Changing Up the Routine

It’s snowing. It’s actually snowing again. I, along with many in the Midwest, am just so done with winter. Come on spring! Let’s get going!

However, in the meantime, it’s time to get back into the workout routine. I took some time off after the the RunDisney Princess Half-Marathon weekend………


19.3 miles in two days…..well, that’s the most that I have ever done in that amount of time. So, taking a rest was definitely ok with me.

My left foot was very sore in the days/weeks following the race weekend, so I’ve been taking it easy to let the (self-diagnosed) plantar fasciitis heal properly. No running. Lots of stretching. And lots of massaging with golf balls – rolling my foot over a golf ball really worked well to give a deep massage on the arch and heel of the foot!  – I am not a doctor and in most situations have no idea what I’m doing… please do not take that as medical advice. It’s just something that worked for me.

Since I am not currently training for something in particular, I am going to be changing up my workouts a bit more. Yes, I’ll hit the treadmill during the week and run outside on the weekends (as long as it’s not snowing……..) but I’m also planning on adding in some classes. I’ve never actually taken a workout class. So, it’s a bit nerve wracking to even think about. But, Yorktown Mall in Lombard (hey suburbanites!) has a really great deal right now where you can try out two classes at each of their fitness studios for free! You can find info about the program here.

So, who wants to look ridiculous with me in a class? Come join me!


Disney’s Art of Animation – Resort Review

So, as you may have previously read, my family recently took a trip to Disney for the RunDisney Princess Half-Marathon weekend. I did the Fairy Tale Challenge (10K and half-marathon) and the girls both participated in the kids races (100m and 200m). As we do whenever we travel to DisneyWorld, we stayed at a resort on the Disney grounds. Our hotel this time? Art of Animation.


Upon entering the resort, you can see right away that the animation theme is in full effect. There are animation sketches on the walls of the lobby and on the chandeliers (some of my favorite chandeliers ever!)



There are four different sections with very distinct designs – Lion King, Finding Nemo, The Little Mermaid, and Cars. We stayed in a family suite in the Finding Nemo area. I will go ahead and say that I think that the Finding Nemo section is probably the best if you are staying with younger kids. It’s the closest to the big pool, the playground, and the quick service food option, store, and lobby. We have stayed in the Little Mermaid area before, and it’s a fun design but it’s definitely a longer walk. Long walks after a day at the park (or a day running) with small children and tired feet is always something to take into consideration when planning your stay.

Everything about the design is larger than life. The huge scale makes it feel as though you are a little fish in this big big world.



Of course, not all of the design elements are huge… on the lookout for hidden Mickeys!


Hidden Mickey – in the bubble design of the carpet

Check out the pictures of the Finding Nemo family suite here. There was plenty of room  for the four adults and two kids that were staying with us. The girls slept on the table bed – I wish I could find a video of that thing unfolding so you could see just how easy it was to turn the table into a bed. Very easy and the girls slept very well. Ryan and I slept on the sleeper sofa. It wasn’t as comfortable as a bed. Sleeper sofas rarely are. But, I was exhausted each night so was able to fall asleep (except for when the pre-race jitters would keep me awake, which honestly was a large portion of each night.)

Also, since we stayed in the family suite, there was a kitchenette. Do not plan on preparing full meals using the kitchenette. But, it’s great to store and reheat some leftovers.

There is only one restaurant option here and this quick service option is ok. Lots of family friendly options and probably something to fit every craving that you are having at any time of day. However, at least when we were there, it seemed that no matter what time you were there to eat, there was absolutely no sense of urgency among the employees working there. Everything, from placing an order to paying for your food, took way more time than it needed to. When you are trying to feed a hungry kid or someone who just ran a half-marathon… really don’t want to wait in line longer than you need to. The lines were crazy during peak meal time but they were also crazy during every other time of the day as well. When you can see employees just standing around and talking when there are huge lines of people, it doesn’t really reflect well on your dining experience. (There was never a time when I saw every available register was open and being used…..that definitely would have cut down on the lines.)

One of the best parts of the quick service option is that you can take your food out to the pool. One night, for dinner, I grabbed a ready-to-go large cheese pizza and some drinks. This is actually a pretty good deal for Disney food because the pizza is huge! We brought leftovers back to the room. In addition, if you have the Disney dining plan, you will find many options to choose from for each meal and snack.

