Tag Archives: Disney

Disneyland: The FOOD!

It would be remiss if I didn’t mention the food aspect of Disneyland. I mean, this did start off as a food blog, didn’t it?

Magic on the West Coast

Magic on the West Coast

Admittedly, I wasn’t sure what to expect when it came to Disneyland dining. With the introduction of the Disney Dining Plan a few years ago, my return to yearly Disney trips has always included them. When I used to go with my family, there wasn’t a dining plan option. So, we did a variety of quick service and table service meals, while trying not to spend too much money (we would even go to the grocery store and get already cooked chicken and sides for dinner at least one night). The dining plans now really allow you to enjoy all that Disney has to offer when it comes to dining. It’s pretty awesome to know you have X number of meals available to you, to use however you please. At least, that’s the case for Disney World. To be honest, I’m not exactly sure how the Disneyland dining plans work, aside from the fact that they’re different than WDW’s options, and are not worth it (according to multiple people).

That being said, we opted out of a dining plan option while in Disneyland, and just did our own thing. Having never been to Disneyland, I really didn’t know where to start when it came to dining; what restaurants were the best? Who had vegetarian friendly food? Where would we get the most bang for our buck? I did as much research as I could, and decided to book two meals ahead of time: dinner on Saturday night post-10k and pre-half marathon, and breakfast on Sunday morning after the half. I figured those were the two most important meals of the weekend, and I didn’t want to run into any issues by not having reservations.

When we arrived on Friday, we weren’t sure what to have for dinner, after devouring some delicious mini cupcakes at the cupcake meet-up. But as we were walking through Downtown Disney, we spotted Tortilla Jo’s, and knew we had to eat there. When faced with the option to eat Mexican and Southwestern food, we will almost always choose it. There was a bit of a wait, but we were eating so early (we had been up since 2am EDT) we didn’t mind the wait. Once seated, I had no problem enjoying a skinny margarita and guacamole, followed by a delicious veggie burrito. By the time dinner was over we were stuffed to the gills and ready for bed… no dessert necessary.

Does it get any better than this?

Does it get any better than this?

After the race on Saturday morning, by the time we showered and were in the parks and finally hungry, it was around 11am. We headed to Paradise Pier in California Adventure and got ourselves a giant sourdough bread bowl filled with soup. Only after we ordered and started eating did I realize we were enjoying a San Francisco favorite, a city we’d be visiting in just a few days… go figure! The bread was the perfect post-race treat, and the broccoli and cheddar soup that came in it was awesome – just the right amount of cheese and cream to broccoli ratio. Since we had a later meal (we’ll call it brunch?), I opted for ice cream as an early afternoon treat once in Disneyland. I certainly was not a poster child for proper pre and post race fueling on this trip, but hey, you have to live a little.

Rainbow sprinkles. Always.

Rainbow sprinkles. Always.

Dinner reservations on Saturday were at 6pm, which gave us enough time to enjoy the parks before dinner so we could head back to the hotel afterwards for an early bedtime. I had heard wonderful things about the Monte Cristo sandwich served in New Orleans Square, so I knew we had to go. After reading a few reviews and tips, I decided to make a reservation at Cafe Orleans, rather than Blue Bayou (it was noted as slightly cheaper, but pretty much the same). We enjoyed some Parmesan garlic fries to start, and by the time our Monte Cristo’s came out, I was already on my way to being full. As you can see in the picture below, it’s A LOT of (fried) food. I wound up only eating one piece, and brought the rest back to the hotel (we had a fridge and microwave!). It was delicious, but heavy. There were a bunch of tip son FourSquare saying it was big enough to share, and we should have listened. Oh well, next time!

Fried, cheesy deliciousness.

Fried, cheesy deliciousness.

