Monday, February 20, 2017

An American in (Disneyland) Paris

I keep seeing friends registering for this year's Disneyland Paris race weekend, and I can't help but be jealous! Our trip last year to run the 5k and half marathon in Paris was so amazing! I wish we could do it every year, but, know, life, bills, work. It all gets in the way of Disney!

I know many of you have never taken the trip to checkout Disneyland Paris, and if you're planning your first visit for September (or even a non-running trip sometime soon) I though it would be good to share some of the things that were different from our Disney Parks here in the states (and there are some big ones that were not so magical, so take notice).

Food was okay, Highchair was awesome!
Food: Maybe the biggest difference is in the food. Or maybe that's just because I really like to eat my way through Disney! When you visit DLP, expect to see a lot of theme park food. Things like sandwiches, burgers, and fries are staples and there aren't many options beyond that, especially in the parks. There are some great restaurants in the Disney Village and in the hotels, but if you spend the whole day in the park you'll have limited options at  quick service venues. That being said, we had such great meals at Walt's in Disneyland and at Chez Remi at the Studios.

Smoking: People in Paris smoke. A lot. All the time. Everywhere. It just permeates the air and you can't get away from it. I'm super sensitive to the smell of smoke, and it got old really quick! There's not much you can do about it, so just be prepared. Yes, Disney has smoking areas and people aren't supposed to smoke just wandering around the park, but that rule was not enforced at all.

Dressing: Yes, we are the geeky family who had matching shirts, and in the U.S. you'd see that all over the place. Here, nope. Even the cast members kept mentioning it to us. If you're the type of person that likes to blend in, matching Disney shirts is probably not the best idea.

Overall Feel: There is a difference. It's noticeable. It just lacks a little of the attention to detail that makes DL and WDW extra special. Some people probably would never even notice it, but I'm that person that will zero in on the piece of trash that stayed on Main Street for 15 minutes. I say that not to be critical, but just as an observation. If you follow some of the Disney buzz, I think this is a main reason Disney as a company is trying to regain control over this park. There is a lesser standard than the American counterparts, and I think Disney wants to bring Paris up to par.

This post is kind of whomp whomp, huh? Not my usual peppy self! All this being said, GO! I have zero regrets, and we've visited Disneyland Paris twice. Not only is it a great Disney park, but you also are in Paris. It's the most amazing city and we love everything from the sites to the food to the people. Don't let any negative Nancy deter you from this amazing experience. I wish we could do it every year!

Are you planning on running the 2017 Disneyland Paris races?

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Resisting the Urge

It's Wednesday, and the 2018 Walt Disney World Marathon weekend has been on sale for a whole day and nothing is sold out yet. What does that mean for runDisney nuts like me? It means I'm having to sit on my hands, lock up my credit cards, and resist the urge to register for the races.

The 20th Anniversary Medal-My FAVE!
There's anniversaries at stake here. I am slowly starting to get back the desire to complete another Dopey (I mean, that DID take 5 years for the misery to subside). The lure of the 25th anniversary medal for the marathon is strong. Have you seen the 20th anniversary medal? It's my #1 favorite medal. I can only imagine that the design for 2018 is going to be spectacular. To add to the excitement, the marathon falls on Robby's 2nd birthday, so why not celebrate in Walt Disney World?

Here's the issue: babies. We want more kids, and babies take time to bake (40 weeks to be exact). I'm no spring chicken, and while running 3 half marathons during my last pregnancy was a fun task to take on, that last race was absolute torture. Not saying I wouldn't run some again, but it's all about timing. I think my third trimester will be reserved for maintaining fitness and doing some shorter races, not for 13 mile runs. No, I'm not pregnant, so no need to start speculating. It's these early registrations that are making things tough. I have no idea what life will hand me in 2017, so how could I possibly plan for 2018?

If past performance is any indication of what will happen this year, I have plenty of time to decide, especially on the marathon. Here's the catch: I'm cheap (ish) and the thought of paying a higher price just because I register later is kind of hard to wrap my head around. Add to that the fact that I'm sure the kids races will sell out, and I would hate for Robby to miss out.

Must. Resist. The. Urge.

Are you running the 25th anniversary marathon next year?

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Happy American Heart Month!

It's February, and it's American Heart Month. I know many readers know a lot about my family (this IS a family page after all), but I'm not sure I've opened up much about my Dad. What better time than this month for two reasons. First, my Dad passed away in February 15 years ago. Yes, there are still days it feels like yesterday. He died of a massive heart attack. We have a pretty strong family history, but he also did not take care of his heart. He was a smoker, he didn't exercise much, and he was a full-on meat and potatoes lover. So second, with it being American Heart Month, this seems like a perfect time to not only remember him and how awesome he was, but also work to help all of my friends and family live a healthier life.

Sometimes I wonder how I really got so into health and fitness. It wasn't as some would think. It wasn't a conscious decision of "my Dad died of a possibly preventable disease so I'm going to dedicate my life to preventing these diseases." I can't help but wonder, though, if there is something unconsciously going on, motivating me daily to get up and do what I do.

With that all being said, maybe it IS time to connect the dots and help people really understand what taking of yourself can do for your future (and what NOT taking care of yourself can do too).

