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Disneyland Half – Cigna Blogger Event

20 Sep

Earlier this summer I was invited to attend my first ever blogger event at the Disneyland Half Marathon weekend, sponsored by Cigna. Cigna has been the presenting sponsor of this event for 3 years now as well as the presenting sponsor of the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend events (2018 will be the 10th year of this sponsorship!)

As part of their presentation of the event, Cigna provides plenty of great information to participants and others over the months leading to the event. The current campaign “GO. KNOW. CONTROL” encourages folks to go see their primary physician and get to know vital numbers (weight, blood pressure, cholesterol, etc) and learn how to control these health markers. If you follow Cigna on Twitter you’ll get all the goods!!  And some other fun stuff, like this reminder of how important sleep is for runners

They also provide important race information – etiquette anyone?!!

The blogger event started with a healthy lunch at the Grand Californian hotel – delicious salads and some sandwich fixin’s! 🙂 I arrived late because even though my plane hit the ground 30 minutes early, we sat for 35 waiting for a gate…#whompwhomp But I made it and was assigned to Team Minnie! And as latecomer to the table I was volunteered to be captain!

Lunch is served…and I’m on my way!!!

If you look reeeeaalllly close, you can see that I finally arrived and am grabbing a yummy salad!!!

We set off for the Disney California Adventure park for The Cigna Great Race — a series of educational – and FUN – tasks and games!

Well, of course I’m in Skirt Sports…what else does one wear??!!

It was a super hot day, but we managed to stay hydrated and finish up our tasks – it was great getting the Cast Members involved as well!

Exercising with the Green Army Men!!

I’m not sure this is what they mean when they talk about Yoga in the Park….

Big and tall like a tree!!! Rhymes with Three!!

In addition to Cast Members, unsuspecting tourists also got involved in our games!!

A friendly game of Red Rover in front of Mickey’s Death Wheel…

I’m just putting this here because, how ridiculous am I??!!

At the end of the Great Race we headed back to the Grand Californian for treats and a visit with the head Mouse and his lady!

They are just Too Cute!

I thought this was a fantastic way to kick off the weekend – making new friends and seeing old ones

Everyone ends up being a friend when you runDisney!!!

Show Me the Chocolate!!!

30 May

So, if you haven’t wandered off yet…. I’m still around-ish! (though choosing “consistency” as my word for 2 years in a row seems to be um…less than effective!)

And if you have wandered off…COME BACK!!!

Please!

Anyway, if you’ve been around a while, you might have caught on that I love running the Hershey Half Marathon every October. Well, every October for the last 3 years anyway!

The Chocolate Town Challenges group also puts on a 10K in April which I’ve never done because, I think this is the reason, it is the same weekend as a local 4 miler. Or, I’ve just missed out on registration by the time I realize “hey! I want to do this this year!”

So, this year I finally got my stuff together enough to make sure to register back when registration opened (maybe on Jan 1?) and was looking forward to adding this one to my yearly schedule!

As with a couple other events (Hershey Half and the Marine Corps Historic Half) I headed over to Pennsylvania on Thursday afternoon. Now, normally it’s a nice drive. Uneventful. Unfortunately, I left right around the time a pretty significant thunderstorm was hitting the tri-state area so except for about 20 minutes of sunshine in New Jersey it was a rainy, tense drive!

BUT…I made it to PA and Jennifer’s house safe and sound. The plan was to work at “home” on Friday and the 10K is on Saturday. Jennifer was volunteering at the finish line so we decided I’d just do day of bib pickup and we’d wing it from there!

No real swag with this one – some coupons for cookies and discounts at HersheyPark. But a cute shirt!

Short sleeve shirt because it was “Spring” 🙂

Weather was chilly and windy, I wore my Redemption capris in Frolic and a generic black pullover and my ambassador beanie!

The course is obviously different from the half – it starts out the same, circling the HUGE parking lot and then instead of going into the park, we headed out to the highway. Which, in case you were wondering, is kind of a long slow climb!

