… to California Adventures and Disneyland

Waking up was tough. I do not think my body moved the entire night and I woke up feeling tight, stiff, and sore. On top of that, my knees were not feeling any better and walking was painful. Nonetheless, we had ONE day to do as much as we could at Disneyland so I got up, took some ibuprofen, ate a blueberry muffin, and got on with the day.I made sure I had the handy Disneyland App too which provided a map of the parks, wait times on rides, character locations, pictures from the park photographers, and 100 other things. It was a cool app and very helpful! I still grabbed a physical map though… always a good idea.

We had wanted to get there right when they opened but I wasn’t the only one feeling sore so we arrived just shortly after. We decided to tackle California Adventures first so that we would end our day in Disneyland with the parade and fireworks that evening.

The park was still empty so we ran through Grizzly Peak to the big rollercoaster ride in Paradise Pier, California Screamin’, and got in line. This rollercoaster and I have some history… prior to my family’s trip here many years ago, I had not been on a real rollercoaster nor had I ever wanted to. The idea was terrifying. I wanted to make the most of that trip though and decided to just go for it. I enjoy a good thrill and I was confident my cart wouldn’t go flying off the loop, so I rode it. I remember those initial moments so well, too. The ride starts off slow, for just a second, to get you to the ‘take off’ zone. Once there, it’s a clear shot into the rest of the ride BUT you’re stopped. You’re stopped on this ‘runway’ area with a taunting countdown. I remember sitting there and just wanting to get off of the ride. The anticipation was brutal. Then, before I knew it, we were off. 0 to 60 in .1 seconds, it seemed. That rollercoaster was the moment I realized I loved rollercoasters. Now here I was, years later, returning to the scene of it all. This time, the runway was not so scary and that feeling you get in your stomach was excitement, not fear. We rode the ride twice. My bra was showing in our first ride-picture (dang shoulder straps) and Kelsey and John totally posed in the second… I promise he wasn’t asleep nor was she scared!

Just for fun, here is a picture of me when I was on this ride for the first time in 2004. Don’t let the smile fool you… I was nervous.


The park was starting to fill up and we wanted to do as many rides as we could so we headed toward the Silly Symphony Swings next. I had never been on a ‘swing’ ride before! It was definitely silly and not as thrilling as a rollercoaster, but it was fun. It is a little scary though as you are not nearly as strapped in as you would be in another ride. Kelsey said it was one of the closest feelings you get to flying and she was definitely not wrong.

Mickey’s Fun Wheel, the big ferris wheel, was next on our list. There were two types of carts: ones that could swing, and ones that could not. Us being us, we got in the swinging line. The idea of a swinging cart on a ferris wheel may not sound intense but let me tell you, it was. On the first go around, we barely moved because the ride had to stop at each cart to let more people on. When we went around entirely without stopping, we swung A LOT. It was slightly terrifying and I was holding on to the cage and had my feet up. Something about swinging over water and looking like you’re about to plunge to your death really gets your heart racing.

We were nearby the Toy Story Midway Mania and the line was long (which caused us to take way too many selfies), but not overwhelming so we decided to check it out. If the line was long, it must be a good one right? Plus, who doesn’t love Toy Story? It was a 3D ride where you sit in a cart and it spins you around to a series of games. Each cart held 4 people with 2 guns on each side (each side being back-to-back) that you used to shoot for each game and score points. The game itself was silly but fun anyway. I could have done without so much spinning but the stops for each game made it bearable. I also wish I didn’t have to sit alone on my side of the cart but that is the life of a 3rd wheel. John got the highest score in the cart, to no one’s surprise.

We walked through the Pacific Wharf section (no rides there!) and through Cars Land. The line for the one thing we wanted to do in Cars Land was over an hour so we bailed on it and continued on to A Bug’s Land. Cars Land was our first stop of the half marathon so it was cool to be back though and get to enjoy the area instead of running right through it.

The “It’s Tough to be a Bug” show, a 4D short-movie experience, was starting in 2 minutes so we ran over to it and got there just in time. I remembered this one from our family trip too but not completely as parts of startled me more than I am proud to admit. For those that don’t know what 4D is… you watch a 3D flick but there are also real-life experiences that go along with it (e.g. if it is windy on screen, you get wind blown in your face). I won’t ruin it for anyone who doesn’t know but some of those 4D components got me. It had us all laughing though and with us being so sore, it was nice to sit for a few minutes. The other attractions in the section targeted a much younger audience so we continued on Hollywood Land.

