Monthly Archives: May 2013

Race Recap & Fundraising Update-Calgary Half Marathon

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Today marked my sixth race out of eight weeks. Yes, I am sort of going crazy. But, this year is all about going big. All or nothing at all! I went into the Calgary Half Marathon riding high on my major personal best accomplishment in Red Deer last weekend (1:47:22) but this is the first time I have ever ran two marathons two weekends in a row-one week rest! I have now learned some of the limits of my own body!…but here is my experience (this will be short because frankly, I am about to fall asleep!…)

I first experienced RUN CALGARY in May 2009. I participated in the full marathon this year, and it was the worst race of my life.. I have yet to do a race reflection on this race, but lets just say my first experience racing in elevation proved to be trying to my stomach. I have always had this nervousness about trying to do a race in Calgary again. Last year even, when my husband and I did the Energizer Night Race in Calgary, my stomach hated me too. Third time had to be a charm, right?
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Package pickup was at Calgary Stampede grounds, the same location as the start and finish of the race. Well organized expo! Quick and easy package pickup, great shirts, good selection of vendors, and a great preview of the race medals! (I tried taking a photo of all five medals but since it was encased in glass, the 10km race medal got all funny looking. Sorry!

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Race morning my alarm went off at 5 am. I stayed at my friend’s place on the north end, so I was out of the house by 5:25, and made a quick stop at Tim Horton’s for my morning coffee. to the Tim’s on Centre Street down near the McKnight exit on Deerfoot….your coffee at 5:30 am should not taste like the burnt pot from the previous night at 9 pm! Day!. Anyway, made it down to Stampede grounds, parked, and killed some time. I anxiously walked around, toured the warmth of the grandstand where I found legit restrooms, and met up with my friend Krystal from marathon club.

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Mayor Naheed Nenshi of Calgary started off the race at 7 am. The full and half began together, with the 10 km at 7:30, and the 5 km not until noon. I had my hopes set on beating my half time from the previous week, and for the first four miles this seemed possible. Running in an urban setting has its benefits—heavier crowds of people and groups cheering you on, a relatively flat and fast course, and lots to look at. Krystal and I stuck together for the first 7 miles or so, but it was back at mile 6 I started feeling both my quads start to tighten. This was the issue on mile 11 in Red Deer last week, but this week is happened much earlier. I tried to muster through, but by mile 8 I knew I couldn’t keep up with Krystal and for my own wellness I needed to slow down and not race this one as fast as I had hoped.

The last 5 km of the race was a steady decline and we ran through one of the best neighborhoods, as far as local support goes. Some crazy mid 20-early 30 year olds were all lined up blasting Gangham Style and dancing like nobodies business. It is in stretches like these that I feel no pain and I just go for it. I knew way back at mile 6 I probably wasn’t going to get close to my Red Deer time, and I then spent the next 7 miles telling myself it was OK. By the time I finished at 1:54:22 (exactly 7 minutes slower than last Sunday) I had come to terms with the fact I cannot simply PR every race I run. And I can honestly admit, I was happy. I had conquered Calgary, with little stomach pain…..just a little, but I will spare the details.

I managed to find my other friend Whitney, who ran Red Deer last week also. Her race experience this week was similar to mine time wise, and hers last week was also similar to mine. We both had felt the effects of doing a two-in-a-row. Myself, Whitney and Krystal did all manage to get a picture together before funneling through the masses and onto the freebies. It was an amazing race with excellent volunteers and event organizers, gorgeous day, beautiful course….basically the perfect race!

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I would be lying if I said I wasn’t tired.. I kind of want to just go to bed right now (it is 8:15 pm and sleep till Saturday. This is what I felt like at mile 8 of my half marathon during the 49th Calgary Marathon Weekend. I mustered on through, but for once in my running life, I listened to my body and played it safe, as I knew the wear I have been putting myself through during this journey has been harder than ever before. While I am slightly disappointed in my time, I am more happy than I would have normally been if it had been any other year.

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FUNDRAISING UPDATE! If this your first time reading my we page, welcome!You will want to read the PURPOSE link at the top of my page to better understand why the hell I am doing a web page. You will also want to look at the CHARITIES tab to find out more about the two heart disease research organizations I am fundraising for (American Heart Association and Heart & Stroke Foundation. CANADA has now taken the lead over the USA in fundraising! We have now raised $655 for the Heart & Stroke Foundation in Canada, just edging out the $635 for the American Heart Association! My close friends and family know that I am a born and raised Wisconsinite, and lived there for 24 years until moving north to Alberta, Canada. This is part if the reason why I decided to issue this friendly competition as I fundraise and run in memory of my father, Andrew A. Lammers! He was the reverse, however, being born in Quebec, Canada, and then living most of his life in Wisconsin! Thanks to all the generous donations from my family, friends and co-workers!

