starving so we decided to head to Giordano’s for dinner, which turned in to quite the fiasco.  Adam didn’t realize there was more than one location and gave Jenn the first address for it that came up on Urban Spoon, then we headed over to where we knew the restaurant was.. which wasn’t the same location that he gave her the address to.  We didn’t realize it ’til she texted saying they were here, and they weren’t.  We were all too hungry to wait anymore, so we each ate where we were and texted each other these lovely little pictures so we could at least pretend that we were together.

After dinner, we ran over to Downtown Disney to renew our annual passes but it was complete chaos, so we decided to wait ’til the next day to do it and headed to meet our friends at the hotel.. which was another fiasco because we ended up at two different Holiday Inn’s.. crazy!  We finally got them over to the right hotel and the boys flipped out when they walked into our suite to find double bunk beds — they quickly decided that Aiden would be sleeping over, which worked out well since Jenn & her husband had to be up bright and early the next morning for him to run the 5k.

The boys woke us up the next morning and we all got dressed, had a bit of breakfast, then headed out to grab coffee and meet up for the kids races.  Since I was the only one not racing that weekend, I volunteered to run the 200m dash with the boys.  About halfway through the race, there was a little guy that had fallen down and was laying on the track crying.  I was really surprised at how many people (adults and kids) ran right past him and didn’t stop to check on him.

I stopped and asked him if he was okay and asked where his parents were, he pointed back toward the starting line so I asked if he wanted to finish the race with us and he said yes.  I’m so proud of Braden & Aiden, they stopped when they saw the other boy down on the track and waited for me to tell them it was okay to keep going.  Once they saw me helping him up, they came back to us and we all ran to the finish line together!

They were all greeted by Pluto and the cutest medals at the finish line!

After the race, we loaded up and headed back over to Downtown Disney for lunch at T-Rex.  While we waited, the little boys did a bit of shopping in the Lego store.  Our lunch was really good — I’m always impressed with the food there.  I just wish they had a room that was a bit quieter.  Braden’s ears are still really sensitive and he struggles with loud noises.  He spent a good chunk of lunch laying with his head in my lap covering his ears because it was too loud, I felt so bad for him :(

After lunch, Jenn & Adam went back to rest up for the race and Keith and I took the boys down to the pool to blow off some energy swimming.  We had fun, but I completely forgot to put on sunscreen and the white part of my back that my racerback tanks usually cover got burnt.  After a short nap, Adam went to pick up his cousin aka the boys babysitter for the night.  Keith ran out to get everyone else Chick-fil-a for dinner, then Adam and Jenn got dressed for the race and we dropped them off at the Wide World of Sports to catch the shuttle for the race.

Keith and I headed over to Chevy’s (I love eating there, their salsa is my FAVORITE!) to grab dinner with some of our friends before we had to get back to Hollywood Studios to watch Adam & Jenn finish the race.  I kind of think we got the better end of the deal.. margaritas or waiting around for 2 hours, then running 10 miles?  Hmm..

We couldn’t have timed it better — we arrived at the finish line just as the first guy was crossing it.  We got lucky and found open seats in the bleachers right at the finish and were able to watch a lot of our friends (and Jeff Galloway!) finish.

Afterwards, we found a comfy spot to relax and chat for a bit.

And I finally showed Jenn her sign!  There wasn’t really anywhere for Keith and I to spectate except for inside Hollywood Studios and if we did that, we’d miss seeing Adam and Jenn finish, so she didn’t get to see it ’til after she was done.  I think she liked it though :)

We didn’t hang around long, we were all tired and knew the boys would be up early and ready to go since we’d promised them a trip to the Magic Kingdom the next morning.  Adam had to drive Kayla (his cousin/babysitter) home so he dropped Braden and I off at Disney and we had fun until we met up with our friends and made our way over to lunch.

Adam caught back up with us at the restaurant and although it was slow, the food was delicious.  I had this eggplant pasta thing and really wanted to eat it all, but I couldn’t, I was seriously stuffed after eating barely half.

