Monday, September 29, 2014

End of an Era

**Author's Note: I wrote this while waiting for my flight home on Saturday morning. Even after watching Derek Jeter's last at bat, I am still pretty raw with emotion.**

I still can't believe it.

I'm sitting in the airport waiting to board my flight home, two days after Jeter topped off his career at yankee stadium in only the way jeter could. The entire game was one of anticipation- what spectacular play was he going to make? How was Girardi going to top the send off he have Mo? How was this game going to end? And how was Jeter going to be pulled?

I spent most of the game on the verge of tears. I was simultaneously happy and sad. Happy that I got to watch the greatest player of my generation play at home one final time and so very sad that it was going to end. The game flew by in what seemed like a blink of an eye. Before I knew it, the Yanks were up 5-3 and it looked like of Girardi was going to pull Jeter, it was going to be in the 9th. Then - Dave Robertson happened.

As a yankee fan it has been an adjustment to not having the greatest closer in baseball as your goodnight man. Robertson is good, don't get me wrong, but he is no Rivera. I know it's an unfair comparison, but unfortunately for him, it's one he is going to have to get used to if he wants to stay in pinstripes. Robertson allowed two homers and suddenly the game was tied and there was the real possibility that the send off we were all waiting for was going to be soured by a devastating loss. Sending into the 9th, fans all around we're saying "jete's gonna get the walk off." Jeter was due up third but with the way the season had been going, there was no way in hell he was going to get that fairy tale ending- or would he?

Pirela struck first, scoring a single and Girardi switched him out for a pinch runner in Antoan Richardson. After a bunt by Gardner to get into scoring position - it was time.
The stadium was roaring Jeter chants all night - everything from thank you captain, thank you Jeter and thank you Derek to your simple Der-ek Je-ter. But as he came to bat all forty thousand plus were on their feet and from the top of our lungs were screaming his name. We wished so much for him to get the big hit, the big win and have a moment on top. First pitch- and in true Jeter style- he smacked it between first and second and grabbed himself an RBI walk off single.

It was right there that the dams burst and tears flooded my eyes. I couldn't help myself. This player had been the most consistent thing in my life for 15+ years. He inspired me; he enriched my life and love of baseball. He was the perfect role model and I couldn't believe it was all over. I screamed at the top of my lungs and cheered until my voice disappeared. Then I looked at the screen to my right and saw them. The core four - Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada, Andy Petite and Bernie Williams. Flanked by Joe Torre and Gerald Williams and even though I didn't think it was possible, I cried even harder. It was perfect. Jeter didn't see them right away, which made it all the better.

He kept his composure through the post game interview and thanked the fans and the fans responded with the ultimate response- throwing their caps onto the field in the ultimate cap tip. As Jeter did one final lap and stopped at his position at short stop I was flooded with all the memories- the flip, the dive, Mr. November, Mr. 3,000.... It was a beautiful moment and one that I will cherish for the rest of my life.

People always asked me what I would do if Jeter were traded or when he retired. Would I still be a yankee fan. The answer is yes - I am still a yankee fan. I will always be a yankee fan. But a bit of my heart died on that field as I watched the end of an era. I am so, so fortunate to be a Jeter fan. He is the best baseball can ask for and has been more frequently more than it deserved.

I guess really there is only one thing left to say - thank you captain. Thank you.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Dumbo Double Dare Recap: The Main Event!

Sunday came and as soon as I woke up I was feeling tired. I was really glad I had decided ahead of time to have as much fun as possible during the half and run with my mom because there was no way my legs were going to carry my 13.1 miles with any sense of speed. I gathered my items for the run and started slowly putting my costume together. I decided to run as Daisy Duck to partner with my mom's Donald Duck.

My mom was very nervous - she was about to tackle her very first half! But I kept telling her it would be fine and that nerves were normal. We focused on getting some food in our system, took a few pictures and then we were off into the dark balmy night towards our corrals. When we got to the runner area we noticed that the Green Army Men from Toy Story were wandering around in the crowd and saying hi to the guests. We knew we had to get in on that action!