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I May Be a Runner, but Maybe I Always Have Been a Fish Out of Water?…

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I am the first to admit—I am not a swimmer. Not even close. I can swim to save my life, but if I swim a length of a pool now, I feel like an athletic pile of crap. So triathlons are sadly not in my near future. But growing up, I was often oddly enough around water. The very first trip my family ever went on was to Perdido Key, Florida, in the Gulf Coast. I was a beach baby at a young age! (my mom also thinks my ridiculous accent comes from the fact that I learned to speak when we would be down in Alabama during this time at Grandpa and Grandma Lammers’ house. I have the weirdest Milwaukee accent ever—must have a bit of ‘Bama twang in it!)

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If there was a hotel pool on our family getaways, my dad and I loved to dork around in it. We never swam, per say (he would do some laps), but he would throw me in the air, let me ride on his back like he was a dolphin, and we would play games where I would dive for various random found objects at the bottom of the pool. My enjoyment of “pool-foolery” also may have stemmed from the fact that Wisconsin happens to have this gem we call Wisconsin Dells. This ridiculous tourist stop two hours from Milwaukee has every tourist junket you could possibly imagine, but has boasted having America’s Largest Waterpark, Noah’s Ark. Any real Wisconsin family has spent numerous weekend getaways up in the Dells, playing mini golf, going go-karting, buying crappy souvenirs, and going to the water parks.

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When our family started going to Disney World in 1991, having a hotel with a proper pool was a necessity. My mom often says in the early years of our Disney vacations she would often get ticked off at my dad and I because we would want to leave the parks rather early in the morning and go back to the pool. My mom is even less than a swimmer than me…she just sits on a chair poolside or floats in a tube! At our first WDW resort, Disney’s Polynesian Resort, we had what I thought to be (at the time) one of the coolest water areas ever!

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The next two trips to WDW brought us to Disney’s Port Orleans Resort. This resort is now formally referred to as the French Quarter section of Port Orleans. It was brand new in 1993 when we first stayed here, and I loved the Mardi Gras theme of the pool!

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In our early WDW trips, we also would frequent the Disney Waterparks. These were not like Noah’s Ark in Wisconsin Dells at all! The theming was impeccable and the slides were a bit more tame—-my dad could enjoy most of them with me! (He was a thrill seeker wuss). We use to go to only Typhoon Lagoon, but once Blizzard Brach was built, we would visit both.

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Our last family WDW trips brought us to Disney’s Yacht & Beach Resort. We first fell in love with this resort because of the pool area, Stormalong Bay. In 1995, we had gone to Beach Club for a character breakfast—-when my dad saw the “pool” he immediately knew we had to stay here. Use this term pool loosely, as Stormalong Bay is over an acre of winding waterways, complete with a sand bottom!

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This resort had the perfect pool combination for our family, because as I got older, the playing in the water started to slow. I became the poolside lounger like my mom, and we opted to stay in the parks longer than come back for pool time. We came back for pool time more so because my dad still longed for it. I now rarely play in the water like I use to, and when I am at a pool, I am usually in a lounge chair with a margarita. But, whenever I see a waterfall at a resort pool, I think of my dad, and I remember all the years I spent being a non-swimmer with him on vacation.

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Race Recap-Red Deer Half “Running: Cheaper Than Therapy”

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I will admit right away that the quote above, “Running:Cheaper Than Therapy” was seen by my own eyes on someone’s shirt at the Red Deer Half Marathon. I think it may have been Nike….not sure, but I am going to track it down and order it stat. If anyone has seen these in stores, let me know ASAP. This is my new mantra.

I have done the Red Deer Half two other times–in 2010 and 2012. I haven’t done a “Race Reflection” post on either of these yet, but the past years I ran this race, I ran a 1:54:19 and 1:56:06, respectively. I choose to do Red Deer on my May Long Weekend because 1) I don’t like camping, and everyone else goes camping on Victoria Day weekend and 2) the location is convenient, as my in-laws live in Red Deer and 3) my husband goes on a boy’s trip this weekend so I have nothing better to do!

The course stays pretty much the same year to year. The race starts near Lindsay Thurber High School, which is about 9 blocks from my father and mother-in-laws. It heads toward Kerry Wood Nature Centre, then onto the Mackenzie Trail system right on the Red Deer River. You wind up and down quite a few daunting hill climbs, go around an island near Heritage Ranch, take a loop at Bower Ponds, then they rudely have you finish by climbing up Michener Hill for about 150 m, at I would say a 55 degree incline. The race ends winding down Michener straight to the finish.

The morning was damp, with weather forecasts for thunder showers all day. I got up at 6 and had my breakfast, only to head out for a two mile warmup. My sick reasoning for this was because I am doing the 20 mile Coulee Cactus Crawl in two weeks and I wanted my total mileage today to be 15…My friend Joe had suggested this. Good thing he did, because while it was only 50 degrees, the humidity in Red Deer is something I am not used to anymore. Lethbridge is dry and arid (yes, you can have Canadian cities be arid). I had to take off my long sleeve layer before race time, which I am thankful I did. I met up with my friend from marathon club, Whitney, at the start line. I also said hi to my husband’s cousin, Erin, who was doing the full. She is my age and was shooting for Boston qualifying. (She got it! Just barely, but it counts. Finished with a 3:34:24. I met her at the start of the hill and ran with her up it for support. She said without me there she may have walked!). At 8 am, the half and full marathon started. There were a little over 950 competitors in total, with 801 doing the half. Whitney and I took off and stuck together for the first 2.5 miles. We were really booking it, and then she started to just step back behind me. I kept on moving, and as each mile passed, I got more and more nervous—-I was running dangerously…..was my pace going to break?

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Since I am familiar with this course, I think I had an advantage. The advantage was I knew where the “dead spots” were and where I would have to find some internal push to get me through. There was many spots where awesome volunteers were located, (IMHO, one of the best road races as far as number of stocked aid stations go! Water and gel almost every 5km!) locations where local musicians were playing (heard a great cover of “Born to Run” and lots of easily accessible spots for everyday spectators.

To make time pass I started calculating what I needed to run the last 5, 4, 3 miles and so on, in order to beat my PR of 1:53:52. I knew by the last 3 miles I was going to definitely beat it, I just wasn’t sure by how much. I could have taken a slow jog the last three miles at 10 min/mile and be ok…but I kept my short ass legs moving. At mile 11, though, my right hip started to tighten. I had worn KT Tape on my right and left quads due to the fact my left one was still very, very sore from The Spartan Race last week. I had an emergency massage on Thursday, which helped greatly, but I had my sister-in-law help me apply this tape the night before the race, just to be safe. My legs were feeling heavy, my hip was starting to sting, and I was starting to regret the two miles I ran at 6:50 am.

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Mile 11 and 12 were quite a bit slower than all my other splits, but in the last mile I knew I would regret if I slowed down. There was a hipster band playing on Michener Hill as I ran up it—-it was easier than the last two times I had done this race, and I thank the Runner’s Soul Marathon Club for training me on so many hills this spring! One thing I regretted from the last two years is that after climbing this hill, I did not take full advantage of the downhill to the finish. I did not let this happen in 2013!. I strode it out down the hill, and once I saw my mother in law, father in law and my dog Snoopy waiting down on the last turn, I lit it up like I was 17 and doing the 800 meter run….but I think I would have kicked my 17 year old self’s ass! Before I hit my stride, I nerdishly yelled Happy Birthday Snoopy! and waved to my dog (like he gave a rat’s ass he turned 6 that day) and I gave those final steps hell. In Red Deer, you run over a timing mat before the final straightaway and this tells the announcer who is coming in. Hearing him say the information I provided in my registration, which included my name, that I am doing many races this year, and that I am running in memory of my dad allowed me to not care about the pain my leg was in!

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I finished with a personal best of 1:47:22.. I honestly did not know it was possible for my body to do this.. I have spent the last 10 years running road races, but I am now finally starting to race in road races.. The competition in the 20-29 female category was ridiculous—127 competitors, and first place was 1:28:15. I ended up being 14/127 in my category, 32/498 in my gender, and 113/801 overall. I was the happiest I have ever been after a half or full marathon.

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A week ago after the Spartan Race, my mom and I were discussing how much dad would have loved to do that race. He would have loved the obstacles! My mom made an interesting statement, that if dad was still alive, she doesn’t know if I would have done that race…if I would have kept doing all the races I have done over the years. I slowly started to change my main interest from dance to running since my dad’s passing, and it wasn’t necessarily planned that way, but it has became that. And obviously, this website was done in his honor. It’s just interesting to think about everything that has happened since April 25, 2004. It crazy to me that just by focusing my competitive drive into this website, into my dads memory, that I am doing things in running I never though I could break. Running is cheaper than therapy….but really, it is the best kind of therapy…give it a try!….

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Race Recap-Spartan Sprint…..I Am A Spartan!!

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This weekend I participated in my first obstacle course/mud race—a Spartan Sprint. Last August, my husband and I were spectators when our sister-in-law participated in the Calgary Spartan Race. This is when we decided we needed to do one of these. We travelled down to Bigfork, Montana, for our Spartan experience. And I speak for both of us by saying it was well worth the drive!

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Upon arriving on Friday, we headed to the Sportsman & Ski Haus in Kalispell for our packet pickup. You were not required to pick up race materials the night before, but it was recommended. It was here that we got to also partake in food samples from local vendors, try our hand at the spear throwing, enjoy some live music, and have some local brews. Dan did the spear throwing twice—-the first time he attempted it like a javelin and failed. After watching some kids successfully throw it, he realized he needed to throw it like a kid—-just grab it and chuck it. It worked! Too bad the next day at the race it didn’t work like that!

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Saturday was race day. We were staying at Averill’s Flathead Lake Lodge. It was a dude ranch. Seriously. And trust me. I did my City Slickers “helllloooooooo” impression multiple times. The lodge was gorgeous. Honestly, one of the prettiest locations I have ever been. We had a fantastic breakfast that morning and headed out to our VIP parking at 10:30 am. Since we already had picked up our bibs and headbands the night before, we proceeded to the “marking station”. This is where they branded us with permanent markers and stamps, writing our heat time and bib numbers anywhere and everywhere. Since our heat wasn’t until 1:15 we had plenty of time to walk around the spectator grounds.

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Race heats were every 15 minutes until 1:30. Approximately 250 runners were in each heat. The guy working the start line was really great at pumping up each group as they started off. Immediately after the start you would hit your first mud bog and up the steep inclines you would go. This course was incredibly hilly—I would dare say mountainous. There were parts where you simply couldn’t run because you had to hike through brush and debris, over rocks and stumps. The views in parts of the course were absolutely breathtaking. Totally picturesque views of Flathead Lake. But, no time to stop and gawk!

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The obstacles that we had a glimpse of beforehand were the rope climb, sand bag carry, cargo cross, over/under log bridge, gladiators, spearman, barbed wire, slip wall and fire jump. Below are some photos of the spectating area and parts of the courses that were visible.

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Finally our 1:15 heat began! Dan and I set a plan that we would stick together, as some of the obstacles needed him to be with me for help. We were also going to stick with my running pace when we could run and our goal was to do it in under 2 hours. Yes, the course was 4.9 miles. And yes, I can run nearly 5 miles in around 45 minutes on a normal workout day. But this would prove to be not your typical 5 mile jog in the woods. Any of the climbing walls we reached Dan would go on the ground and I used his back as a step. It really helped—but him calling me stumpy didn’t! Being 5’3″ is tough for this race! If you cannot complete an obstacle you must do 30 burpees to buy your way out of the obstacle. I unfortunately had to do three sets, as I did not complete three obstacles. The first one I should have been able to, and that was the monkey bars. But when I grab the first bar and contemplated swinging, my hands were so slippery I had to drop. I also struggled and got most frustrated with the rope climb. Dan was used as a ladder again to get me hoisted up and I got all the way to just below the top knot, but after three tries of getting my legs up to this pinnacle, I had to slide down. Pretty much crashed into Dan. Both of us did not get the spearman challenge either. You only got one shot, so that is what made it really tough.

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We finished together at 1 hour 50 minutes 6 seconds. We were both very happy with this! Dan could have probably shaved off ten minutes if he did not wait for me to do the burpees the two times and for me to finish obstacles, but he did say he thinks the breathing time he got as I was completing stuff really helped. He did give me a hard time about me only having 1 speed, as I wasn’t ever “sprinting” but I was doing my half marathon pace. Oh well, I was nervous about running out of fuel!

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With every Spartan Race being a new and different course, you won’t be able to try and beat a time you got from a previous race. But that is ok—-many of the obstacles are the same from race to race, so my goal the next race I do is to succeed in the obstacles I could not complete
. A co worker and I are registered for the Super Spartan, an 8 mile race, in September in Red Deer. That race will present different challenges than the one in Montana, as the running distance will play more of a part. There will probably also be additional obstacles! This race was all about completion and just having an awesome experience. I couldn’t help but wonder if my dad would have been all over this type of race and how he would have done. i know the long distance running wasn’t his thing, but most of those obstacles he could have just torn through! I did not do any specific training for this race other than my running, but now I know what I need to work on for September. So if any of you see me at the playground with a bunch of five year olds going across monkey bars and doing burpees, you know why!

