Happy Saturday! (I mean, Friday?)

As an animal training intern, my weekends are anything but structured. Every rotation (period of time) of my internship, my weekends change. So hello Friday/Saturday weekends! I really can’t complain though. My first weekends were Wednesday/Thursday my first weeks here!

After a bit of tossing and turning last night (sleep has been a bit lacking lately…), I woke up at a decent 8:30am feeling anything but rejuvenated. I needed some breakfast stat! I had no real groceries this morning. With my crazy appetite from working outside long hours they go by super quick! I threw on my sandals and rushed to the grocery store across the street. I ended up getting a decent amount and came back home to make breakfast.

I should mention that I’m really trying to adjust my eating habits to be healthier. I don’t mean healthy foods, I just mean a healthier style of eating! I used to think counting calories was the way to go, and that was the only way to have a healthy appearance and lifestyle. But I’m starting to think NOPE. All it does is create stress before I implode and eat a whole box of cereal, and possibly a bag of chocolate. So I’m trying this whole, “eating consciously” thing? We’ll see how this goes.

I should also mention, that I’ve started training for my next big race 🙂 I’ve decided to register for the Baltimore Marathon on October 18th!

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Ahhh!!!! I actually love the structure training gives me. But after being off for a while, the hardest thing has been sticking to a plan honestly. But I haven’t fallen off the wagon yet. I’m super excited for this race, especially since being away from home. Since leaving I’ve gotten a bit more Maryland spirited (go figure), and I realize there’s no place like it. It will be nice to look forward to an event that takes place near home.

Anyways…breakfast! So I have a certified cereal problem. I think it’s super satisfying, but I always eat too much. I find that after a bowl with standard almond milk, I crave more, then can literally eat an entire box. So I decided to try something a little different. I decided to have a cereal bowl with yogurt (instead of milk), then pack it with fruit to make sure it filled me up without over-indulging! After finishing up, I think it worked 🙂

I packed a bowl full with 1 cup Kashi Heart to Heart Honey Toasted Oat Cereal, about 1/3 cup of Plain Non-Fat Yogurt, 1/2 Sliced Banana, 1 Packet Truvia, and a pinch of cinnamon.

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After spending some of my morning watching DWTS episodes (don’t ask me how this happened) and Sex and the City, I got a little hungry around 11am. I snacked on a Snackwells 100 Calorie Pack of Chocolate Chip Cookies. Not the most inventive or necessarily healthy option, but it does the trick 🙂

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I like to spend my weekends reading on the beach or swimming, but this San Diego mid-60’s overcast has gotten pretty chilly! Coming from Maryland where it’s been snowing non-stop, this would annoy about every person from back home that I consider this “cold” 🙂 But I guess I’m just meant for warm weather. But I’m perfectly happy having a relaxing afternoon bumming around the apartment!

Around noon it was lunchtime! I’ll admit I overestimated my hunger a bit…

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I did manage to eat it all (minus the apple). I made a wheat bread toasted PB&J, cup and a half of grapes, apple I never ate, and a smoothie! For the smoothie I blended a simple banana, cup of strawberries, 1/3 cup non-fat plain yogurt, cup of unsweetened almond milk, and a packet of Truvia. It always makes more than a full glass, but a good smoothie is something I almost always finish 🙂 Sidenote: The apple was sitting next to me, so I naturally ate it an hour later.

Some time after lunch I got a package from my Mom. I opened it to find the Kati Tea Brewing System Tea Forte and a pack of the Loose Tea Trios! I’ve never tried Kati anything before, but I love my green tea. So this was perfect. Thanks Mom 🙂

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The rest of the day I managed to go on a Subway run for dinner (my ultimate addiction) and may have had another smoothie and some grapes, which cut my appetite short for the day. Did I mention I have an unhealthy habit of eating too much at once, and spoiling my dinner plans ?

Today was a rest day, so tomorrow’s goal is to get at least a SHORT run in. My job completely tires me out, but I need to get more responsible about my running schedule. I just need to trust that my body will adapt and can handle it! Here’s to a relaxing and happy Friday 🙂

A Blogger Hiatus

As it turns out, I entered the blogging scene only to ditch it for the last two months. Whoopsie! I promise there’s a good reason!

As some have previously read, I left my home state of Maryland after graduating in mid-January to move here to sunny Southern California in San Diego for a marine mammal training internship. It’s been the hardest, but most rewarding time of my life. I’ve met wonderful people, seen beautiful places, and then there’s the whole *I get to spend everyday with dolphins and sea lions* thing. There’s no denying that being an intern in the animal training field is hard work, but the benefits really outweigh it all.

The reason for my time away is just sheer exhaustion. For the first couple months of the internship, I’ve been in a coma of a constant work-eat-sleep routine. But now, I’ve definitely adapted to this new busy lifestyle, and I’m ready to get back to normal!

While on my little break from blogging, I’ve done a few pretty sweet things with my time.

I’ve woken up to this view every morning (on days I’m not out the door at 5:30am)…

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I’ve come to love my daily running path through Ocean Beach

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I’ve hiked through Torrey Pines and Mount Woodson

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Some beautiful sunsets and beach bonfires…

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Got SCUBA certified…

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And I’ve made some pretty cool friends along the way…

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I might be slightly drawn to animals 🙂

Disclaimer: I am not a trainer at SeaWorld. This was a Beluga Interaction Program. But I would love to work with them in the future 🙂

So now that you guys are up to speed, I can get back in this blogging habit! Feels good to be back.

