Give New Orleans a Try

Recently I had the chance to visit New Orleans for a business trip.  It just so happened to be the week before Mardi Gras but duty calls and I had work to do.  I flew in on a holiday (President’s day) and got to explore the city.

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I’ve never had a desire to visit New Orleans.  The opposite in fact.  It has such a bad reputation here in Texas I avoided the city and never wanted to visit. I was asked to go to our New Orleans office to work with the team there and for a work standpoint I needed to go but I was reluctant.  I’ve heard quite a few horror stories that made me a little worried for my safety.  I even asked Joe to come with me but he refused, mean husband!  This was also the week before Mardi Gras so things were going to get crazier as the week went on.  I brought my self protection key ring (this one) and kept as little on me as possible to not look like a “target”.  Seeing as I was visiting the city during the day I thought I would be reasonably safe but I never take that for granted.

Once I got to the city I headed for the French Quarter to spend the day and walk around.  I had a few places I wanted to check out but overall just wanted to wander and explore.  First stop was the “Gumbo Shop.”  I was starving and was looking for a good lunch.  I of course got the gumbo for lunch and it was delicious.  Very flavorful and not spicy at all like I was worried it would be.

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After lunch I headed to St Louis Cathedral and Jackson Square.  The church was so southern and adorable with some jazz musicians playing outside.  There were artists set up all along the square selling really unique pieces.  I didn’t buy any art this time around, none of it was my personal style, but it was very unique and pretty to look at.

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After walking through the square I headed over to Cafe du Mode which is famous for its beignets and coffee.  I waited in line for about 15 minutes then realized it was CASH ONLY!!!  Yikes!  I didn’t bring any cash with me this trip so left the line.  I headed over to Pat O’Brien’s for a Mint Julep and it was the NASTIEST drink I’ve had in memory.  The picture below is all I drank of it and threw it away.  If Joe had been with me it wouldn’t have gone to waste but that’s what happens when your husband doesn’t go places with you!

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After I left Pat O’Brien’s I walked down Royal Street which was adorable and clean and full of antique shops.  I actually enjoyed walking down Royal window shopping, seeing Mardi Gras decorations on all the buildings, listening to street musicians.  It was the exact opposite of what I thought New Orleans would be, but in a good way.

Then I walked down Bourbon Street.  Completely different than Royal Street and made me totally uncomfortable even during the day.  Seedy bars everywhere, people outside trying to get you to come in and get a drink, sketchy people hiding in alleyways.  Yup I hated Bourbon Street.  I went into the Hard Rock cafe then walked down to Cafe Beignet for an afternoon snack.  The beignets were good, but I must just not be a beignet person because I don’t see what the hype is all about.  I think if I found some hipster flavors I would like them better.

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After beignets I walked back down towards the river and ended up in the French Market.  I walked through the vendors here checking out the wares then walked to the river and sat enjoying the view for a while.  I was really shocked to see how easy it was to walk to everything within the city.  Being from Houston I forget that other cities you can get around without a car.  Almost everything was no more than a 15 minute walk away.  Extra bonus it was a beautiful day for a stroll.

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After some time on the river I headed over for dinner at Acme Oyster Co.  Everyone I talked to raved about this place so I knew I had to try it out.  I got to the restaurant around 5:30pm and there was already a line to get in.  I only waited about 15 minutes though so that wasn’t bad at all.  I ordered the char-grilled oysters and the oyster/shrimp po-boy.  I wasn’t impressed with either dish and found that oysters just aren’t my thing.  Its ok though, I can say I tried them in a place that’s famous for them!

After dinner it was getting dark so I headed back to the hotel to be off the street at night.  The next few days were filled with work but I did have a chance to eat a few more meals.  We went to Mother’s for lunch and I had the jambalaya, I went to dinner at GW Fin’s and had the amazing Scalibut (scallop on top of halibut over lobster risotto).  Next day we had lunch at Cochon and I had dinner at Emeril’s Delmonico.  Both of which were good but not worth the price at all.  I also tried out the layer cake from Bakery Bar.  I wasnt really a fan, the flavors were good but something was just off about the filling.  I even tried a different flavor and same thing.  Must be what they make it with, no idea, they sure are pretty though!

I didn’t go to any parades (although there was one really close to the hotel) and I didn’t go out at night.  Like I said, personal safety as I was there alone.  I am a little sad I didn’t get to see any parades but its not worth putting myself in harms way.  Yes I’m probably being super paranoid but I’m ok with that.

