runDisney’s Dopey Challenge: Walt Disney World Marathon Part 2

This is part five of a recap of the 2018 runDisney Dopey Challenge. For part four click here!

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When I left off we had just taken a mid race break to ride Expedition Everest in Animal Kingdom! I’ll admit that I was crabby when we got off the ride because though my sister was all for it I hadn’t been excited to wait in the twenty minute line. The ride was fun but after I was really cold for the next half mile. We made our way through the Animal Kingdom parking lot and I shook off the bad mood and actually warmed up enough to take off my long sleeves and tie it around my waist.

After marching our way down Osceola Parkway we made it to ESPN’s Wide World of Sports. A lot of people complain about this section of the course because it’s a lot of twists and turns so it seems like it goes on forever. I will admit that ESPN seems long but I always love how many character opportunities are available!

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Minnie in her soccer gear!
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Channeling our inner Joy and Sadness from Inside Out!

Next we got to run around Champion Stadium, the spring training home of the Atlanta Braves.

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Once we finished up at Wide World of Sports we made the short trek to Hollywood Studios where we entered via backstage access behind Fantasmic and Tower of Terror. Lots of people were buzzing about Oswald meeting here because he usually can’t be found in Florida!

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Anyone checking in?

There was a lot of construction going on in Hollywood Studios in January 2018 (Toy Story Land and Galaxy’s Edge) so it limited the amount of running we could do in this park.

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We exited park’s front entrance and ran down the path that connects the park to the Epcot Resort area. I definitely started to lose steam as we ran by the Yacht and Beach Club Resorts but I tried to remember to keep my eyes on the prize- we were almost there!

We entered Epcot between the Canada and U.K. pavilions shortly before mile 25. Just past mile 25 we stopped to meet Belle and Aurora outside the France pavilion.

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Next we stopped for a picture with Jasmine in the Morocco pavilion.

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Our next stop with Germany- no characters greeting here but we wanted a nice cold beer to finish the race with! Being able to stop for a drink in Epcot BEFORE the finish line is one of my favorite novelties of the Walt Disney World marathon!

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We mostly walked to the end as to not spill our beers!

Tip: If you’re going to grab drinks in Epcot know that characters won’t pose with you with the drinks in your hand.

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Finally we saw the finish line arch ahead- we did it!

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What an amazing feeing- Dopey Challenge done!

So, would I do the Dopey Challenge again? Yes! Am I doing it in 2019? No!

I recommend Dopey for anyone who loves runDisney to try at least once. It was really fun to get to participate in the whole weekend and not feel like I was missing out on anything. However, the four early mornings in a row were really hard. By marathon morning it took everything I had to force myself out of bed. Plus, the registration fee is high and I don’t think I’d want to pay that every year. Ideally, if it’s still around and I’m still running, I’d like to give Dopey another try in 2023. In the mean time I’ll stick to the Goofy Challenge (the half marathon and the full marathon) or the marathon alone.

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Until next time, Dopey Challenge!

I had so much fun recapping my 2018 Dopey Challenge! I’m headed down to Disney World soon for the 2019 Walt Disney World marathon. My training has been riddled with knee problems so this should be an interesting and challenging run to say the least. I’ll be sure to recap it here so stay tuned!

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Stay adventurous, friends!

 

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runDisney’s Dopey Challenge: Walt Disney World Marathon part 1

This is part four of a recap of the 2018 runDisney Dopey Challenge. For part three click here!

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Standing at the start line of the Walt Disney World Marathon meant that I had reached the end of the Dopey Challenge- almost! In reality, with only one race left, I still had more than half the 48.2 miles left to run. However, Disney saves the very best for last!

Before each race Disney has characters out greeting and taking pictures in the start area. We got to the starting area early today and Pluto had a really short line so we jumped in. You can usually see the Fab Five and Dopey before and after each race of the weekend.

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Tip: Arrive early if you want character pictures before the race. Lines get long and cast members will stop allowing people in line.

