Hello, February

Little late on my traditional start-of-the-month salutations, but here we are! The second month of 2018 is in full swing. Anyone else feel like January is just a fluke and doesn’t count?

Florida has been treating me well aside from the wild weather mood swings. One day it’s 75 and sunny, the next is 30 and freezing. (Yes, it does get that cold!) I just received additional training at my job so now I get more responsibilities. Chris and I just passed our one year in January (even though it feels like we’ve been dating forever!)

Let’s get y’all caught up on my current adventures…

-We are about three weeks away from Princess Half weekend, and this will be my sixth appearance!

It’s incredible to think this will be my five-year runnerversary, and it all started with this race. While PHM has its place in my heart, I believe my time with the runDisney race series is fading, and I know I’m not the only runner who thinks the same. I do have my goals for these races, and I’m hoping by achieving them, it will catapult me into Cherry Blossom and Berlin training.

There will also be a We Run Social meetup at Disney Springs! If I’m not working, I’ll definitely be there!

Corrals and waivers have also been released, and I will be in Corral E this year for the half. (The 10K is TBD, but I will guess Corral C for shits and giggles). I’m super pumped because this is the highest corral I’ve ever been in for a runDisney event; I submitted a 1:12 10K POT, which would have me projected around a 2:33 half. The course has not changed, sand for the MK entrance through the front, so I’m feeling calm and collected thinking about everything.

If you have questions about Princess weekend, let me know! (Rookies, I’m looking at you!) I’m still debating if I want to do a v-log of the Princess Half Survival Guide, or just a post-video of your questions! 💖✨🎀

EPCOT Festival of the Arts

If you’re in the mood for good food, drinks, and pretty artwork, be sure to swing by EPCOT! The FotA is running for the next two weeks until February 19th!

-Celebration of Harry Potter

Witches and wizards everywhere flocked to Universal to celebrate the magic of Harry Potter at the end of January. There were so many sights and sounds between expos, interactive displays, actor/actress Q&As, demonstrations, etc. that it was hard to keep up! I did explore most of the things when I wasn’t caught up working.

My friends Megan and Gina joined me on the last day for some shenanigans!

Universal Orlando Fun Run 5K Recap

It was a very early Saturday morning when I woke up  for the company fun run. Having slept about three hours the night before (on top of taking two flights back from DC), I knew the run wasn’t going to be decent. I had the goal of breaking sub :30 in the 5K, and thought this race would be the one to do it.

I hadn’t run since Marine Corps; I walked a lot at work! But mileage at work doesn’t substitute well for legitimate racing miles.

Anyway.

UO Fun run

The field was slightly more than 1,000, which was perfect. The announcers were asking for competitive runners to be in the front, slightly less competitors in the middle, and walkers/strollers in the back. I thought this was very fair. I lined up near the front, still with that sub :30 on my mind.

At 6AM, we counted down and raced through the gates to Islands of Adventure!

 

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All of my pictures are going to be horrendously dark until the end. 

 

The course was very windy, as we alternated from onstage and offstage/backstage areas often. We were in the presence of our most majestic attractions, such as Hulk, Skull Island: Reign of Kong, Poseidon’s Fury, and Hogwarts Castle!

I started out fantastically, with my first quarter of a mile hovering around 2:30. I slowed for a quick walk interval, then started back up again. The route ran through Marvel: Superhero Island, and the characters began. I never stop for characters in runDisney races, but seeing as there were very few people comparatively doing this race, I felt it obligatory to stops for some characters:

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Comic Book Strip and Toon Lagoon were next:

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Then Jurassic Park and Hogsmeade!

 

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Frog Choir!

 

Even with character stops, my first mile was around 13 minutes. Not bad.

To clarify, this was a non-chipped race. Nothing is officially official, and I’m going off of my watch data.

We ran out of Hogsmeade and through The Lost Continent. All of the decorations were on as we traversed through Seuss Landing.

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Hooking a left out of Seussland, we started the ever-so-boring backstage portion.

Soon, we were in Universal Studios Florida, and the second half of the race!

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I took it easy and just absorbed the emptiness of the park, along with the decorations. It was sooo relaxing to take in the scenery without guests or a ton of runners. It was a relatively quiet race (no spectators, either, since the park hadn’t opened up at that point).

