Monday, March 31, 2014

2014 Bark for Life SWLA

This past weekend, our area held its 2nd Annual Bark for Life event with the American Cancer Society.

Just like humans, our canine friends can be affected by cancer, too. This event is to fight back against all forms of cancer and honors the caregiving qualities of our sweet and loyal furry friends.

Bark for Life is a much smaller version of Relay for Life  and involves animals. Our Bark for Life is a 3 hour daytime event and includes fun and games for dogs and kids alike. (If you aren’t familiar with Relay for Life, it’s a worldwide event put on by the American Cancer Society and is the largest overnight event in the world, raising millions of dollars for cancer research each year.)

Leading up to the event, I was incredibly worried about the weather. Last year, it was misty/rainy the entire time, so I was hoping for a better outcome this time around.

Friday night, a huge storm rolled through our area and stopped us from setting up ahead of time. Thankfully, we allotted plenty of time on Saturday morning to set everything up and before I knew it, we were well on our way into the event!  The only hitch with the weather this year was the wind. Tents that were held down with tent stakes were even uprooted from the ground. It was craziness. At least the sun was out – it was definitely nice to see the sun!

Bark for Life

Pixie came out to play this year!

Bark for Life 2

The city declared March 29th as “Bark for Life Day”!

Our emcee for the event was a local news morning show meteorologist – he did an awesome job!

Bark for Life 3

This is Lil Bit. She’s our official 2014 survivor pet and was diagnosed with breast cancer several months ago.  Our pet/human survivors walked the first lap of the track and were followed by the caregivers/supporters.

Bark for Life 14

We had a boneyard set up to honor and remember our special canine friends who have crossed over to the rainbow bridge.

Bark for Life 4

The winner of our pet costume contest was Buddy. He’s a rescue and is one of the sweetest dogs you will ever meet…the total opposite of his costume!

Bark for Life 5

Throughout the morning, we had several guest speakers – a local Pet Therapy group and the K-9 Unit. Both were great!

Bark for Life 9

We also had egg races and an Easter egg hunt for the kids!

Bark for Life 6Bark for Life 10

Lil Bit won the raffle basket and is completely deserving of every item inside. My heart goes out to this sweet baby and her momma.

Bark for Life 8

My work group was a huge support – they are awesome and I was glad to have them out there at the event!

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We would not have been able to hold this event without our wonderful volunteers and committee!

Bark for Life 13

I appreciate each and every one of them, more than they will ever know!

Another year down…can’t wait to see what Bark for Life 2015 has in store!

Have you ever participated in Relay for Life?

Friday, March 28, 2014

Week In Review–3/28


Happy Friday, friends! The weekend is already here – this week seemed to fly by so fast (I’m definitely not complaining)!

This week has been a whirlwind of meetings, dinners, and event planning. I absolutely cannot wait until Saturday afternoon around 2 p.m. – that means my life can officially return to normal!

You ever have to take it day by day until you “get there”? That’s how I’m feeling right now.

Pulling Weeds

This week, I spent several after work afternoons and lots of hours in our front flower beds. The weeds basically took over and it’s time to replant new things now that the temps are warming up. I will never understand how a freeze will kill flowers and plants but not weeds. SMH.

I’ll be honest, I didn’t get any workouts in this week. The flower beds became my priority this week, so I devised a way to still feel a burn while working in the yard – something worked because after three days, I’m feeling it!

On Monday night, I had an after work dinner meeting at a local restaurant. When the head of our committee wasn’t on time, I began wondering what was going on. After half an hour, I got in touch with someone who told me that our committee head was no longer with the organization. Whaaa? SO, we had to conduct the meeting on our own – it was a productive meeting, but still. Craziness!

Commercial Shoot

On Wednesday, I woke up at 7:30 a.m. (WAY LATE) and couldn’t believe I turned off my alarm. We were shooting a commercial for our work department and I had to flat iron my hair. Needless to say, I made it out of the house in record time but it was stressful getting there! Thankfully my crazy hair cooperated with me!


After the shoot, several of us went to McAlisters for lunch (our local favorite)!

