2016 Running Year In Review

2016 was easily my best year of running since I started running over 10 years ago. This year consisted of multiple full and half marathons as well as 3 different challenges. As of this morning I crossed 1246 miles for the year, and I’m hoping to get in one more run tomorrow to close out 2016.

Here are my running highlights from 2016…

  • Dopey Challenge I started out the year in January completing the Dopey Challenge at the Walt Disney World Resort. The Dopey Challenge consists of running a 5K on Thursday, 10K on Friday, Half Marathon on Saturday and Full Marathon on Sunday, for a total of 48.6 miles. It was a tough but highly rewarding experience for me. And to top it off, Rachel ran her very first marathon with me that Sunday.


  • Suwanee Gateway Half Marathon One of my goals for 2016 was to run more local races in the Atlanta area. My first local race was in Suwanee, where I ran the Suwanee Gateway Half Marathon in late January. This was a very cold and hilly race, but I had one of my better half times of the year.


  • Publix Half Marathon In March I ran the Publix Half Marathon in Atlanta. I absolutely loved this course. It went through so many great parts of Atlanta and finished down at Centennial Olympic Park. Rachel and I are running this together in 2017.


  • Dark Side Half Marathon In April I took part in the inaugural Dark Side Half Marathon back at Walt Disney World. We stayed on property at the Wilderness Lodge during the race weekend. This was a great course and great weather for mid-April in Florida.

Awesome medal!

  • Andrea Barber 4.0 Mile (virtual) Birthday Run Rachel and I took part in the Andrea Barber 4 mile virtual birthday run on July 3rd. Andrea (aka Kimmy Gibbler from Full House) is a big runner and a part of the #werunsocial crew. We were happy to run and also support Girls on the Run!


  • Peachtree Road Race On July 4th Rachel and I took part in the Peachtree Road Race in Atlanta, which is the largest 10K in the world. It was quite warm that morning as we journeyed from Lenox Mall over to Piedmont Park via Peachtree Road. I was happy to have the wife with me for this 10K.

Peachtree Road Race 10K

  • Disneyland Half Marathon For the 3rd straight year, Rachel and I participated in the Disneyland Half Marathon in Anaheim, California over the Labor Day weekend. The wife decided we should wear costumes so we rocked Wall-E and Eve for the race. We also completed the Coast to Coast Challenge, which is running at least a half marathon at both Walt Disney World and Disneyland in the same calendar year.


  • Atlanta Craft Classic Half Marathon The weekend after the Disneyland Half Marathon, I completed the Atlanta Craft Classic Half Marathon, which started in Grant Park. I ran this race as a part of being a BibRave Pro for 2016. This was the first year of this race, and I thought it was a great course. But definitely very warm for early September in Atlanta.


  • Chicago Marathon My favorite race of 2016 was probably the Chicago Marathon in early October. The course, weather and atmosphere were just about perfect. I loved being a part of this great race!


  • Atlanta 10 Miler I ran the Atlanta 10 Miler in late October, which started and ended in Atlantic Station. I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed this course. But is definitely quite hilly. I hope to run it again in the future.


  • Atlanta Thanksgiving Half Marathon My last race of 2016 was the Thanksgiving Half Marathon, which started and ended at Turner Field in Atlanta. By completing this race, I knocked out my 3rd running challenge of 2016, which was the Triple Peach Challenge. The Triple Peach consists of running the Peachtree Road Race, Atlanta 10 Miler and Thanksgiving Half Marathon in the same calendar year.

Thanksgiving Half Marathon

All in all, I completed 7 half marathons, 2 full marathons and 3 different race challenges (Triple Peach, Dopey and Coast to Coast). Plus, I averaged over 100 miles per month and served as a running ambassador for BibRave.


All the 2016 medals except for the Chicago Medal (which is hanging in my office).

It has been a great running year for me! I’m looking forward to a great year in 2017. We already have several races on the calendar and looking to add more.

Best of List: Additional Top Movies of 2016

Last week I spent several blog posts talking about some of my favorite movies, TV shows and moments of 2016. During the past week, since Rachel and I are off for the holidays, we’ve been able to watch several new movies. And 5 of these movies have risen to the top of my movie list for 2016. So…in addition to the previous movies I listed before, here are 5 other movies that are on my top list of 2016.

