Disney’s Wine and Dine Half Marathon Weekend 2018

I began running races my senior year of college at the University of Minnesota.  My new years resolution that year was to run a registered race, no matter what the distance.  Starting small, I convinced myself to run the Goldy Gopher 5k in April of 2014.  This started a chain reaction, which I never expected to last past this first 5k.  Now with a impressive list of races under my belt, I decided to embark on a new race challenge, three races in one weekend.

RunDisney has been a part of my life for the last few years, from my first half marathon to challenging myself to push the limits of my running ability.  This is why I returned this Fall to experience Disney’s Wine and Dine Half Marathon Weekend.  Now, I have run the two course challenges before, running the 10k on Saturday and the half marathon on Sunday.  Then I had the bright idea of, “why not add the 5k on top of the other two races, what could go wrong?” I signed up for all three races, trained for months, and traveled to Florida to participate in the race weekend in its entirety. 

The weekend starts off with a two day expo.  The RunDisney expo is probably one of my favorite parts of the weekend.  This year the flow of the entire expo was incredibly smooth.  You would get your race bib in one building, where they also had the RunDisney shop, and your race shirts in the other building with the actual expo inside.  There are so many things to experience at the race expo aside from getting your race bib and shirts.    They always have up some kind of photo opp for the newest Disney movie coming out.  This year it was Tony’s restaurant from the new live action Lady and the Tramp.  There are also plenty of opportunities for shopping!  Every race I run, I usually buy the race track jacket to remember the fun times I had putting myself through running so many miles in one weekend.  The other building offered the opportunity to buy anything you may have forgotten at home, like running clothes or pre-race snacks.  Disney always knows how to be entertaining so the entire expo is a party from start to finish.

I have the wonderful opportunity to be able to experience these races with my mom.  I am so blessed to have a wonderful running partner to endure long races and even longer training periods.  As per RunDisney tradition, people usually dress up for the runs which is super fun to watch for people’s costumes.  For the 5k race, my mom and I dressed as Piglet and Eeyore.  The race had us running throughout the Animal Kingdom parking lot, through Avatar Land and Asia, then finally backstage and to the front of the park to finish.  This was probably the most frustrating Disney race I have ever run.  So many people run this race because of its short distance and the ability to run almost the entire race inside the park.  I have never had to do so much weaving through the crowd before, which did make it slightly less enjoyable.  However, Disney always does a great job at keeping morale up for the runners and I had a smile on my face the entire time.

Day two of racing brought on the 10k where we dressed up as Peter Pan and his shadow.  We started our race in a parking lot near Magic Kingdom I believe where we would run the first 4 miles on Florida Highway.  There were so many characters and entertainers in those 4 miles you would have thought it was inside a Disney Park.  Our last 2 miles were inside of Epcot, which was amazing because we were able to run past a lot of new ride construction.  We ran past the gondola station which they are putting in near the back of the park, and it was adorned with beautiful artwork I cannot wait to see finished.  We also got to run past the new ride building for the Ratatouille and Guardians of the Galaxy rides, both of which look like they will be a blast to experience when finished.  After finishing the race, you get the best goodie boxes filled with food!  My favorite part of the boxes are the tortilla chips and cheese, although not many people find this to be a popular opinion.  With two races down, I was excited and nervous for the half marathon the next day.

The last day of races had come, and lucky for us it started raining during the National Anthem.  I have never run a race in the rain so this was a new experience for me.  Dressed as Dumbo and Timothy the Mouse, we started our 13.1 mile journey in the rain.  I would say it lightly rained during the first few miles of our race, which wasn’t detrimental but still not the most fun running condition.  After about 4 miles we found ourselves running through Animal Kingdom again for a short time till we were back on the road heading towards the next park.  Another 4 miles on highway and we find ourselves in Hollywood Studios.  I have never run in this park before, so it was a nice change of scenery.  We ran in by the Fantasmic amphitheater, down to the Tower of Terror, and finally down Hollywood Boulevard to exit the park.  Next, was probably my favorite part of the run, running through Disney’s Boardwalk Hotel.  The reason why this is the best is because you have been running for almost 12 miles and there are just huge crowds of people standing on the sidelines cheering you on.  There is so much encouragement going through this area that it is the perfect boost for getting to the end of your race.  After completing the loop around Epcot, you finish your half marathon!  Since my mom and I finished both the 10k and half marathon that weekend, we were given a special challenge medal.  