First Marathon Race Photos

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All I can say is…LOL.

I’m also trying to decide which one is the least embarrassing to put on my dresser. Yes, they aren’t the best, but it’s my first marathon, so I’ll be damned if I don’t get at least one! (race photos are so overpriced though GOD).

There were a few pre-race ones…

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Then they started snapping away once we entered Magic Kingdom

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I really wanted the castle one to turn out good! But at that moment I forgot all about it. Ended up with me shoving my phone into my belt. SoOoOoOoOo picturesque!

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They took some more as we went past Expedition Everest in Animal Kingdom…

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I was going slower, but I still felt good here. After this park was the halfway mark. Then it went mostly downhill…

All I can do is laugh at this picture…

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I was so unpleasant here! Ironically, this was where they took the most pictures it seemed. Along this particular track they were just snapping away around Miles 19-20, which was where most of my pain flared up. I mean really, my face says it all Smile

There weren’t too many photographers till the one where you line up after the finish line to get a medal shot! I was definitely happy in this one, but I took plenty of post-race pictures.

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I’m a little sad I don’t see any finish line pictures up yet, but maybe it’s still in the process of going up? Let’s hope. I probably did some crazy weird arm-waving motion though, so I’m not sure how much I actually want to see it. Hopefully more pictures go up, because the one’s I didn’t post here are worse. MUCH WORSE Smile

But that’s the charm of race photos, riiiight?!

Disney Day Four: Magic Kingdom

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The last days at Disney are always a little bittersweet, since it means the vacation is sadly almost over. But my family usually leaves Magic Kingdom for the end, to soak up as much Disney-ness as possible!

Warning: I absolutely love Magic Kingdom. So this post will be a bit lengthy Smile

We woke up at a reasonable 9AM and headed on over.

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It was a tad cloudy and set to rain, but the day ended up being perfect. No showers, just some light drizzles here and there. I always love the beautiful horses out front Smile Makes me miss my riding days…

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First we went on Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin

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Then Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor…(which I was happily surprised to see it was worth the wait!)

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After getting kicked off of Space Mountain due to “technical difficulties”, it was time for some much needed lunch. I swear when I recap Disney trips there always seems to be mostly food involved, but they really have some of the greatest! We decided on The Pinocchio Village Haus since we liked the flatbread options…

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The Caprese Flatbread was amazing. Light and toasty while still filling. Now, knowing my eating the habits over the past few days…you KNOW this isn’t all we ordered Winking smile

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I had to indulge in some Chicken Breast Nuggets with Fries. What can I say? My body felt like indulging on fried everything after the marathon? I enjoyed every last bite (may have had a little help from the family members).

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The meal was topped off with some Chocolate Gelato. Surprisingly, it was pretty damn good. We found out it was from a local supplier, which is why it tasted less “processed”. I wish I had a case of them at home!

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Next I marveled at the new Tangled movie set-up they had down one of the streets. It wasn’t there on my last Disney trip a year ago, so I happily roamed around since it’s one of my favorite Disney movies Smile

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They even had the tower!

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This day we had to use up a lot of leftover snacks on our Meal Plan, so we indulged a while later on an Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Cookie Sandwich from the shop on Main Street.

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So so so so so so GOOD! I could hardly eat a fourth of it, but we shared it. It was huge.

Next up was Enchanted Tales with Belle. This attraction ended up being the most waited for in all of Magic Kingdom! I really had no idea why, but it was very very interactive. And everyone got a meet and greet with Belle at the end. My inner child had a blast.

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We then went to Journey of the Little Mermaid. Definitely a kind of quick (maybe slightly cheesy) run through of scenes from the movie…but at Disney you really have to embrace the “cheese”.

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Then a quick meet-up with Gaston at his Tavern. At first I kind of didn’t understand all the hype with meeting the characters. I mean, they’re just people dressed up, right? But what most don’t understand is the actors are really REALLY good at playing these characters. I was convinced I was really talking to Gaston after a few comments such as…

“I love those Mickey ears! They’re like little miniature mirrors!”

“ What’s taking those people so long? They must be women.”

“Women can read?”

“There’s only one thing between Gaston and perfection. An equal sign”.

Pretty much every one-liner was quotable. With me we casually spent a few minutes discussing hair regimens and how his hair is a complicated regimen that no woman can match. What A Man. Amirite?

P.S. It was actually really hilarious to see how many girls were swooning over his “charm”. And I don’t mean younger girls either. He makes it a point to heavily flirt with every woman he meets. Just a warning to all you ladies Smile

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Dinner was quickly approaching, so we took one last stroll through the castle.

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The mosaics are SO BEAUTIFUL!

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Once again, we had another snack left to pick up. I couldn’t eat anymore! So I got this Chocolate Rice Krispy M&Ms Mickey from the shop for later…(ended up eating it on the car ride home from the airport the next day!)

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Very soon, it was time for our reservation at the Be Our Guest Restaurant! I was loving all the new Beauty and the Beast attractions in Fantasyland over the past couple years, since it’s definitely my favorite princess movie Smile I just think the story’s the most classic and beautiful.

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When our names got called, they gave us a candle prop to carry through the castle to our table. Look familiar?

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When we sat down I thought the rose presentation of the napkins was adorable…

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Turns our there were roses absolutely everywhere! Call me slow… but I was just sensing the theme here.

