Tuesday, April 29, 2014

I'm Still Here!

Sorry I've been MIA the past few days. I've been trying to get back into my routine after my weekend in DC for the Nike Women's Half Marathon! It was an amazing weekend with beyond beautiful weather, new friends, and old friends. I'll have recaps up later this week. Until then, I'll leave you with my awesome view from the start area. I hope everyone has a great week!

Good Morning, D.C.!


QOTD: What do you do to help get back into your routine after coming back from a racecation?

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Where in the (Walt Disney) World Wednesday-Wild Africa Trek

In honor of Earth Day yesterday and Animal Kingdom's 16th birthday, today's post is featuring the Wild Africa Trek! 

Wild Africa Trek is "a privately guided VIP expedition offering close encounters with exotic African wildlife in their native habitat." The cost for the trek is NOT included with your park admission. Prices can range from $189-$249 per person. In order to participate you must be at least 8 years old, 48" tall, and between 45 and 300 lbs. Each trek lasts approximately 3 hours. All of these restrictions are in place for guest safety to ensure everyone has the safest and most fun possible.  

There are multiple trek times throughout the day so you may pick what is most convenient for your schedule. Ours started around 12:30, in July. Guys, I don't know if you've heard, but Florida in the summer is HOT. If you're susceptible to overheating easily an early morning trek might be better for you. Also, it rains EVERY DAY during the summer around 3:30/4:00. If you did your math correctly we were handing in our gear at the end of our tour just as the afternoon storm was starting. Had we started 30 minutes later we would've been caught out in the rain on our trek. 

I've got my princess pose going on

I was lucky enough to be able to do this with my Mom and Bryan while she was down visiting. We're always looking for new activities to try out and there was an awesome cast special on the trek so we took the plunge! I'm normally not a big outdoorsy girl, ironic I was working at Animal Kingdom, so I didn't go in with high expectations for our trek.Let me tell you, to this day, the Wild Africa Trek has been one of my favorite Disney experiences. 

Cheesin' for the camera

You start by meeting your guide and anyone else who has signed up for the same time slot as you. Groups are limited so the size won't get too large, but you may luck out and have the tour to yourself occasionally. Once everyone has assembled you're brought to a back stage area where you're fitted for a harness and a vest. You're also gifted Wild Africa Trek water bottles as souvenirs so you can fill them up to use during the Trek. At this time there's also lockers you can put your belongings in since they suggest not to take anything that doesn't have a strap on it. To start the tour everyone is given a whisper set (those wireless headphones your see tour groups wearing) so your guides can communicate with you. Two guides will accompany you and will alternate between taking photos the entire time. About 2 weeks after the tour a photo disc with said photos will be mailed to your home. 

Bridge 1 of 2

Once everyone was settled we were off! We made our way into another backstage area and stopped briefly to discuss some strategically places animal skulls. After a quick photo op we made our way to the first rope bridge. I love ropes courses, zip line, things of that nature so I was excited for this part. If you're ever on the safari you might notice some people climbing over you or hanging out above the alligator enclosure. This is where that happens folks. You're sent across the bridge by the guide and as soon as you reach the platform, there's another bridge for you to cross! Once both bridges were completed we were high above the alligators and got to learn more about them. 

The wilderness must be explored!

After that we made our way through the woods to appear at a truck waiting to whisk us away. This time we were brought over to that random hut in the middle of the savanna on the safari (ahhh it makes sense now). At this point we had been on the tour for about an hour so we got a break to have a snack, use the bathrooms, and take advantage of the viewing platforms.

Our snack came in these cool metal canisters which held perfect portions of prosciutto, melon, curried chicken salad, shrimp, hummus & pita, and smoked salmon. There were also pitchers of Jungle Juice, that same one served at Boma breakfast or water to refill your bottle. 

The OCD side of me loved this

The break was amazing because you're right in the middle of the action and have incredible views of the animals. There was a platform you could venture too off the back of the hut that brought you right to where the rhinos were.  

