Tag Archives: friends

Totem to Totem Marathon

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I don’t even know where to begin! So I’ll start with a quote regarding visitor information directly from the race webpage:

“Located off the north west coast of B.C, Haida Gwaii is as far west as you can go in Canada. It is the home and traditional territory of the Haida. It is one of Canada’s undiscovered treasures.”

 

Flying in

 

This was a family vacation that we planned around a race. It was able to happen in part that our friends, David & Heidi, live out in Haida Gwaii. We booked the three flights, shuttle and ferry and went out on an adventure! By using our AirMiles (and the fact Andy could fly for free) it cost us $100 per adult ticket for all three flights, return! Flying from Alberta to British Columbia is the lowest AirMiles flight redemption for province to province, so this was a steal considering how much all these little flight segments would have cost.

Riding the moving sidewalk in Vancouver

Almost a 3 hour delay out of Vancouver calls for a nap

Even slept through a parent transfer!

We arrived in Haida Gwaii on the Thursday. This allowed us to get settled in at our friends’ place and tour a bit the next morning. Flights were delayed out of Vancouver, and we ended up leaving 3 hours late to the island. Andy was a champ throughout this all (more so, I was getting super anxious and I think my husband was getting sick of airports). I was very worried we would be stuck in Sandspit (not where Dave & Heidi live) because technically, the last ferry would have already left. However, BC Ferries ran one more ferry from Moresby Island to Graham Island solely because of the inbound flight coming in. Phew!

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We made it to Sandspit!

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Loading it up on the ferry

Not loving it on the ferry!

On Friday morning, Dave and Heidi decided to show us how life is out there and we went crabbing. It was a lot of fun. We drove up to Miller Creek (a spot on the race course), parked on the side of the road, then hiked into the beach.(YES we bought our license to crab, which was a whopping $5 per person. You could catch up to six crabs a day per person on that…) We ended up catching a Dungeness crab and a red crab (I forget the name of this kind). The Dungeness was huge! It fed us all lunch that afternoon.

Probably my favourite picture from the trip!  Some serious sand-scooping with a sand dollar is happening.

Dave & Dan became friends in elementary school when they both took French Immersion

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Our catch

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The crew (minus Dave since he was taking the picture)

Bringing home the prize!

Later that day, we went to the Skidegate to pick up our race packages, which was located at the Kaay Centre. FUN FACT: This was an official AMAZING RACE CANADA location! Even though it was a small package pickup, you could walk a little bit inside the centre and out on the grounds to admire the totems, canoes, and the view. I was happy with the shirts, as they were the Authentic T-Shirt Company, and from my experience their shirts are not of the best quality….and often, they are only one “gender size”. Since I got a women’s small, it actually fits my proportionals correctly and is not a lost cause. The logo and the shirt design mesh well together and both my husband and I really like the colour!

 

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Family photo!

Race started at 8 am. The drive from Dave & Heidi’s place in Queen Charlotte was about 15 minutes. If you are a tourist doing the race, there are quite a few B&B options right in Queen Charlotte too! And I am sure people have Air BnB. There are just none of your typical “Holiday Inn”stuff. And that is fine! We loved the comforts offered here! Race parking was so easy, everyone was so nice. The full and half marathon would be starting at 8, with the 10km following at 8:15.

Down on the beach at the Kaay Centre

Getting ready to start

If this race interests you for a full marathon, the first thing I need to make clear is that it is an extremely small field. In the past years of running in general, more and more people take part in 10km and half marathons….full marathons still seem to be a little bit scarier of a task. I knew it would be a small field based on looking at past results. When you look at the 2019 final results, there were 21 total runners in the full marathon, 47 half marathon runners, and 128 runners in the 10km. So, coming from “a city” this is VERY SMALL. THAT IS NOT A BAD THING! For lots of distances, this is great. But I was well aware of how the marathon field would be and how alone I would potentially feel on the course.

