Monday, September 29, 2014

Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend 2014 Part II by Donald S. Hite

Don't know what this is about? Go here.
For Part I of this story, go here.

Day 3 - Expo and California Adventure

We made it back to the expo at opening because Robin really wanted to have her knee taped (KT tape booth).  I had mine taped during Marathon week and it lasted the entire four days.  I believe it helped with my IT band.  Since last January, I had been using the foam roller more and my IT hasn't been as tight.  I highly recommend a foam roller.  We made it to the booth and they weren't open yet.  It was next to Marathonfoto booth.  I saw the expo pre-event certificate and decided to get one.  I didn't get one at Marathon week and could have saved $25 on photos.  It's a risk of actually getting photos you would want, and I decided to get it.  Now I had to make sure I looked for the photographers on course to make it worth it.  We got out knees/legs taped and I wasn't feeling good about it.  My legs are quite hairy and I tend to sweat a lot especially when it's humid and hot out.  I asked if she was going to shave the area she was going to apply the tape, like the other trainer did in Orlando.  She said it wasn't necessary and sprayed it with adhesive spray.  It didn't last the day.  After the expo, we went to California adventures.  After riding Grizzly River Rapids, where I was soaked, the tape peeled off.  I'll do it myself next time.
Anyway, the second day at the expo wasn't crowded.  We visited each of the booths and there wasn't a line to get to the runDisney merchandise.  The first day, however was a different story, with two hour waits to get to the area.  It wasn't as large as Marathon week in Orlando. 

   We finished up touring the expo and headed to the second park, California Adventure. 
We had paper tickets.  No magic bands here.  When we entered, a cast member took our photo in case we lost our multi-day ticket and needed to replace it.  This park reminded me of Hollywood Studios in Florida.  It had Tower of Terror like Hollywood studios and Soarin' from Epcot, but it also had unique areas.  It had Cars land,  Bugs Land, Pacific Wharf (food court), and Paradise Pier.  and Grizzly Peak.    I was like a kid in a toy store!  I wanted to explore and try everything.

We first went and got fast passes for Cars Land Racers.  I was told by a friend to get fast passes for the racers and World of Color before you do anything else.  We met with our running group friends, Mandy and Jeff.  I thanked her again profusely for bringing my shoes.  I think I owe her a Cannoli.  We then met with other runners in front of Paradise Pier for the iconic picture of the California Screamin' Coaster and the Ferris Wheel.  We took on Grizzly River Rapids, then headed for the Coaster ride.  We met Donald Duck along the way.  This coaster was fast and fun!  I took a video of it, and I'll try and find a way to share it.  We then went to the Ferris Wheel.  It wasn't simply a slow moving view of the park, we picked a sky bucket that rocked back and forth and also traveled on an elliptical path  as it circled the wheel. 
I found the first ride that I couldn't ride, simply because I was too tall and my knees wouldn't fit under the lap bar.  Goofy's Flight School.  It's a smaller coaster that whips you around similar to Primeval Whirl at Animal Kingdom, Florida.  I waited at the end and it wasn't but  two minutes later, my traveling party all told me how lucky I was to have avoided it.  They thought they had broken ribs and whiplash from being knocked around.  They all noted, smaller kids would love it, but they hated it.   We picked up dinner in the Pacific Wharf area.  This is like a super Mall Food Court as it had four different restaurants and a couple of adult beverage vendors, and of course Ghirardelli Ice Cream Parlor.  They have also added healthy food options and Gluten Free options at each of the restaurants as well. 

We went to Cars Land and waited in normal line for 50 minutes for the Racers.  They have cool mist sprayers for when it is really hot.  I loved the ride, but others in the traveling party who had not seen the movie, not so much.  They didn't think the ride was worth the wait.  We still had fast passes for the ride a couple of hours later.  They declined to ride it again.  We moved on to Bugs Land, where we met Flik, the ant.  Here the decor is made to look gigantic as if you were suddenly shrunk bug sized.  It was a fun and creative area, with mostly small kid rides.  We passed through on toward Tower of Terror.  Here, we dropped about nine times, completely random for each ride.  We luckily didn't revisit our dinner. 
Mandy and Jeff headed back to the room to get rest for the 10k the next morning. We made our way back to Cars Land.  The park is completely different atmosphere at night, and with all the neon in Cars Land, I felt like a kid, completely in awe of the detail that went into creating Radiator Springs. Robin rode Racers with me one more time, and then she also headed back to rest up.  I just had to close the park again and waited to see the World of Color Show.  This is a light, water, and video show similar to beginning of Fantasmic as Hollywood Florida beginning, but much better orchestrated.  The plumes of water and color show responded to the action of the movie and songs played.  It was dynamic.  The water seamed to get as high as the top of Mickey's ears on the Ferris Wheel.  Each of the nearby rides stopped along the bay, to prevent distractions or interruptions to the show, and because anyone close by the lake, gets wet.  The park breezes carry the misty to those nearby, and everyone gets wet.  This is a don't miss show.  If you did miss it, I'm sure someone has posted it on you-tube.  Being there in person, is simply an incredible experience.

