Monday, August 11, 2014

What's Been Happening in the World of RunDisney?!

Since I've been MIA for about a month now I feel like A TON of stuff has been happening on the RunDisney front. Let's go through it all and catch up together. 

  1. Princess Half Marathon early registration: Got signed up for Glass Slipper Challenge no problem-check!
  2. Princess Half Marathon has a freak out and so do all the princesses trying to register: Thank goodness I signed up before I went away and didn't have to deal with that on top of minimal/no internet coverage
  3. RunDisney announces a Castway Challenge for Princess runners: Hmmm I wouldn't hate going on another cruise, maybe next year so I can save more
  4. All Wine & Dine weekend medals were announced: Still not too sure how crazy I am about the anniversary medal, still doesn't mean I'm not trying to figure out if there's any way to run it
  5. RunDisney announces the Pixie Dust Challenge! Now Tink runners can earn 3 medals between 2 races as well: This should've been a challenge last year, glad RunDisney responded to runner feedback!
  6. Tinkerbell Half Marathon early registration: Sold out quickly, the norm.
  7. The Avengers medals are announced!: Not a huge avengers fan, am eh about the medals. I'd rather see what the Star Wars ones will look like!
RunDisney has been BUSY the past month. It's hard to keep up with it all when you're not plugged into social media 24/7. Luckily I was able to sign up for the races I wanted without much trouble. Now I can sit back and relax until TOT weekend, or until RunDisney makes another big announcement.

QOTD: What kinds of events would you love to see RunDisney announce in the future?

Friday, August 8, 2014

A Quick Update & Big News Revealed

You thought I'd gone on vacation and never came back-huh? I wish that was the case! July was a crazy month and I can't believe we're already into August. So here's a quick update on what's been going on/what's happening. Let's back up a little bit first.

After 4th of July weekend I went into overdrive mode to get ready for Workcamp. This years Workcamp was 36 high school students and 16 advisors going up to Maine to help work on homes for those in need. I was in charge of doing the pre-workcamp shopping trip, so all of the non-perishable, paper items etc. Luckily for me my mom was around and volunteered to help with the Cost-Co trip. We divided the 2 page list in half and each took a cart and got to work. Along with helping with group preparations, I needed to get all my tools/clothes together for myself. The Saturday after 4th of July we loaded everyone up on the bus and made our way up to Maine! 

Photo: On a bus with 36 high schoolers and 14 other advisors on our way to Maine for the week!
Ready to roll out!

We spent an amazing week helping out the community and bonding with one another without the hassle of technology. Sadly, I had to leave a few days early to come back home for the Disney cruise that my WHOLE family was going on. Ok, maybe leaving for a cruise isn't too sad, but you catch my drift. Within the course of 24 hours I drove from Maine to NJ. Finished packing whatever I needed for the cruise that I hadn't done before I left for Maine and got some sleep. Woke up the next morning, got on the plane, and was in Florida in no time.

Photo: What a difference 24 hours makes, I've been from Pemaquid, Maine to Orlando, Fl. Lauren-1 East Coast-0
Top Pic: Maine on Friday
Bottom Pick: Florida on Saturday

Saturday night we went to Jellyroll's to celebrate my mom's birthday before we all had to head off for the cruise the next morning. Sunday I started off with a quick run around the Boardwalk (one of my favorite Disney running spots) and then the 12 of us got ready to say Bon Voyage! 

The Grandkids

For 4 nights we sailed on the Disney Dream enjoying all it had to offer. We rode slides in Nassau, ran the Castaway Cay 5K, and conquered the Aqua Duck! I'll do a full post on the cruise and on the 5K because there was just so much to offer and we had an absolute blast.

Since we've been back my focus has been on cleaning and packing because Bryan and I will be moving back to Florida!! It wasn't an easy decision but it's one we're very excited about. We'll be relocating back to the Orlando area (which first thing that popped into my mind was-I can #runalltheraces)! I have an addiction people. Anyways, in less than 2 weeks we'll be in the sunshine state. So sorry if posts are lacking and sporadic but I hope to be sharing lots of good news with you as the move progresses. 

QOTD: Have you ever been on a Disney cruise? Where's your favorite place you've moved to? What kind of fun stuff do you want me guys to keep you updated on once I'm back in Orlando?

Friday, July 18, 2014

Surfs Up VoxBox Review

I was very excited to find out I was chosen for my very first VoxBox. The one I would be receiving was the Surfs Up VoxBox and had all your beach beauty essentials. Perfect. 

It's like Christmas in July!

