Tag Archives: vacation

Berlin Marathon 2018

Standard

Wow. We conquered the Berlin Marathon! What a crazy experience it was! I could write multiple blog posts, all very long, detailing the day by day events. But, it’s 9 pm on a Friday…I am worn out, sick, and have an 11 month old who may wake up middle of night! So I’m doing a small recap that’ll touch on some details I think are worth noting, especially if you are contemplating making the trek out to do this race.  update.  It is now Sunday.  I hope to finish this post today!!!

Pre-event issue…I started feeling sick on the Tuesday before the race. At first I thought it was just my body being sore after boot camp, but I think I was just wearing out. On the drive to my in laws on Wednesday, I started popping cold medicine because my nose was a running machine. Great…a transatlantic flight is upon us and I feel like trash.

I think the whole adrenaline of the trip made me feel better, because once we got to the airport I just forgot about it. But the transatlantic flight was tough. We left at 6 pm Thursday. It was my first time flying overseas and the first leg of flight was 9+ hours from Calgary to Frankfurt. Neither my husband or I slept well. But we kept pushing. By the time we got to Berlin it was 2:30 pm (8 hours ahead of home). Our only confusing transit issue in Berlin was getting from the airport to hotel. We hadn’t researched which “zone” we were travelling to, and the lineups at the machines to buy tickets were long with a lot of other confused people. We did make it to our hotel eventually…freshened up, changed, and headed to the expo.

img_0027

img_0031-1

The expo was very easy to get to from our hotel. I booked our hotel on Priceline in December and got it at a rate of $82 USD/night. It was walking distance to the Friedrichstraße station, which could link you anywhere. And also walking to the start/finish by Brandenburg gate. We got to the expo quick, and arrived around 5pm.

I’m glad we didn’t have anything we really wanted to stop and purchase because this was the first instance we realized this event was going to a semi-organized chaos. The room to pickup your race packages were in the way back of the old airport hangers, and everywhere around you there were lines. And the lines weren’t straight, just a mosh pit of people pushing through. Luckily I had preordered us two event shirts (no shirts included in registration fee) so we didn’t have to push through people to buy them. Just had to find that line to pickup.

img_3631

img_3632

We didn’t spend much time at the expo. We headed back to the hotel, went out way too late, and then slept in the next day. It was the day before the race, so in theory we should have been taking it easy. But seriously…we were in Berlin. We needed to see as much as possible.

We did a short shakeout run by the river. After changing and finding food, we then trekked around Berlin seeing all sorts of sights. Highlights included Humboldt University, Reichstag, Checkpoint Charlie, Hitler’s bunker, Berlin Wall memorial, and Topography of Terror. We also had a group dinner that evening for all of us in the Runners Soul group. Ate at a fantastic Italian place called Via Nova II. By the time Dan & I made it back to the hotel we had clocked in 11.5 miles. Time to rest for the marathon!

img_0063

img_0089

img_0115

Marathon morning cake bright and early. But with this being a 9:15 am start time for the elites, and our hotel so close to the start, we didn’t have to get up at a ridiculous time. We had pre-bought some breakfast items the night before and I went to the McDonalds two blocks away to get coffee at 6:15 am, so we were set. The group met at 8 am for a photo and then we all dispersed.

Biggest thing to know about this race is that the Europeans “organize” things differently. 44,000 runners and I’d guess the number of pre race porta potties available were 1/10 of what was available at Boston (25,000 runners). My friend Heather waited 45 minutes to use one and missed her corral start. Dan and I stood in line for about 15 minutes and then left the race grounds to go to a cafe, pay 0.50 euros at a turnstile, and use their bathrooms. People were pissing all over the park on their way to the corrals. It was disgusting. I don’t know if the city just doesn’t have the supply of porta potties or what, but you’d think since they’ve been doing this race for 44 years they’d know it’s an issue.

img_0124

So the race itself.  Well, it was 26.2 miles through Berlin and my Garmin clocked it as 26.44 miles.  That’s bound to happen in a race this large with all the weaving going on.  Instead of going through a mile by mile recap, I want to just note some key things during the race.

