Buying New Running Shoes

It is just about time for me to purchase some new running shoes, not according to the ‘Manufacturers Suggested Mileage’ but according to my wear patterns. I have a tendency to wear them out on the inside before I wear them out on the outside, or at least it feels that way. I try to do 500 – 600 miles on a pair before I look at getting a new pair and I try to keep at least two pairs around so I can rotate them. It is also handy to have a second pair on hand in case I get one pair really wet from a run in the rain.

Kayano 15

My strategy from the beginning was to find a brand that fit really well and me my needs as far as foot type, stride pronation etc. Turns out I needed a stability type shoe so with the help of Dick Pond Athletics in Lisle Illinois, I settled on Asics Kayanos. The year I bought them (2007) they were on model 13 (they have a new number every year), so I bought two pair and started rotating them. Good thing I bought two pair, since the following year they changed the toe box and the model 14 caused a rub on my big toe. I skipped the 14s and was able to find some clearance 13s online, which held me over till the 15s came out in 2009. I retired one of the 13s for a 15, then near the end of the year retired another 13 and bought two clearance 15s. I now have three pairs of 15s that I am rotating and have passed over the 16’s and 17s, so far.

Back to my wear patterns. The manufacturers suggest you only put 300 miles on a pair of shoes, but being cynical, I submit that they are just trying to sell you a new pair every year if not more often. I tend to wear out the lining at various touch points to my foot. I have been very fortunate to never have gotten blisters from running, except for one freak weather run at the Disney Marathon in 2010 when it was so cold my feet did not expand as they usually do when I run. Another reason I don’t get blisters is I am very aware of those wear spots and will replace the shoe if I start to get a hint of a hot spot, which is usually around the 500 mile mark with the Asics.

This post was actually prompted by a podcast I was listening to yesterday while doing a 5.5 mile run. I listen to Phedippidations quite often, a podcast for and about runners, and was catching up on some older episodes as I usually do. Steve Runner  (Walker is his real last name) produced a podcast called ‘Anatomy of a Running Shoe’ and it reminded me it was time to start looking for some new shoes before the weather gets nice again. This particular episode talked abut the important parts you should pay attention to when looking for a new shoe or when moving to a new version of the exact shame shoe. As I mentioned I ran into that with the 14s and might eventually have to move away from the Kayanos if the change too much. I am very happy with the Kayanos, but they are getting pretty expensive at $140.00 and there are other good stability shoes on the market.

Steve has a very strong opinion about Nike and their sweat shop practices, something I agree with him on, so if you are a Nike lover you might be turned off by the first few parody minutes of this episode, but keep on going and listen to what he has to say about shoes and what to look for.

What kind of shoes do you wear and why did you choose them?

2011 Disney Marathon Runners Donate More Than 7 Tons of Clothes


Participants in the 2011 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend have helped thousands of local public school youth across Central Florida. Almost 25,000 warm clothing items collected by Disney, will be distributed to those in need through Orange County and Osceola County Public Schools and other Central Florida non–profit organizations.

Typically runners, including myself, bundle up in layers prior to the marathon and half marathon to brace against the cold morning air. As we run and warm up, we shed the items along the 26.2-mile and 13.1 mile courses. Approximately 14,696 pounds of clothing was deposited for donation during the two weekend runs. All the items were laundered by Disney textile services before giving them to Central Florida charities.

It’s nice to know that somewhere in Florida, my Downers Grove South sweatshirt is helping to keep a public school student warm this winter.

Disney World and Bagdad Half Marathon

During this years Disney World Half Marathon there was a very special simultaneous event taking place half way around the world. Known as runDisney Heroes, the Victory Base complex in Baghdad, Iraq hosted their own Half Marathon. The race in Bagdad was sponsored by Disney and the almost 500 service men and women that participated were awarded the same medals that finishers received in Orlando.

The race was organized by Air Force Major Devin Traynor, who was to run the race in Bagdad while his wife ran the race with us in Orlando. Before our race started we were treated to a satellite link video where the Major was able to converse with his wife and young daughter here in Disney World. Quite a touching moment to see them so excited to see and hear each other live.

