Race-cation | Southern Califiornia Getaway

One of the best reasons to choose a race in a different city is the opportunity for a race-cation! You know, where you sign up for a race and plan a trip around it!  Because I love to run and I love to travel even more, it's no wonder most of my races are out of town.  I love being able to combine two of my favorite things!  Mostly, these are just weekend getaways like for the L.A. Marathon and sometimes they are full-on family vacations, like for Disney's Wine and Dine Half Marathon in DisneyWorld.  Either way, it's always exciting to get away and run in a new place!  

Last month I got to race the Ventura Beach Half Marathon and we made a nice little family trip out of it.  The kids had already started school, so we let them play hooky and we left Friday morning.  We headed straight to L.A.'s The Grove shopping center where Elysse had an appointment with a personal shopper at the American Girl store!  You can read all about her amazing experience and my recommendations when visiting this store HERE.  While Elysse and I shopped and had lunch at the American Girl Cafe, Jason and Diego spent their afternoon catching PokeMon Go at the nearby La Brea Tar Pits.  They also grabbed a bite to eat and even did a little shopping too.

In case you didn't know, Friday afternoon traffic through L.A. is insane.  We thought because we were leaving a few hours before rush hour that we would be ok, but it was still really congested and it took us quite awhile to get from Los Angeles to Ventura.  When we finally arrived at our hotel, I realized just how chilly the evenings are in Ventura and we were not prepared!  Elysse still got in the pool before we headed to dinner.  She's crazy and maybe I'm a little crazier for letting her get in.  But hey, it's a vacation! 

Saturday morning, was packet pickup and our family day at the beach.  The first thing we did, was head to Old Navy to get some sweaters because the morning was cold and cloudy and I knew the evening would also be chilly.  Then we headed to Trader Joe's to grab food for our beach picnic lunch later.  At this point, we're all starving, so we had to find a place to eat a late breakfast on Main St. Finally, around noon, we made it to the beach.  Packet pick up was right next to the pier and super quick to find and get my bib for the race the next day.

After all of this, it was finally time to relax at the beach for the day!  The weather was cool but it did get pretty sunny once that morning fog rolled out.  We spent the day lounging, making sand castles, and gathering shells.  Diego had gotten a skate board while in L.A. so him and Jason practiced skating along the bike trail.  It was seriously one of the most chill out days at the beach we've ever had.  Even though it was too cold for actual swimming in the ocean, it was a blast!  We were all so stuffed from our big breakfast, that we didn't even have our lunch or snacks until we got in the car to leave.  

As soon as we got back to our hotel, Elysse was ready to jump in the pool again! I don't know how she has so much energy.  But, because we didn't swim in the ocean, we figured why not! So her and Jason stayed at the pool while Diego and went up to the room to get a head start on showers and get ready for dinner.

Sunday was race day and it was perfect!  You can read all about my race recap HERE.  Unfortunately, with school on Monday, we decided to head back home soon after the race was done.  After my race, we headed back to the hotel to check-out and for me to get myself all cleaned up from the half marathon.  After breakfast we decided to take the scenic route and find the Musical Road in Lancaster, CA.  It was originally made for a Honda commercial.  It's a quarter mile bit of road that when driven on it, it is supposed to sound like  William Tell Overature or better known as the theme from the classic Lone Ranger tv show. Was it worth taking the scenic route for this? Absolutely! There are only a few of these musical roads in the world and even though it wasn't perfectly in tune, it was still a fun little side track.  

Click the photo to see and hear our drive over the Musical Road! 

Click the photo to see and hear our drive over the Musical Road! 

We also got to see one of the largest wind farms in the world as we drove back to the interstate.  We had no idea we'd be seeing that, but when we kept seeing so many rows of windmills, I quickly googled and found out it was the Alta Wind Project, also called the Mojave Wind Farm, the third largest onshore wind energy project in the world.  Pretty neat bit of trivia :) 

All and all, our family race-cation was a much needed break from the busy months we'd been having with packing and moving and the kids starting new schools.  I highly recommend when looking for your next race, consider making it a race-cation! I'm sure the idea of traveling and getting away will be a nice motivator as you put in those training miles! 

 

 

Disney World 2015 | Epcot

Our last day at Disney World was at my favorite park, Epcot!  The World Showcase is really my favorite because I love to travel and I remember being 10 years old on our first visit to Epcot and imagining I was really traveling to those countries.  Heck, I still like to pretend we're in the real countries ;) 

We arrived at 9am to Epcot and the kids were anxious to get on a ride.  I tried explaining that Epcot didn't have the kind of rides found at Magic Kingdom so they wouldn't be disappointed.  However, they were just as excited to ride Spaceship Earth as they were to ride Space Mountain! After Spaceship Earth we let the kids play around with some of the hands-on exhibits before heading to the Mission Space ride where afterwards the kids also enjoyed the hands-on exhibits and games as we exited the ride.  

