Carb Loading at Via Napoli

What the first meal that comes to mind for a runner the night before a big run?

Pasta, Pasta, Pasta or the infamous Carb Loading (which is pretty much a myth, but that is an entirely different post)

One of my favorite places to do some serious Carb Loading and still please the family at Walt Disney World is at Via Napoli. There was no doubt in my mind that this would be one of my dining reservations for the Walt Disney World Marathon weekend.

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Via Napoli Restaurant and Menu

Via Napoli is located in the back of the Epcot’s World Showcase Italian Pavilion, which means you get to walk through Disney’s representation of St. Mark’s Square in Venice and past the Fontana Di Nettuno which is meant to pay homage to the Trevi Fountain in Rome (great picture stop and while you are there throw in a coin, so that you will return to Epcot).

Walking in the door you instantly feel transported to a café in Italy. I love the décor, huge open space with arches and chandeliers, and colorful frescoes on the walls and ceilings.

It has three main seating areas large family style table, enclosed patio and general large room seating. With that being said, Via Napoli is a loud restaurant (like Italians who love good food and good wine). The Cast Members who serve you are all from Italy (and if you like cute Italian boys)…

The service was pretty typical for a true Italian Restaurant, they are not as attentive as most American diners would like.  I can live with this because the food is outstanding and the views are not so bad. I digress, back to the reason I am here, the centerpiece of the restaurant…

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the three pizza ovens. The ovens are named for the three Italian volcanoes, Stromboli, Vesuvio, and Etna. Pizza chefs are hard at work assembling the pies in full view of guests here. This is always an enjoyable bit of mealtime entertainment for curious foodies like myself.

I started my meal off with a glass of the House Red Sangria, after all my marathon was still a day away and I had over 24 hours to get the alcohol out of my system and hydrate. This is the only downfall of eating at Disney prior to a race…you have to limit the drinks.  My trips to Walt Disney World are about the only time that I drink. I LOVE the House Sangria and wish I could have had ordered the entire pitcher for myself.

I also paid extra and ordered the house salad.  Normally, the salad is only purchased as Family Style and there are 2 person minimum.  I told the Cast Member that I would pay the second person price, and graciously in the Italian way he did not charge me double for the salad.  The House Salad is simply delicious with its mixed greens, cucumber, pepperoncino peppers, peppadew peppers, diced tomatoes, olives, red wine vinaigrette. Of course I had to sit and pick all of the olives out first to eat, an Italian treat.

Did I mention pizza is was going to be the centerpiece of my carb loading meal? Via Napoli easily tops my list for serving up the Best Pizza as Walt Disney World. But don’t expect Dominos or Pizza Hut pizza, this is Napoli (Naples) style pizza.  Trust me, I have had the real stuff in Naples, Italy and this is pretty much a perfect replication and is magical.

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Now remember that the magic in the pizzas not only comes from the work of those three giant pizza ovens, but because the chefs use Italian flour and water sourced from a spring similar those in the Campania region. That’s right, the pizza is made from water that is either imported from Naples or calibrated to the exact pH level of that in Naples, depending on which version of the story you want to believe. Regardless, it is an outstanding thin crust that strikes the exact balance of crispy and chewy that you’re looking for in a pizza crust. The wood-fired ovens also give a healthy dose of charring to the bottom and edges of the crust. I love the crispy charred edges but younger and especially fussy eaters may not.

Via Napoli pizza is served in 3 sizes, individual, mezzo metro and large.  I ordered the individual Prosciutto e Melone Pizza and trust me when I say that it easily feeds 2-3 people.  The menu features many different topping combinations as well as a chance to build your own.  My pizza was a white pizza with fontina, mozzarella, prosciutto, cantaloupe, and arugula.  Hawaiians can have ham and pineapple, I prefer the Italian ham and cantaloupe.

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I wish I could say that I had dessert, but I was so full and had a takeout box with half of my pizza for snacking on tomorrow.  But I will leave you with pictures of a past dessert from Via Napoli, Zeppole di Caterina (ricotta cheese fritters served with whipped cream) and I promise next time there will be Tiramisù.

Via Napoli once again delivered a great meal that was perfect for my carb loading and makes me want to come back again on my next trip.

