Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Change of plans

Coast to Coast 2014 is out. My next run Disney event will be the Tower of Terror 10 Miler in September 2013.

Rather than post here on Tundra I may have some fun with this and post updates over on my other blog at

Monday, June 4, 2012

DAM I can't Believe I did that!

On my last post I set forth a few goals. First among them was to do better with my calorie intake and secondly to get in 30 miles of walking or jogging per week between then and January 2014.

Regrettably I had a setback on my first day back on the road. I had worn a hole into the back of my right running shoe. I knew I needed to replace my shoes but I figured I could get in a jog or two before doing so. Wrong. About a mile out I noticed my heel felt hot and I knew a blister was starting. Another half mile later I took off my shoe and found that in such a short distance I had developed a dime sized blister. I walked back home. I went out a couple days later but my foot was still tender. I finally bought new shoes and got in two treadmill miles with those and a four mile outdoor jog a couple days later.

Due to lack of training I was already on the fence about running the DAM to DAM 20K and the blister situation was not helping. Packet pickup for the race was this past Friday and I figured that since my paid registration included a Dam to Dam tech shirt I would at least go down and pick up my gear. As I left the expo I was still undecided but by the time I got home I made up my mind that even if I got swept off the course I was going to give it a try.

So Friday night I loaded up on a nice chicken and pasta dinner and made myself go to bed early at ten. Sleep was restless and our dog Sophie waking me up at three in the morning did not help. Since I planned to be up by four anyway I did not attempt to go back to bed. I was afraid that if I did I would sleep through my alarm.

A got dressed, had breakfast and put a generous among of runners body glide over my blister. I drove downtown to catch a bus to the top of the course and I was pre drinking water to get hydrated.

Temp was in the high 50’s for the start. My niece and grand nephew were both running this year and it was also their first time running a long event. We met up and waited for the race to start. I knew they planned to jog the whole thing and my strategy (due to lack of training) was to follow the Galloway method of regular intervals of walking and jogging.

I started off with a one mile jog and then walked for 2/10 of a mile and my plan from there was to alternate walking 2/10 with jogging 8/10. I discovered that my endurance level was not going to sustain this long term and eventually I fell into a pattern of walk 2/10 and jog 2/10. This worked quite well and there were some portions where I did jog longer.

Once I passed six miles I felt go about my chances of finishing. Miles seven through nine felt the best during the run. Perhaps it was knowing that I was over halfway or more likely it could be that I was enjoying the shade of the mature trees in the Oak Park neighborhood. All was going well until I approached mile eleven and I felt my calves tightening up. From that point through the finish whenever I jogged my calves would spasm. I was wearing my Garmin GPS and I reached 12.4 miles (20K) blocks from the actually finish. Two factors for that are that when you run races like these you’re always going around people and that adds some distance the other factor is that at mile three I did have to run off road to water a tree so to speak.

My official chip time for the run was 2:40

The actual time I reached 20K according to my Garmin was 2:34

My niece Brianne and her son Tucker had a great run and finished twenty minutes ahead of me with an official time of 2:20.

Over all I am very happy with how I did. My training since January has been next to nothing and being able to complete this is very motivating.

I have to say a few things about the organization of this year’s DAM to DAM. First I’ll start off with the only real positive thing I can say. Additional water and power aid stations were added to this year making the run itself more pleasant.

On the negative side: The expo was moved from the Des Moines Convention Center to the Veterans Memorial Auditorium. In the past you walked in and there was a wall with everyone name on it and your runner’s number. You got your number and then you proceeded to a booth that your number can be found. I walked into Vets expecting something similar and when I did not find any posting I looked to see if since this was a new location they might have someone answering questions and providing information. Nope, Nada, Nothing. I had to go into the pickup area get in a line and then be directed to a small unmarked room where I finally discovered my name and assigned number. There were some platters of toasted bread and some type cake available and there was red licorice. Most of this was picked over and what was there looked unappealing especially when you see kids (whose parents are not watching them) touching all of it. I the past such things were on counters and there were servers.

Like most races these days event sponsors’ have really cut back on the free swag and samples they give out. This year’s sole freebie was from Allied Insurance and it was a 12” die cast Nascar. Tell me how this relates to running?

This year the course was shift by nearly a mile. Runners used to start on the spillway side of Saylorville Dam and running across it completed your first mile. This year they moved the start to the far end of the DAM in order to have a new finish line area near the new Des Moines Library. The start was a mess. Event planners only put up a few speakers and no announcements could be heard. I was standing with the eleven minute pace group and there was not one speaker in that area. We all just had to guess that the race had started since the clock had past seven. We all started moving to toward the starting line and soon people were all bunching up because the race had not started.

