Sunday, December 30, 2012

Central Market - Lancaster, PA

We are on the road right now heading back to Illinois. Just spent most of the first 90 minutes of the expected 12 hour trip going through snow. Looks good right now though.

While out east we spent a little time at Lancaster's Central Market. It's just what it sounds like - a market in the center of town. It's in a old building and houses various stalls with vendors selling everything from produce to meat to candles to baked goods. It's also next to a microbrewery. Win-win. Here's a quick video tour:


Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Tizzel's Christmas Countdown - Christmas!

We've made it! For our final installment of this year's countdown we've found a soldier's homecoming for the holidays. Let's hope there's thousands more videos like this one created today.

Merry Christmas!

Day 8 - Christmas Homecoming

Monday, December 24, 2012

Tizzel's Christmas Countdown - Christmas Eve

Since it's Christmas Eve we thought we'd take a look at how Santa prepares for the evening - Eighty years ago. Santa's Workshop was released December 10, 1932. Disney Fans - keep your eyes open for the hidden Mickey.

Day 7 - Santa's Workshop

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Tizzel's Christmas Countdown - Day 6

One of the great things about YouTube is it gives musicians and artists a place to share their work and talent. You can find lots of folks interpreting the classics, or maybe creating the classic of the future. Our first video features 3 guys that never met in-person singing together. The second video actually teaches you how to play a song on the ukulele. The third song is aiming for "Grandma Got Runover......" fame.

Day 6 - Christmas Songs on YouTube

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Tizzel's Christmas Countdown - Day 5

Being children of the seventies we've grown up with Sesame Street. Grover getting the best of the blue guy has to be one of tv's longest rivalries ("waiter there's a fly in my soup"). When stringed together these scenes make little sense (the theme may have been a wish to have Christmas every day) so think of each break as the start of a new Christmas.

Day 5 - Grover's Christmas Trees

Friday, December 21, 2012

Tizzel's Christmas Countdown - Day 4

What's Christmas without toy? Ask Donald...In this 1949 Donald Duck cartoon we find Chip and Dale gaining entry into Donald's house to steal his snacks. A battle with toy weapons breaks out. Can't say the chipmunks are in-the-right, but it's still a fun watch. Trivia: this cartoon lost the Oscar for best short to a Pepe Le Pew cartoon.

Day 4 - Toy Tinkers

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Tizzel's Christmas Countdown - Day 3

Do you like Christmas lights? Do you like music? Do you like them together? Here's two samplings of holiday houses tricked out. The first video is of the Holdman House. They seemed to get a lot of national publicity over the past couple of years. The second video....Tizzel picked it, enough said.

Day 3 - Holiday House Lights

Monday, December 17, 2012

Tizzel's Christmas Countdown - Day 2

We've recently found this theme on YouTube and it's hilarious. Here's two for today's enjoyment (one with an unexpected outcome).

Day 2 - Hey Jimmy Kimmel, We Gave our Kids Terrible Christmas Gifts


Tizzel's Christmas Countdown - Day 1

With the holidays upon us we at thought we'd give you a little relax time by the fireplace. For the next eight days we'll be posting fun Christmas-related videos. Think of it as a "home-stretch Advent Calendar". We may also have some regular posts too, so don't forget to keep checking back.

Day 1 - Dino the Dinosaur's Christmas Tree


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Chicago Santa Hustle 5K Race Report and Video

On December 1st we joined about 8,000 others in the Santa Hustle 5K. The race start/finish and after-party location was the south side of Soldier Field. What makes this 5K unique is your race shirt is a tech shirt made to look like Santa's outfit and comes with a Santa hat and beard. Participants are encouraged to wear these items for the race. Another unique feature was the offering of cookies and candy along the course.

December in Chicago can equate to grey skies, nasty winds, snow, and freezing temperatures. Luckily, we experienced sun and temps in the 40's.

The pre-race area had lots of giant inflatable balloons: snowmen, reindeer, and Santas. Also on display were two reindeer. There was a sleigh somewhere for photo opps but we didn't use it.

