September is usually my favorite month. Here at the Jersey Shore, the weather is typically delightful, the crowds have disappeared, local events occur every weekend, and the benefits of all those summer miles start to feel like they’re paying off. This year, however, was a little different. A global pandemic that struck cities particularly hard has changed the dynamic of my little beach town and there are still an awful lot of people here. Plus, with my oldest starting school full time (pre-K!), a series of sinus infections, and absurdly warm, humid weather, this September has been anything BUT typical for me. It’s pure chaos, in fact. Implementing new routines, switching up meal times and eating habits, and returning to being a single-parent most of the time (Jeff teaches and coaches soccer over an hour away) has had my head spinning in a dozen directions. I’m looking for a total reset this October. Who’s with me!?!?! Join my Spooky Streak to get your fitness and mindset back on track while enjoying some other Run Fit Stoked perks.
WHAT YOU’LL DO:
Run at least one mile every day from October 1st, through October 31st. Plan on a 5K with me on Halloween morning (virtual or in person, includes RFS race bibs for all participants; costumes highly recommended!).
REGISTRATION FEE: $10
Follow directions below to register for the challenge today!!!
If you would like to make an additional donation to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society beyond the portion of your entry fee, click here!
* Use the “Explore” menu, search for “Stoked Streakers” and click “Join Club”. Check out Strava’s FAQ if you have trouble joining the club or uploading data. When you join the Stoked Streakers club on Strava, you are welcome to share photos, post questions, brag about successes, unload gripes, etc. Make good use of it!
Despite having just finished a decent 4-mile night run on the boards, which usually calms me down, right now as I start writing this, I am angry. Therefore, please excuse my tone if I come off a bit snarky. I’m angry that I’m currently re-visiting an already difficult, anxiety-inducing decision to send Georgie to a full-time preschool program thanks to Delta Tau Chi and mask mandates. I’m angry that NJ Marathon announced this week that it is cancelled. Again. I’m angry that the other side of the world is falling apart. I’m angry that we’re living in a world where even the Most Magical Place on Earth – a place I’ve visited at least a hundred times and typically defend until I’m blue in the face- has become a source of serious frustration. Such an incredible amount of people have asked about our recent trip to Walt Disney World, whether out of curiosity or because of upcoming trips, that I decided an in-depth blog post was the best way to describe my experience and observations. The bottom line is that the Disney of right now is NOT the Disney I know and love and it is not worth it for me to go back until more things go back to sort-of normal. If health and safety are your concerns, I also recommend waiting. They do a good job keeping up a public appearance of caring about safety with limited park capacity and bringing back mask mandates, but both are a bit of a smoke screen. I explain why in the long-winded paragraphs below. Disclaimer- we are DVC members, runners, parents to two small kids, and were Annual Pass holders for a very long time until 2020. We traveled to WDW quite often PCT (pre-covid times). Therefore, our routines and subsequent frustrations may differ from your own.
What you need to know:
You need to declare your park destination ahead of time for every day of your trip and reserve it in your My Disney Experience app. I did NOT like this process. Some of you are serious planners- if you enjoy this aspect of a Disney trip, you may not have a hard time with it. I did. I don’t like having to plan out my vacation ahead of time. I prefer to go with the flow and move about based on weather, crowds, special events, the temperament of my kids, etc. This, coupled with the no park hopping until 2pm is reason enough for me to not go back until something changes.
Oh, you can’t park hop until 2pm, regardless of what kind of park tickets you have or current park capacities. These two changes, put in place to control the flow of numbers in the parks, are highly contradictory to what’s going on INSIDE and BETWEEN the parks. While capacity may be limited in the park itself, attractions and transportation have no such limits. * What!? Let me get this straight… I have to plan my vacation on my phone or computer ahead of time and spend MORE time in an enclosed bus or monorail when I want to eat lunch somewhere other than where I am,** both in the interest of safety and keeping numbers low …but you’re NOT going to control the number of people on said busses or monorails, pack us like sardines in pre-show waiting rooms, and fill up your indoor theaters- some of which were more crowded than I’ve seen them in the last decade. Great. Good to know you’re consistent.
