Wednesday, October 30, 2013

I'm a Hot Chocolate Blogger!


I have recently found out that I was selected to be a blogger for the Hot Chocolate race series!  I am so excited about this! Hot Chocolate races are springing up all over the county.  The basic idea behind the Hot Chocolate race series is for runners to run their choice of either a 5k or a 15k, followed by a crazy cool after
party with all things chocolate.  Think hot chocolate, chocolate fondue, and so much more.  Now, that is worth a good run if you ask me!  What is a better combination than running and chocolate?  I can't think of one!

Hot Chocolate races are also know for having the best goodie bags!  Runners receive a warm hoodie as their goodie bag--in either women or men specific sizes.

I will be an ambassador locally for the Philly race, but I have a special discount code to share with
everyone doing a Hot Chocolate race in the US.  My code is PumpkingtoMUG.  This will get you a free travel mug when you use the code at registration.

To celebrate my partnership with the Hot Chocolate race series, I am doing a little giveaway of Hot Chocolate brand goodies!  I have a "will run for chocolate" shirt in a unisex size large, a Hot Chocolate head band, a luggage tag, a sticker and a little mascot figurine.  Good luck!!!

Keep a look out in the future--I will be giving away a free race entry soon!!!

A dream is a wish...


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, October 27, 2013

My Walk Across the Golden Gate Bridge

Last week while I was in San Francisco for the Nike Women's Marathon, I got to do something I have wanted to do since I was a child--I walked across the Golden Gate Bridge!  The international orange bridge is such an American icon, it felt surreal to actually be there, to be walking across.

The weather that day was chilly, but it was actually clear enough to see for miles from the bridge.  This can be a rare occurrence in San Francisco, as both Nike Women's Half Marathons I have done it was to foggy to see the bridge, even though we ran just feet away from it.  My runDisney friend, Denise, meet me at the race expo and she drove us to the bridge.  We parked at Presidio and walked to the Golden Gate Bridge welcome center.  Then we were bridge bound!

Marin County side.  I love the shadow on the water! 

The Golden Gate bridge was completed in 1937, just at the end of the Great Depression.  It is 1.7 miles long and is about 240 feet about the San Francisco Bay.  The Golden Gate bridge is a famous world wide, both for her majesty and
beauty.  People come from all over the world to see it.  The Golden Gate Bridge was the longest suspension bridge in the world for many years.

The views from the bridge were breathtaking!  Just a few steps in, you can see the city of San Francisco on the right.   The first thing I noticed was how loud and windy it was up there!  Several lanes of traffic were zipping by in both directions.  The wind was so strong!  I was glad I had my hair in tight french braids and that I had my Team in Training hoodie with me.  The two main tower of the bridge looked like they went up and up for forever.  One thing that really surprised me about bridge itself was just how wide the main cables are.  Those things must be 5-6 feet wide! I reach my hand up and touched one.  I could not keep my hands off of that amazing, international orange piece of Pennsylvania steel.

Denise and I reached the Marin County side of the bridge and turn around.  That is when the best views
could be seen.  We could watch San Francisco the whole walk back.  At each of the two bridge towers are observations areas.  We stopped for a while and took some pictures.  I could see Alcatraz, the port of San Francisco, and the hilly San Francisco skyline.  The view its self was worth the flight to San Francisco.

Photo borrowed from Wikipedia
One very strange thing I saw on the bridge were signs and telephones with hopes of persuading people to not jump--suicide by bridge.   I chuckled at the silliness and then shrugged it off.  I thought--this is California after all, they have all kinds of crazy warnings for stuff, right? I had not thought about those signs until I started to right this post and review my pictures from the trip.  Those signs had me so intrigued, so I did a little goggling and discovered that the Gold Gate Bridge is the number one suicide location in the world!  Sadly, the bridge sees up to fifty suicides per year. Wow, I had no idea when I was there!  That is why the little signs were posted every few feet.  It's a sad, unintended effect of a bridge so romanticized by the world.

My trip to the Golden Gate Bridge was an amazing experience!  I am so glad I finally got to do it.  Our trip to the bridge came to an end at the Golden Gate Bridge visitors center.  For $1, guests can buy an official "I walked the bridge" postcard.  The postcards are numbered and stamped with the date.  I think its the perfect keepsake for such an amazing experience!

A dream is a wish...


Saturday, October 26, 2013

My Visit to the Disney Family Museum

Photo from
Last week while in San Francisco for the Nike Women's Marathon, I had the amazing privileged of visiting the Disney Family Museum.  My runDisney buddy, Heather, is a volunteer at the museum and she was
gracious enough to give me the insider tour.  The Disney Family Museum is located in the beautiful and historic Presidio section of San Francisco.  The Presidio is a former Army base turned into a center of culture and living under the shadow of the famous Golden Gate Bridge.  The Disney Family Museum was opened in October 2009 as a place to tell the story of Walt Disney--his life history, his family, his legacy.