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All in all I have to say the food in New Orleans is great, I was really impressed.  Most of the city is pretty nice but I did feel a general sense of discomfort.  If you are going to go, make sure you research the area you are going to stay and be in a safe area.  Travel in groups so you are less likely to stick out as an easy target.  One of my co-workers gave me a great tip.  He carries an extra wallet with some old credit cards in it and an apple iPod (the ones that look like the phone) in case he gets mugged he can hand those things over and its no big deal.  I mean, its a big deal to get mugged but at least you didn’t lose your ID and active credit cards.

I will be going back to New Orleans again for work soon but I don’t think this is a place I will visit regularly or again for a personal visit.  I think New Orleans is good to visit once and then done.  I’m glad I gave the city a chance the food alone was worth it.

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Don’t forget, I can help you plan your vacation to Disney, Universal, Cruises or ANYWHERE!!!  Here is the link to my facebook page or email me at Rachael@DreamComeTrueVacations.com

CHIME IN!!!  Have you been to New Orleans?  Do you like to travel alone?  Are you super paranoid when you travel?

Houston Rodeo 10k Recap

About a week and a half ago I ran the Houston Rodeo 10k to try and get a sub hour 10k time.  As most of you know who have been following along my running journey, these past few weeks have been filled with injury and pain and frustration.  Still, I paid my registration fee and wanted to try the best I could to get a good proof of time for Disney’s Princess Half Marathon Weekend in 2018.

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A couple big perks of this race:

  • Local, so no traveling, no extra expenses, I get to sleep in my own bed and eat my own food.
  • Low cost.  Compared to Disney pretty much any race is cheap but this one wasn’t bad at $35.
  • Late start time.  This is good and bad but good in the fact that I got to sleep until 6:45am!!!  Earlier start races you need to be at the event by that time so this was a nice perk.

Negatives of this race:

  • NO MEDAL!!!  I wasn’t sure when I registered because there wasn’t really anything on the site that said one way or another but in the end nope no medal
  • Limited packet pick-up and in a difficult location (for me).  There were only 4 days to pick up your packet and not available at all on race day.  Boo!  45 minutes out of my way (each way) to get my race bib.
  • Hills.  Ok that’s probably a little dramatic but road inclines and A LOT of them.

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Let’s not get ahead of ourselves though.  So before race day was even here I talked my good friend and running wizard Amy into running this race with me (check out her blog here).  She runs a faster pace than me but a pace that I want to get to.  I knew she would easily be able to run this with me and help me keep on pace to PR.  Thank goodness she agreed because I would have been lost on this course without her!

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Fast forward to race day and I get to downtown Houston around 7:45am.  Finding parking wasn’t as bad as I thought and I walked over the the starting line area to meet Amy.  We make our way through the maze of people and to the start line staging area.  I had my honey stinger waffle and some Nuun to have something in my stomach and just like that the race started pretty much on the dot at 9:20am.  Yeah weird start time I know.  Luckily it was a gorgeous overcast, low humidity, in the 50’s day.  For Houston that’s pretty much perfect weather conditions!

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The first mile was downtown and we were pacing a little fast at a 9min mile but its pretty hard to tell how fast you are going downtown with all the buildings messing up the GPS signal.  Our watches beeped almost exactly at the 1 mile marker which was nice and we headed out of downtown and out to Allen Parkway where the inclines started.

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Now, you may remember I have calf issues right now and for the most part they were doing ok.  The inclines though killed my quads because I have done NO hill training other than what happened during the races for Disney.  There were 8 in total so yeah that was no fun :P.  We got to mile 3 and I was starting to get pretty hot.  At the second water station I poured water on my head to cool off and we walked for about a minute.  Back at it and our pace did slow down to about a 9:40 which was the goal pace.  Amy, true to her word, kept me entertained with her stories from Princess Weekend which she just got back from.  Like I said earlier, thank God she was here because while I was in pain and struggling but listening to her and focusing on what she was saying helped me so much.  In all honesty the run didn’t feel like an hour simply because running with a friend who has plenty to tell you about makes the time fly by.