Following suit of the half marathon we didn’t take many pictures in the beginning of the race as it was cold (so we were layered up) and it was dark. We did grab a selfie as we ran under the gates of the Magic Kingdom parking lot!

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Tip: Don’t let the distance overwhelm you. I try to think of a marathon in small parts- cover this section, then that section, etc.

We ran under the Magic Kingdom train station and headed down Main Street, USA.

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We choose not to wait in as many character lines this visit to Magic Kingdom. We were wearing our custom ‘Think I’m Dopey? Meet my sister!’ t-shirts so we had to stop for Cinderella’s not-so-favorite sisters.

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The course follows the same path as the half marathon out of Magic Kingdom and past the nearby resorts. However, instead of heading for Epcot, the course turns just after passing Disney’s Magnolia Golf Course and Shades of Green resort. On our way to make that turn we stopped to visit with Tourist Genie!

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Next stop: Animal Kingdom! On the way we saw Hades and his minions. Pain and Panic.

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This is the section of the course where we passed Disney’s (smelly) water treatment facility and horticulture facility. The later is responsible for all the seasonal topiaries you see throughout the year on property. As I’ve mentioned in my half marathon report we don’t usually stop for mile marker pictures but because today was ‘sister-themed’ we stopped for a picture at mile 12.

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A little past mile 12 we were running into the backstage entrance to Animal Kingdom. On the way there are usually animals out to greet you with their own race bibs on.

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There weren’t as many out this year which makes me wonder if the cold kept some of the animals away. Once in Animal Kingdom we stopped for a picture with Timon and Rafiki!

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Our next diversion was the highlight of the half way point of the race: Expedition Everest! That’s right- the Walt Disney World marathon offers the unique experience of a mid run roller coaster ride!

Tip: Animal Kingdom typically opens at 9am on marathon Sunday so plan to be in the park around that time if you want to ride Expedition Everest.

Riding Everest has become an increasingly popular experience with runners in my opinion. The first year we road we walked right on and sat on a train. This year it was a short line and took us about 20 minutes to get through the line and ride. The downside to this was I got cold waiting in line and riding. Despite that I’m still glad we did it!

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The best part: Magic Band RFID technology with automatically send you your ride photo!

Stay tuned for the second half of the marathon recap where we cross the finish line and complete the Dopey Challenge!

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Stay adventurous!

 

Fat Orange Cat Brewing Co in East Hampton, CT

Where my feline friends at? While I admit I’m team-dog all the way even I can get behind the cat themed brewery that I’m going to share with you today: Fat Orange Cat Brewing Co in East Hampton, CT. FOC, for short, is perfect for animal lovers of all types (goats included) who like to drink some great craft beer.

FOC is located in East Hampton, CT-if you feel like you’re pulling into someone’s back yard you’re in the right place! Parking is ample and you just follow the crowds inside the open garage where the beer is flowing!

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Behind our glasses was the bar which was inside the garage. The garage doors were open but covered with those industrial plastic strips to keep the temperature very comfortable inside despite it being in the 50s the day we visited! We spent our time wandering in and out- there were fire pits and heat lamps outside so either location was comfortable.

$7 gets you your tasting glass to take home plus four pours.

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The wooden tokens we got with our glasses were what we used to cash in for new beer pours each time we finished our glass. I love this format because it’s just like getting a flight without having to worry about finishing the beers before they get warm!

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You’re welcome to bring in a picture of your own fat cat (or dog) and tack it to the wall!
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If you’re not in the mood to drink four tastings you can always take your tokens home and use them on a future visit.

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As you can see there are lots of cat themed beers to choose from. We generally tried to pick different beers so we could each try each other’s. My friend Aubree and I both really liked the Jalapeno Jack cream ale- it tasted like a jalapeno popper!

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One of my favorite parts about FOC was admiring all their label artwork while we drank. We visited in fall so they had festively decorated pumpkins on the counter.

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As promised- the goats! FOC had chickens and goats outside that we watched while we drank. What more could you ask for?!

