Sunday, January 29, 2017

RunDisney: A runner's review

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I like running races--it helps keep me motivated to run regularly and keep up my training.  The 5K is my favorite distance, but a 10K is a nice challenge and I try to do at least one half marathon a year.  My very first half marathon was the Disneyland 1/2 Marathon--which was super fun, but I have to say, not a wise choice for my first 13.1 mile run (it was far from home, had 17,000 or so runners and really threw my training off). hooked me on the RunDisney races.  I already love Disneyland--so it shouldn't be surprising that the House of Mouse makes even running more fun.

Since that first 1/2 marathon, I've done a few more RunDisney races and I'm scheduled to do another one in May.

Check out all the different races that are available at

In General, no matter which park  you are running at:

  • Registration is usually 9 months out and they don't have deferrments if your plans change.  Sign up for email alerts at for reminders about registrations (Annual Pass holders can register before the general public). Races sell out quickly.  Shorter races sell out the fastest.  Be online the moment registration opens and be prepared with your credit card.
  • Speaking of credit cards, these races are spendy.  5K's are around $85.  The registration does NOT include a park pass--if you want to play after the race, you'll need to buy a park pass. 
  • Costumes are encouraged.  Pick your favorite character or quote and wear it while you run.  There are some guidelines like no masks or really long costumes--but I wouldn't want to run in that kind of get up anyway (I like to run in a costume that is a nod to a character, but that won't wobble, rub, slip, jingle, bonk or otherwise annoy me or others while I run).  
  • Its one big photo shoot.  If you care about how fast your time is, you'll have to set that aside for a Disney Race (probably).  There are thousands of runners, and you'll get assigned a corral and each corral will start about 5-10 minutes after the previous group.  There are characters and photo ops along the course, so you may want to stop and take advantage.  
  • The medals and t-shirts are really fun.  Pay attention when you register to the shirt size options (some are men/women sizing, others will be unisex)--its tricky to change a shirt if you don't like the size you get.  Feel free to wear the shirt and the medal in the park after your race, LOTS of people do and cast members will offer you a congrats (and at my last race, several stores in Disney Springs offered free swag or discounts to runners with their medals).  

  • When you cross the finish line, you'll get a snack box.  There will also be stations for water, or bags of ice for any sore spots.  

  • You will get crazy enough to do more than one race in one weekend.  Disney even has a name for it--the Dopey Challenge (5K, 10K, 13.1 and 26.2 all in the same week).  I've done two in one weekend.  I'm setting the goal to do the Coast to Coast (a half or full marathon in each of the parks in the same calendar year).

Disneyland Races
  • Transportation is a breeze here--stay at a hotel within walking distance and you can arrive at your required 4:30-5:30 am check in time easily. 
  • For the 5K and the 10K, your run will be almost entirely within the two parks (a little bit of run around the parking lot and the plaza between the parks).  The Half Marathon is a little less magical with the majority of the race out on the roads of Anaheim--but the run through Angel Stadium was fun. 

Disney World Races
  • Stay on a Disney property if you can--all of them provide bus transportation to the race expo and starting line.  There will be road closures, so why add to the stress of running by trying to drive and park (at 3:30 in the morning).  
  • There are tons of volunteers to help you figure out the transportation, how to find the Race Expo, how to pick up your stuff and how to get to your corral.  
  • It is humid and the potential for lightening is high.  Races can be cancelled, delayed (or shortened) if lightening is going on. 

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Butternut Squash Soup--Thai Style

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I love butternut squash.  But I can almost never purchase pre-made or restaurant items with butternut squash because invariably, they have pumpkin pie spices in them--that does not work for me.  I like it savory-no pie flavors.

I've made butternut squash soup before, I used cumin as my seasoning and cream and it was good.  This recipe is a take on a dish my mom ordered at a Thai place in Mesa, AZ.  Instead of white potatoes in the curry, it had diced pumpkin.  This soup has most of the ingredients of a curry, but then it gets all pureed into a smooth and non-dairy soup.  This soup is a one-pot dish and can be done in about 30 minutes if you have a pressure cooker.


4 cups diced butternut squash
1 Tbs vegetable oil
1 medium onion, rough dice
1 Tbs ginger, diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1-2 Tbs Curry paste (red is spicy, massaman is mild)
14 oz can coconut milk
14 oz can chicken broth
Cilantro, lime for garnish

In my electric pressure cooker, I turned it to the meat/saute feature and sauteed the diced onions in oil for about 5 minutes, then added the garlic, ginger and red curry paste and sauteed another minute.  Add in the chicken broth, coconut milk and diced raw butternut squash.  I put the lid on, pressed the stew button and adjusted the time to 20 minutes.  It took my cooker about 10 minutes to come to pressure and then it cooked for the 20 minutes.  I used the quick release method to reduce the pressure and open the pot.  If you have an immersion blender, you could puree the soup right in the pot--if not, scoop it into a blender and puree in batches (use a towel as a lid to avoid the blender lid popping off and soup flying everywhere).

You can doctor up each bowl of soup with diced cilantro, squeeze of lime, sriacha or even add some veggies (mushrooms, bok choy, gnocchis...hmmm all of those sound good at the moment).

This freezes well too.