We're not "joiners", but we're also not hipsters either, so doing a race with a dress code was a bit out of our element. We have to admit..... It was pretty cool to see everyone dressed similar or in-theme. Dave had a better beard than Holly, but both of us were spitting out the loose whiskers all morning.  Don't eat with this thing on.

Corralling was setup for paces from 6.5 minute miles up through 13 minute miles. Corrals were self-seeding and corrals crossed the start a few minutes apart. Nice feature: rows of porta-potties in the corrals. The course would head south: through the McCormick Place Tunnel, then follow Lake Shore Drive down, and come back north on the lake shore path.

We lined up in the 11 minute/mile corral, which was not the appropriate place for Dave - he should have been back further. But we found out very quickly that most folks were treating this as a fun/family run so many people in our corral were strolling. Once we entered the McCormick Place Tunnel we lost our satellite signals (this fact becomes important later) on our GPS watches - which is common. Once we emerged from the tunnel we were in full-sun and near mile marker 1 and the cookie station.

The turnaround took us onto the lake shore path. At the turn around you had a water/Gatorade station. This is where the course narrowed substantially. There were lots of folks walking in groups of two+ across with groups overlapping each other - so we were weaving quite a bit.  A bit further up was Mile marker 2 and the candy station. We were handed decent-sized cups of mini M&M's.

The rest of the course finished up along the lake. We passed bythe prairie restoration area, McCormick Place, and Burnham Harbor. The finish line chute was stocked with waters, candy canes, bananas, and granola bars. Back in the runner's village there was a self-serve area with milk and cookies.

Dave thought he got a 3+ minute PR by walking the course in just under 40 minutes. We're not quite sure the course was a true 3.1 miles long. Our Garmins showed us 2.86 miles, but maybe they didn't compensate for the McCormick Tunnel. Dave was a little skeptical when he hit the 2 mile mark at 26:40. We checked the Facebook Page for the race and found other people had the same comments, but then other folks said their devices registered 3.1 miles or more. ASM posted this notice on the race page:

Oh well..... We had a fun time at the race and would consider doing it again. We attended one of the after-parties held at several pubs in the city. It was kind of fun to be in a bar with everyone still dressed as Santa.

Check out our video from the race below:

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Spectating the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend Races

Dave was a guest on Episode 20 of The Mickey Miles Podcast talking about spectating the 5K, Half Marathon, and Marathon races held at Walt Disney World each January. We thought this would be a good opportunity to pull some of Team Tizzel's resources together to show you what the spectators see and give you some tips if you are going down to the races next month. Also, be sure to check RunDisney's website for more information.

General tips:

  • The races start very early in the morning. Be prepared for 3am or earlier wake-up calls.
  • All three races start in Epcot's parking lot. Road closures make getting around difficult. If you are staying off-site plan to leave your hotel extremely early. If you are staying on site take the buses from the resorts to the start lines or leave your hotel by 3:45am if driving yourself (5K departures can be around 5am) . Monorail resort spectators have the option of going straight to the Magic Kingdom via Monorail or walking from The Contemporary Resort.
  • Make sure you have supplies on-hand that your runner may need along the way.
  • Make sure you have everything you need to be comfortable. As a spectator you will log a couple of miles walking from place-to-place. Use the bathroom as soon as you get to your spectating area and get snacks and beverages ahead of time.
  • Be visible. Have a balloon, bright shirt, anything so you stand out.
  • Keep in contact with your runner and share your general spectating plan with them. It's easier for them to see you rather than for you to spot your runner.
  • All parks except the Magic Kingdom require admission to watch the race within the park. The finish line is in the parking lot of Epcot so no admission required.
  • Have your post-race meeting area picked out. There's a family reunion area after the finish line with signs for all the letters of the alphabet - ideally to match your last name.
  • As RunDisney improves the race experience changes may occur each year. Some of the advice we give here may not be valid come this year's race weekend.

