4 Things, About 4 Things, About Disney

4 Things, About 4 Things, About Disney

The weekend of February 18-21 was the Princess Half Marathon weekend at Walt Disney World. For the fourth year, I’ve been part of the weekend with Team RMHC — a charity team benefiting the Ronald McDonald House of Central Georgia in Macon. I’ve typically gone down with girl friends who are also running the race, but this year, I took Neil.

That made things a little different, but way fun! Since there were multiple angles to look at on this trip, I’m going to present it in a 4×4 form. Four things, about four things, about Disney. Follow me?

Teamwork

  1. Part of what I love about Princess Half weekend is running (ha) it with Team RMHC. For those who don’t know, The Ronald McDonald House of Central Georgia is an official runDisney charity and gathers a team from across the country to run with them. This year, we were honored to have 120+ team members and raised $100k+.
  2. This was my 4th year running with Team RMHC. I say running like I actually ran this year. No. I walked the 10k this time, though I did “run” across the finish line, simply for the photo! Over those 4 years, I (we — all of you mostly) have raised nearly $11,000 for the Ronald McDonald House in Macon. That’s unbelievable! Thank you!
  3. One of the most fun parts of running with Team RMHC is getting to finally meet all of the runners. I do the communications for the team and get to know the runners via Facebook and email, but it isn’t until we actually meet that we go “AAAHHH!!!” and get excited about putting a name with a face!
  4. I loved being able to introduce Neil to the Ronald McDonald House work I do. I don’t think he truly understood what I meant when I said “I have to work while I’m there” until we got there and greeted people in the Hospitality Suite. Then he got it. And then we did a lot of acting goofy in the hospitality suite! Like this:

Racing

  1. I LOVE racing at Disney. Mostly because it’s not really a race. It’s an event! An event with people (mostly women in this race) of all ages, all races, all sizes, and all skill levels. There are some slow runners/walkers and some are speed demons, but it somehow feels like an even playing field.
  2. Running at Disney is exhausting. There are 3am wake up calls and 5:30am start times and lots of walking and lots of talking and it’s so so exhausting. I wonder if “exhilarating” is a by-product of “exhausting” because at Disney, it sure feels like it.
  3. The Cast Members of the Disney Parks come out in droves to cheer the runners on. This is one of the most fun parts to me, other than seeing the costumes (I don’t ever dress up really). They’re out bright and early, well before the parks open, spreading Disney Magic around with clappers, big Mickey hands, high fives, and great signs!
  4. A Disney finish is a strong finish. Always. No matter how little you’ve trained or how sick from heat stroke you are. You ALWAYS feel filled with Pixie Dust when you’re done. Like this:

Romance

  1. Going to Disney World as an adult, with no children, is something every person needs to do. I’d go so far as to say, if you’re dating someone who hasn’t been to WDW since before Epcot was built, you should definitely do that! Because, hello! That’s so fun!
  2. Selfies around the World in Epcot? Perfect. Somebody (no names mentioned) said he hated it, but secretly loved it. I mean, it’s kinda cool when somebody takes you on a weekend trip around the world, right? Epcot Collage
  3. Magic Kingdom was the same as always: Magical. It was neat doing all the cheesy things there are to do there. You know, like riding the Peoplemover, sitting through the Carousel of Progress, going to the Enchanted Tiki Room, and seeing the compelling and moving Country Bear Jamboree. Really, those cheesy attractions are simply hand-holding avenues at Magic Kingdom. Kinda like the Haunted Mansion is.
  4. You know what’s super sweet and romantic? When your (Ok, fine, I’ll say it out loud) boyfriend who hates to get up early, wakes up and takes a bus to an insane race area and waits for several hours at the finish line of the 10k you’re running. Gold star for Neil, I say. Because it was so so fun to cross the finish line and see him while I was getting my medal! Here’s his capture of me: Finish