I received in my box:
-Not Your Mother's Texturizing Shampoo & Conditioner
-Sinful Colors Nail Polish
-First Aid Shot Therapy
-Hawaiian Tropic Silk Hydration After Sun Lotion
-Jamba Juice At Home Smoothie

Perfect beachy waves for Rumble's maiden voyage out on the boat!

Not Your Mother's Texturizing Shampoo & Conditioner

During the summer I am down the shore almost every weekend. While I'm there the last thing I want to do is bust out a blow dryer. I prefer to enhance my naturally wavy hair and go for a beach wave look. Well it's taken me many years of product experimentation to find what looks good and this shampoo & conditioner may need to be added to the routine. The only thing I found is that I really had to work to get the shampoo to later but besides that no complaints. I followed my usual hair routine and spritzed some sea salt spray in my hair, twisted into a low bun for 10 minutes. Then took it out and let it air dry. This time I felt as though my waves had more shape to them and worked their way farther up the roots than they normally do. Two thumbs up for this product, would definitely use again.

Sinful Colors Nail Polish

When you work at Disney, you can only have neutral colored nail polish to keep within the Disney look. So after I left I got really excited whenever I could wear fun colors on my nails. The color I received in my VoxBox was perfect. It's that great shade of mint that I've been loving all year. The only problem I have is that nail polish does not stay on my nails for longer than a day. Unfortunately this was the case with the Sinful Colors bottle as well. One thumb up for color, one thumb down for lasting effect.

First Aid Shot Therapy

This was the one product I was a little hesitant about. If I have a headache I'll just take an Advil, why would I need this? Well after a little too much 4th of July celebrating I was looking for something to squash my headache and remembered this guy was in my VoxBox. I ripped open the wrapping and drank the berry flavored mixture. Within 10 minutes my headache was gone, talk about fast relief. Two thumbs up.

Hawaiian Tropic Silk Hydration After Sun Lotion

When I'm down the shore I'm more or less outside all day in my bikini. My skin gets lots of exposure to the sun during the summer and can use all the nourishing it can get. I applied the lotion to my legs after a day of being in the sun and the first thing I noticed was how good it smelled. It had more of an after shower gel consistency than a lotion consistency but no complaints here. My legs were moisturized and smelled great. Two thumbs up.

Razzmatazz Smoothie Kit

Jamba Juice At Home Smoothie

We didn't get the actual smoothie in our VoxBox but we did get a coupon for a free At Home Smoothie and 50% off a second one. I've had these before so I was thrilled to see the coupons in there. My go-to flavor is Razzamataz, all the fruit and yogurt is already frozen, you just need to add liquid and you have Jamba Juice in your kitchen. Two thumsb up.

I was super pleased with all the products I got in my VoxBox and hope I get to try more in the future! 

QOTD: Which product above would you most like to try?

"I received these products complimentary from Influenster for testing purposes."

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Where in the (Walt Disney) World Wednesday-Jellyrolls

In honor of my mother's birthday this Saturday (and the extra night we're adding on to our trip just to go here), I'll be talking about her favorite place in all of Walt Disney World-Jellyrolls!

Displaying image.jpeg

Jellyrolls is a dueling piano bar located on the Boardwalk at the Boardwalk Resort right across from the Atlantic Dance Hall. It can be easily walked to from Yacht & Beach, and the Swan & Dolphin. If you're in EPCOT earlier in the day you can always take a stroll over her from the international gateway entrance. There is a $12 cover to get in as Jellyrolls is 21+.

Happy Birthday to my mom on Saturday! 
There are 2 pairs of performers each night and can play nearly any song you will come up with. It's no frills in here with free popcorn and daily drink specials. There's seating scattered throughout with stacks of napkins typically on each table. It's on these napkins that you write down your song request. You then place your request on one of pianos, typically with a tip. I've seen someone throw down $100 just to have their song played before. I've heard everything from Billy Joel to the thong song. You name it they'll play it.  Watch your wallets when the booze starts flowing people. 

Really getting into it now!

Not only do they play your song, but it's a big sing-a-long that everyone joins in on. Sometimes there's certain songs where the players will have you stand up and do a dance to get everyone loosened up. It can get rowdy in here, especially whennventions are at 03e nearby resorts. This is also a great place to go celebrate post-race during the RunDisney weekends. 

Jellyrolls is truly one of my all time favorite adult activites where you can let loose and not have to worry about making a fool of yourself. Trust me, there's always going to be someone acting more drunk ridiculous than you. Next time you're down by the Boardwalk, be sure to check out Jellyrolls!

QOTD: Have you ever been to Jellyrolls? What song would you request?