Sunday’s breakfast was planned at Carnation Cafe, another noted favorite by many of the blogs and articles I read while researching. Apparently their head chef has worked in Disneyland for 55+ years! I hadn’t really looked at the menu before (which is rare for me) but I was pleased to see Huevos Rancheros – they are one of my favorite breakfasts! The eggs were perfectly poached and I’m always thrilled to see things like black beans, avocados, and cilantro on my plate. We weren’t rushed at all, and it was nice to sit back and relax after the half marathon.

huevos

Pretty much all of my favorite things.

Being the bad blogger that I am, there were also a lot of other delicious things we had on our trip that I just didn’t take a picture of. Like an awesome jalapeno stuffed pretzel with a Torpedo IPA at Bayside Brews and an epic java explosion sundae from Ghirardelli, both in California Adventure.

Our final meal wasn’t actually in Disneyland, but rather at Buca di Beppo, about a mile down the road with my cousin and his family. My cousin has lived in California all his life (after my Aunt packed up and moved there when she was 18 – my mom always jokes that she moved across the country with garbage bags full of her stuff), and we don’t get to see each other that often because of the distance. Since he only lives about an hour outside of Disneyland, we made sure to meet up with the whole gang (he has three kids, all under the age of 5!). It was a great way to cap off our Disneyland trip.

Since we spent the next 3 1/2 days in San Francisco, you better believe the eating did not stop there! I can’t wait to share that part of the trip with you as well… I fell completely in love with that city.

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Disneyland: Dumbo Double Dare

Another Disney race is in the books! A week and a half ago now (whoops) I headed to the west coast to run the Disneyland half marathon and complete the Dumbo Double Dare with a 10k as well. This was my first time in Disneyland, and it was tons of fun.

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I know a lot of people have a hard time understanding why someone would pay so much money to run a race that is generally not competitive, where a lot of people dress up and there are storybook characters on the course. And I get it – it definitely isn’t for everyone. But as someone that spent pretty much every family vacation in Disney World and loving it, when I became a runner it seemed only logical to do a Disney race. It combines two of my favorite things, and it’s a great way (for me) to really enjoy both of them at the same time. But after four Run Disney weekends, I’m ready to take a little break to enjoy other races across the country. But back to the races!

We arrived in Los Angeles on Friday and took a shuttle bus to our hotel in Anaheim. This was the first time I wasn’t staying on Disney property, but the hotel was literally across the street from the parks, and significantly cheaper. When I’m in Disney World I always stay on property (I think it adds to the experience), but it isn’t necessary in Disneyland. We headed to the expo to pick up our bibs, and then went to Krissy’s geniusly organized Cupcake Meet-up! I enjoyed some mini cupcakes and got to hang with one of my favorite running pals (Krissy, duh). It was an early night of course, and the 4am wake up call came quickly.

The beauty of racing in Disneyland is that you can walk to the start – unlike in Disney World where you have to take a bus, and then walk 20 minutes to the corrals. Before I knew it we were off, running our first Disneyland race!

The 10k was tons of fun – it went through both Disneyland and California Adventure Parks and ended in Downtown Disney. Since we were in corral A, as we were heading to the finish we stopped to take a picture with Tweedles Dee & Dum since they were all alone. It was my first mid-race character picture! The race ended (55 and change, nice and easy) and my ankle felt FINE!

DL_Tweedle

We spent Saturday walking around the parks an enjoying all of Disneyland. After a morning in California Adventure, we stopped by the Grand Californian Hotel for a Twitter meet-up put on by @pavementrunner, @katsnf, and @seesharprun. It was great to catch up with old running friends and finally meet new ones in person! We finished the day in Disneyland with an epic Monte Cristo for dinner (more on the food later), and I was in bed and asleep by 8:30pm (old lady status) ready for my 3am wake up!