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For my entrée I ended up getting the Thyme-Scented Pork Rack Chop with Au Gratin Macaroni, Seasonal Vegetables and a Red Wine Sauce. It was SO MUCH FOOD! I barely could eat the pork, since before this picture was taken I already attacked the Macaroni Smile But I would recommend this dish in a heartbeat.

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For dessert, I was most intrigued by the highly recommended “Grey Stuff”. This is a huge play off the movie, if you remember the line from Be Our Guest.

“Try the Grey Stuff, it’s delicious!”

It was, in fact, delicious! I quickly devoured it and would order it again for my next time. Often, I always like getting the “theme-y” dishes, because they’re the most fun to me, but often they end up lacking the taste. This had both! The taste was light, chocolate-y, and refreshing.

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We took one last walk around to tour the rooms. We ate in the Music Box Room. It was filled with paintings and tapestries of the film, centered around a Music Box with Beast and Belle on top. It was beautiful…but I was a bit partial to the other rooms Smile

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There’s the unmistakable ballroom, perfectly depicted from the film…if you look closely you can see that it’s snowing outside the large windows!

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And the West Wing room with the rose dropping it’s petals. After the petals drop you can even see the pictures around the room change from the Prince to the Beast! This room was probably my favorite.

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And I particularly loved the mosaic from the end of movie as you exit the restaurant.

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We ended up leaving dinner just in time for some fireworks after! A day at Magic Kingdom isn’t complete without it Smile

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After the show, we quickly piled on the bus back to our resort hotel. I didn’t have any trouble falling right asleep when my head hit the pillow. I was EXHAUSTED. But you know you did Disney right when you leave feeling tired Smile All that walking can really get to you. Not to mention when you run a marathon between those days!

The family’s thinking our next Disney trip won’t be for a couple more years together, but I’m really interested in that Dopey Challenge. Four races in four days? 48.6 Miles?! 6 Medals?!

I’M IN!!!

Until next time Disney!

Disney Day Three: Epcot

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So after the marathon I pretty much went into a sleepy coma for the next couple days. That along with non-stop Disney adventuring left me a little behind in blogging. So I have a lot to catch up on! The night of the marathon, we ended up celebrating at Downtown Disney at a wonderful Cuban restaurant called Bongos. For anyone wondering, Cuban food is my absolute FAVORITE!

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It might not look that appetizing to all my veggie friends out there, but my body was craving meaty protein all day long!

And here, I look like a twelve year old who just ran a marathon. But a proud twelve year old! (At least when I’m 40 I’ll look 30 type of deal? Maybe?!)

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It was a bit funny to watch us waddle around Downtown Disney over the evening. Smile To be honest though, I had no severe pain! For any who read about my Rehoboth Beach Half disaster a little over a month ago, this was nothing! Under the circumstances I felt great.

Not too long after dinner we called it quits and headed back to our resort bus. But I had to take a picture of this wonderful display! Isn’t it the greatest?! If you haven’t seen the movie yet (as I’ve mentioned a bazillion times) DO IT NOW. Even if you’re the manliest of men, I guarantee you’ll like it Smile

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We spent the day after the marathon in Epcot! I was still reveling in my post-marathon high, and it seemed that the rest of the runners were as well. There were runner’s sporting their medals and it was a wonderful experience to be surrounded by fellow runners EVERYWHERE. I know they say Disney’s the “happiest place on Earth” but throw runner’s into that mix and it’s straight up MAGICAL. I was surprised to see how many Dopey Challenge finishers were there! So impressive!

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Oh, and on the way out of our room that morning, the gardener left a cute little display on the bridge while he was working! He was happily waving and pointing, so I thought he was crazy. But then I saw this and thought it was adorable. DSC_0743

We got a late start that morning, so we had lunch almost immediately. I ended up having Rotisserie Chicken (again…) and a piece of chocolate cake. That’s the thing about Disney meals, you get a dessert with basically EVERY meal! I mean…I’m not complaining, but good god.

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We then stopped by Norway and saw a couple of my new favorite characters….Smile DSC_0778

And found a few more hidden Mickey’s in Germany….see it?!DSC_0785

While in Germany I chowed down on Marshmallows covered in Chocolate and Caramel. Amazing!

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And I got my first ever Mickey hat Smile Have I mentioned I love Germany lately?

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And I saw more long lost friends…

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Such support everywhere from non-runners! I swear I heard congrats all day long. It was really heart-warming.

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Even Minnie got into the running spirit!

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To end the day we had dinner in Canada at the French-Canadian restaurant Le Cellier.

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We indulged in some bread…

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Filet Mignon with Mushroom Risotto (my new favorite dish!)…

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And a Maple Crème Brulee with Raspberries…delicious!

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After this we called it quits for the day. Our legs were sore from walking all day, and it was time to turn in for the night. But I love how beautiful Epcot looks when the sun goes down.

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Whew! That was a long post for today. I’ll have to post about Magic Kingdom tomorrow SmileTomorrow I’ll be simultaneously blogging and packing because I move to San Diego on Saturday morning!!! It’s still not hitting me it’s that time, but it will once I start gathering up my stuff tomorrow to leave cold Maryland for sunny California. Goodnight Bloggers!

My First Marathon.