Monday, July 14, 2014

Diet Bet Review

You guys know Patty, right? One of the lovely DisBroads over at My No-Guilt Life. Well Patty has recently started talking about DietBet in her blog, I believe she's onto her 3rd round of games that she'll be hosting. I decided to take the plunge and try out round number 2. Now that it's complete I can give a little more info and my thoughts on how it works. 

What is DietBet?

DietBet is a game where when you lose weight, you win money! There is a game host, the host will set what the bet amount is to buy into the game. The game I played had a $30.00 buy in. If you reach your goal weight, you get to split the pot with all the others who reached weight as well. If you didn't make weight, you don't get any money back and your bet stays in the pot to be distributed among the winners. 

How much weight do I have to lose?

There are 2 different types of games at DietBet, the Kickstarter and the Transformer. I played in the Kickstarter game where you have 4 weeks to lose 4% of your body weight. In the Transformer game you have 6 months to lose 10% of your body weight. 

How does DietBet know that I'm not cheating to make my final weigh in?

When you first weigh in, you must take a full body picture of yourself standing on the scale and then a close up shot of the weight on the scale. Next to the weight you must also have a note card with your secret word that has been assigned to you by DietBet. The same must be done for when you weigh out. So even if you reach your goal weight during week 3, you must maintain it until week 4 when you are given your code word to take your final weigh in picture with. 

You're probably asking, "Lauren, did you win?!" and the answer is YES. I have a hard time losing weight, I'll usually loose 2-3 lbs then plateau for a few month then lose another 2-3 lbs, but this game kept my behind in check. I plowed through 6.2 lbs in 4 weeks like it was nothing. I'm back down to a weight I haven't been since freshman year of college, and I'm less than 10 lbs away from my overall goal weight. Having money on the line made me seriously motivated. I did NOT want to lose. 

Considering I'm away for the next 2 weeks I don't think I'll be joining the next game, but if you're looking for something to keep you accountable in your weight loss journey this is a great option. Patty has 2 more games starting on July 14th and 15th. Check out the links below if you're interesting in joining. 

How do you hold yourself accountable when reaching a goal?

Don't forget that sign ups for Princess Half-Marathon weekend begin tomorrow at 12PM EST! We'll be running the Glass Slipper Challenge, will you be joining?

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Where in the (Walt Disney) World Wednesday-Goofy's Candy Company

One of my favorite parts of planning my Disney trips is the food. There are just so many amazing treats to enjoy but this classic is my favorite--The Mickey Rice Krispie. It hands down takes the cake as my favorite way to spend a snack credit. Recently I discovered that at Goofy's Candy Company in Downtown Disney you can customize your own Mickey Rice Krispie! Also available to customize are candy apples, 3 pretzel rods, 4 marshmallows on a straw, or a ginger bread cookie. How can you possibly decide?

Once you've made the decision of what to customize you get to pick out all the delicious toppings. Disney makes it super easy for you by providing a check list of all the options. Write your name at the top of the paper, check off what treat you want, what kind of chocolate you want it dipped in, one topping, and finally chocolate drizzle. You may add additional toppings for an extra $1.00 each. 

Then you hand in your completed form and watch a cast member bring your delicious creation to life. Try not to drool. When it's done they'll call your name, make sure you pay before you rip that bad boy open to get a taste! 

Are you done yet? Are you done yet? Are you done yet?

This is a great treat for kids and adults to partake in, and I found that the create your own treats typically are a little larger than the equally priced pre-made options. So next time you have a sweet tooth while in Downtown Disney, make sure to stop by Goofy's Candy Company!

Yum! Ready to dig in!

QOTD: What kind of treat would you make?

Monday, June 23, 2014

Monday Ramblings

Guys, I have been seriously slacking on the blogging front lately. Have you missed me? Things have been a little hectic lately with some changes that will be coming by the end of the summer. Don't worry, I will update you when the time is right :)

Displaying photo.JPG
This is how we naturally pose for all our pictures

As of now, my sights are set on the month of July. I've got 2 big trips planned with one being the DISNEY CRUISE I will be taking with my entire extended family on my mom's side. There will be 12 of us setting sail on the Dream for tons of celebrations! My 2 youngest cousins who are twins are graduating high school today (CONGRATS GUYS!), my aunt just had a big milestone birthday, my grandfather will be turning 80 in August, AND it's my mom's birthday the day we set sail. So we're rolling all the excitement of this summer into one big celebration cruise. 

Another fellow advisor and I our senior year at workcamp
I'm not sure how much paint we actually got on the house...