The course is “out-and-back” style, where the half marathoners turn around at Dead Tree Point water station. The marathoners would then continue on to St. Mary Spring, then head back to Skidegate. The whole time you are running, you are on the “highway.” It’s the only road there, with one lane each way. They have tall cones on the edge for runners to stay inside of. When cars occasionally pass, most honk and wave. There are water stations approximately every 5km. If you really get frustrated with your race just look to the side and you are literally running alongside the ocean. You’ll forget your worries!

I won’t recap mile by mile, I’ll just post a Garmin screenshot and it’ll tell you how it went. In summary: Started off strong feeling I could get that 3:30.00 but by 7 miles I was so mentally frustrated and alone (since the half marathoners had turned around) I was just in a mood. Lo and behold Meaghan and Benjy from Victoria, BC, come up to me. THANK GOD. They had ran with Dan for a few miles before the marathoners kept going, and Dan must have described me well enough to them that they knew I was his wife. At that point I thought another female runner was ahead of me. Turns out, I was the lead and Meaghan would ultimately win for the women. But without them showing up, and running with me to the turnaround point, I may have just dove into the brush and then found my way to the sand to start crabbing again because I was crabby….

Running with others is fantastic. We met up around mile 7 or 8. We all ran together until the turnaround. Meaghan and Benjy went ahead. I eventually passed Benjy. And then seeing the areas I already had once passed motivated me to keep moving and pick it up. I’m going to say GIRL POWER here because after Meaghan passed me, no other women passed me but I caught up to and passed 3 guys! It felt good! Since I was feeling the pain of the mileage (I hadn’t done a training run longer than 15 miles this season….oops) and I couldn’t see the third place female behind me, I made sure to take my time at the aid stations. They were well stocked, but I will say the first one we hit on our way out from the start was weird because they only have bottled water but no cups or jugs to fill from….so I carried a bottle of water for a while as a shower device!

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Photo credit to @jagsbean Jags Photography

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With less than 400 m to the finish! Beautiful! Follow @jagsbean on Instagram for more!

 

Finish line area was super welcoming and all the runners, spectators and volunteers were genuinely happy when someone came across. We received a beautiful finishers’ medal, the design was new this year by local Haida artist Robert Davidson. Andy was waiting with David & Heidi when both Dan and then I crossed the finish line. They caught video of Dan coming in with Andy clapping, and then when I crossed in I ran and gave him a big hug.

I finished the race in a time of 3:42.35, which is my third fastest full marathon.  This was my 15th marathon.

As a mother runner, coming across the finish line and giving that little monster a big huge is an amazing feeling!

We hung around for a bit, and then we were informed that awards wouldn’t happen until the last finishers came in, so around 2 pm. At standard races,this would not occur. But since this is such a small, community and cultural event, I understand the importance of waiting for everyone to be in attendance to receive their awards. We went back and showered, Andy took a snooze, and we came back at 2 pm. The awards were presented by the totems in behind the Kaay Centre overlooking the water.

IT WAS PICTURESQUE. I received an award for being 2nd female in the marathon (time of 3:42.35…my third fastest time!) and it is honestly, without a doubt, the best award I’ve ever received in a race. Lots of races just have finishers medals, or if there are not finishers’ medals then they do age group medals. They are pretty generic. Since we are on the edge of the damn country, it’s not like they have access to mass-produced awards….so I was given a necklace carved out of black stone, with the Haida eagle & raven on it, and the Argilllite stone that I am told only Haida are allowed to harvest (made by local artist Tyler York). It’s pretty damn special.

2nd place female award

All of the award winners from each event-Marathon, Half Marathon and 10km

After awards, the rest of our trip began. We were only staying three more nights, but we made the most of it and the best we could with a toddler. We walked 400 metres every morning to the playground. And we walked 100 metres from Dave & Heidi’s house to a trail that was a rainforest. We went to a beach, we ate good food, we had a blast!

Hiking trails right behind David & Heidi’s house

Beach before heading to dinner (Notice the monkey swinging on the rope….)

