Monday, November 30, 2020

In Which Jenn Has A Jingle In The Jungle

Every Christmas I embark upon a mission: to dig up the most uniquely Christmas background music that I can, the kind that's themed in such a way that it feels like Disney in a manner regular carols can't evoke. While it's tempting to just repost the Animal Kingdom Lodge holiday background loop every year and call it a day, I have two new loops for you this year, and both in the same vein!

I enlisted the help of Twitter in my quest, and one of the suggestions that came back was Trader Sam's loop. I searched for it on YouTube and nothing came back - but the Jingle Cruise did! This loop is a little old and includes a few repeats from the Echo Lake loop, but it includes some very Jungle Cruise-y music like a Hawaiian holiday song. I do wish that the radio announcements referenced in the video comments had made it over from previous years, but what can ya do.

I was all set to end the post here, and then - a miracle! I discovered a Disney's Animal Kingdom entrance loop. According to the description, this version is now retired, but it sounds like it was still fairly recent. From last year, maybe? Regardless, it's pretty evocative of DAK. I still prefer AKL's loop, but this is a solid entry.

If you have any other great unique Christmas loops to share, do let me know!

P.S. What's a jingle in the jungle, you ask? WELL:

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, November 23, 2020

In Which This Is Jenn's One Thousandth Post


I stopped celebrating this blog's birthday a couple years in (it's in July, if you're wondering, and we're currently over seven years on). After a while, with no 5 or 0 on the end of the number, it felt kinda redundant. But something about 1,000 posts feels like it warrants some mention, so here we are. This is my one thousandth post! You're reading it right now!

I would like to thank: 

  • my brain, for refusing to stop thinking and rethinking things until I exorcise them by writing them down
  • my body, for letting me continue to run and even improve at running despite the fact that I never thought myself a natural athlete
  • runDisney, for giving me a reason to live (best day ever)
  • Disney parks, which aren't always perfectly run but I nevertheless love with my whole heart. I feel like I belong somewhere every time I'm there
  • my readers - while I'd hardly call this blog wildly popular, I like to think I have a core loyal following. My domain briefly fell off for like a day a year ago because I was having trouble getting my renewal to work; someone immediately tweeted at me asking what was up because they "weren't ready for it to be over" and that's exactly the sort of thing that warms the cockles of my cold, dead heart. If you're reading this, know I appreciate every one of you for real!

I know that over the last year I haven't posted with the same breakneck frequency that I used to, but don't worry - I don't anticipate this blog going away anytime soon. After all, where would I put my race recaps and needlessly detailed trip reports? You can either open up the window and shout into the void, or you can do it on the internet. I choose the internet, here.

So here's to a thousand more posts! Because you can't get rid of me that easily.

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, November 20, 2020

In Which Jenn Makes The Cheater's Holiday Orange Mug Cake

Pomander mug cake

Hey! You know what I haven't done in literally two years? A cheater's recipe! Since I'm sure you don't remember because how could you possibly, my cheater's recipes are so called because they're barely recipes at all. I'm a cheerful baker, but an indifferent cook. So they're really more like assembly instructions, usually. Ideas for things that can be slapped together with minimal effort. Effort so minimal it feels like cheating! Get it?

What inspired me to return to the format after so long away? Well, thanks to many twists of fate, I have been spending an inordinate amount of time alone lately. Not alone-alone, mind you - I've still got the cats, so I'm never lonely - but I'm the sole human occupant of my apartment at the moment, and the only one who needs to be fed human food. (Needs. Ruffian only wants.)

So I'm temporarily back to cooking for one, which, if you ask me, is way more of a challenge than cooking for ten. Few ingredients can be readily bought in the proper proportions for just one person, which leaves you either eating the same thing a million times in a row or wasting a bunch. Not to mention the diminished motivation. I can disappoint me; it's cool. Like, I've done it before, you know?

Where was I before I went down that little rabbit hole? Oh yes. Cooking for one. I bet one element of my isolation is the same as yours: COVID. Gotta stay inside! And because you gotta stay inside, you might be looking at a very diminished Thanksgiving party. Heck, it might be just you. What are you gonna do, bake an entire cake for one person?

No! But you know what you can do? Make a single-serving mug cake! 

If you're not familiar with mug cakes, they're a small-scale cake recipe designed to be assembled in a mug and cooked - wait for it - in your microwave. I've been making them for myself lately when I want something sweet that won't leave me with an enormous yield of too many cookies or whatever. They're easy, they're pretty good, and they satisfy the sweet tooth. 

I wanted to bring some of that magic to you, so I created a new recipe with the holidays in mind, and so I give you: the holiday orange (aka pomander) mug cake!

Pomanders are those traditional oranges people like to stab with cloves and put up around Christmastime, for the smell and also the aesthetics. I used this recipe for vanilla mug cake as a base, and then messed around with the ingredients until I got what I was after. 

