Thursday, August 30, 2012

Off to Oregon

It's almost September which means it's time to leave the summer fun of Illinois behind and open a new race season for Holly. Her next race is the Sunriver Marathon in Sunriver, Oregon. The race takes place around the Sunriver Resort and neighboring community.

Since this is our first time to Oregon we decided to spend a few days in the area and take in some sights. We are landing in Portland late so there will only be time to check-in, grab a snack at a nearby microbrewery, then head to bed. The next morning we have a 3.5 hour drive to The city of Bend in Central Oregon.

Bend has been described as "The New Boulder". Lots of great local businesses, an environmental focus, and great outdoor activities. It's also a very beer-focused city (surprised we're going here?) and to learn more about their 10+ breweries in the area we are taking The Bend Brew Bus Tour. We're getting picked up at our hotel, the Old St. Francis, that is attached to a microbrewery!

We're spending the rest of our trip at the Sunriver Resort, which is a half hour from Bend. We'll do some biking, drive to some local nature things (lots of State Parks), and do a few more things in Bend. We need to get our passports stamped at all the stops on the Bend Ale Trail. We have plans to do some Stand Up Paddleboarding along the river. Thanks to, we've lined up a free fly fishing course. There's about a 90% chance Dave gets a hook stuck in his finger and a 95% chance he'll tangle the line beyond repair.

So get ready for a race report, food and drink reports, ugly photos (and some good ones too), and some fun over the next few weeks!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Chain Livin': Blarney Island

One good thing about living in a "summer home" area is the fact that there are places catering to folks who want to have a good time. Summer is short in these parts so we take advantage of it every way we can. One place to definitely have a good time is Blarney Island

As the name implies, this bar is on an island in the middle of Grass Lake in Antioch, IL. We're not sure if there's much physical land left to the island, but it's a good size thanks to all the decking and docks built around it. You can get there on your own boat, or take the Blarney Island Shuttle from their sister mainland restaurant, The Port o' Blarney. It's only open from May until Early-October.

Photo borrowed from the Lake County History Blog
Originally, the island was built as a small fishing resort In 1906 under a different name. Visitors were also drawn to the area by the big beds of lotus blossoms. "The Island" at one point used to be connected to land, but when the dam went in downriver, Grass Lake rose and left the rest of the property as an island. You can read more at the Lake County History Blog and see some other great photos.

Lotus blossoms today
Nowadays it's a party destination. There are several themed weekends like "Key West Fest", Parrotheads, Blarney Gras, and 80's. There are some night parties like New Year's Eve, Pirates, and Pimps and Hos. We've never been to that last party, but we've seen some revelers at The Port and they really fit the theme. Thursday nights they host drag races. Hundreds of boats come out and anchor to watch the action. The last weekend of the season is the Drink Us Dry Party. Why lug it all back?

Bead tossing during Blarney Gras
Blarney Gras is the biggest weekend. The bands are a bit better than usual and during parts of the event they throw beads from the roof. Sometimes body parts are revealed. According to their marketing Blarney Island is "The Key West of the Midwest" and "A Mile Away from Reality". No wonder people feel safe throwing their inhibitions.

Top:  The Island about ten years ago.  Below:  More recent picture.
Bonus if you can find Dave
We've seen changes over the last ten years. Food used to come from a small BBQ grill and be limited to burgers and brats. Today they have a full kitchen and serve a fine chicken sandwich and the best chicken tenders around. Beer was Bud or Miller. Then Bud had exclusivity for seven years (known in our house as "The Dark Days"). Now MillerCoors has exclusivity! The main floor used to be one one level with picnic tables. Now it's nicely tiered and we have pub tables. There's over 350 boat slips and a helipad. 

What makes Blarney Island fun for us is the people-watching and live music as early as 2pm on the weekends. You see everything here: bachelorette parties, expensive boats, young folks partying hard, and some bad dancing. For some that grew up here, the first trip to Blarney as a 21 yr old is a rite of passage. We've been going to Blarney Island for ten years and we still can't believe how entertaining a day here can be.

