Friday Favorites

It’s been a while since I’ve done a “Friday Favorites” blog post. Here are a few things that I am loving lately.

  • Ready Player One One of the best books I have read in quite some time. Ready Player One came out several years ago actually, but I just finally got around to reading it. My friend, Andrew,​ told me about it and I can’t recommend it enough! The story, which is set in 2044, is basically about a young man who searches for E​aster eggs in a virtual reality game with tons of references to 1980’s pop culture. Steven Spielberg is actually directing the movie based on the book,​ coming out in 2018. I can’t wait!

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  • Nike Pegasus 34 For over 6 years now, I have been running almost exclusively in Nike Pegasus shoes. Every year, Nike releases a new update on the shoes and this year it is the Pegasus 34’s. I have to be honest; I wasn’t overly impressed with the 33’s. I typically end up with at least 2-3 pairs of each model during the year since I go through running shoes quite often. But this new model looks and feels pretty awesome so far. And I absolutely love the new color scheme on the pair I got this week. I can’t wait to take ​these​ out for a spin soon!

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  • Travel Goodie Bag As you may know, Rachel and I are headed out of the country in late August for 16 days ​for our 10​-​year ​anniversary ​t​rip. Our friend and travel agent, Linda Allen,​ has been helping us plan this trip since last August. Last weekend, we went over to her house for dinner and to finalize the ​last pieces of our trip. She ended up having a little goodie bag of gifts for us, which was totally unexpected. It included a few travel books, a Starbucks gift card, a RIFD wallet and of all things, a selfie stick. Now I’ll be honest, I’ve been hesitant​t to ever buy and/or use a selfie stick. It just always seemed a little weird to me. But after messing around with it, I have to say,​ I totally see how valuable this will be on our trip next month.
What has been exciting in your world?

Peachtree Road Race Recap

Last Tuesday, I ran the Peachtree Road Race (PRR) for the second consecutive year. This race holds a special place in the city of Atlanta as the world’s largest 10K. Rachel decided not to run this year, but I was joined by my good friend Meredith.

On the Sunday before the race, Rachel and I headed down to the expo at the Georgia World Congress Center. We ended up getting down there about an hour after the expo opened and it was quite busy. We were able to grab my race number quickly though. We made our way through the different vendors, stopping to check out a few things. After maybe an hour or so, we headed back to Marta and home.

Later that evening, we met up with our friends The Popes for dinner and dessert. We ended up trying out this Italian place by Northlake Mall in Atlanta. It was excellent. After dinner, we made our way over to this Thai ice cream place on Buford Hwy. called 8 Fahrenheit Ice Cream. I’ve been wanting to try this place for a while now. They do rolled ice cream and I had heard nothing but awesome things about it. And friends, it did not disappoint! The line was out the door, which I knew was a good sign. Two thumbs up from all of us, including Katie and Kevin’s daughter Kaylee!

Rachel and I ended up having to work a little on Monday (July 3rd), but we both got off a little early and caught a movie (Baby Driver) that afternoon. After the movie, we hung around the house and I rested up for the early morning wake up call.

One big advantage for me was that I had submitted a solid race time, which allowed me to get into Corral C. This was huge, as I was able to start and finish earlier than most of the other corrals. Fortunately, my friend Meredith was also in corral C, which allowed us to start together.

That morning, I made my way over to Brookhaven Marta Station to head down to the race start (which is technically only 1 stop down from Brookhaven). That’s when the fun started. Something was wrong with the southbound train and the trains were temporarily down. After waiting for a good 15-20 minutes, I decided to walk down to the race start. Fortunately, the race start was “only” about a 1.5 mile walk. But I definitely was not expecting to have to walk that far before my race.

Meredith was on her way down from Gwinnett County with her husband Chris. They ended up driving all the way down to the Lenox area (the race start), and Chris dropped Meredith off to walk to the corrals. Fortunately, we were able to connect (even with all of the runners) literally right before corral C started walking towards the starting line.

Now, my back and left knee have been giving me some issues recently, plus with the higher temps, I wasn’t sure what kind of race to expect. I decided to let Meredith dictate our pace, as long as I could keep up with her. Meredith is also running the Dopey Challenge in January, so we used this opportunity to see how we fare running together. We were both hoping to run a lot of the 4 races during Dopey together, but having never run together, it’s important to know how we would do.

