Sunday, April 30, 2017

Star Wars Dark Side The First Day 2017 (Weekly Wrap-up Edition)

My trip down to Disney started off with a few hiccups.  When you travel you just sort of have to go with the flow or it can ruin a trip.

I left for Orlando on Wednesday night.  My trip started off with a bit of stress of traffic.  I was leaving for the airport at rush hour and knew I would be fighting traffic to get through the city.  What I didn't know was there was a huge accident on the interstate.  I would have used a different interstate if I would have known when I left my house, but I didn't hear about it till right before I got to the interstate.  I decided just to take Broad Street through the city and get on after the accident.  Well that wasn't any better between rush hour traffic and construction.  I got to the airport in enough time to park, check my bag, and go through security.  They were already announcing boarding when I got through security, but I was glad to have made it.  I hate having no time at the airport to deal with everything.  It stresses me out.

Since I wasn't getting to the resort till 11 PM the plan was to stay with my friends Kelly and Franklin the first night and then check into my room on Thursday after the Expo.  I was able to change my Magical Express to a day earlier, but I had to call.  I didn't think it would be a big deal, but he had to get manager approval.  So if you ever get to WDW before your check-in date, make sure you call so you can still take the Magical Express.

I decided to not use Disney to transport my checked bag as I didn't know how long it would take them to get to our room and I didn't want to stay up to find out.  This was the first time I had not used them and it actually wasn't too difficult.  I think the only annoyance to this was that the airline I used had their baggage claim on the A side and the Disney transportation was on the B side.  So I had to go down to get my bag and back up to cross over and then back down to the transpiration area.

Everything else that evening went smoothly.  But I was exhausted and was glad to see a bed - and Kelly and Franklin of course.

The next day we headed to the expo.

I went by the front desk to checked in before we left for the expo and was told that my room would be available between 3-5.  We got back to the room a little after 12.  Kelly and Franklin had park plans so I decided to head to Disney Springs to have lunch.  I was so HUNGRY!
I love staying at Port Orleans because of the boat to Disney Springs.  It just feels more relaxing then the bus and it's fun.  Last time I was at Disney Springs they had been doing a lot of construction, including one of my favorite restaurants, Fulton's Crab House.  They had this wedge salad with crab and fried green tomatoes that was so good.  I still dream about it.

Fulton's Crab House is now no more. :(  It is now Paddlefish but still a seafood restaurant.  I had read reviews before going and knew I had to try it.  As I made my way down I noticed that the walkway that was under construction was no longer under construction.  It cuts off Ghirardelli and puts you in front of the T-Rex restaurant.  This was nice for me as all I wanted was to eat.

I ended up getting the Crab Cake BLT and Crab Fries.  I read all the wonderful reviews on the Crab Fries so I wanted those instead of the regular fries.  They brought me both.  I woofed down the sandwich so quickly that I don't remember if I even tasted it.  I'm sure it was good.  The Crab Fries were great.  I just wish they were not that expensive.

It was nice to sit outside and watch the boats and birds. The second after this picture was taken the bird stole a french fry!

I decided to burn some time and wander around Disney Springs.  With the half marathon weekend, they had displayed all of these different flags used at different races.  They were fun to read walking around.

The place is so different now.  They have a whole section that's like a real mall.  No real sign of it being Disney.  It was just weird to see all these stores, a lot high end, in the middle of Disney.  I'm sure it's great if you lived around there, but that's not the typical shopping I do on a vacation, or really any time.

It was close to 5 so I headed back to the resort to see if my room was done.  I hadn't gotten a text, so I went to the front desk to see if I could get an ETA.  He said that it wasn't ready but then went to the back and came back and said it was.  I headed up to my room excited to shower and chill out for the rest of the afternoon.  When I got to my room, this is what was waiting for me.

The linens and towels were in a pile behind the drape.
Yes, the room looked to be started by housekeeping, but not quite finished.  I called down to the front desk to see what was going on.  They were very nice and said that they would call housekeeping directly after we got off the phone and they would call me when it was ready.  Ok, no biggie, I just went to Kelly & Franklin's room to watch some TV while I waited.

An hour passed and I hadn't heard anything.  What was taking so long?  I called down to the front desk to see.  They said that housekeeping still had a hold on the room and they would call me when it was done.  I asked her if there was anything that could be done for my inconvenience.  She said that she couldn't do anything as when you hit the front desk button on the phone, you are actually calling a call center, not the people at the front desk.  I would have to go down and talk to them directly.  With that, I waited my call that my room would be finished.

Another hour passed.  It was now after 7 PM.  All I wanted to do was get in my room, shower, and organize everything for the 5k the next day.  Instead of calling, I decided to make my way down to the front desk to see what they could do for me.  I was pipping mad at this time.

I waited in line and finally was able to talk to someone at the front desk.  I calmly explained the situation and wanted to know if my room was done.  She checked and said it was.  No one had called me?!?  I told her how upset I was and asked her if there was anything they could do.  Why yes there was!  They comped me one night and gave me and my party 3 extra fast passes for the park the next day.  These were no normal fast passes, they were special.  We had our three that we scheduled and these extra ones could be used for any ride at any time.  That's right, we didn't have to schedule them, which was wonderful.  I have to say through this whole thing everyone I talked to was super nice and very apologetic.  I was very grateful for that.  I went up to my room and it was beautiful.

I was so tired but I needed a shower and to get myself organized.  It was getting close to 8 and I had so much to do to feel relaxed enough go to sleep.  What a long day!

Continue reading about the Expo the next day.

Do you like the changes to Disney Springs?  Have you ever had a hotel snafu? 

Linking up with Holly and Tricia's Weekly Wrap Up.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Random Friday Five (Friday Five Edition)

I'm working on my recaps from my Star Wars runDisney weekend.  So stay tuned.  For now, here is 5 random thoughts.

1. After 3 weeks at work, my house is a disaster area.  How can things go so wrong so quickly?  It doesn't help that I unpacked from the trip and just left everything on the floor.  I hope to get all of that put away this weekend.  Sigh....

2. As I work on my recaps, I'm finding that I'm putting in tons of detail in the posts.  I'm not sure if that's good or bad.  I love detail, but I don't want the posts to be super long and probably boring to everyone else.  I do want to be able to look back and remember the little things, but I don't want to have to go through 20 pages full of stuff. :)

3. I got extra bars to hold my medals on my wall.  I can't wait to get them up, cause I have been doubling up on medals recently.  I still have to hang up all those medals I got this past weekend.

From last year.

4. I really hate my commute into work.  I've never worked downtown and while it's not that much further then where I've worked before, mileage wise, I have to deal with a lot of traffic.  And stupid people who don't know how to merge properly.

5. I have a triathlon coming up in 2 months.  I haven't done a tri in almost 2 years.  The only reason I'm signed up for this one is that I deferred the race from last year.  I haven't ridden my bike in a year and a half and haven't swum in a year.  Starting next week I'll be swimming on Fridays.  I'm not sure when I'll bike, but it probably will be on the weekends.  I just need to get into the tri mindset, which I haven't been in in for awhile.

My first Oly from 2014

Do you have a hard time keeping your house clean during the week?  Do you have a good commute to work?  Have you done any triathlons?

I'm linking up with Fairytales and Fitness and Running on Happy for Friday Five 2.0

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Greetings from Star Wars Dark Side Weekend 2017 (Weekly Wrap-up Edition)

I'm down in Disney finishing up 3 races this weekend for the Star Wars Dark Side Half Marathon weekend.  I'll have more detailed posts coming up as soon as possible.  Till then, here are some fun pictures from the weekend.


Recaps to come as soon as possible. :)

Linking up with Holly and Tricia's Weekly Wrap Up.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Star Wars Dark Side 2016 Rememered (Friday Five Edition)

So I am down at Disney World this weekend enjoying my time and running a few races.  This is the second year that I've done this.  Here are some highlights from last years race.  And remember to follow me on Instagram and Twitter throughout the weekend!

1. Port Orleans Riverside - This was the first time I stayed here.  I've stayed at the French Quarter, which is part of the same hotel, but both have a different theme and feel.  I enjoy both very much and are a go to for my stays at Disney World.

2. iPhone Case - The last few times that I've done a race at Disney World, you can get a specialized case for your phone about the race.  This was not different.

3. Hollywood Studios - Till Star Wars Land is complete, the place to go for Star Wars fans is Hollywood Studios.  I was able to see Chewie and Kylo Ren.  There are also shows and rides that are themed to Star Wars.

4. Fun Character Photos - Before and after the race there were set up some fun character photos.  Most of the lines were very long, so you would need to get there very early or not be worried about getting to your corral late.  But it was something fun to do while we waited.

5. One of the Coolest Medals Ever - I do love the Millennium Falcon medal so much!

I'm linking up with Fairytales and Fitness and Running on Happy for Friday Five 2.0

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Packing for a Racecation (Tuesdays on the Run Edition)

I know that there are a lot of posts around to discuss packing for a racecation, but I thought I'd throw my version out there.  As I'm packing for my Star Wars Dark Side weekend, I thought I'd share my tips.

There are different ways I pack for different racecations.  If I'm driving I bring everything that I might need.  A case of water and my full size roller are included.  If I'm flying for one race, I pack everything in the carry-on.  But if I'm packing for a challenge weekend, I pack my race things in the carry-on and will checked a bag.

I found an app for my tablet that is a packing checklist.  It's nice as I can have different lists for different trips and can reuse it and not have to start the list from scratch.  I have less of a chance to forget things this way.

Since I make a few trips throughout the year, I put things in a box for secure keeping.  It's great to have all of my travel size items and things I only use for trips in one place.  It saves time from searching all over the house each trip.

First everything that you need for your races need to go in the carry-on.   The main thing to pack is the race outfit.  I pack each outfit together as not to forget something like socks.  Everything I need can fit in a gallon zip lock bag.  Then it can be reused to put the smelly wet clothes in to come home.  I actually found these packing cubes that I use for the same thing.

Liquids of course go in the 3-1-1 quart bag.  This would include Gu.  But Bodyglide is considered the same as solid deodorant, therefore does not have to go in the 3-1-1 bag.  I put other things like hand sanitizer, eye drops, and lotion.

To help space, I only pack one or two shirts.  With the number of shirts we get with a challenge, I usually just wear those shirts throughout the weekend.

I also like to bring a bag or two to bring to the expo.  I'm big on avoiding all the plastic bags that are given out at stores.  The expo is no different.  On one trip to Disney I brought home more then 10 separate plastic bags.   It also makes carrying things easier with bags that have good handles or can go over the shoulders. 

If I plan on going to a park, I like bringing a bag for that.  A small one that can carry the essentials, including a few bottles of water.  I got this bag at the Star Wars Light Side Expo.  I can throw in lotion, eye drops, hand sanitizer, and other things.  Plus it's big enough to hold 4 bottles of water.

I have this scale thing that allows me to see how heavy my checked bag is.  It's great so that I don't show up at the airport and find that my bag is overweight.  When I get ready for a trip I see how much it weighs and then I put in water till it's to about the 45 lbs weight.  I usually can get enough extra water in so that I'm not buying a ton.  And then on the way home I have space for all the race memorabilia and things I buy.  This scale is great as it tucks into the suit case and I can weigh my bag for the trip home.

Do you have any packing tips?

Sunday, April 16, 2017

First Week of Work (Weekly Wrap-up Edition)

Happy Easter to those that celebrate!  Happy Passover to those who celebrate that!  And Happy Sunday to everyone else!

This was my first week back at work in a few months.  I have to say that it was a bit of a shock to the system.  So far I haven't gotten into much as first weeks usually are, but I think it will be a good.  There really isn't much to update this week.  I was able to get my work schedule to work around my gym class, so I still can go to that. 

Monday - I got my 3 miles in.  This run was right after my hard 12 miler last weekend.  My legs still felt like lead, but better then the 12.  It was probably good to loosen up the legs for a day sitting at my desk.  And it's nice to be able to see the sunrise again.

Tuesday - I was still getting my hours strait so I missed my class at the gym.

Wednesday - Was a good 3 mile run and working on skipping my walk breaks.  I basically did that for the last two miles except I got stopped a couple time talking to people out for their walks that I haven't seen since I lost my job. 