They were RIGHT THERE!

After about 30 minutes or so we were back onto our truck. This time for a private safari tour. What's different about this than just taking the safari is since you're in a truck, they can drive off the road and up closer to the animals. Our guides also had more in depth knowledge of the safari and its inhabitants that they were able to share. It became more of a conversation that a tour or ride. We were again, able to get closer to the animals than you'd be able to on the safari. 

Watching the Safari check out the Safari

Once our safari tour was complete we made our way back to where we got fitted for vests and harness in order to turn them back in and collect belongings. Before you go it's explained that a portion of your trek fee will go towards animal conservation. Here you can select which wildlife you'd like your money to go towards. 

All in all, the Wild Africa Trek is a unique experience that gets you backstage and lets you see the animals in a new way. It's great for those who like adventure and being active. The price tag can get hefty for a family on top of park admission, but if you ever have the chance to do it, I'd absolutely try it at least once. 


QOTD: Have you ever done the Wild Africa Trek or is it on your Disney wish list?

Monday, April 21, 2014

Marathon Monday

I don't know about you guys, but I've been glued to my computer screen all morning watching the Boston Marathon. The elite runners are no joke! I'm not tearing up watching them cross the finish, I just have something in my eye. All the excitement and the hype is the perfect kick-off to my week. 

Tomorrow starts general registration for Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend! Considering it's an anniversary year for the Goofy Challenge I'm thinking that will sell out quickly. Disney knows how to hook us runners with those spinner medals! I'm sure watching the marathon today has also inspired some people to sign up for the WDW marathon tomorrow as well. Boston's ok, but you don't get to ride Expedition Everest halfway through. I know it's going to be hard, but I have to resist the peer pressure to sign up tomorrow!

Don't forget if you do decide to sign up tomorrow to have your active.com password ready. If you don't already have an account, make one now! Keep checking, you can sometimes sign up a few minutes before registration "officially" opens. Also, Disney Visa Card (and debit card) holders, use the first 4 digits of your card for a discount on your registration. It hasn't been confirmed yet, but I was able to get $15 off my TOT registration that way. Give it a try, it can't hurt.

This Friday, I set off to DC for the Nike Women's Half Marathon! I have to admit I'm kind of freaking out since I've been sick/had the WORST allergies since last week. Lots of sinus pressure, post-nasal drip, yum, all that good stuff where I sound like I smoke 5 packs a day and breathing is sometimes questionable. AHHHHH! I've been trying every trick in the book to get myself to where I need to be in order to run on Sunday. If worse comes to worse I will power walk those 13.1 miles to get my Tiffany necklace!

QOTD: What running events are you looking forward to this week? Will you be signing up for WDW Marathon Weekend?


Friday, April 18, 2014

Unite 8K Race Recap

Sunday morning I was able to wake up, get ready, and get out the door within 30 minutes. Bryan, being the awesome sport he is, got up early with me to be my cheer squad. The drive to the race was only 30 minutes, so we arrived at Rutgers and parked at the football stadium by 7 am. There were a few lots in which you could park, some closer to the start and some by the finish. There were shuttles running between all the lots and the start/finish as well. We chose to park closer to the start line since the walk back from the finish was only a mile and would be a nice cool down post-race. 

The walk up to the start area was quick and easy to find since it was where packet pick up was the day before. There were plenty of port-a-potties to use before the race as well as water stations, and a DJ. The Rutger's Knight (their mascot) was also wandering around taking pictures and giving out high fives. I was a little chilly waiting for the race to start, but once I got going the temperature was absolutely perfect in the mid-50's.

Waiting to Start!

The half marathon started first at 8am. The half started out in one direction, then 10 minutes later the 8K participants lined up in the opposite direction since our course was the back 5 miles of the half. Everything was very casual and just feel into place wherever you felt comfortable. 

