5 Things You’ll LOVE About Coronado Springs Resort @ Walt Disney World

I recently stayed at the newly opened Gran Destino Tower at Coronado Springs Resort on the Walt Disney World property. It was majestic and the details intricate and stunning but it wasn’t my first time staying on this property – we stayed in one of the regular rooms as a family back in 2012, and had such a wonderful time. It really has everything you need at your fingertips, and for a reasonable price, want to know why? Here ya go:

  1. Customizing Your Vacay – You can customize however you want and for the price you want. A suite by the pool? A water view from the top of Gran Destino? How $200s/night, high $400s/night (at club level)? Now that Coronado has expanded it really has something for everyone! A great place for a family vacay on a budget or a romantic honeymoon for the happy couple with an incredible view you can choose from an array of options to fit your style and budget.
  2. Foodies Unite – you literally have every option here from top of the new tower to the middle of the lake, the restaurants are plentiful and flavorful. Do you want quick service? Check out Cafe Rix or El Mercado for Mexican inspired and traditional American cuisine. Want a nice restaurant surrounded by the water? Check out Three Bridges that sits in the middle of the lake. Want some incredible views from up high? Check out Toleda for Tapas, or Dahlia lounge for drinks. If you desire something more themed check out Maya Grill. And you can keep going. There truly is something for everyone in the foodie world.
  3. Spa and Fitness – Not every resort has a spa and fitness option but this one gives you everything you need inside the budget you are on. We all know how hot and humid the Florida days can get so this is a great option for keeping in shape while staying cool before you hit the parks for the day.
  4. The perfect running spot – But if you do prefer to keep it outdoors for your cardio this resort is perfectly located and side-walked for a 1-5 mile run. You can get around a mile just running around the waterfront, and if you want to expand the side walk road right out front of the resort gives you a direct and flat route over to the All-Stars and back.
  5. Pools that are top notch – This is one of my favorite pools mostly because of the incredible slide that waves you in and out of the rainforest and pyramids, but I also love the smaller pools that you can find outside some of the individual resort spaces. Besides the pool itself, Coronado has volleyball course and hammocks on the beach area right near Gran Destino Tower.

Obviously I love Coronado for so many reasons, but it’s a really great place to include everything you want on a vacation into one spot and on a budget. Let me know if you have ANY questions: jordan@fuelingherforward.com

For now,

Jordan

Star Wars Rival Run 2019 Race Recap

I love getting to type up a race recap, especially with the hope it encourages you to set a fitness goal and go for it! runDisney provides more affordable options too by opening up virtual runs that come with a good bit of swag themselves. This year’s theme is Marvel and registration is open now over at runDisney.com. However, this post is about Star Wars weekend and if you are a Star Wars fanatic this is one to put on the books for the future.

Jon and I flew in Thursday night after a day of work and were so excited to finally crash in our upgraded room at All-Star Movies. We are always so focused on being out and about that we choose the most affordable resort more often than not; if we are not doing park days then we spend a little bit more. We’ve stayed at Art of Animation, Caribbean Beach, and Port Orleans French Quarter which are in the moderate resort category for our lower key trips, all of which we recommend!

While we wanted to get an early start Friday morning for the opening of Hollywood Studios, it was still nice to sleep until 7am instead of our usual 5am week day wake up call. We headed to the quick service restaurant in the All-Star Movies Hall and grabbed a simple breakfast before heading out. We made it to Hollywood Studios about 25 minutes before opening, right as the rain was backing off, and were pretty close to the front of the line that would soon be making a mad-dash for Toy Story Land. One of the most interesting things we learned here was the way they crowd control the line of people – ALL THE WAY TO THE RIDE. It made it painless and easy to file into the line for Slinky Dog and with a simple wait time of 15 minutes the experience was great. We give the ride 7/10 for fun wishing it was just a little bit faster. We then headed over to the Alien Swirling Saucers with a 5-minute wait time and enjoyed that more than we thought we would. As the crowds started to descend post rain we grabbed one of the already infamous pop tarts at Woody’s Lunchbox and went to explore the other part of the park. We give the pop tart 9 out 10 because who knew premium pop tarts were a thing and that they could be so incredibly delicious. Super fresh, not too much filling, and cooked just past brown for a nice crunch – YES.

