Post-WDW Half Marathon Thoughts

January 12, 2016 § 1 Comment

Now that we’ve returned from the happiest place on earth and (I think) recovered from our first half marathon, we wanted to share the excitement and experience of race day and what we learned.

First of all…we did it! And we completed the race in under three hours, which was our goal (not too shabby for our first half marathon, huh?).

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Second: What a blast we had! Leave it to Disney to know how to truly make every mile magical. Despite getting up at 2:30am (Connor would like to point out that he was awake at 1:15am…show off…also, dude, why?), the morning actually flew by. We ate our english muffins with peanut butter (our favorite easy-to-digest pre-run fuel), boarded our bus around 3:15, got to Epcot about 30 minutes later, and sat around/stretched for about an hour before being ushered to our starting corral. The race started at 5:30am, but we didn’t actually cross the starting line until about 6:15am. Here’s a shot of us in our corral and then a little video of the race conDUCKtor (haha, see what I did there?), Donald Duck, sending us off in true Disney style.

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After that, we were off and running! It was a little packed at the beginning (you don’t realize how narrow those Disney roads can get when you’ve only been on them by bus!), but those expert crowd-weaving skills I’ve mastered by being a frequent Disney visitor over the years really paid off. We didn’t stop for many photo-ops along the race course (holy cow those character lines can get really long!), but we at least had to do this one:

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The race moved along quite swiftly actually. A few of our top magical moments include: running up Main Street, USA, around the Magic Kingdom park, and through Cinderella Castle; the amazing team of RunDisney volunteers (everyone we met was so nice and supportive!); Sarge from Toy Story giving us all some much-needed motivation around mile 10 (take a look below), and making the final loop around Spaceship Earth hand-in-hand.

It’s hard to believe that the training is finished and the race has come and gone. What seemed like an impossible feat merely a year ago, is now a reality: we actually did it! Although miles 8-10 were a little rough (I can’t quite pin point why), we felt very prepared from the training we did. That being said, e couldn’t speak more highly of the Jeff Galloway training program recommended by RunDisney. For first-time half marathoners like ourselves, it was an incredibly valuable resource and guide as we ventured into this unknown territory (until this point, neither of us had run anything longer than a 5K). If you’ve ever considered running a full or half marathon or even a 10K, you can absolutely do it. The Jeff Galloway program is for you! Check out all his customized RunDisney training programs here: Running Programs & Guides.

So, you might be wondering: what’s next? Good question. Well, we’re still thinking about it. I won’t dare mention specifics, but I have a feeling we’ll coast toward our next race soon enough. Until then, here are some more of our favorite shots from race day, including a celebratory photo-op with our favorite dog!

Pre-Race Day Thoughts

January 8, 2016 § 1 Comment

It’s your not-so-typical Natalie/Connor Friday night here at the happiest place on earth. Instead of gallivanting around the parks as per usual, we are lounging in our room before dinner, awaiting the much-anticipated event of the last few months: the Walt Disney World Half Marathon.

This is the first half marathon for us both and just being down here over the last few days, I can’t imagine doing it any place else. The training schedule, which started in September, definitely had its challenges (work conflicts, travel, illness), but we adjusted as needed and still managed to figure out our optimal run/walk system (as well as the best times to hit our GU too, of course). We’re aiming to do 5 minutes running/3 minutes walking for the first 5 miles and then do 6 minutes running/4 minutes walking for the rest of the way, adding an extra minute walking at each hour mark and when we GU (my sweet tooth usually pulls me to more chocolaty things, but for some weird reason, the cherry lime flavor is totally my jam!).

One of the things I think I liked best about the whole training process was actually documenting it. For pretty much every training run, we took a photo and shared it (check out #WDWnatcontraining on Instagram if you’re interested!). It was a small way to add some creativity to our runs and I found that I enjoyed the process more while doing it. Here’s one of my faves from our 11-miler…we channeled our inner Aaron Rodgers (Go Pack Go!).

