The club season is in full swing already and pretty much every Saturday brings with it pool play. In Jenna’s case they call it Power League. Sounds bad ass like they should have their own hall of justice and secret decoder rings to unite their bump, set and spike powers.
In reality it is a huge thriving business in this down economy. Even when layoffs and unemployment are on the rise families shell out big bucks every week, every month and return year after year to the traveling volleyball scene. In addition to the thousands of dollars they spend on club fees every year, each weekend involves some sort of travel. Today for us it was only a 45 minute drive each way so not too much fuel cost. But that is just transportation for one day. You also have an entrance fee at each of the venues per person per day and food cost. You are not allowed to bring in your own food or drinks so you need to eat before you come, buy something from the concessions or go out between games. The space is usually just a converted industrial warehouse with anywhere from 4 to 8 courts running continuous games throughout the day.
Today all six courts are running so that is about 24 teams with 8-12 girls per team and a few hundred parents, friends etc. I am seeing more and more of these facilities in different states as we travel around to watch her play. Instead of building and selling widgets to pay for the space and keep the lights on, they are selling competition and in America who doesn’t like competition. As a bonus, there a quite a few college scouts walking around here today. A college scholarship would make for a nice ROI.
It has been more than a week since I last ran and I am going nuts. I did a quick 5 miler the Wednesday after I got home (three days after the race) and it felt great but there was a little swelling in my right ankle. By Friday the ankle was feeling stiff so I thought I would try to do another 5 miler. Again, my body felt great and the stiffness went away pretty quick, but about 2 hours after finishing the run the creaking started where the shin meats the ankle. I also noticed that it was swelling a bit more. Was I going to have to stop running for a while? Sadly, very sadly, yes.
I talked about the injury in my post on January 14, 2010 so I won’t rehash it. The point of this post was the realization that I had no idea I would miss running so much when I was forced to take some time off. You would think the after all the training last year for the marathon that I would look forward to some time off. No, the time off is killing me. Now I see why the wife is crabby in the morning until she gets her run in (but it could be other issues as well ).
For anyone who thinks they can’t be a runner, don’t believe it. Two years ago when I was getting ready to do my first 5K at US Cellular Field (it is still Comiskey Park to me), I figured I would try it and have such a hard time that I would hate it and never try it again. But a strange thing happened. It was painful during the run but it felt exceptional when I was done. So began my road (no pun intended) to better health and eventually my first marathon.
The doctor said to give it four weeks before I run again. I think I’m going to give it 1 more week before I do a quick three miler. I know, listen to the doctor, but I think he was generalizing about the injury and I will know soon enough if I came back too soon. In the mean time, I will have to hit the weights or so some yoga that does not put weight on that ankle. We’ll see how that goes.
I’m sitting in the Calgary airport after a 2 internal day company meeting and 1 day client visit, trying to get back to my postings. I know it is not realistic to post every day, but I miss the outlet even after a few days of not writing (I loosely call it that, I know). I don’t know if it is weird to feel that way after less than two weeks of posts or if it is an indication that the blog is good for me and I should miss it if I don’t do a regular push.
Anyway, I enjoyed seeing the colleagues from our Canadian offices that I don’t get to interact with very often and I came away with a good feeling about the direction the company is following. We have picked up a new Service Desk software product called Cherwell Software and we are dedicating more resources than in the past in order to make the practice successful. There were many good ideas thrown around and I hope some of them make it off paper and into production very soon as we will be in a very good position to grow once the economy picks up again.
The only bummer of the trip was that the Olympic torch came right by our offices at 4 PM on Monday and we were not able to step out to see it. Sad that we miss these opportunities but we were so wrapped up in discussions that everyone lost track of time. Maybe I will get to see the Chicago torch relay… no wait… that one is not going to happen.
Still waiting for the flight as it is delayed 30 minutes, which seems to be the norm. The plane is coming from San Francisco which had some weather delays so there is not much we can do but wait…and catch up on my posts.