Here's Blarney Island's promo video.   We are in it toward the end, but you need to look really hard for us.  This was filmed during a Blarney Gras - it's not always this crazy this early!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Coast to Coastin' 2013

RunDisney has a race series that rewards participants with an extra medal. It's called The Coast to Coast Challenge. If a person participates in a Florida RunDisney half or full marathon, and a California RunDisney half marathon in the same calendar year, they get a bonus medal called the Coast to Coast Medal. This special medal features Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse as viewed as the Partner's Statue in Disney Parks. Holly got her first Coast to Coast Medal in 2010. We're both getting one (fingers crossed) in 2013.

And yes, you are correct.... For both of us to get a Coast to Coast medal Dave has to participate in two half marathons. Correct again.... He's never been in a half marathon. He's claiming this will be his first, second, and last half marathons. He's also walking both of them so that alleviates some of the fear.

Here's the plan...

Jan 11th - WDW Family 5K - both

Jan 12th - WDW Half Marathon - both

Jan 13th - WDW Full Marathon - Holly only (finishes Goofy Challenge) Dave will be snacking.

Jan 19th - Disneyland Never Land 5K - both

Jan 20th - Disneyland Tinkerbell Half Marathon - both

5 days of races with 3:00am wake-up calls. That will be a busy ten days. We chose this crazy schedule because Holly's never participated in the Tinkerbell Half plus we didn't want to spend Labor Day Weekend in Disneyland to do their Disneyland Half again. Dave will only have one training cycle vs. two so this plan makes sense. He'll enjoy being one of the few men in the women-focused Tinkerbell Half.

These events are the center of our efforts for raising money to fight breast cancer with Team AllEars. We will be asking for your support again this year. Last year, you helped Team Tizzel contribute about $6,300 to the Team AllEars' total of $70,000+ through our Dress Dave Like Duffy Challenge. We don't have a stunt this year planned since Dave getting through all this and the training will be stunt enough. Got an idea for a stunt and willing to back it with a donation? Add your challenge to the comments section below or send an email.

We will release some milestone videos that might contain a funny or embarrassing moment we've never posted online.  Follow our progress at the Coast to Coast 2013 tab on the top.

Visit our Support Our Fight Against Breast Cancer page to learn how to donate, or just click the button below to go straight to the online donation page.   Be sure to place Team Tizzel in the personal note.

Monday, August 13, 2012

20th Anniversary WDW Mickey Medal Possible Leak

Last week in a "cop-out" post we let you know about a RunDisney Facebook Page promoting the 2013 Marathon Weekend and the special 20th anniversary Marathon Medal. So far, RunDisney has revealed the Half Marathon Medal and the design for the Family 5K Medallion.

Half Marathon Medal

Family Fun Run 5K Medallion

No word yet on The Goofy Challenge Medal (award for doing both the Half and Full Marathon that weekend).

A friend of ours did some snooping and found a post on that has a picture of the what could be the Marathon Medal. This is only rumor, so don't bank on this.....Word is RunDisney may be releasing the official medal design tomorrow. Here's the rumored design:

Rumored 20th Anniversary Medal
Looks like the center spins. We can't wait until the official release......


RunDisney did confirm this is the official medal. Bonus: it's a double spinner. The face and quote ring both spin.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Chain Livin': Touring the Blossoms

"The Chain" was put on the map as a recreation destination over 100 years ago. Busy Chicagoans took the newly expanded train route to Fox Lake in order to find a relaxing distraction from city life. One of the main tourist attractions in the area were the "Egyptian" Lotus Blossoms.

Back in olden tymes people would visit Fox Lake and Antioch to see the famous flowers that only grow in two places around the world: Egypt and The Chain o' Lakes, IL. There are a few pictures and old postcards online showing the blossom tour as a true attraction through the '40's and beyond.