We definitely feel ready for the race tomorrow morning. Not in an “OMG let’s get this over with” kind of way, but it feels like we’ve been training for so long now, it’s just time to rip that Mickey band aid off and do it!

There are just too many good photo gems from the #WDWnatcontraining catalog not to share. Hmmm, I sense a theme here. #GoPackGo #GoNatConGo

 

“Meet Me Tonight In Atlantic City”

November 16, 2015 § Leave a comment

Put your makeup on, fix your hair up pretty,
and meet me tonight in Atlantic City.
-Bruce Springsteen-

Atlantic City, New Jersey: a place I’ve been to only once and actually never thought I’d find myself back in. Until this weekend, that is. The casino atmosphere has zero appeal and I’m not much of a beach dweller (though I love looking at the ocean and walking along the shore), but Connor found himself there on a business trip and I—desperate to escape Princeton for a little while—decided to tag along. As I was cruising down the Atlantic City Expressway last Friday night, I strategically made sure this classic Springsteen song was playing:

While Connor was working I strolled along the ocean (picking up #alloftheshells like my younger self would have done), meandered the Boardwalk, saw a Broadway show (while discovering my inner Elf), and delighted in salt water taffy and the many little surprises and oddities I stumbled upon (like the awesomely creepy Miss America statue across from Boardwalk Hall). I wandered in and out of numerous casinos just to scope out the atmosphere (as unappealing as I find the casino culture, it’s also weirdly fascinating to me, mostly because I don’t understand any of it) and find the coolest/most bizarre slot machine. There’s something delightfully adventurous about being in a city where you don’t know anyone, can freely wander, and have no agenda or anything pressing to think about. Connor was even able to sneak in a little beach time and wandering with me too. And we spent (wasted?) a whopping $5 on a few slot machines, which was amusing…that Britney Spears slot though? Not as “lucky” as I would have thought. Anyway, here are some fun shots from the weekend’s escapades!

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No Mousing Around

October 11, 2015 § Leave a comment

I’ve had a few little birdies lately (you know who you are and thank you!) give me some much-needed encouragement to start writing again and jump back on the blogging train. Well, it worked—I am back!
Though sometimes I still feel like this:

Writing is like a muscle; you’ve got to consistently train and work hard to make it stronger. So in that spirit, let’s get to it! Knowing that it’s been quite a while since I last wrote, take a quick look at the previous post and notice the first item on the Things To Do list: run a 5K or 10K. Well, not only did we sign up for a run, earlier this spring we signed up for a half marathon. A. HALF. MARATHON.

This coming January, Connor and I are going to be heading down to Walt Disney World for the Marathon Weekend to run 13.1 miles through the happiest place on earth. Funny…what I wrote in January on here is exactly what I’ve been saying to myself over the last few months leading up to our first training week: it’s always good to work toward something, right? Very true. I honestly can’t say I’ve had a challenge like this come my way in a while. I’m excited (it is Disney, after all) and a little nervous, but I have my running goal set and I’m determined to finish strong (and have a damn good time while I’m at it).

I also love that the Run Disney Twitter jumped on the encouragement bandwagon with this right after we signed up:

And to quote my Dad: “well, there’s no DUCKing out now.” Ain’t that the truth.
We adapted the Disney hashtag from our trip last October to incorporate a little social media fun into our training. Head to Instagram and check out: #WDWNatConTraining
We’re just finishing up training week five right now and we are rocking it!

15 for 2015

January 5, 2015 § 1 Comment

We’re back in New Jersey after a long, relaxing (and much-needed) vacay in Wisconsin. This is also the first post of 2015, which makes it the perfect time for a 15 for 15 list! You all know how much I detest New Years resolutions; they’re mostly false promises that very few people actually adhere to and keep. But in the spirit of the new year, The Boy and I devised a list of Things to Do / Places to Go / Goals to Achieve for 2015. It took us a while to come up with 15 items, but some mindful thinking and Colectivo Coffee seemed to do the trick. Plus, once you write them down/make them public, you have to do them all, right? Here goes nothin’.

