Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The Fairest Week In Review: 6/28

Let's hurry up and get my workout log out of the way because there is Disney to discuss and that's way more fun.

Sunday | ran 7.09 miles on the treadmill in 1:10
Race pace while I still can. :(

Monday | ran 4.17 miles on the treadmill in 50 minutes

Tuesday | walked 2.1 miles outside in 35 minutes; 80 minute ballet class

Wednesday | ran 9.46 miles outside in 1:45

Thursday | walked 2.41 miles outside in 40 minutes

Friday | ran 5.25 miles on the treadmill in 60 minutes

Saturday | rest

Anyway! DISNEY. My next WDW trip is officially booked! Yay! I always feel more secure when I've got concrete plans, y'know? Holiday-bedecked WDW, here we come!


My mom's coming with me again, and I'm already hard at work crafting a custom vacation plan. She loved Sanaa last time, so that's a no brainer, but we'll be skipping Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party - too crowded. I'm batting some other ideas about too. Dining with an Animal Specialist would be great if I can swing it, but it can be a hard get. The new elephant tour might be a nice compromise. If you have additional suggestions, hit me in the comments.

The only weird thing is that I was forced to take basically the last resort room I would ever reasonably be able to accept. More on that in a later post. For now let's just say that the WDW reservation system is always an adventure...

Roundup!

- Fairytales & Fitness documents all the exciting scents that come along with running outside. Reminds me of the portion of the WDW Marathon that runs behind the sanitation buildings...
- Living A Disney Life packs for the inevitable Orlando summer rain.
- An Open Suitcase instructs as to how to get through park bag check ASAP.
- Disney In Your Day puts together a super cute Minnie Mouse Disneybounding outfit.
- Davelandblog shares vintage photos of the Mr. Toad's Wild Ride mural at Disneyland.
- Blushing Noir assembles a list of Disney beauty items you can purchase on Amazon.
- The Disney Tourist Blog offers an in-depth discussion of why summer at the parks is no longer slammed.
- The Main Street Gazette takes a trivia-fueled jaunt around Epcot's World Showcase.

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!

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?

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 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!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The Fairest Week In Review: 6/13

Gotta start getting used to these outdoor runs, since I'm losing my gym.

Sunday | rest
Post-ZOOMA Half chill time.

Monday | walked 2.1 miles outside in 35 minutes; 70 minute ballet class

Tuesday | ran 11.11 miles outside in 2:00
Probably I shouldn't've done this so soon after ZOOMA, but it was such a lovely day for a run I couldn't resist.

Wednesday | walked 3 miles outside in 50 minutes

Thursday | walked 2.13 miles outside in 35 minutes; 70 minute ballet class

Friday | ran 6.23 miles on the treadmill in 1:05

Saturday | rest
Walked a LOT, though; Pat and I went into DC to see the New York City Ballet at the Kennedy Center, among other things. Hooray ballet!

Although I continue to largely stick to my off the cuff race plan, I did sign up for another race this week - the Across the Bay 10K. I've wanted to do this race for years now, but it's always the same weekend as the Wine & Dine Half.

Whelp, for the first time in 3 years there's no W&D for me, so I'm open! And when a friend asked if I wanted to run it, I couldn't resist. I did buy race insurance, though, which is unusual for me, but with my schedule being so uncertain I think it's worth it for the peace of mind.


Bonus: through combined peer pressure, I have successfully convinced Elizabeth to run it too! It will be her first 10K ever, so of course I'm going to pester her to blog about it.

Anyway. The Twilight Bark!

- Fairytales & Fitness offers a peek inside Runner's World headquarters.
- Back At Square Zero fights the good fight against the menace that is runger.
- Elbowglitter leaps off a boat in the name of triathlon glory and I am almost tempted to try one myself. (Almost.)
- easyWDW thoroughly reviews Kona Cafe's new offerings and now I'm kicking myself for not bringing Pat there. They have loco moco and everything!!
- The Main Street Gazette visits the Nomad Lounge. Home of my own drink!
- The Disney Tourist Blog asks: is Disneyland Paris right for you? (Not as right as Tokyo Disneyland, I'm betting.)
- This Fairytale Life assembles a list of Mickey ears that LIGHT UP.
- WDW for Grownups taste tests Homecomin(g)(') in Disney Springs.