Greetings from Fox Lake, Illinois - Large Letter Postcard
Blossoms in the "K"

The "Egyptian" portion of the blossom is still a common myth today. We thought these flowers really were only here and in Egypt until we researched this post. Cooter's History Thing Blog quotes the 2010 Grant Township (Which Fox Lake is in) Historical Society:
Fox Lake, Illinois', official flower is the very fragrant lemon-colored Egyptian Lotus Flower. At one time, when the Chain of Lakes was much lower and boat traffic much less, huge lotus beds covered parts of the lakes.
Today, there are far fewer, primarily near Crabapple Island where the water is too shallow for boating.
The Chain of Lakes, here in northeastern Illinois, is the only place in the US where they have been found growing in the wild. No one knows for sure why that is.
The Lake County History Blog presents a different story:
The lotus caused quite a tourism sensation from the 1880s to 1940s. Vacationers were drawn by word of their beauty and by the legend. The legend, created out of a combination of naiveté and marketing, stated that the lotus actually originated in Egypt and were brought to Lake County by bird or by an early settler. This myth made for great advertisements and was generally accepted as fact by area residents, but simply wasn’t true. 

The lotus, known as Nelumbo lutea, or American lotus, grow not only in the Chain O’ Lakes, but also in Illinois’ major rivers and lakes and ponds, and shallow water areas throughout the eastern United States.
We checked out wikipedia and it seems pretty clear that Nelumbo lutea is the flower in our lakes. No matter where they are from, they are very pretty and add character to the places they still grow.

With the blossoms in bloom we decided to take a boat ride and take a closer look. Here's a quick video we made from our tour and some pictures.

Some photos were sourced from the Internet for educational purposes. We do not claim the copyrights.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Run Disney and the Great Medal Caper

Find out why Donald was in Chicago and help us find out what the 20th anniversary Walt Disney World Marathon Medal will be. Click here for more details at Facebook (login required).

Also, check out

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Jamaica 50

Unfortunately the biggest party of the year is being overshadowed by The Olympics.

On August 6th Jamaica will be celebrating its 50th anniversary as an independent nation. If you follow any reggae or Jamaican related websites it's pretty hard to miss everyone's enthusiasm. The parties aren't only in Jamaica. The country's influence has sparked a wave of celebrations all over the world. The largest ones will likely be in New York, London, and Toronto - cities with large Jamaican communities. To share in the fun, here are some links to help you learn a little more about Jamaica and get you into the spirit of one of our favorite countries.

  • Visit Jamaica: Once you go, you know. Official Tourism site.
  • How Jamaica Conquered the World: Home of a new podcast about Jamaica's influence outside its boundary. Contains a nice history section.
  • Top 10 Jamaican Stereotypes / 10 Jamaican Myths Busted: Surprise! Most Jamaicans don't smoke ganja.
  • Jamaica 50: Official Anniversary site.
  • Online community and resources. Great place for jerk chicken and shrimp rundown recipes.
  • Reggae Marathon: Since this is kind of a running blog we had to include this site. Holly ran the full and Dave did the 10k in 2011. Here's our report.
  • Check out The Capital of Chill!
  • Reggae Train: Great source for all things reggae.
  • World Reggae Show: Jack Slater gives you an hour of sunshine reggae each week. This is where Dave first learned about artists like Gregory Isaacs, Dennis Brown, John Holt, and many others.
  • Big Up Radio: 24/7 streaming music. Pick your genre: Roots, Rocksteady, Soca.......
To keep in the Olympic spirit, here are a few recent ads for Jamaica with Usain Bolt:

We put a musical tour of Jamaica together for you (may not show up on idevices, which is odd since it's from the itunes widget creator):

Some of our photos from various Jamaica trips.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

2012 Chicago Rock and Roll Half Marathon, 5K, and Video

Here's Holly's recap of the weekend and the Half Marathon:

I was super excited for the 2012 Chicago Rock and Roll Half Marathon weekend. We had a bunch of Team AllEars friends coming into town and knew it would be a great time. The weekend started with the Expo. We got there early and it wasn’t crowded so I was able to do some shopping. I broke a bunch of running rules by wearing a new watch and a new fuel belt on race day. Thankfully they all worked fine.

