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Tuesday, December 20, 2016

New ornaments

I'm not feeling the Christmas spirit this year. The tree is up, presents have been bought, and plans are underway to make cookies, but I'm feeling quite 'meh' about it all. Not quite Grinchy, but 'meh'.

Back when I did feel like Christmas, we added to our set of ornaments from our travels.

From Conwy Castle in Wales, we added our Welsh flag.

From Holyrood Palace in Scotland - the place where several corgis romped freely on the grounds, we have the thistle.

From the Disney Magic ship, our ornament to commemorate the sailing. Each port of call is listed on the back.

Lastly, from passing the store in the local mall, a Pembroke Welsh Corgi.

I remain hopeful the Christmas spirit finds me in the next few days.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Where have we been?

It's starting to look like Christmas around here.

As I mentioned in last week's post, the past month and a bit have been rougher than usual.

On our anniversary, Mike's gallbladder decided it was going to become inflamed. This prompted 2 separate trips to the ER about 10 days apart, which culminated in a hospital stay for about 4 or 5 days. They placed a stent into the tube between the gallbladder and the liver so he's stable for now.

They plan to remove the stent and gallbladder in December.

Much of the month of October was difficult for our household. Our exercise regimen stopped and my sleep schedule hasn't gone back to normal yet.

We started our Christmas decorating a few days earlier than normal to bring some cheer around here. This year, I decided to shake up the banister. Usually I wrap the garland and lights around the banister and through each spindle. I like this look a bit better.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Tongue out Tuesday - Little girl, big tongue

We four are still alive, just dealing with stuff like inflamed gallbladders and the fallout that comes with it.

In light of the craziness that is today, (Election day in the US), here's a silly picture.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

45 magical years

This picture was taken about 10 years ago.

Walt Disney World is a tribute to the philosophy and life of Walter Elias Disney... and to the talents, the dedication, and the loyalty of the entire Disney organization that made Walt Disney's dream come true. May Walt Disney World bring Joy and Inspiration and New Knowledge to all who come to this happy place ... a Magic Kingdom where the young at heart of all ages can laugh and play and learn — together.
— Roy O. Disney, October 25, 1971

Happy 45th Birthday Magic Kingdom!

Mike and I were fortunate to visit at its 40th birthday. Maybe we'll visit at the 50th?

Friday, September 30, 2016

Canada Army Run - Race recap

I have completed a half marathon, the Canada Army Run to be exact. It took me 3:33 to complete it, but I did it. It's been almost 2 weeks and I don't know if it's fully sunk in yet.

Let's take a step back shall we. I've been remiss in providing proper running updates on the blog, so I'll attempt to provide it here.

Training Plans (ha!)

Before we went to England in June, I was working towards being able to complete a 10k. When I say complete, I wasn't aiming for speed records, because I'm not at that point yet in my running life, but I needed to be able to complete a 10k with the same ease as I complete a 5k. I knew completing several 10ks would be helpful when I started training for the half. And, my plan was to start half marathon training the weekend after we returned from England. Except, I came home with a cold, and then came down with strep throat, so I didn't really start training until July.

For the most part, training went well. I was steadily increasing mileage and sweltering in the humidity until about mid-August. My shin splints reared up again and it messed with my spirit a bit. The fear and doubt started creeping in. I scaled back my runs and focused on stretching and foam rolling, and doing whatever I could to keep the pain at bay. I was able to get in a 17k training run, which gave me some hope - despite coming down badly on my right knee. I knew then that if I could make it to at least that distance, then the last 3k would be easy - even if I had to scale back and walk to finish it. I knew it was doable.

With two sets of injuries now, I scaled my training back as far as I could. I stopped the runs during the week and concentrated on the remaining long ones on the weekend. During the week, I stretched, did weights, rolled, anything to stay in "fighting" form. The fear and doubt grew further. With the breaks I had to take and the delays back in June, I wondered if I'd be ready. I didn't feel ready. So, I pushed the voice away and put my energy to getting things ready for race day.