Then a bit around the Outlets and soon into the park, through a back gate! NB: Why is every amusement park in the world built on so many hills? ß-Legit question I would like to see an answer to!

Finished the same as the half only didn’t have to run the WHOLE stadium track, just a bit – grabbed a water from Jennifer as well as my post race treat bag. ASIDE: THIS is something that Hershey does SO well. For this race it was an insulated lunch box filled with some goodies – including a gigantor oatmeal raisin cookie and a 10K Magnet!

And then I headed to the car to put my things away and get ready to meet the boys to go to the park! Happily, the volunteers got a free ticket voucher so we waited in a long line to redeem and we were set to go!

After a few coasters we decided to leave – none of us were feeling great (and 2 of us were really tired!) I did get a picture with my favorite chocolate bar…though he was a bit put out about my sweatshirt…

I spent the rest of Saturday and some of Sunday hanging with the family before heading home with Phred.

Another great Hershey / Chocolate Town Challenges event that I will likely be doing again!!

Medal and lunch bag

My next race? Well, actually it was going to be the Walt Disney World Half Marathon – yes, the one they do in January!
Also, volunteering for the Dark Side Challenge and 5K!

Yep – that means I was heading down to one of my super Happy places!!

But hold on, it’s about to get kind of confusing!! 🙂 Get ready to time travel!!

Did Someone Say Chocolate?

12 Nov

Playing catch-up again!!!
So, in a nutshell…

Hershey Half Marathon – a fun, cold chocolate and friend filled weekend!

Marine Corps Marathon – a fun, friend filled weekend with a fairly disappointing race

Wine and Dine Half Marathon – seriously. At Disney again with my Ohana?! It’s a win-win situation!!

Up first –

Hershey Half Marathon

After running this for the first time last year (review of last year’s adventure is here!) I’m pretty sure it’s going to become an annual event – I left work early that Friday (what? You didn’t realize I was working again?! Hah! Well, there’s a story there too!) and headed over to PA with my trusty sidekick

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He doesn’t really have a triangle coming out of his head!

My friends Jennifer and Mark were going to be at Disney the week prior to the half, coming home that Saturday and Jenn very graciously offered my their house so I could avoid hotel costs. We got to their house around 7 Friday evening and settled in with snacks I’d brought from home.

Saturday was expo and HersheyPark day and I was hoping to run into a few friends.

This year they moved the expo over to the stadium, outside. In the cold wind. And I’m not sure why but the crowds seemed much heavier this year – there was a wait in line to get bibs and then a separate wait in line to get shirts/swag. And as you can expect there were some complainers in the crowd!

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I picked up my swag and shirt

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And also a pair of BondiBand compression socks since I’d forgotten to pack some of those! Then it was time to head into the park…

Where I ran into the Grace clan and joined them on a couple of rides before heading out to get my long awaited Phillie Cheese steak over fries that I loved so much last year!! Which worked perfectly since my new pre-race carb load dinner has become very meat and potato centric in the last 4-5 years.

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Race belt makes an appearance so that I have a place to store the chocolate from the chocolate mile 😀

I got my clothes all laid out, and everything I was going to need for 13.1 the next morning and got into bed. I expected the family to come home in the wee hours and wanted to get in a few ZZZZs before they did.

Before I knew it my alarm was going off and it was time to get up and dressed. And I had hoped to get Phred out for a walk before I took off. As I was heading out the door, Jennifer, Mark, Brian and cousin Roger came in so I happily left Phred in Bri’s capable hands 🙂

 

Unlike last year I expected the traffic and left early enough to avoid it. I was, however, unable to avoid the cold wind! There had been talk of us all meeting up pre-race but the only person I managed to find was Cannon (on account of he’s so tall and was wearing his purple Dopey cap!) and once we entered the starting area we split up so he could get to the front of the line where he belongs!

Things started on time and the course was as I remembered. Which is to say, hilly – but gorgeous with great crowd support where needed. And, as last year, my favorite part was running through the Milton Hershey School grounds – those kids are all completely awesome!!

The chocolate mile this year was Hershey Kisses! And, spoiler alert, so was the medal!!

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I finished up with a decent time but not great…and headed back to the house to take a quick shower and get on the road home.

It was great to see Jennifer and Mark, even though it was a very brief visit and, as always, a nice visit with the chocolate 😀

I was looking forward to heading back out the next weekend for my Fifth Marine Corps Marathon – I’d be running with friends for the first time and was sure we would have an awesome time. Plus I’d get to see my Disney Ohana again!!

 

A Lesson in Running Your Own Race. And Chocolate.

23 Oct

Last weekend I ran the 5th Annual Hershey Half Marathon. And I can’t wait to do it again!! There are obviously a few things I’d do different, but I am definitely doing this one again!

As you know, I’m a fan of amusement parks of all shapes and sizes. And, I’m also a fan of chocolate — so win win! Oh, and there’s that running thing too.

I was running with 2 friends  – one of whom hasn’t done a half marathon since the More Half Marathon back in, I wanna say 2006 (because I’m sure it was before I moved into my house…) and the other who ran at Hogsback with me last month 🙂 The plan was my usual 1:1 intervals combined with my love for walking up hills and running down them. My training plan for the week called for 9 miles so I was really not concerned with time. – I’d be happy to at least keep my Hartford Half pace!

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Packet pickup was simple and fast! There were only a few vendors which was fine with me – I only intended to buy a special 13.1 magnet for the car (the “.” is Kiss shaped!). And I did. Nice long sleeved tech shirt + some Hershey treats in the swag bag (which was a nice string sack!). And 2 tickets to HersheyPark in the Dark, per person!

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We dropped our things back in the car and headed in to the park even though it wasn’t dark yet! Time for some rides. And by rides I mean Roller coasters of course!!

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Disclaimer: Jenn took this picture on race day, not park day!!

We played around for a few hours in the chilly day — note: roller coasters in the cold are really kind of fun!!! Back at the house we ate dinner (hearty burgers, roasted potatoes, green beans and a glass of red wine) and headed to bed early. We figured if we left the house by a quarter to 7 we’d have just enough time to park, potty, take some pictures and line up.

And that’s where things started to go … um…not good.

Traffic. We sat for 20 minutes on the highway waiting to just get into the parking lot! This was after I’d splashed fresh hot coffee all over my hand and then spilled some all over my things in the car! Jenn found us a lovely parking spot and we hopped out of the car. As we walked/jogged/trotted towards the start line we heard the National Anthem start. And finish. And then we heard the voice of a small child starting the race.

STARTING THE RACE!!!!

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Stop!!! Wait for us!!!!!

And at least one of us really still needed a potty!! So, knowing we’d have to stop soon we decided to suck it up and hit the portapotties at the start line and then get started.

Now here’s where the “running your own race” lesson comes in handy.

When you start well after the majority of the pack, there is no doubt that you’re gonna be a very literal “Back of the Packer”!  The temptation is quite STRONG to try to catch up with the larger pack. Even though you know there were still a lot more people still coming in from the parking lot!

We started out quite strong — and worked the intervals! The first couple of miles seemed to fly by – and I was happy to accidentally meet one of my invisible friends that I didn’t even know would be there!

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And then we ran into this guy when we got into the park..

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We kept up the intervals for the most part even though I know both of my friends would have preferred to run on ahead!! But, this was basically a training run for me, and I really was mainly concerned with finishing. I surely didn’t want to get picked up by “the truck” but also knew that once I passed 9 miles I was good for the day!

It was a gorgeous course – we ran past the old factory, through Hershey and toured the campus of the Milton Hershey School where a lot of the kids were out coaching us through miles 7-9 ish!

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This would be an interesting job….

We met up with their mascot The Spartan. Not a Trojan.

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The school band was playing as we were heading out of the school grounds

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And then we ran into this guy!

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The miles definitely flew by and you know I was eagerly anticipating the “Chocolate Aid Station” — which was a bit before mile 12. Note for future runners of this event – it’s a BOP win cause there are boxes and cases of chocolate that no one wants to pack up. Also, please don’t just throw your chocolate on the ground! That is very wasteful!!

