Running: The WDW Second Star Wars Dark Side Half Marathon

IMG_2071eAs soon as I crossed the finish line of my first half-marathon, I knew that I wanted to do another.

Life got pretty crazy after my first half-marathon. I flew back to Virginia and started a new full-time job. I took a few months off from running, but I still signed up for the second The Dark Half-Marathon when registration opened in August. I started my training back at square one doing Couch to 10K to get me eased into the walk/run intervals. I did pretty well in Fall but definitely didn’t train as much as I wanted in the Winter. I thought it was hard to run with a baby in a jogger stroller, but it is even more difficult running with an active toddler who does not want to stay in the stroller.

My main running time would be on the weekends when my husband Darin and I would take turns watching Layla while the other ran. I would try to do lunch time or after work walks, but it didn’t always happen. I underestimated how hard it can be to make time for myself while working a full-time job and having a toddler.

entertainment

I was pretty nervous on race day. We hadn’t done any races since the first The Dark Side Half-Marathon, and we were in the last corral. We were actually in the second to last corral during the first Half-Marathon, so the pressure was definitely on this time to stay ahead of the balloon ladies. I had only seen them from a far distance last time, but this time we started in a mini-wave only minutes in front of them. I looked at Darin and said, “I am one with the force, and the force is with me.”

beforerace

The race started, and even though I had used the bathroom three times before going to the corrals, I drank a lot of water (later I would realize I actually drank too much water) and knew that I wouldn’t be able to comfortably run until I used the bathroom again. Thank goodness we at least had a mini-wave in front of us because that allowed me to take a much-needed bathroom break at mile 2. The balloon ladies caught up thanks to the long bathroom line, and I took off running as soon as I jumped out of that porter potty. I accidentally left my husband behind because he was being sweet and waiting for me. Oops. The balloon ladies passed him, and a couple people around him were already quitting. I called him to let him know I had started running right away out of fear of that Death Star balloon getting too close, and he easily got back to me.

The race went really well the next few miles. My muscles were warmed up, and I was fully completing my runs and walks at an excellent pace. Every mile, the pace keepers would announce how far ahead of the balloon ladies we were running. We were getting farther and farther ahead. Running through Animal Kingdom was an amazing experience, and Darin and I high-fived as we reached the half-way point several minutes ahead of the balloon ladies.

And then things quickly started going downhill for me. My hands were throbbing and becoming very swollen. My legs and body felt great, so I pushed through. Once the sun was fully out, the heat and humidity took its toll on me. At the water stations, I would pour water on myself. I started occasionally feeling dizzy and nauseous. Thankfully, Darin and I bought running pouches so I had a granola bar and energy chews to snack on. Those helped, but not enough. Eventually, I could no longer run and just maintained a power walk. Darin was fantastic and kept track of our pace and the looming balloon ladies.

Finally, we reached Hollywood Studios. I knew that if I could make it to Hollywood Studios, then the excitement and cheering should push me to the finish line. Seeing the 10-mile marker made me smile even though I was in pain and feeling incredibly ill. Our time in Hollywood Studios was brief, but the cast members on Hollywood Blvd were in costume and cheering us on. Running through The Boardwalk is kind of a blur, but I loved all the people out with signs and encouragement. I high-fived many costumed 501st Legion members. I wanted to cry when we reached Epcot because I was so close but yet so far away. I actually started doubting my ability to finish the race. Darin tried to make jokes and keep me motivated, but I couldn’t even talk. I did enjoy seeing all the cast members in front of the countries, waving flags, and cheering. When I finally reached Spaceship Earth, I breathed the slightest sigh of relief, and it wasn’t long before I had the finish line in my sights.

duringrace

Darin and I held hands as we crossed the finish line. And after getting my medal, I went straight to the medical tent. I had heat exhaustion and salt depletion. My hands were so swollen that it hurt to move them at all. They gave me cool rags, ice packs, Gatorade, and chips. They had me lay down and told me to try not to drink water for a while because I needed to retain salt. Everyone was amazing, and now I know what to do and not do to prevent salt depletion in the future.

Overall, the race was harder for me than my first Half-Marathon because of the heat exhaustion and salt depletion that I endured. But, at least I didn’t fall down and hurt myself like last year. I am incredibly thankful that I completed the race. I don’t think I would have been able to finish without the love and support of my husband who practically dragged me through Epcot.

medal

I still have two bruised purple toenails and some tightness in my shins, but I am eager to get back into running again once I am all healed up. Eventually, I will be able to complete a Half-Marathon without collapsing at the finish line. We plan on signing up for The Light Side Half-Marathon (January 2018) as soon as registration opens, as well as doing The Dark Side (April 2018) again so we can receive The Kessel Run medals. Darin even wants to do the challenge (where you complete the 10k on Saturday and the Half-Marathon on Sunday), but I will just stick to conquering the Half-Marathon for now. He wants to be able to actually RUN during his 10ks and then be the supportive husband doing slow walk/run intervals with me during the Half-Marathons.

Thank you, Nola Nerd Couple for letting me tell my story about this year’s The Dark Side Half-Marathon. Hopefully, I can report again from California and give my take on The Light Side. And maybe one of these days I will be able to complete a race without complications or Death Star balloons haunting looming behind me…

Family-ing: A Man Gets a New Hat

My grandfather could give Calvin Coolidge a run for his money.  He’s a man a few words.  He is extremely social, but he isn’t the type to ramble on.

He is 96.  He still volunteers at the community center.  He still makes the best pralines in southeast Louisiana (I think he makes the best anywhere but I think the first statement is a provable fact).  If you are lucky enough to buy the pralines at the French Food Festival, you have tasted this piece of diabetic-inducing heaven.

