Grit.

grit-meme

Last week I finished a 10K and a half marathon. 19.3 miles in less than 36 hours with a broken foot. A fractured third metatarsal to be specific. I believe I re-broke it around mile 6 of the half marathon, when I started jogging to stay ahead of the people in last. I know for sure (judging by the pain) it was re-broken during a sprint at mile 9 and again at mile 11 to stay ahead of the sweepers (the people who take you off the course because you are not going fast enough)…I was about 90 seconds from my worst nightmare, being taken off the course because I was too slow. I just could not limp along fast enough. So I ground my teeth and I sprinted.

And I finished that half marathon.

But I wasn’t proud of it.

Wait. What?

Nope. I was not proud. I berated myself for being so stubborn that I would limp 19.3 miles, reinjuring my foot and not making the right decision, which was to quit. I should have quit. I had half a dozen blisters, shin pain, knee pain…all ramifications of limping for almost twenty miles. I had a scary moment later when I was laying on the bathroom floor, overcome with nausea from the pain. My perseverance had made me literally sick. An even scarier moment later when discussing the final hours of the race with my fellow runners and realizing just how out of my mind I was – I never realized it was hot. Never for one minute did I feel the heat or sun that everyone else was saying tormented them in the final miles. I don’t remember ever even thinking it was hot. And not because it wasn’t hot. So at the end of the weekend, I was mostly disappointed in myself for lacking the wisdom to know when to stop.

And here we are, a week later, and I’m ready to find some of the positives in this poor choice I made. I am impressed with my tenacity.  I am grateful to my dedication to training and cross training that kept me in shape (and many thanks to my friend Brian for his training ideas and rehab advice) enough to even walk 19 miles. I am no longer afraid of a marathon – I mean, I’m not signing up tomorrow…but I truly feel like if I could finish those races, I can do anything.

And thus the moral of this story: Grit. In psychology, grit is “a positive, non-cognitive trait based on an individual’s passion for a particular long-term goal or end state, coupled with a powerful motivation to achieve their respective objective.” It’s courage in the face of adversity. Resolve. Backbone. Pluck. Bravery. Spirit.

Grit is an awesome attribute to have. And I’ve got it.

And I know what that sounds like – it sounds like I’m bragging, and maybe I am? Or maybe I just have no problem owning both the positives and negatives of who I am. There is power in knowing your own strengths. And your own flaws. Grit is a double-edged sword that it took me until this weekend to see just how deep it can cut.

So my many thanks to Kate and Sarah Beth for their support and strength, but especially thanks for pushing me around in a wheelchair for a few days.  And I am so grateful to Josh, family, and friends who checked in on me and supported me throughout. It was a battle, and I survived, leaving with something much more precious than these medals – lessons learned.

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Now its time to put my feet up and rest and really heal – because I’m coming for you Glass Slipper Challenge 2017…and I’m going to run.

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Have you ever finished something and thought “I should have quit”?

Tell me about it in the comments!

Disney World Planning Tips

disney meme

As a frequent Disney World guest, I often get asked for tips on how to plan a trip to The World and decided it was time to put it all in one place. Now, this is very much a starter session in planning and covers the basics – the idea is to answer this question:

“Ok, I want to plan a trip to Disney World – where do I start?”

1. Do Your Research

Well, you’re here, so you’re off to a good start! The first thing I say to anyone that is planning a trip to Disney World is “do your research.” Sometimes these trips are once in a lifetime, sometimes they’re once a year – do you really want to spend it waiting in a line you could have avoided or being miserable because you’re starving? Disney is known for their customer service and they’ll certainly do everything they can to accommodate you but there are limits to everything (see #4, dining reservations). Look at park maps, become familiar with your hotel choice, decide what attractions are “must see”… all of this before you even go!