Fat Orange Cat Brewing is open weekends April-December. Check their website here for exact hours. This is a ten minute drive from Arrigoni Winery (which you can read my review of here) so they make for an easy day trip! FOC is cat, dog and child friendly so it’s a great place for the whole family!

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Stay adventurous!

 

Throwback Thursday: Haleakala National Park in Maui, HI

Today I’m throwing back to my Hawaii trip from April of this year to talk about Haleakala National Park on Maui! You can read my last throwback from this trip here.

We almost skipped visiting Maui’s volcano because the sunrise/sunset trips to the summit are so hyped that we didn’t know if a midday trip would be worthwhile. I’m so glad we went because Haleakala is out of this world!

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It was a cloudy day on the beach but we ended up driving through all the clouds for clear views.

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Volcanic rock formations

It’s much colder at the summit than it was at our condo so we made sure we wore pants and jackets.

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If you start at the beach (aka sea level) it’s a 37 mile drive to the summit which makes Haleakala one of the greatest elevation gains in the shortest distance in the world!

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Haleakala crater

The most stunning part of the trip was seeing the volcanic crater. The different colors of the dirt and sands were beautiful and really made me feel like I was looking out at a scene from Mars!

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It was amusing seeing planes go by because it was like I was looking down on them! Haleakala was amazing and I’m so glad that we didn’t skip it! If you’re not a morning or a late night person don’t let that deter you from visiting. I would love to go back and see a sunrise or a sunset next time but I didn’t feel like I was missing out at all this visit!

Having done the drive up and down in daylight I would HIGHLY recommend doing a tour bus to the summit if you want to do a sunrise or a sunset tour. The roads are winding and narrow so personally, I’d be uncomfortable driving them in the dark.

If heights aren’t your thing consider visiting the coastal area of the park called the Kipahulu District which can be found just past the town of Hana. Make sure you dress appropriately for either side of the park you visit as weather can be vastly different!

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Stay Adventurous!

Arrigoni Winery in Portland, CT

With the holiday season gearing up I definitely fell off the blogging wagon a bit. I usually keep all my blog ideas saved as scheduled drafts and I make sure I write them up before the schedule posting time but I felt so unmotivated that I procrastinated writing one and accidentally posted a title with no post body! Whoops! Before you go looking- yes- I deleted the post and tweet out of complete embarrassment.

I’m feeling back on track today so I’m going to write about my hands-down favorite Connecticut winery: Arrigoni Winery in Portland, CT!

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Every good winery needs to have a giant shrimp statue outside!

Not only do I really love Arrigoni’s wine but it holds a lot of sentimental value as the first Connecticut vineyard that I visited. I’ve also visited here the most and made a lot of fun memories that set it apart from the rest. Arrigoni is open year round so I’ve been in the spring as the trees start to bloom, the summer for yoga by the vines, and for fall which is complete with a fire on the back patio! They have a Christmas shop which makes them a perfect destination to sip wine and shop this holiday season!

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My favorites are the Orchard Valley and the Sugar House (bottom left corner.)

 

To be fair the one thing I don’t love about Arrigoni and that’s their tasting set up. Arrigoni uses a set tasting list so as a repeat offender I’ve tried those five wines many times! However, I like that they allow you to add on additional pours off the extensive wine list for $1/each. Often everyone in my party will pick one more to try and then we all share a sip which makes for a cheap way to try a bunch of new wines!

During summer months Arrigoni has wine slushies available in Mango Madness, Blackberry Sangria or a swirl of both flavors (my favorite!) During the fall and winter Arrigoni Winery serves mulled wines available in an apple or red flavor.

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I thought their slushies were good but HOLY MOLY THIS MULLED WINE IS AMAZING!

My most recent visit was my first one trying the mulled wine and it was amazing. Lucky for me Arrigoni is willing to share their secret by offering the mulling mix for sale!

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Arrigoni’s spacious grounds- during the summer they offer monthly yoga classes on the grass complete with a tasting on your yoga mat afterwards!

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If I’ve interested your enough to try Arrigoni Winery out make sure to check Groupon before you go. They offer a Groupon for first time visitors for a tasting for two or four people with a cheese plate. Exact hours and special event info can be found on their website here.