Recently, he decided he wanted a hat.  Not just any hat, but a WWII Veteran Hat.  My grandfather served as a Cajun translator during WWII. During the Invasion of Normandy, this was an important part of the campaign in order to be able to communicate with resistance fighters and locals.  My grandfather didn’t go to France; instead, French Resistance fighters came to the states and he stayed to translate. One of Mrs. Nola Nerd Couple’s history professors from Graduate School was assisting The World War II Museum in collecting stories of veterans, but my grandfather passed. While it would be an interesting story to hear, it’s his story to tell or not to tell.

He decided he wanted this hat during the middle of Mardi Gras Season, which made it difficult to get downtown.  I checked with a local Army surplus store, but they only had them if you special order.  The sad fact is that the demand for these hats is reducing so the supply is as well.  However, when we were able to get to the World War II Museum we were able to find one.

wwii1

The day we purchased it, I drove to my mom’s house so she could bring it to him the next day when they went grocery shopping together.  However, she couldn’t bring it to him the next day, because………………..he was volunteering at the “old folks home.”

Yes, you read that right.  My 96-year young grandfather was too busy because he was volunteering at a retirement center.  The quotations in the previous paragraph are there because those are his words. You are only as old as you think you are.

Finally, he got his hat.  He looks damn good in it if you ask me.

wwii2

 

Parading: The Krewe of Apollo

Yes, there are plenty of parades in the New Orleans area.  If you are one of our readers from outside of New Orleans you are probably familiar with these parades.  However, Mardi Gras extends throughout Cajun country (and into the coastal parts of Mississippi, Alabama and Florida).  Mr. Nola Nerd Couple hails from the small town of Lockport, Louisiana.   Every year, on the Saturday before Mardi Gras, the Krewe of Lockport rolls throughout the town. It’s a special parade because literally it one giant family party. Here is our posts on the last two years of this parade.

2016 Krewe of Apollo

2015 Krewe of Apollo

Of course, we will be at the parade this Saturday.  It rolls at noon, and sure promises to be a good way to pass the time, cher.

Hope to see you there!Krewe of Apollo

 

NOLA-ing: The Christmas House

I’ve been friends with the Para family since high school. In fact, Michael is the one that developed my love for Star Wars. They throw a magnificent Christmas party and we were lucky enough to attend this year. It did not disappoint.

The Para house is one of my favorite Christmas places to visit. When I say that they decorate, I do not just mean a tree and lights. I mean trees and statues and nativities and paintings and Santas and…

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Crafting: Cara Mia Crafting

Wow, it’s been awhile! I have missed you, cooktraveleat. Alas, my grad school work and my full time teaching job leaves me negative amount of time to blog. It’s enough I remember to breathe and eat. But I am on my winter break, so I’ll try to squeeze a few blogs in before school starts up again on January 21st. I am proud to say that I currently maintain a 4.0 GPA in my Master of History program! Additionally, my husband is in grad school as well and he also maintains a 4.0 GPA! Now on to the blog…

If you don’t know, I love to scrapbook. I really like to do all sort of crafts, but scrapbooking is my number one favorite hobby. Unfortunately, just as this blog is on hold while my husband and I are in graduate school, my scrapbooking is also on a hiatus. That doesn’t stop me from buying things to use for later!

One thing I love is surprises. One time my family threw me a surprise party for college or something, I don’t even remember, and it was one of the best parties ever. So, when my sister’s website Cara Mia Crafting started having monthly craft boxes, I immediately decided to get a subscription. What kind of crafty person doesn’t like a fun-filled box of scrapbook material sent to their door each month?!

Now, you can request certain themes, or just get a fun surprise themed box. My December box, the first month of service, was a Walt Disney World craft box. Can you say right up my alley?! I took some pictures to illustrate what exactly the box entailed.

Cara Mia Crafting

Sweet handwritten note welcoming me to my craft box.

Cara Mia Crafting

Cricut cut Disney supplies and stickers, inserted in the cute purple bag.

Cara Mia Crafting

Adorable pre-made goofy page.

Cara Mia Crafting

Adorable pre-made Mickey page.

Cara Mia Crafting

Tangled!!!! Perfect!

Cara Mia Crafting

I love this pattern, perfect for Minnie!

Cara Mia Crafting

Haunted Mansion is my favorite ride, and this totally looks like the wallpaper in it!

Cara Mia Crafting

Perfect page for fireworks.

Cara Mia Crafting

Perfect colors for inspiring my creativity for other Disney moments!

So that’s it! Lots of awesome stuff inside and I go to Disney World so much that I’m sure I’ll be using it soon. In fact, I have a trip coming up in April, so I think that I know which scrapbook stuff I’ll be using to commemorate the occasion!

So, if you’d like your very own craft box from Cara Mia Crafting, feel free to drop her a line. She also sells a wide array of craft things, so browse the site and see if there’s anything you like. Hopefully, I’ll have another blog out within the week! Ciao!

Cara Mia Crafting

Cara Mia Crafting info.

Family-ing: The Menu for the Captain’s Lady Cafe

My mom decided that running a food truck was more fun than having a brick and mortar store, so this menu is not accurate anymore; however, she does continue to run the Captain’s Lady Streetcar Cafe food truck around Panama City! Check out their Facebook for upcoming events! – Cristina

A couple of posts back, I talked about how menus give way more information about what kind of food a restaurant serves.  I also talked about how my students were designing a menu for mother in law’s new breakfast and lunch cafe in Panama City, Florida.  The restaurant opened yesterday.  Here is the menu design she choose to go with (a combination of a couple of designs):

Front and Back Cover of Captain's Lady Cafe Menu

Inside of Captain's Lady Cafe Menu

Inside of Captain’s Lady Cafe Menu

Remember if you are in Panama City around breakfast or lunch, go to Captain’s Lady Cafe!