I started off faster than I should have, 9:45/mile, waaaay too fast, I just get too excited! I dropped down to about 10:30 which was still a full minuter faster than I should have been running but more comfortable. I was feeling good and decided to just run and see how I felt. The course started on Rutger's campus, then took you into a local park. There were a few bands along the course from polka to rock. There was more on course support closer to campus but inside the parks was pretty and I just enjoyed the run.

I ran the first 2.5 miles without stopping until I hit the first water stop. I walked through and then started my intervals. I feel into a nice groove just enjoying the scenery and listening to my music. After the park we crossed an overpass bringing us up a slight hill towards another park. 

Yelling to get Bryan's attention, typical.

At mile 3.5, just as I was making my way up to the 2nd park I spotted Bryan making his way to see my at the finish line. It couldn't have worked out any better if we had tried! I yelled "Am I going to beat you to the finish!?" worrying he wouldn't see me.

We were looped through park #2 which was flat and fast like the majority of the course. I was making my way out towards the road to the finish when I spotted the first half marathoners. They were just making their way into the park which was about mile 11 1/2 for them. Those guys are speedy!  

Coming out you had to take on a slight uphill back onto campus. That uphill is not what you want to tackle towards the end of a race. I had tried to open up my shot blocks prior to this but my darn sweaty hands wouldn't let me. I could have used that extra fuel for the last mile! Anyways, I powered up the hill to finish my interval and then took a quick walk break. Just enough time to catch my breath because I knew the finish line was close! 

The nice part about that uphill was the glorious down hill that just propelled you through the finish line. I think all races should finish on a downhill, it was that extra speed and boost I needed to cross the finish! I crossed at 55:16, which I was very happy with! I had predicted I would finish in 55:00-1:00:00 and was happy to be on the lower end of the estimate. Considering I didn't have a goal for the race besides "let's see what happens" I couldn't complain. 

That bad boy is as big as my wine & dine medal!
I crossed through the finishers chute, received my HUGE medal, and then headed towards the tent housing post-race food. Everything was already pre-packaged with volunteers ready to hand them to the runners coming in. Super easy and no wait time. Further down there was also free hot chocolate for finishers but I decided to pass since it had warmed up to the 60's and hot chocolate isn't exactly what you want when you're hot and sweaty. 

SUPER excited about the post-race pretzel
Everything came pre-packed for
easy carrying (minus the pretzel that I inhaled)

I found Bryan shortly after and we headed back towards the finish line to watch the rest of the 8K runners come through and some fast half marathoners! I was ecstatic to find that a SOFT PRETZEL was one of our post race goodies-YUM! Except there was no cheese sauce-oh wait this isn't Disney. I think I'll write RunDisney and let them know they should start including Mickey pretzels in our runner boxes. 

These girls were AWESOME! They had so much energy at mile 11 of the half.
Their signs say "Run now, wine later" and "Punch for power" and the runners would
punch her sign as they ran past

After I had stretched and refueled enough we started our stroll back to the parking lot. It brought us right along the course so we were able to continue cheering on other runners all the way back to the car. As I was cheering and clapping for the half marathoners, they were congratulating me for my race while they were still running! Guys, this is why I love the running community. We're all pretty awesome and supportive if I do say so myself. Go ahead, give yourself a pat on the back. 

So for $59 (plus processing) I received a huge medal, a tech shirt in a women's cut (yay for a shirt I can actually wear again!), FREE finisher photos (that'r right, multiple! Any finish line photo is free for you to download), a complimentary coffee mug, packet pick-up was a breeze, parking and transportation were equally as easy & free, the course was fast and flat (except for that last mile uphill!), the volunteers were great (all enthusiastic Rutger's students) and I lucked out with beautiful weather. My only complaint of the whole race was that there was only water on the course, no gatorade/powerade. Even at the finish only water bottles were provided. Luckily I had left some gatorade in the car but I was really wanting it right after I had finished considering it started to get warmed a lot from the start of the race.

