Disney, Dreams

Little Things

You know, it doesn’t really take that much to make me happy. I’m easily amused and love to enjoy the everyday things that some may see as “ordinary.” I wanted to make a little list of the little things that make me happy to share with you guys as we head into the weekend to help you recognize the little things in your life that can make you happy.

 Dual Monitors


 ok, this one might seem a bit nerdy, but it really has made my working (and blogging) life so much better! Having a gazillion spreadsheets, emails and documents open can get confusing. This helps a ton. It was actually my Mothers Day gift (You know you married a techie when…) and I couldn’t think of anything better, besides a trip to Disney… which leads me to my next point.

Another thing that makes me happy… Disney. 


I always have my Mickey Mouse glasses (those aren’t pink polka dots, they are Mickey Shapes!) and use my Disney Resort cup for Ice Coffee nearly every day. They remind me of the awesomeness that is Walt Disney World and help bring a little bit of that magic into my everyday life.

Also, I love that I have a family that shares this Disney love. As I type this an album of Classic Disney Songs is playing on Mr Dreamer’s computer. And what 2 year old little girl doesn’t love Disney Princesses? I’m pretty sure Little Dreamer is convinced she really is the lost Disney Princess.


For some reason my camera didn’t focus while I was taking the first picture, and while it might be blurry it is one of my favorites. Just look at that face! And the second picture makes her look so old. Stop growing up!!

Mail & Packages

Not email. Snail Mail. Although I don’t use it as much as I’d like, I love getting it! If you want to make my day (or week!) Send me a letter or package! I still listen for the Mail Lady and run out there after I see her put the mail in the box. It is usually junk mail and bills, but every once in awhile I get something good. Today was the jackpot of good mail days. I got a surprise package from Lindt Chocolate for participating in their recent BzzAgent Campaign.


Beautiful and Delicious.


I also received a copy of the new book Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff for Moms and I am excited to be a part of the Don’t Sweat Moms team. Looking forward to reading this over the weekend, just in time for Mother’s Day.

Besides these two awesome surprises we also go Mr Dreamer’s and Little Dreamer’s passports in the mail. We are one step closer to Costa Rica! And we got back a $50 rebate card from a recent purchase from our wireless company. How often do you get that much goodness in the mail?! Today was an extra special day!

Now it’s your turn… What are some little things that make you happy?

Life Lessons, Running

WDW Marathon Recap {lessons learned from a DNF}

{you can read about the expo/pre-race activities here and read the race recap here}

I did not finish.

I DID NOT finish.


Man, that’s a tough pill to swallow. I was super emotional about it right after it happened, but tried to suck it up… After all we were at Disney! Then I would remember that moment I knew I wasn’t going to cross that finish line and my heart would sink.

Looking back I can see there were several practical lessons to learn from my DNF. I want to share those with you in case you are thinking about doing a marathon, so you don’t have to make the same mistakes I did.


  1. Conquer smaller distances first. I know, this one may seem like the logical thing to do; it is. Looking back, I should have done it. Before I signed up to run the marathon I hadn’t run in an actual race. I ran a 10k back in my internship days, but it was just around campus and not a true race experience. In the first few weeks of my training I ran a small local 5k, but that was nothing like the huge race experience that Disney is. I should have run a half-marathon or even a 10k. Not only is knowing how the flow of a larger race important, it is also a great confidence builder!
  2. Track your mileage accurately. For all of my training I used Nike+ with the shoe pod. The problem was it would never calibrate properly. So for every mile I thought I was running, I was really only running .90ish miles. Which adds up during long training runs. It also gives you false hope of a decent pace, so my estimated time was WAY off. I have since invested in a Garmin, which is way more accurate… but some times depressing when you realize how slow you’re really going… but I digress…
  3. Race in the Environment that You Trained in (At least for your first). While I started my training in the summer, I did the bulk of my mileage in the fall/winter. The temps I was used to training in were in the 30s and 40s. On race day the temps got in the upper 70s, probably at least 80. This is probably by far the biggest problem I ran into. My body hadn’t seen temperatures that high in months, let alone run in them! It made me (even) slower than I already was! If you are planning on running a big race for the first time at least make sure the race temperatures will be relatively similar to those that you trained in to ensure success.
  4. Plan for bathroom stops (or not). I know that I could have finished had I been allowed to. It wouldn’t have been fast or pretty, but I would have finished. And the difference between them letting me finish and making me stop was literally 10 seconds or less. They were letting people complete the race once they passed the on ramp that I got stopped at, even if they were slow beyond that point. I’ve thought about this time and again and if I could have a do over of just race day with my same training I would simply pee on myself. I stopped at Miles 3, 11 and 18. Each stop was probably at least 5 minutes. That’s a 15 minute difference. Thats a whole mile at the pace I was going. I should have just peed on myself…

While having a DNF (did not finish) on record isn’t what any runner wants, it’s better than a DNS (did not start). I learned a lot about myself and turned my negative into a positive. Now I’m more determined then ever to get into shape and sometime before I’m 30 I will return to Disney to redeem myself. Not only do I want to finish the Disney Marathon, but I want to one up it and do the Goofy Challenge (Where you run the Half-Marathon Saturday and Full on Sunday). I tend to overcorrect, haha.