It was mildly off putting that all of the mile markers that I have been used to in past years were now all shifted. But hey you just have to adapt to that. The finishing area was really the BAD part of the whole race day experience. Chip removal and a water station were far too close to the finish causing people to bunch up. Actually once you finished there was no way to escape the crowd. You were shoulder to shoulder with everyone. Between the temporary barricades, vendor trucks and the official finish photo area there was literally no were to go. In the past the finish was at Nolan Plaza which offers lots of room for runners to spread out and then get in lines if they would like food, beer or whatever else is offered.

(Finish came down Grand. DAM photography took up the corner of Grand and 13th. Food and Beer vendors took up 13th. I saw no way to access the large green space in this picture)

(This is the original finish area. Locust would be barricaded but right were it reached the building on the left you had an option of grabbing a water or power aid. Food venders were set up along third without baracades. This granted free movement in and out of the plaza area.)

Sunday, May 20, 2012

New Blog Look and New Goals.

After a brief hiatus I am back, feeling motivated, and ready to get serious again on the training front. Post January's Marathon weekend, I have allowed my training to slip into nothingness. At most I am getting out once every two weeks and that really does no good. There MUST be consistencey to yield results in endurance and weight loss. My last jog was two weeks ago and I completed 6 miles at a decent 11:29 pace but it took so much out of me.

Dam to Dam is only a couple weeks away and I am feeling that I am going to skip it. If I do choose not to run DAM it's not about throwing in the towel. Far from it in fact. Right now I need to be sensible while reclaiming once good habits. I do not want to end up injured and then finding myself on the sidelines slipping into less motivation. (which has happened before) For now DAM is a coin toss and I'll make a decision on that over the next two weeks.

The bigger goal is down the road on October 21st for the Des Moines Marathon. The company I work for remains a sponser and I will once again be able to register free of charge. My immediate goal would be to run the half again and beat January's 2:24 finish. I feel this is a reasonable goal and a stepping stone for what "may" lay ahead.

This past week RunDisney released the 2013 marathon weekend course maps. The half remains the same, but to celebration the 20 anniversary of marathon weekend Disney has overhauled the "Full" course and it looks amazing.


I've run five Disney half marathons, two Des Moines half marathons, five DAM to Dams and never once did the thought of running a full marathon cross my mind until I saw this course. Unfortunately I've no plans to visit marathon weekend this coming January. The reasons are varied but it comes down to this. As much as I enjoy visiting the resort I just need to step back and take a break from it. Since buying into DVC we have been down a lot and this year I'll be making an unheard of third trip which will include two nights at Vero Beach. Sea Turtles anyone?

2014 will be here soon enough and right now I'm thinking Mickey over Donald.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

WDW Spring Break Trip Report

Long Post Ahead. Rather than break this all up across multiple days here is a full report on our recent WDW trip.

This past spring break, students from our local high school were invited to take part in vocal and band workshops which were hosted at Disney’s Saratoga Springs resort. The day following the workshops each group took the stage at Downtown Disney as part of “Disney’s Performing Arts.” Students from our school were just one part of this program. Throughout the day other students from across the country also performed. Some bands (although not ours) marched ahead of the 3:00 parade over at Magic Kingdom.

The idea of visiting Disney Parks during spring break in and of itself would never appeal to my wife and me, but since we wanted to see our daughter on stage at Disney, we decided to fly down separately from the group which was traveling by bus. Because we were not part of the traveling group my wife and I were able to enjoy some must needed time together. It was so nice to leave work and everything else behind and just unwind.

That being said our trip did not start out well. I had booked us a mid-day flight that should have got us to Orlando by 8pm. On the way to the airport I received a message stating our flight out of Des Moines would be delayed by 45 minutes which raised concern that we might miss our connection in Memphis. Arriving at the airport we’d planned to head straight up through security because I had boarding passes printed and we had no checked baggage.

As we walked in I received another call stating that our flight was cancelled. My heart sank and I thought (insert expletive of choice) are you kidding me? We made our way over to the ticketing counter hoping for options but with this spring break I had little hope. The ticketing agent said everyone had already been rebooked out of Cedar Rapids. (Groan and again insert expletive of choice) Our new flights would be Cedar Rapids/Detroit/Orlando.

The ticket agent printed out our new flight details and explained that upon arrival in Cedar Rapids we had to convert them to boarding passes. We were then told that everyone would be shuttled by taxi to Cedar Rapids. (2 hour drive) We were also given some “food vouchers” for our “inconvenience”.