  1. I was in the second wave of runners, in corral E.  You could just jump into any corral with no one checking your bib…I didn’t have an issue with people around me being in an incorrect corral (up too far) and I was able to weave myself pretty close to the start of our corral.  I was about 10 deep to the left of the start area.  It was an awesome feeling at the beginning with thousands of runners being let off at once!
  2. I kept on perfect pace through the half marathon point.  I actually had a 1:47.30 once I crossed the timing mat, which if I were to have replicated that exactly in the second half I would have had my goal of 3:35.00
  3. My legs started to cramp and tighten in my hamstrings and quads around mile 9.  I am guessing due to transatlantic travel and the ridiculous amount we walked the days prior while touring
  4. Water stations were plentiful, and were also stocked with gels (which I heard tasted disgusting) and fruit later on.  The issue I had with these water stations is that it was not like when you run a race in North America….no “excuse me” or “sorry” or people being aware of those around you.  I got smashed into by no less than a dozen sweaty men during the course of the race as they plowed into the water stations.  Even when I would raise my hand up once getting water to signal I was walking someone would plow into me.  The etiquette I am used to was not present here.
  5. On the website, they said there were 40,775 runners representing 133 nations who finished, with 12,332 being women and 28,443 being men.  So while we are used to races in North America being pretty closely represented by women and men, this european race was not.  Also, while all of Berlin seems to speak English, the race participants I was around did not.  There was no one I could have a conversation with when I started to struggle at mile 16.  Everyone was so serious.
  6. Once I got to mile 16, I knew I needed to slow up and try to just enjoy the last 10 miles.  That’s when I started getting more frustrated with the lack of people around me who I could talk to while running, and all the pushing and shoving by the water stations.  I will say that the course is shaded pretty well in areas throughout, with no long stretches of blazing sun.  This was important because it was actually quite warm compared to what I would be used to doing a marathon in.
  7. For better or for worse, I stopped at the bathroom after mile 20.  Then, lo and behold, Marissa from our Runners Soul group came up behind me.  She was having frustration also and just wanted the race to be “fucking over.”  I now had my person to talk to the last 6 miles!
  8. We had a ton of fun in the last stretch, stopping for water and fruit when we could.  Just past mile 25 someone had a makeshift beer station so we stopped for a beer too!  Finishing as strong as we could in the final stretch through Brandenburg Gate was awesome, because each of us started to just pure on race one another to try and beat the other person.  Marissa’s chiptime came out on top by about 3 seconds.
  9. The finishing area was pretty well organized compared to the whole mess getting to corrals.  I wish I had selected “Poncho” instead of “bag drop” because the poncho that people got was nice.  And I was getting chilled in the shade as we waited for people from Runners Soul to finish.
  10. My husband came in about an hour later.  He started in a farther back corral than me.  I am so proud of him! He finished his second marathon with a 4:00.35 run, beating his first marathon by over 4 minutes.  Since the course ran long, he could have been under 4 hours if it had been less crowed.  And he also, along with four other guys, helped a Brazilian woman across the finish line.  And by help, I mean they carried her because she was passing out.  They just wanted her to finish.

img_0146

Below are a selection of the professional race photos (which I bought).  I will say that these photos are of higher quality than the Marathon Foto ones I am used to from North America races.  I wish I had seeked out more photographers for pictures before and after the race so I could have had some with Dan.

img_0320

And we are off!

img_0257

Somewhere in Berlin between miles 20-26.2 🙂

img_0250

Focused on finishing

img_0262

Probably my favorite photo, having an on course beer with less than a mile to go.  The tossing of the cup totally captures how we feel.

img_0278

Brandenburg Gate in the background and coming into the finish!

 

img_0249

Berlin Marathon finisher!

THIS WAS AN AMAZING EXPERIENCE!  My husband and I would have not been able to take part of this if it wasn’t for Runners Soul in Lethbridge putting together a travel group.  Also, if I was not still on my sweet 1-year Canadian maternity leave (sorry Americans) then we could have not left the country during this time of year…teachers have a great amount of days off, but you can’t just take time off at random times!  Oh, and if my in-laws couldn’t have watched Andy for a week then this trip would have been impossible..We want to do more races overseas, particularly finishing the Abbott World Marathon Majors.  We have New York (yeah, not overseas), London and Tokyo left for myself.  Dan still needs Chicago and Boston too.  We hope that Runners Soul does more travel groups to these races and that we are able to attend.  Dan still does not love running.  However, he loves these experiences of seeing new places and being with friends.  On our drive back to Lethbridge we talked about races in the future we want to travel to.  It is awesome that we have a common hobby that we can enjoy together. Until the next race…..Auf Wiedersehen!