2. Hotel

Since you’ve done all your research now, you know that staying onsite at a Disney hotel comes with a few unbeatable perks:

  • Extra Magic Hours – early entry or late stay at the theme parks
  • Transportation – free bus, monorail and boat system … If you stay offsite, be prepared to spend $17/day to park
  • Fast Pass Plus bookings – you can book your Fast Passes 60 days in advance, rather than 30 days you get when staying offsite
  • Magic Express – shuttle to and from the airport, complete with luggage delivery to your hotel room
  • Immersion in the Disney bubble – your hotel is themed and you never need to leave the magic!
  • Convenience – staying onsite allows for parties to more easily split up for scheduling around the needs for different family members – Dad can hop a shuttle and go back to the hotel with the baby for the afternoon nap while Mom takes the older kids on Space Mountain.

Can offsite be cheaper? Can it be more appropriate for your family if you have different needs? Absolutely. But be sure to add up all the extra costs and consider the importance of convenience.

Goofing around at Value Resort Pop Century - features a giant foosball table! Starts at $95/night in off season.

Goofing around at Pop Century – the hotel features a giant foosball table! It is considered a Value Resort and starts at under $100/night in the off season!

3. Park Tickets

Tickets are sold in both day passes and multiple days and of course the more days you stay, the cheaper the extra days get. Currently, one day will cost you $105…but two days is $192.  The price per day starts to significantly drop after 4 days – a 5 day ticket works out to be $63/day, or $315 total. So what you’re saying is Disney wants you to stay longer and buy more Mickey Pretzels? *gasp* Yes.

3b. You can add a “Park Hopper” option to your ticket for anywhere from $50 (1 day) to $65 (5+days) so you can go into more than one park in a day. If you do not add this option, you cannot go into both Animal Kingdom and Magic Kingdom in the same day on one ticket. Park hopping is a personal preference, but with the introduction of Fast Pass Plus, I have found that it is often not worth the money for ME. But you and your family may love hopping around and just doing a few rides or attractions before moving to a different park. Or if you are only at Disney for a few days, park hopping is the best way to squeeze more into your trip. Plan out your days and go from there to decide whether it is necessary.

4. Dining Reservations

It is a rare day that you can walk up to a sit down (table service, in Disney World lingo) restaurant in Disney World and eat a meal without waiting. In all the times I have gone, I can count on one hand the times in the last five years that I have been able to quickly get a table at a restaurant in the parks without a reservation, and all those occasions felt like miracles. There is an online reservation system as well as a phone number that makes it easy, and you can do it 180 days out from your hotel reservation. And 180 days is necessary if you are going during a peak time, or if you are trying to get one of the high demand restaurants (Be Our Guest, Cinderella’s Royal Table, etc).

I cannot stress this enough: Make reservations. The LAST thing you want is a hungry toddler (or a hangry mother) and nowhere to sit down, enjoy some air conditioning and relax with some Mickey-shaped food. Nothing ruins vacations faster than being hungry.

Mickey-shaped food tastes better. #fact

Mickey-shaped food tastes better. #fact

5. Fast Pass Plus

SIGH. I don’t love the recent changes and can probably write an entire list of what I dislike about it the new program, but I’ll stick to the facts for now:

  • Fast Pass Plus allows you to reserve attractions and entertainment in advance. For instance, you can book a Fast Pass for Space Mountain and you will get a window of time in which you need to report to Space Mountain, skip the regular (stand by, in Disney lingo) line and ride.
  • Or you can book a Fast Pass for the parade, and you get seats within a small cordoned off area where you can see the parade and not be continuously and purposely nudged by  a stroller in the back because you’re 30 and maybe it’s as important to you to see as it is the toddler and the toddler’s Mom is resentful that you thought to get your spot on the sidewalk 35 minutes before she strolled over.
  • Guests are limited to three pre-chosen fast passes per day and can only be used in one park. One additional Fast Pass can be booked AFTER you have used up all three of your fast passes. You can book your Fast Passes online, on the My Disney Experience app, or in the park on the day of your visit.
  • Even though I have found several problems with the Fast Pass Plus system, using it is an absolute must and be sure to book them before you arrive.