Tomorrow (Saturday) is our area’s 2nd Annual Bark for Life with the American Cancer Society. I’m the event chair, which is a big part of the reason things have been stressful around here this week. I also have a work project due by Monday and I’m almost completely finished. Too many irons in the fire, as my grandmother used to say!

By Saturday at 2  p.m., I’ll hopefully be home free. Can’t wait!!

Tutus for Monika

Last but not least, here’s my Tutu’s for Monika contribution. First off, I think Monika is a rock star and anyone who says otherwise is dumb.

My tutu story is from the Princess Half of 2012 – we ran the race, then decided to wear our tutu’s to dinner that night. In the meantime, we ran into Jeff Galloway! What a FUN night – I wouldn’t trade it for anything!!

I hope you have a great weekend! I’m looking forward to things returning to normal and getting back on the workout routine next week.

What are your weekend plans? If you’re racing, best of luck, hope you have a great race!!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Vlog: Castaway Cay 5K

Castaway Cay 5K 3

Yesterday, I compared the differences between the Castaway Cay 5K “then & now”. Today, I bring you a video of present-day Castaway Cay 5K - a short video this time, don’t worry!

Our cruise was a 4 night Bahamas itinerary on the Disney Magic out of Port Canaveral, February 2014 – which made a stop at Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay.

Hope you enjoy, thanks for watching!

What is your favorite cruise destination? What sights/places do you dream of seeing?

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Castaway Cay 5K–Then & Now

Castaway Cay 5K Title

The Castaway Cay 5K is a free & untimed event located on Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay. Runners and walkers alike can participate in this event as a part of their Disney Cruise Line itinerary.

I first ran the Castaway Cay 5K during our 2nd Wedding Anniversary cruise in April of 2009. The Castaway Cay 5K was relatively new at the time (anyone know when it actually began?) and I was a relatively new runner, so I was excited to participate!

Recently, I had the chance to participate in the Castaway Cay 5K again (after the 2014 Princess Half Marathon weekend). As I was running this race  for the second time, I couldn’t help but compare the obvious differences noticed from the earlier days of this race.

There’s plenty of blogs out there recapping their Castaway Cay 5K adventures, but I thought it would be fun to look back and see the changes made to this race over the course of five years.

With that, let’s take a look back at the Castaway Cay 5K’s early years as compared to present day. Join me as I reminisce! :0)


Castaway Cay 5K

The daily navigator instructed passengers when and where to meet for the Castaway Cay 5K – no pre-registration required. We met our cast member race guide on the pier around 9:15 a.m. and the run began at 9:30 a.m. (I double checked an old Navigator to be sure).


Castaway Cay 5K

Those interested in participating in the Castaway Cay 5K are asked to pre-register at the Port Adventures desk prior to their itinerary’s Castaway Cay day. If you were unable to pre-register or ran out of time, there’s no need to panic. As long as this race is not at full capacity (does anyone even know what full capacity for this race is?) runners are allowed to register on the morning of the event.

Castaway Cay 5K 2

The Castaway Cay 5K meet-up information can be found in the daily Navigator or on the ticket received at pre-registration. Currently, runners meet in Fathoms on Deck 3 Forward on the Disney Magic, although I could see them outgrowing this location soon. Our group met at 8:15 a.m., but I know it’s different for each cruise ship and itinerary. It is VERY important that you remember to bring your ID with you as they check everyone’s ID prior to leaving the ship. If you forget it in your room, you will be required to go back to your room to get it (learn from my mistake).

Castaway Cay 5K 3

Runners receive a bib for this race, although the 5K is not chip timed. There’s also a map of the course available in various locations for studying viewing (one on the big screen in Fathoms, printed maps in Fathoms, and an additional map at the starting location).


Castaway Cay 5K 2

Our group was small, as in 15-20 runners. The run also began directly at the pier.


Castaway Cay 5K 4

Let’s just say this group has grown about 4 to 5 times in size…

Castaway Cay 5K 5

Overall, I think around 80-100 runners participated in the Castaway Cay 5K! With the ever growing popularity of runDisney races and fast sell-out times, I wasn’t surprised one bit!


Castaway Cay 5K 7

The race course began at the pier and continued on through the island. It followed a similar course as the one ran today, minus the double loop off the airstrip.