The Major and his wife both had the same Garmin watch so they were able to synchronize to the GPS satellites an run ‘with’ each other. That is pretty awesome, running with a loved one half way around the globe. Congratulations to all the men and women who competed this year in Orlando and half way around the world.


Disney World Half Marathon 2011

I also found this awesome video with snippets of the whole Half Marathon experience. Lee Hoedl produced and posted it so thanks so much Lee. It gives you a feeling for where we ran, what the atmosphere was like and even the progression from very early morning to bright shiny Disney World day.

Disney Half Marathon 2011 Cinderella’s Castle

New this year at the Disney Marathon weekend was video capture for the runners. I the past they have always done photographers all along the course taking thousands of picture of the race participants. After the race you receive a link to a website where you can view all your photos for the event. If you don’t wear you number on the front of your shirt it is very unlikely that you will see any of yourself as that is how they identify you among all the other runners. They use recognition software that looks through each photo for you number they flags the photo as one of yours. It is pretty accurate and I only received about 5 photos this year where the number was close to mine (an 8 looked like my 9 on the bib) but it was not me.

This year they added some short videos at the Cinderella Castle (like the one above) and at the finish line. They used similar software to recognize my number at send me a link notifying me that I was captured. The photos and video are not free but you can purchase a package that gives you all your photos and videos in a digital download for one price, and it works out pretty well if you were captured quite a bit on the course.

I posted this one to give you and idea of the atmosphere of the event. This is at about 6:45 in the morning at mile 6.25 just as we exit the castle. I appear at the very beginning on the far right but only for 3 seconds. We had entered the Magic Kingdom just behind Space Mountain then came to the front of Main Street by the Flag Pole. We ran down main street, took a right into Tomorrow land, ran thru Fantasy land, through the castle, into Frontier land then exited the Magic Kingdom between Splash Mountain and Pirates of the Caribbean.

If you are thinking about running a half or a full, this is a great place to do it with all the energy and excitement. Highly recommended.

Disney Marathon Weekend 2011 Post Race Wrapup

Disney Half 2011

All in all it was a successful and very enjoyable Marathon trip this year. I always enjoy my time with Matt and this year we did many attractions that we had never done together or done at all, so that made the trip special as well. He seemed to enjoy the time away very much and he had the added bonus of not have to get up and run the race this year. When it is just the two of us we can make decisions pretty quickly about where to go, what to see, what to eat, when to get up, etc. I always like having my wife and daughter with us but things can be a lot more streamlined when only two opinions are involved. I’m not sure who is coming down with me next year, but it may just be a two person event again.

As for the race, I learned a few things this year. First, I need to loose a few pounds. I was hovering around 199 at the time of the race, which is not huge, but I could definitely feel the extra weight on my knees by the time I crossed the finish line. I have been under 200 for going on 15 years now but my ideal weight would be around 180 so I have set a goal of 185 by the end of February. I would actually like to get down to 175 but I will probably put on 5 pounds or so of muscle with the weight program.

I plan on doing some calorie counting, which I have never done before and will enlist the help of the ‘MyFitnessPal’ application on my Android phone. I checked into a few apps including Calorie Counter from FatSecret (terrible name), but I liked the interface and more accurate barcode scanner of My Fitness Pal. I will do a review of my progress in the coming weeks.

The second thing I learned was I am not very good at pacing. I had planned on running with the Clif Bar pace group to hit my 2:15 goal and had stopped at their booth at the expo to meet then and confirm that there would be a group in my corral. They said there was and to look for the girl holding the stick with balloons and the 2:15 sign. I was all psyched to run with them since I was going solo this year, but when I got to the ‘C’ corral, there was no pace group. I spotted a two hour group in the ‘B’ corral but nothing in my area. So long story short, I went out way to fast and went off the pace at about mile 8. I know I can’t depend on others all the time so I need to get better at pacing myself and knowing how my body is doing even without a watch.

Speaking of a watch, my Garmin ForeRunner 305 was pretty much useless this year, which was a bit disappointing. I wanted to compare my three times (D-TAG which clips to your shoe, Runkeeper on my phone and the Garmin), but only the DTAG and my phone were accurate. The Garmin was telling me I had gone a mile when I still had about 100 yards to go. This my be my excuse to try the 310XT or to look for something completely different. I love RunKeeper, but the phone can be a bit heavy to lug around sometimes.

