WDW Cigna Blogger Meetup Recap

This past weekend, I was down at Walt Disney World to cheer on friends and strangers running the various races over WDW Marathon weekend.  In previous years, I had run at least one race that weekend.  Last year, I took the year off and stayed home, and I was filled with so much jealousy at all the fun everyone was having that I insisted on attending this year.  Still didn’t run, which was a good thing, given my lingering hip issues, but I was so, so glad I decided to go.  If you’ve got friends who go and run and you want to go along and cheer them on, DO IT.  (Or if the idea of screaming at strangers on the side of the road and then going to eat a Mickey Bar sounds like fun, this is your chance.)

One fun thing I got to do while I was there was attend the Cigna Blogger Meetup.  I really love all of the information that Cigna puts out surrounding WDW Marathon Weekend.  They’re great about promoting healthy lifestyles, tips for running, and they highlight a number of “every day” runners who are participating in the races.

I particularly enjoy this infographic, because it’s not all “sunshine and light.”  Running a marathon is HARD, guys.

Click to enlarge

The afternoon started with a healthy lunch (including soup to keep all of us warm) and then we went into the games.  While the games were a lot of fun, behind each game were facts about health – knowing your numbers, knowing what a healthy diet looks like, and understanding how to improve your health by making simple changes.

I think in the world of social media, people often get discouraged by the “healthy” people they see online, people who seem to have perfect diets, perfect workout schedules, who never slip up.  I’m sure some of those people are real, but let’s be honest – for most of us, healthy living is a constant challenge.  It’s important to remember that no one’s perfect, and you definitely don’t have to be either.  Just do your best, make smart choices, and know the facts.

I’ve talked before about how important it is to know your numbers and truly understand your health.  So I was a huge fan of this concept.  Unfortunately, it also showed just how much I don’t know.  I’m solid on things like how much sodium I should have, how many alcoholic drinks I should (or shouldn’t) have, but when we get into various vitamins, I have no clue!  I definitely have a lot to learn.  We had one question about Vitamin B, and I couldn’t tell you what foods contain Vitamin B.  Or what Vitamin B does.  But I’m sure it’s important.

One important thing is to make sure that you know facts, not just tips from some random person on the internet.  Make sure that you’re sourcing your information from reputable sources.

The games were a lot of fun – we had to do things like “throw away the sugar” by tossing it into trash cans (oh sugar, how I will miss you).  Of course, you don’t have to throw away all the sugar, just consume it in moderation.  Let’s be honest, most of us consume way too much added sugar in our diets.

Another game involved playing jacks (I was very impressed with some of our team’s jacks skills).  The lesson here was about jumping jacks, or rather, staying active.  Staying active and eating healthy can help lower your cholesterol levels, something I am all too familiar with.  I’m good at the active part, but the healthy eating… well, I can always use help.

We had to make apple towers to… remind us to eat towers of apples?  No, this one was about healthy diet and balance.  Also, balancing apples is really hard.  My team won, of course, because we are geniuses and good at balancing things.

This was a good lesson though, because I know I struggle with balance.  It tends to be all or nothing with me.  I’m either having a healthy period where I eat well, workout, stretch, and generally do good things for myself, or I’m skipping workouts and eating wine and cheese for dinner.  This was a good reminder that I can be healthy but still have balance in my life.

The Cigna team was incredible, and we had so much fun learning and getting to meet Drs. Minnie and Mickey.  Who knew they had time to go to med school!

Thanks for a great event, Cigna!


Disney Trip Report

I’m back from vacation.  And it was exhausting.  And I didn’t even run a race while I was away.  (I know, it’s a rarity for me.)  I didn’t even bring workout gear with me, since I knew I wouldn’t bother to get in a run.

The Magic Kingdom was beautifully spooky at night.

Of course, that meant that I had to do a Tuesday night ten mile run on my treadmill when I got home, but these things happen

At some point, I will learn to take relaxing vacations.  That day is not today.

If you couldn’t tell from the picture, I just got back from a trip to Disney World.  It was my one-year-old niece’s first trip, which made it extra special.  That kid had six adults around to entertain her. She is definitely living it up.

While I’m not a Halloween person, I love going to Disney at Halloween because I love the creativity of all of the decorations.  I love that the carved pumpkins placed all over on Main Street are themed to their respective locations (film strips over the theater, jewels over the jewelry store, etc).  I love that the characters wear Halloween costumes.  Because come on, characters in costumes are awesome!

Halloween season also means it’s Food and Wine season and if there’s something I love, it’s eating and drinking delicious things.

This was also my first trip to go see Pandora, the new land based on the Avatar movie. When it was first announced a few years ago, I wasn’t sure what I thought.  The movie was already old (and while I did watch it, I don’t remember being all that enthralled).

Guys, this place is incredible.

The theming is amazing and the space is just gorgeous.  Even just walking around was so impressive.  We got to ride Flight of Passage, where you ride on the back of a banshee, and it was incredible.  The technology is so cool and the experience was phenomenal.  If you’re going to the parks, make sure you get a Fast Pass for this ride.  We had Fast Passes, but because the ride was having some issues, we still had to wait almost an hour.  (The regular line was a 4.5 hour wait!)  No complaints here, it was totally worth it, but thanks to that, we were also given a Fast Pass to ride Na’vi River Journey, a ride that my niece could also join us for.  That was also absolutely gorgeous.  I want to go back and experience the space after dark, because I’m sure that it will be beautiful all lit up.

And yes, I do believe my niece had a blast.

While it’s not my place to put someone else’s child on social media, I think the back of her head is probably okay. Also I’m pretty sure Dad had a good time too.