Advertisements

Next Stop…Berlin!

Standard

So. The time has come. My husband Dan and I are all trained and packed and ready to head on a whirlwind trip to Germany. The Berlin Marathon is this Sunday, September 16th! Friends have been asking “are you excited?! Are you nervous?!?” Of course I’m both, but I already feel more relaxed as I sit here in the car and we head up to Red Deer for the night. At this point, everything is packed for us an also everything is packed for Andy for his week at Nana & Gramps’ house. If anything has been forgotten, we’ll just have to go to a store.

A few weeks ago I was really starting to think about how this race will go for me on Sunday. While you can’t predict with certainty how it will play out, with my experience I am able to pinpoint pretty well reasons why this race will either 1.) be a success or 2.) be a mess.

Let’s start with the pessimistic view first:

Why it Could be a Mess

1.) This is the longest race I’ve ran since Spring 2016

While I trained all during my pregnancy and pretty damn quick after it, I didn’t put miles of over 13+ on until maybe late June of this year. And those were just training runs. And to go with that…

2.) I didn’t get in as many long runs as I would in previous training cycles

For this training cycle, I loosely followed my plan that was made for the Vancouver 2015 marathon. I did, however, adjust the weekend long run distances to align with what Dan and I would do together with the Runners Soul group runs on Saturdays. For distances over 15 miles, I had one 16, 18, and 20 miler during this cycle.

3.) The Stroller made my training runs a lot more challenging

I couldn’t get to the paces I wanted to hit as easily during training runs when I had to run with Andy.

4.) Training in the summer sucks

See above. That’s enough of a description

Now a bit more optimism…

Why it Could be a Success

1.) My consistency with training during pregnancy and postpartum has been awesome

37 weeks of prenatal running, a week where I couldn’t run before Andy was born, and then two weeks to recover…then back at it. I think that speaks for itself

2.) My August workouts were on point

Late in the training game workouts boost my confidence. The 20 miler went well (we even had Alyssa watch Andy so no stroller was needed!), I had some good goal pace workouts, and I got help from my friend Heather on speed workouts. The positive physical output gets my mental game set.

3.) The Stroller made my training runs a lot more challenging

So, since I’ll be running sans stroller on Sunday that should make it feel like a breeze, right?!?

4.) Training in summer sucks

I hate the heat. But it’s prepared me for if it’s a toasty day on Sunday!

All in all, I am set. I can’t change any of my bad training runs in this training cycle. I need to just move forward and do the best I can come Sunday. Maybe I’ll meet my ultimate goal for that race, but I need to recognize that even if the time doesn’t match up with what I’d like, the fact that I’m going out there to complete a full marathon just shy of 11 months postpartum is pretty bad ass.

August 2016—All in One Post!

Standard

So, I did around 3,500 miles this month!….

In my car.

I haven’t been active here lately, partly due to my roadtrip!  On July 31st, I packed up my trusty 2009 Pontiac Vibe and hit the road.  Along with the essential clothing, toiletries and podcasts to entertain, I also packed my 9 year old beagle, Snoopy.  Where were we heading?  We were going across the border south east to my hometown of Franklin, Wisconsin.  We had stopovers planned in Longville, Minnesota (my aunt and uncle live there).  Snoopy is an excellent travel companion; I honestly cannot say that enough.  He just curls up and sleeps the whole time, does not fuss, and is excited to arrive to any destination.  So I kept myself occupied by listening to a variety of podcasts and when I really started losing it I would talk to Snoopy.

IMG_2932

All packed and ready to hit the road!

 

We made it to my mom’s on August 4th, and we stayed until August 22nd.  During that time, I was able to see all of my family that lives in the area, attend a closing day of Badgerette Pom Pon camp (I worked for Badgerette for 5 summers), watch the State Distinguished Young Woman show with my friend Maureen (I won 2nd alternate back in it’s Junior Miss hey day), go to two travelling beer gardens, see a bunch of my friends back home, eat and drink my way through both Wisconsin State Fair & Zoo Ala Carte, go to my favourite Mexican restaurant 3 times, play in a bag toss tournament, and so much more.