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Between mile 3 and 5 there were plenty of inclines and I did stop 2 more times for maybe 1 minute each to catch my breath.  I was struggling today with breath and I really didn’t want to pass out.  The hills kept coming and we continued to power through.  Our pace did slow a lot but my leg a few times was going numb so we adjusted the goal to get a great finish time and for me to be able to walk at the end!  The sun had also started to peak out which was raising the temps as well.  Not terrible but the sun is not my friend so it definitely didn’t help what was going on with me.

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A little after mile 6 JP, Amy’s husband, meet up with us and ran the last .2 miles in with us.  Since he needed to meet us at the finish line anyway it made sense.  Finish line in sight we powered through to get a 1:03:21 official time.  Its 3 minutes slower than what I wanted but in light of all that was going on with my body I’m really excited about this time.  Yes I wish I could have sucked it up and done better but lets be honest, my training has been crap.  I ran 6 miles 2 times leading up to this race and outside of that I was lucky to run more than 20 minutes.  Yes I’m disappointed but at the same time I’m not.  I know I pushed as hard as I could and I had the sore muscles the next day to prove it.  I also know I kept my body in check because the days after the race I could barely walk because of the pain in my calf.  If I had pushed harder I think I could have done even worse damage and I definitely didn’t want that.

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I know I could have a sub hour 10k time on a flat course and a 100% healthy body.  Neither one of these things happened this race day so I’m proud of my time and I’m really happy I got to spend some quality time with Amy.  We don’t get to see each other as much anymore because of crazy schedules so quality running time is always good!

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Overall I think this race was well organized and a fun event to participate in.  I’m sad there was no medal but post race refreshments were plentiful (albeit far away from the finish line).  I have my sights set on the Houston 10k in October to, once more, chase that sub hour 10k!

CHIME IN!!!  Have you ran the Houston Rodeo 10k before?  Do you like local or travel races?  Hill, are they your friend or enemy?

 

Workout Recap 2/28-3/6

This week is the last week of running before I take my MUCH NEEDED extended break!  That’s right, Im taking a month off from running and Im not sad about it at all.  Instead Im going to work on my core strength and built those muscles and get nice and lean for my October and November vacations.

Tuesday:  Rest day!  Its leading up to race day so there are a few extra rest days thrown in here.  I also saw the chiropractor today and found out I have a pinched nerve in my leg which was causing a lot of the issues.  I got laserd, poked and jerked back into place so hopefully things will be on the up and up soon!

Wednesday:  4 mile easy run today and I took photographic proof that I was able to complete the run at almost the requested pace (11min).  I felt pretty solid, still having some lingering pain but nothing to make me stop….but the day progressed.  Friends…on a scale of 1 to 10 my leg became a 12 and I contemplated (although not seriously) cutting my leg off.  By the time I got home at 6pm my entire left leg from ankle to back was vibrating with pain even when at rest.  W…T…F.  I put my pain cream (prescription) on my calf, took 2 alieve, put bio freeze on my leg, iced 10min on 10 minutes off for an hour and elevated my leg.  I AM SO OVER THIS CRAP!!!

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Thursday:  Rest day from running and back to the chiropractor.  He thinks my issues might be back related and I might agree with that.  We did a little work but his main goal was to just get me to a place where I can run Saturday and then we can adjust the treatment next week.  The leg feels WAY better today so thats a plus.  Just gotta keep these good vibes going until Saturday.

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Friday:  Rest day again but did 15 minutes stretching / foam rolling / yoga poses so loosen things up and give the muscles some TLC.  The leg is still feeling good but I put some KT tape on the calf just to be on the safe side.

Saturday:  Houston Rodeo Run 10k day (recap coming soon)!  Today’s goal was to run a sub hour 10k but with all the leg issues I want to get as close to that mark as possible.  Luckily my friend Amy agreed to be my bunny pacer and helped me so much during this race.  There were about 8 inclines which my body was not prepared for.  I think that coupled with the injury led to my 1:03:21 time.  Its not a bad time by any means, just not what I really wanted.  Oh well back to the drawing board to find a fall race to finally tackle that sub hour 10k!  THANKS AMY for being a great friend and encouragement during the race.  Your Disney adventures definitely kept my mind mostly off the pain I was going through.  You are AWESOME!!

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Sunday:  And the hobbling begins.  Last night my leg got progressively more painful and by the end of the night it was tough to walk.  Boo hiss.  Its a different pain than previous so my leg is just all sorts of over it.  Good thing I go see Dr. Stephan again Thursday.  I WILL CONQUER THIS PAIN.  Enjoy a picture of Cowboys in Downtown Houston…Let’s RODEO!

