Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Spooky Trail 10 Miler Race

Participating in a trail race was never something I thought I would do. After all, trails are hard to run  and being alone in the woods has never thrilled me. (Big chicken here.) However, when faced with the option of running 10 miles around my usual same old route vs taking up a new adventure out on the trails of a local state park, I went with the adventure!

When I woke up on Saturday morning, I wasn't sure what to do about a race outfit. The temps were forecast to be in the 50's the entire length of the race and I didn't know whether to wear a short or long sleeved top. Such a dilemma. In the end, I wore a long sleeved top to the race site and brought the short sleeved top along with me just in case I decided to change at the last minute.

This park is only about 10 minutes from my house, so it was a very easy drive to get there.

The sun was just rising as runners were entering the park. It was so beautiful and peaceful on the river!

Packet pickup was super easy and it was at this point that I realized two things - for one, I wondered what in the world I got myself in to and two, there weren't many runners milling around and I freaked out a little bit about the possibility of being in the woods alone. (Big chicken here, remember?)

In the end, I decided to change into the short sleeve shirt and I was SO glad I did. After a quick restroom stop, it was time to line up to start the race! I heard that around 60 runners registered, but only about 48 or so completed the race.

Once the race began, a group of 5 of us kind of unintentionally formed a little pack runners who stayed together for about half the race. That was fine with me because I definitely didn't want to be alone, especially not knowing the trails well.

It took about a mile and a half before my body warmed up. It was also hard for me to enjoy the course and the scenery because I was constantly looking down to make sure I didn't trip. One of the guys in our little pack of runners face planted at one point and another girl in our group kept getting her foot caught on roots and the rough ground.

This race seriously made me realize that trail running is NOT for the faint of heart!!

We made our way through several trails and although this trail looks pretty decent, the majority of them didn't look like this. There were hills, steep curves, lots and LOTS of roots, mud, uneven ground, more steep curves, bridges, and...well, you get the point.

Once our group of 5 broke off, I literally stuck like glue to the runner in front of me. After a little while, she asked if I was familiar with the trails and she admitted that she wasn't either. At one point, we weren't sure we were even going the right way because we couldn't see paint markings any longer. Luckily, we were on the correct course.

Also, there were no water stops along this course. Thankfully I knew this ahead of time and was prepared with water bottles for my flip belt. One thing about running with water, though...I despise it. I absolutely cannot stand the sound of sloshing water while running. Lucky for me, I had headphones and listened to a podcast the entire race.

I finished this race in about 2 hours which is what I was expecting. My body also felt as if I'd run a full by the time it was all said and done. Actually, it's Tuesday and my hip flexors are still sore. I had a feeling this would be a tough and interesting experience, but I didn't realize just how hard it would be. There were many times I wanted to walk but I couldn't bring myself to because I didn't want to lose anyone in my group.

In all, I finished 40th out of 48 runners. Definitely not what I'm used to, but I'll take it for my first trail race experience!

I sent a text to Jason while on my way home and asked if he had breakfast waiting for me.

...of course he did!

Now for the burning question - would I run a trail race again? On Saturday, I would have told you a flat out no. After having a few days to think about it, now I honestly don't know my answer. If I were more familiar with a trail or course before jumping into it like this, I would be more inclined to say yes. Overall, it was a neat experience and definitely one I'm glad I took on!

A friend asked what the "spooky" aspect of this race was all about. No, there never was anyone hiding in the woods, waiting to jump out at us. For me, the spooky part had to do with being alone...lost on a trail! Thankfully, that never happened!

 Have you ever run trails or a trail race? What are your thoughts on the whole thing?

Friday, October 26, 2018

Fitness Friday - 10/26

Happy Friday, friends! It's been a while since I've posted a dedicated "Fitness Friday" post, so here we go!

Fitness Friday

Currently Training For:
  • Dopey Challenge 2018 - Walt Disney World
  • Rock n Roll New Orleans Half Marathon 2018 - New Orleans, LA 
  • Contraband Days 5 Miler 
  • 4 on the 4th
  • Castaway Cay 5K (Cancelled)
  • Spooky Trail 10 Miler
  • Cowboy Gallop 10K
  • Rock n Roll San Antonino Half 
  • Fairy Tale Challenge 
This week has not been the best in terms of workouts for me, but I'm ok with that because I signed up to run a 10 mile trail run this weekend! More on that in a few...

