Sunday, March 31, 2019

In Which Jenn Makes A Contingency Plan

Heeeey! So like I alluded to earlier, I am in the midst of a very big move. I don't anticipate any real lapse in service (this blog provides a service, right?) but I do want to provide for all possible eventualities. With that in mind, this seems to me to a prime time to do my annual Trip Reports & Race Recaps From The Last Year post.

As you are no doubt aware, I have two recap pages in the above navigation bar: one for races and one for trip reports. But if you haven't been here in awhile, there may well be much newness to read!

Okay, sure, but not YET.

In the past I've listed ALLLLLL the possible trip reports and race recaps, but I the list is getting quite lengthy I'm just going to put the ones that are new since last year below. For a breadth of your options, click the links above.

Here are my new multi-day trip reports:

Here are my new day trip reports:

And here are the new race recaps:

Have thoughts on what you read? Feel free to comment no matter how old the post - I can assure you I'll see it. And if YOU have a particularly good trip report you'd like to share, let me know; I love those things!

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

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

The Fairest Week In Review (Of Sorts): 3/27

Oh boy. Okay. I'm in the middle of a pretty big move (more on that next week), and like 90% of my stuff is gone and I'm sitting on an air mattress nervously eyeing two cats who are currently sleeping angelically but THEY BETTER NOT PULL OUT THEIR CLAWS.

Please observing paws containing dainty claws.

Also while I was sweeping the apartment for inspection I got a bunch of dust in my lungs and it triggered some mildly asthma which really wasn't too terrible except it gave me a cough that made it SUPER hard to sleep and most of my blankets are also gone with my stuff so I was soooo colllld and therefore I am kind of loopy and exhausted right now.

Also I still haven't figured out a replacement workout tracker now that Daily Mile is gone and while I have it in my GPS watch I'm not, like 100% sure what happened but I can tell you I'm pretty sure I did, um, I want to say a 3 miler, a 7 miler, and two 5 milers last week and went to ballet twice.

Sorry this is such a weird week in review installment! I promise to get it together shortly. In the meantime, allow the roundup to introduce you to some much less whackadoodle bloggers. A lot of food posts this week; everyone likes those:

- The Main Street Gazette examines DAK's Harambe Market...
- ... while Disney In Your Day reviews the food.
- This Fairy Tale Life has the lowdown on this year's DCA Food & Wine Festival.
- easyWDW reviews Jaleo in a way that makes it sound way better than my local Jaleo. My local Jaleo is, like, okay. But also very soon not my local Jaleo anymore, so, hmmm.
- The Disney Tourist Blog takes the rare opportunity to dine at Aunt Polly's.
- Living A Disney Life dines at Skipper Canteen.

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, March 26, 2019

In Which Jenn Doesn't Get Liberty Inn


Okay, so I'm not trying to get up on a high horse here,* but there is one Walt Disney World behavior I simply do not understand: in all the food joints in all the World Showcase, why would you walk into the Liberty Inn?

I would happily accept a low horse. Any horse at all, really.

Epcot is an epicure's dream. Well, ish. I mean, a lot of the restaurants are serving native food and drink that some would accuse of being dumbed down for tourist palettes. But still, you've got Moroccan spices, a full English pub, Bavarian pretzels as big as your head, gravlax and weird Norwegian liqueur, A WHOLE CAVE OF TEQUILA, and you choose... a domestic beer and a burger in the American Adventure's quick service restaurant. In the modern parlance... wut?

suppose you could argue that not everyone who visits WDW is American, and maybe those international visitors find American cuisine interesting. I'm not convinced at all that that's what's happening, but okay. But you can get burgers and fried shrimp lots of other places around the parks and resorts. Why wouldn't you take the opportunity to change it up a bit?

The other potential defense I could see someone using is that their kids are picky. Fair enough. But I've never heard any parent utter any sentence along the theme of "My kid is so picky and I LOVE IT!" I can't think of a single better opportunity than the vast food pantheon of the World Showcase to find SOMETHING, ANYTHING EVER SO SLIGHTLY DIFFERENT your kid might deign to try. Why not seize your chance?

Admittedly I am neither an international visitor nor a parent. I may well be jaded (yes), stupid (rather), or child-unfriendly (broadly). I just don't get why Liberty Inn is a thing. Do you?