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Monday:  3 ab blogilaties videos today plus a 20 minute yoga video.  Almost no work on the calf so these videos were perfect for me today.  I really need to get back my core strength so that’s what Im going to be focusing on the next month or longer (depending on how long it takes my leg to heal).

CHIME IN!!!  Have you been to the Houston Rodeo?  What’s your favorite thing to crosstrain?  How was your week?

Workout Recap 2/21-2/27

Spent a few days in NOLA this week and did a lot of walking.  Living in Houston makes me think all major cities are all spread out and you need a car to get anywhere.  In New Orleans I never walked more than a 1/2 mile to get to places.  I mean I walked a lot more in total but everything was so close to each other!  In addition to walking around the city I attempted a few workouts.

Tuesday:  I tried to do a run today but shin splints made that not happen.  I switched today’s workout with tomorrow and did 20 minutes of core work and stretching.  I need to get my back strength back up so it was a mix of bridges / supermans / plank / crunches.  I need to get back on the blogilaties train but Im…for whatever reason…waiting until after the race to dive into that.  Sorry for the crappy quality of the picture my phone is being a real dick and losing pictures I take.  I had a much better one but its lost in phone space right now.

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Wednesday:  Attempt #2 at the workout (10 min warm up, 15 minutes @9min pace, 4 min rest, 2 min @ 7:54 pace, 2 min rest, 6 min @ 8:30 pace, 10 min cool down) and attempt #2 failed.  Shin splints curbed the workout and I went back to the room defeated.  I did my foam rolling early and found that the pain stemmed from my IT band so I’ll talk to my chiropractor about it tomorrow when I have my appointment.

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Thursday:  Progressive run scheduled for today but in light of the issues I’m having I didn’t run.  I had an appointment with the chiropractor today but my flight with United was delayed and I was not able to push my appointment back.  Ugh United…4 out of the last 4 flights have been delayed!!!  15 minutes stretching / foam rolling / yoga poses that night plus 20 minutes icing the calf.

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Friday- Monday:  No reason to drag this out…I tried to run twice more but failed both times.  Something in my leg caused a strange shooting sensation that made my leg really weak and buckle a few times.  I go to the chiropractor Tuesday so hopefully he can get whatever it is fixed.  Im tried of writing these sad “I wasnt able to fininsh” posts!!!

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CHIME IN!!!  How is your week?  Te

Workout Recap 2/14-20

My love/hate relationship with the treadmill is back for the next 2 weeks because of back to back travels.  This week Im in Corpus Christi and next week Im in New Orleans.  10k race day is in 3 Saturdays gotta get this body ready.

Tuesday:  Crash and burn number…who knows how many times this has happened in the last few weeks.  Today’s goal was speed and I knew before I started this wasnt going to go my way.  I took my KT Tape off last night because it was itching like CRAZY (I blame the mosquito bite it was covering) so my leg didnt have the support it still needed.  I got 20 minutes in then was D-O-N-E.  Oh well, at least I tried!

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Wednesday:  Rest day from running with 20 minutes of stretching and core work.  Luckily my hotel room is large enough for this unlike some I’ve had in the past.  Nothing too exciting today…as is usually the case with my travels 🙂

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Thursday:  50 minutes progression run and I have been excited to give this run a try.  The paces progress like this…10:50, 10:30, 10:10, 9:50, 9:30.  I got through 4 of the progressions and decided my leg wasnt ready to push the 9:30 just yet.  It’s feeling a lot better but I would rather not push it too much and ruin all the progress I’ve made this last week.  I’ll take what I can get though since I did finish this run and not want to rip my leg right off.  PROGRESS PEOPLE!!

Friday:  Running rest day and I gave me legs their much needed break.  I was up late getting ready for my trade-show tomorrow but I did manage to get in 15 minutes of stretching / foam rolling / yoga poses.  The hips are so tight I need to get them limbered back up!  How awesome is this edible arrangement my husband sent me.  No cantelope in sight because i hate it.  He’s a keeper I tell ya!

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Saturday:  Today was “Once Upon a Time Family Day Out” in the Woodlands.  Because we had to be there at 9am to set-up I moved my long run to Sunday and also so I could run with my friend Amy.  I was still on my feet for over 4 hours so EVERYTHING HURT.  20 minutes stretching / foam rolling / yoga poses that night to help relieve some of the tension.