Twenty minutes later we were in a taxi. When we arrived at Cedar Rapids we learned two things. First, that this groups of fifty people was not expected (one counter agent was visibly overwhelmed and a second agent threw her hands in the air, declared I don’t know what to do and promptly disappeared)Second, was that our flight to Detroit was delayed and there was no possible way we were going to make the Orlando connection. By now I’m seeing red and although it was hard to maintain composure I did my best to keep my cool, knowing that the agent standing before me is not responsible for all the chaos. The counter agent looked for a way to rebook us on another airline in order to get us through to Orlando. She found nothing. She gave us the choice of spending the night in Cedar Rapids or going onto Detroit with a first class rebook on an 8am flight the following morning. We took the Detroit option. We made our way upstairs to the gate and used the food vouchers for lunch and beer.

Once we finally got to Detroit we wanted to see if by chance our earlier rebooked Orlando flight might also have been delayed. No luck there. We missed it by twenty minutes. So we headed over to the customer service desk, picked up a “hotel voucher” and more “food vouchers.”

A quick note on the hotel voucher, our airline used an automated system to hand these out. My wife and I received vouchers for two different hotels. We got that squared away and headed down to catch a shuttle. Checking in at the hotel was smooth but we had to change rooms after discovering used towels and an opened bar of soap in the bathroom. There was a restaurant and bar attached to the hotel and we were able to use the food vouchers for some nachos and beer.

Before turning in I called Disney to explain we were delayed by a day and also to reschedule my planned birthday lunch at Le Cellier. Missing a night at Animal Kingdom Lodge really had me pissed off. I had not purchased the travel insurance offered by DVC and was therefore out the vacation points I’d used.

Neither of us slept well. We had three alarms and a 5am wakeup call set. We caught a 6am shuttle and used some more vouchers for an early breakfast at the airport.

(Yes folks Delta owns a Monorail)

Our flight was on time and all went well. It was the first time we had flown first class and the extra leg room was wonderful. We had a second breakfast on board and that helped to break up the long flight.

Upon arriving at Magical Express we only waited for about five minutes before boarding.

The bus loaded quickly and we were finally off to “the world.” Check in was smooth, my wife picked up her annual pass and we received a free lithograph at the DVC desk for the new Aulani resort. It’s a very nice matted print which I’m not sure what I’ll do with. It’s something I won’t display until after we visit there sometime. (I’m wondering if such a print exists for our home resort at Bay Lake)

We dropped off our bags and headed out to catch a bus to the Magic Kingdom. Being that Animal Kingdom is the furthest out of the resorts I was curious to see how well the bus service was. We found it to be very consistent for any location we wanted to reach throughout our entire stay.
We arrived at Magic Kingdom at two in the afternoon. The crowd going through the security check point was huge and was our first real crowd level indicator. The park had extra magic hours until 1am so we planned on a late night.

Now this report is already long winded most readers of this blog are familiar with the Disney parks. I’m just going to report on a few highlights and first time experiences from this point.

Sunday Magic Kingdom:

1. First look at Storybook Circus. A new train station is open. Goofy’s Barnstormer has been re-themed but still needs some fresh paint. One half of the re-vamped and re-located Dumbo ride is operational. I was a bit surprised with Dumbo. The concept art I have seen showed both Dumbo rides inside a circus tent. That is not the case. There is a tent but the ride is outside.

2. It was my birthday so I was wearing an It’s my Birthday pin with my name on it, nearly every Cast Member wished me Happy Birthday. During the Main Street Electrical Parade, one cast member dressed in colonial attire noticed my pin, wished me a happy birthday, including my name, gave me a salute and she never missed a marching step. How she read my name in the dark I don’t know.

3. Fast Passes are indeed being strictly enforced. You must return within the hour shown on the pass. A fifteen minute late grace period was allowed and that was it. The result of these enforced rules is that you still end up in a line due to everyone else having to return within their window. Now the line is shorter and Cast Members are moving it through faster than the stand by line, but the good Lord help you if you get in behind a Brazilian Tour group. Should you see a tour group grabbing Fast Passes I suggest going elsewhere and coming back for a pass later. Your window to receive a second fast pass can be either the minute after the first pass is ready to use or up to two hours past when it was issued.

4. Magic, Memories, and You. In a word, WOW! Disney’s new castle show delivers such an unexpected treat. The show takes place between the Electrical Parade and Wishes. Through the use of projectors the castle is transformed visually in a multitude of ways. During the show pictures and video of that days park guests are displayed on the castle. Below I’ve attached a video that Ricky from the “Inside the Magic Podcast” put up on YouTube.

5. Tired so tired. As much as I would have liked closing the park down at 1am we just couldn’t do it. We left by 11. Although we had such a late start to the day we managed to see and ride most of the attractions. We had another day planned for MK later to catch what we missed.