Short backstory: John likes Halloween, a lot. He likes all things scare-related and especially haunted houses. Kelsey enjoys them too but I don’t think to the same extent. She isn’t scared. Me? I will take a hard pass on all of it. I do not like when things pop out of no where. I do not like scary movies. I do not like any of it. Every year, they try and get me to go to a haunted house and every year I decline and fight them on it. We went to Fiesta Texas in San Antonio once and I did the haunted houses with them and that was enough. It is NOT my thing. This is important because the next ride we got in line for was the Hollywood Tower of Terror.

Y’all, this ride was insane. I had NO idea what to expect but I can honestly say the wait was worth it and it was one of my most favorite rides. It started with an intro video about the Twilight Zone. I was already freaking out. After the video, we moved into another line that took us through the tower. Alright, I could handle that. Nothing scary there. Finally, we ended up at the front of the line, ready to board the ride… in an elevator. To my dismay (but to their delight, probably), we were in the front row of this death contraption. I buckled in with a single waist strap and thought, “surely this won’t be like the Dungeon Drop (a ride at the now extinct Astroworld in Houston) because we don’t have any shoulder straps.” NOPE. I WAS WRONG. THE HOLLYWOOD TOWER OF TERROR DOES NOT CARE ABOUT SHOULDER STRAPS. This thing took us up a floor, showed us some hologram ghosts, took us backwards, showed us some other stuff to distract us, then dropped us like a hot potato. There was nothing to grab onto so poor Kelsey’s arm had to bear my death grip. It then shot us straight up to the top of the tower to where we could see outside (where it so conveniently snapped our photo at the height of my terror) only to drop us again and again and again, my body so far out of that seat that it felt like a free-fall. The rush was intense and once I stopped screaming, I could not stop laughing. 10/10, would recommend.

After the death ride, we continued on through Hollywood Land but didn’t ride any of the attractions. It was lunch time and we were hungry!

There was a burger place back in Grizzly Peak so we ate there. We really wanted to do the Soarin’ Around the World ride next door but the wait time was close to 2 hours so we decided it was best to call California Adventures complete and use our hopper pass to hop on over to Disneyland.

This year was Disneyland’s 60th anniversary and the signage and decorations to celebrate it were everywhere! We walked in and made our way down Main Street USA, enjoying the sites.

Our first ride on this side of the park was the Indian Jones Adventure in Adventureland. The line was reasonably long but shaded and comfortable. My ibuprofen had worn off and I was in serious pain so I had to take some more. This line was especially difficult because walking down anything was what hurt the most and this line had us going up and down stairs and ramps. We finally made it to the front though and got on the ride. It was fun but jerky. I don’t know why the darkness and whatnot in rides like that one don’t scare me but something like the Hollywood Tower of Terror do. I’m a mess. The ride finished and were the next jeep (cart) to unload and exit but suddenly the ride SHUT DOWN. Seriously, y’all. It shut down. Lights came on and everything. I am so thankful we were at the front and not stuck somewhere back on the ride’s path. That would have been traumatizing. We were only stuck for about 10 or 15 minutes but it sure felt a lot longer. Once the ride started up again, we were able to exit. We learned later that the rides at Disneyland are not allowed to operate without a working phone and for whatever reason, half of the phones at the park had gone out. Our ride was not the only one temporarily out of service so while I was thankful to not be stuck in a compromising place on this ride, I was even more thankful to not be stuck on a more complex ride! I can’t imagine.

We continued on through Adventureland, making our way to New Orleans Square. This big river in the area was shut down so several of the rides in New Orleans Square and Frontierland were temporarily shut down. The Haunted Mansion was also not open for the season yet (whew). That was upsetting to John because they had it decked out in Halloween decorations. With not many options, we hopped onto the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. It was fun but not a thriller by any means.

The last ride we wanted to do (well, I wanted to do… they were a little more hesitant) on that side of the park was Splash Mountain in Critter Country. You can’t go to Disneyland and not go on Splash Mountain! I knew we would get a little wet so long as we weren’t in the front but wasn’t too worried about it. A little water never hurt anyone and we’d dry quickly. We didn’t buy a Fast Pass and it seemed like this was a Fast Pass only ride as they would let 5 regular people on the ride for every 45 people with a Fast Pass. It was kind of crazy but luckily only took an hour instead of the 85 minutes posted on the sign. I somehow ended up in the front spot but noticed a younger girl with her parents toward the back of our log and asked her if she wanted to trade. She happily accepted and definitely took the brunt of the water. The rest of us got wet though at a random turn that caused water to poor over the right side, soaking our shoes. Just a little water, we’d survive. That 50ft drop though was awesome and we celebrated with some churros.

