Life is Moving Fast

Thought I would be back on track in the last few weeks with my training, but work had different plans for me. We are very much underwater with too few resources and too much business, so most of my days start when it is dark and end when it is dark. That makes it difficult to get any training in at all.

I have always had a challenge with working out too late in the evening as it keeps me from getting meaningful sleep. This makes it hard to get up the next day and makes the day even longer. The cycle is vicious and impactful.

Not sure what I am going to do about this as my next race is in about a month and I have given in to the fact that I will need to walk run to make it through. It makes me cringe to say that but if I push too hard, it will be very difficult to recover so I can start training for my next race.

Back in the Saddle

Travel has been crazy the last few months (writing this while sitting in a seat on a flight from MSP to PHX), and I don’t see it getting too much better. My training has definitely suffered as it is had to find time to get even a small run in. The body and mind are willing but the location is not always able. I know I can try harder to make that happen and I need to do that soon, as the Dark Side Half in Disneyworld  in April is going to be painful.

I had hoped to finally get my sub 2 hour PR but I don’t think that is possible now. Running is not something you can catch up in quickly like catching up on email or even sleep. If you don’t put the mile in, you don’t get the results. You can’t do 11 tomorrow if you got 5 in two days ago but missed your 6 yesterday. That would not only be painful but also foolish for your body.

The good news is I was able to get into the Disneyland Paris Inaugural Half Marathon in September so I have plenty of time to train for the PR during that race.


The focus not is planning for runs during travel, even if it means inclement weather locations like Minnesota this week. I have never had good luck with my lungs and running in cold weather, it always end up in a hacking cough and sickness. Perhaps I need to look into a nationwide chain of fitness centers like LifeTime, or even check on day passes if the weather is bad and my hotel does not have facilities. I have some homework to do.

A Busy 2013

It has been quite a year since I last posted to the blog. My next post was going to be about the 2013 Disney Marathon but between then and now I have taken a new job, my father in law passed away and I sold my house, twice.

Businessman multitasking

I have been heads down with the new job traveling quite a bit so my postings have taken a back seat to day to day operations. I will expand on all the above events very soon, but for now, its good to be back.

A Very Expensive Upgrade

I have been traveling quite a bit with my new job which involves lots of planning. We don’t have a travel planner or anyone at our organization that handles that function so it is up to me to juggle schedules with all the clients. Now this is fine with me because there are no errors in scheduling because of lost emails or missed phone calls, and if a client has to reschedule I can pull up the calendar and immediately make the change to the next available opening.

So this week I was looking to reserve a car for my sons Sports Management Banquet in Slippery Rock, PA. Lately I have been renting with Enterprise because they consistently have the lowest price and are at just about every airport I fly into. This time however, Hertz had a better price for the same location and duration. I will usually reserve the subcompact if I am by myself then get an upgrade at the counter since I rent so much (dinner for one Mr.Durden?). So I went through the usual selection and saw the were a few incremental upgrades, like going from a subcompact to a compact for 95 cents more per day (take it). Compact to Standard for $3.00 more total (take it). Full Size for $7.00 more total (take it). But then the next jump was ridiculous and had to be a mistake. Upgrade to a premium for ‘less’ than $1322.00. That’s a very expensive upgrade.

Expennsive HErtz Upgrade

At that point I had to back out to see what the daily rate was for that car and it was over $900 per day. Must run on rainbows and single barrel bourbon! I am tempted to call Hertz just to see if anyone noticed that rate and why it could be so high, but I am sure someone keyed it in wrong.

I had a similar experience down in Orlando about 15 years ago on one of our trips to Disney World before they had the Magical Express. I was looking at prices for rental cars and usually use Hertz at MCO because they have the gold service where the car is waiting for you and jut just put your bags in it and go. During my research I found a minivan (which I swore never to buy) that was available for $22.00 per day. Now, $22.00 per day for any car during peak season is awesome, but for a minivan it is incredible. Minivans are usually close to $100.00 per day in some locations during low season.

When I returned the car after our week there, the attendant printed out my receipt and had to do a double take. She said, ‘wow this is really cheap for a minivan’. I just smiled and said yes it is.

Workout While on the Road

I was traveling again this week and had a chance to try out the Westin WorkoutWestin Bag while staying and the Westin Imagine in Orlando, right across the street from the convention center. Trying to workout while on the road can always be a challenge, but at process at least helps simplify the solution. During check-in, I mentioned that I would like to participate in the rental of the workout gear. The woman checking me in simply asked what size shoes, shit and shorts I needed (woman can get capri pants or a sports bra as well). We finished check-in, and she stepped away for maybe 3 minutes before returning with a mesh draw string bag that contained all the gear. She explained that I just needed to leave the gear in the bag in my room when I was leaving for checkout (I was staying for only one night) and that I would be charged a small fee of $5 for the rental. The rental also includes a pair of padded shortie New Balance socks that you get to keep, so the total cost is really just a few bucks.