Monday Epcot:

1. Missed rope drop by about half an hour. Soarin’ was first on the list of things to do. Only a 30 minute wait so we grabbed some Fast Passes for later and then we went ahead and got in line.

2. Universe of Energy. I have not seen this show in twenty five years. The version I was familiar with was the original. I was surprised to see that the tilting projection screen cubes had been removed. That was perhaps the most interesting part of the original show. What can I say about this attraction today? Hmm let me think… “Dated!” This show needs a major overhaul. It’s dull and Ellen is so trapped in the 80’s. There was one highlight. Just before leaving the main dinosaur room look to the left and you’ll see Jar Jar Binks and a couple of other Gungans in stripped tank tops. I kid you not.

3. Beverly. Yep it still tastes awful but it a tradition that just has to be relived with each visit.

4. Lunch at Le Cellier. I had a Cup of Cheese soup and the Mushroom Risotto Filet of course. Two thumbs up as always.

(The drinking did improve. Pinkys up when in the UK)

5. This was our first visit during the Flower and Garden Festival. The topiaries were nice to see and are also a way in which I don’t mind Disney bringing characters into Epcot.


This day started off at Downtown Disney as our school’s band was scheduled to perform at 11:00am and our choir at 1:00pm. This gave us plenty of time to shop and take advantage of our AP discount at the World of Disney store. Our band did a marvelous job and Disney had the stage microphones’ set up so well that it really gave the band a full solid sound.

When our band finished, we did a little more shopping and then my wife went back to the stage area early in hopes to find a shady spot for viewing the choir. I found my way over to the pin station and then I spotted a margarita stand nearby. I expected that this stand most likely had premade frozen margs. I was wrong; it was actually a full service bar. I order a top shelf Patron margarita and somehow the bartender was able to get salt to stick to the plastic cup. It was perfection. I walked back to catch the concert and upon seeing my adult beverage a number of the official chaperones for our group declared their jealousy.

The choir also did a great job and afterward my wife and I went to Cookes of Dublin for lunch. I had the fish and chips and my wife had the chicken. She would later say that this was her favorite meal of our trip.

After lunch we decided to take our purchases back to Animal Kingdom before heading over to Hollywood Studios. On our way to the buses a cast member commented on the monorail pins on my lanyard. She asked if I had been by guest services to check out the pin trading book. I explained I was not aware there was one there and she told us that guest services in each resort and in each park has a book. This was a great tip and I ended up trading at least ten pins this way.

Once we got over to Hollywood Studios we caught a ride on Tower of Terror and then went on into the Beauty and the Beast show.

We stayed late in the park and got in two Star Tours rides, a ride on Midway Mania, and another ride on Tower. It was impossible to get into Rock n Roller Coaster. The line was over 90 minutes long and both times that I checked for fast passes the return times did not work for what we had planned. We closed the night by catching the 10pm showing of Fantasmic.


Animal Kingdom: We made rope drop this day and caught two rides on Expedition Everest, an early ride on Kilimanjaro Safaris on which we saw more animals than ever before. The giraffes’ were out in great numbers. One of them even decided to stop in front of our truck for a while. We also caught the Finding Nemo show, It’s Tough to be a Bug and the Festival of the Lion King.

We left AK mid-day and went back over to Magic Kingdom because I wanted to see that Magic Memories and You show again. We hit many of the headline attractions and even took a chance on Splash Mountain. I got wet but not a wet as I did on Pirates of the Caribbean last January.

During this visit to MK we decided to check out the new Sorcerers of Magic Kingdom card game.

This is very similar to the Kim Possible program over at Epcot except this is free. You have to go to a Sorcerers learning center of which there are two. (One in the Firehouse and another out behind the Christmas Shoppe in Liberty Square) You receive a key card, three spell cards and a map. (You can receive additional cards when you visit the park on another day) The storyline is that Hades is plotting to take over the Magic Kingdom and you have to stop all the villains from taking over the different lands. A map directs you to a window were you hold up your key card to a video camera. A video segment of Merlin or of a villain plays. You then hold up spell card and hopefully defeat the villain. You are then directed to another location across the park to face another villain. We did the training mission and then headed over to Liberty Square to the next location. Here I encountered why this is something I will not be doing. There was a line of at least 8 park guests each waiting their turn. Factor in 5-10 minutes for each guest to complete their task and you realize you’re wasting a boatload of your time. Now I can say that at least what I saw of the others experiences were unique, so at least you’re not just waiting in line to go through what you just saw the guest ahead of you do. My turn was uneventful and I never played a card. After watching a brief animation I was simply told to head over to Frontierland to continue my quest. At this point I said forget it and that was the end of my Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom quest. It was a waste of time and the only way I could recommend it is by suggesting that you go off season when fewer people are around and then only if you don’t care to ride any attractions, all day.

