Sunday, March 1, 2015

Princess Weekend - Part 3...The One With The Half Marathon

Sunday was the final race of Princess weekend and the final 2 a.m. wake up call. I was the most nervous for the half marathon and had set a goal of 2:45 - 2:50 for myself on the race. I knew it was ambitious because Disney races are packed with people and are often hard to PR in.

The weather was so much nicer on Sunday morning and I was beyond pleased with it. All four of us sparkled (check out Michelle's first sparkle!) and I firmly believe they make you run faster.

Because of our awesome PR at the Lake Nona half marathon, Michelle and I were placed in corral J which is the last of the proof of time corrals. I cannot even begin to explain how amazing it felt to walk into that corral knowing that I had to bust my behind to get in there.

The other great part of being in corral J was that we had a pacer. She was AMAZING! Before we even started moving she was giving us pep talks and explaining how the race was going to go for us. Michelle and I had good luck running with a pacer at Nona, so we knew we would finish well with this one. The difference though, is Nona doesn't have nearly as many runners that the pacer has to navigate through. There were definitely moments where I was figured I lost the pacer and would never find her again...even though she was carrying balloons.

The race overall went really well. I hung with the pacer until about mile 8 or so, then I decided I would do my own thing. I lost Michelle somewhere before Magic Kingdom and you would be shocked how hard it is to find someone in a sparkly skirt with a blue shirt. I mean, it's just as hard as trying to find someone in a tutu.

The last 5k was brutal for me. It almost always is because I'm pooped by this point and still have two monster hills to tackle, complete with a toy army drill sergeant yelling at me.  Once I hit the EPCOT parking lot (and passed the pacer) I started getting a little emotional. I was almost to the Peggy Sue spot and knew she wouldn't be there and also knew that I wouldn't be able to handle any tribute at that point. I also knew I was going to PR by this point, just not sure by how much.

Once I ran into the park something hit me that was strange. There were no guests. I have NEVER been at that stage of the race and not had guests around.

I hit the last .2 of the race and my quads were shaking. I had to give myself a pep talk to make it down the final stretch and hit as I approached and glanced at my watch I knew I PR'ed. It was only by a minute, but hot damn that was my minute. (For the record, it was a minute for my overall half and around 25 minutes for Princess)

Scott was waiting for me at the finish with the biggest smile. I crushed it and watched the pacer cross after me. BOOM. I also crushed that snack box they gave us (much appreciated runDisney).

Michelle crossed not that long after me, and then Lorren and then Cathy. I am so proud of all of us for crushing another princess weekend!

After we noshed on some hot dogs and showered, the kiddos joined us and we headed to Hollywood Studios to celebrate Cathy's birthday.

We had dinner reservations at 50's Prime Time Cafe, which shockingly Scott and I have never been to. The dinner was fabulous and we all literally ate all of the things.

We were even able to snag our photo in front of Cinderella's coach. How awesome is this?!

The entire weekend was wonderful and definitely a physical test. I cannot believe that I PR'ed on this race and cannot wait until Princess 2016!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Thanksgiving Thursday

For those of you that don't know what Thanksgiving Thursday is, it is the one time during the week where you stop and basically count your blessings. Even if you've had one of those weeks, I promise you can find at least one thing to be thankful for, no matter how big or small.

This week I want to reflect on my Grandma. She passed away two years ago and was such a huge part of my life.

I am thankful for...

  • Mornings at my grandparents house that were filled with pancakes in any shape I wanted and lots of bacon.
  • Her blatant attempts to make me a domestic goddess. Playing often included pretending to do laundry (she would make a clothes line for me by tying string to chairs), pretending to iron and pretending to cook in my play kitchen. 
  • Days when we would bake. I have the best memories making kolacky with her. I would use a baby spoon and put the filling on the dough and she would pinch them shut. She also gave me the scraps to roll out. I remember how easy she made it look and how not easy it actually is. One Christmas I threw the dough at the wall. I often wonder if she did the same thing when she was first making them.
  • The mornings she would give me coffee in a little juice glass with ice cubes so it wouldn't be too hot.
  • Playing cards with me. We always played go fish, old maid and solitaire.
  • The letters we would write each other when I was away at school.
  • Her attempts at teaching me to sew, crochet and cross stitch. None of them stuck. 
  • Her always filled candy dishes.
  • A gift that she gave me that I will cherish more than she could ever know. She gave me the cross my grandfather gave to her for their wedding. I wore it on my wedding day and hopefully one day Jillian will wear it on hers. 
  • The times she would give up her cream of broccoli soup at Venice Restaurant and eat my chicken noodle soup instead.
  • Giving me the love of the extra crispy pieces from Long John Silvers. 
  • Marrying my Grandpa Ruhling and giving all of us the chance to have a grandfather in our lives (both of my parents dads died before the majority of us were born). 
I miss her every day and try to remember the good times as much as possible. In her later years Alzheimer's set in and made the once fun-loving Grandma I always knew a completely different person. I hope she is living it up with my grandfathers and smiling down on us. 

