Sunday, June 30, 2019

Sunday Runday: Minions 5k

I really miss the Disneyland races.  I loved being able to go up and spend the weekend with my family, get a run in, and spend some time at Disney.  I was especially bummed when they discontinued the races, because it was right after Thatkid had discovered his love of the Disney races also.

So when I got an alert that Universal was starting their own running series this year, I immediately signed up Thatkid and I to run together.  He was equally as excited.

As background info - The Universal 5k is not cheap.  However, I found that it was comparable to the Disney races in terms of price, so there wasn't a ton of sticker shock.   Unlike Disney, we don't have the luxury of staying at my mom's house, so we did need to factor in the extra cost of a hotel.  We chose to drive up Friday afternoon for the Saturday race.  Originally the race was requiring packet pick up on the day before anyway, so this gave us the chance to pick up our packets, grab dinner, and theoretically get an early night's sleep before an early race morning.

Friends, we did not get an early night's sleep.  But Thatkid and I were up bright and early anyway.  You have to be 5 to run, so Thatboy and Thatbaby stayed in bed while we drove to the race.

Right from the start I was impressed by the race's organization.  Unlike the Disney races I'd done, parking was complementary.  And parking at a theme park means that it was easy breezy.  While I'm used to cars backing up from race entries onto freeways and byways, there was no line to get in.  Everything just moved very smoothly.  Not knowing how things were going to be, we had gotten there early, and we used the time to sunscreen up and use the bathroom before heading to the start line.

The start line was at the entrance to the park, so Thatkid and I took advantage of the time to snap a quick picture with the globe before finding our corral.

The corrals weren't seeded, they were first come first serve, which I heard bothered a lot of people.  I get it - faster runners don't want to have to weave around all the slower runners ahead of them, but since I was doing the race with my kid, I liked not having to wait as long before actually starting.

For never having organized a race before, the Run Universal people were on it.  Their wave starts were one of the best I have taken part of.  Maybe it was due to the course route, but it felt as though you waited for a very short time between waves, and you entered a virtually empty park. 

We began by running through the streets of their little Europe area, a nice reminder that you're at the Studio.

And it led us directly into the Minions area of the park - Minions Mayhem and Super Silly Fun Land.  Along with the first character stop.

We passed by the entrance to Wizarding World of Harry Potter,

and right into Springfield, U.S.A.

And then we were at Hogwarts.

With a jaunt through Hogsmede - you can see how excited Thatkid was for this part.

After that, we were running in the backstage part of the backlot area.  On our way to the tour route.  There were a lot of hills here and Thatkid took a couple spills while walking.  He's not a hill runner and he was happy to get to the bottom of a big one and take a break to watch a little shark action over and over at Jaws Lake.  This was his favorite part of the race.

Then it was back up the hill and into Whoville.

There was a motel on the course if you decided you were done running. Funny thing is, no one who checked in came out again.  I guess a stay there is killer.  

I thought the coolest part of the race was getting to run through the War of the Worlds set and see it up close.

After that it was more back lot stuff, with a very tired Thatkid who really needed some extra motivation to finish.  Luckily for us, Daphne and Velma of the Scooby Gang caught up with us and he followed them the whole way to the finish.

Overall, I would say it was a really amazing experience for an inaugural race.  Sure the course was hilly, but it was really neat to be able to experience the park so empty and to be able to walk places that you usually only get to see from the tram.

There also was no shortage of characters to stop and take pictures with.  Thatkid wasn't interested in stopping, but he's not really a "picture with characters" kind of guy.

The character stops were also neat in that they were very themed - like the tourist minion at Jaws Lake, the Evil minions at War of the Worlds, or the prisoner minions at Fast and the Furious.

Even the supporting players chipped in - Voodoo Doughnuts featured minion shaped doughnuts during the weekend we were there.

Thatkid complained a lot during the race.  It was not an easy course.  But he claimed to have loved it and begged me to sign us up for the next one before we even left the park.  So we'll be back in November, Run Universal!  This time, running from DINOSAURS!

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Flashing Back to Spring Break: Iced Tea with Popping Boba

Soooooooo it's been a while.  Which is not to say there wasn't anything going on over here.  There was...a lot.... More than I could handle really.  And it didn't really put me in the mood for writing, or sharing, or doing much of anything.

But let's back up a bit, to where we left off.  Which would be spring break - back in April.

As usual, we used the opportunity of Thatkid's school break to visit ToxicEsq in Scottsdale.

We stayed at a new hotel that Thatboy was not thrilled with, as it was basically an homage to the influencer lifestyle which he considers the lowest common denominator.  

I, however, used the opportunity to capture some fun shots.

While in Scottsdale we took advantage of some of our old favorites.  Like the train park.  We've really gotten into the routine of letting the kids sit inside the boxcars while the adults enjoyed the kid-free open air cars.

And of course, there was daily swimming.  (It's not really a vacation without pool time, is it?)

