Friday, April 25, 2014

What's for Breakfast?


I have partnered with belVita and Dannon to help promote the belVita and Dannon partnership. I have been compensated for my time commitment to the program, which includes writing about the promotion and product. However, my opinions are entirely my own and I have not been paid to publish positive comments.

It's no secret that I love Dannon Oikos Greek yogurt.  Oikos was featured as one of my Friday Faves last year.  John Stamos didn't show up when I took the first bite, but the delicious black cherry taste made up for that...mostly.

Lately, I've been putting chocolate chips in my black cherry Greek yogurt for a little added yumminess.  While delicious, the chocolate chips didn't really add to the staying power of my breakfast and I ended up hungry well before lunchtime and wasn't making the best snack choices. (Easter candy, anyone?)

When I heard that belVita had chocolate breakfast biscuits, I heard angels singing the Hallelujah Chorus.


16 grams of protein (yogurt and biscuit combined) with chocolate and cherry was exactly what I needed!

The chocolate flavor wasn't quite as intense as the chocolate chips, but it was chocolatey enough to curb my craving.

I know a lot of people out there don't eat breakfast at all due to busy mornings.  Dannon and belVita have formed a partnership to fuel American's mornings with a quick, convenient and delicious breakfast so they can get the most out of their mornings.

 Laura Stack (The Productivity Pro) has three tips on how you can get the most out of your morning:
  • The secret to a smooth, sane morning is doing as much as you can the night before. Leave as little preparation as possible until the last minute – you’ll thank yourself in the morning.
  • Spend twenty minutes at the end of each day planning your to-do list. When you download the next day’s activities beforehand, you can devote your morning to enjoyment rather than stress.
  • Be sure to start your morning with a delicious, balanced breakfast. Together, the nutritious steady energy of belVita and 12 grams of protein in Dannon Oikos Greek nonfat yogurt along with a piece of fruit will help you get more out of your morning.
I'm not one of those non breakfast eaters.  I'm hungry the second my feet hit the floor in the mornings and skipping breakfast is never an option for me; I'm mean when I'm hungry (my mom is reading this nodding her head).  My mornings are really busy with running at 4:30 or 5am, lunches to make, kids to clothe and feed, the elementary school bus at 7:15am, and preschool drop off at 9am, I need to eat something fast.  The Oikos/belVita combo fits the bill.

Last weekend, I really put Oikos and belVita to the test and ate the black cherry yogurt and chocolate biscuit combo before a 12 mile run.  I was testing the staying power during major calorie burn fest as well as the effect it has on my stomach.  Could this possibly be an easily transported pre-race or pre-long run breakfast?

YES!

During the whole 12 miles, I never felt hungry (I fueled at mile 6, as usual) and I had no cramping or any other...um..."messy side effects".  Score!


Have you ever tried belVita Breakfast Biscuits?  I've tried the Chocolate and Blueberry--both delicious.  I'm looking forward to trying the Golden Oat next. (Other flavors are Apple Cinnamon and Cinnamon Brown Sugar)
What's your favorite Greek yogurt flavor?  Cherry...always cherry.  Blueberry or Pineapple would be my next choices.

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

A Week of Magic part 5

This will be the last post from our family vacation in Disney World.  If you missed the earlier posts, check out part 1, part 2, part 3 and part 4 of our visit to the most magical place on earth.

It was Friday.  Our last day in the most magical place.  After breakfast, we hopped on the bus to Hollywood Studios.


Upon arrival, I booked our Fast Passes for Rock n Roller Coaster, The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror and Star Tours and we went in search of characters.

The girls were really excited to see Jake from Jake and the Neverland Pirates and Sofia from Sofia the First.
Yo ho, let's go!

The Rock n Roller Coaster was our first ride of the day.  Aleena wasn't tall enough so we rode in waves: Randy, Ellie, my brother and I went first while my parents waited with Aleena.

Ellie chose to sit in the front seat of the roller coaster.  I was a little panicked when I realized that the coaster went upside down a few times, but Ellie loved it.

Rock n Roller Coaster with Uncle Matt
Next it was my parents' turn to go and Ellie got to ride again using Aleena's Fast Pass.

Up next was the Tower of Terror.  Aleena is tall enough to ride this one, but once she saw how high the elevator went, she declined.  The first wave was Mom, my brother, Ellie and I.

I've gotta say, this one was scarier than I remember it being 20 years ago.  I had a death grip on my brother's arm while Ellie was all, "WEEEEEEE!  This is awesome!"

The second wave was Dad, Randy and Ellie again.  Lucky girl.

After the Tower, we headed to the Disney Junior Live puppet show.  The girls were excited about this one as it included, Jake, Sophia, Doc McStuffins and all of the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse gang.  The show was really cute.

