Running Again and Then Some

Running Again and Other Mischief

Running Again

Wine & Dine Half Marathon Bib

It is not as if I have been sitting idle since my last post; on the contrary, I have been busy.  I know it is a lame excuse and one that no New Year resolution helped alleviate. The truth is I write for a living. There are the blogs, the Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest accounts, and the avalanche of emails, press releases, pitches, and other Pulitzer Prize-winning activities.

But back to running again. My last race was in November at Walt Disney World. Together with thousands of runners I participated in the runDisney Wine & Dine Half Marathon. This year the weather god was not with us and we ran for 13.1 miles in the pouring rain.  I can think of only one thing that would have made it more miserable and that would have been if Disney had canceled the race.
Running Again

Mulan and Mushu warming my hands

So we went our merry way from the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex to Disney’s Animal Kingdom, onward to The Studios. At Disney Hollywood Studios my iPhone rebelled against the rain as I tried taking pictures of the Osborne Family Spectacular of Dancing Lights. So much for race pictures!

By the time I reached the Boardwalk I thought that once at Epcot where the race ends I would jump on a bus and go straight to the hotel. Well, seeing Spaceship Earth and the volunteers cheering us on this cold and rainy night changed my mind. Why go home? I was soaking wet and so was everybody else, but we did it! Another half marathon and for me a Coast-to-Coast for that! I crossed the finish line and after getting my bling I headed to the Finish Line Party at the Food & Wine Festival at Epcot. And while the rain kept pouring I made a tour of World Showcase, sampling foods and meeting characters. My favorite interaction was at the Temple of Heaven at the China Pavilion where Mulan and Mushu where holding court. They didn’t mind my tired and not too sophisticated looks. They posed for a picture and took my hands in an effort to warm them.
Running Again

Wine & Dine Half Marathon Bling

My iPhone dried and decided to come back to life. The only casualty of that night was my wig, so this princess is going to be shopping for a new Merida wig.

The next day I returned to Epcot and so did the sun. Given enough time, the memory of this wet and at times miserable race will become a fun story to tell.

I have been twice to Orlando since the race and will do so again in March. I can’t wait.  In the meantime, I signed up for three more races. One here in Birmingham is coming up real soon. The Mercedes Half Marathon will be my second non-Disney race.

I’ll follow that one up running again in April by joining the Ironman 70.3 team of a friend. Her husband will do the swimming, she’ll bike, and I’ll run the half marathon.  The race takes place in New Orleans, and we aptly named our team “For Food, Booze & Bling.” Stay tuned for updates from The Big Easy.

Running Again and Then Some

May will bring a new challenge. While visiting my son in Los Angeles I am signed up for the Pixie Dust Challenge held during the Tinker Bell Half Marathon weekend in Anaheim, a 10K followed by a half marathon. I am so looking forward to be back in Los Angeles. What could be better? I’ll be spending time with my son, celebrating my birthday and Mother’s Day, and pushing my limits–just one bit further. And there is always the next Wine & Dine Half Marathon to sign up for!

Ratatouille: Disturb, Shake, and Stir

RatatouilleWebster’s dictionary describes the origin of the word Ratatouille as coming from the verb ratouiller which means to disturb, shake, and to stir.

If you are like me, you probably think of food, as Ratatouille is a wonderful classic French dish originating from the Provence region. Of course, there are those who associate the word with rat-turned-chef Remy in the Pixar movie Ratatouille. Yes, I am guilty of that too.

So, to me, Ratatouille is really all of the above, and it describes perfectly my life in the past three months: Disturb, shake, and stir! And God knows I’ve had my fair share of turbulence. It is now three months since I left New York City for Birmingham, Alabama. I am happy to report that I love discovering my new hometown and that I am re-discovering my love for cooking and entertaining.

Caramel Apples - RatatouilleMy blog, and some of my freelance writing, was put on a back burner but never really extinguished. The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World with Kids 2015 is shipping to a store near you and gives me cause for celebration.