IMG_3042

“Swimming” with Snoopy in Lake Wabedo in Northern Minnesota

IMG_3073

When you are in Longville, MN, you go to the Meat Raffle at the bar….and win!

 

The main reason I drove was so I would be able to bring back the remains of my childhood that was still housed at my moms.  It wasn’t that she was forcing me to take it, but I have been gone since 2008, so I figured it was time.  Yearbooks, photos, games, puzzles, Barbies, Littlest Pet Shop, etc, etc, etc….It is now all back in Alberta.  I also packed up some New Glarus Beer, a ton of Wisconsin cheese, 32 bottles of Sprecher soda, and who knows what else.  Snoopy and I arrived back in Lethbridge on August 24th.  Wow, it felt good to get back!  We both missed his daddy Dan and his brothers Woodstock and Faron.

IMG_3362

That’s for DAMN sure!

 

During that trip, I also started running.  I had done my first 5km run prior to the trip in a numbing time of 33:43.  I had walked and jogged a bunch during it.  That was on July 28th.  Remember, my foot surgery was on June 10th.  I had been given the clear I could start running after my 6 week post op on July 21st.  I did my first humid (SO HUMID AND HOT) Wisconsin run on August 7th.  It was a little 20 minute jaunt that average 9:40 per mile.  Oww.  On August 11th, I went out to try and beat my July 28th 5km time.  I did so handedly, running a 30:02!  So close to that sub 30!  I did a couple other 1-2 mile runs during my time in Wisconsin, but I wanted to try and get under 30 minutes.  On August 16th, I set out to do that.  I ran that 5km in 28:20!  These gains I have made in less than a month since coming back into running are huge.  I was going nuts not running for over 6 weeks, and taking this time to get my newly fixed foot used to running (and running properly) has been great.

IMG_3529

5km well under 30 minutes!

 

Since returning to Lethbridge, I am happy that the humidity is gone.  I have ran on August 25th, 26th and 27th, and the weather has been glorious.  The biggest highlight was yesterday, the 27th.  I went out to run a sole mile with the goal of getting between 8:00-8:15, a pace I was always easily able to obtain on my runs, and my sweet spot for my Boston qualifying pace.  I finished that mile in 8:14!  Guess what world…LAMMERS IS BACK!

And guess what today is?  Today marks the start of WEEK 1 of my GOOFY CHALLENGE training plan.  I have put together a very non-aggressive 19 week training plan with the goal of “comfortable completion” of the 2017 Walt Disney World Goofy Challenge, which is a half marathon on Saturday, January 7th followed by a full marathon on Sunday, January 8th.  The even more special thing about this race is that I will be running my 2nd WDW full marathon alongside my best friend Ali.  It will be her very first full marathon!  I will be there to support her through those dark moments (especially between miles 15-23!!!)  She has run half marathons before, and I have set her up with a training plan to coincides with her Spartan Race and Crossfit schedule.  It will be a weekend to remember!

 

pottagepose

The original “Pottage Pose” from the marathon portion of the 2014 Dopey Challenge in WDW

 

 

19 weeks is a LONG training plan.  When I ran the Vancouver Marathon in 2015 and Boston in 2016, I had an intense 16 week plan.  This plan does not include speedwork.  It just has two easy runs a week plus a long run on the Saturday.  Then, in late October, I add another mid distance run on Friday, which will help prepare me for the two day challenge that Goofy presents.  I am not going for any speed records at this race; I want to get my body back into running shape so I can begin to push myself again come the new year!

I have updated my 2016 race schedule, as I have a few local events in October and November.  I will be recapping those after they occur, and I will definitely be keeping you posted on how my Goofy training goes.  Until then, I need to get ready for my first day back at work tomorrow….Teachers start this week, with students coming in the day after Labour Day.  For teachers, this is our “New Year”.  Happy New Year to all the teachers, students and parents out there! 

Fly, Run, Fly, Run, Repeat….

