Tuesday, November 20, 2012


As I sat here this morning reading the Disney Park Blog, guess what headline captured my attention??? Yes, it involved my tall, dark and beefy handsome Gaston who walks with a swagger full of his own self confidence.

Gaston: You Stud!
The New Fantasyland at Magic Kingdom previewed yesterday. One of the new locations is Gaston's Tavern in Belle's Village. Belle did tell me when we met that if I still wanted to see Gaston with his lack of brains and good character I could find him at Magic Kingdom, but I did not make it over there to see him. I guess I will have to add seeing Gaston to my Disney Bucket list for our next trip to the happiest place in the world! And really, I can just put some duct tape over his mouth so I don't have to listen to what he says. I just need to see him.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Wine & Dine Half Marathon

When I first started running in races, I never imagined that I would enjoy running amonst 15,000-35,000 people. However, one of the biggest advantages of  participating in a large event is the expo. Not only do you get to sample various products, you also get to see what are the latest and greatest products on the market. 
Wine & Dine Expo
One of my missions for this expo was to replace my iFitness race belt since mine died this summer during IMLOU training. The expo is a great place to check out compression socks, recover drinks and purchase lost of funny t-shirts. I found one shirt I wanted to purchase for Abby. The logo for the company was "Where we celebrate the athlete in every Princess". I love it! Who says a girl can't be strong and feminine all at the same time? The shirt said "I run Fairy Fast" and had pixie dust on it.  It seemed perfect for my little mini-me.

Coast to Coast
At the RunDisney booth, I got to see the Coast to Coast Medal in person. Did I ever tell you I pick my races based on the bling? If they have a cool t-shirt or awesome medal, you can count me in!! How many people could say they have a medal with Walt Disney & Mickey Mouse on it? According to my Fitness Bucket List, my goal was to complete Disney's Coast to Coast Challenge in 2014. Now I started to feel the desire to move that goal up on the list...and it would only get tougher throughout the weekend.

Catching the bus
 The biggest disadvantage of a Disney race is the logistics of getting all of the runners to the start line. Due to obvious safety concerns, cars are not allowed back at the ESPN Complex where the Wine & Dine Half Marathon begins.The only way to get to the ESPN Complex is to take a bus from EPCOT or one of the designated resorts. The buses only run from 6-7 pm which means lots of time standing around waiting for the start of the the race.

The DJ kept everyone dancing and grooving during the wait.
Fortunately, even though we had a 3 hours wait until the start of the event, the Disney DJ was outstanding getting every to dance and move during the long wait. Electric slide, conga lines and even a Thriller dance to help pass the time.

Jeff & I before the race
Since we had plenty of time before the start of the race, we took advantage of the time to get plenty of pictures. Yes, I started out the evening bundled up since the temperatures were only in the mid-60s and obviously no sunshine for a night race.

Chef Mickey
We waited OVER two hours to Mickey Mouse, but how could you come to Mickey's house and not see him? Waiting in line - standing - for two hours may not have been the best decision. Most race insiders would suggest standing on your feet for almost 3 hours prior to a race is not a good idea; however, we all knew we weren't going for a PR. This race was about fun, friends and the after party!

Iron Family
For some reason, I didn't see many Ironman tattoos at this event. As a matter of fact, other than mine and Cheryl's I actually didn't see any!

Signs you are at the Wine & Dine Festival
Instead of Ironman tattoos, I did see someone trying to sleep off her wine. Hahah. So glad I'm way smarter than that...finally.

Ready to Race
We finally made our way to our corral. Luckily, all four of us were in Corral B together...Well, actually Cheryl was in Corral A because she's awesome like that, but she chose to start with us instead. The corrals started 10 minutes apart each with their own set of fireworks. How awesome is that? You've got to love Disney.
2012 Wine & Dine Race Route
The official race description from RunDisney.com:
Start at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex running down Victory Way and then west on Osceola Parkway toward Disney's Animal Kingdom® Theme Park. Make your way past the Tree of Life, Expedition Everest™, Dinosaur® and then race back to Osceola Parkway and head toward Disney's Hollywood Studios. You will enter the park in the shadow of The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror™, run down Sunset Boulevard through Pixar Place, past Toy Story Mania!, then through the Costuming Tunnel in the Backlot on your way to Lights Motor Action! for your big debut! Race through the Streets of America, past Star Tours and Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular on your way to Epcot®! The course will wind through the idyllic village of Disney's Yacht & Beach Club Resorts and lead you to a finish just outside of Epcot®!

