The Places Running Takes Us

Imagine my surprise when I sat down to write my latest attempt at literary mediocrity, only to find this is my 500th Post!

Say WHAT???!!!

Yes ma’am. 500 posts about running, Disney, dogs, travel, opinions, memories, reviews, recaps, and a general overview of all things shenanigans.  One name change, a couple of breaks, a few years later and here we are.  What have we learned along the way?  Not much.  That’s okay though because it’s been a fun trip and I don’t plan on that trip coming to an end any time soon.

In honor of this not so momentous occasion, let’s dive back into the archives and take a look at where this crazy sport of running has taken me.  As a true Sagittarian, I have an ingrained love of travel.  So combining my two loves has always been a no-brainer.  So grab a margarita, step into the Black Dog People Mover, and enjoy the ride.

One Happy Wonder Mutt.

Vero Beach, Florida

Not exactly a destination running beach, but definitely a happy place for the Black Dog family.  Thanks to a family connection, we spent many a great weekend at a beautiful beach house walking some serious mileage along Vero Beach in Florida, conveniently located about 4 miles away from Disney’s Vero Beach Resort.  The sand was too soft for running – unless you’re a glutton for punishment – but a decent hour’s walking in that stuff was enough to make you feel like you’d run a good half marathon.  Not to mention that if you went at the right time of year, the turtles are laying eggs all over the beach.

#adorbs

Washington D.C.

Once upon a time, a certain Grouper had the opportunity to attend a session at the FBI Academy in Quantico.  Just before he graduated, we had the chance – ironically on September 11th, 2010 – to run a memorial 5k that started/ended in Arlington VA, and ran through a small section of DC, including past the side of the Pentagon that was struck on that tragic day.  It was a bit surreal to say the least, and plenty of tears were shed as we slowed down passing the Pentagon.  To this day we are still so proud and honored to have been able to participate in such an amazing event.

All’s good in the Big Easy.

New Orleans

Where do I even begin with this wonderful city?  The people are SO fun, the food is out of this world, and the music?  All I can say is you’ve never heard such a mix of every genre out there.  Running along Canal Street can take you to Louis Armstrong Park, along the Mississippi, back to the French Market, (Bloody Mary to burn your lips off anyone?), up Bourbon Street, past Marie Laveau’s Voodoo Shop, (which sadly has become very commercialized), and through the French Quarter.  The roads and sidewalks are horrible running surfaces, but the color and flavor of the city cannot be beat.

Hang on little grapey friends.                              We’re on our way!

Napa, California

Being the wine freaks that we are, it was only a matter of time before we decided to fly the friendly skies to the west coast and indulge ourselves on all things grape.  The best part of staying in Napa is a miles long paved fitness trail that runs right through the main stretch of the town and continues into the start of the vineyards located in the center of the valley.  We visited in August, so while quite toasty for those of you more “thick-blooded”, we were right at home in the warmer temperatures.  And what’s better than being able to run off all of those wine induced calories?

Best. Bling. Ever.

Disney World

It always makes me smile to think of all the amazing people I’ve met simply by the need I’ve had to reign in the game show dollar machine I have for a brain and let what’s racing around in there spill out onto this blog.  Lisa is one of those people.  We may live 2,214 miles apart (give or take a few), but our common love for running has bonded us probably for life.  She is the hare to my turtle when it comes to pace, but having someone as obsessed about pace, finish times, and injuries as I am, makes all the conversations we have daily – thanks to Google chat – that much more fun.  We were finally able to run Disney’s Wine and Dine Half back in 2016 together, and to this day, even though it was my slowest half ever – because who can resist stopping for ever silly photo op possible? – it was one of my favorite races ever.

When it all comes down to it though, as much as I suffer from a never-ending case of wanderlust, I love coming home just as much.  Who wouldn’t with sunrises like this and little furry friends who are only too happy to keep you company on a cool tropical winter morning?

Home. Sweet. Home.

The best advice I can offer you is this:  explore the world.  There is so much out there to be seen, heard, tasted, and experienced and life is way too short not to do all of it.  Even if sometimes that experience means simply turning left instead of right.

Enjoy the ride.

 

Where is your favorite place to run?  Do you explore new places by running through them?  

(A Wine and Dine Story) And So We’ve Come….

…to the end of the road.

Literally.

I know this has been a long, drawn out, painful process.  Much like my running life has been the last few years.  And it ain’t over yet.  Well, almost.

