Monday, August 31, 2015

In Which Jenn Is At The Beach Again

Hey, remember how I went to the beach a couple weeks ago? Well, I'M DOING IT AGAIN.


This time I'm heading back to the Outer Banks, site of... well, not super awesome runs, actually. But I did run. And I plan to again. So we'll see how that goes!

While I've got you, I want to remind you that the Diabetes Action Team is a totally awesome charity that I am fundraising for to earn my Marine Corps Marathon bib and you can get involved! I am inching closer to my goal and every little bit helps. Pretty please click here and donate? I'll appreciate it, but Ruffian will be absolutely ECSTATIC.


See you next week!

Jenn is running the 2015 Marine Corps Marathon for the Diabetes Action Team. Will you help her earn her bib while fighting diabetes? Click here to make your tax-deductible donation.

Don't forget, you can follow us on Twitter @fairestrunofall. To see how our training is going, check out Jenn's dailymile here and Moon's dailymile here. If you have any questions for us, leave a comment or email us at fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

Friday, August 28, 2015

The Most Universal Trip Report Of All: 8/20

It's the briefest trip report of all! While on a recent conference trip to Orlando, I carved out a bit of time to visit Universal Studios Florida. Click here to read all the entries in this report. Onward!

I had purchased a three-day park hopper, but in truth I didn't really need it; I'd pretty much knocked out the stuff that mattered to me in the previous two days. Mind you, I did NOT take a completist approach to park touring - I skipped a lot of stuff that I'd already done on previous visits. A first-timer would doubtless need more days. As for me, I was kind of over it, but I had that last day and figured I might as well use it.

The hotel shuttle dropped me off at the park a little before 1PM, which didn't leave me a lot of time. I booked it directly to Diagon Alley, where I once again enjoyed a ride through Gringotts courtesy of the singler rider line. I still think I prefer the Hogwarts ride just because I like the increased swooshiness of the mechanics, but Gringotts definitely grew on me over the course of my four trips. Good job, Bill Weasley!

I had skipped the conference's final lunch, and the only natural replacement at that point was Florean Fortescue's ice cream parlour (note the very British u). More on the result in my upcoming Universal food post.

I wandered around Diagon Alley with my ice cream, soaking in the atmosphere. As I said above, I prefer the headline ride in Hogsmeade, but I find I must give the ambiance edge to Diagon Alley. It's much more contained and built up higher, for starters, which makes you feel unbelievably immerse. I noted on Twitter that while in line for the Hogwarts ride I could hear sounds from the nearby Jurassic Park area, which drags you back to the real world. Diagon Alley sucks you in; as long as you remain within its confines you can see nothing but the wizard world. I dig it.





Post ice cream I headed over to Men In Black Alien Attack and took the single rider line for a quick spin. My score was pretty good - certainly better than anyone else in my car that I saw - but somehow I completely missed the instruction to press the red button. If I remember correctly that would've netted me like 100,000 points. FAIL.

From there I walked around through the remaining lands; I pondered doing the Terminator show but the next one wasn't for 20 minutes and I wanted to get over to Islands of Adventure. I booked it over to the opposite gate and went straight to Hogsmeade for one last ride on the Hogwarts ride (this trip was brought to you by the single rider line).

Time was getting short, so I backtracked to the front of the park and the main gift shop where I had been promised a coupon book. I collected it from a very nice cashier but the book turned out to be basically useless; all restaurants and waived club covers, no tickets or gift shop discounts. Oh well. I had already decided to buy a stuffed animal of Hagrid's dog for Pat's niece, so I went ahead and did that and left the park.

I had time for one last trip to the sushi place at CityWalk (Pat doesn't like sushi so I take it where I can find it) before I caught a cab back to my hotel, grabbed my bags, and headed to the airport. Thanks to storms in Baltimore and then storms in Orlando, my flight took off 2.5 hours late and I could've stayed at the park for longer, but hey. Better safe than sorry and all that.

And there you have it! My trip to Universal Studios Florida. The summer crowds weren't conducive to getting a ton done, but I knocked out everything that was important to me. I very much enjoyed the experience and there are particular rides that I would love to have another go at.

But.

I just didn't get that feeling, you know?

You know. The feeling you get when you're at a Disney park. You don't have to be doing anything, really. You just stand there and look at the castle, or Spaceship Earth, or hell, all of World Showcase, or the prayer flags outside Expedition Everest...

Maybe it's a matter of familiarity. After all, I've made enough trips to WDW that I know what to do and where to go when it's raining or crowded or hot or cold. I know my favorite things. I've been to Universal before, but I've never given it the same attention Disney gets.

