Saturday, October 31, 2015

2015 New Hampshire Marathon Race Report and Video

Here is Holly's 2015 New Hampshire Marathon Report:

I was very excited to head to New Hampshire for the NH marathon for two reasons. First it was my first new state in 8 months and second I was going to see a bunch of my friends! We got in to NH on Friday afternoon and met up with everyone in Concord. It was great seeing everyone. We headed out to get a pre-dinner beverage and then went to dinner. I am very superstitious when it comes to my pre-race meal and I like to have spaghetti and meatballs. This restaurant had it and many of us ordered it. The waitress came out after a bit and said they had run out of meatballs?!?!?! How can that be possible at 6:30 on a Friday night at an Italian restaurant? We made do with meat sauce and it all worked out in the end.
Race day didn’t have to start too early because the full marathon didn’t start until 9am. That’s a late start for me, I would prefer an earlier start, but we did have a 45 minute drive to the start. The half marathoners had to get there earlier to catch a bus to their start line. Dave, Stan Michael and I headed to the race start where we did packet pickup and then waited in the middle school for the race to start. It was a nice set up with real bathrooms and a craft fair to browse while we waited.
We went out to the start area and there was no start banner or anything. It was not a chip timed race at the start but they did have a timing mat at the end of the race. This was a small race with only a couple hundred doing the marathon. Soon enough we were off and running. The course was billed as very hilly in the first half but the second half was supposed to be downhill. The first half was extremely hilly but we were all doing great and having fun catching up with each other. The scenery was amazing. Dave was doing a great job of chasing us since it was an open course and he could just go up ahead and pull over. We were looking forward to getting to the second half and getting to the down hill portion.
We got to the second half and it did not flatten out. It was still super hilly. Stan may or may not have said "This is Bull…." We got into a good rhythm though and decided to walk the uphills and run the downhills. It worked well and I was feeling great. It did finally level out for the last 10k and I was still feeling great. I also got to see a dear friend who has a house on Newfound Lake, the lake we were running around. Dan came out with a bunch of his friends at Mile 21 and it was so great to see him. It was a nice pick me up and propelled me to the end. I was so excited to finish and that I felt so great on a really tough course. We came in around 5:28 and I was very happy with that time. Lots of great post race treats: chocolate milk, cheese sticks, and delicious hot pizza! I would highly recommend the NH marathon to anyone looking for a great small town race with excellent support and beautiful scenery. Just make sure you do your hill work!

Dave's Comments
One of the best parts of the weekend was not being in charge of dinner/activities. Charlie did an excellent job coordinating meals and fun places to visit during our stay in Concord. Our first stop was a fun local bar in a downtown basement. I enjoyed the place - the bartender was friendly, they had good beer on tap, and 5 beers plus a soda was only $12! I had to grab the photo real quick because some of the regulars were not thrilled to see a horde of strangers in Skittle-colored running shoes infiltrating their space.

The race course was very pretty and had a few great photo spots, but this was a boring course to spectate. With so few runners people didn't pass too often. There weren't too many places to stop for coffee or other snacks passed mile 4. Good thing I was provisioned with a Kind Bar, apple, Coke, chips, and Cracker Jacks leftover from the last marathon. I packed beer and had one at Mile 21 while hanging out with my friend Dan. Holly's slice of pizza at the finish made for a perfect lunch.

Charlie's choice of The Barley House for dinner was a great one. Excellent food and nice selection of beers on tap including some really good dark New England beers. After dinner we ventured across the street from our hotel to Lucky Chen's (not the real name but our nickname for it). Elegant Chinese theme upstairs, dive bar downstairs. We saturated the jukebox with 80's music and lounged on the couches until the youngsters outnumbered us 2:1.

Here's the race video:

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Disney World September 2015 - Part 3

Three parks were on the agenda today so we needed to get an early start. We caught the first ferry from the Transportation and Ticket Center over to the Magic Kingdom. Our Polynesian Resort room offered an easy short walk to the boat. We were about to miss the boat (literally) but the staff was nice enough to hold it for us so we could ride with two other guests. Dave took some fantastic video during the ride, but he didn't know the camera lens was fogged up so we got nothing.

