Wednesday, May 13, 2020

In Which Jenn Has A Rough Sketch Of A Race Schedule?

And now for a list of races that might get cancelled.

Kidding! Kidding. Hopefully they all happen. Certainly the virtual ones will.

I've never been a virtual race girl. Kudos if they're your jam, but I find the medal without the full experience of a race attached to be underwhelming. Still, the world being but it is in the age of COVID-19, I've adjusted my outlook a little.

For starters, the Rock 'n Roll Race Series has started a virtual race experience where everything is free! I mean, you can order medals to accompany your accomplishments if you like, but it's not required. They have little challenges during the week and a different virtual race distances on the weekends. There's a point system with prizes attached, but they aren't very good; likewise, there are randomized prizes to be won when completing a challenge, but statistically the winner won't be either of us. Still, it's a fun little runner's diversion - and did I mention it's free?

In addition, my former hometown race the Parks Half Marathon has been cancelled for 2020. :( The good news is they're now offering a virtual version, so I can participate even from 1,000s of miles away - AND it's only $25 WITH a premium! I don't know what that premium is, exactly, but in the past they've handed out fleece hats, ballcaps, and ear warmers. If you'd like to try a virtual race that doesn't just duke you your millionth cheap t-shirt, give this one a shot.

Now for some actual, geographically localized running, assuming we are so lucky. Since my March marathon in Wilmington, NC was cancelled and subsequently my trip to visit my parents, I'm taking a stab at an event there in November instead - the Showboat Challenge at the Battleship Half Marathon. I'll be doing the half plus the 5K the day before. KNOCK ON WOOD KNOCK ON WOOD KNOCK ON WOOD that it can happen!

Let's add some theoreticals:

I was strongly considering taking another stab at the Baltimore Marathon, which is October 17 this year. I'm sitting on it a bit before registering, though - in addition to the whole looming spectre of potential cancellation, we'd potentially be staying with someone who's immunocompromised, so keeping a weather eye on the virus sitch is imperative.

There's a Divas Half Marathon in San Juan on October 25. I'm not 100% on board with the whole "men as sex objects" angle, but I'd really like to run a local half so I might sign up anyway. Again, we'll see if it looks like it's happening, and how I'm feeling leading up to Battleship.

I also randomly stumbled upon a Santa Run 5K right by my apartment here in Puerto Rico last December - I had no idea it was happening and spent my 10 miler running past the course and sulking. Now that I'm in on the secret, I intend to sign up, assuming it happens again this year!

And that leads us into 2021, which I will of course begin with my beloved WDW Marathon. There's a kink in my plan, though - because of the virus, bib numbers were reduced, and all the races sold out super quick... before my race buddy could get her bib! Luckily she got a bib through a charity, but yikes!

(Incidentally, this has me what the kids would call "shooketh" - I've never seen the marathon by itself sell out like this. My race buddy was only like 90 minutes behind. Hell, I didn't sign up until October once! One time I waited until several hours after opening! What if I'd gotten cavalier and not registered during the AP window? Perish the thought!)

Obviously this is ALL pure speculation at this point, even for the races I'm legit signed up for. But ever the quixotic one, I hold out hope that we can start racing for real again by the end of the year. Clap if you believe in races!

Have you put together a race schedule for this year? Or to put it another way: are you also a quixotic one?

Don't forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. It would thrill me extremely if you would leave a comment with any questions or thoughtsSee ya real soon!

Monday, May 11, 2020

In Which Jenn Has A New runDisney Race Registration Strategy

I'm gonna cut right to the chase here: my new runDisney race strategy is that I'm registering for ALL OF THEM.

I took the Annual Passholder route last week to register for the WDW Marathon early, because it is my One True Race.

Luckily, the marathon is the least popular of the races/challenges of that weekend, so I had no trouble getting in, but every other race opportunity sold out quickly. I'm hearing COVID-19's got Disney putting a lower cap on the totals, so for all of you gunning for a registration tomorrow, I wish you good hunting.

More abnormally, I also plan to register for the Princess Half, and probably Rivals too. Heck, maybe even Wine & Dine; Pat accidentally broke one of my Food & Wine Festival wine glasses last week and I told him he owes me a trip to get new ones. ;P

I'm just worried that if another race weekend gets cancelled, by the time we find out the next available race will already be sold out. And I already felt that acute sting when I was unable to pivot from Rivals to Wine & Dine this year. (Assuming that one doesn't get cancelled too; fingers crossed for you guys!)

Race cancellations aren't fun for anyone - I certainly don't begrudge the person at the top who has to make the dreaded decision - but as long as I know I've got something on the horizon, I won't sink too heavily into the doldrums. I'll have to spread my budget across shorter, less ambitious trips and maybe skip a race the next year, but I can make it work. Who wants to split a hotel room with me? :D

Incidentally, I still think runDisney should respond to the void (ha!) left by Rivals by reinstating the Tower of Terror 10 Miler. Anyone? Anyone?

What's your runDisney strategy for the coming year?

Don't forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. It would thrill me extremely if you would leave a comment with any questions or thoughtsSee ya real soon!

Friday, May 8, 2020

In Which Jenn Tries Out... Rest Days??

Hey, remember that hip issue I was having last year? And I barely ran all December and showed up to the Goofy Challenges KT-Taped to high heavens but somehow escaped with no pain and thought I'd beaten the issue? WELL IT'S BACK.

So I'm taking a rest week. This is an uncomfortable time to take a rest week, as in the current social distancing climate my runs are some of my only real opportunities to be outside. But my hip was really bothering me, so no running for me all week.

And I came to a realization. After we moved to Puerto Rico last year my race scheduled screamed to a halt - we were just finding our footing, culturally, geographically, and especially financially. Races aren't much of a thing here and I didn't want to take out the time and money to fly to the mainland for races.

This year I did (/do, knock on wood) have a handful of races to look forward to, but my spring marathon was cancelled; I'm scarcely any better off than I was last year from a race perspective.

What's this got to do with injuries, you ask? Well. Usually I only take rest days after races. After marathons I take a full week, and after half marathons I take half to a full week off too.

In 2018, with a steady stream of races in rotation, I would've had around 6 rest weeks.

In 2019, I had 2 rest weeks, in January and March, and then... none. Cue hip injury.

This year, I took a week and a half off in January after the Goofy Challenge... and nothing since then. I DID recently knock out two practice halves and now here I am, with my hip injury back.

MAYBE, just MAYBE, I need to factor in rest weeks even when I DON'T have races.

And MAYBE, despite these very unfortunate circumstances where NO ONE gets to do a proper race, you should consider a rest week too. It may seem counterintuitive, considering the forced confinement of our quarantine predicament, but your body only knows the pavement it pounded. Now might be the time to give it a break, you know?

When was your last prolonged rest period?

Don't forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. It would thrill me extremely if you would leave a comment with any questions or thoughtsSee ya real soon!

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

The Fairest Trip Report Of All: Imaginary Edition

Normally the week after a Walt Disney World trip is followed by a series of trip report blog posts. Alas, last week's WDW sojourn didn't happen. 

But this didn't stop me from opening up my planning spreadsheet and punctuating every single day with statements about what we should be doing at that time. I was constantly telling Pat things like "We should be in Disney Springs right now;" "Our Splash Mountain FastPass just opened up;" "Our Oga's Cantina ADR is for 7pm tonight;" etc. I'm sure he loved it. 

And then it occurred to me - what if I combined these erstwhile plans with a little imagination and wrote a trip report anyway? In my mind's eye, how would a flawlessly executed vacation have gone? Maybe a little something like this...

Saturday, April 18
We get up and go to the airport. Our plane takes off early and lands super early, yay! We head down to the Magical Express and the bus leaves almost immediately after we get on; Caribbean Beach Resort is the first stop.

I change into my Alice in Wonderland dress* and head straight to the expo, where I get my corral A bib for the Star Wars Rival Run Half. From there Pat and I pick up the bus to the Contemporary and manage a quick walk-in lunch at The Wave. Then we walk over to the Magic Kingdom where we knock out our FastPasses at Splash Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain, and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, with stops at the Hall of Presidents and the Haunted Mansion in between.

We eat a quick carb-loading dinner at Pinocchio Village Haus on the upstairs level, where we get one of the coveted tables by the window that looks into it's a small world. Then we grab the bus back to Caribbean Beach, where I lay out my race stuff the morning and readily fall into a deep sleep without freaking out in the slightest.

* Yes, I will be telling you what I planned to wear every day, like it's the introductory chapter of a Babysitter's Club book. Enjoy it.

Sunday, April 19
I wake up with my 2am alarm without once dreaming I slept through it. I put on my Picard/Riker '20 shirt and stuff a Clif Shot in my shorts pocket before heading out to catch the bus. It is a running-perfect 65 degrees. I have a fabulous race where I never have to stop to pee and I meet my A goal: a sub-2 hour half. Hooray! Grand Moff Tarkin is waiting at the finish for a photo op. The snack boxes have liquid cheese, mini Clif bars, chocolate toffees, AND Oreos.

I take the bus back to the room, shower, and snuggle into our big king bed for a nap. A couple hours later I wake up, pull on my Mulan swimsuit, and meet Pat out at the pool. We chill for a bit and then head back to the room, where I change into my 2017 Star Wars Dark Side Half shirt and a gray pencil skirt before we grab the Skyliner to the Studios.

We have a leisurely lunch at the Brown Derby Lounge, where I order the champagne flight, which is back on the menu. After lunch, we knock out our FastPasses. Pat gets the HIGHEST EVER score on Toy Story Midway Mania, we do the shocker for our on-ride photo at Rock 'n Roller Coaster, and I don't get at all anxious in line for the Tower of Terror.

Our ADR for Oga's Cantina is up, so we head over there. We get standing spots at the bar and the bartender lets us have three rounds, which are all fun and delicious! After our drinks, we grab quick Ronto Roasters wraps, then jump into the end-of-the-night line for Smuggler's Run. We only wait 20 minutes and get to be the pilots. Then it's back to the room and bedtime.

Monday, April 20
I pull on my flowery Simba and Nala dress and usher Pat out the door early so that we can catch the bus in time for Animal Kingdom's Morning Extra Magic Hours. We follow the crowds to Pandora but enjoy a short wait for River Journey while everyone else trips over themselves trying to get onto FoP. Then we saunter over to Kilimanjaro Safaris for a magical early morning viewing - we see ALL the animals! The lions are out! The cheetahs! The warthogs! The zebras! The baboons!

We stop at Kusafiri for a breakfast of coffee and paw print brownies, which are miraculously back on the menu. Then it's time to knock out some FastPasses for Dinosaur and Expedition Everest. In between I drag Pat to the first showing of Festival of the Lion King because it's my FAVORITE. I sit in my preferred spot at the edge of the lion section and every single tumblemonkey high fives me.

We have an unhurried lunch at Nomad Lounge - Hightower Rocks all around! - before taking a train to Conservation Station so Pat can show off his amazing art skills at the Animation Academy (we draw Mulan, my favorite princess). I pet a bunch of sheep and goats and even the donkey comes over to the fence to say hi to me. Then it's back to Pandora for our Flight of Passage FastPass.

A bus is waiting for us at the station for Epcot, and we're in World Showcase in no time. We watch the new Canada film and my love for Catherine O'Hara redoubles; we watch the France film and my love for Saint-Saens' Organ Symphony redoubles. We also do the American Adventure because I freakin' love it, and Spaceship Earth once more before the refurb. Then we head back to the resort for a late dinner at Sebastian's (rolls and butter!) before turning in for the night. You see, we must get up early, for it's...

Tuesday, April 21
... time to rise and resist! I put on my Marie dress and we head straight to the Studios - the gondolas are open early for us and everything. We grab coffee while waiting for the Rise of the Resistance boarding group mayhem to begin when the park officially opens. We hit the app at precisely 7am and get the first group! Amazing! We sneak in a ride on Slinky Dog before heeding our boarding group call, then jump into the Resistance line. It's just as good the second time around.

We get green milk bread pudding and blue milk for breakfast before hitting our opening FastPasses: additional spins each on Midway Mania and Tower of Terror, with a ride on Star Tours in between. After that we run to BaseLine Taphouse for an early lunch.

We take in showings of the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular and Frozen Singalong. After that, it's finally time for our last FastPass: Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railway! I can only assume I really enjoy it, but I still wish they'd refurbed The Great Movie Ride.

That's all for the Studios for the day - we hop in a gondola and, since we're swinging through Caribbean Beach anyway, stop by our room for a quick nap. We need it since our next stop is Epcot for Evening Extra Magic Hours! The gondola dumps us off at the International Gateway and we immediately get to work on Drinking Around the World. We have drinks and sometimes snacks in all the countries, including Tipsy Ducks in Love, those Viking shots, sake, and more, all culminating in margaritas in the Mexico pavilion while we watch Epcot Forever. It is truly a magnificent evening.

Wednesday, April 22
It's Sleep In Day! We get up whenever we wake naturally and hang around the hotel room for a bit, just hanging out and watching dumb television. When we're ready, we roll over to the pool and splash around a bit, then go back to the room and change (new Snow White collared dress today - haven't debuted that one on the blog yet!). A bus for Disney Springs is waiting for us at the closest stop.

We enjoy a lunchtime bar crawl, swinging by whatever restaurant catches our eyes - Jockey Lindsey's certainly, maybe The Edison - Homecomin' - Wine Bar George...? Maybe one of those chocolate chip cookies from the Polite Pig? We go to Basin so I can get more bar shampoo and The Dress Shop so I can pick out a pretty dress and World of Disney to get Pat's niece some Minnie ears for her birthday and Goofy's Candy Company for the sour gummy worms Pat loves. Everything is on sale.

From there we take a bus to the Contemporary and walk to the Magic Kingdom, where we have some late FastPasses lined up. We knock out Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, and Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin (another highest score for Pat!), ride the Peoplemover, and then enjoy the fireworks from an awesome location.

We take advantage of Evening Extra Magic Hours running around riding whatever's got a short line, then take the monorail to the Polynesian for a late meal and drink at Trader Sam's. Then it's back to the resort and into bed!

Thursday, April 23
We sleep in just a little this day too, although we get up a little earlier so we can get a gondola to Epcot in time for our first FastPass. We grab breakfast in the Land and ride Soarin' first; the lines are so much shorter since they added the third theater. Then our Test Track window opens, where we make the all-time best-rated car! After that is Mission: Space (orange team all the way) and a leisurely ride on Living with the Land. We swing by China so I can get a photo with Mulan in my Mulan skirt and shirt, and after that we're off to our ADR at Space 2020, which has opened by now! It's an absolutely amazing experience and the food is fantastic.

Then it's off to DAK; I miraculously pick up a fourth FastPass for Flight of Passage on the bus over. Once there, we immediately head to Everest and ride twice in a row through the practically nonexistent single rider line. We get drinks at the Thirsty River bar and then wander through Maharajah Jungle Trek to say hi to the tigers. I drag Pat to another showing of Festival of the Lion King, after which we head over to Pandora for our FoP FastPass.

We stop at Santuli Cateen for dinner, swing through Nomad for a to-go round of Hightower Rocks, and settle in for a showing of Rivers of Light. Miraculously, the shamans are back! Otherwise why bother? The park now closing, we watch a few rounds of scenes on the Tree of Life before taking a bus back to Caribbean Beach. We stop at the pool bar for a drink or two and then head back to the room.

Friday, April 24
Our last theoretical day. :( We get up early, check our bags, and hightail it over to the Studios to grab a boarding group for Rise of the Resistance. Our group is a higher number this time around, but that's okay because it means we can head straight to the Magic Kingdom and still make Morning Extra Magic Hours. Once there, we get breakfast waffles at Sleepy Hollow and then hit a bunch of Fantasyland rides while the waits are low. Then we knock out our FastPasses: Peter Pan's Flight, The Haunted Mansion, and Splash Mountain (Pat's favorite!), which a quick spin on Space Mountain in the middle. I make Pat take photos in front of Cinderella Castle and they all turn out cute.

Our perfectly-timed boarding group is called soon after we get off Splash, so we take a bus back to the Studios and heed the call of the Resistance. I magically pick up a Smuggler's Run FastPass while in line, so we ride that too. And THEN I get FPs for Runaway Railway while in line! I'm on a roll!

We ride Runaway Railway and then head out of the park, taking the gondolas to Epcot so we can have lunch at Nine Dragons at Pat's request. Then, alas, it's time to head back to the resort and collect our bags. The Magical Express whisks us back to the airport, and we have a drama-free trip home. The cats are thrilled to see us, and though I'm sad to no longer be at Disney, all is right with the world.

So that's my pretend Disney trip! A silly exercise, to be sure, but it was kinda fun to write and at least all my planning spreadsheets didn't go COMPLETELY to waste. Here's hoping WDW is able to open again safely in the not so distant future, and we can all go home soon!

Don't forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. It would thrill me extremely if you would leave a comment with any questions or thoughtsSee ya real soon!

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

In Which Jenn Runs The Race Her Own Darn Self

Back in January of 2017, some brave Walt Disney World Half Marathon registrants set a precedent: when your runDisney race is cancelled, you run it anyway on your own.

And so last Sunday, the woulda-been date of the Star Wars Rival Run Half Marathon, I set out on the streets of San Juan to run 13.1 by myself.

I wore my intended race outfit, as viewed below. You see, when it comes to the Stars, I prefer to Trek. ;P

I started at 5:45am, which is probably somewhere in the general area I would've started the race anyway, give or take a corral, a wave, and an on-time start.

(PAT: What time are you getting up to run? ME: 5:15am. PAT: Wow, that's really early. ME: [hysterical laughter])

There were no spectators, no signs, and no water stops. All I had at my disposal was my normal running trail. It was (as Puerto Rico has a nasty habit of being) hot and humid and I'm not sure I would've had enough hydration if I'd brought 18 more bottles of water.

But I did it! I logged my 13.1 miles, then went home and made Mickey waffles. It's not the race I wanted, but it made me feel better to make it happen on my own all the same.

Perhaps it is best to remember Spock's iconic quote: you may find that having is not so pleasing a thing after all as wanting. It is not logical, but it is often true.

All of which to say: I want to try again next year!

Don't forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. It would thrill me extremely if you would leave a comment with any questions or thoughtsSee ya real soon!

Friday, April 17, 2020

In Which Jenn Needs A (Disney) Drink

Darn it, guys, these are not the posts I had planned for April. We were going to discuss my park wardrobe. We were gonna geek out together over my race costume. We were going to squee joyously over my trip plans. And today, I was going to drive the point home: tomorrow I go to Walt Disney World!

Only I'm not. If you can imagine.

Ah, well. We're all coping as best we can. And one way I've been coping with missing Disney is with alcohol.

Wait wait wait - not like that! Rather, I've been following along with La Cava del Tequila's Instagram Live streams. You know La Cava, right? Mexico pavilion? Site of my first-ever tequila shot?

They've been explaining how to make a lot of their fancier drinks, but I've kept it simple - I made a paloma (grapefruit soda, tequila, lime) and a classic margarita (tequila, orange liqueur, lime, agave syrup), both of which were excellent for a person who has mostly let bartenders mix her cocktails for her.

And to really drive home the Disney angle, I've been using some of my Disney household items. There's the cutting board above, plus I finally got a chance to put my modest collection of Disney shot glasses to good use!

Sorry, my bad - Disney doesn't make shot glasses. They make, um, "mini glasses," or as I have heard they are more recently referred to, "toothpick glasses." Sure, Jan.

Anyway. Even though I rarely take shots outside of celebratory events, for a few years there I purchased quite a few shot glasses at Disney parks. Observe!

That Disneyland glass is really hard to photograph. Please rest assured effort was made. And I can't believe it's been almost ten years since I bought the 40th Anniversary glass!

Now that I've actually found a purpose for these bad boys, I may have to pick up a few more, if I see one with a nifty design. And I bet they'll have something for the 50th anniversary...

Cheers, guys. To making it home some day.

Do you collect Disney shot glasses? Sorry, toothpick holders?

Don't forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. It would thrill me extremely if you would leave a comment with any questions or thoughtsSee ya real soon!

Monday, April 6, 2020

In Which Jenn Takes On The Virtual Parkeology Challenge

Are you familiar with the Parkeology Challenge? You can get the full lowdown here, but the gist is that you ride every single ride in the four main WDW theme parks. If it's a ride with cars/physical movement, it counts. So, Main Street vehicles? Counts. It's Tough To Be A Bug? That's a show; don't worry about it.

It's not something I've ever put too much thought into attempting myself, because I tend to be high enough on the anxiety scale as it is. 🤪 But when the Parkeology guys offered a virtual version in an attempt offset quarantine doldrums, I was all about it!

Basically the idea was that the Parkeology guys would spend 8 hours tweeting a ride, every 10 minutes. In that 10 minutes, it was up to you to tweet back a selfie that interpreted that ride. You could prep your selfies in advance or you could perform extemporaneously.

I chose to take all my photos the weekend before to keep the stress levels down, and starting 11am last Saturday I was right there tweeting my "rides." Some of them were frankly phoned in, but others I'm quite proud of!

With that in mind, I'm going to make YOU look at them. Presented in the order they were "ridden," with my effortlessly witty commentary intact, here are my entries in the Virtual Parkeology Challenge 2020, plus some hard-earned badges!

Photos after the jump because holy hell there are a lot of them...

Friday, April 3, 2020

In Which Jenn Takes The Cinderella Approach To Running

Last week I got a hot tip from one of my runDisney Facebook groups - the Rock 'n Roll Marathon store was selling their themed tie-dye Launch 5s for $25!

Now a) I've never used the Launch and b) I'm not running a Rock 'n Roll race this year (I did once and it was not my favorite). But for $25 bucks plus a five spot in shipping I was certainly willing to give it a shot.

They came yesterday and I was surprised how much they cheered me up. I mean, obviously as a runner and a girl-type girl I'm always gonna be jazzed to try a new pair of shoes. But the tie-dye just made me feel happy and excited to try them out on a run at a time when I have been experiencing, shall we say, a modicum of stress, sadness, and disappointment.

Perhaps you can relate.

If you're still a position to run, I would encourage you to get yourself a hopeful running treat. Alas, those $25 Launch 5s are no more, but I'm sure there are any number of multi-hued sneakers available on this great internet. Or get a colorful new tee, or a fun headband. Maybe some patterned compression socks. Whatever floats your boat.

Anyway, I got up this morning and ran 7 good miles in my new tie-dye shoes, because we may not be able to race right now, but we can still train. We will keep our chins and our feet up. And when those registrations open back up again, WE WILL BE READY.

Don't forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. It would thrill me extremely if you would leave a comment with any questions or thoughtsSee ya real soon!

Monday, March 23, 2020

In Which Jenn Gets The runDisney Rug Pulled Out From Under Her

Hope springs eternal but reality kills it dead - the Star Wars Rival Run race weekend is no more. I think we can all agree that we saw it coming.

Obviously I'm pretty darned sad about it. I mean, of COURSE I can see the necessity and of COURSE I recognize that as an ostensibly healthy person who already works from home I'm very very lucky right now. But also... I had such a good trip planned. :( :( :(

But in the face of a large problem, I like to turn my attention to solutions. Okay, I want to runDisney and go to WDW for a week. When can I do that next? The Wine & Dine Half! It's far away but I can pivot to that!

Except noooooo I can't, because even though it's been on sale for less than two weeks it's sold out. Travel agents? SOL with them too. (Shout out to Becky for trying her level best to get me one - book your trip with her, guys.) There are some charity bibs available but the lowest fundraising minimum I could find was $700 and I'm not that good at asking for money anyway, so, no dice.

Pat is suggesting we wait and see what happens and if the parks are open by mid-April we just take the trip anyway. I suppose I could do some of the resort fun runs in that case. But let's be real - anyone see that happening? I can't claim to see that future but most reasonable forecasts seem to place WDW opening again somewhere in May at the earliest.

The one silver lining to that possibility is that if the parks stay closed for 7 weeks or longer, my Annual Pass will probably be extended enough to cover a Princess Half Marathon trip. But I don't really like that course as much - I really wanted to run this Star Wars Half for time. But do I really want to wait a whole year before I go? (Marathon Weekend excepted, naturally.) I would need a whole new park ticket, too... unless the parks close until, like, June, but in that case, yikes.

I don't know. I'm just sort of spinning my wheels and then typing it into this little box. I know the problems of one little person don't amount to a hill beans in this crazy world, but all the same, I has a sad. Doubtless I will get over it soon enough, but I has it.



... I should probably go. Here's good health, social distancing, and new plans, 'cause the old ones clearly aren't gonna work. 🤪🤪🤪

I've been thinking about Casablanca a lot lately for some reason. Viewing party, anyone?

Don't forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. It would thrill me extremely if you would leave a comment with any questions or thoughtsSee ya real soon!

Thursday, March 19, 2020

In Which Jenn Has Thoughts About The New WDW Marathon Course

Hello cats and kittens! Are you stuck inside due to COVID-19 quarantine? Is the world slowly crumbling around you? Does the threat of cancelled races and Disney trips loom over your head? Me too! Let's distract ourselves with a frivolous runDisney discussion topic.

Let's talk about the 2020 Walt Disney World Marathon course. It was appreciably different from the course used for at least the previous 5 years, which I know because I ran 2015-2019 of those races and subsequent changes, while existent, were minor.

But 2020 was a brand new experience. And as is so often the case when I comes to change, I had mixed feelings. I think a lot of this was to accommodate all the construction; I wouldn't be surprised to see major adjustments as frequent as from year to year until all the newness shakes itself out.

So my opinions may be even less valuable than ever. Nonetheless, here are some of my random thoughts on the 2020 course, in no particular order:

  • Hitting the Magic Kingdom later in the race was nice in some ways, as it gave you something to look forward to. But by the time I - moderately slow from undertraining but nonetheless a denizen of early-ish corral C - didn't get to MK before sunrise. I missed seeing the lights on castle.
  • However, I did like that hitting more fun stuff during later miles. Long stretches of road and Wide World of Sports were replaced by stuff like the aforementioned Magic Kingdom and Disney's Animal Kingdom, and I wasn't mad about that.
  • Speaking of Wide World of Sports, I'm neutral on its excision. I know a lot of people hated it with a fiery passion, but I developed a strange fondness for it over the years.
  • On the other hand, the vaunted addition of Blizzard Beach was kinda boring. No characters, no spectators.
  • In fact, there were hardly any characters at all toward the end of the race, at least when I was running through it. This might have been a product of the heat; maybe Disney was trying to keep people moving, especially since they ended up removing a mile from the course for the slower folks thanks to the weather. But I didn't see a single character in World Showcase, which was weird.
  • Doubling back through the Epcot bus area in the beginning was a bad idea. I don't think I need to explain this one. But if you're curious, I dive into my conspiracy theories a bit more in my marathon recap
  • There were no real out-and-backs! Score!
  • Obviously the run through the Studios down the Boardwalk and into Epcot remains EPIC. It was a bit of a bummer having to turn out of World Showcase early and go backstage, but I understand we had to accommodate the construction. Still, somebody could've hooked up some speakers during the last half mile or so backstage. I had been jamming to the Disney music and really missed it at the end of the race.

So those are some things that stood out to me. Did you run the race? What did you think?

Don't forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. It would thrill me extremely if you would leave a comment with any questions or thoughtsSee ya real soon!

Friday, March 13, 2020

In Which Jenn's Fifteenth Marathon Is Cancelled :(

Alas, my friends, add my name to the legions of the bummed out.

I was all set to run my fifteenth marathon next Saturday, the Wilmington Marathon in North Carolina. But like so many events, the threat of coronavirus forced the race organizers to cancel it.

I don't begrudge them this - their hands were forced by a combination of government edicts and common sense. Race communications have been very promising; we're assured that if we can just wait a bit while they organize their thoughts we'll be given an array of options including at the very least a deferral to next year at no charge. All in all the trend is one of generosity.

But I can't help but be a little sad - I trained! I planned! Now I have to do battle with Spirit Airlines customer service! Blast and damnation!

Ah well. What can ya do. I'm sure a lot of you are in similar boats, both in terms of races and also Disney trips, what with, oh, every single Disney resort closed around the world right now. Obviously we all recognize the necessity of the cancellations, but also: drat.

Speaking of which, my next trip to WDW for the Rival Run doesn't begin until April 18, so fingers crossed that this health crisis has improved enough that we can all enjoy the race weekend by then.

In the meantime, Becky at Disney In Your Day wrote a great piece on handling the anxiety of trip planning and cancellation in these trying times. I recommend it if you're currently in the throes of a similar fate.

Stay safe out there, kids!

Don't forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. It would thrill me extremely if you would leave a comment with any questions or thoughtsSee ya real soon!

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

In Which Jenn Dispenses Parkless Disney Advice

The Dress Shop, aka A Store Full Of Things I Want.

If you know me, you know I'm all about Disney resorts. No, seriously, if you know me at all, you know.

Case in point: a couple weeks ago a coworker of mine emailed me; she said she was going to be in Orlando for a single afternoon with her family and did I have any recommendations regarding what they could do in Walt Disney World without buying a park ticket? Clearly I was the person to ask.

Needless to say I dropped everything I was doing and assembled a quasi-exhaustive list of what a couple with a small child in tow might find most feasible when short on time. And just in case you ever find yourself in a similar situation, I'm passing this wisdom on to you! (Minor tweaks have been made to protect privacy and avoid date-specific times and events but this is basically it.)

  • WDW has two mini-golf courses on property, Winter Summerland and Fantasia Gardens. (There are also some full golf courses if that's something you're into)
  • The water parks aren’t cheap but they are cheaper if the weather’s warm. 
  • The Magic Kingdom fireworks can be seen from the observation deck at the California Grill; they even pipe in the soundtrack. It’s a bit of a tough get but availability often opens up in the days before (Disney requires a credit card guarantor and charges for no-shows). I know it looks fancy, and it kinda is, but kids are definitely welcome.
  • Fort Wilderness has a campfire singalong with s’mores at 7pm; you don’t have to be staying at the campground. They play a Disney movie after.
  • Also at Fort Wilderness: I hear the Hoop Dee Doo Musical Revue is really fun! There are often 4pm shows so you could do that and then go to the singalong right after if you wanted.
  • I can’t vouch for the food but the audio-animatronic dinosaurs of the T-Rex Café tends to go over extremely well with the smaller humans. (Disney Springs)
  • The NBA Experience is purportedly where “all your basketball dreams come true.” I have exactly zero basketball dreams but maybe you guys have some? (Disney Springs)
  • Disney Springs also has bowling!
  • House of Blues often has free music in the afternoons (and paid evening concerts too, of course). (Disney Springs)
  • And if all else fails, you can just wander through Disney Springs and pick a store or restaurant at your leisure. Some suggestions: The Dress Shop is super cute if you like vintage and Basin has bar shampoos I like (no plastic!). At The Art of Disney you can commission your own Disney drawing and watch it being sketched. If you like Indiana Jones you should definitely hit up Jock Lindsey’s (get an Anything Goes). 
  • Bonus: this is NOT toddler-friendly but just in case you're big Star Wars fans, Imma put THE VOID here. If it’s not busy it’ll only take about 30 minutes so you could kid swap. (Disney Springs)
I've never expressly written anything like "do not reproduce without permission" or whatever on my blog posts. I feel like it's implicit. But if you ever receive a similar inquiry from your coworker, feel free to copy/paste the above into an email and continue on your merry way. They'll never know!

What's your preferred non-park day agenda?

Don't forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. It would thrill me extremely if you would leave a comment with any questions or thoughtsSee ya real soon!

Monday, February 24, 2020

In Which Jenn Seeks Flower & Garden Festival Redemption

Remember last time I ran the Star Wars Half and was in WDW for the Flower & Garden Festival? Remember how I excitedly made a to-eat list in advance? Remember how I was so zombie-fied from the race that morning I didn't try a single thing from the booths????

Dark days, my friends. Luckily, what I have on my hands now is the chance at redemption: another Star Wars Half trip, another Flower & Garden Festival, and another to-eat list.

Obviously this is not an exhaustive list and items may change as the early reviews roll in. But for now, here's what I've got my eye on this time around, kids:

Magnolia TerraceHousemade boudin
Citrus BlossomTuna tataki bowl
Northern BloomGriddled maple pound cake
Northern BloomBeer flightFruity!
Honey Bee-stroHoney-mascarpone cheesecakeI <3 Mascarpone
Honey Bee-stroLemonade meadLemon could really cut mead's syrupiness
Trowel & TrellisGrilled street cornAll about the garlic spread
Pineapple PromenadeFrozen desert violet lemonadeI've heard good things!
Pineapple PromenadePineapple beer flight
Jardin de FiestasQuesadilla al pastor
Jardin de FiestasAll the drinks!!I love rose stuff!
Lotus HouseJasmine draft beerFloral stuff generally, really
BauernmarketALL THE FOODPotato pancakes! Pretzel bread! Strudel!
Hanami MarketFrushiIt's time to try the legend
Florida FreshWatermelon cucumber slushy
Florida FreshBeer flightCitrus-y!
Fleur de LysGoat cheese tart
Refreshment OutpostCider flight


What do you plan to eat at this year's Flower & Garden Festival?

Don't forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. It would thrill me extremely if you would leave a comment with any questions or thoughtsSee ya real soon!

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

In Which We Turn An Old Pair Of Tights Into ALL Your Race Throwaways

Hello intrepid runners! Staring down an unexpectedly chilly race morning, but expecting to warm up over the course of the, well, course? Forget your throwaways? Don't have time to run to the thrift store? Otherwise hate chucking valuable clothing items? I come bearing a solution!

It's tights.

You know, women's tights. Like pantyhose, but thicker. If you want to shell out for new tights, you can get a basic pair just about anywhere - Target, Walmart, CVS, you name it - for like $5. But I'd be willing to bet that, if you're a girl at least or know one, somewhere in the back of your sock drawer there's at least one pair of tights that's ready to be retired due to runs, holes, etc.

So let's hack that sucker up!