Sunday morning was easy during the Dumbo Double Dare compared to Goofy Challenge’s Sunday. I had no problem getting up, had plenty of energy, and was ready to run more! While we were waiting in our corral for the start, we ran into Krissy again! Fate, I tell you. After watching a couple get engaged, seeing Sean Astin and Joey Fatone be interviewed, and general pre-race Run Disney fun, it was time for 13.1. My plan was to try and run a 2 hour half marathon. I really haven’t run consistently in the last two months, and I had no idea what to expect from my ankle. So we started off easy, and each wound up taking a bathroom break in the first 2 miles (too much Nuun, apparently). We kept a pretty steady sub-9 pace for the first 10 miles (minus the bathroom break), and enjoyed the parks again. Even though the second half of the race was just through streets of Anaheim, it was much more entertaining than Disney service roads.

DL_10k

This is a picture of me running on Saturday. Pretend it’s Sunday – it looked the same.

Once we made it to the Angel’s stadium (which was so loud with spectators), I decided to see if I could do what has now become “running the Disney way”… A serious negative split and push in the last few miles. We’ve managed to do this on the second day of each challenge weekend since we started, and in a sick way I look forward to it. We slowly picked up each of the final miles, with the last one clocking in a 7:40 average. We crossed in 1:57, which I was more than happy with considering the easy pace, bathroom breaks, and lack of consistent training I’ve had recently. And as I crossed the finish line and got my medals, I ran into Krissy (who ran the 10k the day before and another half the day after!) and Emily (who just BQ’d!), some of my Oiselle teammates!

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After breakfast in Disneyland and a picture with Dumbo himself, I was ready to fully enjoy the parks for the last day and a half. Unfortunately, my left foot started to hurt around the arch and inner ankle bone by late Sunday, and by Monday I was struggling to walk (yes, that’s the opposite foot that has been giving me trouble). It was very similar to the pain I had last January during marathon weekend. I have a feeling I was overcompensating for potential ankle pain, and my feet were just exhausted from 19.3 miles of running and walking through all the parks (I wore my sneakers with orthotics every single day) in such a short period of time. It certainly wasn’t the way I wanted to end the trip, but I was happy my ankle pain was pretty much non-existent!

Before I knew it we were heading back to the airport, but instead of heading home, we were on our way to San Francisco (recap of that awesome city to come)!

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Eating Through Disney: Character Dining

One of the few times I wish I had children is when I go to a character breakfast, lunch, or dinner. It’s always such a treat to see the kids light up as a character makes their rounds and arrives at their table (it’s kind of cute to see the little ones that are petrified of the characters, too). Since I don’t have any children and am not planning on having them anytime soon (or ever…), the next best thing is to go with friends. Even though not all of our character meals were spent with others, we still had a blast. And yes, we went to more than one – three to be exact!

Our first character experience was breakfast over at The Beach Club’s Cape May Café, with Krissy the day after the marathon! I had never been, so I was more than game to give it a try. I do remember way back when (I’m talking elementary school) having breakfast at the Yacht Club, and I’ve eaten at Beaches and Cream, but that was it. We took a bus from our hotel (Pop Century) over to Hollywood Studios (which I refuse to recognize as HS, it’ll always be MGM to me), and walked over to the resort, passing the Boardwalk, Swan, and Dolphin hotels on the way. We even strolled by mile 24 of the marathon, and I made sure to stop and strike a pose.

Disney-001

The view these resorts (Boardwalk, Beach, and Yacht) have is phenomenal, so I made sure to snap a picture. I wouldn’t mind waking up to that view on vacation! And, being that there is an actual boardwalk and a path that takes you from the resorts to Hollywood Studios, it’s a great place to get in a run… though the last thing on my mind the Monday after a marathon is running!