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Sunday:  6 miles with Amy today.  She was feeling sick and I’m still worried about my leg so we took it nice and slow.  6 miles for an average pace of 11:45 in the nasty humid heat.  It’s always nice running with Amy.  We don’t see each other as often anymore so its nice to have these longer run to catch up.  Since she wasn’t feeling well I didn’t think to take a post run sweaty selfie!!  Ugh, that’s twice now I’ve forgotten.  That’s what happens though when your having fun with friends 🙂  15 minutes stretching / foam rolling / yoga poses that night.

Monday:  Running rest day but that didnt stop me from exploring NOLA!  Can you believe I’ve never been to New Orleans!  You would think I would have been at least once seeing as I live so close but alas no.  It’s pre-Madi Gras here so things are about to get CRAZY!!!  What a nice day for a stroll 🙂

CHIME IN!!!  Who is your favorite person to run with?  Have you been to New Orleans?  What’s going on in your life this week?

Workout Recap 2/7-13

The frustration with running continues.  Im pretty sure I have a calf strain that has progressed to being painful just to walk.  As you can imagine this really got in the way with running.  I emailed my coach to let him know whats going and asked to adjust workouts accordingly.  UGH for injuries.

Tuesday:  Tempo miles today.  10 minute at easy pace then 3 miles at race pace (9:30).  I got 2 of the 3 miles in then my calf was being ugly and I stopped.  Everything else felt a lot better this week except my leg 😦  I did go to the Chiropractor today and got some acupuncture and cold laser on my leg.  It actually felt great…for a few hours…then got worse 😦  Someone send me a new working leg please!!  Did 15 minutes stretching / foam rolling / yoga poses that night.

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Wednesday:  I woke up today to go run and my leg didnt even want to carry the normal weight of my body let alone the running weight so I went back to bed.  Im taking supplements from the chiropractor and did 15 minutes stretching / foam rolling / yoga poses that night and put some KT Tape on my calf.

Thursday:  Was going to try to run again today but same song second verse.  If I cant bear to walk I cant bear to run.  Went to see my physical therapist friend to correct my KT Tape (I never know how to do it right) and iced my leg plus 15 minutes stretching / foam rolling / yoga poses that night.  I will heal this leg if its the last thing I do!

Friday: the rest continues.   Iced the leg, stretched, foam rolled, whispered sweet nothings to my calf…you know normal stuff like that. 

Saturday:  test run…literally.   schedule was for 8, stretch goal was 5 did 3 with an 11:47 pace.   My leg was better but not totally.   Mile 2 started with the pain so I headed back home.  90 minute massage later that day which did help but still painful 😦  the saga of pain continues 

Sunday:  a group of my friends are training for a fun run and invited me for a run today.   Luckily they have a nice easy pace which my leg was happy to handle.   It was also fun to do a run where my body wasn’t trying to kill me.  Plus extra bonus quality time on the road with friends! It was hot as hell though and totally forgot to selfie it!

Monday:  normal rest day today and I’m in corpus Christi so you know what that means…treadmill time!!

CHIME IN!!!  How was your week?  What’s your favorite fun run?  

Workout Recap 1/31-2/6

This week marks a new week with a new coach.  You may remember I fired my old coach and was just going to go solo from now on.  Well the owner of the company was fine with that but I didn’t want to lose the money I already paid so he offered a different coach.  This coach runs ultra-marathons and has set a Guinness world record for longest run on a treadmill.  I would say he knows about running.  His workouts are already drastically different than my old coach.  First of all he gives me 2 weeks at a time and second they are a lot more detailed so I know more of whats expected.  Its a nice refreshing change to say the least.  With that being said, I’ve had some physical issues that kept me from doing the plan as detailed but I did what I could.

Tuesday:  First speed session in more than a month!!  Yikes!!  I did 3 sets of the following:  200m fast 200m rest, 200m fast 200m rest, 400m fast 400m rest.  Plus 10 minutes warm up and cool down.  I ended with 11:17 pace and 4.44 miles.  My pace was way off target but like I said its been over a month since my last speed session and to be honest my body wasn’t ready for this kind of run just yet.  15 minutes stretching / yoga poses / foam rolling that night.

