24 July, 2011

New Wine & Dine Medals Announced & runDisney Merchandise For Sale!

While I was away camping this weekend, it looks like the runDisney folks were busy!

On their Facebook they posted photos of the new Wine & Dine Half Marathon and Relay photos.  LOVE the new gold look compared to last years silver ones.  They still kept the Spaceship Earth look, which made the medals awesome to begin with.

What do you guys think?

Photo from runDisney's Facebook

Also on their Facebook page this weekend, they announced that new runDisney merchandise is now for sale at select retail locations at WALT DISNEY WORLD including the ESPN Clubhouse Store at ESPN Wide World of Sports and TEAM Mickey at Downtown Disney. And select items will be available for purchase online at disneystore.com soon!

Photo from runDisney's Facebook

Now everyone that was jealous of the runDisney shirts that we got at the Jeff Galloway run last October can finally buy their own! :) I could use another runDisney shirt myself! I'll keep an eye out on their website and let you know when you can buy things online!

21 July, 2011

June Race Recap: Spartan Sprint NY

Way back in early June, my friends and I decided to attempt the Spartan Race that was being held in NY.  Some of us had done the Warrior Dash last August so assumed it would be pretty much the same thing...right??

According to their site.... Simply, Spartan Race is the world’s leading obstacle race series. It’s an event of pure primitive craziness that you’ll never forget!

I think that description is putting it lightly...but more on that in a bit!

There were 6 of us running the race and little by little we all started arriving at the site.  In the meantime, we kept watching the races start every half hour and wandered around all of the obstacles that were around the finish line to try getting a taste of what to expect.  Oh, and we grabbed a beer because we definitely needed something to drink before attempting this feat! 

With one of the Spartan Chicks
After we all arrived, it was almost time for our heat to start so we lined up and grabbed a few photos.  Don't hate on my pink socks!  They saved my poor knees and shins from some serious beatings!

How do you like my socks?

At the start!

The Spartan organizers never post course maps because they want the course to be a secret.  So let's see if I can remember most of the obstacles....

- run up the ski mountain
- jump over fire and get doused with a fire hose at the top of the mountain
- jump over, under, and through walls that were 4-5 feet high
- get across many monkeybars
- run back up the hill
- pull a cinder block tied to a rope up a 15-20  foot pulley and then bring it back down
- crawl through sewage-like pipes
- crawl under chicken wire over boulders and tree stumps
- carry car tires up and down the mountain
- carry 5 gallon pain jugs filled with gravel up and down a 100 yard (?) steep mountain (the worst part by far)
- pull rocks in a bucket that's on skiis around a course and over hot coals (Chariots of Fire!)
- figure out a way to get yourself over an 8 foot wall
- run up and down that damn mountain a few more times
- climb up and over the slippery wall covered in soap
- traverse across a wall with hand and foot holds (almost like bouldering) without falling
- throw a spear at a target of hay
- military crawl 400 meters uphill in a CRAZY mud pit topped with barbed wire
- military crawl down 100 meters downhill in a pit of ice
- jump over fire
- get through the Spartans trying to kill you at the finish line... no joke

I KNOW I'm forgetting some and I'm not describing some of these correctly but I might be trying to forget about some.

The course was only 3.1 or 3.2 miles and it took us an hour and a half.  The mud pit alone took us about 20 minutes! So here's just a few of the photos that my friend who didn't run took for us. :)

Slippery Wall

After getting over the slippery wall
Heading towards the mud pit

Attempting the spear throwing...and failing
Getting through 30 burpees
Trying to figure out the mud pit
Somewhere in that mud pit
Are we there yet!?
Before getting too dirty
One of the Spartans at the finish line

RIP pink socks :(

The sneaker donation pile

To sum it up though...this race was AWESOME! We had such a hilarious time getting through the course. Unfortunately we don't have photos throughout like I did for Warrior but that's because this race was HARD. So so much harder than Warrior Dash!