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

2015 Princess Weekend - Part 2

Princess weekend continued with the Enchanted 10K, which is the first part of the Glass Slipper Challenge portion of the weekend. 

Cathy, Lorren and I went with an Alice in Wonderland ensemble. We are really not ones to wear costumes, we consider costumes to be Sparkle Skirts and Raw Threads shirts, which is exactly what we wore. 

Cathy was the Red Queen (I wish I had the detailing on her shirt because it was amazing), I was Alice (obviously) and Lorren was the Cheshire Cat. It should be noted that Cathy had a drink stirrer from Southwest in her hair because it had a heart on it.

It was definitely warmer waiting for the 10K than it was for the 5K, but we still huddled around warmers and stayed in our mylar blankets until the race start. 
The 10K course is one of my favorites (minus the first mile and a half). The course wraps through the EPCOT parking lot, through World Showcase, around the EPCOT resorts (Boardwalk, Yacht and Beach Clubs) and then back through the front of EPCOT. 

Michelle and I hung together for the race and I had to snag a photo of one of my favorite parts of the race, the moment you see the torches illuminated when you enter World Showcase. How cool is that?!

The other cool part about the 10K was that my boss and her daughter volunteered at one of the water stops. It was so fantastic having my own personal cheering section on the course.

I finished the 10K in 1:23:03 and Michelle was right behind me. Cathy and Lorren were not that far behind either. 

After the race and a giant breakfast (and when the weather warmed up just a touch) we headed over to the Magic Kingdom to have a fun-filled day in the park. 

Part of that fun included having a giant bowl of pasta at Tony's Town Square and maybe a few loaves of bread. I think the majority of the restaurant was runners carb loading for the big day on Sunday.

Aside from noshing on bowls of pasta, we spent some time just exploring the park. There were a ton of people in the park so we were not able to go on a lot of rides. Come to think of it I think we only went on the train and into the Laugh Floor. 

We really didn't even stay that long because we were all exhausted and had another early wake up call for the half. 

Only one more post to go and I cannot wait to talk about the half marathon! It was by far the best I've ever run at Disney and there will be more on that in the coming days. 

Monday, February 23, 2015

2015 Princess Weekend...Part 1

I just finished another amazing Princess Half Marathon weekend and have so much to share that it's going to have to be broken down into 3 least.

Thursday I met up with my niece and sister from some breakfast and then we headed out to the Fit for  a Princess Expo. We picked up all of our bibs, t-shirts and then headed to browse the goods. Loren and I even waited in line for probably 45 minutes to buy some Princess merchandise. Seriously...I didn't even wait that long for any rides this weekend.

Oh, and yes, I am in my Chicago winter coat with layers underneath. Winter decided to hit the sunshine state in a big way. Apparently the Frozen theme was literal.

After the expo we headed over to Morocco for some lunch. Neither Lorren or Cathy had ever been there, so it was a fun experience for them and delicious as always.

It was definitely an early to bed evening since we had the 5K in the morning. It was also the coldest run I have ever been on.  Before the race runDisney had heaters set up for the runners and we were wrapped up in mylar blankets. I honestly have no idea how many layers I had on, but it was a lot.

Scott was working on site that day, so I was able to meet up with him before the race. I may have stood extra close to warm up.

The three us decided we were going to walk the 5K since we were running the other two races that weekend. Also, since it was pretty freaking cold, none of us really felt like running.

I love the 5K course. The course wraps through EPCOT and there really is nothing better than walking around World Showcase with all of the torches lit and the sun just starting to peek out.