Dinner at Blacktail in Queen Charlotte

Andy approved of our meals that evening!

Berries are everywhere! Ever heard of THIMBLEBERRIES? Yeah, I hadn’t. Andy LOVES THEM. Find them everywhere! We drove out to see the site of the Golden Spruce (I had never read about this act of eco-terroism, but we found out about it whilebeing here. Well, Dan knew but I did not. It’s super interesting actually!) Wesaw ancient carved Haida canoes, we walked random trails, we did beach walks, we dined on friends’ patios that overlooked the ocean….we did as much as we could. And I know there is more to do.

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THE BERRY MONSTER!

Golden Spruce Trail is really accessible for all ages

Since I did in fact drink the water at St. Mary Springs on our last day while doing an outing, I know I will “be back”. But even before that,I know I NEED to be back. Our family needs to be back. And if you are interested in travelling to an amazing island in British Columbia, that feels a worlds’ away, you should too. Even if you don’t run. But if you do run, and want to add a bucket-list race, why not run on the Edge of Canada?

Read the sign….I drank the water, so I will return to the Islands someday!

Dinner on our last night at a friends’ house.  THE END!

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Coulee Cactus Crawl

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I ran this as an unexperienced soloist in 2013, then as a last minute team member for leg 2 in 2018. This year, my husband and I opted to run as team “Danada & Miss America” for the 25th anniversary event. This event was now lengthened from 20 miles to 25 miles in length. You could choose to run the 5 legs of the race however you want between you and your relay partner(s). The interesting thing for this race that since there are 5 legs to it, you could have a relay of up to five people. Dan and I decided two would be the way to go, and I am very happy with how it all went!

I was nervous the day before the race, as the smoke from the wildfires up north had travelled south to our area. Not nervous just for us as runners, but nervous for Andy as a spectator. He would be outside with us all day at the race, as we would be trading him off at each relay checkpoint. Thankfully, the smoke cleared and all we had to battle through was the heat.

Before the race

We had originally planned for Dan to run legs 1 & 2 and I would run legs 3-5. Dan started off what with what seemed to be a conservative pace. About 20 minutes into the leg, my phone rings. It’s Dan. WTF….you should be running….He said “be ready to run leg 2.” With that statement I had no clue what type of shape he would be in coming to the transition area. He came through in a decent time, and actually had us 2nd in our category (mixed relay <40 years old). I headed off to the 2nd leg.

Playing around at the transition area for leg 2

I had messaged him before heading off stating I would run leg 2 & 3 and hope he could do 4, and then I would do 5. This is what ended up happening. Dan was recovered by the time it got to leg 4 (which was just leg 2 in reverse) and his main issue was the pressure the water belt was putting on his stomach. At the end of leg 2 we were still in 2nd place, but then during leg 3 (when presumably other teams had a fresh runner take a spot) I slid our team down to 4th place. This was the longest and most challenging leg, and I was happy to have a little break.

During these breaks we were basically just shuttling Andy and ourselves to the different transition areas. Andy was a CHAMP! It was hot out, but we kept him under umbrellas and in the shade. With the help of our friends who were also running as teams or spectating, we had such a great crew surrounding us. It’s awesome to have a random selection of people to pass your kid off to when you have to use the bathroom before heading off on your leg of the relay!

My pale-skinned men waiting for me during leg 3!

So Dan made up some epic time in leg 4. We were in 4th in our division when I came in after leg 3. When Dan tagged me off for my portion of the race he had climbed back up to 3rd place. With our friend Nick on the team in 4th place, I knew my burnt out legs (which had already ran 10 miles) would have some work to do in order to stay ahead of his fresh legs (he was running his first leg of the race).

Andy fell asleep finally during leg 5 and the post race celebration

I somehow mustered to hold on, bringing our two-person relay in with a time of 4 hours 23 minutes even. I was really proud of how Dan and I adapted the race on the fly given how he was feeling, and how we were able to hold on and place in our division with just two of us! We had so much fun that day with each other, our friends, and with Andy. We are looking forward to our upcoming race weekend in Fernie, where we will be doing another relay together. This one is a set two-person relay, and thankfully a lot of our same great friends will be out there too. Hope Andy does as well as he did here!