The PRR route is mostly on Peachtree Street. The first 3+ miles are mostly level with a few up and downs, but nothing major. We ended up keeping a solid 9:30ish pace for the first 3 miles. One of the nice things about running with a friend you don’t see all the time is you end up having quite a bit to talk about. We were able to maintain a solid conversation for most of the race.

Once we got past mile 3, we got to the second half of the 10K and several major hills. Honestly, by the time we were at the halfway point, I was already sweating quite a bit. The humidity and heat were strong.

Meredith and I knew we would have to slow our pace down a little in order to finish strong. We ended up walking a couple of times just to catch our breath, especially after the hills. As we got a little past mile 5, Rachel texted me that she and Chris were waiting for us a little ways ahead. We were able to see them on 12th Street, with less than a mile to go.

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As we made the turn onto 10th Street and into the final stretch, we both increased our pace and crossed the finish line in just under 1:03. I have to say, I was quite pleased with our time, especially with the weather conditions. It was a hot one!

After we finished, I ran into my friend Jerry Carnes, who works for 11 Alive News. It’s always good to see him.

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From there we entered into Piedmont Park to pick up the infamous PPR finisher shirt and, of course, water!

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We found Chris and Rachel and snapped a few pictures before making our way to Chris and Meredith’s car. One of the best parts of this year’s PRR was not having to walk back to Marta, but instead getting a ride back to our cars at the Brookhaven Marta Station.

All in all, it was another successful Peachtree Road Race! There’s nothing quite like running with 60K people down Peachtree Street. Plus, it was wonderful to run with my friend Meredith. I think we both agreed it was good warm up for Dopey. Until next year…

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June Disney Trip Recap (Part Two)

Check out part one here!

The next morning (Saturday), I got up a little earlier than Rachel to get in a quick 3-4 mile run. I love running on the Disney properties and Coronado Springs is no exception. Coronado has a nice 1.2 mile loop that takes you around the inside of the resort. This made for some good people watching as well.

Once I finished up my run, Rachel was already getting out of the shower. So after I finished cleaning up, we made our way over to the Magic Kingdom for the day.

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Now with most of our Disney trips to Orlando, since we have annual passes, we can take it easy while we are in the parks. We ended up walking around for most of the day, riding a few rides and just taking in the overall experience of the Magic Kingdom.

Later that afternoon, we headed back over to our resort to rest for a little while. While the temperatures were never crazy hot, the crowds were quite high. It was nice to take a little break before heading over to Disney Springs for the evening.

Once we got over to Disney Springs, where we were meeting several of our friends for dinner, the rain storms decided to grace us again with their presence. And unfortunately, this made trying to meet up with our friends, and getting over to the restaurant, quite interesting to say the least. By the time we met up, we were all pretty soaked.

But even with the rain, we had a great time getting to see everyone for dinner. We were grateful they braved the storms to come over and see us. My only regret is we didn’t get a picture of us. After spending a few hours together, Rachel and I made our way back over to the resort for the evening. We would have walked around Disney Springs more, but the rain had not really let up. So we called it and early night.

The final morning, we packed up and grabbed some breakfast at one of the quick service places in Coronado Springs. We decided to head back over to the Animal Kingdom for another hour or so to see Pandora one last time. Fortunately, we had a FastPass for the river ride and were able to ride that one more time. After maybe an hour, we headed back to our car and began the journey back to Atlanta. While I would have loved to stay a little longer, I had an early Monday morning at work.

All in all, we had a great (and quick) weekend trip to Disney. We were both so impressed with the new Pandora Land at the Animal Kingdom. It is a must see for sure! I expect it will become part of our regular rotation when we are down there. Until next time, Disney…

June Disney Trip Recap (Part One)

Back in early June, Rachel and I made our way down to Orlando to visit Disney World and hit up the new Pandora – The World of Avatar, which opened in late May at the Animal Kingdom.

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We started our journey by leaving mid-afternoon on Thursday and made the 7-hour trek down to Orlando. Fortunately, our friends Ciara and Nick, who live in Orlando, let us crash with them for the first night so we didn’t have to pay for a hotel. They have just recently moved into a new place and it’s awesome!

On Friday morning, we headed over to Coronado Springs Resort, where we stayed during the rest of our trip. Luckily, they already had a room available, so we were able to drop our stuff in the room and grab the Disney bus to the Animal Kingdom.