beachclub_view

Breakfast was delicious – they had your typical breakfast fare including eggs, hot and cold cereals, breakfast meats, pastries, etc. The highlight was of course the visit from Minnie, Goofy, and Donald, who had a little fun with us at our table. The tables are covered in paper (think Macaroni Grill) and when Donald came over he wrote a note to us for doing a good job on running the races over the weekend. Then, after an interaction with our waitress, Donald came back later to write that he was #1, and scribbled out our waitress’s name! Of course, Minnie made her way back around and detailed for us that Mickey was in fact number 1, followed by herself, Daisy, and THEN Donald. We were in hysterics the entire time – I love when the characters interact and joke with you! I even noted how their handwriting was so impressive using just little crayons, and Krissy immediately said “I don’t know what you’re talking about Danielle – that’s Minnie!!” Boy do I love feeling like a kid! We had so much fun, we spent almost 2 hours there and basically closed down their breakfast service. I’d call that a success!

krissy_brunch

Finally meeting online friends is the best!

The next character adventure took us to The Crystal Palace in Magic Kingdom for breakfast. I’ve eaten here before (at least two other times that I can remember), for both breakfast and dinner. Winnie The Pooh was (and still is!) one of my favorite Disney stories, so I love getting to see him and his friends. I actually remember waiting in a long line to have Eeyore sign my “autograph” book the first time I went to Disney World, and when I finally got up there and handed him my book, the cast member with him informed me he was unable to sign my book due to his “paws” (apparently the character costumes weren’t intuitive back in 1992 and Eeyore’s wasn’t pen-friendly), so I took my picture, and then started to hysterically cry out of embarrassment and not having his signature. As I’ve observed in the years since, I see that Eeyore can in fact now sign autograph books – those lucky kids! But I digress…

Disney-002

Aside from the characters, my second favorite part about the Crystal Palace is the atmosphere. It’s such a bright restaurant, and one that I think feels very “Florida.” In addition to the great atmosphere, I love the kid’s section they have for food, cutely named “Pooh’s Corner.” During breakfast they offer what they called stuffed French toast, but to me is more like a giant zeppoli that’s been covered in a cinnamon and sugar mixture… heavenly! Like I said earlier in the post, sometimes I feel funny without any kids at character meals, but the woman at the table next to us (with two young boys) leaned over after one of the characters had come to visit and exclaimed “you two are so cute! I love it!” That definitely made me feel better about being such a big kid. We even had  visit to our table from an absolutely adorable little girl in a Tinkerbell costume. She came over to us, sat down, and just smiled. Her mom came over and grabbed her while saying “sorry honey, but Tinkerbell isn’t part of this character breakfast!” … it was so cute.

Disney-003

The final character breakfast stop was at Chef Mickey’s in the Contemporary Resort. I stayed at the Contemporary back in 1995 when my dad happened to be on a business trip to Orlando (score!) and the hotel is just as fabulous as I remembered. Of course, the selling point to a 10 year old was the monorail IN the hotel, and I still think it’s the coolest thing ever. Eating at Chef Mickey’s as a child was a ton of fun, and since I’m barely an adult (sure, my age may say so, but my actions say otherwise), I knew it would be just as fun on this trip. This was actually our last meal of the trip; we didn’t have a park ticket for the day since we had to leave at 2p, and getting to the Contemporary was easy – hop on the resort bus to Magic Kingdom, and then walk over. I can say without a doubt that this was by far my favorite breakfast buffet (and I had three on the trip!). There were a ton of vegetarian options (and just a lot of options in general), and everything was really delicious. Besides, how can you not love your meal when you’re visited by Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, and Pluto?!

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I’m definitely planning on doing at least one character breakfast while we’re in Disneyland at the end of the summer for the Dumbo Double Dare – I’ve got to experience the characters on both coasts!

Have you ever done character dining? Did you like it?
Where should I eat while I’m in Disneyland (I’ve never been!)?

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Almost Goofy

If you follow me on Twitter, you already know that I didn’t complete the Goofy Challenge this year. But let’s start from the beginning, shall we?