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My pace had slowed down even more, but I was suprisingly okay with it. I was just on the lookout for the next character stop!

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By the time I finished the race (51:25), I had a PR for character stops with 11.

UO FUn run finish

I met up with some of my attractions team and we proceeded through the breakfast line, which is better than any recovery box I’ve ever received.

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All in all, a good day for my first and only 5K of the year!

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Florida Life Update

So here we are, halfway through August and closing in on the final months of 2017. I’ve been down here in Florida for a little over a month, and I will be perfectly honest: it’s been difficult, and embarrassing. You would think that by the age of 30, I’d have my shit figured out. Alas, here I sit, still unemployed and getting rejections or silence from 98% of the places I’ve applied. (I’ve had one interview for a restaurant, but it was kind of sketchy. I still have to wait “a week or two” to even get a reply, so I’m not optimistic.) 

With my lack of income and current unemployment being the largest percentage of my stress, my depression has also resurged. The clear lack of communication coupled with the sheer stupidity of the “submit resume/retype everything in the resume in this database” method of applying for jobs results in these thoughts being implanted in my mind that I am apparently unworthy of being employed despite having a Masters and transferrable skills to fill almost any position. Some days it is very hard to justify getting out of bed, much less leave where I’m currently staying just to take a walk and get some fresh air. My enthusiasm for things that typically make me happy has waned. I haven’t had a solid workout in months, and I have had to defer Chicago until 2018. I am still on track for Marine Corps in late October, and with two months to go, I could make a comeback. But again, not being employed makes things nervewracking…what if they don’t give me those days off for a race I’ve planned for months? Not being 100% certain that I will end up racing deters me from even training, with the thoughts of, “Why bother training if I won’t be able to run?” constantly screaming in my head.

*sigh*

Even though “Struggle Bus” is the title of this chapter, and despite the ongoing depression, there have been some highlights:


-“A woman who cuts her hair is about to change her life.” -Coco Chanel

I finally got my hair cut! The last time I had my hair touched was in Fall 2015, so this was long overdue. I don’t mind having long hair, but once it hits a certain length, it just gets annoying to deal with.

And I got side bangs as an even bigger change! Haven’t had those since the fifth grade.


-Chris and I had date night a couple weeks ago at the Leu Gardens. They had an outdoor movie theatre so we settled in to watch La La Land. We got there relatively early, and I immediately saw why: there were SO many people picnicking on the lawn prior to the show! It was a very fun way to bring the community out for an evening. I’d definitely go again!

The gardens themselves are beautiful, and definitely worth getting lost in for a couple of hours.


-I’ve been to Universal a couple of times, and to City Walk a couple times for food; it’s been a nice distraction from my personal life, and what’s been going on in the world. (It helps to have connections for tickets.) If you ever have to ask someone why they are always going to Disney or Universal or whatever theme park, they will probably respond with this. It is a happy place for many of us, a land of hyperreality where we can use our imaginations and get away for a little while.


-Even though there is only one season in Florida, that’s not stopping the local craft stores from bringing out the autumn decor a month and change early! When I was in grad school, I would go to the nearest Michaels and spend hours in there just looking at all the pretty things and imagining what my house will look like…if I ever get to buy one…


-It is also the most wonderful time of the year: back to school season! I get the biggest rush when I step into a store and see all the new supplies lining the shelves and smell freshly sharpened pencils and a box of Crayolas. I’ve been out of academia (unfortunately) for two years now, but the excitement is still there. I have to really resist buying a new notebook and a fresh pack of pens. I have also been tinkering around with ideas for a college lifestyle series, so that may pan out in the future after I finish with the Studies in Wanderlust series.

I was in Walmart, browsing the cosmetics aisle as usual, when I found this collaborative display between Crayola and Sally Hansen!

The colors are vibrant and will take you right back to your childhood! I personally like the Carnation Pink the best.

You can also check out the entire collection on Sally Hansen’s website.