Disney currently requires everyone ages 2 and older to wear masks at all indoor locations, including busses & monorails, regardless of vaccine status. While I loathe mask-wearing myself, I understand it as a rule. I’d understand it BETTER, however, if social distance were encouraged and adhered to anywhere in this place – b/c if we need to wear masks, don’t we also need to give each other space? Otherwise, what’s the freakin’ point? Masks were not required on any boats we were on (and we were on a lot of them). However, in addition to indoor locations, masks are ALSO required (and enforced) on ALL attractions, as well as IN LINE for all attractions. Why caps lock “in line?” With fast passes gone, many queues have been re-routed to minimize crowding, keep lines moving and/or to keep people outside as much as possible. Are you following this? Outside, in a single-file line, where I could stand (theoretically) as far away from the person in front of me as I wanted, in 95-degree heat and blistering sunshine, I needed a mask. While flying on Dumbo, in the open air, where my own toddler was the only person anywhere near me, I needed a mask. But on an over-crowded boat with walls, half-closed windows, and a ceiling, I did not. There were contradictions at literally every turn, every day, in every location. Lazy policymaking. Every time I describe it to someone, I feel like I’m taking crazy pills. The piano-key necktie. I Invented it!
There is a lot of construction on property. Most of it probably won’t matter to you, though, so if you’re NOT a huge fan of EPCOT, a frequent flier at Fort Wilderness or the Wilderness Lodge, or a runner, feel free to skip the next two paragraphs.
A huge chunk of Future World is gone. Just leveled to the ground. Another part of it has been refurbished and re-purposed (ba-bye Innoventions- a staple of my nerdy childhood that my kids will never get to appreciate). The construction here makes getting in and out of the park via the front entrance a huge pain – I felt like a rat in a maze. Guardians of the Galaxy is STILL under construction (since summer of 2017). Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure isn’t open yet, either, but they’re saving that one for the MK 50th birthday on October 1st. You’ll see a giant float twice the size of the Illuminations globe perpetually hanging out in the middle of the World Showcase Lagoon. It’s just there. Not being used, just existing as an enormous eyesore. The new show doesn’t start for months. The current show is just some fireworks w/ a Kidz Bop-like Disney soundtrack playing. Not worth staying in the park for, risking a standing-room-only bus-or-boat ride home for anyone not on the Skyliner route (if you want a nighttime show- go catch Happily Ever After before it leaves at the end of September- just head towards an exit when the Pirates music comes on, pausing before you leave just to hear Hercules sing).
Construction also impacted my miles. I was so excited to [finally] stay at Wilderness Lodge again because one of my top 5 favorite places to run is on the trails from the Lodge to and around the campgrounds. The trails were previously closed due to construction of the planned Reflections resort (on the gravesite of River Country – RIP), but seeing as how construction has been stalled indefinitely, I went for a run our first day there in hopes they would be open again. WRONG. Not only were there barricades up but the trails were not maintained…at all…as if they’re never coming back. So instead of getting the 15+ miles in I’d scheduled myself for the week, I struggled to find enough space to finish running 2 and called it quits. Never made it out again b/c I felt so defeated. I blame COVID for this. If construction hadn’t halted, MAYBE Disney’s “Lakeside Lodge” would have come to fruition and said trails would have been opened… reimagined, even. It’s hard down there to find shaded areas to run, especially ones that can give you a lot of mileage- would have been nice to have that one spot back. Instead, check another box on the negative side of my list.
There are still a bunch of things that have not re-opened since closing for COVID in 2020. The list includes some hotels, restaurants, quick-serves, buffets, character meals, shows, attractions, etc., though new things are coming back every day. Some locations and attractions are on a limited schedule- check the dang app for what’s available and operating times.