We had an early reservation at the Be Our Guest restaurant that allowed us to access the park before it opened. We walked up an empty Main Street, which was cool. In the castle we chose to sit in The West Wing. Holly had an egg sandwich and Dave the cronut. He was a little irked to find that large self-serve soda cups were no longer available - just the small - so his to-go refill would not last as long as usual.

One of the "sometimes" benefits of speeding through an early BOG breakfast is getting to ride the new 7 Dwarfs' Mine Train before the regular park guests arrive. Today was one of those days and we got to cycle through the ride twice before the hordes made it over.

The rest of the morning was spent doing normal Magic Kingdom stuff which included Peter Pan, Splash Mountain, Haunted Mansion, and several attempts of getting on broken down rides like Big Thunder and Small World. We eventually made it on Big Thunder but Small World would have to wait another day.

We reached our saturation point (aka Daddy needs a beer) and headed over to Epcot. We had a plan to casually walk around the World Showcase and get a counter service lunch. We settled on the sandwich shop in France. Beers were obtained from the Refreshment Port because we didn't want to drink Kronenberg. On our way over to France we had to deal with a moderate drizzle. Hard enough to anger you, but not so bad as to totally soak you. This made the tiny seating area in the restaurant more crowded than it need to be. We ended up splitting a ham and cheese sandwich and Holly got a pastry for a dessert item - Dave was holding out for ice cream. Dave didn't enjoy the nougat flavor he picked and sent Holly back in to get him a coffee flavored ice cream. He didn't want to go back in and explain to the French kids he didn't like their flavor as he saw it was an offense to their culture.

During the afternoon we walked around quite a bit. We did the Pick-a-Pearl in Japan for the millionth time. It's a lot of fun, but we get disappointed when we don't get a silver one or doubles. This trip we saw someone pull out a gold pearl - new goal. Since it was Labor Day the Voices of Liberty were performing in the American Gardens theater. We decided to watch the show expecting patriotic songs. Instead, they came out in Easter outfits and did Disney/Pixar favorites and other movie songs. Dave was caught on film saying "it's worse than I imagined". Later in the evening Maddie and Tae were performing. Google told us that Dave recognized one of their songs. We chose to leave the park in favor of the DJ Elliott in the Studios over listening to the country singers.

On the way to the Studios (we had plenty of time before dinner) we stopped in at the Boardwalk's Bell Vue Lounge. We enjoy talking to the main bartenders and sometimes get some good rumors and insights from them and other "regulars" that tend to frequent this bar.

By the time we got to the Studios the DJ Party was in full swing. DJ Elliott (or DJ Chill for this party) does a great job mixing up Disney songs, oldies, and today's dance music. You can find his mixes on Soundcloud. The dance parties include characters coming into the crowd to interact and dance with the guests.

Time for dinner. We were heading back to The
Brown Derby. Following Dave's Brown Derby rule we went with the pork to go with another helping of the corn bisque. Excellent as always!

After dinner came the long wait for the fireworks. We settled into a space and waited patiently while people pushed through and generally kept cutting into us. The Frozen fireworks show is actually better than the Star Wars show in May. They just seem more colorful and more abundant. It was kind of neat to watch the snow effect stretching down Hollywood Blvd.
Much to Holly's delight we made it back to The Poly in time for Wishes fireworks. After the show we headed over to a pretty empty a Tiki Terrace and enjoyed the rest of the set from the Hawaiian singer.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Fox Valley Marathon (IL) Race Report - September 2015

Here's Holly's Race Report and video from the 2015 Fox Valley Marathon:

I wasn’t planning on running this marathon but since I was scheduled for a 20 miler that day anyway, and my friend Julie said she was considering run this one, I of course signed up!   It has a great reputation for being a very scenic and well run race.   We managed to con our friend Stan in to coming up from Bloomington to run it as well.   We planned to have a nice easy day as it was my first marathon back after my surgery and I wasn’t really sure how I would feel.

We were in Disney two weeks before this race and I didn’t do any running over that long weekend plus I came home with a cold that turned into a sinus infection so my confidence level was pretty low, but again it was just a training run and we knew we were going to all have fun together. 

Stan and Pam stayed with us for the weekend and we had an early wake up to be sure to leave the house by 5am to get to the race on time.  That was not such fun.   Julie met us at a Starbucks right next to the start.  Dave and Pam left us to get in position to watch the start and start their race chasing.    