As painful as those races are, I can’t want to go down in 2012 and try for a new PR with whoever I can get to run with me. It was only about 3 hours after this years run that I decided I wanted to do it again next year. So if you are interested in joining me in the Magic Kingdom next year, leave me a comment and lets plan to race together.

Disney Marathon Weekend 2011 Day 6

Today is the saddest day of all and a very hard day for me. I find it difficult to be in Disney World and not go into the parks even if we just go in to people watch and take in the atmosphere. Matt and I decided not to burn a full days pass since there were a few outside the parks things that we wanted to do anyway and we could probably fill the time before we need to leave for the airport.

We checked out of Bay Lake Towers, stored our bags and took a bus to Downtown Disney to get something for Lorie and Jenna. The are has change quite a bit form last year an Pleasure Island is a shell of what it was when it first opened. I only saw 2 clubs and could not tell if they were even open since the bars did not open till after 7pm normally. The whole island is just restaurants and a few shops and quite a bit of demolition and construction going on. The West Side is pretty much the same with the swapping out of a few stores for some more current ones. One big store that is gone is the Virgin Megastore which took up a huge two story warehouse. In its place is a ‘Build an RC Car Shop’ which did not even take up all of the first floor of the previous tenant. It is kind of a Build a Bear for boys. Build a basic car then trick out out with customizations and drain the credit card.

We did a bit of shopping for about and hour before taking another bus from Downtown Disney over to the Animal Kingdom Lodge villas to see the DVC rooms. We have never stayed there so we wanted to see if it was something we might consider in the future. The rooms were nice, very similar to the other DVC studio and one bedroom accommodations, except for the African inspired furnishings. The property was appealing as a novelty, but I still don’t like the fact that it is so far removed from everything else. If you stay there to see the animals outside your balcony, that is nice, but after about an hour of that I have seen what I need to see and want to move on, so I don’t think we will be staying there anytime soon.

While on property, Matt and I had a nice lunch at Sanaa where we split a burger and had a nice salad sampler, just enough food to hold us over for the rest of our last day. We grabbed our final bus from Animal Kingdom Lodge to the Magic Kingdom then had a short walk back to Bay Lake Towers to catch our Magical Express to the airport. We still had about an hour to kill so Matt suggested we go to the rec center and play some shuffleboard to pass the time. This was another first for Matt and it only took him one game to catch on. I took the first match and he took the second. He was a avid watcher of curling during the Olympics so he knew the basic premise of what to do and caught on very fast. He now has the skills to become a hustler when he retires to warm climates.

The Magical Express arrived right on time and got us to MCO about 1.75 hours before the flight to Charlotte. I checked on my Droid and both our flights ( to Charlotte and to ORD) were clear of weather all the way through. We boarded on time and settled into 2A and 2C for the first leg of the flight. I was a bit disappointed that we did not get a meal on the US Air flight but they did double up on the drinks and it was very smooth ride all the way.

We landed in Charlotte and grabbed some fast food chicken ( I took all the skin off mine and ignored the biscuit as next week starts my calorie counting test, which I will outline in a later post) and I passed the 1.5 hour layover time by catching up on some of my kindle books and my pursued new high scores on a few of his handheld games.

We boarded the flight to ORD and settled into our same two seats for the last leg home. On the flight from MCO, I had put the Thumper stuffed animal that I got for Jenna on the large arm rest space between Matt and myself, and it ‘rode’ there for most of the flight. I placed him in the same spot when we boarded and as I looked up I noticed we had the same flight crew from the previous flight even though it was a different plane. The flight attendant said ’Are you following us?’, in reference to the same two guys in the same two seats with the same rabbit between us, on a different airplane. I said ‘Yes, and I am hoping you are taking us someplace warm tomorrow. Where are we off to next?’

This flight was equally smooth and in no time we were landing in Chicago. As we pulled off the runway
I called my wife who was waiting at the Oasis and told her to head on over to pick us up. As most of you know, ORD and MDW are VERY strict about waiting at the curb to pick up arriving passengers. They will make you circle endlessly or have you park way over in the cell phone lot, which is OK. Lorie prefers to wait at the O’Hare Oasis since she can get there early if need be and have some coffee, use the free Wi-Fi and just wait for our call. The timing works out well because by the time we get to the gate, deplane, and walk all the way out to terminal 1 she is just about there.