Post race beverages and fun!

Boston Marathon 2016-Post from Mom

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And here is my mom’s straightforward look at her experience spectating me at Boston Marathon 2016!  My husband will do a post on his, and mine will follow. 

My daughter has asked me to do a guest post about my experience at this year’s Boston Marathon. Let me start by saying that my excitement began when she qualified on May 3, 2015 in Vancouver, BC. As soon as I heard this from her, I immediately called Kathy, my best friend from high school, who lives northwest of Boston, & asked if she’d like a visitor the following April. She’s been asking me to visit for years, but I was holding out waiting for Andrea to get her BQ time. Even though Kathy has lived in Massachusetts since 1978, she’d never experienced the Marathon so she was as excited as I was.

Our Marathon Monday began by catching the commuter train from Lowell, where she lives, to North Station in Boston. This is about a 40 minute trip but the only way to go, especially on this day. Once in Boston, we transferred to the Green Line C train to meet my son-in-law Dan in Brookline, where they were staying, to watch for Andrea as well as her friend Bob Higgins & Dan’s cousin Erin Moore. We arrived about 20 minutes later than planned due to all the people & traffic, but still had plenty of time to go grab something to eat & drink. After that we found a spot at mile 24 & watched & waited. I was being updated on her splits by AT&T & also watching her, Bob & Erin on the BAA app, which by the way was slow in updates but did have a map that tracked them which was a big help. We saw Bob & a bit later Dan spotted Andrea first & I guess recorded her coming up to us. I tried to get a picture, but failed. She stopped to give Dan a kiss & me a hug then continued on her way. She certainly didn’t look like she had already run 24 miles! Dan wanted to hang around to see if he would spot Erin, so Kathy & I decided to head into Boston to meet up with Andrea in the Family Meeting Area.

We should have stayed with Dan. Two trains passed us because they were full before one stopped to let us on. Unfortunately, we didn’t realize this one was not going as far as we needed. It stopped two stations before & we had to get off. The station was jammed with people who had just left the Red Sox game, so Kathy said we should just walk since it was less than a mile. If we could have just gone from point A to point B it would have been fine, but streets were closed & there were so many people it was like salmon swimming upstream. Not sure how long it took us, but Andrea texted me to say that Dan was on his way & she’d let me know when he got there. We were still trying to make our way to the area when Andrea told me to just stay where we were & they’d come to us. Thank goodness for cellphones. We met them outside of the Westin Copley Place hotel, decided to just go in there for something to eat & drink, & all was well with the world.

I’m very proud of my daughter, happy I got to see her run in this race that she worked so hard to qualify for, but will never again venture into Boston either on race day or the days surrounding it. Way too many people everywhere for me to contend with. I plan to go back to visit Kathy & see more sites in & around the area again, but not during Marathon Weekend for sure.

“Run the Trailbreaker” Recap

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Back in 2013, I “Ran the Trailbreaker” when I was home for Easter.  It was the start of my racing season, with my ultimate goal being completing the Dopey Challenge in January 2014.  I was surprised at that race when I beat my former personal best, running a 1:52.53.  Little did I realize at the time (I am still realizing it now) that this race lit some fire under my feet and I’ve been pushing ever since.

It was great to be back for Easter in Wisconsin this year, and even better that the Trailbreaker fell on the same weekend I would be leaving.  While I knew catching my flight would be tight, I still signed up for the 9:30 am half marathon start.  What was even better was that two of my close friends, Melissa and Gretta, would be running also!  I was able to meet up with them the night before the race, back in our childhood homes, but also got to see them race morning.

The week of Easter was actually pretty nice weather.  However, Wisconsin weather has a mind of its own and it decided that a snow/sleet/hail/rain combo at barely above freezing would be smart.  Thanks a lot!  So, race morning was less than desirable.  I have admitted before I actually like running in the cold…but the rain and wind and then slushy melting snow on the paths is nothing close to fun.