There are no bookable fast passes for attractions. I don’t HATE this, b/c we don’t use them often, but with little kids, it was kind of annoying for a few select things, like Slinky Dog Dash and Splash Mountain, which Georgie has been talking about for over a year. Both had exceptionally long wait-times. We waited. Whatever. But we don’t normally choose wait on any lines more than 25 minutes. If you don’t do Disney often and want to get as much bang for your buck as you can, it’s worth it to wait until FP (or whatever wacky replacement they dream up next) returns.
You will (still) probably not get assigned to a boarding group for ROTR. And you can only try on the days you reserve the Studios ahead of time. If you get in, congratulations- you’ve found the golden ticket. But you can’t park hop until 2pm, so you’re stuck at the Studios for the entire day until your boarding time. Have fun w/ that.
Then there’s the cost. Sure, the price point may not affect us in the same way it might affect many people because of our situation and how we go about paying (or, rather, not paying) for our Disney trips. But it’s worth noting that despite the changes, the inconveniences, the contradictions, the non-attention to actual safety vs the public appearance of caring about it, the limited or un-availability of lots of things, limited park hours, etc. you’re still paying the same price (or more) for your park tickets and hotel stay. Sure, the Walt Disney Company took a hit during COVID (though those worldwide Disney+ subscriptions must be helping), have massive expenses, staff to pay and a business to run, I get it. I do. But you have the right to gather information to make informed consumer choices. In the end, Disney is a product. And right now, my opinion is that you’re getting drastically less of a product (with lower quality) for the same or a higher price. For us, it’s worth it to wait it out.
There were SOME positive takeaways:
No bag-check lines! Hooray! I’d never carried a bag into Disney until I had Georgie and NOT being able to skip the line was maybe the most annoying part of doing Disney w/ kids (PCT). At first it was all the damn diapers- now it’s to satiate the human garbage pail and his sometimes-hungry sister with all the snacks. I did not complain when all I had to do was walk through a metal detector. There was one day we saw random checks happening, but it was not nearly as involved as PCT. No bag-check is one change I can get behind.
Don’t expect to see any contrived character meet & greets w/ long lines that require a fast pass (something about them always seemed disingenuous to me). This trip felt a little retro- like stepping back into my own childhood where you just happened upon characters walking through the streets, popping up behind a bush, or standing in your resort lobby. Sure, they stayed a few feet*** away from people, but they were there. All over. More often than I’ve seen them in YEARS. It was awesome.
There are no parades. The crowds a parade draws irritates me- always has (to those of you rolling your eyes saying, “Go figure,” zip it). They make it hard to get from one section of a park to another, if you’re not in the front row, you can barely see anything, they’re so damn loud you can’t hear the person next to you and if you have a sleeping kid, forget it. Instead, they have small cavalcades one at a time throughout the day- one float with a few characters, a few street dancers and one song playing, all traveling rather quickly. It prevents crowds from forming while still giving those who crave it, a surge of joy. Kids were happy, I was happy. They can stay if it means no more parades.
So, while the kids had a fine time and there were a few decent changes I would be happy to see stay, there were too many frustrating experiences and confusing observations last week in WDW to warrant another trip any time soon. Today we decided to cancel our upcoming plans- a twice rescheduled Disney cruise set to finally embark in January plus a few adjacent days on property. Masks indoors and 2 PCR tests “paid for at the Guest’s expense” for all passengers REGARDLESS OF AGE. No. Thank you. I don’t care what your opinion is on COVID-19 safety protocols or vaccines, so any comments on that will be ignored. I do care about having stuff shoved up my toddlers’ noses by strangers TWICE …on a Disney trip (oh, but thank you to The Company for offering to cover the mandatory $98 per test for those under 12). Talk about being traumatized by Villains. Sheesh! I’ll choose Stay at Home for $500, Blossom. And until Disney Parks end their stream of contradictions and decide which side of the line they want to be on and stick with it, I’ll be watching Behind the Attraction on Disney+ from my couch, thanks.