We lined up and I was SO excited to finally be running a marathon again.   When we got going I was going a bit too fast so we agreed to let Julie do the pace making.  She did a great job.    They advertise this as a fast and flat course.   The first 6 miles or so were definitely not flat.   Once we got down by the river trail it did flatten out and it was a beautiful course on a beautiful day.  It got a bit warm at the end but the course was very shady so that helped.    

Our race chasers did a great job of chasing us and saw us a million times.   I even gave them the task of finding me some flip flops because I didn’t want to have to wear my running shoes home.   

I felt great the whole day and was so happy that I was running a marathon again.    When we all crossed the finish line together it was big smiles all around!    The medal was super cute, but the post race food was severely lacking.  I managed to find a freeze pop and a bag of chips.   All in all I would do the race again if it fit in to my training schedule, although it was a pricey registration for a small local race.  

Dave's Comments:

The only challenge for Race Chasing this one was the journey from the start to Mile 3.  The spectator guide (extremely detailed for a local race) said you could not see your runners at the start and the Mile 3 spectating area.   HA!  It was only 1.5 miles away.  They did close some roads a few blocks away from the course, but we creatively wound our way through the streets and got there with time-to-spare.  There were a few places where the course merged, or went out-and-back so spectating was easy.

The text at Mile 21 requesting sandals kinda threw Pam and I for a loop.  Luckily there was a Walgreens a block or two out of our way and we were able to accomplish our task and make the scheduled spectating spot.

We were both pretty hungry at the end of the race and decided we needed to eat before getting home. We stopped at Duke's Ale House for burgers and Oktoberfest beers on tap.
Here's the video from the race:

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Disney World September 2015 - Part 2

Since we've been planning pool breaks this trip we took advantage of driving to some parks in the morning vs. taking the bus. Leaving in the early afternoon means no traffic to deal with. This morning we started off at Disney's Hollywood Studios. We didn't have much planned, but what we did plan was agressively tight.

They opened the park early and penned us on Hollywood and Sunset until a few minutes of official opening. This area happens to be where the Starbucks is so Dave beveraged-up with an iced coffee. We started off the morning with the first running of Rockin' Rollercoaster, followed by Tower of Terror. By the time we knocked those two out it was 9:30 - time for our Midway Mania Fastpass.

Soon it was time for another Starbucks break and to find a spot for the Frozen Summer Fun Parade. This is a special parade where the characters from Frozen ride floats and performers dance and skate. It's decent for what it is. Holly had the pleasure of holding the GoPro while Dave concentrated on still shots.

We crossed back over to Sunset and used our Tower of Terror Fastpass. By the time we exited the ride we figured it was time for a beverage. Unfortunately our usual Sunset Blvd. stop, Fairfax Fare, was closed for refurb (or just closed). The Tune-In Lounge was our backup. Our next event was Olaf's Summer Cool Down which takes place on the main stage. The show was about ten minutes long and had the usual Disney formula: Host comes out, talks to audience, calls for main character, main character never shows up until the third time you call, banter with main character, dance number, special effect, sing "Let it Go", end. The special effect was the cool-down portion of the show: Essentially they shot the audience with a huge fire extinguisher.

We killed some time before seeing the 12:30 showing of the "Frozen Sing Along". We enjoyed the show the first time we watched it last year, but this time it didn't entertain us much. Too much....singing. We forgot how much the show really relied on showing clips from the movies vs. original content.

Next up was lunch! This was our first of two ADRs at The Brown Derby over the next few days. In May, we had the Zellwood Corn Bisque that was out of this world. In September Brown Derby featured Brentwood Corn Bisque (can't be that different) and Dave insisted on having it for two meals. We both ordered soup and supplemented with the small Cobb (Holly) and the scallop and pork belly appetizer (Dave). The bisque was as-good as remembered with the earthy herbs and tasty lobster dumplings.
We left The Studios in order to enjoy some pool time. Unfortunately it was time for the rain to come again. We spent some time in the lobby (how may times can we visit Bou-tiki?) before we were finally able to get some time by the pool.