First stop at Animal Kingdom
As we entered the Animal Kingdom, we run through rows of dinosaur teeth which stood 7-8 feet tall. Soon after entering the park, we made our first character stop. Who could pass up sharing the wisdom of Rafiki and the silliness of Terk? I know I couldn't. Why do I have a shoe off? Oh yah, that's the other reason we had to stop. I had a small pebble which kept shifting around in my shoe and it was just enough to be annoying. A quick shake and we were back on the course.

Merry Christmas!!

It may be November 10th, but Frosty the Snowman was the only sign I saw of snow all weekend. Once we started running, I was glad I shed all of my longer layers. Heck, Cindy & Cheryl even wore capri length running apparel, but not me. I can't stand to have my legs covered when I am working out. They need to breathe!

Our main man..err, dog, Pluto
A quick shot with Pluto was our 2nd stop. Luckily, the lines were not long. The only character we wound up skipping was the very first one with Goofy because that line seemed extremely long and not worth the wait.

The Fairy Godmothers
As we left Animal Kingdom, we stopped to take a picture with Sleeping Beauty's Fairy Godmothers. I know we've all wished we could have our fairy godmother at one time or another. Someone who could grant you your every heart's desire. Unfortunately, they didn't seem able to help me with my greatest wish. So I guess I will have to continue to plot and scheme instead.

Chip & Dale
On the way toward Disney's Hollywood Studios, I thought I heard someone say, "It's Chippendale". I was so excited!! I thought I was finally going to get to see my Gaston, but alas...what they actually said was, "It's Chip...and Dale." I was a little bummed, but found a way to put a smile on my face for the picture.

Green Army Guy
The Green Army Guy was waiting for us as we ran up the final hill before entering Disney's Hollywood Studios. Using his military methodology, he motivated runners to "take the hill".

Are we passing muster? 
I look like I'm sticking my chest out for the camera, but really I was only following orders: "Chin Up! Chest Out!" He should have reminded me to suck my gut in as well. Grrr....

Whenever we take the kids to Disney, we always know if you want to see characters Disney's Hollywood Studios is the place to go. Naturally, the park did not disappoint during the half marathon either. Our first stop was to see Woody.

Wreck-It Ralph
Our second stop was for the newest Disney character, Wreck-It Ralph! Jeff just took Abby to see the movie prior to our Wine & Dine excursion. So naturally we had to stop....although it kind of looks like Wreck-It Ralph is mauling Cindy & Cheryl. He's trying to wreck our picture! Oh well, Abby sure did enjoy the picture when I sent it to her.

Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights
I stopped to take a couple of quick shots of the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights. The annual light display has over 3,000,000 lights on Residential Street and takes over 22,000 man hours to install beginning in September of each year. Of course, Disney being Disney they have now incorporated over 40 Hidden Mickeys into the display as well.

I am your father
I'm not sure what the photographer must have said to us at this point. Jeff looks like he's still posing with the Green Army Guy. Cheryl looks terrified and Cindy looks like she's checking herself out. Hmmm.

13.1 ALL DONE!!!!
In 2010, the Wine & Dine Finish Line was at the International Gateway at the back of EPCOT. This year the the finish line weaved through the backlots of the World Showcase and crossed into the park at Future World out the front of the park - weaving around several times - until you FINALLY found the finish line. I was so happy to see that finish line. I knew I hadn't been running enough, but  running  13.1 miles at someone else's pace and stopping frequently to get pictures or stay with your group can be tough on the body. For the first time, I ran most of the race with my phone in my hand in order to be prepared to stop and take pictures whenever I wanted. By the time I crossed the finish line, the outside of my right knee was tender to the touch. My knee locked up almost immediately. I probably couldn't bend my knee more than 5 degrees which made walking around the park for the after party difficult.

After crossing the line, we were immediately shuffled into a line to get our one free drink...a choice between Bud Light and Sangria. As I reached out with my left hand to get my sangria, the volunteer knocked my iphone into the ice filled drink barrel. Ugh. The horrific look on his face was priceless though as he dug into the ice to retrieve my phone, but I'm not sure Jeff was laughing. For some reason, I seem to be abusing my phone ever since we've returned home from Louisville.