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Spoiler Alert: I Did It!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Whew! Glad I got that out of the way. So I ended up literally crashing all day after the race yesterday. Who knew a marathon could be so tiring?! (sarcasm intended). But I’m awake now, and am so excited to relive the day. To be honest, the marathon ended up being a bit of a blur, but I’ll try and remember as much as possible Smile

We woke up bright eyed and bushy tailed at 3:00am. As usual, I got no sleep the night before due to pre-race jitters. But I woke up feeling energized regardless. I was ready to get this race done with. Not that I wasn’t looking forward to it! I just didn’t know what to expect with my recent injury, and lack of running over the past month. The ladies of the family took one quick picture before loading onto the buses to the pre-race site!

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I forgot to pack a pre-race breakfast, so decided on a croissant. It ended up being the perfect solution. I usually have French Toast with egg whites, but this was a good substitute.

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It was around a 10 min bus ride to the drop off where we would take the walk to the pre-race get together. As we were walking by, there were already words of encouragement from cast members. One man said, “It’s like a walk in the park…or four parks!”.

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The pre-race party was packed full of regular or (hopefully!) future marathoners, with music blaring and people dancing. It immediately got me excited to just do this thing. And this is definitely the most fun race as far as dressing up. I didn’t this time, since 1) I didn’t think I was doing the race, and 2) I wasn’t sure if it was a good idea to have clothes that might bother me for my first 26.2. But people really got into it! I would say at least half of the runners were in costume. I think the one that impressed me the most was Lumiere from Beauty and the Beast. The guy had light up candles in his hands, his whole body was covered in gold costume. I also saw Snow White and her seven dwarves! Talk about a running team.

We headed to the corals, and around 5:30am the race officially started!

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We ended up having to wait a little over an hour for our corral. And it was actually freezing that morning! I just wanted to move my legs at that point. But before I knew it, it was our turn. We were off!!!

During Mile 1, I was a ball of anxiety. I kept calm, but I just waited for my knee to give out as I started a light run. To my surprise, it didn’t happen. In fact, I felt GREAT! Such a relief. It was only the first mile, so I wasn’t getting too excited yet, but I picked up the pace and said goodbye to my Mom and Sister. I knew they wanted to take it REALLY easy throughout the race, which actually hurts my knees, so I trekked on from there solo.

I still felt good, and around Mile 5 we approached our first park with this beauty coming up!

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While writing this I actually just realized you can see my Dad cheering me on as I was running up! He’s the one to the left in the orange with the sign. I was soaking up the moment, so I really didn’t hear/see him till I was almost all the way by! Thanks Dad!

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Running through the Cinderella Castle was a “magical” experience, no pun intended. It’s something that not everyone gets to do, and it’s a pretty great moment. Being in the middle with just runners sharing the moment around you was special. I totally forgot the photographers take the token Disney Marathon picture at that point as you’re coming out of the castle. I’m pretty sure my cell phone was up taking a video…or something unappealing. Meh. We’ll see.

We circled through Magic Kingdom, then out onto a back road.

Here’s what they don’t mention about the Disney Marathon. Most of the time, you’re on random back roads. This ended up being a mental game during Miles 7-12. I was actually still feeling good at this point with a solid run, but after being in an exciting park atmosphere, it felt LONG. They had some character stops to take pictures along the way, but there were always lines, and I didn’t want to waste any time stopping at that point.

Soon (thank god.) we started approaching the second park of the marathon, Animal Kingdom! Around Mile 12 we approached the back entry, where a line of animals were waiting for us Smile You know I was excited! I stopped to pet a donkey, sheep, and owl. I wasn’t planning on it….but ANIMALS.

Then I made another stop I didn’t plan. We ran by my favorite roller coaster (I say this about all my roller coasters) Expedition Everest! I was confused about what was going on, then quickly realized they were letting marathoners on through the Fast Pass lane! I quickly zoomed back and hopped on the ride. There was no way I was letting this opportunity slip by.

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I was happy to see the amount of runners who wanted in on this. I mean, riding a roller coaster in the middle of my first marathon? Sounded like a great experience to me! How many people can say that?!

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It was seriously perfect. I felt energized and relaxed when I was done. So I went again! Turns out this shaved about half an hour off my time. May have been overkill, but I figured I had plenty of time. Which I did, but I wasn’t estimating how my body would feel the second half of the marathon. Turns out it wasn’t as great as the first half.

After about Mile 14, I started to feel fatigued. I ate and hydrated, then felt better. But then, my knee started flaring up. Ugh. I really thought I got lucky, so I wouldn’t have any problems during the race! But I know, beggars can’t be choosers, and I had already gotten lucky by running a half-marathon with no problems. So I negotiated with it, and started a walk/run. I promised myself if I had ANY knee problems whatsoever, I would incorporate walking right away. I didn’t want to risk another further injury.

Between Miles 14-16 it worked well. I started doing 4 minute runs with 2 minute walk intervals. But eventually, the runs became slower, then became non-existent. I started to feel my knee more and more, and knew at that point running would just make it worse. At first I got pretty frustrated, but then I had a moment of clarity. I realized that, I had enough time where I could literally crawl, and still finish on time. So no matter what, I was about to become a marathoner. That’s pretty damn awesome, so I wasn’t about to pout over a bummed knee. From Mile 16 on I kept this positive attitude and walked every step as best I could. (I probably looked miserable though, because *ouch*).

We eventually reached Mile 20, which seemed like it took forever to get to! Time goes by so much slower walking. But I particularly loved the Mile 20 sign Smile Frozen’s been my favorite thing lately.