Knowing we had to make our way to corral H, we didn't spend too much time in the runner area and after a quick good bye to the hubs, we meandered what felt like forever to get into our corral. To say it was packed would be the understatement of the century. With 18,000 runners it was obvious that this was going to be a jam packed event. I have to give runDisney credit though - they moved those corrals rather quickly and within 30 minutes of the original gun time, we were off and running the streets of Anaheim. Mom and I decided pre-race that we would do splits of run/walk with a mile run and a .10 mile walk interval. This worked perfectly for me since my legs were killing me and the heat was killing any energy I thought I may have. After about a mile or so, we were making our way inside the parks through Disney California Adventure.

After we snapped a quick photo in front of Mickey's Fun Wheel we came to our 2nd character stop of the race - Cars! Since Mater and Lightening had a long line, we opted to jump into this line instead. After a quick photo, it was back to running! I thought we may see Mike and Sully from Monsters Inc by the Tower of Terror, but alas - there would be no Monsters for us to enjoy this time around. It was in the Hollywood area that we saw Jake the Pirate - my mom thought about stopping but decided against it - wanting to save her time for some classic characters we hoped were waiting for us in Disneyland. She definitely got her wish.

I guess my symbol of the weekend was the thumbs up, because it is in every picture! My mom got so excited to see her main duck waiting for us on Main Street so we paused and got in line. Mom was a little nervous about the time spent in line - not wanting to be swept for her first race - but I told assured her we were making good time and that if we didn't stop for the characters, we were missing the point of the runDisney experience. And once she hugged that duck she was rejuvenated. We crept along down Main Street toward Tomorrowland where we say the Storm Troopers from Star Wars. Neither my mom or myself are Star Wars fans so we bypassed the very very long line and made our way past Finding Nemo towards Fantasyland. It was as we passed the Matterhorn that I saw something I could not believe - two very distinct horns - peeking through the crowd of runners. As soon as the runners cleared I saw the best character ever. The one character who is my all time favorite, who is never available for character experiences and who can only be seen from afar during Fantasmic. The one, the only MALEFICENT!!!! I damn near cried. I have an obsession with the Mistress of All Evil and was a little bummed that I was Daisy instead of Maleficent for the half, but I knew regardless of the line it was picture time. I screamed and ran as fast as I could to get in the best line. Ever.

I do not stop for "face" characters. I am not about the princesses or Wendy or Peter Pan. But Maleficent?! Always. As you can tell from the above photo I was in hog heaven. I told her how awesome she was - I even bowed. It was epic. It was here we also saw Jafar, Cruella and other villains but I was happy with my Maleficent photo and mom does not care for the villains so we continued on. 

Of course after the parks it gets pretty boring so I told mom here is where we can plug in and just focus on finishing strong and healthy. Luckily the weather gods were on our side and we had cloud cover for the majority of the race which helped with both heat and eyes. At mile 5 I saw my personal race photographer - the hubs - who wanted to wish us luck since this was the last part of the race we would see him until the finish.

After a few miles of boring streets came the line of classic cars. There were so many! Mom and I were able to take a picture in front of the car styled after Lightening McQueen but I somehow missed the Batmobile! Oh well. After the cars came the Santa Ana trail - which should be retitled the Dust Bowl trail because there was nothing but dust the entire time we were running. My mom started to tire a bit at this point and we increased our walk/run intervals to .50 mile run and .10 walks. 


Angel Stadium was amazing! All the spectators cheering us on - thank you! It was definitely needed at that point. Once you are out of Angel Stadium there is only about 3 miles left and by that time the sun had come out and I knew it was going to be tough. Luckily though we stuck through it and though my legs felt like bricks towards that final mile I was able to cross the finish line and get my shiny new bling!

It was a great time... but definitely not one I would repeat. I hate running in the heat and Anaheim in August?! HOT. Also - Anaheim is just not a pretty city so the overall course was pretty boring outside from the parks and the stadium. Let us not forget the hefty price tag that comes along with Disney runs!

All in all though I had a great time - especially showing off my triple threat in the parks afterwards.

Anyone else out there complete the Dumbo Double Dare?! Or the Disneyland Half?! How did you do?

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Welcome back -BER months!

September marks the beginning of my favorite time of year - fall, Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas! I call them the -BER months and I was so excited when I officially turned my calendar over to see September staring back at me!

