Friday Favorites

Been a while since I’ve done a Friday Favorites…so without further ado…here are a few things that I am excited about in my world.

  • Osprey Nebula Backpack I’m a huge fan of the Osprey brand. I’ve had a Osprey backpack for quite a few years now, plus I’ve been using their running hydration belt during my longer runs, and their quality is off the charts. So when it was time to get a new daily backpack, the only question was which Osprey backpack I would get. I ended up settling on the Osprey Nebula and I love it. I can’t wait to bring this piece into my everyday life.

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  • Nike Epic React Flyknit I’ve been wearing Nike shoes for most of my running journey. I’ve dabbled with some other brands, but find myself always going back to Nike. So when Nike started promoting a new shoe that even after logging 300+ miles, it will feel like new, I knew I had to give it a try. I ended up scoring a free pair of these shoes and have already taken them out for a few test runs. I’m loving the look and especially the feel of them. The foam cushioning is so lightweight, but feels durable and soft at the same time (if that makes sense). I have a feeling these are going to be some of my favorite running shoes ever.

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  • Dopey Finisher Jacket After the runDisney marathon weekend, Rachel and I had the opportunity to order finisher jackets for our respective races. I ended up ordering the Dopey Finisher Jacket, and after almost two months, it finally arrived! And…I love it! Honesty, I was worried about ordering it when I hadn’t seen it in person, but it’s the perfect size and fit. Can’t wait to show this off!

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  • Dopey Race Pins One of the great things about having friends who are Disney Cast Members is getting to visit the Cast Connection store when we are down there. The Cast Connection is a store for cast members and their family/friends (as long as they are with the cast member) to buy Disney parks merchandise from previous seasons and races at a crazy markdown. I ended up scoring a full set of the 2018 Marathon Weekend race pins at like 80% off the normal price. Very happy to have these souvenirs from the Dopey Challenge!

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  • Basketball Season Ending Finally, my last Friday Favorite is….my schedule returning to normal! As I’ve mentioned before, one of the big things we do in my gym is a basketball league. Basketball starts in late October with practices and ends this coming Monday night with playoff games. It’s been a wonderful 4+ months, but I’m super ready to get my weekends back.

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Checking In With Allen

So believe it or not…I’m still here! As we hit the middle of February, it’s time for a quick check in on everything going on in my world.

  • Basketball Season One of my favorite and busiest seasons is during January and February with our Youth Basketball league. We run basketball games all day every Saturday (except this coming weekend) for these two months. It’s a great outreach to the community, but takes a lot of work and time. We’ve been fortunate to have over 160 kids participate this season. We wrap up everything the weekend of March 3.

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  • Disney Trip Since we don’t have basketball games this weekend (President’s Day), Rachel and I are headed down for a quick weekend trip to Disney. We will leave on Thursday morning and come back Sunday. We are staying on property at the Pop Century Resort for the first two nights and with our friends on Saturday night. The weather actually looks to be quite warm. We are looking forward to having a few days in our happy place!

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  • Running Journey After finishing the Dopey Challenge back in early January, it’s been nice to have a few months just to run with no races or goals in mind. I continue to get my mileage and longer runs at a respectable distance, so I’m able to run a half marathon at any time. But it’s nice to just run for the sake of running. Rachel and I are looking to add a few races to our calendar in the next few months. Stay tuned!
  • Taxes Last weekend, I finished our 2017 taxes and we are actually getting back a pretty nice refund this year! After owing money to the federal government last year, it was nice to see a positive number. Vacation fund will see a nice bump!

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  • New Nephew (Coming Soon) Another super exciting piece of news, Rachel’s brother and sister-in-law are expecting their first kid! We just found out it’s going to be a little boy. We are excited to become an aunt/uncle again and this time on Rachel’s side of the family!
  • Fractured Elbow And finally, just a quick update on my fractured left elbow…it’s doing much better. After several weeks of physical therapy, I have seen significant improvement, especially with my range of motion, which has helped my guitar playing.

All in all, it’s been a busy, but good start to 2018. How has your year been going so far?

2018 WDW Marathon Weekend: Post Dopey Days

Hello friends! Welcome to my fifth and final recap of the 2018 WDW Marathon Weekend. Check out parts one, two, three and four here,  here and here and here. As you may know, I participated in my second Dopey Challenge, which includes running a 5K on Thursday, 10K on Friday, half marathon on Saturday and full marathon on Sunday for a total of 48.6 miles. Without further ado…here is my last last recap post…Post Dopey Days.

After running for 4 straight (and very early) mornings, I was very happy to have 2 more days to hang at the parks with Rachel and friends.

On Monday, the plan was to hit up Epcot for the day. We had several things on the agenda for Monday, including lunch at the Biergarten Restaurant in the Germany pavilion of the World Showcase with our friends Ivie and AJ and grabbing dinner with our friends Justin and Devin. Plus, the College Football National Championship was that night and Alabama was back again for the 3rd straight year!

Once we got to Epcot and walked around for a little bit, we caught up with AJ and Ivie and their crew. They had decided to Drink/Eat around the World Showcase, including our lunch stop at the Biergarten Restaurant. We were happy to walk around and explore all the different countries.

