Wednesday, December 30, 2020

New Year, New Goals: Let's Do This 2021!

You can look on the bright side all you want, but I don't know of a single person who won't be happy to say, "Goodbye" to 2020! For us, job loss, event cancelations, and the struggle bus were real. Yes, we had some great moments, but this is not one of those posts. This is a "See you later, 2020!" as I push this year aside kind of post.

With that, this was a crappy year for running races. Everything I had scheduled was canceled. I had high hopes of running 40 races leading up to my 40th birthday. Then I changed course and said I'd do 40 races in 2021, the year I turn 40. Now, well, I have no idea when we'll be back to live races, and a year filled with local, socially distanced races doesn't seem like a great way to party. Enter my next goal: Run the Year!

I'm not a super fan of virtuals. I've done a total of TWO in my life, and zero during 2020 when virtuals were the thing to do. I got all of my refunds from runDisney races (even though I ran the distances), and I really had no intention to jump on the virtual train. Well, that is until now. I'm officially joining the crazy group of runners who "run the year" with the virtual race organization, Run the Edge. I've created a team (Disney Runs in the Family, of course!) and we are setting our own goals. Goal one for me is 1021 miles. My reach goal is the entire thing: 2021. I love to have multiple goals; I do it in races too, so why not do it for the virtual? 

Yes, I did the math, and no, I have no idea if I can even run that much with the rest of my fitness schedule. I'm going to kick off the year with a not-Dopey 10 day streak of 4.86 miles per day for 10 days (so poetic that it starts on New Years Day and ends on what should have been marathon day). Grab your calculator, because as fun as this sounds, it already puts me behind my goal for the year! 

If you aren't familar with Run the Edge or the Run the Year challenge, you can register here: Run the Year 2021 Our team isn't full yet, so we'd love to have you hop on and join us! Just search "Disney Runs in the Family" and add your goal. 

Talk to me! What are your goals? Do you make New Years Resolutions? How do you track them? Anyone else running the year? Happy New Year everyone!

Friday, November 20, 2020

A Review of WDW During a Pandemic

 We just returned from a week at the most Magical Place on Earth. This trip was planned for Wine and Dine Half Marathon Weekend, which was just another canceled race weekend. Even though the race went virtual, I opted to get the full refund but run the races on property anyway. How many times have I said, "I run for the bling." Apparently I'm a liar and truly just run because I love it.

 So many people have asked, "How was it?" that I figured the best way to get all the nitty, gritty details out was to pop up a blog post. In short, it was great, we felt safe, and I'd definitely recommend it if you are a WDW fan. (But let's be real, you came here for the long version, so here we go!)

We flew American Airlines with one connection each way. AA has not reduced their capacity as some other airlines have, and our flights were surprisingly full. We take up a whole row, so for our immediate surroundings it didn't make much difference. They were very strict with the mask mandate and did not do drink/snack service (though you could ask for some if you wanted it). We found the plane and airports to be very clean and well stocked with soap and sanitizer. "Wash your hands." and "Here's some hand sanitizer." was definitely a theme of our trip! The kids did great and we had little complications on the way there (home was rough, as we missed our connection due to a delayed first leg). 

We rented a car for the trip. With two little ones, free parking with our annual passes, and reading about so many long lines for transportation, this was a great solution! I loved driving to the parks everyday, leaving our stroller in the car, and mask-free transportation time. The only downside was having to lug our carseats along for the trip, but once we were there, all was good. We booked using and got a great deal (this was actually our only real expense of the trip--we kept it very cheap).

We stayed at Hilton Lake Buena Vista Palace. There were small differences, like sealed rooms and remotes after cleaning, to show that they have taken some increased precautions when cleaning (definitely not a bad thing). They also did not have their breakfast buffet open, which meant we had a daily $30 credit for grab and go breakfast. It worked great for the whole trip, and that money pretty much fed all 4 of us each day. 

Onto Disney World! If you aren't aware, they have temporarily suspended park-hopping. Instead, you can visit one park per day and you must reserve the park in advance. We had our first 3 days reserved (that's the limit when you don't stay on property, but have annual passes). We were able to add each additional day after park closing of the day we used. The only time we had a small hiccup was trying to change an Epcot day to a Magic Kingdom day. It eventually worked, but we had to wait for others to change their plans since MK was full. 

Dining has also changed, and personally, I think it's for the better. You can reserve table service dining 60 days in advance (down from 120), and mobile ordering is highly encouraged for all quick service locations. We did mobile ordering every time and it was the BEST! I was able to use gift cards and rewards dollars to pay for every meal, we ordered what we wanted, waited a very short time, and there was always a place to sit after we picked up our meal (since they were controlling who could come in and sit--no saving seats and people bringing their own food taking tables). I found it very easy to navigate on MDE. For table service, you also were able to check in on MDE, which limited any crowding at the front of restaurants. All in all, the dining changes were awesome and only impacted us positively!

Of course, most of you go to Disney to ride the rides, right? Overall, the wait times were longer than expected, but not terrible. They felt much shorter due to all the spacing/distancing. This meant we never really stopped moving, except when the ride closed for routine cleaning. With no Fast Pass service, we actually didn't waste time zipping around from end to end of the park. The longest we waited was 70 minutes for Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railway (and spoiler alert: it was worth it!). There were a few rides that were walk-on, especially early in the day, but overall we did everything we wanted, repeating our favorites often.

The masks. Everyone wants to know about the masks. Yes, you have to wear them. No, you can't get around it. Seriously. If you're going, just be aware that unless you're sitting and eating, masks stay on. There are "relaxation zones" that are designated places to take them off, as well. This also means all of your pictures will be masked. Walking around outside will be masked. If this gives you pause, I highly suggest you wait until these mandates are changed. Also, just an FYI, Orange County, FL has a mask mandate for the whole county. Nothing changed off-property; masks everywhere.

Disney has done a great job of cleaning and providing lots of opportunities for guests to do the same. There is hand sanitizer everywhere! I actually hope they keep this! We got ourselves into the habit of using it before and after every ride. We washed our hands often, but especially before eating. Cast members cleaned tables after each party, spraying and leaving the disinfectant on for a minute, then coming back to wipe it down. They wiped down chairs, poles, handrails, EVERYTHING on a regular basis. Disney, which was already clean, was even cleaner! 