The show was great, but leaving the park was not.  The park doesn't have a straight venue like a main street to funnel people out.  The streets of the park meander, twist and turn.  I remembered that there was a park exit into the Grand California Resort and bypassed everyone trying to leave through the main entrance into the plaza and Downtown Disney.  It was a short walk through the resort and I was back into my own resort.  When I got back to the room, I set out my gear for the morning and couldn't get to sleep.  Around midnight, I dozed off.

Day 4 - The Disneyland 10K

We woke at 4am and headed out by 4:30am.  We thought it would only be a short walk to the Disneyland Hotel for the start.  Nope!  This is where Disney specializes in getting you warmed up for your race.  They navigate you through side streets to get to the staging area.  I think this added at least a mile before we ever began.  What I noticed was no security bag/running belt checks.  None!  They did have plenty of volunteers and barricades set up to funnel the correct bibs to the correct staging areas.  No corral jumping here, till the area overflowed and late arrivals, filtered in.

Our starting corral was D.  We obviously got there late as we were in the back of the already filling corral.  We managed to weave our way forward mid way.  We were so far back, we couldn't see the Jumbo-tron Monitor that was displaying the opening ceremonies.  This race was Stitch Themed and he had a favorite celebrity to co-host the event, Elvis.  Elvis sang the National Anthem.  This wasn't a lip-sync of the real Elvis, it was someone pretending to be Elvis, attempting to sing the National Anthem.   This could have been skipped and replaced with a real singer.  It was rough.  what was rough was, "Let it go" played at the beginning of every corral start.  No Fireworks.  Just, "Let it go, let it go..."  

I started out definitely too fast.  I started my running app early as I didn't want to fool with it as we started.  My First  mile pace was 11:13 and second mile was 11:12.  This was city street running to circle the Anaheim Convention Center and head into the back of California Adventures .   I took photos of each of the Stitch themed mile markers.  As we entered the backstage area to Cars Land and Bugs Land, there were cheerleaders. 
We came into Cars Land where Lightning McQueen and Mater were waiting.  We ran on through Paradise Pier.  Here is where I really added some time (five minutes).  I hoped onto King Triton's Carousel and took a spin with about thirty others.  Wasn't as exciting as Everest at Animal Kingdom, but fun to ride a ride during the race.

 I was back at a 12 minute pace as we headed out of the park via Grizzly Peak and  Hollywood Lane.  There was a large Bear that appeared to be scared of all the runners.  We rounded Condor Flats where Soarin' is located and passed the next mile marker.  We continued down Hollywood Lane to a back stage area that led to our first water and Powerade station.  We then came up a tunnel to a very narrow walkway to the Plaza.  This area was so congested.  I had to run on the gravel flower bed area to get around groups walking side by side.  We came out to the Plaza and were greeted by numerous spectators with some great signs.  One I loved was "Runners Win When They Cross the Starting Line".  Another was "You Feel Like Crap but You look Good".  We went into Disneyland under the Train tresses where a marker read "Here you leave today and enter the world of Yesterday, Tomorrow, and Fantasy"

  We ran down Main Street and turned toward Tomorrowland.  We passed mile marker 4 and was greeted by a smiling Matterhorn Mountain.  It appeared to be smiling to me.  I then saw Officer Chip and Inmate Dale, along with Jailhouse Rocking Elvis.  I had to stop for photos.  This added about 6 minutes off my 12 min pace.   We went across the railroad tracks, back stage past parade floats and back into the park through Toontown. 