I will say the after party wasn't as fun as Warrior Dash but I feel that the Spartan series is definitely for the more hard core.  Not as many people dressed up in costumes and there were a ton of people that went ALL out in terms of trying to win this thing!  Apparently the guy that won the day we were there broke both his wrists falling off that slippery wall but still managed to finish in first place.  Can we say crazy?! 

This was technically a Spartan Sprint, which is 3+ miles.  They also have Super Spartans (8+ miles), Spartan Beasts (12+ miles),  and the absolutely insane Death Race (48 hour physical and mental challenge in the mountains of VT).  They put on some great races and I can't wait to do it again next year!  I might even attempt a Super Spartan in the near future...we will see!

20 July, 2011

Disney Food Blog Guest Post: New Jiko Wine Tasting

Time for some reviews, shall we?

Below is a review that I wrote for the Disney Food Blog about the new wine tasting at Jiko at the Animal Kingdom Lodge.  It was pretty much the first thing we did when I got to Florida in May.  Such a fun time and I wanted to re-post it here for all of you guys too....

You can find the original post here


When I first heard that Jiko was starting up wine pairing Wednesday afternoons, I immediately grabbed a calendar to see if any of them coincided with trip in May. Sure enough, one did! Jiko is hands down one of my top two favorite restaurants on Disney property (the other is Citricos), so I couldn’t make a reservation quick enough.

Booking and Background


According to the Disney Parks Blog:
With one of the finest collections of South African wines in the U.S., sommeliers at Jiko – The Cooking Place at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge love sharing tastes. Each Wednesday from 3-4 p.m., take a journey through the wine regions of South Africa and sample three delicious vintages paired with cheese and fruit. Cost is $25 plus tax and gratuity, and reservations can be made at 407-938-7149.
Before even asking my other friends if they wanted to join me, I immediately called the Jiko reservation line that was given and left a message with my information that was requested. Within a few hours, I had a confirmation email from one of the Cast Members of Jiko confirming my reservation and letting me know that I can add guests with just a simple email back to her.

After all was said and done, there were 4 of us wanting to attend the wine pairing. We arrived at Jiko a little early and they were still setting up, so we wandered for a bit. After seeing other guests waiting by the bar area, we wandered back and hung out with the crowd.

Atmosphere and Tasting


The sommelier came around to each group to check us in. We were then ushered into the main dining room of Jiko where we all took our seats around a single long table, which sat around 16 or 18 people. The wines were already placed at each seat on top of a place mat that listed the name of each wine sample. As guests started to greet and meet each other, the cheeses were quickly laid in center of the table.

I’d wanted to take photos of everything before we were told we could start eating but, unfortunately, I wasn’t quick enough. One of the Jiko chefs came to our table to explain the cheeses that we would be having during the pairing. It was impossible to keep track of which was which during the explanation but they were kind enough to give me a print out of all of the cheeses that we sampled.

Jiko Artisanal Cheese Selection

Fiore Sardo – Italy (Sheep): Fiore Sardo is a cheese of ancient origins that predates the Roman conquest of Sardinia. The milk used to make Fiore Sardo must come from Sardinian sheep, which are thought to be descendants of the wild mountain sheep called Mouflon. The flavor is rich, full flavored, and nutty with a hint of caramel. The rind is golden yellow to dark brown and sometimes black when smoked. Served with strawberries and dried apricots.

Bijou – US (Goat): Bijou is the French word for ‘jewel’, and these petit, glistening cheeses are the perfect embodiment. Styled after the classic Crottin de Chavignol, Bijou is a pasteurized goat’s milk cheese produced by the Vermont Butter and Cheese creamery in Websterville, Vermont. The are semi-firm in texture, and bear the typical, subtle tang of fresh goat’s milk cheese. Served with berries and a cherry gelee.

Fromage d’Affinois de Brebis – France (Sheep): Fromage d’Affinois de Brebis is a soft-ripened, pure sheep milk cheese with a creamy texture and a sweet taste. This cheese is a soft, bloomy-rind sheep’s milk cheese from the Rhone-Alps region in France, produced by the well renowned Guilloteau creamery. The paste is mild and rich while the rind provides a flavor and texture that is savory and builds complexity. Served with sun-dried, vine ripened raisins.