I always wanted to learn how to weld. Well maybe not always but at least since I was in high school and developed an interest in low-rider’s (mid 60’s Chevy Impala’s). I knew that if I ever wanted to get one to restore, I would need to reinforce the chassis if I wanted it to hop. Making it ‘Hop’ involves installing hydraulics and putting as much as 500 pounds of batteries in the trunk to power the pumps.
Even if I don’t get that dream car for awhile (2 college educations to pay for still), I want to use that skill for repairs and for some personal art. I started doing stained glass in high school and wanted another more permanent, industrial, creative outlet.
Another reason for wanting to do this is fear. I had an accident in Catholic grade school that has caused me to have a fear of high voltage electric. We had no showers in the school so we would wear our gym clothes under our uniforms on gym day. We would have gym and then put our uniforms back on over the sweaty clothes. Good thing we didn’t really care about girls back then. For game nights, we at least go to change in and out of game uniforms in the locker room.
As members of the basketball team at St. Francis, we had volunteered to clean up and repaint the lockers in the boys locker room in the basement. One of the dads had brought in or rented a big electric grinder to get the rust off the lockers before painting. Being an old building, the outlets were not properly grounded (you can see where this is going). Not knowing any better, I was using the grinder to remove the rust without the protection of any gloves. I had used the grinder for a few minutes before stopping to brush the dust off the locker with my bear hand. Grinder housing – metal. Locker – metal. All that was needed was my hands to complete the circuit. Luckily I was not leaning forward when I touched the locker, but rather had a bend in my knee so when I did get the shock, it only lasted a few seconds before I fell back and broke the circuit. No one noticed me until the grinder hit the ground and I muttered something (I am sure I did not swear as I was a good Catholic boy).
Ever since then I have not liked to perform any electrical work because I had not know the proper preventative measures to take to be safe at that age. I know they stress safety in this welding class so I intend to use this opportunity to learn all that I can about the proper precautions that will get me comfortable with the technology. We will be learning not just electric based but also gas based techniques as there are advantages to each and situations where one is better to use than another.
I am looking forward to the next 16 weeks at the College of Dreams (that is the nick name for College of DuPage), and who knows, if the economy tanks and the zombies attack, I will have a useful skill to use in the wasteland.
Despite the great Marathon experience, apparently I did not come out unscathed. I noticed today that the top of my foot feels like a creaking door and If I put my hand on my shin and move my foot up and down (point the toes at the ceiling then at the floor) I can feel the creaking in my foot.
Turns out I have inflamed extensor tendons something my wife is very familiar with as she has had that and a host of other running related injuries. I think I developed it because I was not running as much as I normally would during the last Sundays marathon and that altered the way my foot handles the miles. Changing your training drastically can cause this injury according to the research I did on the subject.
Lorie prefers to run inside so she has injuries related to that form of training, while I prefer outside but am often forced to run inside because of my work schedule and the fact that I like to run in the evening. Where we live is not very conducive to night running and actually the roads are not the best during the day either. Being forced inside means that we have put lots of miles on the treadmills (yes plural) and have worn thru three of them. The last one took such a pounding that the deck shattered and started to fray the belt.
When we buy these things we make sure they have a good warranty since we will beat the crap out of it over its life time. This breakage was fixed by the manufacturer by sending me a new deck, belt and lube so I could do the repair myself. It was pretty easy once the whole thing was apart. The only tricky adjustment was the belt tension. To remove the belt you must remove the from and back rollers, them refi them once the new belt and deck are in place. Adjusting the tension to so it is not too tight and not too loose can be tricky. It took a few days to finally get it to where we want it and those few days can be dangerous
You don’t want to tighten the belt too much at first as you want the belt to gradually stretch and the lube to spread out evenly between the belt and rollers. The dangerous part is when the belt is too loose and you take a heavy step, the belt slips (stops) and it is murder on your knees. I would grab on tight to the handle bars at the beginning of each run and take a hard stomp and try to make the belt slip. If it did slip, I would get out the hex key and do a quarter turn on each side to tighten the belt. If it did not slip I would repeat the process the next day until I was getting no slippage. Like I said, about two weeks of adjustment and we were back in business. Only another 2 months before it gets nice outside and I have to lay off training for a few weeks anyway until I heal.