I will have some reflections about the race in my next post, but for now, home again, glad to be here, but already planning the next trip.

Disney Marathon Weekend 2011 Day 4

Day 4 started with a bit of rain as we got ready to head over to the Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom. We first had to check out of the Beach Club and store our bags for transfer to Bay Lake Tower. If you are staying at another Disney hotel, just need to take your bags down to the bell stand, or call to have them picked up, and they will take them over to your new hotel with a few hours. When you arrive at your new hotel and check in, just call down and they will bring up the bags to your new room. If you check out of one hotel early to hit the parks make sure to take with you what you need for the day, as you can’t usually check in to your new room till 3 or 4 in the afternoon.



We walked over to Hollywood Studios after checking out and arrived just before it started to rain again. We ducked into the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular and a few other rides before making our way to Toy Story Mania. I had always wanted to try that ride but that ride is very popular and the lines are always huge. We thought we would be able to use out VIP passes but the fast passes were all gone by 11am. Undaunted, Matt suggested we ask the cast member who was standing in front of the closed fast pass machine if there was anything we could do with our VIPs. It happened that this particular cast member was from Pittsburgh and Matt was wearing his Pirates shirt so we had a very pleasant conversation for a few minutes before he reached into his pocket and pulled out two passes that where set to expire in 15 minutes. We were on the ride within 3 minutes and had a great time. Thanks Richard you are the man and that is the Disney spirit above and beyond.

I had to buy a poncho after that since it had started to come down pretty good. We did a few more rides with not much wait and then headed over to Animal Kingdom to attempt Expedition Everest. I say attempt because I had done it a few years ago with Matt as the very first ride of the day and it wrecked me for the whole day. Today it was not too bad and I discovered that if I felt like I was going to hurl, I just had to close my eyes to get through it. I know that takes away from the experience but I was doing this one so Matt had a riding partner, not for me.


We did all the open rides except the spinning thing outside Dinosaur and that would have made us both throw up big time. This was the first time I had closed down Animal Kingdom so we got to see the little dance party they have near the exit as you are leaving. Very cute to see all the little kids and some parents dancing with them

We took a bus back to the hotel and went to check into the Bay Lake Towers. When we got to the room it was still a 1 bedroom, so I figured the charged me one bedroom points instead of studio points. I went down to the front desk and sure enough she had booked me into the 1 bedroom for 2 nights and charged the 1 bedroom rate for the two nights. After another 20 minutes of ‘fixing’ things. I went back up to the room to wait for the new room to be ready. I went back down to the front desk got the new keys, went back up, moved the bags from the 5th floor to the 14th floor and took the old keys back down. At least we ended up with a nice high floor and a good view.

BAy-Lake-View1 BAy-Lake-View2

We quickly changed for dinner and walked over to the Contemporary Hotel to catch the monorail to dinner at Epcot. The Bay Lake tower is connected to the Contemporary by a bridge on the 5th floor so you can get to all the transportation easily. We boarded the monorail for the Ticket and Transportation Center (we need to change monorails there to get to Epcot) and the driver comes on the loudspeaker and says he needs to power down the systems and software to reboot to train. That was a first for us and it added an extra 5 minutes to the journey so we were almost late for our dinner reservation.

TequilaWe enjoyed and excellent dinner at La Hacienda de San Angel, the new table service restaurant in the Mexico pavilion on the water. I tried their Margarita flight which is five samples of some of their more exotic margaritas and enjoyed the one on the right the most, the Orange Mango Fire. It includes tequila, ginger liqueur, orange juice, mango, fresh lime juice, tobasco sauce and Tajin chili powder on the rim.

We chose this place and the 7:45 reservation so we could have a nice relaxing dinner and then see the Illuminations fireworks from our table. The restaurant dims that lights and pipes in the music from outside so you get the full experience except for the evenings cold weather.

After dinner we headed back to the hotel to go to the Top of The World Lounge to watch the BCS Championship where the Oregon Ducks fumbled their way to a loss to Auburn. A bit disappointing as I had hoped for a non SEC team to win it just once, but with Purdue not even in the hunt this year it was a bit hard to get into it.

