Thursday, October 31, 2013

Life Lesson

Tonight while out trick-or-treating I had one of those life lessons handed to me.

I saw a minivan out in the neighborhood taking the kids from house to house. Or so it seemed.

My first thought was: man are they lazy! It is a gorgeous 60 degree night. The drizzling stopped. Why bother going door to door in a minivan? The houses aren't THAT far apart.

That's when I bumped into the family in question. My neighbors.

This time last year the dad was having undiagnosed symptoms that baffled the doctors. After many months of testing, he was finally diagnosed with the worst possible diagnosis: ALS, otherwise known as Lou Gherig's Disease. Within that time period he went from driving, working full-time and otherwise being like most people to deteriorating quite rapidly. He is now in a wheelchair and mobility is quite difficult, as is his ability to communicate.

To them, trick or treating by car was their way of letting dad enjoy Halloween with the kids. It was also their way to just hit the homes of a few special people. It allowed the kids to go out and enjoy the holiday, which is also important.

For me, it was a lesson in not judging others. A lesson I keep needing to be reminded about. Maybe someday, with God's help, I'll get to the point where I don't judge first. I know I can't get to that point without His help.

Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013


It has been two years since our last Disneyland trip. That was when we flew out to do my first half marathon with Aunt Joanie. Late 2012, when I signed up for the Princess Half Marathon it was with the intention of signing up for the 2013 Disneyland Half Marathon, which then turned into the Dumbo Double Dare with the addition of the Alice in Wonderland 10K race the day before.

Whew! That is a lot of links for the first paragraph alone. I'll break the rest of the story up into two parts: friends and what's new.


For us a trip to Disneyland is like a family reunion. We spend time with friends we met on past trips, friends we met outside of Disney, and brand-new friends we meet for the first time. This trip was no different.

We enjoyed listening to Ragtime Robert, especially while Ashley played Musical Chairs. It is always a treat.

Ashley always adores seeing Brianna. We met her on one of our very first trips to Disneyland when she was an art student home on winter break (January 2006?). She would sit in Coke Corner and draw pictures of the characters. Since then she has only gotten better. Now-a-days Ashley shares her artwork with Brianna. The best is when they both go to the Animation Academy and draw together.

Marilyn is a former Disneyland character host, and a friend. We met up for a bit to see another friend, Fawn. Fawn is one of Tinkerbell's friends. She is an animal talent fairy. Ashley loves animals. Over the years, Fawn and Ashley would tell recurring stories. One year she helped Tinkerbell "tinker" something for Peter Pan. She and Ashley tell Mimomite adventures to each other (mimomites are mythical creatures Ashley invented, but Fawn has illustrated). It turned into one of those magical moments, as so often happens for us at Disneyland.

Kimberly is a "Dreamer" -- one of the Year of a Million Dreams cast members who spread extra magic. Kimberly now works backstage. Back in her days as a dreamer, though, she carried an autograph book with her. She would ask kids in costumes to sign her book. We bumped into her a couple of times on that trip. That year (2007?) she was Tiger Lilly (not, Pocahontas, because she was wearing braids) and Iridessa (another one of Tinkerbell's fairy friends, she is a light talent fairy). Since that trip we have contacted Kimberly to come in the park to play with us after work. She has since seen Ashley dressed up a Mary Poppins, Wendy Darling, Alice in Wonderland, and finally as Ashley. Each time she added an autograph to the book. Kimberly has since moved, but when she heard we were coming, she made sure she could find the autograph book so Ashley could add to it.

This time we also briefly met her fiance, John. Hopefully next time he'll be able to hang with us at the Animation Studio. Kimberly and Ashley drew Steamboat Mickey, Steamboat Minnie and Oswald the Rabbit -- old school characters.

Dave was Don's "little" in their college fraternity. He was in our wedding back in 1992. Since then he has met Lisa, got married, moved to California, and had Siena. Siena is like the little sister Ashley does not have, and Ashley is like a big sister to Siena. She certainly looks up to Ashley with those enormous eyes of hers, and holds her hand as they dance through Disney. While Ashley is by no means, ancient, seeing Disney through the eyes of Siena brings back some more magic. Within 30 minutes of hanging out with Siena, Dave and Lisa, Ashley posed with 5 different characters and danced through Town Square. It just doesn't get better than that.