I promise.

The pain is coming to an end.

When last we checked in here and here, I was headed for that great big starting line in the……….wait.  No no no. Not THAT one.  This one.

wine-and-dine-start

Jeep packed up, Wonder Mutt dropped off at the neighbors, and off to the most Magical Place on Earth we go.  Not without a giant case of the nerves.  After checking in to our little temporary home for the next few days the night before, we headed over to the expo.  Nothing too exciting there, just your usual, if more complicated, expo shenanigans as in past years.  Complicated as in “let’s just make everyone walk all over kingdom come to get anywhere else between packet pick up, shirt pick up, and goodie shopping” kind of complicated.

We managed to get through all the madness, hook up with running buddies Rae and Lisa, grab a brewski upstairs from the expo, head off for a day of eating, shooting aliens in Studios, grabbing some moonshine at Fort Wilderness (literally, moonshine!), and singing our way all over central Florida.  Yep, that was us you heard.

night-sweats

Much less hairy though.  MUCH.

Fast forward to Sunday morning.  Oh-dark-thirty.  No sleep.  Nerves jumping like Pop Rocks.  I tape the beeJesus out of my knees, get dressed, try to eat the bagel the hubs had so thoughtfully picked up for me the day before, quadruple check that I have all race necessities – tunes, shades, Sport Beans, sanity (not so much), and off we go.  Hubs drops me off at Coronado Springs so I can hop race transpo to the start, and back to bed goes he.  After a very short wait, bus arrives, off to WWoS we go, and the reality of what’s about to happen REALLY starts to sink in.

Holy crap woman, you’re about to run 13.1 miles.  Again.  With the very real possibility that you may finish, not finish, implode before you hit the start line, or act like that ninny in A League of Their Own.

baseball.jpg

Thankfully, the wait to start wasn’t unbearably long, and before I knew it, Rudy and Carissa, those ever faithful runDisney announcers, had the corrals off and running.  Ever vigilant of not starting off too fast, I ignored the typical bizarre looks I was getting from runners around me as I had the following convo with my psyche.  Apparently out loud.

“Hey idiot.”

“What.  Can’t you see I’m trying to run here?”

“Yeah.  That’s why I need you to rein it in and make sure you stick to your intervals.  Otherwise you may not finish.”

“I may not finish anyway.  And I hate running intervals.”

“Hubs said if you finish, he’ll have Patron waiting for you.”

(silence)

(more silence)

(even more silence)

“Dammit.”

Needless to say, agave juice won out.

Margarita in a glass

Dammit.

Soooo, as I wound my way at a snail’s pace around Animal Kingdom, of course I had to stop and hang out with these guys.

Stilt Guys1.jpg

My, you’re all really…..tall.

The new course then meandered along random Disney World roads and back towards Epcot.  At which point, my eyes lit up like I had just discovered a giant bowl of spaghetti with garlic and olive oil.  Due in no small part to what was probably the GREATEST MILE MARKER EVER……

mile-9-rev

Maniacal smiling!

Mile 9.  I knew I was going to finish this bad boy one way or another.  But not before I had to go through what I lovingly termed the MILE OF REALLY MOTHER-EFFER?!?  I JUST COULDN’T GET THROUGH THIS WITHOUT YOU, COULD I?!?

stubborn mule

Nope. Not a chance lady.

Hello Mile 10, hello “what the hell just imploded in my left leg?”  Oh wait, just a lovely little mixture of tight IT band, tuckered out left glute, with a touch of inner left knee soreness thrown in for good measure.  Now, all that being said, I had stuck to my intervals, stopped to stretch every 1-2 miles, and never pushed the pace the entire time.  I knew this was not going to be a speedy half, and had already decided to just have fun with it.  Having this blow up at Mile 10 didn’t really bother me all that much, and if I had to walk it in from there, then so be it.  I could live with it.  I knew the hubby and Lisa were already celebrating her oh-so-speedy finish, and I had every intention of joining them in consuming vast quantities of celebratory libations before much longer.

lisa-grouper1

“Move it girl, there’s partying to be done!”

Then I knew the runner gods had been paying attention.  Mile 10 consisted of an insanely banked ramp up to an overpass.  A ramp which had no flat spot to run on.  ANYWHERE.  Now, I had received very strict orders from the Man and Torture Tony to NOT RUN THE RAMPS OR ELSE.

And for once, I actually listened.

