Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Unplugged

Hey there!  No I have not forgotten that I have a blog :)  I am just taking a little time away to be "unplugged".  My sister was here for a visit last Thursday through Sunday, so we were out and about having fun in the sun!  And this week I have been watching the season finales of some of my "must watch" shows... Dancing With the Stars (all 3 finalists were great, I would have been happy with any of them winning);Glee (LOVED Rachel singing 'For Good' from 'Wicked'...  awesome!) and a little bit of American Idol... 
Monday night was the first episode of the new season of The Bachelorette.... wow, some of those guys are nutso - um hello weird mask guy.  And what about Bentley?  He seems like a total asshole.
I hope Ashley doesn't laugh at EVERYTHING this season, clearly she was nervous meeting all the guys for the first time.  Every season I have hope it will be "different", but it never is.  Sigh...
One thing that keeps me laughing throughout the season is reading the show's recaps on the Reality Steve blog.  He is hilarious and super sarcastic.  Be warned, he does have spoilers on his site, so skim the blog posts carefully if you do not want to find out what happens.  I don't know who is sources are, but they are usually right on.  It makes his recaps even funnier because he tells the story already knowing the ending, definitely giving you a biased point of view.

As always, thanks for stopping by to read my posts and leave comments - I love them! I will get back to posting more regularly soon!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Keys 100

Saturday I volunteered for the Keys 100 Ultramarathon down in the Florida Keys.  This is the second year I volunteer for this event and was site manager at the mile marker 60 stop.  Stops are set-up every 10 miles between Key Largo and Key West to support the participants who were tackling this 100 mile stretch of road uncrewed (no one driving along with them to support them throughout the course).  Why anyone would want to tackle the 100 miles between Key Largo and Key West on their own is beyond me, but 14 people were doing it on Saturday. 
These stops are where the runners have access to their drop bags which include food, Gatorade, dry socks, Biofreeze, Tylenol… basically any items they think they would need throughout the day.  They usually make it down to Key West within 24 hours, yup they go all night.
Most of the runners seemed in good physical condition and in a good state of mind 40 miles into the race when I saw them, but when I checked the results on Sunday, many ended up dropping out between miles 50 & 75.  I saw several people that I recognized from last year.  Some finished and some did not :(  For whatever their reasons for signing up for this race, you have got to give them credit for at least giving it a shot!
Keys 100 Ultramarathon
Mile Marker 60 rest stop
This guy carried the flag for all 100 miles!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Disney's Expedition Everest Challenge



Saturday night was the second time Annette & I competed as a team (All About the Medal) in Disney’s Expedition Everest.  We killed it!  Last year we finished in 1 hour 11 minutes, placing 49th out of 423 women’s teams, this year we finished in 55:32, placing 15th out of 420 women’s teams!!  We were so proud of ourselves :)  The winning women’s team finished in 47:01.