*Kind of feel like even the park capacity limits might be bs based on what Hollywood Studios looked like last week. It was BONKERS crowded!
** Once we do a few things we want to do in a given park in the morning and lines begin to lengthen, we’re usually hungry and ready for lunch. When we’re hungry and we’re NOT already either at the hotel or EPCOT, we GO directly to EPCOT. Or, PCT, if we’ve booked a fast pass at the Studios for the afternoon, we do EPCOT in the morning and walk or boat over to the Studios to make the FP window (b/c seriously, WHO can spend more than like 2 hours in that place?). Now, our only option is to go back to the resort and do the hopping later, which means double the amount of time on transportation…which is NOT limited in numbers and requires more time in a mask (both of which stink). Unless you’re on a boat, which can’t be accessed from every hotel or to every park.
*** Or a quarter-mile away like you saw in my story of Pooh outside of Figment’s house- lol- so they DO encourage social distance….for fluff-filled bears chasing butterflies.
Tap into your next level of wellness and performance while this award-winning technology is on sale. Use R20 to activate your muscles pre-workout and recover from strenuous training (if you missed my last post on this neat recovery tool, check it out here). Originally $199, you can now get the Rooftree R20 for just $119!
Shop the sale at rooftrees.com, from now until Tuesday, 6/22, use code: prime80
Are you stoked to streak!?
WHAT YOU’LL DO:
Run at least one mile every day from Memorial Day to 4th of July.
REGISTRATION FEE: $10
Follow directions below to register for the challenge today!!!
When you join the Stoked Streakers club on Strava, you are welcome to share photos, post questions, brag about successes, unload gripes, etc. When you post pics on social media, be sure to tag @runnercov and use #stokedstreakers and #runfitstoked.
If you would like to make an additional donation to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society beyond the portion of your entry fee, you can do so here.
Get your friends and family involved for some epic running adventures. Sharing is caring! Hope to see you out there…
You Qua-RUN-tined in 2020 when races were cancelled. The spring of 2021 may still have you feeling a little static, stale, and stiff but also hopeful. Here’s a NEW list of items for you to photograph, post, and tag on Instagram (@runnercov #runfitstoked) to help you lace up and get out the door. Have all your pics in by Friday, April 30th for a chance to win a raffle prize! Cheers to running not being cancelled and some group runs in our near future!
If you choose to accept this challenge, on behalf of blood cancer patients and our families, as always, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU! Go Jets… jk. But Go Team! #cancersucks #wemustneverquit #teamintraining
A Review of the Rooftree R20 Percussion Muscle Massage Gun
Massage guns are having a moment. But if you’re already stretching and foam rolling, do you even need one? The short answer, if you dislike sore muscles and want to feel good after a hard workout, is a resounding YES!
Massage guns- like the RoofTree R20– deliver percussive therapy in the form of quick bursts of pressure into the muscle tissues of your choice. This type of deep tissue massage aids recovery before and/or after tough workouts, keeping sore muscles at bay by both stimulating your nervous system and rapidly increasing blood flow to the area. Regular percussive therapy can help you avoid the DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness), increase your mobility and range of motion, detox your body by improving the accessibility of your lymphatic system, and it just FEELS GOOD. Is it totally necessary to have one of these tools in order to continue doing what you want to do? No. But when combined with foam rolling and stretching, there’s a lot of discomfort you are going to avoid with a good massage gun; it’s certainly an asset to any recovery arsenal.
