#RaganDisney #Recap

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Wow, what an amazing time I had in Florida! Beautiful, sunny weather and a fantastic conference all within the confines of Disney World.

If I’m being honest, I wasn’t all that excited to be going. I was going on my own and the prospect of being at Disney World and at a conference by myself wasn’t all that thrilling. However, the magic of Disney changed my mind from the moment I stepped off the shuttle at the hotel.

Since the conference was being held at Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club Resorts and Conference Center, I was able to book a free ride on Disney’s Magical Express (DME). I was warned prior to arrival that the DME was neither magical nor express. Ok so maybe it wasn’t express in the literal definition, but it didn’t take long to leave the airport for the 30 minute ride to Disney World. Plus, it was “free.” I put quotation marks because nothing is ever truly free…I’m sure it’s worked into the operating costs of Disney World somewhere :)

I was the first stop for the shuttle and the only person to get off. As soon as I stepped off the bus, the “magic” began. I was greeted by name by a member of staff who escorted me to the front desk to check in. After receiving all my paperwork and magic band, which serves as a room key, park entry, etc, I was informed I had a lagoon-view room. Lagoon-view? Do I get to see alligators and swamp? Instead I was greeted by this view upon arriving in my room and honestly couldn’t have been happier.

If this is what a lagoon is, I'll take a lagoon view any day!

If this is what a lagoon is, I’ll take a lagoon view any day!

I immediately made myself at home on my balcony for a bit. It was only about 53 degrees, but the sun made it feel plenty warm. Besides, it was below zero at home. Anything feels warm when you’re used to that.

By the way, how cute are the beds?!?

By the way, how cute are the beds?!?

I went over to the conference center to check in as I was registered for a pre-conference workshop on crisis communications. I managed to snag one of the provided lunches before settling in for the 2-hour session. Sanda Fathi of Affect did an outstanding job and made the workshop interactive for all attendees. It turned out I was going to dinner with her later that night.

Afterwards, I decided to skip the free closing workshop for a run around the lake. When I got back to my room to change, my bag had “magically” arrived from the airport. Ok, so maybe the DME really is magical. Anyway, they had a .8 mile running path that had you running past the Swan and Dolphin Resort, The Boardwalk, Epcot, and of course the Yacht and Beach Club. I missed a turn early on and ended up at Hollywood Studios briefly.

Did a 3-mile run, which included two loops and a missed turn that landed my at Hollywood Studios.

Did a 3-mile run, which included two loops and a missed turn that landed me at Hollywood Studios.

Tower of Terror!

Tower of Terror!

Heading back to find the running path.

Heading back to find the running path.

After my run, I headed back to my room to relax and get ready for dinner at Todd English’s Bluezoo at the Dolphin Hotel. It was a bit pricey, but worth every penny. I had swordfish with shrimp and clams on a bed of risotto, a Sprecher beer, and seasonal sorbet for dessert.

The conference started bright and early on Thursday morning. The opening keynote was by Thomas Smith of Disney Parks. It’s amazing what all Disney can do via social media. They have so many stories to tell, images to share, videos to make, and on and on. For the rest of the day I settled into the track focusing on internal communications and social media. I sat through sessions by people including Ashley Pettit of Southwest Airlines, Kirsten Hamstra of SAS and Gina Czark and Jessica Fillinger of New York Presbyterian Hospital. The other two keynote speakers were Scott Warfield of Nascar and Mike Forman, a NASA astronaut. I ended up getting to meet him and get a signed photo.

Ragan hosted an awesome cocktail party Thursday night. I ended up connecting with another Penn State alum and we had a blast before heading to Downtown Disney for some shopping.

I also got to meet Mickey and Minnie!

I also got to meet Mickey and Minnie!

...and Donald and Goofy!

…and Donald and Goofy!

On Friday, I went to the first of two final sessions before heading back to my room to get ready to head out. I really enjoyed the session by Lisa Arney who does internal communications for SAS. I have to do a lot of internal communications at my position, and I took away some great ideas. I then just took some time to walk around the resort and enjoy the sunshine before the DME picked me up.