The characters popped up throughout the park and interacted with guests from afar. We got a few quick picutres, but our favorite memory was Joy playing imaginary "catch" with Ryan. He was mesmerized, and knew exactly how to throw it back. It was in that moment where everything felt so normal. The pop-up calvalcades were great! We saw princesses, the fab 5, Christmas characters, and even Santa. With no nighttime shows, we just scooted out of the parks a little early and got ready for our next day. Yes, we missed some of our favorite shows, but there was a lot to do without them.

Overall it was a great experience. I definitely felt safer at WDW than when going to my grocery store. They did it right, and I have confidence that they will stay open as we continue to battle this pandemic. With all the changes, this may not be the best time to visit for a first visit, but if you frequent Disney Parks, I think you'll enjoy some of the little extras and coming home to the magic!

What questions do you have? Did I leave anything out? I'd be happy to answer them!

Sunday, September 6, 2020

Dopey Training: Month 2 Review

 As I write this, we are 19 weeks from the start of the Dopey Challenge. It's nearing the end of August and quaratine fatigue is still running strong, no pun intended. August started out pretty weak for me, honestly. With this being the first month of reduced unemployment, we have had even more stress as Bill still hasn't found full time work. I've been working nights and early mornings, making short bursts of 3-4 hours of sleep followed by a small nap a regular occurance. No, none of these things are directly related to running, but it all contributes to high stress and my overall health being out of whack.

August wasn't all a wash, though. We got our family registered for Star Wars (thanks to the refund of the Wine and Dine races). Robby will be running his first 5k, and he's so excited. We actually have to stop talking about it, because for a 4 year old, the concept of time and patience is a little troublesome! I had some good quality speedwork this month and some cooler temps have made for some better runs. Maybe most exciting is the opening of the gym on August 27th! Even though we are keeping classes outside for a while and have to wear masks when inside, this is at least some progress. My gym family is truly like family and I love sharing my passion for fitness at Sportsplex. Seriously, if you're ever in NY, stop by! It's a great place to workout!

August was also the start of the Strong Nation Challenge. If you've been following any of my social media, you know I've been posting themes, workouts, and the guide to this contest. Honestly, it's all about connecting people and getting them moving, more than any challenge or prize. The prize is commiting to all parts of your health for 6 weeks. Week one was strength, which is the easy part for me. Now it's onto thinging like Yoga, mindfulness, stretching. All things I need to be better at!

Let's get to some running numbers. Runners are inherntly data geeks, and I've had a lot of fun tracking my progress during this training cycle. 

Total miles in August: 85.2

Average pace: 11:25 minutes/mile

Missed workouts: 1 (only counting running for this one, I missed a lot of cross training)

Sunday, August 23, 2020

How We Saved Thousands on Our Disney Trip (seriously)

If you're a regular follower, you know we love to go to Disney, and we go A LOT! Definitely more than the average person. We are not millionaires (far from it); we have a mortgage, a car payment, and all those other pesky bills, just like everyone else. We think, though, that we also do a pretty good job of keeping our travel expenses down, which affords us the opportunity to see the world (in this case, the Disney World). We try to take advantage of every deal possible, and we're always looking for more ways to save. 

I finally sat down and started to look at how we are saving money on our upcoming November trip. I hope this gives you some ideas to spark your own savings and make your family's Disney dreams come true!

We are flying from our small, local airport to Orlando. This definitely is a huge benefit for convenience, since we can have family easily drop us off, saving on parking. The flights cost us $41.60 for taxes that cannot be waived. We paid the rest with airline points. We also upgraded our seats to the extra leg room seats for free. Now that we are flying with 4 paid seats (Ryan is 2), we opted for coach, but we do get to fly first class often for free, as well. We saved over a thousand dollars on our flights.

How to save: Bill is an Executive Platinum level frequent flyer with American Airlines. We also have the AA credit card. We use this card strategically, since it actually has the least "value" when it comes to points, but we work with what gives the most points. American Airlines also recently partnered with Jet Blue, so we are looking forward to more affordable flight options, should we need to pay for some with points and some with cash. This is definitely one place that knowing your brands and being brand loyal pays off. 

For this trip, we are staying at the Hilton in Disney Springs. It is right across the street from the Marketplace, and has a fairly nice pool, free transportation to Disney parks, restaurants on site, and even a character breakfast option on Sundays. (Note, as of now, character breakfast is suspended, as are all character meetups due to Covid-19) For this trip, we are paying $0 for the hotel, which saved us over a thousand dollars! 

How to save: We are Hilton Honors rewards memebers and have a Hilton American Express credit card. We are fortunate that Bill travels a lot for work, so he amasses a large number of points for being brand loyal when traveling. For example, he gets 8x points on any Hilton stay. He is also a Diamond member, which further benefits us with free breakfast daily, bottled water, and free upgrades when they are available. We always book the cheapest room, but almost always get some sort of upgrade when we check in. 

Getting a deal on Disney tickets is tricky, but this year we opted to get annual passes. We have 7 trips planned, so this was definitely the way to go. We have had passes in the past, and usually opt to take a few years off in between. We stack as many trips as possible into the pass year to get our Disney fix, then take a little time away from the parks. The whole year would have been before Ryan turned 3, thus giving us his trips for free, but thanks to Covid, we will have to get him a ticket for our last 2 trips.

How to save: Being part of Disney groups on social media saved us big on this one! The day Disney increased their annual pass prices last year, Sam's Club had a limited amount of passes at the old price. We saved $808.38 on the 3 passes. As an added bonus, I also got our Sam's Club membership for free by redeeming an offer for free food coupons and a gift card after joining. Always search for coupon codes! Don't forget that having a pass also gives us Memory Maker for free. That's another $169 saved on this trip (and each trip we go on this year). 


I will definitely update this part when our trip is over, but our plan is simple: use our Disney Chase Visa and Annual Pass discounts as much as possible and pay using Disney Gift Cards and Chase Rewards. The discount is generally 10% at any eatery that offers a discount (and I always ask). We are heading down with over $1300 in gift cards and points. Most of that amount is "free money" for us, but we do occassionally purchase discounted gift cards when the deal is good to save a little more.