Cashel Blue – Ireland (Cow): Developed in 1984 by Jane and Louis Grubb, Cashel Blue is Ireland’s first Artisanal Farmstead Cheese. Cashel Blue is entirely hand crafted on the farm in Tipperary Ireland, using un-homogenized Cow’s milk from the Friesian dairy herd. Cashel Blue is generally younger than many other Blues, topping out around three months of age. Served with raspberries and blueberries.

Pleasant Ridge Reserve – US (Cow): Raw Milk, Farmstead Cheese from southwest Wisconsin, made in the style of Alpine Cheeses like Beaufort and Gruyere. Pleasant Ridge Reserve is only produced between May an October, and only when the pasture conditions are ideal. Pleasant Ridge Reserve is aged for 8 months in the Creamery’s own ripening cellar.

We were also served a plate of star anise wafers and fig almond croutons. Before tasting the wine, the cheese plates were passed around the table and everyone took a sample from each onto their own plates for the wine pairings.

And now on to the part we’ve all been waiting for, the wine!!

The sommelier, Raul, gave us a brief rundown of the history of South African wines. He explained how the wine industry there is still relatively a young industry and still starting out. He then went into detail about each wine, one at a time. Giving the history of the vineyard, he then explained the grapes used, and asked that we all try the wine. After taking guesses of other ingredients used in the making, he jumped in and told us how correct (or incorrect) our guesses were.

The three wines we sampled:

Cederberg Bukettraube, Cederberg: Described as a “wine with attitude”, this was probably the favorite of the table. It had hints of grapefruit and honey and paired well with the blue cheese. Unfortunately I’m not a fan of blue cheese but I thought it still went well with some of the other cheeses.

Spice Route, Chenin Blanc, Swartland: This was a very well balanced wine, mild and sweet. Hints of apricot.

Warwick, Old Bush Vines, Pinotage, Stellenbosch: Possibly my personal favorite, but I enjoy reds more than whites. The Pinotage was explained to be a mix of Pinot Noir and Hermitage and is a grape to hold up to the weather. This wine was smooth yet slightly dry and had black currant and clove undertones.

After a sip (or two, or three), he requested that we then try the wine with a bit of cheese or fruit and discuss how the taste of the wine changes. All three wines we sampled were delicious on their own. With the correct cheese & fruit? The flavors were definitely enhanced!

This went on for all three wines and then we were able to sit and enjoy the remainder of the event. Raul would walk around and talk with the guests and answer any questions they had. All wine glasses were also refilled on request until the bottles ran dry.



I can honestly say that this one of the most memorable and enjoyable events I’ve attended at Walt Disney World. For the price ($25 plus gratuity), this can’t be beat. It’s a fabulous way to spend an afternoon away from the parks and a chance to try some delicious wine & cheese. Would I attend a Jiko wine pairing again? I’m already planning my next trip and definitely including this in my itinerary!

The Jiko dress code was not mentioned when making the reservations, but almost everyone in attendance was dressed up in slightly nicer attire. We were the 4 that came directly from the parks, so next time I might want to freshen up before heading over.

19 July, 2011

Wine & Dine Race Program Guide is Online!

runDisney recently sent out an email to runners giving some new updates about the Wine & Dine Half Marathon weekend being held at the end of Sept/beginning of Oct.

Hidden in the corner was a link to the race program!

It explains any and everything you need to know about the weekend. It also includes information about all of the changes that they've implemented since last year. Since a lot of people don't usually run night time races, there's also a few pages written by Jeff Galloway explaining how to handle the time difference in terms of rest and eating.

The biggest change with the finish line party is that there will be a few attractions open as well as the World Showcase such as Mission: Space, Test Track, and Soarin'. Also, instead of getting vouchers for a free sip and taste at the Food & Wine Festival kiosks, runners will get a free drink by the finish line area as well as a $10 gift card to use at the after party or at any other time during your stay. Sounds like a good plan for guests that don't want to stay for the party!

Click here to go directly to the race program.