Star Tours was next.  Aleena was able to ride this one and since there were no big drops, she enjoyed it.  We're not Star Wars fans at all, but you don't have to be to have fun on this ride.

My mom had requested to see the Muppets 3D show and I really wanted to see Beauty and the Beast so we did both.  Neither were as good as I remember them being 20 years ago.

We finished up Hollywood Studios around 3:30pm and were all pretty tired.  Our jam-packed week was catching up with us so we went back to the hotel to relax and play in the pool.


Our flight home was at lunch time on Saturday so Friday evening was spent trying to get our goods to fit in our suitcases.

Such a great week.  I was sad to see it end, it went by so fast, but I was looking forward to sleeping in my own bed, showering in my own bathroom and snuggling with my pooches.

*****************************
Here are a few things I learned while on vacation in the most magical place on earth:
  • Use the app.  I downloaded the My Disney Experience app on my smartphone.  I could check wait times and make reservations for meals, look at a park map and check show times on my phone.  Some people could book fast passes from the app on their phones.  Disney chose certain people to test this feature but it appeared to be only iPhone users.  Rest assured, this feature is coming!
  • Know the park layout.  On our first day, when we got our fast passes, I didn't request them in any specific order.  We ended up walking 10 miles that day because our first fast pass was at one end of the park, our second was at the other end and our third was back near the first.  We learned to be more efficient as the week went on.
  • Get Fast Passes early.  There are only so many fast passes for each attraction per hour.  If you wait until lunch time to get fast passes, your ride time will be after dinner.
  • Make reservations 180 days in advance.  I booked our Bibbidi Bobbidi and Akershus reservation exactly 180 days early.  I booked our lunch at T-Rex on that same day--178 days early--and ended up getting a 1pm lunch time, not ideal for us, but we made it work.  I should have made two reservation phone calls, one for T-Rex and another 2 days later for Bibbidi and Akershus.
  • Autograph books are fun!  The Little Ladies loved getting autographs from all of the characters.  I took pictures of them posing with characters and when we got home, I had the pictures printed in wallet size and glued the pictures to the autographed pages of their books.  The Little Ladies now have a fun keepsake souvenir to remember their week in Disney World.  Bonus: it was probably the cheapest souvenir we got all week!
  • Pick and choose.  You won't have time to do and see everything that the Magic Kingdom has to offer.  Make a list of the things that you absolutely don't want to miss. Hit those attractions and anything else will be a bonus.  When I was younger, everyone in our family got to pick 3 things they didn't want to miss.  We never went home disappointed.
  • Don't look at the credit card balance until you get home.  The prices will blow your mind...and can ruin the magical mood.  Just know that, even visiting with a frugal mindset, you'll spend double what you'd normally spend for a family vacation.  Our dinner with the princesses?  The bill for five adults and two children was almost $400.  I don't know about y'all, but that's not what we spend on a meal on any other vacation.  I threw up a little in my mouth as I paid our credit card bill when we got home.  Magic doesn't come cheap.
Our vacation was magical, exhausting, fantastic and totally worth the ridiculous amount of dollars spent.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

ORRRC Half Marathon 2014



During the week preceding the ORRRC Half Marathon, I tried to nail down a pace goal.  I haven't been training for speed, but was pretty confident that I would beat my fastest half marathon time of 2:09:53 by a few minutes.  I decided that I'd try for a finish time of 2 hours and 5 minutes.  My predawn runner friend, Marcie, planned to run with me and help me reach my goal.

Marcie thought I should shoot for a faster time, but I was afraid to start faster and crash and burn before I got to the finish line.  I kind of like to choose goals that I know I can accomplish...which defeats the purpose of a goal but, whatever.

My brilliant husband said, "You really don't know what you can do unless you just go for it."

True, but the fear of failure remained.

My Thursday night Turtle running group pal, Angela, gave me an idea, "You'll probably hate this idea, but maybe you shouldn't wear a watch.  You seem to get stressed out about how fast you're running instead of just running."

She was right.  I hated the idea.  I'm a numbers girl.  I live for seeing the pace, the time and the splits.

As much as I hated the idea, it was exactly what I needed to do.

Thursday night, I made a new plan with Marcie: she can wear the watch, but will not tell me what our pace is.  She won't tell me to slow down or to speed up.  I'll run at a difficult but sustainable pace according to my body, not my watch.  I will finish when I finish and I'll know that I did my best and be thrilled with my time.  Marcie promised to email me our race splits after we finished so I could have my geeky numbers to peruse.

Plan made. (Remember the last time I planned to run without a plan?  Ooooh, foreshadowing.)


I had a small panic attack when I left the house Sunday morning while my Garmin sat on the counter.  My wrist felt naked, but I knew that this was the right thing to do.

