Monday, June 23, 2014

Baltimore Women's Classic 2014

The Baltimore Women's Classic was my first ever race in 2012, so it has a special place in my heart. It has remained my favorite local race since then. It's a women's only race that benefits Cancerve, a women's cancer charity.  The race takes place in the beautiful Inner Harbor of Baltimore. This year, two of my sisters did the race with me.

The BWC has the best "race village" of any race I have ever been to.  There are lots of vendors to check out and lots of free stuff--before and after the race. This year I won a t-shirt from City Sports, a cool water bottle with infuser, and a beach towel from our local SUP rental company.  We tested tea, sports drinks, energy gum and lots of offer fun stuff.  We shopped, and shopped.  So much fun!






Our little group of family and friends got to the start line and took lots of pictures.  Once the race started, we separated so everyone could run their own best race.  Since this was my fourth time doing this race, I know the course well.  I was prepared for the massive hill at around the .5 mile mark. The race runs through south Baltimore, around the Federal Hill area.  The last .5 mile of the race is so beautiful--right along the harbor.  Crowd support at this race is great.  So many families sit on their front steps and cheer the runners on.






My sister and her friend finished the race before me.  They stayed at the finish to cheer me on.  After I got my water, cold towel, medal, finisher rose and some snacks I joined them while we
waited for the rest of the group.  It's always fun to hang out at the finish line and cheer on the other runners.  My other sister finished with a 7 minute PR!  We cheered my cousin on as she crossed her first finish line.









After one more loop around race village, it was time to head home.  The race volunteers were packing up and they had a bunch of roses left over.  They told us to take a bouquet home!  My rose bouquet looks so pretty on my kitchen table. My sisters and I got some pictures along the water before we left. I can't wait to do the BWC again next year.

A dream is a wish...

--Amy

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Disney Social Media Moms Celebration



Yesterday I had the privileged of attending the Disney Social Moms "on the road" conference. When I got the invite in May, I was equally excited and shocked!  I could not believe I was chosen to attend.  Going to an event like this would be a dream come true for a Disney nerd like me.










I woke up nice and early for the conference, but I barely sleep at all the night before--I was to excited.  I made the two and a half hour drive into Philly and arrived about twenty minutes before the start.  I quickly ran into the other ladies I know who were also invited to the event--two runDisney friends. We chatted and met  some other bloggers while in line for check in.  Finally, it was time!  The doors opened and the event started.









The room was already filled with Disney magic. The "Zippitty Do Da" song was playing. Above the stage was draped a big banner that read "Rock Your Disney Side", the 2014 Disney marketing slogan. I quickly found a seat and then just stood there for a minute--soaking it all in.  There were balloons, banners, and a few backdrops for pictures.  One of the backdrops was of the castle.  The other was a "Disney side" photo area with every Disney character hat and accessory you could think of to dress up with.





Jaime and Gary from Disney PR got the event started.  They used a unique to Disney icebreaker--pin trading!  The assistants walked around with a huge bag of Disney pins and dumped a handful on each table.  We had two minutes to meet some new people and trade pins.  I end up with one of the most beautiful Disney pins I have ever seen--its a diamond wedding ring with Lady and the Tramp in the center.





The first speaker was Gary Buchanan, the Disney Social Media Managing Editor.  He told us about all the cool new stuff coming to the Disney Parks.  After Cary, we heard from Jenn Fickly-Baker, the Disney Social Media Manager.  Jenn gave a great talk about creating good content. Up next, we heard from HP direct print services.  They had a big surprise for us--they printed our "Disney Side" pictures and gave us each a very nice pack of HP photo paper with envelopes.  Thanks HP!



After a quick break, it was time to get back to the speaker series. At our seats, Disney surprised us with a Vinylmation--my first one.  Up next we heard from Victoria Lim of Disney PR.  She talked to us about creating great visual content. After that was a panel of mom entrapanuers discussing a work/family balance, followed by the Mojo Coach talking about how to stay healthy is every way. I learned so much from each and every one of the speakers.  I plan to do a series of posts about all the amazing things I learned from each speaker--its way to much to put in one post.

After some closing remarks, a very special guest appeared--Mickey Mouse!!!  Everyone in the room jumped to their feet and started clapping. It was so magical!  In the last few minutes of the event, we networked some more, exchanged business cards, hung out with Mickey, took more pictures and said our good byes.  I was so sad that the event was over, but so happy to have been a part of it.  Thank you so much Disney for putting on such an amazing event!