The week prior to our cruise I'll be attending my church's workcamp. Workcamp is very similar to Habitat for Humanity, where a group of high schoolers go up to Maine for the week to help with home improvement projects in a local community. I attended workcamp all 4 years I was in high school and now I'll be attending as an advisor! It's crazy to think I'm old enough to supervise since I still feel like I'm in high school. Overall it's a really fun week with lots of fellowship and a bit of a break from technology. 

Take me back to Castaway Cay!

The one thing I'm hoping to keep up on during both weeks is my TOT training! I'm already off to a bad start since I had to send back my orthotics to be recast :( I should have them back this week and am ready to jump back into training. I do need to be ready for the Castaway Cay 5K after all! I'm thinking I might re-do my ease into 5K app to make sure I don't try and play catch up with my training plan and go out too hard too soon. 

There will be lots of fun updates coming your way this summer, I can't wait to share them all with you!

QOTD: Have you ever done a fun mission project? Have you every been on a Disney Cruise? What fun activities/changes are happening with you this summer?

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

May The Force Be With You!

Photo: RunDisney

In a galaxy far, far away...or today at 12PM EST registration for the inaugural Star Wars Half Marathon weekend opens up! If last week's early registration for DVC and Annual Passholders was any indication, I predict all the races will sell out FAST! If you're planning on signing up tomorrow make sure to follow these tips.
  1. If you don't have an account already, create one prior to registration to help speed up the entire registration process
  2. Make sure you know all of your information before hand, including proof of time from prior races. You will need to know the name of the race, distance, location, date and finish time.
  3. Have your credit card ready! Disney Visa card holders, you can use the first four digits of your card for a discount off your registration.
  4. Refresh, refresh, refresh! The registration page is going to be bombarded so don't panic if you don't get on right away. You can sometimes get on a few minutes before registration officially starts so be ready!
Good luck and may the force be with you if you're registering tomorrow!

QOTD: Do you have any tips to make registration as easy and smooth as possible?

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

National Running Day

Happy National Running Day to all my lovely runners out there! I hope everyone gets out today to celebrate the fact that we're all fortunate enough to have the opportunity to run. There's so much going on today to help celebrate this great day. 

First, National Running Day is asking everyone to pledge their miles today to Charity Miles. It's super easy and FREE. You download the Charity Miles app, and select the charity you'd like to walk/run your miles for. Each mile generates a donation toward the charity you've selected. Also, A TON of running companies are offering great discounts on products, race admission, and are hosting meet-ups today so make sure to do some research and check it out!

darth vader animated GIF
Second, Annual Passholders and DVC Members, you can sign up at NOON EST today for the inaugural Star Wars Race weekend. The weekend includes a half-marathon, a 10K, a 5K, a half/10K Rebel Challenge, and kids races. If the money tree in my back yard would grow I would be on the first plane out to California next January, but no such luck. I'll have to live vicariously though all you lucky people signing up. I guess my brother making me watch every Star Wars movie growing up paid off, huh?

Third, I decided spur of the moment last night to sign up for My No-Guilt Life's DietBet. What is DietBet? In layman's terms, put your money where you mouth is to prove that you can lose 4% of your body weight in 28 days. I think this is the kick start I need to get me going for Tower of Terror training. Plus, I'll be on a Disney Cruise in July, so getting bikini ready isn't a bad side effect. Check out Patty's blog (like above) to get the full scoop, and feel free to join in! 

Today is all about being active and celebrating the ability to do so, so get out there! 

QOTD: How are you planning to celebrate National Running Day? Will you be signing up for the inaugural Star Wars Half Marathon weekend? Have you ever participated in a DietBet? Do you think I can ask anymore questions?

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Tower of Terror Training

Can you believe it's June already!? When did that happen?! I am excited that it's finally starting to feel like summer here in New Jersey. Thanks warm weather for finally deciding to show up!

Now that June's here it also means that training for the Tower of Terror 10 Miler starts today. I have to admit that I haven't really done much running since the Nike Women's Half Marathon. During training and the half I developed a HUGE blister on my left foot from my orthotics. So I had to send my orthotics out to be adjusted which gave my blister some time to heal and not look so scary. My orthotics came back at the end of last week, just in time to start up this next round of training-yay!

My goal for this training cycle is to complete the whole thing! In my 2 prior training cycles I haven't stuck to the schedule as well as I should have for various reasons. I know I'm capable of running a better race but I just need to stick to the plan! Since I have been running for more than a year but not so consistently I've decided to follow Jeff Galloway's finish in the upright position plan. Originally I was going to select the time improvement plan, but right now I need to focus on completing a training schedule and feeling strong at the end of a race. My past 2 races I've always lost steam towards the end and want to avoid that this time around. 