We separated after lunch so the boys could hit their favorite rides before heading home..

And so I could try out the new Starbucks in the Magic Kingdom :)

We made the 2.5 hour drive back home and I was really eager to pick up Mackenzie — we’ve never left her for an entire weekend and I missed her like crazy.  She was with Grandma & Grandpa though, so I doubt she even realized we were gone.  Well, except for Braden, she really missed him.  I love how much these two love each other!

As you can tell, we spent the weekend with our good friends from Runs With Pugs. Be sure to read Jenn’s posts about the expo, the 5k and kids races, the big event, and the day after the race.  Some of the pictures from this post were taken by Jenn, so be sure to check out her blog for more good stuff!

What Did I Do??

I did it, signed up for marathon.  Even crazier, I have plans to sign up for another one.  If all goes well, I’ll be a marathon runner by the end of the year.  How absolutely crazy is that?

Starting line of the 2013 Disney World Marathon

I’ve been going back and forth for a few weeks, trying to decide between the Disney World Marathon in January 2014 or the Space Coast Marathon in December of this year.  I looked over our schedule for the rest of the year, checked out the courses, read a lot of race reviews, and I still wasn’t any closer to making a decision.  I really wanted to run both races and couldn’t find a tie breaker.  So, being the logical person that I am, I decided to sign up for both.

Thanks to a wonderful social media community, I found out that a perk to being an annual passholder at Disney World is early registration to the runDisney events.  As soon as registration opened, I logged in and registered before I had a chance to change my mind and before the race sold out.  Disney races have become increasingly popular, so there is a significant chance the race will sell out next week shortly after registration opens.  I didn’t wan to risk it and have a sell out make the decision for me.

I haven’t registered for Space Coast yet, it’s currently only 25% full so I’m going to let my bank account recover from this race (Adam also registered to run the half marathon the day before!) and then sign up for Space Coast.  Look at these gorgeous medals, plus extra bling if you run 3 or 5 of their races over the next 5 years?  Sign me up, for sure!  I’m not even going to mention that the official snack of the race is a Moon Pie.  Oh, wait..

Anyway, now to decide how to train for these races.  In case you’re not aware, a marathon is 26.2 miles and that is a darn long way to run.  I used Hal Higdon’s training plan for my first half marathon, so that was the first place I looked.  A few of my friends have had luck with the Marathon Rookie plans as well, so I checked those out too.  One thing that both plans have in common that I am not a big fan of is that they simply prescribe a set number of miles to run each day.  While that will absolutely work, it worked really well for my first big race, I also get bored with it.

You probably already know that I’m a big fan of the ladies over at Another Mother Runner.  I’m currently using the “5K Own It” from their latest book, Train Like a Mother, and I’m loving it.  Instead of telling me how many miles to run each week and calling it a day, they incorporate speed work and tempo runs into the mix, along with fun workouts, and of course long runs.  I was intimidated by the speed work and tempo runs when I first started them, but now that I’ve figured out how to program my Garmin to do them and I’ve run a few, I’ve found that I actually really enjoy them.  It’s fun to do something a bit different and I really enjoy pushing myself and seeing what my body can do.  It’s definitely helped my pace too – I went from running a 2:20 half to a 2:08 half in a month!

So I think I’m going to start with the “Marathon Finish It” plan and see how it goes.  I went ahead and plugged all of the training runs into my google training calendar (which I love by the way, works so much better for me than the printout I used previously!) and it’s only a little bit intimidating.  I have a few kinks to work out in it – I have an 8K the day I’m scheduled for a 15-mile training run, I’ll be at Disney World cheering on my husband and friends the same weekend I’m supposed to run 18-miles, there’s a 10-mile race I really want to run the same weekend as the big-20 mile training run, and the Wine & Dine half marathon falls on the same weekend that I’m scheduled to do 16 miles.  I’m sure I’ll figure it out, but I’d love any suggestions on incorporating races into your training calendar!

I officially start training on July 15th, right in the middle of the hot Florida summer!  I cannot help but wonder, have I totally lost my mind this time?!

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