Later in the afternoon a cast member in a blue vest approached us in Tomorrowland and asked us about our day and if we planned to stay for the parade through wishes. We said yes and then she explained that Disney was testing a new fast pass that provided special seating during the Electrical Parade and for viewing Magic, Memories and You. She then presented us with the special passes and told us to report to the area located behind the Partners Statue by 8:45pm.

In the evening we walked over to check out the special seating and noticed a roped off area was also provided off to the side Walt Disney side of the central hub. It turned out that fast passes similar to ours were also given out for viewing Wishes from that area.

Our view for the parade and M, M & Y was fantastic. The only issue I could see with what Disney was trying to do here is that some people were standing and that was blocking the view of others who wanted to sit.

When Wishes started we were clearly too close, because from our vantage point, the fireworks were going off behind the Castle rather than above it. This explains the reason behind the second area.

I expected that after the shows the Disney cast member would mingle around to gather some feedback. We saw no one, so evidently at this point they must only have been concerned with how this affected crowds. When we asked how Disney was considering distributing this special seating no one really had an answer. I can only speculate that “A” this will be an add-on to a dinner package or “B” these will be handed put randomly as a magical moment.


Time to head home, but before leaving I took a picture of the giraffes grazing on the trees not far from our room.

As I come to the close of this way long trip report I would be remiss if I did not give a review of Jambo House at Animal Kingdom Lodge. The staff was very friendly and the resort was immaculately clean. This resort is huge and should you decide to ever stay here I would suggest asking for a room close to the main hall or on the third floor which is lobby level. Of course if you want one of the savanna view rooms then you may be placed further out from the lobby. For me I’d rather have shorter walks to the buses and to the dining over a room that is on the fifth floor and all the way at the end. There are plenty of viewing areas around the resort for watching the animal.

One thing that this resort and the other Disney deluxe resorts do fall short on in my opinion is the quick service dining area. The moderate and value resorts have food courts offering more variety. The food is fine but at breakfast/lunch and dinner there are only 6-8 hot meals to choose from. Whereas over at a resort such as All Star Movies you have sandwich bar and a pizza/pasta bar and a dedicated dessert bar. As I said, the food here was fine but the location of the quick service area was also poorly placed. It’s on the lowest level of the resort and you must go outside to get to it. It’s directly across from the pool area so I understand what Disney was trying to accomplish here but to me it was a real journey heading down there each morning.

Travel home was smooth and this time we got back home before our daughter. Before leaving the airport I noticed that our airlines desk had a couple employees at it and there were no other customers. I decided to ask how I might best get some further compensation for our canceled flight and having not made it to Orlando at the start of our trip. I mentioned the cash equivalent to how much the night stay we had to eat at Animal Kingdom was. The agent I talked to was friendly and apologized for our troubles and said he could most likely do something for us. He reviewed our earlier travel problems and presented my wife and me each with a $400 flight voucher. This was great and is far more than the other in our taxi had received. So what are we going to do with our vouchers? Why go to Walt Disney World of course.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Off to Neverland

Hard to believe that it's only been two months since my last trip to WDW and I'm heading back down again so soon. In fact we leave this afternoon for nearly a ful week. Our daughter's school choir is attending a Disney Music workshop at Saratoga and then on Tuesday they perform at Downtown Disney. Should be a fun and quite busy trip. Staying at Animal Kingdom for the first time on this trip. No car rental. Just Disney buses and spring break crowds. Ahh such is the life...

Training has been nill this past week. It's all on me but here is a partial excuse. (and I hate to make excuses) My office hours have been switched up and now every four weeks instead of working 1pm-10pm I go into the office at 10am-7pm and then have to carry the phones overnight. So in short the company is taking three more hours out of my day. So if I get up at 8am there is no time to workout, shower and get to the office. I know, I know, I can here the comments now. Get up earlier. Well yes I could work on that. My trouble there is I'm a freaking night owl and have always had a difficult time getting myself in bed before 12-1am. I've also caught myself stress eating again. I'm looking forward to the structure of this Disney trip. I always do very well with a set number of meals and if we have a snack its just one and done. Registration for DAM sould be open when I return. Now THAT, will be some motivation.

In other news I'm still working on documenting my family tree. A few months ago my dad found some additional loose photos that he gave to me. Evidently others in my family history were fans of Mickey and Minnie as evidence in this picture of a home curio cabinet.

