Run The Great Wide Somewhere

I want adventure in the great wide somewhere and running is how I'm finding the courage to explore this wonderful world.

Friday Five: Goals

After missing last week’s linkup, I’m very happy to be back in the saddle with the Friday Five crew, Courtney at Eat Pray Run DC, Mar at Mar On The Run and Cynthia at You Signed Up For What.  The topic is Goals and if you know me, you know I have lots of goals!

godothem

So, let’s see how I’m doing on five of them.

  1. Lose weight.  I have not done particularly well in this arena, although with the stress of the last couple of weeks, I did drop about four pounds.  I don’t think that will last and it’s not a healthy way to lose weight so I’m ok with that.  I’m working on a new diet plan from Racing Weight and it’s pretty interesting and seems healthy so we’ll see how this goes.
  2. Get faster.  I was doing a bang up job with this until the Florida summer hit.  When the lows don’t go below the mid-70′s and the humidity hovers near 100%, the last think I can stand to do is speed work (ps: our TotR linkup topic this Tuesday is going to be speedwork!).  So, my times are stagnant around the 9:30-10:30 pace.  Some of you reading this are going to be like “what is she complaining about, I’d love to be that fast!”  And some of you reading this are going to be like “wow, that is so slow!”.  But for me, it’s a respectable pace but no where near where I want to be and where I know I can be with the right weight loss and training plan.
  3. Find adventure.  This I’ve been doing great with!  Every weekend we’ve done something from water parks to beach trips and from Disney weekends to day trips to the local botanical gardens.  We’re having a great time despite the heat and making sure to work adventure into every week.   In fact, at Hollywood Studios last week we went ice skating!  Talk about beating the heat!!IMG_5096
  4. Gain confidence.  This has been more difficult.  I’ve been working on it both personally, professionally and in my writing.  I don’t deal with rejection and criticism very well but I’m still putting myself out there in uncomfortable situations more and more and it does get a teeny tiny bit easier.
  5. Get stronger.  I’ve done a great job with my strength training (although I’ve had a week off due to all our life stress).  I feel stronger and feel like my body composition is changing in a good way.  Plus, knowing how to deadlift is just kind of empowering.

So those are my goals and how I’m doing on them.  What are your goals this summer and how are you doing on them?

Share

Fitting in Fitness on Vacation

Welcome back to Tuesdays on the Run with me, Patty from My No-Guilt Life, and Erika from MCM Mama Runs; today’s topic is Fitting in Fitness on Vacation.  I just got back from a short trip to Disney, so you’d think I’d have a lot to say about this but to be honest, when I go to Disney I don’t usually do any structured exercise at all!

RunonVacation

I split my views on formal exercise during vacations into two main categories.  When I’m going on a very active vacation, like Disney or hiking in Arizona, I don’t feel a big need to work running or lifting into my schedule.  I’m usually so beat that my feet and legs are sore and I get a pretty good upper body workout right now toting Eli around wherever we go.  If I’m at Disney for a full week and have a day or two without going to a park, I will try to get a run in as long as I’m feeling not too sore.

On the other hand, if I’m traveling for work or spending a week at the beach where I’m active but not on my feet for the whole day, I do like to keep up my workout schedule.  I’m pretty flexible about it depending on what is available where I am and what the weather is.   I only do my strength training if there’s a gym available, otherwise I just consider it a rest/recovery week.

I am a lot more consistent about getting my runs in on a long vacation or business trip.  The biggest considerations are the weather and the safety of the area.  In almost all cases, if I’m going to run, it’s going to be first thing in the morning before everything else starts!

At the beach, I’ll run on sidewalks along A-1-A or a side road as early in the morning as I can get up.  On a work trip, if I’m unfamiliar with the area, I try to stick near the resort and make sure I’m running during daylight hours, ideally before my work sessions start.  Often, the front desk can provide a map with running/walking paths.

IMG_3043

It’s best if you can do this with a friend, but at the minimum make sure to tell someone that you’re going and when you’re expected back.  If you’re traveling alone, call a loved one and tell them to expect a call when you’re done.  Worst case, either bail on the run or (ugh!) hit the treadmill.  When traveling in an unfamiliar area it’s wise to err on the side of caution.

The worst part about exercising while on a vacation or work trip is having to pack all that extra stuff.  Shoes, sports bra, socks, bondiband, sparkleskirt, shirt (all times the # of times you’re working out) tends to take up a lot of room!  I read that some hotel chain was offering to let you borrow workout gear, but that might be kind of weird and hard to find the right fit for anything more than a light workout.