So there’s an update for now. Hopefully things will start to turn around by the time I write another Weekly Review for you all. Enjoy your weekend! xoxo

30th Birthday Eve: Universal Orlando

So Sunday rolls about and Chris and I wake up extra early to head to Universal Orlando! The park didn’t open until 9AM, so we meandered a little and I got my obligatory Starbucks. It was really nice being able to walk around and not be bumping into people. The crowds during the entire time I was down there were very manageable and not insane. Perfect for pre-peak season!

We had collaborated ideas on what to do prior to my FL arrival, and we agreed to hit up Despicable Me Minion Mayhem and the Jimmy Fallon rides first, as their wait times typically aggrandized very early on. Additionally, we popped into Shrek between attractions and the Beverly Hills Boulangerie for pastries.

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Universal Orlando is filled full of fun photo ops and I couldn’t resist putting a camera to my face as we made our way towards Diagon Alley:

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Diagon Alley

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We jetted over to Hogsmeade and Islands of Adventure next, under threats of rain. The cloudy skies made the summer day more bearable, as did the whopping fifteen minute queue for the Hogwarts Express!

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The train ride over is one of my absolute favorite parts of all of Universal Orlando.

 

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“Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.” -J.K. Rowling

Our wait time for Forbidden Journey was also super short, around 10 minutes. (How were we getting so lucky with these short wait times?!) We dined over in the Three Broomsticks after, and I got my Butterbeer and the rotisserie smoked chicken platter. Soooo delicious.

 

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Castle picture! 😀

 

After foods, we headed through Jurassic Park land en route to Skull Island: Reign of Kong.

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The wait was around 90 minutes, and the last time we had waited for this ride, it broke down. So we decided to try our luck. The queue was inside and out of the sun, and windy as it went around the walls of skulls and around the turnstiles and around this and that.   The ride did experience delays while they added an additional car to the lineup, so it was a good wait to get the queue moving faster. There are some jump scares in the darker parts of the waiting area. (The group behind me were so rude and screechy and kept pushing into me…I gave them several death glares and Chris flat out told them to knock it off. Trust me, I was two seconds away from summoning security. Lesson: mind your space.)

The ride itself is 3-D and you get glasses. You’re riding around in a Humvee-style vehicle deep in the jungle as you encounter the battle between dinosaurs, bugs (the bees are scary as hell. Don’t look if you have a fear. Trust me, I didn’t!), slugs, Kong himself…

Your Humvee is rattled and rocked in time with the ride, which is on two screens: one of the left and one on the right. Out of the battle scene, you’re slowly rolled around and come literally face to face with the beast himself…then you’re back at home base.

I honestly thought the ride was kind of a snooze. Definitely not worth 90+ minutes of waiting. While I could appreciate the aesthetics and concept behind it, it’s not the ride for me. Definitely a one-and-done.

And on we continued. At this point there were storms on radar, and it was starting to drizzle. This didn’t deter us from enjoying our day!

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Once out of IOA, we circled back around again to the front and went back to Diagon Alley! My cousin decided to surprise me a couple hours prior and told me to, “Go get yourself a wand for your birthday!” So off to Ollivanders!

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Ollivander’s was a madhouse as witches and wizards of all ages scrambled around, opening boxes, trying to find their perfect wand. I checked out every wand they had, character and non-character alike. After much debate…

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…I settled for Narcissa Malfoy’s wand. Out of all the wands there, the hilt of this one was the coolest.

 

Now off to make some magic happen!

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After Diagon round 2, we walked around Springfield and SpongeBob Storepants. (We wanted to go on the E.T. ride but it had broken down. Sad day.)

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Chris and I capped the night at Finnegan’s Irish pub, and saying a quick hello to my fellow chapter brothers Katy and Jacob at the Bob Marley restaurant in City Walk. (BTW, they got engaged the next day! Congrats to them!)

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Next up: 30th Birthday in Disney World!

Changes in Latitude…

I kicked off my birthday vacation by heading to Universal Orlando’s City Walk. I’ve been wanting to visit Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville for quite some time, and finally got the chance to do so! 

While I didn’t dine there, I did soak in the atmosphere and fawned over almost everything in the gift shop. ☀️🌴

Title of my Autobiography

30th Birthday Preview!

Hi, everyone! I’ve been off frolicking in the City Beautiful for the last few days celebrating the beginning of a new decade, and I have so much to share! 

Here is a quick photo preview for now, and more in-depth posts coming up!