It Helps to Have a Bear in Pursuit

It helps to have a bear in pursuit

Laura and I crossing the finish line

Just 38 days after signing up to run the 5K at Disney World, I was ready to go. Once more, the weather threatened to ground me, as storms were announced for my departure day. I decided last-minute to leave one day earlier, and I am glad I did. On February 21st I arrived in Orlando, the weather a perfect 85 degrees. I checked into Disney’s Pop Century and went for a 3-mile run around the Hourglass Lake. I was surprised at how easy I adapted to the temperature change. Yes, it was hot, but I much preferred running in the heat to the bitter cold of New York.

The next day I went straight to the Fit for a Princess Expo to sign my waiver and pick up my running bib. The expo held at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort was a lot of fun and offered great opportunities to indulge in retail therapy. In addition to great shopping, the Expo also features lectures by celebrities such as U.S. Olympian Jeff Galloway and Ali Vincent, the winner of the fifth season of the U.S. reality show The Biggest Loser. Tara Gidus, runDisney’s official nutritionist, and Race Director Jon Hughes were also on hand, providing helpful last-minute tips.

I had an early dinner at Splitsville, the sleek new Bowling Alley at Downtown Disney and went back to my resort to prepare for the big day. With my clothes laid out and two alarms set for 4:30 a.m., I called it a day.

I did not sleep too well, and I was happy when morning finally came and it was time to board the special bus that Disney provides from the resort hotel to the race. As I met up with my friend Laura, the parking lot at Epcot was buzzing with excitement. Before going to our starting corral, I had my picture taken with Mickey and Minnie, and we soon danced along to the tunes of a DJ. Disney really goes all out to give all participants a great time even before the race gets under way.

Ready! Set! Go!

The race started at 6:30 a.m. in the parking lot of Epcot, which was not too exciting, but once we entered the park from behind the Mexican Pavilion, it was a thrill ride all the way to the finish. We moved through the World Showcase and Innovations West, past the iconic Spaceship Earth, only to exit the park again for the final stretch. The race was a blast, with great photo opportunities along the way. Princesses and cast members cheered us on along the way, and I could not believe how soon it was all over. Holding hands, Laura and I crossed the finish line. We did it! It felt great, and all around us there was a celebratory mood as we proceeded to get our medals.

The 5K race is part of the Disney Princess Half Marathon weekend, which benefits The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. The race is a celebration of commitment, determination, fantasy, and friendship. I am so grateful that I could share this special time with a friend. Laura and I celebrated that day with a lunch at Les Chefs de France, where Remy joined in the fete.

So what is next? Repeat the experience in September with the Disney Happy Haunted 5K Trail Run, or go for The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10 Miler? Or how about taking this challenge to the West Coast for a Dumbo Double Dare? During a media event Disney announced that the company is looking into adding some more races. I would love to see a progression such as a 10K in Orlando, or why not go transatlantic and run in Disneyland Paris? In the meantime, I did go to the Magic Kingdom to ask Merida for some running tips of her own. She said that it helped her having a bear in pursuit.

Read the entire article as published February 28th in UndercoverTourist.com

Run, Liliane, Run! Part III

And then came Nemo

And then came Nemo

Yesterday my information package for the Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend arrived–and so did Nemo. Seriously? Nemo? Well, I ventured out after the storm and not only did I not find Nemo, but I was also out of luck finding any suitable jogging track. I had experienced this kind of setback before, but this time even my last resource– the Queens Zoo–was closed due to the heavy snow fall. With two weeks left to prepare for the 5K, I am reduced to walking. While the snowplows are thundering down my street, I am picturing myself jogging in the Florida sun. I am trying very hard to ignore that another northeastern could ground me in New York City, as it happened to so many passengers this weekend, with all three local airports closed and thousands of flights canceled.

Run Liliane Run - At Queens Zoo - bison along the route

At Queens Zoo – bison along the route

The Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend benefits The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. With the support of thousands of volunteers and participants, the weekend will help blood cancer patients. Approximately 400 volunteers help with Packet Pick-Up during Disney’s Fit for Princess Expo, 140 volunteers assist with the Royal Family 5K and runDisney Kids Race, 300 medical volunteers staff the medical stations during the Half Marathon, and over 1,100 volunteers staff Start Line, Course Monitor, Food Stop, Water Stop, and Finish Line locations.

