Monday, February 25, 2013

GoPro on the Beach Video Edition

Dave here.....

A couple days ago I posted about using my GoPro Hero3 Black Edition for photos. Overall I was happy with my results.

I finally had time to edit the video. Quality was great, but the audio (especially in the waterproof casing) was horrible. I was also surprised at how shaky it was while walking. I shot everything in 1080p/30fps (frames per second), but processed it at 720p. After doing some more research I think I will play around with fps rates to do more slow motion work.



Wednesday, February 20, 2013

GoPro on the Beach

Dave here.....

One of the gifts Holly gave me for completing the Coast to Coast Challenge was the latest GoPro camera - Hero3 Black Edition. It's a real small sports camera that comes with waterproof housing, a remote, and a bunch of other things you screw it into that I haven't figured out yet. The camera has its own built-in wi-fi, which is how the remote works, or you can control it with your i-device. There's no viewfinder or display screen so the camera on its own doesn't give you feedback (you can buy an attachment or use the iPhone app).

Here's why I wanted a GoPro: 1) it's tiny 2) takes wide angle videos and photos 3) takes rapid photos at 30 fps 4) takes interval photos - like 1 every 5 seconds 5) you can wear it on your head. I did number 5 during the Never Land 5k. Battery life is advertised at over 2 hours. I can't get any more than 45 minutes. The wi-fi sucks a lot of battery. One other watch out - when you put it in the water casing it forces on the wi-fi automatically. I took it out one day to find my fully charged battery was dead. Still need to read more on these topics and find more tips.

I had a week to play with the camera on Jost Van Dyke in the British Virgin Islands. I haven't edited any video yet (why blow it all in one post?) but here's a sample of the photography:

These photos were taken from the same place. The top photo was taken with no zoom using my Pentax Optio WG-2. The bottom photo was taken with the GoPro - which has a set focal length.




We're going to need a bigger iPad..... These are interval photos I shot one night - 1 shot per 5 seconds. I plan to import these into iMovie to make a timelapse video.








This is Just one of those photos.




Not sure about this but I think the angle you hold the camera determines how wide the point of view angle becomes. On the top photo you can see the chairs are about 3-4 chair lengths to the water. Those same chairs look really far in the bottom photo.




I was sitting on a barstool and just held the camera up with my arm.



No flash. Gotta think about backlight.














There's lots more to learn. Overall, there is a lot of technology packed into this little thing. It will never replace a conventional camera in my bag, but it's a great extra to have along for those fun shots and videos.

Here are some of my favorites (with some "ugly" ones included at the end):



Thursday, February 14, 2013

Ducks of Jost Van Dyke

We're on vacation this week in The British Virgin Islands. Specifically, the small island of Jost Van Dyke. We have been coming here for many years so we are used to the way things work around here. This year we did see something new.

There's a salt pond on White Bay, just a little off the beach. There have always been ducks in the pond. Now, it seems like there are more. There are white farm ducks, mallards, some strange black and white ones, etc. For some reason these ducks have started taking trips to the beach and grabbing food from the Caribbean Sea.

White Bay from the top of the hill and the bathing area of choice for the ducks.

Luckily, Dave was out early this morning and caught a few of them just finishing up their morning excursion.


Saturday, February 9, 2013

My First Half Marathons

Dave here.....

I wanted to give my honest opinions on doing my first two distance races. Before tackling two half marathons in 8 days the longest distance I've covered in a race was 10k (6.2 miles), and that was with a very relaxed pace of 16+ minutes a mile.

This is going to be long post. If you don't stick through it, I understand (I'll highlight the important bits). So I wanted to put this statement upfront in case you didn't make it through: If you followed me on Facebook there were times towards the end of training I was very negative about all this. I would say 80% of that related to weather or early morning training outings. The training and races were truly not the negative experiences I may have made them out to be. If a half marathon is something you want to try then go for it. I am happy I took this challenge on.

