Checking in on those Disney New Year’s (non) Resolutions

We’re a bit past the midway mark of 2017 already!  Hard to believe, isn’t it?  Goodness, how this year is flying by!  I don’t know about you and your family, but we have been crazy busy this year and there’s no slowing down in sight.  I took a quick peak back to my New Year’s post to see how I was keeping up with my plans…

Checking in on those Disney New Year’s (non) Resolutions

The SOUP!  I’m really not sure why I fall in love with soups in Disney restaurants more than any other type of food.  Last Christmas at Jiko I was crazy about the Curried Butternut Squash Bisque and tried my best (fairly successfully) to reproduce it at home sans duck confit and quince marmalade.  I’ve made it twice so far and it was very tasty both times and close, but not exactly right.  I’m waiting for the weather to cool off a bit before I give it another go and I’m still committed to trying to record an actual recipe to share.  I tend to produce my most successful creations by throwing a bunch of ingredients together without measuring anything.

The Dark Side CHALLENGE!  Joseph’s first runDisney events and my first ones not having to run alone.  Star Wars 10K and half marathon…check!  A good time was had by all.  Happy, happy memories.The MOVIES!  There’s just one movie left on my short list of must-sees this year…Star Wars: The Last Jedi (December 15th).  I thought Beauty and the Beast was good and Spider-Man: Homecoming was solidly entertaining (even with all the teen angst).  Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 was by far the best movie I’ve seen this year.  I’m a huge Guardians fan and spent a fair amount of time worrying about the sequel not living up to the original movie.  HA!  Worried for nothing.  Volume 2 was everything I’d hoped for.

Scuba School!  Joseph and I, then later, Megan and Lyndsey (Joe’s girlfriend) have all completed our PADI open water scuba certifications.  We’re now working on our advanced open water and rescue diver certifications as well.  Who knew this would be so much fun?!?!  We’ve got some diving in Florida coming up to practice our new skills.  One downside…I either had to buy new swimwear or continue on with the single, well-worn Target suit I’d purchased several years ago.  I waited until all the swimsuits at Dillard’s were 1/2-off and forced myself to go shopping.  It was just as horrible as I expected, but I now have two new suits for vacation.  And they’ll be covered up most of the time by my wetsuit.

Booking a Disney Cruise was on the list.  That one was so easy, we’ve got not one, but two cruises in our future.  This fall we’ll be sailing on the Fantasy’s 7-Night Eastern Caribbean itinerary.  Next fall, we’ll be on the Wonder’s 4-night repositioning cruise from Vancouver to San Diego.  Does this mean we will finally get to Disneyland?  I’m sure working on it and will keep you posted.

Last Item:  Disney Undersea Adventure.  On our upcoming Caribbean cruise, Raymond and I will be visiting Tortola, St. Thomas/St. John, and Castaway Cay.  We were able to book two scuba diving excursions through Disney Cruise Line.  In Tortola our adventure is the Certified Scuba Wreck & Reef Dive.  In St. Thomas we’re signed up for the rather boringly named St. Thomas Certified Scuba excursion.  Both adventures include two dives – one to view coral and wildlife, one to explore a shipwreck.  We’re super excited!  On this cruise we’ll also be celebrating our 28th wedding anniversary!

Did you make any Disney (non) Resolutions for 2017?  How are you doing with your list?

Have you done any of the scuba excursions on a Disney cruise?  Got any tips or feedback to share?

runDisney – Star Wars 10K 2017 Race Recap

Race one of the Dark Side Challenge!  Having stayed up much too late eating at Narcoossee’s and watching Wishes from our table, I set the alarms to allow maximum sleep time while still allowing us enough time to get ready and walk to the event bus by 4:00 am.  I set my phone across the room with the alarm set for 3:15 am and placed a wake-up call for the same time.  The cheerful voice of Mickey Mouse on the phone would surely make getting up with less than five hours of sleep easier, right?

By 3:50 we were ready to go.  Star Wars-themed shirts, ear buds, phones, and race bibs in place, we told a sleepy Raymond goodbye and headed for the bus.  I’d brought along Cliff Bars for breakfast and we munched on those as we walked.  I’d expected to see other runners, but we were alone in the dark, making our way from the Villas at the Grand Floridian past the resort’s main entrance, past the park bus stop, and finally to the runDisney bus. We climbed aboard and found a big crowd of folks who were as tired and silent as we were.  The bus stopped for more runners at Shades of Green and then dropped us off in the pre-race assembly area.  It was probably about 4:20 by now and we could see some runners sprinting their warm-ups.  Yeah, we wouldn’t be sprinting at any point and felt no need to warm up any further than what we were already feeling from the humid morning air.  The temperature was around 70-degrees.