Time to get some sleep before our last day in the parks.

Disney Marathon Weekend 2011 Day 3

I decided to sleep in today after a bit of tossing and turning because of knee pain following the run. I did make a new best friend yesterday and his name is Ironman Muscle Rub Gel. I had never used a product like this since my high school days when Ben Gay was the only player in town. The gel had no nasty smell like Ben Gay did and it had a very nice cooling effect after I applied it on my knees and thighs. I only had to rub a little bit on to ease the aching that I usually get day 2 and day 3 after the run. Last year it was hard to walk around the parks especially after sitting on a ride for a while then getting up to continue on. I saw quite a few ‘shufflers’ at the park the next day (those who had run one of the races and had a bit of trouble walking around).

I did get up in time to see and cheer on many of the runners who where passing by our hotel by the 8:30 mark (they will have finished in just over 3 hours). I stayed out there for about 45 minutes to show some support before we went into the parks for the day. Below is one of the videos I shot on Saturday during the full marathon. The audio a not the best because of the cheering, but I will get in and fix that up once I get back in town.


Disney Marathon 2011–Runners passing in front of Beach Club Resort at mile 24.5


Matt and I went into the parks for a few hours then made our way over to the Bay Lake Towers for a  1pm Disney Vacation Club meeting to see a preview of the Aulani resort they will be opening in Hawaii. We had stopped by the DVC booth in Epcot on Saturday just to say hi and the cast member told us about the preview and signed us up.

On the way to the preview I stopped at the front desk of the Contemporary hotel to see if we could come over to Bay Lake a day early and leave Beach club a day early. The manager on duty said there was availability and the we cold make the switch from a 1 bedroom to a studio for both nights with out a problem. the only problem was there was a bit of a language barrier and I had to explain what I wanted to do three times before she understood. She then said she could not make the change and that she had to call member services to have them do it. I was a bit concerned when I saw her doing children’s puzzles in crayon as she was talking on the phone to them. She finally put me on the phone and they confirmed that they would down grade me to a studio for 2 nights and inform Beach Club that I would be checking out early.

We made it to the preview 2 minutes late because of the difficulty at the front desk, but I put my happy face back on ready to enjoy the DVC gathering. During the preview they had a trivia DVC Trivia contest where they asked questions about the DVC properties, point values and other interesting questions. Matt and I both had a our names draw to win some VIP fast passes that we could use during our stay this week. The VIP passes have three uses loaded into them and you can walk up to any fast pass machine and print out an immediate fast pass to use right then (regular fast passes require you to come back at a later time to use them). The preview lasted about an hour including the tour of the Bay Lake Towers rooms (we had stayed here before so that was no surprise for us). We had a fun time and were now off to test out the fast passes.

Since we were so close to the Magic Kingdom we walked over there from Bay Lake Towers (one of the benefits of that property) and went directly to the big three (Pirates, Haunted Mansion and Space Mountain). Pirates and Haunted Mansion were not busy at all (there were only two other people in out boat at Pirates so we did not test the passes till Space Mountain which showed a 50 minute wait time.

We walked up, inserted our VIP cards and the machine treated us to an immediate entry paper fast pass (you still need to hand the paper fast pass to the cast member to get on the ride like any other fast pass). We were on and off the ride in about 15 minutes total. Nice. The rest of the day we just park hopped and tried to do some things we don’t normally do.


Tomorrow, more Disney magic and Ironman gel for my knees.

Disney Marathon Weekend 2011 Day 2

The Disney Half Marathon 2011 is in the books. I am pretty happy with the performance because even though I did not make my goal time I did PR and cut 13 minutes of my previous time. I f you would like to see the route we ran this morning as well as my splits click on the link below which will take you to the RunKeeper activity from this morning. Add the satellite layer if you want to see the parks we ran through.

The day started at 3am, again, with my trusty Android phone acting as my alarm. I got dressed quickly having laid out the cloths the night before and was out the door by 3:15. As I closed my room door I saw another guy with a bib on (for non runners this is your name and number fastened to your shirt with bobby pins, not a spill protector) and I struck up a conversation. Turns out he was from Lansing Michigan and was running his first Disney race so I filled him in on what to expect leading up to the race. After that it was up to him. Disney tells you that you must be on the bus no later than 4AM so that you have plenty of time to get to your starting corrals ( again a running reference where they line us up in groups for a start in waves, nothing to do with Woody’s Roundup). Once you exit the bus, it takes about 20 minutes to walk to the starting line and get in place.

