Friday, June 27, 2014

New Zealand - 6/21 - 6/22

This was the start of my first full weekend down under.  At this point, the weather was still pretty fair.  Usually it was between 50s and 60s during the day, dropping to a bit over freezing during the day. Our crew was pretty tired at this point.   I on the other hand was doing okay having just got my schedule sort of normalized here.

June 21st - 2014
While I was on more a regular schedule, I was still waking up pretty early.  I knew there was an open house at the airport for our project later in the day and I wanted to see a bit of Christchurch before I had to go in the office.  I took off early in the morning for New Brighton to see the beach.

Sunrise over the beach

It was just after sunrise and a bit chilly near the water.  The winds were blowing but it sure was beautiful.  It's been a while since I've seen the ocean up close, maybe when I went to Daytona Beach a few years ago.

 Another view....

There were quite a few others walking along the beach, so off in the distance I spied the New Brighton pier and decided a walk along the beach was just what the doctor ordered.

 The New Brighton Pier, 300 meters long out into the water.

To pier was pretty impressive.  In the distance I saw quite a few people on it, figuring most must be tourists.  In actuallity I think most were locals that were using it as a fishing and crabbing spot.

Lots of local fishermen working off the pier.

After walking along the pier, I found a little pop up market that happens every Saturday.  Quite a few local business people were there including some farmers, baker, people selling antiques, etc.  I ended up buying some kettle corn that was being made fresh that morning and stopped into a little cafe for some breakfast.

Nice little breakfast at a cafe down by the beach.  Yes, I had the bacon.

I walked on back to my car, went back to the hotel, took a shower and headed over to the open house.

 People lining up to get into our Gulfstream 5 at the open house.

Our open house is where we invite members of the local media, various schools and the public to come by and talk to our scientists about what we are doing.  Usually we invite them to come on board the plane to check it out as well as the instruments on board.  Anyway, this open house was VERY successful.  Probably one of the largest we have had.  Mad props to our E&O person, Alison for arranging it.

Another shot of our plane at sunset.

June 22nd - 2014

I was up bright and early this morning to get my long run in for the week.  I could have just run around the resort but decided that I might as well take the time to really explore Victoria Park and the surrounding trails.  So here I am, probably around 8:00 am or so I'd guess up ready to hit the trails.  A cold front had just come in so the mornings had been pretty frigid.  Maybe 30 degrees F.

 Up early for a "tramp" in the hills.

I think I mentioned this before, but Victoria Park is basically a ski resort for mountain bikes.  There are several trails all rated in difficulty.  Some are just some nice single track, others are bumpy.  There are artificial banks and jumps.   While there were more bikes out today than the previous time I had been here, it still was pretty empty.  I ended up climbing up to the top and then settling on a long traverse over another park, Bowenvale Park.

I call this trail wonderland.

Nearing the top of the set of trails.  I don't really know where I am going, so I just pick another trail and head that way.  You can't really get that lost up here.

Things are getting more interesting....

Woohoo, I found the traverse I was looking for.  This is where my phone started acting up and kept shutting down on me.

Heading out to the traverse between Victoria Park and Bowenvale Park

I'd like to say that it's maybe a mile, maybe a bit less.  This part sort of reminds me of Colorado with how open it is.  By now the mountain bikers started coming out.   They were all really nice and the trails were pretty clear that it was our responsibility to give way to them.

Traverse across right before my phone died.  Lots of mountain bikes out on this trail.

Once I finished this section I headed up to summit rd.   I wish I had my camera for this part because you come to the top of the mountain and can see down into Lyttleton Harbor.  It was one of the most spectacular views I had ever seen.  I stayed on the summit trail for the next few miles until getting up close to Sign of the Kiwi cafe.  The cafe had some major damage during the 2011 earthquake and hasn't reopened since then.  I really hope that eventually it does reopen as it seemed like an important historic building and would be a great place to get a mid-run flat white.

Great run all in all, afterwards I'm sure I went back to work, but the days are rolling into one another.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Marathon Weekend - Full Marathon

I never finished this post about marathon weekend, but since I had the pics in the drafts, I figured I'd post it!  This is from Disney Marathon Weekend 2014, January 12th.