The Incredibles Alley was our next stop where we walked up to Edna Mode and snapped a quick pic. No lines – what was this? The same thing happened with BB-8 in the Star Wars Launch Bay and Pluto in the Disney Junior Area (don’t judge I love my Disney pups). Unfortunately, right about that time the skies opened back up with a little sprinkle, so we headed to our Fastpass at Rockin’ Roller Coaster. Then things took another turn as we walked up to a closed sign due to technical difficulties, sad, but nice for a readjustment that sent us to go ahead and run by the race Expo before heading to the Epcot Flower and Garden Festival for lunch. The expo was easy, I really think they make the flow better every time, but I also know it’s a smaller race weekend than some of the others, regardless it was painless.

As we made our way to Epcot for the festival and lunch the clouds started to part and made way for a beautiful day. We started towards the World Showcase and I stopped first at the Honey Bee pop up for a honey roasted rice and cauliflower dish – the portion was a little smaller than I would have liked but the taste was 10/10. As we made our way around we stopped at the Poutine pop up for Jon to get some Coffee-roasted, Smoked pork poutine for lunch. His portion was HUGE and while I only took a few bites it was so full of great flavor. We explored everything the World Showcase had to offer and toyed with stopping at so many places, but it was getting warm, so we decided on something cold and refreshing. We headed to the pineapple pop-up and both grabbed a pineapple soft serve. The portion was HUGE, and even though it was a little bit too sweet we both downed ours and I would give it 8/10 stars.

While at this point we were refreshed I realized I was doing a bad job hydrating and I simply wasn’t feeling my best. I have never been more excited to sit down when we finally made our way to the monorail to hop over to Magic Kingdom. The monorail is simply the best way to travel if you are switching from Epcot to Magic Kingdom or vice versa – OR – doing anything in the resorts around Magic Kingdom.

Magic Kingdom greeted us in the best way as the Festival of Fantasy parade was about to begin which meant no line for the special Celebration Mickey & Minnie meet and great. I waited about 10-15 minutes and snapped a pic with them in their party clothes. Then we made our way out right as the parade was coming down the street.

Ya’ll I cried. There was enough room on the train platform to be able to watch the parade from there and as Beauty and the Beast came around with the music playing tears streamed down my face. Which was bad because I was already dehydrated. The parade was amazing, and the new additions were really excellent, but then it was time for water and coffee. So, we swigged a full bottle of water and walked towards Storybook Circus to see some of the new Dumbo features, and then to Gaston’s for coffee.

This trip was much more leisurely than we are used to, but it made it incredibly nice.

I was exhausted at this point and needed to watch my hydration, so we were back at the resort by 630p for dinner. I grabbed a chicken sandwich and lounged around the resort shop and then went on to bed. Saturday morning, we woke up around 7am again but I went out for a short shakeout run before breakfast. Three hot and humid miles reminded me that missing hydration today was NOT an option. We ate a leisurely breakfast at the resort and headed to Disney Springs around 10am. First stop was Vera Bradley because they have an adorable new Disney collection out NOW, while it was just window shopping I gave some hints to Jon for my birthday next month. We hit all the shops and then grabbed up the free chocolate at Ghirardelli and it was almost time for lunch with some of Jon’s family he hadn’t seen in awhile, but had helped make this trip possible. Paradiso 37 is one of our favorite restaurants and it never disappoints. We talked and ate, and a good time was had by all. We always give Paradiso 9/10 stars – they even sat our large group early.

After our time at Disney Springs and LOTS of water, I was feeling great. I asked Jon if we could check out the Boardwalk since the only time I had seen it was running by early in the morning. He happily obliged and we had one of our memorable experiences here. Jon was really wanting water at this point – it was pretty warm. So, we stopped in the General store and asked for water. Cups of water are FREE at Disney (not bottled but paper cups), but they happened to be out. Instead of sending us on our way they asked if we wanted slushies free of charge. When Disney offers you something for free you do NOT decline, and they were the best slushies. 10/10 for the slushies and the cast member who gave them to us.