I readied my race outfit. I organized and then re-organized my race day playlist. I taste tested energy bars. I looked at countless running motivation memes on Pinterest to assail the fears in my head.

It didn't make me feel any better.

Race Day

On race day, we were up early, on account of paranoia on arriving late to the start line. Mike and I took the bus from our friend's house, which dropped us off on one of the side streets adjacent to the start line. YAY! We arrived in time to see the 5k runners leave before we headed to our corral. Mike was registered with the disabled wave, which meant he would start first. I was in the last corral, which departed about 30 minutes after the disabled wave. He decided to start with me and we headed to corral red.

Here, I believe I made my first mistake. I stood for about an hour or so while waiting for the 5ks in red corral to leave and while waiting for the half marathoners in faster corrals to leave. In retrospect, I should have sat on the curb, on the street, somewhere. (More on this later).

From our vantage point, we could see in the distance the first wave head off, but we still had to wait. Eventually, our rope dropped and we walked to the starting line. We didn't have the luxury of a starter's pistol or any noise really, the rope dropped and we were off.

The Half!

Because of my troubles, I opted to stay with the interval I had been using all through my training sessions - run .5k/walk .3k. It's not fast, but I needed something familiar and I knew I could stay with that interval for a good portion of the race.

The first 5k seemed to take FOREVER. I think it was the way the course was laid out - we were on a highway for a portion of it with little to see. I felt the same way when I did the WDW 10k in 2015 so I figured it was nerves. On one of my walking intervals a large dragonfly came into view and he stayed ahead of me for a few minutes before he flew off. (I've never posted about it, but I lost my cousin in 2004. His favorite animal was a dragonfly. A dragonfly always seems to appear when I need it.) Coming to the first turn around, there was a cheer station and one of the spectators had a sign:

I pointed to him, smiled and nodded, and he gave me a big cheer.

I continued on for a couple kilometers until we turned to cross the bridge into Gatineau/Hull, Quebec. By this time, the sun was high in the sky and the humidity was rising... ugh. We were only 3 kilometers in Quebec before we headed back across to Ottawa, but those 3k seemed to fly by. There were several cheer stations here with teenagers and I had a good time with their signs and giving high fives. However, in the midst of all this revelry, I started to feel weird. I chalked it up to the heat and the sun and I started taking more walk breaks. Eventually after a couple kilometers, I decided to walk the rest of the way, which was about 9km. I had passed some runners in the medic van and I didn't want to be pulled from the race. At that time, my objective finalized to finishing in one piece.

For kilometers 11 - 17, it was a tough slog. There was a slight incline northwards towards Rideau park, through the park, then back south along Sussex Dr. The breeze we had been enjoying thus far, disappeared while in the park and those 2kms were languid. From my training, I knew this was the first place where I'd struggle so I added a few songs to make me smile, laugh, and just take my mind off the race. And struggle I did - out of nowhere my feet started to hurt. The sole, all 10 toes it seemed, and I could feel a blister forming on the inside of my heel. Remember when I stood for about an hour pre-race, I think that contributed to it.

Not posing, it's called walking :)

By the time I got to about 18 or 19 km, I could see the finish line across the river and I knew it wouldn't be long now until I made it. What I didn't realize was the path along the river stretched 3k, but a neverending it seemed, 3k. It took forever to get to the bridge where we could turn around and head to the end.

As I reflect now, from about this time onwards things become fuzzy. My playlist turned to the following:
- Overkill by Motorhead
- Creeping Death by Metallica
- Movin' Right Along by The Muppets
- The Imperial March - Star Wars
- Headstrong - Trapt
- Almost There - The Princess and the Frog
- Dig a little deeper - The Princess and the Frog
- O Fortuna
(Yes, I sang for each of these!)