In the corrals at the start.

Mile 15 Pit Stop

Done, great race overall!

Another, "Fuck ya, I did it!" pic.

We are all Dopey, just missing nerd Brad

48.6 Miles finished.
The fin!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

New Zealand - 6/18 - 6/20

Continuing on the journey to the land of the hobbits...

June 18th - 2014

Got out early this morning for a short run around the resort.  It had rained the night before, but the clouds cleared up as the sun came up.  My sleep schedule is still pretty messed up, going to bed at 8:30 PM, waking up at 5:00.  Hoping that it normalizes pretty quickly...

Went for a run in the morning around the resort..

Felt pretty good after the run....

After the run, I didn't need to meet my co-worker for training until 3:00 PM.  I headed back to the room, showered and went out for lunch.  There is this great little Chinese place I found that only serves vegetarian and vegan food.  It's not fancy, but it was cheap and plentiful.

Hole in the wall Chinese vegetarian restaurant  

Ramen, really good!

Following lunch, I headed into the ops center.  It looks like mostly our days will be working 6 days a week, approximately noon until 10:00 PM.  Some days I'll be going in earlier, other days later.   It's a good schedule.  The 22nd is the shortest day of the year down here, so with this schedule I'll be able to get up early, get some exploring in while it's light out, and then head into the office.

June 19th - 2014

Another day out exploring.  This time I wanted to check a little cafe on the south end of town up in the hills there.  I left early, 7:15 am and headed up to the Cup Cafe.  When I arrived, they told me no breakfast yet, as the chef hadn't shown up for the day.  No worries, I ordered a Flat White (basically a cappuccino) and sat and admired the view.

Nice cafe I found on the south side of town up in the hills.

Eventually the chef showed up and I ordered a nice plate of pancakes.  One of the biggest differences in New Zealand is eating out.   First, it's more expensive than the states, maybe by 20%.  Second,  portion sizes are smaller, which is probably a good thing.  Tipping isn't the norm (which may make up the price difference) and they rarely bring you the bill, usually you go up to the cash register to pay after each meal (something I only learned by sitting and waiting for about 20 minutes for the meal).  Also, they do love their hollandaise sauce here. :)

View of Christchurch from the cafe at sunrise.

After eating, I had a short run on the books so I headed up to Victoria park for a little exploration.  Victoria park has a series of trails for both hiking (trekking as it's known here) and mountain biking.  It might have been that I was out pretty early, but I didn't see any mountain bikers out and about.  Good for me as I had this mecca of trailrunning all to myself.  There were some step hills, but lots of singletrack.  Some through forest, other parts crossing across fields.   Lots of terrain for the mountain bikers as well (jumps, banked curves, etc).  If I actually did mountain bike, it would be a ton of fun, but instead I ran.

Trailrunning through Victoria park (scouting trip for long run on Sunday)

They even have a terrain park much like snowboarding in a ski park.  

Map of Victoria park.  Reminds me a ski resort with all the trails and terrains for running and mountain biking.

I was nearing the top of the mountain and some pretty intense clouds started to roll in.  Not wanting to be caught out in it, I headed back.  The scouting trip was complete, I knew it would be a good option for Sunday's long run.  

Clouds coming in over the summit of the mountain.  Time to head back down!

On the way back I stopped at a little walk through mall called the Columbo.  They had a dumpling bar I wanted to try.  Seriously great food here.  Not only was there this place, but about 6-7 other little food stalls as well as a few cafes.  I can't wait to come back and try some of the other places in here.

Lunch after running at the Columbo.  Found a little dumpling bar.

Following my normal routine, I headed back to the hotel, showered and headed into work.

June 20th - 2014

I decided that I had been exploring quite a bit, so I wanted to sleep in a bit. Not to mention when I woke up my room was really cold (the heater doesn't work all that well).  Once I dragged myself out of bed and got dressed, I headed out for today's progression run.  My coach had me doing a warmup and then doing a progression run starting slightly below MAF and building up from there (with plenty of rest between intervals).  It was a pretty easy run and one I was looking forward to as she actually let me speed up a bit. There is a wildlife park near the hotel called The Groynes.  Lots of flat trails and roads made it perfect for the intervals I was doing.  