Tuesdays of the Run: Unofficially but Officially

April 7, 2020 was supposed to be the day that post marathon amnesia finally set in from what was the Walt Disney World Marathon 2020 and my Dopey personality took over for my current Grumpy self. I was ready to OFFICIALLY share my next running journey. Instead it seems, the whole world decided to hop in the elevator in the Hollywood Tower Hotel together…

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And now each day is seamlessly running into the next. If I look at the calendar, it tells me that it is the middle of April and I still do not have any confirmed run goals for 2020.  Not that it really matters as it seems like we are in a never ending episode of the Twilight Zone where no races ANYWHERE are being run. Life is just an uncertain mess right now and who knows what tomorrow will bring let alone next week, next month or 2021. For this Type A personality, this causing a real problem, so…  

 

I am officially announcing that I am unofficially training for runDisney’s Dopey Challenge in January 2021.

 

What is the Dopey Challenge, other than probably the Dopey-est thing that I may ever attempt to complete?  The formula is pretty simple…

4 races (5K, 10K, Half Marathon, Marathon) or 48.6 miles over 4 days across the 4 parks of the Walt Disney World Resort

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If you know anything about me, is that I totally believe that the power of Pixie Dust is completely exaggerated and that I fully intend to put in the miles like I did for the 2020 WDW Marathon.  While the training doesn’t officially kick off until the end of June, I am getting a jump start (much like I did for marathon) because I know that I am going to need every training run possible.  My plan is to maintain my current mileage base and then ease into Jeff Galloway’s Dopey Challenge Training Plan. I had also planned to incorporate cross training as well as strength training, but all that has fallen to the wayside with social distancing, but as soon as the gym opens up again I will be there. 

I hope that you’ll follow along on my journey as I train for my biggest challenge yet. I can’t wait to see where this training takes me and how I grow from it. You can follow me here at Life in Ears for a monthly update on my training, along with my other posts about running and all things Disney. I have started an Instagram Account just for my Dopey Training, nopixiedustdopey and for all things Disney, mylifeinears.  

Tuesday’s on the Run: I am a Marathoner, but…

I am a marathoner, but…

I am not sure why I am struggling with accepting that I am a marathoner, probably because I feel like a fraud.  I have been trying to give myself time to process the experience of my first marathon and make sense of what happened during those 11 hours from the time I left my resort hotel until the time I returned. 

I envisioned the moment I crossed the finish line of the Walt Disney World Marathon at least 128 times in my head over the previous 10 months. I saw myself proclaiming, “Best Day Ever” as the medal was placed around my neck and whisking away on the monorail to my Happily Ever After. The classic Disney ending, but that is not what happened…

Instead, was the WORST DAY EVER and while the physical pain has faded, there is still no Happily Ever After.  I am trying to work through the depression, anger, and guilt to get back to some sense of normalcy in my running. There were so many things that went wrong…

  • The Weather (Upper 80s with 95% humidity).
  • A Delayed Start coupled with the release of corrals faster to make up for the time lost.
  • Going out too fast because I was going with the “flow” and worried about the heat.
  • Crowded race conditions.
  • Running most of the race alone and wallowing in my misery and self-defeating talk.

Almost all of these things where beyond my control, but still I cannot accept the title of a marathoner for 2 reasons…

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I wanted to QUIT and I can’t shake the disappointment that I have in myself. The race was BRUTAL and if you did not experience from middle to back of the pack, you have no idea what the sun can do to you both physically and mentally. I literally watched many people go down around me and passed others laying on the side of the road waiting for medical to get to them. The Walt Disney Marathon was the hardest thing I have ever ENDURED (this coming from a woman who had 2 ½ babies with no pain medication). I wasn’t expecting it to be so hard and nothing that I did during my training could have prepared me for race conditions that I experienced.  I can’t fault my training BECAUSE I DID TRAIN EVERY MILE at a pace that would have given me ample time to cross the finish line and did not rely on pixie dust. I went into the race well prepared, hydrated and confident.  

According to my tracking device, I ran well over 26.2 miles but… 

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I did not complete the entire course, officially I ran 24.54 miles, if the social media calculations are correct for the shortened course.  I know that this was completely the right decision by runDisney to put up the BLACK FLAG and I was thankful at the moment that it happened, so much so that I feel guilty for my feelings. However, the shortened course leaves unanswered questions as to whether I would have been able to complete the ENTIRE course that day.  I know my time with 6 miles to go and I know exactly how far in front of the “unofficial” pacers, the aka Balloon Ladies I was; but I continue to question myself over and over, would I have made it 4 more miles keeping in front of them to the point I knew I was safe on the course? I know the answer is YES, but I don’t know with 100% certainty that I would not have seen the inside of a parade bus because I can’t predict if I would have caved to that inner voice pleading with me to stop. 