Just like last year, we planned to arrive early on Friday morning to give ourselves enough time to head to the Expo and relax before getting to bed early. By the time I was in bed on Friday night (well, let’s be honest, Friday evening), my feet were a little sore. I figured it was just from all the walking we had done, and went to bed. I woke up on Saturday morning and noticed my foot was a little sore, but continued to get ready. As time went on, though, I started to realize things weren’t looking good for my foot – it wasn’t just tired from the moderate walking we did the day before, but instead there was a dull pain very similar to the pain I had ignored when my foot first started bothering me. After walking back and forth to my room multiple times while asking my husband what he would do, I realized it wouldn’t be smart for me to run the 13.1 miles that morning. As tears welled up in my eyes, I told my husband to go on without me. At the time, nothing could have been worse – I hobbled back to the hotel room at 3:30am, alone, with the hopes of getting that coveted Goofy Challenge medal gone. I iced my foot, and prayed to the running Gods it would be okay for Sunday’s 26.2.

Before the no running decision

Before the no running decision

The decision not to run on Saturday was hard, but I think in the end proved to be the right one. I figured between the two races, I would much prefer completing another 26.2 to another 13.1, and knew if my foot wasn’t well on Saturday, there would be no chance for a run on Sunday. I took it easy on Saturday (with a trip to EPCOT I’ll recap in a food related post later), and stopped by the KT Tape booth at the Expo to get taped (I figured it couldn’t hurt). When I woke up on Sunday morning, my foot was still a little sore, but in much better shape than it had been the day before. I told my husband that I didn’t care how long it took us, we were going to finish and I was going to get at least one medal out of the weekend!

All taped up!

All taped up!

Because the race starts so early it means I have to wake up super early, which causes problems for my oh-so-temperamental GI system. I have a pretty decent routine on days when I have to wake up at a normal time (typically anytime after 6am), but when I have to wake up super early, I run into issues, despite being diligent with my pill taking in the days leading up to the race. Since I didn’t get to empty the tank before the race (just like last year), I knew we’d be stopping along the way… I just didn’t know it would be 3 times! Because I didn’t know how my foot was going to be feeling, I wasn’t worried about the stops and it slowing us down; I assumed the race would be more of a hobble than anything else.

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The start!

As the race started, the first few miles were interesting – some steps were pain-free, while others were a little worrisome. After about 5 miles and an energy pumping run through Magic Kingdom, my foot pain was no longer a concern, and I took my first bathroom break. Unlike last year, the race took us to MK early, but instead of taking us on a long trek to Animal Kingdom, we ran to the Speedway and around the track there, where I took another bathroom break. Once we were out of the Speedway and en route to Animal Kingdom, we were already halfway, which we crossed in about 2:18. At this point I was feeling pretty good, despite the rising temperature and nearly 100% humidity. I’m SO glad I decided to wear a hat!

After the halfway point I decided to break up the remaining miles based on what I knew was left – 4 miles to Animal Kingdom, 3 miles to and in ESPN Wide World of Sports (and hitting mile 20!), 3 miles to Hollywood Studios, and then just 3 within HS and EPCOT to the finish. I knew that I wanted to save a little energy for those last few miles in the parks, because they really are electrifying and fun to speed through! As we made our way into Animal Kingdom, I realized that at that point, I was feeling the best I had ever felt during a marathon… even with all the drama from the day before. With just about 8 miles to go, I knew I’d be able to finish and started to slowly pick up the pace.

Damn watermark!

Damn watermark!

By this point the sun was beating down on us, and I was soaked. I’m talking to the point where my shorts were dripping on the back of my legs – so delicious. We made sure to stop at every single station, oftentimes taking Powerade and water, so I knew I was at least hydrated and the cold sponges they handed out around mile 18 were glorious. I took my third and final bathroom break before leaving ESPN’s Wide World of Sports, and enjoyed a lap around their track and all their fields. By this point it was the home stretch, so I started to pick it up, realizing I could *almost* PR if I kept going. By this point we realized that if I hadn’t taken THREE bathroom breaks (!!) I would have definitely PRed, which helped hammer home that I made the right decision the day before. I ran into Krissy at this point and we chatted for a bit before I continued on my way. She was in such great spirits and having a great time just running and stopping to take pictures with the characters – her attitude was infectious and helped me get through those last miles! I soaked up the miles in Hollywood Studios, down past the Beach Club, Yacht Club, and Boardwalk Hotels, and finally into EPCOT. I skipped the last two water stations and powered through, crossing in 4:27:06 with the announcers reading off my name!