I came closest to the feeling at Universal in Diagon Alley. Even as a lukewarm Harry Potter fan, the attention to detail and immersive environment was beautifully done. But aside from that - even in Hogsmeade - nothing at Universal touches Disney for me. Is it nostalgia? Prejudice? I don't know. But I know that while I CAN. NOT. WAIT. For my next Disney trip in November, I'm cool to wait on Universal. I'll definitely jump on it if a trip falls in my lap, but I don't have the same Disney need.

Who else has been to both? What are your thoughts on the matter?

Anyway. That completes this trip report. MOSTLY. Stay tuned in the coming weeks for food reviews!

Jenn is running the 2015 Marine Corps Marathon for the Diabetes Action Team. Will you help her earn her bib while fighting diabetes? Click here to make your tax-deductible donation.

Don't forget, you can follow us on Twitter @fairestrunofall. To see how our training is going, check out Jenn's dailymile here and Moon's dailymile here. If you have any questions for us, leave a comment or email us at fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Most Universal Trip Report Of All: 8/18

It's the briefest trip report of all! While on a recent conference trip to Orlando, I carved out a bit of time to visit Universal Studios Florida. Click here to read all the entries in this report. Onward!

Day two at Universal Studios was buddy-less; I was the only one who had bought a multi-day ticket. And so, after two and half days of conferencing, I gallivanted off back to the park.

My cab dropped me off at the park around 4pm, and I spent the entire walk from the drop-off spot to the entrance formulating my plane. One of the perks of solo travel is that you only need to consult with yourself, after all.

Item one was to go right back to Diagon Alley for some ice cream from Florean Fortescue's - but I got distracted. First by the Blues Brothers show, then Revenge of the Mummy for some single rider action.

At that point I figured, well, I'm here and it's not raining, so I backtracked to the Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit single rider liner and hopped on that. Like the Dragon Challenge coaster, this now requires that you completely empty your pockets and then walk through a metal detector before you're cleared to ride. I considered using one of the secret song codes for my ride soundtrack, but ultimately just went with Daft Punk since I didn't have my phone to confirm the numbers. I was lucky enough to get the VERY back seat, which I totally deserved after listening to the pre-ride instruction video so many times ("AWESOMMMMMME!!!!!").


Then it was time for Diagon Alley, really, although I prioritized a trip through Gringotts over the ice cream. The single rider line was available here as well, so I took it - and found a truncated experience. No photo (fine by me), but more importantly no elevators. If you hadn't gone through the regular line you never would have known, which is kind of a bummer since the fake elevator effects are kinda part of the ride. But that's the price with pay for efficiency, I suppose.

Finally ice cream time! I got two flavors in my cup and will detail them more closely in my upcoming Universal food post. I wandered through Knockturn Alley while eating, which is air conditioned and very very dark. There isn't much in there - a single gift shop and some displays - but it's a nice extension of the area and a great place to escape the crowds.


I was thirsty post-ice cream, so I hit up the bar, The Hopping Pot, for some club soda - which I was given for free! Score! I didn't need anymore food, but I saw "pasties" on the menu; if those were pumpkin pasties I will be very sad I missed them. Also I understand they have some exclusive beers, so clearly I'll have to go back.

From there I exited Diagon Alley and circled around to Springfield to look for a present for Pat, who had informed me that his favorite Simpsons character is Disco Stu. Let it be known that there is nothing Disco Stu in Springfield as far as I can tell. Let it also be known that this will become a pattern...

I passed back by Men In Black Alien Attack and pondered riding, but ultimately decided to just hop the Hogwarts Express. Incidentally, I don't think I've yet addressed the interesting tiered system Universal has inadvertently created by allowing people to ride the Express ONLY if they have park hoppers. Can't afford it? Too bad; you're not riding. An interesting approach and I wonder: has there been backlash? Will they loosen this policy at any point, perhaps if attendance drops?

No more Harry Potter for me just then, thanks - I was on a Pat Present Finding Mission. He had named Yertle the Turtle as his favorite Suess character (good choice, Pat!), so I wandered through all the gift shops in Suess Landing... and came up empty. Didn't they formerly have a giant Suess book selection? I swear they did. And it's gone. BOO.

ME.

Next Up: Marvel Island, where I hopped in the Hulk coaster's single rider line (after another pocket-emptying and metal detector-scanning). While I was in line, a guy in a standby row called out to tell me I was "very pretty," so that was nice except we ended up in the same train and he was looking at me still so I was a little worried he might start following me. #SoloGirlProblems But he didn't so that was fine and I can say: thanks dude! Also I got to be in the VERY FRONT so ultimately it was a successful endeavor.

And now for another episode of Try To Find Pat Presents That Don't Exist. Pat's favorite Marvel character? Gambit. Things Universal carries featuring Gambit? ......... Nothing. At all. I almost got him a Silver Surfer comic since Pat's a surfer but decided that the commonality of a single word wasn't enough to justify the purchase (and Pat now informs me he was never a huge fan anyway, so that worked out).