18 July, 2011

T-Minus 15 Weeks Until Marine Corps!

I've said it a million times and um, I'm going to say it again... time to seriously get my butt in gear and start officially training for this marathon! Let's do a little recap from the past few weeks, shall we? Don't worry...there's really not TOO much to report. ;)

The last week in June (the last time I said I needed to get things in gear), was actually a great week of training...

6/28: Actually woke up before work to run, I'm impressed with myself! :) 3 semi easy miles. Was definitely muggy so had a hard time getting a deep breath in. Legs felt good though even after my leg workout the day before.

7/1: Started up SmartCoach again and it called for a 3 mile tempo run at 9:11 pace, plus a 1 mile warmup and 1 mile cool down. First mile of the tempo run felt great. Actually had to slow down to keep the correct pace. Hit it right at 9:11. Was still keeping a good pace until I had to turnaround halfway through mile 2 and ended up with a 9:18. 3rd mile I just could NOT pick up the pace any more. It was getting muggier and harder to take a deep breath but I still pushed out a 9:22. Not perfect but I'm happy!

7/3: Holy rain, Batman! It was drizzling when Robby and I got to Central Park and the minute we parked, the skies opened up. Mother Nature was NOT happy...thunder, lightning, torrential rain, the whole shibang. We waited it out a bit and when it slowed down, we sucked it up and went outside. It rained for the entire run...boo! We had planned on 10, SmartCoach told me to do 8, so I'm kinda happy with 7.55. We did take a break for Robby to find a restroom and then walked around a few unexpected lakes so our pace def was affected. We were soaked to the bone though by the end. After awhile we gave up trying to go around the huge puddles and just started running through them. My poor poor sneakers! :)

And here's when the training kinda dive bombed....took a slight full week off due to class/exams and then the shuttle launch! All of the crossed fingers seemed to have helped! The shuttle went up on it's first attempt on Friday and it was absolutely AMAZING!!! Dad and I also got a chance to enjoy the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal and then the remainder of the weekend wandering around Disney and eating very well. Hopefully I'll get some of those reviews up too.

Here's just one of the shots I took. I have SO many I still need to go through!

7/11: Upper body workout

7/12: Ran for the first time with my running store's running group. Of course I pick the hottest, muggiest day of the year so far to go! 93 degrees and humid as anything at 6:30pm. We ran 3:1 intervals, which I liked in this heat. It was nice to take the walking breaks! Of course I couldn't go into the store without spending money on a whole new running outfit... *sigh*

But look how cute! :)

7/15:  Woah...WHAT was I thinking!??! Wanted to run at 9am but work got in the way. Didn't get to the park until 12:30pm... and it was 87 degrees and sunny and humid! :( Mile 1 was supposed to be a warmup and then I wanted to ramp up the speed. Unfortunately Mile 1 was my fastest mile.  The heat/humidity/sun completely sucked every ounce of energy out of me. I had to walk multiple times and was NOT happy about the whole situation. But, I got it done...moving on! :)

7/18:  Felt pretty good but the humidity was still pretty high. Was supposed to do 3 miles at a 9:11 pace and looks like I hit it dead on! 2nd mile was slowest prob due to the turnaround halfway through. Was kinda hard to get a deep breath in but didn't feel horrible!  Oh, and did I mention that I actually woke up at 5 for this run? Earliest wakeup yet! Didn't get to the park until 6, but that's still the earliest start too. :)

So hopefully there won't be as much pink on the sheet from here on out. Oops!

07 July, 2011

May Race Recaps: Maywood 5k and Fred D'Elia 10K

It's already July and I realized I never wrote recaps for the two races that I did in May!  They weren't huge races but I did PR in both of them so I guess I should write a teeny tiny blurb about them, right?  :)

Unfortunately, no photos.  Unless you count the horrible professional photos from the 10k, which I'll post a pic of to get a few laughs. 

5/21/11:  Maywood 5k

This is the race that started my running 'career'.  My first official 5k way back in 2006.  I grew up in this town and my gym is in this town so I try to run it whenever I can!  It's slightly unorganized, pretty unofficial, but still usually a fun time since I always know so many people running it. 