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Anyway we got through the chocolate gauntlet and headed towards the Hershey Stadium and the finish line! We grabbed out super post-race goodie bag – in an insulated lunch sack!

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There was also a healthy apple (that I ate!) and a granola bar that I gave to Jennifer. The little Hershey bars were my haul from the chocolate aid station!

And then hung out in our mylar blankets waiting for traffic to die down some! Managed to get a post race bling shot too!!

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So, yes, this was a fun one and I will most definitely do it again — and not just for the chocolate!!

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Roller Coaster Race Recap!!

9 Sep

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Disclaimer: After deciding to register for the event, I exchanged emails with the Race Director and was offered a discounted entry fee. ALL opinions are my own. 

So, I’ve mentioned this race, The Roller Coaster Race, a couple of times…You know…here. And then here. When I was at the Hartford Marathon Red Dress Run for Women back in July there were flyers for this race out on one of the tables and I was ready to sign up right on the spot! Which, if you know me, you know didn’t happen cause, well, procrastination!

 

Cause, well, I do love a good Roller Coaster. And any opportunity to get a new Proof of Time on a 10K is nice. AND…the event benefits the local YMCA (up in Agawam, Mass). All good things.

So let’s have a look:

Pre-race:  There wasn’t much race specific communication sent out – other than a discount code to pass on (which you know I did, the more the merrier!) and requests for volunteers (CRUCIAL!). A week or so before the race we got final instructions – for me, that’s really enough. I already spend enough time skimming through emails and not reading that I don’t need to get a lot of reminders to delete or ‘mark as read’.

Packet Pickup: Pickup was to start at 10 on Saturday morning. Since I was doing both the Coaster 5K and the Feet 10K I wanted to get there as soon as I could on Saturday so I could get to Six Flags of New England at rope drop…er…opening 🙂 which was 10:30. So you know I got to packet pickup around…um…10:25 🙂 For me, this went pretty smooth. I met Wendy (who handles the Twitter account for the Race as well as loads of other duties, not the least of which was DJing the finish line!)  and got my roller coaster wristband, my shirts and instructions as well as my park ticket. Then moved on to RD Adam Slate to get my bib and introduce myself. And then it was on to the RACES!!

Roller Coaster 5K: Well, let’s just call it like it is here. A chance to ride roller coasters all day if you choose!! Normally in a thrill ride situation such as that offered at Six Flags, I am with other people – and maybe that’s what makes me so nervous!! This time I was on my own and had a BLAST!! Though, much ginger was consumed throughout the morning and early afternoon for sure! Part of the packet we picked up was a listing of the roller coasters in the park with their distance in feet. 5K or 3.1 miles is approximately 16,405 feet. When I first registered this was a daunting number to me…but once I started riding it didn’t take long to hit that mark!!

First there was Thunderbolt! An old wooden coaster that was really a great old-fashioned ride!

Then I hopped on Bizarro!!  I was disappointed that I couldn’t carry my things on the ride cause I would have LOVED a picture from the top — you go up right along the Connecticut River and the view is AMAZING!! (as you can see below!)

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I went on this one twice. In a row! 10, 800 feet baby!!!

The next ride I went on was Catwoman’s Whip – which apparently isn’t a thrill ride but it was fun. And a coaster. So…

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Again, fun! You can kind of see in the picture that the track is never too far above the ground.

Next, in keeping with the Batman theme…I went on BATMAN: The Dark Knight — lots of upside down and sideways here!! And it was one of those coasters where your legs dangle!! Wheeee!!!!

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I also went on a non-coaster ride or two — the New England SkyScreamer. Billed as the tallest swing ride on the planet! It was a little unnerving but another one I wished I’d had a camera on!!

But I did get a picture from the bottom!!

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I also went on the Skyway — an old lady ride if there ever was one! But I like that I could take pictures of some of the coaster I did NOT ride on —

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Also, this one, Mind Eraser, wasn’t open when I went by there so it’s on my list to do next time!!

