Posts Tagged by travel

Mission to Marathon: Packing for a RunCation

I can’t believe the time is almost here for Hannah to take on the Goofy Race and a Half Challenge!!  It seems like just yesterday when she wrote her first Mission to Marathon post on putting her training plan together for this race weekend.  Boy time sure does fly!  Well as she is continuing to taper, she is getting ready to leave for Walt Disney World and she is here with some great packing tips for a RunCation!

Best of luck Hannah and we can’t wait to see you get all that runDisney bling in a few short weeks!


Holy Moly, can you believe its December! And, halfway through at that!? Time is flying…I would know. I turned 30 on the 5th and it just came and went and wow…I can’t believe I’m in my 30s now! But enough about me, here’s some info on how to get yourself all packed up and read for your Disney RunCation! This post is highly focused on those flying into their destination, but modify as you will for those driving/train-riding/etc.

[Side note that I’m still in my temporary living arrangements so I wasn’t able to dig out the suitcases (in storage) or do a big full Disney packing photo montage. Sorry!]

First things first…

BEFORE you pack anything, check the weather and then check it again, and again, and possibly plan for weather different than what you’re anticipating…Florida is notorious for drastic weather changes.

Your Race Day gear is the MOST important thing you’ll pack. I strongly recommend laying out the clothes, socks, shoes, underwear, etc that you will need for the actual race before you do anything else!


Pack your race day gear into your carry-on luggage. You do not want this getting lost.

Next up I add in my cover-wear (my throw-away clothes).


And finally I add in all my race “extras.” Things like my sunglasses, my running belt, compression socks (for after the race), gels, etc…



You can use your discretion with what is “essential” for race day to determine what needs to go in your carry-on. The rest can go in checked luggage.

Here’s all my race stuff laid out, ready to be packed!


Once your race day gear is packed, you will have a better idea of how much room you’ll have for other stuff and how much luggage you’ll need.

When I pack for Disney I tend to know ahead of time what park I will be visiting. I then plan my clothing accordingly. I will typically pack one black pair of shoes and one blue pair of shoes and then make sure all of my clothing matches one of the two pairs of shoes. For each day I lay my clothes out like this:


Once I get my whole trip laid out I will pack it all into my luggage.

This trip will be a bit interesting as we are flying with a new airline and are limited with both carry-on and checked luggage (ugh, don’t these new airline luggage rules stink?!). Between the hubs and I we are planning for one carry-on, one checked bag, and two personal items. Make sure to check your airline for their restrictions and guidelines before you start packing.

I hope this helps you out and allows you some relief from the packing stress!

Things to remember about packing for a running vacation (because we all know I can’t resist a list):

1 – No NEW is good NEW… pack the stuff that’s tried and true for you. This is not the time to find out that the cute new top chaffs like no other.

2 – Extra shoes if you’re running multiple races. You do not want to be starting out a marathon with soggy shoes because it rained the day before.

3 – Check out the expo and race info online before you go to see if they’ll have the gels/fuel you like. If not, pack some from home!

4 – Don’t freak out if you forget something. While its not ideal to wear new shoes for a race, it can be done. Don’t let missing something in your packing add additional stress where its not needed.

5 – HAVE FUN. If you’re running a Disney race, then you will definitely have a good time. But don’t let PR’s or PB’s, or PD’s, or anything else get in the way of enjoying your race. 99% of us are not running for a place in these races, so just remember to have fun with it!


Here is my January 2014 Run Training Plan:


28 – Week Jan 5: Tuesday and Thursday 45 mins; Saturday 13.1; Sunday 26.2

        Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday – long stretches

29 – Week Jan 12: Tuesday and Thursday 45 mins; Saturday 3 miles

29 Alternate: Walk Disney Parks!

        Stretch, Stretch, Stretch and then stretch again. 🙂

30 – Week Jan 19: Tuesday and Thursday 45 mins; Saturday 3 miles

31 – Week Jan 26: Tuesday and Thursday 45 mins; Saturday 3 miles

Hannah is an attorney from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. She started running in 2011 while preparing for the Bar Exam as a means of helping her focus on her studying. Hannah completed her first half marathon in October 2011 at the Nike Women’s Marathon in San Francisco. In 2013 she completed 13 running events including 5 half marathons, 2 10ks, 3 5ks and 3 fun races (2 color runs and a zombie run).  She enjoys setting goals and crossing things off of her “bucket list.” Follow Hannah at, where she blogs about her everyday goals and challenges.