We were both quite excited to see the new themed land of Pandora. And friends…it did not disappoint. It was simply fantastic. The details and theming rival just about anything I’ve ever seen Disney do. Honestly, Cars Land at California Adventure is about the only other Disney-themed land (that we’ve seen) that compares.

After stopping for several pictures, we made our way over to Pongu Pongu to enjoy a few Pandoran beverages. We both enjoyed the drinks. I, particularly, loved the one I got (Night Blossom). I actually ended up getting another Night Blossom later in the evening.

Then we walked over to the Windtraders store to look around at all of the different merchandise for sale. Once we had walked around for a while, we grabbed some lunch and got in line for the first of the 2 rides Pandora has to offer. We actually had a FastPass for one of the rides, but it wasn’t till mid-afternoon. So we waited in line for the first ride (Na’Vi River Journey), since we had time before our FastPass.

After a good 90-minute wait, we got on the Na’Vi River Journey ride. It was absolutely beautiful. The ride takes you through the rainforest of Pandora and is all lit up with amazing colors and theming. The only downside is that the ride is quite short. I probably wouldn’t wait nearly as long again, but since it was the main reason we were down at Disney, we figured it was worth it.

Once we got off the ride, we were able to walk over to our FastPass (Flight of Passage), which had a significantly longer wait time. We had heard great things about this ride, so we were both excited to finally experience it.

Without giving too much away, I will say, Flight of Passage might be the best ride I’ve ever done at Disney. It was, in a word, breathtaking! I can’t recommend it enough! Honestly, if the line wasn’t so crazy long, we would have gone back to ride it several more times. It was definitely worth it.

After that, we headed out of Pandora to walk around the rest of the Animal Kingdom. It had been quite a while since we had been in this particular park, so it was nice to see it all again.

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Around late afternoon, we decided we wanted to hit up our favorite pizza place (Via Napoli) in the Italy section of Epcot. And about the time we decided to head over to Epcot, the bottom opened up and absolutely poured down rain on us. To say we were soaked would be underselling it a little bit. But…we are both troupers and pushed through and made it to Epcot and Via Napoli for a wonderful dinner!

Once we had finished dinner, we knew we needed to go back to our room and change out of our damp clothes. Fortunately, the rain had basically stopped by this point, so we were able to get back to our resort and clean up.

To close our day, we went back over to the Animal Kingdom and Pandora so we could be there as the sun set and experience it at night. This proved to be 100% the best decision as Pandora at night is magical!

Pandora lights up like nothing I’ve ever seen before. We both were just so impressed with the atmosphere and theming. We got quite a few pictures to say the least.

After a while, we made our way back over to the resort and called it a night. It had been a long, but wonderful day at Disney!

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Stay tuned for the second half of our June Disney trip recap coming soon.

 

 

 

Catching Up With Allen

Hey friends! I’m back! Did you miss me? I feel like you probably did a little. And I get it. My blog/thoughts are what get you through the day. Well, I totally understand and I’m back to catch you up on all the exciting things going on in my life. Are you ready….

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In short…

Work, Disney trip, running, Vacation Bible School, multiple summer camps, family time, friend time, and did I mention work? That’s the short version. But in all seriousness, it’s been a busy few weeks. Fortunately, this gives me several new things to blog about, including our trip to Disney and the new Pandora (Avatar) Land at the Animal Kingdom. I know you are waiting on pins and needles, but good things come to those that wait.

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Stay tuned for all new and exciting posts coming soon. Until then, my friends, catch me on the socials… (FB, Insta, Twitters)

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Tinkerbell Half Marathon Weekend Part 2

Check out part one here!

Continuing with part 2 of the Tinkerbell Half Marathon Weekend…on Sunday morning we were up and heading to the race start at 4am. It was actually quite nice out. I believe it was around 57/58 degrees with a slight breeze as we were walking to the starting corrals. We ended up getting through security and into the race area pretty easily and found a bathroom near corral B (our starting corral).

We found several of our running friends and made our way into corral B to hang with them before the start. The race got started a few minutes after 5:30 and before long we were off!

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Our plan was to take it easy and enjoy the course, weather and overall experience. We both had run solid half marathon times just two weeks earlier at the Tear Drop Half Marathon.

Now even though we had run the Disneyland Half Marathon for the past 3 years, we had seen that the Tinkerbell course was quite different. We ended up spending the first 4+ miles in the parks. And while the WDW races only give you bits and pieces of running through the parks, the DL races give you much, more more.