A few notes before we start:

If you've never had a mug cake before, temper your expectations - you're not going to get a fluffy birthday cake. I'd liken the consistency more to a moist, spongy muffin. Still satisfying, but it's a different animal.

I use 1/4 teaspoon of orange essence because I found the full 1/2 teaspoon to be a bit too tart. If you like a really strong orange flavor, feel free to go for the entire 1/2 teaspoon.

I also reduced the amount of sugar and butter in the recipe by a full tablespoon each. If you're after a richer treat, feel free to add them back, but be sure to reduce the milk by a tablespoon, too.

Okay, now - go!

Holiday Orange Mug Cake

  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 tsp orange extract
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp cloves

  1. Melt the butter in the mug (you may want to grease the mug first, but I don't think it's strictly necessary). 
  2. In a separate cup or bowl, mix the milk, orange extract, and sugar together.
  3. Add your mixture to the butter and combine. Then add your remaining dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and cloves. Mix until combined.
  4. Nuke in the microwave for approximately 70-80 seconds, give or take. Adjust to your microwave's usual strength; they all have different outlooks on life and how fast they're willing to cook things therefore.
  5. Let the mug cake cool for five minutes or so. You can garnish it with whipped cream, or cream cheese frosting, or sprinkles, or anything else you like. Or you can eat it plain. Enjoy!

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, November 17, 2020

In Which Timehop Throws Shade At Disney???

Holy smoke Rocky, guys, I know I just posted, but I saw the FUNNIEST thing in my Timehop yesterday and I had to share!

You guys know Timehop, right? The app that shows you all the stuff you posted on this day on your various social medias and that stuff? In addition to populating with your own on-this-day photos and tidbits, it also sometimes shows some historic events and such that occurred on that day too. Various Disney park openings and movie debuts have sometimes been included as the day's fun fact, because, I always assumed, many of Disney's accomplishments are objectively historical.

As of today, though, I begin to wonder if a Disney blogger moonlights as a Timehop exec, because this is some niche humor:

Timehop Epcot

Ha! Today we call it EPCOT and it has a Frozen ride...!

I mean, we all know the story about why Epcot never became the Epcot as Walt envisioned it. It's the Frozen dig that kills me. That is some vintage late-2014, still-bitter-about-the-closing-of-Maelstrom, why-is-there-IP-in-Epcot-it-doesn't-belong-here shade. I'm surprised they didn't have that little dinosaur guy dressed as a Viking at the end. 

I can't wait until the new Guardians of the Galaxy coaster opens and we find out what Timehop has to say about that. I'm guessing with all the ousted dinosaurs it's gonna get real personal real fast.

Disney, man. You find it in the darnedest places!

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, November 16, 2020

In Which Jenn Shares Her Rarest Character Race Photos

Pat and I were talking the other day about how we hope we can ride Splash Mountain one more time before the refurb starts. Now, I have gone on record as being 100% on board with the overhaul. But still, a final ride-through to say goodbye would be nice.

That got me thinking - once, a long time ago, during the 2016 WDW Marathon, I got a photo with Brer Fox and Brer Bear. It's the only time I've ever seen either character, in the parks or as part of a runDisney event. Perhaps they'll appear one more time in some sort of goodbye ceremony or what hae you, but I doubt I'll ever see them again.

Brer Fox Brer Bear on race course
And such a quality photo, too!

And that in turn lead me to ponder what other rare characters I've caught on the WDW race course. "Rare" can be hard to quantify, of course, depending on Halloween and Christmas parties and how many runDisney races you do a year and what have you, but here are some of the characters I know I've only seen that one time:

Friar Tuck on race course
Friar Tuck, WDW Marathon 2015

Villains on race course
Frollo, Evil Queen, and Jafar, WDW Marathon 2019

Evil Queen as Witch, WDW Marathon 2016

Dang, 2016 was really the year, wasn't it?

Ah, memories. I can't wait until this stupid pandemic is over and we can all safely go back to running Disney!

Do you have any rare Disney character photos, on course or off? Who'd you catch?

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, November 11, 2020

In Which Jenn Recaps The Battleship Half Marathon

Battleship Half Marathon start

Okay, so the Battleship Half Marathon may not have been a triumph, but it turned out fine.

The race was a bit unusual in that in order to accommodate COVID precautions, the start would be staggered across several hours. My wave time was 8:30am, so I didn't even have to wake up until like 6:30am (which if you're into runDisney is like one in the afternoon, seriously). My dad drove me over to the race start, and as we crossed the bridge to downtown Wilmington I saw the marathoners who had started at 6:30am already out on the course. 

I was worried about getting to the race on time - what if it turns out important roads are blocked? What if I can't find the start area? What if I can't find the porta potties? - but of course since I had budgeted the time everything went smoothly, and I arrived about an hour before my call time. We were on strict orders not to arrive more than 15 minutes in advance for our individual wave, so I busied myself taking a few laps around the neighborhood. 