Ah well. I decided to take a walk and complete my park tour, walking through the comic area, the toon area, and the Jurassic Park area, just kinda looking around. I wound up back in Hogsmeade, where I enjoyed the single rider line through Hogwarts.


It was getting late in the evening, but I still had time to jam a few things in there. I took the Hogwarts Express back to USF with some loud people (why are there always loud people?) but I had already experienced the effects so it was okay.

Upon arrival in Diagon Alley I discovered the Gringotts single rider line was closed and the regular wait time was listed at 20 minutes. I asked the attendant if he thought it was a REAL 20 minutes or a vanity 20 minutes, and he guessed vanity so I went in. I think ultimately it probably was closer to 20 minutes but I got to do the elevator thing again so that was nice for a complete experience.

The park was closed upon exiting the ride, which meant it was time to turn my attention to such practical matters as dinner. I fought through a SEA of people exiting the park to the counter service sushi place at CityWalk. I barely got my sushi and booked it to the hotel bus in time, but I would just like to point out that if anyone can power walk from the second floor of CityWalk to a bus waiting at the drop-off point in under 4 minutes it is ME and I did. HORNBERGER!

And so I returned to the hotel and sat outside on my balcony eating my to-go sushi because it was one hell of a view.

One more day of Universal to go!

Jenn is running the 2015 Marine Corps Marathon for the Diabetes Action Team. Will you help her earn her bib while fighting diabetes? Click here to make your tax-deductible donation.

Don't forget, you can follow us on Twitter @fairestrunofall. To see how our training is going, check out Jenn's dailymile here and Moon's dailymile here. If you have any questions for us, leave a comment or email us at fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The Most Universal Trip Report Of All: 8/15

No trip to brief for a trip report, right? Last week I was in Orlando for a conference, and I figured while there I may as well schedule in a little playtime. So I headed down a day early for some Universal Studios Florido time (don't worry, WDW, you're next!).

There was a long luggage check line at the airport, I barely made my boarding group, I had hardly eaten anything, and I was frankly exhausted by the time I made it to Orlando, but there's nothing like the promise of a theme park to fuel the old adrenaline. I met my old boss (at the conference with a different organization) at the Starbucks right outside security, picked up her coworker, checked in at the conference hotel, and then we were cabbing it to USF!


We hit the original park first and headed straight to the new Harry Potter section, Diagon Alley. The Gringotts ride - officially Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts, I believe - posted a 45 minute wait, which was frankly good enough for us at 2 in the afternoon in the summer, so we hopped in line.

DAGRON

The queue was pretty good but VERY extended. First you walk through the main bank area with the various audio-animatronic goblins doing, I don't know, ledgers or math problems or something. Then you look at nothing but stone walls for awhile until you reach a section where they want to take your picture in front of more stone wall (maybe they magic it up in post; we didn't check). Then you get on a fake, but well-faked, elevator, which takes you down into the bowels of the bank. THEN you go up a flight of stairs and THEN you're finally in a position to get on the ride.

Iconoclast Goblin wears a bowtie.

As for the ride itself? [SPOILER ALERT] It's kind of like Revenge of the Mummy, only a bit milder in force. "Dark ride" scenes - in this case often holograms and large-screen projections enhanced with some real-life set dressing, similar to the Hogwarts ride - are interspersed with fairly gentle roller coaster action. If you can handle Big Thunder, I'd say you can handle this.

The basic plot line is that you're looking to open up an account, so Bill Weasely is showing you around. The main Potter group shows up for some reason and hijinks ensue, naturally. It's fun, and it definitely grew on me with subsequent rides, but I think I prefer the original Hogwarts ride in Islands of Adventure. Interested to hear any opinions you guys might have.

Our next stop was the Leaky Cauldron for lunch, which has NO INTEREST in nutritional balance. Not that I was necessarily looking for a kale salad, but everything had a meat-and-potatoes-hot-stuff bent. I went with the Ploughman's Lunch, which I will detail further in an upcoming food review.


After lunch we wandered through a gift shop or two and then Knockturn Alley, just checking out the details. At this point there was a 30 minute posted wait for the Hogwarts Express, so we decided to take a shot. The queue area is kinda cute, set up to look first like an actual London train station (complete with snack stop full of English stuff like Mars bars), plus a transitional trick mirror that makes it look like the people in front of you in line are disappearing into the wall. We were able to skip a significant portion of the line by virtue of being a party of three.

[SPOILER ALERT] The Hogwarts Express looks like a regular European train with compartments and whatnot, but the windows are actually screens that project the England-to-Hogwarts countryside, or vice versa. The frosted glass pane between you and the train corridor is also some sort of screen that shows silhouettes of characters as they pass by in the hall. The trip TO Hogwarts is much darker and features an attack by the Dementors, so that's fun.