We've seen East Coast friends in Disneyland other times (most notably in 2011 when Hurricane Irene trapped Neil and Patty in California for a few extra days), but this was the first time we spent at Disney with Heather and Jolie. Heather, Jolie (and Dan, of course) are huge Disney World fans. The girls met up with some other friends in California at the same time we were in California. It was very magical being able to share our Disney park with them. 

While hanging out with them, Alice came up to Ashley and said "you grew," code for it has been a while since I last saw you last. Other times it has been phrased as "you ate a magic mushroom" or simply "AAASSSHHHHLLEEEEY!!!" Ahh... that is what makes Disneyland so magical for us. It doesn't matter how long it has been, we always bump into someone we know and catch up as if time has not passed at all.


Well, the biggest "new" for us is that this was Ashley's first trip without costumes. I once read 10 is the cut off, and as it is on our last trip to Disneyland when Ashley wore her Alice in Wonderland costume heads were turning and at least one person almost asked her for her autograph before realizing his mistake. I wanted that experience to end on our terms and not with Disney getting upset.

Meanwhile, we learned about a new trend called "Disney Bound" where you take clothes found in your closet or at a thrift store or with your imagination and dress like the character. It seems to be an extension of Dapper Days. On most days we saw people doing this, of course it is greatest on the weekends when the locals have off from work. It was super, super hot each day, so I give them a lot of credit for dressing up. Anyway, this gives us some ideas for ways Ashley can dress up in the future without actually dressing up. She did admit that she missed wearing a costume, but it was so hot it was probably a good thing.

Carnation Plaza is now part of Fantasyland. We spent a lot of time trying to figure out how it was before. Our fondest memory from the past was having Ashley play hide and seek with Peter Pan. With the new transformation came moving Princess Fantasy Faire, and some of the princesses (Snow White, Belle, and others) are back to roaming instead of being penned up. Being "penned up," though is not as bad as it had been. Now the area is air conditioned, they announce who will be seen, and the line maxed out at 30 minutes when we were there, instead of the 2 hours we used to stand in line. We swung through a few times, but it just wasn't the same.

Now that the old Princess Fantasy Faire space is empty, they added in a show called "Mickey and the Magic Map" -- a show filled with singing, dancing and a lot of characters. Something else new -- Mickey and Minnie now blink and their mouths move when they talk and sing. Two year ago this was in the testing phase, but we were not lucky enough to see it in person.

On Main Street inside the gallery is the Ink and Paint studio. Not only can you watch an artist create a cel as he would have in the early days of animation, he will explain to you what he is doing and all about the history of animation. I was really surprised Ashley did not want to spend more time talking to him.

New for that week, was watching the transformation from Fourth of July bunting and summer to Halloween. Wish we could have stayed an extra couple of weeks to be there on Friday, September 13 when Jack Skellington took over the Haunted Mansion. I know, not realistic, but I can still dream about teleporting back and forth to Disneyland on a whim.

Merida from "Brave" was the only new character we saw on the trip. As we had already met her in Florida, I'm not sure if she counts as new.

This is definitely not new, but rather a thing of the past. Not long after we left, the Court of Angels in New Orleans Square was taken out in order to expand Club 33. It was one of those few always quiet spots at Disney (except as I tried to take this picture!). A beautiful place to take family pictures. But, alas, not a place where they made any money. One Christmas they did take over the space with a Christmas shop, but that was temporary. This change is permanent. 

And something else not new ... rising ticket prices. Ouch! We paid much more this time for our Run Disney discounted 5 day pass than we did in 2005 for our first Annual Pass. As always, I'm glad we were able to go as often as we did when it was all still so magical for Ashley. Having been to four out of the five parks, this one will always remain my favorite.

A Piece of My Heart -- SVP

There are many different reasons to see a show. Maybe you've seen the show before and you want to see it done differently. Maybe you've seen other shows by the same person and want to see a new one. Maybe you just trust the playhouse to do something that will make you think and will see anything they do. Maybe you have a season ticket subscription and want to support a particular theater.

My favorite reason for seeing a show is because I have a friend in the cast.

Saturday night, theater buddy Carolyn and I went to see Roberta in Somerset Valley Players' production of "A Piece of My Heart."  


