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Monday, October 6, 2014

Volunteering is a TERROR!



After packing the car, gassing up and grabbing some Krispy Kreme, we were on the road around 9:30 this morning, off to Disney and the Tower of Terror expo.

Up the hill to the Expo
Our first stop was to head to the Expo, to pick up our credentials for tonight. After getting those, we walked around and checked out the expo a bit. I had to ogle the Sparkle Skirts – of course! – and I also wanted to check out ArmPockets. I recently got an iPod 5th generation, and my current no-name armband was too small.

I decided to get one of these, but in purple
Can I have one of each? 
After the Expo, we told the Garmin to take us to the hotel and it took us down this super-sweet backstage road called Sherberth Road.  It is right outside of Animal Kingdom Lodge, and takes us directly to Baymont/US-192!  I’m definitely gonna have to remember this trick!

Before checking in, we decided to just grab some lunch at the McDonald’s next door. It was very yummy (which usually happens when I’ve not had McDonald’s for a while!)

We checked in to Baymont and were given a room on the 5th floor at the back of the property. You can see Everest from up here! 

Out of the picture, to the left, is Tower of Terror, the Earful Tower, Summit Plummet and Swan & Dolphin!
We unpacked and attempted, unsuccessfully, to take a nap.  Mostly we just chilled, and then we were back up at 5:30 to get ready to go to the Magic Kingdom.

We don't need no stinkin' comforters!
We picked up some Gas Station Nachos™ and Slurpees at 7-Eleven, but the shortcut to the Magic Kingom (via Sherberth) was so quick, we didn’t have a lot of time to enjoy said nachos!

We parked at the big, white tents in the Magic Kingdom parking lot and checked in with the volunteers.  We were given a bright yellow tee shirt, a lanyard, a flashy/blinky button thing and a glow bracelet.

We were given a Ziploc bag for our 5 snacks and were allowed to duplicate this time! (Usually at bigger races, you can’t). I got 4 bags of Chex Mix and a package of Oreos, as well as a bottle of water.

Exiting out the back of the tent, we put on our shirts, lanyards and flashy things then grabbed our bus out to DHS. 

Hubby said I looked too boring in the first pic he took, so he took this one
Our Team Leader was Fred, and frankly, he looked a lot like Jeff Galloway. Fred asked who among us had done medals before, and I shot my hand up  (hey, I did medals for the Tom Walker here in Gainesville – he never asked WHERE we’d done medals!)  So, we got to be in the Medals/Chill Towels group.  We headed off to the finish line area.  (The people who stayed behind set up water, Power-Ade and bananas).

A sea of Power-Ade
Among the 30 of us in this group, 12 of us were assigned to hand out Chill Towels, and the rest of us (the three of us included) got to do medals! Yippee!!!

Before getting started, the Kiddo and I took a potty break at a Cast Member Trailer backstage.  Yeah, I took photos (but out of respect to the CMs, I will only post one)!

Off to the left (behind the trash can there), is a sitting room with a TV where about 4 CMs were watching basketball
A member of the group, Christine, was dubbed the unofficial Group Leader to guide us in how to put up the medals.

Step 1 was to take out the medals from the box (there were 3 groups of medals in each box), remove the plastic baggie hanging over the medal and hang them from a peg on the medal rack.

Step 2 was to unclip the cable ties holding the bunches of ribbons together.

Step 3 was to make them Show Ready – straighten out the ribbons, make sure the medals were hanging face-out, etc.

No one did a very good job listening to these directions….

Medals were hung terribly!  A lot of them were hung BY the cable ties, which tightened them and made them almost impossible to remove with the scissors they gave us. Other groups were hung by one or two ribbons, so when the cable ties were removed, all the medals fell on to the ground (and got scratched/dirty). And even worse, the bunches themselves were janky right out of the box; the ribbons where all twisted and tangled together!  Ugh, this is a lot of work! And no one did a very good job of getting the little plastic baggies IN to the trash!  Luckily, we had a CM helping pick up trash with her little grabber stick. She was great. 

CMs fighting to the death with Grabby Sticks
Very quickly, Christine and her hubby Greg realized how awesome we all were (we as in the family)! Christine gave me a pair of scissors and I became a “clipper” – I would go through and cut all the cable ties so that others could begin to straighten the ribbons.