Now I can't really be certain who this belonged to. My best guess is that Mickey and Minnie belonged to my great grandparents Augustus and Dora Robbins.

My only clue is that my grandfather indexed all of his photos and this picture is in the same group.

It would be fun if I could confirm this somehow but I most likely never will.

Speaking of antiques here are a few pics of some I took during my last trip to the Brass Armadillo.

In this last picture I'm not sure I like the way BIG BOY is looking at Minnie.

Have a good week everyone!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Checking In

Yes my friends I'm still around. I will confess right up front that the past few weeks have not been good in regard to training and diet. As I told a few of you earlier this week in an email I'm up 5lbs. The reason is very simple. I have not been faithfully tracking my calories and exercise has dropped to near nothing. I managed to carve out a 1 mile walk yesterday which really does nothing for me if I'm not going to be consistent. My last long run was a 6 miler two weeks ago. It was a good run and I managed to keep a pace per mile in the 10's. Still I know that I really need to get back to the good habits I had going into last marathon weekend. The big DAM to DAM race is coming up in June and this year my niece and her 11 year old son are planning to run. That will certainly help with my motivation.

Warm weather is finally rolling in and I look forward to getting outdoors more often and shaking of this cabin fever.

Other things going on out here on the Tundra include geneology. My Grandfather did tons of research years ago I've been putting it up on Years ago I did a bunch of this using family tree maker but using ancestry is more fun. One interesting thing is the hints it gives you. Here's a little cheat for you. On the main website it offers hints and to view those hints you have to subscribe. But... if you sync up the free ipod app the hints show more details and you can even preview documents once for free.

Interesting fact about my ancestry is that William Penn the founder of Pennsylvania, is my 1st cousin 11 times removed. His grandfather is my 11 great grandfather.

My wife and I are heading back to WDW on the 17th. I'm hoping for an in flight green beer special. If that fails perhaps a trip to Ragland Road is in order. Our daughter is singing at downtown Disney hence the reason for the trip. New this trip will be a DVC stay at Animal Kingdom lodge. Should be a fun time but I'm not looking forward to the spring break crowds. Can you say rope drop? Can you say rope drop is a must?

We also have plans to visit the world in July. The resorts are booked (Vero and Bay Lake) but we are holding off on airfare with the hope it will drop.

Hope all the rest of you are doing well with weight and milage!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Le Cellier Cheese Soup

An annual tradition at my house (for the past few years anyway) is to enjoy Superbowl Sunday with a nice bowl of Le Cellier Cheese soup. It's easy to make this delicious soup at home. A year or two ago Mike Speed also joined the annual bacon rendering feastivities.

Before closing this post I do want to give an update. Mileage wise I've been very consistent post Disney. Since returning home I've been averaging 20-24 miles a week. These have been both treadmill and road miles. One week after WDW I managed to finally break 6 miles in 60 minutes. That was a great feeling.

Now while the mileage has been good I have to confess that my weight has been all over the place. When I traveled to WDW I weighed in at 219. Upon returning I weighed in at 220 for a one pound gain. Pretty darn good I thought. I week later I was back down to 217 and then I decided to recalculate my calorie needs. I realized I had actually been quite low in my daily goal. I added 200 calories per day and to my surprise I had a great weigh in the following Friday of 213. Since that time I'm back up to 218. I'm very frustrated over this. I will confess that last weekend I went to a blues festival and there were plenty of drinks flowing that night. Hopefully next Friday will bring another loss.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Marathon Weekend 2012

Had a great time down in “the world” last weekend. I was able to spend time with old friends and even made a couple new ones during the trip. Disney Marathon weekend also found me achieving a couple goals that I had set for myself in 2011.


My flights to and from Orlando were smooth and on time. On my flight down I found myself sitting next to another Disney bound runner who turned out to be from our home town and who knew our son, having graduated just two years prior to him. In fact until recently they were attending the same college. It’s a small world. On my way home I ran into Justin at MCO and discovered he was on the same flight. I enjoyed spending some extra time with him there and again in Memphis between flights

Saratoga Springs:

This was my third DVC stay at Saratoga and I have to say that I like this resort. Disney was able to once again grant my request to be located in “The Springs” area of the resort. This put me close to the main dining area and more importantly close to marathon transportation.


I was able to meet up with Andy from Minnesota at the Magic Kingdom. Listeners of All About the Mouse will recall that Andy and I enjoyed some back and forth banter regarding Corn, Iowa and Minnesota. After meeting up at MK, Andy joined Lisa, Trace, Amanda and I over at Port Orleans to catch Yehaa Bob’s show. I have to mention that Andy is really a great young guy and I’m please to count him amongst my Disney friends.