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Looking out to my mom’s driveway at 8 am race morning

I really didn’t know what to expect from this race, as I had eaten and drank too many Wisconsin indulgences over the course of me being home.  In my mind, I had a lose goal of breaking 1:40.  (My personal best is a high 1:35, which I ran last year at the Calgary Hypothermic Half).  I ran a mile warm up and realized it would be slippery.  I knew I didn’t want to fall or do anything stupid, which would then ruin my ability to run in Boston, so I thought that maybe just taking it easy and being in the mid 7:30s-7:50s may be best.  Either way, 9:30 hit and I was off.

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Staying inside before the last minute of race start with Melissa & Gretta!

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Immediately after the National Anthem, we shot this gross selfie.  Note the hail in my left eye.  Gross

The first mile wound us through downtown Waukesha and then we were eventually on some pathways.  The bridges were so slippery!  Almost every picture that was taken catches me looking down on a bridge as I was scared to fall.  It is an out-and-back course, that takes us on to part of the Ice-age trail.  For it being a nasty day out, and a relatively small race, there was still great support from both friends, family and volunteers.  Lots of volunteers were located at any and every confusing intersection or turn.  The first 7 miles there were always a handful of runners around me, either passing, me passing, or us interchanging positions.  I ran respectable times of 7:30, 7:52, 7:51, 7:56, 7:47, 7:48 and 7:50.

By this time the turnaround was near…or maybe I had hit it.  Either way, I knew I was third female, but 4 and 5 weren’t far behind.  The way back was going to be much easier, in theory, as the sun was starting to try and come out and the wind would be with us.  I started realizing I had gas left in the tank and I may as well push and get this thing done.  I did have a plane at 3:00 pm to catch after all!

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Yes, I run in pink socks as much as possible!  My feet were soaked here.

I started pushing, and slowly my splits started getting near to where my goal half marathon splits are.  I held on to 3rd female, and even passed a few males in the process.  I ran miles 8-13 in 7:24, 7:29, 7:31, 7:19, 7:23, and 7:37!  This was the reverse of my disaster back in September at the Lethbridge Police Half, where I went out very fast and had a near meltdown in the river bottom!  And the best part of this was that I ran a 1:39.37!  3rd female out of 98, 2nd in my age group out of 17, and overall I was 11th out of 168!  

I didn’t have much time to rest, as I really did have to get on the messy roads and drive the 35 minutes back to my mom’s house.  My whole body was shaking, and some weird muscles in my leg that I didn’t know existed kept twitching.  Either way, I was beyond pleased.  I hit my goal time, I ran negative splits, I was able to see my good friends, my ailing foot held up fine, and I was able to run in my home state of Wisconsin.  A fine way to end the Easter Holiday! 

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Mustache Dache 5km Milwaukee-Race Recap

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I last wrote about my Tyranena Beer Half Marathon which was held on Saturday, November 8, 2014. That race was all about fun and helping Kirby get her best half marathon time (which did happen!). The next day, because of my planning, we had registered for another race…sort of my own mini “Challenge” weekend (Dumbo Double Dare anyone?). I had found while searching through Milwaukee area events that the Nationally held “Mustache Dache” would be stopping in Milwaukee on Sunday, November 9th. Of course we had to sign up! I told Kirby we were doing it (she was a little uncertain about this given that we would have done the half the day prior) and I encouraged my friend Maureen and her husband-to-be Ryan to sign up too. Before we knew it, 8:20 am Sunday rolled around and Maureen & Ryan were at my mom’s door to pick us up and head downtown!

I was looking forward to this race for three reasons. 1) I would get to do a 5km right in downtown Milwaukee, something I never have gotten to do. 2) I would get to do it with some of my best friends! And 3) I wanted to break my 5km personal best of 22:09, which was from the Milwaukee Brewers Sausage Race 5km from August 2003.