The other areas I want to focus on are weight lifting and nutrition. I'd like to work in Body Pump classes as cross training twice a week. I also really need to start eating better to keep my body fueled properly. I'm starting off slowly by tracking meals into MyFitnessPal again but would like to slowly transition over to clean eating. I've been browsing blogs for recipes and meal plans to get some ideas. If anyone has any resources that helped them transition to clean eating, please, let me know! 

QOTD: Are you starting training for Tower of Terror or another fall race? 

Don't forget DVC and Passholder signups for the Star Wars Half-Marathon weekend are tomorrow at noon!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Time to Relax!

My view for the summer

I don't know about you guys but I'm SO READY for a long weekend. Being the good Jersey girl I am, I'll be headed down the shore for Memorial Day Weekend. All last spring and summer my Dad and Bryan spent a lot of time fixing up our shore house after the effects of Hurricane Sandy. We were very lucky in that our house was still standing but we had a great deal of water damaged. So most weekends down the shore last summer I spent helping to paint and get things back in order. This year we'll really be able to enjoy the beach and relax!

The shore is also one of my favorite places to go run and is where I did the bulk of my Wine & Dine training. There's always a slight ocean breeze, everyone is out being active, and it's pretty darn flat! I'm itching for my orthotics to come back in from getting adjusted so I can go for my first summer run! 

Happy Memorial Day and I hope everyone enjoys their long weekend, I know I will!

QOTD: What are your plans for the long weekend? Are you running in any Memorial Day races?

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Where in the (Walt Disney) World Wednesday-Henna in Morocco

One of my must do activities while I'm in EPCOT is to head on over to the Morocco Pavilion for henna tattoos! Firstly, what exactly is henna? 

"...Henna is a paste made out of crushed leaves and twigs of henna plant...When this paste is applied in skin (just like writing from a marker) and left for few hours, it leaves orange to dark maroon stain in the skin which fades away in 7 to 14 days." [Source]
There are 2 spots in which you can get henna while at Morocco. The first spot, and the most well known used to be located on the water where Spice Road Table is now. Since construction, it's moved across the way closer to Tangerine Cafe. The second, and lesser known spot is back in the bazaar area. 99% of the time there is almost no wait back here compared to the artist out front on the main walkway.

I love the beauty of each henna design and that all have a meaning behind it. There is a book displaying the available designs with prices starting around $15 and going up to $60. The price will depend on the size and complexity of the design. Each design can usually be re-worked to fit whichever area of the body you would like it placed on. The display may show it on a hand but it can easily be translated to be put on your foot instead.

It typically takes 5-10 minutes to do each tattoo. The henna looks and feels like puff paint as it's going on. It will dry, and eventually crumble off over the next 24 hours. Once the paint has crumbled off your design is left on your skin in an orange tint. The tattoo continues to darken for about a day after the tattoo is applied. Depending on how you care for you tattoo it can last anywhere from 7-14 days. 

If you love real tattoos, are afraid of needles, or just can't commit, henna is a great option! It's fun and most importantly not permanent. It's a great souvenir that you can show off during your trip and when you get home.

QOTD: Have you even gotten a henna tattoo while in WDW? 

Thursday, May 15, 2014


My gym happens to be one of the gyms that offers Les Mills BodyPump. It's a class I've been wanting to try for a while and finally got around to it on Tuesday. BodyPump is described as, "one of the world's fastest ways to get in shape as it challenges all of your major muscle groups while you squat, press, lift and curl." Naturally, I dragged Bryan along with me and boy are we both still feeling it. 

The class had about 30 people in it total so it was packed. I asked the teacher what I would need to get started. She set me up with a barbell, weight plate, free weights, yoga mat, and step platform-that's it? I managed to get all the stuff back to my acquired spot and we jumped right into the workout. 

My arms were tired within the first 10 minutes. This class is no joke! A lot of the movements are similar to lifts I had learned in my brief stint at crossfit which helped me tremendously. Had I not known the proper technique for these moves prior I might have found it a little more difficult.

What I like about this class compared to crossfit is it that instead of lifting the heaviest weight possible a few times, you lift a lighter weight a greater amount of times. All sections of the workout are paced to upbeat songs which really helps you power through. 

The class was broken down into multiple sections, each section targeting the specific area we were working on. Before each section the teacher would briefly explain it, let us know where we could make modifications if we need to etc. 