  • The 5K has only two possible spectating areas. The first one is just passed the start line. The second one is right before the finish line. To get to the finish line spectating area you would follow the bleacher line away from the finish to an area that has a clear view of the course and Spaceship Earth.
  • This video from the 2012 race will give you an idea of where both locations are. Note you will see folks standing in the area in front of the start line in the video, but they are 5Kers waiting to get into the corral for the next heat. You want to be beyond that area and race announcer Rudy Novotny.

Half Marathon

  • Most people want to see this race in the Magic Kingdom and the finish line at Epcot. This is easy to accomplish for folks following the average Disney race runner. It's difficult to do for folks with fast times (under nine minutes per mile).
  • Our base spectating plan is to leave Epcot around 4:30am and start walking to the Epcot Monorail. From there you will transfer at the Transportation and Ticket Center to the Resort/Magic Kingdom Monorail.
  • The Magic Kingdom does not open until 5:30 (based on prior years) and the Monorail will not stop there until that time. Best bets are to keep doing laps or get off at The Contemporary and walk. At the Contemporary you can get a real cup of coffee at the lobby coffee stand (and some sweets) or get other portable breakfast items from Contempo Cafe.
  • At the Magic Kingdom we suggest not standing with your back to the Emporium or Casey's. The course is narrow and your line of sight is limited. We suggest the corner of the Emporium with you back to the train station, or anywhere from the 6'oclock position of the hub (the direction Walt and Mickey face) up to the Tommorowland Bridge. Note: the hub is a coveted spot so get there on time.
  • Once your runner passes you may have time to make it to the front of the castle (access point is by Tomorrowland Bridge) for a picture of them running out of the castle.
  • Head back to the Monorail and over to the Transportation and Ticket Center. Transfer to the Epcot Monorail. Lines will be longer this morning than normal. They do a good job of getting everyone over to Epcot quickly.
  • If you think you can....head to the right after getting off the Monorail to watch your runner enter Epcot at Mile 12. After that you should then have enough time to walk quickly to the bleachers at the finish line area.
  • This video from the 2012 Half will show you a view from Magic Kingdom, mile 11/12 before entering Epcot, and the finish. The Castle shot is seen in the Marathon video in the next section.


  • Everything mentioned for the Half applies to the Full Marathon as well. One change this year is the fact that the Marathon course follows the Half course for the first 8 miles. Last year runners got to the Magic Kingdom around mile 10 Marathon Day. In 2013 they get there at mile 5.3. This means the spectator has about 20 miles of race time to kill until the finish. If you follow the Magic Kingdom-Epcot strategy you should have time for breakfast at the Polynesian Resort and then take a walk over to the Transportation and Ticket Center to get the Epcot Monorail.
  • Alternatives to the Magic Kingdom-Epcot Strategy:
    • After leaving the Magic Kingdom go over to The Contemporary and catch a bus to Animal Kingdom. Depending on your runner's pace you may see them around mile 13/14. You can then take a bus to Epcot.
    • The Studios have Extra Magic Hours for resort guests and opens at 8am. Make your way over there to watch the race. If you see your runner in The Studios or along the Epcot resort path area you will not see them finish.
    • Spend some time in Epcot when it opens at 9am. You should have time to shop and get a snack before having to make it to the finish area.
    • Watch the final mile of the race from World Showcase. If you do you won't see the finish. Here's a pro-tip: Watch your runner enter Epcot at the UK Pavilion then head towards Canada and the World Showcase Promenade area to see them again.
    • There are points near the Monorail Resorts and Epcot Resorts to watch the race without entering the parks.
    • There are other parts around the course that require a little work to get to, but allow you to camp out and see the runners twice without moving. Miles 16/21 and 17/20. You may have to walk quite a distance to get to these areas (with no bathrooms around).
  • This video from 2011 shows the Magic Kingdom-Epcot strategy. In this case we take some video at the Castle and watch runners enter Epcot in the UK, then again as they enter Future World.