Overall, with only 6,000 runners between the half and the 8K the field was big enough but not overwhelming. I would absolutely recommend this race to someone else in the future. Who knows, maybe next year I'll tackle the half instead. 


QOTD: What are some of your favorite local races?

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Liebster Award

Firstly, thank you to the wonderful Lauren at Lauren's Glass Slipper for nominating me for the Liebster Award! Being new to the blogging community I think this is an excellent way to reach out to one another and learn about new blogs in the process! The rules of the Liebster Award are as follows:

  1. You must link back to the person who nominated you
  2. You must answer the 10 Liebster questions given to you by the nominee before you
  3. You must pick 10 bloggers to be nominated for the award
  4. You must create 10 questions for your nominees
  5. You must go to their blogs and notify the nominees

So without further ado, here are my questions from Lauren.

1. So far, what is your favorite race that you have run and why?

Considering I'm still pretty new to running I've only run a few races, I would have to pick Wine & Dine. It was my very first half and I got to run in with my best friend. Not to mention where we met/worked/lived together in one of our favorite places. 

2.What is your favorite childhood memory?

This is a hard one! I might have to go when my brother and I found out we were getting a puppy when I was 7. My mom and dad told us we were going out for ice cream but we were driving for a long time to just get ice cream. We pulled up to a house and when we went inside PUPPIES!!! Oh. My. God. I was in heaven. My parents had already picked out which black lab would soon be ours and my brother and I got to meet him and play with some of his puppy brothers and sisters. A few weeks later, Bubba was waiting for me as I got off the bus from school in all his fluffy puppy glory. My brother and I grew up with him, he was often called a "labopotomous" because he was so big. He was a gentle giant though and was a part of our family until he passed away my freshman year of college.

3.What is your favorite thing about blogging?

I love the sense of community and support everyone gives to each other! The majority of us have never even met in real life yet we're there for each other giving support during the hard times and cheering each other on for our victories.

4.What are you most passionate about?

This is an easy one actually! In no particular order..


I grew up visiting Disney, it was my first job after I graduated college, it's where I met my boyfriend, and it's what got my into a more active lifestyle. Disney is my happy place :)

I took Italian language classes beginning in 7th grade all the way through high school, and for a few semesters in college. I studied abroad in Rome for a summer and feel even more in love the Italian lifestyle. I'm always yearning to go back to Italy, eat good food, drink good wine, and speak with the locals. 

This is my Italian blood, I love to eat and cook. You're sad? You eat. You're happy? You eat. You know how I love you? I cook for you. I'm one of those people who's thinking about what I'm having for lunch while I'm still eating breakfast. Food & Wine at Disney? Fuggedaboutit, t's almost better than Christmas. 

and puppies...because, puppies. 


5. What is your dream job?

If someone would pay me to eat and travel I would be in heaven. Like what Samantha Brown from the Travel Channel does, going all over the world reviewing these amazing vacations? Yes please. Sign me up. Hey Travel Channel, give me a call ;)

6. If a movie were to be made about your life, what celebrity would play you?

I would have to pick Jennifer Lawrence not because of any sort of resemblance but because she's such a hot mess and I  love it. Maybe I love it because I'm a bit of a hot mess myself. I too love food and being sarcastic and often trip while walking down the red carpet. Ok I've never walked the red carpet but I would most likely trip if I did, but I do laugh at myself when I trip up stairs.


7. If you could have played a character from any movie, who would you pick?

I might have to go with Heromine from Harry Potter just because who wouldn't want to be a witch, go to Hogwarts and be best friends with Harry Potter? Plus she's super smart and sassy which I think is a wonderful combination. 

Runner up (because I'm indecisive) would be Princess Anne from Roman Holiday because I love Audrey Hepburn. She also gallivants around Rome with a handsome gentleman. Sign me up.