Inspiration

I always leave Disney feeling energized and inspired. Exhausted, but also feeling like I’m full of life and excitement! This time I left inspired to do the following:

  1. I want to run again. Not half marathons, but I’d love to be able to bring Henry and have us run the 10k together next year.
  2. I want to feel like I can write again. There’s so much in my head itching to get out, and yet it’s stuck in some other space between my brain and my fingers.
  3. I want to make a difference somewhere. I know I make a difference with Ronald McDonald House and GBS Awareness. But there has to be something else… something new and more that needs what I have to offer.
  4. I need to continue on doing what I’m doing. Living a low-key, barely scheduled, easy-going life. I want to love big and live simply. I want to continue to be me.

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Goals. And Reaching Them.

Goals. And Reaching Them.

It’s not a secret, if you’ve been around here for a bit, that I have a love/hate relationship with running. I had never been a runner until one random morning in June 2012 when I decided, “Hey, I should run.” Yes, just like Forrest Gump.

Short version of the story: I started Couch to 5k and a few days later was talked into signing up for the Princess Half Marathon, which would be run a short 8 months after I got my ass off my couch. It was with the team from the Ronald McDonald House in Macon.

I’ve been a part of the RMHC in Macon since before it even opened its doors to families. Since then, I’ve served as a monthly meal maker, a weekend manager, a weekly shift volunteer, as a member of the Board of Directors, and now as a three-time member of TeamRMHC. While we don’t live in Macon anymore, a piece of our heart is in The House.

You see, when Charlie died, we asked for donations to be made to The House. If I remember right, over $10,000 was donated in his memory… thus, the playroom was named for him.

CFA Playroom

 

So in 2013, as my fundraising goal, I wanted to raise $2500 in honor of Charlie’s 10th Birthday. That year, we raised $5045. I ran hard and finished with my dear friend singing “Jesus Loves Me” in my ear, just like my Aunt sang as Charlie was baptised an hour before his death.

2014 brought the Glass Slipper Challenge. 19.3 miles of insanity. My goal was $2000, because I couldn’t imagine people would donate like they did the year before. We hit $2567 last year. I was floored. And honored.

This year, being the competitive person I am (with myself), I decided that if we could raise $7612, why couldn’t we make it an even $10,000? I mean, can’t hurt to try, right?

So with all of you behind me, I laced up and trained. And I asked you to donate. And once again, you came through. So many of you. Some with $5, some with more… all with love in your hearts.

This morning, I was in Waffle House with the family and got an email ding. It was a donation for $70. I knew my math. I knew that was the amount I needed. Shaking, I went to my page and saw this:

10k

In my head, the reporter asked me, “You’ve reached your goal… what are you going to do now?”

To which I answered emphatically, “I’M GOING TO DISNEY WORLD!”

We did it, y’all! We did it! 

Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU! 

Goodbye 2014, Hello 2015

Goodbye 2014, Hello 2015

Oh, 2014. You’ve been good and you’ve been bad. As far as I’m concerned, you can go ahead and get on out of here…

Last year, I chose Intuition to be my word of the year. I’ve worked very hard to trust my intuition this year. It isn’t always easy, and sometimes it’s downright impossible, but when I’ve listened? It’s never led me astray.

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2014 was a busy year, and unfortunately I didn’t share a lot of what we did in posts. But here are some of my favorite moments from the year.

January: I cut off all my hair and the entire metro Atlanta area shut down from #snOMG14. Auburn went to the National Championship and lost, Henry won a trophy in the Pinewood Derby and Henry and I ran the Hot Chocolate 5k.

january2014

February: Henry was asked to be in the Austin Chorus that would perform at the local high school. It snowed again. This time, like 6″. We had an amazing time playing in it for days and drinking iced snoffee! I started and completed the hardest weekend of my life, running 19.3 miles over the course of two days. It was stupid and amazing!