Last week, I began coming down with some kind of sinus gunk. I never felt like I had a cold and I never ran fever, so I just assumed it was my sinuses. By the weekend, it had settled into my chest and I was coughing pretty bad. I made the decision to forgo my Saturday morning long run. We were also planning a trip to visit a couple of Louisiana plantation homes, so I figured a long day on my feet wouldn't help the situation.

On Monday morning, I needed to get in a workout, so I got up early and headed to Orangetheory for a Strength Day. It was a good workout and I felt great after I left.

By Wednesday, my cough wasn't getting any better and I already had an ENT appointment scheduled. After seeing my ENT, she confirmed that I had an upper respiratory infection and gave me a shot of steroids as well as an antibiotic. Great. Although I was planning a run that afternoon, I decided it would be in my body's best effort to sit that one out, too.

Since I can't sit still long (like at all), I decided to partake in my very first hell week workout on Thursday morning. It was a pretty intense but doable workout where you literally had zero downtime or rest time at all. It was also supposed to be a partner workout, but since I arrived a few minutes late and was the odd man out, I just kind of followed the group next to me and it all worked out!

Our coaches are all dressed up for the fun week, too! Mine was an inmate yesterday! 

Now it's Friday and I'm feeling a little bit better this morning, but I'm not sure what I'll do in terms of a workout today. Since I signed up for a trail run that is going to be held on Saturday morning, I might just take a short walk to get some fresh air today after work. I've never run trails before (except one time), so I'm nervous about what to expect. We were also informed that there will be no water stations along the trails, so I purchased a couple of flipbelt water bottles to use. Hopefully it will all work out ok. Yes, I'm incredibly unprepared for this, but it was a last minute decision and instead of running circles around my house for my scheduled 10 miles, I thought it would be nice to have a change of scenery!

This weekend is also our local university's homecoming, so I met up with my friend Jane for our traditional visit to the homecoming parade! We had so much fun and I loved that Brayden was old enough this year to understand what was going on! He loved it when I would pick him up so he could wave at the floats for candy! Picking the beads and candy up off of the ground was also another fun new discovery. It was just too cute!

Well, that's my week in a nutshell! I you have any trail run advice for me, I would appreciate it!

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Louisiana Plantation Homes - Oak Alley & Nottoway

History is something that has always fascinated me, especially when it comes to Louisiana history and life in the 1800's. Lucky for me, my friends also share in the same love and on Saturday, we visited a couple of Louisiana plantation homes along River Road - Nottoway and Oak Alley!

I've made it a mission to tour as many plantation homes as possible and I've shared a few of my experiences here in the past:

Our first stop was at Nottaway, a gorgeous plantation home located along River Road in White Castle, Louisiana. I hadn't visited Nottaway since I was a freshman in high school (we did this one year for our summer family vacation), so I was curious to see the changes made to the grounds and overall area. Well, they've made a lot of them over a 20 year time span, that's for sure, and it all looked amazing!

We loved hearing about the home and its origins!

The white ballroom is one of the draws to this beautiful and opulent home!

They still host events in this room to date. Wedding, anyone?

So, I had this amazing idea of creating a "jump shot" in front of the home. It took several attempts, but we finally got it!

This plantation home also serves as a "hotel" with rooms you can rent for an overnight stay. The grounds are full of activities that range from biking to swimming, and even swinging! No swings were broken in the making of this ridiculous photo.

After spending a couple of hours at Nottoway, we left and went on our way to our second plantation home of the day, Oak Alley. I'd visited Oak Alley as a very small child with my parents, so I had zero recollection of this home. I was excited to see it again, though!

The draw to this home is for sure the alley of oaks that line the front! They are over 200 years old!!

But first...before touring the home, we needed a bite to eat!

Oak Alley also has a very nice restaurant with a full service menu on their grounds. We all ordered something different and mine was delicious! I had the open face roast beef poboy.

After lunch, we shopped for a few minutes in the gift shop, then headed to the home for our tour. To be honest, I was not as impressed with this home tour as I have been with others I've taken in the past. The guide sounded like she was reciting from a memorized script. Although she was very knowledgeable when we asked her questions, I still felt as if this tour wasn't as personable as ones I've taken in the past. It was a beautiful home regardless, and I still loved learning about the history, I just feel as if the tour guide can make or break a tour for you and this one wasn't my favorite on my list.

I absolutely loved all of the beautiful flowers at each home!

I have a picture like this as a four or five year old at my parents house somewhere, so I had to recreate it!

These oaks line the back of the home and are about 170 years old!

After leaving Oak Alley, we decided to drive about an hour to the nearest town for dinner. If ya'll have been a blog reader for a little while, you know my obsession with McAlister's and my sadness when they closed down in my hometown. Well, we found one on the way home and HAD to stop. It did not disappoint!