We stopped to take pictures in front of the castle on our way to Fantasyland. We wanted to meet some of the princesses but it seemed they were on break so we bailed and headed toward the next ride. I don’t think we were the target audience, again, for this area as several of the rides were very simple.

We did manage to go on Snow White’s Scary Adventure (not a thriller by any means but could seriously traumatize a child) and Peter Pan’s Flight (a wait time of 40 minutes that took well over that). Our day was running out and we still had not made it to the other big rides yet!

It was important to us that we meet Mickey Mouse but it was more important, to me, to meet Minnie Mouse. The app told me that Minnie was at the front of the park until 7pm and it was already 6pm so while Kelsey and John took a ride on It’s A Small World, I made my way to the front. People were already lining up for the parade so Main Street had turned into quite the maze. When I finally made it up there, the park employee told me that the line had closed and I could come back at 10pm. I was really disappointed but there was nothing I could do so I back to John and Kelsey, stopping along the way for a few more pictures.


The 3 of us headed over to Mickey’s Toontown next to meet Mickey. The area was pretty empty and there was no wait to meet him. We snagged some pictures (they aren’t great quality but we have good ones coming soon from the professional photographer there) and after touring his house. My phone died right before we toured Minnie’s house which was disappointing because I wanted to show my nieces her house. Thankfully, John let me use his phone.

We got another round of churros before getting into the short line at the Matterhorn. The line was quick and the ride was great. The Matterhorn is a Disneyland staple so I was glad we had time to do it but unfortunately, it was getting late and we were running out of time to do much else. There were several rides in Tomorrowland that looked fun but had long waits and new ones (e.g. the Star Wars one) that would have been cool to do, even though I know nothing about Star Wars. Kelsey and John really wanted to see the parade and walk through the stores so we headed back to Main Street to do a little shopping. I ended up buying my nieces Minnie Mouse dolls and I bought a small Minnie Mouse snowglobe for Bailey. I know, I know… it was not fair to buy an extra thing for her but I just knew she’d love it. Her 3rd birthday party was a Minnie Mouse theme, I had to get it.

After shopping, we found a spot on the sidewalk to watch the parade. Kelsey left to find dinner but for whatever reason, I was not hungry. I sat on the sidewalk why the two of them ate and John left before the parade started because his foot was hurting him. We think he fractured it during the race and it had been bothering him all day. He didn’t want to take medicine though and he couldn’t stand the pain anymore so he went back to the hotel. Kelsey and I stayed and while I hated waiting so long (time we could have used riding Space Mountain, another Disneyland staple), I’m glad we were able to watch the parade. It was actually pretty cool to see. I think if we had more days at the park I would have been more into it. It was late and we were both tired and cold.

Everyone crowded onto Main Street for the fireworks show after the parade. We had read online that Disney recently re-did the show and while you could watch it from several places in the park, Main Street was the best because they projected colors and images onto the buildings. The internet proved to be true because it was the most amazing fireworks show I had ever seen. The buildings lit up for each new song and the crowd sang along. The fireworks matched the song in color and timing and had some of the most beautiful “bursts” I had ever seen. To give you an idea, when Under the Sea came on, the buildings turned blue and green and blow-up seaweed appeared from the tops of the building. When Finding Nemo happened, there was a giant Nemo swimming around the castle. The most amazing one was Frozen though, to no shock of anyone. The buildings turned while and blue and foam sprayed over us like snow. The associated fireworks were outstanding. It was overall just very impressive and even though we were both over the day and grumpy, each for our own reasons, it made me smile and I couldn’t help but sing along. It was great.

It was almost 10pm by the time the fireworks were finished and if you recall, Minnie Mouse was back out at 10pm. We ran over to the line and discovered there was not going to be a photographer there. The Disneyland app allows you to download pictures the professional photographers around the park take of you at different locations and to download the ride pictures. We had been relying on it for a good portion of the day but now there was no one! Also, if you recall, my phone had already died. To our luck, Kelsey’s phone died just before the fireworks show. So there we were, in line to meet and take a picture with Minnie Mouse, the one thing I wanted to do, with no camera. I wanted so badly to be able to tell my nieces I met Minnie Mouse and score some serious Aunt points (not that I need MORE Aunt points) so I had to do something miles out of my comfort zone: I had to befriend a stranger AND ask them for a favor. Sigh. The people in front of us looked like a nice couple so I explained to them our situation and they agreed to help out. They took our picture with Minnie and Mickey in their special 60th anniversary costumes and all I could do was to hope and pray they would follow through and text me the pictures.