We purchased the kids each a kit (map & stickers) for a new game that was debuting for the Food and Wine festival called, Remy’s Ratatouille Hide & Squeak.  It was basically a scavenger hunt to find a Remy statue at each country then placing the corresponding sticker on the map to represent that location. At the end, you redeem your map for your choice of Remy pin.  They were excited to get started and we were excited to get started at the Food & Wine Festival!  The plan was to do the 1st half of the World Showcase countries and visit the Food & Wine Festival kiosks as we went, then ride the ferry from Germany back to Future World to use our fast passes for Soaring and Turtle Talk with Crush, and FastTrack.  Afterwards, we'd go back and work our way around the other half of the countries, have dinner at Chefs De France, and finish the night watching Illuminations.  

Although, technically, we did stick to that plan we had a major scare when visiting our first kiosk of the Food & Wine Festival.  I was excited to visit the champagne kiosk and was ready to enjoy a glass of fancy bubbly. We ordered Diego a yummy chocolate dessert and Elysse some chocolate truffles.  I asked if they had nuts, since she is allergic to all tree nuts and peanuts and was told by the Disney cast member that the truffles were prepackaged and did not have nuts, although they could not account  for cross-contamination in the factory.  Now, here's where the problem began.  I should have checked the packaging before giving her the chocolates.  I feel terrible for trusting the young cast member.  Regardless of how sure she sounded, it was my responsibility as her parent to ensure there were no nuts before handing it to her.  The instant she took a bite, she said she was full, mind you, she is never full where there is chocolate involved!  She never said how it made her feel and we assumed she was just being fussy.  With the heat and humidity, we knew the chocolate would melt immediately and Jason just told her to eat the chocolate, it was small, and we'd save the other half.  I noticed she was not acting right and finally it started to dawn on me that there may have been nuts in the chocolate.  Sure enough, the second ingredient were hazelnuts.  We were right next to a store and I ran in asking if they had benadryl, which they did not but I was told to go to First Aid.  By this point, she threw it all up and was complaining her throat was hurting.  We ran to First Aid, which was not far from where we were.  They gave her the benadryl and at that point, I knew she'd be ok.  I asked if she wanted to go back to the hotel, but she didn't want to leave, so we waited it out until she was finally feeling a well enough to continue our day.  Of course, she refused to eat much the rest of the day and was kinda blah.  We tried to make the best of it and she was such a trooper!  

We really did learn our lesson and will definitely be more prepared next time.  We'd never had any issues while traveling before and she hadn't had an allergic reaction for years, so we we've been pretty relaxed about her allergies.  But, this was definitely a wake up call for us.  We already have a much better plan in place for traveling.  

Although we had this very scary incident happen, we were fortunate it wasn't any worse and she was ok.  We did the best we could to enjoy the rest of our time at Epcot.  We had an amazing 3 days of non-stop Disney World theme park fun.  I think our kids were just the right ages (7 & 10) for enjoying everything the parks have to offer! I'm so glad we were able to go on this trip for them and experience a different kind of vacation! I'm ready for another adventure with my crazies!  Where shall we go to next?  



Disney World 2015 | Magic Kingdom

Our day at Animal Kingdom & Hollywood Studios was a ton of fun and exhausting. You can catch up HERE and even read a few tips to start planning your vacation to Disney World.  Next up is the Magic Kingdom.  This is the park that mostly resembles the original Disneyland theme park and although they do share some of the same classic rides, such as It's a Small World, Space Mountain, and Pirates of the Caribbean, Magic Kingdom is way bigger and you seriously would need 2-3 days to see and do it all!  Unfortunately, we only had one day to tour Magic Kingdom.  We chose to go on a Tuesday, where the park was scheduled to close early due to Mickey's  Very Merry Christmas party scheduled from 8pm-midnight.  We were hoping this would mean less crowds and shorter lines, since there were not going to be any fireworks either.  Plus, Jason and I figured it would be ok to end the day at 7pm and not push the kids too much more into exhaustion ;) The park was crowded of course, but it wasn't cramped and the wait times for most rides were moderate to short.  Although it wasn't a very long day, we were able to see and do just about everything we wanted to.  I'd asked my kids if they wanted to meet any of the characters or princesses and they said no.  They both preferred to ride the rides! YAY for me!  This of course, saved us a ton of time.  The only character they wanted to meet was Mickey Mouse and only because before we left, my dad had told them he wanted to see a picture of them with Mickey Mouse! 