And a stop at the Sugar Bowl for ice cream.

But one of my absolute favorite parts of our trips to Scottsdale, is that ToxicEsq always takes the reigns on the planning, finding the absolute perfect activities for us.  I mean, she's the one who introduced to the train park AND Sugar Bowl after all.  This trip she suggested visiting CrackerJax, a "family fun and sports park."  It was a surefire hit.

We played a couple of rounds of mini-golf, although Thatbaby decided it was not his favorite part.

Go-carts for the big and little guys.

But their favorite were the bumper boats.

We also tried out some new restaurants this time around.  One of the more...interesting was Hash Kitchen.  It was one of those places that you probably don't need to go to more than once, but was certainly fun.  

The breakfast offerings were those oversized plates no one can finish.  I had the Huevos Rancheros Hash, with carne asada, black beans, potatoes, and eggs. 

Thatboy had their avocado toast.  Which definitely had more than avocado.  It also had braised pork, bacon jam, and eggs.

Thatkid had smores pancakes, while his brother stuck with regular chocolate chip.

We also started with some really fun drinks.  Like  Thatboy's coffee in a cone.

And the boys continued their smores themed breakfast with smores hot chocolate.

And I had strawberry mimosa with strawberry popping boba.

The boys and I are suckers for popping boba.  It's one of those things we always get on top of our frozen yogurt.  So of course, they were all over trying to share mine, from the drink, with me.

Which made me realize it would be just as easy to make boba-filled drinks at home.  They're easy enough to order online as we discovered during Thatkid's Shrek birthday party.  And they work really well for a lot of summer drinks.  Add them to your lemonades, or fruit punches, or in my case - ice tea!

I always have a pitcher of iced tea in the fridge during the summer, because it's easy enough to make and for me it's the perfect summery drink, cold and refreshing.  As a quick note - I have made the mistake of trying to pour the boiling water into a plastic container.  It was, to put it simply, not a good idea.  Make sure you use glass, metal, or some heatproof material I'm not aware of.  I like to use growlers we pick up from breweries.  You can transfer it to something prettier once it cools.

Iced Tea with Popping Boba
1 gallon water
6 tea bags
popping boba
  1. In a kettle or pot, bring one gallon of water to a boil over high heat.  Pour the boiling water into a heatproof container (one that won't melt).
  2. At this point, add your sugar if you wish.  This is one of those "to taste" things.  Sometimes I add no sugar at all.  Sometimes I make sweet tea, by adding 1/4 cup of sugar.  If you like it lightly sweetened, somewhere in between would be your best bet.  Remember, you can always add more sugar later, but you can't add less. 
  3. Place the tea bags in the hot water.  Personally, I wrap the tea bag strings around a wooden spoon to make them easier to remove, but this isn't necessary.  Let tea bags steep for about 5 minutes, until the tea looks nice and dark.
  4.  Remove tea bags and let cool to room temperature.  Refrigerate for 4-6 hours.
  5. When ready to drink, grab a spoonful of boba and place in the bottom of a glass.  Pour ice tea over.  You shouldn't need any ice since your tea is already cold!

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Sunday Runday: Beach and Bay Half Marathon

At the beginning of the year, after I decided my new motto was "run more half marathons" I started looking at halfs that would be fun and cheap.  Because it's not like half marathons are inexpensive, so if I was going to do a bunch of them, then I wanted to make sure they would be affordable.

Which is how I signed up for the Beach and Bay Half Marathon.

I wrestled with this one a lot.  Running around Mission Bay isn't my favorite, because for a lot of it, there's no designated course.  And 13 miles of that sounds...not so fun.

But spoiler alert - I really enjoyed this race.  It was flat, easy, and a very pleasant way to spend a morning with beautiful views.

I got there early enough to secure the closest parking - which was still about half a mile a way from the start.

Their definition of "joggers" is very different than mine.  But I jumped in there anyway.  

As I mentioned before, the course was really pretty.  It ran the opposite way that most of the Mission Bay races start out, which meant we didn't begin with Fiesta Island.  We headed out over the bay and into Mission Beach.

It was really nice to run along Mission Beach.  I've done that with friends before and the flat beachside path is lovely.  I was a little worried about cross traffic, since it's not like it was closed to the public, but we all managed to work together.  

And then we were heading back to Mission Bay.  I was feeling pretty good for most of the run and enjoying a faster pace than my last two back-to-back halfs. 

The last 3 miles were the hardest for me, because I started feeling a little PTSD as we ran the same path I had done earlier in the month at Sharon's Ride - where I was running at top speed trying to keep up with Thatkid's scooter.  So I let myself slow it down a bit.  But this is also where the race really pulled through.  All of a sudden there was a water stop every half mile.  As if they knew!  At mile 11 there was also a cold wet washcloth for every runner.  The weather was perfect for the race, but it's still hot when you run!  

I ended up reaching the very first goal in my half marathon plan - I finished in less than 2.5 hours!