Arrival I had been hearing great things about this sci-fi film from several different friends. Plus, I love Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner. It was excellent. Definitely one of those movies that makes you think about what you would do after it ends.

Everybody Wants Some!! I love the director of this movie. He directed one of my all-time favorite movies, Dazed and Confused, back in the 90’s. This movie had a similar feel to Dazed and Confused. It was funny and had a great classic rock soundtrack.

La La Land I loved it. I knew I would and I totally did. From the cast to the original songs to the cinematography, it was almost perfect. I can’t recommend this movie enough.

Manchester By The Sea This movie has a ton of buzz for acting, especially for Casey Affleck. And I totally get it. He is absolutely captivating in this film. Some of the best acting I’ve seen in 2016. It’s definitely not a “feel good” movie. But worth seeing for sure.

Sing Street Amazing. Loved everything about this movie. Set in the 1980’s in Ireland. A group of teenagers start a band. The songs were so good. I have listened to several of the songs multiple times since finishing the movie. Two huge thumbs up!

So there you have it. 5 additional movies to add to your watch list. Stay tuned for my running recap of 2016, coming soon!


Best of List: Top Moments of 2016

Finishing up my “Best of List” with my personal top moments of 2016. Quite a few of these will include running and Disney because I love both of those things.

This list is in order chronologically, not by importance.

  1. Running the “Dopey Challenge”  in January. (Dopey Challenge is a 5K on Thursday, 10K on Friday, Half Marathon on Saturday and Full Marathon on Sunday for a total of 48.6 miles.)
  2. Visiting Walt Disney World and Universal Studios in early March with our friend Janell.
  3. Running the inaugural Dark Side Half Marathon at the Walt Disney World Resort in late April and staying at the Wilderness Lodge.
  4. Becoming a BibRave Pro in early May, which allowed me to test different running products and meet some great people!
  5. Going back to Walt Disney World for the 3rd straight month to celebrate Rachel’s birthday and staying at Port Orleans: Riverside.
  6. Spending Memorial Day weekend in Tennessee with Rachel’s family at Standing Rock Creek for their family reunion.
  7. Going to Hilton Head Island, South Carolina in June for a couple of days with Rachel’s family.
  8. Running the Peachtree Road Race (the world’s largest 10K) with Rachel on the 4th of July.
  9. Spending a week over Labor Day at the Disneyland resort while running the Disneyland Half Marathon. This was our 3rd straight “coast to coast” year (running at least a half marathon in Florida and California in the same calendar year).
  10. My job changed at the church I’ve been working at for the past 2 years. I am now the Director of Activities and Students at St. James UMC in Atlanta.
  11. Renewing our season passes at WDW in late September for another magical year.
  12. Running in the Chicago Marathon in October.
  13. Running in the Atlanta 10 Miler (October) and Thanksgiving Half (November) to complete the Triple Peach (which includes the Peachtree Road Race in July).
  14. Celebrating my birthday weekend at Walt Disney World with great friends. This time we stayed at Port Orleans: French Quarter.
  15. Spending last weekend in Alabama with my family celebrating Christmas a week early. This included a few other surprises that I won’t mention here!

Below is a small sample of my top moments from the year 2016.

Best of List: Top TV Show of 2016

Yesterday I started my “Best of 2016” lists with “Top Movies of 2016.” I always enjoy taking a look back at the last 12 months in regards to the best personal and pop culture moments in my life

Today I wanted to take a look at my favorite TV shows from the year 2016. Rachel and I love watching good TV shows. We spend a lot of our evenings watching TV together. It’s one of our favorite things to do most nights.

I have 12 different shows on the list this year! Below is the list of shows in no specific order. Enjoy!