february2014

March: March was super busy with Listen To Your Mother stuff. We held auditions and planned, plotted, and schemed. I spent a full week traveling the Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi area with my boss and coworker. I got to ride in the backseat of the truck the whole week and needed serious pain meds when it was all over!

march2014

April: In April, my dad tried to catch himself on fire by blowing up his lawnmower. He’s fine… now we just laugh. Henry spent several days camping with his grandmother and her friend at Stone Mountain. The girls I grew up with from the time we were born all spent a day together. We always have such a great time! Listen To Your Mother: Atlanta happened. It was magical!

april2014

May: May saw the end of third grade for Henry. Mom 2.0 was in Atlanta and I was fortunate to have been asked to be on the social media team. It was an amazing conference and I just l.o.v.e being able to see my friends… especially in “my” city! We marked Charlie’s 11th birthday without pomp and circumstance.

may2014

June: In June, I left my job at the wholesale nursery to do social media management full (part) time. Jason and I took Henry to New Orleans for the 70th Anniversary of D Day. We spent the full day at the National WW2 Museum, which I highly recommend to anyone and everyone. On this trip, after probably 6 years of being friends online, I finally got to give Leah a big hug in person!!

june2014

July: July was busy. We moved into a new house where we have a small pond behind us. Henry and his friend had a lemonade stand. He also participated in the GIANT Dunwoody 4th of July parade and went to Camp Winnataska for the 3rd year. I posted my 700th blog post on this here site.

july2014

August: In August, Henry and his first girlfriend Daria were able to get together. Our families went bowling and they were absolutely mortified to have to take a picture together (though later, I saw them playing a game standing about 1cm apart). Henry started 4th grade and I landed myself in the ER with a crazy reaction to a sulfa drug. Fun times, y’all! I also shared a recipe for the Georgia Cash Crop Cobbler. It’s seriously delicious.

august2014

September: In September, Jason and I dressed up and went out. It was to a wedding where we knew only the bride, but it was out. And fancy. Henry’s hair got to epic lengths and he looked like a teenager in his school pictures. Type A Conference was in Atlanta and I spent a few nights down in Buckhead with dear dear friends, old and new.

september2014

October: In October, I went to a few Auburn football games, hanging out with Kim and my #BelieveBitches crew! We went to the fair down in Perry, as usual, and celebrated Halloween with the Hollidays for the 5th year.

october2014

November: November marked Henry’s TENTH birthday. Double digits. He had a Game Truck birthday party, which was amazing! I highly recommend having someone bring a game truck to your driveway. You can drink while they play games and entertain your child! The Cub Scout Den went zip lining. What a blast! Henry was a narrator in his class’s patriotic program. If you want, I can have him recite his part in his Arnold Schwarzenegger impersonation. My friends got together for an unofficial 20th class reunion. There was much drinking and much Cards Against Humanity going on. 

november2014part1

We spent Thanksgiving Week in New York City.

This was by far the highlight of our year. Henry and I got to hang out with my dear friend Neil for two days while Jason worked in Long Island, and then we spent the next 5 days as a family doing amazing things, like the Intrepid Museum and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade! Yes, I’m going to recap the trip after the new year because there is SO much more!

november2014part2

December: In December, I turned 39. Yes, I’m staring down 40. We celebrated my birthday and our friend’s 50th with all you can eat catfish! We celebrated the holidays with Jason’s side of the family at the annual Anthoine Christmas Party, and of course, took goofy pictures of ourselves with our Christmas tree! Christmas was wonderful as usual, with my parents coming over for Christmas day lunch and then going to Jason’s mom’s for the weekend.

december2014

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2015 is now upon us.

I think I speak for a lot of people when I say I hope 2015 is better than 2014. Not that it was horrible for my family or myself exactly, but there’s always room for improvement. I’ll be spending the next few days thinking about what I want in 2015 and I’m sure you’re going to do the same.

My big hope for everyone is that we can all find happiness and peace.

Cheers!