And every landmark, tree, side street was a finish line, then the next finish line and so on until the actual finish line came into view. I felt a cramp at the back of my knee, because at this point, what else was left to hurt? I stopped to rub the back of my leg and then the theme song from Rocky came on.

Friends, I didn't know if to laugh or cry. But I started up again and made it past the 21k marker. A handful of people were left on the sidelines, but there was one finisher who stood proudly applauding all of us as we crossed. I made eye contact, nodded and plodded on.

Normally I run across the finish line, but this time, I walked across. There will be other times when I will run across. I was finished. I'd done what I set out to do: complete a 1/2 marathon.

So what did I learn?

  • Never again will I tire out my feet pre-race.
  • Some training runs have to be done midday or at the very least mid-morning. I was unprepared for the sun beating down. And I have the tan to prove it!
  • Take all liquid they offer. I know there are different schools of thought on this, but you do you and you do the current conditions. Every water station, I took a cup and sipped as I went along. I also had my reserve hand water bottle, which they refilled for me.

Am I going to do it again?

Yes. I'm going to be stronger and faster, but I will do it again.... and maybe more times afterwards ;)

Friday, September 23, 2016

Flat Corgi Friday - Handsome Harry

Earlier in the week, Mike and I were in Ottawa to complete our first half marathon. We stayed with friends of ours, who as luck would have it, were dog-sitting a corgi!

Everyone, meet Harry. Harry apparently knew I had corgis, probably from sniffing the large amounts of red and white corgi hair on me, because for the 4 days we visited, Harry followed me everywhere. Corgis truly know their people.

Harry is a lovely dog and hopefully we get to meet again.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Flat Corgi Friday - Bird Watching

When we saw this bird wall on the Disney Magic, we couldn't resist posing our resident bird hater in their midst.

This is the closest she will ever get to a bird.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Will you hurry up?

The other day I posed the corgis, took a bunch of lovely pictures and came back inside only to find out the memory card was not in the camera.

So, we went out again and took more pictures. This time around, the corgis were a little more cheeky and I managed to get this gem.

Friday, August 19, 2016

National Photography Day 2016

As today is National Photography Day, (according to Twitter), here are some of my favorite shots from the past year.

Halloween Corgis


That face!

Tynemouth Priory, Tynemouth

St. Magnus Cathedral, Kirkwall

Row of houses in Betws y Coed, Wales

Blooms from the Candie Gardens, Guernsey

Friday, August 12, 2016

Thursday, August 11, 2016


Last year I was struggling with shin splints and frustrated. I had completed the 5k and 10k, (first ever 10k), at the Walt Disney marathon weekend earlier in the year and I was starting to think I could really get into this running thing.

But those shin splints kept at me. I had taken time off since the races and it was now June. I researched and struggled and stretched to get my calves, ankles, and feet stronger. By August I had a good stretching/strength plan and I was feeling better.

I was looking at my numbers in Runkeeper and for the last year, it said I had run 263 km. On a whim, I made a goal with myself to double my mileage over the coming year to 526 km.

Last August it seemed like such a huge amount to cover.

This August I fell short of that 526 goal. But, I completed 487 km - the most distance I've ever covered in a year.

So, what's next?

My first half marathon in September. My only goal is to finish... alive.

Then, the Star Wars half marathon in April.

Beyond? Ask me again in a few months :)

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Heading to those white cliffs of Dover

We woke early on Sunday morning, partly excitement and partly not wanting to miss the Disney bus. We spoke to the Disney representative in the lobby and she confirmed that our luggage would be picked up from our room and brought down to the bus.

Mike and I headed to breakfast in the Gatwick airport terminal and checked out the shops - we were looking for Worcestershire flavored chips for a friend of ours. Alas, no chips. This became a recurring theme across our trip.

We returned to the lobby and saw our luggage sitting with the rest of the group's luggage waiting to be taken to the bus. It was a short wait until we were told we could head to the bus. Waiting for us was our little reserved sign.