Not just because there wasn’t a flat spot anywhere along that ramp to run on, but also because – you know – that whole pesky left leg thing.

Then, a Disney miracle happened.

miracle.png

No, not that miracle.

As the ramp peaked at the top of an overpass around Mile 11, I decided just to test the waters a bit and see if the extended walk break may have been enough for everybody to calm the hell down.  After a few cautious jogging steps – and a lot of breath holding – things seemed to actually be…..ok.

laugh dog

Say WHA?????

What?  Were you not paying attention?

I said,

EVERYTHING SEEMED TO BE OK

AS IN NO PAIN

ANYWHERE!

In complete and utter disbelief, I called the hubs and Lisa, told them to get the ‘ritas chilling, kicked it into high gear – well, MY high gear – and brought it on home.

The rest – as they say – is history.  Enjoy.

choir1

medal-shirt1

Enjoy the ride.

Thank you for following along with me on what has been on helluva ride.  Your good wishes and crossed paws all helped me cross that finish line on that beautiful morning, and I could not have done it without you.  I especially could not have done it without the encouragement of my hubs, my family, Lisa, PT Pam, Torture Tony, and Dr. Testa.  It’s been a long and painful journey, but we have finally arrived, in no small part to every one of you.  My running adventures will continue, and I hope to take all of you along on them.  Hang on tight, as the ride is only going to get better from here on out!

Friday Funny

FF Run humor

 

Enjoy the ride.

Are you a diehard music runner or do you prefer to hear yourself slowly dying?  Do you go into vapor lock if your music dies mid-race?  Do you then engage in providing your own music?  Have you been subjected to Team Can-Am’s race singalong shenanigans?

Best of luck to everyone running the Dark Side Challenge at Disney World this weekend!  May the Force be with you!

Don’t forget!  I’ll be making my return to racing on May 8th, courtesy of the Wings for Life World Run.  Please visit my page and donate today.  Together we can help stamp out spinal cord injuries!

Wonder Mutt Wednesday

WMW Star Wars

 

Enjoy the ride.

Will you be running the Star Wars half marathon this weekend?  Think you may be sensing a disturbance in the force? Do you have any idea where your cat may be?

Please don’t forget as you’re running this weekend, those who can’t run themselves.  Help me help them by donating to Team Wonder Mutt as we run the Wings for Life World Run and let’s stomp help put an end to spinal cord injuries together!

May The New Lands Be With You

Currently, at least one member of Black Dog Productions is pretty damn excited!

That's right.  Even Darth Vader is groovin' to the news!

That’s right. Even Darth Vader is groovin’ to the news!

For those of the non-Disney Dork persuasion, you have my sympathies let me catch you up on the awesome, Dark Star-sized news.  At last week’s D23 Expo, i.e., the ultimate in Disney Dorknification, CEO Bob Iger announced that both Disney World and Disney Land will be seeing expansions of – you guessed it – all things Luke, Leia, Obi Wan, and R2D2.

"Get those light sabers ready people."

“Get those light sabers ready people.”

I can’t say that I was totally surprised by the news. It was only a matter of time after Disney bought Lucasfilm in 2012 that they would be going down this interstellar highway.  As someone who’s been a rabid Disney World fan since my first visit in 1993, and one who has proudly lost count of how many times I have gotten lost in its magic, having a whole new world – literally – to get lost in, jacks the Dork excitement factor through the roof.  Or in this case, through the galaxy.  Far, far, away.

Kind of like this one!

Kind of like this one!

I won’t list all the cool Rebel Force deets here, as I’ll get so excited that game-show-dollar-machine brain of mine will kick into high gear, and nothing will make sense as the thoughts rattling around in my brain will promptly explode all over your computer in some weird kind of intergalaxian primordial ooze.  Thankfully, our earthly news outlets, (here and here), have got me covered.  No need to worry about whether or not intergalaxian primordial ooze is covered by your laptop’s warranty.  You’re welcome.

Speaking of ooze....

Speaking of ooze….

Enjoy the ride.

Who else among my Disney Dork friends are completely losing their minds over the news?  What would you like to see included in these new lands?  Obi Wan Ton Soup?  Jabba Jelly?  A whole new line of Darth Vader vinegars?  Or perhaps something more along the lines of Boba Fett Fear-Inducing French Fries?  Or my particular favorite – Tatooine Tequila!  Let’s hear it!  What would be some of your favorites?