     We left Toontown headed back into Fantasyland.  Unfortunately, the tea cups were not up and running for rides.  We made our way into Frontierland and towards the rivers of America, where Elvis Stitch was posing for pictures.  We ran through the Castle and out of the park into Downtown Disney.  We passed Mile Marker 6 and was on the home stretch back towards Disneyland Hotel. I was back on pace with 12:35 mile.  At the finish line, Minnie was waiting for high 5's.  There was staff yelling to keep moving, "no stopping, no cellphones!"  It seems, prior to my arrival, there was a jam of people stopping to pose for pictures with the characters using their cell phones, causing congestion. I had to be stealthy and take mine running and blurry.  We were ushered to a line to get our Stitch 10k medal, and runner's box, water and Powerade.   We snaked around another set of barricades to photo stations and then finally out to family meet up in the Lilo Lot.  Here, Mandy (dressed as Maleficent), Jeff, and Robin met me at the end.  We waited for other members of our group and took a group photo. 

 I finished with a time of 1:34:41.  I took my time at the picture locations and had fun.  This wasn't my best 10k, but it was my PR for Disneyland 10k.  
Afterwards, we walked another two miles to an IHOP on the other side of California Adventures, near the convention center we first passed, and had pancakes.  I learned it was a Team Awesome tradition. 

After breakfast, we cleaned up at the hotel and ventured back to Disneyland to ride some rides we missed, Space Mountain, and see Fantasmic.  I found another ride I cannot enjoy riding at Disneyland.  Space Mountain at Disneyland seats two side by side.  I am too tall. I squeezed my legs in under one bar and embedded my knees into the metal seat cover in front of me.  The imprints stayed with me for a couple of days.  Fantasmic was better than Hollywood Studios.  It didn't have Chernabog, but instead had Maleficent and the Dragon.  Peter Pan battled Captain Hook on the Columbia, and Steamboat Willie piloted the Mark Twain.  The show was great.  We kept our spot, and Robin finally got to see 'Magic' fireworks at Disneyland.  We again closed the park and wondered if we would regret it in the morning when we awoke early for the Half Marathon.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend 2014 by Donald S. Hite

For an explanation of what this post is all about head to yesterdays post here. Enjoy!
-The Fat Runner

I didn’t stay consistent with my running and training after the Dopey Challenge and gained some weight back and even slowed my pace.  I realized this after a July 4th Half Marathon, and knew I had to start training again.  I thought I had neglected time with my family when I was training for Dopey and it became easy to make excuses for not running, despite owning a treadmill.  This is continuing to be an obstacle for me, balancing time with the family and getting consistent in exercising.  The days before the trip to California seemed to take forever.   We had one last long run about a week prior.  Despite being early in the morning, it quickly got hot with the Georgia humidity.  I was doing well till half way mark when I ran out of water and became nauseous.   We were near a ballpark and I resigned myself to a Porta-potty.  I remember the couple of hundred in the parking lot at Walt Disney World and was thankful I had found one locally.   My brother-in-law brought my sister and I some water as we continued the run.  We finished the 14 miler and remained confident that we would not have any problems in California.
My sister, Robin,  and I were both running the Dumbo Double Dare Challenge (10K on Saturday and Half-Marathon on Sunday).  Robin was running for the Charity, Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation, which signed her up for the 10k and the Half, because they were not issued any Dumbo Challenge spots till about a month before the race.  She wanted her name on the bibs and settled for the individual races.
 We were also doing another first for both us, volunteering for the Expo on Thursday.   I had inquired with about volunteer opportunity at the Disneyland Half event.  I was sent a link to register through for the positions that were available.  I chose to work the expo event since I was running the 10k and Half.  The 5k volunteer positions listed beginning times around 3am so I stuck with the expo.  I learned that if you work two shifts at Disneyland, you are given a park ticket, food/snacks, and a volunteer commemorative shirt.   We were arriving early on Wednesday, volunteering Thursday, and free day for Friday.  I was worried about Monday being Labor Day and busy in the parks, so I wanted to explore the parks each day so I wouldn't be rushed or waiting in lines.