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Number 4 done!

Of course as soon as I finished my quads started to scream, but I had no foot pain at all… go figure! I was able to spend the rest of the day in Magic Kingdom and enjoy dinner at the new Be Our Guest restaurant. The rest of the week included zero running (but LOTS of walking!), and I’m really looking forward to getting back to it this week. I’m in the process of figuring out what fall marathon I want to run since I went with the refund for the 2012 NYCM, and I’m focusing on some Spring half marathons in the meantime. So tell me…

Any fall marathon suggestions for me?
What are you currently training for? 

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Gearing Up

This coming weekend, I’ll be running my fourth marathon, and my fifth half marathon as part of Disney’s Goofy Challenge! If you remember, I ran this race last year; it was fun, but definitely harder than I had anticipated so I wasn’t sure if I’d be giving it a shot again. After minimal persuasion, I signed up. And just like last year, I’m hoping that my fall marathon training will help carry me through the weekend’s races (don’t worry, I’ve been running A LOT since then, but October marathon training is hopefully a solid base). Since this is my third trip to Disney to run, and my 4th trip there in the last 4 years (all in January!), I’m really excited for the familiarity as well as the new changes that I’ll experience both during the races as well as at Disney in general.

In terms of the race, the marathon course is different this year, including a trip to the speedway and ESPN’s Wide World of Sports. I’m looking forward to this for one very big reason – it breaks up the course! The old route spent so much time on service roads, which is not fun at mile 16 of a marathon… especially when it’s really your 29th mile of the weekend. Those service roads were what I like to refer to as “the dark times” of the race last year – I really struggled due to a lack of proper nutrition before the race… So I’m going to be sure not to have a repeat. Of course I’m also looking forward to the mile 20 party (since it’s the 20th anniversary of the race), the medals, and seeing all the ridiculous costumes and characters along the way! I’ll also be keeping my eyes peeled for Joey Fatone and Sean Astin (Rudy!), because you better believe I’ll start singing or chanting, depending on who I find!

For the parks, I’m super pumped to check out the additions to Fantasyland in Magic Kingdom. Since I’m an 8 year old at heart, Magic Kingdom is my absolute favorite. I was able to score a reservation at the new Be Our Guest restaurant to celebrate finishing Goofy, so expect a review on that once I get back! Aside from the update to Fantasyland, I’m just excited to visit all the parks and go on every ride – multiple times. Plus, I’m a huge fan of Disney dining, and have a few new restaurants I’ll be checking out as well as dining in Mexico because it’s my hands-down favorite. Disney food has never disappointed (me), so it’ll be fun approaching it as a vegetarian for the first time.

And, maybe most importantly, this will be my first race (well, first two) representing the Oiselle Team! I wound up sitting out the Hangover 5k due to foot pain and not wanting to risk the upcoming races and vacation, and based on the fact that it feels almost 100%, I’m happy with the decision. I have my racing singlet, Rogas, Lori shorts, arm warmers, and sweet temporary tattoo all ready to go for two days of racing… and lots of other Oiselle shirts packed for my days at the parks. Here’s to hoping I don’t stink up my singlet too much on day one (I’m only half kidding…)!

In addition to running for Oiselle, I’m really looking forward to hopefully meet up with a lot of people I’ve connected with online. I already have plans for a character breakfast with Krissy, and I can’t wait! We started chatting via Twitter after last year’s Disney Marathon, and I’m really excited to finally meet her. So for anyone that’s heading to Disney for this weekend’s races – let me know – I’d love to meet up!