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At this point, my knee was just done. Every step hurt, and moving in general was hard. But I still knew I would finish. Giving up just wasn’t an option. My walk started to get slower and slower, but at this point I didn’t care. I just wanted to finish. I ended up meeting a woman with a torn ACL who was also planning on skipping this marathon due to her injury. We talked about how we last minute decided to stick the marathon out, and gave each other props for still going through with it! Thank you random stranger for the last push at the end!

The last two parks come right at the end. Again, most of the race is back roads. Around Mile 23-24 you enter Hollywood Studios then down the Boardwalk to enter Epcot around the countries. The last shot of the race is running down the countries towards the Epcot ball through to the end. Right when we entered Epcot, I got this huge burst of adrenaline and began to haul it to the end. Eventually, I then saw the sign.

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Almost there!!! At Mile 26 they also have a large hallelujah chorus singing which was AMAZING. Only .2 miles left to go. At this point I didn’t care. I sprinted to the end. It was seriously like the pain left my body. The end was so close, and I just wanted to get there. As I saw the finish line, I wanted to simultaneously laugh and cry. Such a mixture of emotions. There were people around me clearly in the same state.

Eventually, I crossed the finish line! And I found myself still running after. Kinda embarrassing. I think I was so delirious by this point I didn’t realize I already finished. This actually still makes me laugh. I ran to the lovely volunteers handing out blankets, and skipped on over the the nice lady handing out the medals. That’s when it hit me….I WAS A MARATHONER. What?! How could the girl who couldn’t run a mile a year ago finish a marathon? It might not have been all I was capable of for this marathon, but I gave everything I had that day, and that was enough. Nothing else mattered. I did what I promised myself one year ago, and that will stick with me for life Smile

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I look tired, no? I ended up crossing the finish line in 6:28:22. This is crazy to me, since my recorded 20 Mile time is about 4:40. Just shows how much I slowed down in those last 6.2 miles? It’s a good thing I didn’t stop for pictures or go on a few more roller coaster rides (which I was highly considering!). I honestly thought I’d have that time way beat. But I’m just happy I finished under the circumstances. I knew this race would be just for “fun” anyways, and not for time, so I wouldn’t take it as seriously. I did find out though that Disney isn’t a race to PR or set pace goals. The race was heavily congested with runners the entire way, and there were plenty of times when myself and others would be incapable of running due to crowds and narrow streets. I heard it affects time, but I didn’t realize how much till that day. Like I’m pretty sure my 5K time ended up being around 40 min (crazy!) because the beginning was so packed?  Just to keep in mind for future Disney races!

There’s no denying that I was in a great amount of pain after (and still!). I was a little worried the experience of a “not to great” race would damper my running spirits and push me away. I’m happy to say I have never been more excited to start running again in this New Year. And I’m happy to say I came out of this marathon with my ultimate goal completed: coming out with no further injury!

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I can now officially say, I really appreciate all of you who have taken the time to follow me on this bumpy journey. I couldn’t have held my spirits high without you, or have the courage to make the decision to stick out this marathon, or maybe even running in general. You guys are the best!

Especially my Dad who cheered us on all day!

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For this year I plan on recovering as quickly as possible, then starting from square one. Year one of running was all about accomplishing running goals and experiences. Year two will be about making myself a better runner, training properly, and learning from all my mistakes I made my first year. I’ve never been more excited for a new journey, and am looking forward to what this year will bring me Smile

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Disney Day Two: Animal Kingdom & Marathon Prep

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For tonight, I’ll keep this post somewhat short and sweet (unlike yesterdays Smile ). It’s around 8:30 pm, and I’m about to turn in early before the marathon tomorrow morning. I need all the rest I can get!

This morning was a bit gloomy, but it was the perfect mix of toasty warm and slightly breezy. I’m actually hoping that tomorrow’s weather will be similar to this.

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For the day we made our way to Animal Kingdom! It’s the smallest of the four Disney parks, so it was perfect for today. Most people tell me this is their least favorite park, but I have to admit that the animals alone are enough to make it one of my favorites at Disney!

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We quickly got a picture with my favorite character first Open-mouthed smile

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The park is so wonderfully beautiful, and the décor was given every attention to detail. I particularly love the tree smack dab in the park middle with the animals engraved around. Granted, I’m sure the tree isn’t real of course, but still pretty regardless.

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We also quickly caught some flashy birds nesting on our way to our first destination!

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We first went on the Kilimanjaro Safari. I won’t bore you guys with details from my WHOLE day, but I obviously have to show you pictures of the animals!

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Those were only a few…but it would be pointless to show the rest. They’re mostly blurry. I’ll probably keep them anyway. I’m an animal picture hoarder Smile

We then went on ANOTHER favorite ride…

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Then ate a quick lunch…

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Made some friends Smile

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I noted how I’m actually having duck separation anxiety.

[Sidenote: For those who don’t know, I’ve been doing duck diving research for the past year, which required me to handle ducks a few times a week. In about a week I’ll be trading ducks for dolphins. But I still miss ducks like crazy!]

We then went to the last few attractions…

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We also started doing some Hidden Mickey Scavenger Hunting. For anyone wondering, the Hidden Mickey Manual is 100% legit. As it appears, when Disney built various parts of the parks, it had every intention of including little “easter eggs” throughout the parks. They ranged to little Mickey’s in secret places (like this one) to full on walls/trees shaped like Disney characters. The good part…you’ll most certainly miss most of these things without the book. So it requires some actual scavenger hunting! I got lazy today…but I saw some pretty neat ones that I didn’t take pictures of. But for now I’ll just leave you with the lamer one we hunted down on the sidewalk Smile

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More ducks on the way to the room! Cue separation anxiety…

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We made it back to the room to rest for a bit. We shuffled on over to the resort hotel dinner serving station thing to do some quick carb-loading. This looks gross, but it actually hit the spot.