The day you have to leave Disney property is always a sad day. You want to get up extra early and take in as much as you can knowing it will be a while till you get back again (the next trip will probably be next years Marathon, although I did not sign up the day after the race like I did in 2009).
We planned on going to Hollywood Studios today but I needed to go over to Epcot to pickup our free photo from the Disney Visa shoot yesterday. Since Tuesday was early entry day at Epcot, I got up at 7 to be over to the International Gateway for opening at 8. It was strange to not see a sole as I walked from the countries towards Spaceship Earth. On a side note, someone should make a sci fi movie where a giant creature uses spaceship earth as a golf ball and launches it over towards the golf courses by the Grand Victorian hotel. I grabbed the photo and a cup of coffee and enjoyed a slow walk back to the hotel, just enjoying the peacefulness of the mostly empty park.
We decided to take the boat to Hollywood Studios as mom had not had a chance to ride them yet on this trip. A short 15 minutes later and we were at the front gates of the studios. I have never done Rockin’ Roller Coaster so we headed their first. Wow…what a ride. Very short but very intense. The acceleration at the beginning is amazing and it feels like you are being shot out of a canon, 0 to 60 in 2.8 seconds. Matt and I stepped of looked at each other and smiled. We didn’t have to say anything to know we both really enjoyed it although as a first ride of the morning it can leave your knees a bit wobbly. We only had time for a few more attractions and a bit of shopping before we had to head back to the boat.
We had left dad in charge of checking us out and we found him sitting in the lobby in his wheel chair sipping a hot chocolate. He had us all checked out and ready to go, so a quick bite and we were ready for the return trip on the magical express. Turns out the length of stay wheel chair was the way to go as it is free for Vacation Club members and Matt got to use it a bit as well the day after the race. That sounds bad, but dad insisted on pushing him and mom around a bit because it made his back fell better to lean over and walk with the support of the chair.
As I said at the start of the post, this is always the saddest day. We took our seats on the bus and at least I mentally reviewed what we had accomplished the past week and how much I enjoyed the time with Matt and my parents. I still remember the first time we came here when they opened (actually 3 months after opening day). I was in 5th grade and I recall driving away from the Contemporary ($35 a night back then) watching the Magic Kingdom get smaller and smaller through the back window of the car, wondering if I would ever get to come back again. Little did I know how many more times I would return and make some wonderful memories with friends and family.
Maybe it’s not so sad after all. I am already planning next years marathon trip.
I felt surprisingly good for just one day after the race. I usually feel the pain in my knees on days two and three but today I could easily get out of bet without a nurses aide. We decided to take it easy and sleep in so we did not get moving until about 9am (that is sleeping in at Disney). We had a light day planned in the parks, then a big dinner and show lined up for the evening.
Matt’s legs were bothering him so we let him sleep in a bit longer and we headed over to the Magic Kingdom. Mom and Dad had not been on Pirates’ or the Haunted Mansion since they were refurbished, so we made sure to hit those and a few more attractions. By the way, the Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor is a hidden gem. I would not have done it had the lines been longer but I am glad we did. Very funny.
We met Matt at Epcot at about 2pm and the lines where very short again so we were able to do all the attractions that everyone wanted. We then decided to eat/drink around the world. That is where you have a drink and or food at every country in world showcase. We went from left to right (Mexico to Canada) and had a sample in each country. We only did one small item among the four of us because we did not want to fill up before the big dinner tonight.