My latest article for Undercover Tourist was about my favorite snacks at Walt Disney World and I did report about the Frozen Mania that is sweeping The Kingdom of the Mouse.

Running, on the other hand, was put on ice for a while after foot surgery. Let’s just say it was another “disturbance” in the Force. I am up and running again, signed up for the Wine and Dine Half Marathon in Orlando in early November.

Book signing at Todd English - RatatouilleSo what else? Well, there was a book signing at Todd English P.U.B. for Gone Pro Alabama and I can’t wait for Paul Chibeba’s visit with me Down South in just a few weeks.

Except for Paul’s visit, the most exciting item on the menu is my first business trip. In a few days I will be heading, costume and all, to Lexington, Kentucky, to attend ScareFest.

My company publishes America’s Haunted Road Trips, a series of 25 books describing places that are known or said to be haunted. We will be presenting and selling our books for three days. I am really excited about this opportunity and hope to stir up interest in some of the most ghostly tales in this country.

It would seem unfair to talk about Ratatouille without sharing at least one good recipe. So without further adieu, I give you Julia Child’s Ratatouille recipe.

Run, Liliane, Run!

A few weeks ago, I signed up for the Brrrooklyn Half Marathon. I felt confident and excited to do my first ever-non-Disney race and what could go wrong? Nothing really! I was going to do a half marathon the week prior to the race in Anaheim and a few weeks later I would do a half marathon in Orlando, so it would basically be a piece of cake.

What was I thinking? A half marathon in New York in January? Was that really necessary? In my defense, I should explain: Running a race has become part of what I do and preparing for the race part of my weekly workout schedule. Additionally, after a year of training for a 5K, a 10K, and cranking it up to a 10Miler, I got bored doing my training runs at the gym. So signing up for the Brrrooklyn Half seemed like a good idea. A race in Anaheim, followed by one in New York in preparation for the ‘real’ thing in Orlando, would certainly keep me in shape.

Run Liliane Run

Tinkerbell Half

I had fun visiting Expo and loved my first half marathon in Anaheim. I was delighted to run for the first time with a team. I am humbled to have been part of the Special Olympics Southern California team, and I recommend anybody who loves to run to consider running for a team that raises money for a charity such as SOSC. It is an unforgettable experience. What I also should mention is that the weather was simply perfect! It was even a little chilly at 5 AM in the morning, but the 45F was paradise for a good race.

The same cannot be said about the 10F at 8:30 AM at the start of the Brrrooklyn Half Marathon. And while I came ready for the cold, nothing could have prepared me for the chilly differences I experienced. It was not just about the extreme cold waiting for the race to start–it really was about the fact that participants had very little in common. There was no easy chatting about “I love your costume,” “Where are you from?” or “It’s cold out!”

Run Liliane Run

Brrrr – Baby it’s cold outside

I learned my lesson fast. After all, this is New York! As always, I found something positive to focus on: There was no distraction, no chitchatting, no characters, and no entertainment along the course, and it was terribly cold. You are wondering what’s good about that? Well, I ran as fast as I could and did the half marathon in a better time than the Tinkerbell Half.

Right now I am a bit like Oscar in Frozen and I am dreaming of summer. I can’t wait for the Princess Half and the milder climate of Orlando. I look forward to seeing my running buddies again, and I am delighted to share my latest review of lunch with an Animal Specialist with all Disney aficionados.

Lunch with an Animal Specialist

Lunch with an Animal Specialist

One thing is sure: The New Year has started with a bang and I am ready to embrace the good, the bad, and the ugly–keeping in mind that a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down. And this brings me to Saving Mr. Banks. Have you seen the movie? What did you think? I saw it twice, I read the original Mary Poppins again, and Mary Poppins She Wrote by Valerie Lawson. Here is my review!photo 1

After the Princess Half in Orlando, I will be planning a cruise on the Disney Magic for April. I am a guest of a wedding party at Castaway Cay, and I can’t wait to witness how one can get hitched enlisting the help of the Mouse. In the meantime, I’ll keep on running.