Something mentally changed after I realized that I was being diverted, you might even say a little Disney Magic came into play that prevented me from stepping off the course and quitting..

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a well-timed sign along the course reminding me that I had too many people watching me and I did not want to be labeled a failure. 

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And then there was Rita, a friend from a Facebook group, who found me around mile 20 and suddenly I was not physically alone anymore. I had someone to cry and whine with. Together we…

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and by the time we made it into Epcot, I knew I was making my ONLY stop during the last 6 ½ hours (okay, actually I did stop for the bathroom, but I never allowed myself more than a run by character photo)…

I did not care if balloons passed me at this point.  I was DONE with hydration and wanted not to toast my victory but to raise my glass in defiance of yellow PowerAde, (which I will NEVER drink again). The drink did not make it to the finish line, but I did…

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The only thing I can do is accept what happened and move on.  I was able to dig a little deeper and not quit. I crossed the finish line on my own 2 feet, which was the goal that I had sat for myself last March when I accepted the challenge of 26.2 miles. I already was already a marathoner a few weeks prior when I went the distance but elected not to step on the timing mat for an official time, just so I could say my first marathon was the Walt Disney World 2020 Marathon. 

Crossing was not the real victory for me, it was the 413.65 miles I did before I crossed the starting line that morning.  I did EVERY run that I planned! 

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I am so proud of myself for putting in the training that got me to the finish line. It was in each of those 128 runs that I truly earned my medal & Mickey Ears and the title of a marathoner. 

So what is next in my world of running, other than NEVER drinking YELLOW POWERADE again?

I don’t know, as of right now I am one and done with the marathon distance.  I am hoping that the pain and misery of January 12th will be like the pain and misery I experienced 3 other days in my life (May 3, February 2 and August 3), forgotten replaced with knowing how blessed I truly am.  

I AM A MARATHONER!!!

Tuesday’s on the Run: Why a Marathon?

It has been 43 weeks since I set out to become a marathoner. Why would a marathon be on anyone’s bucket list, let alone a middle-aged fluffy mama? Who in their right mind would ever believe that completing 26.2 miles is a good idea?  

How many people can say they’ve run a marathon? 

The math teacher in me will tell you that approximately only 0.5% of the US population has ever completed a marathon.  Completing a marathon puts this middle aged fluffy mama into an elite club, gives me some bragging rights. There are also those people in my life (ahem, 2 high school coaches) who always made me not good enough, completing a marathon is my finger in the eye back at the way they made me feel.  Sort of like a shock factor, because I do not look like a “runner” and running is (was) so out of character for me. While it will be somewhat satisfying for me to paste all over social media that I completed a marathon, in reality, completing a marathon only helps me to tap back down those feelings of being second best. Which leads me to the real reason why I want to complete a marathon…

Because I Can!

This journey has been about challenging myself. Getting older means there are less “firsts” in my life and fewer things to make me feel full of butterflies or give me that natural high.  Even thinking about crossing that finish line now in my mind gives me a huge rush. There have been training runs that have sucked, times that I have wanted to give up and I know that during the actual marathon there will be moments that will literally bring me to my knees.  Nothing is ever given to you (and no amount of pixie dust is going to get you to the finish line). I have had to work for this moment. Knowing that I completed such a feat is empowering and exhilarating. “If I can do this, what can’t I do?”  More than anything, I want to prove to myself what I am capable of doing if I put my mind (and my aching feet/legs) to it.

I did put my mind and my legs to the challenge of a marathon. I have completed 128 training runs totally over 400 miles… 

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It’s time to “trust my training” as I depart on Thursday morning for Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend and eventually start the 2020 Walt Disney World Marathon on Sunday.  

Happy 2020: My Walt Disney World Resolutions

2020-wdw-resolutions-39e144bae9My New Year’s Resolutions are always well intended, but usually do not last beyond the first week of January. It’s time to make a few different sorts – ones that I will actually want to keep!

Walt Disney World New Year’s Resolutions for 2020

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1. Dine at a new restaurant-This one may be hard for me to keep as I have a huge list of favorites and only limited meals on a trip.