How to save: Let's start simple--the Disney Chase Visa is a great card if you are a Disney lover and use it right! Like I said above, I take the time to read the fine print and find a balance of getting the most rewards from each card. I always check for offers on the Visa, for example this month and next, we are getting 5% back on gas and groceries. That's way more than any other card, so Disney it is! There are also a few extra perks, like special photo opportunities, discounts, and exclusive events. I always check right before our trip and note what special things we can do. 

Disney gift cards can be a little trickier. First and foremost, we always ask family for gift cards for gifts. It makes it easy on them, and they know we love it! I also use a free survey/ad app called Dabbl. When you earn points, you can redeem them for Disney gift cards (they have other brands as well, but I always get Disney). I've earned over $50 through Dabbl-ing when I'm waiting around, in the car (as a passenger), or just scrolling on my phone. You can download the app HERE, and we both get extra points! This isn't life changing money, but I figure it's one more meal that's covered.

Most people know the Sam's Club/Costco/Target hack of buying gift cards at a discount. You can save 3-5% everyday. I actually have never done that, because it just didn't seem worth it. Instead, I wait until Christmas shopping season. Target always has one weekend where gift cards are 10% off with your red card, including Disney. I scoop those up! Our local grocery store (ShopRite if you're in the NY/NJ area) also does great gift card deals around the holidays. I can usually get a couple hundred in gift cards at 20% off. Stack on some credit card rewards and you really save a good amount!

As I post this, we still need to decide on transportation. We are leaning towards renting a car for the trip. Of course, we will save as much as possible, but we are budgeting a few hundred for that purpose. With Covid concerns and convenience, renting a car feels the most comfortable at the moment (and bonus, we have free parking with our annual passes). I will also be sure to track our spending during the trip to get a final number.

At this point, we have saved OVER $4,500 on this trip! The nerd in me really wants to figure out the exact number, so stay tuned for part 2 coming in November. 

I'd love to hear how you save on Disney! What hacks do you use? 

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Speed Work Makes the Dream Work

 If you've been following along on Instagram or even somewhat here on the blog, you've seen I've added some targetted speed work sessions in my weekly plan. "Speed work" is a phrase you'll hear a lot when people talk about training plans, and it really encompasses all the mid-week workouts where you put in effort to work on speed. This can be accomplished in many ways, so I thought I'd dive into the two workouts I've been focused on in my modified run/walk/run plan.

First, to be clear, this is not part of Jeff Galloway's plan as he prescribes it on the runDisney site. He does not specify differences in effort or speed. In fact, other than length and the magic mile, his plans are very "get out there and run" focused. This is one of the reasons I take his run/walk/run theory but apply my own training plan. I like to have specific focuses for each run. 

Right now, I'm running 3 days per week with no back to back running days. Of course, when preparing for any of the challenge races (Dopey for me right now), this will change soon, as will my general schedule for speedwork. I choose one of these days for a shorter, speed work session. Here are my 2 workouts:

Track intervals--I do quarter-mile intervals on the track with a quarter mile recovery. This workout is pretty perfect for me, as the high school track is one mile from my house, so it's a nice warmup there, then I head right into my work. This workout is very Yasso 800-esque, but because I run intervals anyway, I think this distance fits better into my overall running plan. I keep the quarter mile to around a 7:30 minute mile pace, and my recovery is a short walk, jog, then walk to start again. Each week I add one lap, and my goal is to get up to 10 before Dopey. This is intense, but I'm loving the accomplished feeling at the end.

Tempo-ish run--Again, I'm a run/walk/run girl, and these speed workouts are definitely for the straight runner, but that doesn't mean you can't adapt to the Galloway method. Tempo runs are basically where you try to hit a certain pace, usually faster than your long distance race pace. For me, my runs are around a 10:00 minute mile for 4 miles right now. I will progressively increase the distance of the tempo run, but I don't think I'll change pace much before Dopey.

Speed work definitely does not end there! There are many options, and I personally think speed work should be fun. Do you add speed work to your training? What's your favorite? 

Sunday, August 2, 2020

Dopey Training: Month 1 Review

Month one is done! This month has been a roller coaster--my birthday, the cancellation of Wine and Dine, another month of unsuccessful job hunting, and the pandemic is still raging on in many parts of the country. You can't open social media for a minute without someone asking, "Do you think Marathon Weekend will happen?" and quite frankly, I'm in need of a social media break because of it!

With July behind us, I thought it would be a good time to reflect on my own goals and the first official month of Dopey training. In short, it was perfect! Rarely do you get a month where you can just run according to your plan, but I guess that's the benefit of quarantine and Bill having inconsistent work. I've prioritized my runs and got out 3 days per week, working on speed and building to a 10-mile long run. It's felt comfortable and invigorating! I kept up with HIIT and strenght workouts, but I definitely need a bit more consistency in those. I need to add more core training; I let that go in quarantine.

Nutrition was meh at best. I've started tracking my food, and saw a slight tick down on the scale. The days around the long run are the hardest. There is good reason people say losing weight when marathon training is hard. I'd love to get off (and keep off) 5-10 pounds, just for speed and impact on my joints.

I also started a log to track my quest of 40 races for my 40th birthday! Having a little creative time to make stickers, bullet journal, and color has been a nice break. I'll sit down with Robby and we draw together. He gives the best compliments!

So now we look ahead. I've decided August is my month of acceptance. I need to accept that the gym is not open. I need to accept that I am not teaching and training as much at the gym. I, therefore, need to accept a home workout routine that fills in the cross-training gaps that I usually put zero thought into, due to my job. I'll continue to work on speed with track workouts. I'll increase my long run to a half marathon. I'll also continue to tighten up nutrition for my own health and weight loss. 

I still have no plan or goals to how I will run Dopey. I think I'll have a better idea when the simulation weekends come around. I know I will definitely follow the run/walk/run intervals and I'm certainly not going for any sort of speed. 

My marathon weekend friends, have you started training? How is it going?

Friday, July 31, 2020

Friday Five: 5 Tips for the Run/Walk/Runner

I'm going to make a WILD assumption: if you're here, you probably run Disney races or want to run Disney races. Since that's the case, you likely already know of Jeff Galloway, the father of the run/walk/run method and the official runDisney running coach. His plans are laid out beautifully on the runDisney website and are followed by tens of thousands of runners each year. I adopted this method when I took on Dopey in 2014, and it helped me PR my marathon (during Dopey, after running for 3 days) by over 26 minutes! I was sold! It also got me through both pregnancies, post-partum journeys, and a half marathon 6 weeks post-knee surgery. I'd say that gives it an A+ in my book. If you're a beginner, it's my go-to recommendation, but I also caution you that it's not just for beginners. Many runners can benefit from this type of running. 