Coming From Australia to Get Her Coast to Coast! Part 1 – The Wine & Dine Half Marathon

I am SO excited about this two-part series!!  Ashleigh contacted me about doing a guest post on her runDisney experience and when I found out that she was traveling all the way from Australia to run both the Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend AND the Avengers Half Marathon Weekend to complete the Coast to Coast Challenge, I couldn’t wait to hear all about it!!  Here’s Part 1 of Ashleigh’s adventure!


Hello everybody! Sarah kindly asked if I would blog about my experience running Disney as an Australian having travelled over to the States for Wine and Dine and Avengers. I will be writing a two part series, talking about my trip as a whole and the excitement of Disney and the runDisney races.

Deciding to travel half way across the world for a couple of races was not as easy decision. I am not what you would call a natural runner, I am about as far from a natural runner as you can imagine. I began running in July 2011 when I signed up for a 5k with my mum in support of a friend who was diagnosed with breast cancer.


My mum and I after my first 5k!

After that I was hooked- I signed up for another 5k and another and another, then a 10k and finally a half marathon a year and a bit later. I found out about runDisney when I saw it mentioned on Facebook, and after doing some research I began following Jeff Galloway’s run-walk program, which is what gave me the confidence to sign up for more races after my first 5k. As someone who has always struggled with running and I had some pretty bad experiences with sport in school (not so supportive physical education teachers), the idea that someone who had run marathons at Olympic level was telling me it was okay to take short walk breaks when I ran was amazing.

So that brought me to the idea of runDisney- I liked everything it stood for, running for the fun of it, running not be the best but to be the best me and hello…Disney characters on course!?! Photo opportunities!?! Wear my medals around at the park the next day and have people stop and congratulate me!?! YES PLEASE!!!

I love living in Australia, but the running culture here is very different. We don’t have runDisney or Rock n Roll or Diva running events. Everything feels a lot more serious, and there are a lot less races. The fields are smaller, but the quality of runners is higher, so there are still quick finishing times, but at my home state of Victoria’s big half marathon (The Melbourne half marathon), I was at the back of the pack with a 2:41:57 finish.

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My first half marathon finish!

I mean right at the back, which is fine with me- but the idea of being able to run a race where there are other runners just like me- people running for fun and to better themselves even though they might not be the speediest runners, really appealed to me. So runDisney was officially on my radar. But how does one justify flights, accommodation and an international trip for a race? With great difficulty!

After finishing university and settling into work I got some hard news that a very dear friend had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. It was really hard to wrap my head around the fact that a friend only a few years older than me had suddenly been told that he had an incurable disease that would essentially affect the rest of his life. The reasons I had chosen not to do runDisney were stupid. Money. Work. The difficulty in planning. They were not good reasons to miss out on something that I was so passionate about. Life is short and if we don’t take opportunities when they come up, we might end up missing out on them altogether.

So when registration opened for Wine and Dine 2014 I took the plunge- the race was on my birthday, and I took that as a sign. I followed that with registration for Avengers (and registration for Dopey but more on that another time). I was registered and I was over the moon- then came the training. I actually had my strongest training block ever, even though it was actually Dopey training, so I left Australia feeling excited, because I knew I was ready.

After a lot of flying-Maningrida-Darwin, Darwin-Melbourne, Melbourne-Sydney, Sydney-Dallas Fort Worth, Dallas Fort Worth- Orlando, I finally arrived at Walt Disney World with my boyfriend who joined me for the trip and acted as support crew for the runs. We hit up the parks everyday and when we went to the expo I went crazy!


My expo purchases! A very successful day in my book!

KT tape sells for $30 a roll in Austrailia and was 2 for $30 at the expo. Dr Kool- doesn’t exist in Australia? Cindy shoes- tick. Goofy shoes-tick. Pins- tick. Tumbler- tick. I did it shirt- tick. Tech shirt- tick. You get the idea. I loved the energy at the expo, it was a little crazy but really well organized so even as a first time runDisney participant, I found it really easy to navigate my way around and find everything I needed.