As runners, we tend to get a lot of niggles- a sore calf, a tight hamstring, a literal pain in the butt, etc. If I had elite status or a few extra figures in my bank account, I’d be booking monthly massages* in an attempt to avoid some of these annoyances that can at best, interfere with motivation, and at worst, lead to injury. In the absence of both, however, the Rooftree R20 massage gun is an effective alternative. This thing is AWESOME. With 3 different types of attachments, 4 speeds and it’s own cute carrying case, the R20 can handle all of my recovery needs AND is quiet enough for me to use while my kids are sleeping in the next room (I can’t say the same about some other brands I’ve tried at running stores and race expos- most of them are SO LOUD!). My favorite attachment is the flat metal head- it worked like a charm on a sore IT band- the result of seriously amping up mileage after a long break. The round head on the lowest setting also feels great on my quads and calves after long runs and hard-effort sessions. Furthermore, this massage gun works just as well on the upper body as my legs- the trigger point head can really get into the knots in my back and shoulders from lifting and teaching HIIT classes at the gym! Percussive therapy is my new favorite thing to do when I have a few minutes to do “nothing.” (If you’re a parent and work AT ALL, ya get why that’s in quotes).
If you’re interested in grabbing one for yourself, you can score $50 if you click this link (make sure the coupon box is checked!). Your sore muscles will thank you for it!
*Yeah, yeah, I loathe being touched, but I also know the benefit of massage as a recovery tool during training cycles.
Disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate, I have potential to earn a small commission from qualifying purchases you make by clicking on the link in my post.
This January, instead of running a Disney race for Team in Training, I am participating in the Team’s Re(Solution) Challenge to run 75 miles for the month and raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. With races and events cancelled from here to eternity (or at least what feels like it), LLS needs our help now, more than ever. My goal is to raise $500 by the end of the month in an effort to help find a cure for blood cancers. JOIN ME in completing this task, by signing up for tomorrow’s Zoom class! All proceeds from this strength training (mostly bodyweight intervals) class will be donated directly to my TNT fundraising account. Venmo $5 (or any denomination of your choice) to @runfitstoked to register. Drop your email in the note and you’ll be sent a Zoom link, printable workout, and a recommended Spotify playlist. Get your sweat on for a cause near and dear to my heart! If you are interested in joining one of the Team in Training Challenges in the future to make an even bigger impact, please reach out and let me know! And, as always, THANK YOU for your continued support.
‘Tis the season of giving! Taking a break from running-stuff to bring you kids’ gift ideas. After going through all of our things as we did some work on our home in the last few months, we cleaned out a lot of toys and donated them to various local charities and Goodwill. It provided an opportunity to teach my children (4 and almost 2) some life lessons, but now, it’s time to make like the post-’98 Bulls…and re-build. Check out what I’ve learned about kids’ toys from watching my own kids and doing so many hours of [late-night] research.
This holiday season, I’m rising to the challenge of being intentional with the gifts I choose- each one should have purpose, be of high quality, and not be made of toxic crap. The best toys for children are open-ended. They can be used in multiple ways, foster creativity, develop problem solving and/or motor skills, and are gender-neutral. Additionally, they require very little input/ interference from parents (score!). Nearly everything we’ve kept since the purge is open-ended and is used regularly. Here are some of the items on our gift list this year that posses the qualities I am looking for in a child’s play-things*:
The floor is lava? Pretend hike? Ninja Warrior obstacle course? Animal swimming pool (upside-down)? Playzone-Fit Stepping Stones can do it all. While I am usually anti-plastics, I don’t hate these. These stepping stones are made of polypropylene (which, along with ABS, is considered one of the “safer” plastics- if there is such a thing), have been tested against US and EU standards and are free of lead, heavy metals, BPA and phthalates. It’s one of the gifts I’m most excited for them to have this winter.
What kid doesn’t love building forts?! It’s one of Georgie’s favorite past times – she’s building one as I sit here typing, actually. She sometimes has trouble keeping the blankets and silks up, though. A set of Waldorf wooden play clips will help her solve that problem (I bought clips separately on the Sarah’s Silks website- we’ve already got some pieces of the kit shown in that link).