We also stopped for dessert at a little place we found a few years ago that serves both Hershey's Ice Cream and Great American Cookies! This is our group tradition every time we are together here, so we couldn't pass it up!

Our day was filled with a lot of fun, laughter, history, and lots of memory making! We are already talking about the homes we would like to tour next and I can't wait!

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Day 8: Castaway Cay

On our final day on board the Disney Fantasy, we made a stop at Castaway Cay! This is always my favorite stop on our Disney cruises! Sadly, our time on the island was cut short by several hours due to the "pit stop" the day before at Turks and Cacos, but we all understood the reason. (A patient needed medical attention.)

With a few extra hours on board the ship, a new navigator was released which included an extra "Art of the Theme Show" tour (which I LOVE)! I also decided to get up and run a few miles on deck since the Castaway Cay 5K clearly wasn't happening that day...sad times.

After my run, I stopped in the Cove Cafe one last time for a cold brew. Y'all, this stuff is SO good.

Jason and I also had breakfast at Cabanas.

Jason decided he didn't want to go on the tour with me since he did it on our last cruise. I've actually taken these tours on every since Disney cruise I've been on, because you get something different from each guide.  This time, we had a semi private tour as it was just me and one other cruise guest in our group!

This tour is a walking tour of the ship, where cruise staff informs you of the secrets and facts behind the art work, layout, and design of the ship. It really is a neat tour that's usually held on at sea days, and I encourage everyone to go!

We weren't set to land at the island until 12:45 p.m. or so, and the captain announced that BBQ would be served in the restaurants on board instead. We were looking forward to said "BBQ", but it sadly was not anywhere near the Cookies standard. (Still good, just not what we were expecting.)

When we finally docked at Castaway Cay, we were ready to disembark and because of all the people, we decided to walk to the next tram stop.

I felt like I was walking to the start of a runDisney corral with all the people!

Sad times for no 5K!

We very briefly shopped around here but didn't buy anything and said we would on the way out. Sadly, by the time we made it back, all of the shops were already closed.

By the way, I think everyone had on this swim suit coverup that was available at Target this past summer! It was so funny to see it everywhere we went on the ship!

The tram to Serenity Bay arrived and we couldn't wait to finally relax on the beautiful beach.

It was a beautiful day and we thoroughly enjoyed spending time in the water and swimming!

We also decided to walk over to Cookies II to relax for a few minutes and were shocked by the emptiness of it all!

This is totally unusual for Cookies!  I guess everyone ate on the ship!

We went back into the water for a little and enjoyed seeing a stingray and a starfish!

Before we knew it, the lifeguard was notifying us that it was time to leave. We seriously felt like we'd just gotten there.

We took our time getting back to the ship and stopped for a few pictures along the way!

Dinner on our final evening was in Animator's Palate where we had the chance to animate our own Disney characters! Mine is the second one from the right! (I'm NOT a artist!)

We also said goodbye to our servers for the final time as our flight was set to leave early the following morning.

They were awesome!!

In the atrium that evening, they held a "See Ya Real Soon" farewell show where the characters stop by for a few pictures and a final farewell.

We were already standing down on the floor where  Mickey and Minnie were stationed, so hopped in line to take a picture with them. 

We also decided to watch the Incredibles 2 which was playing that night at 10:45 p.m.  Our goal on this cruise was to watch Christopher Robin, Ant Man & The Wasp, and the Incredibles 2 throughout the 7 days on board the ship. We were able to watch all three and Jason added Solo to his list! I'd say it was a pretty successful cruise!

While disembarking the next day, we noticed that they were setting up for the Halloween on the High Seas cruises. Hi Mickey pumpkin!

...and just like that, our cruise was over! After arriving at the airport, Jason realized that he forgot to grab our garment bag from the cruise terminal. We still had about 2 hours until our flight, so we stopped by the Disney Cruise Line relations desk where we were handed a card for lost and found. We called the number and left a voicemail and within 10 minutes, we received a call back. Sadly, they didn't think they would have enough time before our flight to bring the bag to the airport, so we decided to have it mailed via UPS. We chose the regular/ground option and literally three days later, it arrived at our front door! Thankfully, we didn't have anything super important in that bag, but it was definitely a lesson for us to always keep our important stuff or souvenirs in our carry on bags!

We had a blast on our cruise and loved the Eastern Caribbean itinerary with the extra "at sea" day! This is such a neat itinerary and we can't wait for our next cruise!

Thanks for following along! :)

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