When I saw my bib for the first time I couldn’t believe it. Me. Ashleigh. I was running in a runDisney race. It was amazing. On Saturday we woke up and went to Animal Kingdom for a few hours before returning to the room at about 2. I used this time to nap, relax, re read the participant info booklet, and double/triple/quadruple check I had everything ready for the race. I went with a simple wonder woman themed costume, and even though temps were set to be around 55-65 degrees, I opted to run in just a t-shirt and running skirt as I find I overheat very quickly and I didn’t want to be stripping off during the run.


Simple Wonder Woman inspired costume. It was super comfy to run in!

I jumped on the bus at Port Orleans French Quarter at around 7, and I arrived at the race by about 7:20. When I arrived at the race I quickly jumped in line for a photo with Chef Mickey- which proved to be a smart choice because by the time I had my photo taken the line had about doubled (and I ended up being in line for approx ½ hour).


Chef Mickey and I. I love this photo!

I decided to skip the other character photos and instead take some time to sit down and relax before the start. Some very friendly runners chatted with me while we waited for the corrals to open, and at about 9:00 I made my way into the corral.

Corral G! I was really happy with my corral placement- it was an excellent fit!

Corral G! I was really happy with my corral placement- it was an excellent fit!

A gentleman in the corral kindly gave me a garbage bag as it started to rain almost as soon as we stepped into the corral and this ended up continuing for almost the whole race. Thank you to that mystery man- it was VERY MUCH appreciated! As I stood at the start line watching the fireworks go off, I was overcome by a sense of gratefulness. I was grateful for everything, the ability to run, the chance to be there, the opportunities that I had allowed myself.

The start line was amazing!

The start line was amazing!

I stripped off my garbage bag and bounded off as soon the fireworks went off for my corral.


The fireworks were even more amazing. I can’t think of a better way to start a race!

I had decided to run 4:1 intervals and stop for as many photo stops as I liked, because it is not everyday you get to run at Disney! I stopped at every mile marker for a selfie, and I stopped for photos with the fairies, Timone, the Animal Kingdom tree, Buzz and Woody, the Incredibles back drop, the Osbourne lights and Captain Jack Sparrow. I also saw photo ops (but didn’t stop) for King Louie, a Star Wars character (sorry I am not a big Star Wars fan) and Country Bears.



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I could be forgetting a couple, the race was a bit of a whirlwind. I heard the green army men yelling at people but I don’t remember seeing them, I kept thinking I was about to run past them but it never happened- they may have been on the other side of the road. As for the actual running part, it may have been raining, but I was having a ball. I run in km in Australia so I just imagined that every mile marker was a km marker, so it felt like the race was only 13km!

Of course I stopped with the Australian mile marker!

Of course I stopped with the Australian mile marker!

The course was really interesting as it began at ESPN, then through Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios before finishing in Epcot. As someone who wasn’t overly familiar with the Disney World property it was actually a great way to tour around and see the parks. Although there were some huge puddles, there were lots of cast members and volunteers pointing them out, the aid stations were well organized and the medical tents and staff were amazing. I really enjoyed running through the parks because there was just so much to look at. I honestly remembered feeling disappointed at the 6 mile mark because I was sad it was half way over. I was hi fiving cast members left, right and centre and I loved the way random runners would strike up conversation for a couple of minutes. While many people complained about the weather, nothing was going to rain on my parade on Saturday night!

Still feeling awesome at mile 9!

Still feeling awesome at mile 9!

As we ran along the Boardwalk I was just so excited to see that finish line, and once I saw Spaceship Earth, I knew I was almost there. As I had run so conservatively the whole race, I had heaps of gas left in the tank and basically sprinted toward Mickey, hi fived him and then leapt across the finish line. I was given a finishers medal, wrapped in a space blanket and lead down the chute. I had my photo taken before being given some food.

I was lucky enough to have my lovely boyfriend waiting in Epcot with dry clothes so I could skip Gear Check, and I skipped grabbing a drink because the lines were just too hectic. I am a super impatient person so having all those people around and lines barely moving equals a very grumpy Ashleigh. I decided it would be best for my sanity if I just skipped the drink and moved straight through to the after party where I could have some breathing room- and show off my awesome medal! I met my boyfriend at the Australia (of course!) pavilion in Epcot and changed into some nice dry clothes and got some photos with my medal.

Very happy to have my medal and be in dry clothes!

Very happy to have my medal and be in dry clothes!