Out for a progression run at the wildlife preserve near our hotel.  Flat trails were perfect for the type of work I was doing.

It was pretty frigid at the start, but warmed up near the end.  I think by now my clock is finally becoming a bit more normal.  

Tired, time for food.

Honestly, the days are starting to blur together. This tends to happen on this type of project.   We are off by one day back home and we aren't sticking to a m-f schedule.  All we do is look out maybe a day or two ahead of us.  Pretty sure I did the normal schedule and showered and headed into work.

To be continued....

Friday, June 20, 2014

New Zealand - Travel and first few days

It's been a while since I've put up any blog posts, but I figured that I'd put this together about my trip to New Zealand.  That way not only am I sharing some of what I am doing down here, but also it's a way for me to journal the trip.

For some background, I work for the National Center for Atmospheric Research.  Right now we are conducting a project in New Zealand called Deepwave. I'm down here for about 3 1/2 weeks for work, and then about 9 days for vacation with my wife.  I usually have about one of these trips a year where I go off supporting scientists.  Sometimes I go to Kansas, other times to places like the Maldives.  It all depends on what projects get approved.

Due to some bad luck, I just happened to go into the dentist a week before my trip for a routine cleanup and found out that I needed to get an emergency root canal.  So ya..that happened 2 days before flying.  More on this later...

Saturday - 6/14/2014 through 6/16/2014
Then, by total choice, I had a bunch of friends heading down to the ren faire the same day I was leaving.  Knowing I'd be without friends close by for a few weeks, I was excited to spend the day with my wife and my friends.  It was a perfect day at the ren faire, not too hot, and a slight breeze.

Chilling at the Ren Faire with Rivervale and Friends

Since I'm being flown down by work, we are restricted on our travel by what is called the Fly America Act.  For that reason I left on 6/14/2014.  I left at 6:15 PM and flew to San Francisco.  I had a few hours layover there and then got on the long haul flight to Australia.  It was 14 hours overnight to Sydney.  Because of the direction that we flew, and leaving at 10:00 PM, the entire flight stayed in darkness until just before we landed.   I was pretty lucky overall for a few reasons on this flight.  First, my work was nice enough to provide Economy Plus seating for us, meaning we had a few inches of extra legroom.  Also with how it worked out, I had a window seat and I had a seat between myself and the person on the aisle free.  The person on the aisle was a fairly nice chap and I quickly learned that he was from Orlando and worked for Disney.  Not only did he work for Disney, he was an Adventures by Disney Travel guide and was heading to Australia to lead a 12 day tour.  Being the Disney geek that I am, I of course quizzed him about his job and the experience of working for the Disney company.   We had a grand old time chatting throughout the long flight over.  
My travelmate hooked me up with an ABD pin you only get if you go on one of their tours.

Because of my dental work (root canal through the jawbone) I was in a bit of pain on the flight over there.  A quick dose of hydrocodone made things quite better and I got to sleep a total of maybe 8 hours of the 14 hour flight.  Made it very bearable.  I did get to try out united's vegetarian options for meals on the way over.  I opted for their Asian vegetarian.  We got fed a dinner an hour into the flight or so, which was a curry.  Then we had a snack somewhere in the middle, and then a breakfast right before we landed, also curry.  It looked sort of disgusting, but actually had a decent flavor to it.

After landing in Sydney the next morning, because we had crossed the international date line, it went from being the 14th when we left, to the 16th.  We had a 3 hour layover in the airport in which I was able to get some coffee and relax a bit with a few co-workers that were on the same flight.  Then we were off from Sydney to Christchurch.

This flight wasn't United but instead Air New Zealand.  We happened to get something called "The Works" which meant a second breakfast (fitting that we were heading to the land of the hobbits) and some in-flight entertainment.  It was only a 3 hour flight, but eventually landed in Christchurch, made it through customs and to the hotel.