If I'm being honest, I only tried to look at my watch bare wrist one time: before the start to see how many minutes we had until the starting gun.  Never again.  I didn't miss it.  Several points during the race, I was curious how fast we were going, but I didn't ask.  I was better off not knowing.

Soon, we were off and running.  I settled into a pace that was hard, but that was the point, right?  I was able to get out a few sentences at a time, but was running too fast to hold a conversation.  That's ok.  That's what Marcie was there for: to converse at me.

The first 5 miles of the course have rolling hills....I take that back, they don't roll.  They go up, flatten out and go up again.  Lucky for Marcie and I, we've been hill training.  The hills were giving my legs a good workout, but were nowhere near the size of the hill that we train on.

Around mile 2, Marcie and I ran into my buddy, Chris, who was running the full marathon.  He hung with us chatting with Marcie and I until the half and full marathoners split around mile 6.

Mile 5ish.  Photo taken and owned by ORRRC.

True to her word, Marcie sent me our splits (pace per mile) Sunday afternoon.

Miles 1-6:  9:03, 9:11, 9:06, 9:03, 8:59, 9:11

Side note: Marcie told me after we finished that she saw 9:03 as our first mile and she was a little worried, but she stuck to the plan and didn't say anything.  She let my breathing and my legs figure it out.  My body is so much smarter than I give it credit for.

After mile 6, we started seeing a lot of the half marathoners that were ahead of us, who had reached the turn-around point and were on their way back.  We saw a few friends and we waved and cheered for each other.

Marcie teased me, "You know everyone here!"
"Nah.  I don't know that guy."

Marcie and I reached the turn-around at mile 8ish.  When we turned around we found ourselves running straight into the wind.

Not.Cool.

Luckily, I was distracted from the wind by scanning the half marathoners heading toward the turn-around looking for friends who were behind us.  There were a bunch and, again, we waved and cheered for each other.

We turned a corner at mile 9-point-something and were sheltered from the wind.  Whew.

Miles 7-10:  8:57, 9:05, 8:57, 9:00

At mile 10, Marcie said to me, "Do you think you're up for a sub 30 minute 5K?"

Yes.  I was pretty sure I could finish with each mile being under 10 minutes.  I was also pretty sure that the past 10 miles were all done at a sub-10 minute pace.

Marcie said, "A sub-2 hour finish is in the bag.  Now, let's see how far under 2 hours you can go."

I started to get excited.

 Mile 10ish.  Photo taken and owned by ORRRC.
A little after mile 11, I was really feeling the fatigue.  I was on the verge of feeling nauseous from working so hard.  I have a strict no vomiting rule and needed a distraction so I said to Marcie, "Tell me a story."

And she did.  There's no way I could keep a conversation at this point.  I was pretty much speaking in grunts.

We turned the corner to head to the finish line just after mile 12.5.  Unfortunately, the road to the finish was uphill and we were back to running into the wind.

Seriously?

On our way up the hill, Marcie was a little ahead of me.

"Come on, Jamie!  You've got this!"

I grunted, "I want to finish ahead of you!"

"Well then get up here!"

She wasn't making this easy on me, was she?

I kicked it in high gear a sprinted to the finish.  Barely ahead of Marcie.

Miles 11-13:  8:43, 8:47, 8:34, the last .15mi was 7:49

I was beaming as I crossed the finish line.

Official time: 1:57:48

Holy shit.

I was shocked.  Completely stunned.  Speechless.

Then I cried.  (Of course I did.)

Marcie put my medal around my neck and hugged me, "I'm so proud of you!"

And all I could say was, "Holy shit."

That was hard.  I knew my legs would hate me the next day (they did) but I was thrilled and in awe of what I was able to do...and all I had to do was try.

Post-race selfie!
When we started, I was guessing that I'd finish in just over two hours.  I have been running hills... which have made me stronger and a little faster, but I haven't been doing any speed training.  None.  I wonder what I could do if I trained appropriately....

About the race...
The Ohio River Road Runners Club Marathon and Half is held in Xenia, Ohio.  It's a small race, but growing every year due to word of mouth, no doubt.  This race is well-run, has fantastic post-race food and you seriously can not beat the price.

The course starts at the Xenia YMCA, runs through town on the roads, then onto hilly country roads before heading to the Erie Trail (paved multipurpose path) for an out and back, finishing at the YMCA.  The course is just challenging enough to make racers wish they'd trained on hills a little more.

Xenia is not a big city like Columbus and, therefore, does not have the crazy amount of spectators that Columbus has.  If you need cheering spectators to keep you going, this is not the race for you.

I, for one, will be back every year because I like the price and the challenge...and it's fun to see so many of my Columbus runner friends taking over the streets of Xenia.