Upon arrival in Islands of Adventure's Hogsmeade, we immediately encountered a mere 15 minute wait for the Dragon Challenge. Despite impending rain we jumped in line. After, of course, stowing ALLLLLL our stuff in lockers. Universal has long had a policy of making you stick bags and stuff in lockers before you can even get in line, but they've gotten MUCH more hardcore lately on some of the more intense roller coasters. Now they don't even permit you to carry your phone or anything in a zippered pocket, which I had included in my attire for this specific purpose. You have to walk through a metal detector to make sure there's nothing in your pockets.

But anyway, we made it through the line and rode the Chinese Crested before the rain started. From there we hightailed it to the Hogwarts ride (Official Name As I Remember It: Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey), where the posted wait was 45 minutes. Unfortunately it was probably longer at that point because everyone could see rain was coming and wanted to do something indoors. Still, we made it eventually and it was a super fun ride as always.

We exited the ride to discover that it was now positively POURING outside. Everyone was coming off the ride but no one was leaving the gift shop, so it was getting increasingly insane. We decided to make a break for it and wound up in line at Poseidon's Fury, which I knew was a) relatively nearby; b) inside; and c) inside for a good 15 minutes worth of show at LEAST. The line was weirdly long (I suspect there may have been technical difficulties) but our Taylor did a good job. I do rather wonder, though, how they convinced Christina Pickles to be in this thing. Also, it is WAAAAAY dated. But kinda fun therefore!

It was still raining when we got out, but not nearly as hard. We wandered back to the Hogwarts Express, where there was pretty much no line at all. [SPOILER ALERT] The trip back to London featured nothing but safe and happy scenes, my favorite being Ron and Harry peering into our compartment and declaring that we looked like a bunch of first years. Oh, and Buckbeak. Always Buckbeak!

On our way out of Diagon Alley we passed the new Transformers ride and, seeing a 30 minute posted wait time, decided to go for it. Guys, this ride is EXACTLY THE SAME as the Spider-Man ride in IoA. In terms of mechanics, sure, but I also felt very seriously that the scenes and sets were basically just re-skins. Don't get me wrong, it was fun, but I had some serious glitch-in-the-Matrix deja vu. AUTOBOTS, ROLL OUT. (That's right, right?)

BATTLE GLASSES

Up next was Revenge of the Mummy, which is one of if not my absolutely favorite ride at Universal. I love the reasonably thrilling coaster combined with the dark ride scenes, plus Brendan Fraser is awesome of course. "I would've enjoyed this interview a lot more if I had GOTTEN MY CUP OF COFFEE!"

We had about enough time for one more ride, so we headed for the Despicable Me motion simulator - which boasted an hour wait. Pass. Instead we headed across the way to Shrek 4D, which I had never really had much interest in... and my instincts were totally spot on. I found most of the humor pretty unsophisticated. But then plenty of people just love Shrek so YMMV, as the kids acronym.

Real subtle, guys.

From there we headed out to CityWalk, where we got dinner at a Mexican place that I will talk more about in my Universal food post. And there you have it: my first day at Universal. More to come!

Jenn is running the 2015 Marine Corps Marathon for the Diabetes Action Team. Will you help her earn her bib while fighting diabetes? Click here to make your tax-deductible donation.

Don't forget, you can follow us on Twitter @fairestrunofall. To see how our training is going, check out Jenn's dailymile here and Moon's dailymile here. If you have any questions for us, leave a comment or email us at fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The Fairest Week In Review: 8/25

JENN: So how's your running been going?

MOON: Steady, can't complain. Although I need something new to listen to. I get so bored.

JENN: Still enjoying the treadmill?

MOON: I am, except the boredom part.

JENN: You should've come to Orlando with me last week! I mean, the treadmill was just as boring but there was fruit-infused water every day. I mean, it was Florida so it was humid even inside the gym (and don't even get me started about outside; the 5K was NOT cool), but that infused water was really awesome. I should start doing that.


MOON: Ha, I'm not sure if you've heard of this, but since you bring up infused water... How about asparagus water? Don't be this decadent. ;)

JENN: Haha, I'll try not to.

MOON: How are the new Nikes settling in?

JENN: Pretty well... no complaints yet. I think they'll carry me through my fall races just fine (although I'll probably need another pair).

MOON: If only you ran professionally. Those shoes could be a tax deduction.

JENN: Indeed.

And with that, I take you to the roundup.

- Not relevant to us personally, but for those of you of the knocked up persuasion, From Dancing to Running has some exercise tips.
- Elbowglitter highlights a pretty awesome virtual race. I'm signed up!
- Sparkly Ever After does adorable things with Disney duct tape.
- The Adult Side of Disney points out that this whole ADR thing is getting a trifle ridiculous.
- The Disney Hipsters advocate for craft beer at WDW.
- Living A Disney Life is jazzed for Epcot's Food & Wine Festival. (Who isn't?)