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, March 21, 2019

The Fairest Week In Review: 3/21

Ah, but let us pour one out for Daily Mile. The run tracker I've been using for at least five years died yesterday. I finished yesterday's run and then, like I always do, immediately opened my phone to track my time and mileage. And then I frowned, deleted the Daily Mile app, and shoved my phone back into my pocket. An era has ended.

Anyway, anyone have any suggestions for a new run tracking site? Right now I'm looking at Strava because it's all you ever hear about, but it seems much more complicated. I just want to input my freaking runs and there are tooooo many doohickeys cluttered up the screen. Anything simpler but also free you can recommend?

Speaking of workouts, things were pretty quiet last week, it being my post-marathon rest week and all. Here's what we've got:

Monday | walked 2.04 miles outside in 35 minutes; 55 minute ballet class

Tuesday | rest
Can't remember why I didn't walk. Crappy weather, probably. No, wait, I think I took my car to get its oil changed on my lunch break. Yeah, that's the one.

Wednesday | walked 2 miles outside in 35 minutes

Thursday | walked walked 2.06 miles outside in 35 minutes
Skipped ballet to go to the MVA. Found out while there I was missing paperwork. Needless to say it was a thrilling evening.

Friday | walked 2.09 miles outside in 35 minutes

Saturday | rest

And here's the roundup:

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

In Which Jenn Eats An Enormous Cookie Sandwich

I'll just come out and say it: I've had zebra domes and I think they're... fine.

Mind you, that was almost a decade ago now; maybe my tastebuds misremember. But all I can recall about my zebra dome experience is that it was tasty enough but underwhelming after all the hype.

So when I found myself at The Mara, the Animal Kingdom Lodge food court, perusing the bakery case for a post-marathon* treat, I did not first go to the refrigerator case for zebra domes. I was after bigger fish. Sorry, not fish; SUGAR.

Although there were many interesting cupcakes and such to be had, my eye was on the Kudu Cookie, a massive confection stuffed with my number one favorite food: FROSTING. (No joke, my favorite food is frosting. FIGHT ME.)

The Disney menu describes this spectacular confection as a butterscotch cashew cookie with vanilla buttercream. Close, but you forgot an important note, Disney: it's a butterscotch cookie SANDWICH. There are two of those babies, dipped in white chocolate and garnished with a dark chocolate piece.

So we know it looks spectacular. But the taste? It is unabashed SUGAR. An assault of the sugar senses. If you do not like sweet things, you will NOT enjoy this. I do, so I did, with an important caveat: as I often complain, I thought the ratios were off. The cookies, while of pleasant texture, were maybe a bit too hefty and crunchy for the frosting, of which there was not enough. But then I never think there's enough frosting. Next time I'll just bring a can.

Overall it was a pleasant experience for your friendly neighborhood dessert monster, but if I came back I'd try something else. Nyala peanut butter brownie, I'm coming for you!

* I wound up eating it immediately upon getting back to my room. Sue me.

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, March 19, 2019

In Which Jenn's Dad Offers A Marathon Insight

My parents don't have a ton of opinions on my running career. They think the exercise is good, of course, but they're not into it or anything. They've never come out to spectate or what have you. Likewise, they've never discouraged me from running either. Their thought process regarding my running is pretty John Oliverian, all told.

But occasionally they'll offer an insight, and here's a good one from my dad.

After the Wrightsville Beach Marathon, my parents and I met up with my honorary aunt and uncle for dinner downtown. "So are you going to go home tomorrow and run again?" my uncle asked.

"Oh, no," I said. "I have next week off. I always take a week off post-marathon. The best part of a marathon is the week you don't run after!"

"I see," replied my dad. "So it's kind of like beating your head against the wall because it feels so good when you stop."

And... I kinda can't argue with that.

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, March 15, 2019

Thursday, March 14, 2019

In Which Jenn Has A New runDisney Race Outfit

Y'know how I said that I've developed a Minnie ears addiction? Well, I have to justify those purchases SOMEHOW, and on my last trip I did it by planning a brand new runDisney race outfit around my new pair of ears!

Normally I wait to post these until it's almost race time, but I'm just too excited to wait. Behold, during my next runDisney race I shall be running as...


You may remember those pants as the pair I stole off a mannequin that one time, and I think the stripes vibe old school Epcot.