 

The Dumbest, Most Amazing Thing I’ve Ever Done #GlassSlipperChallenge

The Dumbest, Most Amazing Thing I’ve Ever Done #GlassSlipperChallenge

There. I said it. Running the Glass Slipper Challenge was the dumbest thing I’ve ever done.

Yet it was also one of the most amazing.

Twenty-ish months ago, when I decided  to lace up some running shoes and give the whole running thing a shot, I had no clue I would end up running three half marathons in one calendar year. I certainly didn’t think I would be insane enough to sign up for a 10k and a half marathon in ONE WEEKEND. That much I can promise you.

Yet I did.

And (spoiler alert for those who live under a rock) I did it.

Last month, I wrote a quick post about leaving it all on the table and coming back from a race with a new sense of purpose. I can honestly say, having run 19.3 miles (and walked dozens of others) over the course of two days, I left it all on the table and I’m just thrilled to have come back from the race (with or without a new sense of purpose).

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The whole Princess Half weekend was amazing. I drove down alone. It was a great 6 hours in the car by myself. And when I joined up with the RMH van around Lake City and followed it all the way to Disney, I knew the weekend would be great.

RMH Van

Friday morning I went to Magic Kingdom with Kadye.

jana at magic kingdom

 

We rode a handful of rides, including Big Thunder Mountain — MY VERY FIRST TIME!

thundermountain

I spent one night by myself before my friend Melissa joined me on Friday. Our boys have been friends since kindergarten and we’ve really become friends in the last year or so. This was her first half marathon and she was a wee bit nervous. I can’t blame her. Even having run two others, I was nervous, too! After a few hours at the Magic Kingdom with Kadye, I met her and we hooked up with Amy at the Expo.

expo

With my Inaugural Glass Slipper Challenge number in hand and her very first Half Marathon number in hand, we made our way through all the vendors and sponsors with Amy. Afterwards, Melissa and I hit Downtown Disney for an early dinner before hitting the bed for a VERY early wake up call!

That night before bed, though, the most amazing thing happened… The competitive me was proud! I passed the $2500 mark for the Ronald McDonald House!

Screen Shot 2014-03-02 at 12.57.00 PMI had told Melissa if she was up to a 3am wake up call, she would really enjoy seeing the 10k corrals and start and finish. Last year, we watched the 5k and it helped alleviate nerves about the next morning AND created HUGE excitement seeing people of all ages, sizes, and running abilities cross that finish line.

I met up with Claudia and Angela in the corral. It seemed like there were 5000 people in the corrals and that they took forever to get to the start. But finally it started.

It was a great race… going through the World Showcase at Epcot, around the Boardwalk, and then back through Epcot to the finish. My goal for that race, knowing I would have to run another 13.1 miles the next day, was 1:45.

I finished it in 1:47:17. And that was with an 8-10 minute wait in line for the bathroom.

enchanted10k

Part 1 of the Glass Slipper Challenge: DONE.

After the race, Melissa and I headed over to the McDonalds for the Team RMHC brunch. Little did I know it would be one of the best photo opps of the weekend!

RonaldShoes

The afternoon was spent at Epcot with Amy. We rode rides, hydrated, rode more rides, hydrated, hit every bathroom we passed… we got into the special Disney Visa cardholder spot and got super special lovin’ from Mickey and Goofy. We carbed up at Via Napoli in Italy for dinner. I loved spending time with her and getting to know her better. She’s hardly selfish at all (as her blog title insinuates she is)!

epcotwithamy

 

After an early bedtime and even EARLIER wake up call, it was time to rock the half marathon.

Melissa and I got dressed, had some bagels and yogurt and whatnot, and headed to meet the Team RMHC crew at the lobby. We got the bus with about 100 other dazed and confused and very excited princesses-to-be.