5K Race Map

5K Race Map

We will be starting the race in the parking lot of Epcot, which I admit is not such an exciting first mile; after that we move through the World Showcase and Innovations West, past the iconic Spaceship Earth, only to exit the park again for the final stretch. The 5K race is something an entire family can enjoy, an experience friends can share together. It is a celebration of commitment, determination, fantasy, and friendship. I am grateful that my friend Laura Spencer will be sharing this special time with me. She still has not decided what princess she will be, but we know that we will celebrate that day with a lunch at Les Chefs de France where I hope Remy will join in the fete.

So what’s next? Tomorrow is another day and I’ll be checking out Central Park. If nothing else I’ll just keep swimming, errr… running!

Central Park after Nemo

Central Park after Nemo

Update: Central Park was indeed the place to be for a great workout after Nemo. I entered the park on 59th Street, peeked at the zoo, headed to the Bethesda Terrace, and went west to the Swedish Cottage Marionette Theater. Once on the Recreation Path, I headed north all the way to the Lasker Ice Rink. It was fabulous. Kids where frolicking in the snow, and the weather was gorgeous. The Reservoir area must be beautiful in the spring when the cherry trees blossom, but for now I was grateful to have this winter wonderland in the middle of the Big Apple.

Jogging in Central Park

Jogging in Central Park

What goes up has to come down, and so I did, past the East Meadow, the Guggenheim, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and back to the zoo. The changing scenery made it easier to complete the 6.0273-mile loop. I was amazed at the many joggers and runners out there. Truly inspiring.

Run Liliane Run Part II
Run Liliane Run Part I

 

A Costume for Every Occasion

Mickey and Goofy in Mardi Gras costume at Disney's Port Orleans Resort

Mickey and Goofy in Mardi Gras costumes at Disney’s Port Orleans Resort

February 12th is Mardi Gras, and a mini-parade will wind its way through Disney’s Port Orleans Resort. Several departments of the resort build floats on golf carts. The floats are judged and then go on a grand tour through both the Riverside and French Quarter sections of the resort. Guests who line up to watch get a chance to catch some of the beads, candy, and doubloons being tossed. Princess Tiana and Prince Naveen join the fun in a horse-drawn carriage.

A costume for every occasion

Me as little Dutch Girl – Carnival Eupen

This little-known event brought back childhood memories of carnival parades with colorful floats and fabulous costumes. Raised in the German- speaking part of Belgium where Carnival is celebrated like in the Rhineland, the making of a costume was an annual ritual.

Being Jewish, I also celebrated Purim, with a different outfit, of course, and once I moved to the United States I quickly concluded that Halloween required special attire too.

A costume for every occasion - Idan's 3rd birthday - Peter Pan costume

Idan’s 3rd birthday – Peter Pan costume

Over the years, I discovered Cosplay and Renaissance Faires, themed costume parties, and White Parties. I even attended the Star Wars Convention dressed up like Princess Leia. When my son was born, I had the perfect excuse to create costumes for him and his little friends. Watching movies such as Beauty and the Beast, Peter Pan, and The Lion King inspired me to create an entire costume chest. The costumes came in handy for holidays, play dates, and birthday parties.

Through my work on the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World with Kids I got to admire the costumes and props that Disney produces for the parks, movies, and Broadway shows. At times I dream to be left overnight inside the costume-making department at Disney Hollywood Studios. I am working on how to achieve that by taking the Backlot Tour as often as I can.

Idan and Laura

Idan and Laura

My son, who is now all grown up, shares my love for costumes. Together with his girlfriend Laura–a professional costume designer–he still dresses up for Halloween and special events. Laura, a graduate from New York’s Fashion Institute, is extremely talented, and I can’t wait to enlist her help and clad my future grandchildren in costumes for every occasion. I am confident that the family tradition of making costumes is secured!

I have no Mardi Gras plans, and Purim this year falls on the same day I am running the 5K in Epcot. So what’s next? Halloween, of course!