The medals needed to be Show Ready by 10:30.  There were a LOT of medals to straighten out, but we were all doing okay.  Some people gave up at this point, and decided that napping was a better idea… 

Beautiful, show-ready medals
Napping Volunteers and CASES of medals
Once we finished getting them ready, I snacked on a Nutty Bar and walked up towards the Finish Line for a few photos. I passed Christine, who said that she would be calling the group together ‘in a minute’ (in my world, “in a minute” means 5 minutes or so…)  I took some fun photos and made my way back to the medal area where she really did call the group together in a minute!

Yeah, I'm totally running!
The Original Line Up for Medal Disbursement was to have volunteers stand on a line (drawn in masking tape on the ground) in a V with the smaller part of the V in front, and the wider part of the V in the back (like this  <  ).  Christine thought that was a stupid idea – and I totally agreed with her), so we pulled up the tape and put the V the other way (like this  >  ). 

As a reward for being awesome, me, Hubby and the Kiddo were part of the first group to hand out medals.

Christine is the one in the shorts. Notice the awesome open V formation
The original plan was to have each volunteer take a peg of medals (about 25 medals) and hand them out. When they ran out of their second round of medals, they would switch out with another volunteer. When a person left the line to switch or get another round of medals, the remaining volunteers were supposed to step forward and fill in the gap. This would ensure that everyone got a chance to participate and to be in the front of the line.

Christine also asked who had a big mouth (i.e. be loud) and I totally raised my hand for that too! I have a God-given gift in projecting, what can I say? She said that she would need someone to help direct both volunteers and runners at some point later in the evening.

The first runner came in around 56:53. I like to guess their time, and I had made my prediction of 57:04, so I was pretty close (I think he upped his pace near the end).  My first medal was given to Rick, who came in 6th place.

Once I made it through my first batch of medals, I went back for 2nd and told that volunteer that I would switch out with him. He shrugged and didn’t really want to switch. Okay, then…

Very quickly it got busy, and I can’t remember a lot of what happened, but I can tell you that something really awesome happened – I got to fist bump Jeff Galloway as he came through!!! He finished around 1:45.  Highlight of my night, right there!  Do I classify as a stalker now?

Anyway, back to volunteering.  Now is when my big mouth came in handy – Christine and I had to repeatedly ‘yell’ at the other volunteers to stay in line, don’t crowd the runners, etc.  Eventually Christine told me to STAY in my line and be in charge of that side, and she would handle the other side.

On Hubby’s side (closer to the medal racks), the volunteers were not switching at all. They would step toward the fence, grab more and get back in line.

I did switch out at one point, but it wasn’t for very long because for some reason my side ended up with only 4 people (instead of 6), so I went back out and stayed to the end.

Action Shot!!!  (What terrible posture!)
The plan eventually went to crap. People didn’t want to be in the handout line; people couldn’t stay in one spot (they crowded the runners); people weren’t moving up; people weren’t switching out.

People were not celebrating the athlete either, which pissed me off. I would put the medal ON the runner, if they wanted me to, but if not, I would at least congratulate them and call them by name (you can see their name on their bibs)!

It was crazy how fast I went through medals, but Greg took care of me. He’d see me coming and have a bundle for me and another when I asked. (I took two at a time once it got busy).  One of the volunteers really made me mad – he wasn’t holding his group of medals up (it was practically clenched in his fist like a bundle of grocery bags), and when he did hold up a medal, he would let it dangle sadly (*drooping), and say “here ya go” when a runner came up, like it was no big deal. ARG!

After a while, the crappy volunteers left (they decided to snack and chill out), so us GOOD people were left at the finish line, making it much more fun.

At this point, too, is when the crux of the people came in. I’m in the front and bearing the brunt of the crowd. I would run out of medals quickly. But this time, Christine would stand in the middle of the V and yell that all volunteers with yellow shirts have medals. I began hollering this too, but if someone came to get one from me, I would add “But mine is fabulous!” or “But this one is just for YOU (and say their name)”. Made the runner feel good.

It was still so busy that all I recall was more yelling, more medals and more happy back-of-the-pack runners.  I do remember seeing the Balloon Ladies coming through. I’ve only seen them once, so it was good to see them outside of a race I was participating in.

From here on out, I was cheering extra-loud for everyone that came through. Sure, any good runner can do a 10k in 90 minutes, but those of us in the back, struggling to come in at ALL are the ones who need the extra love!

Christine began gathering up extra people and medals – left 6 of us out there to finish up (Hubby and Kiddo, I think was out there) – the rest were told to count and box up unused medals. Hah!