Waiting in line at customs in Christchurch

Arriving at the hotel I was pretty wiped out, even though I got some decent sleep on the plane.  I think my entire transit time including layovers was something like 28 hours.  Luckily we were staying at the Peppers Clearwater Resort.  Normally a golf resort, since we were there in their winter, it wasn't entirely full.  Our PMs did a pretty good job of negotiating a great rate for us.   The rooms were fairly large, and very nice.  Heated floors in the bathroom, heated towel racks, comfy beds and most of all they opened up to the lake on the golf course.  Below is the view I get to wake up to every morning.  I had dinner with a co-workers and drifted off to sleep.

My view at the Peppers Clearwater Resort.
Tuesday - June 17th
Not surprising with how early I went to sleep, I was up at 4 am the next morning.  I knew it would take my body a few days to adjust, so I just stayed in bed relaxing until the sun came up.  Once I saw the skies getting a bit lighter I threw on my running clothes and headed out.  My coach Katie had an hour run on the books for me.  Looking at google maps I saw that north of the hotel was a river with what looked like a bunch of trails around it.  I just took off in that direction knowing eventually I'd find it.

I have a bunch of my photos of that first run on my facebook here.

Finishing up the run I found a nice little cafe, maybe 10 minutes from the hotel where I got a long black coffee (you order coffee very differently here than in the states).  I find that it's really nice to have a place like a local cafe on these long field campaigns.  It gives you a chance to have some feeling of roots, something comfortable that you can come back to over.

After a quick cup of joe, a stop at the supermarket and a trip to the dentist (to get my root canal looked at and the stitches removed) I was running low on energy.  I stopped in at the ops center for a few hours of training from the other sys admin that was down here and then headed home to sleep.

Cosy Cafe in Christchurch

More to follow....

Friday, January 31, 2014

2014 Marathon Weekend - 1/2 Marathon

If you haven't checked out my 5k and 10k coverage, you can go back and read that post here.

By the time of the 1/2 marathon things were getting serious.  It was the third day of waking up at the ass crack of dawn.  While the 5k and 10k were both good races, I felt like the half is way more serious.  First of all there were around 24k runners participating this year.  I believe there were 16 corrals now for the half marathon, and they were much smaller.  The idea is that it might take a bit longer to launch everyone, but the two big congestion areas (heading into the Contemporary and cone alley before the Grand Floridian) wouldn't be as bad this year.

After figuring out the two cars the night before, we all piled into my car (aka Pony Magic) and left the house at 3:15 am with the idea of making it to the Team AllEars pic at 3:45 am.  Traffic wasn't bad at all, and we had no problems getting through security and over to the gathering area on time.

We took the team pic and started the slow walk to the corrals.  From the gathering area to the corrals takes about 15 minutes to walk.  I met up with another team member, Dave Dunkowski. He and I ended up hanging out for about 45 minutes until the start of the race.  This year, one thing that I thought was pretty special was that they redid the fireworks for the start of the race.  It's a small thing, but those fireworks are one of my favorite parts of Disney races.  It used to be that there were two small sets of fireworks set off for each corral, one at the start line, and one farther back on the bridge.   This year they only set off the front ones, but I thought it was a much cooler display.  I guess that when my wave went off there must have been a malfunction, cause we didn't get a fireworks for our corral.

Improved Fireworks this year

My plan for the half was to run it about a minute less per mile than my marathon pace to conserve my legs.  That still meant that I could run through the Magic Kingdom while it was dark (one of my favorite things to do in the half) and I'd finish without being on my feet for two long.  How I ended up accomplishing this was I used a run/walk strategy but then also made sure to stop at any character stop that had a short line.  It seemed to work well last year for the goofy and it worked great this year as well.

Me and Launchpad McQuack

By the time I hit the overpass around mile 10, I realized how good the taper really was for me.  My legs were strong.  I really wanted speed up here, but I had to keep reminding myself to hold back, I had an entire race to do the next day.  I did stop and carry on the tradition that was started at the princess last year by Eddie, Alex, Lee and I of doing pushups at the Green Army Sergeant (okay, so I didn't actually do any at the princess but I took some damn good photos of them doing pushups).