Things to Do
1. Run a 5K or 10K / We gotta work toward something, right? Especially for these two former track runners…a little friendly competition is always fun. Next step: picking a run and signing up!
2. Be a tourist in NYC for a day / Despite being in the city quite frequently, surprisingly we haven’t done many of the “must sees,” like the Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building, and The Met, just to name a few.
3. Attend a taping of one of the following: Jon Stewart, David Letterman, Jimmy Fallon, or SNL / …because we like funny people.
4. Find 5 Pinterest projects to complete for the apartment / We have a lot of corks and it’s about time we do something fun with them. #gettingcrafty
5. Make limoncello from scratch / Because while 30 Rock was on, we never made Liz Lemoncello…blergh.

Places to Go
1. Dogfish Head Brewery in Milton, DE /We love their beer, the brewery is nearby, and we keep talking and talking about it but haven’t visited yet.
2. Road trip: Maine and New Hampshire / These are the only two states in New England that I haven’t been to and I have a long-standing goal to visit all 50 states before I’m 50…I’m grossly behind my current age and need to catch up.
3. Brooklyn / ‘Cause we all need a day o’ fun in Brooklyn! Plus, there’s so much to explore and The Boy needs to trek across the bridge with me. :)
4. Road trip: Kentucky and Tennessee / I need to check TN off my list and The Boy needs to check both states off his list and hit up the bourbon trail.
5. A Green Bay Packer away game / Since visiting Lambeau Field twice in 2014, we thought it’d be fun to try taking in an away game that’s nowhere near us. We’d get to explore a new city, see a new stadium, and get to see our favorite team play. #GoPackGo

Goals to Achieve
1. Read a new book or play each month / I’m still trying to make reading a habit—I don’t dislike it; I just have trouble finding time…most of the time—but I did really well in 2014 and am upping the ante here. Plus, it’d give me something to consistently write about. See? Now you have something to look forward to.
2. Hit the gym at least two times a week / Our schedules for the next few months are pretty standard (even The Boy’s grad school schedule, hooray!), and for our own health and sanity, it needs to be incorporated into our regular schedule. On a related note: I’m starting to enjoy going first thing in the morning. Who woulda thunk? #nightowlproblems
3. Take the 52-week money challenge / Yes, we’ve seen it circulating on Facebook too and it’s an interesting concept. Though, we’re making a slight tweak: given that the last few weeks (and larger amounts) are in December—the month where traditionally money is most tight—we’re simply saving as much or little as we can each week. Some weeks will be better than others, but each week’s savings is positive and forward progress. #everylittlebithelps
4. Add yoga and stretching to our weekly workout routine / I truly envy the people who do yoga daily. It’s something I’d love to get in the habit of, but I have to start small with this and ease into it. Right now, I’m loving Tara Stiles’ YouTube videos; they’re short, well-shot, and fun. The Routine for a Deep Sleep is one of my faves.
5. Incorporate at least one vegetarian meal into the week’s schedule / We’ve actually done this before, mostly inadvertently. It’ll be good for us and our wallets. Experimenting with tempeh tomorrow…it’s gonna be great! #MeatlessMondays here we come!

Bring. It. On.
N & C

Until We Meet Again…

November 21, 2014 § Leave a comment

“What I find most astonishing, I think, is the wonder of daylight, of the sun.
All the centuries, millenniums-all the history-I wonder if that’s why we sleep at night,
because the darkness still…frightens us? …come now; we can begin the day.”
Agnes, Edward Albee’s A Delicate Balance

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I still consider myself a relative newcomer to the theater world; particularly in terms of plays and theater history. It’s quite rare for me to see a play that I’ve already experienced (most of what I see tends to be new, or at least new to me). Though I admit, I really do love the opportunity! I like seeing different interpretations of work that I’m familiar with; I can’t really explain why. Maybe it’s because I don’t consider myself artistically/theatrically creative in that way (and that, my friends, is why I work in arts admin), so I’m always intrigued by how others take a classic or “known” work and run with it.