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 12, 2017

The Fairest Trip Report Of All: Dining At Port Orleans Riverside

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!

One of the perks of upgrading to a moderate resort is expanded food options - for the most part, the resorts one tier up have additional bar(s) plus sit-down restaurants. To that end, let's talk about what kind of food experience you can expect at Port Orleans Riverside.

It is... okay.

Let's start with the food court. I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that value resorts are actually better when it comes to counter service. Pop has clearly delineated food bays and queues, with stanchions and everything. POR has smushed together bays and unclear lines. I get the idea that POR was not designed to handle the magnitude of crowds it now enjoys, whereas Pop was made with that in mind.

The end result in the confusion and the assembly-line food preparation is that the food is generally served in the lukewarm to cold area, with little quality control. My Mickey waffle, while adorable, somehow managed to be both a touch overdone and room temperature at best. The bacon was decent but the sausage was kinda gross. The bananas foster sauce was a nice touch, though.



Do not even MENTION Pat's biscuits and gravy. Just... why? Even Pat, who voluntarily ordered it for some reason, agrees this was a mistake.

The only other thing we got was my pre-race pasta kids' meal. This was also basically cold. I think POR's food court could use a redesign.

Another food option is the River Roost Lounge bar. Important note: you cannot order food from Boatwright's here. They have their own specific bar menu, consisting of sliders and nachos and suchlike. We got both of these options (although Pat ate most of them since it was pre-race and I didn't want to risk any spice-induced indigestion) and they were both fine. Nothing to write home about.

Major River Roost bonus, though: they offer Abita Purple Haze on tap. On tap! It's SO GOOD on tap! And yet kinda underwhelming in bottles. Why?

I hear tell Yeehah Bob performs here, but I've never seen it. SLANDER AND HEARSAY.

Then there's Boatwright's itself, the resident full service establishment. Cool decor here in the boat skeletons, pleasant waitstaff, mediocre food. My jambalaya was decent - they didn't skimp on the shrimp, which was nice - but Pat's steak didn't sit well with him. Add to this a chocolate cake with NO FROSTING(?!) and this is not a restaurant to which I am clamoring to return. Admittedly it is nice to have the on-site sit-down option, but I'm not sure it's worth the increased price.


Points for the cornbread and butter, though!

We never went to the pool bar because based on the online menu we thought they only served drinks and we wanted food at the time. But there are banners on some lampposts advertising it that show sandwiches? MYSTERIOUS.

So our POR dining experience was meh at best. Yet another reason we're not jazzed ('cause it's New Orleans!) to return, but we'll talk about that more in another post.

Have you eaten at POR dining establishments? What did you think?

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 9, 2017

In Which Jenn & Pat Are Frozen With Fear At The Haunted Mansion

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!

It was Pat who spotted the PhotoPass photographer, not me. I blazed right past her in my quest to ride the Haunted Mansion, but he saw and asked if I wanted to stop on the way out. Post doom-buggy exit, we pulled off to the side of the path, just pass the pet cemetery.

The mini photo shoot seemed unremarkable. The photographer took the usual pictures - some long shots showing the whole of the Haunted Mansion, some closer up that highlighted our smiling faces, the only hint of our location the curling design of the iron fence.




Finally, the trick shot: "Look scared," she instructed us. We pantomimed as best we could.

Then we were done. I tapped my Magic Band to connect the photos to my account and we continued on our way.

I was not surprised by the last bit of instructed playacting, being no stranger to "magic shots" or whatever they call them. I assumed the Hitchhiking Ghosts would be superimposed. It was only later, stuck in the Magical Express on our way to the airport, that I accessed the photos and discovered that our picture was so much better than that.