Runners are divided into two groups for entrance to the starting area – those with bags and those without.  We breezed on through the “without” entrance and I immediately started looking for my friends Dave and Anne.  In a sea of ten thousand runners, I couldn’t believe I spotted them almost right away.  We had only a few minutes to chat and snap a few pictures before the announcement was made for runners to begin making their way to the starting corrals.  Joseph and I wished them luck and made our way to corral A.  We had an hour to go before race-time.

runDisney does an excellent job of trying to keep you entertained while you wait.  With a stage and screen set up, live emcees alternated with Star Wars movie trailers and film clips.  Corral A is a bit of a double-edged sword.  You get to start the race first (after the wheel chair division), but you’re with the most serious runners, so there are a lot of people trying to squeeze to the very front of the crowd.  We found a relatively calm spot to wait and after the National Anthem, we were led to the starting line.  Every wave is sent off with a burst of fireworks!  All I could think about was how much the resort guests trying to sleep nearby must have been loving that!

We were off.  This was an entirely new race course and while we’d seen the course map, we didn’t really know what to expect.  At first there was a whole lot of nothing.  Pitch dark in places, we couldn’t even see our feet.  Then there would be flood lights before more darkness.  We saw a couple of character stops, but had agreed to save stopping for pictures for later in the race (if at all).  Because we had 13.1 miles to run the next day, we concentrated on keeping a comfortable pace and not pushing ourselves too hard.  That was actually more challenging than I thought it would be – hot, humid, nothing to look at in the dark, I could tell we were speeding up to get to the fun part.

At nearly four miles into the race, we finally reached Disney’s Hollywood Studios.  We entered from an area behind Tower of Terror and it struck me as a little eerie to see the Hollywood Tower Hotel but not hear any screaming.  Here’s where we got to see lots of Star Wars characters!  It was light enough out to enjoy running down Sunset and Hollywood Boulevards.  Coincidentally, my playlist hit the Star Wars theme song just as we got to this part of the race.

Next we took the walkway along the water towards the Boardwalk area.  This is a narrow sidewalk!  We were able to keep running, but there was quite a bit of congestion.  Dave and Anne told us later than when they reached this part of the course it was so crowded that no one was able to run at all.  Once we reached the end of this part, we ran through the Beach Club resort area and into Epcot. runDisney - Star Wars 10K Race Recap

At this point, we had reached the mile 5 marker.  We passed the U.K. and Canada pavilions, ran past Spaceship Earth, out into the parking lot and across the finish line.  We got our medals, drinks and snack boxes and headed to the post-race area where we found some nearly-empty bleachers to sit on while we cooled off and munched on our goodies.  Joseph and I both felt surprisingly good!  We were ready to get back to the Grand Floridian to clean up and get on with the fun of being at Walt Disney World!  One race down, one to go.RunDisney - Star Wars 10K Race Recap

Here are the race stats for those of you who like that stuff.  Yes, I held Joseph back, but he insisted that running a race together meant running it together and he didn’t care about his time.  I love that kid!

Finish Time:  1:04:53

Overall Place (We crossed the finish line exactly at the same time, but clocked 5 places different!)

  • Lisa: 1994/10,895
  • Joseph: 1999/10,895

Gender Place

  • Lisa:  577/5,888
  • Joseph:  1,421/5,007

Age Group Place

  • Lisa:  33/397
  • Joseph:  69/195

 

runDisney Race Ready Accessories

If I ever declare bankruptcy, I’m pretty sure the fault will lie squarely with Amazon Prime.  It’s too easy to type in a few search terms and buy, buy, buy!  Recently, I decided to treat myself to a couple of items in time for the Dark Side Challenge.

runDisney Race Ready Accessories

Have you ever noticed how cleverly targeted Facebook ads are?  That’s where I first saw the Running Buddy “Buddy Pouch”.  Not an armband and not a fanny pack, these simple holders are carried at the waist and are attached to the wearer with magnets.  Perfect for runners, Buddy Pouches will hold cell phones, keys, gels, ID, etc.  Quick trip to Amazon and I found the one suited best for me:  The Buddy Pouch 6+.  It’s large enough to hold my iPhone 7 in the charging case.  Reasonably priced at $22.98, I  added it to my cart!