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I’m now back in the room digesting, ready to sleep.

I feel strangely calm, but I think I realized that since this is my first marathon, no matter what I do, it’ll be my best yet! So I really can’t be disappointed in myself. My mother, sister, and I kind of decided to just make it a fun event for all of us. Even though I run faster, we want to enjoy this experience together to take the pressure off. I know this race won’t test my upmost abilities, but more my willpower to just finish the damn thing! My goal is to race smart tomorrow and take it slow, with the intention of just finishing. And to ensure my leg is back to normal as quickly as possible, so I can get back to “normal” running! But no matter how I have to do it, I know I’ll be extremely proud of myself no matter what happens Smile

As a final note, I really want to thank everyone whose been there for me on this journey. It’s been a bumpy ride, but I honestly feel I’m right where I need to be, and I can’t wait to see what my running future holds.

Maybe I should wait for my thank you speech till after I actually finish Smile

Good luck to EVERYONE racing tomorrow! This is it!!!

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Disney Day One: Expo & Hollywood Studios

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We woke up at the crack of dawn to catch our early flight to Orlando. It was more like 4am, but you get the idea. I actually got no sleep that night, so a wake up call that early was unwanted. I slowly snapped out of it once I realized we were on our way to Disney! Finally!

The plane flight went smoothly, and within about two hours we were safely on the ground in sunny beautiful Florida!

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There’s something so uplifting about walking off the plane and feeling the warm Florida breeze. Especially when we’ve been bundled up in the snow for months now in Maryland. I honestly feel I was meant to live in tropical weather. I blame my Puerto Rican genes for that.

Staying within the Disney Resort has so many benefits. We didn’t realize how important these benefits were till we started staying in a resort a year ago, with meal-planning and such. As soon as we exit the plane, we can head straight to the buses to take us to the resort. Super easy! They even bring all your bags to the room so you can get right to park hopping! I know this may seem like a simple thing for most, but I grew up going to Disney staying off the resort, so I’m still taking it all in Smile

The bus ride lasted no more than 15-20 minutes, and they kept us “entertained” with a little Disney educational video. I’m embarrassing, but I actually love the Disney promo videos…don’t ask me why. Gets me excited to do all the things!

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We arrived at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort. We’ve stayed here before, and as I’ve mentioned, it’s beautiful. It has an old-style Spanish/traditional Mexican feel to it that I find really relaxing.

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Once we got inside, we were informed that our room was ready right away! We’re staying very close to the front desk, which is a plus. And I love the water walkways on the way to the rooms Smile

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I kept saying how nice it would be to do runs around.

I also saw a grasshopper and lizard making friends? Let’s hope.

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We got our Magic Bands a few months ago, and it was finally time to put them to use.

Team Magic Bands!!!

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Oh, and you also get this free mug cup thingy with the meal plan. It has a tracker inside that identifies with you, so with the plan you get free refills at the resort of anything you want, and filtered water refills throughout the parks. Kind of excessive in my opinion, but it’s a nice amenity. I keep getting nervous I’ll spill something on my stuff though (because this is me we’re talking about), so I’m not sure how much use I’ll get out of it?

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Now the moment of truth. We used our Magic Bands for the first time! It was a simple swipe in front of this key, and voila! Super convenient not having to carry one room key in a family of four.

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The room’s at the resort are quaint and lovely. I particularly love when they make the Mickeys out of towels Smile

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AND LOOK AT THE LADY RABBIT! This is not being used the entire trip. I don’t have the heart to take it apart.

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After dropping our carry-on bags off and getting settled, it was time to hit the Marathon Expo! I was ready to get all my gear set, so I could prepare for Sunday.

Did I mention the weather was perfect?

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Had to take a picture of my lovely sister Cristina (this Florida sun just makes any picture radiant!)

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We hopped on the Expo bus, which got us to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Center shortly afterwards. I was pleasantly surprised at how beautiful it was! It looked less sporty, and more resort-y. By this point we were a bit anxious on making it to Hollywood Studios in good time for the day, so we wanted a pretty painless experience of getting our stuff as quickly as possible!

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It ended up being a generally painless experience. We were immediately directed to race bib pick-up, where we would turn in our waiver and information.

Crazily enough, the lovely older woman who gave me my bib ended up being from my hometown of Olney! It’s honestly a small little suburb in Maryland that many never hear of. I love when stuff like that happens. Such a small world!

We got our bibs, but I was disappointed to find out we had to go to a whole other location to pick up our shirts and race bag. Ugh. I know Disney has their reasons, and this probably was the most efficient way with the mass amounts of crowds, but a lot of walking made for slow travels. The lanes were jam packed and we had a whole other building to get to!

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We finally got the race shirt, which I LOVE (post pictures later…), and then met back up front to catch the bus back to the resort. The expo was a little bit of a hassle, but I’m sure it was done in the best way possible! I would recommend that anyone visiting Disney for the race takes an entire day to do the Expo however. Trying to fit that in with a park in one day is a little much.