The only let down was the part where I was hoping Ample Hills had a dairy free ice cream and they do not, but from everything I hear it is worth going!

When we got back to the resort we decided to eat somewhere a little bit cleaner at the All-Star Music resort next door, where they had some basic dinners that would fuel me better for the coming mornings race. It was an early night in bed watching Iron Man and drinking more water – ha.

 

Sunday morning race alarms are not my favorite because 2:40am is not any time to be awake, but I was up and on the bus at 3:02am and on my way to the Magic Kingdom parking lot where it all began. It didn’t feel terrible as I was walking around but I knew that would soon change. I finished off my water, stood in line for a couple character photos, and downed my Rxbar about an hour and a half before the start. Once the corrals opened I warmed up and jogged over to A where I met up with my new Atlanta, runDisney friend, Michael, and a few other of his friends who I met that morning. Having people to chat with and enjoy before the start made time go by so much quicker – it was such a nice change of pace.

As the start fireworks went off we headed out for the first of 13 miles, and an unusual but not unknown issue arose: I was cramping, and early. The heat and humidity weren’t terrible, but this early in the season I was completely unadjusted to the conditions, so I slowed up, way up after blazing through the first four miles. I grabbed both Powerade and water at all but one of the hydration stops (something that is very unusual for me), but I wasn’t the only one and the comradery around the conditions made it that much easier to keep fighting for the finish line. That and the fact that running through Pandora at night is incredible and turning down the main street in Hollywood Studios is stunning, every mile really is magic.

Finally, the 13-mile mark, and then I turned the corner and the finish line lay right ahead. I didn’t finish with a great time, but a few fun moments of getting jumped at by a storm trooper right at the line and then meeting up with my friends for character photos at the end help the recovery efforts 10-fold. I still managed to finish 7th overall and 1st in my age group so it’s exciting to add a new plaque for the shelf! Another perk was the ALL GLUTEN FREE snack box. FINALLY!

One of my favorite moments of the whole trip came during the post-race brunch. I always try to book a new restaurant on each of our trips and preferably at a new resort. So, I booked Olivia’s Café at Old Key West. Old Key West is a DVC resort so it’s a little quieter and serene. We sat a small table next to the window overlooking the lake as we dreamt about this trip and those to come, Jon over Banana French Toast and me over an omelette w/ gluten free toast. These moments are my favorite as we quiet back down before we head home to the crazy of life. Olivia’s is much like the Grand Floridian in price point, variety, and taste and I always lean towards the Grand. However, it’s a little less intimate so it depends on what environment you are looking for. And then we were headed to the resort to pack up and head out.

Also shout out the Orlando International Airport for some incredible upgrades all-around.

Another great weekend in the books, which means another trip to be planned. Until next time.

I hope this gives you a little insight into race weekends, how we maneuver all the things, and some of the best foodie finds on property!

 

Princess Half Marathon & CMNHospitals

It’s been just over a week since Disney Princess Half Marathon weekend ended, and to use the word “incredible” would be an understatement. It was emotional, it was exciting, the weather was perfect, and the people + community made all the difference. So what did it all look like?

Each day the tears of remembering my Pop, and running for children that can’t were greater, but not out of sadness quite contrary it was joy. Joy that God would allow me to run, have the community to help get me to this point through prayers, support, and generosity. Through having a legendary grandfather who showed me what generosity and service should look like, these weekends are just special, and partnering with an incredible organization like Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals  just made it even more so.

However, heading into the trip I was feeling so-so, it had been a long hard week (little did I know what was in store after my return), and wishing I had spent just a little bit more time Jon prior to leaving but Disney and the sunny Florida weather were calling and it didn’t take long for my attitude to do a 180.

This weekend marked my first time running with Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. Through several charity runs, one that clicked had been hard to come by, but by golly I believe I’ve found it through CMNH. After all the hype via Facebook and emails as soon as we landed Friday morning we headed for the Expo and the Miracle Maker booth. While the expo was underwhelming – maybe in part from not feeling great and ready to get to the parks, everything kept getting better and better from there.