  • Game of Thrones Maybe my favorite show on TV right now. And this latest season did not disappoint. Six seasons in and still consistently operating at the highest level.
  • Veep I’ll be honest, I didn’t love this show at first. Rachel was completely sold on it from the first season, but it took me a little longer to come around. Now I think it’s definitely one of the funniest shows on TV.
  • The Night Of This HBO mini-series had me hooked from episode one. It was dark, intense and very well acted.
  • Westworld I absolutely loved the first season of this new show on HBO. The cast is amazing and the storyline is fantastic. Two big thumbs up!
  • Silicon Valley You maybe be noticing a pattern here. The first 5 shows are all on HBO. I’ve said it before: HBO is responsible for some of the best TV shows of all time. Silicon Valley is seriously one of the funniest shows on TV. I can’t wait for season 4!
  • Mr. Robot While season 2 was not as strong as season 1, Mr. Robot is still one of the smartest shows on TV. Plus, I think Rami Malek (the lead character) might be the best actor on a TV show right now.
  • Better Call Saul As you may know, Breaking Bad was/is my favorite show of all time. I am loving the prequel/spinoff Better Call Saul. Season 2 ended in April, so I’m definitely ready for the next season.
  • House of Cards After a weaker season 3, House of Cards brought it right back in season 4! Frank and Claire Underwood are the most intriguing couple on TV.
  • Atlanta This show is on most critics’ top lists of 2016, and I definitely agree. Donald Glover has created one of the more unique and eccentric shows on TV.
  • Last Man on Earth This may be my favorite comedy on TV right now. Will Forte and Kristen Schaal are amazing! Plus, the rest of the cast is fantastic!
  • Crazy Ex-Girlfriend I blame Rachel for this one. She binge-watched season 1 on Netflix a few months ago and then I found myself wondering what the fuss was all about. And I got hooked in. I find myself thinking that I’m not sure if I actually like it, but I’ve watched every episode so far. It’s definitely one of the more original shows on TV, with typically at least 2 musical numbers in every episode.
  • Stranger Things How good was Stranger Things?! Everyone I talked to who watched this show on Netflix felt the same way. I loved it! It was a wonderful throwback to the 80’s with a touch of E.T., Goonies, Close Encounters, etc…

This is my list. There are several shows that were close to making the cut and several shows that I haven’t seen yet, but have heard great things about. What were your favorite TV shows of 2016?

Best of List: Top Movies of 2016

I love a good “Best Of…” list. So for the next several blog posts, I will be sharing some of my favorite things of 2016. Today’s post will feature my favorite movies of 2016. It’s an interesting list because Rachel and I used to be big moviegoers. We would go 2-3 times a month. However, over the past few years, we don’t get out to the movies as much. With the high ticket prices and the fact that you can stream movies so quickly after they are in the theaters, we end up limiting which movies we see to the ones we really want to see sooner rather than later.

All that to say, I am behind on quite a few films that I was hoping to catch this year. But I still saw some excellent films this year. In no particular order, here we go…

  • Zootopia I’ll start with a Disney animated classic because, as you know, we love Disney! Zootopia was smart, funny and incredibly well done. We’ve already watched it several more times this year.
  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them I love Harry Potter. The movies, books, theme parks, you name it. I was super pumped when they announced they would be doing a series of movies in the same universe. And this movie did not disappoint. I can’t wait for the next one!
  • 10 Cloverfield Lane I thought this movie was seriously underrated. I ended up renting it this summer and I was on the edge of my seat. I love a good movie with a twist; plus, John Goodman was fantastic, as well as the rest of the small cast.
  • Hail, Caesar! Another movie that I thought was underrated. The Coen Brothers are on my top 5 list of directors. I will basically see anything they put out and they almost never disappoint.
  • Rogue One: A Star Wars Story I loved this movie. I saw it last Thursday night and walked away super impressed. It’s a war movie and so much more. Highly recommend for any Star Wars fan!
  • Captain America: Civil War Honestly, at this point, my favorite Marvel movies are the Captain America movies. I’ve loved all 3 of them and this one might be my favorite. With so much action, top notch visual effects and a solid story line, I was completely entertained.
  • Finding Dory I’ll close this list with a Pixar movie. Pixar is one of the companies I admire the most. They consistently put out quality films each year, and Finding Dory is no exception. Fun fact…Finding Nemo was the first movie Rachel and I saw together!

Several movies that I haven’t seen yet, but hope to soon:

  • Everybody Wants Some
  • Sing Street
  • La La Land
  • Passengers
  • Arrival
  • Manchester By The Sea
  • The Lobster

What are some of your favorite movies from 2016?

WDW Birthday Weekend Trip (Part Two)

Continuing with part two of my birthday trip to the Walt Disney World Resort a few weekends ago…read part one here!