So, what’s your workout while traveling philosophy?  Rain or shine get it done?  It can wait until I get home?  Or are you like me and it depends on the trip type, duration and area?

 Loading InLinkz ...

 

Share

Protein Powders: what, why, how and who

I’ve added protein powder to my diet to help me properly fuel for both my distance running and my new weight training plan.  I’m still experimenting and learning what works best for me, but I thought I’d share what I have figured out so far.

What:

So, what is protein powder anyways?  It is a dehydrated powder typically made with whey (from milk), soy or casein (also from milk) but sometimes made from eggs or rice too.  Whey is the most common and unless you have dietary sensitivities or ethical concerns that cause you to avoid milk, it is a pretty good choice.  Soy can have a strange taste and doesn’t dissolve as well and there are still lots of unknowns in the scientific arena about whether too much soy can be bad for you because it can mimic estrogen.  Many have extra flavorings and stabilizers and either sugar or artificial sweeteners added.  In a lot of health food store shopping, I only found one brand without flavor and sweeteners added and let me tell you it was awful!

Why:

Half of the time you hear that if you’re working out, you need more protein, especially right after a workout to recover and fuel muscle rebuilding.  And the other half of the time you hear that Americans get way too much protein in their diet and any added protein is at best a waste of money and at worst actually bad for you.  This is a tough one with a lot of varied advice out there.  I don’t think the average person who works out aerobically for thirty minutes a day and eats a typical diet needs to add a protein powder to their day.  But, (and remember I am NOT a doctor) I do think that protein powders can be a good supplement if you’re working out over an hour most days and doing heavy strength training.

It’s most important to add protein (from whatever source) when you’re really pushing yourself with a new program or ramping up your level of effort.  If you’re trying to build muscle, that extra protein provides your body with the building blocks it needs.   I suspect that a chicken breast with a sweet potato would be a better recovery meal than a protein powder/peanut butter/almond milk shake, but it’s a whole lot less convenient to take to the gym and then guzzle down while you’re blow drying your hair to get ready to go back to work.

So, if your lifestyle allows you to eat whole foods at all your meals and snacks and you eat a varied diet, you may not want to or need to add protein powder to your diet, regardless of your level of exercise.  But if you’re rushing from home to the gym to work and your options are to skip breakfast or have a protein shake, I’d have to think the protein shake is going to be a better option.

How:

I like to have a protein shake in the morning, either as breakfast or right after my morning workout.  I have two basic recipes I use.  The first is to use unsweetened vanilla silk almond milk, add one scoop of protein powder and a big spoonful of natural peanut butter.  I add a big shake of ground cinnamon and a little shake of ground cloves (thanks to Finding the Skinny Geek Within for the smoothie recipe that inspired mine) I blend it with my ninja blender for about 10 seconds and it’s ready to go.

The second is to use unsweetened vanilla silk almond milk, one scoop of protein powder, a big handful of raw spinach and some cut up strawberries and/or sweet cherries.  I blend that for about thirty seconds and it’s pretty delicious.

Who:

This probably should be “which” but who worked better for my catchy title.  I have tried lots of different kinds.  The very worst was one that I got at a health food store (after literally spending thirty minutes reading labels on the packages on a full wall of choices ) which was rice based and had almost no additives.  Oh my, that was terrible.  Gritty and funny tasting and just terrible, really awful.  I still shudder at the memory of choking that down.  Thankfully I bought in a couple of single serving packets and not a big tub.

The kind that I’m using right now is a brand called My Protein.

IMG_3490

It blends really well and has a nice vanilla flavor and smooth texture.  I haven’t noticed any weird aftertaste and it “sits” well whether I drink it before or after a workout (in other words, no strange digestive unpleasantness).  You can store it at room temperature and it comes in a resealable pouch with a scoop inside it.

Here are the nutritional facts and the ingredients.  A serving is one and a half scoops, but I’m fairly short and not trying to get super bulked up so I felt fine just having one scoop, once a day.  I think 2-3 times a day is a bit excessive if you have a normal diet and aren’t in the gym six hours a day.

IMG_3492

I’m not a huge fan of Splenda (sucralose), but in moderation it’s fine.  I like that this brand doesn’t have a list that’s thirty ingredients long but they keep it simple.  And it still tastes great.

IMG_3493

If you’re interested in giving them a try, you can find them at Myprotein USA (it’s a British based company that’s expanded its presence into the States).  The website is a little intimidating with the GNC ripped body guy look but the products are really for everyone.  They have a neat section near the top where you can click on “Your Goals” and see the products they have for different goals.

Do you use protein powders as a dietary supplement?  What is your favorite and do you have one that made you gag?