By the time we got to our lunch reservation, I was definitely hungry. Lunch was a buffet, with a lot of different meats and sausages. Those of you who know me well, know that I’m quite picky, but I actually tried a lot of different things and it was all pretty good! The best part of the meal was the environment, including the musical show every 45 minutes. We had a great time for sure!

After lunch, we walked around some more before splitting off from the group to head over to the Norway pavilion to see our friend Hollyn. Hollyn was one of my former students who is now living in Orlando and working at Disney. She is actually now playing Elsa in Norway at Epcot! I am so proud of her! It was great to see her again even for just a few minutes.

After meeting Queen Elsa, we met back up with our group for a few more hours before heading out to meet up with Justin and Devin back over at the Wilderness Lodge for dinner. We ended up eating at the new dining location, Geyser Point Bar & Grill, which is outside by the water. It was excellent! We also were able to catch the first half of the National Championship game before heading back to the condo to watch the rest of the game. Needless to say…I was quite pleased with the outcome!

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On Tuesday, we headed over to the Magic Kingdom for our last full day in Orlando. One of my goals for the day was to get some good pictures with the castle and all of my Dopey medals. I was able to get some great pictures throughout the day! Disney PhotoPass is the best!

We spent most of the day in the Magic Kingdom before heading back over to Epcot for our dinner reservation at Le Cellier Steakhouse in the Canada pavilion of the World Showcase. Rachel and I were super excited to eat there as we had heard great things about it. The atmosphere was awesome and the food was pretty good too!

After dinner, we walked around for another hour or so, before calling it at day. After 6 straight days, we were ready to get back to the condo to pack up and get a good night’s sleep, before heading back to Atlanta bright and early the next morning.

All in all, it was a great couple of days after the race weekend just being at Disney and hanging with great friends. Dopey Challenge #2 (and more than likely my last Dopey Challenge) was a huge success!

2018 WDW Marathon Weekend: Full Marathon Recap

Hello friends! Welcome to my fourth recap of the 2018 WDW Marathon Weekend. Check out parts one, two and three here,  here and here. As you may know, I participated in my second Dopey Challenge, which includes running a 5K on Thursday, 10K on Friday, half marathon on Saturday and full marathon on Sunday for a total of 48.6 miles. Without further ado…here is my Full Marathon Recap.

After three early mornings/races…I was finally at the big one. Fortunately, the weather was going to be absolutely perfect with cooler temperatures, but nothing like the first few days.

My plan for the race was to take it easy for the first half and then see what I had left in the tank. I knew I needed to be smart as I had already run 22 miles over the first 3 days and my left elbow was still technically on the mend. 

As the race got started, I found a nice groove and began the journey to 26.2 miles. As I got to miles 3-5, I found my friends AJ, Ivie, Dani and Jen. I ended up running with them for a little bit.

Once I got to Magic Kingdom, I stopped for a few pictures (and the bathroom) before continuing onward. At this point, I was feeling really good and enjoying the course and crowd support.

As I got to the Animal Kingdom, I knew I was getting to the halfway point and I was very pleased with my overall race so far. I knew I needed to stay smart and not push myself too much. I even found myself stopping a few times to take pictures with characters and random spectators.

As I got to mile 18, I knew my least favorite part of the race was near…ESPN World Wide of Sports.

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This part of the course is most Disney marathon runners’ dreaded spot. I think it’s because the next 3 miles are all in the ESPN area and it feels like you aren’t really going anywhere. Plus, miles 18-20 are typically around the time a runner hits the dreaded “runner’s wall.” I was definitely starting to feel it for sure.

As I finally got through the ESPN area, I felt like I could see a light at the end of a tunnel. And once I got Hollywood Studios, I knew I was going to make it! If I had to walk the rest of the way…I was going to cross that finish line!

The next 3 miles felt like a blur to me. One foot in front of the other. And once I crossed into Epcot, I knew I had roughly a mile to go. As I ran around the World Showcase, stopping for a few more characters, I texted Rachel to find out where she was going to be. 

I found her (and Nick who was so gracious to drive her) right near Spaceship Earth. I was so happy to see both of them and more importantly, I knew I was less than half a mile to the finish line.

Once I crossed the finish line, so many emotions came over me. Every marathon is a challenge and this was no different. From breaking my elbow just 3 weeks earlier to running 4 very early and very cold mornings, I was very very happy!

After grabbing all 3 of my medals (Marathon, Goofy and Dopey), I headed over to the character spots to get my finisher picture with Dopey. Rachel and Nick found me a few minutes later waiting in line. And while it took almost 45 minutes to get the picture…it was totally worth it!

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Later that day (after getting a shower, some food and resting), we headed over to the Wilderness Lodge to see our friends, Justin and Devin, and their new baby, Dash. It’s always so good to see them!

Then we made our way over to Nick and Ciara’s house, where Nick grilled his “world famous” pizza. It was the perfect dinner to celebrate running all 48.6 miles! They are indeed some of our closest friends and we are so grateful for them!

After a while, I was ready to finally get a good night’s sleep after 4 early mornings. Plus, I was very happy to have 2 more days to spend time in the parks with friends.