Day 1 -
The day of arrival began early for me.  I was up at 4am Eastern Standard Time.  I thought I packed everything I needed and went to pick up Robin, so we could beat the interstate traffic through Atlanta, and make it through TSA for our early morning flight.  Just before boarding the flight, I realized that I left my running shoes in front of my bedroom dresser.  I had left in the dark to avoid waking my wife when I left so early.  *Mental note- always triple check your gear and pack the most vital items first*   Sitting in the airport, I suddenly felt deflated and began to stress about the trip.  What would I do without my running shoes?  Robin suggested having the shoes sent Fed-ex to the hotel.  After landing in Anaheim, with a four hour flight to think about my shoes at home and the crop circles in Roswell, NM, I called my wife, who responded, "Who does that, who flies out of state for a marathon and leaves their running shoes at home.  Why didn't you pack them first?"  I almost hung up.  She then said,  "you've put a lot of miles on them, just go get some new ones. "  I now had permission to buy new shoes.  The thought was enticing, but I'd have to wait another day till the expo opened, and I was to be working two shifts (the entire first day of the expo).  Robin called a friend in our local running group (Team Awesome Bulletin Board on Facebook), Mandy Gann, who was also coming to run Dumbo Challenge, but was leaving the next day.  She worked it out that Mandy would bring my shoes. 
We used a shuttle van because we missed the Disney bus and would have to wait 45 minutes for the next one.  We arrived at Paradise Pier in about 15 minutes from the airport.  We noticed all the hotels surrounded the Disney parks and resorts.  We checked into the hotel and our room wasn't ready.  We dropped off our luggage and headed to lunch and the parks.  It was warm but breezy, sunny and beautiful.  We were given general directions and we got lost walking looking for signs for entrance to Downtown Disney or the parks.  I noticed that there were not very many signs posted.
  Downtown Disney starts at one end with Disneyland Hotel and goes till it ends at the Main Entry Plaza,  with Disneyland Park on the north side, and California Adventure Park on the south side.  The Grand California resort sits directly across from Paradise Pier and has a separate entrance to California Adventures and downtown entrance.  This would have been helpful to know before we started walking.  I realized afterwards, I could have looked up Google maps instead of walking a half mile away.  I counted it as scouting out our running route. 
I wanted to go to Disneyland first and see the iconic castle.  My first trip to the park and I wanted to see as much as I could.  I had been told by close friends who had visited before, that the park was older and not as big.  I was still excited.  I walked in under the train tunnels and saw the City Hall, Emporium, and main street transportation.  Here they have double decked buses along with the horse drawn trolley and carriage.  I looked down Main Street and found the castle.  It was much smaller than I expected. 

  We picked up a map to get our bearing and decided to check out the different rides that are not at Disney World's parks. 
The must rides were Indiana Jones Adventure and Matterhorn Bobsleds, The Haunted Mansion was closed for decorations for the upcoming Halloween season.

Just like Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World, the park has a Main Street and then separates like a hub on a wheel with Adventureland, Frontierland, Fantasyland, and Tomorrowland branching off. 

Disneyland has a New Orleans Square and Toontown as well.  In New Orleans Square, you can dine at a very expensive restaurant that has seating inside of the beginning of Pirates of the Caribbean ride (Blue Bayou Restaurant). 
At the Rivers of America, where you would raft out to Tom Sawyer Island, there is the Mark Twain Ferry Boat, as well as the Columbia sailing ship.  Here too, is the worst ride/adventure I have ever taken, only because of who was also riding at the time.  It was the canoe trip around the lake.  I had small children in front and behind me that hit my paddle repeatedly, along with splashing me over and over.  Had it been with a group of fellow runners, maybe it would have been fun.         
We took in Storybook Land, where you float in a boat through a small river and see miniature castles and villages that tell the various Disney stories and adventures.  This where you float through the Monstro, Pinnochio's whale.

We made our way to see the princesses at Fairytale Hall and had no wait.  We walked right in.  Unbelievable.  If it were WDW, we'd probably have an hour wait.  We met Ariel, Aurora, and Snow White.  Belle was at the theatre acting out her story.   We then went to It's a Small World, which starts and ends outside.  The ride seems longer than the one at Magic Kingdom.  I finally got to ride Matterhorn Bobsleds.  It reminds me of Everest at Animal Kingdom, only in the Space Mountain coaster.  It is an old steel tubular coaster ride, and I loved it.  The yeti is there to chase you down the mountain.  We  took a couple of turns on the Tea Party Tea Cups ride which is completely outside uncovered.  I wondered what happens when it rains.