Disclosure:  I was not financially compensated for this post. I received a sample for review purposes. The opinions are completely my own based on my experience.

Share

Saturday Update: Is it August Yet?

Remember last week when I said how bad this week was going to be?  Yeah, it was that bad.  Work was just appalling.  My presentation went as well as it could have and I didn’t make a complete fool of myself.  But work stress and frustration is starting to get to a toxic level.  And every day brought some new crisis.  Ok, just breathe, seriously it is just work…  I am a believer that things tend to go on a pendulum and when they get really bad, it just means that it’s about to swing back in the other direction.

alexander-and-the-terrible-horrible-no-good-very-bad-day

My Dad got his heart cath scheduled for the end of the month and he seems to be doing ok.  He is driving his Harley to the beach this weekend which I’m not thrilled about but he’s not a hang out in the house for three weeks kind of guy.

And Eli went back to the doctor this week.  He was freaked out about them trying to take his blood pressure (the strangest things freak you out when you’re three) but I asked them not to and it wasn’t a problem.   Because he’s still having some issues, they scheduled him for a colonoscopy on next Tuesday (first thing in the morning).  Which means we do the prep on Monday.  Yeah, I could use all the positive thoughts you have on you on Monday and Tuesday.   The good news is that they should either be able to fix the problem during the procedure or verify that it is nothing to worry about.  So, by lunch on Tuesday, I should hopefully have a big stress off my shoulders (that’s been there since March).

And I got a nasty sore throat and head cold on Tuesday morning.

So, how did I do last week:

  1. Eating:  I started off really well.  And then I got sick. And when I’m sick (especially when my throat hurts) I tend to eat poorly.  I got a bunch of diet orange soda to drink because it makes my throat feel better.  I’ve improved my diet again since I’m starting to feel better.
  2. Running: I ran on Tuesday, even though my throat hurt and there was a thunderstorm.  I was hoping I wasn’t really getting sick but I was WRONG.  I know you can run if your symptoms are above your neck but I believe that when I get sick it’s usually my body’s way to try to force me to slow down and rest and so I listen to it.
  3. Strength/Cross Training: I got one session in on Monday, but skipped the second since I was sick.
  4. Adventure: Friday I had to do some work, but we’re doing lots of adventure this weekend (details below!).
  5. Self Confidence: I did two presentations this week and while it was uncomfortable, I think they were both great growth opportunities.  One of the presentations was in a very tense environment and I felt like I stepped up and handled it fairly well.  It wasn’t as smooth and polished as it could have been but it certainly could have been worse.  So I had a lot of professional growth this week.

So, in a typical spur of the moment decision, I decided we needed to go to Disney this weekend to help me not sit at home dwelling on Eli’s procedure and having panic attacks.  Friday night, I checked the hotel prices and saw that the Swan had a great deal where I could use some reward points and stay for $75 a night for two nights.  We secretly packed things up Friday so we can surprise Eli this morning.  We’ll be doing Magic Kingdom today and maybe a combo of Epcot and Hollywood Studios on Sunday.  Then we’ll drive home Monday morning.  I’ll be posting lots of pictures on Twitter and Instagram.

Sorry if this was a bit of a downer post, I am actually seeing some light at the end of the tunnel, I just need to get through Eli’s procedure Tuesday, two more budget meetings next week and then my Dad’s procedure at the end of the month!  Hopefully once we can put July in the rear view mirror, things will be awesome.

ok

Oh yeah, in other news, one of my Instagram pictures from last week’s Animal Kingdom trip got featured on a Buzzfeed article on hippos.  That was pretty cool!  Mine’s #8 in case you were wondering.

 

Share

ToTR: My First Race or “What Not To Do”

Welcome back to the next edition of the Tuesdays on the Run linkup with me, Patty from My No-Guilt Life, and Erika from MCM Mama Runs.  Today’s topic is My First Race, but any running related post is welcome to link up with us!

So, nostalgia time…  My first race might have been this one:

IMG_4681

But my first actual timed race with a bib was the Micanopy Half Marathon in 1997.  Yes, I chose to do a half marathon as my first race.  That race is what I would consider a “learning experience” because I did just about everything wrong.  And I paid for it!

Here’s what NOT to do for your first race:

1.  Pick a crazy distance.  Generally, the 5k is a great distance for a first race.  I chose to pick the half marathon for my first race.  Go big or go home, right?  Wrong!  I can’t actually remember exactly why I decided to start with such a challenging distance other than the fact that I was in my twenties and invincible.  You can always build up to longer distances, but 5k is a great choice for a first race.