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Stay adventurous!

November Blog Review and December Goals

Wow- I can’t believe it’s already December! It feels like November was over in the blink of an eye. I swear I was just passing out Halloween candy! I really enjoyed trying to meet my goals from last month so I wanted to take a post and reflect on my stats, goals, and make new goals.

Don’t have many pictures to share with this one so here’s my Christmas tree!

November stats:

Number of posts: 29

Number of total views: 498

Most viewed post: runDisney’s Dopey Challenge: 4 days, 4 races, 48.6 miles

Most commented post: runDisney’s Dopey Challenge: 4 days, 4 races, 48.6 miles

Number of Twitter followers: 645

Number of Instagram followers: 457

Number of Pinterest followers: 107

November goals:

  1. Focus on growing my Pinterest account– Success! I increased my followers and joined one group board though I’d like to join more in the future.
  2. Grow my Twitter followers to 600– Success!
  3. Participate in four blogger chats– Success! Squeezed some in late in the month but I made it.
  4. Comment on one blog every day– I fell flat here. I did comment on a lot of blogs but I didn’t end up with 30 comments.
  5. Stick to planned posting schedule– Success!

December goals:

  1. Find or make three group boards on Pinterest- Anyone interested in joining a group board? I think this would be a great way to boost my engagement.
  2. Curate my Pinterest boards to 50 pins each- Despite getting more followers I neglected building my boards which I’ve heard is key to success. I want to find meaningful pins that I enjoy for each of my boards to build them to about 50 pins each. If you keep a Pinterest board for your build posts please send me the link. I like supporting other small blogs!
  3. Tweet 4 times per week– I want to write/post original tweets 4 times per a week. This doesn’t seem like much but lately I’ve fallen into the rut where I’m using Twitter just to like/retweet other people which is a great way to support but doesn’t do much to show more of my personality.
  4. Beat out my old record for a post with the most views or comments- Just for fun I’d like to write a post that beats out the aforementioned runDisney post for most comments or most views. I’m hoping that a combination of a popular topic and a lot of publicity will do the trick!

What are your goals, blogging or otherwise, for December?

Five Things Friday: November 30th, 2018

It’s been ages since I did a Five Things Friday! I figure I’m overdue and this will be a good way to round out November. With 2019 barreling towards us I’m going to share five trips I plan on taking next year!

  1. Walt Disney World- January 2019- That’s right, I’m going to Disney World (queue the Superbowl Commercial confetti haha!) My sister and I make an annual trek to Disney for the Walt Disney World Marathon weekend. Training has been rough so I’m nervous about the marathon but excited to get back to Disney!

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    Flashback to WDW Marathon 2018 where we bought beers BEFORE the finish line!
  2. Las Vegas, NV- January 2019- After running the marathon at the beginning of the month, I’m heading to Vegas for the first time at the end of the month with Morag on the Map and our friend Seb. This is my first time in Vegas so I’m really excited- any must-do suggestions?
  3. Adirondack Park, NY- May 2019- Morag is coming to visit for two weeks in May and for part of the trip we’re headed to the Adirondacks for a week in the mountains. This is originally where we met so we’re excited to hit all our favorite local joints.

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    The Adirondacks is so beautiful- it’s why I love to visit so much!
  4. Boston, MA- May 2019- Though not officially planned yet I’d love to bring Morag to Boston for a few days during her visit. There’s a ton of cool U.S. history in Boston and it’s home to many of the North East’s most famous sports teams. What’s your favorite thing to do in Boston?

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    Taking in a baseball game at Fenway Park in Boston
  5. Paris, France- September 2019- Morag and I are excited to see each other three times this year (which is rare because she lives in Scotland and I live in the U.S.) In September we’re meeting in Paris for the Disneyland Paris Half Marathon weekend of races. We’re planning a couple days at Disney before heading into the city for a couple nights. If you could pick one thing to see in Paris, what would it be?

Stay adventurous!