Pushups at Mile 10

I had a strong finish, right around 2:08.  After finishing I headed into Epcot over to Sunshine Seasons for my traditional post half breakfast.  I was going to ride Soarin but I knew that the rest of the Nerds would be passing through Epcot at any time.  Instead I headed out onto the course, took off my medal, threw back on my bib and joined them for a loop around Epcot.

Finding the nerds in Epcot

After finishing, we had to hurry back to the house.  When I signed up for the Dopey, I had already decided that I was going to do almost anything I needed to do to have a successful race.  One of those things is I set aside some money for a massage at one of the spas on Disney property.  Looking at their prices, an 80 minute massage at the Grand Floridian spa was $195 and that was without tip.  Crazy, right?  I figured I could do better than that.  Instead of booking a massage at an on property spa, I decided to see if there were any sports massage therapists in the area that made house calls.  After looking around on the web/craigslist, I was pretty much striking out.  So I decided to reach out to Carissa Bealert.  She is one of the RunDisney race announcers but I also knew that she and her husband ran a gym in Orlando.  I figured they must know someone in the field.  She quickly got back to me and recommended a therapist named Gypsy Danielson.

After contacting Gypsy, she was more than willing to make house calls and her prices were very reasonable.  I threw it out to the other people staying in the house and quickly ended up with 9 of us wanting a 1 hour massage each.  I mentioned this to Gypsy and she said that she knew a second therapist, Brian, that would also love to come help out.

So on Saturday morning both Brian and Gypsy showed up at 7:30 am with their massage tables (and sheets, music, massage lotions, etc) in hand.  We ended up putting them into two private rooms in the house.  Some of the people staying at the house that weren't running the 1/2 took the first few hours.  Then once we finished, we rushed back to the house and took our spots.  From the looks after people were finished with the massages, it was clear that both Gypsy and Brian were experts at their craft.  Not only were they totally professional, they both work with a local triathlon team providing sports massage for them both in town and sometimes when they go on the road.  I highly recommend either of them if you are in the Orlando area and need a sports massage.  They also said that they are willing to make hotel room calls as long as the hotel will allow them to bring in their massage table.

I'm providing their contact information in case anyone is interested.
Gypsy Danielson -
Brian Schmidt -

After the massage, a carload of us headed over to the main Team AllEars meet at the Swan Hotel.  First of all, I want to point everyone to Mike and Michelle's blog entry.  It summarizes the amazing journey that we have had over the past 5 years (I was only on the team for 4 of the 5 years myself).  Over 5 years the team has raised over $330,000 for Avon Walk for Breast Cancer.  Not only that, the friendships I have made will carry with me for the rest of my life. It was really this team that got me onto the road of health and wellness.  If not for Team AllEars, I would have never have run my first half marathon.

$330,000 over 5 years..just amazing.

After 2 hours of sharing memories, thoughts and goodbyes with the team, we parted ways and headed over to Hollywood Studios for our pre-marathon carb load at Mama Melrose.  I had never eaten there before, but my wife and I really liked the food.  I had a big bowl of pasta and they were nice enough to discount it for me since it normally comes with meat, and I got it without.  We also ran into a bunch more of our team that were eating there at the same time.  After riding Star Tours (Dan got to be the rebel spy, yay!) we waited around for a bit and got a picture of all of us in front of the hat.  We fought a downpour of rain (Christina and I hid out under a space blanket trying to stay dry) back to our cars.  

All in all, it was an amazing day.  Maybe I stayed on my feet a bit too much, but as you will see in my next blog entry, it didn't seem to affect me all that much.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

2014 - What's on the horizon

I thought I'd take a bit of a break talking about marathon weekend and talk about what races I'm looking at doing over the next year.  I was really expecting that after the Dopey I wouldn't want to run anymore.  It was a hard training season and for the most part I didn't cancel any workouts.  Right about when I hit my taper I was fried.