We ventured into Tomorrowland where we found The Avengers.  I took a turn trying on Tony Stark's Ironman Suits and testing them.  We ventured over to the rainbow bridge and entered the Bi-Frost portal to the throne room of Asgard, where we met with Thor.  After pictures, we took the portal back and continued through the exhibits over to meet and greet with Steve Rogers, aka, Captain America. 

It was getting late in the evening, around 7pm Pacific.  The sun was still out and we did not have lunch yet.  We ventured out of the park to Downtown Disney and found Tortilla Joes.  Atmosphere gets credit, but service and food taste was less than expected.  I had lower standards as I was incredibly hungry, walking the resort and parks.  The tortillas were extra thick and chewy.  It wasn't like any other Mexican or Tex-Mex restaurants I had visited in any other state on the east coast or mid-west.  It had to be an off night.  It started off with a wiggling un-balanced table that had to have a notepad wedged under it to keep us from spilling our Water.  We watched other tables with children be entertained with balloon artists making different characters with colored balloons.  They work for tips. During the wait, I checked my e-mail and got an update that made me smile.  Our friend Mandy posted a picture of the Masked Bandit that had my shoes, bringing them to me the next day.   After an hour we got our food.  It wasn't hot.  I ate anyway.  Robin looked pale and extremely tired.  We still had not received text or e-mail that our room was ready.  She went back to the resort to get the room situated.
 I went back to Disneyland to watch the closing fireworks.  For the past few years, WDW's Magic Kingdom has had Wishes.  Here I saw "Magic" and I loved it.  I was able to stand almost at the hub where Walt and Mickey's "partner" statue are centered, without being crowded, pushed, or shoved.  The show illuminated the sky above the castle and was spectacular.  A great way to close my first night at Disneyland.  On the way back to Paradise Pier, it occurred to me that 11pm Pacific was actually 2am back home.  Now I felt tired, very tired.

Day 2 - Volunteer Day
Waking to a beautiful California morning, I was hungry.  We had a short time to eat before the expo started and we chose Goofy's Kitchen at the Disneyland Hotel.  It was just like Chef Mickey's at the Contemporary Resort.  This was a character buffet meal and we met with Goofy, Chip and Dale, Pluto, Mad Hatter, Captain Hook, and Princess Jasmine. 
Here I celebrated my Un-birthday.

It is actually in a couple of weeks and since, I wouldn't be back for a while, I thanked everyone for the kind gesture.  I'm sure my sister told them, as I wasn't wearing a birthday button.  Either way, it was a great start for the expo day.

We arrived a little early and signed in as volunteers.  We entered the exhibition area through a tunnel to the lower area, and waited for our assignments.  We were given shirts designating us as volunteers and a bottle of water.  We were issued a meal ticket for the shift for a later catered meal.  The group was diverse from retired individuals, students, fellow runners, and community civic groups.  We were divided into groups.  Robin and I were selected for the packet pick-up and half the group was selected for the upstairs Expo area.  The other group I was told would be working the shirts pick up area.  Since Robin and I were running the Dumbo Challenge and we had friends arriving as well, we went to the Dumbo Challenge bib area.  Our job for the day would be to greet the runners, check IDs, obtain the signed waivers, and issue their bibs, along with the Event booklet.  If our runner was earning their coast to coast challenge, we issued them a green bracelet and put it on their wrist.  We were told that about 3500 people would be earning their coast to coast.  We also gave out slips for those who purchased commemorative pins. 
I began a few years ago collecting & trading pins with my girls to have something different to do in the parks.  I have begun collecting my run Disney event pins as well.  This year, the race theme for the 5k and 10k was Stitch.  The medals and pins were adorned with Stitch, and highly sought after since they were the only ones that sold out. 

While working the event, I met runners from almost every state, Canada, and United Kingdom.  All were excited about earning the Dumbo Double Dare Challenge medal.  Those earning their Coast to Coast Medal were equally excited.  For the most part, everyone I made contact with were polite, respectful, and appeared to be having fun.  There were a couple of not so nice persons who were obviously stressed and not having a good day.  One example was a lady who was upset that I wouldn't give her a bib because she didn't have the signed waiver or ID for the person she was picking it up.  Basically, she had purchased a bib from or for someone and they weren't coming.  She wanted to pick up the bib and the items that come with it, but the friend wasn't helping.  I felt bad for her, but all I could do was send her to runner relations booth where she would have to tell her story over again to runDisney staff.  I venture, she was not going to get the help she wanted, as it is against Disney policy to buy/sell bibs.  This is probably not the first time it has happened, as people decide to sell their bibs and fail to give the appropriate paperwork to the buyer. 
During the shift, Mandy, aka Masked Bandit, arrived to get her bib and brought me my blue Beasts.  I had to explain to the other nearby volunteers and RunDisney crew leader why she was handing me a pair of shoes.