Standard

I am in row 2A of this 18-seater aircraft which is about to leave the Lethbridge Airport. Where am I heading? Milwaukee, of course! It is Remembrance Day long weekend, and we have Monday and Tuesday off of work, so this is the perfect getaway weekend. I did the same thing last year when I headed to Disney World for my first RunDisney event-The Wine & Dine Half Marathon. So in order to get the most out of this weekend, I used a half personal day for today (Friday), and now I get to enjoy twelve fun-filled hours of travel. Getting to Milwaukee via air from Lethbridge is such a pain….but I am happy I can use my Airmiles for this flight (trip cost about $160 in taxes only. Round trips!) even though it requires an early flight from Lethbridge (5:20 am), a dumb layover in Calgary and leaving at 10:15 am, then leaving Toronto at 6:20 pm. What a day ahead….

IMG_6375.JPG

…But it is worth it! This weekend was first discussed back in June when my friend Kirby came out to Calgary for the marathon. She flew in and did the 10km, while I did the full, and we had a great weekend. Kirby is a friend from my University of Wisconsin-La Crosse days, and was one of my bridesmaids. She grew up about 40 minutes from me, so she is also a Wisconsin girl. We wanted to head back not just for a Wisconsin weekend, but a run weekend!

On Saturday, we will be running in the Tyranena Beer Half Marathon, out in Lake Mills, Wisconsin. Kirby has ran 3 half marathons, with her best time around 2:18, so we will run together on Saturday as I try to get her to 2:15! She is nervous about the cold, because while she grew up in it, she has been in Arizona since we graduated University! She is already in Wisconsin as I type this, and she told me she grabbed any clothing she owned that is remotely close to cold-weather wear! I told her that the cold will make her run faster as she will want to get more layers on!

In coinciding with my food/beverage overhaul, I am allowing myself the splurge of two beers after the race Saturday. Oh my god, those beers are going to be delicious. The beverage portion of my two-month experiment has actually been going smoothly—it is the food that isn’t. I am great with my whole-grain cereal/fruit/coffee breakfast and packed lunch…but dinner is a disaster. This week has been all over the place, with late nights at work and first aide recertification in the evening, so my dinners have not been the healthiest. And let’s be honest—a weekend in Wisconsin is never full of healthy food. I eat anything and everything I can’t get my hands on here.

Back to the running—so we are not just doing the Beer Half on Saturday, but we are also doing a 5 km on Sunday! It’s like a reverse RunDisney challenge, with a race two days in a row, but the longer distance first! A little over a week ago, I found some information about a 5km run down at Milwaukee’s lakefront—The Mustache Dache. It is a nationwide event, with runs happening in about a dozen cities. The name says it all-mustaches are encouraged, and this is a fun 5km! Since it is Movember, this run fundraised for prostate cancer research. I am really looking forward to this, as I have not done a “themed” run outside of Disney! And it won’t just be Kirby running on Sunday, but my friend Maureen and her fiancée Ryan are too! Kirby and Maureen are going to walk it, while Ryan and I push ourselves. He is like 6 ‘5″ though….so one of his strides will be 8 of mine.

IMG_6378.JPG
If you had read my Two-Month Experiment post, you would have also remembered I said I am doing a run-streak until Jan. 1st. So far so good….and yes, even today, on this day of travel. While I could have just maybe waited to get my single mile run in when I got to Milwaukee, I boldly set my alarm for 3:45 am today, and was out the door at 3:55. I ran a 9:01 minute mile and got ready for my flight. When I woke up my groggy husband at 4:25 am to drive me to the airport, he said I was dumb. Whatever Dan! I made a plan and I stuck with it!

Lastly, while my Twitter followers and friends on Facebook would have seen this, a casual reader may not have. I will argue with my husband that I am “dumb”, but I wouldn’t argue if he said I was crazy. Why? Because I have decided to give my quest for Boston one more shot. On Sunday, May 3rd, I will be running in the BMO Vancouver Full Marathon. You know how I said I am using AirMiles for this weekend worth of flights? Using them again for Vancouver, as I can head out Friday after work and be home Sunday evening, without missing a day at school. And going away for a race is always more fun, as a change of scenery and variety never hurts anyone, I have heard fantastic things about running in Vancouver, whether in this race of the SeaWheeze Half in August, so I became intrigued and investigated further. The fact I will be running at sea level is most exciting, and I know this can be used to my advantage since I live at 3,000 feet above! I figure with my diet change, my easy & consistent running in the last two months of 2014, and a training plan overhaul in 2015, I can make some real progress. I will be talking about this adventure more in the new year, but I figured I would let everyone know that I can wait to run in Vancouver, with the fantastic ocean views and more….Take Me to the Sea!