The play revolves around the lives of five women and a singer who each served as nurses in the Vietnam War. The playwright, Shirley Lauro, based her 1991 story on oral histories recorded from actual nurses who served in the war. It covers their lives leading up to why they joined the service, their deployment, and their lives after they came back to the states. The cast is rounded out by one man who plays all of the roles of American Serviceman.

Susan Berlin at Talking Broadway describes the six archetypal women as following:
a self-described military brat who wants to be an Army nurse like her mother
a wide-eyed singer who gets booked as an entertainer at military camps
a small-town girl who sees military service as a way to break out
a wealthy young woman who horrifies her parents by applying for Red Cross work in the war zone
a half-Chinese, half-Italian nurse from New York City who thinks she's going to serve in a rehabilitation hospital in Hawaii
and an African-American career officer who takes an overseas posting to improve her professional standing.

As you can see from the list, it is a really hard play to cast. They need both an Asian-American woman and an African-American woman. Each of the 7 actors has a series of monologues, often spoken as someone else is saying theirs. They also each play different smaller roles (or the cast can be expanded to include these roles). The topic is intense. Though performed without many props, the performances are intense. In one scene an actress is "holding" a boot with a foot still in it -- even though there is nothing physically in her hand, all the raw emotion is still conveyed. It is not an easy play to perform, or to watch, but it is an important story to tell so these women are not completely forgotten about in history.

The performance at SVP was riveting. It is days later and I can't get it out of my mind. Though Samuel French, the owner of the show, says it is appropriate for audiences as young as 11, I am glad I left my 11 year old home. The show is running through November 10. I highly recommend seeing it.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Musical Chairs at Disneyland

Back in May 2005 we took our very first trip to Disneyland with our almost 3-year old princess. It was meant to be a one time trip, but since we were planning on being there for over a week, we purchased an annual pass for $199 each for Don and I with the AAA discount. Ashley was still free. Fast forward 7 years, the same pass is now $750 a year each, and, no, we do not have one.

Our first trip coincided with Disneyland celebrating its 50th anniversary -- a celebration that lasted for 18 months before becoming the 18-month Year of a Million Dreams. 

Our early trips revolved around the characters' schedules -- especially Alice and the Mad Hatter. Back in those days the characters played games. Team Wonderland would play hide and seek in Town Square against Team Neverland. Later in the day they would play Red Light, Green Light and other classic games. They also went on rides with the kids. Of this fun, the only one that still continues is Musical Chairs at 2:30 in Coke Corner. The Mad Hatter leads it with Alice's help while the piano player accompanies. Of course, our favorite days are when Ragtime Robert is playing the piano. At times other characters come and join the fun. We've seen everyone from The White Rabbit to Cruella DeVil to Chip and Dale play the game. You just never know who will be there to play. They don't sign autographs during the game, they just play.

As each player loses (er...becomes an unwinner) they are invited to tell a joke or sing a song or dance or something. It is so predictable that prior to the trip Ashley and Don work on jokes for the Mad Hatter. This year's best joke "Why did the traffic light turn red?" "You would, too, if you had to change in the middle of the street." That was a favorite. Another, "which tea is the Mad Hatter's least favorite?" "M-Tea, of course!" (empty) Ashley aims to get out so she can skip the final round.

There is rarely a true winner as the last round includes the Mad Hatter ordering "keep your eye on the chair." The piano player plays and the Mad Hatter, Alice and anyone else around moves the chairs, or Alice leads the kids on a wild path through Coke Corner. In the end, they announce it was the white chair with the red seat -- of which there are many. A TIE is then declared (by the Mad Hatter who holds his tie as he makes the declaration). In the more than 100 times Ashley has played since 2006 (we didn't know about it on our first trip or two) she has only won a couple of times. One time the prize was a map in German that the Mad Hatter found earlier in the day. Another time the prize was a pack of sugar, another time it was a tea bag. 

It has become a staple that we play almost every single day of every trip. Friends know that they can find us if they pop by "chairs" at 2:30.

This article was about to be about our entire trip to Disneyland, but has since morphed into a trip down memory lane about musical chairs. Let's continue the trip.

