Thursday, February 26, 2015

When did she grow up?

Yesterday afternoon, Kate looked at me with a very serious expression and said.
"I think we need to go to the mall and get my ears pierced."

Um, what? She had mentioned piercing her ears a few times, here and there, but she had always said that "when she was 7" or "when she was 6" it would be a good time to have it done. She watched her cousin Kylie get hers done at the Grapevine Mills Mall a while back, and since then it had been on her radar but not something that she brought up often. So when she sounded so sure of herself yesterday, I was a bit surprised.

We were headed to Walmart to get a few trip items anyway, so I told her that I thought Walmart did ear piercing and I would let her get it done if she still wanted to by then.

She selected a pair of earrings from the case, and after several questions from me about if she was really ready for this, she bravely climbed up in the chair and waited for the lady to prepare her ears. My biggest fear was that she was going to get one ear done, freak out, and then it would take an act of Congress to get her to agree to do the other side. I imagined a one-earringed little girl who was perfectly content with her one sparkly ear.
She didn't make a peep. Not a single sound when the earring was forced through her earlobe. No tears, no wincing. She didn't even squeeze my hand all that tight. I was starting to wonder if I was more scared than she was.
She barely even reacted at all! Who is this kid??
To celebrate, I got her a Whataburger. My girl is growing up!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Snow day!

Tuesday night the weather forecasters were all saying that starting around 3 am, we would be getting a crazy amount of snow. By crazy, I mean like 3-5 inches, which for us is crazy. Kate was super excited at the thought of waking up to a snow-filled yard. I got up at 5 so I could make a lunch reservation for our trip next week (and then went back to bed) but I was disappointed to see that it was pouring down rain, which was most definitely not snow. I checked the forecast, and now they were saying it was going to change to snow during the 5 o'clock hour.

At 6 am, they said by 7 it would be snowing.

At 7 am, they said that it might starting snowing by 8.

Finally, not too long before Kate woke up me just before 8 am, it had changed over to snow. We didn't end up getting much at our house, although most people east of us got a lot of snow. My hometown, a couple of hours east of us, got around 5". Kate made due with what she could round up on our back patio and we built a small little snowman and she threw a few slushy snowballs at me before deciding she was ready for hot cocoa.
By 11 am, our yard was completely clear of snow.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Tuesday...Sad Day

It had finally arrived - time to head home. Away from the sunny skies and 77* temperatures, back to cold and sleet and snow. I was excited to see Nick and Kate, no doubt, but I wasn't looking forward to leaving. I was really enjoying myself.

I decided to explore my resort just a little and eat lunch rather than try to go anywhere else for the day. My only real option was back to Downtown Disney anyway. The Magical Express was picking me up at 2:15.

All Star Movies is a value resort, but it was really cute. The rooms were fine, a tad small, and my only real complaint is that we had full size beds rather than queen beds. I did enjoy the big statues all over the grounds. Each building was a different movie themed, and we stayed in Fantasia. It was really close to the front transportation, which was nice.
The Toy Story building was my favorite, and I had to go take some photos of it. The Toy Story movies are my favorite Disney movies, by far.
My flight landed in Dallas around 7:30, and Kate and Nick were there to pick me up. I was eager for the hugs and kisses for sure! On the way to grab a bite to eat before heading home, I told Kate that I was excited to show her my medal that I got for running, and her jaw opened wide. "You won??" she said. I had to explain that no, I didn't win, that everyone who finished the race received a medal. Then she said,
"Oh, I didn't know the losers got a medal too."

Out of the mouths of babes.....

Monday, February 23, 2015

Downtown Disney and Exploring

Monday morning I set off for Downtown Disney to do some shopping, walking around, and eating. I took my time getting ready that morning, since I had all day long to myself (or so I thought.). Laurie and Matt headed to Universal for the day, so I assumed I wouldn't see them until later that evening.

I ate a big breakfast, so by the time I actually got hungry again, I decided that it was perfectly acceptable to have a sea salt caramel Ghirardelli sundae for lunch. No one was with me to disagree, so that's what I did.

I meandered through all the shops, mentally making a list of all the things I wished I could buy. They have Vera Bradley Disney purses now, and I love them oh-so-much....but because they're Disney, they're pricier than the already somewhat pricey regular Vera purses. I couldn't bring myself to drop $95 for a purse. Well that and Nick would kill me. Pandora also makes Disney charms now too, and although I rewarded myself with one to commemorate my first RunDisney event, I could have easily purchase 3 or 4 more of them. They're not so cheap either. I have expensive taste I guess!

As I shopped, I also made note of all the things I'm predicting Kate will have a fit over when we are there next week. We could very easily take care of her Christmas and birthday gifts for this year if we wanted. They have a ton of stuff she will want.