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While my Mom, sister, and myself were picking up our race stuff, my Dad was busy making little race signs. He was particularly proud Smile He’ll be running around like crazy cheering us on come Sunday!

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We ran to drop our race stuff off at the room, then jumped on the bus to Hollywood Studios!!!

Sometimes to pass the bus rides, you have to take cute pictures of your parents laughing when they don’t know it Smile

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We finally arrived!!!! I was so excited to just jump into my old favorites rides, pick up some food, and walk around endlessly doing everything. This park isn’t my family’s favorite, but it’s ONE of mine! I love the old-Hollywood feel to it. And it has two of my favorite rides, so PLUS!

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Then, our fun was briefly cut short. This was honestly the first time in my experience with Disney that they actually just messed up. I won’t get into details, but getting our tickets at the front ended up being a 30-40 minute discussion with an incompetent employee who clearly didn’t care, or know what she was doing. This time was precious to us, since we already got to the park late and wanted to fit everything in we could for the day! We shrugged the situation off, and headed to get a quick snack since we were STARVING!

I was going for a smoothie, until I saw the pretzels were Mickey shaped…

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So precious…ugh! I’m the biggest sucker for themed objects. I had to have it! Even though a pretzel wasn’t exactly what I wanted at the time.

After a quick bite, my Dad and I decided to wait for my favorite Hollywood Studios ride…Tower of Terror!

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I look slightly worried because the sun was bright Smile Probably will be a trend throughout the week.

The wait was only about 35 minutes, so we quickly lined up!

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Every time, and I mean EVERYTIME I go to Disney, I end up taking excessive amounts of Tower of Terror pictures. I just find the building so strangely beautiful. Not to mention they make the insides look creepy. Definitely an old-school ride, but I love the classic ones at Disney!

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The line flew by and we ended up getting off just in time for the showing of Beauty and the Beast!

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This is also something I enjoy every single time. The show is actually well done, and it’s quick. Only about half an hour! Plus, Beauty and the Beast is definitely my favorite princess movie.

We then passed the rest of the time seeing the Muppets in 3D

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Beaker’s my favorite!!!

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Then the American Idol Experience

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Then one last look at Tower of Terror Smile

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My other favorite ride is Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, but it was unfortunately booked up for the day Sad smile But we have “park hoppers” which means we can come back on another evening to do it another time. We also were on our way to see the nightly showing of “Fantasmic!”, but that was cancelled! We were having just a smidge of bad luck with rides. Luckily, we were actually exhausted and starving again by this point, so we headed on over to our dinner for the night at Epcot.

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Tonight, we planned to eat at the “Coral Reef Restaurant” at the Epcot theme park. We’ve been here before, and I always love the ocean atmosphere!

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The restaurant is ocean themed with a huge tank lining one of the walls. We could literally watch sharks swim by while eating dinner Smile . I also heard a fun-fact that the tank could fit the Epcot ball structure inside it, with room to spare! Now that’s a huge tank…

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They even gave us a cute little fish-guide to try and pick out the ones from the tank!

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I ended up choosing the “Orange Ginger-Glazed Scottish Salmon with Vegetable Stir-Fry” for dinner. Now, I’m extremely partial to salmon, but this dish was particularly amazing! The ginger was a subtle taste, but it paired perfectly with the slightly spicy vegetables and cooked salmon. I would highly recommend it.

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For dessert, me and the family decided to split two different ones.

First, the “Chocolate Wave with Raspberry Gelato”. Yumyumyum. Chocolate and raspberry combined in anything is also one of my favorite things ever. So this was again, perfect! The chocolate looks like a muffin, but is all melted chocolate on the inside. And the raspberry gelato was light and sweet.

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Second, we tried the “Coconut-Mango Chiffon Cake with Raspberry Sauce”. I’m always partial to chocolate, but this dessert was wonderful as well. It was SUPER light, and very tangy. I would order this again, but I’m afraid chocolate always wins the competition for me Smile

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After dinner I was ridiculously stuffed, which meant it was time to return to the room and get a good night’s rest. Goal is to get as much sleep now so I feel completely rested for Marathon Day! It’s so exciting to see all the runners invading the parks and getting ready for their own races this weekend.

Tomorrow is Animal Kingdom!!!

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Disney Bound!

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We just arrived in our hotel suite to prepare for our trip to Disney tomorrow morning! It’s hitting me how excited I am. No matter how this marathon goes down, this experience is something to be excited for.

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And yes, our room came with free Doritos. Random…

Tomorrow we have a 6am flight to make it to Orlando around 9am-ish.

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From there we’ll drop of our luggage at the Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort, which is beautiful(stayed there last time!). We’ll then run on over to the Disney Race Expo to pick up all our race swag and some much needed gear. Also known as Mickey Ears duh.

From there we’ll go straight to Hollywood Studios to spend the day on Tower of Terror and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster! I’m definitely the “thrill-seeker” of the family. Smile

I also have to say I’m most excited about the meal-plans my family gets for our vacations. We get to experience dining around Disney throughout the entire vacation. Nothing gets me quite as excited as food does, honestly.

A while ago I picked up new running shoes! They’re the Saucony Ride 6 .

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To be honest, I’ve never quite “gotten into” Saucony as a brand. But I tried them on and ended up loving them support-wise. They also (along with Brooks) have wider toe-boxes, which I found I need. My Asics were taking off my toenails every week it seemed, because of the small toe-box. (Not that I wasn’t proud of every single one Smile ).