Anyway, I think for a variety of reasons including my personal success at meeting my goals during marathon weekend and having a good time running with friends, I'm ready to set some new goals for 2014.  In my head I've broke up the year into three training seasons.  Nothing is totally locked down yet, but I think this will be my overall plan.

Feb - May - Spring Training

The good thing is other than this cold going on right now (oh how I hate thee, the Disney crud), I have a strong base of fitness.  I've decided I might as well use that fitness and try and hit a few goals this spring.  I can tune my training with a bit of hill work as well as some trails.  That will let me accomplish some races that I was considering doing without a bunch of extra training.  I may not be at peak fitness, but I should be able to perform at a fairly good level.

April 20th - Desert Rats Trail Running Festival, 1/2 marathon, Fruita, CO

This would be the third time for me to run this race.  How it works is they have a 50k and a marathon on Saturday, and a half and 5 miler on Sunday.  We usually drive up on Saturday, stay the night, run the half and then drive home on Sunday.  I considered running the marathon if I could convince my friend Brad to come out for it, but he's already got plans.  So instead I'll be running the half with Andrea, Mike, Carrie, Rebecca and Kate.  All in all Fruita is a beautiful race and each year the weather has been perfect.

April 27th - Cherry Creek Sneak, Denver, CO

I'm doing this one mostly to hang out with Bryan, Mel and Brad Jones (from TAE) who is coming out to run this race.  I haven't decided which distance I'm going to do, either the 10 miler and run it easy, or the 5 miler and run it sort of hard.

May 3rd - Greenland 50k, Larkspur, CO

So originally I was going to do the 8 miler.  It looked like a flat fun race that I could really work on my speed.  But I have some base fitness right now, I figured it might be the time to do a 50k.  It's longer than a marathon, but should be easier than Dopey for three reasons.  One, I won't have all the travel associated with Dopey.  Second, no early morning wake up calls.  Lastly, I'm going to run it fairly easy.  The course itself is 4 loops of around 7.5 miles on packed dirt.  It isn't that technical of a course and the weather should be good at that time of year.  My training for it will consist of less days of running than the Dopey and I'll probably top out at one 20 miler, and one 22 mile run before the race.  Also since you loop around, you can have a drop bag of supplies.

June 1st - Skirt Sports 5 Miler, Louisville, CO

I did this last year and it was a really fun race.  Short, sweet and hopefully both Helen and Michelle from TAE will be coming out for it.  Men aren't allowed to do the half (females only) so I run the 5 miler.  Not to mention it's about 15 minutes from my house.

June - Aug - Summer Training

Well this summer work is sending me overseas.  It seems to happen pretty much any summer really killing any consistent training.  So I'm going to take the summer off and just do some fun runs around Colorado and New Zealand.  No specific focus on races during this period.

Sept - Nov - Fall Training

Fall is a bit more tentative since some of the races require travel.  Until we have locked down our New Zealand travel plans, I don't want to plan too far into the future.

Oct 1st - Twin Cities Marathon, Minneapolis, MN

My good friend Andrea wanted to run a marathon this year, so we were both looking at possible races.  This one seemed like a good destination race.  It is fairly cheap to fly there, and I have a good friend Julie who lives nearby.  Myself I won't be training to PR at this race, but more just to complete it in a decent enough time.

Nov 8th - Wine and Dine Half Marathon, Disney World, FL

Hands down my favorite RunDisney event they put on.  This would be the five year anniversary of the event.  I am still not sure that I want to do it as most likely it would mean going down without Joelle (which I'm not crazy about).  It's expensive, both the race and the lodging.  I do have an annual pass, and at least part of a free ticket.  Also I promised my wife no more Disney races until my 40th birthday in 2015.  But if I end up doing it, this would be my A race of the year.  I think I hold my PR at this race currently so it would be fun to train to beat it.

Other Possible Races

There are a bunch of things up in the air right now that may change my plans.  I have some friends that are planning on doing the Moab half/full trail marathon.  If things don't shake out for Wine and Dine, that may very well fall on the books.  Also the nerds are planning on getting together for the Las Vegas RnR half.  This would be the week after Wine and Dine, so I'm not 100% sure it would be in the books for us.  I also had a bunch of fun running the FLATS half marathon in Missouri.