A dream is a wish...

--Amy


Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Tinkerbell Half Marathon Weekend 2014

One of my favorite events of the year is the runDisney Tinkerbell Half Marathon weekend in Disneyland. It usually turns into a crazy girls weekend pretty quickly!


This year I flew in to LAX on Thursday morning.  I got to Disneyland just in time to check into the magical Disneyland Hotel and get to the expo right before it opened.  I worked the entire day at the Sparkle Skirts booth, but managed to get away long enough to pick up my three bibs for the weekend.


Check out my video of the 5k start!


The first race of my runDisney race weekend was the Neverland 5k.  This a a race through Disneyland park, and ends in California Adventure park.  The Neverland 5k hand down offers the best race start of any race I have ever seen or heard of.  The race starts right in front of Sleeping Beauty's castle.  All of the sudden, Tinkerbell herself makes an appearance. Tink flies around the castle and starts the race! So magical!

The second race of the weekend was the Tinkerbell 10k. This race shared a start and finish line with the half marathon. The highlight of this course for me was the Haunted Mansion characters.  I love, love, love seeing and getting pictures with obscure characters.  I have never seen the Haunted Mansion characters before then, so that alone made the race worth doing.

The third race and main event of the weekend was the Tinkerbell Half Marathon. The course started outside of Disneyland park.  We ran around the back of California Adventure park and entered the park in the Paradise Pier section.  They had the "World of Color" music and lights playing.  I love that show!  After we got the rest of the way through CA, we ran across to Disneyland.  After a run around Disneyland, we entered Downtown Disney, then on through the town of Anaheim.

The Tinkerbell Half is my favorite runDisney courses.  I love running down the original Main Street USA, and past the original Disney castle that Walt himself built.  Disneyland holds so much history--us Disney history nerds can't get enough. Another perk of doing a Disneyland  race to us east coasters is that it does not feel as early as it actually is.  Because of the three hour time difference, a 5 am race feel like it starts at 8 am to an east coaster.  I am not a morning person, so I will take every hour I can get.  I can't wait to get back out to Disney for Tink Half Marathon weekend 2015--with a new date of Mothers Day weekend in May.
View of the finish line from my room!
A dream is a wish...

--Amy 

Friday, April 25, 2014

My Oatmeal Review

This past week, I have the opportunity to try out "My Oatmeal".  It's a site where you customer build and then order oatmeal just for you.  There are over two million combinations!  



I chose to try out steel cut oatmeal.  I have been a big fan of steel cut oats for a while now--I like how they are the entire grain, making the oatmeal more filling and higher in fiber.  Then it was time to customize!  I decided to add some Turkish apricots, cashews, and flax seeds.  Once I choose a bag size and delivery frequency, I was done.  A few days later, my customer bag of My Oatmeal showed up at my door.


Since steel cut oats are bigger than rolled oats, they take longer to cook.  The package directions said to cook the oats for 30 minutes.  I do not have time for that in the morning!  I cooked five servings on Sunday evening, so they were ready to microwave when I got up each morning this week.


I really loved my My Oatmeal trial!  I love how the My Oatmeal is whole, fresh food--but still super easy to make.  It's very tasty too!   Let me know what you think of it if you give it a try!

A dream is a wish...

--Amy



Disclaimer:  I received the product for free from My Oatmeal via Fit Approach. These are my original thoughts and opinions on My Oatmeal.

Monday, March 17, 2014

runDisney 2014 Princess Half Marathon

The 2014 runDisney Princess Half Marathon was my third Princess weekend.  It's may favorite race weekend of the year!  This race was going to be different for me--it would be the first that I ran with a group of friends.  Typically, I prefer to run along--to take in the sights and sounds with no distractions.  This year I was going to be different.  Our plan was to stay together, take lots of pictures, and have as much fun as possible!





Race morning started like every other runDisney race-early! I woke up at 3:30 am, just in time to be at the Contemporary monorail stop by 4 am. I tell you, the monorail is fastest, most fun, most Disney way to get to the race start.  The view of the staging area from the monorail really gets me pumped and ready to run!  I met up with my group of friends just in time to walk to the corrals.  It was a very long walk to the corrals.  You can feel the excitement, the anticipation building.