So, my friends, I have to ask: Do you know your risk for heart disease? According to the American Heart Association, some KEY risk factors include:

  • Blood pressure
  • Cholesterol
  • Weight/body mass index
  • Waist circumference
  • Blood glucose
  • Family history

Do you know your numbers? If not, it's time to schedule a well-check with your primary care doctor and evaluate your risk. Want to know more about evaluating your risk? Check out the American Heart Associations webpage HERE.

Of course, once you know your risk, it's time to take action. That means putting into daily practice those behaviors that keep your heart and whole body healthy: eat smart and make good food choices, be colorful and eat a rainbow of fruits and veggies, move more and get the heart pumping, and be well by reducing stress and taking care of your overall well-being.

In this month filled with LOVE, I just want you all to know that I care about you and want you to have a long, full life. Take care my friends, and know that I am always here to help!

Monday, January 16, 2017

Robby's Winter ONEderland

Nope, nothing to do with Disney or running, but it is about our life and family! Robby turned ONE last week (ummm...can we just pause for a moment on THAT one???) and instead of heading down to WDW for marathon weekend, I was doing my own marathon of party planning for his first birthday party. Of course, just as the half marathon & kids races runners were disappointed when the weather foiled their perfect plans, we were too when a snow storm prevented most of our guests from coming to the party. We would have postponed, but Bill has been out of town almost every weekend and when it comes to Robby, Daddy trumps everyone else for being an essential attendant!

I'd been pinning ideas for months to make Robby's winter one-derland perfect! I couldn't be happier with how each and every detail came together to make the perfect party. This one was definitely a Pinterest WIN! Here are some of the details of the day:

Our living room:
We used some stuffed animals around the room, but the real centerpiece was our fireplace. It was decked out with balloons, a clothesline of Robby's monthly pictures, plus a few extra touches!

Robby's first piece of artwork was fun and easy! I used a hard canvas and taped off a number "1" with painter's tape. Then just squeezed some paint on the canvas and let him at it! Be sure to let each color dry before layering on a new color. I framed it using an inexpensive IKEA frame that matched the decor.

A fellow January mama, Melisa of The Printed Pug, created this chalkboard art just for our party. She also did our board for his half birthday. I love supporting other mamas!!! (You can check her out HERE)

I finished off the mantel with wooden letters from Michael's and some snowflake accents (super cheap ornaments from Wal-Mart). The pictures were just so fun to look back on, and now I actually have some printed pictures that I can hang in my office!

For our party favors, we made bags of s'mores. I set them up right at the front door using a few extra tables we had. All of the signs I made were done on PicMonkey (yes, using only the free elements) and framed with cheap IKEA frames. 2 graham crackers, 2 mini Hersheys, and 2 marshmallows in a cute treat bag was a perfect little "thank you for coming".

Our Dining Room:
Well, our empty house proved to work well for this party! We don't yet have a dining room set, so we set up Robby's high chair in the dining room, front and center, and put up some folding tables and chairs for guests. Our kitchen table and island also had seating. Who knew we wouldn't actually need all this room? Dumb snow!

For Robby's high chair, I intended to do more, but this time of year is tough, so I kept it simple. I hung some snow garland, cut out a free-hand '1' out of scrapbook paper and hung a few of those snowflake ornaments. I also made Robby's hat to match the outfit I bought him from Etsy (the prices for the hats were outrageous!). I got a dollar store hat (so I wouldn't have to free-hand it) and covered it in scrapbook paper. I added pom poms along the bottom with some hot glue. All that Disney costume construction came in handy!

As a backdrop, along with some balloons, I took some streamers and created a great background for pictures. I taped them along a curtain rod at the top, twisted, and taped them under the window-sill.

The Kitchen:
All of the food and drinks were in the kitchen. I kept everything themed and it all came out so great!!!

The Hot Cocoa Bar:

The Chili Bar:

Snacks and Appetizers:

Dessert: (I didn't get enough pictures of this spread! We had a bunch of desserts all themed out)

We made some Polar Punch more for looks than anything else (it was SWEET). Also, we labeled all the food with some snowball labels. They were super easy to make: cut off the bottom of a styrofoam ball and sliced a slit in the top. Then printed some labels on cardstock. Wish I had a better picture, but I didn't intend on blogging about his birthday. Whoops! Blogger fail!

To finish it off, here's a few shots of Robby digging into his cake. He loved it!!! A great tip I read online: get a cheap (I think ours was $1) plastic table cloth for under the high chair. It made clean-up a breeze!

Finally, this is a shot I just love to take: the aftermath of the smash! We have a close-up after we cut our wedding cake and now we can add this one into our collection. I love how it tells the story of the day!

Happy Birthday to my sweet little boy! I can't wait to see what the next year brings!!!

Sunday, January 8, 2017

A Post-Christmas Catch-up

Whew! It's January 8th and I finally feel like the holiday season has come to an end and real life can get started again. When I first had Robby, I felt bad for him having a birthday so close to the holidays. Now I just feel bad for me because this mom life is HARD with everything so close together.