I know that running races “for fun” and taking it easy isn’t for everyone (believe me, I have trouble with it sometimes too), but this is the one time a year I really take the time to enjoy running. I mean, what a benefit to being obsessed with running – a Disney vacation (or vice versa)! I already have my sights set on the Disneyland half in September since I’ve never been to Disneyland, so 2013 may be the year of Run Disney events. I can’t wait to share the race and dining experiences with you when I get back. But in the meantime, tell me:

Have you ever been to Disney (land or world)? What’s your favorite ride? Favorite park? 
Do you ever run races “for fun”? 

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January’s Fail

And so another month has come and gone. Hard to believe I’ve already given myself and “completed” three months of personal challenges. January was a month of no meat, and while I tried, I would be lying to you and myself if I posted here saying I completed the month successfully. While it wasn’t a total failure (i.e. eating meat frequently), I did have some. I’d say I got a D on this, you know, if we were giving it a grade.

For the most part, I stuck to a full-fledged vegetarian diet. However, while on vacation, I quickly realized that our society truly does cater to the meat-eaters of the world (for the most part). There were some restaurants that didn’t have one vegetarian  item listed; and I’m talking not even a pasta dish where I could request it without some ingredients. Sure, I could have asked for something vegetarian and off the menu (especially since I was in Disney and they are very accommodating), but I didn’t want to go through the hassle. That may seem like a cop-out, but it was the reality of the situation and the way I decided to handle it. My husband liked to declare throughout the month, “you’re the worst vegetarian ever!”

When I had the choice between meat and no meat, I always went meatless – even if it meant passing up my favorite chicken fingers and honey mustard sauce, or filet mignon at my in-law’s. I also cooked completely vegetarian for the month, but that’s standard far in our household.

[Source]

So, I guess you can say I learned something this past January. I prefer a vegetarian lifestyle, but when faced with only meat options, I’ll eat it. Similarly, there are times when I really just want a hamburger. Though, the thought of meat has become increasingly unappetizing. While waiting at the deli counter with my husband over the weekend, I couldn’t bring myself to pick something out. So, the bottom line is that no, I am not a full-fledged vegetarian. I don’t have a need for the label, so we’ll leave it at that. I prefer veggies, grains, and legumes over meat on most days, but every once in awhile, at least for now, I need some meat in my life (insert “that’s what she said” here). Who knows, this all may change – but for now that’s my eating philosophy; eat what you want, how you want, and when you want.

What’s on deck for February, you may ask? Yoga! I’m hoping to do yoga at least once a week, preferably more. Since I’m not really working right now (hello student teaching), they’ll all be done at home either with Pocket Yoga, On Demand, or my own routine. That way, I can save the dollar bills but still get in my practice. Hopefully this will go better than last month – we’ll see!

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I’m a Marathoner! – Philadelphia Marathon Recap

For whatever reason, running a marathon is something that has been on my to-do list for years – even before I started running. There’s something elusive about the marathon, and being a marathoner, that intrigued me enough to pick up running with that as my end goal. I always knew that training for a marathon required a lot of work, but I figured I was up for the challenge.

After running the Disney Half Marathon, even though I was injured, I knew we wanted to run a marathon later in the year. I first set our sights on the Pittsburgh Marathon in May, but soon realized I wouldn’t be healed in time, and a rush training job for our very first marathon would be a recipe for disaster. So, I decided on Philadelphia – there weren’t any pace requirements, it was a relatively cheap race ($65), and was close enough. Unfortunately I never got to the all important 20 mile long run – I only made it to 18, and it was a struggle. Needless to say I was extra nervous on race day.