The shirt I got off Etsy; there are lot of shirts available there thanking the Phoenicians and to be honest this wasn't my favorite BUT I thought it was one of the more readily legible. That's important for spectator callouts! I also like that it was available on a tank. Unfortunately it's not tech material, but I did a test run in it and didn't suffer any chafing so I think it's fine.

As per usual with my race outfits, it's less a costume so much as an homage, but I think it's pretty evocative of the source material. I look forward to my next race and thanking the Phoenicians left a right!

P.S. Does anyone know if there's a perfume that smells like Rome burning?

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, March 13, 2019

The Fairest Week In Review: 3/13

Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to present... a post-marathon body in a state that does not worry me!

Okay, that's a weird thing to say. Let me explain.

After the Marine Corps Marathon, my inner knee was doing its weird unexplained one-day-delayed pain thing. After the WDW Marathon, my inner knee was fine but my IT Band, which I THOUGHT I had fixed years ago, acted up a bit. After the Wrightsville Beach Marathon last weekend? I am fine!

Frickin' IT Band.

Well, to be clear, I am definitely stiff and sore in areas. I do think I have some imbalance areas to correct. And my inner knee did hurt the tiniest little bit for a hot second the next day. But any pain was all gone by Monday. Nothing wrong with me now that a little rest and some stretching can't fix, baby!

And on that happy note, let us proceed to the workout recap:

Sunday | ran 5.08 miles outside in 50 minutes

Monday | walked 2 miles outside in 35 minutes; 55 minute ballet class

Wednesday | ran 3.21 miles outside in 30 minutes

Thursday | walked 2.13 miles outside in 35 minutes
Skipped ballet to do laundry and prep for my race weekend.

Friday | rest
Drove down to North Carolina, stopping first at UNC Wilmington for bib pickup and the race expo. I'd say it's a medium-sized race, and it has a medium-sized expo to match, but several local businesses and running stores were represented. I grabbed my bib and bought a couple energy gels, but mostly I wanted lunch so I didn't linger long.

Saturday | Wrightsville Beach Marathon
I lived!

Roundup time!

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, March 12, 2019

In Which Jenn Recaps The Wrightsville Beach Marathon

The quote myself on Twitter: 

As a non-Disney race, the Wrightsville Beach Marathon was never gonna be the joyous march to glory that characterizes the WDW Marathon. And it wasn't. But it went well enough. Now that I've sufficiently built your excitement, let's dive in.

I hopped out of bed at 5am (which to runDisney enthusiasts is definitely sleeping in), down an Uncrustable, slapped on some tape, and was out the door half an hour later. My dad graciously drove me to the start line, and I was able to eat another snack and hit up a porta potty with plenty of time to spare before the 6:40am start time.

There were no corrals, but the staging area was peppered by pacers with large signs indicate their expected final time; we were instructed to place ourselves accordingly. A couple minutes after 6:40am we were walked a short distance from the staging area to the official start line, and then we were off!

The course was slightly different than last year, although not wildly so. This time we ended up on the main street right next to the beach pretty quickly, a period of time that was also marked by a rain shower. Combined with the mid-50s temperatures I wasn't exactly thrilled with this, but it wasn't a total downpour so it was okay.

Shortly after that we ended up in Landfall, a gated community of considerable size - we were in there for a good 4 miles or so. It being early there wasn't a ton of spectator support, but a couple people were out including one excellent neighborhood group blasting music and waving to the runners as they perused a table of donuts. They weren't sharing, but at least they were getting into the spirit of the thing!

A few miles later the half marathoners split off from us, while us marathoners began our lonely trudge to the faraway finish line on separate grounds. Which were pretty lovely to start - we ran by the bay and over a bridge with some very nice views. Of course, this was followed by a horrific, multi-mile labyrinth of Inception-style out-and-backs made all the more exciting by more rain at one point, but I suppose they can't all be winners.

And how was I doing by this deep-in-the-marathon point? Okay. My energy wasn't roaring, but I was keeping my pace pretty steady and none of the body parts on Injury Watch were acting up. Though I felt the lack of character stops acutely, I was impressed by how much the race organizers had boosted the volunteer support. In addition to water stops, there were a bunch of people along the course expressly there to cheer us on. Some of them were super into it, too; it may interest you to know that according to some NC high schoolers, I AM A QUEEN.

Unfortunately a rough part was coming up: the Double Lake Loop. There was a several-mile loop you had to take twice before breaking off for the finish line, and boy was that first loop rough as you watched people ahead of you peel off to the end while you trudged along on your first loop. 