Last Thursday night, The Boy and I had the distinct pleasure of being in the Opening Night audience at Edward Albee’s A Delicate Balance on Broadway, starring John Lithgow and Glenn Close. I am not familiar with everything in the Albee cannon, but what I have seen so far I have thoroughly enjoyed (it also helps that my first Albee play was Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf with Tracy Letts and Amy Morton…yeah, incredible!). Our first experience with A Delicate Balance was a few seasons ago at McCarter Theatre in Princeton (with the wonderful John Glover and Kathleen Chalfant), and we were eager to see this play’s return to Broadway. Ok, to be perfectly honest, the show’s marketing image really grabbed me; I’m a sucker for a stylish poster image.

The play was, well, Albee—drinking, dark humor, drama—everything you’d expect. It’s not the play itself that I wanted to write about here though; it’s what happened after the performance that made the whole experience simply humbling.

Since it was Opening Night, there were plenty of photos being taken and flowers handed out at curtain call (here are some pics from Playbill). Then something happened; as the audience was still on its feet, John Lithgow stepped forward and slowly put his hands out indicating that he had something to say. He thanked everyone for being there and acknowledged that we—along with the cast—probably had someone else on our minds that night: legendary director Mike Nichols who had just passed away.

In an incredibly emotional and inspiring speech, Mr. Lithgow enlightened us to the fact that Mr. Nichols made his Broadway debut on the very stage where they were all standing, in the very theater where we all sat: the John Golden Theatre on 8th Avenue and 45th Street. He also told us that Mr. Nichols came to see the show a mere 10 days prior to his death and graciously told the cast that this was the best production of A Delicate Balance he’d ever seen. Actor Bob Balaban briefly spoke about how Mr. Nichols not only gave him his first film gig, but also his first role on Broadway, then proceeded to ask Glenn Close to say something “happy.” [cue audience laughter] She stumbled a little bit, almost at a loss for words. Ms. Close told a brief story about Mr. Nichols and said that when an actor would be done shooting on a Nichols film, he would always sing Happy Trails. And the cast felt it would be a fitting close to their Opening Night performance to honor Mr. Nichols with Happy Trails.

The entire theater broke out in song—it was absolutely incredible! (Broadway.com snagged a little clip and put it on their Instagram. Check it out: Happy Trails) This was one of those rare spontaneous, shared moments that reminds us why we see (and for some of us, work in) theater.

Until we meet again…

Hey, Sole Sister!

November 17, 2014 § 1 Comment

Just. Keep. Walking.

You know, Dory was right: When life gets you down, you know what you gotta do? Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming. Well, for Annie and I, it’s more like Just keep walking (and in keeping with our preferred method of marketing lingo: #imawalkdis)

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With our two-year walkaversary (yup, we said it, roll with it) on the horizon and the holidays rapidly approaching, we thought it was time to share our not-so-secret way to decompress, de-stress, and, literally, get a breath of fresh air, all while working in arts marketing at a non-profit (yes, friends, it is possible). Here’s the interview Annie and I conducted…with ourselves.

Natalie J: So, remind me: how did this get started again?
Annie G: Early January 2013, just before the delight that is budget and renewal season.

NJ: Right, right. I believe you said something like: I need your help getting out of the office once a day, every day. To which I naturally responded, Absolutely! And then immediately asked: In any weather? I’m pretty sure you happily (yet secretly reluctantly?) agreed. There was some whining early on and I recall occasionally enticing you with chocolate in one hand and your coat in the other, but you’ve handled the cold weather quite well (says the one from Wisconsin)!