Our first stop post-expo was Animal Kingdom and a lunch at the newly opened, Pandora themed, Saulti Canteen. While we were just hoping for something quick service and new, we were so pleasantly surprised by this meal. The food was so rich and tasted so fresh, put it on your must-do for quick service meals at AK. After a quick pic with Timon and a ride on Everest (single-rider because HELLO who wants to wait in that line) we took advantage of our Park Hopper with a hop, skip, and a jump over to Epcot.

At this point I really wasn’t feeling good and after we rode Soarin’ with our Fastpass I considered heading back to the room for a nap. However, my people are great and helped me sit down, get water and something to eat and wait for me to feel a little revived! And it was time for a trip around the world, with a stop in France for a chocolate crepe. YES!

At this point we were ready for the big time after our crepe fueling: Magic Kingdom. It was as magical as ever as we walked onto Main Street as they did the salute to the flag, and then sun was starting to creep down glistening on the castle. We stood in line for some of the smaller rides before dinner. After looking through all our options for a new quick service experience we landed on Columbia Harbour House since it always gets solid reviews. I had the fried fish dish and although I enjoyed it, it did not live up to my expectations. The corn was cold and there was a lot more of the fried then there was the fish. Oh well! Despite that, it was almost time for Happily Ever After fireworks. This was all three of our first time seeing the new fireworks display from last year and it was INCREDIBLE. If that word could even do it justice. What a way to end our park day!

Heading back the room first to get ready for the 10K tomorrow I made sure all our luggage had made it to the room and laid out everything for our 2:45am wake up call.

Saturday morning came quickly, and even the best laid plans tend to go awry. The original plan was to take the 10K a little easier to have energy for the half. However, my competitive nature is just that and seeing the leaders of the field in front of me was too tempting and I went for it. A PR by a few seconds and an age group 3rd place was a definite highlight although I worried what that would mean for the half, but the best of this day was still to come.

One of my favorite parts before we left the race area was watching the sunrise above the finish line as runners celebrated their finish. How could it not put a smile on your face? Post 10K we walked over to Epcot for the Miracle Maker Breakfast. Waffles, Fruit, Pastries, Yogurt parfaits were laid out for the hundreds of us, and while that was fantastic, the character experiences we got to have, the stories we got to hear, and the people we got to meet made this morning top-notch. People are inspiring and community is so beautiful but it means stopping and taking the time to listen and engage. CMNH makes that possible.

Since back to back races tend to leave you exhausted we took our time getting ready for our afternoon and leisurely explored Disney Springs until our early dinner reservation at Fontera Cocina – because Mexican. Always. Sephora was doing free facials, Anthropologie had all the cute things, Ghirardelli had Easter themed chocolate caramels, and the ballet was in full force on the stage, we enjoyed it all!

My review of Frontera Cocina is so-so. Katie had tortilla soup, Becca had enchiladas, and I had taco salad. All were fresh and great quality, but the overarching word of this meal was SPICY! Maybe just a little too much, but it’s worth trying.

We headed to bed early since all 3 of us had early wake up calls.

Sunday Morning. Half Marathon time. Becca and I decided to check out the Miracle Maker tent before we headed to the corrals and inside we found all the swag as we tattooed ourselves with CMNH inspired crowns, and there was breakfast. While I had carried my squeezable oatmeal (thanks Munk Pack), they had bagels, peanut butter, apples, and yogurt to fuel us before the long haul. Thankful is an appropriate word as we accrued 2.5 miles before even warming up and crossing the start line. My body was feeling the decision to race the 10K the morning before and after the fireworks alerted us of the start it was anything but pretty. Between miles one and four my pace dropped rapidly, but somewhere around mile four I found my legs and my energy and it was off to the races. One of my absolute favorite moments is during the climb of the overpass heading back into Epcot between miles 11 and 12 as the sun begins to rise. It’s always picture perfect, and the adrenaline is at an all-time high.

The people are cheering, the characters are dancing along the way, and you know you are that close! Another PR, and while not placing quite as high as my competitive self would have liked, I could not complain considering where I started. I quickly made off to grab a picture with Snow White and got her just in time, and then towards the resort for an egg omelette please and thank you. And just like that the weekend was over, but the experiences have stuck with me.