The day before was chilly for Tyranena, and today was no different. Add the fact the wind was coming off of Lake Michigan and it felt even colder. The race was said to be held at Veterans Park, which YES, it was. But we were all idiots and just assumed that meant starting at the War Memorial. So we assumed we would need to park in a structure. We decided to drive past the memorial to see where the race would be, and everything seemed desolate. No one was anywhere to be found. It was 8:50 am, and the race was scheduled for 10 am. We drove around a bit more and headed toward the kite stand at McKinley Marina (everyone back home knows what that is!) and VOILA! There was a small assembly of volunteers and a DJ setting up, and an empty parking lot to park in for free!

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We sat in the car bundled until we could go get our registration packets. We also spent this time trying to put on these crappy Dollar Store mustaches Maureen had bought. That at least kept us entertained and gave us some great photo ops!

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Speaking of photo ops, as Maureen and I were sticking out heads through the kite store cardboard sign pretending we were at Disney World using our Photopass, someone walked by and causally shouted “isn’t this race a little short for you Lammers??!!” Wtf. I have a buff on my head and a mustache stuck to my face, my head in a cardboard cut out….who here knows me? I sprint over to the guy who yelled at me, and lo and behold it is my Franklin Track & Field long distance coach from my senior year, Mr. Thorpe. So funny running into him, and nice to chat with him too. He would be running in the race also, but, I then found out he is in charge of the Milwaukee Movember chapter, which raises funds for men’s health and prostate cancer research. Last year they earned over $100,000! Amazing!

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Runners assembled near the start around 9:45 for the National Anthem, which to me was a tad ridiculous, as the Mustache Dache mascot Mo held the flag. Stay weird Milwaukee! Prizes were given to people with the best REAL mustaches and then for the people with the best costumes. Pretty soon we were lined up to the start and off we went!

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I ran off with a mission to complete-break 22 minutes. I would need to run 7:10 minute miles to comfortably do this. I knew mile 1 would be no issue (ran it in 7:00 flat) but mile 2 and 3 would be tough. At this point, the leader was off in the distance, but a man had ran up next to me. The only words I spoke was “I wanna break 22”. He nodded, and we would continue running together for the duration of the race. The wind was a bit tricky in spots, but when the wind was with us, I pushed extra hard to make up for the points for when it was a wall. Mile 2 was completed in 7:07….holy shit I could do this!

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The last mile of the race had you run down a peninsula that jutted out into McKinley Lake Marina, and then you turned around to head back to the finish line at the kite stand. After this turnaround I could see I was in a great spot for first place women. I kept pushing with my eyes on the finish line. Buddy who was next to me sprinted off when we hit the mile 3 marker and I tried to keep up. He got me on that last 0.1 miles, but what I got was a new personal best….21:08 to be exact! 1 minute and 1 second faster than my 11 year old record!

I was ecstatic. I not only beat my best time, but smashed it, and was able to do it while back home in Milwaukee! I got some watered, wandered around and cheered Ryan on into the finish line. He use to run cross country back in the day but hasn’t done much running for some time. Later that morning he would say that he wanted to sign up for more 5km races again!

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Kirby and Maureen had fun too. They used the “Dache” as a time to catch up and chat, as they hadn’t seen each other since my Wisconsin wedding reception in May 2011.

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They did a small award ceremony, where prize winners received a “Mustache Dache” cup. All the medals, shirts and cups were nice, but since this is a national race, they only had the national logo on it, and did not note anywhere that this was in Milwaukee. That is my only “complaint”, albeit a petty one.

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I got called up separately at the start of awards to be recognized as the first place female, so that was cool! I was hoping they would mention I came all the way from Alberta from this, but I should just be happy they could pronounce my whole last name. Funny thing—earlier on they posted printed results as people were finishing. I looked for my name and at first couldn’t find it, as I always look for the longest last name possible. Turns out that apparently on that print out my last name didn’t fit horizontally so it just said ANDREA. On the official results it has everything though!