Why do I love the BER months? Because fall is my time of year. The boots, the leaves, the rain. I love everything about fall. It is an excuse to get out the crock pot and the kitchenaid and see what I can get myself into. Pinterest, of course, has only added to my addiction and I am officially hosting my very first recipe swap! The theme?! Pumpkin of course!!

So what are some of my favorite things to do during the next four months?! Let me break it down.

Watch Movies

I watch horror movies all year long, but I go into basically marathon mood when the clock click towards September. I watch all of my classic favorites: Halloween, Halloween: H20, Friday the 13th as well as more recent hits like Paranormal Activinty and The Conjuring. I also watch my childhood favorites Hocus Pocus and Nightmare before Christmas. Hopefully the weather cooperates this year and we will have a few weekends filled with dark clouds and plenty of rain.

Bake. A Lot.

Between Halloween treats, Thanksgiving pies and my annual Christmas Cookie days I spend a lot of quality time with my kitchenaid between September and  December. Every year, I scour Pinterest to determine what new recipes I am going to try on top of the traditional favorites. I can't wait to book my baking day with the bestie!


I love to decorate the house in all of the different themes - Halloween, Fall, Thanksgiving and Christmas. I have boxes of stuff sitting and waiting for the months to turn over so that I can display all of my love. And even though my house is tiny and I should avoid it, I almost always buy new stuff every year. What can I say?! I am a seasonal fanatic.
It will be a great set of months and I can't wait for summer to die down and for fall to make its appearance. I am also super excited to try out all of the pumpkin recipes this weekend during my very first recipe swap!


Monday, September 8, 2014

Calvin Coolidge: My Review

I have finally finished presidential biography number 30! Only 14 more to go! Not gonna lie, I am getting a little excited. As I finish each president I know I am getting closer and closer to the presidents I am truly interested in (and who will probably cause me to miss my deadline): Kennedy, Nixon and FDR, mainly. But alas - I digress. Let us jump into the biography of one Mr. Calvin Coolidge.

If you know anything about Coolidge, it is probably that he was the president that preceded the Great Depression. Not much is known about the man who succeeded Harding, despite his courtship of the news media and his insistence on taking his message directly to the people with the use of radio. He lost a child while in office - something he never truly got over - and spent much of his presidency delegating tasks to members of his cabinet. Coolidge passed no meaning legislation, oversaw no major conflict and dragged his feet in joining the League of Nations and left office on the cliff of financial melt down. 

The Good
Again, for me it has been great to snatch up these American President series biographies for the presidents who I am less interested in. They give me what I want to know without drudging up every detail under the sun. This book is streamlined, concise and wastes no time on frills.
The Not So Good
The author David Greenberg seems determined to portray Coolidge as a hapless, spineless idiot who was almost entirely responsible for the Great Depression because of his lack in activity while in office. I know all biographies will be painted with some bias and historical opinion, but it almost seemed as if Greenberg was upset he was chosen to write a biography on Coolidge and spent two hundred pages explaining why. While I agree that Coolidge is my no means a phenomenal president, I do not know if I would go so far as to say that he was so inept that he caused the great financial crisis in history. Economies ebb and flow and the issues that led up to the Great Depression had been brewing long before Coolidge took office. 
Overall Grade:
While not the least bias biography I have ever read, it covers the main points of both Coolidge's private life and his presidential service to satisfy my requirements. It was a fairly easy read - not too dry or peppered with random details - and I found myself surprised by how quickly I finished it. My grade? B-.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Dumbo Double Dare Recap: The Stitch 10k!

After the expo on Thursday, the hubs and I relaxed after a very tiring car ride. We eventually got up and went to the parks to upgrade our passes to the coast to coast pass in preparation for our trip to Disneyworld in January and rode the Tower of Terror before heading to Earl of Sandwich for dinner and back to the hotel for a nice sleep. Friday I was a little rougher on my legs than I should have been - but telling me not to go into Disneyland when I am literally feet away is like showing a child candy and then telling them they can't have it - you better prepare for a fight! I tried to keep the fact that I was running in the back of my mind and I felt like I kept it relatively laid back - even leaving the parks at a record setting 7pm.