Have you ever had the opportunity to turn a “failure” into a lesson learned? Tell me about it!

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WDW Marathon Recap {race day}

{Read about the expo and pre-race day activities here.}

Sunday, January 8, 2012. It was here!

I didn’t sleep well at all. My stomach was in knots from the nerves. I kept wondering if I drank enough water… why did I go to sleep so late… what if I missed all 3 of my alarms… I had crazy weird dreams about the race. I ended up having to get up to use the bathroom around 2:30 (guess I did drink enough water!) and decided to go ahead and start getting ready.

Hot pink tshirt: check. Favorite compression capris: check. Hot pink compression socks: check. Pink sweatband: check. Bib: check.

I ate part of my special pre-race box meal I bought from the hotel cafeteria (bagel and banana) and drank all the water. I brought an extra “throw away” hoodie to keep me warm until start time (not that it was that cold…). I had my fuel and water bottle. It was a little after 3 when I stumbled to the bus stop at our resort. There were a few other people there, but our bus was pretty empty. We all sat in groggy silence all the way to drop-off. They had an excellent pre-race area set up. I didn’t check a bag since Chris was bringing me my stuff later, but it looked pretty organized. They had a DJ and some of the characters out there, so I took full advantage of that!

I did make a friend on the walk from the bus to the pre-race area, which actually help make the time pass and honestly calmed my nerves a little… Thanks Melanie!

It came time to start heading over to the corrals. It was about a 20 minute walk. Some people complained about it, but I honestly didn’t mind it much

I ended up in Corral E. I loved all the pre-race hype up and had a fun time watching the people around me. Especially the guy dressed up as Tinkerbell. He had moves like jagger.  Wish I took a picture of that!

Before too long they were counting down for the start. My heart was racing. My mind wasn’t far behind. This was it. The culmination of 6 months of hours and miles, sweat and tears. They released Corral A… B…. C…. it was happening so fast…. D…. and then we were up. I was at the back of the corral. The countdown… then BOOM, fireworks, and we were off!


There was lots of shuffling and people passing and guys stopping to pee on the side of the road… You see we had been in our corrals for over an hour. With all the extra hydration it seemed as though everyone had to go! I didn’t have anything to track my time with and all the clocks at each mile started with Corral A so the reality is I had NO idea how fast I was going. I ran with the 5:50 pace group for awhile and felt pretty good about that until I saw port-a-potties around mile 3 and decided to stop. I never caught up with that 5:50 pace group.

We ran around Epcot, which was fun in the dark because they still had all the christmas lights up.

We ran back out of Epcot and headed towards Magic Kingdom… Down a long stretch of boring road with a few random attractions on it that I didn’t take pictures of…. except this guy with the awesomely huge Mickey hands. He was funny.

I was obviously going so fast this picture came out blurry. Or I knew I wasn’t going fast enough and couldn’t stop! lol.
I was getting pumped up about running through Magic Kingdom. I mean we got to run through Cinderella’s Castle! Not to mention there were crowds of spectators cheering us on. That was awesome. And just like the map said… Just after mile 10 we rounded the corner to Main St USA and there it was…And I got closer…

And closer….

And went right on thru it. YAY! That was such a rush. I had a huge smile on my face and was feeling pretty good about myself. I still didn’t know what kind of time I was actually making… which could have been good or bad. Good because I actually took the time to enjoy the surroundings and have fun, bad because I didn’t know if I was going too slow for disney pace regulations. I stopped for another potty break after mile 11 and then I ran into Jessie the Cowgirl!

We ran out of Magic Kingdom and through some back roads. We passed the half-marathon mark and I felt a huge sense of accomplishment along with a stinging jealousy of those relay racers who were going into the chutes to tag off to their partner. It was getting hotter and hotter and being done was sounding pretty good, but I was still determined to finish.

As we headed into Animal Kingdom I was starting to feel the fatigue. I had been having problems with a “tailor’s bunion” on my left foot and it was bothering me off and on. I still felt strong mentally though, so I kept truckin along.

I found good ole’ Jiminy Cricket in Animal Kingdom. They also had real animals out to greet us. We ran past Expedition Everest and as we were nearing the end of Animal Kingdom I found Minnie!