I got bored around 1, and I still had over half the day to go! So I decided to hop on the ferry that runs to some of the Disney Resorts and check them out. It was about a 20 minute boat ride from Downtown Disney to Port Orleans Riverside Resort, which is absolutely beautiful! If I ever get to come back to Disney (please say that I do) I wouldn't mind staying there. The grounds were awesome. I checked out their lobby and gift shop before hopping a bus back to Magic Kingdom so that I could hop a bus back to my resort. (There is no resort to resort transportation at Disney - if you want to go resort to resort, you have to go to a park and then transfer from there.)

While I was on the bus back to the hotel, Laurie sent me a message that they were on the way back too. They did everything they wanted to do in 6.5 hours. So we met up and decided to book a dinner reservation for that evening. We ended up at Kona Cafe over at the Polynesian. I had a delicious New York strip steak with roasted garlic, fingerling potatoes, and broccoli and they split some sushi and tuna. After, we went downstairs and had a Dole Whip while we watched the fireworks across the lake at Magic Kingdom.
From there, we hopped the monorail to get back to Magic Kingdom so we could hop a bus back to our resort. Laurie and Matt had a really early flight on Tuesday.

Magic Kingdom...I was home.

Finally, Sunday it was time to hit Magic Kingdom. I so love Magic Kingdom. My plan for the day was to stay until they literally had to kick me out of the park. Everyone was going to the same park that day, so we were going to ride a few things together. Because I was completely exhausted, I wasn't there for rope drop. I slept in a little and rested before going. We had an early lunch reservation at Be Our Guest, the Beast's restaurant. On my way back, I met Lady Tremaine. She was a ton of fun! She wanted to know why I ran so far, on purpose...and I explained that it was for the bling. She totally understood, and we took my favorite selfie of the trip together.
Then came lunch, and I nearly cried I was so excited. Be Our Guest is beautiful! The detail is amazing, and my lunch was fantastic, and I HAD THE GREY STUFF on my cupcake! It was so yummy. I am so glad that we ate there. Best lunch in Disney.
After lunch I got to jump on the 7 Dwarves Mine Train for the first time of the day. I loved it so much!! Great little roller coaster - perfect for me because I don't like huge roller coasters, but I do enjoy a bit of a thrill. It was really smooth as well, and of course the theming is spot on. That's one thing Disney does extremely well. However I will admit that I walked around singing the dig, dig, dig song all day long. Heigh Ho!!!!!!
 That afternoon I met Tinkerbell and then we all met up to meet Mickey Mouse together. This particular Mickey Mouse talks!
 After the Festival of Fantasy parade (another fabulous parade!), we hopped the train and rode around to Fantasyland so that they could all get to their fastpass in Tomorrowland quicker. The crowds after the parade were really heavy, so it was easier to get around that way rather than try to walk upstream.
 That evening, I took advantage of everyone watching the fireworks and rode 7 Dwarves Mine Train again, and then hit up the Haunted Mansion twice. I also rode Pirates of the Caribbean while I was nearby. I stopped by Fairytale Hall and met Rapunzel and Cinderella too.
 So the #1 more difficult meet 'n greet in all of Disney World right now is Anna and Else. Shocking, I know. Their line is always at least 60 minutes, but often much longer than that. Fastpasses book 60 days out and are rarely available. So at 10:30, 30 minutes prior to park close, I walked by Fairytale Hall again and noticed that their wait time said 30 minutes. Well, why not? I got in line, which was moving pretty fast, and 20 minutes later I was finished and walking out the door at the back. Sweet!
 At this point it was almost closing time. I meandered through the castle, taking my sweet time as I was in no hurry to leave. This was my last day in the parks. Originally I was supposed to be flying out early Monday morning, but an ice storm at home caused me to have to move my flight to Tuesday. So Monday I was going to get a relaxing day at Downtown Disney instead of heading home, but it still wasn't the same as being in the park.
 I was standing right underneath the front of the castle when they played the kiss goodnight. Another teary moment. I've become some sort of weird Disney freak, really. I didn't even see it coming. I literally stood around the castle for another 10 minutes, not wanting to leave, and then started making my way down Main Street USA. I wandered in and out of shops, which were all still open because someone at Disney is a genius. The amount of people buying stuff left and right as if their life depended on it was crazy. I figure for a lot of people, it was the last night in the park and they felt like they needed one last thing. Or maybe they were just getting around to buying stuff on the way out so they didn't have to carry it around all day.
Finally, at 11:55 pm, I walked through the exit gate and headed towards my bus. I crawled into bed a little over an hour later.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Post-Race Epcot Fun

Because I hate myself, or something close to it, I decided after the race that it was a great day to go to Epcot. Epcot requires a lot of walking. But I was floating on air so I didn't really feel much pain at that point. I showered, changed, and headed back to the big ball.