We left Disney and headed back to the hotel afterward. It was a long, busy day and we were tired. I plugged in my phone, packed up my things, and got ready for bed. When I turned my phone on, I was so happy to see they texted us the picture! There are good people in the world!


I had such a fun time at Disney. I would have done a few things differently so we could have been more efficient with our time but it was still a good and we were able to do and see a lot. I’ve spent a lot of time with Kelsey and John over the years and we always joke about me being the 3rd wheel but there were times today where I wished that wasn’t the case. When rides only held 2 people in a row and I had to be by myself, when photographers asked “just you?” when I went to take a picture, when I had to resort to taking selfies just so I could have a picture, etc. It felt like as the day went on, they would have been happier without me so I ended up keeping to myself a lot. I enjoyed being at Disney and all of the rides but it would have been nice not to be alone. None of that negates the fun long weekend though.

I still can’t believe we ran a half marathon! My knees still hurt but I’m proud of myself and enjoyed everything about Disney. It’s difficult to explain but there is something about being there that just makes you happy. It doesn’t matter how old you are, how tired you are, how [insert whatever] you are: being at Disney makes you happy.

Unit next time,




… to run the Disneyland Half Marathon!!

Today was the day!! We all crashed hard and fast last night and did a great job getting up at our 4am alarms. Because we all took showers last night, we were ready pretty quickly and at the shuttle stop just in time for the 4:30am shuttle. It was just us at first but as more and more people boarded, I couldn’t help but think that I did not belong. These people looked like runners. They looked ready. I sometimes still feel like I’m not a runner and I just felt so out of place.

We made it to Disneyland and walked the mile or so to the race area. It was really something special to be in Disney that early in the morning, “empty” (except for the staff and runners), with all of the lights. I wasn’t able to pick up my race bib, shirt, and packet ahead of time so we stopped to get those. Unfortunately they could only give me my bib so I have to “write to Disney” later to get the rest of my items. That was a bummer to hear because now we couldn’t get a group picture with our shirts later but definitely not the end of the world. I checked my sweater into the bag check, we all took a last minute bathroom break, and then we stopped to take a few pre-race photos. I was getting really nervous but it was just so exciting to be there that it didn’t matter. Everything was so organized and efficient too, which was really impressive.








I guess we had to pick a “pace” or race time when we signed up because we each had an assigned corral. We all had different ones and the Disney staff was checking pretty heavily so we split up. I was in corral G, ahead of them. How? I don’t know. When I turned the corner into the actual street with the corrals, my heart stopped. There were SO MANY PEOPLE. I had never seen that many people at a race before in my life. It was crazy. Indescribable. The line went on indefinitely it seemed. No picture could do it justice. The race started at 5:30am but my corral didn’t actually cross the start line until about 6am so I spent the time stretching and texting Kelsey and John. We were all eager to just get going!







The first part of the race was a little crowded but spread out pretty quickly. They had the corrals starting far enough apart that it really wasn’t an issue. I’m telling you, other races need to take note!

It wasn’t long until we turned into Disneyland. We started in “Cars” world, or whatever the official name was, and I instantly started crying. They were tears of joy, though. I was so overwhelmed! Everything I had worked for was finally happening. I was in Disneyland. The staff and characters were all out and cheering us on. The Disney music was playing on the speakers. It was all so much and I couldn’t hold back. So there I was, not even a mile into the race, smiling and crying at the same time while running. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t a sobbing cry… that happened later. I made the decision to stop and take pictures so long as I could do it quickly because I really wanted to focus on the race so I took a few along the way. The first 4-ish miles were all through Disneyland and California Adventures and I was so speechless the whole time. I think that helped distract me though because before I knew it, I was at mile #6! Right before though, there was a hill and at that moment, the sun was starting to peak through the clouds. It was so beautiful and brought me a lot of peace. I was running so well and not remotely out of breath (thank you, California weather for being so perfect).

No, 1:36:17 was not my time for 6 miles! Remember, the clock started at 5:30am and my corral started about 30 minutes later. I was at just over an hour which was made me pretty proud!