After the expo we met up with everyone at the Palmer House Hilton where we were all staying. We decided to take a walk up to Dick's Last Resort on the river. It was a nice day, not too warm. After a great lunch we kept walking up Michigan Avenue. Did some shopping and then we all stopped for a cupcake at Sprinkles. Carb loading, right?? By now we were all getting tired of walking and we did have the race tomorrow so we decided it would be better for us to stop for a beer and sit down than to keep on walking. We spent a couple of hours people watching on Rush street at the Cedar Hotel. Then it was off to dinner to meet the rest of our crew. We had dinner at Scoozi and it was very good and reasonably priced. Then it was back to the hotel for the early wake up.

A few of us met in the lobby at 5:30 for the 6:30 start. The Palmer House is a great location for this race as it is 2 blocks or so from the start. We got to the start area and all split up to get in our various corrals. It was warm, humid warm. I was already hot and sweaty just standing in the corrals. Soon we were off. I have done this race 3 times prior so am pretty familiar with the course. I was hoping for a PR, but after seeing the weather report I knew that wasn’t going to happen. I revised my goal to get under 2:30. Did I mention it was humid? I was already soaked by mile 2. I was on pace for the 2:30 until mile 8 or so. It was great seeing Laura, Marybeth and the thing-a-ma-jig at Mile 7. They are always a great pick me up. I ran into Liz at mile 8 and she said she wasn’t feeling well. I can see why, it was so freaking hot! I started slowing down around mile 10 and knew I wasn’t going to hit 2:30. I was ok with that. My legs just didn’t have it. I have been training hard for a marathon Labor Day weekend and I think it took its toll. I’m sure all the walking the day before didn’t help, but that was so much fun it was worth it. I finished in 2:33:13. The Rock and Roll group has the best finish area with icy cold wet towels, popsicles, and Jamba Juice. I met up with Dave and we headed over to the concert area. Enjoyed some beers and the band Cobra Starship. It was a really great weekend with great friends. Can’t wait to do it again.

Here's Dave's recap of the 5K (mini marathon):

As Holly mentioned, we hit the race expo on Saturday morning. I really don't like expos. Usually they are crowded and full of the same stuff row-after-row. Luckily we were early so the crowds were low and snacks easy to get to. Thanks Clif!. While Holly was looking at iFitness belts,I delighted in the antics of Charlie Tuna. Yes, a costumed mascot. As Holly mentioned we had a great time with our friends.

This may have been the biggest race I have been in. 5kers corralled with the halfers and I was in Corral 26 out of 28. Took over 25 minutes to get to the start line. 5kers split right within the first 1/2 mile and stayed on Lower Wacker until almost mile marker one. After that we were on the Lakeshore bike path and some sidewalks in the Grant Park Area. The last .4 miles were back on the streets.

Overall the course was nice. After the start we could all spread out a bit until we hit the narrower path and sidewalks. Lots of kids doing that whole run-then-dead-stop in front of you. The Lake Michigan and skyline views were great. I passed 3 bands along the way. It was super humid! You really felt this in the stretch of Lower Wacker. I walked the whole race in 42:59 with a 13.50 pace. I couldn't possibly hold everything they gave out at the finish line. Had to ditch the popsicle. The benefit to doing the shorter race is more post-race party fun! I got a beer before 8am, listened to the opening band, and took advantage of free wifi in the middle of the park. Lots of fun.

Here's our video from the race. Most of it is pre and post commentary, plus some photos from the 5K, and Cobra Starship snippets.