6-weeks after knee surgery!

Before I go down that rabbit hole though, let's get to our Friday Five! I've put together 5 great tips for those Galloway runners out there! Let me know what you think!

1. Make your runs faster and your walks slower. Duh! Isn't that the point? About a month ago I saw someone giving advice in a big Facebook group saying "Your run and walk are almost the same pace." Um, no. That defeats the whole purpose! Run, and run fast. Walk, and walk to recover. There should be a difference. For reference, right now my run is about a 9:30 pace and my walk a 14:00 pace. Find what works for you, but don't sell yourself short. 

2. Stabilize your hands to help you catch your breath. I'd put this tip more for training runs than the actual race, but especially as a beginner, if your aerobic fitness isn't the greatest, you will find yourself winded after the run (see point number one). That's okay, and to help catch your breath, put your hands on hips, on your head, even on your running stroller. By anchoring your hands, you are allowing your chest to help expand your ribcage (and thus, your lungs) because it doesn't also need to move your arms. This is why we fall over and put our hands on our thighs, huffing and puffing, when we need to catch our breath. 

3. 30 second walk breaks are the special sauce. If you've followed Galloway for some time, you know he used to recommend a one-minute walk break. Over time, he's actually changed it to a 30-second breat, noting that runners slowed significantly in the second half of a minute and took longer to get up and go again. After doing both, I'd agree! Try different combos; that's what training is for, but seriously consider minimizing your walk break to just enough to get you ready to run again.

4. When in a race, please signal your walk breaks. It is commonly recognized that when you put your arm up, you are going to walk. Start practicing that now. When it's time to walk, KEEP RUNNING, put your arm up, take a quick look behind you, THEN begin your walk break. Putting your arm up does not give you a free pass to halt mid-step and put other runners (and yourself) at risk. Every single race I see major collisions. Don't be one of them. You should also aim to be towards the right side. Races follow the rules of the road. 

5. Utilize technology that you love. The options are endless. I use either the Gym Boss timer or Run Keeper. Both have served me well over the years. Jeff Galloway has his own app. You can pretty much set intervals on any device. Play around with a few and use what works for you. But for the love of everyone racing, TURN OFF THE BEEPING on race day! Hahaha! All you hear is that beep for miles and miles. Use the vibrate feature on your Gym Boss! 

Don't forget to follow me on Instagram to see these tips in action! Happy Friday!

Friday, July 24, 2020

Friday Five: 5 Favorite Wine & Dine Moments

It's Friday, why not do a Flashback Friday/Friday Five all rolled into one! With the announcement of Wine and Dine being turned virtual, it had me thinking of my favorite Wine and Dine moments. Even though I've only run this race 3 times, it still holds the top spot for me in runDisney events. Food, Wine, a small race, and always a great theme, Wine and Dine never disappoints (okay, well never until now--sad face!).

1. The infamous "Splash and Dash, 2015"
Every race has a story, and this one was FULL of rain. It was still a night race at the time, and right around 9:00 (for a 10:00 start) the rain started slowly. Not bad, but it held out for the big 10:00 start! It poured the entire 2 hours I was running. Huge puddles where water would come over the top of your socks into your shoes. It was SO MUCH FUN! 

2. Closing the after party in 2015
After the Splash and Dash, there were lots of runners that headed home, but since we had previously skipped the after party, we threw on some ponchos and rallied! We ate, drank, rode rides a million times, and closed down the party with Spaceship Earth one last time as they shut down the park at 4:00 am. Little did we know this would be our last night race, and I'm definitely glad we partied hard!

3. The last Coast to Coast, 2017
We had done the Coast to Coast Challenge many times, so it actually didn't even occur to me that I'd be earning the 10th anniversary medal at Wine and Dine. Also, sadly, this was the last Coast to Coast. I'm hopeful that someday we'll see Disneyland races again, but until then, this may be my favorite. The classic design, but given some weight (quite literally) as they increased the size to celebrate the anniversary of the challenge. 

4. Our gender reveal in 2017
Okay, so not actually part of the race, but part of the race weekend! We decided to keep the tradition alive and planned our gender reveal in Disney World. We had the results in an envelope, found a ballon-selling cast member, and she revealed the gender with a surprize blue balloon! It was a great way to add some Disney magic to Ryan's pregnancy. This weekend was also his last half marathon before coming into the world in March, 2018.

5. The parties!
Wine and Dine is the BEST for parties! Depending on when your race-cation falls, you can usually book a Halloween party or a Christmas party. Plan it right and you can do both! We've done both during different years, and it's always a fun addition to our vacation. 

For those of you who have not yet run this event, don't give up! I know we'll all be back soon, running together again! Continue to train, run it virutally (even if you don't get the medal), and enjoy the journey of running. I know I'll be back someday to my favorite race! 

Monday, July 20, 2020

A Tale As Old As (a proof of) Time

Once upon a time, a new mommy ran a few races in Disneyland. This new mommy had mom-brain, and forgot to enter proofs of time for herself and her husband. They both ended up in the last corral for the Disneyland Half Marathon and lived to tell the tale. Here's what they learned:

You will survive without a proof of time! Seriously. If you are a slower runner, yes, a better corral gives you a buffer time, but train for the recommended 15 minute per mile pace (did you read that on the runDisney's there) and you'll be okay. You even can buy yourself a few minutes just by getting to the front of whatever corral you end up in.

The party is definitely in the back! Seriously. I've been in corral A. It's quiet. It's serious. There are few costumes. It's intimidating. The back of the pack is social. It's where all the stories are; you know, the ones that make you tear up and inspire you at your darkest moment. It's where the costumes are. It's where you're never alone. The best part is it's also where lots of first-timers hang. These runners are often scared, nervous, and have no idea what to expect. Imagine giving that person a few words of encouragement--that alone is worth the bottlenecking on the course!

You can play a fun game of chase. What? Yep, when I'm feeling tired or sluggish, I like to chase some fellow runners. I sprint (ish) past a person. I try to keep up with someone ahead. If you think that the back of the pack is all walkers, think again! It is everyone, and you can totally challenge your pace with other runners.