Just after leaving Animal Kingdom I also found Minnie’s Main Man, Mickey!

 IMG_3699(please excuse my ugly face, I was trying to mask the exhaustion with silliness and clearly failed)

As I continued on the miles seemed to be getting longer and longer. My feet were aching. I was exhausted and feeling parched and sunburnt. I got some encouraging texts from my friend Jenny who had run the Half Marathon the day before telling me she was waiting for me closer to the finish. I also got texts from Chris encouraging me. I told him I was feeling beat but still felt like I could finish… maybe not in the 6 hours I wanted, but I was going to finish.


Coming up on mile 20 they were playing the Rocky song. It was just what I needed to hear. Getting into the 20’s felt so good! I knew from here it was going to be just 6.2 miles and after 20, 6.2 sounded easy!

My pace had slowed considerably at this point. I was in direct sunlight and my body seemed to be in shock. Keep in mind I trained in the Midwest. In the Winter. My long runs were done in the 30’s and 40’s and it was pressin 80 out there in the sun.

As we rounded a corner I could see the sign for mile 21. I kept telling myself 5 more miles once you get to that sign… but as I turned around on the out and back my heart dropped.

I saw several white vans and pacers on bikes with orange flags.

and I knew just what that meant.

They were calling time.

I got to Mile marker 21 with about 15 seconds to spare according to one of the pacers. I tried to make my legs go faster but felt like I was in slow motion. I ripped through a water station gulping down one sip without stopping and tossing the cup to the side. With tears in my eyes , from a combination of pain and fear of failure, I rounded the corner to the on-ramp that led to Hollywood Studios. There was one guy a few feet in front of me and a few handfuls of people behind me. Just before making the turn a wall of people stopped us.

The guy in front of my bolted around them into the bushes and refused to stop.

I don’t blame him, I contemplated the same thing.

They said they had to re-open the road and we couldn’t finish.

and it was over.

(ha. I thought I was over it, but even as I write this the tears are falling.)

6 months of hours and miles, sweat and tears.

and it was over just like that.

I felt robbed. by the guy on the bike with the orange flag.

if I was literally 10 seconds faster they would have let me finish.

I’ve replayed it in my head a million times. I shouldn’t have taken so many walking breaks. shouldn’t have stopped to use the bathroom. should have pushed just a little harder.

because sometimes 10 seconds make all the difference in the world.

They put us on a bus and took our names, ya know, to make sure we didn’t try to jump back in the race and finish once we got to the end of the race (not that I thought of that at all…)

Looking at my split times you can see that between the half marathon marker and the 20 mile marker my body just wasn’t performing well, despite my mental determination to finish.

They still gave us a medal. I call it my pity medal.

It took me awhile to come to terms with the fact that while I can say I have run in a marathon… I can’t say I’ve finished a marathon. Next to my name on that roster is a big fat DNF (did not finish).

I’m still proud that I tried.

and that I made it over 21 miles.

“The Miracle isn’t that I finished. The Miracle is that I had the courage to start” – John Bingham

I learned a lot that day. Some deep philosphical lessons. and Some practical lessons.

I’ll share them with you Thursday, so stay tuned.

What is something that you have been looking for the courage to start? 


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Another long training run crossed off the list! Can I just say I think there should be a finish line and a medal at the end of every long run. I was excited for this run because I got some great deals on running tights ($15!) and a Compression Jacket from Old Navy. I also had bought some Gu Brew from REI a few weeks back and was excited to try it out on a run. I woke up around 4:30 and had my PB&J, watched my inspirational videos of the finish of the Disney Marathon from previous years to keep me focused on the goal and was out the door by 5:10 or so. It was a bit chilly, but I felt super fly in my cool new workout gear. Light jog/walk intervals for the first mile to get warmed up and I was feelin pretty good. Around mile 2 I was running a straight part of the parkway in front of the bank, maybe 30 yards long or so and right when I started running I heard the sprinklers turn on… and I got pelted! All I could was laugh.

I was feeling pretty great doing some run/walk combos through miles 3-7. My knee started hurting a bit, but I was still feeling good. I got the runners high for sure, I felt like I could fly.

Sunrise at mile 7!

I kept a quick (for me) pace and finished a half-marathon distance at 3 hours 7 minutes. I wanted to be under 3 hours, but I was pretty close. I did a TON better on miles 14 and 15 than I did last long run, but my pace started dropping fast. Miles 16 and 17 were kinda rough, but I finished strong. I wanted to finish in under 4 hours, but ended up finishing 4 hours 19 minutes. Still pretty good considering it was the longest I’ve ever run.

Just a few more months until the marathon, and I’m getting so psyched up. It’s not a matter of “if” I can finish at this point, it’s just a matter of how long it will take lol. So here is to another long run down, with many more to come.