My past three trips have found me wanting to catch Yehaa Bob’s show but it just never fit into previous touring plans. I’m so glad that it finally worked out for this trip. When I arrived at Port Orleans Bob was already working the room and talking to Lisa and Trace. Trace introduced me and upon hearing that I was from Des Moines, Bob asked me about a Holiday Inn that was located a few miles north of our airport. He mentioned that he had played there in the past and then asked me if the hotel was still there as it was prone to flooding by a nearby lake. As it turns out that hotel was demolished a number of years ago for that very reason. Small world huh?

Bob put on a highly energetic and interactive show. He recalled every name and location of the folks he meet preshow and I’m sure at some point mentioned each and every one of them. His show is family friendly and he did three unique sets between 8pm and 11:30pm. I look forward to a future Port Orleans visit this July with my family.

Star Tours:

If described in one word, that word would be WOW! I certainly have no objections to the enhancements made to this attraction. Now while I fall into the 3D is a gimmick and is greatly abused category, I have to give kudos to Lucas Arts and Disney here. The 3D works amazingly well and the glasses are designed to fit nicely over prescription glasses. In total I rode Star Tours 7 times and while there was some overlap with a few story segments, each ride always seemed to have at least one element that was unique. Disney guests on each ride were applauding when the ride was over. That in itself says a lot. There was one segment which I saw twice and it got chuckles out of the passengers each time. That scene (SPOILER ALERT) was when Princess Leia appears and says “Help me Star Tours, your my only hope.” In my opinion they should reedit and drop the words Star Tours. It just came across as too hokey. Park guests were hitting Rock N Rollercoaster and Toy Story Mania which made multiple back to back rides here possible.

The 5K:

I’m not one for spending extra money to add another race during Marathon weekend. (The races are already quite pricey) However when I learnt that the theme for the 5k was “The Three Caballeros” I knew that I had to do this event, if for no other reason than to be able to see Jose and Panchito in costume. In talking with some of my Disney pals I found there was interest in dressing up for this run. Lisa, Trace and I decided we just had to dress up as the three happy chappys in snappy serapes, Donald, Jose and Panchito. Amanda also had decided this would be a good time to dress for a Disney run and she dressed as Jose. The 5K turned out to be a walk due to Trace’s recently broken toe. Determined to do the race he taped up his toes and when we reached the starting line he had to be breaking the 16 min pace mark. Trace kept up a brisk pace well into Epcot before admitting that his toe was informing him that this was not the best idea. Regardless we powered through it and enjoyed the Mexican music that was being pumped throughout the entire park. We were a hit with both the Disney Paparazzi and other runners who were taking pictures of us along the course.

The Half and a couple of goals achieved:

Awoke shortly after 2am, showered, dressed and caught the 3am bus to the pre-race area. The canopies which we generally meet under did not have letters on them but after a few text messages we all met up before walking back to the corrals. This year the race started a full half hour earlier than years past. I had only been in my corral for about 5 minutes when I heard them start the wheelchair athletes. Each successive corral was released in 5 minute intervals. Last year I had set a goal that prior to my next Disney run I would provide proof of time and move up in the corrals. My training this year paid off last October during the Des Moines half and having sent in proof of time. RunDisney placed me in corral C for this year’s half. I was excited to be starting from this spot, however, soon after the start I realized that this large group of runners was not breaking apart. I think our starting group must have caught up with the back of corral B by mile 2. The road widens into three lanes at that point and the crowd was still thick. I did a lot of running on the shoulder because I simply could not pass anyone. The run would stay congested until just after mile 8 where the road once again joined the southbound three lane highway.

Another goal I had set for myself was to be through the castle while it was still dark out. I did not expect to achieve that this year but thanks to the early start I made it. Running through the castle and seeing Main Streets lights on really put a smile on my face.

Along with taking a few Clif Bloks I did a good job of managing my power aid and water intake. I never cramped up and only had a little tightness in my calves at the top of the clover leaf at mile ten and again while going up the overpass at mile eleven. This year the Gospel choir was once again in the same location as last year but this year thankfully they were indeed singing gospel and not pop hits of the 80s. Details of my Disney running history are listed below. For this race I managed to beat my 2011 Des Moines half finish by five minutes and just missed matching a half best by two minutes. Over all I was very happy with my 2:24 finish especially when compared against last year’s 3:02 finish.

Post-Race after returning home and a few words on weight:

As stated in a previous post my weight goals during the holiday season really suffered. End of year work related stress and nibbling away at all those Christmas cookies and fudge not only put me on a plateau but also resulted in some weight gain. Early December I had reached 214. On the day I flew out I weighed 219. Surprisingly the day after I returned home and weighed in I had only gained 1 lb. I can only attribute that small gain to structured eating habits during the trip. My scheduled Friday weigh in found me already back down to 217.6. So things are going in the right direction.