Background; I'm a heart patient. I had open heart surgery a few months before I turned 3 years old. Everything went fine, but my doctors and parents were very cautious so I never played any organized sports, thus never developed an interest in sports. With no interest in sports, exercise wasn't interesting either.

Early 2010 and my first Disney race

Approaching age 40 I was a shade over 200 lbs and decided to lose weight. I dropped to the mid 170's within a few months and was feeling good about it. One time I had a bad dizzy spell after a workout so I consulted with my doctor. That resulted in a stress test, a visit to a congenital specialist, brain MRI, and 30 days of heart monitoring. We ended up postponing a big trip to Peru due to the monitoring. After all that we found out I needed a new pulmonary valve. So we spent the next few months planning for another open heart surgery. After surgery and recovery there were many followups, stress tests, MRIs, etc. In the end the doctor said all was great. I was told to keep up the exercise and watch my heart rate while doing so (no higher than 85% max). My congenital cardiologist told me I had no more limitations. Hearing this for the first time ever felt great.

So I kinda felt the need to commemorate that news. Having an athletic wife and over 100 running friends led me in the direction of tackling a distance race. I knew from watching Holly I'd have no patience for marathon training or being out on a course for over 6 hours. So the half marathon seemed a reasonable choice. Doing my first half on Marathon Weekend at Disney World with my friends on Team AllEars seemed to make the most sense.

Many runDisney racers are motivated initially by the medal. I am one of those folks. But I wasn't going to be satisfied with just the Donald medal. If this was my one-and-only time doing this I wanted the Coast to Coast medal. So that meant I had to do a second half marathon in Disneyland the same calendar year. Since Holly hadn't done the Tinker Bell Half, and We had some plans in-mind for Labor Day (when Disneyland's other half marathon is), it looked like we were going to California the week after going to Florida. At least I'd only have to train once.

Training: My official training program started in early October. Before that my gym regiment was focused around 3-4 miles a visit either on an eliptical, indoor track, or outside. Usually I work out at my office (we have a nice gym), but during the summer Holly encouraged me to add Saturday training sessions so I would get used to weekends as part of the training. I was on a modified Hal Higdon Novice 1. That put me in the gym Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday at home for long run days. The most I did during the work week was 5.5 miles (72 laps on the track) and 10 miles for the long run. What I didn't like about training was I could not play with the schedule. If Friday was meeting-free I couldn't change up my days. Cutting down how many beers I could have on a Friday to prep for Saturday was also making me grumpy at first, but I adjusted after a few weeks in.

There we're times I thought this was the dumbest thing I ever tried. Over Christmas break I had to do 6 miles in hilly Pennsylvania. I swear it was uphill both ways, 20 degrees, and 20 mph wind gusts. Nuts. A few days later I was to do 5 miles - while freezing rain came down and roads were iced over. Luckily I saw Holly doing her run along my route and she told me to pull the plug. I covered 17 miles on a treadmill in Jamaica over the course of a week. Who does this on vacation? Events like this led me to coin the phrase "done with this nonsense". But there were good training days too......

Since before I started on this path I was getting nasty shin splints. Started in by mile one and cleared out by mile 4. As I got into the longer outings I planned out a pacing method using different music genres. The first part of the outing would be set to lover's rock and Jamaican oldies. Slower stuff to remind me to keep around a 14:20 or so minute a mile walking pace. The back half of the outing would be set to fun 80's songs and today's dance hits. With this plan in-place I was averaging around 13:50 minute per mile walking pace for the entire outing.

On the other side of the camera

Race Day - WDW: that morning we were with all our Team AllEars friends waiting to start the race. Everyone kept asking me if I was excited, nervous, etc..... Gotta say this was probably the most emotionally neutral I have ever been. Hanging out with my friends before the race was a lot of fun. I enjoyed being on the other side of the camera for the team picture this year. But I can't say I was yet feeling anything about the actual race itself.

