Tuesday, June 27, 2017

In Which Cinderella Castle Is A Swamp Castle

Speaking of Cinderella Castle...

I maintain a longstanding tradition in my family, passed down from my grandmother, of Rejecting Reality in favor of A Fantastical World Of My Own Choosing, Thank You Very Much. This can't be surprising; I mean, I looooooooooooove Walt Disney World. Duh.

Life being what it is, I am forced to keep one foot in the Real World, and when I'm there, I am often gently teased about the rest of me. I don't mind; my head is in the clouds because that's where I like it. Manic Pixie Dream Girls are my people and I would thank the media to stop being so mean to us all the time.

All of this is to set up a conversation Pat and I had at Trader Sam's (so I already had the home turf advantage) in April. He was, wisely, agreeing with me that WDW is SUPER AWESOME and I have 100% converted him to WDW love... BUT he really wants to travel to other places, too.

I didn't disagree with this statement outright - there are certainly other travel destinations that pique my interest. But I couldn't help but note wistfully that I wished I could be at WDW all the time.

"Sure, but there are lots of other amazing places in the world," Pat pointed out. "You should experience them."

"But those are real places," I replied.

He raised an eyebrow. "This isn't a real place?"

"Nope," I said, probably making that annoying smug face I reflexively fall into when I feel I'm about to make a really solid point, "this is a made-up place. Other places were formed organically. They already existed, and then people came to them. This wasn't a place. It was a swamp. It was nothing, and then Walt Disney came along and made a bunch of stuff up and built a castle on top of the swamp and..."

I stopped. My eyes grew wide. I slammed my hand down on the table. "I BUILT THIS KINGDOM FROM NOTHING" I said -

"OTHER KINGS SAID IT WAS DAFT TO BUILD A CASTLE ON A SWAMP" I said, gesticulating wildly -

"BUT I BUILT IT ALL THE SAME" I said, sloshing my drink around -

"IT SANK INTO THE SWAMP!" I gasped out, trying not to hyperventilate, "SO I BUILT A SECOND ONE" -

And then Pat started to laugh, and responded with "That burned down, fell over, and then sank into the swamp" - and then I started to laugh, and that's the story of how we discovered that Monty Python and the Holy Grail was about Walt Disney World all along.


How's that for a fan theory?

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Monday, June 26, 2017

In Which Jenn Insists On A Photo In Front Of The Castle

The trip report proper is over, but we're not done yet - I've still got lots of thoughts, including food reviews and photos! You can see all the posts in this report here. Onward!

Having failed in locating a non-swamped PhotoPass photographer outside Spaceship Earth, I was bound and determined to make it happen in front of Cinderella Castle. The closer you are to the castle the longer the lines - but if you're willing to accept a slightly less impressive backdrop, the photographers further down Main Street are much easier to secure.

And may well be even better - or perhaps it's only that they have more time without the press of a waiting line. Regardless, when we stepped in front of the camera, I thought we were in for a few perfunctory clicks and off you go. Instead, we were lead through such a lengthy, directed shoot that you could almost believe we payed extra to get these shots. But we did not. It's just the Disney magic.



Is this the exact same photo? Or are there subtle variations?
It's hard to tell...



Regrettably, I didn't get our photographer's name, but she was an older lady (60ish?) with short hair and a bubbly personality. Look for her!

Don't forget, you can follow us on Twitter @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions for us, leave a comment or email us at fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

In Which Jenn Gets Trapped In Her Own Half Marathon

One of the downsides of getting faster while racing local is the potential traffic snarl. If you finish in 2:15 but everyone has 3:30 to complete the race and said race is on the same roads you need to drive on to get home... you see where I'm going with this.

I ran into this exact trouble the first time I ran the ZOOMA Half Marathon. It takes place in the streets of Annapolis and the surrounding area, and it more or less locks up the larger majority of the finish area. It took me forever to carve myself a path that had taken me a mere ten minutes and 2.4 miles that morning.

When I signed up to run ZOOMA again, I vowed not to get tangled in this same snarl. I had a cunning plan: rather than rely on Google Maps, I would download Waze. This GPS app uses data from users to determine the fastest and most efficient route, so of course it would know the best way to navigate the race-stoppered roads, right? Think of all the users reporting the blockages!