2. Drink more milk-Milk does a body good, just ask Luke Skywalker.  I am looking forward to trying both the yellow and blue milk.

3. Stay at a new resort and have a resort day (or at least half a day)-It’s hard for me to stick to my own plans as there is always so much to see and do in the parks.  A runDisney trip is always good to keep me grounded back at my resort, especially this year with the marathon coming up.

4. Earn more runDisney bling and challenge myself to run farther in 2020-I know I got this one pretty easy.  But what will my next runDisney event be?

5. Escape to a Galaxy Far, Far Away-While I am not a huge Star Wars fan, I am looking forward to seeing the movies come to life at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

6. Travel by new ways-TIt is bad to hope to get stuck on the Skyliner for a little bit?  I am almost more excited about this ride than my favorite rides in the park.  

7. Take the time to see a show-Kinda like stopping to smell the roses for me.  I never seem to stop and enjoy all the great live entertainment around me while visiting Walt Disney World.

8. Eat more Mickey Bars-Not sure if I should confess this, but I cannot tell you when the last time was I ate a Mickey Bar.  I know shocker, I need to put down the Dole Whip for breakfast and eat that Mickey Bar for breakfast.

9. Get a new pair of Minnie Ears-So many ears, so many decisions.

10. Enjoy each moment & BLOG A LOT MORE!

What are you Disney or Walt Disney World Resolutions for 2020?  Drop me a comment below!

Tuesday’s on the Run: May Training Recap

Ony 96 more training runs until my first marathon, the Walt Disney 2020 Marathon!

Wow…can you believe that May is over?  Personaly, I am glad because that means summer vacation for this educator and a couple of months of morning running instead of afternoon runs in the heat and wind.  I so prefer morning runs!

Let’s take a look how May was in terms of my marathon training…

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Highs

  • Did not miss a single training run and even made up for the one I missed in April.
  • I ran my fastest pace EVER.
  • I ran my fastest mile EVER.
  • I learned that Jeff Galloway’s Magic mile formula for long runs really works!
  • I built up to 11 miles in running distance.
  • Finished another successful StepBet Challenge.
  • Officially into double digits of training runs left until 2020 Walt Disney World Marathon.

Lows

  • My weight loss has hit a plateau, mainly because I have not been focused and 100% on plan…modified plans get modified results.  I am holding steady at 35 pounds lost since November.

Goals for June

So what does June have in store in terms of running & training?  I actually have 2 races scheduled, Rock & Roll Seattle and the Slacker Half Marathon.  I am hoping to get a personal best time out of one of these races and break the 3 hour barrier, which has always been a goal of mine since I started taking running seriously.  I am also hoping to reach 40-45 pounds lost by my birthday at the end of the month.

How was your May training?  What are your goals for June?  Drop me a comment!

Tuesdays on the Run: April Recap

It’s the beginning of May and the end of my first official full month of training towards my first marathon and in true Tammie form it has been a month of highs and lows…

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Highs

  1. Long Run Distance-I will have built my distance to 8 miles of run walk intervals.   My pace is steady over the distance and is at where I have set in my own mind as what I need to do in order to  cross the finish line.
  2. Total Mileage in 2019-I hit the 500 mile mark earlier this month in my goal to reach 2019 by December 31 at 11:59 pm.  While I am behind I am hoping that summer will bring more time to get out there and just walk.
  3. Lots of Personal Records-It seems that each time I run, RunKeeper is telling me that I am shattering my own personal records.  It is totally amazing, getting almost 40 pounds off this body has made a huge difference not only to my time but to my physical well being.
  4. Injury Free-I am almost scared to write this but so far the hip, the shins, and the achilles are all playing nice with each other.  They have reminded my a couple of times that they are in control of this running thing but so far, so good.

Lows

  1.  Short Runs-While I have only missed 1 short run, I am struggling to get my short runs in each week, which is frustrating since it is only 2 miles or about 30 minutes.  I am so full of excuses and so tired at night. My afternoon runs are not pleasant, they feel sluggish. Come on summer, ready for some morning running.
  2. Weight Loss had Plateaued-This month I just lost the same 5 pounds about 4 times.  I am so close to the 40 pound mark but I just can’t seem to get there.

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My goals for May are pretty straight forward…

  1. Build my Distance to 11 miles.
  2. Do  ALL of my short runs.
  3. Break the weight loss plateau and make it to as close to 45 pounds lost as I can
  4. Get to 700 miles by the end of May.