We ended up finding Dopey and Snow White and Pinocchio- I was disappointed that I had just missed Donald (my favorite). I was starving so we went to Italy, Morocco and Brazil and that satisfied my post run hunger. We decided to leave at around 3:15, but unfortunately our bus had a huuuuge waiting line, so I think we waited around ½ hour before we managed to get on the bus, and by this time the rain had started to get heavier. We arrived back at French Quarter and I had a quick shower before settling into bed at around 4:15am.

A Disney race wouldn’t be complete without post race, park touring with my medal. I had heard some horror stories about people’s medals breaking and people losing the spinner middle from the medal, so I decided to play it safe and only wear the medal in photos. The rest of the day it was tucked safely into my pocket. Even though I was a little disappointed I couldn’t wear my medal, I would have been devastated if it had have broken, so I think I made a good choice to just use it for photo ops. I loved showing off my medals at the parks and it was awesome having total strangers come up to me and congratulate me!

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My Wine and Dine Half Marathon weekend trip was a blast, and as I write this I am getting ready to race Avengers in California and get my coast to coast. I had an awesome experience running Disney and I am already planning my next runDisney trip!

Ash J


Stay tuned for Part 2 of Ashleigh’s runDisney adventure at the Avengers Half Marathon coming up tomorrow!

5 Reasons I Fell In Love with Disneyland

On my first trip to Disneyland last year, I didn’t understand the love everyone had for the place.  Yes, it is Walt’s park, the original, but there was no “bubble” feeling like you get in Walt Disney World.  Oh man I love that bubble.  But on my most recent trip, that completely changed.  I think being more familiar with the parks played a big part in that, but there were some specific things I really came to appreciate and love.  Sigh…


1. The Disneyland Hotel

I had always heard that because of how small the resort is, staying at an off-property hotel really won’t make a difference and you will end up saving money.  This is what we did on our first trip.  Nope.  Bad idea.  Yes we saved money, but the experience of having to leave the resort just put a bad taste in my mouth.  So this trip I knew I had to stay at a Disney hotel.  Yes, it was significantly more expensive, but staying on Disney property makes ALL the difference.


We were lucky to stay in the Adventure Tower which is the closest to Downtown Disney and the parks, but it is also just upstairs from Trader Sam’s and the pool.  Everything was right outside our door!


And the room was so wonderful!  We were able to get a King room that overlooked Downtown Disney.  The details in the room were so fun.  From the light fixtures, the faucets, and all the classic Disneyland photos that adorned the walls.



On our first night, we were able to watch the firework show Magical! from our room.  Plus, you can access the music from all of the nighttime shows right on your TV!

But did you know that there is a fireworks surprise in all of the Disneyland Hotel rooms?!  Yup…right there in the headboard!


2. Everything In Close Proximity

Being able to walk everywhere is wonderful!  No waiting for buses or other transportation.  Nothing took more than 10 minutes to get to by foot!  And I love how the 2 parks are right across the Esplanade from each other, which makes park hopping a breeze!  Plus having Downtown Disney right outside our hotel made it easy to grab a coffee at Starbucks or get some quick shopping in.


However sometimes we didn’t feel like walking and were able to jump on the Monorail for an express trip right into Tomorrowland!


3. Details, Nooks & Crannies

Disney is know for detail in the parks.  Everything tells a story.  There is something charming about all of these details in Disneyland compared to those in Walt Disney World.  Many can be found in all of these little nooks & crannies though out he parks.  Here are some of my favorites:

New Orleans Square


Pixie Hollow


Snow White’s Grotto


The Popcorn Cart Turners


Heimlich Hiding in the Candy Corn Bushes


In Fantasyland alone, I could’ve spent hours just looking at every detail.  And don’t even get me started on Main Street USA!

4. The Attractions

Since Walt Disney World is basically my second home, I hate to say it but hands down Disneyland has superior attractions.  Ok…got that off my chest.  But really whether it’s versions of the same attraction like Space Mountain or Big Thunder Mountain.



Or the abundance of dark rides.




Or the charming family friendly attractions.





Or the stellar original attractions that can only be found at Disneyland.



Disneyland-Love-AladdinOr Heimlich


Everything just seems to be well…better.  I can’t believe I just said that…who am I?!?