Yeah. I'm pretty sure that isn't right. But as was pointed out to me on Twitter, maybe they thought we looked cold?

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 8, 2017

The Fairest Week In Review: 6/08

Something TERRIBLE has happened.


What am I supposed to do now? Run outside exclusively?! In Maryland?! WHERE WINTER EXISTS?????

Ugh, I need to move to Orlando or Hawaii or something ASAP. In the meantime... what do I do?! Luckily I'm pretty amenable to early runs outside during the summer while the sun rises early and the temperatures are acceptably warm for my strangely reptilian comfort level, but one early morning torrential rainstorm and I'm screwed. Ugh. And all the other gyms near me are either hella expensive or too far to walk without becoming their own freakin' workout in the first place.

Oh well. I'll figure something out. While I'm sulking, enjoy last week's training recap.

Sunday | ran 7.06 miles on the treadmill in 1:10

Monday | ran 5.29 miles on the treadmill in 60 minutes

Tuesday | walked 2.13 miles outside in 35 minutes; 70 minute ballet class

Wednesday | ran 5.24 miles on the treadmill in 60 minutes

Thursday | walked 2.37 miles in 40 minutes; 70 minute ballet class

Friday | rest
I had a half day at work, so I headed down to Annapolis early for packet pickup. They had advertised an "expo" that turned out to have, like, three vendors, but it was well organized and came with some neat swag, including running socks. Then Elizabeth and I ate sushi and watched Magic Mike, because that's what you do the night before a race.

Saturday | ZOOMA Annapolis Half Marathon, 13.36 in 2:10:49 according to my GPS watch

Annnd on to the Twilight Bark we go.


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 7, 2017

In Which Jenn Crushes The ZOOMA Annapolis Half Marathon

Oh, is it race day already?

This race went so well I'm worried I may have used up all my good race luck for the year. If you're running a race and see someone face down in the mud, covered in scrapes and both legs broken, it's probably me.

But let's not worry overmuch about the future. Let's dwell for now in the comfort of the past, where I ran the ZOOMA Annapolis Half and came as near to crushing it as I could reasonably hope. Settle in!

I run ZOOMA for the practical reason that it starts and finishes under 10 minutes from Elizabeth's house and she allows me to crash with her. Therefore race morning started with an easy-breezy drive to the Navy Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, where I parked just before 6am with a 7am race start. So far so good.

Another reason I run ZOOMA is because the race starts a 90 second walk from where you park your car, so I was able to bounce back and forth a bit as I prepared, store my stuff, charge my phone, etc.

A third reason is because, if you know where to look (or even if you don't; they're not hidden, just a smidge further out), there are REAL BATHROOMS. And yet somehow there was still a line in front of the porta potties at 6:45am even as I waltzed into the legit version with no wait. People are weird, man.

Anyway, after my phone charging and my snack eating and my bathroom breaks, I hopped into the 10-minute pace area, the 2:10 pace team in sight. Five minutes later we were off, around the stadium and let loose on the streets of Annapolis.

I ran this race last year and the course was exactly the same; I went in prepared. The race includes a half, 10K, and 5K, but everyone starts at once and the courses veer and diverge at random a bit. Our first couple miles took in historic Annapolis, including the Naval Academy, St. John's College, and my personal favorite, Main Street.


Indeed, I guess I was so excited for this section that I went out too fast - I clocked what were, for me, blistering speeds, leaving the 2:10 pacers in my wake. They caught up with me as we headed out of the historic area and on to the roads, though, as (I learned) they never walked for water stops and I always do. Having lost them just after the Severn River Bridge last year, I was determined not to do so again; I settled in behind them as we headed onto the highway.

And then we began the Hard Part. There's the aforementioned Severn River Bridge, of course. It is rough. See?