Our reward for running the races was a post race party at Epcot.  Disney will reserve the park specifically for runners and their families.  They keep all of the Food and Wine Festival booths open for us and provide us each with a gift card to try the food for the evening.  My mom and I made reservations Teppan Edo, which is my favorite place to eat at Epcot.  Located in the Japan pavilion, you will enjoy an amazing dinner and a show.  Unfortunately for us, the Florida weather did not want to cooperate and it started down pouring right before we left the restaurant.  We decided we did not want to stay in the rain for the rest of the night and ended up going home early after dinner. 

Over the course of the weekend, we ended up earning 4 medals for the races we ran and I am so proud of what we accomplished.  This was the first time we added in the 5k race to the two course challenge.  Again, I will say if you are looking to really run a 5k race, do not sign up for the RunDisney one because there will be so many people walking on the course.  The other two races were fun and enjoyable as always.  My mom and I actually ended up breaking some of our personal records for running which was really exciting!  Overall, the weekend went by smoothly, minus the little bit of rain we ran in during the half marathon.  I cannot wait for our next RunDisney event!

Till our next adventure,

Myrrh-Anna

 

Super Bowl Time

Negative temperatures, impromptu snow flurries, and ice paved streets are all here to welcome football fans from all over.  We are very lucky to be hosting the 52nd Super Bowl here in Minneapolis Minnesota.  Downtown Minneapolis has been a buzz for the last week with all the activities Minnesota has to offer.  I was able to take a day after work to go downtown to visit and partake in the festivities.  The Dayton Experience was our first stop, which took place in the basement of the now closed down Dayton department store.  There was a huge exhibit full of Prince memorabilia, which was amazing to see since he was a Minnesota icon.  Along with a large amount of Tempurpedic mattress demonstrations, I was excited to find out that we were filming the kitten bowl here in Minnesota!  There were a ton of cute kittens running around and playing on a small model of a football field.  At the end of the exhibit, there were more kittens up for adoption that you could pet and a dabbing kitten statue you could take a picture with.  A few food vendors and photo stops competed the exhibit, then outside was where the party started.

Right outside the Dayton experience, there were plenty of food trucks and food “experiences.”  The main one I went in was the Tostitos chip fiesta truck, where you could try some of their new flavor of chip, play lawn games, and listen to the DJ (this was all inside of course).  Continuing down the strip there were many ice sculptures displaying the Superbowl logo along with other sports symbols, like a football player or a football.  The live demonstrations of ice carving on the strip all night were incredible to stop and watch.  On top of ice sculpting, there was also the American Birkebeiner International Bridge, which was a snow hill people could ski and tube on during the event.  My favorite thing  I got to do was the VR (virtual reality) experience.  I was able to put on a virtual reality headset and throw footballs at targets competing against other players.  During this time, the Philadelphia channel 3 news came into the building and filmed us playing in VR.  Soon after the crowds started to get larger due to the Prince tribute concert that night so I decided to head out of there before it got too crazy.  

A couple nights later I had the chance to check out what Mall of America had to offer in regards to the Super Bowl.  By this time, all the radio stations had finished their broadcasting events so one of the rotundas was empty except for a few lingering media hosts.  Many celebrities and football stars had visited during the week and I had the chance of seeing a Cardinals player at the Nike store.  David Johnson was visiting and I think I got on his Snap Chat story!  Other than that there were a few vendors open with “Superbowl” activities, more or less just trying to sell their products.  Many local artists were put on display too, showing off what they believe represents the heart of Minnesota.  The art was displayed all throughout the mall and it was beautiful. 

Finally, the night of the Superbowl was upon us and it brought with it the coldest recorded Superbowl in the history of the NFL.  Leave it to Minnesota for bringing freezing temperatures to the biggest football game of the season!  Either way, the game was entertaining to watch and the commercials were hilarious.  Big shout out to the pride of Minnesota, the University of Minnesota Marching Band, for marching alongside Justin Timberlake in the Superbowl halftime show.  I am proud of Minnesota for being such great hosts for the 52nd Superbowl and I cannot wait for the winter Olympics to start this week!   

Until our next adventure,

Myrrh-Anna 

Weekend at the Cabin

Growing up in the land of 10,000 lakes has given me plenty of opportunities to spend time out on the water.  This past weekend was no different with going out to a friend’s cabin up north in Duluth.  A weekend of rest and relaxation at the lake was much-needed.