They all thought it was funny and a couple had done the same.  Our crew leader said she even arrived at her destination airport and realized at baggage claim, that she didn't bring her suitcase, only her carry on.  She said her husband told her to buy new clothes and suitcase.  She said now, her family helps her pack and reminds her before leaving not to forget her suitcase. 

We didn't have time to visit the expo as we had back to back shifts.  I was able to go up during a quick break and get my shirts and a couple of quick pins.  I decided to go the next day to see the exhibitors.  

Tune in on Monday for the next chapter!
-The Fat Runner

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

And Now Reporting Directly From the Disneyland Half Marathon

While I still owe you guys some posts about my Vegas trip, we must interrupt our regularly scheduled programing for a very special treat.

As I mentioned a while back, Among my many "must-do" races is the Disneyland half Marathon (Then again most of my "must-do" races are Disney races.) and it's new challenge, The Dumbo Double Dare in which you run the Disneyland 10K on Saturday and the Half on Sunday. Running it this year would have also earned me the Coast to Coast medal, where you run races in both Disneyland in California and Disney World in Florida within a calendar year. Alas, it was not to be.

In comes Donald to the rescue!
Donald and Frank circa January 2014, the day before the Marathon

No, not Donald Duck. Donald, who is in the Team runDisney Facebook group with me and I got to meet in person during Marathon weekend, who did get to travel to California and as if completing the DDD and earning the Coast to Coast medal was not enough, he also volunteered during the Expo! But I will let Donald give you the details. When I heard he was going to California I thought: "Hey, why not have Donald report on his experiences during the race weekend? It will be like the Fat Runner having a correspondent, just like in the news!" So I asked if he could guest post on the blog so, for the next several posts, Donald will be giving us the 411 on everything Disneyland. You are not going to want to miss this folks. I'll let Donald introduce himself and starting tomorrow, the posts will written by him.

Take it away Donald!

 I first want to say, “Thank you Frank for the encouragement along the way and the motivation to keep going.”  Several months ago, when you asked if I could write about my first experience to Disneyland and the Dumbo Double Dare experience, I was excited and couldn’t wait till it arrived.  That day arrived quickly.
 Let me begin with a little background about me.  I, too, am a fat runner, married, with three beautiful girls.   I have worked in law enforcement in North Georgia metro Atlanta area for the past twenty three years and gained a little weight over time.  Being 6’6”, I carried it well.  During a work insurance health fair in fall of 2011, I found out I was Diabetic Type II.  Weighing in over 365 lbs., I was told I had to lose weight or risk the health consequences.  I chose to do something about it and become more active.
 A co-worker had several medals on his wall, and the runDisney medals caught my eye.  I made it my goal to run the Walt Disney World Half-marathon.  I knew I had to learn to run by walking first, and building up to running.  During 2012 I did just that and dropped 80 lbs.  My first official 5k was on Castaway Cay, January 12, 2013.  I changed my goals along the way and signed up for the Dopey Challenge.  Through Run Disney, Facebook groups, and running blogs, I was introduced to Frank and became a fellow ‘Fat Runner’. 

The Dopey Challenge was my first Marathon.  In one year I had progressed from 5k to Marathon and completed not only the challenge of four back to back races, but proved to myself that I can overcome many obstacles and do what I never thought possible if I put my mind, heart, and soul, with support of friends and family, into it.  

As you can see, we share very similar stories (though he ran Dopey as part of his first marathon so mad props for that!). You guys are gonna be in great hands for the next few days so stay tuned.

Friday, September 19, 2014

6 Miles From Las Vegas

Las Vegas 3    Fat Runner 1

And, as I got on a plane after my last day in Vegas, that was the final score. Maybe a little sad, but true. I had tons of fun. Don't think for a minute that I didn't (and I will share my adventures so don't worry) but as far as my exercise and eating goes... well... they kind of went out the window to be honest.
Vegas was tough on my exercise and nutrition.
 I did take some pretty nice pics, like this one.