Also, as some you may remember, I was supposed to run a Triathlon last year.  Well, I was able to defer until this year because of the flooding.  Currently I'm signed up, and it's at the end of September.  But at the moment I have no interest at all in training for it.  That may change as weather gets better and I can get out on my bike.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

2014 Marathon Weekend - 5k and 10k

So I sat down to start writing this post. I quickly realized that I think it's going to be harder than I imagined.  So many thoughts and memories happened over the entire weekend, how do I put them all into a few posts.  Anyway, I think this is going to end up being three posts in total, the first talking about the 5k and 10k, the second the half and full, and the third one just wrapping up the weekend and some general thoughts.

Anyway, we left on a Wednesday morning.  Luckily it wasn't a super early flight.  Joelle used to detest those but has seemed to gotten better with them.  Though with the cold snap we were going through, I was happy that we were leaving a bit later. Most of my friends that were doing Dopey were also flying out that same day.  With the extreme cold weather, some of them really were struggling to just get down to Orlando.  Flights were canceled out of New York, Chicago and other NE cities.  Some people were able to rebook, others ended up just driving down to Florida.

Getting ready to leave on Wednesday morning

Once we got into Orlando, things went pretty smoothly.  We stopped and picked up our car (aka Pony Magik) and headed to the expo.  With all the chaos of the last few expos, this one was relatively calm. We breezed right in and picked up our packets (which included my six shirts) and did some quick shopping.  It was a good expo, but seemed a bit smaller than normal.  It might also be that I'm getting sort of numb to the excitement of a RunDisney expo.  

We didn't really want to hit the parks at this point in the day, so we took off to the vacation home that we rented.  Last year during marathon weekend, I was pretty convinced to not come back this year.  I really needed a break from all the training, not to mention it was getting pretty expensive. Several of my friends on Team AllEars brought up the idea of getting vacation home and splitting the cost in order to make it more affordable.  Thus the Nerdery was born.  We ended up looking all around and settled on an eight bedroom house just south of Animal Kingdom.  Now in hindsight, that was such a wonderful idea.  In fact, I strongly suggest that if you are going down to marathon weekend in the future with a group of friends, look at renting a house.  We had a pool, hot tub, BBQ, huge game room, all for about $160 a person. Much cheaper than staying onsight and while there are some inconveniences, I think in all it enhanced the weekend.

Shopping for the Nerdery. We went a bit crazy.

That first night Julie offered to make Mexican food for us, and while it was a great idea, the problem is I think we underestimated how long it would take us to organize, get out of the house and to the store. We ended up getting to Target around 7:00 PM.  3 full shopping carts of food later and about an hour later, we left the store, fully stocked up with all the food we needed for the weekend.  After a quick meal, some BSing and drinking around the house (had to taste the moonshine that Jamison brought from West Virginia), most of us headed to bed.

My mentor as Buddy the Elf for the 5k.

Most of us were running the next morning, so we started the 4 day ritual of getting up early (5 days for me, but more on that later).  My plan for the weekend consisted of racing the 5k, running the 10k with my wife and friends, running the half fairly easy and then racing the marathon.  I haven't had a chance to really race a 5k at peak performance in a while, and I was really curious how I could do down at sea level. I was also fairly sure that any sort of effort in the 5k wouldn't hurt my performance for the the marathon on Sunday.   

I know there is lots of debate over whether you should PR a Disney race or not.  I say, do what is fun for you.  If you want to PR a Disney race, it can be done.  For me it is the natural race for me to try and race.  It's the big focus of my most intense training, it's at sea level, and the course and atmosphere really pump me up. Also when doing something like the Dopey or Goofy, I think there is some benefit to getting off your feet in a reasonable amount of time. Other people's bodies work differently, and RunDisney races might not be the best place to really work on speed.  Again, I think it really to each their own.  

I think all weekend I was pretty worried about the heat and humidity.  Forecasts were going up and down but it looked like it would be a hot weekend, especially for the 10k and half.  Luckily I think it was perfect race weather on the morning of the 5k.