8. What is your favorite Disney movie and why?

I would have to pick Meet the Robinsons. I feel like it's underrated as far as Disney movies go, but whenever I need some cheering up this movie always does the trick.


9. What is the #1 race on your bucket list?

Gahhh, this is a hard one. I feel like there are so many great races I have yet to experience. For a Disney race I'd have to say the Glass Slipper Challenge (I know that's more than one technically!) For non-Disney I'd have to go with the Rome Marathon, because, you know...Italy and running. I'm in no way ready to tackle a marathon yet but when I'm ready to I think Rome would be the most amazing place to do so.

10.If you could choose one food to have zero calories, what would it be?

Pizza. I could eat pizza every single day and not get sick of it. Actually, I think I did have pizza every day when I was in Italy.I would've loved for it to have zero calories then. Oh well, do as the Romans do. 

Drum roll please! My nominations for the Liebster Award are:

1. Kathryn at From Dancing to Running
2. Lacey and Meranda at Fairytales and Fitness
3. Megan at I Run for Wine
4. Patty at My No-Guilt Life
5. Pam and Christine at We Run Disney
6. Kristy at Kristy Runs Kato
7. Carlee at Be the Change
8. Julie at Run. Walk. FASTPASS. Repeat
9. Kristin at Bamagirl Runs
10. Ali at MSPrun

Now for the hard hitting questions:

1. Why did you decide to start running?
2. What would your best piece of advice for a new runner be?
3. If you had 3 wishes, what would they be?
4. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live and why?
5. Dog or Cat?
6. If you were an Olympic athlete, what event would you compete in?
7. What can always make you smile?
8. Favorite flavor of ice cream?
9. Have you ever been fired from a job?
10. Tell us something we might not know about you from first meeting you!

You can go ahead and ask me ANY of the questions above!


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Where in the (Walt Disney) World Wednesday-Movies Under the Stars

This week our "where" for Where in the WDW is all over property at each resort. As cast members, there's always a plethora of fun free things to do on property and this was one of my favorites. A bunch of us would head over to one of the resorts and watch whichever Disney movie was playing that night--us and all the kids.

Movies Under the Stars can be found in your recreation guide when you check in and is typically listed under children's activities (but everyone's a kid at Disney, right?). Each night of the week a different animated film is shown on a large blow up screen outside at every resort. The movie may not be the same at every resort though so you can pick and choose where you want to go/what you want to watch.

My favorite place to watch movies under the stars is at the Polynesian Resort. Not only do you get to watch a movie on the beach, when the movie is finished the music for Wishes is piped in and you have a front row seat for the fireworks. 

Other resorts such as Yacht/Beach Club, Wilderness Lodge, etc also host a campfire before the movies as well. Smores, and a Disney classic?! Sign me up. 

If you're ever looking for something low key to do at night after pounding the parks all day, this is a great option. 

QOTD: Have you ever watched movies under the stars during your WDW stay?

Also, a big thank you to Lauren at Lauren's Glass Slipper for nominating us for a Liebster Award! We'll get working on those questions and have a post for you tomorrow!


Monday, April 14, 2014

Unite Half Marathon and 8K Expo

Yesterday I was able to run the Unite 8K at Rutgers and I really enjoyed it. I'll post a full recap on later this week because we get a free finisher photo-yay!

First, I'll review the expo. This was my first local race that wasn't a 5K, so the whole race atmosphere at home was something new for me. Funny side note first. On the drive down we noticed people walking down the side of the road in full on revolutionary war attire. We must've stumbled upon a reenactment but it was quite the sight.

Did we go back in time?

Anyways, the expo was held at Rutger's rec center which is only about a 30 minute drive for me. Once you got onto campus there were signs that pointed you to the expo, super easy. It was open from 9am to 4pm. I arrived around 1pm and didn't find it crowded at all. The expo itself was small, it looked like it was in a high school gym. A few vendors were there as well as zumba demonstrations, race course explanation, and a cross fit demonstration as well throughout the day. 