Overall, I loved the fast paced feeling of this class. It's exactly what I've been looking for as cross training for running. Not only does it help strengthen my legs with moves like squats, it also adds in core work, and of course plenty of arm movements to make sure they're looking good for summer! I can't wait to go back next week and see what this class can do for me in the long run.

QOTD: Have you even been to BodyPump? What were your impressions?

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Recipe: Frozen Chocolate Covered Bananas

My Mom, Grandma, and Aunt...and all our desserts

I hope everyone had a wonderful Mother's Day with the important ladies in your lives! Our family headed over to my aunt's house for lots of food, sangria, and beautiful weather. My mom and I were in charge of desserts and we came across a recipe for frozen chocolate covered bananas and knew it would be perfect! This happens to be one of my aunt's favorite treats at Disney so we knew we had to make it. 

Recipe adapted from

Frozen Chocolate Bananas
Makes 12


  • One Bunch Bananas
  • 12 oz semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips (we made some of each!)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil (we used coconut oil instead)
  • Peanuts, Toffee, Sprinkles, whatever you would like to top your bananas with
  • You'll also need popsicle sticks


  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment.
  2. Peel bananas and cut in half. Insert popsicle stick into each banana. Line on baking sheet and freeze for at least 15 minutes (I would suggest 30-minutes to an hour).
  3. Before pulling the bananas out of the freezer, melt the chocolate chips until smooth.
  4. Roll each frozen banana in the melted chocolate. I used a spoon to cover the bananas and found there was less of a chance the popsicle stick would come out of the banana
  5. Immediately sprinkle toppings on chocolate dipped banana. Place back on baking sheet.
  6. Freeze at least 30 minutes until chocolate sets. Serve out of freezer or store in freezer in airtight container for up to one week.

Viola, your own chocolate covered frozen banana! These will be great treats on the warm summer days that are coming!

QOTD: What's your favorite frozen Disney treat?

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Wear the Cape 5K Race Recap

Last Saturday, I was asked by a family friend to run a local 5K. One of their friends has started this wonderful charity, The Kidkind Foundation, to raise awareness and prevent bullying, while building heroes in our community's youth. It even has a board of students to help spread awareness. It was the first year they were putting on a race and I was happy to participate! 

Wear the Cape

Normally, I scour the race website and read every piece of race literature I can beforehand. This time I was very casual about it and signed up that morning at the race. I was able to rope Bryan into running with me (yay!). He typically won't run anything longer than a 5K with me, and of course if there's a race shirt involved, how can he say no?

The race took place at the municipal fields the next town over from me. So a quick 10 minute drive and we were there. You have to love that race commute. After the race there was a fair with activities and vendors going on all afternoon. Most of them were already there in the morning to get set up. 

I kind of knew that this race was a semi-trail race but I didn't really seem to process that part too much. Mind you, it'd been raining for 2 days straight earlier in the week, so lots of mud would be waiting for us. 


Just before 8:30 we grouped up around the start line and then the announcer set us all off at once. We started on a pavement road but headed straight for the woods. The path getting through the woods was narrow, you couldn't run more than 2 people across and even that was pushing it. So with a big group trying to move through a small space we were kind of at the mercy of whatever speed the group was moving. 

Just for good measure, there was also tons of mud, big, deep piles of squishy mud. So people were dodging around the mud, off the course, through trees, around branches etc. There were volunteers throughout the entire course pointing out big roots in the path, rocks etc. Trouble spots had also been spray painted the night before to draw attention to them. The organizers did a great job with this, but unfortunately I learned I don't think I like trail races. 

Yum, mud!

Did I also mention that we were going uphill the first half of the race as well? All I could think was, I can't wait to get to the downhill part! But then going downhill through wet, slippery leaves proved to be a problem within itself. 

I don't know if you guys have picked up on this but I'm not the most graceful person. 15 years of dance did nothing for me, I trip up stairs daily, am always spilling things on myself, I'm a mess half the time. Of course, about a quarter of the way through I rolled my ankle going over a rock-OW! I yelled to Bryan to stop and took a quick walk break. Being as stubborn as I am I decided to push on, we had to be coming out of the woods soon, right?

Luckily I was right and we got to a softer, flatter path. Yes, we're almost be done! I saw the mile 2 marker a while back...wait a minute why is there a mile 1 marker there? Does that mean 1 more mile to go? Must be. Through the parking lot back towards the start area, where's the finish? Wait, why is everyone else going back towards the woods? We have to go through the woods AGAIN!?!?!?! 

Guys, I thought I was going to cry. Give me 13.1 miles of flat paved road any day. This trail thing was kicking my butt BIG TIME. The mile 2 marker that I saw early on in the course was correct...if you were on your second lap. I was not a happy camper. Me and my rolled ankle just wanted to finish and not have to dodge more tree roots again. 