Plentiful Elephant Grass from the Bolgatanga region of Ghana is used to make these incredibly useful and durable Fair Trade African Bolga baskets. We were in need of something friendly for child-sized hands that could carry child-sized toys. This fits the bill. It also eliminates the need for at least one Christmas bag/ box to wrap as it can hold something else (like a pirate hat and treasure map) in it while sitting under the tree. My only regret is not buying 2 of them!
Magnetic tiles are our jam. Georgie creates all kinds of structures with our Picasso tiles (made from the less-toxic, highly impact-resistant ABS), such as garages for matchbox cars or a barn for the animals. This add-on marble run will provide her and Johnny with even more opportunities for construction-induced fun!
Yo-ho, mateys away! A roll-up felt treasure map for the pirate inside all of us. Need I say more? Find it on Etsy. Then pair it with a hat, a telescope, and some pirate pjs, and you’ve got yourself an infinite amount of adventures in Neverland!
We have a tea set and a lot of play food in our kitchen. Both kids love pretending to cook dinner and try to serve it on tiny little saucers as the food overflows from their arms. This dish set from Hape will make their roles as chefs much easier. Mangia!
We have the puzzle-piece train set from Ikea that grows with us as we add on different parts from time to time. This bridge will re-ignite their imaginations as they pretend to travel from our basement to, probably, Disney World. Or outer-space (we won’t tell them trains can’t get there….yet).
Clockwise from top-left:
Dress-up and role play are having a huge moment around here. It’s not uncommon for me to find a fox and a hound or some Ninja Turtles running around the basement. It’s also no secret that we LOVE Hanna Andersson pjs in our house. I grabbed these on clearance a few months ago and have a few accessories to stuff in stockings that will compliment each set. Hanna’s got all of your favorite Disney, Marvel, and Star Wars characters, too! Highly recommend.
Our play kitchen gets a lot of action. Sure am glad I stopped to pick THAT out of someone’s trash! We’re in need of an update on the meals the kids can cook up, though, so this Hape bread basket and pizza set from Ikea will keep them busy for a while.
Also from Ikea is this doll bed for “Baby Sadie.” She’s used to being left in doctor’s kits, cardboard boxes and Tupperware containers. Talk about an upgrade…
With a handle on top and the ability to open and close, this dollhouse from Olli Ella (on sale at Anthropologie) can be easily moved around to suit the needs of any child. I’m sure it will double as a hotel for peg dolls, a hospital for injured Ninja Turtles or…you guessed it…a barn for the animals. It’s as minimal as I wish we were and holds a world of possibilities.
Last, but not least, puzzles and games!
Clock-wise from top-left:
Johnny is a big fan of shape-sorting and puzzles. This shape-puzzle from Plan Toys via Pottery Barn Kids will be right up his alley. Finding something your kids spend a lot of time on and adding a twist can boost brain development and keep them coming back for more.
Hop like a bunny. Stomp like an elephant. Could I have made these animal cards myself? Sure. I’m no stranger to the printer- laminator- paper-cutter trio. But these action cards I found on Etsy just looked so nice and saved me so much time, that I couldn’t resist. I like any game that builds upon prior knowledge, gets kids moving, and allows them to be silly all at once. Bring on the giggles.
Where are all my Bluey fans at??!!? I’m not sure we’ll see a Magic Asparagus, Daddy Walrus, or Veranda Santa in Bingo’s Bingo, but it’s sure to generate some interest and help teach my kids about following directions and taking turns.
Begin Again Toys is on a mission to help families move to plastic-free play and free themselves from screens. Their Safari Bowling Set can be used in multiple ways and will be an excellent addition to our new playroom.
We’ve also got a few human-powered musical instruments and a bunch of books coming our way-more additions to existing collections. Tell me- what kinds of gifts are you excited to bring your kids this year? Drop a message in the comments and share your best ideas with us!!!
*As an Amazon Associate, I have potential to earn a small commission from qualifying purchases you make by clicking on the links in my post.