Jenn is running the 2015 Marine Corps Marathon for the Diabetes Action Team. Will you help her earn her bib while fighting diabetes? Click here to make your tax-deductible donation.

Don't forget, you can follow us on Twitter @fairestrunofall. To see how our training is going, check out Jenn's dailymile here and Moon's dailymile here. If you have any questions for us, leave a comment or email us at fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

Friday, August 21, 2015

Happy Friday: it's a small set of instructions

In honor of Jenn's recent trip to Universal Studios Florida, here's the only part of Shrek she thinks is funny.


Jenn is running the 2015 Marine Corps Marathon for the Diabetes Action Team. Will you help her earn her bib while fighting diabetes? Click here to make your tax-deductible donation.

Don't forget, you can follow us on Twitter @fairestrunofall. To see how our training is going, check out Jenn's dailymile here and Moon's dailymile here. If you have any questions for us, leave a comment or email us at fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

In Which Jenn Is In Universal Studios

MORE TO COME.


Jenn is running the 2015 Marine Corps Marathon for the Diabetes Action Team. Will you help her earn her bib while fighting diabetes? Click here to make your tax-deductible donation.

Don't forget, you can follow us on Twitter @fairestrunofall. To see how our training is going, check out Jenn's dailymile here and Moon's dailymile here. If you have any questions for us, leave a comment or email us at fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

In Which Jenn Is Headed To Universal Studios Florida

Just because I have made my decision doesn't mean I have to like it.

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I have a conference in Orlando next week that will include a little bit of downtime. Hardcore WDW girl that I am, I decided I'm going to spend that downtime at Universal Studios Orlando so I can check out the new Harry Potter expansion.

But then of course I was listening to Main Street background music on YouTube and that made me all sad and I miss WDW and wouldn't it be silly to go to Orlando and not at least swing by? And then my Twitter buddies were all GO TO BOTH YOU SHOULD TOTALLY GO TO BOTH and I was like YEAH I TOTALLY SHOULD.

Only Universal tickets are not as cheap as they used to be, and Disney tickets have never been cheap. Oh, and naturally Universal is cleverly forcing me to upgrade to a park hopper since you can't ride the Hogwarts Express between parks without it. From a fiscal standpoint, I have to make a choice. Since I'll be expensing hotels and food and not have that much time anyway, Universal it shall be.

I am sad. I am sad not to be going to WDW. Still, I'll be there in November for the Wine & Dine Half Marathon. Yay! And I really am excited to check out this Diagon Alley thing at Universal. I've been to the Hogsmeade section in Islands of Adventure and even as a lukewarm Potter fan I was VERY impressed. I hear great things about the new Gringotts ride and the Hogwarts Express train, and of course drinking butterbeer is always glorious. It's gonna be a good time!

I'll be traipsing around USF at various points this Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday. Who's already been to Diagon Alley? Have any tips or recommendations? What should I eat?!


Jenn is running the 2015 Marine Corps Marathon for the Diabetes Action Team. Will you help her earn her bib while fighting diabetes? Click here to make your tax-deductible donation.

Don't forget, you can follow us on Twitter @fairestrunofall. To see how our training is going, check out Jenn's dailymile here and Moon's dailymile here. If you have any questions for us, leave a comment or email us at fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Kill/Refurb/Marry: Frozen Treats in the Parks

It's Kill/Refurb/Marry time! This month's edition of the blog hop concerns favorite frozen treats in the parks. Now, the definition of "frozen treat" may vary from person to person - does ice cream count? If so, does it have to be considered a "novelty" or is Beaches & Cream's No Way Jose sundae eligible? Alternatively, does it only county if there's actual ice directly involved, like a slush or smoothie? Where does the Dole Whip fall in all of this?!

One could arrive at many interpretations, but where I chose to land was in the "ice cream novelties cart" category. Limiting? Sure! But when was I known to ever back down from such a delicious challenge?

Kill: Frozen lemonade

Pat got one of these on our very first day in the parks last January expecting something of a lemonade slush. What he got instead was basically lemonade frozen solid in a cup. He was most disappointed, but then, isn't everybody? If you wanted something that literal, you could easily do it yourself. No magic here. Kill!

Refurb: The iconic Mickey Bar

Confession: I have never had a Mickey Bar. SACRILEGE! I know, I know. But... isn't it basically just your standard vanilla ice cream bar with milk chocolate coating? I mean, what's so great about that? Yeah, yeah, I know it's Mickey shaped, and yeah, I can see how biting off his ears could be most satisfying (you psycho), but still. Let's fancy him up, shall we? Maybe make him come in milk, dark, and white chocolate iterations, with a caramel or fudge center and chocolate chips or sprinkles on the outside? Nothing about Disney should be this plain!