Heather was waiting for me when I got to the museum.  The first thing that captivated me in the lobby was the Academy Award Disney won for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.  It was so cute--one big Academy Award with seven tiny Academy Awards.  We entered the Museum to learn about Walt's birth, his early years and his time in the military.  The next room was all about his beginnings as an artist, still working in the Midwest.  Next, museum goers enter a "train" (really an elevator) and arrive in Hollywood!

Hollywood is where the Disney magic begins!  Visitors get to see the invention of Oswald, and then Mickey. We saw the opening of Disney' first studio.  This is where Walt met Lillian, his eventual wife.  The museum winds to show Disney's venture into full length feature films, and then live action films.  They have one of only three of the multi plane camera in existence, a technology invented by Walt Disney.  The museum does not sugar coat anything.  They go into the effects of the World War on the studios, and the artist strikes.

The next part of the Disney Family Museum goes into the concept and idea of Disneyland!  They have the exact bench from Griffith Park in Los Angeles that Walt was sitting on when he thought up the original idea for Disneyland, while he was watching his girls play on the merry go round.  There are beginning mock ups of the park, concept art and lots of models.  After Disneyland was opened, Walt set his sights on a bigger, better park--Disney World in Florida.

The last part of the museum, and the saddest is the part that goes into Walt's death.  Visitors get to see concepts and venture that the company was working
on, but scraped after Walt's death.  For me, the most touching exhibits at the museum are the simple, every day items the Walt Disney owned and used every day of his life. The museum has his pocket watch, his glasses, pictures his girls drew for him when they were children.  These things humanize him.  Even though he was a man of amazing vision and success, deep down he was a family man, a regular guy.  

The Disney Family Museum was nothing like I expected. I was expecting a "One Man's Dream" video presentation at Hollywood Studios in Walt Disney World type of thing, but with props.  It was so much more that that.  Through this museum experience visitors get to know the Disney family as people.  On the walls are photos of the family--at home, on holidays, on vacation, at work.  Walt's personality comes alive there. The Disney Family Museum is all about the man Walt Disney was, not just the extraordinary things he did.

If you ever get a chance, go visit the Disney Family Museum!  It was an amazing experience.

A dream is wish...


Thursday, October 24, 2013

Nike Women's Marathon Expo San Francisco 2013

This past weekend, I had the privileged of participating in the Nike Women's Half Marathon with my Team in Training team (Go Team Central Pennsylvania!).  Since I did this race last year, I knew the "Expotique" as they call it would be different from any other race expo out there--but in a very cool way! 

When we landed in San Francisco, first thing we did was check  in to our hotel.  Just a short walk from the hotel was the expo!  When I first arrived at the expo, I went right up to the packet pickup table and got my packet. The first thing I noticed there was no shirt in my packet. This was because at the NWM, only finishers get a shirt.  I love this idea! In this years goody bag was some snack samples, a Neutorgena lip gloss, a Paul Mitchell dry shampoo, a Luna Bar and some flyers--packaged in clear plastic bag with the NWM logo on it. Nike+ members got a few extras--we got some shoe laces and a set of Tiffany blue stick on nail polish strips with the race logo printed on it. 

After I got my packet, I went into the Expotique.  It did not look like a normal race expo.  The Expotique was in a huge, white tent set up in Union Square of San Francisco. Runners entered the Expotique on a Tiffany blue carpet.  As we walked in, our names flashed across a board, with an inspirational message special for each runner.  The music was high, as was the energy level. There was nothing for sale at this expo.  Most of what was going on was free! To get NWM themed merchandise, you had to go to Niketown across the street.  This expo was like a party for runners. 

Since this was a women focused event, they had lots of girly pampering and fun available.  Saturday morning, I had an open two hour window in my schedule.  I met my friend Jennie for breakfast, but then my team was meeting two hours later to go over a few last minute race day details.  I decided to spend that time at the expo having some fun. My plan was to be at the expo right at 8 am when it opened to avoid the crowds.  My plan worked--we had no wait for the things we wanted to do.  First, Jennie and I want to the Neutorgena lounge.   They were doing free make overs!   My consultant was so helpful and I love the job she did on my face.  After the makeover, we had our picture taken and got lots of little goodies to take home.  I got a little black draw string bag of lip gloss, moisturizer, and sunblock, plus a full size mascara and pore refining face wash.  How cool is that!

After getting my makeup done, I stopped by the Paul Mitchell booth.  They had cosmetology students doing hair styling. I got two really pretty french braids done in my hair. My hope was that it would stay in for the race.  After that Jennie and I got some silly photo booth pictures done, complete with fake mustaches, at the Team in Training booth.  Thanks so much to the organizers of NWM and the respective brands for doing this for participants. 