One thing I desperately want to avoid is falling into post marathon lag. Since returning home I’ve gotten in three workouts. Tuesday was an ugly 5 miler which started out to fast and caused me to become winded. After walking that out I went back into a jog and found that for some reason I was hitting the pavement very flat footed. I just could not get my feet to roll with my stride. Thursday was cold and I just did a 4 mile walk on the home treadmill. Today (Sunday) was another day of achievement for me. The weather was in the upper 40s with a light breeze. I started out and was careful not to overdo it and found a comfortable pace. Four miles out I realized I could possibly beat a goal I have been trying to reach for weeks. 6 miles in 60 minutes. I just keep missing that mark by 2 minutes. Today I made it in 59:59:51. Because I have been pursuing this goal for so long I have been more excited about todays numbers than this year’s finish time at WDW. Not to take anything away from my wonderful Disney experience but this thing has been dogging me for weeks.

Going Forward:

Local races such as DAM to DAM and the Des Moines half are in my future. I think I really need to keep something out there to plan for. Although I have a couple more Disney trips planned for this year, I have no plans for a Disney running event until either fall 2013 or marathon weekend 2014. So it will be a long time before I see many of my Disney pals again. Thank goodness for Skype and email. I know that I will need your continued support and I also want to be able to return that favor and keep up to date on the goals others in our circle of friends are working toward.

Disney Running History:

2009 Half Marathon Age 42, M, Chip time, 2:49:43, Finished 8105 out of 12451 finishers

2010 Wine & Dine Age 43, M, Chip time, 3:15:43, Finished 6230 out of 7292 finishers

2010 Half Marathon Age 43, M, Chip time, 3:06:47, Finished 13350 out of 17144 finishers

2011 Half Marathon Age 44, M, Chip time, 3:02:56, Finished 16895 out of 21991 finishers

2012 Half Marathon Age 45, M, Chip time, 2:24:13, Finished 8619 out of 22421 finishers

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Marathon Weekend Approaches

One more day at the office and then its time to head south for marathon weekend at Walt Disney World. This trip will bring a few new experiences. On Wednesday night I will be catching Yeehaa Bob's show over at Port Orleans Riverside with Lisa and Trace. Hopefully Andy from Minnesota will be stopping by as well. Andy and I poked a little fun at each others home states once in a awhile on All About the Mouse. It all started when he said "there's nothing in Iowa but corn." To which I replied 'that's not true, we also grow soy beans."

It turns out that Andy has been working at Epcot while participating in Disney's college program. Today is his last official day to work but his family is coming down for a few days. Hopefully Andy can make it to Yeehaa Bob and if he can't then I hope we can meet up somewhere while I'm down there.

Also new this year is that I'm adding the 5K on Friday. I just could not resist signing up when I found out the theme was Three Caballeros. I will also be dressing up for that event. The plan for the 5K is just to enjoy and take it easy...

... The real work comes during the half. I'm actually more nervous about this run than I was going into the Des Moines Half last October. The holidays brought on a number snacks which my will power slipped on numerous times. The cooler temps here had pushed me into the gym and onto the elliptical for awhile. I did realize that for me the elliptical was not going to cut it come race dance. It helped with weight managment but as I mentioned a couple posts back, I learned that my breathing was way off when I converted back to the road. So it's been nothing but treadmill and open road when the weather has been nice.

Goals for the half.

Primary Goal: Beat this years Des Moines Half finish time of 2:29. That would put me 20 minutes ahead of my best Disney time.

Secondary Goal: Beat my 2008 Des Moines Half finish time off 2:22. This would be a personal best.

Where am I on reaching these goals? I feel pretty confident about my primary goal. My only concern is that Florida will be more humid that Des Moines was in October.

As for reaching the secondary goal. It is certainly possible. My long runs has been averaging a pace between 10:20 and 10:34. That puts me right in the ballpark. I would really like to meet this goal but I would be just as happy to break that 2:29.

Had a little photo shop fun with the course map below. It's pretty accurate. The finish is wrong and it appears to loop around Magic Kingdom but otherwise the roads lines up nicely. I created this because I wanted to see how the water stops lined up. I've always pictured the the first and second stops to be the furthest appart. Looks like I was way off. Its actually the stops after mile 7 and 9 making those two full miles apart.

The ten day forcast in Orlando is calling for great temps. 50s in the morning and 70s in the afternoon. Everyone remember to keep hydrated going into the weekend. See you all soon.