2. Don’t train for the distance.  I did train, I really did.  But I didn’t train for the half marathon distance.  I figured that if I ran at least 8 miles in training then I’d be able to do 13.1 in a race setting.  Well, I was able to do it but it was pretty miserable and there were lots of tears!  Whatever distance your first race is, make sure to find a training plan and stick with it!

3. Wear cotton clothes.  Yes, I wore all cotton clothes.  I don’t know if I’d even heard of wicking clothes at that time.  I think the only running specific things I wore were my socks and shoes.  I was drenched by the end and I don’t want to discuss the chafing.

4. Don’t research the race.  I had no idea what the course was like or what fuel and hydration would be available.  And so, I had no idea that there would be only two water stops and one gatorade stop.  I had never heard of “fueling” for a race, so I didn’t have anything to provide that needed energy on the course either.  No surprise that I ran out of steam somewhere between 8 and 10 miles.  Here I am drinking a whole jug of gatorade after the race!

MicanopyHalf

5. Start off very fast.  This is the most important thing to remember and the hardest rule to follow.  Despite what you’ll feel like, you did not suddenly get much much faster all of the sudden on race morning.  I started off much too fast because, well I guess I thought I’d gotten much faster all of the sudden on race morning.  It didn’t take too long to discover that I was wrong.  For your first race, you’re going to get a PR (personal record) no matter what, so don’t go out too fast.  Intentionally hold your pace down for the first mile, then if you feel great you can speed up.  In addition to feeling awesome, you’ll be able to get the joy of passing other runners in the last half of the race.

Despite all these terrible choices (all of which I learned from before my next race, the Gate River Run 15k which went so much better!) and some tears on the last few miles, I did manage to finish the race and it didn’t make me afraid to race again.

MicanopyHalf2

What did you learn from your first race?

 Loading InLinkz ...
Share

EatTheGreatWideSomewhere: Yak & Yeti

Whenever we go to Animal Kingdom, one of our traditions is to have an early lunch at Yak & Yeti.  Animal Kingdom doesn’t have a lot of restaurants to choose from, so it’s lucky that they have one that we just adore!

Yak&Yeti1

As you might expect, Yak & Yeti is a table service restaurant located in Asia.  We like to get reservations right when they open (at 11am) because we have our own table that we like to eat at on the second floor next to the windows overlooking the big tree with prayer flags in it.  Generally if we are the third or fourth group to be seated we get that sweet spot.

Yak&Yeti6

The whole restaurant is gorgeous with lots of artifacts from Nepal and beautiful decor.  The theme is that it is a restaurant at the base of Mt. Everest in the town of Anandapur.  The servers are attentive and the service is usually quite prompt without being rushed.  Yak&Yeti3

The food is mostly Pan-Asian with standard menu fare like crispy honey chicken, lo mein, chicken fried rice and bourbon chicken.  The bourbon chicken is my favorite and on my last visit my server explained that they make the sauce from scratch.  The bourbon flavor is distinct without being overwhelming.   Most menu items come with either steamed white or brown rice, but you can order a side of chicken fried rice if you prefer.   Most of the entrees come with lots of fresh veggies mixed in.

Yak&YetiPotStickers

We love the food here and typically choose from the items listed above (we really should branch out and try new things!) and we always start with the delicious pork pot stickers, yum!  They also have fancier dishes like Maple Tamarind Chicken, Malaysian Seafood Curry and the Kobe Beef Burger.  You can  review their full menu here.   You should always save room for their signature dessert, the Fried Wontons.  These little wonders are cream cheese wontons, deep fried and served with pineapple skewers, vanilla ice cream and a sinfully good honey vanilla drizzle.  Warning: you might not want to share!

Erik always gets a Bloody Mary and says it’s delicious (I think tomato juice is disgusting)!  Like all the restaurants in Animal Kingdom, they use those awful paper straws to help protect the animals from ingesting plastic straws that guests might litter.  My oldest son is not a Disney fan at the moment (teenagers!), but even he can be tempted to go with us if we’re visiting Yak & Yeti!

IMG_0616

It’s a kid friendly restaurant and although they do have a lot of seating on the second floor, they also have an elevator for anyone who would prefer not to have to climb stairs.  They take advance dining reservations, are not part of the Tables in Wonderland discount plan but they do take the Disney Dining Plan and give a 10% discount to annual passholders.  While they take reservations, they almost always accept walk-ups as well, especially if you go right when they open.

Yak&Yeti2

If you’re in a big hurry or can’t get a table, the quick service next door has a limited menu but the food is cooked in the same kitchen and is the same high quality.  I always look forward to our Yak & Yeti tradition whenever we go to Animal Kingdom for the ambiance, the service and the food.