 

 

 

Countdown to Spring

Countdown to Spring

Run Merida Run!

The sun was lowest, the night was longest, but with winter solstice behind us I started my countdown to Spring. There won’t be a White Christmas, and the weather, just like me, has its ups and downs. Either way, the days are getting longer, and it is only 85 days till Spring and exactly 178 days till Summer!

Of course, another countdown has begun. In a few days, we will say goodbye to 2013 and welcome a new year. So often we wish for a good year, a better year, a successful one, but how about looking back and reflecting on the one that just is about to slip into the past? There are so many things I am grateful for. Exactly one year ago today (December 24), I received my Green Card, and my son not only graduated from film school, but he also went West to work in his field. I miss him, of course, but thank God for planes. Los Angeles has not seen the last of me.

In 2013, I set out to shed the weight I had been carrying around with me, and weight of all sorts it was. I started running and, thanks to the encouragement of dear friends, I ran my first race. It was a modest 5K that Laura Spencer and I set out to conquer, but to me it felt like climbing Mount Everest. I never knew what a runner’s high was until I experienced it and I got hooked on running. I discovered a whole community of supporting and caring running buddies; even when I did hit a roadblock, I kept moving.

So, minus a gallbladder, I did run a 10K in Anaheim, and it was simply heaven when at the finish line my son and my future daughter-in-law were waiting for me. Encouraged and cranking it up a notch, I did run 10 miles in Orlando in October. Eventually, I also did shed the physical weight, and I am now racing to my final goal, as far as my feet will carry me. I am training for my first half Marathon, and I shudder at the idea of how this will eventually feel.

Countdown to Spring

2013 at Disney

In the meantime, I have traveled in Europe, Canada, and the United States. My all-time favorite Mouse did see a lot of me this year and was the subject of 39 published stories, including Epcot during the holidays and Christmas decorations at Disney resorts. Last but not least, I am working on the seventh edition of my guide book to Walt Disney World with Kids.

I have been blessed to be able to report about my trials and tribulations, and I think 2014 will bring more of the same. Sometimes, more of the same is a good thing.

But I nearly forgot, there was one more thing I did in 2013 that was just unheard of: I learned how to drive a car. So going forward, may all who cross my path in the New Year be safe and may 2014 bring many more happy trails.

 

The Magic of RunDisney

The Magic of RunDisney

Running through Sleeping Beauty’s Castle is a special treat for all runners

Running a 10K is exhilarating, but running through a Disney theme park is an experience. When I ran my first runDisney race, a 5K earlier this year at Walt Disney World, I knew that I wanted more.  I signed up for double the distance, committing to the 10K race at the Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend in Anaheim and started planning my trip.

Things didn’t go as smoothly as anticipated, though; after fighting the heat wave in New York, I really did hit the wall when a sudden gallbladder removal literally stopped me in my tracks. I did not do too well on the limited dining plan at Lenox Hill Hospital, but I was determined to run again as soon as possible. Three weeks later, I packed my Merida costume, wig, and crown and flew to Los Angeles.

The Magic of RunDisney

Running through Disney’s California Adventure

A day before the race, I went to a runDisney MeetUp and got lots of tips from Jeff Galloway, the 1972 US Olympic Team runner and official runDisney training consultant. Tara Gidius, the Diet Diva, provided great nutritional guidance, and our group got to meet with ‘N Sync member Joey Fatone and Sean Astin of Hobbit fame.

The Magic of RunDisney

Runners meet Alice and Mad Hatter at Mile 5

The big day had finally come! My son and future daughter-in-law joined the many spectators who cheered on the runners along the way and promised they would be waiting for me at the finish line. The course winding through Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure was a lot of fun. Everywhere we were greeted by cast members, and even Alice, Mad Hatter, and the Rabbit came out for photo opportunities. In the parks, all the rides were running, creating a festive atmosphere. In the backlot areas we even got to get a sneak preview of a float soon to be used in the Halloween parade.