Unfortunately, your reward for your efforts is a second half of the course located in the rolling hills of Annapolis's back parks and crud. Last year... well, here, let me quote myself!
That second half, guys. It was the worst. It was in out-and-back that in turn involved several internal out-and-backs, Inception-style. And the worst of it was that every time you ran downhill, you could see the people ahead of you running uphill on their way back. I saw so, so many people stop and walk, and not without full justification. At times my running steps were barely more than a glorified walk
So you can see the hill situation was not exactly morale-boosting.

How did I handle it? BY BEING AWESOME AND STAYING STEP FOR STEP WITH THE 2:10 PACERS, THAT'S HOW. Because I specifically trained more on hills this year! Oh my God, guys, my training ACTUALLY PAID OFF! That never happens!

Once I took my position in the pace group, I never ever let go. I took to sprinting ahead when I saw water stops, walking as I drank, and then picking them back up as they passed by at a steady rate. I got to talking to the one girl who was a pacer last year too, and she said I looked strong. Didn't seem entirely sold on Sour Patch Kids as fuel, though...

By the time we dragged ourselves back up the Severn River Bridge (oh, yes, they make you do it twice), I was feeling good. Despite the remaining inclines, I was pretty pleased with myself... until mile 12, for some reason, when my lungs decided they were no longer interested in inhaling at full capacity...? Not sure what happened there. Pollen? Anyway, I dug in, battled back, and kept the pace.

I was starting to see the wall - not hit it, mind you, but see it - as the mile 13 marker came gloriously into view. I took off with my new pacer friend toward the finish. A few yards out she pointed to a girl ahead of us. "See her in the pink shirt?" she said. "You have to beat her! GO! GO!" And that's how I wound up sprinting across the finish, against all odds, with a time of 2:10:36.

This is 15 seconds slower than my current PR, and a part of me is a leeeeetle sad I didn't beat it. (I know. I can never be satisfied.) But given that that record was set on a mostly flat course whereas this time was achieved on a hilly course that I completed SIX MINUTES SLOWER last year, I am pretty damned pleased with myself. And since I'm running my PR race again this year, I'm jazzed to see what else I can do.

Oh, for those who are curious: the post-race area is solid. There were plenty of snacks and water (but no bottled sports drinks), plus some vendors and a wine tasting area I didn't check out but seemed popular. All in all it was a good experience.

Bring on the next race! Another PR, pleeeeeeeease. :D

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 1, 2017

In Which Jenn Is Winging Her Race Schedule

SURPRISE! I'm running a half marathon this Saturday!

"Dammit, Jenn," you say, because you are emotionally invested in my life, plans, and overall well-being, "why didn't I KNOW that?? Haven't you usually posted your race schedule on the blog by now???"

Well, sure, normally I have. But thanks to my new policy of not committing to races earlier than I feel comfortable, my current race schedule is largely... winging it.


That and some scheduling conflicts equates a race schedule that presently includes exactly two races: the ZOOMA Annapolis Half on Saturday and the Parks Half in September (which is a little far out for my aforementioned policy but the price increase was about to hit so I figured what the hell).

The Run & Ride at Kings Dominion, now a half, was a possibility, but it's the day after ZOOMA and given the travel time involved I decided not to go for the double-header. I also had my eye on the Navy-Air Force Half again and this year's National Capital 20 Miler, but both of those races fall during my Outer Banks vacation this year. And if I decide to try to pick up a 2017 Marine Corps Marathon bib, the transfer period doesn't open until mid-July.

Here comes the truly tragic part: I'm not signed up for any runDisney races right now. I AM NOT OKAY. But I'm also not ready to take on the travel and expense until I'm sure I can swing it. I am thisclose to impulse-buying a WDW Marathon bib again, but...

In the meantime, there's a half in Hershey in October that I'm considering, and I think there's one at Busch Gardens Williamsburg in December, too. Or maybe it's a 10K or something? Either way.

Other than that I'm really not sure. Got any suggestions? General DC area for preference?

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!