In order to prevent cheating, you picked up a wristband just before completely that first loop, which served as a sort of ticket to the finish line. Some middle school kids were holding them out like jousting rings so you could just thrust your hand in without stopping, and at least that was a nice morale-boosting moment.

And then... to the finish! ... Which was still about three miles away. At this point my mood took a bit of a dip. I never did break out any music, because I was afraid that if I stopped to get out my headphones I'd lose my momentum. Although I didn't have far to go I knew the numbers weren't adding up for a PR, and I just wanted to be done. Specifically I wanted to sit down on the side of the course and burst into tears. But I kept running, because nobody gets a medal for tears!

Luckily, a bright spot popped up unexpectedly. A lot of the water/Gatorade/Clif Shot stops (there were ALWAYS Clif Shots, which was nice, but only strawberry and vanilla, boo)  were specifically themed to local colleges and universities and manned by alums. At the West Virginia University stop, they were advertising beer... and expressly NO WATER. This a) made me laugh and b) they gave me some Bud Light or something that totally scratched the itch that was making me crave some seltzer water. I was not cured of my malaise, but I was bolstered. 

Finally, finally, we turned onto the University of North Carolina Wilmington campus, and I knew I was almost home. Half a mile later and then finish line was in sight! I managed to push it a little to the finish, and wound up with a final time of 4:38:38, which is not my BEST time but it is my SECOND best time so I guess that's pretty good?

The post-race party is modest compared to some bigger races but proportionally pretty impressive. We got water, bundt cake, and a small bag of snacks at the finish, plus there was more food and massages in a runner's only area. And of course any race that gives out good free beer at the end is a plus - there was a Dogfish Head tent and I took two small cups of Sea Quench sour ale (YEAH BABY!) before dragging myself off to meet my dad, who in addition to drop-offs can also perform pickups on request.

This was the 10th anniversary of the Wrightsville Beach Marathon weekend of races, and based on last year versus this year I think it's starting to pick up steam. There were a lot more participants and more course support, and I enjoyed it about as much as anyone can enjoy a non-runDisney race. If you're in the general area, I would absolutely recommend it.

When's your next marathon? "Never" is an acceptable and understandable answer.

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, March 8, 2019

In Which Jenn Is About To Tackle Marathon #13

Okaaaay! So. I'm sure I've mentioned this. I have a marathon coming up on Saturday. Wrightsville Beach Marathon go-round number 2.

But it's not just any marathon. It's my ceremonial marathon #13. And 13, as you may not know, is one of my lucky numbers!*


So will this be my lucky marathon? Well I'll tell ya... I don't know.

Pro: It's supposed to be a runner-friendly mid-to-upper-50s for most of the race.
Con: But it's also supposed to rain the night before, so some parts of the course could be wet/muddy.

Pro: My IT band has been behaving itself of late! (Knock on wood, please. All of you.)
Con: I occasionally feel the beginnings of a tight hamstring. I've never quite gotten there but I better stretch and maybe even tape it up...

Pro: I have a solid fueling plan and having been making pretty nutritionally sound choices all week. No drinking.
Con: Oh, God. I've been sneezing a lot the last couple days. Am I getting a cold?!

In conclusion: darned if I know. But I do know that come tomorrow morning I'll be toeing the line, like a good little non-quitter, armed with my race mantras and ready to face the music. Pray for me now and in the hour of my potential death.

*Fun fact about me: my costume was filed as Wench 13 when I worked at Medieval Times.

What's your lucky number?

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, March 7, 2019

The Fairest Week In Review: 3/07

Welcome back to our recurring winter themed weekly recap: Jenn Is Cold. Here's another cold weather running tip!

I ran into a lot of trouble with my phone battery dying in the cold a couple years ago. It was recommended that I use my body heat to keep my phone warm, but easier said than done when pockets large enough for a phone tend to be the outermost layer, right? Pants and jackets are where I've mostly found them. Fine if it, like, kinda cold, but less helpful when the temperature dips below 25 degrees.

So here's what I've been doing on the v. v. cold days: I put on a bottom layer long sleeve shirt, put my phone in a running belt over top, put a short sleeve shirt over that, and then my top layer vest/jacket over that. The body heat trapped between your two shirts keeps your phone warm. Tried and true! I mean, at this point you may as well be running on a sunny beach.

Anyway, welcome to Tapertown, population me:

Sunday | ran 7.2 miles outside in 1:10

Monday | 55 minute ballet class
Missed my walk due to high winds and much work.

Tuesday | ran 5.4 miles outside in 55 minutes

Wednesday | ran 5.24 miles outside in 50 minutes

Thursday | walked 2.13 miles outside; 55 minute ballet class

Friday | ran 7.01 miles on the treadmill in 1:10
I was trying to dial in on my race pace, but oh boy, maintaining one speed for a full hour is boooooring.

Saturday | rest

Annnnnd roundup!

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

In Which Jenn Eats Morimoto Street Food

I'm so sorry, friends. I pulled the old bait-and-switch on you.

The afternoon of my Disney Springs adventure I polled the Twitter audience: where should I eat lunch? D-Luxe Burger or Jock Lindsey's? But before I could determine a winner I found myself suddenly, desperately post-marathon hungry, so I ducked into the first restaurant in my area that piqued my interest.

Enter: Morimoto Street Food.

I've had an eye on this location for some time, but a shinier penny - usually a table-service restaurant - has always seemed to push it aside. Well, right place, right time at last!

I swear I remember Morimoto's famous duck being served here in bao buns at some point, and since I love both of these items immeasurably that was going to be my order. But either I made it up or they're gone/seasonal, because no such option awaited me.

Luckily, my yen for steamed breadstuffs was not to be entirely unmet: there was a steamed bun in the offing! Yay! ... Which I am now seeing is no longer on the listed menu. Blast. A special, maybe? Well, if you see it, you should buy it, because it is everything a steamed bun could be: soft, dense, and packed with savory meat in a lovely proportion assuming you, too, are in it for the bun. My only minor criticism would be that the filling could stand to be spicier, but I know spice isn't Disney's thing.

I also added a shrimp tempura maki roll to my order. It comes in uncut log form a la the sushi you can get at the Epcot Food & Wine Festival and for some reason this form of eating sushi has always been appealing to me. I like to play with my food, I guess.

This was okay - but only just. Morimoto Street Food doesn't see the kind of turnover Food & Wine Festival booths do, and my tempura roll was probably sitting there awhile. This meant the fried shrimp was none too crispy, giving the whole thing a slightly gummy texture I wasn't thrilled with. If you want shrimp, I vote you go inside the restaurant proper and order some rolls at the bar.

Or just order two steamed buns! I LOVE STEAMED BUNS.

Have you eaten a Morimoto Street Food? Would you punch your mother in the face for a bao bun full of duck? No? Just me then?

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, March 1, 2019

In Which Jenn May Have A Minor Minnie Ears Obsession

Sooooo I seem to have developed a Minnie Ears problem.

It all started innocently enough. All I did was wander into Epcot's Mouse Gears gift shop to pick up an ear hat for Pat's niece. After some deliberation, I selected the pink version with Minnie Mouse in the patch, and had her name embroidered on the back. All according to plan.

While I was waiting for the embroidery to finish, though, I was drawn by a siren's song to the rack of ear headbands. This was still back in the day when Minnie ears were in their nascent stages, and I had a scant half dozen or so to choose from. Under a sparkly spell, I popped the black-and-red sequined version onto my head.

I don't need this, I told myself firmly. You can get more unique versions on Etsy for a comparable price. This is a Completely Unnecessary Purchase. I removed the ears and put them back on the hanger.

And then I picked them back up and bought them. I wore them during my next morning's race, and it was all over. I was hooked.

In the ensuing years the world of Minnie ears has positively exploded, and Disney has released many tempting new versions. I've given myself a strict limit of one pair per trip at the most, but I've broken down and bought a new pair four times now. This is not including the bootleg versions I've gotten from other retailers, although I'm pulling back from those as I find they're just not the same. I never did go down that Etsy road for the same reason - there are lots of amazing designs out there, but I just can't imagine them having the same heft and perfect placement.

The original pair has been joined by Figment, rose gold (though it took me forever), Dia de Muertos, and Spaceship Earth. That seems like plenty, right? And yet I can't help but keep the rainbow and purple potion editions in my sights...

It could be worse, right? I mean, it's this or cocaine, wouldn't you say? I've made the healthful choice! MORE MINNIE EARS!

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!