This year runDisney tried out a new corral system.  There used to be five to six corrals, corresponding with letter A-E or A-F.  This year, there were many more, but smaller corrals.  I don't know the exact number of corrals this year, but I was in "I" and started somewhere right in the middle of the pack.  In amazing runDisney style, each corral got their own special send off from the Fairy God Mother, a "ready, set, go" and fireworks!









It was a warm, humid morning. The 90% humidity level could be felt even before the race started. I could see other runner struggling early. This was going to be a tough year. For the first
two miles, it was just Jackie and I.  Heather started several corrals ahead of us.  The plan was for her to get in the first character line and we would catch up to her there.  Jackie and I could see a character stop ahead--but who was it?  It was the Princes--Aladdin, Flynn Ryder, Eric and Hercules. Jackie and I found Heather and the long wait in line started.










The sun was rising as we run under that Magic Kingdom parking entrance sign.  I always love this part of the race--its the half way point to the Magic Kingdom!  It was my turn to sprint to the next character stop.  Next up were the villains--Evil Queen, Cruella Devil and the Queen of Heart!  This is a picture I have always wanted but never would wait in the long line for. The girls caught up to me, but we still had a long wait. Right before it was our turn, the Queen of Hearts left.  Bummer, but it was still an awesome picture.











Right around the corner was the Ticket and Transportation Center.  This is a really fun area to run through because there are always lots of spectators there cheering on the runners. After ticket and transportation, we got a glimpse of the Contemporary Resort.  With the thick, heavy fog we could barley see the top of the resort. Then it was under the water bridge.  Next up--the main event.  Next up was the Magic Kingdom!











Runners entered the Magic Kingdom from a back stage area, right between Tony's and the Confectionery.  The best part of every runDisney event is the second you turn the corner and you see it for the first time--the castle!  It's the most magical part of every runDisney event if you ask me. Running up Main Street USA is one of the most fun parts of the event.  There are hundreds of spectators cheering you on--we are talking parade level number of spectators--all cheering, clapping, holding fun signs.  Disney knows how important getting that perfect castle picture is, so there is always lots of friendly cast members and volunteers there to take your picture.






Magic Kingdom is full of character stops!  We got pictures with Buzz Lightyear and the White Rabbit.  As we got to the castle, there was Minnie and Mickey dressed in their royal wear.  The line for Minnie and Mickey were the longest we had seen all day, so sadly we skipped that picture stop.  The disappointment faded fast though, as it was time to run through the castle!  Well, it was more like walk through the castle....everyone stops for pictures, everyone slows down--to really soak up the experience, take it all in.  We stopped for some castle shots, and then it was on through Frontierland.  We stopped for a quick bathroom break and to get a picture with Woody.






We exited Magic Kingdom through a back stage area.  Princess Aurora was there with her three good fairies and her prince, but we knew we had to keep going to keep time. This is always the toughest part of a Disney race for me.  The race was only half way done, but the best parts were behind us.  It would be a long five miles back to Epcot. To ease the let down, runDisney lets runners vote on a mile seven song.  This year the song was "Let it Go" from Frozen of course. Over the next two miles we got some more fun pictures--Lilo and Stitch, the Genie, and the Disney golf cart. By then the runners around us were starting to panic.  We keep hearing rumors that the sweepers were right behind us.  No big deal--it just meant no more character stops.

With the sweepers on our tale, we got moving.  By this time, we were close to mile 10.  It was time for the toughest part of the race--the mile 10 overpass.  To me, the incline is not the tough part--the tough part to me is that the road way is banked.  Having one foot constantly several inches about the other really hurts my knees.  Along the road were the "green army men" from Toy Story giving drill sergeant like orders to the runners. At the top of the overpass we could see the Epcot ball!  By this time in the race, I was struggling. It was SO hot!  I had an awful blister.  And I was hungry!  But, knowing there was only about two miles to go kept me going.








Finally it was time to enter Epcot.  By this time, we had put a nice distance between us and the sweepers.  We could enjoy the last mile of the race.  Right before mile thirteen was an amazingly awesome gospel choir.  They gave me the inspiration and energy to run the rest of the race hard!  After one more turn, we could
see it--the finish line!  I ran hard and finished strong!  It was time to get my THREE hard earned medals.  First, I got my Princess Half medal.  Next up, I got my Glass Slipper Challenge medal.  Last I got my Coast to Coast medal.  After that, it was time to get to my traditional friends breakfast at the Akkershaus.  It was time for some good food and more pictures with Princesses!