Honestly nothing horribly interesting to report!  It was a beautiful day, possibly slightly warmer than I would have liked (I believe low 70s at the start) but all in all?  Great running day.  I met up with a few of the gym gang when I got there and quickly checked in to get my bib and t-shirt.  For once the shirts were a pretty blue!  However?  They were out of my size that I had requested! :( I know it happens so whatever, but the guy manning the t-shirt boxes was beyond rude when I joked about not getting my size.  Chill out dude. 

After warming up, we were all corralled into the street to get behind the start line.  The race doesn't use timing chips, just the rip off tags that are on your bibs so I honestly tried to get as close to the front as I could, without getting in front of the crazy elite runners.  The horn blew and we were off!

For the first mile I tried to keep pace with one of the guys from the gym but he was running with Speedy Gonzales so I dropped back after I realized I ran the first mile in 7:48.  YIKES!  Kept a consistent pace for the next two miles but I could feel myself getting really warm so I didn't want to overdo it and keel over.  Miles 2 and 3 were both done in 8:58 which is still awesome for me.  I finished in 26:36, which definitely killed my last PR of 27:21!!! YAYY!! SO EXCITED!

Grabbed a few orange quarters and some water and hung out while more of the gym gang crossed the finish line.  After hanging out there for awhile, we all went back to the gym for bagels and coffee.  Perfect way to start the morning!

5/30/11: Fred D'Elia 10K 
Still on the high of my 5k PR, I was excited to test out my speed in the 10k.  Over the Memorial Day weekend, there's an annual 10k about 15 mins from me so myself and a friend of mine registered.

The morning of, I woke up about 4am to the sound of the loudest thunderstorm I've been through in awhile!  Oh boy, this is going to be entertaining!  By the time I had to leave for the race, the thunder and lightning had completely stopped and it was just barely drizzling.  Grabbed a few necessities like my Garmin and water bottle and jumped in the car to head over.  

One of the bigger running clubs host this event every year so it's a pretty big shibang for a 'local' 10k.  Lots of tents with vendors giving free samples (yayyyyy Zico!) so after grabbing our race shirts and bibs, we promised each other that we'd browse everything after the race was over.  

We lined up a bit behind the start line and ended up running into two guys from my gym.  Chatted a bit and then they started the national anthem so we all started getting ready to run.  When the gun went off, people were flying!  I tried not to go too crazy at first but still went out way too fast.  Just can't help it!

Oh, and did I mention that the torrential downpour before the race cause the humidity to be about 99.9999%?  It was pretty muggy and hard to take a deep breath.  I don't do well in muggy heat usually!

I kept up a good pace for the first few miles but then just really had to slow down.  I wasn't annoyed by it at all though because I knew there was no way I could run all out with it being that muggy.

The crowds along the course were fun and entertaining.  Not a whole lot of people but all of the kids that were there kept on cheering and giving runners High Fives.  Just like the 5k, there really isn't much to report!  The race went smoothly and I tried to smile for the cameras but...

That was unfortunately the best photo of the bunch.  The rest of the shots I definitely look like I'm going to hurl or keel over.

I finished the race in 1:00:28 and was definitely very happy with it!  It was HOT out there!  Plus my previous PR in the 10k was 1:02:something so YAYY!!!

I quickly found my friend and we grabbed some water and food and wandered around the vendor tents for a little bit.  Grabbed a few more Zico's and then both headed home for some BBQs!

OK, so that was the short and sweet version of both races... :)  Nothing too exciting, I know!


Everyone PLEASE cross your fingers for this weekend.  My dad and I are taking a VERY short trip down to Florida to try seeing the very last shuttle launch.  It's supposed to launch on Friday but that doesn't look too promising so I'm hoping and praying it goes up at some point this weekend.   Even if it doesn't, it'll be fun to just hang out with my dad for the weekend.  We'll get some Disney fun in as well. 

Plus we'll be heading to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter for the first time, I can't wait! 

When I get back I'll try to get my Spartan Race recap up ASAP!