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Wednesday:  Recovery run today and it was painful!!  My left calf pain is back with a vengeance so I cut my run short by 1 mile.  Ended with 3 miles at 11:06 pace.  I had a call with Ronnie tonight to talk about the issues and he gave me a recommendation for a specialist to see about the calf pain.  Good news is I go see that specialist next week so hopefully we can get rid of this pain that’s clearly holding me back.  15 minutes stretching / foam rolling / yoga poses that night.

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Thursday:  Today’s speed run was toned back to a recovery run in light of the pain I’m having.  Ended with 3 miles at a 10:53 pace.  I felt better today but knew I had to keep an eye on the pain.  15 minutes stretching / foam rolling / yoga poses that night.

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Friday:  Rest day with core work.  Well I didn’t get to the core work there was a lot going on personally and with getting our taxes done and my business time got away from me.  I did get my stretching and foam rolling in though!  In case you didn’t know the super bowl was in Houston this year.  Since I work downtown our office took a nice group stroll to check out the special area they set up for the festivities.  It was pretty cool!

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Saturday:  Longest run since marathon.  Let that sink in…its been a month since I’ve done anything longer than 4 miles.  Today was 8 miles and it went ok.  My legs were tight, I struggled with pace but ended with 8 miles with an average pace of 11:09 so not as bad as I thought it was going to be.  Unfortunately my calf issue came screaming back at mile 7 and now it hurts when I walk.  Good thing I have an appointment for Tuesday!  No stretching today, I was busy keeping my brother company with my adorable nephew.

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Sunday:  4 miles fartleck workout but I didn’t have my watch so I have no idea how the pace went or anything like that.  I know I did 4 miles, because I know what 4 miles is in my neighborhood.  7 times for 2 minutes at fast pace.  I’m pretty sure my fast pace ended up being a quick jog because of the calf pain and I probably shouldn’t have run in the first place but I wanted to make a good impression on my coach.  Yup I heard how stupid that sounded don’t worry!  15 minutes stretching / foam rolling / yoga poses that night.

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Monday:  Recovery day!  I love recovery days!  I didn’t do much of anything but meal prep and of course 15 minutes stretching / foam rolling / yoga poses.

CHIME IN!!!  How is your training going?  Do you know anyone that has set a Guinness world record?  What’s great in your life this week?

Workout Recap

Getting back into the swing of things this week.  I’m doing Blogilaties 28 day reset but modified a little because I don’t want to workout for 28 days straight!  This week was about getting back into the habit of working out, it didn’t go as planned but something is better than nothing!

Tuesday:  Day 2 of PIIT 1.0 and its rough!  I only did 3 rounds instead of 4.  In my defense I haven’t worked out for about 2 weeks so easing back into things is the safest way to go I think.

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Wednesday:  I was going to run today, woke up and decided nope I want more sleep and that’s just what I did.  Day 3 of PIIT 1.0 that night and some foam rolling for the legs to be ready for tomorrow.

Thursday:  I decided to go for a 30 minutes, get the legs moving run today.  I even took the dogs and they were so happy about it.  The pace was slow but I got back out there and it was very nice to have no pace goals and just run.  I did not do PIIT tonight because I was actually feeling pretty depressed and I couldn’t motivate myself to do it.  I did run that morning though so I didn’t feel so bad.

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Friday:  PIIT day 4 and got the rounds up to 4 today.  I have to modify a lot of the moves because I’m not strong enough yet to last but at least I’m doing something!  Stretching and foam rolling after.

Saturday:  I was going to run today with my running club, but I got up, it was cold and I decided my bed was much more inviting than the outdoors.  Usually that’s not the case I can almost always get my butt out the door when its cold but today I wasn’t having any of it.  Brunch with my girl Amy instead and we did go on a nice hour walk so technically I got my exercise in!

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Sunday:  I didn’t do any workouts today, not even cleaning like I should have and I’m not sad about it at all.

Monday:  PIIT day 5 today.  Keep on plugging along trying to get back into decent shape and one day be able to do these workouts all the way through with no modifications!  Stretching and foam rolling after the workout.

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CHIME IN!!!  How did your workouts go this week?  Have you struggled with motivation?  What’s your go-to at home workout?