The runDisney Princess Half Marathon will always hold a very special place in my heart.  It was my first half marathon.  I worked so hard to training for it, and I was so proud of myself for actually doing it.  I hope this race is one I keep doing year after year.  Maybe one day I can do the race with my daughter.







A dream is a wish...

--Amy


Thursday, March 6, 2014

Hot Chocolate Race Series Race Entry Giveaway!

As you guys know, I am a blogger for the Hot Chocolate race series!  I am so excited about this! Hot Chocolate races are springing up all over the county.  The basic idea behind the Hot Chocolate race series is for runners to run their choice of either a 5k or a 15k, followed by a crazy fun after party with all things chocolate.  Think hot chocolate, chocolate fondue, and so much more.  Now, that is worth a good run if you ask me!  What is a better combination than running and chocolate?  I can't think of one! 

Hot Chocolate races are also know for having the best goodie bags!  Runners receive a warm hoodie as their goodie bag--in either women or men specific sizes. I will be an ambassador locally for the Philly race on April 6th, but I have a special discount code to share with everyone doing a Hot Chocolate race in the US.  My code is PumpkintoMUG.  This will get you a free travel mug when you use the code at registration.









To celebrate my partnership with the Hot Chocolate race series, I am doing a giveaway!  Up for grabs is a Hot Chocolate Race Series Race Entry!  Follow the entry directions below to enter using the Rafflecopter app.  Good luck!  I hope to see everyone in Philly running for chocolate!  

A dream is a wish...

--Amy


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Inaugural runDisney Enchanted 10k

My Ariel costume!
The morning of the inaugural runDisney Enchanted 10k started like every other runDisney event--early!  Staying at a monorail resort allowed me to sleep in a little, but still--3:30 is early! Taking the monorail torace morning added a of extra magic.  Riding up to the race area and seeing all the people just added to my excitement--this was my first every 10k in Walt Disney World!

Heather, me, Jackie











I got to Epcot and headed toward the start area to find my friends.  Before heading to our separate corrals, we checked out each others costumes, took some pictures, and wished each other luck!  Our master plan was to start in our assigned corrals and meet up in the picture lines.  The goal for this race was to have fun and get lots of pictures.

Queen Elsa! 


The race started out in the Epcot parking lot.  For the first mile we ran toward the Magic Kingdom, away from Epcot.  On top of the first over pass we ran under, there she was--Queen Elsa from Frozen!  She, along with her sister Anna, are the two hottest Disney character rights now. At the first mile marker, runners made a sharp turn around, back toward Epcot.  The first three miles were all highway.  They were kind of boring, but we know Epcot and the Disney Boardwalk area were ahead of us--so we keep going strong.


Right after the 5k mark, we entered Epcot--near the Germany area.  By this time, I was running with my friend Jackie.  Jackie and I ran into our friend Heather in line to see Tiana and the Princess and the Frog characters.  That is the best part of runDisney events--running with friends and getting character pictures!  Once we made it into the park, we saw lots of characters.





Half way through Epcot's World Showcase, we left Epcot for a whirl around the Disney Boardwalk.  The Boardwalk is one of my favorite places in Walt Disney World.  It feels so much like an actual Mid Atlantic Boardwalk, yet is still very Disney.  The Disney Boardwalk is a most idealistic version of the a real Boardwalk, as Main Street USA in the Magic Kingdom is an idealistic version of any main street in America. In line to see baseball Goofy at ESPN Zone, our friend Allison caught up to us. Together, the four of us ran the one mile trial around the Disney Boardwalk, past the Swan and Dolphin hotels, and past Disney's Yacht and Beach Clubs.

We got into our last half mile as we reentered Epcot.  Runners were treated to something very cool there--giant Lumiere and Genie parade floats. They were very neat to see.  After a few more character stops, there was mile six!  Only .2 left to go!  The four of us ran the last .2 miles to finish strong.  Our official race times were nothing to brag about, but running with friends makes a slow time so very worth it.   After crossing the finish line, I collected my beautiful medal and then got it line for my Glass Slipper Challenge bracelet.  After some water and snacks, I headed to Hollywood Studios for a fun filled Disney day, and a ride on Toy Story Mania.








A dream is a wish...

--Amy