I had planned on running with the Cliff pace team but they were no where to be found and I discovered later that they had lined up in the corral behind mine. Since I am not a master at pacing so I went out to fast, excitement and all, and ruined the pace. But as I said at least I got a PR (Personal Record) today.

I had talked previously about one of the best motivational moments of the race, that being the full on gospel choir about 300 yards from the finish line, but I experienced another one today. I don’t know if I just missed it last time or f they recently added it, but when we are about to enter Cinderella’s castle running towards main street, up on the balcony outside there were two trumpet players with those 5 or 6 foot long horns, signaling or arrival. Pretty neat, and I must say that the gospel choir got me choked up as it does every year.

I finished up and went to the medical tent to have them wrap my knees in ice and get some Tylenol.
Let me just say that it sucks getting old. Stuff hurts that never hurt before and the hurt takes much longer to go away. Children, don’t waste you youth. But I digress.

We will head into the parks later this morning and I am looking forward to displaying my medal and seeing all the others who are doing so. I is a tradition to wear you medal into the parks post race and the only downside is saying congratulations over and over to all the people I see. And with 27,000 plus entrants I may need to say it quite a bit.

I’m looking forward to next years race and invite anyone who has thought of doing a distance race to contact me for 2012. I would be happy to run with you, or if you are a lot faster than me when can hang out before and after.

Thanks to all the well wishers. I will post pictures as soon as I get them from the course photographers.

Disney Marathon Weekend 2011 Day 1

The day started early with a 2:45 wakeup call from my ringing Android phone. The dogs could not figure out why I would want to get out of bed that early and gave me a strange look before closing their eyes and going back to sleep. The taxi showed up at 3:30 and took Matt and I on a quick quiet trek to Terminal 1 at O’Hare.

2011-01-07_08-28-44_611Instead of the usual United flight that I would take I decided to use my frequent flyer miles on first class seats as Matt had never flown first class before. The upside was that I could get the first class seats on Continental going out and US Airways coming back as I could for coach on United. the bad news was that we had to fly through Houston going out and Charlotte coming back. But that early in the morning we were going to do a bit of sleeping on the plane anyway so what the heck, more time to spend with my son.

He could not believe that we were served real food on real dishes with real silverware, twice (once going to Houston and once going to Orlando). He also was able to get as many drink refills as he wanted and was even offered a drink as soon as he sat down, not having to wait till takeoff. It will be hard for him to go back to coach after this vacation.

We arrived in Orlando at about 12 noon eastern time and jumped on the Disney Magical Express for our ride to the Disney Beach Club Resort. This is the same place we stayed last year and like the central location especially for the marathon weekend. After finishing either of the races, we can just walk right through Epcot back to our hotel instead of waiting for a bus back. (Note that you must have a park pass to get through just like any other visitor.

We checked in to the Beach club which is still 2011-01-07_18-16-54_669decked out in Christmas decorations including an amazing gingerbread carousel in the main lobby, before we took another bus over to Disney/ESPN Wide World of Sports for race check in, packet pickup, chip timer testing and my meet up with the Cliff Bar Pace Team who I will be running with tomorrow. this year the check in went very fast and we were in and out and back on the bus within about 35 minutes, back at the hotel within 50 minutes and over to the boardwalk for a late lunch with an hour. Funny enough our waiter at the ESPN zone was from Lombard, so we talk a bit about the Cubs, the Sox and the Bears.


We decided to take it easy tonight and not burn a full days park pass on just a half day. Instead we did our usual tradition of playing catch out on the lawn by the lagoon (guys you are never to old to play catch with your son) and took a walk over to the Epcot back entrance then over to the Hollywood Studios to stretch our legs. One of the other benefits of the Beach Club or the Boardwalk Resort for that matter is that they are situated between both parks so you can walk to then or take a nice boat ride to either.

Well the fireworks just ended at Epcot (we can see the form our balcony) so the means it is bedtime for me. I have a big day ahead of me and I need to start to wind down.

More tomorrow.