I ended my day early-ish since I knew I had to get up pretty early for a 7:30 race start — but couldn’t leave without a character picture right?!

 

Race Day: Got out, shockingly, a little later than planned because I tried to take a picture in my mirror

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but still got up to Agawam again and got parked with no problem. Or, at least no problem that could have been avoided had I read the instruction sheet I was given the day before! I figured it would be a small crowd and it was. Which makes me nervous cause…slow and (foreshadowing) a distinct possibility of being last with this small of a field!

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But I was READY to go!!

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The course was a loop through the park, then hitting some residential streets before doing a big lap of the parking lot and then another loop through the park.  And at one point I was almost in Connecticut again.

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The parking lot part was kind of boring. And hot. But there was water available there and I was playing tag with the other person who didn’t want to be the last one so that was fun!!

We ran past the finish line before the second loop of the park and let me tell you how tempted I was to pretend I was done!! Hahah…but I didn’t. I finished the last loop. Though at this point, I figured the other woman who had been last had done just that because I didn’t see her again. I accepted my DLF fate and pushed on.

And let me tell you how worth it it was!! Now, I’m not a huge fan of a lot of public ‘fuss’ but when I came up to the finish people were yelling and cheering and it really felt good! And, it gave me what I needed for a final push over the line!! So – thanks to all the other runners and volunteers and staff peoples!!!

As I walked out of the chute, the cheering started again which meant A. I wasn’t last and 2 -the other woman hadn’t dropped out!!! Yay lady I played tag with all morning!!!

And, for the real kicker on the day – as if that great cheering wasn’t the best thing to happen all day…

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Yeah. Apparently I was the oldest woman running on Sunday! I’m pretty sure that has never happened before 🙂 I mean, I *KNOW* it’s never happened before cause I’ve never gotten one of these before!! Though as my friend Willie says “Keep in mind Anne, that you weren’t the only female in your age group, you were just the only one with the strength, heart, and desire to answer the gun at that particular race” which made my afternoon!

The Swag: Well, part of the packet was a park ticket and my wristband for the Coaster “race. A cotton t-shirt for Saturday’s event (black) and a tech shirt for the 10K (grey)

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2 medals —

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What I would change: Not a lot. I tend to have pretty basic needs when it comes to races. Not to say I wouldn’t change *anything*! Cause there’s always room for improvement – even with the biggies! I had friends running who had a couple of other issues but my experience was different – your mileage my vary!! They’ve also sent out a post-event survey that I will definitely be filling out!

  • Course – maybe work with the park/city to get more street distance in, less parking lot! Also since most theme parks have mascots (in the case of Six Flags they have Loony Tunes –  Sylvester, Tweety, Bugs!!) get them out on the course, especially in the parks!!
  • Medals – I love that the ribbons for the medals are different but it might be nice if the medals also differentiated between “ride” and “race”.
  • Timing – not like race timing but event timing! Maybe make it possible to do the ride and the race on the same day instead of having to get a separate park ticket if you wanted to go back to the park after the race. And, I was talking with Adam and he mentioned that in St. Louis this is actually how it works out – the ride and the race events are on the same day and he’s hoping to be able to work this same way in other locations
  • Other Extras – Initially there was a dinner on Saturday evening planned but not enough folks signed up for it. Maybe setting it up as a post-race breakfast or lunch. I don’t know on this one! I did enjoy the post-race chocolate chip cookies and bananas! Also, more potties. We had access to the park potties while in the park and before/after the race – not sure if we could have used the ones in employee rest areas. And this would really just be a bonus because if you have a normal size bladder you can probably make the 2 or so miles before you need a potty again!!

So, overall, for a first year event up here, I think things went well with a few kind of expected glitches. I would love to see a series like this expand – cause as I may have mentioned, I love roller coasters 🙂 There are already events in St. Louis, MO and Branson, MO and they look to be adding one up in Lake George area, NY. I would hope though, that they don’t expand too quickly since I think that’s where a lot of ‘specialty’ events get into trouble.