Disney’s Castaway Cay Challenge

You all know by now that I ran my first marathon during Walt Disney World marathon weekend.  You may not know though that the following day I went on a cruise and completed the Castaway Cay Challenge.  To take part in this challenge you have to complete an event during the Walt Disney World marathon weekend, be a passenger on the cruise embarking the next day (see runDisney website for specific cruise date), and register for the challenge.  The challenges entitles you to an un-timed 5k just for marathon weekend participants, a special medal and on-course entertainment.  This is unlike the standard castaway cay 5k because of the entertainment and taking part before the other cruise passengers can get off the ship.

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I knew if I ran the marathon I had to do the challenge.  Its the best of both world, a race challenge with a great medal and a relaxing cruise.  I mean really how can you say no to that!  The cruise is also a 4-night which means its a little less expensive and not as much time away from home.  With limited paid time off this is really important.

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I, along with 699 other runners, took part in the challenge and it was wonderful.  The weather was perfect (about 60 degrees) the sun was shining and everyone was in great spirits.  It was still an early wake-up call at 5am but since that’s when most runDisney races start I cant complain too much.

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For this race I decided to get a good pace going because I really didn’t want to spend all day on the course.  I planned to stop for whatever characters I saw and enjoy the morning.  I was lucky enough to be in coral A which will probably never happen again so I had to earn that!  We got to our corals about 20 minutes before the start but between the DJ and watching Goofy do his silly stretches the start buzzer went off and the race started.

I always try to be on the far left side of courses (so if you ever cheer for me thats where Ill be) and Joe got a nice start pic, thanks Babe!!  The course itself was pretty simple straight down an airstrip, down a dead-end walkway, back down the airstrip, around a short bikepath then boom your finished.  At the end of the airstrip on the way out was pirate Mickey.  The line wasnt too long since I was in A so I stopped for a quick pic.

Down the dead-end street was Chip and Dale but their line was long and I’m not a big fan of theirs so I kept going.  When I got back to the airstrip Minnie was where Mickey had been so I stopped again and this time she had NO line!  Pic done and it was back off, quick grab for water at mile 2 and still plugging along.  No more character stops along the way which was a little sad but the bike path was very peaceful to run through.  By this time I had passed the majority of the racing field.  I think there were only 20 people ahead of me if that.  Since this isn’t a timed race I’m pretty sure most people decided to walk but I just had the urge to get those legs pumping.  Plus, being in A truthfully made me want to run a little harder.  I know its totally silly but that’s what was going through my mind.

I got out of the bike path and the finish line was in sight.  I picked up the pace a little then I saw in my side-eye a lady coming up behind me.  Oh HELL no!  I turned on the heat, put the legs in high gear and SMOKED that lady.  I know the race isn’t timed but ain’t no way I’m going to get passed at the last few feet!  I cruised to a halt, got my well deserved medal then basically ran to get in line to high five Donald #noshame.  After the photo-op it was back to the boat to shower then disembark with the rest of the cruise guests (you cant stay on the island and hang out they send you back to the boat).

Now I will say my body was still pretty stiff from the marathon and not being able to foam roll.  I was able to get my willpower going and average out a 9 minute mile for the course which I was really happy about.  The legs were fighting me a little but it still felt like I could have run harder if this was a timed race.  Since it wasn’t and I was stiff still I didn’t go all out and I’m not sad about that decision.  With the stops for characters I finished in 31:07 which to me was a great time all things considered.  I think without stops my time would have been around 28 minutes.

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After showing it was island time y’all!  Soaking up the sun, having a few island cocktails and just enjoying the beautiful day.  Of course as you can already see I took a ton of pictures with my medals and bib because I had to.  Oh and I had all the characters sign my bib.  I’ve never actually done the whole signature thing and this was a really fun way to capture those memories.  I don’t mind if you use this idea in the future 😉  When we got back to the boat it was Pirate night and we headed to Pink for more champagne to celebrate the giant success that is completing my first marathon.  Now that’s what I call a race-cation!  Cheers!!

Don’t forget, I can help you plan your vacation to Disney, Universal, Cruises or ANYWHERE!!!  Here is the link to my facebook page or email me at Rachael@DreamComeTrueVacations.com

CHIME IN!!!  Have you been to the Bahamas?  Ever been on a Disney Cruise?  Would you run an un-timed race?

1st Ever Festival of the Arts at Walt Disney World

For the first time IN MY LIFE I was actually at Walt Disney World for the opening day of a new event.  I was BEYOND excited and we extended our vacation by 1 day to make sure we were able to get the full festival experience.