Westin GearAll four items in the bag were clean and fresh smelling and the shoes and socks were brand new. The shoes were in the retail box with the normal crushed paper stuffed in each shoe and the socks still had the not for resale zip tag on them. Also included in the bag was a 10% off coupon for a next purchase on New Balance gear from the New Balance website, and a small postcard explaining the program and the philosophy of the program. You can also request maps of local running trails or paths when you request your gear. I did not this time as I knew my time for a run was short (explained below).

Each item fit very well and the shoes themselves were fresh, shiny New Balance model 759s. The shoes were very light and comfortable to wear. I laced them up and went downstairs for a quick workout. I unfortunately had recent back surgery (external) so I was only able to do a quick run so as to not aggravate the wound. Since I knew I would not get to do a full 1 hour test of the shoes, I had planned to go over to Downtown Disney and walk over to Saratoga Springs for dinner, wearing the shoes as a test.

Westin Shoes

I spent a good 3 hours in the shoes today and overall was impressed with their weight, comfort and size. They felt a bit less  supportive than my Brooks Adrenaline 11’s, but I think I need a 1/2 size smaller next time. I was not a picky during this process as I would normally be if I was buying so I just estimated on the size I normally wear.

Bottom line is this is a great program if you forget your workout gear or if you just want to try some new equipment. The possible downside is the property could be really busy with health conscious gests and could be sold out (rented out) of your size. Since this program is so new, that was not an issue for me. I will be adding this to my list of positives when I am deciding on which property to stay as during my business trips.

What do you do to stay on track for your workouts when you are on the road? Please leave a comment.

Flying Porter Airlines

I had a day trip to Toronto that I need to accomplish and wanting to keep costs down, I select Porter Airlines out of Midway to get me there. I have flown Porter a few times before and was very impressed by their enthusiastic staff, comfortable planes and convenient location. Porter is based out of Billy Bishop Toronto City Centre airport (YTZ). The airport is right next to downtown Toronto and is actually separated from the city by just a thin canal of water (YTZ is on an island). Once you land, you take a short 1 minute ferry ride across the canal to Toronto. From there you can either take a cab into the downtown area or take the free shuttle bus that drops you off near the center of Toronto.

Porter is the only airline that is serviced by Toronto City Centre airport so you will have no issues finding the correct airline or gate for your departure.

When you get off the ferry onto the island, you go through security as usual but with much less wait and crown lines. After security, you take an escalator down into the Porter lounge to await your flight. The lounge is very modern and comfortable with plenty of flat panel monitors showing upcoming departures times and gates. There is a large snack area that has free coffee, bottled water, soft drinks and snacks while you wait for your flight. They also have a bank of 20 plus iMAC computers for customer use over in a quiet area. I found the lounge very comfortable and a welcome change to the usual sparse waiting area that the non elite customers have to endure.

Once on the plane, Porter provides another perk that you usually only find in first class; free food and in the evening free alcohol (a limited selection of beer and wine).


My ‘dinner’ on the way back consisted of a small portion of very tasty potato salad, a chicken chibata bread sandwich and a small chocolate bar. I opted for the red wine, which came in real glass not plastic and was even offered a refill.

The only downside to the flight was there were only 10 people on the return to Chicago. How is that a downside you may ask? Well, I want the airline to stay in business and with that few customers I don’t know how they can keep it up.

Chicago DO Seminar Day 1

jumbojetHad a fantastic day today at the Chicago DO Seminar in Elk Grove Village. I was there to learn more about some of the tips and tricks that frequent flyers use to maximize their miles, trips and membership points. Some of the data was review for most of use but there was quite a bit of new information that I found very useful.

Since both kids will be in college next year, I plan on taking more frequent trips with my wife and knowing some of these strategies will help us do that less expensively and more often. I also want to get the kids familiar with what I am learning from the seminar presenters and other attendees so they can get a leg up on accumulating miles. I made sure to get them signed up early for all the free travel programs (airline, hotel etc) that they are eligible for, so that they can start accumulating now.
One of the presenters has been a 1K member on United since he was 17, so it is possible if you plan and execute correctly. I only wish I had known some of these things when I was younger so that I could have started accumulating points, miles and free trips at an early age.

But, let’s not dwell on the past. I like to keep moving forward, and for me that means making the most of what I know now.

In Flight Drinks

What is your policy on airplane size bottles of booze? I will occasionally put one in my 3-3-1 bag (TSA approved) and when I get to the airport I buy a diet coke a pour the whiskey in. It makes for a nice in flight drink.

Is that taking away revenue from the airline, perhaps, but $6.00 for a 1/4 can of coke and a shot of whiskey? At least in a bar there is some atmosphere, a comfortable chair and other people to interact with.

I find it very difficult to get most people into a conversation on a plane. Although I am sometimes guilty of napping, especially on the 6am flights, I at least try to start a conversation by asking the simple open ended question ‘ Are you going away or coming back?’. That opens it up for talking about trip plans, where they are from, where they are going etc.

I have found it easier to get men to talk and maybe that is because we like to talk about ourselves, or maybe I am just too scary for the women to feel comfortable talking to a stranger.

At any rate, I will keep at it as these are lots of interesting people out there that I have yet to meet.

Volleyball…Lots and Lots of Volleyball

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.