Yes, with just a few strokes of your scissors, tights can give you:

- arm warmers, as demonstrated here as part of my Sally costume. It was a reasonably warm morning, so I didn't want to waste a real hoodie or what have you, but I do tend to get chilly easily. All you need to do is cut off the legs of the tights, then cut slashes at the toes for your wrist to emerge.

- calf and even thigh warmers. Same principle.

- an upper torso coverup. Just slice holes in the toes for your hands, then a hole in the crotch for your head. In this particular photo I am using old running capris, but it's the same principle. (Incidentally, these tips can also work with running tights that are out of commission due to construction flaws like parted seams, rips at the knee, etc. No, seriously, in the photo below my top layer is old running tights with a hole cut in the crotch.)

Perplexing but true!
- ear warmer/headband - just cut off part of the waistband. Can also function as a neck warmer/balaclava.

Get too hot in any of these items? Strip them off and throw 'em to the side! Rip them if they get stuck over your sneakers or whatever. It's just pieces of old tights; who cares?

I myself maintain a box of old clothing items expressly for use someday as race throwaways. But in cases where a stopgap measure might be needed, I like to keep the tights method in my back pocket too.

Parting thought: if you type the word "hole" enough times it starts to lose all meaning. Hole-y trails to 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, February 13, 2020

In Which Jenn Backtracks Wildly For runDisney

Guys, it's happening! I wasn't sure it really would, but it's officially happening!

I signed up for runDisney's Star Wars Rival Run Half Marathon and Pat and I are going to WDW for a WEEK!!!
ME: If you came with me, we could go for like 5 days...
PAT: How about a full week?

I know what you, a longtime reader with one hell of an elephantine memory, are thinking: "Jenn, I thought you said the Star Wars half wasn't really right for you?"

Well, I did say that. But I said it in the context of a person approaching it as a runDisney race, meant to be run purely for entertainment, characters, etc. But this time around I have loftier and, dare I even say it, speed-based goals. I'll elaborate closer to the race once I've got the training largely behind me, but might *I* have lightspeed hidden inside me...? And anyway several people we know are also going so that could be fun.

But you've already got a comeback, I know it. "Jenn," you say, "didn't you ALSO say that you are neither jazzed about moderate resorts nor Caribbean Beach in particular?"

Well, I did say that. But that was before the advent of the Skyliner, the most beautiful, the most wonderful, the most magnificent form of Disney transportation ever on offer (and yes, I myself include the monorail in this - FIGHT ME!). Caribbean Beach, being the Skyliner hub, is going to get me to the Studios and Epcot in a different kind of lightspeed! And anyway Pop was booked up and the Riviera is too expensive.

Only one week until I can make FastPass reservations! But no need to worry about ADRs - I reserved my post-half marathon spot at Oga's Cantina weeks ago. You know, in case. ;D

Don't forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. It would thrill me extremely if you would leave a comment with any questions or thoughtsSee ya real soon!

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

The Fairest Trip Report Of All: A Food Review Hodgepodge

And now for the food review portion of my 2020 WDW Marathon trip. You can read all the posts in this report here. Onward!

Denouement! Allow me to present a random assortment of foods we ate that didn't warrant their own post.

Pop Century Food Court: Curious about the new plant-based options, I picked up the new plant-based BBQ burger with sweet potato fries. It was actually pretty good, but a meaty taste that, while not exactly fooling me, was enjoyable. Sort of like a well-done burger. And the avocado on top was a nice touch. But holy crap, could I have taken worse photos??? Sorry, guys, it was the end of the day and I was tired. >D

Cheshire Cafe: I finally got a Cheshire Cat Tail! It was good, too, although not out of the common way - less a chocolate croissant and more a lightly glazed donut with chocolate running through it. The frosting on top was a nice extra shot of sugar. I wouldn't go out of my way for one but it makes a decent breakfast if you want something lighter and/or don't feel like waiting in the Starbucks line. Damn, now that I'm posting this photo I kinda want one...

The Mara Bakery: I picked up a plant-based flamingo cake to enjoy after the marathon, which I did indeed do on the balcony and it was awesome. It was very dense and sweet and only lightly chocolate-y, but I very much enjoyed the cinnamon elements of the cake and the frosting was the sort of thick that I personally respond to. Would recommend, although I still need to try that peanut butter brownie...

Choza Margarita: I went with the cucumber margarita, which was good - it didn't taste like it was from a mix, nor did it have that sugar-y taste crappy margaritas so often sport. It was a little bland, though; I think it could use some jalapeno or something to punch it up. I liked that it came with a cucumber spear.

Les Halles Boulangerie Patisserie: I have not frequented Les Halles nearly as I should, but this was a good first foray. I got the Tartine aux Fromages, and it is completely worth your time: essentially pizza on good bread, it comes with a dollop of goat cheese that totally changes the game. Erika also let me try her Jambon Beurre, which is a ham and cheese sandwich covered with MORE cheese and when is that ever a bad idea?

Ronto Roasters: We got breakfast wraps and they were SO GOOD. I mean, it's just sausage and eggs and cheese in a pita, but it was all hot and fresh and you should absolutely get one. Don't let this little droid guy slave away in vain.

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!