To occupy myself, and to keep true to being a documentarian, I filmed along the race course. That was lots of fun. I looked for friends, talked to strangers, peed off the side of the road at Disney. Good stuff! I never stopped for a character photo. I was too motivated to avoid the sweep and get an official time under 3.5 hours to be sure I would meet the Coast to Coast requirements. I finished at 3 hours 12 minutes.

I enjoyed going through the Magic Kingdom with Holly (whom adjusted her pace to do this) and our friend Dan. I had fun watching other racers enjoy themselves. Holly was kind enough to lollygag a bit at the end of the course so we could go through Epcot and cross the finish line together. There were good friends waiting to see us at the finish as well as a big group from the team. I really believed a week before the race I'd get teary-eyed (or worse) at the finish. I get misty when someone wins a car on Price is Right, why wouldn't this make me cry? Nothing..... The only thing I come back to is that this was only one step to completing the goal - I still had Tinker Bell to get through so I could get my Coast to Coast medal.

Race Day - Disneyland: I was still sick from my WDW trip and walked about 14 miles the day before. Definitely wasn't as confident starting the morning out as i was the week before. After Mile 1 we were in theme parks and Downtown Disney until close to Mile 6. Those miles were not as cramped as Disney World so I felt a bit more comfortable. I enjoyed going through the wide city streets of Anaheim and getting a feel for the surrounding area. I was more tired towards the end of the race and my legs were stiff. To make matters worse the heart monitor was not staying on well for the last 3 miles - eventually I took it off and paced my steps in my head. I was certainly happier to see the finish line this day. Finished at 3 hours 4 minutes.

Emotions - about the same as last week. But what made me feel really good was getting marshaled toward the Coast to Coast table and getting my medal. I know for sure I kept admiring it while wearing it more than I did the Donald medal or the Tink medal.

So am I happy I did all this? Yes. Would I do it again? Only for a good reason. That might include getting to see something unique or exclusive on the course, helping another walker maybe take the plunge, or raising a boat-load of money for charity. Did it change me? Yes. I got to prove to myself I could actually do something physical after 40 years of nothing and I think it's opened me up to consider other experiences.

I need to close this in thanking my wife Holly for all the support. She wasn't just dealing with a couch potato - she was also dealing with, and worrying about, a heart patient. It's wasn't easy for me to choose exercising on Saturday morning over playing Assassins' Creed, or hitting a treadmill at 6am on vacation . But she helped get me in the right mindset to do this, and hopefully some other things down the road. Everyone should have a coach like her.



Thursday, February 7, 2013

2013 Disneyland's Tinker Bell Half Marathon Race Report and Video

Sunday January 20th:  This is the last race of Team Tizzel's Coast to Coast Challenge. The Tinker Bell Half Marathon will take us through Disney's California Adventure (DCA), Disneyland, and downtown Anaheim.  The race started at 5:00am.

We decided we could probably sleep in until 3:00am this morning since our hotel was near the start line.   Dave was still feeling sick and he was still pretty tuckered out from yesterday's 5k + 11 more miles of park touring.  This was his second half marathon in a week (Disney World's Half was the week before).  It was also his second half marathon ever.

Staying at the Grand California was ideal for this race, except for the fact that we were conservative in our route to get to Runner's Village.  We were meeting friend's at 4:00am in the village and we weren't sure if we could go out our main hotel entrance, which was located by the corral/start line, and cross the corrals to the meet-up.  Instead we went through the Downtown Disney door and walked around to the Disneyland Hotel and the meet-up area. Runner's Village was much smaller, and less crowded, than Disney World's Village.   The Tinker Bell Half is about 1/2 the size of WDW's Half Marathon with about 13,000 runners - most of them women.
reposted from

We corralled up around 4:20 and hung out with our friend Jill and her friend Tonia.  We must have been chatting the whole time or paying attention to the pre-show since we have no video or many pre-race pictures.   We were in Corral C, which was the first corral men could be in (unless you are celebrity Sean Astin).  The only fireworks that went off were for the "rockets red glare" and closing of the National Anthem.