Being up front that I'm the only one to blame for this, I will give you a couple of reasons for this happening. First and foremost, when I travel for work, I mostly do it alone. Since I started running, my priorities when I travel for work are pretty simple: a)Fulfill the work obligations of the trip (obviously) b) Try to visit, do or eat someplace new if I can and take pictures. (after all, if you get a shot to travel to a new place you should take advantage of that right?) c) Run as close to my regular schedule as I can (this also lets me fulfill my b priority as I have been able to run in some awesome places)

On this trip, those priorities got a bit altered. Mainly because I wasn't traveling alone. What started as a business trip quickly escalated in scope once people found out it was in Las Vegas. At first it was just me and my Mom, (me and her work together. I don't think I've mentioned that before) then Dad ("Vegas? I think I can take a few days off...") then an uncle and his wife and finally my brother, who you all heard of as he also accompanied me to the WDW Marathon.

Of course, none of them are there for work so they have other priorities. Since the one cardinal item of the priorities mentioned above that I cannot break is a) (fulfill all work obligations) I had to be more flexible with the other two to accommodate everyone. If this sounds like a drag, believe me, it wasn't. Like I said we had tons of fun and as you will see in upcoming posts, we visited some awesome places and the Grand Canyon... there are no words. Hopefully the pictures will do it a bit of justice.

I sure started strong though. The morning after arriving I laced up and ran the best 6 miles I have ever run. It was a tempo run run starting at the corner of Fremont Street and Las Vegas Boulevard then going south through the Las Vegas strip. Temps were in the 70's and after the warm up mile, I sped up to tempo pace noticing I was barely breaking a sweat and not a hint of fatigue. I was feeling awesome. I was able to speed up through the intersections without any problems and maintain a tempo pace faster than my goal. I felt like I could sustain it forever. I ran all the way down to the Wynn Hotel then turned back. When it was time for the final cool down mile, I didn't want to slow down. Seriously, one of the best runs ever. Under these circumstances I was sure I could pull off a very strong and successful 10 mile long run later in the week but, alas, it was not to be. That first run turned put to also be the last of the trip.
Famous Gold & Silver Pawn Shop from the HIstory Channel Show Pawn Stars.
Horrible pic though...

Las Vegas 0       Fat Runner 1

Then there was the food. As you've probably heard, Vegas is like the capital of the All-You-Can-Eat Buffet and boy did we revel in it. That first full day in Vegas was a total disaster. First, breakfast at the hotel's buffet (We stayed at the Golden Nugget) where I'm sure I ate for three people. Then, in the afternoon we did lunch/dinner(because who the heck can eat like that for three meals?!) at the Bellagio buffet. Oh, Lord... There was so much stuff I wanted to try out. ...and I did! Once the conference began the next day, I was able to hide behind the continental breakfast they were serving there each morning. Eating the huge cheese danish they were serving there was like fasting compared to the disaster that was the day before. Not my proudest moment folks.

Las Vegas 1        Fat Runner 1

As if that wasn't enough, me and my brother decided that if we were gonna crash, we might as well go down in flames, screaming all the way down. Our last meal in Vegas was at the Heart Attack Grill. A place so unbelievable, I will save a post just to tell you about it.

Las Vegas 2        Fat Runner 1

Finally, there was that botched long run. As the events of the week unravelled, I kept trying to reschedule it to make it happen and it didn't. I was out most of the day for the conference so I would go out with my family during the afternoon/night (and you know, nothing happens in Vegas at night) and get to sleep very late so I wouldn't wake up early enough to run the next morning. I Wanted to run on Sunday but that's when we ended up going to the Grand Canyon and had to wake up very early for that. Then thought about Monday (last day) but we went to bed way too late and didn't make it. Did I mention I'm in the middle of another Diet Bet?

Las Vegas 3        Fat Runner 1

Right now I'm thinking of that scene in Friends when Joey eats his date's dessert after making a big scene about not sharing food. He just casually looks at her with cake all over his face and tells her: 

I feel bad, but honestly I had had too much fun to dwell on it. It happened. Move on. Keep running. Sometimes stuff happens. And hey, it was Vegas!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Guess Where I'm Going

Click picture for source

"Bright light city gonna set my soul
Gonna set my soul on fire
Got a whole lot of money that's ready to burn,
So get those stakes up higher
There's a thousand pretty women waitin' out there
And they're all livin' devil may care
And I'm just the devil with love to spare
Viva Las Vegas, Viva Las Vegas"

-"The King"

Yup, I'm going to Las Vegas.