Duluth is about a 2 hour drive north of the Twin Cities, and after I finished work I was on my way.  I will warn you, unless you leave the Cities early in the afternoon, the rush hour is terrible and it will take you somewhere between 3 and 4 hours to arrive at your destination.  Once you get into Duluth, the drive is beautiful and there are so many different sights to see.  We, however, were staying at a cabin about 20 minutes outside of Duluth.  Let me tell you, this cabin was beautiful and there was a plethora of things to do once we got there.  The fresh smell of pine forests and marshmallows roasting on a fire are intoxicating, making for an amazing night under the stars.  Also, if you get the chance to, go up north and see the stars, getting away from the city lights is totally worth it!

The following day was when the real fun began.  We started the morning off with a hearty breakfast of eggs, toast, and doughnuts, then straight to all the “toys.”  The first thing I had to try out was the ATV, and for those of you who don’t know, they are powerful all-terrain vehicles which perform best when off-road.  Running around in the woods by their cabin was a blast, and we definitely all came back full of mud!  Then to rinse off we jumped right into the lake for some time on the boat and jet skis.  Before this weekend, I have never been on a jet ski.  It was terrifying and let’s just say, unless you have good balance, keeping the jet ski going straight is very difficult.  We were also taken out tubing behind a speed boat which was a challenge, especially trying not to fall off at high speeds! Finally they took us to a “secret” rope swing which we boated out to after lunch.  Let’s just say it did not seem scary until you were at the top of it ready to jump.  My first couple jumps left me with some injuries, including a chipped tooth, and my last few jumps were a lot of fun.  I also have never been on a rope swing at this point either but I would totally recommend it!

After many more hours on the lake, we decided to come in to play a corn hole tournament.  Corn hole is a fun little game where you throw bean bags onto boards and try to score points.  The boards each have one hole on the top and that is the high scoring place to hit during a game.  During the first tournament my partner and I were able to win and become champions!  Then the rest of them played another tournament to see who would play us in the grand champion game.  Unfortunately, we lost the grand champion game but it was still a good time with friends!

Later that night we all sat by the fire again playing games and singing songs.  This past Saturday in Minnesota, we were going to be hitting a pretty big meteor shower .  Turns out we were able to see a lot more than just meteor showers that night because we could also see the milky way!  The dancing stars that night, along with the beautiful iridescent glow of the milky way made for an incredible ending to the day.

Sunday was an adventure all in itself!  Instead of staying a whole day at the lake, we decided to go do some exploration at Split Rock Lighthouse State Park.  When we arrived, we decided to buy a state park pass instead of buying just admission to the lighthouse, this way we could explore more of the park itself.  We first found ourselves on Pebble Beach which was beautiful, with dark grey and black rocks lining the beach.  The coastline was never-ending and you could see for miles across Lake Superior.  I also attempted to skip rocks on the beach but to very little success.  We then ventured closer to the lighthouse on the same beach to get a better vantage point.  The lighthouse, from below, was absolutely stunning!  The cliff and nothing but Lake Superior surrounding it made for some beautiful pictures.   

Overall, it was an amazing weekend up north and very relaxing, minus the bumps and bruises I have sustained since Sunday.  Getting out into the wilderness is one of my favorite things to do.  Exploring new things with the people I love is a very rewarding experience and I am so excited to go out and do this all over again! 

Until our next adventure,

Myrrh-Anna 

Here Goes Nothing!

An adventure by its very definition is an exciting or remarkable experience which usually involves unknown risk.  Starting this blog has been a dream of mine for a very long time but I was always able to find a “good excuse” not to start it. I would tell myself, “you are too busy with school” or “you don’t have that interesting of a life that people would want to follow.”  Well today I let that tiny little spark inside me grow and I am not turning back!  

I know there is a large amount of risk involved with putting myself and my life out on the internet.  This is one of the “high risk/ high reward” situations where, if you do not start somewhere, you will never get to where you would like to be.  I am excited to share my life with whoever is there to listen.  

So lets me get you up to speed with my life!  I graduated from the University of Minnesota with my master’s degree in 2016.  Since then I have moved to Wisconsin for a job with the USDA, which I decided to part from in 2017.  I lived in Wisconsin for about a year and it was very difficult for me to be in a new city away from family and friends so I found a job closer to home.  I am now working in the medical field and I could not be happier! Now in that short year after I graduated, I have gotten to see more of the wild outdoors in the Midwest, learned more about professional photography, and I have run four half marathons.  My life has been non-stop after college!

People will tell you when you find a job after college and settle down your fate is sealed and that’s it.  I refuse to believe this, because my life is only beginning!  So come along with me on this journey called life, I have some pretty exciting trips planned in the next year and I am excited to share them with you all, so here goes nothing!