Hopefully this crash course in spectating Marathon Weekend has been helpful. We want to make sure you have a great time at the RunDisney events. If have any questions you can ask Dave via email, or post a comment in the section below.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Jamaica - Ocho Rios 2012

We're back in chilly Illinois after a very nice week in Ocho Rios, Jamaica. We stayed at Sandals Royal Plantation, which is a couples-only resort we've been to several times over the last 11 years. This is one of the smaller hotels in the Sandals chain with only 70+ rooms, but offers superior food and service over the other properties. You also have access to one of the largest Sandals properties, Grande Riviera, which is a quick walk down the beach (but Grande Riviera guests can't access Royal Plantation). This gives you all the activities, dining options, and privacy you want.

When we arrive in Jamaica we always have grandiose plans of taking a few tours - and Ocho Rios is a great town for a lot of nature-based tours. But then we settle in on the beach and don't go anywhere. We only left property once - and that was by catamaran from the resort. It only really counts because we docked for a half hour at Dunn's River Falls to let a seasick lady off the boat. We did actually go to the spa twice. Both treatments were couple's massages where we were in the same room together. The first massage was a basic massage, but the second one involved hot lava shells. Nice.

Cocktail Hour favorites: Cosmos and baked coconut slivers
Our dining experiences included room service breakfast most mornings, Japanese cook-in-front-of-you, lobster BLTs, great fresh fish, and really good jerk pork at lunch. This particular week there were many Europeans at the resort and they were excited to try the traditional Thanksgiving buffet the hotel offered. We ate seafood that night.

We'll note that one of our new cameras had a really easy to use panorama feature so expect to see more of those style photos in future posts. We lost one camera on this trip. Dave gave Holly the underwater camera while Paddle Boarding and she dropped it into the water while trying to secure it. She didn't know that is didn't float..... Luckily most photos were downloaded to the iPad that morning and we bring backup cameras with us (Learned this on a Disney trip).

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

2012 Chicago Hot Chocolate 5k/15k Video

We filmed a bit at the Hot Chocolate race last month in Chicago. We've had some busy weekends with very little time to edit it into anything meaningful so that's why we're posting it so late. We're updating the race report to include the video as well.

The video covers pre-race, the 5k portion of the course only since Dave was the one working the camera, and the post-race. We spent time with our friend and Team AllEars teammate Laura. The weekend after the Hot Chocolate Laura completed her first half marathon at Walt Disney World's Wine & Dine Event. Wine & Dine is a night race, which adds extra complications beyond a morning race. This past weekend Laura completed her second half marathon. We are very happy for her.


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Treadmills in the Tropics

Dave here...

For several years Holly's marathon training cycles have overlapped with our vacations to all-inclusive resorts. This means alarms go off at 5:30AM so she can head over to the small gyms at these resorts before other people start to show up. This sort of activity seemed nuts to me.

Unfortunately I've had to join her this year. Now my half marathon training session conflicts with vacation. Luckily my distance requirements are shorter and I am not required to hit the gym as many times as she has to.

I've learned some new things from getting up early and exercising on vacation:

  • It's pretty this time of morning
  • The ocean is a a little cooler this early, but still pleasant
  • On your way back from the gym you can grab chocolate croissants from the buffet
  • Time on the treadmill can temporarily relieve your hangover - temporarily is the key word
It hasn't been the vacation-killer I thought it would be, but I don't see it happening for me on future trips either.


Sunday, November 18, 2012

Bob Marley's Grave

Jamaica is one of our favorite vacation destinations. Limited flight hassle from Chicago, great hotels, fantastic food, beautiful and diverse landscape, influential culture, and the friendliest people you've ever met. Since we are in Jamaica now, we thought we'd share one of our favorite Jamaican adventures.

We first visited Royal Plantation in Ocho Rios in 2001. At the time it was a newly acquired Sandal's that was still off the radar. Being a smaller hotel there weren't many activities or any crazy all-inclusive resort newlywed games. This gave us time to get to know some of the staff members well. Those relationships continued over repeat visits.

By our third trip to RP (2003) we knew Sibony and Hensley very well. These were two very fun and caring individuals. They asked if we would like them to take us to Bob Marley's grave - about 90 minutes away from our location. Hensley would borrow a friend's car and asked if we could just pay some money, like a rental. At first we were hesitant, not that we didn't trust them, but what was the condition of the car?ow long of a trip is it? But the chance to go see Bob's birthplace and grave with friends could not be passed up.