AG: Yes, you enthusiastically agreed to help make sure I did not continue to go into a “budget coma” during the bleak winter doldrums (when I have to work on two budgets simultaneously). It was so easy to say, I’ll just finish this one thing, and then I’ll get up to walk around…and then suddenly it was 5:00, it was dark, and I would have literally not gotten up all day except to go to the bathroom. Not a way to work! I really appreciate the days that you literally stand in my doorway with my coat and wait for me to get up. You also put up with my wimpy New Jersey girl whining about cold temperatures, wind, and otherwise crappy weather. One thing about committing to walking with a gal from Wisconsin is that there are literally no excuses. I think we have only skipped a couple of times during snowstorms or sideways rainstorms. And even then, we still ran up and down the lobby stairs a few times…

NJ: “Ran” can be defined pretty loosely there, I think. It’s more like stair climbing with a purpose…just sayin.

AG: Well…at least our heart rate went up.

NJ: True. Gotta work those glutes! People have often asked us where we go walking…care to divulge?

AG: Ohhh, if I told you, I’d have to kill you and then I wouldn’t have a walking buddy anymore.

NJ: …good point. #mumstheword

AG: Ok, so on our daily walks around an undisclosed location, we chat…

NJ: About a lot of things.

AG: But—mimicking an actual interviewer for a second—you’re around each other all day, don’t you get sick of each other?
NJ: I can’t tell you that in front of you. I kid, I kid…[beat]…are you still the interviewer or are you back to Annie now?

AG: [This was Annie’s exact reaction] …[beat]…what’s said on the walking path stays on the walking path.

NJ: Word. Ok, #butseriously. Most topics range from TV shows, social media, and sports to life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness…

AG: It’s normal that we want to talk about work stuff some of the time, but what is really fun about our walks for me is that we can chat about many different things; you are a great listener when I have kid questions, running the gamut from teenager drama to basketball tips/advice for my son (it’s really helpful that you used to play and I KNOW NOTHING ABOUT IT!).

NJ: I love talking basketball with you (and discovering the parallels between sports and arts marketing)! That reminds me—I’ve gotta teach him the fine art of the pick and roll. You mentioned a little about this at the beginning, but let’s take it a step (haha, #walkingpun) further: why do you walk? (we’ll get to me in a minute, standby)

AG: I realized long ago that I am “gym-phobic” —really, who wants to use equipment that other people you don’t know have sweat all over? I much prefer to exercise with my kids, riding bikes or being outside doing something active (now I shoot basketballs!) Walking totally satisfies that! I also love it because it’s rejuvenating and makes me get up from my desk. Guess what? The work will still be there when I get back. I also have to do it because…well, I’m old. You don’t. You’re not old.

NJ: Aww, thanks. It keeps me moving, that’s what I like about it. I’m a pretty active person and just can’t handle sitting all day; I get antsy and a little stir crazy. Just after I graduated college and got a full-time internship at a regional theater in Rhode Island, sitting at a desk all day was quite an adjustment. I’d usually walk from the intern house to the theater every day, but that was only about 2 miles roundtrip; definitely not enough walking for this girl. In fact, I rallied some of my fellow interns that year and we took lunchtime walks too! Wow, I guess I’ve actually been doing this for quite some time now.

AG: See, you’re like the angel of walking! Thanks for getting me off my butt and for sneaking into the Dean’s Garden with me! (Oh, and the budget thanks you too. I was smothering it; we needed space.)

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NJ: When I first moved to Princeton, I would go out and walk around town during lunch, mainly to get to know the town a little better. Walking solo can have its own therapeutic, calming benefits, but—even coming from my independent, only-child-self—it gets lonely pretty quickly. It’s really nice to have a walking buddy. There’s a pleasant sense of accountability there, ya know?

AG: Agreed. It’s always nice having someone to dodge the university golf carts with—and it’s good to know you can call 911 for me if I ever get run over by one.

NJ: Random fun fact: I actually typed most of this while walking (and miraculously didn’t trip over anything). Our walks tend to be a “digital disconnect” time too, now that I think about it. Kind of unintentionally I suppose, but it’s nice not to take a break from staring at a screen too.

AG: So, is this it? What’s next?

NJ: Calisthenics in the lobby…[beat]…you think I’m kidding…

 

About Us:
Annie muses Pointe by Pointe.
Natalie is a Tall Girl in a Small State.