Castawy Cay 5K 6

Castaway Cay added an actual start/finish area for the 5K, along with a time clock for an unofficial time. However, runners must walk a 5K in order to get to the starting location. No, seriously – if you’ve ever done a runDisney Half or Full, you know about the loooong walk to the corrals….sound familiar? Same principal here – looooong walk to the start line! The Castaway Cay 5K start line is located near the bike rental area on the island.

If you plan to stay on Castaway Cay after the 5K, there’s a box near the start/finish line where runners are able to store their belongings to retrieve after the race.


Castaway Cay 5K 3

There were no signs and no water stops located on the course. I remember this race being incredibly hot and I wasn’t fast enough to keep up with the lead pack, so I thought I was lost (not a soul ahead of me that I could see). There were no signs to show the direction, although I knew if I kept walking (I was on the circle pathway at the time), I would end up back on the airstrip eventually!


Castaway Cay 5K 7

Water is provided on the course and runners pass this water station twice. I didn’t stop for water the first time, but did the second time around! Signs are also located throughout the course for runners to find their way.

Castaway Cay 5K 8

The Castaway Cay 5K course leads runners from the start line to the airstrip, around the circle path, down the airstrip to Serenity Bay, then back down the airstrip, through the circle path a second time, before leading them out of the airstrip and to the finish line.


Castaway Cay 5K 6

After we finished the 5K, we met with our cast member runner guide back at the pier. He took our names and our stateroom numbers, gave us water and a towel, and thanked us for participating.

Castaway Cay 5K 5

That night after dinner, a Magical Moments certificate was waiting in my stateroom! I thought it was a nice touch!


Castaway Cay 5K 9

Runners are met with an unofficial time clock at the finish line (water is also located in a cooler, not far from this timer).

I somehow came down with the Florida “crud” after the Princess Half on Sunday (the Castaway Cay 5K was on Tuesday)…so needless to say, this wasn’t my best race time-wise.

Castaway Cay 5K 10

Finishers of the 5K also receive cute Disney Cruise Line medals for completing the race.

After crossing the finish line, I walked over to the area where a cast member was waiting with a list. She found my name on the list, crossed it off, and presented me with a medal.

At the finish line area, there’s also a store with Castaway Cay 5K merchandise. I purchased a t-shirt and a pin to add to my runDisney race pin collection!

Castaway Cay 5K 11

After snapping a few pictures, my mom and I walked back to the ship to wait on my dad and my husband (they took a fishing excursion that morning).

Castaway Cay 5K 15

We also stopped for this photo prior to boarding the ship to commemorate our 5K finish!

I had so much fun running the Castaway Cay 5K for a 2nd time and it was fun seeing the changes made over the years. This is a great, free event for runners and walkers alike and I highly recommend it! 

My #1 tip for this race is to bring a hat or sunglasses with you because the sun is HOT and BRIGHT. Also, don’t forget to wear sunscreen (ok maybe that’s two tips)…

At any rate, happy running!

Have you ever run the Castaway Cay 5K? What are your thoughts on the race?

Monday, March 24, 2014

2014 Free to Breathe 5K

Happy Monday! Holy moly this past weekend was busy – and leading up to this upcoming weekend will be the same. Our area’s 2nd annual Bark for Life is on Saturday and I’m the chair for the event – needless to say, crazy days at work and getting things together for Bark has consumed most of my time these past few weeks.

I know I’m incredibly behind on blogs – I promise to catch up soon! I haven’t forgotten y’all, and I appreciate you guys sticking with me!!

On Saturday morning, Jason and I ran a 5K!  Our area hosts an annual Free to Breathe 5K and I always try to participate if possible, since the proceeds benefit lung cancer research. My grandfather passed away from Lung cancer when I was a senior in high school and is part of the reason I began working in oncology in the first place. My grandfather was a smoker for most of his life and woke up in the middle of the night one night, unable to breathe. It scared him so much, he quit smoking “cold turkey”. Not long after, a lung mass was found on a chest x-ray. Needless to say, we had several good months with him before lung cancer took his life.