With the new requirements (<2:30 half, <5:00 full) and Covid cancelling almost every road race, you will be in good company. There's heavy stuff going on in our world; don't let not having a proof of time be the thing that stresses you out. Stop for the pictures if you have time, or take a selfie if you don't. Don't worry about that PR. Just remember how lucky we are to all be back running together in the most magical place on Earth, and you too will live happily ever after!

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Rolling for Recovery

Do you roll? I know I think about it, I say I'm going to, and then, well, let's just say my roller spends more time as a sword in the playroom than as a recovery device. I should do it, and I'm trying to make it more of a regular habit. 

If you're new to foam rolling, there are some key concepts to keep you safe and make the rolling most effective for your recovery. 

First, what is it for and why do we do it? Not to get too nerdy on you, foam rolling is a form of self-myofascial release. Fancy sounding, but it's basically targeting the tissue that weaves through and around your muscles and bones. It's the same concept as massage therapy, but you are using these tools (roller, ball, stick, etc.) so you can do it yourself. Studies show that this can help after workouts to reduce soreness, increase flexibility, and decrease recovery time. Less known, though, is that this is also great as a warmup/pre-workout routine to increase bloodflow to the muscles. 

Here are some tips to get you started:
1. Roll and move around each area for 15-60 seconds, keeping your tool moving slowly and not stopping in any one place.

2. Never roll over joints, like your shoulder and knee. Do your lower leg, then move to the upper leg, skipping the knee completely, for example. 

3. Rolling is great for soreness. Rolling is NOT great for injured areas. If you have an injury, like a stabbing pain or a significant strain, don't roll on that area. Wait for some healing to happen, then you can add rolling back into your routine for injury prevention and health in that area. (By the way, the same applies to stretching--don't over stretch an injury; more is not better).
4. Start with short sessions, then increase as your body adapts. If you are really tight, it's going to hurt. The more you work through the tightness, the longer you will be able to roll. I admit, when I roll my calves I still cannot put all my weight on the roller and can't go for long. It's definitely a work in progress.

5. Do both sides! Maybe you have a nagging injury that comes back if you don't take good care of yourself (ahem, my knees...). Even though your right side may be your achy side, don't neglect the left. I've learned the hard way that imbalances often lead to new injuries. 

Five tips is a nice round number, so we'll leave it at that for now! I've been toying around with making some videos. Maybe an instructional foam rolling video needs to happen! 

What other questions do you have? 

A note about my certification: I was certified by the company "Trigger Point" for group fitness foam rolling techniques. They have now merged training with the "Rock Tape" company. I definitely want to continue exploring this area!

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

I just needed a moment...

Last week was rough in my world, as it was in so many of yours. Did anyone else just need a moment? I was not blind to the very real possibility that the New York City Marathon would be cancelled. I was not prepared for the tears. Not because of the race, but because it was just one more thing.

Here in New York, gyms have no reopening date. I realize for many, this is just an "adjust course" type of thing, but the gym is also my place of employment. No, I don't pay my mortgage with that money, but I do contribute to my household, and with Bill also out of work, we need to be back at work in whatever capacities possible. 

The cancellation of New York also means the likelihood of Wine and Dine happening is getting smaller and smaller. I won't give up all hope until they make the official call, but the writing is on the wall. I keep telling myself: they will make the field smaller, they will allow deferrals, it's already the smallest race, it's all the way in November. We have all of our plans done. We will probably go anyway just to get away (unless we are still in quarantine on either end). I'm changing course as to why we were going and running all the races (clearly 40 races won't be happening with fall being cancelled). I'm just sitting here, waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Then there's the whole training thing. I had penciled in my plan a few weeks ago. I'm supposed to start today. I haven't even wrapped my head around rewriting 6 months of plans, let alone letting go of the A race marathon that was supposed to be my easy slide into the Dopey Challenge. Now, I have to figure out how I'm doing Dopey. 

So, if you need a moment, take it! Hopefully I'll be back soon with new plans, new races on the calendar, and feeling hopeful again for the future world, post-quarantine!

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Tips to Create Your Own Training Plan

I totally get it! Not everyone is ready or able to invest in a running coach (but if you are, I happen to know of a GREAT one, cough cough). When you've got your registration, the next thing that usually comes to mind is, "Oh crap, I have to train for this thing!" At least, I hope you are starting to think about training.

Coach Google has TONS of free training plans. runDisney has official training plans. If you're new, though, where do you even begin? What happens if you miss a run? What if you want to start training early? Help! Don't worry, I got you!

The insipration of this post came from many questions in all the runDisney groups, followed by some really good and REALLY bad advice. If you're new and asking those questions, I think it's safe to say that you probably don't know which is which. Oh, and by the way, that's OKAY! We were all new once, and you learn by asking, doing, asking again, reading, watching, and experimenting. Before you know it, you'll be dishing out advice (and hopefully it'll be the good kind)! 

Tip #1: Work backwards from the race date.
I'm a total paper/pencil planner type, so I will print calendars, work backwards, and design my plan from end to beginning. 

Tip #2: Add in holidays, special events, travel, or other races. 
After putting those on top of the plan, you likely will have to move things around. This is where it gets a little tricky. You really need to be sure you give yourself enough rest, especially in the taper weeks leading up to race day. You also don't want to increase your weekly mileage by too much. A good rule of thumb is to increase by no more than 10% in a week. 

Tip #3: If your plan doesn't start yet, build a base!
I see this the most--people have no idea what to do when the plan they have chosen doesn't start yet. I've seen some crazy suggestions out there! Here's my simple formula for base building: take the number of days per week you will run during the training plan, and work up to that number of days. Don't worry about mileage. This is also when you can add some speed training to help your pace. 

Tip #4: Be flexible, but don't try to "make up" your runs.
Life happens. Accept that some runs just won't get done. The worst thing you can do is try to double up or make up those runs. Like Elsa, just let it go! It's the overall commitment and quality of your training that will get you to the finish, not any one, single run.

Tip #5: Stay the course.
You may be tempted to see another plan, see another runner's posts, Google again, or just wing it and want to change things up. Plans are designed with purpose and build systematically. Stick with your plan. Don't bounce around. If you follow the plan, you will be successful! 

Best of luck on your training! 

Don't know where to start? Here are some links to get you going:
Hal Higdon plans:

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Global Running Day

Today is Global Running Day. We are also in the middle of chaos. Nothing in life lives inside a sterile vaccum. Today is a day I would usually get out, run a few miles, throw up a few hashtags and connect with my fellow runners. As I sit here this morning, I don't even know if I have it in me. Live is heavy right now. This blog is about magic, Disney, the fun of running, but I don't live in a bubble. 

So today, I will run. I will run heavy. I will think and reflect on what I have learned and the many things I still need to learn. I will run fueled by stress, by sadness, by worry and by the weight of my own responsibility. 

Global Running Day. Becuase "Happy" just doesn't seem to fit this year.

Monday, May 11, 2020

April 2020 Month in Review

This blog, at its core, is a way for me to log our journey, running and enjoying Disney. April was a wild month, and by wild, I mean lots of time at home, sitting, working and not doing anything fun. Sitting here now, I know this time of the Covid-19 pandemic quarantine will be a distant memory sometime, just not right now. April was hard. Bill was laid off in March, so I worked crazy hours making up the income. Luckily my work from home job provided the needed hours, so we didn't need to dip into savings or our running/Disney fund. For my fitness, though, the closing of the gym and added hours of sitting have not been so great. People, the "quarantine 15" is REAL!

I did manage a few workouts a week, trying to stick to my Bodypump schedule (with no bar, but at least some decent-sized weights) and kept teaching Strong by Zumba virtually. I ran here and there, but definitely didn't get in as many miles as I'd hoped for. I have developed a new, nagging hip injury (yippee), so had to take some time off and have reduced my speed and miles. My nutrition was everywhere, drank too much wine, and definitely loaded up on the sugar. I hope you didn't come here for inspiration!

May is my last month of unplanned running before jumping into my NYC Marathon training plan. I have some small goals, some big goals, but mostly the goal of just to get into a better routine. What's your plan for the month?

Friday, April 24, 2020

Friday 5: Workouts at Home

Stuck at home? Need to workout? Don't worry, I've got you covered! I rounded up some of my favorite at home workouts for this week's Friday 5! Check them out, and let me know what you think!

1. Virtual Running with New York Road Runners
Love running with NYRR
In general, I'm not a super-fan of virtual races, however we are in trying times, and sometimes you need some motivation. Last year, I did the virtual NYC marathon to gain entry to this year's race. It was crazy intense, but I also found the awesome community of NYRR virtual racing! These races are a bit more serious than other virtuals. You have to upload proof of completion through Strava, there is a wonderful, international online community for support, and there are ways to run virtually to gain entry to some of the most popular road races. I've already signed up (for FREE) for the 5k this month. Check out their site for the full schedule HERE

2. Les Mills On Demand
It's no secret that I love teaching Les Mills classes at my gym. Since most gyms (if not all) are shut down, they have made even more content available for free to keep you fit from home. My favorite, BodyPump, is definitely a challenge without the fancy bar and step, but I've been able to make some small modifications to use the weights I have at home. You can find everything from dance to yoga. Check it out HERE

3. Beachbody On Demand
(Affiliate link: If you click the link and purchase a package, I make a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you for your support!)
It's no secret that I love my Beachbody On Demand too! There are so many amazing programs, nutritional supports, and full guides to help you stay on track. I personally love Shaun T the most, but I've yet to find a workout I don't love. I highly recommend following a program (or two--look for some hybrid schedules) to ensure you have a good balance in your weekly routine. Reach out if you'd like some guidance--I'd love to help! You can find BOD HERE

4. Strong by Zumba
If you want a high intensity workout, seriously, get to a Strong by Zumba class! I am currently doing live classes twice a week on Zoom (come find me on FB and join in), or you can do a sample workout HERE There's no cha cha cha in this format! Think burpees, biceps and beats!

5. Virtual Spartan Race
Last year a friend at the gym convinced me to do a Spartan race, and I actually had a lot of fun! We had a big team and it was short enough to manage. Spartan has put together a virtual option, giving us a whole list of self-made "obstacles" to do along with a run. I even know of a few groups who are doing it, then getting together on Zoom afterwards to share their results. It's a great option for runners who want to switch up their regular routine. Check it out HERE

Finally, I wouldn't be me if I didn't also add my words of caution. Please be mindful of where you get your exercise advice, especially now. Everyone is a home workout expert on Facebook these days. Many of us have gone through years of education, training and assessment to call ourselves fitness professionals. Even more, though, have not. Working out at home presents some of its own risk: no one is there to correct your form, monitor your effort, or give advice. Be safe, and be selective about what or who you follow. I'm always here to help, so never hesitate to reach out!

I'd love to hear about how you are staying fit at home! Drop me a comment below!

Saturday, April 18, 2020

A New runDisney Era

After Thursday's record sellout of the virtual races and the craze of Wine and Dine registration, I feel we are in a new, yet familiar, runDisney era. We have warped back in time to earlier years when registration frenzies were a regular occurrence and getting in the race was (almost) harder than running the race.

Sadly, I missed out on registration for the Haunted Mansion race. I'm hoping some magical extra registrations come up. I mean, really, why not make some extra cash runDisney? No, I don't actually expect this to happen, but hey, a girl can dream!

There is something fun about returning to the insane runDisney days, though. I made some great friends in those years. Those were years of lots of travel, PRs, park days, and fun. There were blogger meetups with celebrities and swag. There were new races, familiar races, and legacy races. Most importantly, we were in a time of thriving, not in a time of international pandemic like we have never seen before.

So thank you, everyone who has made runDisney insane again. It gives me hope that we will all run again, together, very soon. Stay safe. Train smart. I can't wait to be back at Disney World in November to enjoy all 3 races at Wine and Dine. Love you all!

Note to new runners: I am in the process of updating our most popular posts: So You Want To Run Disney?  This is a great series that walks you step by step through runDisney races. Stay tuned! I can't wait to share the updates!

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Re-Planning Your Disney Vacation

Raise your hand if your Disney trip has been cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic! I fell your pain, friend!

Many of us have had the perfect trips cancelled, and the only way I know to cope is to start planning again! For me, it meant focusing on smaller trips first, then planning (and budgeting) for our 11th wedding anniversary. Here's what we are doing, step by step!

We loved the party in 2017!
1. Pick a return date. We originally rebooked our trip, with MANY changes, for mid-May. Since that isn't looking too great, we started to research some of the perks Disney is offering for those who had to cancel. If you booked an on-site room that was cancelled, you have until the end of May to book a new reservation to get free dining (must travel before October 1). You can check out the details HERE  Unfortunately for us, we already have annual passes, so we can't advantage of this offer. We are still on the fence about where to stay, but we did pick dates for Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party in September, booked with our Disney Visa points. Our travel agent (I always try to support my friends and their businesses) is also able to book for May 2021 as soon as we are ready. Our hurdle now, like many people, is Bill being furloughed and not knowing when he will return to work. With so much uncertainty in our budget, we are trying to be smart.

2. Change your flights. This is actually a bonus! We have found some very inexpensive flights, even when booking with points (which is how we mostly travel). Depending on how you paid, who you fly through, and when you were supposed to travel, you may be getting a refund or a credit. Either way, booking a flight now definitely seems smart. We are also looking ahead to Wine and Dine Weekend, seeing if we can even get those flights now. 

3. Stalk :) runDisney has postponed all race registrations, most likely because of the reduction of employees. That's my theory, at least. I have confidence that by November, we will be back to running races on schedule (please, don't burst my bubble!). With the quick sellout of Wine and Dine, I want to be sure we don't miss a registration day, especially with my goal of 40 for my 40th!

4. Rebook your dining and FastPass+. If you are within your booking window and you are planning on the (loosely) the same itinerary, you can login to My Disney Experience and change your plans right from your "My Plans" page. Of course, you can also start over and search. This is always my favorite part, so doing this has been a great way to add some fun to my daily "stay at home" life. 

5. Confirm your refunds. Since everyone is having to get refunded, it is always a good idea to stay on top of your refunds. Disney gave me a 4-6 week window for my refund, but it showed up on my card much sooner. Because we had multiple charges (split stay, rebooked reservation, and some prepaid dining), I made notes to be sure it all went through as expected. It did, and much earlier than expected, but it never hurts to be 100% sure.

6. Share your excitement. Even my most upbeat Disney FB groups seem to have some negativity about rebooking or vacations in general. I'm here to be your cheerleader! Tag me on Facebook! Share with me on Instagram! I think the world can use a little Disney magic these days!  

Can't wait to "See 'Ya Real Soon" Disney World!

Friday, April 10, 2020

A Hopeful Thought...

I can only speak of my experience here in New York. Every commercial is about staying home or celebrating the heroes of this pandemic. Yesterday, watching these emotional commercials, I had a very hopeful thought.

I can see it. I can feel it. The 50th New York City Marathon on November 1st, 2020. I know it is possible and even likely that this pandemic will be impacting us for months, maybe even into the fall, but I have high hopes that this race will not be cancelled. And damn, it's going to be an epic celebration!

Running down the streets that are now empty. Bridge to bridge, borough to borough. Celebrating life and health. Cherishing every moment even more than before. Getting to say "thank you" to our first responders, our medical teams, and our volunteers that make it all possible on that day and today. I can only imagine the tears, the chills, the smiles and the support when we all get to the other side of this.

Looking to the future and holding onto hope is what is pulling me through, day to day. Our lives are different now. These are the moments that change us and shape us; they force us to remember what is important. I would love to hear about what you are looking forward to. How are you going to celebrate? And if you're in NY, I'd love to see you in the crowd celebrating with all of us--this is America's race!

Thursday, March 19, 2020

What now?

Disney is closed. Gyms are closed. I know, this does seem trivial in the bigger picture of people's health and lives, but for many of us, these things are deeply ingrained in our happiness and self care.

Today marks 42 days until our planned Disney World trip. We have a fun, split-stay trip planned, fast passes done, matching shirts, dining reservations, flights, everything. Today is also the day that we are most likely canceling our trip. With my part time work gone and Bill officially furloughed until his company can be up and running, we have to trim every penny, like so many others. Our overly extravagant Disney vacation is a clear cut that we will have to make. Fortunately, we have not activated our annual passes yet, and we have the opportunity to reschedule for a future date. I know many of my runDisney friends are uneasy about Star Wars weekend, and just awaiting that very likely announcement of it's cancellation. Again, I know it's trivial, but when you plan and prepare for something for so long, disappointment and sadness are natural feelings.

What I am learning through this, though, is that I have a need to be a helper. My purpose is and has always been to help people. It is what drives me, and in times like these, I feel that need even more. In my fitness life, I've been sharing resources for home workouts. Last night, I ran my first live group fitness class from my home. I plan to do more as soon as I can figure out my work from home schedule and what I really need to do to keep us afloat during these trying times. (Shoot me a friend request on FB, follow me, follow the page, connect on IG--I'd love to share lots of these resources with you)

So what now? I guess we just continue helping our neighbors, try to stay positive, and look forward to better times. We follow the guidelines of the medical professionals. We pray. We smile for our kids, we laugh when we really want to cry, and we give thanks for everything we do have. Most importantly, we take care of ourselves so we can take care of others. So, with that, please eat well. Take vitamins. Exercise. Have fun. Sleep.

Remember, as Dory said, "Just keep swimming."

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Vacation Shirt Planning Tool

As everyone heads to WDW for another race weekend, I'm stuck at home just dreaming and counting down to our next trip. If you've been following along on Instagram, you know that I have a new toy! I just got a Cricut Explore Air 2, so of course I've been Disney-fying everything I can. This also means that I am on matching t-shirt mode for our next trip. As any good planner does, I've also been obsessively planning each day, the materials needed, sizes, colors, all of it! To get myself organized, I created a simple planning template. Print it. Use it. Change it (after saving on your own, of course). I hope you find it helpful!

It's time, princess!

Calling all princesses! Your time is here!

I can't say I'm not a little jealous of all of those headed to the world for the Princess Half Marathon Weekend. I have only run this weekend once, but I am excited to return in 2021.

If you are on your way, best of luck! I'll be cheering you on from home. Need a little extra inspiration or excitement? Here's a throwback Thursday for you! Disney went all out on themeing in 2015--it truly was frozen! I remember wearing every layer I brought for the 5k. Happy race recap reading!

Princess 5K 2015

Princess 10K 2015

Princess Half Marathon 2015

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Top Tips for Traveling with a Baby (or Toddler)

Recently, I have become the go-to tagged person to give some Disney advice for babies and toddlers. I guess it's no secret that we love Disney and do not subscribe to the "wait until they can remember it" thinking. We have taken both boys before they even turned one; Robby made it to both Disneyland and Disneyland Paris before that milestone birthday. Of course they won't remember it, but we will, and we'll have stories and pictures to share. I may be biased, because I was definitely "born and raised" Disney, but if you have the means, take the trip!

Robby in Paris!
While I could go on forever on how to make it the best trip ever, I narrowed it down to my top ten tips for traveling with babies and toddlers to a Disney resort. Let me know anything I missed!

1. Use the Baby Care Centers! These are special rooms located in each park (check the park map for exact locations). They are quiet, cool, and relaxing. I have personally nursed babies many times here, plus they have nice changing areas that are much less crazy than the regular bathrooms. You can also warm food, set your littles up in a proper high chair, and some even have small tables and chairs to let them watch a cartoon. It's a great place to go if you (or your baby) are overwhelmed by the crowds and just need to catch your breath. The staff is always so sweet! You can also pick up any forgotten baby-specific items here, such as diapers or baby food. These are definitely underutilized! Check them out!

2. Bring your stroller! I prefer to travel with my running stroller because it's so easy to move, even though it is pretty big (okay, the double BOB is huge). You might be more of a "smaller is better" person, which is fine too. No matter how much your kid loves to walk or you love to carry them, I think a stroller is just necessary. BONUS TIP: Mark your stroller with a tag, ribbon, or balloon. Did you know that they often move strollers to keep the park traffic flowing? When you exit a ride or attraction, your stroller will probably have been moved. We have a sign that we hang from the handlebar and it helps us find ours easily in a sea of strollers.

3. Baby-wear! Wait, but didn't you just say bring a stroller? Of course, but I honestly do both. Using a carrier while you wait in line or eat at a restaurant (with a napping baby) is the best! Also, for some areas of the park, like Fantasyland, we will park our stroller and walk from ride to ride. Just be sure not to leave your carrier in your stroller; I have heard many stories of sticky fingers taking carriers (so sad, I know).

4. Use rider swap! I really need a write step-by-step how to on this one, but let's just say you can double your fast passes and completely master Disney by using Rider Swap. This program lets one part of your party stay with the little ones while the other rides the thrill rides. Then, you can swap and skip the line so the other party can ride. If you're traveling in a group, the lucky ones can even ride twice. Just see a cast member at the fast pass line entrance and make sure to bring your little one along. They will ask who is going first and who will swap, scan your magic band or give you a pass, and you are ready to swap and have some fun.

5. Plan for regular nap times. If your baby is great at sleeping in a stroller, this can be a great time to get in some rides that have a height requirement. We personally have always done well with having the boys sleep either in a stroller or carrier (versus going back to the room).

6. Know your limits! I think this is more for toddlers than babies, but know when they have just had enough. We have suffered from trying to push Robby a little too much on a trip. Take breaks at the pool. Sleep in. Go to bed early. We all know Disney isn't a relaxing vacation, but find ways to make sure everyone gets enough rest to have some fun.

7. Poop bags are life! If you have a little still in diapers, pack the disposable diaper bags (the small, individual tie ones). Being in a hotel room with a poopy diaper isn't fun for anyone!

8. Pack a reusable shopping bag. If you plan to take a stroller, you will inevitably end up with junk under it, strapped to it, on top of it, etc. To board Disney buses, you have to fold the stroller. We always carry along a shopping bag, then just toss everything in there quickly before folding the stroller. It's so much easier than trying to hold everything or (worse) find a spot to put things.

Ryan's First Haircut
9. Measure your kiddos at home! There are quite a few rides that have a lower height requirement (think Mine Train, not Splash Mountain). Don't set your littles up for disappointment. Know their height, and plan accordingly. Of course, we double checked, but we knew exactly what rides we could go on before we arrived.

10. Make some memories! There are so many special experiences you can do! From character meals to dress up experiences, the list is almost endless. You don't have to add anything on and still have an amazing trip, but if you want a few extras, Disney offers so many options. By far, though, our favorite is the first haircut at Walt Disney World's Harmony Barbershop. Both boys and our nieces have had their first haircut there. It was an amazing experience, surprisingly affordable, and sprinkled with magic like only Disney can do. Make sure you make your reservation ahead of time! They book up fast!

runDisney bonus tip: The kids races are awesome! Both boys have already done the Diaper Dash, and Robby has run the 100m a few times. In the upcoming year, we probably won't do every kids race, but they are another great value and a ton of fun for a race weekend.

I'd love to hear your questions and tips! What is your number one tip?

Monday, January 13, 2020

The Monday after...

The Walt Disney World Marathon weekend has come and gone. We weren't there, but were definitely cheering everyone on from home! I love seeing all the pictures, posts, and stories from friends and strangers alike.

From when I said, "Never again!"
Now that it's Monday, I'm sure some of you (like me) are high on pixie dust and ready to jump into another runDisney event! We are focused on the 2021 Marathon Weekend, with Kate taking on the marathon (her first!!!!) and with me being crazy and doing Dopey just one more time. (Anyone remember 2014? That "one and done" race? I lied, I guess!). We are also going to follow the race weekend up with a cruise, and yes, doing that challenge too. Starting in May we will also be APs, so expect to see us on every course from Wine and Dine 2020 through Star Wars 2021.

Since it's Monday, and we are all motivated, I figured I'd share some of what I'm doing to help coach Kate to the marathon! Here's our January focus:

  1. Build a good base and exercise habits. We are both focused on a few runs per week just to get in the habit of getting out there.
  2. Focus on nutrition and weight loss. It's hard to lose a ton of weight during a training cycle, and we don't want to have to focus on that when we're already focused on the miles. Dropping a few pounds in the next couple of months will only make training and running easier.
  3. Get started with a Disney budget! Maybe not the most fun, but we are both starting to save for our upcoming trips. 
  4. Start looking for proof of time races. We definitely want to have a proof of time so we have a little buffer for corrals.
So take that motivation, and let's do something with it. Who's running Disney soon?