Stay tuned for the fifth recap…Post Dopey Days.

11 Year Anniversary

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11 years ago I married my best friend. 11 years. There’s no one I’d rather do life with for sure. Rachel is easily the most wonderful, compassionate, sweet, caring and beautiful woman in the world. I’m one lucky guy for sure!

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Below are some of my favorite throwback pictures from our dating years and wedding day. Enjoy!

2018 WDW Marathon Weekend: Half Marathon Recap

Hello friends! Welcome to my third recap of the 2018 WDW Marathon Weekend. Check out parts one and two here and here. As you may know, I participated in my second Dopey Challenge, which includes running a 5K on Thursday, 10K on Friday, half marathon on Saturday and full marathon on Sunday for a total of 48.6 miles. Without further ado…here is my Half Marathon Recap.

After waking up at another ungodly hour…we made our way over to Epcot to get ready to run the third part of my Dopey Challenge. Just like the 10K race, I had Rachel with me for the half marathon. The weather was still quite cold and windy like the mornings before. We ended up sitting in the car again for a good 10-15 minutes to stay warm.

After walking over to the corrals and waiting for another 45 minutes or so, we were off! The nice thing about having Rachel with me was that I still had a full marathon to go at that point, and she is always good about pacing me during a race.

We ended up finding a great pace/speed and just enjoyed being together while running a very familiar course. (This was the 6th time I’ve run this particular half marathon course.)

The course takes you around Epcot through the Transportation and Ticketing Center, up to the Magic Kingdom (including running through Cinderella’s Castle!) and back down to Epcot.

Quite a few of the miles are just on the roads, but Disney does a good job of spreading out numerous cheering sections, high school marching bands and character picture stops along the way.

As we crossed the finish line, I couldn’t help but be very grateful to have 3 of the 4 races out of the way.

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After grabbing our medals and water/runner’s boxes, we actually headed over to the Disney character area and got a finisher picture with Pluto and Goofy!

We ended up seeing our friends Nick and Ciara at the end as well. They are always so sweet to come see us during the races. Unfortunately, the wind/cold was still very present, and after a few minutes, we were ready to get back to the condo and clean up/warm up.

The agenda for the rest of the day was pretty simple…Disney Springs for a few hours and the #werunsocial meet-up, and then back to the condo to rest up for my last big race!

We ended up getting to the Disney Springs area around lunchtime. After grabbing some food and walking around for a bit, we headed over to the #werunsocial meet-up.

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One of the best things about running is the community, and #werunsocial is about just that. It is a group of passionate runners that love to meet up and support each other. So, when the chance to get together arises, that’s what we do. In fact, I’ve made several great friends through this community. I wouldn’t trade it for anything!

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After spending some good time with running friends, we made our way back over the condo for the rest of the afternoon/evening. We grabbed some pasta (CARBO LOAD!!!) later that afternoon and I began to get ready for the final race, the marathon!! At this point, I was 22.2 miles down and 26.2 miles to go to finish my second Dopey Challenge!

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Stay tuned for the fourth recap…WDW Marathon Weekend: Marathon.

2018 WDW Marathon Weekend: 10K Recap

Hello friends! Welcome to my second recap of the 2018 WDW Marathon Weekend. Check out part one here. As you may know, I participated in my second Dopey Challenge, which includes running a 5K on Thursday, 10K on Friday, half marathon on Saturday and full marathon on Sunday for a total of 48.6 miles. Without further ado…here is my 10K Recap.

Very early Friday morning, Rachel and I headed over to Epcot and the starting corrals for the 10K. Like the previous day, the weather was very cold and windy. We were both very bundled up and ready to go.

After sitting in the warm car for about 15 minutes, we started walking towards the corrals. We were both in Corral B for the race, which fortunately meant we would only have to wait about 15-20 minutes after the actual race started to begin. The 10K course is probably my favorite overall course at WDW. You spend quite a bit of time in Epcot and running around the boardwalk of the Boardwalk/Beach & Yacht Club Resorts.

 

Rachel and I were able to keep a nice and steady pace for the 6.2 miles, which insured we would have plenty left in the tank for the half marathon the next day (which Rachel was running with me as well). Once we finished, we grabbed our medals and water/runner’s box and headed back to the condo to get out of the cold.

 

After we finished cleaning up, we headed over to the Magic Kingdom for the rest of the day. After riding a few rides, we headed over to Be Our Guest for lunch, which is one of our favorite places to eat. Plus, it’s inside and was a welcome escape from the cold weather.

 

After lunch, we rode a few more rides and actually got a few character pictures as well, including one with Minnie Mouse, who the 10K race is themed after!

 

Later in the afternoon, we headed back to the condo to rest for a little bit before grabbing some pizza for dinner. We were excited to eat at the Pizza Press, which is new to Orlando, but is one of our favorite spots near Disneyland in California.

We called it an early night as we both had gotten up early and we were both running the half marathon the next morning. At this point, I was 9.3 miles down and 39.3 miles to go to finish my second Dopey Challenge!

Stay tuned for the third part of my recap…WDW Marathon Weekend: Half Marathon.