Wine & Dine in Walt Disney World…Yes Please!

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I am registered for a second RunDisney event! On November 9, 2013, I will be running in the Wine & Dine Half Marathon in Walt Disney World! My friend Teresa and I are going to be running it together! Her and I worked at Badgerette, went to the same university, and coached a JV Pom Pon Squad together. This will be her first ever half marathon. The timing worked well since we have a Friday-Monday off of work that weekend for Remembrance Day. All it took was a couple late-night discussions, a check of AirMiles flights available for myself, and we registered and never looked back!

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In the spirit of this race, my entry today is talking about my family’s history of Disney ‘wining and dining.’ Now, I have never been to the official Food & Wine Festival at EPCOT yet, so this will be a Disney first for myself. But since our first trip in 1991, we have wined and dined our way through WDW, and I think it is safe to say that our level of dining has possibly increased over the years….

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Take this first photo. Here I am at age 7 during our first trip indulging on some tasty nachos at MGM Studios. Not exactly first class, but it was a start.

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Now, this is more like it! October 1993. Here my dad and I are at Rose and Crown Pub in the United Kingdom pavillion at EPCOT. Me running in the Wine and Dine Half Marathon is perfect since EPCOT has always been our favorite of the parks. While my dad is clutching his beer, I am clutching my EPCOT passport, which I still have! I already loved this park, but it was a way to encourage a kid to go into each country (for their parents’ sake). At each country, one of the workers would sign and stamp the corresponding page in the passport, usually writing something in the country’s language. They now have tons of other activities like this at EPCOT but this was one of the first ways Disney attempted to get children more interest in World Showcase. Love it!

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Also in 1993, we trekked over to Disney’s Fort Wilderness Campground for the Hoop De Do Musical Revue! Sangria and beer was the beverage provided to adults, and washboards were used for audience participation. And the second photo was at Diamond Horseshoe at Magic Kingdom. Back in the 90s, you had to book a reservation for this show at guest services in the morning. Lunch was also served during the show. The show does not operate anymore and the building space is occasionally used during high-traffic seasons for a quick service dining location. We were fortunate enough to experience this attraction while still in full operation!

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1995 brought us to Sci-Fi Dine In!. We had been to this dining location the trip previous, and while it is slightly corny, we still enjoy it. My friend Maureen and I have been here once together, and my mom and I went here again during our most recent trip (see below)

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Needless to say, you can see in the later years we really enjoy the “wining” part a bit more than the “dining!”

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It was in the year 2000 that we started to kick it up a notch.
. Here are my parents at California Grill on the top floor of the Contemporary. We were celebrating their 19th wedding anniversary. This was our first Disney meal of this caliber. And we got hooked. It was a great dining experience, and being able to view the fireworks from the rooftop deck was the best way to watch. We plan on going back to California Grill this January after the marathon weekend. They are closed right now for refurbishments so I can’t wait to see what it is like!

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During our last family trip to WDW in 2003, we revisited a tried and true favorite-Teppan Edo.. In the Japan Pavillion in World Showcase, this dining experience features the teppan chefs preparing your meal on the grill in front of you. It is always a fun time and the meal is also awesome. We went to a lot of great restaurants this final family trip, including Brown Derby. But one of the most memorable experiences food and wine related from this last family trip was the complimentary upgrade to concierge level at Yacht Club. It was a fantastic surprise and I know my dad definitely enjoyed the complimentary food and beverages all day the most!

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In 2006, my mom and I drank around the world-World Showcase of course! Here is one of the final stops, back at a familiar place, in front of Rose & Crown Pub.

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On our most recent trip together, my mom and I indulged in the best of World Showcase, by partaking in the little advertised Wine Walk.. We sampled two wines in three countries, starting with Germany. We had a great time in Germany talking with the cast member Isabel. France and Italy were the other two stops on the Wine Walk. It was a small fee and totally worth doing if you go to World Showcase at a time that is not Food & Wine Festival time.

The most amazing dining experience of my life has been at Victoria & Alberts.. It is a five star restaurant at Grand Floridian, and I am lucky (and spoiled enough) to have been here twice—once with Maureen and once with my mom. The seven course meal was paired with wine and is an absolute must for any “foodie.” It is safe to say that my mom and I have come a long way with our Disney “Wining & Dining!” Cheers!

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