Therefore I hopped in my car post-race with a hopeful heart. I fired up Waze and drove off.

AND GOT STUCK IN TRAFFIC FOR A MILLION YEARS.

NOT BLOODY LIKELY

Why, you ask? Why wouldn't Waze reroute you around all the closed roads, you ask? I'll tell you why: the users reporting said closed roads consisted of... me. Not a single road had been reported as blocked.

So I started blocking them myself. I'd drive up to an intersection, reported it as closed, and Waze would reroute. Repeat. Repeat FOREVER.

Well, not forever. Eventually I had driven around for such a long time that I finally happened upon one that the police were in the process of clearing. I followed a motorcycle cop over the Severn River Bridge to freedom and brunch.

Nothing that ends in waffles can be all that bad. But if I wind up at ZOOMA next year I might just walk home.

Have your efforts to drive home ever been thwarted by your own race?

Don't forget, you can follow us on Twitter @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions for us, leave a comment or email us at fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The Fairest Week In Review: 6/21

No one loves summer more than I do, but even I have to admit that humidity doesn't help.

Sunday | rest

Monday | ran 10.68 miles outside in 2:00
Yup. Not helpful weather at all.

Tuesday | walked 3.06 miles outside in 50 minutes
No ballet this week so I extended my walking time.

Wednesday | ran 10.47 miles outside in 2:00
Somehow WORSE. It was already 78 degrees by 7am with humidity to match. Anyway, I love summer!

Thursday | walked 3.07 miles outside in 50 minutes

Friday | ran 5.13 miles on the treadmill in 50 minutes
Speed run! And to be extra bold, I only wore my sports bra on top - no shirt. It was much cooler and I don't think anyone cared? Plus I got to show off my sweet tattoo.

Saturday | rest day
We spent the morning at Assateague Island before heading over to Ocean City for some friends'... wedding shower? Random party pre-nuptial party of unknown type? I don't know. I drank wine on a boat. Here are some ponies.

Rangers yell at you if you get too close.

And here is the roundup.

- Speaking of, Back At Square Zero knows how to run safely in the heat...
- ...as does Elbowglitter.
- The Runner's Guide to WDW embarks on a Dopey training plan.
- WDW for Grownups cools down with chilled WDW snacks.
- easyWDW discovers a trivia night at Disney's Beach Club resort! How did I not know about this?!
- Disney In Your Day assembles a list of WDW's best table service restaurants.
- Disney Nerds highlights brunch at DCL's famed Palo.
- Living A Disney Life rounds up WDW's best appetizers.

Don't forget, you can follow us on Twitter @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions for us, leave a comment or email us at fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

Monday, June 19, 2017

The Fairest Trip Report Of All: The Nomad Lounge Review

The trip report proper is over, but we're not done yet - I've still got lots of thoughts, including food reviews and photos! You can see all the posts in this report here. Onward!

The Nomad Lounge in Disney's Animal Kingdom worries me, and here's why: positioned at the mouth of the new Pandora land, I fear it will soon cease to be a hidden gem, a la the sudden rush on Sanaa. Can nothing remain secret?!

Nevertheless, I would never be so oppressive as to demand this wonderful bar hide its proverbial light under a proverbial bushel. But I made sure to take Pat there in April just in case it becomes impossible to breach later.

Presented with the option of seating inside or outside, we went with a small two-person table on the patio next to the railing. It was a nice view of the lake that I'm sure is now a fantastic view of the bridge to Pandora, although I do wish it wasn't obstructed by the slats of the patio railing.

As I famously crowed, the Nomad Lounge features a drink named after me! It's called the Jenn's Tattoo and I will never be less enchanted by that fact. Unfortunately, if you recall from my review, that particular drink is a bit too sweet to be in my regular rotation. So I was on the menu hunt for something new.

It wasn't too hard to make a call - I went for the Hightower Rocks, a simple mixture of tequila, watermelon juice, lime, and sweet-and-sour. Pat very wisely went for the same.