I had told Melissa I would start in her corral and run with her. My friend Amy ran with me last year and it made all the difference in the world when I wanted to quit or when I felt overwhelmed or when I was just bored. We hit the potties, made our way to the corrals, and waited. Finally around 6, it was time for us to go.

princess1

It’s a tough race in that most of the time, unless you start in a smaller, earlier corral, you can’t just RUN. There’s a lot of jogging and walking and what feels like running in place simply because of the number of people. There are around 30,000 who run this race. To say it gets congested is an understatement.

But we ran.

We ran down Main Street, USA in the fog. We ran through Tomorrowland, Fantasyland, Frontierland, and then out of the park.

castle

This was where I hit my wall. After 6.2 miles on Saturday, around mile 7, I realized what a stupid idea this was. I was in pain, it was hot (about 70), it was unbearably humid (like running through thunderstorm clouds but without actual rain), my feet didn’t want to work any longer, I could feel a blister forming under my toes, and did I mention it was hot as hell?

But there was a glorious INAUGURAL medal waiting for me. One that only a few (hundred, okay, maybe a few thousand) people were getting. I mean, my name was on a board and everything. I had to keep on.

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But there were so many miles left.

I kept checking on Melissa, trying to think about HER and not ME. I was getting texts saying “great job” and all that. But goodness knows, it wasn’t fun. I left the fun in the Magic Kingdom.

Now it was just tedious.

Mile 8. Mile 9. Mile 10.

Mile 11. Mile 12.

Only ONE MORE MILE (plus .1). We’ve got this. We were light years ahead of the feared “balloon ladies” and I was even able to help another runner settle down who was panicked about them coming after her. There were thousands of people behind us.

The finish line couldn’t come soon enough.

But in the blink of an eye (kidding – it took forEVER), there it was.

finish

WE DID IT!

(Official time: 3:38:38)

Melissa finished her first half marathon!

And I finished the dumbest, most amazing thing I’ve ever done — the Glass Slipper Challenge.

GSC Finish

On Goal-Setting and A New Sense of Purpose

Last week, I was chatting with a friend. Our quick chats are usually pretty random, but that’s what makes them fun. Sometimes they take a serious turn and wisdom explodes from one of our brains. He was talking about doing something that would leave him, hopefully, refreshed and renewed and with a new sense of purpose. He called it a challenge and said that to him it was going to be like his version of running a half marathon and he wanted to see if he could actually do it.

It really made me think about how running a half marathon effects me.

I’ve always been a list-maker instead of a goal-maker. Being in the moment and doing “today” seems easier to me than looking towards the future with a big giant goal. Having small items to check off and not have lingering over me have truly been the backbone of my existence. Some may even say I fear failure because of not wanting to set long-term goals. Valid thought.

When I set the (seemingly) lofty goal to run a 5k, I thought surely I would never make it. Why? Because it wasn’t something I could put on a list and mark off after a single day or a single chore.

And then I signed up for a half. I swore it was my only one, but everybody else swore it was my “first.” After I finished, I realized what I loved about the goal-setting and goal-completing.

It wasn’t before or during. It wasn’t even the crossing of the finish line.

It was the BIG, GIANT, SWOOPING, CEREMONIAL marking off of the goal on the proverbial to-do list.

The feelings afterwards, after marking the goal off the list are strange. The feelings of elation and accomplishment are quickly followed by a sadness of sorts. Maybe it’s a desperation to quickly fill that marked-out space on the list with something else.

The empty hole that’s left is from my own doing. Running a long race causes your body to push further than it normally should. Even being a “slow runner” I leave it all on the table. Ten steps across the finish and I realize that I’ve left every emotion, every ounce of energy, every bit of mental distress, and every bit of me on the course. Physically, mentally, emotionally, I’m done. Spent. Empty.

After a few days, that emptiness fills again with new hope and new goals and new dreams for “what’s next.” I’m a new person – refreshed, renewed, and with a new sense of purpose.

Here’s to leaving it all on the two race courses next weekend and coming back ready to take on the world and set a new goal for myself.

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