IMG_6374.JPG

Throwback Thursday….Disney Style

Standard

In anticipation for my RunDisney experience of my life, the Dopey Challenge, I decided to ask my mom to dig through the old albums and find a handful of “ugly” Disney photos from my trips back In the day. Now, her response immediately was “I don’t want to do this tonight….” Followed by “You weren’t ugly!” Then I restated it as “awkward” and she decided to do the searching.

She sent me 7 photos, in no particular order. However, I will sort them by years in order for your viewing enjoyment. The first photo is from my first Disney trip in October 1991. I was 7.

20140102-192519.jpg

This is fun and funny because 1.) I have a coordinating lavender and white tank with corduroy shorts. 2.). I have on a giant fanny pack with I am sure just a mini pack of Kleenex and room for my autograph book. 3.). My Mickey Ears don’t fit over my Afro. But I still love the cuteness and innocence of it all

Next up is also from October 1991. Enjoy me posing like a loser on the bridge in the Japan Pavillion at EPCOT:

20140102-192758.jpg

After 1991, we went again in 1993. That trip provided these gems:

20140102-192928.jpg

20140102-192943.jpg

From what I can gather by looking at these two photos….I enjoyed wearing MC Hammer Pants, windbreaker, hats that fit over my Afro, fanny packs were still cool, and I still enjoyed coordinating colors and plaid shorts. :::sigh::::

1995. Family trip #3. Short “Jerome” haircut that fits nicely under a hat, big bad glasses, and a cheesy grin. I think the Evil Queen says it all:

20140102-193233.jpg

1997 brought the times of shortalls and plaid tank tops. Did I think I was country? Or southern? Or cool? Sweet big pewter LOVE earrings too. This photo makes me smile, though, as it catches my dad and I sitting on the now defunk Mike Fink Keelboats. My Afro is grown out and I’m sporting a middle part. And dad is sporting an embroidered Disney Muscle shirt like it’s his job!

20140102-193503.jpg

After 1997, my looks and attire got less awkward. Who knows…probably in 5 years I’ll be laughing at crap I wore this year. But at least I grew out of my short Afro hairdo and bad glasses and fanny pack stage. Please note….my mom DID NOT send any photos including shots of her back in the day with us. I think I got my fanny pack skills from her 🙂

In closing…2000. Now in high school and too cool for posing for photos, so instead I’ll sink into the tube at Stormalong Bay at Yacht & Beach Club!

20140102-193747.jpg

16 Days of Disney Shenanigans are About to Occur…

Standard

20130727-183540.jpg
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!
20130727-183452.jpg
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.
20130727-183338.jpg
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….
20130727-183614.jpg
…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.”
20130727-183848.jpg
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.
20130727-183304.jpg
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.
20130727-183246.jpg

Disney Photo-Ops…It’s Tradition!

Standard

There is always something new at WDW no matter how many times you go. It may be a ride, event, show, merchandise, restaurant or hotel. But there are always things you have to do each trip. This may be eat at a certain restaurant, see a certain show, go to a specific park first when arriving. It may also be taking the same photo as you do every year. In the same pose. In the same spot. With the same people.

Photo-op traditions have become more significant to me as the number of Disney trips I have gone in has increased. Family trips to Disney World with my mom and dad total 6, however, my overall total is much more. I went to Walt Disney World 3 times in high school with the Franklin High School Pom Pon Squad as part of the Badgerette All-Star Talent Tour. My mom and I have gone together 3 times since my dad passed away. And my friend Maureen and I have gone twice together. And this year I am getting an annual pass, since Maureen and I are going for a crazy 16 days in August of this year…my mom, husband, and I are going for the marathon weekend in January…and my mom and I will also go next July for a week. So yes, the current visits total 14 times, but after this year I will have been to my favorite place on Earth 17 times. Insanity!

