Thursday, September 27, 2018

In Which Jenn Considers Some Of The Latest WDW News

As is always the case in the face of loss, the WDW community is abuzz with the announcements of more changes to our beloved parks - many of the "say goodnight, Gracie" variety. 

I thought, initially, that I might add my voice to the din, because what is a Disney blogger if not an Opinion Factory? But instead...

Oh, who am I kidding. Real quick:
  • Date-based ticket pricing: I tend to be all or nothing when it comes to Disney ticketing - I'm buying an Annual Pass or I'm busying myself outside the parks entirely. For the time being it doesn't worry me overmuch, but then I'm unmarried and childless and enjoy the travel flexibility that comes along with that. We'll have to see how this one plays out over time.
  • IllumiNations being replaced by a new show: They're giving us a fair amount of time to say goodbye, and anyway this was never my favorite anyway. I mean, I like it well enough, but it's no Wishes or Fantasmic. And speaking of Wishes, I was reeeeeeal skeptical when they replaced that, and I ended up frickin' LOVING Happily Ever After. So I'm cautiously optimistic!
  • The closing of Rafiki's Planet Watch/Conservation Station: HEY! I liked this one! But to be absolutely honest, I never made it a priority. Now, if they're simply going to shut it down and enjoy the added profit margins, fie on Disney! However, if they've got a new land in mind, I think it might be a worthwhile trade. Although I will miss my porcupine friend.
Anyway, what I was going to say is that Disney is merely distracting us from a much older, greater injustice. They departed the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow at this time approximately four years ago - a piece of Epcot that should NEVER have left us. One that could return at any moment if only the Powers That Be would make the call.

No, I'm not talking about Horizons, or even the original Journey Into Imagination. I'm talking about these guys:


Thank you for coming to my TED Talk.

P.S. Nobody loves you........................................ like I do. <- This randomly makes me laugh ALL THE TIME.

What lost and largely forgotten attraction do you mourn? Are you glad-as knights?

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

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

In Which Jenn's Runs Are Haunted By Demons Or Something?

Nobody panic, but there MIGHT be a demon-summoning cult on my running trail.

Their fiendish rituals have become a fixture of my Sunday morning runs, a brief distraction around mile 3 for which I am thankful. Of course, that's up until I get chased by a dragon or the Antichrist or something.

No, no, I kid. (Probably.) I'm pretty sure I've figure this out. But first, let me set the scene:

My regular running route passes by, among other things, a local park. Its most distinguishing features are a playground, baseball diamond, and pavilion. Over the past couple years I've never noticed much activity aside from playing children.

That all changed a couple months ago. As I ran past in blissful ignorance, movement caught my eye. Under the pavilion, a group of adults stood, their hands raised in a curious pose not unlike that of a Hindu god. They turned and, forming a circle, walked around the pavilion in single file at a steady pace, one hand moving past the other with concentrated deliberation.

Whatever activity they were engaging in, I couldn't readily identify it. And it reminded me of nothing more than the tainted mages in the Circle Tower in my most beloved video game, Dragon Age: Origins.

Well, this is Wynne, and she's a good guy, but the basic pose is kinda what I'm getting after.
Probably you either already get this metaphor or you don't...

(Alternative theory: medieval dance troupe. But demon cult is more interesting. Ask Mia Farrow.)

So I called them my demon cult, and I peered out of them from the corner of my eye as I ran past on Sunday mornings, because of course they were always there too.

... And then it hit me. TAI CHI. I'm 99% sure they're doing tai chi. Sure, it's sped up and I don't understand the circling part, but it's traditionally done in the morning and the movements totally fit. 

But I still like to think of them as my demon cult, because that's more fun, don't you think?

What's the wonkiest thing you've seen on your run?

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

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

The Fairest Week In Review: 9/25

Annnnnnd we're back. Despite the imminent threat that Florence might cancel our OBX vacation, we enjoyed a miracle of an easy trip down with minimal flooding, no damage to the house, and lovely weather. I hung out on the beach, did some reading, played some cornhole, drank some beer, and of course - ran!

Mega workout log since we were off last week:

Sunday, September 9 | ran 13.1 miles in 2:03 in the Parks Half Marathon; ran an additional 4.04 miles home from the finish line

Monday, September 10 | 55 minute ballet class
I was hella busy at work and suddenly my knee was hurting??? So I skipped my usual walk.