Merry Christmas!
We spent Christmas at home in New York. Being that it was Robby's first Christmas and our first Christmas in our new home, it was super special and so much fun to be at home for it all. I hosted a huge Christmas eve meal (read: way too much food and now I'm paying for it) and we visited family locally on Christmas day.

Right after Christmas, we flew to California for holiday celebrations with Bill's family. It was so much fun to have babies around for Christmas. Totally changed the focus and I really can't wait for the next few years as they all get older and really into the spirit of the season. We also hosted a small birthday party for Robby and got to ring in the new year with our west coast family. It was a fun-filled trip, but short and very busy, which left little time for running or any exercise.

We arrived back in New York on New Years Day with a few days to clean up Christmas and get ready for Robby's first birthday party. Shockingly enough, it wasn't even Disney themed! His winter one-derland birthday was amazing, but unfortunately Mother Nature got in on the theme. Lots of our family and friends had to miss the party because of the snow.

Now, it's time to really clean up after all the parties, and no, I'm not just talking about my house! It's time to clean up the diet and exercise routine too. In all honesty, running has not been a huge priority and my heart misses it. Maybe that's good, because I'll be more motivated and it will most definitely be more enjoyable. So back at it I go, with all the others making health, fitness and weight loss a focus in January. Hope you all had a great holiday season!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Spectating the NYC Marathon

Last weekend I had the pleasure of being on the sidelines during the biggest and one of the most popular marathons: The NYC Marathon! A long-time friend and run coaching client was running his first marathon, and I promised (especially after bailing on him for the Staten Island half) that I would be out there to support. Lucky for us, it was a beautiful day and we probably would have gone even if he wasn't running!

Some things to know:

The marathon starts in waves, anywhere from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Our runner wasn't starting until 11, so we took the opportunity to watch the elite runners finish on TV before heading into NYC.

The app rocked my world (hello, runDisney, can we get in on this?!?!?). The tracking was incredible and the maps were perfect. Of course, NYC is easy to get around with it's simple grid layout. The app let us pick the best places to watch as we were riding the train into the city.

Central Park is pretty much off limits unless you pay, so you'll have to decide which end of the map to cover.

We took the Metro North train and got off in Harlem. It's the perfect place to see your runner twice without much travel for yourself. We got to spectate at mile 19 and at mile 23.

All in all, it was a fun day. I'm glad we decided to just plan to see my friend, since it's tough to be in NYC with a baby in the cold (you know, with trying to breastfeed and change diapers--those things are much more comfortable when it's warmer). If you start with the elite runners and plan to stay until the end, it would make for a very long day.

Of course, I would have loved to run too! This race has been on my bucket list for years, so I'll just keep throwing my name in the lottery and hoping for the best.

Is NYC on your bucket list? What are your tips for spectating a big race?

Friday, November 4, 2016

Race Report: 2016 Disneyland 10k

I know, I should have done this all BEFORE leaving for Paris, but c'est la vie!

The 10k is the first part of the Dumbo Double Dare. This was the 4th running of the race, and therefore the 4th time I've done this race. I have to say, this has been my favorite Disney course. There is SO much park time, backstage time, and downtown time. The race literally flies by!

Going with the partners theme, the race theme was Genie and Aladdin. We had a bunch of friends running this race too, so we decided a group costume was the only way to go. Of course, none of us actually wanted to be Aladdin or Jasmine, so we managed to be every other character from the movie. That left Bill and I as the carpet and lamp. I have to admit, my lamp was LAME. It was not my best showing for sure, but Bill's carpet was pretty awesome.

If you remember, we started at the back of the pack because I forgot to add a proof of time for Bill (I had just had a baby...that's my story and I'm sticking to it!). We had our friends go ahead and the two of us stayed behind in the last corral. Truth be told, we weren't properly trained and just wanted to have fun.
Party Corral! 

The first mile is on the streets and through the Anaheim Convention Center. We always laugh here because we often stay at that Hilton, and on more than one occasion have said, "Let's just go back to bed instead of finishing this race." when we pass the entrance. After that mile or so is out of the way, it's all Disneyland!

Last chance to take this pic!
There were a few changes to the course this year. One thing I noticed and didn't care for was not running UP Main Street. Yes, you still get to run through the castle, but I miss that first glimpse of the castle from Main Street. It's always been my favorite part of the race (and spoiler, they did the same thing for the half marathon course).

The miles ticked by quickly and we stopped for a few selfies along the way. Tower of Terror is always a favorite. We're going to miss taking those pics! A bit before mile 5 you head through the castle. We aren't big on standing in line for pictures, but we pulled over for a quick selfie, and POOF, there was the rest of our crew! They had taken full advantage of the many photo ops and we caught up with them. It made for a great pic in front of the castle and a really fun end to the race. Don't you just LOVE running with friends?!?!?  runDisney is the BEST for that!!!
Pic Credit: Holly Casino (aka Genie!)
Just like that, the 10k was over. It still tops my list for favorite course, even with the changes. We finished the race in 1:39:58. Okay, it's almost laughable, but we had fun! That's what it's all about. Someday I'll get focused on running fast again, but until then, I'm just enjoying the ride!