Photo ops with my parents didn’t get that crazy until in later years when I started to feel nostalgic. I started making my mom take photos of me in the same pose as older photos probably in Spring 2003. That was the year I was in Photography class in High School and we could do whatever final project we wanted. I did a family trip to Walt Disney World scrapbook, where I used black and white film and captured moments from our final family trip to WDW. I put them in an old-timely scrapbook, wrote our captions, and decorated it appropriately. It was at the end of this album that I did a few “flashback photos.Below is one example I did, where you have a photo of me in October 1991 on our first trip, on the carousel, and a second photo of me in 2003, attempting to strike the same pose.

20130324-143602.jpg

20130324-143644.jpg

Cute, right!?!? So now I make a point of doing photo-ops like these on trips I go on now. I love the nostalgic feeling and it reminds me of the great times we had on initial trips as a family. Another photo-op most people who visit WDW take part in is a photo with the wooden stockades as you enter Frontierland. I have a photo from every trip in this said stockade. And it all started with this solo photo in 1991:

20130324-144000.jpg
Please take note of my style and height. I am 7 years old and rockin’ a lavender and white tank top and corduroy short set. My fanny pack is gigantic, so I can fit my disposable camera and autograph book comfortably. I look to be in much pain, as I can barely reach the head hole. Go forward two years later, and it was a little better:

20130324-144214.jpg
October 1993. Again, matching tank tops and shorts must have been a thing, or at least it was for me. I upgraded my fanny pack to a gigantic pink one. Who the hell knows why? The only extra thing in there had to be my EPCOT “passport” that got stamped in every country. I didn’t do a good job of keeping it in there, though, as I left it in the United Kingdom bathroom. It did get recovered, thou. Phew! After 1993, it seemed like a good idea to add something to these annual trip photos. My dad:

20130324-144514.jpg
I am still a “style icon” with more patterned shorts and a coordinated tank top. However, the fanny pack has been ditched, since it is not cool anymore (Was it ever cool?). And I now do reach the stockade openings with no effort. But the addition of my dad in 1995 was glorious. He had his triple bypass surgery in June 1995, so this was a big trip for us three. In photos other than this one, you notice how thin he is, compared to his built-bulky-strong self we were use to. He never could fit his arms through those tiny openings, but he enjoyed posing with me anyway. May 1997 was the same old news

20130324-144828.jpg
Um, please…why didn’t someone tell me that my middle part in my hair was bad, that my ‘short-alls’ were ugly, and that I was a soccer player so I shouldn’t be wearing those Adidas shoes?. My dad was wearing his usual WDW garb-a muscle shirt, athletic shorts, sandals, and no sunscreen. Could it get any better?….

20130324-145027.jpg
Well, in June 2000 we messed up our positions, with me on the other side. But now I am back to what I was so good at back in the day-wearing patterned shorts and a matching tank top. Blue Hawaiian floral was so hot in the millennium…and I had a navy tank top to match. My dad coordinated with me well too, going for the American look of a red muscle shirt and navy blue shorts. Little did we realize his shirt coordinated so well with my unnecessarily massive red purse. Why do I always carry gigantic bags in WDW? In the heat nonetheless? I have to work on that.

So then there was one more family trip left. Spring break 2003. Little did we know this would be the last opportunity for a Dad-Daughter stockade photo. Even at 18 years old, I had to get this done. It was a tradition!:

20130324-145451.jpg
This one isn’t a total fashion disaster. Actually, we look pretty put together if I do say so myself. I now have jean shorts on and a crazy top, and dad has on his go-to athletic wear. I am hiding my gigantic purse somewhere, and we don’t look like idiots. We are happy to be in the stockade together.

Ever since this last trip I still always get a stockade photo taken, either by my mom or by Maureen. It has to be done! And this year maybe I can get Dan to start taking them with me, when we go down for the marathon. There are so many other photo-ops and traditions that occur on my WDW trips now, but this one is a personal favorite.

Below are three newer stockade photos, from August 2008, Spring Break 2010 (both trips with Maureen) and from August 2010 (with my mom). My mom has the photos from May 2004 and Spring Break 2006 at home, so I will need her to scan those for me…..hint hint Mom!