Tuesday, September 11 | walked 2.33 miles outside in 40 minutes

Wednesday, September 12 | walked 2.25 miles outside in 40 minutes

Thursday, September 13 | ran 5.24 miles outside in 55 minutes; 55 minute ballet class
My knee wasn't quite 100% but I couldn't take it anymore. I taped it up and set out. Weirdly enough it felt pretty okay while running but twinged while walking.

Friday, September 14 | ran 5.15 miles outside in 55 minutes

Saturday, September 15 | rest
Spent a lot of time agonizing over whether we were leaving for our OBX vacation. Thanks to the hurricane, signs pointed to no.

Sunday, September 16 | rest
Surprise! The island was open to visitors! Having written our vacation off as cancelled, we spent the day scrambling to pack.

Monday, September 17 | rest
We drove down to OBX veeeeeery early and my knee was still bugging me just a bit, so I took the day to chill. 

Tuesday, September 18 | ran 3.19 miles outside in 30 minutes
Knee felt good! I should really try resting my injuries more often. >D I love running at the beach - it tends to be flat and fast. (The road, that is - I have other thoughts on running directly on the beach.)

Wednesday, September 19 | ran 3.14 miles outside in 30 minutes

Thursday, September 20 | ran 3.19 miles outside in 30 minutes

Friday, September 21 | ran 3.15 miles outside in 30 minutes

Saturday, September 22 | ran 3.68 miles outside in 35 minutes
I decided to run an extra 5 minutes to make it 16 miles for the week, and somehow it turned into my best run out of all of 'em. Go figure.

So that's what I did on my summer vacation. Next break I'll be on my way to Wal - no, wait. I'm going to Houston next month. But after THAT, it's time to hit up Walt Disney World, baby!

Do you think Darkwing Duck will be there?

And now: the roundup.

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

Monday, September 17, 2018

In Which Jenn Is Neither Seen Nor Heard

And now I make my annual pilgrimage to the Outer Banks. None of you losers are invited (especially Florence).

Nah, just kidding. You're all invited! (Except Florence.) IF YOU CAN FIND ME. AHAHAHAHAHA!!!

Right, so anyway, in accordance with my vacation I'm taking a week off from the blog. As always, if you're terribly bored, I highly recommend visiting the trip report and race recap pages for my arguably too-detailed descriptions of everything I've ever done.

In the meantime, I'll be doing a 1,000-piece Walt Disney World puzzle I bought off eBay and listening to the waves. Meet you back here in a week!

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

Friday, September 14, 2018

In Which Jenn Invents Peanut Butter Yogurt, Maybe?

Say, I haven't done a Cheater's Recipe in a while! And this one is, like, really cheat-y. I mean, it's not even really a recipe as such. Well, it kind of is. My point is IT IS DELICIOUS AND YOU MUST TRY IT.

To back up - I am a breakfast person. I like breakfast. I want breakfast. Ninety-five percent of the time I get out of bed ready for breakfast. But it isn't always easy to put together a delicious, filling breakfast that can easily come to work with me and keep me full until lunch time.

I'm still working on the latter. But the former is going well. I present you with: peanut butter honey Greek yogurt.

WAIT COME BACK. I know it's not a fancy-pants "recipe," and I know you can just buy flavored yogurt wherever, but peanut butter yogurt? No. Also, it's hard to control the sugar content of regular flavored Greek yogurt. Also also, when is more protein ever enough?



You will need:
  • Two tablespoons of a powdered peanut butter like PB2
  • One package of plain Greek yogurt (I use Chobani but do whatever makes you happy)
  • Honey
  • Nuts like peanuts or almonds (optional)
  1. Open up the yogurt container and, if possible, make a little crater in your yogurt.
  2. Pour ONE tablespoon of powdered peanut butter into the crater and CAREFULLY mix. This stuff has a habit of flying everywhere, so make sure you've cautiously incorporated all the powder before moving on to the next step.
  3. Okay, NOW add the second tablespoon. Don't get cocky about mixing slowly.
  4. Add a dollop of honey to taste and combine.
  5. Finally, if you'd like, add some nuts for crunchiness.
There you have it! It's so simple it hardly even seems worth sharing, but I couldn't bear not spreading the joy of peanut butter yogurt across the galaxy. 