This was by far the best, most fun race expo I had ever been to.  It was all about having fun and letting go.  It was about relaxing and celebrating. This is just part of what makes the Nike Women's Marathon series my favorite events of the year.  

A dream is a wish...


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Baltimore Running Festival

This past Saturday, I participated in the Baltimore Running Festival.  I ran in the marathon relay with some of my Princess running friends.  This race is special to me because Baltimore is like home to me, its the first place I remember living.  The day started crazy and very stressful, but it turned out great!

Let me preface this next paragraph by saying I am the worlds worst driver.  I left my house about 5 am.  I headed south and hit Baltimore by 6 am.  I made my way to Oriole Park at Camden Yards--the place were runners could park for free.  I missed the one turn into the parking lot and there I was--back on I-95!  I got off at the next exit and them found my way back to Camden Yards.  After lots of traffic, I finally got into the lot--just to be the third car turned away due to a full lot.  I followed the two cars in
front of me--right onto the course and under the start line.  Ugg!  The police were yelling at us, but they were nice and gave me directions to another lot to park in.  After a few turns--there I was--at the full Camden Yards lot again!  By this time, I had been in my car circling the city for an hour.  I had to be on the bus to my relay point in just 30 short minutes!  I followed the cars in front of me and finally found a open stop at Raven's Stadium.  My relay team meet me at my relay bus with my bib.  I made it with seconds to spare--seriously--seconds!

Thankfully, my day turned around after that.  I met some really fun ladies on the relay bus.  We were running leg two, so we had about an hour to wait before our first leg partner got to us.  We met our first leg running partners at mile 5, between Johns Hopkins University and the Baltimore Zoo.  The relay exchange point was like a party!  First to pass was the lead wheel chair athlete.  Since I am a back of the pack runner, I have never seen the wheel chairs before.  Baltimore is such a hilly city.  I give those guys so much credit.  After a few minutes the lead runner passed.  The crowd cheered!  It was amazing.  We cheered and cheered as the runners passed.  Soon it was my turn to run.

My leg started straight up hill!  It was a tough start.  I tried to walk the ups, run the down.  My leg went from the zoo, past Hopkins University toward the famous Baltimore Inner Harbor.  Then we ran through South Baltimore, around the Under Armour Headquarters and back to the Inner Harbor for the hand off to our leg three partner.  In total, I ran 7.5 miles.

Right before my hand off, the half marathon started. I really love how the Baltimore Running Festival staggered the events.  The full marathon and the marathon relay started at 8 am.  The 5k started at 9 am, using the start line and finish line of the full marathon, but the course was shortened, of course.  Then the half marathon started at 9:45 am, at mile 13.1 of the full marathon. All races were destined for the same place--Camden Yards!

After my hand off, I headed to race village.  The festivities were in full swing!  There was live music, vendors with food and lots of games from companies like Geico and Chick Fila.  I entered the runners only area to meet up with my teammates.  I got my relay medal and then went for some food!  One thing the Baltimore Running Festival does better than any other is feed their runners well!  I have never been to a running event with better food.  First off, Chick Fila was walking around the finish area giving runners their amazing sandwiches.  What is better after a long run than a Chick Fila sandwich?  Baltimore is famous for their seafood, in Baltimore there is no more famous seafood restaurant than Phillips.  Phillips was in the runners only area with their famous Maryland crab soup.  There was also Utz potato chips, Power Bars, Dole fruit cups, apples, bananas and lots of other yummy food.  What a perfect way to wait for my leg four teammate to cross the finish.

Along with feeding runners after the race, the Baltimore Running Festival knows how to feed runners on the course too!  In my opinion, they did not have enough water stations.  I guess I am spoiled by runDisney, with a stop at each mile.  The Baltimore Running Festival had water stops about every two miles--but most stops had food too.  Along the course was Dunkin Donuts, Utz potato chips, bananas, oranges, Power Bars, Power Bar gels and various candy.  For fluids, they had Gatorade and water.  I did not take any of the food along the course because I did not need it, but if I ever did a full marathon this would be perfect.  One thing I still do not have down is during race fueling.  This course would make it super easy because I would not have to carry fuel with me.

The winner of this years race has a really heartwarming story.  Runners were buzzing about it all day.  The winner is a local teacher and track coach.  My forth leg teammate reported seeing his students cheer home on as he passed mile 20.  He was the first local winner of the race.  The Baltimore Running Festival is an event I would highly recommend to anyone.  One thing I wish they would improve--the half marathon
runners really get cheated out of beauty of Baltimore.  The half runs through the bad neighborhoods of the city.  The first half of the marathon course is amazing, but the second half (also most of the half marathon) is through some not so great areas of Baltimore.  Other than that, the Baltimore Running Festival was an amazing experience I can't wait to do again.

A dream is a wish...