I sucked it up though because I'm stubborn and would rather finish slow than not finish at all. We made it through the woods the 2nd time around, back out onto the road (ah familiar territory) and pushed our way to the finish. 

Trying to look smiley while catching my breath!

I was wiped out. Didn't a just run a half marathon the weekend before? How come a 5K was kicking my butt worse than that!? Either way I was happy to finish and happy to have participated for a good cause.

Shortly after the race there was a ceremony for overall and age group winners after that we stuck around for. There was also plenty of water, bananas, and bagels for us post race. I have to say, for this being the race's first year it was run impeccably. 

Unfortunately, I found out that day I'm not the trail racing kind of girl. Bryan on the other hand loved the trail part. To him it was like an obstacle course which kept him more occupied. Once we got to the road he was not loving all the pounding on the pavement. Just another way in which we're complete opposites. I'd take the road over the trail any day!

Made it out of the woods! Now where's my bagel?!

I'm not sure if I would run this race again next year just because of the trail aspect, but maybe volunteer instead since it's such a great cause. 


QOTD: What's your experience with trail races? Do you prefer them to traditional road races?

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Where in the Walt Disney World Wednesday-Magic Kingdom's Kiss Goodnight

I'm feeling the need for a little Disney magic in my life, so today I'm featuring the Goodnight Kiss at Magic Kingdom. In true Disney style, you don't just leave the park, the castle sends you out in style. The Goodnight Kiss happens every night at park closing. Enough typing, I'll let the video do the talking.

QOTD: Have you ever stayed long enough to watch the castle's goodnight kiss?


Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Nike Women's Half Marathon DC - Race Review

Ready for Race Day!
My alarm went off at 5am and I woke up feeling a little nervous. I couldn't believe race day was already here. I ate my pre-race breakfast of a bagel and peanut butter and kept hydrated with water and gatorade. I had laid out "flat Lauren" the night before just to be sure I had everything and wouldn't have to think about it that morning. Right around 6am Bryan and I made our way out of the hotel towards the starting line. We stayed at the Grand Hyatt which was only a few blocks away, a quick 5-10 minute walk. 

One of the 3 gear check areas
I decided not to check a bag and would just have Bryan bring flip flops for me to change into after. If you did have a bag to check the areas were divided into 3 separate locations depending on bib number. Since we had some time to kill we just looked around to see where everything was located and to figure out a good spot to meet up after. Soon enough they were asking everyone to get into their corrals to get ready. Both Shalane Flanagan and Joan Benoit Samuelson were there to kick off the race but unfortunately I couldn't really see or hear them from where I was. Right at 7am the race started with the first wave. There were 3 waves total which started about 5 minutes apart each. I began in the 3rd wave just about 15 minutes after the race start.

The view form my corral

They were AWESOME

We started out heading towards The Capitol and already there was tons of on course support. We passed this bad ass (there's no other way to describe them) all women drum line. They were AMAZING and really got you pumped up. Right after that I passed a spectator with a "may the course be with you sign" dressed up as Princess Lea. The FULL get up people, side buns and all. Bravo Princess, I applaud and thank you for your dedication.

This video doesn't even do justice to how
cool this section was
Around mile 2 we went into "the tunnel" that I've heard about. All I can say is WOW, this was my absolute favorite spot on the course. You go in and immediately you can feel the drums reverberating off the walls and completely engulfing you. It put a HUGE smile on my face and I decided I was going to just enjoy this race. I knew I was under trained so I was just going to enjoy all that the course had to offer me at whatever pace that may be. The "We Run" sign was also here, glowing for photo ops.

The We Run sign made its way into the tunnel 

Just past mile 2 I spotted some port-a-potties that didn't have a completely ridiculous line and jumped in. I waited about 5 minutes but I'm glad I went when I did because the lines were long at pretty much every stop throughout the whole race. It's a women's focused race, we've been hydrating like nobody's business, and we always have to pee all the time, of course bathrooms were in high demand. One thing that I did love that I think all races should incorporate was Nike had flags at each bathroom stop stating how many miles until the next stop- GENIUS! 

Photo: Nike
I quickly got back on the course, kept going past The National Mall, then out and back towards the Arlington Cemetery. I had started my intervals right after my bathroom stop and was feeling pretty good. I was tailing these 2 girls dressed as Aubrey Hepburn from Breakfast at Tiffany's and loved seeing their outfits the whole time! How had I not thought of that? I love anything Audrey, oh well next time. Right up until Mile 6 the crowd support was phenomenal. There were people cheering everywhere and it kept spirits high. Mile5/6 is usually where I find my groove and was feeling confident at this point. 