What's your go-to breakfast?

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

Thursday, September 13, 2018

In Which Jenn Was An Accidental runDisney Spectator

As you tromp along a runDisney course, soaking in the park ambiance or admiring the view of the Boardwalk, you're surrounded by spectators. They cheer and call out your name or your outfit, wave goofy and inspiring signs and offer candy. They are vital to the experience and very prepared.

But have you ever given a thought to the people who just happened to schedule a WDW vacation during a road race and have no idea what's happening?

I always do. On account of because I was once one of them.

Picture it: January 2012. Elizabeth and I have gone down to WDW verrrry early in the new year in order to accommodate Elizabeth's work schedule. I have the most vague whiffs of a memory of something about a marathon going on at the same time, but I don't know what I'm getting into. Who cares! We're going to WDW!

Well, we totally stepped in it. I mean, everything was fine! But we did all the bewildered non-spectator what-the-hell-is-going-on things you would expect. We were late to our breakfast at Kona Cafe because of road closures. We were the ones darting across the course at a Cast Member's hurried behest in order to get from one side of the park to the other. And we read the spectator signs in equal parts amusement and bemusement as we walked past the tram drop-off and into DAK.

I'm not gonna lie, we didn't exactly embrace the experience. Don't get me wrong - we weren't mad or anything. But we just kinda floated on by to our next destination, taking any race-related impediments in our stride but never joining in with the spectating festivities.

If only I'd known then what I know now - namely, that runDisney was destined to become my shining beacon of light, what keeps hope alive - I would've shouldered my way into the crowd and collected as many runner high-fives as humanly possible. But I didn't, so I didn't. What can ya do.

But I always secretly hope that some of the people toward the end of the marathon, who just showed up to Epcot or the Studios with no thought of any crazy horde of runners they might encounter, are better than I was. I like to think some of those spectators are spontaneous and look at us as a bonus attraction. 

And maybe, just maybe, a handful be inspired to come runDisney too!

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

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

In Which Jenn Swims The Parks Half Marathon

"It's a biathlon," said man behind me to his running companion around mile 4. "We're swimming AND running!"


Not that any of us could be surprised - the forecast had called for rain on the day of the Parks Half Marathon for at least a week. It had rained the night before. When I woke up that morning, there was a steady stream raindrops coming down - but luckily nothing torrential.

So I slapped on a ballcap and a jacket, shoved my phone in a plastic sandwich bag, and headed out into the wet.

Pat's boss was also running the race and was kind enough to give me a ride; he's been running Parks for literal decades and assured me that he had run it in the rain in the past and it was fine. Potentially flooded in parts, but fine. The whole course was paved so I'd only get muddy if I went off-roading.

Not that I was too worried; it could hardly be worse than the Twilighter 8K, not to mention the Wine & Dine Half 2014, or that one time I got destroyed by car backsplash. I was a little apprehensive about the PR I was hoping for, but I figured the main thing was not to slip and break a leg.

Weather notwithstanding, we took off a few minutes after the 6:45am start time in the usual starting line crush. I lined myself up behind the 2:05 pacer guy, who would've been harder to keep track of in the crowd except that he had a booming voice and fancied himself something of a standup comedian. After some of the usual you-can-do-it pep talk, he launched into some jokes. Sadly, I lost him at the first water stop (I like to walk them), but I kept my chin up and kept going.

The first few miles wound through some local neighborhoods before we enter the woods of Rock Creek Park (major emphasis on the creek - it was practically a river with the recent rainfall). It was a little hard to control my temperature, but I kept zipping my jacket up/down/up/down and plugged away feeling really good.

The reality of the situation hit me around mile 4: I saw a guy sitting on the side of the trail cradling his head in his hands, a medic crouching over him. He looked long and lean, and I surmised that he was one of the speedy front-runner types - and in his speed had slipped and fallen on the slippery asphalt. This taught me greater caution and I was determined to proceed with care.

This mostly played out in the puddles. Now, I wasn't too bothered by the puddles - yes, I got wet and cold and splashed, but I was already wet and cold and splashed, so whatevs, y'know? But around mile 7 I started encountering puddles that were starting to turn into ponds. I'm talking six inches deep of water with no visible bottom. I feared that if I ran through them in the regular fashion I might catch on the uneven pavement, so I wound up high-stepping through them like some sort of demented Clydesdale. I probably lost a good 30-60 seconds in this fashion, but I also didn't fall on my face, so I'm calling it a win.