I took a QUICK walking break up a small hill and texted Kelsey and John some encouragement before taking off again. I ran nonstop until mile #8, took a short break again around the Honda Center, and then continued to mile #9. I didn’t have music on during the race so in the few areas of just runners, it was pretty quiet. I kept telling myself to push on, to keep running, to focus on big strides and not baby steps (very important!). There were plenty of areas though where bands, dance companies, cheerleaders, and car clubs were cheering us on. Volunteers passed out water and Powerade at every mile, helping us stay hydrated both physically and mentally. There were also hundreds of people sitting outside their shops and houses with their homemade posters, shouting words of encouragement. It was in those moments of people supporting us, strangers, along the way that made me teary-eyed and emotional again! They’ll never know how much it meant to me. Me, the girl who just a year ago couldn’t run a single mile without wanting to pass out. I didn’t know it but I needed their support. My heart swells each time I think about it and I’m so thankful to every stranger for being there. For every poster. For every high five. For every cup of water.

Our course took us through Angels stadium between miles #9 and #10. I didn’t expect to see so many MORE people in the stadium cheering! They had a mini party going on in there for the runners and it was so encouraging. Mile #9 was also where my right knee (actually, IT band) really started to act up. I spent a lot of time doing physical therapy on my LEFT IT band last winter but never thought my right one would betray me! Not today, of all days!

Things took a turn for the worse in mile #10. I was at a little less than 2 hours and I knew I could run 3 miles in the 40 minutes I had left to reach my 2.5 hour goal. However, my knee was finished. I was having to walk more and more but walking hurt just as bad as running did, if not more. I was limping. So, I’d try running again until the pain became too much. Switch to walking. Repeat. Mile #10 was my personal hell. I didn’t want to quit though. I wanted that 2.5 hour time. I pushed on.

At mile #11, I still had 28 minutes left. I kept telling myself to go. Run. I couldn’t run fast but it was faster than walking. Plus, there wasn’t much left. I’d run 2 miles a hundred times by then! These last 2 could not defeat me.

At 12.2 miles, John caught up to and passed me. I know this because as he soared by, he said “Come on, we’re at 12.2! Keep going!” I tried. I tried so hard. The course returned to Disneyland for the last half mile or so. Just then, there were crowds of people cheering for us for that last bit. I immediately started holding back tears. My knee hurt. The pain was unbearable. The people could see me struggling and were singling me out with their encouragements. I had to cross the finish line running. I was so close.

Finally, I saw the line. I couldn’t hold the tears back anymore. But now, I was smiling too. I did it. I was there. I ran a half marathon. If it hadn’t been for my knee, I could have kept going. My stamina was there. My energy was there. My heart was there. My knee wasn’t.

I crossed the finish line at 2 hours and 33 minutes and immediately broke down in tears. I hunched over and sobbed. I cried tears of pain, happiness, and pride all at once. I wiped my face and snapped a selfie. #doitfortheblog

My finish line pictures do a good job at showing how much pain I was in, too.


Disney being Disney, they had an organized path of stops until the main gathering area so I had to keep going. The first one was to receive my medal and again, I cried as she put it on. She was the 3rd person to ask me if I was okay or needed help! Next was water and after that was medical. I skipped the medical but quickly saw John so caught up with him. His knees were iced and he suggested I do the same so I went back to medical and iced up. Both sides, baby.

John and I continued down the path to the food station where we got a box of snacks and a banana. After that was the photo station where a professional took our pictures and then finally, the main area again. It was packed. Everyone was either sprawled out on the concrete, up walking around, stretching, taking pictures, or visiting a tent (the massage tent was the most busy). We didn’t want to sit yet so we walked around, stopped by another [free] photo area, stretched, and finally parked our bottoms on the pavement. Note the baby arm muscles!

After inhaling our snacks, we slowly and painfully got up. I got my sweater from the bag check and we texted Kelsey a meeting point. She joined us just a few minutes later and we all rested a little more. If you recall, the walk from the shuttle stop to the area in the morning was about a mile so we knew we had a mile back to the shuttle. We took some pictures and started the trek back. I limped the entire time, my knee hurting more and more.

We finally made it back to the shuttle and to the hotel, a little after 10:30am… happy to be finished but all in so much pain.

John and Kelsey immediately hit the floor but I had to go straight to the shower to get ready for my afternoon outing with my cousin! No rest for this girl.