I got up Saturday morning and prepared myself to run 6.2. I knew ahead of time that a majority of time was going to be spent inside the parks so I focused on that and not the fact that I had a half waiting for me just 24 hours later. My game plan was to take it easy and just get to the parks quickly so that I could save my time for characters and other pictures.


I dressed as the best fairy of all time - the epic Maleficent. Little did I know then that I picked the wrong race to be her - but that is for another post. I made my way over to the start and fought the little bubbles that were starting to pop inside my stomach. I knew I was not as prepared as I should be and that I really didn't help matters by walking so much the day before. Before I knew it, the race started and we were off into the darkness. The first two miles are outside of the park and on the streets of Anaheim - you run to the Hilton Convention center and back, basically. As we entered the back of California Adventure I was super excited for all the character stops since I was making great time. We were let out right by Bugs Land and went through Cars Land. This was the first opportunity for a "character" stop - if you wanted to get your picture taken with the cars for Cars Land. I think they had Mater and Lightining McQueen out. I decided to bypass because I wanted more Donald Duck-type characters. At the end of Cars Land, we made our way towards Ariel's Grotto - and let me just say - I felt that incline in my quads immediately, but just kept going because I knew characters had to be waiting for me. The route takes you along the backside of Paradise Pier and they had the water lights on for a beautiful show. I decided to snap a quick photo since it was so pretty.


Once on the other side of Paradise Pier, we made our way around Grizzly Peak and through the main promenade towards the Hollywood Back Lot. I was sure there would be some characters here as when I ran the Tinkerbell, Mike and Sully were waiting for people by the Tower of Terror. Again - no luck. This was not looking good for character stops, but I hoped that maybe they crammed them all into Disneyland some how and kept plugging along. After going underground we emerged at the main entrance of Disneyland and some of the best crowd support a runner could ask for - thank you to all you crazy people who got up at the crack of dawn just to clap and cheer for you, it was great! As I crossed under the train tracks I knew a character would be there - for the Tink, Mary Poppins and Bert were awaiting our arrival. Again, I was disappointed - there was only a float. Don't get me wrong - floats are cute and nice, but let's be real. We crazy runners sign up for this stuff for the character opportunities and the view, right?! Determined to get my character crazy on, I made my way down Main Street but decided to stop and have my picture taken in front of the castle - I mean, there were no characters - what else was I going to do?!


We ran along Tomorrow Land and into Fantasyland where I saw only the second photo opportunity of the race - Chip n Dale. There was a super long line and I have pictures of them a dozen times over so I decided to bypass them in the hopes that I would be rewarded with a Stitch photo opportunity before the end of the race. But not before I snapped a quick cheater picture.


We ran along the backside of Disney - nothing too spectacular. A lot of crew members cheering us on - thanks guys! We were let out by Toon Town and again - no characters. Knowing that we were close to the 5 mile mark, I decided that this 10k was not going to be known for the character opportunities and decided to take my time. I stopped by the Dumbo ride and asked a cast member to take my picture, but something happened and it isn't on my camera. Oh well! I took a few runner selfies before heading through the castle and hoped that they were able to get a picture of me. As we entered Frontierland I saw him - STITCH! Finally! A character photo opportunity. The line was long, but I decided since I had been booking it so much throughout the whole race that I could wait for him. Also I knew the race was almost over and that if the trend continued, Stitch would be the last character for the race. So I waited. 


After that I knew it was pretty much game on, so I decided to just get it all over with. I took a picture by my most favorite ride that is currently closed for the Holiday overlay...


And then I proceeded to head to the finish line. The final leg of the race was through Downtown Disney so I enjoyed all the cheers since my ipod decided it wasn't going to work. At all. So 6.2 miles of no music in nasty humid heat and only 3 character stops - needless to say I was ready to be done. My awesome hubby of course was there along the finish area to grab a few shots.


Before I knew it, I was crossing the finish line of the first leg of the Dumbo Double Dare. I got my medal and my wrist band and made my way towards the exit so that I could shower and get some food in my belly. I apparently didn't eat the right stuff the night before because I was hungry almost the entire race and was a pretty hangry person by the end of the race. Of course our hotel was located on the opposite side of Disneyland, which meant we had to go back through the race course to get back to our hotel. It took forever! But I got to see the very last runner and cheer him on with all my heart, so I will try to remember that whenever I get annoyed about the length of time it took to get through there.