For the adults, perhaps one of the best parts of the pool area, is the pool bar!  The drinks were delicious and strong (!!!!!). And best of all , the bartenders all seemed to really enjoy their jobs. 🙂 You can enjoy your beverage in the bar area, or by the pool.


The number one reason to stay on site when traveling to Disney, in my opinion, is the ease of transportation. Yes, the Disney design is fun and each resort has it’s own unique design and different level of Disney-ness. It’s always fun to keep the Disney atmosphere with you all day, whether or not you are in a park. However, transportation is key!

The schedule for the race weekends begins very early in the morning. Yes, on the morning of the half-marathon, I was on the bus at 3:30am. 3:30am. Gross. The early mornings were, well, really early.


It was so nice to not have to worry about parking…..or driving anywhere during this weekend. However, the Disney transportation is definitely a benefit whenever you are staying. Some of the hotels have boat or monorail transportation to get you from the parks back to your hotel. And at some resorts, you are so close that you can simply walk to the park. However, they all have buses. We used the bus to get to the Expo, to the race starts, and to get to Disney Springs for dinner, snacks, and to see Black Panther.

Would we stay at Art of Animation again? Of course! This was already our second time staying at the resort. It is one of the Value resorts (very important!!), you get the ease of Disney transportation and a fun Disney design everywhere you turn. The girls loved coming back to the hotel room and seeing the giant Crush the Turtle right outside the door!

Key Takeaways:

Fun design. Very kid friendly. Loads of large character sculptures around the buildings and the pool.

Rooms are a fun design and can easily accommodate a large family.

Design is very Disney. Many of the resorts have a subtle Disney design. This is not one of one those resorts.

Food options are plentiful but be prepared to wait. And wait. And wait. And there is only one restaurant at the resort.

Transportation is right outside the lobby. Although Art of Animation only has buses at this time, they definitely get you where you need to go and you don’t need to worry about renting a car, driving, and parking.



Princess Race Weekend – My Experience

A week ago, we ventured down to Florida so that I could do one of my bucket list races. I did the Fairy Tale Challenge (previously known as the Glass Slipper Challenge). That means a 10k on Saturday and a half-marathon on Sunday. 19.3 miles in two days! To say that I was nervous beforehand would be an understatement.


It’s dark in the picture because each morning’s races start at 5:30am. The transportation to the start area is really great if you are staying on site. It’s easy, but it’s early. You have to be on the bus by 3:30am (for the 10k) or 3:00am (for the half), sleep deprivation is an added obstacle to overcome for these races.

The 10K was a lot of fun. I took my time and didn’t push myself too much so that I wouldn’t start the next day being exhausted. I had some soreness in my left foot after the run but other than that, I felt good. (I have now self-diagnosed my left foot pain as plantar fasciitis.)

The 10K takes you around all of Epcot. You run outside of the park for the very beginning, but this part goes by quickly. Then, you get to see some of the actual park.

There are lots of characters on the path.


But you have to wait in line to see them….and some lines are very very very long. (So, if you want to stop, know that it will change your finish time.)


This is the line to see Pinocchio….that’s a long long long line.

After the 10K, we went to the kids races. Unfortunately, it was really hot. The kids races started at 10:30 with the 100m, then the 200m an hour later. I’m glad that neither of our girls were going to do the 1mile because that started at 1:00pm. The kids races were actually a bit unorganized. Big girl and I could barely hear anything while waiting for the 200m. When you have a big group of hot and sweaty kids with their hot and sweaty parents (who probably already ran that morning), people start to get grumpy really really quickly. Thankfully, there was a lot of water…and applesauce for the kiddos. GoGo Squeez was one of the big sponsors for the kids races so there was applesauce everywhere. My girls had more applesauce pouches during this weekend, then they probably have during the whole year. lol


Sunday was the half-marathon. This one goes through Magic Kingdom which is really magical and then ends at Epcot. I, honestly, started to feel a little emotional when we ran through the castle!

However, a lot of this is actually just on highways and roads outside of the parks. Soooooooo much of this is not in a park – and it gets a bit boring. There aren’t as many characters to see on the course when you are outside of the parks. Seeing the characters every mile definitely helped the 10K to fly by… the half got a bit boring…..and hot……it got really hot on those roads. The heat is definitely not something that my Illinois winter training could have prepared me for.