My second cousin, Michael, picked me up just after 11am and we drove to Newport Beach to get electric bicycles. He had a bike trip planned for us down Huntington Beach so we rode over to the waterside, took a ferry to the other side, and enjoyed a 4ish hour bike ride around the area. I was so glad that I didn’t have to pedal and the bikes were so much fun to ride! We enjoyed a great lunch and saw some amazing houses. He’s lived quite the life and was able to tell me all about the area (million dollar homes, you guys) and the people he has worked with  and houses he’s worked on (Kobe, Lauren Condrad’s parents house, Heather from the Real Housewives, and more). He took me to some gorgeous scenic areas too, including a place called “The Wedge” where there are 30+foot waves on one side and completely still and calm waters on the other. After we returned our bikes, we quickly drove through Laguna Beach before heading back to the hotel to drop me off. It was an awesome visit. Michael and I had only met once before back at a family reunion in 2008 but we talked like we had known each other forever. I remember connecting with him really well at the reunion so I wasn’t worried about us not having anything to talk about here. We got along so well and have so much in common. We’re very similar people and it was very easy to see how we’re related. I loved hearing more about that side of the family too. I got incredibly sunburned but had a great time visiting with him!

When I finally got to the hotel around 6pm, I was exhausted. We all were. None of us wanted to move so we ordered room service for dinner and watched the last of the UT vs. Notre Dame football game before calling it a night.

The race results also came through. There were just over 13,000 participants, 1,400 in my division (women, ages 25-27). Here’s where I landed:

I was disappointed in my knee and my time being 3 minutes slower than I wanted but there are so many other things to be thankful for: my blisters from the day before not hurting, the extra soft marathon socks Kelsey let me use, the weather, the venue, the people, my best friends, for finishing. The list goes on. I’m so proud of myself for this accomplishment. I know so many people run half marathons regularly or as warm ups to full marathons but I cannot compare my achievements to theirs. This was big for me, for all of us, and I’m so unbelievably proud.

Y’all, a half marathon is difficult. I can’t say I’d run another one but never say never because it turned out that I did belong on the bus this morning with all of those runners. I was one of them.

We have a full day planned at Disneyland and California Adventures tomorrow and even though 2 of us can barely walk (Kelsey came out unharmed), we’re going to have an awesome day!

Until tomorrow,


… to Hollywood, Santa Monica, and Venice Beach!

We had one day left before our half marathon so we decided to squeeze as much in as we could in the LA area before heading to Anaheim! Wanting to sleep in, we decided to leave at 9am but being the early riser I am, I was wide awake at 7am. I stalled until 7:30am but finally decided to just get up and get ready. I tried to do it quietly (I did my makeup on the bathroom floor) but that didn’t work and we were all up shortly after and out the door by 8:30am!



Our first stop was Hollywood Boulevard. Our hotel was walking distance away so we hiked over, stopping for breakfast at Dunkin Donuts on the way including Neil Patrick Harris, the crew of Apollo 11, and Bobby Flay. We ran into Garth Brooks’ star and noticed there were a lot of musicians in that area. When I looked up, I realized we were in front of Capitol Records! We had spent so much time looking down reading the stars that we didn’t even recognize where we were! That was not our finest moment.



We continued on, taking pictures of what seemed like a million other stars (I won’t bore you with those pictures) until we made it to a nice shopping area near the Dolby Theater with a great view of the Hollywood sign. Up until then, the area was pretty run down so it was nice for it to finally “feel” like Hollywood.





Next was the Grauman’s Chinese Theater. The area was so crowded and we were short for time because we needed to check out of the hotel. We decided to bail and come back with the car. It was a long walk back at that point but the weather was amazing. We got our bags and headed back to Hollywood Boulevard with the car to finish what we started.

It was cool to see so many signatures and prints at Grauman’s, especially the older ones like Shirley Temple. I was most excited when I found Jennifer Aniston’s though! It was hidden by a photo stand but I snagged a picture anyway.







We kept walking, enjoying more stars, and made it to the end… of one side! Crossing the street, we headed back down the other side. We had some better views of the theaters from that side, too.








By this point, we were ready for lunch. We made our way back to the shopping center and grabbed a bite to eat at the Hollywood Hills cafe. We also enjoyed an amazing churro afterward!



I had really, really wanted to find Jennifer Aniston’s star but we hadn’t seen it yet and while there wasn’t much of the strip left, we were kind of over it. I decided to Google the location and guess what… her star was exactly where we had started that morning, just across the street. Of course, right? Thankfully, Kelsey and John were willing to humor me and we drove down there and snagged a picture before heading to Santa Monica. What you can’t tell from this picture is that the ground was scorching hot and my shins were on fire! Worth it.