Marry: The chocolate-covered frozen banana

The chocolate-covered banana is (spoiler art) largely a frozen banana. Bananas are fruit! It is covered with chocolate, yes, but also nuts. Nuts are healthy! They have protein and are good for your heart! Therefore, the chocolate-covered frozen banana is by rights and logic a health food. Good job, you, for eating such a nutritionally sound thing that is also strangely delicious. And on vacation, no less! You are now justified in eating whatever you want for dinner. Enjoy, you health-conscious thing, you!

(source)

Jenn is running the 2015 Marine Corps Marathon for the Diabetes Action Team. Will you help her earn her bib while fighting diabetes? Click here to make your tax-deductible donation.

Don't forget, you can follow us on Twitter @fairestrunofall. To see how our training is going, check out Jenn's dailymile here and Moon's dailymile here. If you have any questions for us, leave a comment or email us at fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The Fairest Week In Review: 8/11

JENN: How was your running last week?

MOON: Running was good!

JENN: Have a route in your new neighborhood?

MOON: If by "route" you mean the fact that I get in the elevator and go to floor 7 where the gym is, then... a resounding yes!

JENN: Haha, any plans to venture outside or too much Orioles traffic?

MOON: Hmmm, sooooo. I would love to run outside because I could go from my apartment building down to the Inner Harbor, through Harbor East (if I can manage to dodge all the fancy valets and such...), to Fells and then back. I've done it once and it's actually really refreshing if the Chesapeake isn't in a particularly stinky mood.  However. It's totally not cool to be a lady and to run in the downtown area after dusk. This limits my time.

JENN: Ah, yes, that's very wise.Perhaps in the fall when daytime temperatures allow for it.

MOON: I'm hoping ☺I need to get used to running the crazy roads of Baltimore, after all.

JENN: Yes! Signed up for the Baltimore Marathon yet?



MOON: I am going to this week. ☺

JENN: Awesome! Keep me posted.

MOON: How was your week? Have you been running outside?

JENN: I have! It kinda sucks sometimes but I'm definitely faster than I was last year. Last week was my first full training week with my new sneakers and so far so good! No knee pain, thank God; I'm always a little worried whenever I switch shoes but I'm fine so far.

MOON: What does your training schedule look like?

JENN: It's pretty straightforward for the next couple months: tapering for the Parks Half will begin at the end of August, and then two weeks later is the National Capital 20 Miler. After that it's more tapering until the Marine Corps Marathon, and then two weeks later the Wine and Dine Half. Once I get into mid-November, though - no idea! Anyone have suggestions?

MOON: My goodness. That's quite the ambitious schedule.  Good luck!

JENN: Thanks! Maybe we can find something in the winter or spring to do together.

MOON: Yes, of course! That would be great. Maybe you can do the MMRF run with me in... November? It'll be short, only a 5k, but it benefits Multiple Myeloma Research.

JENN: Sure, send me the info and if the date works out I'm in.

MOON: Great! I do, though, have a question about training. In my perfect world I always imagined that I would do the marathon with a year to really train for it. But, seeing as I have approximately two  months, would you suggest aiming for endurance or speed? Originally I wanted to do speed, but at this point I'm running the race to finish it.

JENN: Psh, you don't need a whole year if you're already a runner. You'll be fine. ☺ But I'd say endurance, yes. First one is to do it. The rest are to have fun and/or speed it up!

MOON: My plan right now is to train by doing intervals of running, walking for a little bit, then starting up again until I can do 15 miles easy.I have to be honest, I am dreading the hills. I hear it's very hilly.
\
JENN: You'll kill it, no question!

Also killing it? The roundup:

- Fairytales & Fitness highlights new runDisney merchandise.
- It's A Marathon AND A Sprint scores great shoe deals.
- We Run Disney knocks out training on vacation.
- Pink Elephant on Parade makes her own race ears.
- The Runner's Guide to WDW fuels up for the long run.
- Corral B says goodbye to running in DC. (I say hello, over and over and over and...)
- Will Run for Ears lobbies for reasonable speeds in NYC.

Jenn is running the 2015 Marine Corps Marathon for the Diabetes Action Team. Will you help her earn her bib while fighting diabetes? Click here to make your tax-deductible donation.

Don't forget, you can follow us on Twitter @fairestrunofall. To see how our training is going, check out Jenn's dailymile here and Moon's dailymile here. If you have any questions for us, leave a comment or email us at fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

Thursday, August 6, 2015

In Which Moon Has Had A Lot Of Caffeine & Wants To Run A Marathon

For the past two days I’ve been asking myself, “Why do I tend to begin all my posts with a preface?” And… this one even breeches into metapreface territory. I’m prefacing my preface with this thought about prefacing. I’m not sure why I do it. Maybe I just don’t post enough. Maybe this is the universe’s subtle hint that I need to be more proactive on the blog (all eyes go to Jenn for that one…).