Our first rounds of musical chairs were played at the Plaza Pavilion (which later became the Annual Pass Processing Center, and is now the bake shop). Our very first rounds of musical chairs did not include a piano player since the piano player was out (I think this was just before Ragtime Robert was hired and they were down a pianist). Instead we hummed. It was to the extent that Don and I did not believe they actually had a piano player. It was lovely up there because it felt more like a stage.

A couple of times the Mad Hatter has been unable to attend. Alice would lead it, but it wasn't the same. One time Burt (from "Mary Poppins" led it). 

There have been a few times that Musical Chairs has not happened on our trips, such as the day they filmed the Christmas Parade and it was mass chaos on Main Street. On those days, we feel as if something is missing.

It is the best character interaction. If you are ever at Disneyland, I highly remember checking out 2:30 Musical Chairs. If you time it right, you'll also hear some great piano playing.

Quick note: this only happens at Disneyland. It does not happen at Walt Disney World or Tokyo Disney.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Demon Hunters Fear the Silence

I have two big regrets from 2011. The first is that I did not go on a church mission trip to Nepal. The second is that I did not become a zombie. You might be thinking, had I flown all the way to Nepal and back, I would have looked like a zombie, but that's not what I mean. Other than both opportunities taking place in 2011, there was no connection.

Let's back up to 2009. Ashley and I were in our first play, "It's a Wonderful Life" at Somerset Valley Players. She was the adorable Zuzu, and I was Miss Carter, the mean bank examiner who becomes nice in the end (the part is a man in the movie, but a woman in the play version). It was a fabulous experience. Through that I made some good friends. One of those friends is Brian Gildea, who played Clarence. (side note: thanks to I just learned he was a student in the 1994 Robert Redford film "Quiz Show")

Brian emailed me and others from the cast of "Wonderful Life" to offer us the chance to be in his movie "Demon Hunters Fear the Silence." He was the lead, and also the casting director. The movie shoot was about 90 minutes away, and the commitment was for a full long day. Lots of excuses, most of which I regret, and I didn't make it. Some other cast members did. Al Contursi, who was George Bailey, has a pretty large part in the movie. Mike, Jim, James, and Chris were all zombies in the film.

About two weeks ago Brian emailed me to invite me to the premier of his movie. That I jumped at the chance to see. Don and I drove to the Bow Tie Cinemas in Middletown, NJ. The theater was filled with cast members, family members and friends. After the 90 minute movie we had a Q&A session with the cast and the opportunity to purchase DVDs and posters. I bought a DVD and had Al and Brian autograph it for me. 

The best part of the movie was playing spot my friends. It is a classic horror film ... a group of strangers are left stranded at a bus stop when they encounter a zombie as they run away from him to a place they thought was safe (Al's character's office building) they find out the place is filled with zombies. The phone lines don't work. Enter the Demon Hunters (Brian and his friends) to save the day. 

It was an honor to be among those seeing it in the theater. I wish Brian and his cast the best of luck as they seek to have it shown in more theaters. Someday I'll be able to say "I knew him when...".

The following year I did get another opportunity to be in a movie. This time I jumped at it. I played a theater goer in the movie "Poor Earl." I was promised imdb credit in exchange for my day, but I'm not seeing either the movie or my credit. It was still a fun experience.

A review of the movie can be found HERE

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

I'm a winner -- yeah!

I have really fallen behind lately in many ways. Thank you notes have not been written. I have not sent copies of pictures to people. The "weekend" remodeling project is well into its second month. Long training runs have not been happening. 

I am most embarrassed that I have not thanked Anne at Outrunning the Fork for awarding me the "Shine-On Award" last month. I've been seeing this award circulate around my running friends' blogs and kept hoping I, too, would win this coveted award.

Thank you to for this honor. For reading me, and liking me! Please don't think my delay in replying to you has anything to do with my lack of excitement over the award. 

Here are the rules:
- Visit and thank the blogger who nominated you. Normally I receive an email with Anne's updates, and also see her on Facebook. Today I finally visited her site. I love the look of the page. I've been using Blogspot, but I'm liking her format on Bloglovin' enough I should check out their blog design tools.

- Acknowledge that blogger on your blog, and link back. Done :)

- Share seven random, interesting things about yourself. This is one of two reasons why I have not done this until today.