One other thing that we got to do was a semi private photo op. I say semi private because it is open to Disney VISA members only. It takes place every day from 1:30 – 4 in Inventions West and features a surprise guest or two. Today it was Minnie and Goofy, so we were able to get a bunch of photos with them with either our camera or the photo pass photographer that was present. We also received a free 5×7 of our choice from all the photos taken. After the photo shoot we headed back to the Beach Club.
Our hotel was just across the lake from Disney’s Boardwalk resort, very close to where our dinner was scheduled. If you plan on visiting Disney World I would suggest taking advantage of what they call and ADR (Advance Dining Reservation). You are allowed to book up to 180 days in advance (as of this article), and you can book for your length of stay up to 10 days. We used ADR’s for all our reservations including tonight’s dinner at Kouzzina. Kouzzina is Cat Cora’s new restaurant which recently replace Spoodle’s on the boardwalk. My daughter is a big fan (as am I) of the Food Network and Cat is the first female Iron Chef on the show of the same name.
The menu was a wonderful Mediterranean/Greek mix with a nice selection of lamb, fish, pasta and steaks. We all tried something different and were no disappointed although my fast food son was a bit perplexed when I tried to explain what a béchamel was (his pasta was topped with cinnamon roasted lamb meat sauce, béchamel and cheeses). If you like Ouzo, the Ouzo-tini kicks butt.
We left happy and stuffed and made our way back to the hotel to get some blankets. I had a special night outside planned for the four of us so we need a few extra layers to keep the cold out. Every night Epcot has a fireworks/light/music show called Illuminations. If you know when you are going to be down there you can try to book an Illuminations cruise. I say try, because there are only 5 available each night (actually four on Mondays as Nippon travel has a standing reservation every Monday for members of their tour groups). You can book 90 days in advance by calling (407) WDW-PLAY (407-939-7529), but be sure to call early. The phone open at 8AM EST so start calling a few minutes before that. I have been lucky to book twice and got the last boat each time. My first cruise was cancelled because of lightening (sorry Lorie), so this was my first actual time on the boat.
The boat is a 21 foot pontoon that fits up to 10 people for a flat rate, so if you have some friends along with you you can spread the cost a bit. They provide some drinks (non-alcoholic) and snacks and you are able to order food, even dinners to ring on the boat. The only think you can’t do is bring your own food.
We were lucky enough to get Michael Scibetta as our captain that evening. If you are a hardcore fan or Disney, you probably know about the WDW Radio Podcast and have heard Michael on the show. He was the one driving Breathless II in the video ‘Catching You Breathless’.
Michael takes you around the lake for a short cruise before parking just under the bridge that separates France from England in Epcot. From there we had a front row seat for the Illuminations show and Michael was kind enough to give my parents his version of the events that were unfolding during the show. If you are lucky enough to book one of the boats, I highly recommend contacting Michael to see if you can schedule him to be your captain that night.
We had brought extra blankets to keep out the cold but I was so wrapped up in the experience that I didn’t really notice it anyway. The family really enjoyed the show and the cruise and I was grateful that I was able to share it with them.
As you hear so often in Disney ‘What a Magical Day’.
Matt was not too happy to be getting up again at 3:30 to make the 4:00 bus over to race setup, but he was at least able to grunt answers to my questions. We pinned our number to our sweatshirts, attached the timing tape to our shoes and headed out into the 28 degree morning by 3:55.
They used timing tape this year instead of chips. Cheaper and you don’t have to stop at the finish to have it removed from your shoe.
It was very quiet at the bus stop with everyone kind of keeping to themselves or having hushed conversations with their groups of people. The bus itself was standing room only and I was in the very back so I had kind of a surreal view. With all the people standing in the dark with both arms out stretched holding on, it looked like a long row of gymnasts suspended in the iron cross position.
The walk to the prerace area had a quiet tenseness as well. There was an MC in the distance trying to pump up the crowd with a thumping beat, but all I heard was the swishing of track pants, Mylar blankets and trash bags. I really enjoyed the quiet walk to the corrals as it gave me time to mentally prepare although Matt said it was like a death march. Quiet, dark, heads down, slow footsteps and the swishing sounds.