At the after party
After changing our clothes, we finally made it to the Wine & Dine After Party. My knee was still pretty tight, but I was confident it would loosen up by morning. Our picture with Geppetto and Pinocchio turned out kind of blurry and while a bummer, it also seemed kind of appropriate for the night. With the half marathon behind us, it was finally time to enjoy the WINE part of the Food & Wine Festival.

As we walked around the parks, I nearly mauled a "Cinderella" who was wearing her three Disney medals signifying she had completed the Coast to Coast Challenge. My competitive spirit started to rev into overdrive. By the end of the night, Cindy, Cheryl & I were all ready to sign up for the Coast to Coast Challenge in 2013. I think that item just got bumped up on my Fitness Bucket List.

Amazingly, with the exception of my knee, my body really did not hurt at all. My running has not been consistent since completing IMLOU. I've had a hard time figuring out when to work in my runs while teaching 12 classes per week. When we returned to our resort around 4 a.m., I started applying the BioFreeze hoping it would help. I've never used any type of pain relief product before so I was pretty skeptical. Waking to pain in the knee at 9 a.m. did not make for a very happy morning. At that point, I truly began to worry.

With my minimal mileage leading up to the race, I was worried I hadn't kept those muscles strong enough and had torn something. Since I knew everyone was going to be moving slow that morning, I took the morning to try and loosen up my knee bending and straightening as much as I could. By the time everyone was ready to head to the park around 1 p.m., my knee felt much better and I felt like I could walk with a nearly normal stride again. We had just one more day at the parks to enjoy all of the incredible tastes and flavors, but most importantly the Disney Magic.

I think we'll be back again next year....as the final race in the 2013 Coast to Coast Challenge and then I will be strutting all three of those medals around the park making everyone else jealous instead. Look out!! 2013 Race Calendar is already getting full!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Joy of the Festival

Food, Wine, Wine, Food.......Beer, Sangria, Champagne, Food. It was a whirlwind of a weekend. A fabulous time spent with loved ones and new friends. When you add food and alcohol into the mix, you are just never quite sure how the weekend is going to go.

Look what appeared overnight
When we walked into the park on Sunday, we noticed something had changed, but couldn't put a finger on it. Was there something new in EPCOT? We couldn't place it. So we decided to have a drink by the Craft Beer booth.

Upon closer inspection
The magical Disney elves had been hard at work Saturday night putting up several of the EPCOT trees. Now my question is: Was this tree up Saturday night after the run??? Because the parks closed at 4 a.m. due to the after party. I guess it could have been done between 4 am and 10 am, but holy cow!!! Disney sure does know how to work a transformation.

She did it!
She did it! Cheryl had a drink. Last time we were at the food and wine festival she basically tried a sip or two of a drink, but didn't explore the long list of wines available for the festival. Now you have to remember. Cheryl was born during my sophomore year of high school. Until IMLOU we had never had a drink together and even then I had to twist her arm. She was in serious Ironman mode. Me? Nah. I wanted to experience every aspect of Louisville possible. So for me, old Aunt Carla, I was stunned when she voluntarily went to a booth and got her very own drink. I don't think Cheryl appreciated me taking this picture, but I was shocked.

The other Jeff
Everyone was very relaxed on Sunday. The Other Jeff spent a few hours by himself Saturday night walking around Magic Kingdom and EPCOT. I can't imagine how surreal it would be to walk around your childhood fantasy land getting to do whatever you wanted whenever you wanted. We were worried he'd be bored during the 4 hours he had to himself from when we had to go to the ESPN complex and crossed the finish line, but it sounds like it was a heavenly experience for Jeff. Now I'm not quite sure, but I believe he's expressing how full his belly is outside of the Hawaii booth after having another pork slider.

Mary Poppins
For some reason, the guys weren't as interested in seeing the characters as we were. My husband only wanted to see Jasmine. Unfortunately, every time we saw her she was "covered up" with her evening cloak so it wasn't worth the wait for him. Hey, I would have stood in line to see Aladdin. You know I like a guy with dark hair and dark skin, right? Heck yah.