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So glad I was able to do this race while home and get my friends to tag along too. Afterwards we headed to the Milwaukee Public Market, where I spent way too much money, and to Wicked Hop for brunch, where I ate was too much food (Virgin Bloody Mary with extra toppings, biscuits & gravy, eggs, and a bratwurst patty). But. I think it was all well-deserved!

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Thoughts So Far….

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Yes, I am still in Walt Disney World. Today was day 10 of our 16 day extravaganza. We are now turning the corner on the weekend and heading into the home stretch! So far, Maureen and I haven’t wanted to kill the other person yet. And that is step one. We keep joking it is like we are back living in a college dorm, and that joke is even more of a real fact right now because as I type this, Maureen is out of the room roaming the balconies of Pop Century talking on her phone and looking for cell phone service. Oh man.

So many of you who read this are my friends and family, so you probably have seen a lot of my updates on Facebook or Twitter. So instead of posting a ton of photos and rehashing a bunch of stuff you may have already noticed along the way during my travels, I am going to touch on a few key Best & Worst Moments of this visit so far. Bear with me here—-I am working on adrenaline, magic and wine.

Worst Ride in Walt Disney World
Holy shit. I read all the blogs about it, but didn’t believe it could truly be that bad. If you have someone in your group that suggests trying this ride, shut them down, or please skip it yourself. Stitches Great Escape is so horrendous, I wouldn’t wish it upon my worst enemy. Maureen did determine the small target audience is ages 4-6, because at that age you have some understanding of simple jokes and are amused by pointless humor and bad effects. Never again!

Best Ride Refurbishment
Test Track. While the ride system is the same as the original, the theming was redone by the new sponsors, Chevrolet. We were both hesitant, but were pleasantly surprised with the main feature of the ride—designing your own vehicle to “test” on the SimTrack. It is fun designing your vehicle in the reshot and we have a good time seeing how it performs on the course. Also, the post show area has lots to do.

Best Ride Surprise
Enchanted Tales with Belle! We did this on our first rope drop morning, as we had heard the lines really get long later in the day. While we don’t have kids, we do have an appreciation for the cuteness factor…and this show has it. It’s an interesting mix of live entertainment, meet and greet, and walk-through experience. Every time will be different, as audience members participate. Highly recommend it, especially if you have small children.

Best Crockpot of Butter
No contest—this category was designed for the French Onion Soup at Les Chefs de France that Maureen had for lunch today. Now, we are not making fun of or complaining about the amount of butter we saw used within the soup….it was delicious. But Maureen knew upon seeing it arrive in front of her it was going to be a rough go.

Best Castmember
Oh, and our server at Les Chefs de France was awesome—his name was Mehdi. He was adorable. Had only been in Florida since August 1st. Told us in advance he is still learning his English, and it was his first day on his own at the restaurant. So maybe we had a soft spot for him right away, but he did a very good job, was super sweet and even asked us questions about where we were from and wanted to know where it was located. We could tell he had been a server before because he knew how to carry out lots of plates with ease. Mehdi—your boyish charm will win your tables over.

Worst Counter-Service Meal
The “butter chicken” I had at Art of Animation’s Landscape of Flavours. I have eaten butter chicken before from Indian restaurants back home, and other Indian foods also, and this was disgusting, it was almost laughable. Ew.

Best Child Meltdown
Actually haven’t seen a blown out chld meltdown yet. Those are saved for the adults this trip. But we have heard many kids saying some random-ass things. And one of the best was when it was 1 pm at EPCOT, pure sun, no clouds, 95 degree heat…and a set of parents were casually looking at the Yorkshire Fish Shoppe counter service menu, but they walked away. Their son, about 8 or 9, naturally exclaimed “Just pick one restaurant and stick with it, COME ON!” He had to be hungry.