At 8:15am it was my turn to file into the start area, where I found Becky from Disney In Your Day, so that was nice - it was good to have company for a couple minutes. We were given a few last minute instructions and warnings (the boardwalk could be slippery; don't take off your mask until you reach the trash cans past the start line) and we were off!

Battleship Half start corral

I took off at a pretty speedy clip as, per my pre-race post, I harbored unrealistic but not entirely unattainable hopes for my first sub-two hour marathon. The first few miles, along the edge of the water, were reasonably flat and any predicted boardwalk slipperiness proved no problem - so far, so good.

We turned off the boardwalk area and crossed a bridge, which had a bit of an incline but not too terrible. From there we ran around the namesake Battleship North Carolina's memorial boardwalk, which goes all the way around the ship - I was very pleased with this, as I had fully expected to run up to it in the parking lot and then immediately turn around, but nope! We got a full 360 degree view. The ship was in drydock, too, so I saw rather more of it than I ever had before.

Following that we had to suffer through a bit of an out-and-back, but not too long of one, and at least it was flat from what I can remember. Then it was back out onto the road and over what would prove to be my nemesis: the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge.

Boy howdy, was that bridge steep. I kept telling myself I could run the whole bridge, a la the Severn River Bridge when I ran the ZOOMA Half, but no - this one was much longer and much worse. And, to add insult to injury, my dad pointed out on the drive back that we had to run up the side with the steeper incline; the downhill portion wasn't as steep. I demand a reversed course!

After escaping the bridge, the course turned back to downtown Wilmington and its brick walkways. And then: power to the finish!

HA HA, JUST KIDDING. If you were doing the half marathon, it was time to do the whole thing all over again!

Yes, the half marathon course was a double loop, which meant it was time to pull a Bill Murray and repeat everything I just outlined: the Riverwalk boardwalk, the battleship, and - gulp - the stupid Cape Fear bridge.

Oh, and I hadn't mentioned the weather yet, had I? It had been sunny and steadily climbing toward 80 degrees all morning. I went into it all cocky, thinking: I live in Puerto Rico! This shouldn't be a problem! What an idiot. It was still hot, and it was still affecting my performance. I also feel like we could've stood to have more water stops, but I totally understand why that wasn't possible given the desire to keep volunteers from congregating as much as possible.

All of which is to say that when I hit the halfway mark and checked my GPS watch, I knew I was already just shy of my A goal even if I kept my pace steady. Given the heat and the stupid bridge, I knew coming in under two hours was out of my reach. Drat.

But it was okay. While it would've been nice to hit my goal, all I ever really wanted was a decent proof of time for my runDisney corral placements. I resolved to Do My Best on round two, and while I don't know if my best is right, I certainly didn't give up, either. I just wish I'd decided to bring my headphones - I was worried about missing directions, but ultimately I don't think it mattered and I could've used some music.

Wait, what I said a few sentences back was a lie. I did give up on the second round of the Cape Fear bridge, but only a little. I definitely ran some sections, but I also walked some too. And once I got to the top I made myself run again. I just didn't want to risk burning myself out completely, you know?

At least I didn't sign up for the marathon; I can't imagine doing the bridge four times. 😱

By the time I ran back into downtown Wilmington again, I was approaching toast. A random spectator - some of 'em got in somehow - called to me, "Looking good! Nice steady pace!" which just goes to show that it's impossible to know what a runner's actually going through at any given moment. 😆 Honestly, I probably could've stood to push myself a little harder over that last mile or two, but what can ya do. I crossed the finish line with a decent time and with the vast majority of my reserves exhausted, so at least I can say I put some effort in.

Battleship Half GPS time

Medals, new masks, and snacks were all bagged to minimize contact, so I grabbed one and plopped down on a nearby curb; I needed a quick break before I felt ready to get on the move again. Becky came up behind me shortly, and we commiserated over the dang bridge for a bit before she headed off to her hotel and I called my dad for a lift. Success!

So I didn't make sub-two, or even get a new PR, but for a first race back in sub-optimal conditions I'd say it wasn't so terrible. I got my decent PoT, and that's what really mattered. Now here's hoping Rivals happens - with runDisney magic and some accompanying negative splits, maybe my sub-two hour half lives there?

Thanks to the organizers of the Battleship Half for making this race happen with maximum safety and COVID precautions. I'm sure it took even more care and planning than usual, and without it I wouldn't have my new and improved PoT, so I say again: thanks to those guys!

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, November 6, 2020

In Which Jenn Is Off To The Races

Battleship Half Video Screenshot

Sunday is race day!

Dang. Haven't said that in awhile.