Belle: "You can have Gaston"
When we finally met Belle, Cindy & Cheryl explained that I had been looking for Gaston all weekend. Belle looked at me in utter surprise. "Why would you want to meet Gaston? He really has nothing going on upstairs." Now how do you explain to a fictional woman who puts her nose in a book about the allure of all those muscles? No, she would never understand. I realize his degrading attitude toward women detracts from the overall attraction, but it still doesn't mean I wouldn't like to see him.

Someone is in denial
Unfortunately, our fabulous weekend had to come to an end. On Monday, the temperatures were getting into the 80s while back home friends were posting about snow!!!! UGH!!! Are you kidding me? I swear if I could get my husband to move to the south I would, but he seems to enjoy the changing seasons. I do, too! I just want them to change from 90 to 60 and back again. While everyone else dressed for the return home, I was determined to lap up every last minute of sunshine. Instead, I packed my jeans in my Ironman book bag so I could change at the airport. Was I in denial? Completely. Who would ever want to leave the place/event which brings them so much joy time after time?

Friday, November 16, 2012

The Food Review

Of the 29 booths at the 17th Annual Food & Wine Festival, we hit 23 of them in our short 3 day visit to EPCOT; however, that statistic is somewhat misleading considering certain booths received our dubious attention 2, 3 or maybe even 4 times.  
29 booths in the World Showcase at EPCOT
Some booths just didn't excite me. Did I really need to eat a vegan meal just because it was offered? I decided no. I wanted to try the Beef Empanada at Argentina, but quite often the line was extremely long at a time when my belly was also full. I skipped the drinks at the Fife & Drum booth because, well, I just didn't think I needed the calories...or probably the alcohol. For some reason, we didn't sample anything at the Florida or Singapore booth even though Jeff said we needed to give the Singapore Sling a second chance after we couldn't even finish it in 2010. Again, I didn't feel the need to spend money on something I didn't think would meet my taste requirements. And finally...Japan....No thank you. I cannot convince myself to eat anything raw. No sushi for me!
Le Cellier Wild Mushroom Beef Filet Mignon with Truffle Butter Sauce
 For years, we've tried to get into a dinner reservations at Canada's Le Cellier. For years, we have been denied. When we saw the Le Cellier Beef Filet on the Food & Wine Festival Passport, I made a beeline straight to the booth. Needless to say, I now understand what all of the buzz is about. Yes, you can taste the truffle butter sauce melted into the beef. This small taste was definitely THE BEST thing I tried all weekend and also the best beef I've ever had. Thank you, sir, may I have another? And I did...again and again and again.

Ireland: Lobster & Seafood Fisherman's Pie with Chocolate Lava Cake
Our favorite combination of the weekend was the Lobster & Seafood Fisherman's Pie followed up by the Chocolate Lava Cake with Baileys Ganache. How can you beat seafood and chocolate? Now, personally, I am not a chocolate person. I can survive without it; however, the creamy fisherman's pie followed up by the sweet taste of dessert was a perfect pairing and one which we greatly enjoyed.
France: Escargot & Creme Brulee
My most daring sampling of the weekend was escargot. Snails. Really? I ate snails. The good thing was they were covered by the breading so I really couldn't tell you if I like them or not. Naturally, the creme brulee was delicious. Was that really a question?
Australia: Shrimp on the Barbie 
In Australia, we tried the Shrimp on the barbie paired with Rosemount Estate Chardonnay Semillion.
Germany: Roast Bratwurst in Pretzel Roll & Apple Strudel
The line in Germany was always extremely long, but you can't complain when all of their offerings sound so incredibly good. While we were tasting the food at Germany, Jeff decided he didn't like my scent and decided to pour an entire beer on my arm. OK, maybe it wasn't the entire beer and maybe it wasn't because he didn't like my scent, but I spent the rest of the smelling beer anyway.