Cheering on Team AllEars at end of the 5k.  Laura and Bryan Thompson's first 5k!

After I finished I ran back to the end and cheered on the rest of my running team as they came through.  I think one of the coolest moments was when I saw teammate Brian and Laura just about to cross the finish line of their first 5k.

5k PR - Way faster than I would have guessed.

I did end up getting a PR, 22:38, about two minutes off my previous PR.  I think the 5k success helped setup the day as ending up being one of my best Disney days ever.  I think if I went back to marathon weekend, I'd run the 5k again and then take two days off and do the marathon.  I love Epcot in the dark and being able to run around World Showcase was pretty awesome.

Ehmergerd!  Jack and Sara get engaged on Main Street!

After the runners were all done, we headed over to Magic Kingdom.  Erinn had told us that she wanted to get a shot of all of us on Main Street, but what we didn't know is Sara's boyfriend Jack was planning on proposing to her.  It was a huge surprise to all of us.  After many tears and congratulations, I had to tear off and run over to the Beach Club.  

One of my favorite podcasts, the Mickey Miles podcast was having a breakfast over at Ariel's at the Beach Club.  What a fabulous time that was.  It was nice to catch up with some good friends (sat with Eve and Phil Vanderpool).  They had a great buffet and were able to announce their new running team, the Mickey Milers!  I remember a few years ago when Michelle told me that they were thinking about starting a podcast.  It seems like that was so long ago and it really has grown into such a great entity of it's own.  I'm so proud of what both her and Mike were able to accomplish in the last few years.  

After that, headed back to the Magic Kingdom to meet up with the rest of the nerds.  I was getting pretty tired at this point, but we had some unfinished business that we had to attend to.  What began as Sara doing a very sweet thing for a bunch of children ended up turning into one of the most magical experiences that I've seen.  I won't go into detail since I'm pretty sure someone else will end up blogging about it eventually.

We then had to head back to the Nerdery to get ready for our one big night out, aka Nerdprom.  We all got dressed up and headed back to our ressie at Cali Grill.  Erinn and Joelle ended up crowning Jack and Sara our King and Queen of nerdprom. 

Jack and Sara get crowned King and Queen of nerdprom!

After Cali grill it was onto the monorail crawl.  I think the Lapu Lapu's at Tambu Lounge were the big hit of the night.  Even Julie who said she wasn't drinking much until after the marathon ended up partaking in the yummy beverage.  After the Tambu Lounge, Phil texted me and asked if we wanted to join him at the Top of the World Lounge.  Of course!  Normally it wasn't available unless you were a DVC member staying on points on property.  Phil, being the suave guy that he is, ended up getting all 15 of us up there to watch wishes.  What a great way to end the magical night.

Stop 2 of the monorail crawl, Tambu Lounge.

Next morning was the 10k day.  An even earlier wakeup call was needed so that we could all get into costume.  We decided as a group that we'd go as the Avengers.  My wife Joelle really wanted to go as Ironman, so I decided to support her and go as Pepper Potts.  

Julie and I looking like twins on 10k morning.  Ginger Power!

What a fabulous morning!  The temps had ticked up and it was very humid, but I wasn't overly concerned as we were all going to take it pretty easy.  At first I think we were planning on all running together but that's pretty difficult in such a large group.  Joelle, Christina and I ended up running the first four miles or so together.  Christina had signed up for the Dopey but several months before, at Wine and Dine she realized that her knee was having issues and that she doubted she would be able to run the full on Sunday.  So we had a good time during the 10k just taking it easy.  Once we got back into Epcot near the end, the nerds all waited up for each other and we ended up coming into the finish as a group.  

Avengers Assemble!

It was really a hoot to be able to run this as a group and with friends. The cast members were really terrific and we had a good time chatting with them during the entire course.  I think our finish time was around 1:58.

Joelle as Ironman, me as Pepper Potts

After the 10k, most of us headed back to the house for the rest of the day.  That evening we were having a BBQ so I just took a nap before getting up and prepping for the party.

Anyway, I think I've prattled on long enough for one post, more later on the 1/2 and full.