Here are a few extra photos from the resort.

Waterfront side of the Yacht Club.

Waterfront side of the Yacht Club.

Our very own beach! It might have been manmade, but I didn't care :)

Our very own beach! It might have been manmade, but I didn’t care :)

Loved, loved, loved the views.

Loved, loved, loved the views.

Dawn on Friday...so pretty. Love the lights on the gazebo too!

Dawn on Friday…so pretty. Love the lights on the gazebo too!

Another nice perk was that I woke up to find Disney had checked me into my airline. I just had to drop my bag at the resort airline check-in desk at the hotel later that morning and it would be taken to the airport on its own. Once I took the DME to the airport, all I had to do was go through security and I’d be on my way home.

All-in-all, it was an outstanding trip. I learned a lot and met so many great people I feel I can reach out to in the future. And, while I didn’t make it to the parks, Disney proved magical nonetheless. I can’t wait to go back!

Pinspire Me Friday – Vol. 29

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Having a boyfriend getting a Ph.D in entomology has helped me learn a lot about insects the past few years, especially honey bees. He works entirely with honey bees in his research. Many of his classmates also work with honey bees, while others may study wasps, bumble bees, stink bugs, long horned beetles, and more. It all is truly fascinating work.

I found the infographic below on Pinterest and knew I had to feature it. It has a ton of great information, including tips on how to make a bee-friendly garden. If you have a garden of your own, maybe you can incorporate some of the ideas.

Pinspire Me Friday – Vol. 28

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Happy Friday, everyone! Another work week is almost in the books.

How are you feeling? Are you counting the hours until you can go home and forget about work and just enjoy your weekend? Or are you ready to tackle the day and any challenges it brings your way? Or…maybe both?

No matter how the day has gone so far or what you’re anticipating will come your way, put it behind you and let go of any negative emotions you maybe be feeling. Remember, you can handle whatever is coming your way. You just have to believe it.

Now, put on a smile and go out and have a great day!

#RaceRecap: Lewisburg Frosty 5k

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My first race of 2015 was a success! I’m so glad I made the trek out to Lewisburg for their 4th annual Frosty 5k. I tried to get some other runner friends to tag along but to no avail. It ended up being fun on my own.

I was very pleased with my time as I PR’d with a 23:40, about 40 seconds faster than my previous best. That time was also set in Lewisburg. I also placed second in my age group (21-30). About 125 people participated. I was the 6th overall female and the 15th overall finisher. I think my interval running on the treadmill is paying off!

Not too shabby!

Not too shabby!

This was the second 5k I’ve run in Lewisburg and it followed the same course as the previous but in reverse. It’s a mostly flat course, but run in reverse it places a hill, albeit a very small one, in the last 1/4 miles or so. The weather was chilly, in the mid-20s around race time, but not windy and there was no snow or rain.

Overall I thought the race was very well organized. Packet pick-up and on-site registration was in the Campus Theater on Market Street. The old movie theater is incredible. The restoration work gave it so much of its original charm. It was also nice to have a warm place to hang out before the race.

There was a bit of confusion at the start as the lead cyclist wasn’t sure about the first turn. After that got straightened out, the mayor counted us down and off we went. While the course was open to traffic, they were mostly side streets so there were minimal cars around and the volunteers did a nice job of keeping runners safe. Some of them even cheered us on, which was nice.

The finish line was stocked with bananas, trail mix, water, coffee, and a variety of wings. I hung out there for a bit, but decided to go back to the theater to keep warm and stretch out while we waited for the final results. After I got my medal I took a little bit to check out the ice sculptures on Market Street, which were part of the winter festival, before heading home.

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I followed up the race on Saturday with a long run on Sunday to keep up with marathon training. My friend Bill, who ran the Surf City Marathon last Sunday, was back in town. We got to 5 miles and he decided he’d just head back to the car, which would total 10 miles, as he was feeling the jet lag. I didn’t have my gps watch so I attempted to mentally map out 9 more miles. That can be tough as our brains tend to think we’ve always gone farther than we have!

