Monday, December 30, 2013

Christmas Recap - Dopey Challenge Countdown

Phew!  Made it through Christmas!!!

It's been a while, so there's lot to catch up on . . . .

It's been unseasonably cold and snowy the last several weeks.  I know, I know - it's Maine!  But, seriously, this has to be the coldest (and snowiest) December in a long time.  The weather has done a number on training, but it was nice (sort of) to have a white Christmas.

We started the festivities with our 10th Annual Caroling Party the Saturday before Christmas.  It was, as usual, a great way to really kick off the holidays!  There was - of course - a snow storm, so numbers were down, but those who made it had fun.  The next morning was our Christmas Pageant - the kids are now too old to be in the pageant, but they were part of a brass band playing before and after the show.

Band practicing (day before the pageant)

Spent the rest of that Sunday (and some time on Monday and even Tuesday) picking up last minute gifts and wrapping.  Christmas Eve the whole extended family went to my aunt's house for some food and drink.  We then sent to a really nice service at Church.  We were home by 8; set out treats for Santa and his reindeer and went off to bed.  

Christmas morning came early at our house - 6AM.  But Santa had been and was very generous.

Here is Theo (in his new hat) learning that he and I will be going to see Penn and Teller in Boston next month!

Here is Andy collapsing when he figures out (see below) that he is going to Disney in TWO weeks!

For the Disney gift, we bought Andy this:

And Theo got this:

Put them together and you have . . . 


Being the good Disney geeks they are, they immediately solved the riddle.  They were, as expected, over the moon with excitement.  They've already started to coordinate with their cousins (who will also be there) about which parks they will visit and when - what rides to go on - where to eat - everything!  They were very happy.

All in all a great Christmas.  Of all the presents exchanged, I think I liked the Journey piano book Santa brought Andy 

and the t-shirt he brought Theo:

Read it out loud . . . you'll get it.

And the Disney gift card the boys got me (when they had no idea that they were coming with me).  I was also very touched by their thoughtfulness and generosity with the gifts they got people (and the fun they had giving those gifts).

I was able to get out for a run on the 26th - first time in a long time!  Ran 4 miles SLOOOOOWLY.  The extended family got together for snowtubing that night - cold but fun - and then we took over a restaurant and continued the Christmas binge-eating.  My free membership to a local gym (long story) finally came through on Saturday, so I went in the afternoon and did the elliptical for 45 minutes; and followed that up with a nice 10 mile run yesterday.  
Back Bay after 10 miles

Squeezed another snowtubing session and Frozen in, as well as some additional family visits - a busy week, but fun.

And this week isn't any more sane.  Work today and half of tomorrow, then New Years; followed by two more days of work.  Mid-week holidays are a drag (and so inefficient).  

And yet, here we are TEN DAYS from leaving for Disney; ELEVEN DAYS from the 5k and FOURTEEN DAYS from the Marathon!  Where did the time go!?!  I checked this morning, and I have run 1,005 miles this year!  Hoping to get out tomorrow for another 5 - to end up with 1,010 for the year.  Trying to think of ways to motivate in 2014 to keep that up.

Plans for the next 14 days:

Run 5 tomorrow.
Run 6 on 1/1/2014
Run 4 on 1/2/2014 
Run 8 on 1/4/2014
Run 4 on 1/7/2014
Leave for Florida 1/8/2014
Run 5k on 1/9/2014
Run 10k on 1/10/2014
Run 13.1 on 1/11/2014
Run 26.2 on 1/12/2014
Nothing on 1/13/2014 - 1/17/2014

I'm also working on another big Tourette's fundraiser in 2014.  I hope to really focus on it when we get back from Florida, but I've already got one corporate sponsor and am working to set up meetings with other potential sponsors - more to come . . . . 


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Random Nonsensical Thoughts

It's hard to believe that a week from today is Christmas Eve!  Wasn't Thanksgiving like a week ago!?!  Needless to say, I am not ready - nowhere near ready and time is running out.  Hoping to get out in the next day or two (or three or four) to wrap up the list that seems to be growing by the day.  Ugh.

It remains super cold here.  I got up to run this morning but saw it was negative 3 (NEGATIVE THREE!!!) and went back to bed.  Does that make me a wimp?  Probably, but I'm still banking on the 20 miler in 10 degrees. (Truth be told, I'll probably be using that for some time to come.)  It's snowing now, of course, which means tomorrow may be iffy too.  At this point, we have just over three weeks and I think we need to be realistic - get in as many 4 and 5 mile runs as possible and a few (maybe 2) 8 to 10 mile runs - that's about the best we can do with the holidays and the weather.

I've been trying to eat better (and actually lost a little weight last week) but the freaking Holiday Baskets are coming into the office fast and furious!  Those Stonewall Kitchen pretzels and mustard?  Not calorie free!  And the chocolate?  The Wicked Woopie Pies?  It's like a global gift basket conspiracy.  There's always tomorrow, right?