Best Adult Meltdown
Hands down had to be while at Cinderella’s Royal Table for dinner. And this isn’t one adult, but a whole family that wins the award. Family came in for dinner and immediately started arguing—between the one teenaged daughter and the dad. Mom tried to calm it down telling them to just drop it, and to get over it (must have been from an existing argument earlier). Long story short, dad dramatically left (he was in a wheelchair so it was dramatic as he had to leave but then wait for the elevator), then the problem daughter started crying, mom started getting pissed, second daughter started standing up for her sister, and then mom told them to just wrap up the food and she left. And to top it off, the two daughters were on our bus ride back to the hotel later that night. Nicely done family. Way to waste approximately $250 on a dining experience.

Best Feature of Pop Century Resort
The white blanket on the bed. Wrote a note to the housekeeper to keep using the soft white blankets instead of the nasty pink ones (didn’t write nasty) . They are luxurious. And appreciated in this value resort dorm room.

Worst Feature of Pop Century
The cockroach Maureen found in the bathtub that I had to try to get out, but then disappeared down the drain. And currently, the alarm going off in a nearby room which is obviously unoccupied at the moment. Ahhhhhhhhhh.

Best Character Photo
Our Toy Story friends meet up, where I got to recreate my dad’s photo from April 2003. The picture says it all.

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Only five more full days in the park to go! So many more things to occur…..what will happen next?

16 Days of Disney Shenanigans are About to Occur…

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I have visited the Walt Disney Resort on 14 vacations – 6 of these vacations have been with my parents, 3 of them were with my high school dance team, 3 of them were just my mom and I together, and 2 of them have been with one of my best friends, Maureen. On August 1st, her and I will be heading on our third trip to WDW, but this time we aren’t messing around—we are going for 16 days!
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We knew about a year and a half ago we were going to be heading on a WDW trip together in August 2013, and originally we thought maybe a week. We are great travel partners and most importantly, the way we both want to tour the ‘world’ is the same—–early morning alarms, be first at every gate to enjoy a rope drop, cry tears of happiness at every possible moment, eat tons of food, and overall do every possible thing we can.
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So why are we going for 16 days? Simple answer—because we can. But, it really isn’t all that simple. Maureen and I are both teachers, her back in Wisconsin and myself up in Alberta. Summer trips work best for both of us. And historically, the WDW Resort has value rate pricing in mid August, so it makes hotels more affordable. The last two trips together, we stayed at Pop Century—we like to refer to it as Pop Century Resort & Spa…..but it’s anything but. I’m not going to knock it—it serves its purpose. It’s a Disney value resort on property, with a solid location and good bus service. You can get pretty low rates during value season, and if you get a AAA rate like we did the last two times, it makes it even better. Add on to it that we split the room cost and it makes it really affordable. We swore the last trip, though, we were staying moderate the next time. Maybe even a non-monorail deluxe resort! We just couldn’t handle the craziness of this resort again….
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…flash forward to our planning for this trip. Maureen has a friend who works part time at WDW and he offered to use one of his family and friend rates for us for our stay. Well, lets just say the discount is ridiculous. So, it was either we stay at a moderate for 7 days OR we go back to the Pop Century Resort & Spa for 16 days for basically the same price….

We chose to go back to the “spa.”
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So from August 1-16th, Maureen & I are moving in to Pop. We joke we need to do a change of address with the post office….we are going to be gone for a about 1/24 of a year….but this is a time in our life where we both still don’t have kids, so we can manage and afford to go away for this long. And since we are both Disney fanatics, there is no discussion ever of going anywhere else together.
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Expect random updates and entries the next few weeks, but they will probably all be Disney related. So if you read this just for running, you will have to wait until my Spartan Race 5km on August 18th in Calgary. Actually, there may be running segments in my posts, as I run after getting a fast pass after rope drop to meet Maureen across the park at a different ride! This trip is the first step to my RunDisney experiences, however. I have been so pumped for this trip, and then it gets me equally excited for my trip in November for Disney’s Wine & Dine Half Marathon and my January trip-of-a-lifetime when I compete in the Dopey Challenge during Disney Marathon Weekend.
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