- Nominate up to 15 bloggers for the Shine On Award, provide a link to their blogs in your post, and notify them on their blogs. This is the other reason. It is an awesome responsibility, plus many of the blogs I love are family blogs. I'm not sure these friends would welcome traffic from strangers. If you would, though, let me know and I'll include you here.

Seven Random Facts About Me
1) I love dangling earrings, and hate when I lose one.

2) I want to do a sprint triathlon before I turn 50. That gives me barely 6 more years to learn how to swim and ride a bike -- I know the basics of each, but not the endurance. As well as the other logistics involved with a tri.

3) I've been running for about 4 years now, but still don't love it. Once in a while I enjoy it, but have not fallen in love with it., though I do love the way I feel because I run. I also love the bling that I have collected.

4) I spent a formative year in Belgium, from which came a daily chocolate habit, a passing ability to communicate in French, and majoring in history in college. Through Faceboook I recently reconnected with some of my friends from that year. Just being around them on-line makes me feel 25 years younger.

5) I also have a daily, year-round ice cream addiction.

6) I love reading. My favorite genre is cozy mysteries about ordinary women who solve crimes that baffle the experts. I can trace this love back to when I was 10 and devoured Nancy Drew books.

7) I still use a flip phone that is rarely charged, even more rarely on, and even more rarely with me. It is the worst possible way to find me.

This is another challenging spot. Some of my favorite blogs are those started by friends as a way to share life updates, such as Bella's People, Silver and Gold, and The Smith Summary. I don't think they would welcome the traffic they might get from me. On the other hand, usually only a couple of dozen people read my blog posts.

The other issue is that this has been circulating around my running friends, so I want to try to widen the net on this awesome bragging rights award. My friend Darla left her corporate job with a dream, a dream which has blossomed with her care. She is a fabulous organizer, and an even more amazing friend. I think this is a lovely blog, but I admit I am partial because I do a lot of the writing for it. Kara is another fabulous woman with a dream. She and her business partner, Rick, opened the first Do It Yourself Photo Studio. Her blog is about helping others become terrific photographers, too. I've really been enjoying Jo-Lynne's take on fashion over 40. I can so relate, as well as learn from her. Mr. Daps's pictures of Disneyland always make me want to hop on a plane to visit the place in person. Another fabulous blogger who writes about Disneyland. Her stories are always fun to read. Written by my sister, an excellent writer. May this award inspire her to update her blog.


Monday, October 21, 2013

A Future Pilot?

On a beautiful fall day, Chapter 176 of the EAA offered free airplane rides to all children between the ages of 7 and 17 through their Young Eagles program. The timing was just right for us, and the weather was nearly perfect. 

The EAA flies out of Ronson Aviation at the Trenton-Mercer County Airport, a 10 minute drive from our house.

Pilots are on hand to answer question before, during and after your flight. Ashley was teamed up with Pilot Jim and two other kids. Through a game of Rock, Paper, Scissors, Ashley won the shotgun seat.

Jim took them up in his Mooney, a very high performance airplane. Considering how windy it was, I was glad she was flying in a plane that is better designed to handle the wind.

 I  handed Ashley my small camera so she could take some pictures from the air, while I kept my bigger camera so I could take pictures of them in the airplane.

Their flight plan had them turning left off of the runway, flying over Merrill Lynch, up to Hopewell, making another couple of lefts, then returning along the Bucks County side of the Delaware River. All together she was in the air about 15-20 minutes while I stood on the ground chatting with some Lawrenceville residents.

They did not fly over our house, but they did fly over her friend's 

Ashley's report 

What I saw on my Young Eagles Flight...

We flew over Hopewell and saw the quarry where Maia and I went swimming. I saw her neighborhood.

We flew over the Delaware River. We saw Philadelphia on the horizon. 

We saw lots of houses and some farms. 

I could feel the wind blowing on my head. The wind also rocked the airplane back and forth.


After that she flew a flight simulator and had a huge grin on her face the entire time.

Less than a year ago, Ashley panicked whenever we had a flight booked. This year she flew with us out of Trenton-Mercer Airport to Florida on Frontier. Then a giant trip to Japan. Then solo trip to Michigan to see a BFF from kindergarten (again out of Trenton-Mercer Airport). Then to California out of Dulles. Now she is flying in a plane smaller than I could ever imagine. 