The rest of my run went well, minus some snowy trail running that slowed me down for about a 1/2 mile before I got to pavement again. Thankfully the trail had tire tracks so I wasn’t creating my own. Once I got back to the car I went home and mapped my route and found I had run 13.5. Not 14, but I was happy with that considering.

I had grand plans for the afternoon before I picked Gabe up at the airport. However, snuggling with Frasier was about all I got done. After two days (and nights) of craziness, he had finally tuckered himself out sufficiently to snuggle on the couch. I didn’t want to disturb him so I decided to just relax.

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Question: How was your weekend? Have you run any races yet in 2015?

 

Pinspire Me Friday – Vol. 27

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Ok, ok…I’ve been slacking with the Pinspire Me Friday posts as of late. Sometimes life just gets in the way. I’m actually going to do my best to get these done ahead of time so I’m not scrambling on Friday. Sounds like a much better plan to me!

So here we go!

I found this infographic just the other day. It really resonated with me since I don’t sleep well unless I’m completely and utterly exhausted. It often feels completely out of my control. However, there are some tips below that I think might help me. Hopefully you’ll find some helpful info too!

Question: Do you have any tips that help you get a good night’s rest?

 

5 Things I’ve Learned About Running

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I’ve always been active. While I never really played sports (I studied dance for 19 years), I remember running the mile in gym class in elementary school for the fitness test. I still debate if what we ran was actually a mile, but too late now I guess. In high school we only had to take one semester of gym, which seems ridiculous looking back. I took it sophomore year and we ran the mile 3 or 4 times that semester. The goal was to improve throughout the course of the class.

Senior year, as a member of the National Honor Society, we hosted an annual 5k to raise money for a diabetes foundation. I not only helped plan it, but decided to run it too. It was my first organized race. Obviously our track team wasn’t participating since I won my age group :) I didn’t realize then that participating in that race would lead to many more over the next decade.

While I’ve taken breaks from running over the years, whether intentional or not, it’s come to be an integral part of my life. It’s taught me a lot about myself, helped me meet some great people, and so much more. I’ve also learned, through trial and error, a bit about running. Here are 5 things I’ve learned, although I’m sure there is so much more.

1. Determine what motivates you.

People run for all sorts of reasons. Some people are just naturally gifted at it. Some people run to lose weight or maintain a healthy lifestyle. Others run because they can or for those who can’t. It doesn’t matter what the reason is, just find something that motivates you. It may change over time, and that’s ok too.

2. Invest in good running shoes.

Running shoes are expensive, but the importance of getting fitted for a good running shoe can’t be measured. I’ve never met someone who could just walked into a Dick’s Sporting Goods, pull a shoe off the wall that they like and be good to go (unless of course that’s the shoe that actually fits them best). I’ve relied on Asics for the last six years and have been very happy with them. A friend of mine loves her Nikes, while another friend prefers Brooks. Whatever brand, whatever style, whatever color, just find what works best for you.

3. You don’t have to run races, but they can be fun (especially with friends).

Anna and I at her first race, the 2013 Annapolis Running Classic.

Anna and I at her first race, the 2013 Annapolis Running Classic.

Participating in races can be a lot of fun. It’s not for everyone, but sometimes you do one and catch the bug. It’s also a lot of fun with friends!

Races can be expensive, especially well known half and full marathons. While I try to do a few of those a year, I also enjoy running local 5ks and 10ks that benefit local organizations in my community. Entry fees for those range between $15-30 and it feels good to help out organizations offering services to folks in my community.

4. Consider cross training. 

Cross training at Ki'netik Fitness. Source: Ki'netik Fitness Facebook PAge

Cross training at Ki’netik Fitness. Source: Ki’netik Fitness Facebook Page

Cross training is really beneficial, not just to runners but any type of athlete. It can help strengthen other parts of the body important for running, like the core and upper body, as well as help with injury prevention. I like circuit training personally, but other people enjoy cycling, swimming, and other various activities.