The three of us also wore matching shirts in honor of Peggy Sue. Peggy Sue was an incredible woman that would hold up inspiring signs along the course to encourage runners. You always saw her going into the Transportation and Ticket Center (usually when you needed a boost) and again right after mile 12. She passed away around the time of the January marathon and the runDisney community has not been the same. The shirts we wore had her famous sign on the back and we received a lot of compliments. Some people knew what the shirts were for and some did not, but now they know.

We also wore matching flowers from Fellow Flowers. This is a great company that is meant to bond fellow female/mother runners. We wore orange flowers and the meaning behind orange is this: 
"Bold. Honoring the journey of friendship. We are connected. Fiercely united. Marching foot in front of the other. For health, for hope, for each other. To cherish, to protect - always. Believe. Achieve. Bloom. Endure." We thought that color was perfect for our shirts.

Did I mention the 5K was cold? I'm pretty sure we all lost feeling in all parts of our bodies at some point. After we warmed up a little bit, we headed out to Animal Kingdom. Yes, we wore our flowers.

The parks were kind of crazy, but we were able to hit Expedition Everest, some of the animal trails and of course, lunch. We went to Yak and Yeti and feasted on some delicious food.

My friend Michelle joined us that night and it was another early night. The 10K was bright and early (we had to be on the bus by 4 am) and we had to get our rest.

I have more posts coming this week. It was an incredible weekend and I cannot wait to share the rest!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Thanksgiving Thursday

For those of you that don't know what Thanksgiving Thursday is, it is the one time during the week where you stop and basically count your blessings. Even if you've had one of those weeks, I promise you can find at least one thing to be thankful for, no matter how big or small.

This week I am thankful for:
  • Scott who allows me in stores like Dick's Sporting Goods with a debit card. 
  • Aaron who made me laugh hysterically when he told me about Porkaguese Man of War jellyfish. He made me laugh when I needed it the most.
  • Jillian who is blossoming right now. I am so excited for her and love seeing the look of pride in her eyes.
  • Family all around us.
  • An upcoming week with my sister, niece and best friend.
  • A good book and the time to read it.
  • Moments that I will cherish because while I will remember them, not everyone will. 
  • Puppies that know when you need a cuddle.
What are you thankful for this week?

Monday, February 9, 2015

Never Say Never - Golabki

When I was growing up my Mom would make golabki (Polish cabbage rolls) and I couldn't stand it. She even tried to con me into eating it by calling it "hamburger wrapped in cabbage." Pass.

I swore I would never make this dish. Not in this house! Fast forward a few years and a head of cabbage arrives in my produce basket. What to do with this? 


As I was making my shopping list I could not believe I was actually going to do this. I made up the stuffing and it smelled amazing. This is going to be awesome, I thought. 

I began to boil the cabbage. The smell hit and I started to have my doubts/flashbacks. This is not going to end well...

I stuffed the cabbage, rolled it up, placed it in the pan and covered it in the sauce. Here goes nothing...

The timer dinged and I pulled it out of the oven. Scott and I hovered over the casserole dish. I had to give myself a pep talk. "Come on, Amanda. You're Polish, you can do this." I took a forkfull and...

Meh. It wasn't awful, but it wasn't awesome either. It honestly wasn't as bad as I remembered. Scott loved it though and has been eating the lion's share.

I can't say that I will be making this again any time soon. I feel like I did my duty as a Polish girl and gave it a try. That counts for something, right?

Have you tried a recipe again that you hated as a child?

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Thanksgiving Thursday

For those of you that don't know what Thanksgiving Thursday is, it is the one time during the week where you stop and basically count your blessings. Even if you've had one of those weeks, I promise you can find at least one thing to be thankful for, no matter how big or small.

This week I am thankful for:
  •  Scott and the fact that he humors me. I'm pretty sure he had zero desire to run on Sunday and he still went out for a 4 mile run with me.
  • Aaron who is my helper and loves to be a part of whatever is going on.
  • Jillian who is blossoming with her tutor. It's only been two sessions, but I am amazed at her progress so far.
  • Family all around us.
  • Living in Florida where there is no snow.
  • Finally catching up with a dear friend that I haven't seen in forever.
  • Farm fresh veggies and fruits. It makes such a difference.
  • Fuzzy socks on cold nights.
What are you thankful for this week?
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