OK, off I go!

I would like to preface with this (sigh. I even thought about making a pun here, but I’m terrible at jokes): I have had a lot of caffeine.

And I mean supreme amounts.  It’s been approximately 36 hours since the beginning of my caffeine binge and believe it or not, I’m still tired. But also hyper. It’s a bit of a paradox, really.

I started the day around 5 AM with a nice can of Dr. Pepper (cherry). As my student asked me later in the day about my first-of-the-day-beverage-choice, “isn’t that kind of gross?” Yes, it absolutely is. And hey, the soda isn’t that bad, but after an hour and change of sleep, it’s a stark reminder that it’s time to get up. And it’s for that reason that I downed the can. I had some assignments to get done before going off to catalog some manuscripts at work, sooooo of course it was a good idea to grab one more can around 8 AM.

I think there was a strong tea in there somewhere, too.

Now, when I can’t sleep, I usually function pretty well for that first 24 to 48-period before I start acting wonky. But, come 10 AM, there I am yawning my way through a collation. Lunchtime arrives and down goes another soda.

After the museum, I head off to teach violin. So totally want to fall asleep in the car, so… Yay, for soda! Thankfully, it was a rather early day for me, so I was home a little earlier than usual. I’ve got a few more tasks to do, but then the question of what my blog post will be about is still looming. See, I had an idea. However, due to brain and sleep failure, I couldn’t remember.

I fretted about it for a bit and decided that it was best to maybe go running, see if any inspirational tripwires are initiated, and then come back to the computer. Success, tripwire tripped, and this is before I even got on the elevator.

And now for the crazy thought-process (this is going to be a bit stream of consciousness, my apologies): if I don’t get running I’m a failure. Complete failure => my heart rate feels a little out of control, maybe the caffeine? => start running => yeah, I feel weird. Why do I have chills? => this feels GREAT, I LOVE RUNNING <3<3<3, fireworks! => in a super good mood => decision made: I’m so running the Baltimore marathon.

I was in the gym for about an hour? Maybe a little longer? So, it’s not as if I came to all these realizations within minutes. And if you’ve been paying attention to our weekly reports then you know dearest Jenn miiiight be pushing for me to do a marathon. Actually, I’d really love to do one. I’m a really anxious and nervous person, sometimes (most of the time) prone to self-doubt. So, that’s a concern and it’s always looming in my brain. Also, running races requires a fair amount of commitment and goodness knows a lot of training. Oh yeah, and the $$ money. I’m a musician and historian, OK? Not exactly rolling in the cash monies.

Anyway, I was so hyper and exhausted at the same time that it would have probably best for everyone all around had there been a marathon going on outside right then so I could have just gotten it out of my system.

I’ve had some time to think over things. It’s the next day, I’m still on a caffeine binge, but I think I’ve come down from the ceiling. Last week when I was teaching one of my students, they shared with me a personal tale of a goal achieved. My student knows I run and we’ve talked about it a few times, but it was revealed that day that he had run a total of 4 or 5 marathons. I was floored.

He said that the last marathon he completed he set himself a new goal: He wanted to finish it in under 5:30. And then I inquired about pace and all that. Apparently he had run previous marathons and 5:30 was by no means a PR, but it was a new goal for walking the marathon. He realized his body just didn’t respond to running the way it used to, but he still wanted to do marathons, hence the walking. He said that he trained very hard and stuck to a strict schedule. It was arduous work and all that, but he wound up finishing thirty minutes earlier than his best time.

Applause!

So, back to my own marathon contemplation: even if I’m not ready, is it acceptable to settle with the fact that there might be some walking involved? The marathon is in October. I’ve got tons of work to do until then, but I’ve been pretty steady with my workout schedule. I don’t have a terrible amount of time to train, but this is something that has been nagging me for a year. It’s kind of a personal achievement goal, you know? Part of this commitment is seeing if I can stick to it no matter what and the second part is: just do one, already.

Maybe I should start with some basic running procedures: 


 This blog post (for those of you who read the first bit, but then realized how laced in insanity it was and just skipped to the end): I’m hyper, so maybe this is impulsive (blame the caffeine, see above). But, seeing as this is a running blog and one between friends… should I run the Baltimore marathon?

So, should I do it? I’m putting it out there publically, so there’s no backing out now.

P.S. about the "Cruise Control" video: Some of you might be thinking, "Wait a second... Moon supporting Tom Cruise is like Jenn renouncing WDW..." The disclaimer here is... I had no pictures minimal degrees of relevancy, so... >_>

In all non-seriousness, here's another (slightly updated) video for your viewing pleasure. 