Share

Saturday Update: Stress!

This has been one heck of a week.  I’ve been dealing with a lot of stress, and not necessarily dealing with it well.  We’re in budget season at work and it’s a highly politicized process lately.  I can’t really go into details, but it’s tough and extremely stressful.  I’m also in charge of a major computer upgrade that has some major issues, sigh.

My Dad had a problem with his heart (he was heavily exposed to Agent Orange during the Vietnam War and despite being thin and a non-smoker, he had his first heart attack at 40, quadruple bypass at 50 and now at 65 is having some issues again).  He was admitted to the VA for four days and for the last two, we were on pins and needles because they told us they would do a heart cath procedure “any minute”.  For two days.  And they never got him in, so they released him on Tuesday night and finally on Friday we learned they have scheduled it for the end of the month.  Sigh.

And Eli is having some health issues too, and we have to take him back to the pediatric gastroenterologist next week and will probably be scheduling a colonoscopy for him.  His doctor has reassured us that he’s very confident there’s nothing to worry about but he may have benign polyps (they’re different in kids than adults and are not cancerous but still need to be removed).  So there’s that too.  I cannot fathom us going through colonoscopy prep for a three year old.  See why I need to go to Disney so often?

While exercising can help with stress, for me eating a bunch of junk also helps with stress.  So I did both last week!  I’m sure I’ll feel better if I can do the exercise for stress management and still manage to eat well, but it’s a work in progress for me.  So here’s a recap of last week:

  1. Eating:  Yes, it was terrible.  I’d estimate I ate poorly at least 50% of the time.  And I drank a bunch of Diet Mt Dew too.  I know I’ll feel better if I do better with this.  And, as usual, I have “A Plan”.
  2. Running: I ran twice this week, three miles each on Tuesday and Saturday.  I missed my Thursday run due to work insanity.
  3. Strength/Cross Training: I did manage to do both of my weight sessions.  I’ve reduced my bike time on those days to just a ten minute warm up because the weight sessions are close to an hour long and I just can’t do much more than a hour workouts on work days.
  4. Adventure: We had a lot of fun adventuring at Animal Kingdom yesterday.  Hiking around the park with a 32 pound preschooler on my back (we don’t do strollers) was a great workout!  The animals were surprisingly active and we saw the tigers and gorillas doing a lot of walking around and even saw the lion sitting on top of the rock during the safari. IMG_4469  I got some great pictures!    IMG_4478
  5. Self Confidence: I keep seeing pictures of my blogger buddies at various blogger conferences and I’m getting more and more convinced that I need to join in the fun.  It’s going to be hard for me to justify the cost and to be brave enough to meet lots of new people but I think it will be really good for me.

My new “Plan” is to give the book Racing Weight a try.  It’s designed by a guy who interviewed lots of high level endurance athletes to learn what they did to maintain a healthy body weight.  I downloaded the book to my iPhone, so it’s taking a while to slog through it but the premise is that you use a set of guidelines to track your ‘diet quality score’ which you calculate by adding points for good foods and subtracting points for bad foods.  Good foods are fruits, veggies, lean meats and whole grains (shocker I know) and bad foods (my label not theirs) are sugars, fried foods, fatty meats and processed foods.   You calculate your score based on your current diet and then just try to improve it.  They do give a suggested number of carbohydrate grams based on your goal weight and your number of hours of activity per week.  Seems pretty straightforward to me.  Kind of my “don’t eat crap” diet with some measurement attached.

Hopefully by the end of the summer a lot of these stressors will be resolved.  Until then, I am going to try to stick to my workout schedule (Wine & Dine training has officially begun) and to try to improve both my diet and my ability to handle stress.

Share

Friday Five: Fun With Fitness Snapshots

It’s perfect timing for a Friday Five with Courtney at Eat Pray Run DC, Mar at Mar On The Run and Cynthia at You Signed Up For What!  Today’s topic is Fitness Snapshots!  Funny coicidence that I’ve been taking pics working out lately (mainly because the gym has been empty and I’ve been loving my new custom sparkleskirts!).

Here are five photos of me having fun with fitness!