I'm leaving on Wednesday, for a work thing. Yes, for a work thing! I promise. I have to question the motives of whoever thought this was a good place to do work-related anything but a) I didn't make that decision b) This is actually the third time I go to Vegas for work stuff.

More importantly, this is the first time I go there as a runner so you know I will be reporting back to you guys about all the trouble I get myself into (which will be running related of course). Also, as it has become customary on this blog, if I manage to take any decent pictures I will share them with you as well. I will be staying at the Golden Nugget so I'm thinking long run to the Vegas sign and back? Stay tuned...

Also a little further ahead, my friend and fellow Team runDisney member Donald, who I met during the Disney Marathon is working on something special for the blog so don't go anywhere. It will be a real treat.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Life with kids: Sometimes, it happens

I'm the dad of three wonderfully adorable girls. A fact I like to remind people of quite regularly, especially on Instagram, much to the chagrin of my followers there. There simply are no words to describe how happy I am to be their dad. They are truly, the best thing in my life.

That's not to say that it isn't tough and sometimes it sends you right to the edge of insanity. But just like you enjoy the great runs even more after bad runs, you have to endure the tough, scary moments to truly appreciate just how lucky you really are. Checks and balances.

Like yesterday for example...

I had just gotten home from work and after saying hi and kissing and hugging everyone I sat down on the couch to catch my breath. The two oldest ones were playing in the yard out front when I heard Veronica, the middle one crying. Now, at first I didn't really pay attention. Parents who are reading this know only too well: crying is a part of it. Especially when playing is involved. You know. They go out. They play. They run. Someone gets hit somehow. (The nature, origin and blame regarding the hit or fall is a hotly debated subject among the siblings involved) They cry. They argue. They calm down. They start playing again. Lather, rinse, repeat. So, although I clearly heard her, I did nothing. 

Then, about 30 seconds later, the oldest (María) starts crying too. Now, this wasn't her "I really don't have a reasonable defense regarding Veronica's crying so I'm hoping my crying will get me off the hook." cry. Oh no. This was the "I'm seeing something that is really scaring me and I'm freaking out!" cry. That got my attention. So I jump off the couch and run outside. The first thing I see is María looking positively terrified and as I make it to the yard, sure enough, there was Veronica on her knees crying. Bleeding from the forehead.

The cut wasn't too long thank goodness but it looked deep and she bled all over her shirt so it looked pretty bad. I can only imagine what was going through María's mind at the moment. She is only six and it's her sister. So not only do I have to calmly tend to the wound but I also have to reassure both Maria and my wife that everything is alright and I'm in total control of the situation. (yeah, right.)

So I cleaned the wound, patched her up and took her to get medical attention. If it were only that simple. Again, parents will back me up on this: It's very hard to handle these medical situations without having an "adventure" of some type. On this occasion adventure means that although the "incident" (as I will now refer to it from now on) happened at about 5:30pm and I was on my way to the doctor at about 5:45pm, I somehow managed to return home at 1am.

That's right. 1am. It ended up being just three stitches and the entire procedure took all of 10 minutes but the place I went to was so overrun and understaffed, that I ended up waiting 7 hours to get the care she needed. Isn't that just peachy?

Isn't she happy about the stitches?

So yeah, I'm dead tired and a little rattled. You can't help but think of the what if's when stuff like this happens but here is an interesting tidbit: After coming back home and putting Veronica in bed, I swapped stories of what happened with my wife. She told about how María was really concerned about Veronica and how scared she was. She told her she loved her very much and didn't want anything to happen to her. As I'm piecing the events of the night together, I realize that right around the same time María was telling that to her mom, I was having this conversation with Veronica in the waiting room.

Veronica: Dad, I want to see María.

Me: As soon as we get out of here dear. Don't worry. Everything is going to be fine.

Veronica: Yeah, but I want to see María.

Me: Why?

Veronica: Because she is calling me.

Me: What? What do you mean?

Veronica: She is calling me because she loves me.

See what I mean? Checks and balances.