Thursday - back to the gym and trying to remember my locker room routine.  I do miss showering at home.

Friday - A very good 3 mile run.  Felt like I was really getting my groove back.

Saturday - I met up with the running group.  My last long run before Star Wars.  Even though no one usually runs my mileage and speed, it's nice to see the same people each week.  I did reach out to help out in a couple weeks.  I feel like I should give back to all of the setup and sags that they give us.

Star Wars Dark Side is next weekend.  Right now it's the last race I have signed up for.  I'm sure there will be a few more this year, but I'm kinda just playing this year be ear.  I'll have more exciting posts coming up. :)

How was your week?  Do you plan your whole race year or just sign up for races as they get close?

Linking up with Holly and Tricia's Weekly Wrap Up.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Universal Studios Hollywood 2017 vlog (Weekly Wrap-up Edition)

I haven't been very good about running this week.  I'm back to thinking running is bleck.  Monday and Wednesday wasn't too bad, but it took a bit to get out the door.  Friday I woke up and my back really hurt.  So that was my excuse to not run.  I had a 12 mile run this weekend and yesterday I woke up and really didn't want to go.  My back still hurt a little and I was just a little hung over so I decided that I wasn't going.  I did get my act together this morning, but it took me a bit to get out the door.  By the time I got out there at 10 it was already 63 degrees.  By the time I finished it was in the low 70's.  I should have just got my butt out the door.  It was such a hard run.  I hated literally every step of the run.  The only thing that got me through is the book on tape I was listening to.  I still feel like crap.  But it's done and my last long run till my next half.  Really am glad I am not signed up for any more halfs after this one.  I'll be happy to not run more then 6-7 miles for the summer.

On other fronts I got a job and will be starting Monday - as in tomorrow.  I'm a bit nervous.  I'm a bit excited.  And more then anything I'm going to miss my time off.  But it will be good to get back into a new routine.

I have my last vlogs to share with everyone.  From my day at Universal Studios.  I took tons of video so both are pretty long.  But if you ever have any thoughts of going, it should give you a good idea about the park.

If you missed, here are the other vlogs from the weekend.
Make sure you read my post from Universal.

This first one is getting into the park and the Harry Potter Wizarding World.

This second one is the rest of the day in the park.

I hope everyone enjoyed the vlogs.  I have enjoyed editing them together and plan on doing the same for the Star Wars Dark Side Half Marathon Weekend.

Have a great week!

Linking up with Holly and Tricia's Weekly Wrap Up.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Ukrop's 10k 2017 Recap (Tuesdays on the Run Edition)

On Saturday I ran the Ukrop's 10k.  This is a race that I have done almost every year for the last 10 years, even before I started running.  Some years are good, some are not such great races, but all have been fun.  This year it was a good run.

The expo was on Thursday and Friday.  We usually go on Thursday night and go out to dinner after, but this year schedules did not work out.  So I went Friday afternoon after running errands.  It was chilly and rained most of the day.  Glad the rain got out of the way as race day was nice and dry.  On the way there, I got caught behind all the port-a-potties being put into place on Broad Street.

The expo was at the Author Ashe Center as usual.  The setup is the same as it has been since I started participating.

As always bib pickup was efficient.  I also bought my wristband for the shuttle on race day.

They have a small section for official merchandise.  I didn't get anything this year.  They have a lot of nice items, not only for the race, but for 'Run RVA'.

Once through the official merchandise you head around to the other side of the building to pick up the shirt.

I walked around the expo some, but didn't buy anything.  I did find some of my shoes on sale, but I already have 3 waiting for me to wear (I buy when I see them on sale), so I decided against another pair.  I stopped by the VCU Bookstore booth as I realized I didn't really have any shirts or jackets but nothing called out for me.  Will have to tell my mom that would be some good items for my birthday.

I left with I only the reusable grocery bag that they always give out with the shirts, the shirt, my bib, and my wristband for the shuttle.

Saturday I woke up in plenty of time to get up and get ready without rushing.  I really wasn't too nervous as I knew where to go and what time I had to be places.  I met up with my running friends at City Stadium, which is were we meet every Saturday for runs.  We got on the bus and headed to down to the start line.