Now that I’ve had a week to think about everything, I have started to come up with a plan for myself. I think that I would, in fact, want to do the Fairy Tale Challenge in the future. However, I need to get my pace time way down so that I can start in a different coral. There were 25,000 runners during the half-marathon. 25,000! For a back-of-the-pack runner like me, that meant that I didn’t cross the start line until an hour after the race had started. It also meant that I had an hour longer in the hot Florida sun. (The “real feel” temp on my phone said 89 when I crossed the finish line.)

It was a great weekend and I’m glad that I was able to do it. I’m still tired (still trying to get caught up with the lack of sleep). And, my foot is still hurting. (Trying to stay off of it for awhile and doing lots of stretching. 19.3 miles is a lot for two feet.) But, I’m so happy that I was able to experience this and, most importantly, I’m glad that I was able to share this weekend with my family! Having them with me made it even more magical – Ryan, my girls, and my parents!!

Now, on to the next race!! My goal is to get my 5k run time way down, then do the same for my 10k time. Then, it’ll be time to start training for my next half!





Winter Necessities

I’ve always had very dry hands and dry lips during the winter months. I always just assumed it was just what happened in the cold. Yes, hands can get dry and chapped in the winter. Yes, the same problem happens with lips. But this winter, I’ve noticed a difference and I’m making a pretty big assumption that it comes down to two changes that I made: water intake and Vaseline.

So, as I wrote about here I’m making a big effort to drink more water. More and more and more water. I have now made it part of my morning routine that I can not drink anything else until I finish off one full water bottle. In just the few weeks that I’ve been doing this, I’ve noticed that I’ve been having less headaches. (Although I did have one last night….it did not last long and in the past it probably would’ve lasted through today.) Have I been dehydrated all these years?!? Is that one of the causes of my frequent headaches?!? Honestly, I don’t know. And it’s only been a few weeks. And yes, I’ve still had a couple headaches. But, they haven’t been as frequent or as severe as I’ve had the last few years. So, the water routine is staying!

I used to be a lip balm addict. I would go through entire tubes of lip balm in just a few months. That’s….probably not normal. But, I realized the I was using the lip balms so often because my lips always felt dry! Was it the wax in the balm? I don’t know. But, I’ve switched up my routine here as well.


These Vaseline Lip Therapy containers are awesome! They are also great because I can quickly add some moisture…..and I use them on my hands for a little extra moisturizing if needed….or on my girls when they have chapped skin. And the rosy lips one has a light rose scent which is pleasant as well.

What products are your necessities for surviving the winter in the midwest?

Fighting the Cold

It seems that pretty much everyone is fighting a cold right now. I’m hoping that spring comes soon because I think we all need to get outside. We need to be able to throw open the windows and air everything out. But in the meantime……what are your go-to cures when faced with a cold?

For me, when I feel a cold coming on, I reach for Vicks, lots of water and tea, vitamin C, and soup. Specifically? Egg drop soup.


Yep. Egg drop soup. Comforting. Warm. And, I found a fantastic one that delivers to us and they put a healthy amount of veggies in their egg drop soup….and shrimp which I wasn’t expecting but was a delicious addition.

When you feel a cold coming on, what do you do to try to stop it?

Marshmallow Taste Test

When baby girl was home with a fever, big girl and I had a little marshmallow adventure at XO Marshmallow! We each had a treat and then brought home some treats to share with baby girl and daddy.


Vanilla, salted caramel, and peppermint. Yummy!

And because we were going to try all three on the same night, we did a little taste test.


Although we agree that each flavor was yummy (except baby girl who doesn’t like mint flavors so did not like the peppermint), we were able to name a favorite.

Three of the four chose vanilla as the number one. I was the only one to choose something different, though. My fave is the salted caramel. But yea, all three flavors are yummy. And there are many other flavors available in the store and in their online store.

Have you had these? Which one is your favorite? Which one would you like to try?

Running Fuel

I learned that my beloved Fleet Feet no longer carries the energy jelly beans that I used during my first and only half-marathon. (Apparently, they haven’t carried it for awhile….) Now that I am getting closer to the date for my next *gulp* half-marathon, I need to find another product. So, a quick trip to Fleet Feet and I have four items to test out. Well, specifically two items, two flavors of each.


I will be testing out each one before my long runs leading up to race day until I find the one that works best for me…..

But, I want to know….if you are use one of these products (or if you swear by another product) which one do you use? Does one work really well for you?  Let me know!