 

Once we got out of the parks, the next 7 or so miles run you through a lot of the surrounding Anaheim area. It was flat and fast. Rachel and I found a nice groove/pace and knocked out these next miles.

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After getting past around mile 12, we found ourselves back in the DL resort area near Downtown Disney. We ended up crossing the finish line in under 2:28, which for taking it easy, is not bad at all.

We grabbed our Tinkerbell finisher medal and made our way over to the Coast 2 Coast (C2C) tent to grab two additional medals! We ended up with two C2C medals this year, since we “ran” the WDW Half Marathon in January and ran the Princess Half Marathon in February. Rachel was especially excited about the special Pink C2C medal for completing both the Princess and Tink in the same year!

We snapped a few pictures, grabbed water/Powerade/fuel and began the journey back over to the hotel. The only downside to these races is the walk back through security and Downtown Disney. It takes a good 20-25 minutes to walk back over to the hotels.

All in all, we had a great race and experience. Honestly, it was one of my favorite Disney races! The number of runners was a little smaller and the course/weather were excellent. I would consider doing it again in the future!

After we got showered/cleaned up, we made our way back over to the parks to celebrate with food/snacks/desserts/drinks for the next two days.

We ended up having dinner at the Blue Bayou on Sunday (race day), which was excellent! We had eaten there last year and loved it, so we definitely wanted to be sure we ate there again.

We also got super hooked up by our friend AJ with amazing seats for the Main Street Electrical Parade that night. We ended up watching the parade front and center on Main Street with basically private benches. It was awesome!

After the parade, we walked into one last store before calling it a night and who do we run into…but Mickey and Minnie!

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On Monday, we spent our last day hitting up a few remaining rides we hadn’t gotten around to yet. We ate lunch at Cafe Orleans and had Monte Cristos for lunch. They were absolutely amazing!

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We finished up the day by grabbing one last picture by the Partners statue, before making our way back over to the hotel to pack up before heading back to Atlanta the next day. It was a wonderful trip to the “Happiest Place on Earth!”

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Tinkerbell Half Marathon Weekend Part 1

Hello friends! If you’ve been following me on social media or the blog, you know Rachel and I went out to California/Disneyland a few weekends ago for the Tinkerbell Half Marathon Weekend. This was our 4th straight year running a race out on the west coast, but our first year running the Tinkerbell Half Marathon.

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We flew out mid-morning on Friday in order to get to California around noon PT. We wanted to be able to (hopefully) check in to our hotel, grab a quick lunch, and hit up the parks for a good half day. Fortunately, the hotel had a room available, so we were able to drop our stuff off, grab some lunch down the street, and make our way over to the Disneyland Resort!

Our plan was to take it easy the first couple of days, since we had a half marathon scheduled for Sunday morning. We didn’t want to overdo it too much. Plus, since we’ve been to the parks several times now, we knew we didn’t have to do everything. The bonus of this trip was the fact that the weather gods had decided to shine down absolutely perfect weather while we were there! I mean it was literally low 70’s during the day and high 50’s at night. We actually needed a light jacket/pullover most evenings.

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We started out at California Adventure, since it’s typically less crowded than Disneyland, and spent several hours there.

We ended up hanging out for a while before making our way over to the race expo to pick up our race numbers/shirts and check out the different vendors.

Once we finished with the expo, we headed over to the Storytellers Cafe at the Grand Californian Hotel for our dinner reservation. It was sooo good!

After dinner, we walked around the parks a little longer before finally calling it a night. We were both exhausted since our bodies/brains were still on eastern time.

Our plan for Saturday was to hang out at the parks and hit up the #WeRunSocial meet-up in the afternoon.

We spent time at both of the parks before heading over to the WRS meet-up, where we got to see so many of our running friends that we’ve made through social media.

We ended up making a plan to meet up with AJ, Ivie, and Kara later to eat dinner in California Adventure. AJ (who works in Guest Relations at Disneyland), his fiancee Ivie, and Kara (who lives in Michigan) have become great friends. I was so grateful for some extra time with them. Plus, AJ is honestly my brother from another mother. I love this guy!

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After dinner and walking around for a bit, Rachel and I called it an early night since we had a very early wake up call the next morning. We got our race stuff organized and ready to go before heading on to sleep. The Tinkerbell Half Marathon was calling!

Stay tuned for part 2 of the race weekend recap!