5. Nighttime

Something magical happens at night in Disneyland.  This was something I hardly experienced on my first trip because I had to get up so early in the morning to race, so I made sure to take it all in this trip.  And I’m not even talking about the nighttime shows…however Fantasmic! along the Rivers of America blew my mind!



There is just an added sense of magic in the air when the sky gets dark and the lights come on.  Just look at all that neon in Carsland!


The trolley coming down Buena Vista Street just screams old Hollywood!


All of the tiki torches around the Disneyland Hotel completely transport you to the islands!


Sleeping Beauty Castle…no explanation needed.


But my favorite thing to see at night was definitely the Mad Tea Party.  I just stood there and watched because it was so whimsically beautiful!  LOVE!


So there you have it…why I am now madly in love with Disneyland.  Walt Disney World will always be my one true love, but sometimes you just can’t help the charms of its older and wiser counterpart.  Now…when can I go back??

Share your thoughts!!  What do you love (or not love) about Disneyland?

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RAD Recap A Day Late…July 28, 2014

My weekly recap is late this week because I was off in California having too much fun!!

We spent 3 fun filled days in Disneyland…




Then we toured around L.A. a bit…




And finally got to see the Fittest on Earth compete in the the CrossFit Games!!




I will have some really fun recaps in the next few weeks for ya both here and on RAD Living so make sure to come back and check that out!

Big thanks to Chris and Shaye who held down the fort around here while I was gone!  Chris shared his Transformation story and Shaye had some great tips on how to avid burnout while race training.  I also wrote a piece on RAD Living about How One Day Can Change Your Life, talking about my struggle with travel.  I’d love to hear your stories and tips about how to make traveling easier and how you’ve overcome some tough obstacles…share them in the comments!

I have to say, as much as I really enjoyed this trip…it’s REALLY good to be home and I’m looking forward to getting back into my routine tomorrow.  Hope you had a great week!

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A Return Visit to Disneyland


Next week I am returning to Disneyland for 3 days, a trip I honestly thought I would never be making again.  I love Disneyland, but living on the East Coast makes it very difficult to travel there mainly due to the expense.  I can take multiple trips to Walt Disney World for the price of one trip to Disneyland.  After last year’s Disneyland Half Marathon trip, I really didn’t think I would ever visit again or at least not for a very long time.

Well as luck would have it, I AM returning to Disneyland and this time I don’t have the added stress of running.  I can just enjoy the parks, the food, the history…everything!  Since last year was my first trip ever to Disneyland, I put together a post from a newbies point-of-view.  (Ironically, I wrote it on the same date I’m writing this!)  I put together a lengthy list of “Must Do’s” for my trip, many of which I never got to.  Let’s take a look at the list and how I did:


  • Pirates of the Caribbean
  • Indiana Jones Adventure
  • Haunted Mansion
  • Alice in Wonderland
  • It’s a Small World
  • Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride (squeeeeeeee!!!)
  • Matterhorn Bobsleds
  • Pinocchio’s Daring Journey
  • Storybookland Canal Boats
  • Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin
  • Space Mountain
  • Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage


  • Monsters, Inc. Mike & Sulley to the Rescue
  • Aladdin Musical
  • California Screamin’
  • Radiator Springs Racers


  • Blue Bayou
  • Carthay Circle Restaurant
  • Napa Rose
  • Trader Sam’s
  • Flo’s V8 Cafe

Wow…not so good.  I got the dining down pat, but I only hit 50% of the attractions that I wanted to!  I have to admit that the races took up a lot more time than I expected and it was also exceptionally hot and humid while we were there, which made all of those outdoor attractions seem unbearable.  This trip will be hot, but it looks like the humidity will be at or below 50% which will make a HUGE difference.  So here are my goals for this trip…


This is a lofty goal, but seriously, this will probably be my last time in a VERY long time that I visit Disneyland.  Well, that is unless I win some other contest…no one could be that lucky…so you can see why I want to be cramming everything in.  One thing I know for sure is that there will be MANY trips on Heimlich’s Chew Chew Train…I can’t wait!!


So what do you think?  What would you do if you had 3 days to spend in Disneyland?

Next week I’ll be talking Disneyland food as I take a look at a few of my favorites and what I will be trying on this trip so stay tuned.  Also, make sure you follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so you can check out all the Disneyland shenanigans!

Oh and last but certainly not least…HAPPY 59th BIRTHDAY DISNEYLAND!!

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