Did you know that up until recently, there wasn’t an adequate early screening program in place for lung cancer? (Breast has mammography, colon has colonoscopy, etc.)  Thankfully, that’s changed – if you are between the ages of 55-80 years old, are currently a smoker or quit in the last 15 years, and have a smoking history of at least 30 pack years, you qualify for screening (which is basically a CT scan of the chest).

Ok back to the race…

This race held my current 5K PR (from the previous year) at 26:10. I’ve been working towards a 5K PR in the 25 minute range for so long I could taste it - OK two years but whatever…seems like a long time to me.

It began to rain on us as we were driving into the race and I was worried about wet roads and humid temps. We arrived at the race site and stood in line for our race numbers and t-shirts. I ran into a few friends and talked to them while I waited, which helped calm my nerves.

Free to Breathe 5K

I was eating this up! :D So excited to have him out there with me as a participant!

Free to Breathe 5K 2

Prior to the race, I began reading the stories behind those who have lost their battle and those who are continuing to fight.

Free to Breathe 5K 3

This story broke my heart…

As an oncology nurse, I’ve learned to take the good with the bad. Celebrating the positives and the survivors is what carries me through day to day.

Free to Breathe 5K 4

Talk about celebrating? This is the reason I love what I do, because of stories like this.

The race began and despite the wet roads, all was ok! I started out in front because this race wasn’t chip timed – I wanted my time to reflect as closely to the time clock as possible.

Starting off with the front runners is not something I’m used to and by .3 miles, my breathing was way off. I looked at my watch and noticed I was running in the mid 7 minute range. Not good – I knew I couldn’t keep that up for 3 miles.

After finding a comfortable pace, I fell into the rhythm and “ran” with it…hah. Like the previous weekend, the Frozen Soundtrack was blaring in my headphones and that helped me stay upbeat.

I was really excited to run a race where I felt as if I was able to push my body to its limits, without injury holding me back. My knees felt great the entire race – I’m chalking it up to the fact that I was able to foam roll in the parking lot only moments before the race began. Hey…whatever it takes!

My mile times were pretty consistent in the 8:10 range.

As I neared the finish line, I waved to my running group friends and pushed through (what was left – not much) to the end.

Official finish time, 25:23! A PR! 

After snagging a bottle of water, I walked over to my running group to watch for Jason.

Free to Breathe 5

These guys were incredible – the little boy in the stroller was dressed like a fireman and these guys showed the true hero inside of them. So touching!

Free to Breathe 5K 6

Before long, Jason was rounding the corner, too! He crossed the finish line in 44:33 – beating his goal of 45 minutes! Way to go, Jason…so proud of you!!

Free to Breathe 5K 7

I received several compliments on the Princess Half Marathon shirt! 

Free to Breathe 5K 8

We headed over to the time boards so I could check out my official finish time and I had to do a double take - I placed FIRST out of 25 ladies in the 30-39 age group…and at such a big event?!  I was floored.

Free to Breathe 5K 9

I’ve chalked it up to the schwings. It’s gotta be the schwings.

Free to Breathe 5K 10

After the awards ceremony, we walked over to the lake to honor and remember those we’ve lost to this disease. This was an incredibly touching moment as hundreds of people tossed flower petals into the lake.

Free to Breathe 5K 11

They may be gone, but they are not forgotten.

Free to Breathe 5K 12

Overall, this was a wonderful event. I loved that we had fun while running a race for a good cause, then brought it all back full circle with a memorial at the end.

Free to Breathe 5K 14Free to Breathe 5K 15

After the race, I grabbed one of my BRF’s and my husband and we headed to our favorite local diner for breakfast!

Lucky for me, the store on my race gift certificate was in the same area as the diner!

Free to Breathe 5K 13

Funny story - last weekend when I placed in a local 3 mile race, I received $15 to an athletic store and 30% off a pair of shoes. Unfortunately, the store didn’t carry my specific shoe, so Jason was the lucky recipient of a new pair of running shoes. When I won the same thing this weekend (a $15 gift certificate to the same store), Jason said “Woohoo! I get a new pair of shoes!” Hah – sorry buddy, doesn’t work that way! :D

Instead, two new pair of Saucony socks are now in my possession! Thanks, Free to Breathe!

I hope you had a great weekend! Did anyone run a race? Do share, I wanna hear all about it!

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