I asked the other Volunteers if I could give the FINAL runner her medal. No one objected.

Soon the remaining group came in and the last runner came up to J’s side, blubbering like a fool. She had cancer three times, and the docs told her she should be dead. Unfortunately, another volunteer gave her a medal before I could.

Christine took my remaining medals to pack up and I could finally stretch.

We were hoping to be let in to the after party. No such luck.

Go to chat with Christine and Greg before Team Leader Fred came by.

There was water, PowerAde, runDisney boxes and bananas left – we could each take one of each. I got blue, red and yellow PowerAde, a water and 4 runDisney boxes (there were LOTS of boxes left – everyone took a lot).

We officially finished at about 1:30am, and we headed back to an area to wait for the buses.

Where’s the bus?

The 1st bus showed up at 1:45, but it filled up before we could get on.  The 2nd bus showed up at 2am, but still no room for us. Finally, at 2:15 or so, we got a bus – a Disney Cruise Line bus, too!  I was so glad to see that bus by then, because it was getting really chilly outside, and I don’t handle cold very well.

We took the bus back to the Magic Kingdom, checked in and got our complimentary ticket for working the race, then drove back to the hotel. At this time of night, there was nowhere close to park, so we had to park in the overflow parking lot, and just took the stairs to our room.

I honestly don’t remember even getting ready for bed, I conked out hard!

I woke up around 8:30ish and couldn’t get back to sleep, so I noshed on a donut and played with my iPod for a while. Everyone else got up around 10 and ate breakfast while I packed up.

We checked out and decided to the Boardwalk. Nope, that lot is full (well, Valet was available).  Beach Club also had a very long line at the Guard Station, so we continued over to Yacht Club. We got lucky there and were able to park in Visitor parking.  As we walked towards the resort, we saw that there was a large convention happening – that explains the crowds (in addition to race weekend folks!)

Lighthouse Porn
Looking across Crescent Lake to the Boardwalk
Race Weekend + Food & Wine Festival + Weekend = FEELS CROWDED™
We took a Friendship Boat to Epcot. Our first stop was Soarin’, which we had a FastPass for.  I think it took 7 minutes to get to the ride from when we started.

After Soarin’, we took a little boat ride on Livin’ with the Land.

Next stop was a sad one – we had to say goodbye to Maelstrom.  It was going to be closed to make room for a “Frozen” themed ride.  I always liked this ride, though it’s short and cheesy.

That's the highest Stand By Time I've ever seen for Maelstrom
Yes, we took a family shot outside (inside?) Maelstrom!
After paying our respects, we took the Monorail over to Magic Kingdom just in time for the new Festival of Fantasy parade.

Magic Kingdom all dressed up for the Fall Season
How YOU Doin'?
This heartburn is killin' me!
We tried to get more FastPasses, but there was nothing good left, so we headed to lunch at Columbia Harbour House.

Save where you can - "entree only" saves you $2 if you don't want french fries! (I can steal from the family!)
We scored a ride on the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, then we caught the beginning of the Move it! Shake it! Celebrate it! Parade before heading to the bus stop.

Greetings from the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

Hey, lady - that's peeping!

Micky says hi
I'll just leave this creepy photo for you to remember this post by
We bussed to the Boardwalk and got some tasty munchies from the Bakery, then walked back to the Yacht Club, picked up the car and headed home.

We got in around 9ish, and too sleepy for a shower, face-planted into bed and didn’t wake up until my alarm went off!






Saturday, September 27, 2014

Stay Strong - SAM Strong! Sam Strong 5k Race Report



I did something today that I’ve never done before – I RAN an entire 5k. Yes, I RAN the entire thing! Okay, so water stops don’t count!

After working so hard with Couch to 5k, and pushing my limits on my long Sunday runs, I thought that I was ready to do this.

I headed out for Newberry, bright and early, ready to get this done!  I knew NOTHING about Sam, or Duchenne, or anything else – I was there for the bling.

Packet Pickup was inside Newberry Elementary School.

Newberry High School
I got my bib and goodies and threw them in the car, then headed back in to use the little girls’ room.

Sure beats Porta-Potties!
I walked around a bit before the race, since I was actually early!

There was a bounce house for kids. 

Captain America over there on the right
There were a LOT of Silent Auction baskets set out (none of them appealed to me). 

Everything was donated by the community
Fit-2-Run was there as well.

Fit-2-Run, always trying to sign you up for free shoes
There was a speech at the start line, about Sam and his life and how awesome he is, and then we were set free, it was GO time.

Middle of the pack view
I ‘took off’ slowly, not wanting to tire myself out.  Mile 1 seemed to come quickly.

Mile 1 already?
I was pacing these two little girls (well, they were pacing me, I think) and they didn’t seem to grasp how AWESOME I was. I was RUNNING the WHOLE THING!

Walk faster, that awesome chick in the skirt is behind us...
Mile 2 showed up and I was blown away at myself – I was STILL running! I was hot as hell, but I was still trotting!

OMG - I'm 2/3 of the way done and STILL running!
Okay, so I didn’t run the WHOLE thing – I did stop to take this photo. It struck a nerve this time (and I’ve seen signs like this a lot). But then I began running again. There’s no stopping me now!

I always COULD run, but I wasted the gift for too long
The finish line was in sight, and Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” spurred me on towards the finish. I was cheered in with Newberry High cheerleaders.

And yet, I still don't like cheerleaders.
Not to be outdone, I celebrated my finish with Thor!  Man, this kid had some ENERGY!

I think we were dancing. Not too sure about this one.
My official time?  50:43. Ouch. NOT my slowest time, though!  Way back in 2012, my FAM time was 51:00!  I beat 18 people (out of 161 total runners). 

After my awesome finish, I celebrated with a free sno-cone (okay, I won’t lie – sno-coneS. Plural. I think I had 3. I love sno-cones!)

Nectar of the Gods - Cherry Sno-Cones
Throughout the race, there was a DJ playing good music (and wholesome music, not crap, either).  Once everyone came through the finish, he began playing line dances, like Cha Cha Slide, and well, this 37-year-old mom learned how to Cha Cha!   

Two hops this time
While there is no video of ME dancing, I did attach a clip of SAM dancing with everyone. He taught me, pretty much at this moment, that you are only limited by what you refuse to do. Kid in a wheelchair? Dancing!

video 

Because Sam liked super heroes so much – his whole race was super hero themed, obviously! – there was even a costume contest. I saw lots of folks in Wal-Mart shirts that had capes, but there was a straight-up Captain America, a Wolverine, and of course, Thor.  Thor won, and no win could have been more deserved!  He was upbeat the entire time, dancing like a maniac and cheering for everyone. That kid is a good future ahead of him, if he keeps up that attitude!

I'm not sure whose smile is bigger?
Sadly though, it was time to head out, so I took my 3rd sno-cone to go and piled in to the car. I’d never been to Newberry before, so I set out to do some exploring. It took about 3 minutes before I hit the edge of town, so I turned around and ended up getting stuck on the main drag, waiting for a train to go by. 

Blain is a pain, and that is the truth
I think we were there for almost 10 minutes!  Traffic backed up quite a bit behind me.

I guess that truck gave up
Once home, I checked out some of my swag. I got a medal and a cool sticker.

Simple but pretty medal
I got a small Campus USA first aid bag (I love these!). 

Ziploc bag filled with runner's first aid stuffs
Antacid, Tylenol, Mints, Bandaids, Wet Ones - all good stuff!
And I got this letter, from the family of Sam.  I thought it was very touching.


I think I will definitely do this next year!


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

A Winner is ME!



Holy shit, you guys! 

Have you ever entered a contest, never thinking that you would win? I did that the other day.

And I won!

St. Augustine Half Marathon Weekend’s Facebook page put out a contest for the SLOWEST male and female half-marathon times. I entered with my first Princess time of 4:12:32.  

And I won!

It was posted the next day on their Facebook page that I was the winner!

I'm a winner!!!
I signed up as soon as Miami Tri Events emailed me the secret code, and then began to freak out.  

The Course Limit for the race is 3:30! I can’t do 3:30! I can hardly do 4:00! I shouldn’t have registered. I should’ve just registered for the 10k (I’ve done that one). I’m slow, I’m fat, blah blah blah.

However, I asked them on Facebook about the time limit and they said that although I may be asked to get on the sidewalk, they would wait for me; “No runner left behind”.  I’m in good hands for this race, I feel. 

No Runner Left Behind
However, now to commencing the freak-out... Holy Shit, I have THREE weeks to get back up to par for a half-marathon. After screwing around all summer. 

As long as I’m not last, I’ll be fine… I think.