This race will mark a lot of firsts for me. It'll be my first non-cancelled in-person race in a post-COVID world, for starters. It will also, believe it or not, be my first half marathon since 2018 - due to some life changes, I only ran two races last year, both of them marathons. And it'll be the first time running the Battleship Half Marathon!

I am, as anyone who knows me might expect, equal parts anxious and excited - although I must admit, anxiety is pulling more weight than usual. 😅

I'm a little nervous about the COVID aspect, of course, but the race organizers are doing a great job communicating all the precautions we'll be taking (I talked discussed this in more detail in an earlier post). They even made us a little video.

Side note: in the video they pulled out these authenticated American flags that had flown over the USS North Carolina, and I was thinking to myself, hmm, depending on how much they are, that might make a good Christmas present for my dad. Only to have them say they were only for the first place finishers of each race. So, I'm DEFINITELY not getting my hands on one. 🤣

I'm more nervous about what the COVID precautions will mean about race day logistics - getting to the race on time and in good shape is always the scariest part for me. And since you're not allowed to show up to the course start any earlier than 15 minutes before your wave, my usual anxiety-calming technique of showing up crazy early won't cut it! 

In the end, though, I'm gonna have to trust that's gonna be okay - because I'm excited to RACE! I even have an ambitious A goal: a sub-two hour half. Now, I'm not pinning my hopes on that, for a wide variety of reasons, but I've had some pretty good training runs and depending on how the day and the course shake out, I think it's within the realm of possibility. Beyond that, though, I really just want a decent time to submit for my Rival Run corral placement.

Okay, kids - I'll see you on the other side of the weekend, hopefully with a triumphant story to tell!

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, November 2, 2020

In Which Jenn Finds A Cheaper KT Tape Alternative

The KT Tape adventures continue!

I've been a pretty loyal KT Tape user over the years. I found Rock Tape to be pretty much the same but harder to get, and the CVS off-brand version, while not unusable, didn't have enough stretch. I've been sticking to KT Tape only for a couple years now.

And for the last year or so, I've needed to use rather a lot of it - I've been plagued by very minor injuries that KT Tape can absolutely handle, and even render runs pain-free. But it does mean going through rolls at an uncomfortably fast clip, and as you've no doubt noticed, that stuff ain't cheap.

Sometimes, if you're not picky about color, you can find rolls cheaper on Amazon. I was picking through my options the other day when I saw in the comparisons something called OK Tape, and despite the somewhat eyebrow-raising name, the reviews were pretty good. They offered regular and "pro" versions a la KT Tape, with the key difference being a roll of OK Tape Pro runs about $7(!). That's less than half the usual cost of KT Tape Pro, so I figured, what the heck, let's give it a try!

My new tape actually arrived two days earlier than the initial predicted delivery date, and first impressions were good - the box looked legit, and while the tape inside lacked KT Tape Pro's plastic casing, it did have a protective wrapper.

OK Tape

OK Tape

One odd thing is that as far as I can tell, OK Tape Pro only comes in one continuous uncut roll. Luckily it has guide marks on the paper backing, and I compared those against a strip of KT Tape to determine what would be a comparable amount. Then I just rounded the corners with scissors and I was good to go.

OK Tape backing

The only thing left to do then was take it for a test run! Application felt no different than KT Tape, from the amount of stretch to the texture of the non-adhesive side. In fact, it almost felt a little more secure.

Unfortunately, during my first trial I accidentally pulled off too much backing while applying my last strip of tape and it rolled in on itself and stuck. Boo. I was able to smooth it down but I knew that would negatively affect the adhesive and render the experiment void. 

Curiously enough, despite this setback, the precise same amount of tape peeled at the same time KT Tape does during my 5K (see my previous KT Tape Extreme review). That boded well for at least being comparable, but I wanted to give it another shot.

Round two, before shot:

OK Tape

And after:

OK Tape

OK Tape

As you can see, it actually worked really well! I was surprised. The tape is starting to come up a little bit on one side, but under normal circumstances all but the bottom layer would've come off fully around the second mile of the run. Again, see my last tape review for reference. For a low-budget option, I'm impressed!

The funny thing is, OK Tape reminds me of Rock Tape. I tried Rock Tape at least five years ago, so it's been awhile, but I remember the roll I got wasn't precut and I even vaguely recall at the time the pattern was similar? I don't know. But I can't shake the feeling that this is almost like those cases where it turns out the brand name and the generic version are made in the same factory...

Whatever the case, for the price, OK Tape performs very well! It's not a total game-changer but I think it's a great dupe, maybe even for KT Tape Extreme over Pro. I might keep a roll or two of KT Tape around just in case, but when I can get two rolls of OK Tape for the price of one KT for similar performance I think the choice going forward will be clear.

Of course, there's always the question of product consistency over time, so I'll update you if I feel like OK Tape's quality diminishes, but in the meantime, you can't beat $7!

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!