5. Embrace the rest day.

When you look at a lot of training programs, there are usually built in rest days. Sometimes it can be hard to take a rest day. You don’t want to miss out on some extra training, or you’re not sure what to do with yourself since you’re used to being busy working out. Or, maybe it’s the day you look forward to most! Either way, embrace your day(s) off. Read a book, watch a movie, cook a special meal, spend time with a friend, relax. Whatever you do, embrace it whole heartedly.

Question: What have you learned from running? 

A Day in the Life

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Inspired by Lindsay over at The Lean Green Bean, I decided to join in the fun and participate in the “Day in the Life” link-up through Moms Little Running Buddy. I admit that my day probably isn’t as interesting as the days of other people, but hopefully it’s a solid peek into a typical day in my life. I’m also not actually a working mom, which is who her link-up is geared towards, since I don’t have kids. Unless of course you want to count my 6-month old kitten. For the sake of this, please do :)

6 a.m.

I wake up and feed Frasier. Sometimes he thinks 5 a.m. or even 2:30 a.m. are good times to wake me up. He’s been getting better about this, but every once in awhile I still feel a cold wet nose on my nose and whiskers tickling my face at some unreasonable hour. I’ve learned to ignore him rather than pet him and he’ll either settle down to rest or go off and play somewhere, which is hopefully not in the bedroom.

On the bright side, he no longer lets me hit “snooze.” Once he hears the alarm and sees the glow of the screen on my phone, that’s it. This means I’m up and getting ready.

7 a.m.

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We just got him a water fountain because he would only drink water from the faucet. It’s worked great so far!

 

After getting ready, I take care of any of Frasier’s needs (litter box, cleaning his bowl if he’s eaten all his breakfast, checking the water level in his drinking fountain) and then make breakfast. Sometimes I take the time to make something healthy, other times I grab cereal or toast. Lately I’ve been going for cereal. Then I settle down to watch The Today Show and give Frasier some play time.

7:45 a.m.

I try to head to work around this time. It’s about a 5 minute drive to campus and then just a short walk to my office from the commuter lot.

My office...still waiting for my work order to go through to get stuff hung on the walls.

My office…still waiting for my work order to go through to get stuff hung on the walls. I’ve been here since October. If I was any good at hanging pictures, I’d do it myself.

8 a.m. – 12 p.m.

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I’m usually working during this time. Sometimes I have a meeting, but Tuesday was a day where I could spend time working on a story and keeping on top of email.

12 – 1 p.m.

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Lunch time! Many times I go home, since it’s so close, to eat, play with Frasier and maybe clean up around the house if need be. Yesterday I decided to stay at work. I had a protein shake while planning out my schedule for the week.

1 – 5 p.m.

You guessed it! Time for more work. I usually stick to the 8-5 schedule. Right out of college I worked in sports and had a schedule that not only included the 8-5 workday, but also 20-30 extra hours at times. Now that I’m out of that, I try to make sure I keep work at work, unless there’s a special project or event requiring extra time.Yesterday I had two afternoon meetings, one for our new website design and another for an orientation video for new employees.

I had a special treat yesterday as my friend dropped off a bottle of wine as a birthday surprise!

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5 – 6:30 p.m.

Gym time! Sometimes I head to Ki’netik, but yesterday my schedule called for a 3-mile run and my strength workout at Anytime Fitness.

A shot of Anytime Fitness.

A shot of part of Anytime Fitness.

So it's only 85 lbs. Gotta start somewhere, right?

So it’s only 85 lbs. Gotta start somewhere, right?

6:30 – 8 p.m.

Regardless of what gym I go to, Gabe and I usually find ourselves home sometime between 6:30 and 7 p.m. We try to plan dinner in advance so we have ingredients on hand or know what we’ll need and can run by the grocery store, which is conveniently located between our place and the gym. Last night we made Indian food.

We usually put something from Netflix on while we’re eating. We’re currently working our way through Parenthood.

8 – 10 p.m.

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After cleaning up and playing with Frasier, we usually settle down to read, watch TV, or fall asleep (usually me). Frasier sometimes joins us on the couch to snuggle.

11 p.m.

We feed Frasier and head to bed.

So there you have it! Hopefully it wasn’t too dull of a day. Some days can definitely be more exciting than others :)