Since this trip was technically against policy we couldn't talk about it. We did tell one other couple our in itinerary and to call out a search party if we weren't back by dinner. We walked off-property to the craft market across the street to be picked up in the older model small Nissan. We stopped at a nearby gas station while another staff-friend, Dave, saw us in the backseat with his coworkers. He just gave us that look of "what the hell are you up to."

We didn't realize that our tour would start in Fern Gully. This is a 9+ mile stretch right outside of Ocho Rios where you drive through a forest of giant ferns. We've never seen anything like it. If you are visiting Ochie, you could probably hire a cab for an hour to give you a tour - worth it. As we kept driving, we just kept our faces glued to the windows. This was our first time in the interior of the country. It was very pretty.

About an hour into the trip the car overheats. Luckily, this occurs in a small town. Within a few short minutes we had several people come over to help with water. This would never happen in America. Dave kinda remembers talking to one of the men, telling that guy would not happen at home, and the man replied that they had to help us as guests to their town and to their country. After a bit more time we were off and shortly arrived at Bob's grave. Hensley stayed outside, partly to watch the car, but we think also because he was not very fond of all the "Rastafarians" hanging around. That statement is in quotes because we think some of them were posers just so they could smoke in public. Bob's grave is one place where smoking for locals was tolerated.

So into the complex we go with Siboney. He was a great escort given his size. When we would get a barrage of offers to buy weed he'd wave them off and that was the end of the story.

Bob's grave is up in the mountains and has a great view of the surrounding countryside. We did talk to one or two legitimate rastas while on the property and heard stories about their customs and why Bob Marley was so important to them.


I think Siboney was more excited than we were to be there. There were so many points he wanted to stop and have his picture taken. At first we thought this was odd since he had been there before, but then we realized he didn't own a camera. So we snapped away...

Top: Bob's birthplace kitchen Bottom: chair inside the home
Once we were done with our tour we met back up with Hensley and took off back down the mountain. The car stero was playing some ol'its or "old hits" ska and rocksteady. That's when the police pulled us over. Uh oh, Babylon! Apparently two obvious tourists in the car with folks that look like locals leaving Bob Marley's grave is just-cause. We knew we shouldn't worry, but Hensley had time to run an errand...... They approached the vehicle with assault rifles in-tow. Our friends talked to the police in high-speed patois and we were eventually asked to get out of the car. They did a quick check and sent us back on our way. As suspected, a scenario like ours is usually suspicious. Our friends told the cops "not these people" and that seemed to work. On our way back to Ochie we stopped in Siboney's village and saw his soccer field - which was the cow pasture, with a view of the sea.

We were delivered around the corner from our hotel safe-and-sound. As we walked around property the rest of the day the staff asked us how we enjoyed our trip. Seemed like everyone knew our secret.

We're back at Royal Plantation this week. A lot of things are the same, but Hensley and Siboney are long gone. Working elsewhere around the island. Maybe the coconut telegraph can help us find them so we can meet up for drinks?


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Costume Party

Leave it to us to come up with an idea for a Halloween post two weeks late.

One year we decided to put our dog Rufus in a Halloween costume. It gave us a good laugh and we've kept up the tradition. The poor dog has to tolerate it just long enough for pictures and the walk around the neighborhood in hopes of entertaining the neighbors. Many of these photos are hanging in Dave's office. The disguises are so good people often ask how many dogs we have.

These were actually pretty decent costumes. He was ok with the pirate hat and put-up long enough with the Darth Vader helmet.

The dinosaur outfit was a train wreck for him. The head kept falling down so he couldn't see. At one point he bumped his head into the coffee table.

The bee outfit worked out well. He was kind of neutral on the monkey outfit.

Both of these outfits were the same year. Both were just too funny to pass up. We like the guy's face in the submarine porthole.

Last year we went with the jockey and this year the hot dog. We can't get him to sit still anymore like he did in the first photos.