  1. Here’s me right after doing some interval work on the stationary bike in the gym.  I hate it, but I do it!  I’m sweating in a Mickey Mouse Bondiband and my team Sparkleskirt.IMG_4419
  2. You may remember me whining about having to work in multiple facilities because I’m assigned to a big special project while still doing my regular job.  I am super lucky that my employer values health and fitness, so most of our big facilities have a free gym.  The one above is in my special project building.  The one below is in my regular building.  The first one is newer, but I’m kind of attached to the dingy older one below!  This is me showing off my guns from the three months of following The New Rules of Weightlifting for Women.   This is a custom sparkleskirt, a new bondiband with their logo on it and a Raw Threads shirt.  IMG_4352
  3. Enough of my dreaded indoor workouts.  As much as I hate the heat and humidity of Florida in the summer, I hate being stuck inside a gym even more.  Here I am partying in Animal Kingdom after doing my favorite fitness activity, running!IMG_3010
  4. I know this isn’t a photo of me, sadly I don’t think I have any of me in a bathing suit!  But this is another favorite fun fitness photo.  We love swimming at the beach, pool, springs and especially at Typhoon Lagoon!  Chasing this preschooler around a water park is probably the most athletic event ever.  Let me say we all took a three hour nap after about five hours at Typhoon Lagoon!  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
  5. And my favorite fitness activity of all is hiking and exploring this amazing world.  This is from an awesome trip to Scotland that Marguerite and I took back in 2008.  Being able to hike wherever I want without worrying about not being fit enough was one of my biggest inspirations to lose weight and get healthy and strong.  IMG_0635

So those are my five fitness fun snapshots!  We’re going to Animal Kingdom today to get some more exercise, adventure and fun experiences.  What are you doing for fitness and fun today?

Share

SparkleSkirts FAQ: Custom Orders

Tuesday7-8

Sparkleskirts has a multitude  of gorgeous skirts available but sometimes you want something just a little different, well luckily they offer custom orders.  I had a great experience ordering custom skirts recently and wanted to share the details of the process in case you might want to take the plunge and get your own.  If you’re new to sparkleskirts, check out this post about why I won’t run in anything else.

A couple of things to note, while Sparkleskirts will do custom skirts, they do not do costumes.  While you can select a specific fabric, it would have to be made in one of the pre-existing styles like swing, hiker, slim, sparklelights, commando or twinkle.

There are three paths to getting a custom sparkleskirt, the team order, the group order and the single order.  I’ve participated in two of the three processes and have been thrilled with the results.  I’m going to lay out the process I followed for getting a single order custom skirt made and then I’ll explain how the other orders are the same and different.  So here we go:

SSCustom1

1. Find Your Fabric.

There are lots of places to search for that perfect print (or solid).  You want to make sure that the fabric is spandex and is 4-way stretch (you can use 2-way stretch for a swing or hiker but it would have to be made with a black waistband instead of a self waistband).   Some great places to look are Spandex World, Spandex House, E-bay (search spandex fabric), American Spandex, Designer Alley Fabrics, Spandex Depot, your local fabric store or even a lucky find at a garage sale.   Spandex World and Spandex House are the regular suppliers for Sparkleskirts, so they may be the easiest to work with.  I got this one from Spandex House:  IMG_4174

Many of these sites will let you buy a sample swatch for a nominal price.  It can be hard to visualize a whole skirt just from the website or even from a swatch, so you’ll have to use your imagination!  Also, one thing I found through this process is that there is a LOT of ugly spandex out there!  Hooka fabric?  Yikes!  Although maybe this could work for an Alice in Wonderland themed costume!

hookafabric

Photo credit: Spandex House

If you find the fabric you want, don’t order just yet (see #3) but don’t wait too long, these big fabric shops seem to cycle through their fabrics fairly quickly so what you see today may not be available a month from now.

2. Decide on the Details.

You probably already know what size you need, but you also have to decide which style you want (see this post to see the difference in hiker, swing and slim).  If your custom fabric is 4-way stretch spandex, you can choose to have a black waistband (this is the several inches top section with the zipper pocket) or a “self” waistband.  A self waistband is a waistband made of the same fabric as the skirt.

Other decisions to make are whether you want the standard black shorts or to see if you can get shorts in a different solid color to complement your skirt fabric.  You can often get the pockets made with the same material as the skirt too.    Sometimes the cuffs of the shorts can even match the skirt!IMG_4176

If you are getting a hiker length skirt, you also need to decide whether you want to get the external pockets on the skirt or just have the pockets on the shorts.  This is also your opportunity to get your skirt made a little longer than normal or to get a skirt of one size with shorts of a different size.   If you’re getting a vented slim, you can even choose to have it made with the zipper on the back and vent on the front.

Since you’re having a custom made anyways, make sure to get it done exactly the way you want.  The helpful staff at SparkleSkirts is a great resource for figuring out your options so you get the skirt you’re dreaming of!