I began processing since there were a few hours before heading to the airport, grabbing a bus over to Disney Springs for lunch at Earl’s, and another quick walk by for a free chocolate. Wow this experience really did impact me, and the tears flowed again. Being able to run is an incredible gift, and God desires for us to use whatever gift it is to the best of our ability so that He can use it. It led us to the opportunity to partner with Children’s Miracle Network Hospital and meet cancer survivors, it led me to meet and cheer on those who were racing in hand cycles, and for those who are like me who just desire for our miles not to be in vain!

It was a turning point and eye opener and it’s a weekend I won’t ever forget.

Thank you RunDisney and thank you Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals for changing lives in every season and stage.

Until next time.

Jordan

February 2018

Jon and I were talking a few days ago in a moment I had just been overwhelmed by gratitude. The chance to get up every single day and do what I love: hit the pavement (or the treadmill) and go! SO many people in this world don’t have that luxury, either they physically or financially can’t or they live in an environment that doesn’t allow it. But not only does the opportunity to run continue to present itself, but the opportunity to partner with amazing people who help care for those that cannot.

The past couple weeks of training have been hard. Pushing my pace in general, but also for longer miles. Sprinting 5Ks and then doing that again the next weekend. But each time no matter how many hills I’ve battled it’s been an overwhelming and emotional moment crossing the finish line or even just finishing a run. And God allows me to continue…

February 10th – Hearts & Soles 5K

  • This was my second time at this event, and while Jon didn’t run this year it was a fun morning for us both. The rain held off and it was a comfortable low 50 degree, cloudy morning. The easiest thing about this race is that since having done it before, my expectations were already set. And after a long run the morning before, there were no time goals, just GO. The Atlanta Track Club really does a fantastic job with this event. It’s always very well supported, people show up and show out, and it’s run so smoothly.

February 17th – Atlanta Mission 5K

  • Also my second time at this race, although it has been a few years since the first go around. The best thing about this event is that it is SO much more than a 5K: it’s stories of hope, it’s coming together as a city to support people who don’t have what we have. It’s dancing, laughing, acting crazy, and listening to leaders who have huge, God-sized vision for this city, and its FUN. The course is one of the hardest 5K courses I’ve done, but every single step is worth it. Thanks Atlanta Mission for another incredible year.

February 24th & 25th – RunDisney Princess Weekend w/ Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals

  • This whole month is clearly about doing things for the second time. As I head to Orlando this week in partnership with Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals , in honor of my late grandfather, I want to say THANK YOU again for the generosity of people in my circle who helped give kids a chance at LIFE. You are heroes, and I’m so excited to not only race in honor of Pop, but in honor of you! And celebrate the chance to be here and breathing and living.

On Thursday, the treadmill was whirring beneath my feet as I watched the news on the screen. What would have normally been a run of the mill (literally) morning where they showed us the weather, the traffic, and whatever shooting and/or fire happened overnight in Atlanta, this morning was different: it was kids who would never see their teachers or friends again, friends and teachers that don’t get any more moments on this Earth. And while I’ve unfortunately seen these stories too many times now, this one struck me differently – I get another moment and I want to be bold in using it! So tearfully (which was challenging when I was clipping at faster pace) running changed. And it’s a beautiful journey, in the valleys and hills.

ENJOY IT!

Thanks to my Nike (Pegasus 34), Mizuno (Wave Rider 21), New Balance (Fresh Foam Zante), Nuun Hydration, and Larabar for keeping me going!

Why I Love Disney!

Regularly I’m asked if I love / why I love running. The answer isn’t that complex; it’s a stress reliever, a great way to stay in shape, there’s a thrill to racing & adventure on foot, you also get to interact and meet so many amazing and encouraging people. More importantly, I’ve felt called to make it part of my mission for Christ and the Kingdom. But why I love Disney, that’s different and not so easy to answer because it’s none of those things above (let’s be honest, the parks can be stressful, and you definitely don’t stay in shape because the amazing food counteracts the insane amounts of walking). So how & why?