See, this is the thing with Amazon Prime…I have a hard time stopping with just one item.  Next I started thinking about the ear buds I was running with and how annoying they are.  The cord’s always in my way and the pieces that go behind my ears keep falling off.  I started browsing and voila!  I found some Senso ActivBuds wireless headphones with tons of positive ratings.  They come with loads of accessories and I thought $36.97 seemed like a good price.  I added those to my cart, clicked to check out and two days later, my boxes arrived!

To test these new accessories, I wore them both for my last long run (9 miles).  I was worried that the Buddy Pouch would be too weighed down by my phone in the charging case (pretty bulky) – maybe the phone would bounce or make the waistband of my shorts sag or be annoying in some way.  I’m pleased to say that none of that happened.  The Buddy Pouch was so comfortable, I didn’t even notice I was carrying anything.  The fabric on the back of the pouch (that’s worn next to your skin) is smooth and wicks moisture well.  I’m very pleased and would give the Buddy Pouch a 5/5-star rating.The Senso ActivBuds work well, were easy to set up, and provide great sound.  I did have to change the eartips to a smaller size and find the position of the on/off switch and the volume control buttons a bit of a challenge to get used to.  Not having a long, annoying cord connected to my phone is wonderful!  ActivBuds provide up to 8 hours of playback so I don’t have to worry about running out of music.  The pieces that fit behind my ears are very flexible and much more comfortable than what I had before.  The charging accessories and carrying case are also plusses.  I’ve run with them several times now and am happy with the value and performance.  I’d give ActivBuds a 4/5-star rating simply because I don’t like the location of the on/off switch.

I’m ready to run!  In just a few more days, Joseph and I will finally put our hundreds of training miles to the test…Star Wars 10K and Half Marathon, we’re coming for you!!!

 

Enchanted 10k – My First runDisney Event!

Enchanted 10k – My First runDisney Event!

By Nick

My story begins several months ago when my Disney Exchange Podcast co-host Lisa started talking about the Princess Half Marathon Weekend.

Somehow, I was convinced by her and my other co-host Dave that I could walk the Enchanted 10K. I’m not supposed to jog due to a spinal injury suffered as a child, but I was assured that a brisk walking pace would be adequate. I just needed to train to do a 16 minute mile. 6.2 16 minute miles to be precise.

Lisa, Dave and I started talking about the many things we would do during our brief time together. I also agreed to start training. And I did begin to train. 6 weeks before the actual event.

This was a point of concern with my co-hosts. But I had no doubt. Okay, maybe a little.

Within a couple of weeks, however, I was averaging a 14 minute mile, and the week before the actual 10K I walked out the entire 6.2 miles on a treadmill in under an hour and 30 minutes, which really boosted my confidence. Really, I’d actually been losing sleep with thoughts I may not be able to do it!

I arrived at Walt Disney World Thursday, February 18th, a day earlier than Lisa and Dave. I’d mentioned to them my plans to walk 4 miles Thursday and 5 Friday as a warm up to Saturday, and I’m really glad I did because they told me that wasn’t a good idea, and that all the walking around the parks Thursday and Friday would be plenty enough of a warm up! And they were absolutely correct!

After a full day of walking around Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios, I was alarmed when I woke up Friday and had pain in the big toe on my left foot!

At this time I’ll bore you to tears I will very briefly tell you about that spinal injury I mentioned above.

Back in 2006 I started jogging with the intention of doing a Disney marathon. I developed such severe pain in my back and hips my chiropractor sent me for an X-ray. She took one look at it and told me I needed to go to a back specialist immediately. It was a white mass on my spine.
I said “Is that cancer?”
She said “I don’t know.”
Went to the back doctor.
He looked at it and said “I’m sending you for an MRI tomorrow. And when you come in for the results, bring your wife.” 
Me “Is that cancer?” 
Him “I don’t know, I’ve never seen anything like it.” 
Get the MRI. 
Doctor “When did you crack your L5 vertebrae.” 
Me ” When did I do what, now?” 
The only thing I could think of was I had a bicycle accident at 7 when a friend was riding the handlebars and I hit a fence and flipped over and landed hard on my butt. He said that my white blood cells went to town and healed it in a way he’d never seen! It encased it in calcium. 
And it’s inoperable because the scar tissue would potentially be more of an issue. 
It also happens to pinch a major nerve cluster which causes all sorts of fun and exciting random pain in my legs and feet.
Hence the pain in my big toe.