I kept trucking on until, uh-oh, my calves were cramping WAY early. Like mile 7 1/2 early. I said some curse words to myself because I knew this was the part of the course where there wasn't as much spectator support. I text Bryan "I think I'm going to walk a lot more than I wanted to." I was really annoyed at first but then I reminded myself, this race is more about the experience than the race. I knew I didn't put the training in to PR and wasn't expecting to. It was an absolutely beautiful day so I was going to walk/run as much as I could and take in as much as possible. 

I would run until I cramped, then switched to walking until that hurt and started cramping, and just kept repeating the vicious cycle. There was this one woman on the course around mile 8 1/2 that was handing out Oreos. Guys, I don't really even like Oreos but I had never been SO HAPPY to eat one in my life. I yelled "thank you" to her and loved every bit of sugar and chocolate that was being soaked up into my body. 

So close!

At this point I just kept telling myself "make it to mile 10 then you only have a 5K left." Once I made it there I felt like the end was in sight. I tried to run/walk as fast as my legs would let me. Around mile 12 the crowd support picked up again and this was what I needed to help push me through. I knew I was getting close so I text Bryan to see which side of the road he would be on. I headed back through the tunnel again, the drumming was not as intense this time since so many racers had already passed through. 

Bookin' it to the chocolate milk & Tiffany's

Outside the tunnel I knew I wasn't that far away. There was a giant screen greeting us by name like at the Expotique with words of encouragement. I was going to wait to see my name but then decided to just push through and get done. I saw Bryan in the crowd, made my way over long enough to yell "my calves hate me!" get a kiss and run off. At this point I could see the finish line in front of me so I took every ounce of energy left, powered through the finish line and threw my hands up in the air with excitement. 

I was exhuasted but so happy to be done. Some sweet woman who finished next to me said "good job!" and put her hand up to give me a high five. Me, still not being completely coherent looked at her like she had five heads, realized she wasn't talking to someone else behind me, realized what a jerk she probably thought I was, and said thank you and high fived her back. Real smooth Lauren. If you high fived me at the finish line THANK YOU and congratulations on your race, sorry I was so spaced out! 

My official finish time was 2:52:56, just 9 minutes behind my Wine & Dine time. For how early my calves started cramping, being sick withing the 2 weeks before the race, and how much more I should have trained, I was more than happy with that time. There are plenty of races for me to try and PR in the future, this was not one of them. 

Option 1

Option 2

After the finish line there was a good sized crowd that you unfortunately had to wait with. The first table you had to wait for was where they handed out water in reusable bottles that had the Nike Women's Half and the Whole Foods logo. I thought this was a nice touch and I'm sure helped with water bottle clean up after the race. The next table was food, which I was really disappointed in. We got some dried fruit, some nuts, a mini luna bar, and some other stuff I wasn't really interested in. Honestly, for a race of that size I think you should at least have bananas to offer your runners when they're done. I'm not sure if there was at one point but they ran out by the time I crossed. Either way, volunteers were scrambling to get everything into the bags to hand out to runners. Once we got our food and chocolate milk (YUM!) there was heat sheet distribution which was much needed at this point. 

Can you hear the choir of angels?!

Then, the moment we had all been waiting for-TIFFANY FINISHER NECKLACES! You could either go through a line where the guys just handed the box to you, or you could go to the line where the guys were holding the boxes on silver platters. Since I was feeling worn out and my calves did not want to stand in any more lines I chose the quicker option. 

Finisher area pre-race

There was also a finishers tent with mats and foam rollers-I completely missed this but probably would've taken advantage of it had I know. There was also another tent for finisher merchandise. The lines looked long to get it so I decided to skip it, I had spent enough money on merchandise for one weekend already! I finally located Bryan and my friend Colleen who had come to cheer me on. I switched into my heavenly gel flip flops to slowly stroll around to cool down. I was a happy girl and couldn't wait to celebrate my accomplishment with mimosas at brunch with my friends later!

Photo: Nike
Thanks for making me look so legit! Hopefully I'll be back next year!
Considering this is only Nike's 2nd year in DC, I think they listened to runners last year and made improvements for this year. Hopefully, this will only continue to happen as the race goes on. For a $175 race fee where you get a Tiffany's Necklace as your medal, I think this race is absolutely worth it and I would love to run it again in the future.

QOTD: Have you ever run a Nike Women's race? Would you ever consider running in DC or San Francisco?