I pounded through a few more miles, up "high five" hill (where the high-five was station halfway up and I found that VERY MISLEADING), through a water station where I randomly ran into a coworker who was volunteering, and past a couple of magnificent spectators dressed as Mr. and Mrs. Incredible if Pixar had included ponchos in their costumes. 

I was getting tired but keeping the pace... when I glanced down and noticed that my GPS watch had kicked out. I paused and unpaused it and that seemed to help, but I lost, oh, 3-5 minutes.

And as it happened, who did I see ahead of me? Why, it was 2:05 pacer guy! As far as I could tell he had lost basically his entire pace group, but maybe they were just straggling a bit. I ran up to him and requested his mileage count, he told me we had about half a mile to go, and I... ran ahead of him. Me! Ahead of the 2:05 pacer!

So that was nice. I funneled myself into the chute for the finish line, encouraged by local cheerleaders, and headed toward the end. The clock time showed 2:04 and change as I crossed, so even though my GPS was off I knew I was making my PR anyway. My official course time is posted at 2:02:59 - just made that 2:03 cutoff!

I immediately hit the bathroom and then found my friend and fellow runner Sarah. We grabbed some watermelon from the massive amount of available post-race food and then proceed to run the 4 miles home, just like last year. I mean, it's not like we could get any wetter.

Have you ever run the Parks Half? Just exactly how the hell am I supposed to run a half under 2 hours, anyway?

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

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

The Fairest Week In Review: 9/11

Heeey! So after a largely uneventful August, September begins to ramp things up. I had a successful (if damp) half marathon last Sunday - recap coming soon of course - and this Sunday I head out for the Outer Banks (theoretically - Florence, be kind... Pat thinks you might be mean so prove him wrong). Then after that, it's time for the National Capital 20 Miler, and after that... well, there are lots more things, but then it's October, so they aren't relevant to the theme of this particular paragraph.

September has a canal in it and everything!

Perhaps you are nodding your head just the same. Indeed, you say, that's a lot of running around doing things and also just running. Are you training properly? LET'S FIND OUT:

Sunday | 7.27 miles outside in 1:15

Monday | 7:05 miles outside in 1:15
As much as I hate winter, I must confess it will be nice not to have to get up hella early on weekends to get in a run before it's sweltering hot outside.

Tuesday | 60 minute ballet class
Normally I would've also taken a walk but I was crazy busy at work in the morning and it was way too hot in the afternoon.

Wednesday | run 5.26 miles outside in 55 minutes

Thursday | walked 2.1 miles in 35 minutes; 60 minute ballet class

Friday | walked 2.73 miles outside in 45 minutes
Resting for the race

Saturday | rest
Got to packet pickup for the Parks Half Marathon early since it was a mad scene last year and was pleasantly surprised to find things much calmer. I briefly stood in line, grab my bib and shirt, bought some Gu packets, and rolled out.

I dunno if the above renders me properly trained, but just in case you don't think so, let me distract you with the roundup: 

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

Friday, September 7, 2018

Happy Friday: Now Here Is A Riddle To Guess If You Can

My theory on Hunchback is that it was pitched as a joke, but then Menken wrote the gorgeous opening number "Bells of Notre Dame" and the execs were like WE LOVE IT MAKE THE MOVIE and the writers were like "..."

Or this:

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

Thursday, September 6, 2018

In Which Jenn Tries New Running Shoes

I read an article a couple months ago about how it's best to have several different pairs of running shoes. As the thinking went, each individual shoe affects your foot strike, gait, muscle use, etc. in subtly different ways. Therefore, if you're on a shoe cycle, you're less likely to suffer injuries from overuse.

I don't know how much hard scientific data there is to back that theory, but I know I don't want any more overuse injuries, so I'm trying it!

The difference this time: I'm not going to store to be fitted.

See, I read another article in Runner's World stating that some studies show that your level of comfort in an individual shoe can indicate a good choice, even over someone watching your stride and making recommendations. So I've been branching out and making some purchases on my own.