Anyone else want to join us next year? (waggles eyebrows)

Friday, April 4, 2014

A Week of Magic part 4

If you missed the beginning of our week, check out part 1, part 2 and the most magical, part 3.

After the late night on Wednesday, we slept until 7:30ish on Thursday then got up and moving.  We had breakfast and were at Epcot around 9:30.


Upon arrival, Randy immediately went to Norway where Elsa and Anna, the princesses from the movie, Frozen, were signing autographs and posing for pictures while I got Fast Passes for Soarin', Turtle Talk with Crush and The Seas with Nemo and Friends....and Randy found that the line for Elsa and Anna was four and a half to five hours long.

No, I'm not kidding.

Those ladies are very popular.

Since our Little Ladies adore Elsa and Anna, we decided to take turns waiting in the ridiculous long line.

Randy waited first while my mom and I took the girls on Spaceship Earth (the giant golf ball), The Seas with Nemo and to see Turtle Talk with Crush.  Turtle talk was amazing.  We just love Crush (the sea turtle in the movie Finding Nemo).  All of the kiddos sit in the front of the theater and Crush, on a movie screen, talks to the kids, answers questions and tells funny jokes.  He totally interacts with the kids.  I'm not sure how he does it, but it's pretty cool. (I'm sure there's a "behind the scenes" about Turtle Talk somewhere, but that would ruin some of the magic, so I don't want to know.)

After our Sea adventures, we went back to see how Randy was doing.  He'd made friends with the mother in line ahead of him to pass the time.

My mom took Randy's place in line and Randy and I took the girls on Maelstrom, an indoor boat ride through Scandinavian seascapes and swamps inhabited by magical and mythological creatures.  A lot of the ride was dark and a tad creepy and there was one small water slide/drop, but Aleena enjoyed this ride.

When we got back to my mom in line, we had about 45 minutes left to wait so we stayed in line, very excited to see the princesses of Arendelle.

The thing about seeing the characters in Disney World....they take the time to talk to the kids and to really interact with them.  Which is awesome.

Taking the time to interact with the kids also makes the line move much more slowly than if they'd just sign, smile and move on...but that wouldn't be very magical, now would it?

Finally, it was our turn!  (Right at the four and a half hour mark.)


All four ladies had a wonderful conversation about chocolate, the princesses signed our autograph books, posed for 27 a few pictures and we were on our way.


We escaped Norway just in time to have a quick lunch before our Fast Pass time for Soarin'.

Soarin' is a really cool ride that makes you feel like you're flying.  There are no sudden drops so it was a winner in Aleena's book.

By this time, we were all pretty pooped and decided to head back to the hotel to relax before dinner.

We stopped by the Character Spot on the way out to see Mickey, Goofy and Minnie and I snapped the most adorable picture of Aleena nose-kissing Minnie.


The next day would be our last in the most magical place.  I was sad that our vacation was coming to an end, but starting to look forward to sleeping in my own bed.

Stay tuned for our final day in Disney...coming after the ORRRC Race Recap.  Race day is in 2 days!!!!!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Sneaky, Sneaky

I have a race in four days!  This one sneaked up on me.  With Disney and all of the fun times I've had running in the dark with friends, it's suddenly April and race week!

So of course, I'm all, "What am I going to wear?!"

Because that is what's most important about a race, right?

I haven't officially decided what I'll wear.  I'm still stalking the forecast.  (Like a crazy ex-girlfriend.)  So far, it looks like we'll have perfect weather!


This is my first race of 2014, and if you'll recall, this was the race that I had to miss last year when I tore a calf muscle.

The ORRRC (Ohio River Road Runners Club) Marathon and Half Marathon is a small (although every year it gets a little bigger) race in Xenia, Ohio....which is a little over an hour from Columbus.  It's inexpensive and well-run.  The race starts and finishes at the Xenia YMCA.  Awesome volunteers make and serve yummy post-race food and the Y is kind enough to let the runners use the showers before we all head home.

The only drawback....if you were to consider this a drawback....is that the streets are not lined with spectators.  There's a crowd near the start/finish line and there are volunteers at water stops and police officers at intersections.  That's about it.  If you need a crowd to keep you going, this is not the race for you.

Two years ago, I ran this half marathon alone, for the most part.  I had my music in my ears and I just ran.  I don't mind the solitude.

This year, I get to run with friends!  My fellow predawn hill repeater, Marcie, wants to run with me on Sunday.  We keep changing our minds about what pace we want to keep, but one thing we're sure of, we'll work hard and have a great time doing it.

That's Marcie up front in the blue.
I mean, really, how could we NOT have fun?

Do you have any big plans this weekend?
When is your next race?