6. MagicBands

MagicBands are Disney’s version of the ultimate Key to the Kingdom. Your MagicBand is your park ticket, hotel key, Fast Pass Plus reservations, Disney Dining plan, and you can even link a credit card and pin to it so you don’t have to carry anything into the parks. You can program a pin when you get there for the credit card, but don’t worry – the actual band contains no personal information – it has an RFID chip inside. You will get to choose your MagicBand color when you book your onsite hotel and it will be shipped to you for free before your vacation – otherwise you can purchase a MagicBand in the park if you would like to.

My yellow MagicBand, self-decorated with a Sharpie to support my Bruins!

My yellow MagicBand, self-decorated with a Sharpie to support my Bruins!

7. Packing

It occurs to me as a write this that I should probably also do a list on what I personally pack for a Disney vacation. But I’ll give you the basics:

  • At least two pairs of comfortable, worn-in shoes: You’ll be on your feet more than usual and your feet will thank me when you are able to switch up the footwear. I routinely walk 15,000 steps in a Disney day.
  • Rain gear: If you want to buy a quality $10 Mickey poncho at the park for the inevitable afternoon shower or water ride, knock yourself out. I’ll be buying several from the dollar store that I can immediately throw away after the shower ends and I’m walking around in a portable sauna. Have you ever tried folding up a wet poncho? Buy one you don’t mind tossing after Splash Mountain.
  • Gum: If gum is a must, then pack your own. It isn’t sold at Disney because gum on the ground is so not magical. Which reminds me – don’t throw your gum on the ground. It isn’t magical at Disney or in the parking lot when I step on it and curse your inconsiderate existence.
  • Food: Yup, you can bring it into the parks. No glass containers or alcohol or the normal no-nos…but you absolutely can bring in your kid’s Goldfish and make them happy.
Dole Whip with Rum...in the rain...in my $1 poncho.

Cheers! Dole Whip with Rum…in the rain…in my $1 poncho.

8. Be Prepaaaarrrrreeed.

I know. I already told you to do your research. But it feels right to start AND end this list with that sentiment. If there is one thing you take from this post, it is that you absolutely cannot expect to “just wing it” at Disney World and still have a magical time. Every moment you spend planning will be worth it when you have those park maps memorized, a lovely buffet lunch with Mickey and you’re skipping to the head of the line with your Fast Pass.

Here are some blogs and sites that I have found helpful in the planning process:

Pin this image to share my list!

Pin this image to share my list!

And my final thought –

Remember the importance of expectations and what it means to be on vacation. You will not fit everything in on one visit. Absolutely impossible. Prioritize and plan accordingly so that you can have a fun, relaxed trip!

What’s your number one Disney Planning tip? Have a trip to Disney World planned soon or know someone planning one? Share this list!

 

**All prices quoted for tickets and parking are subject to change**

I don’t always run, but when I run, I RunDisney

Out of the 12 races at Disney World, I have participated in every event weekend at least once, and completed all the races except for the Marathon, and three of the 5Ks – so I’m not saying I’m an expert, I’m saying I have a problem! Which brings me to two weeks ago, when I departed for my traditional girl’s weekend to Disney World so that I could participate in the Princess Half Marathon weekend with my two BRFs (Best Running Friends) Sarah Beth and Hope… and I was reminded once again why when I choose to run, I choose to RunDisney!

My first RunDisney event - ESPN the Weekend (R.I.P.) 5K in 2009

My first RunDisney event – ESPN the Weekend (R.I.P.) 5K in 2009…They didn’t even have corrals for this event!

1. Costumes

I love a good costume, and I especially love a good hand-made costume. RunDisney races are definitely the place for both and I have a great time every year brainstorming and crafting up some Disney-themed, running appropriate attire! This year we ran the 5K as Flora, Fauna and Merryweater from Sleeping Beauty, and did the Enchanted 10k as Newsies! Our fairy costumes were so popular that strangers asked to take photos with us, and when we popped into the Magic Kingdom to get our photo with Sleeping Beauty, the cast members and photographers loved it.