My son, being the inquisitive boy that he is, had been asking how they figured out the wait times for the rides.  Jason explained they handed out these red cards to a random person in line. Once they have the card, it starts to count how long the person is waiting until the person gets to the station, hands the card to a cast member for them to put it a machine that then tells them the length of their wait time and then this considered the wait time at the front of the ride.  You can imagine how excited he was (he's 10) when he got the red card while waiting in line for the Jungle Cruise Ride. You can also imagine how upset he was when we all realized he forgot to give the card to the cast member before getting on the ride! OOPS...

My son, being the inquisitive boy that he is, had been asking how they figured out the wait times for the rides.  Jason explained they handed out these red cards to a random person in line. Once they have the card, it starts to count how long the person is waiting until the person gets to the station, hands the card to a cast member for them to put it a machine that then tells them the length of their wait time and then this considered the wait time at the front of the ride.  You can imagine how excited he was (he's 10) when he got the red card while waiting in line for the Jungle Cruise Ride. You can also imagine how upset he was when we all realized he forgot to give the card to the cast member before getting on the ride! OOPS...

Remember, the My Disney Experience app I mentioned was so helpful in my last blog post? Yup, it has the hours of the parks for each day, so be sure to check it out while planning your trip so you know what day for each park will work better for your family.  Another thing we found helpful, was to stop and eat a good meal for either lunch or dinner inside the park.  I made reservations for a different restaurant in each park (except Hollywood Studios) and it worked out great.  It gave us time to chill out and relax.  At Magic Kingdom we ate a late lunch at The Plaza Restaurant.  It's a small restaurant tucked in a corner of Main Street that offers sandwiches, salads, wraps, etc.  The quick service restaurants inside the parks can get super busy and hectic during peak hours, and I am not one for crowds or stressing out.  I remember too many trips to Disney World walking or standing around with a tray of food waiting for a table to be unoccupied, only to lose it to a kid who's family was in line ordering and he was sent to save the table.  For my sanity, I chose to splurge a little more on our meals and it worked out really well for us.  There was no stress during lunch/dinner and it was a nice reset before going back out into the park. 

We spent our time waiting in line playing either Rock, Paper, Scissors or this slap game.  It helped the time go by and even got other families to play too! What can I say, we were trend setters! LOL  

We spent our time waiting in line playing either Rock, Paper, Scissors or this slap game.  It helped the time go by and even got other families to play too! What can I say, we were trend setters! LOL  

Now, on to the fun stuff!  Magic Kingdom was a fully packed day!  Since I knew the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train always had the longest wait times and I wasn't able to secure a FastPass+, we headed over there as soon as the park opened.  The line was still 60 minutes long.  This was the longest line we waited in, so in retrospect, it wasn't too bad at all.  I tried to plan our day as efficiently as possible and making our way around the park's 6 themed lands.  We spent the most time in Fantasyland and Tomorrowland, since these had the most rides.  Of course, we had to get our Dole Whip floats at Adventureland and ride the Jungle Cruise.  Those cheezy jokes get me every time ;)  Our last ride of the night, was Peter Pan's Flight.  This ride had the 2nd longest wait times of the day and I honestly was going to skip it.  However, right at 6:45pm, the wait time was about 30 minutes and we figured, why not!  After the ride, we headed for a gift shop on Main Street to grab the kids their souvenirs from the Magic Kingdom before making our way to the monorail.  At this point, Elysse could barely stand up, she was so tired!  Somehow, she made it to our car but was asleep before we got to the restaurant for dinner and seriously slept through dinner!  I felt terrible she didn't eat, but I figured she needed her rest!  

A selfie with Mickey, because why not. I love this kid! 

A selfie with Mickey, because why not. I love this kid! 

Ended the day with a little snow ;) 

Ended the day with a little snow ;) 

So far, we had 2 really great days at Disney World.  The kids behaved pretty good and we didn't have any major meltdowns or too much attitude from them.  Sure, they whined a little here and there, but seriously it was all going much better than I had anticipated.  Our last park to visit was Epcot.  I'd saved the best for last, as this is my favorite park and I was so ready to head back to the Food & Wine Festival!  I'll be sharing our mishaps and adventures from Epcot on Monday, so be sure to come back then!  For now, enjoy the long weekend with family and friends!