On Saturday (my actual birthday), Rachel agreed to go for a short run with me around the Port Orleans resort. We ended up running through Riverside and the French Quarter for close to 3 miles. It was a great birthday present to have her with me, even for a short run.

After getting cleaned up, we made our way over to the Magic Kingdom. We were excited because all of our friends who live down that way came over for the day. Chris & Meredith and their sweet daughter Caroline (who was dressed as Tinkerbell!), Nick & Ciara and Ellis & Colleen all showed up. I love these people!



The weather was absolutely perfect and while the crowds were quite strong, we had a great time walking around and catching up. Since all of us are annual passholders or cast members, none of us felt the pressure to ride all the rides or see everything. That was a huge bonus, since the wait times for everything were crazy long. I think I ended up riding 2 total rides the whole day! 

After spending several hours at the Magic Kingdom, we all headed to our cars to go over to Disney Springs for dinner and dessert (we rode over with Chris and Meredith).

We ended up getting dinner at this new pizza place called Blaze Pizza. It was sooooo good. 2 thumbs up! And the best part was, we were able to snag a table large enough for all of us, even with the crowds. Disney Springs is much more manageable now that they’ve added new stores and restaurants.

After dinner, we walked around Disney Springs, stopping into a few stores before grabbing dessert at Ghirardelli’s. My milkshake was the best birthday dessert I could have asked for.

By that point, Chris & Meredith (and Caroline of course) took off, so the rest of us walked over to this area Disney had set up as a Christmas Tree Trail. It had about a dozen different trees decorated around popular Disney movies. Every few minutes they would make it “snow” with fake snow. It was pretty fun watching all of the kids getting excited every time it snowed. 

Finally, we called it a night, since we needed to be on the road pretty early the next morning. I had to work Sunday night with Youth Ministry stuff. We said our goodbyes and made our way to the boat that goes between Port Orleans and Disney Springs.

While it was a super quick trip, it was a great weekend celebrating with great friends and great food. We are looking forward to heading back down for almost a week in January for the WDW Marathon Weekend, where I will be running my 5th annual Half Marathon in January!

WDW Birthday Weekend Trip (Part One)

A few weekends ago (December 2-4), we jetted down to the Walt Disney World Resort for my birthday weekend. While it was a quick trip, we had a great time connecting with friends and celebrating at the “happiest place on earth.” 

We left Thursday afternoon to drive down to High Springs, Florida, where we stayed with our friends The Barnards for the night. They are always so gracious to host us whenever we don’t want to drive the whole way to Orlando. Plus, they ended up grilling out fajitas for us and they were sooooo good.

The next morning, we got off bright and early so we could be in a park before lunch. We hit up Universal (Harry Potter World) for a few hours once we got into town. We love both sections of Harry Potter and, as always, it did not disappoint.

After lunch, we headed over to Epcot for the rest of the afternoon. We walked around mostly, hitting up the World Showcase before riding Soarin’ Around the World. 

After Epcot, we made our way to our resort for the weekend, which was Port Orleans: French Quarter. We were excited to stay on this side of Port Orleans after staying at Riverside back in May. 

We didn’t have much time to waste as we had a dinner reservation at Whispering Canyon Café in the Wilderness Lodge. Dinner was excellent as always! Once dinner was over, we decided to spend some time at a few different resorts for the evening, just taking in the Christmas decorations. We started by walking around the Wilderness Lodge.

Then we made our way over to the Contemporary Resort for a little while. There was so much to see at the Contemporary, from the gingerbread house to the giant Christmas tree out front.

Later, we jumped on the monorail to head over to the Grand Floridian. And it looked amazing! Definitely the best Christmas decorations for any of the resorts I had seen so far. We loved walking around seeing everything. They had the best gingerbread house for sure. It was huge! Plus, we got some great photos!

By 9:30, we were starting to drag a little. It had been a long day with a lot of walking. We headed back to the resort and called it an early night. We knew tomorrow would be a long day as well at the Magic Kingdom/Disney Springs for my actual birthday. Until then…

Friday Favorites

Hello friends! Christmas Season is upon us and goodness, the weather has turned flat out cold in Atlanta. My 9 mile run this morning started with a wind chill of 25 degrees. This southern boy was cold. Anyway…welcome to another edition of Friday Favorites. Here are some things in the world of Allen that I think are awesome.