Frozen 5K and Enchanted 10K costume creation and design

Frozen 5K and Enchanted 10K costume creation and design…Yes, the tutus lit up. Awesome. #ifidosaysomyself

Newsies, Fairies, Queen of Hearts & Gaston, Fireside Girl, Cheshire Cats

Costumes through the years: Newsies, Fairies, Queen of Hearts & Gaston, Fireside Girl, Cheshire Cats

Make it pink! Make it blue!

Make it pink! Make it blue!

2. The Bling & The Swag

Aren’t medals pretty? Is there a better reason to run? I personally don’t think so. And it makes me terribly happy to have a tangible result of all my hard work – it makes all the training runs worth it! And I’m usually doing those training runs in a nice performance tech running shirt that I got with my race entry.(Teensy Weensy RunDisney Negative Thought Alert: Too many grey-ish shirts lately, but they listened for Princess Weekend 2015. Oh and the race entry fees are ridiculous. Worth it, but ridiculous).

My precccciooousssss (es).

My precccciooousssss (es).

RunDisney bibs and shirts

RunDisney bibs and shirts

3. Entertainment

No one entertains like RunDisney entertains. There are characters all along the course, music, marching bands and performers. Often the characters are “rare”, like Baseball Donald or Captain Barbossa – a character you can’t get a photo with by just entering Disney World. I’ve found that the Princess Half is the place to be for the best rare character experiences.

Baseball Donald - Enchanted 10K goal, complete!

Baseball Donald – Enchanted 10K

Pluto with Antlers

Pluto with Antlers – Frozen 5K

Sailor Donald - Expedition Everest Challenge

Sailor Donald –                Expedition Everest Challenge

Captains Barbossa and Jack Sparrow - Donald Half Marathon

Captains Barbossa and Jack Sparrow – Donald Half Marathon

4. Runner Treatment

RunDisney treats runners right. As a loud and proud “back of the pack” runner, I can definitively say I have never reached the end of a RunDisney race and there not be a banana and Runner’s snack box waiting for me. Not to mention cooling towels at hot races and warming blankets at cold races (like this year…30 degrees really put the ‘frozen’ in Frozen 5K). And this year RunDisney really upped their snack box game, which is always a lovely treat on the bus ride back to the hotel when you want to simultaneously eat your arm and fall asleep (Teensy Weensy RunDisney Negative Thought Alert: The races start SO EARLY. We get on busses to go to the start line at 3 a.m.).

 

Everything in my runner snack box

Everything in my runner snack box

Huddled in my RunDisney provided Mylar blanket after the very Frozen 5K

Huddled in my RunDisney provided Mylar blanket after the very Frozen 5K

5. Organization

RunDisney is a well-oiled machine. Everything is clearly marked, bag check is a breeze, busses run fairly smoothly and I’ve rarely had a problem with any of the logistics of running a RunDisney race. FIFTY THOUSAND runners descended on Disney World to participate in Princess Weekend this year – and it took me literally 6 minutes to get my bib, seconds to get my shirt, and 2 minutes when I needed to exchange the shirt for a different size at the Expo. They know what they’re doing. And shout out to the 3,000 volunteers – I may not have gasped my thank you for that water cup loudly, but I meant it!

Princess Expo 2014

Princess Expo 2014

6. Community

The RunDisney community is widespread and ever-growing. As my RunDisney obsession was blooming, I depended on blogs such as this one, or this one, and even fan-girled over meeting the woman behind this one. And then, one of my BRFs even started this one. If you’re interested in RunDisney anything, check out these blogs for information and race recaps that will help you learn every detail you’d ever need to know to make every mile magical! (And no, I don’t know all these people – I just have found their blogs, twitter feeds and Facebook pages to be vital to my RunDisney life!)

My No-Guilt Life

Random Ramblings of a Running Princess

Running Happily Ever After

Run. Walk. Repeat

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Some of my RunDisney community!

7. Mickey Pretzels & Dole Whips & Grey Goose Slushies

I run for drinks and Mickey-shaped food and there is no shame in my game.

My reasons to run...

My reasons to run…

Lots of photos, lots of costumes, lots of RunDisney love!

Let me know in the comments what you think…Why do you RunDisney? And if you don’t already, are you ready to RunDisney?