Jenn is running the 2015 Marine Corps Marathon for the Diabetes Action Team. Will you help her earn her bib while fighting diabetes? Click here to make your tax-deductible donation.

Don't forget, you can follow us on Twitter @fairestrunofall. To see how our training is going, check out Jenn's dailymile here and Moon's dailymile here. If you have any questions for us, leave a comment or email us at fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

In Which Jenn Gets New Sneakers At Road Runner Sports

Guys! I finally got myself re-fitted for sneakers and it was WAY more involved than last time.

A little background: I've been using the Brooks Ravenna 5 since October of 2013. It replaced a pair of Nike ProFits that worked pretty well but in which I occasionally succumbed to some knee pain. The Ravennas seemed to take care of that problem, and I used them happily for almost two years.

Until the Ravenna 5 was phased out for the new 6 model. Sure, I could've just bought eighty pairs of 5s on clearance and hope my stash lasted me the rest of my running career; likewise, I could've just bought a pair of 6s and trusted they would rock. But I wanted more than that. I wanted to try on shoes!

The past couple times I've had sneaker fittings they've taken place in a Fleet Feet. I probably would've gone back there but I happened to drive past a Road Runner Sports near work one day and figured I'd give it a try. I'm glad I did because their fit process is INSANE.

The process began with the help of Mesa, a fit expert who ran the technological side of what they call the Shoe Dog fit method. She did a lot of your standard stuff - asking me about my running habits, any problems, if I was training for anything, getting a shoe size. She also had me stand on some sort of pressure device that determined my pressure points (here I was complimented on my arches; Mesa said they were the highest she'd seen. FTW!).

Things started heating up when she had me take off my shoes and hop on a treadmill - and a video camera recorded me running from behind. Mesa brought up the footage and slow-mo'd her way through my stride, showing me how my left foot stayed perfectly straight as it hit but my right turned inward just a bit. "I actually never would have put you in a stability shoe like a Ravenna," she said. MIND. BLOWN.

(Side note: Mesa also fit me for some custom shoe inserts during this process. A coworker of mind warned me against these, saying she had tried them and taken them back as they were causing her problems. Regardless, I knew they would be expensive and didn't want to spend the extra money when I was already buying crazy expensive shoes; still, I let them go ahead and make them since it's part of the process. I even tried them in a couple pairs but they felt weird more often than not. Maybe they would've helped and if you want to try them, go ahead! Personally after my third pair I asked if I could toss out the inserts during my search and they were fine with it - no pressure at all. Don't be afraid to ask for what you want. Or don't, as the case may be.)

I was then handed over to Lee, Master of Shoes. Poor, wonderful Lee! I put him through his paces for the better part of two hours, and his smile never slipped. It was a pretty great process, actually - Lee would bring me shoes he thought would work for me, and I would put them on and go run on the treadmill. What I liked I kept in the pool; what I didn't got tossed. (I never touched the Ravenna 6. SCANDAL! SACRILEGE!)


I tried a pair of Sauconys, two pairs of Brooks (Ghost and something else I don't remember), a pair of Adidas ("a wild card" according to Lee), Nike Zoom Vomero 10, and the Asics Nimbus, which really DOES feel like running on a squishy cloud. The Adidas and Saucony shoes were briefly in the running, but I ultimately found the former lacked bounce and the latter were too wide.

That Nimbus squishiness tempted me, but there was something about the way the Nikes fit that felt right. Indeed, in a way sneakers had never felt right to me before, like they were made to hang out with my feet. I hadn't yet tried every brand in the store, which some might say is less than thorough (next time, Mizunos and Hokas!), but that fit... what shoe dreams are made of, I tell you.


I did get talked into one thing - a VIP membership. It does cost $20 but you get a minimum of 10% off for a year (that day I got 20% off due to a sales promotion). I am often suspicious of such programs but I'm sure I'll need at least one more pair of these in October for MCM, so I don't think it was a bad call. This may or may not be a good deal for you - take a moment to consider before you commit.

One pack of socks later and I was out the door with my new Nike friends! As of this writing I have now run with my Zooms three times and I continue to be pleased with them. They feel good! They do - and will continue to for a bit - take some getting used to. Going from a stability shoe to a neutral shoe changes the requirements you're making of your muscles, so I am proceeding with caution. But very optimistic caution! I'm taking them on their first outdoor, real-terrain spin on Thursday morning. Wish me luck!

When were you last fitted for running shoes? Have you ever switched brands unexpectedly?

Jenn is running the 2015 Marine Corps Marathon for the Diabetes Action Team. Will you help her earn her bib while fighting diabetes? Click here to make your tax-deductible donation.

Don't forget, you can follow us on Twitter @fairestrunofall. To see how our training is going, check out Jenn's dailymile here and Moon's dailymile here. If you have any questions for us, leave a comment or email us at fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!