My first ride of the day was Soarin', and then I headed over to England for fish 'n chips for lunch. I walked around the World Showcase back to Japan, because one of the things I wanted to do while I was here was get another pearl in Japan to make myself a pair of earrings. I had brought my previous pearl from home with me, and went through the whole ceremony to pick another one for the second earring. This time I ended up with a 7 3/4 yellow pearl, which is bigger than my previous one. I left them with the jeweler so they could make my earrings while I went in search of ice cream. 
 I also met several characters at Epcot, some by accident (like Captain Hook) and some because I stood in line for a while. I took selfies with every single character I met, which was pretty fun.
 Goofy even ran around in circles with me, and Minnie took a photo with me in a running pose. I was wearing my "I did it" shirt all day, and I really should have worn my medal too but it was a tad awkward with my purse and camera around my neck too.
I was supposed to ride Spaceship Earth at one point, but I was literally too tired to make it over thee before my fastpass expired. I didn't really care that much at that point.

That evening I had purchased a ticket to the RunDisney Pasta in the Park party, and it turned out to be an Aladdin themed party so I got to meet Jafar, Genie and Abu, none of whom meet in the parks on a regular basis! Of course Aladdin was there again.
 I was planning on staying for Illuminations that night, and I managed to watch the first few minutes of it when I decided that I was far too tired to even care anymore. I headed out to the bus, and by the time I returned to my room that night my Fitbit was registering over 41,000 steps for the day...almost 16 miles. I was done. Exhausted. Finished. The tank was empty!

Race Morning

Waking up at 3 am for my flight was tough. Waking up at 3 am for the second day in a row? Even more difficult. Nerves and anxiety and excitement would make it a little bit easier though. Florida had a freak winter weather thing going on that began on Friday, so Saturday morning it was actually pretty cold, in the low 40s when we were getting ready. That led me to change my costume just a little bit. I had purchased a long sleeve running shirt to wear under my Izzy t-shirt, and then instead of wearing the purple capris that I was going to wear I put on my black yoga pants and just threw my Sparkle skirt over the top. It was quite as cute as the capris would have been, but I knew we would spend quite a while standing around outside before race time and I knew my legs would be freezing, otherwise.

We were on the bus by 3:45 and headed towards Epcot. Laurie had purchased cheap fleece blankets for us all to use before race time, so we bundled up in them and tried our best to stay warm. I also brought along a pair of gloves to ditch once the race started. We had quite a bit of a walk from the bus stop to the starting corrals, and on our way we made a stop at the port-a-potties. The DJs were keeping the crowd entertained and we were all huddled together, since it was so cold, admiring all the fun costumes everyone was wearing.
Laurie and Matt were Mickey and Minnie, and Amanda was Cinderella. I was the only Izzy that I saw all morning, so that made me pretty happy. There were a ton of Annas and Elsas, of course. After a half our or so, it was time to line up in our corral. Since we didn't have an official time to submit for the race, we were automatically put in the last corral, E (which is about where we needed to be anyway, you know?)  There were five corrals, and someone said there would be 2000 runners per corral. I don't know if that's accurate, but it seems pretty spot on. It was crowded!

Each corral got a fireworks send off, and the first corral took off at 5:30. I crossed the starting line 49 minutes after the very first runner went, so that tells you how long we stood around waiting. We threw the blankets off, I went ahead and ditched my gloves, an off we went. I started my playlist and the first song was Sara Bareilles singing Brave, which I will admit made me tear up just slightly. I was able to start my intervals pretty much right off the bat, although it was so crowded at times that you often were forced to walk until you could find a way around a group of people.

I ended up leaving my entire group almost right away, but around mile 2 I felt someone come up on my left side and it was Laurie. She had lost Amanda and Matt, and from that point on we stuck together in the race. She decided to join me in the 30 second intervals, and we were keeping a good steady pace.

We passed the sweeper bus at mile 2.75, which turns out would be where Amanda would be swept off the course. You have to maintain a 16 minute mile, and if you fall far enough behind, they remove you from the course because they have to get the roads open again for park traffic. Mile 2.75 was the point at which we ran into Epcot for the first time, around behind the Test Track and came into the actual park off backstage in Norway.we circled around the World Showcase, and when we got to the bridge just passed France, we turned and went over to the Boardwalk area and ran around it.

There were a couple of inclines in this area, which didn't bother me much but Laurie had a little trouble. She told me a couple of times to just go ahead, it was ok to leave her, but at that point we were nearing mile 5 and I figured we had stayed together this long, we might as well cross the finish line together. So I walked a little extra with her when she needed it, and we kept the pace. At mile 6, we both agreed to run all the way to the end, and about that time my playlist began playing Eye of the Tiger. Nick loves that song, and it really made me feel like he was right there running with me at that point and I began to tear up again.
I was almost there. I was going to finish this.

I can't describe running towards and across the finish line. Tears and excitement and joy....I didn't even feel tired at that point. I think if they had told me I had to run another mile just to get my medal I could have. We moved over to the right and were awarded our medals. Then we just needed to wait for Matt to finish, who turned out to be just about 7 minutes behind us. My official finish time was 1 hour, 26 minutes, and 7 seconds. I had completed my first 10k and under an hour and a half, which was my goal.