As we were growing up my family was mostly into the beach scene. Yearly we were the beach vacationers who spent a week on the white sands of the gulf; we never really did anything extravagant – not including the one time we drove the 12 or 14 hours to Lake Quivera, KS when I was twelve – except for the few times we went to Walt Disney World. These trips were a big deal, magical and full of adventure, and rightfully so; most of our other trips were centered around swim meets (competition) for my sister and I – bless my parents for that sacrifice. We always got new autograph books, Chef Mickey’s became a tradition, and splash mountain the staple ride of every trip.

So now fast forward 15-20 years, and my love for Disney and RunDisney is fierce. Why?

Simply put, because it brings about some of my favorite childhood and family memories. The tradition, the magic, the bond that I am blessed to have with my whole family. It’s adventure and escape simultaneously and familiar and different with each trip, and now RunDisney allows me to combine a lot into a little, bringing a passion and purpose into the place that has brought me so much joy and many memories for the past quarter century. Especially when I get to partner with incredible charities such as Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals for Princess Weekend 2018 (if you want to give in honor of my Pop click here). And with each trip new things are experienced with new people as Jon gets to tag along now, and other’s will join our squad as time passes! I’m ever thankful for this place, the cast members that make it wonderful and the family that experiences it with me to the fullest every single time.

That’s why I love Disney.

How to Handle the Parks during Runcations!

We all know that runDisney races aren’t cheap, but with all that running, food, and lodging expense how do you handle park tickets? 1. Where does it fit into the budget and 2. How much can your legs handle during or before races? Plus there are other factors like heat and humidity and timing to consider as well! So, I’ve tried to break this down a little bit.

  1. The Quick-Trip.

For Star Wars Darkside last year (I just did the half marathon on Sunday) we decided to just make it a weekend trip. Still pricey right? However, with the upgrades to Disney Springs we decided to forgo park tickets altogether and just spend some time there. No lines to stand in, stores to cool off in, and lots of food options. This is a great option for a short trip to just run!

  1. The Whole Family Vacation

This past January I completed Dopey (or grumpy as some people liked to call it but I still did a half marathon that Saturday morning), this time my whole family went from Wednesday-Monday making it quite the runcation. We decided to do 3 days in the park no park hopper. We started in Hollywood Studios on Thursday since the weather was mild and our legs were fresh having just done the 5K that morning with mom, sister, and grandmother.

**Tip 1: always fastpass the longest lined rides during a runcation, standing on your feet takes more out of you I believe than continuing to keep moving.

Friday we hit Animal Kingdom this one was a little riskier, however finding rides like Kilimanjaro Safari or taking in a show helps give you a good balance of on your feet and rest

**Tip 2: Bring your own water bottle with electrolytes into the parks to stay hydrated!

Saturday we decided to rest, but we booked Chef Mickey’s brunch to offset some of the down time and help fuel Katie & I for the full marathon the next morning. If you are doing a back to back like that I recommend staying clear of parks and just taking a chill day. Then Sunday after all was said and done we rewarded ourselves down Main Street with lots of food and ice cream! We might have been a little tired but at this point it’s just time to let lose!

  1. The Budget Girl’s Weekend.

Princess Weekend is the ultimate girls weekend trip, or maybe Tinkerbell for you west coasters but sometimes that also means budgets since everyone may not be in the same place. Of course lodging, travel, and racing have already been a steep cost so what about park tickets?

**Tip 3: Use a travel agent! They are free to use and they help coordinate and get pricing for a group without anyone having to do all the coordinating – if you need a recommendation let me know J

**Tip 4: Race with Charity – not only are you making your miles matter, but you are helping share the cost of racing!

1-Day Park Hopper w/ 1 Day at Disney Springs. Just get a park hopper for one day, preferably on the day that won’t exhaust your legs or after it is all said and done. That way you spend a little more for a day but you get to see everything you want! Then spend some time in Disney Springs enjoying the shops and Disney flair that can be seen everywhere – then enjoy a nice meal!

So there are just a few ways to navigate the parks during runcations, hopefully you found it useful! And of course…

RACE COUNTDOWN:

42 Days until Disneyland Half Marathon

104 Days until Wine & Dine 10K – For Charity

167 Days until Goofy Challenge begins

216 Days until the Fairy Tale Challenge begins – For Charity

What RunDisney trips do you have planned?