20130324-151234.jpg

20130324-151300.jpg

20130324-151323.jpg

and for one last final thought…lets take this full circle….Spring Break 2010…almost 20 years after the first carousel picture…

20130324-231541.jpg

And the seed was planted….

Standard

Today is the 2013 Walt Disney World Marathon. My college roommate Kim actually ran the half marathon yesterday with her dad! They raised money for the Scleroderma Foundation, and have really outdone themselves! Their fundraising page is here: Scleroderma-Kim & Tom LaGuardia. To see everything they have done in regards to awareness for something important and personal to their family, it makes me even more excited for this coming year and raising funds for the American Heart Association and the Heart & Stroke Foundation of Alberta, NWT, and Nunavut. That being said, I figured today would be the perfect day to start explaining the importance of Walt Disney World to my family. So far, I really have only talked about the running aspect, with a mention about Disney. But they really do tie in together, I swear. It may take a few entries for it to start making sense…but without this first trip to WDW in October 1991, I wouldn’t be planning a culminating crazy race weekend down there for January 2014.

Disney World was always someplace I wanted to visit. Might seem hard to believe that a preschool-age child really would want to go someplace, and have their mind set on it, but I did. My cousins Kevin, Jennifer and Kyle had been to WDW a few times when we were little, and since they lived two blocks away and I was always over there as a kid, I clearly remember looking at photo albums with them of their trips. I wanted to go! I remember the photos of the pool of Caribbean Beach Resort…I wanted this trip! I also remember commercials during this time frame for the soon-to-open MGM Studios. My Mom tells me that the decision to take a family trip to WDW was set in stone due to the fact that 1.) Auntie Debbie and Uncle Chuck and the kids went before and loved it and 2.) My dad and her wanted us to go on a family vacation someplace other than road-tripping to Birmingham, Alabama, to Grandpa and Grandma Lammers’ house and going to Perdido Key, Florida.

I can joke with my mom now that she is the cheapskate and that my dad wanted to spend money and do things together, though he never could carry out a vacation plan himself. I can now recognize that it was this trip that forever changed my dad’s vacation attitudes. And it created a monster.

My dad wanted us to go on a trip together, and let my mom plan this one to WDW, but he was still very reluctant. You have to understand that my dad didn’t really understand the whole theme-park excitement. He didn’t understand Disney at all. my dad had an amazing childhood, getting to travel and live in Switzerland for much of his elementary and middle-school years…but he never saw “Wonderful World of Disney” or “Wonderful World of Color”. He didn’t watch the “Mickey Mouse Club”. He really was hesitant because he did not understand how an adult could enjoy WDW. He went along with this trip thinking that it would be a one-time thing, and they were doing this for me.

The best things from this first trip are the things my mom tells me now. We stayed at the Polynesian Resort on the Magic Kingdom Monorail. We had only been there half a day, and were waiting for the monorail that next morning…and my dad straight-forward asked her “when can we come back?” My dad was not a vocal person, but he was having a great time already and wasn’t afraid to admit it. He got the Disney “bug” and I am thankful for that, since he was a driving force in planning the future trips.

This trip had lots of time spent at EPCOT and at the pool at our resort. Funny thing is, I hate swimming now! I still love EPCOT, and this stayed true through all our family trips. But at my age of 7, I still loved swimming. My mom is telling me right now (she’s sitting next to me, as she is visiting me in Canada for a few weeks) my dad and I were pissing her off because we would be at a park for a few hours and then beg to go back to the pool. This partnership of my dad and I teaming up against my mom would continue every WDW trip. While i was ages 7-18, it was dad and I getting our way at WDW…what we wanted to do, see, ride, eat…so it’s funny that he was the one who didn’t want to go in the first place, but loved every second of it.

I could go on and on reminiscing about this trip. But that is not the point, nor is that what I want to do. Hopefully this helps shed the light on why Disney plays an important part in my life, and why even after my dad has passed away the significance keeps growing.

20130113-115716.jpg

This beautiful father/daughter photo was taken on the beach at the Polynesian Resort. Please enjoy my dad’s striking USMC t-shirt that is so large it covers his signature Speedo. Also, enjoy my ridiculous Afro and matching ridiculous bikini. So gorgeous. Love the 90s!