She has come a long way!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Great Flooring Project

One of my resolutions for the year was to do some home renovation. This past February I painted the upstairs bathroom and gave it a face lift. I then set my sights on the family room.

Last month we started a weekend project that is still not quite finished. We replaced the floors in the kitchen and family room.



End (or as close to it as we are right now):

 Obviously the kitchen is a bit more done than the family room. The new floor is "floating" atop the old floor. With a new floor, came the wish for a new color on the walls. Nothing else changed, but it feels like a new space. 
(top without flash, bottom with, it changes the look of the colors)

Also obviously, the family room is not yet finished. The new fake-hardwood floor is much softer than advertised. We will probably have to resort to making friends take off their high heeled shoes before entering the room. Fortunately, most of our friends don't dress up like that. We quickly realized the need for a rug so some of the furniture can be placed back in the room without scuffing the floor. I just don't know what I want in a carpet! It might also cut down on the echoes we now hear in the room.

The renovation also encouraged us to part with the blinds and a swag of dried flowers, both of which were nearing 20 years. Thus, leaving some empty spaces.

The bottom half of the family room is a shade darker than the kitchen. Ashley chose the color for the kitchen. Don chose the lower half for the family room. I chose the upper half of the family room's color. A group effort. We kept the border in the family room and painted over the stencil I did in the kitchen.

The dress-up area has moved to the basement. This frees up the corner currently being occupied by the ladder. 

As always with a house, there is something to be done. Hopefully this weekend I'll touch up the area I missed between the electrical wires:

And the spot Kitty Lucy painted with her tail:

It is just never-ending. Yet, somehow that doesn't bother me.

World Communion Day

God, religion and church hold a very special place in my heart. No date on the church calendar holds as special of a place for me as World Communion Sunday.

The name alone gives me goose bumps. It is often held on the first Sunday in October by many different denominations and congregations throughout the world. It is the one day a year we all celebrate communion.

Now I'll admit, as a kid I thought we all took communion at exactly the same time around the globe and weren't we lucky at my home church that the time coincided with our worship time. I suppose it wasn't until I was in Belgium and our worship time did not change that it all clicked.

Speaking of Belgium, I was in Liege in 1987-88, before the world wide web as we know it existed, yet somehow my host family was thoughtful enough and had the right resources to find an English speaking church for me.

A couple of years later while studying in Paris, World Communion Day took on a new meaning as I realized my boyfriend (now husband) was also celebrating the day at his church, while I worshiped at the American Church of Paris.

When we worship at WINK we take communion every Sunday. I still get goosebumps on the first Sunday in October when I see the global picture of Christians all over the world sharing the Lord's Supper together in a virtual way.

La Brea Tar Pits

On each of our trips to Southern California we always aim to do something different. Get in our rental car and leave the cocoon we call Disneyland. This trip's big get out of town trip was to the La Brea Tar Pits.

Back in the summer of 1982 we took a family vacation to Southern California. It is probably one of the most memorable trips we ever took as kids in part because it was the only time we went to California, and because I was 12 (almost 13) at the time. We saw our new Uncle Sterling. I hung out at a country club with a relative of one of our neighbors who used to spend part of her summer in Paramus, went to Disneyland, the beach, and La Brea Tar Pits. The trip the took an eastern turn via Houston to Denver to visit Aunt Barbara and Uncle Allen when they lived there.

Fast forward about 30 years. Ashley became a big Flintstones fan. There is an episode where they reference the La Brea Tar Pits. In trying to dredge up my memories I just could not do the place justice. How often do you find an archaeological dig in the middle of a huge metropolitan city?

As we were making our plans for the trip, I told my sister Rebecca's ST-END Sue that we were thinking of going to the tar pits. Turns out, that is one of her favorite sites. We made plans to meet there after the Wonderland 10K (and a shower). Unfortunately life got in the way, and Sue and HIM could not meet us. We still had a good time.

We learned:
1) There are no dinosaurs in the Tar Pits. Go figure! The dinosaurs became extinct 65 million years, back when Los Angeles was still covered by the ocean. The Tar Pits are only 50,000 years old.

2) There is no "tar" nor "pits." They are really bubbles of crude oil. 
3) The tar pits are still trapping small animals on hot days.

4) They are still digging up remains and studying them.

For me the neatest part of the exhibit was being able to watch scientists at work in Fishbowl Lab. I can't imagine working while people stare at me, but on the other hand jobs in archaeology are rare, so maybe the scientists don't mind as much. The room looked like a step back in time. Funding, as you can surely guess, is a big issue.

Though it would have been a treat to listen to Ragtime Alan play that day (he was a last minute substitute pianist at Coke Corner), my legs and body appreciated the slower day so I could rest up for the Disneyland Half Marathon the next day.

Perfect 10-miler

Last weekend I ran a brand-new race -- the CGI Perfect 10-Miler. It is a women's only race that took place in Mercer County Park, a mere 15 minutes from my house. This is where I do most of my long training runs, so it felt very familiar and comfortable. 

It is hard to tell from the picture, but I wore my Double Double Dare shirt.

Packet pick up was the day before in the rink at Mercer County Park. That could not have been any smoother. I hope, though, next year they can get some girly vendors, such as Sparkle Skirts or Bondi Bands.
I brought my camera along for the run, but only took a few pictures. This was quite a different experience from the DisneyLand Half and Alice in Wonderland 10K races. At the end, I remarked to myself how much faster my pace is when I am not stopping to take pictures and pose with characters.

A few days before the race we were told due to the rain we've been getting, parking was being moved from the grass to the paved parking lots of Mercer County Community College and that shuttle buses would be provided. Sure enough, the red Rutgers shuttle buses took us from the parking lot to the start line. The shuttle bus experience took longer than the drive to the parking lot, but it was still a positive experience.

Even with that monkey wrench in the plan, the race only started 4 minutes late. Not bad at all. They had pacers with signs indicating their pace to help us self regulate where to stand at the starting line. That worked perfectly! 

It was a chip start, not a gun start, so my time was my time and not add a few minutes to get to the start.

I found myself with the same pack of women for the entire race. I noticed a lot of the women were doing intervals, even with doing different intervals (mine were 2 run / 1 walk, others were 3/1), we stayed together as a pack. After starting with me, my friend Michelle ran the whole race. We still finished within a few seconds of each other (I darted ahead at the last moment to try to get a finish line picture of her, but missed).

I kept seeing the same husband and dog team taking short cuts to see his wife. It was fun seeing him along the route pop up along the course. I must have been just ahead of his wife the entire time.

Though I knew a lot of women in this race, I only bumped into Michelle, her friend Heather, and my Perfect Princess friend Debbie. I never did see Gabrielle, or Jen, or bump into any surprise friends.

As with the Rutgers 8K (same organizers) the finish line food was very good. This time, it even included a chocolate fondue, which I managed to get all over my face, bib, and shirt. It was tasty! 

The medal is nice, too. I know Michelle will always treasure it because it is her first. 

The weather could not have been nicer. It was 58 at start and 64 at finish. Head wind for the last couple of miles, so maybe it could have been a *little* bit nicer. I suppose I had a nice tail wind for much of it, but didn't realize it. It was overcast. So much better, though, than the three Disney races I have done this year. 

Also unlike Disney, there were not many people wearing costumes. A few women dressed up as super heroes, but for the most part people wore normal running clothes. How boring! LOL My Sparkle Skirt made me stand out.

Michelle drove me back to my car. My wonderful thermos still had warm tea in it. Ahh!! Michelle followed me home for a shower and waffles by Don.

My chip time was 1:59:04 -- under a 12-minute overall pace! Once you factor in the extra .25 of a mile worth of weaving I did to stay out of people's way during the walking portion of my intervals, it worked out to an 11:41 pace. I believe that is the best I have ever done in a race longer than 5K. Best of all, my miles were fairly consistent. I did walk mile 8, which gave me a 13 minute pace, but not bad. 
Afterwards I tried to explain to Ashley why I love a women's only race. I came up with how supportive everyone is with each other, as well as being super encouraging. I felt more women were running intervals than I see at co-ed races. Overall there is a general sense of Girl Power! We are in it together, and having fun together.

The best reason to do a women's only race -- the swag fits!

At first I was thinking I wouldn't do the race again next year because it falls during Columbus Day weekend - which is a nice time of year to go away. I learned next year's race is October 26. Sounds perfect to me!