So how was it?! Ehh. If I had just signed up for the 10k, I would be pissed. Three character stops?! For $105 I feel like they could have done a bit more. California Adventure is very spacious and I felt that rundisney did not utilize that for the 10k. They had one character stop in DCA, where they could have easily fit in 2 more. I know it's a shorter distance and everything, but it starts at the same time as the half did and there was half the amount of runners and the half had a lot more characters. The course was great - mostly in the parks which is awesome - I just wish they made it a bit more magical for guests. Floats, characters, etc. 

Standing alone, I would not recommend anyone do the 10k if you are running for character opportunities. Last year's race had a lot more characters (from the recaps I've read) so I am surprised at the dramatic shift. However, if you are looking to just run in the parks and don't care too much about the characters than this is a perfect race!

Up Next: The Main Event! And meeting my idol...

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Dumbo Double Dare Recap: The Expo

Thursday was the start of the Dumbo Double Dare/Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend Expo. As I have stated before, I was super nervous about the expo. I had heard dozens of horror stories from last year's race- people waiting for hours in the blazing sun, super long lines to purchase merchandise, items running, etc etc! So needless to say, I was really worried about what the expo had waiting for me. Being that Dumbo sold out in record time this year, I was sure that the Expo was going to be a mad house. And while the expo itself was definitely busy, rundisney did wonders controlling crowds and making it so that everyone got a chance to buy merchandise in a calm, stress free environment.


I say I waited in line probably 20 minutes. It went by fast - I always felt like we were moving so I didn't mind the line. And I got a peak to the shopping area as I waiting and saw that it appeared as though Disney had plenty of items. Once I got inside I got super excited and just started grabbing. Then I looked at the prices and had to pull back. I love you Disney, but do you have to price gauge at every opportunity?! I definitely splurged on a ton of stuff - but would have more than likely bought more if not for the prices - there was an awesome purple Dumbo "Running for Peanuts" tech shirt that I loved, but knowing that I was getting 3 tech shirts, I couldn't justify spending $40 for yet another one. There was also a drinking tumbler that I wanted, but alas - I had to exercise some caution.

It was also my mom's very first half marathon so I was helping her learn the ropes of the expo. We got separated at first and she went to get her bib instead of coming straight to merchandise, but luckily she had no wait for her bib and she was able to meet me in time to enter the merchandise area. The expo was, of course, on a grand scale and by the time I grabbed my stuff and came back up stairs to get my shirts it was chaotic. People were everywhere. I hit up the RawThreads booth and saw a super cute "Fly - 19.3" shirt and I knew I had to get it. Other than that, I kept my card in my wallet - having spent more than enough on the official merchandise.


Rundisney also had a booth where they displayed all the medals from all their races - including the upcoming Avengers Half Marathon. Gotta say - I loved the medal and can't wait to earn it [next year!]. I would have taken a picture, but there were so many people that I couldn't get a clear shot. But believe me - they are Disney big. 

Overall I felt that the expo was run very smoothly. They had a set up for everything - Dooney & Burke purses were one place, New Balance shoes another and both were separate from the official merchandise booth which I think helped alleviate some of the congestion [at least it seemed that way for me - every time they made the announcement about where to find what, I managed to move up a few feet]. While it was packed, it was fun and very well planned. Good job Disney!

Up Next: The Stitch 10k!


Monday, September 1, 2014

Dumbo - Did and DONE!

I am now officially a Dumbo Double Dare survivor!

Leading up to the event I was quite nervous - my training runs had been less than stellar, I was feeling a little fat and sluggish and was not looking forward to running two days back to back in Anaheim heat. I just kept telling myself that I was running for fun and that it was not about time. 

I was also nervous about the expo - hearing all the horror stories about merchandise being gone and how long everything took - luckily rundisney realized the error of their ways and fixed the expo problem. I also got to meet a super cool Disney blogger, Greg, who gives awesome, helpful tips and information about all things rundisney. He is also super inspirational too - you should go check him out. He was so nice - I hope I didn't freak you out Greg!

I will recap more later - just had to show the bling! Happy Labor Day everyone!