We usually stop at the coffee place on the way to the start line to use the bathroom, but they were closed.  That threw us off a little, but we made our way up to the bag check.  This year the park where the after party usually is is fenced off for construction.  We did find port-a-potties that were for the after party and there was absolutely no line.  We jumped at the chance.  We then wondered around trying to find our way to the start line but ended up at the finish.  The first racers had already started over 8 minutes before - and we still had 20 some minutes to get to our corrals.

With the construction and the finish line being between us and the start, we had to go all the way back to the bag check to find a way to the start line.  All of us were in different corrals but we all ended up starting in the same one.

The start was smooth and each corral kept going on one right after the other.  

Top: Corrals in front of us.  Bottom: Corrals behind us.
I kept looking around for the water station that they said would be out there, but I didn't see it.  I knew this wasn't good as I was thirsty even before the race started.  Before I knew it, we were off.

The first mile was hard.  It felt like it took forever to see that first mile marker.  Usually for this race it's the second mile marker that feels like forever.  I knew I was going out fast like I always do at races, but I kept trudging on with my walk/runs.

The rain from Friday was totally gone and the clouds were parting to a nice sunny day.  There were a lot of people coming out to cheer us on.  There was a party stop or band almost every block.  The route is an up and back and it's fun to watch the people on the other side of the median.  I brought my music, but I didn't put it in as there was a lot of things to watch and music on the course.
There is also a costume contest and there were a few neat ones out there.  There was a group that dressed as the Simpsons and a giraffe made of balloons.  I think they were supposed to be April the Giraffe that is a webcam sensation as everyone waits for her to give birth.  Someone told me after the race that there was a pregnant lady walking the race in a giraffe costume as well.

The second and third mile felt the same as the first.  I felt like I was putting it all out there and I was worried that I would crash at mile 4.  But I kept pushing knowing that if I crashed then I put in a good first few miles.  The crowds kept cheering us on to keep going.

Soon after mile 3 was the turn around.  While the race is advertised as a flat course, there is a little accent and decent (my watch shows 85 feet accent and 108 feet decent).  I felt like we did most of the accent in the first 3 miles so I was looking forward to some very small down hills.  But it really there wasn't any, so it was in my head.

We turned to start the other way and the sun was right in our faces.  For the next mile the temperatures went up a little and we had direct sunlight.  I could tell it was getting warmer but I felt like I was still putting everything into each mile.  Thankfully mile 5 had big trees that gave us some shade.  Even with it getting warmer, the 4th and 5th miles were faster then the first 3.  I was hopping to keep pushing it to the end.

During the 6th mile the big trees were gone and it really got a lot hotter.  I knew this last mile would be the hardest and probably the slowest.  And then I started to get a side stitch.  Even thought I drank at every water stop, I knew I was a bit dehydrated.  I kept up with my walk/run and breathed through the pain.  I knew if I kept up, I'd have a great time.  No where near a PR, but a good time.  The 6th mile was only a few seconds slower then the 4th and 5th.

Once I passed the 6th mile marker I ran it in.  I saw one lady in front of me that I wanted to pass before the finish.  I passed her really fast, so I kept my eye on one other lady.  She was keeping a good pace and even though I was catching her, I was having a hard time passing her.  At the very last bit, I passed her and crossed the finish line.

This was a tough race and I knew I put everything out on the course.  I was very proud of keeping up with each mile even though they were hard.  And looking back, I even did a negative split.  I was so proud as I never have a negative split at races and even at a race where it got much hotter the second half.  Everything was feeling good, even my skinned knees.  While this wasn't a PR, this is my new proof of time race.

I found my friends at the finish.  

I thought the medals were a little dinky and I didn't get the design.  Then I saw someone putting their medals together.  It turns out that there are magnets on the edges and the next 2 years we will get medals to connect to it.  That was actually very inventive and cool.

We collected our bags and headed to one of the local restaurants to have brunch.  We haven't done a brunch after our run in a long time, so it was great to catch up with everyone.

Have you run the Ukrop's 10k?  Do you do brunch after races?