For those non runners, we sometimes bring a large trash bag along to fit over our body as protection from the cold. You can discard it right before the race and not feel bad about dropping a piece of clothing that you will never see again. We prefer to go to the thrift store and get an old 60 cent sweatshirt which has a bit more warmth than the plastic bag provides. For those who do drop their clothing, Disney picks it up, washes it and donates it to local groups for distribution to the needy.
We started right on time at 5:40, with the blue group (fast people) and the first wave of the red group starting at the same time on opposite sides of the highway median. We started out with the 5 hour pace group and were doing well for the first 5 miles, at which time both Matt’s quads locked up and that set the tone for the rest of the race. As much as he wanted to keep up with the group he could not do it. The competitive bastard in me wanted to push him to continue, but the dad in me did not want him to suffer through the next 6 plus hours. I estimated the time by timing our next mile at his max walking/running/shuffling pace and came up with about a 13-14 minute mile.
To be honest, this took all the pressure off me and made it an easy day except for a few nagging issues. Let me retract that. There is nothing easy about a marathon and calling it that would cheapen the work so many of those participants put in in order to be there.
The nagging issues were two fold, one expected and one unexpected. The expected one was a hip issue that occurs when I fast walk as opposed to running. My running gate is smooth and my feet hit the ground under my body for a comfortable stride. When I fast walk my legs come more around from the outside in on each stride and I can feel it in my his more, which after 20 plus miles makes them sore.
The second issue was cold related. Blisters. Blisters in the cold? You bet. When you feet don’t warm up and expand, your shoes are too loose, they rub and you get some huge blisters, in my case on both heels. One popped at mile 20 and the other at mile 25. I have never had that issue before so I was not ready for the shock of pain when each one exploded. the problem is that nice cushion of fluid is now gone and you are rubbing the raw skin against your shoe.
My advice for the cold weather, bring an extra pair of thin socks in case you feet don’t expand enough and stop at the med tents if you feel a blister coming on. Although the other problem was the blister prevention pads that they had were frozen together at some of the med tents so you have to stop a a few tents to find ones you could use. Bring your own if you are worried.
Matt kept telling me to go on ahead, that he was holding me back and I kept saying no, it’s OK I want to help you finish. He did not realize when you get that fatigued it can be tough to estimate your true pace without a timing watch.
I swear by my trusty Garmin 305 and will treat myself to the 310X once I compete in my first Triathlon.
I wanted him to see that I was trying to help him along and not just being a drill sergeant so every few miles I would let him take the lead and walk just off his shoulder so he set the pace. I would then give him the pace time so he could see we were moving slower than he thought. At that point we would pick up the pace again to where I though he could manage and still finish.
If this was any other race, he may have had an even harder time, but the wonderful thing about the Disney race is all the activity to help keep your mind off the pain. Now don’t get discouraged. Is it painful? You bet. But is it worth it? Without a doubt. There are few feelings like crossing that finish line, still on your feet, and it was especially great to do it had in hand with my son.
I don’t have that picture yet but I will post it as soon as I get it from ASI (the company that does all the Disney Marathon photos). In the mean time, this is one of us back at the hotel, all smiles and wearing our Mickey bling.
A special thanks to my parents who came down to see two of their generations finish this experience together. Also, many thanks to all the families who were lining the course cheering for the participants that they did not even know. I had so many people congratulate me in the parks, in the elevator on the bus and anywhere I had me medal on. It is a tradition to wear your medal to the parks following your run, although you can usually tell the runners in the parks the next day. They are the ones who are walking like they are 90 years old or getting off the bus in a side step. Thanks to all the volunteers as well. It took a lot of people to pull that off and I thank you all.
Are you kidding me? Full winter wear in Florida? I have never experienced a wind chill in Orlando before but I can cross that off my list now. We slept in knowing we would try to avoid frostbite and make it a short day. Once again the park was not busy at all so the attractions had short if any wait at all. The cat family does not like the cold so the safari had about 1/2 the animals you usually see and the ones that were out looked very confused about the weather.