Some of my pictures in this post are from last year because we wore the same outfits and this year we had no time for photo shenanigans since we wanted to improve our time!
Packet pick-up was at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports Complex.  They have it set up like Base Camp, very cute!  This year I volunteered that day putting all the waivers in ABC order.  Seems like an easy job, but it took all day, and there was 3 of us!
Packet pick-up is set up like Base Camp
On Saturday night the race took place in Disney’s Animal Kingdom at 8:30pm.  There are 8 wave starts; since there are obstacles on the course they need to spread everyone out.  There was maybe 3,500 participates, definitely not as large as other runDisney events.
We were in Wave 6, with most of the other all-female teams, and started at 8:55pm.  It was pretty crowded the first mile, so we spent a lot of time going around people.  I hate that, Annette is definitely a more aggressive runner than I am, so she was ahead of me.  We thought the balance beam obstacle would be first (like last year), so I waved her ahead because I knew I would skip it because I hate heights.  Heights and band-aids, my two greatest fears… coming in third – beaks.  Yup, as in birds.  
Anywho, jumping over bails of hay was actually the first obstacle.  I was behind Annette at this point and really had to make up some time.  I was running way faster than I knew I could keep up with for 3 miles, so before even hitting the 2 mile mark I was pretty exhausted.  
Mile 2 = Heather dead!
(This pic is from last year)
We completed the 5k in 31:43 (I am the slow one) Annette really kicked my ass in this part of the challenge!  This was the second fastest 5k I have run, but like I mentioned earlier, I was running so much faster than normal in the first mile, it really did me in.
Course
Once we crossed the timing mats for the 5k, we headed over to where we got our first clue, little flashlight and Sharpie marker and then we headed back into Animal Kingdom for the scavenger hunt.  I love, love, love scavenger hunts.  Since Annette is the “speed” of this operation, I needed to be the “brains”. 
I got over my fatigue from the 5k and took control of the clues.  Annette was laughing afterwards because she didn’t even get a chance to see the clues.  She would hand me the clue and I would see where we needed to go, yell to her where to run to next and then figure out the answer which we needed to show the volunteers to get the next clue card.
The second clue was really hard and it took us at least 5 minutes to figure it out.  I even had to ask one of the volunteers for help.  It was a young kid, maybe 11 years old.  It was definitely an “Are you smarter than a 5th grader” moment for me.  That little kid was excellent though, totally gave good hints and was not at all flustered by this weirdo lady (me) saying over and over “I don’t really get it”.  After explaining it to me for the millionth time, he said “Go and figure it out and if you have any other questions come back over to me”…. LOL, he was the cutest!  Thanks little guy for your help!
We feel like we are on the 'Amazing Race'!
On our way to the next stop, I asked Annette how we were doing on time and she said “47 minutes”… what?!  I thought she meant 47 minutes just for the scavenger hunt (I am telling you that second clue threw me for a loop, it felt like 47 minutes!), but she meant 47 minutes total.  Once I realized this I was so excited and started running even harder to the next stop.  Our goal of one hour was definitely attainable.  We got the through the next two clues with no problem and then had to figure out the password to cross the finish line and enter the post race party.
I got the first 4 letters "m-o-u-n" and said this to the volunteer in the finish shoot.  She said I was half way there, so I yelled "mountain" and we were able to finish!  I think that when I yell out answers during a scavenger hunt it makes them right :)
As we were approaching the finish line there was a couple in front of us holding hands, with their arms up in the air, no doubt taking a great finishers photo.  I so wanted to push them over the finish line cuz they were going so slow!  LOL, now that would have made a good finisher's photo!
Our clues that all added together for
the password to the Post Race Party
Back side of the clues formed the map of Animal Kingdom
Following the Challenge is the post race party.  It's a good one.  Animal Kingdom is open only to race participants and their guests.  They have a dance party going on... also where they give out the awards.  The best part though is being able to ride the Expedition Everest roller coaster (2 times) and Kali River Rapids in the dark.  Animal Kingdom is rarely open late, so it is a treat to be there after dark.  
Goofing with Goofy at the dance party!
Annette's husband, Brian, and her sister, Christine, were also a team: Brains>Speed.  This was Christine's first ever race and it was Brian's fastest 5k yet, they did great!  Annette's neighbors, Tracy & Doug were also there - Team Rich... try a little harder on the name next year Doug.  They also did great!  
Christine's girlfriend, Buffy, was a spectator (and holding our bags for us - thanks!), but I think she may have been bit by the runDisney bug.  She told Christine after the race that she would be interested in doing this next year.  Yay!  
Me, Annette, Brian &
Christine with our medals
!
Also at the post race party was Brian's friend, Dave, and his girlfriend Wendy.  Dave handed us ice cold beers pretty much as soon as we saw him after the race, thanks!  Dave, on October 1st we'll set you up with race notifications for me, Annette & Leah so you can have those beers waiting for us after the half marathon!
Yet another great Disney race!  Only 117 days to go until the Disneyland 1/2 Marathon - can't wait!
Awesome medal and race bib!


Thursday, May 5, 2011

Up Next...

Disney's Expedition Everest Challenge!!!
 When:  Saturday night, 8:30pm
Teammate:  Annette
Team Name:  All About the Medal
Goal Time: 1 hour


This is a super fun 5k with obstacles followed by a 
scavenger hunt through Disney's Animal Kingdom.
 Last year Annette & I completed the Challenge in 1 hour 11 minutes and 
finished 49th out of 424 Women's teams. This year we both are faster at the 5K 
and we have a new strategy for the scavenger hunt so we are hoping to get 
it done faster and move way up in the standings.  We shall see!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Boston Marathon Weekend

Now that two weeks have passed, I am finally getting around to my recap of the Boston Marathon weekend.  It was a busy, fun-filled weekend in Boston with my family.  Of course the time flew by because we were having fun, but I know we all enjoyed every minute of it.
Obviously the highlight of the weekend was watching the 115th running of the Boston Marathon.  There were approximately 27,000 runners and I have to say it was probably the most exciting sporting event I have ever watched.  Granted you only see the lead runners for mere seconds, but to watch (for hours and hours), the thousands of runners making their way through the 26.2 miles was really something. 
When I arrived into town on Saturday afternoon we headed to the Hynes Convention Center for packet pick-up for the marathon (my cousin) and the 5K (everyone else).  We also split up and shopped at the expo for about an hour.  I got some new socks for me and some for a giveaway that I want to do one of these days :)
Marathon signs were all over the city!
Go Mandy go!