We hopped over to The Grand Floridian for dinner. We arrived at Narcoossee's early to have a pre-dinner drink. We chatted for a while with the bartender and got a bit of information on the flexibility each location has for menus, wine lists, and cocktail options. We mainly returned to Narcoossee's because of the successful meal we had there in May. Since that time the seasons changed and so did the chef. Our appetizer of BBQ shrimp had a ton going on and it was great. The chicken dish Holly craved from May was replaced by something a less fantastic. Dave's halibut was great, but the rest of the dish did not come together. The chef (in our opinion) threw too much together into each dish. We watched Wishes from the Narcoosee's balcony.

Back at The Poly we decided to grab a drink from The Tambu Lounge to bring back to the room. Near the bar we found a group of people with a cooler w/ built-in IPod player blasting music and mixing drinks from their own 1.75 bottle. Other guests told us they called security 20 minutes before we arrived so this had been going on for a while. Security finally showed up - a gentleman who looked old enough to see Steamboat Willie's original screening - and kinda just stood there and looked at them. Eventually they turned off the music. We were shocked that 1) people would actually think this was ok to do 2) that it took so long to shut it down.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

October Charity of the Month: Pulmonary Hypertension Association

Charity of the Month is the way Team Tizzel is helping to support some very worthy organizationsAs part of this program, we will dedicate a post to a charity that we will sponsor through the month by donating Holly's training run money

September: We sponsored National Brain Tumor Society - Orange County Brain Walk to support a friend's first 5K ever to celebrate her recovery after discovering and removing a brain tumor this spring. We are also supporting a young friend on her journey through treatment. Our donation of $125 will help research endeavors. To donate, please click this link.
Pulmonary Hypertension Association

Our friend Dan, whom we met through Team AllEars, is the greatest marathoner that ever lived. Well, those are his words. If you get beyond his amazing amount of humbleness you will actually find a pretty nice guy. Holly's shared a few miles of road with him in various races and he even helped Holly escort Dave into the Magic Kingdom for Dave's first half marathon. While Dave was violently ill one Disney Marathon Weekend he was part of Holly's lap around Epcot entourage. He loves to still remind us about Dave puking right before Fireworks in Epcot (due to violent illness not booze).

This year Dan is doing his first night race. He is using this race as a vehicle to raise funds and awareness for Pulmonary Hypertension. In his words from his fundraising page

This November, I will take on a new running challenge as I attempt to complete my first night race - the WDW Wine & Dine Half Marathon. I’m happy to announce that a new challenge brings a new cause to support - and this time it’s more personal for Team Rajnik.
Since 2010, Diane’s mother, Betsie, has been battling a rare disease known as Pulmonary Hypertension (PH). PH is essentially having high blood pressure of the arteries between your heart and your lung.
PH is a tricky disease; it is very difficult to diagnose and treatment is complicated, expensive and not always successful. We are fortunate and grateful that Betsie has access to the doctors she needs and has responded well to her medications. Many others do not have access to or cannot afford medical care, and that’s why we are big supporters of the Pulmonary Hypertension Association (PHA). PHA strives to make the lives of PH sufferers better through promoting support, education, research, advocacy and awareness.
This year, I’m dedicating my race and my fundraising to PHA – both to celebrate Betsie’s achievements and to recognize the ongoing challenges of PH. I’ve set a goal to raise $1,300 for PHA ($1,300 for 13 miles!). I’m hoping to get one hundred of my family/friends/people-who-pretend-to-be-my-friends to donate just $13 each (of course, more is welcome).
I know $1,300 is a lofty goal. So to motivate any potential donors out there, I’m offering to run the WDW Wine & Dine Half Marathon as a zebra, if I reach my goal. That’s right, for only $13, you too can be part of my most embarrassing race ever, and all for a great cause.
Why a zebra? In medical school, doctors are taught to associate common symptoms with common ailments through the saying, "When you hear hoof beats, think horses, not zebras." Pulmonary hypertension is a medical zebra. Just as a zebra sounds like a horse, PH often looks like something more common like asthma, COPD, sleep apnea or obesity. As a result, it typically takes years for a patient to receive their PH diagnosis and to begin life-saving treatment. The PH community uses the Zebra as its symbol since, for the PH sufferer, "sometimes it IS a zebra."
Let's make this happen. Click here for Dan's Crowdrise page.