We left Hollywood around 2:30pm and drove by the most amazing houses ever, and some not so amazing ones. We started to look up the costs online and all were over a million. One was $3.9 million… seriously, why!?

We made it to Santa Monica an hour later. Parking was tough but we managed to grab a spot and head towards the pier. I’m chronically cold so I thought it was a little chilly outside, especially as we got closer to the water, but still nice! I wouldn’t trade it for 100 degree Texas heat but a jacket would’ve been amazing. I tried, and failed, to swing from a branch on the way there.



The pier and beach were crowded but beautiful. We walked along the shore and I kicked off my shoes to walk through the water. We explored the pier and enjoyed a delicious funnel cake too. The pier serves as the end of “route 66” so we walked to the tip and saw a seal swimming around.

Venice Beach wasn’t too far so we headed there next. At that point we were kind of just going to say we went so we didn’t stay very long but it was still very beautiful… and cold! Between being cold outside and cold in the car, I really just wanted a big warm blanket!





After Venice Beach, we traveled an hour to Anaheim to check in to our hotel. It was getting late so we quickly headed to dinner at the Cheesecake Factory where we obviously ate too much and justified it by saying we were running the next day. We talked a lot about tomorrow’s race and had a good time! Kelsey laughed so loudly at one point that a random waiter walking by commented that he loved her laugh which only embarrassed her more! It sure made John and I laugh though. I seriously love getting to spend time with them and we’re all so lucky to be able to take this trip together!

After a full day of walking, I developed blisters on my feet. That is not good because I don’t need a reason for my feet to hurt during the run! We’re all so exhausted and with a 4am wakeup call, I’m sure we’ll be asleep soon!

Until tomorrow,


… to California! 

First, a little history: I grew up playing volleyball and swimming. I hated running and luckily, neither sport required much of it. I was always a reasonable weight; never a stick but never overweight. I somehow managed to avoid the “freshman 15” in college but instead ran straight into the “junior 40” and just packed on the pounds. About 6 months after college, I was living in San Antonio and depressed. Very. Depressed. A lot had happened in that 6 months and I felt like my life was spiraling and the only thing I COULD control was my weight. I joined Weight Watchers and lost 20 pounds in just a few months. Shortly after, I moved back to Houston and started coming out of my depression. Over the next 3 years, I gained all of the weight back plus a few extra pounds (I blame the over achiever in me). I could deflect accountability on how and why I gained it all back but it doesn’t matter. On my 26th birthday in March of 2015, I decided I had enough. By the end of June I had lost 20 pounds. In July, I joined a gym, got a trainer, and began working out 3 times a week. Within another few months, I was working out at least 5 times a week. In December, I started doing Bikram yoga at least once a week. In the new year, I started playing sand volleyball again regularly. All of this while running the occasional 5K with my family or friends. My by 27th birthday in March 2016, I had lost a total of 50 pounds and am now currently in the best shape of my life. I’m the smallest, healthiest, most active I’ve ever been (and happiest, too, for those keeping count). Here’s a before and after for you, comparing Dec 2013 to Dec 2015. Here’s to never going back!

So, why does all of that matter? It all leads up to last February when my best friend, her husband, and I decided to sign up for a half marathon (13.1 miles). The two of them took control of their health and bodies (they were my inspiration!) recently too and we decided to just go for it. We have all worked really hard to be able to do something like this so we didn’t pick just any local half marathon though… we picked one of the biggest, most fun, craziest ones: The Disneyland Half Marathon.

Here we are, 6 months later, ready to go! Well, almost… the race isn’t actually until Sunday. I had to work all week and take care of my responsibilities in Houston first so I visited with my nieces Tuesday night and brought them a 115 piece food set for their kitchen. Seriously, I know it’s early but I think it’s safe to award me the “Aunt of the Year” award.

Wednesday, I continued working on my Europe scrapbook. Should I have worked on laundry and packed? Yes. Should I have cleaned my apartment? Yes. Should I have worked out since I skipped my workouts on Monday and Tuesday? Yes. Did I do any of that? No. I scrapbook-ed. I’m determined to finish that thing in a reasonable account of time!

I dropped Elliott off my at dad and step mom’s house on Thursday after work and visited with them. Elliott stayed with them while I was in Europe so I know he loves being there (and they love him) and that he’s well taken care of. Look how excited he was at their front door!