Morocco: Kefta Pocket and Baklava
At Morocco, we were very excited to dive into the baklava, sangria and decided to try a Kefta Pocket. Unfortunately, the beef in the kefta pocket was not thoroughly cooked and while I did like it, we decided to just dump it and move on. We might as well leave room for my food!
A 2nd go around at Ireland: Guiness & the Cheese Selection 
Did I mention how we visited some booths multiple times? One of them was Ireland. Not only did Jeff love the Guiness as much as I loved the Bunratty Potcheen Chilled Irish Coffee, we sampled just about everything on their entire menu.
Italy: Cannoli al Cioccolato
Italy: Ravioli di Formaggio all'Emiliana
The ravioli from Italy was a small slice of heaven with its melted cheese center. I found it hard to share in between sips of the Moretti Beer.
Poland: Kielbasa & Potato Pierogie
In Poland, we tried the pierogie.
Desserts & Champagne: A dessert trio 
For some reason, I had a craving for champagne. Ok, and maybe some dessert. We decided to go for the gusto and get the trio: Yogurt Panna Cotta with Orange Cake, Raspberries and Pomegranate, Lemon Custard Verrine with Blueberry Compote, and Dark Chocolate Mousse with Chili and Salted Caramel. My favorite of the three was the Yogurt Panna Cotta.
Scandinavia: Swedish Meatballs with Lingonberries
The Swedish Meatballs with lingonberries from the Scandinavian booth were quite a tasty surprise. I was not sure what a lingonberry was, but in combination with the sauce for the meatballs the tapas offered a unique combination of savory and sweet.

The line at China matched the line in Mexico and Germany. With three entree selections, we couldn't decide which to chose - so we choose them all! Mongolian Beef in a Steamed Bun, Pork Potstickers, Chicken Satay with Spiced Peanut Sauce and Pickled Vegetables.

My Favorite Drink of the weekend
My favorite drink of the weekend was not a part of the Food & Wine Festival, but a staple at the World Showcase. The Grand Marnier Orange Slush. Unfortunately, I have to limit myself to 2. They tend to slide right down and could really get me into trouble. Maybe, now that I've found the recipe, I'll have to make some for the holidays.

The food and wine festival was absolutely fabulous. Returning home from Disney to my own cooking was a brutal slap in the face. I wish I had the patience and skills to create half the fabulous meals offered at Disney, but I think it's important we all recognize our own strengths and weaknesses. Cooking, for me, is a necessary evil. Enjoying delicious meals at the Food & Wine Festival, however, is definitely something I will continue to enjoy for years to come.

Grand Marnier Orange Slush - France Drink Kiosk Epcot 
3 cups Grand Marnier
1 cup *Orange Fruit Smoothie from Florida Natural Flavors in Casselberry, FL
Ice if making in a blender

Mix Vodka and *Orange Fruit Smoothie from Florida Natural Flavors It helps to chill the mix before putting in a slushie machine. Add the required amount of water for your machine (generally for 1 liter alcohol you use 1 ¾ gallon or 28 cups water.) If making in a blender use enough ice to produce the slushie effect. *If substituting the Orange Fruit Smoothie try for something with an orange dreamsicle taste.

Recipe from the TalkDisney forums:

Friday, November 9, 2012

Wine & Dine Day 1

For some reason, I thought arriving in Orlando by 10 am would be a great idea; however, I did not think about setting my alarm for 4 am. Working on 4 hours of sleep made for an interesting start to the day. Of course being the loving person that I am, I did consider waking Cheryl & Jeff by jumping up and down on the bed while screaming "We're going to Disney! We're going to Disney." Fortunately for them, I decided to wake them a little more gently instead.

At the ESPN Complex for packet pick up
Arriving in Orlando, we wanted to hit the packet pick up and expo right away. There is nothing better than a fitness expo to see the latest and greatest products on the market. Of course while there I also spent some time stalking Jeff Galloway as well. Who wouldn't want to meet a running legend?

Cheryl, Snow White and me. All Princesses
Finally we made our way to EPCOT and by this time we were all starving. Jeff stopped right away at the Crafter's Beer booth, but Cheryl and I were ready for some food. I'll describe all of the yummy tapas later but let me tell you the beef from Le Cellier was so incredibly delicious I think I needed a private moment. Now I understand why it is so hard to get into the Canadian restaurant.

We spent most of the day wondering around EPCOT stopping at many booths. We declared Ireland the perfect meal: Fisherman's pie and lava chocolate cake, even though I am not a great chocolate lover. We had one meal which was unsatisfactory at South Africa. None of us cared for the curry sauce on the beef.
The South African meal we all could have passed on 

We even stood jn line to greet a few of our favorite Disney characters. With the exception of Jeff pouring one beer down my arm, it was all in all a good first day to the 17th Annual Food ' Wine Festival.