  • Disney Birthday Trip Last weekend, Rachel and I spent about 48 hours at Disney for a very quick birthday trip. It was a wonderful weekend with beautiful weather and great friends. While I was sad the trip wasn’t longer, I am looking forward to going back next month for the WDW Marathon weekend, when we will spend almost a full week down in Orlando. Next week, I’ll blog more with details and pictures of our trip. But here are a few of my favorites…
  • Birthday Gifts So while the Disney trip was the main birthday present for me, Rachel ended up getting me a couple of other little goodies. She bought me this awesome shirt that says “I’d Rather Be Running.” It’s awesome!


She also bought me this candle from Anthology Candles called “Wilderness Lodge,” which smells just like my favorite Disney resort.


Finally, Rachel’s parents gave me a gift card to Disney, which is always appreciated. I picked up a few things on our trip, including a new Disney golf polo. It helps to have a friend who is a Disney employee and can get 40% off during the holidays. Big time score!


  • Christmas Season Last, but not least, my favorite thing right now is the Christmas season. I love this time of year. From the decorations, music and movies to all the sweets, it’s the most wonderful time of the year. And, of course, the biggest reason of the season, to celebrate the birth of Christ. I am very much looking forward to celebrating the holidays with family and friends over the next few weeks. Merry Christmas everyone!




Atlanta Thanksgiving Half Marathon Recap

On Thanksgiving Day, I ran the Thanksgiving Half Marathon in Atlanta, otherwise known as the Turkey Trot. The race started and ended at Turner Field. Part of the excitement of this race was completing the Triple Peach challenge with the Atlanta Track Club, which consists of completing the AJC Peachtree Road Race on the Fourth of July and the Atlanta 10 Miler in October.

I started the day early on Thanksgiving morning by heading down to Turner Field. Runners were instructed to arrive early, as the traffic was expected to be heavy that morning. So while the race didn’t start until 7:30, I decided to arrive around 6:15, and planned to sit in the car and wait if needed. I ended up arriving with plenty of time to spare and was able to sit in the car and relax and mentally prepare for the hilly race ahead.

I had no time goal in mind, as this half was my seventh half marathon of 2016. Because of the hills, my goal was simply to finish and enjoy the race! Not to mention being able to celebrate Thanksgiving later that day with the wife’s family and eating lots of food.

One of the nice things about running in the Triple Peach was being able to self-seed, so I decided to start in corral B.

Just a few minutes after the 7:30 start time, I was off! Having never run a Thanksgiving half, I wasn’t sure what to expect, crowd wise, but was pleasantly surprised at the solid number of spectators on the course.

The race takes you through different parts of the city, mostly through Midtown and Downtown, through Atlantic Station, Piedmont Park, and past the Capitol Building. The first half of the race wasn’t as hilly as I was expecting, but the second half made up for it! Fortunately, I eat hills for breakfast! At one stretch, around mile 10, there was a good half mile incline that I flew up and past several people.

One of my favorite parts of the race was coming up on the state capitol, which was toward the end of the race.


I crossed the finish line, completing the race with a pace at around 10:30, which I felt really good about, especially because of the many hills. The weather was more humid than I was expecting, so I felt good about that aspect, too.

Overall, it was a great race! There were close to 10,000 runners between the 5k and the half. The medal and pullover I received were awesome, and because I completed the Triple Peach, I received another medal and special long-sleeved shirt.


Ran into an old college friend at the finish line.


While I don’t know if I’ll do this race again (by myself, at least), I’d be interested in doing it again with either Rachel or another family member or friend. One of my biggest running goals for 2016 was to run more local races, and the Atlanta Half Marathon was my sixth Atlanta race of the year. I look forward to more races in Atlanta in 2017!

Birthday Weekend

Happy Thursday everyone!

Rachel and I are en route to our happy place for the weekend. We will be spending the next 3 days at Disney for my birthday, which is this Saturday. We will be staying on property at Port Orleans: French Quarter. (And hopefully eating beignets!)

Plus, several of our friends who live in or near Orlando will be coming over on Saturday to celebrate with us. We plan on hitting up the parks and eating a ton of food!

Looking forward to sharing more about our trip when we get back!