What’s wrong with this picture? Coats.
Matt started to cramp up pretty bad from the cold, so he left the park early to go back to the room to warm up and prepare for tomorrow (watch football games and relax). We had enough of the wind burn and decided to pack it in by 4pm.
Tomorrow is the big day and I am concerned about the cold as I have wimpy lungs. Ever since I was little, running or doing other strenuous activity in cold weather is murder on my chest and I end up getting walking pneumonia or bronchitis or some other thing that knocks me out for a few weeks. Matt’s legs will also be a factor tomorrow. This probably will not be a good first marathon from a time perspective but I am not going to leave a man behind to better my time. If we have to walk some of the marathon I will do it to stay with my son.
We are laying out all our gear for tomorrow, then settling in to watch the Cowboys vs Eagles game. Tomorrows post should be interesting.
4:45 wake up call and onto the bus at 5:45am. The busses are the nice big tour coaches and heated which is a plus when it is 38 degrees outside. One stop at the Wilderness Lodge to pick up other guests and we were in the Epcot parking lot by 6:05 for the 7am start.
the theme for this years 5K was UP and away based on the recent Disney release. Carl Fredrickson, Russell and Doug were there to entertain the kids with a photo op in front of Carl’s house.
Lots of eager runners and many still half asleep kids.
The starting fireworks.
We started at 7 on the dot and ran out into the parking lot, made a sweeping right turn and followed the road to a service road entrance behind Test Track. We ran under test track and entered the countries between Mexico and Norway. The course took us all the way around World Showcase before we exited the park and International Gateway and then reentered at England. we ran down the main walkway past Spaceship Earth to the park entrance the made a right hand 180 to head back past Spaceship Earth before making a left back out the park towards the finish line.
The finish line after we had gone through and received our medal.
Lots of support at the finish from spectators in the grandstands and many wonderful volunteers all along the route. Thanks to all the volunteers. Even though it was cold and we had to dodge runners in the first mile or so, it was still a PR day and a great warm-up for the Marathon on Sunday.
Mom and Dad are arriving today, so we had to check out of the Towers to move over to Beach Club. They were able to get out of Chicago despite the snowstorm last night so we are grateful for that and very excited to see them. Matt and I made our way over to the Beach club and secured a wheelchair to help make dad’s bad back a bit more bearable. The room was ready and our request for first floor accommodations was granted. The bags were scheduled to be delivered in 3 to 4 hours so we decided to go out on the front lawn and play some catch (Matt has the foresight to travel with two mitts and a baseball at all times). We played catch for about 45 minutes, until the webbing broke on my glove (Matt says it is because of the power of his throw, I said it is because I have had the glove since Purdue days.)
They arrived on the Magical Express and we took them to the room to drop off their bags, then on to Epcot which is just a short walk away via the International Gateway entrance. Walked around a bit and did a few of the rides that they were comfortable doing (no Mission Space). The lines were very manageable, again because of the weather.
We got back to the room at 6 to get ready for our dinner reservation at the California Grill which is on top of the Contemporary Resort. We had a 7:30 reservation so that we could view the 8:00 Magic Kingdom fire works from our table. Dinner was excellent as it always is at that location. We did experience a first for us at Disney World… Invisible fireworks. At about 7:45, a nice heavy fog moved in to blanket the Magic Kingdom. By 8 when the fireworks started, we could see almost all the castle but when the fireworks where launched, we could see them leave the ground but no payoff. They pipe the ‘wishes’ music into the restaurant to sync with the show, so it was a bit weird hearing the audio cues but not see the visual ones.
We headed back to Ecpot for Extra Magic Hours (we get to stay in later than the public since we are staying at a Disney resort). It was pretty deserted so ride lines were very short. A quick hot chocolate, then back to the room.