First up is my consistent love, the Brooks Ravenna (right). I've strayed before, but I vow now to keep it in my rotation forever. It has brought me back from many a poor sneaker decision.

Next, the Brooks Ghost (left). I got an email that it was on sale and it promised a lot of cushion, so I took a chance. And boy howdy, does it deliver on that cushion - this baby is soooooft. Which is nice! But doesn't make me feel speedy. When this pair wears out I'll likely investigate other options.

Finally, the wild card: the Under Armour Sonic Hovrs. I don't see UA bandied about much in discussions of running shoes. But I have a friend on the inside - my buddy A works for UA, and when he told me a special company meeting was convened just to announce their new running shoes, I decided to give it a go.

AND WE HAVE A WINNER! These sleek, sexy sneaks have less cushion than the Ghosts but enough to keep me from feeling like I'm slamming my joints around, plus the delightful bounce I enjoy from the Ravenna. They're labeled neutral, but for my undecided feet (one neutral, one stability) I've been having great results. I used them to run my recent 14 miler and they were faaaaabulous. Love!

One note: they've got a sizing quiz thingee to help you select a size based on what you wear in other sneaker brands. I wear an 8 in Brooks and was told to get a 7.5 in the UA. This was a lie; I could use the extra half size. Oh well; I'll know next time!

That's my current shoe rotation! Do you use multiple kinds of shoes? What should I try next instead of the Ghosts?

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

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

The Fairest Week In Review: 9/05

Well, I guess that's unofficially it. Per the post-Labor Day embargo, summer is over. Balls.


While I prematurely mourn the loss of all that blessed heat, I must admit I have much to look forward to. A half marathon this Sunday, for starters. And then the beach for the week. And then a wedding and the Marine Corps Marathon and the Two Course Challenge at Walt Disney World!

So at the very least there's something to train for. Like this:

Sunday | ran 7.15 miles outside in 1:15
Despite dropping my phone on my pinkie toe the night before and briefly fearing I had somehow managed to break it in this idiotic fashion, I got a run in all the same. (Said toe was pretty much back to normal a couple days later; I'd merely bruised the top. Whew!)

Monday | walked 2.06 miles outside
I had the week off from ballet between semesters. I had grand plans of doing some more ab and arm work with Pat, but we went to the bar instead. This pattern persisted all week. What can ya do.

Tuesday | ran 5.3 miles outside in 55 minutes

Wednesday | ran 5.14 miles outside in 55 minutes

Thursday | walked 2.13 miles outside in 55 minutes

Friday | ran 5.19 miles on the treadmill
Oh, summer half-day Fridays. I'll miss you and the afternoon treadmill speed runs you allowed.

Saturday | rest


Tuesday, September 4, 2018

In Which Jenn Digs Up Vintage Figment Merch

What is it with my parents and hiding amazing vintage Walt Disney World souvenir banks from me?!

Back in the end of May there was a pretty serious series of rainstorms in my area, which brought flooding with it. My parents, in their place in NC at the time, were concerned about the state of the basement in their Maryland house, so they called me up and asked me to drive over and have a look.

There I am, stomping around the basement looking for puddles, my cell phone flashlight on because the bulb in the hanging light has burned out. I have my dad on speaker so we can discuss any damage I'm witnessing... and I see it on my dad's model train table. 

"There's a Figment bank down here!" I shrieked.

"Oh, yes," my dad replied nonchalantly. "You want it?"

Figment is a through-line of my Disney experience. I loved his ride in 1998 - you know, the good version, with Dreamfinder and the dirigible and the extended post-ride ImageWorks and all that jazz. Even in 1990, when I was barely old enough to remember a darn thing about WDW, I have shadowy recollections of riding this ride and being all about it. You could say that Figment is the personification of all my nostalgic love for Walt Disney World itself.

And I guess my parents recognized that - or maybe toddler me picked it out myself? - because they brought home this Figment bank, which I suppose has been waiting for me all this time. The bottom declares a copyright date of 1982 (although I didn't exist then so this particular bank can't be that old). The pot of gold my little imaginary friend is clutching features the original EPCOT Center logo. He is, disappointingly, exclusively filled with pennies.

Similar to the Big Al bank, I don't think this particular bank is valuable in a monetary sense. But I took my dad up on his offer to take him home with me all the same. After all, how can you put a price on imagination?

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