3. E-mail SparkleSkirts.

Before you order the fabric!  You want to make sure that they are still accepting custom orders and that your fabric is going to work.  In the past, Sparkleskirts would shut down custom orders during their busy race-prep season in the fall through spring.  This year they have hired one seamstress (Mary) who is devoted to customs full time.  While they are planning to continue offering customs year round, it’s a good idea to check first because there may be times that are extra busy where they have to focus on their basic stock production which could cause delays for custom orders.  (Updated to note that all customs are temporarily shut down right now).

It’s also a good idea to send them the details on your fabric just to make sure it’s going to work for the skirt process.  If you’re buying it online, you can send them the link to the fabric and/or the item number.  Just sending a picture of the fabric makes it more difficult for them to locate it to make sure the fabric is workable for a skirt.  The e-mail is located on the Sparkleskirts site under FAQ and they do an excellent job of guiding you through the process.  They’ll need to know everything you decided in #2 as well.

If you choose to do this process over the phone, it’s a good idea to follow up with an e-mail confirming all the details!

4. Order Your Fabric.

In almost all cases you’ll need one yard of your desired fabric for any size or style skirt.  You can choose to have it shipped directly to Sparkleskirts HQ or you can have it shipped to you (if you want a sneak peek) and you can ship it or drop it off (if you’re nearby).

You can also choose to let Sparkleskirts order the fabric for you.  I’m a bit of a control freak so I wanted to do the ordering myself!  In most cases, it works out a bit cheaper that way as well (see #6).

5. Wait Patiently.

Now we wait.  For the fabric to be delivered.  For your order to be placed in the que of other custom orders.  This can take several weeks, so be patient and know it will eventually be your turn.

6. Pay For Your Skirt.

Sparkleskirts will let you know when it’s time to pay for your skirt and will send you a link to a special star on their website to pay through.

Generally, if you pay for the fabric yourself and ship it to Sparkleskirts, the cost is the same as a regular skirt.  If you have Sparkleskirts buy the fabric on your behalf, you generally pay $20 more than the price of a standard skirt.  The extra cost is because they lose the economies of scale and it just takes extra time to cut and properly line up the fabric when they are just making one (or a few) skirts.  There can be extra charges for certain fabrics that are more difficult to work with like plaid and for very expensive fabrics.

7. Wait Patiently.

And now you wait again.  For several more weeks.  I think it was five weeks from step one of the process to the day I got my skirt.  I knew it would be a while because they had lots of custom and group orders going on, so the wait wasn’t unexpected.  The worst was the couple of days between getting my shipping notice and getting the skirt!

If you’re wondering why the process takes so long, one part is the large demand (no FP+ here to skip the line) and the other factor is that to make one custom skirt, Mary has to cut seventeen pieces of fabric by hand with scissors and then sew everything together one piece at a time.  So, it takes several hours just to make one custom skirt.

8. Celebrate.

And then the glorious day arrives when you receive your long-awaited custom skirt.  Open the box and try it on!  Make your friends and family admire it.  Post photos all over cyberspace so everyone can see your amazing skirt.  Glory in your first run in your one-of-a-kind treasure.  IMG_4366

9. Repeat.

 Accept that you’ve become a bit addicted.  Stalk all the sites in #1.  Hoard fabric as you save up for your next custom skirt!  Here’s my next custom that I will be getting in the near future:

SSCustom

I hope this helped answer your questions about the custom Sparkleskirt process.  The group and team orders are similar but on a larger scale.  Typically if you do a group order of a custom fabric and can get 24 or more people to order you can save on the extra custom charge by turning your custom order into a group or team order.  One person needs to coordinate the group order.   Here’s Wendy’s gorgeous DaisyCrazy in hiker:

SSCustom4

It’s also good to note that getting a custom made does not make that fabric exclusive to you, if someone else requests a custom made of the same fabric, their request will be granted too. On the other hand, there are some fabrics that have been used for team orders that Sparkleskirts may not approve for use for another team/group/custom order.  Team and group orders are produced at the larger main sewing facility and require more coordination due to the larger number of people and skirts involved.  They may also be shut down during busy race and expo season.  Communicate early to make the process smooth!

Sparkleskirts let me know before I ordered my customs that one of the fabrics I was going to use would be going into a regular sparkleskirt production this fall, so I decided to wait until then to get it cheaper.  Which is just another reason why it’s a great idea to communicate with the staff at Sparkleskirts before you order your fabric!  Just remember that they go through some very busy periods and often are traveling for race expos, so be patient and you can always give them a call if it’s urgent.

Fair warning: this process can be addictive!  Have you ordered a team/group/custom sparkleskirt?  What would be your dream custom sparkleskirt?