The Magic of RunDisney

Halloween Float sneak preview

At the second mile marker, I decided that it would be best to take off my Merida wig. It was close to 90F and all runners were grateful for the water distributed at several stations along the way. The next 4 miles flew by and it was wonderful being greeted by my family at the finish line. For a full report on the race and the preparations leading up to it, read my article for UndercoverTourist here.

The Magic of RunDisney

One happy princess just crossed the Finish Line

Right now I am back on my training schedule, preparing for the next adventure, the 10 miler Tower of Terror race at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in October. I am excited and I see a half marathon in my future. The runDisney races are extremely popular; while I have a bib for another 10K, I was unable to secure a half marathon bib for the Princess Half at Epcot in February 2014.

For the longer races, I will work on a more modern version of my Merida costume and the wig will have to be adapted too. In the meantime, I will be planing my next Disney vacation. In October I will be staying at Disney’s All Star Music Resort, and I bought park hopper tickets from UndercoverTourist. If you are looking for a great deal, fabulous service, free shipping, no hidden fees, and a generous refund policy, then search no farther. I have used the company many times over the past years, always to my entire satisfaction. As a matter of fact, we recommend them without hesitation in our guidebook. UndercoverTourist also sells tickets for Universal, SeaWorld, LegoLand, GatorLand, and various dinner shows.

About runDisney: In Orlando the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend presented by Cigna takes place in January, followed by the Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend in February, Expedition Everest Challenge in May, The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler in October, and the Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend in November. Disneyland hosts the Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend in January and the Disneyland Half Marathon in September during Labor Day Weekend. More than 125,000 running enthusiasts participate in runDisney events each year. For more information, visit www.runDisney.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

 

Run, Liliane, Run! Part II

Run Liliane Run - Running at PS 144

Running at PS 144

At first I alternated walking and jogging in the streets of my neighborhood. However, I quickly realized that hoping for a green light every time I came to the end of the block was not realistic; after scouting several schools in Forest Hills, I discovered the running track of P.S.144, where conveniently the terrain is marked: “1 mile = 5, 280 feet = 11 laps.”

Next, the European in me needed to convert that into kilometers and soon I was working that track for 33 laps, settling for the simplified conversion that 3 miles equals 5K. In reality, 5K is 3.10686 miles, but considering that I have to get to the school and back, which in itself is over a mile, I knew I had found my training nirvana.

Cold outside

Cold outside

Rain or shine, I showed up at the track at 6.30 every morning; in the evening I concentrated on creating the Merida costume. I love shopping in the fashion district and had a ball picking out the trimmings that would turn the simple forest green ballet outfit into a dress fit for a princess.  A wig was found in far away China, and running with the wig will be the endeavor for the coming week. Thankfully it is still dark at 6.30 a.m., and I am considering doing that trial run at 6 a.m. so that I’ll be back before sunrise.

Merida in the Making

Merida in the Making

On the weekend, I allow myself a later start, and I was looking forward to daylight and warmer jogging conditions. I was not a happy camper when the snow started falling last night and the temperature at the gas station display displayed a meager 4 degrees F, but nothing could have prepared me for the obvious.

Run Liliane Run - Locked Out

Locked Out

When I reached the school I found myself locked out and, of course, the track was nowhere to be seen, as it was covered in an immaculate layer of snow. What had I been thinking? The custodian was cleaning the sidewalk but was not dreaming of clearing the track.

Unwilling to give up, I thought of a place that might be cleared of the snow: The walkways winding through Woodhaven Cemetery were cleared of the white stuff, and it was a beautiful, peaceful 3-mile speed walk.

Run Liliane Run - At Woodhaven Cemetery

At Woodhaven Cemetery

Tomorrow I will give the Flushing Meadow Park a try, as the former site of the World’s Fair should have plenty of cleared walkways. The weatherman promised higher temperatures, and the cold spell seems to be coming to an end. Looking at current temperatures in Orlando, I am wondering how I could possibly be prepared for doing all this in 80 degrees F.

Run Liliane Run Part I