Next Up – Tinker Bell Half Marathon

tbhmw2016_bannerNext up on the race calendar is the Tinker Bell Half Marathon.   I haven’t run this race since the inaugural year, so I’m looking forward to going back for the 5th anniversary to see how much it has changed.  I’m also excited to go back to Disneyland.  It’s been a few years, and I always love visiting.  Even when crowded, it always feels so much less hectic than a trip down to Walt Disney World.

In terms of the race, I’m feeling relatively unprepared.  I mean, I’m fairly sure I’m trained well enough, though let’s be honest, anything can happen.  I’m not in any danger of getting swept or anything, but I’ve been focusing so much on my biking that I forget that I’ve got a running race on the schedule.

This is the last runDisney race on my schedule for a while.  I’ve definitely gotten a bit burnt out by the the cost and the attitudes.  My worst experiences have been at Princess, so I’m hoping this women’s themed race doesn’t have the negative presence that I’ve seen there.

I think the biggest problem is that these have gone from running events to… marketing events?  Social events?   Experiential events?  I don’t know what to call them.  But the racing is no longer the draw, and that feels weird.  I like a good race experience as much as the next person, but it’s the actual race that is the draw, not the surrounding experience.  I actually want to run.  I don’t think everyone who signs up for these races feels that way.

Either way, next up, it’s off to California (which is stupidly far from DC, so it’s going to be a lot of traveling).  Here’s hoping it’s somewhat of a relaxing trip and that I don’t end up on the phone with the office half the time!

Drama at the Princess Expo

rihaij / Pixabay

Oh my goodness.  After yesterday’s post went live, I started seeing reports of lots of drama at the Disney Princess Expo.  Some highlights:

Lines.  So many lines.

People shoving and throwing elbows to get merchandise before others.

Women throwing wine glasses and breaking them (I think trying to toss them to each other for buying purposes?).

People grabbing at jackets as they came out of the back room.

People buying entire boxes of merchandise to resell.  Apparently there’s a new rule that you can only buy 25 of any one item, so there’s that.

One of my favorites – people posting items on eBay using photos they took at checkout.  Not even waiting to get back to the hotel room to list that puppy for up to twice what they paid.

My favorite – shoving and punching over merchandise.

Apparently the crowds got so heavy that the Fire Marshal came in and shut it down so the crowds could clear out.

People.  It’s just stuff. I mean, I get the desire to have a cool shirt or jacket for your first half marathon.  I’m sure I’m going to want all of the 70.3 gear later this year.  But can’t we be a little bit civil?

Why I’m not at Princess Half this weekend

This weekend is the Disney Princess 10K and Half Marathon.  I’m not going to be there.  Even though this race was the reason I got into half marathon running, I’ve taken it off of my schedule.  And I’m not the sort of person who has a problem repeating races.

I’ve said it before, but I don’t like what this race has become.  And it’s not runDisney’s fault.  It’s the fault of the racers.  Not all of them, of course, but enough that the spirit of the race has changed.

Let me rewind.

Before Disney racing got really big, this race was a lot of fun.  A friendly women’s race (with a few men along for fun) with great costumes and lots of smiles.  But slowly, the tone changed.  The races started selling out much more quickly and the goal of the race went from finishing to getting the medal and looking fabulous while doing so.

I can’t tell you how many people I’ve seen posting online about how they haven’t run more than 5 miles (often significantly less), but they plan to go out and do their first half marathon in their fabulous costume and it will be great.  And hey, if they don’t finish, they still get the medal, and they’ve earned it.  (Personally, I believe it’s a finisher’s medal, but I can’t let someone else’s decision to take a medal affect me.)  I’ve heard many people say that the medal is earned during training.  But if you admit you didn’t train, then how can you claim to have earned the medal?

Do I think anyone can do a half marathon?  With proper training, yes.  Do I think everyone can do a 3:30 half marathon?  Most people sure, again, with proper training, but depending on your fitness level, it could take you a while to get there.  No shame if you can’t do it.  As people say, you’re still lapping everyone on the couch.  Start with a race with a longer time limit, or start with a shorter race.  Don’t sign up for a race and not train and be surprised when you get swept.

The race has a 16 minute per mile time limit from the last starter.  That means if you start farther up, you have a bit more time. This has led to people sneaking into faster corrals or even having someone else run under their name in a local race so they can get a good proof of time.  Unfortunately, that just leads to people who are way too slow starting in front of people who are significantly faster than them and then blocking the way.

I think the biggest problem is that many racers have developed a sense of entitlement and it is seen heavily at this race.  I run/walk, and my parents race walk.  I have no problem with walkers.  But you can’t walk five across.  Two is fine in the wider parts of the course, and when the course narrows, you need to stay single file.  It’s just the polite thing to do.  Of course, the walkers aren’t the only problem – there are plenty of runners who have no issue shoving slower people out of their way.  Again, politeness and respect for others goes a long way here.

It’s true that if you’re a slower runner, you probably won’t get to stop for pictures if you want to avoid getting swept.  It’s not unfair.  It’s just how life works.  As I said to April in January, it is kind of a bummer to not get pics, but what you can do is go back after the race, get cleaned up, and then get character pictures in the parks.  You actually end up with cuter pictures because the characters will oooh and ahh over your medal.

Now, I don’t mean to scare people off.  This race can still be a lot of fun.  It just lost a lot of the fun for me.  But it would be nice to see it change.  There’s nothing wrong with being polite to the other runners.  In fact, I think it’s more fun when you find yourself meeting new runners on the course and making new friends.  But as I said multiple times about the Donna Half, “This is what Princess is supposed to be.”  A positive environment, a fun run, and people just having fun.

So if you’re running this weekend, be polite, even if people aren’t polite to you.  Kill ’em with kindness.  And have fun and take pictures of the fabulous costumes for me!