After a carbo-loading dinner on Saturday, it was early to bed for our 4:30a wake-up call. My usual pre-race meal was a little more difficult for me to get down because of nerves, but we were ready to go by 5:45, and made my way to the starting corrals about a mile from our hotel. Since I was hoping to run between 4:30 and 5 hours, I was in the 7th of 8 corrals. It took my coral about 22 minutes from the official start of the race to get going, which was definitely a shorter wait than I had anticipated. It was chilly, but as soon as I started moving I was thankful for my short and t-shirt combo, with homemade arm warmers (hello tube socks) and cheap gloves.

So pretty at 5a

As soon as we crossed the mat, people took off. Since the half and full start together, we were a mixed crowd which I had to remind myself of. One guy near me joked “everyone’s gotta be a hero!” and it was then that I realized I needed to make sure not to be one of those people – I had a long morning ahead of me. There wasn’t really any point during the first miles where I felt great. I usually start off feeling strong with fresh legs and then slowly get tired, but my legs didn’t feel all that great from the beginning. I wasn’t worried, though, and I kept my pace just around 10 minutes, which was a little too fast. I wanted to keep an even 10:20, but my legs just wouldn’t go that slow. They sure went that slow later!

The first half was really crowded. I didn’t even stop for water at the first two stations for fear of getting trampled. Towards the end of the first half, a woman cut right in front of me, and literally bent down to the ground to pick something up. I didn’t have enough time to move, and wound up slamming into her. All I could think was “seriously?” and was glad I didn’t hurt myself. As we were nearing the halfway mark, it was hard to hear people screaming “Alright, this is it! Just a little more!” knowing that I was only half way there. As we rounded the corner, though, I got a glimpse of some elites coming in which was awesome.

I would be lying if I didn’t say the second half was a struggle. The real struggle didn’t start until we were in Manayunk. First, it was just me wanting things to be over, but then my legs got in on the party too. I saw some college friends right before and after mile 20, which helped push me a bit more, but then the legs just didn’t want to go. It really was a 20 mile race, followed by 6.2 miles of struggle. These miles were anywhere from about a 10:30 to 12:30 pace, give or take. I had been walking through the water stations from when I started taking water/Gatorade, but this time each stop had a little bit longer of a walk, as my knees were starting to hurt. Miles 22 to 23 were combinations of running and walking (very brief), until finally at mile 23 it was time to suck it up and run the last 3.2. The course was pretty bare of spectators, so I had no shame in walking. In all honesty if there were more people watching, I probably wouldn’t have stopped running at all.

That’s me all the way over to the left!

Either way, I pushed it to the end and somehow got myself to a low 9 pace for the last half mile or so. Having people cheer my name was awesome – and I have every intention on wearing a shirt with my name on it for every long race I run that doesn’t have named bibs moving forward. I came in at just 5 hours, (having started about 23 minutes after the first wave), for an official time of 4:37:34! I had hoped to come in under 4:45, with my ultimate happy goal of 4:30, so I was right in the middle.

Officially Marathoners!

The reward was a hot shower followed by Chipotle, and lounging on the couch all night and the next day (with a few errands). It’s now been 3 days, and I think I’m ready to get my Turkey Trot on Thursday. Considering I could barely walk right after the race, I am so amazed at the human body.

The training for this race was far from perfect, and it was my very first one. I’m hoping that next go around I can get closer to 4:15 with adequate training and no injuries! Unfortunately, that go-around isn’t going to be my next marathon, which happens to be the Disney Marathon in December. Why, you may ask? Because I am insane, and I’m doing the Goofy Challenge (half marathon Saturday, marathon Sunday). That race is just going to be about having fun, accomplishing 39.3 miles in 2 days, and scoring 3 medals and hopefully a lot of pictures with characters!

It feels so great to finally be able to call myself a marathoner. I have so much more respect for people that do marathons (or ultras) than I did even before I ran the race. It sounds mush, and I’m far from it, but its an honor to be in that group (even if I just squeezed in).

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