Funny how we make such a delineation of our being from year to year. After all it is just another day in just another month in just another year in our life. Perhaps it is because everyone else is pausing to think about what they want to accomplish next year, and what they did not get to do this past year. Right now, everyone is looking forward to next year.
I think a better plan is to have a plan for the next few years and continually work and refine that plan as situations arise that are either beneficial to you achieving those goals or detrimental.
We had a few things happen in my household this year that helped us move closer to some goals and a few things that were setbacks. Some items we can control like choices and determination, but some things like health and for some of you, mother nature, can come out of nowhere and set you back a few months if not years.
Regardless of what hits us, we need to keep moving forward and not let these things stop us. One of the keys to progress I believe is having a strong support system. If you are having trouble achieving your goals or are getting discouraged, talk to someone close to you. If you don’t have anyone close to you, well that is another issue that you need to work on as mentors or trusted advisors can help you in many ways.
I left a company this year and took a position at a new one (to be detailed in a later post). This new company has clear goals and has forced me (for the better) to reexamine where I want to go moving forward.
For now I have one short term goal in 2013 and that has to do with why I started this blog 3 years ago. I will again be running on Disney Marathon Weekend but this time doing the half by myself. I have a goal of a sub 2 hour half, which will be a bit difficult as the previously mentioned health setbacks and all the traveling I have been doing for the hew job, has made training difficult.
I will try my best (that’s all we can really do when it comes down to it) to achieve that first goal, and then continue on with the rest to continue being the kind of person I want to be.
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.
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.
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.
This morning we slept in and then walked over to the Magic Kingdom to hit a few attractions we had never done before like Mickey’s Philharmagic, The Carousel of Progress and Peter Pan’s Flight. I had done the Peter Pan ride when I was 11 but not since then. We used one of the Fast Passes for that one as it is a heck of a long wait for a two minutes ride. We enjoyed about 2 hours in the park before heading over to Epcot for the rest of the day.
While at Epcot we had another one of the private photo ops for Disney Visa card holders and this time the session was with Minnie and Goofy by themselves. A few fun photos later and we were out the door to Soarin.
When we received our VIP passes on day 3, Matt and I discussed how we could give some of them away as a nice gesture to some deserving park guests. What prompted that thought was how many rude guests we ran into on the trip be they from other countries (mostly) or from the US and how we would like to ‘reward’ someone for just simple acts of kindness.
For the next few days we were extra aware of how guests seemed to be treating other guests or apparent family members. It turned out to be a difficult task as most people were oblivious to others around them and were just in a hurry to get where they were going. I must say that this is the first time I felt outnumber by non English speaking guests most of which seemed happy to barrel their way through the park. Perhaps it was that we were looking for good that we saw too much bad, but whatever it was we were determined to do something nice for someone.
Turns out that nice thing happened in the Soarin line. We used our fast pass to jump the 50 minute standby line for the fast pass line ( the fast pass line was being blocked by a large group whose time was not coming due for another 5 minutes). We politely asked if we could get by and a young couple from Atlanta saw us excuse ourselves and followed us in as their passes were valid but they could not get by the group.
When we got into the queue for the ride, the woman said thanks for getting by that group as they did not know if they had to wait in that long group line. We started talking and found out the had a tough time getting to Orlando because of the snow but they were so glad to finally be in Disney. This was there second time to the parks ( they had visited for their honeymoon 5 years ago) so they were looking forward to riding some of the new attractions this time. We gave her some tips on avoiding motions sickness on this ride as she was worried about that (lean forward a bit and look to the left or the right depending on that glider that you are in, and focus on another group of riders. This can reset your point of reference and calm the stomach).
We enjoyed the conversation while we had an extended wait in line (there was an issue that they had to fix before letting us board) so Matt asked how long they were staying. They replied 5 days, so Matt and I looked at each other and I said to them ‘Were going to hook you up’ and explained how the VIP passes worked and gave them each a pass with three uses on each. They looked very excited and thanked us for the passes.
The ride was great (Matts’ first time), and the young lady came through without issue. When we touched down they both thanked us again and we parted ways. It felt very good to do something nice for other nice people.
While I am still on that subject, it amazes me that so many people look like they are in a bad mood, act like they are in a bad mood or verbalize that they are in a bad mood when they are at Disney. This is supposed to be the most magical place on earth but too many people don’t check their crap at the door and seem to be miserable. Why bother coming here if you are bummed out and want to let everyone know you are bummed out. Everyone has stress in their lives by I try to leave mine at home when I am on vacation, especially when I have limited time to spend with my son. I may get the occasional crappy email or voice mail about work, but I deal with it absorb my few moments of frustration and them continue to have a great time. The kids will be gone soon so I need to enjoy these events as much as I can while I can.
We went back to the hotel the get cleaned up for our final dinner of the vacation. California Grill is one of my favorite restaurants on property followed by Artists Point in the Wilderness Lodge and then probably Citricos in the Grand Floridian. Citricos was the first place my wife and I ever tried fried alligator which they unfortunately don’t serve anymore. We chose California Grill as the last meal because in addition to the exceptional food and the view of the Magic Kingdom fire works every night, it is on top of the Contemporary hotel right next to where we would spend our last night.
Our reservation was for 7:45 so we could catch the fireworks but as is sometimes the case, the earlier reservations hang around longer than they should so they can catch the fireworks. This put every later reservation behind by about 20 minutes, including us. Instead of worrying about it, we went out on the observation deck which has a fantastic view of the Magic Kingdom and enjoyed the fireworks. The music from the parks is piped into speakers in the restaurant and on the deck so you get the full experience as if you were in the park. The only difference is the fireworks are at a different angle so many of them look like them are over Space Mountain instead of the castle.
We enjoyed our final Disney dinner together and even received a little surprise decoration on the Chocolate Crème Brule that we ordered. It is Matt’s Birthday this month so he was wearing his ‘It’s My Birthday’ pin around the parks and our waiter noticed it and added the chocolate marker in the above photo. I would recommend if you are celebrating anything when you go down to Disney, be it Anniversary, Birthday, Wedding, 1st Visit or whatever, go to Guest Services when you get to the park and they will give you a pin for the occasion. It is nice to be recognized by the cast members and sometimes other guests as well.
After dinner we went back to the hotel and up to the lounge for a final drink (few drinks). Matt and I wanted to play some cards but did not bring a deck with us and found that they did not have one to use, but did have a bunch of board games that we could use. I had never played Jenga before so we chose that and I proceeded to beat the ‘Jenga Master’ or so I was warned.
Tomorrow is the saddest day of all the day we leave Disney….until the next visit.
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.