I say very wisely because this drink is AWESOME. The ingredient proportions are spot on, but more importantly, it comes with a full wedge of watermelon! AMAZING. We wound up doing two rounds of the same. It was that good.

We also picked up what the menu calls African-spiced Wagyu beef sliders. These were good, but the patties were pretty small and I don't recall detecting anything African-spicy about them. The potatoes on the side were interesting, with an almost plantain-esque texture. There's nothing wrong with these but nothing excellent about them either.


Overall, though, the Nomad Lounge is glorious. PLEASE DON'T TELL ANYONE.

***

While we're in the neighborhood, here are a few more notes about the state of dining in the Animal Kingdom that don't warrant a full post but might be of interest:

Kusafiri Coffee Shop & Bakery no longer carries paw print brownies and our hearts are BROKEN. Their chocolate chip cookie is undistinguished and NOT THE SAME. However, their breakfast burrito is solid.


Dawa Bar in Harambe is another great place to drink because you can do it while listening to Burudika! I love Burudika!


Thirsty River Bar in Serka Zong is a wonderful thing. I highly recommend taking a Fireball shot or two and then riding Everest or Dinosaur.

That's all from from the DAK food scene for this trip. I can't wait to see how Pandora has added to the mix!

Don't forget, you can follow us on Twitter @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions for us, leave a comment or email us at fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

Friday, June 16, 2017

Happy Friday: Of Animators & Speech Therapists

This is probably all related to that whole Goofy/Pluto bipedal talking dog/nonverbal regular dog conspiracy theory. Perhaps Pluto CAN talk, but he's embarrassed?


Don't forget, you can follow us on Twitter @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions for us, leave a comment or email us at fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

Thursday, June 15, 2017

In Which Jenn Considers Fall Marathons That Aren't MCM

I swear I don't actively try to turn conversations with strangers toward running. But it seems to be happening anyway.

During a happy hour with some of Elizabeth's co-workers before the ZOOMA Half, I got to talking about my race schedule. (Did anyone ask beyond "What brings you to Annapolis?" No. And yet here we are.) I talked a little about my winging-it plan, and how that meant that I may or may not run the Marine Corps Marathon this year depending on availability.

"Why don't you just run the Baltimore Marathon?" one of my companions replied.

I was doubtful. "I hear it's hilly..."

"Oh, it's really not that bad," he said, before clarifying that he's never run the full marathon, only the half.

So I'm still not sure about that. But his response did convince me to open up my eyes to, y'know, other fall marathons.

Baltimore is indeed a possibility, and one that I have considered. My parents live 15 minutes outside the city so it would be a convenient location. And it's the same day as MCM, allowing me to follow a similar training plan regardless of which race I run.

Really, it's only the possibility of hills that give me pause. Although I tackled them gamely during the ZOOMA Half, I'm not sure I want to multiply that experience x2. Of course, if it's more a matter of hills here and there, that's something else entirely. After all, the Rock 'n Roll Marathon rudely hit me with a large hill at miles 22 AND 23 and I survived. I didn't like it, but I survived. I'll need to do more investigation into the course before I make a call.

OR WILL I?


I was paging through a copy of Runner's World a couple weeks ago when I saw an ad for the Outer Banks Marathon and was immediately intrigued. North Carolina in early November should have solid marathon weather, and the course promises to be mostly flat with beautiful nature views. Pat loves to surf the Outer Banks and the best waves show up in the fall; I could more than likely persuade him to come with me on the strength of that alone. Bonus: a bib is less than a hundred bucks. Good looks, good looks.

The impediment comes with the distance - it'd be a 6 or 7 hour drive there and back, and we'd need to get a hotel. If I register, I am committed to what amounts to a four day weekend road trip.

So I'm not ready to pull the trigger on either race just yet. Luckily, I don't think either tends to sell out waaaay in advance. I'd like to hold a decision until August if I can. MCM bib transfer opens in mid-July. We'll see how it all shakes out.

Have you run the Baltimore Marathon or Outer Banks Marathon? Which would you recommend? Got any other race suggestions?

Don't forget, you can follow us on Twitter @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions for us, leave a comment or email us at fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!