Holly and Dave parted ways at the start line.  The course took us north towards the parking garages and exited property following Ball Road to Harbor Blvd.  The streets of Anaheim were wide allowing for some nice personal space.  Mile Marker One was cruelly placed half way up the incline of the I-5 overpass.  We entered California Adventure's backstage and made our way towards Tower of Terror and Buena Vista Street.  At mile 1.5 (by the Animation Academy) Dave said hi to Olympian/ RunDisney Coach Jeff Galloway, then peeled off into the bathroom.   We went through CarsLand and moved towards the popular photo stop of  the World of Color Fountains.
Holly took this really nice photo
We left DCA through the main gates and crossed the esplanade to Disneyland.  We got onto Main Street and saw a Mary Poppins photo opp and one with Tinker Bell up on a float with Hook and Smee underneath.  There was some more crossing in-and-out of backstage through Disneyland. Doing the 5k the day before made this part of the race less interesting than it would have been normally.   Dave never stopped for a character picture, but Holly stopped for just about each one.  There were plenty of them in Disneyland - Darth Vader, Clarabelle, Merida, Peter Pan, Aurora...... Dave didn't notice Holly on line for Rapunzel in Fantasyland because he was distracted by the awesomeness of Christmas Small World.  It took the help of other people in line to get his attention.

Cast Members weren't really good at taking pictures
We left the park via backstage and headed through Downtown Disney then turned right at ESPN Zone.  Near the Disneyland Hotel were about 5 bus loads of Red Hat Ladies cheering on the runners.  They were having lots of fun.  As we came near the parking garages for the second time we turned left to head onto Walnut after Mile Marker 6.  Holly caught up to Dave around mile 6.5.  We chatted for a minute, then she took off.   We crossed another overpass into an older neighborhood.  Crowd support and entertainment was sparse, but it was interesting to be out of the parks and see the surrounding area.  The roads were nice and wide from this point up until we made it back to property before the mile 12 mark.

The rest of the off-property course took us through some other neighborhoods, the downtown business district, and by city hall.  Overall nothing remarkable, but still enjoyable to see what the surrounding area was like.  We came back to property through the backstage of DCA, this time rounding around the backside of Cars Land and Paradise Pier.   The sprint to the finish line included one hairpin turn in an auxiliary Downtown Disney parking lot.

For participating in the Coast to Coast Challenge we were given wristbands at the race expo.  Once we crossed the finish line and received our Tinker Bell medals we were directed to the Coast to Coast table where we traded in the wristband for the medal.  A RunDisney person said about 500 people were Coast to Coasting that day.   Next up were the bottles of water, Powerade, bananas, space blankets, and RunDisney snack boxes.  It took considerably less time to exit the chute here than it did in Disney World.

Dave found Holly pretty easily.  She finished in 2:57 and Dave did 3:04.  We were both pretty spent.  At one point on the course Dave stopped to fix his heart monitor and found it hard to start moving again.  The walk back to the hotel was a slow one.  On the way stopped off at the hotel snack bar for a few breakfast items and beers.

Overall it was a nice race.  The temperature was in favor of the runners - not getting higher than the 60's while on-course.  It was a good mix of park and local scenery.   If asked, we both preferred Tinker Bell's course to WDW's Half. 

Having the Coast to Coast medals made us rockstars. Folks who were in-the-know we're impressed we took this on in one week.  Others were curious Disney fans that never saw a medal with Walt and Mickey.

Below is our race video (
Sorry if the video starts abruptly. We were distracted at the beginning of the race and didn't film any of the start), course map, and full collection of medals. In addition to Disney medals we also received Team AllEars medal.  We also covered the weekend for the Mickey Miles Podcast via twitter and we were guests on Episode 37 if you'd like to give it a listen.

Dave's collection on the left, Holly's on the right

Stay tuned for more posts on Dave's post on his first/second big race experiences and on the non-race portions of our trips.