This is part of the Tuesdays on the Run linkup with me, Patty from My No-Guilt Life, Erika from MCM Mama Runs.  Your post can be on the topic of the week or on any running related topic.  Check out the other blogs linked below to find some new favorites!

 Loading InLinkz ...
Share

Disney FP+: Main Street Electrical Parade Viewing

Like many Disney fans, I threw a royal tantrum worthy of a princess when they added FP+ and took away the paper fast passes.  I loved the paper fast passes.  We got there at rope drop and I knew how to work the system so I could ride what I wanted without dealing with those long lines.  Lines are for suckers!  We’d been known to use six to ten fast passes in one day on top of getting to walk through empty lines for the first hour or so after the park opened.

And I still look fondly at our Year of a Million Dreams super fast pass lanyard that they used to give away sort of randomly in the first hour or two after park opening.  Best bit of Disney pixie dust I’ve ever gotten (sadly I haven’t been selected to stay in Cinderella’s castle yet).

FP+3

So, when Disney took away my paper fast passes and replaced them with the three per day, non park-hopping, FP+ system they completely messed up my system.  Argh!  Was I going to have to wait in line like a tourist?  Noooooo…..

Well, like most changes in life, after railing against it and stomping my feet a bit, I tried it and between me getting used to it and Disney making some much needed improvements, I have to publicly admit that I actually kind of like it now.  And the thing that actually changed my mind was the FP+ for the parade viewing.

On our last visit, even though we planned it at the last minute, we were able to get four FP+ spaces in the 9pm Main Street Electrical Parade.  Around 7:30pm we noticed people had already staked out the prime spots all along Main Street.  I just cannot stand the idea of sitting for several hours just to have a good parade spot, so we typically either skip the parades (the ride lines are much shorter then) or just kind of watch them as we walk out of the park.  But I do love the Electric Light Parade, I remember it fondly from my own childhood.  FP+4

Although the FP+ said to arrive between 8:40 and 9:00, we headed towards the castle around 8:30pm, because I wanted to make sure that we knew where to go.  I asked a friendly cast member who actually walked us up to the section.  It’s a roped off area in the hub on Main Street, right in front of Cinderella’s Castle.   At 8:30 there was already a line, probably about 20 people deep to get into the FP+ viewing area.  We went ahead and got in the line and they started letting people in right then (so about ten minutes before the FP+ said).

FP+5

As they were letting us in, they had handheld attachments to iPads they were using to scan our MagicBands to confirm we had FP+’s.  That process went very smoothly and we quickly found a nice spot facing towards the turn into AdventureLand, right in front of the rope.  There was a bit of  a wait (not too bad) and the worst part was having to see the eight zillion people coming up and trying to slip under the rope.  There were three cast members stationed at the ropes to keep people out and explain that it was a FP+ viewing area, but some prominent signs on or in front of the ropes clearly stating that would have probably reduced the confusion and disappointment significantly.

The cast members took down the ropes in front of us right before the parade started, which made for awesome viewing without any obstruction.  It was amazing to see the floats with the lit up castle in the background.

Right after they dimmed the lights and before the parade got to us, a lady from the non FP+ slipped under the ropes and shoved next to us which was kind of disappointing.  She ended up having her phone/camera in a lot of my photos, which only actually bothered me because I knew she was in there illicitly.  She kept motioning to her party to come and join her, but thankfully they had better sense or better manners because they stayed where they were.

IMG_3975

Even with our unauthorized interloper, we had a wonderful time and I will definitely use the FP+ for parade viewing again.  I think that one of the reasons they were still available so close to the day of our trip is the new FP+ policy of letting people get additional FP+ at the kiosks in the parks once they’ve used all three of their daily FP+.  That new policy is discouraging some people from taking late FP+ slots.

FP+9

One extra benefit that we didn’t use but I am pretty sure would work great is to stay in your parade FP+ spot after the parade and until the Wishes fireworks start.  Eli is still skittish about fireworks, so we tend to watch them from a distance (the Dumbo area) but the Wishes FP+ viewing is in a different area, so you can probably have a great view just by staying put (again I didn’t actually do this, so your mileage may vary but it’s worth a try!).

FP+8

While I’m really sad the paper FP are gone, I do love the expansion of the FP+ to other experiences like the parades and fireworks.  We have FP+ for the Festival of Fantasy parade in a few weeks, so I’ll report back after that experience.  One day, Eli won’t be afraid of fireworks anymore so it will be great to FP+ those as well.

FP+7

How do you feel about the FP+ system?  Have you tried it for the parades or fireworks?

Share
« Older posts
Floating Social Media Icons Powered by Acurax Blog Designing Company
%d bloggers like this: