Monday, February 16, 2015

Score Cool Mom Points with British Soccer Camp

Disclosure:  I am receiving a complimentary camp registration in exchange for my promotion of this event.  All opinions, as always, are 100% my own.

Two weeks ago we signed Samantha up for the spring session of rec league soccer.  She's been playing soccer now for over 7 seasons and not only does she really enjoy it - she's pretty good at it!  I took dance as a kid so, naturally, I enrolled her in dance classes but she just thrives in soccer; it makes my mom heart happy to see her do so well and have fun at the same time.

Mr. SS and I have been toying with the idea of signing her up for the competitive league so this past summer we enrolled her in a week-long Challenger summer soccer camp to help her learn some higher-level skills.  She really enjoyed it and we were pleased to see her applying some of the skills she learned on the field this past fall.  We decided that we would sign her up for another week of camp this summer, and I was pleased to see on the website that there will be a session of British Soccer Camp near us in June!

Challenger British Soccer Camp is one of the most popular in North America with over 150,000 campers!  Samantha attended the evening session last summer but they also offer a daytime session in our area as well, so there are options for working parents besides the standard summer camp times.  The camp is geared towards ages 3-18 and works with players on improving their soccer skills, speed, and confidence.  Challenger provides a rare opportunity for these kids by providing coaching from a team of international experts right on our own backyard!  

Last summer Samantha received a t-shirt and a soccer ball with her registration.  This summer Challenger is offering a special early registration gift - a FREE British soccer jersey!  PLUS, if you enter the code FMG15 they will throw in a bonus water bottle!!

Check out this video:

Interested?!?!  You can find a session near you and register by visiting their website.  Don't forget to use the code FMG15 for a free water bottle!  We're very excited to see the new things Samantha will learn at British Soccer Camp this summer!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Goofy Challenge Part 2 - WDW Marathon Recap

#GoofyChallenge Day 2 - the WDW Marathon.  Warning - this is a long post.

If you missed it, here's part 1.

This was it.

Don't get me wrong - I had my concerns going into the half marathon the day before given my leg injury but I had run 9 half marathons before and I was pretty sure I would at least finish.  It might not be pretty, but I would finish.  The full marathon, on the other hand, was a whole different animal.

I had only run 1 marathon prior to this one - the 2013 WDW Marathon.  I went into that race, in my opinion, undertrained and I was not too pleased with my performance.  Well, this time I was just as undertrained, if not more so.  So that coupled with my injury - well, I was saying a lot of prayers in the corrals, let me just tell ya.

I actually got a really good sleep the night before so when my alarm went off at 2am, I got up and got myself ready and then Bonnie and I headed to catch the first bus so we could have a chance to enjoy race retreat.

Suzanne, Bonnie, and I in race retreat

I'm not sure if I mentioned this in my last post - but I LOVED race retreat!  And if I did say that, well, it bears repeating.  Not having to worry about bringing my pre-race fuel, having a warm spot to relax and eat, with private gear check and private port-a-potties and no lines?!?!  Sign me up.  I did not take any pictures that second morning because the same Toy Story characters were there and I honestly just wanted the time to sit and get myself mentally together.  Suzanne met us again and once we were ready, we met Amy and Wendy (Shannon had already gone to her corral) outside and headed to corrals.

That morning we made it over with enough time for me to take a load off before the race started.  Again, I was really nervous about the leg and it was getting into my head, so I sat on the ground and prayed for strength and tried to shake off the nerves.  I felt really bad, because I was the only one that had run a marathon before - I was supposed to be showing the others there was nothing to worry about - I'm hoping they didn't notice??  #friendfail  Next thing we knew, it was our turn, and we were off.  Bonnie was going to do her own thing but the rest of us decided to try to stick together as long as we could.

The first 6 miles or so was the same as the half marathon the day before, so I took some deep breaths and settled into our 2:1 ratio.  I was feeling surprisingly good.  We made a few potty stops and one pit stop inside the Magic Kingdom for Amy to get a picture with the Red Queen (she was dressed as Alice), and then we headed past the Grand Floridian and the Polynesian again but this time turned into the Walt Disney World Speedway.

With the dreaded "steep walkway ahead."  

I absolutely can't stand running in the speedway.  Two years ago, it was hot and sunny and I just felt like I was trudging through sludge running on that hot concrete.  This year it was considerably cooler and not as bad, but it's still one of my least favorite sections of the course.  Thankfully, once we got off the speedway we were headed for the Animal Kingdom and the halfway mark!  I was especially excited because I knew our friend Lisa was going to be there to cheer us on.

After passing by the most wonderfully smelling water treatment plant (note sarcasm there), we hit a med tent and a banana station and I did something I have never done before - I stopped at both.  My knees were starting to feel the 13.1 miles from the day prior so I slathered them with my new favorite, Bio Freeze.  I was also getting hungry and I knew that my race fuel wasn't going to cut it so I had a banana.  I had always worried about eating "real" food during a race and how it would sit on my stomach but it tasted really good going down and never revisited.  Not to jump ahead, but I ended up eating a banana at the second stop AND having a piece of chocolate at mile 23 and I felt SOOOOOOOOOO much better after this marathon than my first - so there's something to that and I will have to remember that for next time. 

Wait, what?  Next time?!?!  

Whoa, I'm REALLY jumping ahead now.

We hit Animal Kingdom and Amy and Wendy wanted to ride Everest (the park had just opened), so Suzanne and I waited and stretched while they rode and then we were on our way back out of the park, where Lisa was waiting for us with all sorts of goodies!

Pic courtesy of Moms Magical Miles
I gladly took some more Bio Freeze and reapplied some sunscreen.  Thanks Lisa!!!!!

Heading out of the Animal Kingdom parking lot onto Osceola Parkway we passed the mile 14 sign and I started to get excited - we were half way there!  This was my longest run in AWHILE and I was still feeling really good - perhaps I was actually going to pull this off!!!

I told the girls going into Osceola Parkway that this part of the course was by far one of the most boring runs I had ever been on.  Thankfully, we had each other to talk to and some rain to cool us off.  Plus, we knew from Lisa that Bonnie was about a half hour ahead of us so looking for her on the other side of the road was a delightful distraction!  Next thing we knew, we were turning into ESPN Wide World of Sports, and that's when we saw her!  It was a much needed boost to exchange some squeals and cheers!  

ESPN WWOS is probably my least favorite part of the course.  They had wet sponges waiting on us but honestly, it was so cool I really didn't want one, so I passed by.  I think having the girls to chat with was distracting me from the twists and turns inside ESPN.  We also had another banana station, which I took very willingly.  The volunteers were all very cheerful and encouraging, which helped as well.  It just seemed to pass by so quickly and I remember telling the girls on our way out that we had two stops left - Hollywood Studios and then home to Epcot!

We knew that once we hit Hollywood Studios we were safe from being swept, which was good because Wendy's ankle was starting to bother her so it was reassuring to know that we were not going to get pulled from the course.  Running down the entrance to Hollywood Studios, I recalled that the first time I ran the marathon two years ago, it was this point where I realized I WAS going to finish and I began crying.  This year was really no different - and my friends did the same.  I was so proud of us!  But we still had to fight through the crowds on the narrow walkway to the Boardwalk area - and by the time we fought that mess and passed by the Yacht and Beach Clubs, we were more than ready to be done.

Soon after we entered the World Showcase Wendy had to stop running - the pain had just become too much for her.  We were going to stop and all finish together but she insisted we go ahead and Amy stayed back with her, so Suzanne and I found ourselves alone as we headed to the finish.  I remembered from 2013 that this was the worst part - I was tired, my legs were hurting, my lungs were hurting, and I was ready to be done.  Surprisingly this year was MUCH different.  I WAS tired, but not near as much.  My legs did hurt a tad, but I was still able to run our 2:1 ratios and I believe we even picked up pace a bit.  And my lungs weren't screaming at me either.  I'm not sure what was different this go round but it was definitely a good different.  We were almost to the Mexico pavillion when we got a pleasant surprise - Mer and Brookr from Scootadoot had spotted us!!!  It was SO nice to get a hug and some cheers (along with a sip or two of a margarita) right towards the end - it was just the push we needed to take us home.

Pic courtesy of Scootadoot
6 hours and 38 minutes after starting, Suzanne and I crossed the finish line.  We had finished the Goofy Challenge.

Still shot of the live feed on the Disney Parks Blog 
Cue the ugly cry.  Cuz OH MAN was it ugly.

You can see it starting in this pic.  Side note - I did purchase this pic (all of them actually!) but I haven't downloaded it yet - whomp whomp

I wasn't supposed to do this, and yet, I did.  And I wasn't really in any more pain than I would expect after running 39.2 miles.  My doctor told me at my first visit that there was probably no way I would be physically capable of finishing both races.  But nothing motivates me better than a challenge ;)  I defied the odds - and I did it with my BRFs by my side.  I couldn't have asked for a better ending!!!

PS - I absolutely do not condone not following doctor's advice; they are the professionals for a reason!  Like I said, I defied the odds but my outcome could have been a lot different, in a BAD way.  Please always consult with a doctor when you have an injury and follow their instructions so you can come back even stronger!!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Running Tips from Jeff Galloway

I have received neither product nor compensation for my participation in the Jeff Galloway Blogger Program.  I chose to participate because I am a believer in his methods and want to share them with you!  All opinions, as always, are 100% my own.

If you've been around here for any length of time, you'll know that I'm an avid fan of the #runwalkrun method fashioned by Jeff Galloway.  I do not run a distance race without following his methods - I have set my half marathon PR by using it and I have managed to run a full marathon fresh off injury using his methods also - I'm here to preach to you this his methods WORK.  So needless to say I'm a pretty big Galloway fan, so I was very excited to be invited to be one of the first Jeff Galloway Blogger Program participants!

What does that mean for you guys??  Well, I'll be the first to share tips from the main man himself on how to run injury free!  We might also have some special discounts or promotions to share with you from time to time so make sure you check back!  

In the meantime, enjoy these tips!

And here's a special offer:

Save up to $200
Looking to run a half marathon or marathon that goes beyond the ordinary?   RUN ITALY Tours offers more than others do and travel with "Coach Jeff".
March 22, 2015 - Rome Marathon 26.2, 13.1 and 5K distances
Book and save up to $200 at
Offer Expires: 2/14/15

Hurry, this offer ends this Saturday!!!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Rock 'n' Blog 2015

So very excited and honored to be rejoining the ranks of the Rock 'n' Blog ambassador team for 2015!!!

I had such a blast representing in Nashville and St. Louis last year!!  I'm already IN for #RunCMM this year - and I'm trying to decide which other events I'd like to do!  Maybe you guys can help me pick :)

Are you planning on running a Rock 'n' Roll series race this year?!?!  Use this code to save $15 on the half or full marathon!!

Where are you going to rock this year??

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Goofy Challenge Part I - WDW Half Marathon Recap


My alarm went off at 2am on Saturday morning - it was time for the first leg of the #GoofyChallenge - the WDW Half Marathon.  If I am being completely honest here, I will tell you I was scared shitless going into this race.  As I mentioned before, I wasn't exactly following doctor's orders by running the races that weekend but here I was, about to take on the first 1/3 of the Goofy Challenge.  And I was so worried that my leg would not hold up and I would not finish.

Suzanne and I were the only DisBroads running this morning, and we both had race retreat so we agreed to catch the first bus from our respective hotels and meet there.  After a small delay leaving the Beach Club, I met Suzanne in the big white WARM tent!  There was NO line for the Toy Story characters in the tent that morning so we opted to visit them first before grabbing a bite to eat and some much needed coffee.

Goofy DisBroads

Me and Bullseye

To Infinity and Beyond!  Or, at least 39.3 miles...

It was uncharacteristically cold in Florida that morning so we stayed in the race retreat tent until the last possible moment then headed for our corrals.  Even though it was very chilly that morning I still hydrated as if it were warmer, and henceforth, we had to make a pitstop before entering our corral - whomp whomp.  We still made it to our corral with plenty of time before it was our turn and honestly, the hustle getting there took my mind off the task at hand.  Before we knew it, it was our turn - and we were off!

Our BRF Wendy was also coming into the weekend recovering from a broken ankle, and we knew she had planned to run 2:1 ratios the next day for the full marathon so I asked if Suzanne was ok with trying this for the half, and she graciously agreed to whatever my leg was good with - bless her!!!  Our plan was just to take it easy so that we would be ready for the next day and stop for characters if we felt so obligated :)  The course was crowded, of course, but the first 4 miles really seemed to whiz by.  I wasn't having any pain and we were actually enjoying ourselves!  We had passed a few character stops but entering the Magic Kingdom area we came upon Jack and Sally from The Nightmare Before Christmas - which happens to be a fav in Suzanne's house, so we pit stopped there.

I took a pic with Jack and Sally but it didn't really turn out - sadz.  Suzanne's pic is awesome though - check out her recap here!

Next thing we knew we were entering the Magic Kingdom and running through the castle, showered by snow and greetings from Elsa, Anna, and Kristoff!  The castle was EXTREMELY congested though and we pretty much were forced to walk through it, hence no good castle pics - boo.  We headed out of the MK and onward towards the Grand Floridian and the Polynesian without stopping for anymore pics.  It was on this road by the golf course that we ran into Mer and Brooke from Scootadoot!!  It was so nice to run and chat with them, even if it was for just a short amount of time.

We began gaining momentum as we made our way back towards Epcot because we knew DisBroads Amy, Bonnie, Shannon, and Wendy were going to be outside Epcot to cheer for us - and the reunion was glorious!!!

After some sweaty hugs, Suzanne and I FINALLY shed our throw away tops (at mile 12 no less, LOL) and headed into Epcot to finish the first 1/3 of our Goofy Challenge!

We negative split that bitch!  And that called for a celebration in race retreat!!

I felt so good following the half it almost seemed surreal - I had no pain but I iced my leg immediately anyways.  I could not believe that I had just defied the odds and run 13.1 miles - it was almost like the first time all over again!  I had told myself going into this race that this was the make it or break it race - and finishing as strong as we did I felt much more confident going into the full marathon the next day.  Cheers to that!!!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Family Fun with Pillow Forts and Popcorn

Disclosure:  This post is sponsored by Pop Secret.  All opinions, as always, are 100% my own.

Cold, dreary winter days are a real downer, especially when you have kids who need somewhere to expend their energy but its really too yucky to head outside to play.  It's days like these that I'm glad Mr. Smith Summary is a big kid at heart, because he loves to take the girls and do fun things like build pillow forts or play with Legos.  We were faced with one of these yucky days this past weekend and Mr. SS came to the rescue by making the girls one of his best pillow forts yet - and I contributed to the build by fueling them with a new popcorn recipe!

The staircase in our house has a large landing, which creates a great spot to build pillow forts.  This time, Mr. SS took an old sheet and attached it to the top of the staircase wall, creating a cover where the girls play "in secret."  Add just about every spare pillow in the house and you have yourself a crazy awesome pillow fort!  They enjoyed it so much I almost couldn't get them out of it to enjoy their snack!

Both girls had enough room to lay down in their pillow fort

Making the silliest faces for the camera - playing underneath the canopy made them feel like they were camping in a tent

And now to share my popcorn recipe!

During the holidays I make these delicious pretzel and cracker snacks and I thought why not use the same seasoning on popcorn??  The end result is my Cool Ranch Popcorn!

Cool Ranch Popcorn
2 bags popped popcorn (I used the Pop Secret homestyle popcorn - you definitely want one with butter so the seasoning will adhere; this is not the time to use the reduced fat versions - LOL)
1 packet ranch dressing mix
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp cayenne pepper
Dash of dill 

While you pop the popcorn mix the seasoning mix together in a small bowl.  When the popcorn is done, shake the bag just like you normally would and then put it in a ziploc bag along with half the seasoning and shake really well so the popcorn gets evenly covered.  It's important to do this step right after the popcorn comes out of the microwave so the butter is still hot - this is how the seasoning sticks.  Repeat with the second bag of popcorn and the remaining seasoning.

The end result?

An irresistible snack that you can't stop eating!

Pop Secret is all about fueling family fun!  Visit their Facebook page and submit photos of your family pillow forts!  You'll find fun surprises there and be eligible for rewards when you submit pics - and be sure to snag a $1 off coupon while you're there!

Monday, January 26, 2015

eMeals New Budget Friendly Meal Plan

I have received a free subscription to eMeals in exchange for my review and promotion of their programs; all opinions, as always, are 100% my own.

It's a new year, and as always, eating healthier and saving money are among my goals for 2015.  Last year I used eMeals to help me accomplish these goals - more specifically, I used their Clean Eating plan in an effort to put more nutritious meals on the table as opposed to the faster fixes that aren't quite as good for you.  One of the unfortunate things about eating healthy is that it's usually more expensive - whomp whomp.  And we definitely noticed our grocery budget being stretched thin on this meal plan last year.

This year, eMeals has introduced it's new Budget Friendly meal plan and I decided that we would give that one a try this go round!  We have just finished our first week on the plan and I have to say we are pleased so far with our dinners!  I'll need another week or two to really evaluate its impact on my checkbook (especially since sending Mr. Smith Summary to the store usually costs more because he doesn't stick to the list).  

One of the things I have always liked about eMeals is that you have options!  If a dinner appears on our plan for the week that I don't think my family will eat, we skip it.  I have also found that I can modify the recipes if necessary with very little effort involved.  Take for example this Bow-Tie Tomato Cream Sauce with Chicken recipe.  Our family isn't big on cream sauces so I doubled the tomatoes instead of adding the cream.  I also loved this recipe because I was able to make it in advance for my family to enjoy while I was working late one night.

This sauce was served with bow-tie pasta and steamed broccoli for a fast but nutritious meal!  And my kids loved it, which makes it a win-win in my book.

Another favorite of ours from this past week was the Winter Red Beans-and-Sausage Soup.  It reminded me of gumbo - as a matter of fact, I told Mr. SS that the next time we make it I might serve it over rice!

Here's the recipe:

Once again, I easily modified this recipe because we don't like celery and I had used all the carrots the night before (doh!).  It was still delicious - Mr. SS went back for seconds if that tells you anything!

Next week's menu calls for some tasty dinners like Santa Fe Soup and Baked Herbed Sandwiches - both of which call for things I like to keep on hand in our pantry because I buy them on sale.  I'm super excited to see how well we do with this new meal plan!

Wanna give eMeals a try?!?!  You can try it FREE for 14 days!  Just visit their website to sign up - they have 17 meal plans to chose from!!