My dad was nice enough to give me his parking card for the airport so I wouldn’t have to pay for parking, which I appreciate!
Afterward, my mom treated me to a manicure and pedicure. I got to sport some amazing shoes though because of my clumsiness and inability to wear my own proper, pedicure-safe shoes. If only they had a way to protect my hands though because I promptly messed up my thumb helping cook dinner that night (mom and Robert made ‘breakfast for dinner’ – the best) and chipped my finger Friday morning whilst shaving my legs in the shower. Why do I bother?!



I left work early Friday, ran some errands, picked up the most delicious salad for lunch from my one of my favorite restaurants, packed, quickly cleaned up, got a Chick Fil A milkshake (I still don’t know why… ) and headed to the airport.




Check out those nails! You can’t even tell I had to touch them up with my own polish. I’m nothing if not a resourceful problem solver.

I started to get nervous on my way to the airport because I wasn’t as familiar with Hobby as IAH and was scheduled to change planes in Dallas, an airport I definitely don’t know. It was giving me a little anxiety but I kept reminding myself that I navigated the Athens airport and changed planes in Istanbul to get home to Houston. If I could do that, I could do this. I also had never parked at one of those parking spots outside of the airport before (with the exception of family vacations) but if I could navigate Paris and Rome subways, I could do this too. Travel level = expert.

Also on my way to the airport, I received notification that my Dallas to LA flight was delayed by a few hours which meant a longer layover. That was a bummer but while sitting at the gate in Houston, I received another notification that while it was still delayed, it wasn’t going to be as long as they thought. That was good news! Good things were happening, people. That is, until they took my paper boarding pass from me. Call me old school but I like having a physical, printed boarding pass and always get one instead of using my phone. I recognize that goes directly against my love for my Kindle though vs. a physical book… the struggle between being old fashioned/traditional and being a modern millennial is constant. I do like holding a book but logistically, it makes more sense to pack a single, compact device instead of several space-taking books. First world problems. But really, if that was the worst thing to happen then life is good.

I boarded the plane and Kelsey texted me (she and John flew over earlier in the day) a picture of an amazing looking donut type thing that they saved for me! I have the greatest friends who clearly know and understand my love for food, specifically sweets. The diet struggle is also constant!

We took off around 5:45pm and landed a short 40 minutes later. I wasn’t asleep on the plane but I definitely wasn’t awake. I don’t know what it is about plane rides but no matter how long they are, you always come out looking and feeling gross. My cute French braid was not so cute anymore. Enjoy a predictable picture of the wing in the sky (my favorite seat) and my attempt at taking a selfie upon landing without embarrassing myself. I don’t think I succeeded.



I picked up some Chick Fil A before heading to my gate, not because I was hungry but because I knew I would be hungry. It was the only thing that sounded good but even so, I couldn’t eat it all. Plus, they gave me “smokehouse bbq” sauce instead of the regular kind and that’s just not okay. Kidding, it’s not that bad and it grew on me but the regular one is better!

My layover was about 2 hours during which I read my Kindle, wrote the majority of this blog, tried to stay warm in that icebox of an airport, and tried to stay awake. I also did some people watching. Airports make for some serious Grade A people watching, take my word on it. My favorite was listening to everyone realize the flight time changed and complaining. Not choosing to be notified of your flight’s status? Travel level = rookie.

I developed an awful headache during the layover so I picked up some Tylenol and chocolate before boarding around 8:20pm. I said goodbye to my paper ticket once again. it’s a good thing I’m not scrapbooking this trip!

We took off right on time at 8:40pm local time and the promptness was appreciated. I read the entire flight and finished my book with about 30 minutes to spare. The cabin was freezing so I was a shivering mess with a runny nose the entire time. My eyes were watery from yawning so much and the Tylenol never really kicked in. It’s also worth noting that I completely regretted the Chick Fil A because my stomach hurt the entire time. BUT, despite all of that, I landed safely in LA at 9:35pm local time (11:35pm Houston time). That’s all that matters! I hadn’t flown Southwest in a long time and was told the crew was pretty entertaining. That proved true when we landed and the pilot said “alright, get out.”

Kelsey and John picked me up and we braved the crazy airport and LA traffic to run by McDonald’s (they were hungry) and then to the hotel. I forced them to take a picture for the blog, even though we all look crazy. #3bestfriends

I’m glad to finally have made it here and am looking forward to the fun long weekend ahead… yes, including the half marathon!

Until tomorrow,