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First, let me give you a brief overview of what the festival is.  Its at Epcot and is called Festival of the Arts.  The festival will be 6 weekends (Jan 13- Feb 20) featuring world-class cuisine, visual art and live Broadway entertainment!

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Festival Highlights Include:

  • Artist appearances
  • Artful photo ops (picture above)
  • Workshops and seminars with visiting artists
  • Community arts musical showcase
  • Culinary masterpieces
  • Destinations Discovered Tour
  • Disney on Broadway Concert Series
  • Gallery exhibits
  • Interactive mural
  • Living statues
  • Walking chalk gallery and more!

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That’s the summary let’s talk specifics.  Unfortunately the first day was very rainy so a lot of the artists weren’t able to be out.  We did see some sidewalk art but it was hidden in the back of the American Pavilion.  I wish we could have seen the living statues but again the weather kept them inside.  The food you can seem some of what we tried below.  The stand-out for me was actually the Pop-Art and the pot roast (not shown).  The NASTIEST thing I had was the fish things you see in the top left.  So nasty I threw them both away.  In all honesty we actually skipped a lot of the food stations because the only things that sounded good to me were desserts and a woman can not live on sugar alone, at least not in the real world.  PRO TIP—be prepared to wait for your food.  The concept behind each dish is art so they take a little longer to prep than normal food kiosk offerings.

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The big ticket item though, and the real reason we stayed an extra night was the Broadway Live show and for the first night it was Ashley Brown (Marry Poppins) and Josh Strickland (Tarzan).  I have seen both of them perform these types of shows before and knew I had to see this one, it did not disappoint.  Even though we waited in the rain for 45 minutes and ended up being seated in the rain on wet bleacher seats it was worth it.  The show was only an hour but it felt like 15 minutes it was so entertaining.  PRO TIP—from what I heard from cast members reserved seating for Annual Pass and DVC Members is already full so the only way to get reserved seating is to do a dining package.  Dining package seating is very limited, I tried and they only restaurant available was Biergarten in Germany and I wasn’t feeling that.  So if you cant do any of those reserved seating options make sure you are in line at least an hour beforehand because this event will only grown in popularity.

Here’s what I thought was AWESOME

  • Live Broadway performers.  Sorry for the bad video quality below, we didn’t have the best seats and it was raining.
  • Uniquely crafted food offerings
  • Variety of artists selling goods
  • Interactive “paint-by-numbers” wall
  • “Part of the Art” displays
  • Workshops.  The one I saw was watercolors and I wish I could have done it!
  • Friday-Monday only, allows the park to be itself during the week

What I thought could be better

  • Wait times for food.  I know its hand crafted but wait times were more than 10 minutes with no line.
  • More food kiosks.  I don’t need Food and Wine caliber but I think a few more would have been nice or at least more “main course” type foods.
  • More independent artists.  I mean those not paid by Disney to do Disney all the time.  Or have those artists sit out and paint.  I think they are doing this now but on the day we were there it was too rainy so I’m not 100% sure
  • Re-loadable gift card 😦  Whomp Whomp cast members were not able to activate this on the first day.  The glitch has probably since been fixed but when I tried they were not able to load.  I fully recommend these wrist gift cards but it just wasn’t working for me.

Joe and I both agree this was a great start to a solid 1st year.  I know its not the best but I think in a few years this could really be a big draw for Epcot.  With all the elements they had this year I think next year they will just keep adding on.  I also like that its not the whole week.  That way during the weekdays you can experience Epcot but on the weekend it transforms into a festival.  Very cool concept if you ask me.

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I’ve heard Epcot get a lot of flack for introducting “yet another festival”.  While I at first felt the same way I quickly changed my tune and here’s why.  First of all, festivals happen all the time in the real world so the concept of a wide variety of festivals absolutely fits in with WorldShowcase.  Second, the arts are often times forgotten and I am so excited that they are being showcased in such a classy way.  As a non-professional musician and lover of the arts this festival really resonates with me and Im so happy to see Epcot offering a diverse range of arts (not just paintings, but music, food, scultupre, etc).  This festival is also subtly educating guests.  Dont know what the painting above is, well you can find out on the back and learn about it!  Im so excited for this festival to grow and you can bet I’ll be back again in years to come.

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CHIME IN!!!  What do you think of the festival of the arts?  Do you want to become part of the art?  Are you a broadway lover?