It’s a bit unfortunate that this will be my first race running in these shoes, but I know it’s better to run in these than my past shoes which were numbing for my feet. Hopefully it doesn’t backfire! But since this marathon will be slow and steady, I feel like I’ll be good.

I’m most looking forward to the WARM WEATHER when I get off the plane! Feels like –10 degrees in Maryland, so a nice break is needed. Sometimes I forget I’m moving to San Diego in a couple weeks, so cold weather will no longer be a problem!

I’ll miss the beautiful snow though…

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Look how cute the puppy prints are Smile

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Good luck to everyone racing at Disney this weekend!

I’m sure it’ll be a magical race…

Watching the Anchor Drop

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New Years Eve afternoon we drove to Rehoboth Beach so my family could meet up with my sister for the evening. Right when my Dad got home from work, we headed on over since we had dinner reservations in Lewes, Delaware. We ended up getting there a bit early, so we had a little time to play with the cats first Smile

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I’m not much of a cat person, but my sister’s cats are pretty cool. They’re actually Savannahs, which means they’re just a little part Serval. So they tend to have more energy than the average cat, which is good for me, because I’m first and foremost an energetic dog person!

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We left the condo around 8:15 to make our 9pm reservation. Lewes is only about ten minutes from Rehoboth, but we didn’t want to risk having a bad parking situation. Lewes is really an adorable little town. The people are very proud,  as they note that it’s the “First Town in the First State” around every street corner. It ended up being a nice quiet evening when we got out of the car. There were people celebrating the new year, but no crowds. Just quaint little restaurants along the street.

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We passed by this little Santa Christmas house. I couldn’t resist taking a picture Smile

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The restaurant was only a couple blocks away. My sister decided it would be safe to go to Rose & Crown as it advertised itself as being an “upscale British pub”. Sounded perfect!

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We walked in and I immediatley loved the setting. And the best part….it was empty! I know that New Year’s celebrations are supposed to consist of huge crowds and heavy drinking, but this year was a nice change. Just a simple dinner with the family was exactly what was needed.

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I particularly loved the display of British train tickets they had on the walls.

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First, we ordered drinks. Lately I’ve been going for simple glasses of Riesling wine, since it’s always yummy! As always, it was delicious. I ended up having a couple. Smile

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We then had the Hefeweizen Hummus which had slices of warm pita, olives, tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers. It was definitley a top notch dish! The pita was freshly made and the hummus had a strong olive-y flavor to it. My Dad was a huge fan of this dish. He almost ordered another!

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While we waited for the next dish, we had to take the obligatory New Years wine photos Smile

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Next we decided to postpone dinner as long as possible, so we ordered some soup. At this point it was only about 9:45PM…and we still had to watch the Lewes Anchor Drop at midnight! The best way I can think of to pass the time is more eating Smile

We ended up sharing the soups, but my sister got the Onion Soup with roasted peppers, olives, and gruyere.

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It was amazing! I’m a huge fan of soups, but I especially love those with great consistency. The soup had bread on top and bottom combined with the cheese in the soup. The flavors soaked into the bread making it very very tasty.

I ended up getting R & C Pumpkin Soup with curry, brown butter, and pickled veggies.

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The only words I could muster up was an “OMG”. I’m a huge fan of pumpkin, but this soup was to die for. It was creamy and delicious, and the curry added the perfect kick to the mix. The pecans and breaded bits also gave it a great consistency. I would highly recommend this soup to any pumpkin lover. It also actually tasted perfect paired with my Reisling wine!

Next up was the main course! Unfortunatley I ended up being hungrier than I thought, and forgot to take a picture before I devoured it Smile But I ended up getting Seared Atlantic Salmon with glazed autumn veggies, roasted radish, and cauliflower. I love salmon, but I was actually originally planning on getting something more substantial since it was a celebration! But I ended up being much too full after the first two courses. It tasted delicious regardless.

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After dinner, the family ended up getting dessert. I had a bite of it, but I was mostly stuffed, so I just stuck to coffee. By this point it was nearing 10:30PM, so I knew I needed a caffeine fix to make it to midnight! I promise I’m not usually this boring. But lately I’ve been very much enjoying my sleep Smile

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We left the restaurant around 11:15PM to make the short trip across town where they’d be dropping an anchor from the ship at midnight! I loved the concept and couldn’t wait to see it in person.

When we approached the ship, it was beautifully lit up for the event!

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See the lit up anchor on the top?! I loved it. It was pretty chilly, but they had little fires set up around the front. They were also handing out hot chocolate, which made it feel warm and toasty!

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I even found a dog to play with Smile PRIORITIES!

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It was a wonderful setting, with wonderful people. They were playing old school 30’s music throughout the night, and people were dancing and getting ready for the anchor to drop. Before we knew it midnight was a minute away, and they started counting down as the anchor dropped!

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3..2..1..

…HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

I couldn’t think of a more charming way to bring in 2014 Smile

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When they were finished we made our rounds of hugs and “I love you’s”. It was adorable to see the little old couples in love and dancing. Lewes is a pretty small town, so cute old couples and dogs were a plenty Winking smile

We left pretty shortly after the drop, and returned to the condo. We were tired, but we got one last play in with the cats before bed.

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I hope everyone had a safe and happy New Years! It was nice to have a low key night with the family. It was just what I needed.

Now to start off 2014 right!

Anyone else have unique New Years celebrations?