I’ve been dealing with this fairly new addition to my almost lifelong list of random pain on and off for a few months, and knew that stretching would help alleviate the discomfort to some extent. Still, it was more than a little disconcerting to be dealing with this considering the 10K was just a day away!

I soldiered on, and met up with Lisa and Dave at the Health and Fitness Expo at The ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. It was the first time I’d ever seen this area of WDW!


I’d gotten there via bus from the resort. One of my concerns had been about getting around from the Animal Kingdom Lodge to the expo and the race, and I was told there would be signs posted telling me exactly where and when to get a bus. And there absolutely was! Disney makes this very convenient, with the information in the lobby.


Back to the Expo. I met up with Dave and his wife Anne, and they showed me where to go to get my race packet.

We then made our way to the Expo building where we met up with Lisa and her husband Raymond.

This was the first time Lisa, Dave and I had all met!

Raymond, me, Lisa, Dave, and Anne

I picked up my t-shirt, and we spent some time walking around the Expo, before saying good afternoon. 

I then met up with my wife’s cousin Jill and her husband Zach, and friends Ryan and Amber, and spent more time walking around the Expo. This was followed by The Wahlburger Incident, and a full accounting of that can be found here.

I woke up Saturday morning at 2:30am, having gotten about 4 1/2 hours sleep, and since I’d had my alarm set for 3 and was way to anxious to try and sleep any longer, just got up, dressed, and headed to the lobby at about 3:15, where I met with other similarly amped up race participants.

My toe was sore, but not debilitating.

The first bus heading to the starting area arrived promptly at 3:30, and we got to Epcot’s parking lot by 4am.


It was already fairly crowded. I followed the crowd to the corral area, texting Lisa and Dave along the way to try and get their whereabouts, and met up with Dave and Anne while I waited in line for a photo with Belle. Anne was kind enough to join me for a photo.


Lisa came a short time later, and we all headed towards our respective corrals. 


Dave and Lisa were in A, Anne in B, and since this was my first race, and I had no time submitted, I was in E. Dave had volunteered to walk the race out with me, and I told him that was not necessary, I had this, but he was coming down with what would turn out to be a fairly nasty flu, so said walking with me was the preferable option.

At 5:30, corral A started. And we waited. And waited. And… it was 10 minutes between each corral! We didn’t even get to the starting line until 6:13!


I started off at about a 14 minute mile. My legs moving at a pretty quick pace. Dave, being 6 foot something, seemed to take 1 step for every 4 of mine. Within a few minutes we were passing people and Dave said “You know, you don’t really need to even be moving as fast as you are, look around, you are not going to have a problem finishing, and you are going to be at the parks 4 more days, so there is no point in overdoing it.” or something to that effect. 


And he was right! I slowed down. Often, due to bottle necks, we had no choice. It seemed a majority of people were walking. 

The first leg of the 10K is on roads and fairly boring, but then, as daylight was breaking, we entered the backstage area of Epcot

At one point during the walk, I straightened my back, heard a crack, and my toe stopped bothering me all together! Like I said, random weird pain. 

Then we were walking around World Showcase as the sun was rising. It was a beautiful morning. I actually started getting a bit emotional. I was doing it! My first runDisney event!


We walked around the Boardwalk area, and I got even more emotional, wishing for all the world my wife was there with me, as the BW is her favorite resort. 

  Then we were past the Yacht and Beach Club and into more backstage area of Epcot where I will never forget, as we neared mile 6, Katy Perry’s Firework was just starting.

Before long back into Epcot by Imagination, and then, there it was! The finish line!


I’d done it! Dave was a great walking buddy! Thanks again Dave.

I proudly wore my shirt around the parks all day!

A note: some friends have said they would like to do a runDisney event, but they would also be walking it. They have heard that runners look down on walkers. I say “Pft” to these negative naysayers. Any exercise is better than none. And walking 3, 6.2, 13.1 or 26.2 is an accomplishment! I used to let these doubts about walking versus running get to me. Never again!


I am now hooked. I am signed up for runDisney updates. I may not make it back this year for an event, but will most certainly be doing more 10Ks, 5Ks, and, maybe, just maybe a half down the line!

 

You can follow Nick, his wife Barbie, and friends on all their Disney adventures:  Disney Musings Blog, on Twitter, on Facebook, On Instagram, On Pinterest.  You can listen to Nick, our friend Dave and me on The Disney Exchange Podcast where we talk about all things Disney.