The 5K peeps
Who can resist shopping at the expo!?
Then we walked down Boylston for a couple of pics of the finish line


That night we had dinner in Boston’s North End.  It’s a great neighborhood known for its Italian food, yummy!  Dinner was followed by some amazing martinis at CafĂ© Florentine and of course one last stop had to made at one of Boston’s good ol’ pubs, Durty Nelly’s! 
L'Osteria - yes please!
Cafe Florentine has the best martinis in the city!
this is the effect they have on you...
and this too...  good times!
Sunday morning was the B.A.A. 5K.  Me, my parents, aunt, uncle, cousin and friend were all running.  3.1 miles around Back Bay and the Boston Common.


It was a really beautiful course and I enjoyed running at “home”.  I grew up about an hour north of Boston, so I have been visiting this city for years, I also worked here for 2 years.  It was fun to see the out-of-town runners taking pictures of the sights.  They were especially excited running past the “Cheers” bar.  It looks the same as on TV from the outside, but looks totally different on the inside.
The last part of the course we made a LEFT on Hereford and then a left on Boylston.  Runners who run the marathon know the famous last two turns in the race are RIGHT on Hereford and left on Boylston.  It was fun running down that last stretch on Boylston Street.  Seeing the blue arches ahead was very exciting, I can only imagine what it feels like after 26 miles!
We received awesome finisher’s medals and great Addidas tech shirts.  B.A.A. is first class all the way.
After the race we went to my cousins in Southie for brunch, thanks Mandy for hosting!
Awesome time with the fam!
Great tees and medals!
Marathon Monday started very early for me!  I had volunteered for the bus loading shift and I was to be there at 5:30am.  I wanted to volunteer early so I would be free to meet up with the family in time to see the actual marathon.
I think the bus loading went great.  500 buses and over 20,000 runners loaded and sent on their way to Hopkington in two hours was amazing.  I know some runners were cold standing line, but it was cold that morning and extremely windy… I know how they felt, I was out in the cold for 2 ½ hours!  The B.A.A. really does have their sh*t together, I look forward to volunteering again in the future.  Plus I loved the Addidas volunteer jackets were got :)
Bus loading on Boston Common

Love my volunteer jacket!
Once I was through volunteering at 8am there was still a few hours before meeting up with my family, so I headed down Boylston for breakfast.  I ended up at the Marriott in Copley where they had the start of the race on several TVs throughout the lobby.  The Marriott was in true marathon spirit and all the front desk workers, bell staff and concierge had on green Addidas tech shirts on…  green was definitely the color of the race! After watching the elite women start the race on TV, I headed out to Newton where I would be meeting my family at the Mile 17.
Boston was a fun place to be even at 9am that morning.  There were vendors and a big screen set up outside of the Prudential Center, people were already set up along the finish line on Boylston and in addition to the marathon, the Red Sox were playing at 11am.  There were a ton of Red Sox fans around and several bars already open and full of fans!
Big screen set up outside of the Prudential
Probably the most famous corner in all of running
I arrived in Newton just in time to see the wheelchair, push rim and hand cycle divisions go by.  I was surprised by how many spectators were already lining the course.  There was excitement in the air and we were cheering everyone going by.  There were also several groups of soldiers walking the course in full gear, god bless those guys and the USA. 



Since the night before we had heard there was going to be a 20 mph tail wind for the runners, I knew we would be in for some fast times – exciting!  According to the Boston.com viewers guide the elite women were expected in Newtown around 11:10 or so, but because of the strong winds, it was 11:05 when we saw the group of cars and trucks just ahead of the leaders. 

Kim Smith was still in the lead at this point
tight pack of elite women with
Kara Goucher slightly behind
 
Go Kara go!
Awesome pic of Desiree Davila!
The men came along only 10 minutes later.  It amazes me how that lead pack can run so close together.

How can they run so close?
Had my camera on sports mode and on zoom,
but I thought this picture was pretty cool!
Ryan Hall is the red and blue speck on the top left hand
side of the road.  Was to busy cheering for him to get a good picture!
Unfortunately my family was stuck on the T so they did not get to see the elites go by.  What can you do, there was still thousands of runners to cheer on.  We were yelling out every name we could see!  Motivation helps along the course no matter who it comes from!

My niece was cheering on the runners too!
Volunteers at the Mile 17 water stop
Love this picture!
The course was this crowded for hours!
Lily pretty much jumped into Amanda's
arms when she saw her, so cute!
Lots of runners took pictures of and commented on my sign!
That's why I made it - for them!!
Once my cousin passed by we headed back into town to meet up with everyone on Newbury Street. 
Bag claim between Boylston & Newbury
The restaurant we were at was only one block from Boylston, so my sister and I went over to see some of the finishers.


One last family picture before we all headed home!  GREAT JOB AMANDA!  Love that medal! 

Thanks for reading this extremely looong post, hope you enjoyed it!