 

 

 

Let’s Get Ready to Rock!

31 Aug

And Roll. Or…um.. Roller! As in Coaster!

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Yep – it’s coming up. Next weekend is the first New England Roller Coaster Race! Taking place at Six Flags New England, this is how it works:

On Saturday, you can take part in the Roller Coaster 5K. What this is, is exactly what it says!! You will get a wrist band and then the race is on to complete 3.1 miles of climbs and drops and spins and turns and you MAY even go upside down once or twice!!

Sunday though, is when it gets real 🙂 Today your feet are in charge of your 10k!

You can choose to do one or the other of the events – or you can do both!!

And, just because you are kind enough to support me by reading here, and if you haven’t already signed up, I can give you 10% off of your entry!! Here’s what you do —

If you aren’t local, you can contact GET Travel — the same great folks who provide race and travel services for our pals over at runDisney!!

And, if for some reason you can’t make it this year — you ABSOLUTELY need to get this on your calendar for 2015!! What a way to send off summer, right?!!

Recap coming next weekend! I am so excited for this one!!!

A Family Weekend Away

12 Aug

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So maybe they aren’t family, but they’re darn close!!

Most summers, my friend Kathy and I (along with Earnest Phred) take a trip to visit friends in Pennsylvania. Usually it’s a quick QUICK trip – Friday afternoon to Monday morning – but this year we extended by a day!

Of course the drive was super super exciting* and it took us a bit longer than expected to get there (Thank you NY State Road Works team). NB: I will never in all my life EVER understand how traffic can come to a full and complete stop on a highway. For half hours at a time!! But, I digress!

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*not actually exciting at all!

When we got to Harrisburg, our friends were at a neighborhood block party so we joined them at their neighbor’s house for burgers and dogs. Okay, technically just a burger (half a bun, thankyouverymuch!). Then we headed back to Jenn and Mark’s house to unwind on their porch.

We had no real plans for Saturday so after moseying around the house for a bit, we went out to a local farm and picked blueberries. Ya’ll! I haven’t ever seen such big berries before!! And so many of them!

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And that would be my fabulously blueberry stained hand there…

And then we came home and baked a gluten-free pie!

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And by “we” I mean Jennifer…

 

Which was quite tasty!

It was a lazy stay in night and we ordered up some pizza.

Got up Sunday morning and when Jennifer asked about my training run scheduled for the weekend I was truthful and said 3 miles – so we laced up and headed out. It was really a nice run, and not too hot and not terribly humid (though sweat *did* happen!) Got in a bit over 3 and had a decent pace – I think Jenn’s long legs helped with that!

That evening, as always seems to happen, it started to rain while we were getting ready to head to dinner and then Hershey Park (to ride the rides you don’t want to take a 3 year-old on!). But we got to see this on the way to the restaurant so – bright side!

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Dinner was great! And naturally by the time we were ready to head to the park the weather cleared and we were able to get on a few coasters before the rain started again. While it was raining, Jennifer kicked some butts in air hockey.

Headed home because Monday was going to be our full park day!! All the roller coaster-y fun is recapped here! We ended the day with the family picture above, but then I had to get a picture with my other main man — Sorry Goofy

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After a stop at Chocolate World to see the singing cows

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it was definitely time for home and getting ready for the drive home on Tuesday! And I can’t wait to get back to Hershey Park in October!!

Tuesday we decided to take a different route home, hoping to avoid all of the road “work” that was going on when we drove over Friday. This led us to a little place called Kitchen Kettle Village and did some browsing and tasting. Quite a bit of tasting actually!! And, of course a little picture taking 🙂

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Phred seems a little unsure of that big cookie!

 

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OMG!!! He was there in person!!! (I’m holding Phred mainly so he doesn’t try to pee on the big cookie…cause…he might…)

Then it was straight on to home, which was a much MUCH nicer trip than on the way over!

Heading back in October for the Hershey Half Marathon and more fun with friends – and I can’t WAIT!!

 

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