A short time later, we were off heading to the port of Dover. Other than a brief stop on the side of the road to double check that the baggage doors beneath the bus were properly locked, the trip was uneventful.

The highway into Dover

Dover harbor and Dover Castle in the distance

We disembarked the bus and left the cruise line staff to handle our baggage, much like at Port Canaveral. Check-in was uneventful, they gave us our boarding number and released us into the terminal. At this time, the building was packed and was standing room only.

Finally boarding began by number, ie 1... 2... etc. There was a few rowdy people attempting to jump the line by pretending to pass off a card with #10 as #1, but the people in charge were not having it. Must be a British thing... mind the queue and wait your turn.

After several groups had been called, Mike and I were allowed to jump the line. How? We made our way into the loading room and waited in the corner. There was a lull in the passengers and the person in charge of the queue called us over and allowed us to board. Your mileage may vary, but it helps if you don't act line a moron, calmly wait your turn, and don't feel entitled to anything extra... you know, act like a decent human being.

We headed to Cariocas for our buffet lunch. I had only eaten in Parrot Cay, (the restaurant that was in place before the change over to Cariocas), a few times before, but I quite liked the new decor. It had been reimagined in a Rio/Brazilian theme. Alas, I didn't take any pictures of it on this trip, but you can see some of the pictures from other travelers here: Cariocas on the Disney Magic/Wonder.

After lunch, we explored the ship and took some of these pictures:

Not long after these pictures were taken, the Disney Magic left port and headed north to Newcastle.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Flat Corgi Friday - The other other Elizabeth

There's Elizabeth I - the Virgin Queen.

There's Queen Elizabeth II - the current monarch and corgi owner.

And there's the Queen Mother, who was also a corgi owner. This is the Queen Mother monument that stands on the Mall in London.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Look... Big Ben, Parliament

As I mentioned before, our flight was delayed arriving into Gatwick. This meant our original full day of sightseeing was shortened to a few hours. Prior to leaving for England, we paid and printed our tickets for the Gatwick Express train to Victoria station and so we were determined to use those tickets!

We boarded the train and settled into our 30 minute journey into London. I was immediately taken at the number of rail lines crisscrossing the land, up and over highways, right behind rows of homes, rushing through tunnels and fields. I was slightly jealous too... all these rail lines to traverse England, Scotland, and Wales, but back here in Ontario, not so much.

Once we arrived at the station, I took a few minutes to hunt down an attendant who would install the ramp so Mike could exit the train. We got our bearings and headed in the direction of Buckingham Palace. This was one of my must do stops on our journey, well for obvious reasons.

Who should I see on our way to the Palace

I had planned to stop in at the palace shop, but on account of our delay, the shop was closed. Oh well, maybe that's a good thing for the old pocketbook after all!

The first building we saw was the Royal Mews, which houses the horses, coaches, and livery used by the Royal family.

Continuing up Buckingham Palace Road, we came upon the palace itself.

Directly across from Buckingham Palace is The Victoria Memorial.

We continued past the palace and into Green Park, which houses the Canada Gate and the Canada Memorial. The Canada Memorial was erected in homage to the one million Canadians who served with the British forces in WWI and WWII.

We left the monument and headed up the Mall towards the Charles I statue and roundabout.

We turned down Whitehall and headed south towards Big Ben and passed Downing Street.

I didn't take any pictures here on account of the large police presence.

By the time we made it to Big Ben and Parliament, the sky was starting to darken.

We crossed the street and headed to Westminster Abbey. It had since closed for the day, but we were fortunate to take some exterior pictures.

Where Duchess Catherine entered on her wedding day.

By this time, we were starting to tire, so we headed back to Victoria station. We shared a large Cornish pasty for dinner before heading back out on the train to Gatwick.

What little we saw of London was lovely and we plan on returning... some day.