The nice thing about it being a small expo is it made packet pick-up a breeze. I got my gear bag, bib and shirt in one spot, then was directed a few tables away to pick up my commemorative mug. I also needed to stock up on fuel which I was able to get done there within minutes. 

Tech Shirt & Bib

Overall the expo wasn't super large or impressive but packet pick-up was seamless and easy. What more could you ask for?! 


QOTD: What do you prefer about larger or smaller expos?

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Rock Climbing

Last weekend I got the chance to go rock climbing. If you had asked me prior to last weekend I would've been like "I love rock climbing," because you know, going a few times on cruise ships, and on smaller walls totally makes me an expert. Guys, this place I went to was INTENSE. These people are no joke. Is this what it feels like when people stumble into the running community? 

There were easy walls, the grips were animals and letters (yup, we started here), medium walls which were slightly taller and had more traditional grips. Then harder walls such as one with splits where you had to climb in between the crevice, and walls that were inverted. Each wall included colored tape paths for you to follow depending on your desired difficulty level.

See the rhino grip below my foot?!

Anyways I had a blast and got in an awesome workout at the same time. We had 90 minutes of climbing with a guide from the gym. They started us off on one of the easier walls to get a feel for our skill level. As our time went on we tried more and more difficult walls. It was great to be able to conquer walls that inverted over the ground (scary!) but the more difficult the walls were, the more tired they made us. The trick to keep from getting too tired was to use your legs to get you up the wall more than your arms. This seems counter intuitive but you got up the wall faster and kept your arms feeling fresh. 

This wall kicked my butt-see the crevice to the right...
I think I'll need more practice first
On my last wall I had obviously been using my arms a little too much on the previous walls because they were shaking and I slipped a few times-oops! Luckily you're harnessed in so you end up just awkwardly hanging in mid-air. Once you made your triumphant climb to the top you got to repel back down the wall. As a group we decided the repelling down the wall was the best part, except for the part where you have to climb up the wall first haha!  

Going back down the wall-weeee!

Overall I think this was a great cross training workout and had a blast. I may look into going rock climbing again in the future!


QOTD: Have you ever been rock climbing, or do you do some unique cross training?

Monday, April 7, 2014

Training Update-Nike Women's Half DC

Since my last post about my training (or lack-thereof) for the Nike DC Women's Half Marathon, I have to say I'm feeling much more confident about race day. I completed a 7-miler yesterday where I tried out some new things for race day. Some went well, others not so much. First, the bad of yesterday's run.

  • I tried Cliff Shot Gel, I do NOT like Cliff Shot Gel. I'm a texture person when it comes to food so it kinda threw me off. The texture didn't throw me off as much as the taste. I couldn't decide if it was trying to be sweet or salty. I'll just stick to shot blocks in the future.

  • I didn't bring back up fuel so I was feeling slightly sluggish the last mile. Rookie mistake! I'll make sure to have more than enough fuel on future runs
  • My orthotics starting rubbing the last 2 miles :(. I'll need to make sure I bandage up that area to help prevent rubbing and blisters on my next long runs.
And guess what, that's it for the bad! The good list (which is longer-woo hoo!) is as follows.

  • I've been doing exercises for my shin splints and I can tell they've been working because NO SHIN SPLINTS during or after my run!
  • I also tried those ribbon elastic hair ties. They stayed in my baby, fine hair like a charm. I didn't adjust my ponytail once. Ladies, you'll understand it's the little things.


  • I also listened to a new music app called FitRadio and I didn't hit next the entire run! That's big for me as I'll probably shuffle through half my iPod on a 30 min run. You can choose all different genres of music and it lists the BPM for each station.
  • My splits were all within 20 seconds of each other throughout my entire run, yay for good pacing!
Overall, I still don't think I'm quite ready for race day, but I'm feeling much more confident. Only 3 more weeks until I'll be taking on DC!


QOTD: What are your "must haves" for long runs?