In our copious spare time, the boys and I are going to see if we can learn to unicycle.  Because, let's be honest, who doesn't want to be able to unicycle!?!  We are going to sit in on a local youth group's practice tomorrow night and hopefully get some pointers and some drills we can do to improve.  I'll try to take some pictures and post them, but I reserve the right to deny that it ever happened.

That's about it - 23 days to Disney!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Run Chat

Tried something new last night...

So a bunch of Disney Running Bloggers I follow seem to participate in a twitter thing known as "Run Chat.'  Basically, someone (not sure how he or she is picked) Tweet out 6 questions from 10 to 11 every other Sunday night and people Tweet back answers.  I've thought about participating before, but haven't because I was a little apprehensive and I usually fall dead asleep by 9:30 on Sundays.

But because of the snowstorm I didn't run on Sunday, so I was pretty well-rested and awake (partially) at 10 AM.  I initially thought I would just follow the various Tweets, but when they asked people to introduce themselves, I did and then I was sort of hooked.  As it turns out, this week's Run Chat was sponsored by Compassion International and the theme was "Running for Charity" so it was a nice night to jump into the fray.

The questions were:

Have you ever run to raised money for charity?  Why did you pick that organization?

What shortcomings have you experiences with run for charity programs, or seen others encounter?

How important are perks when running to raise money for charity?  What perks do you value most?

"Compassion" means "to suffer with."  Tell is how you've suffered during a run/race/training most and overcome it.

Are you an "ambassador" for a running brand?  Ever applied to be?  Beyond love of product, what's the lure?

In the final 2 weeks of 2013, I'm going to ______.

It was pretty neat reading everyone's Tweets and sharing my (limited) experiences training for the Dopey.  I received a few more Twitter followers and, who knows, maybe some blog readers and donors.

Dis Unplugged:  I told Theo about my email to the Dis Unplugged this weekend and of their invitation for us to appear on a podcast to talk about Tourette's.  He is PUMPED!  He's been talking about it all weekend and it is, dare I say, pretty freaking cute.  I am happy that he appears to be comfortable and confident enough to embrace his situation and his desire to educate people.  When I told him about the "offending comment" he shrugged and said, "That's not the most offensive Tourette's thing I've heard."  I cautiously asked what was the most offensive TS comment he's ever heard (hoping it wasn't said by me) and he related a story where he overheard two people talking and one was swearing a lot and the other commented, "Jeez!  You're swearing a lot!  What?  Do you have Tourette's or something!?!"  On one hand, I am glad that the most offensive thing he's heard was something he overheard and not something directed at him.  On the other hand, it does suck that he was so quick to recall the incident - it clearly left an impression.

View from my (sort of plowed) driveway.

Weather continues to be an issue here and Anne and I may not be able to get in another long run.  Although I'd like to get in a 22 miler, I am not willing to pull a hammie slipping on the ice.  I am hoping the roads are okay to get in 4 tomorrow, before the next band of snow hits.  At this point, I think maintenance may be the best we can hope for.

Saturday, December 14, 2013


Well, Im glad THAT's over!

Due to the impending blizzard, Anne and I decided to do our long run (20 miles) today instead of tomorrow.  Due to the arctic temperatures in today's forecast, we decided to start a little later than normal - 7:30.  So I was up by 6 and on the road at 6:30 to drop water and gatorade along the route.  It was, in a word, COLD.  It took the better part of 45 minutes to make all the drops and as I was getting home, Anne texted - she was on her way, but she forgot her watch.  Bummer!  We've been using the Run/Walk method for months - run 4 minutes, then walk for 1 minute, rinse, repeat.  We use a watch with multiple interval timer to tell us when to run and when to walk.  I misplaced my watch several weeks ago, so if Anne forgot hers, we have a problem.  I found an app for that and away we go!

Here we are bundled up and excited about the adventure!

I can't speak for Anne, but I had on tights and pants, a long sleeve shirt, a short sleeve shirt, a sweatshirt, a coat, a vest, a neck warmer and hat and gloves.  Layers, baby!

We were trucking along using Anne's phone for our Runkeeper app and my phone for the timer.  We stopped for water at Mile 3 and it was mostly frozen!  It had only been out in the elements for an hour or so.  I snapped this picture:

It's icy!

And that is when my phone died!  Dead.  No battery.  Nothing.  It was fully charged and BAM - dead after 30 minutes in the cold. So we moved to Plan B - Anne used the clock on her iPhone to countdown 4 minutes during which time we ran.  When the phone barked, we'd walk for what felt like a minute.  Not very accurate, but it was the best we could do.

We made it the first 9 miles and felt good.  Most of our waters were frozen, the Powerade fared a little better - they were like Slurpees.  At Mile 11, Anne's phone died too!  At that point, we had no way of knowing our intervals, no way of knowing how far we'd run, no idea of what time of day it was, and no way to call for help.  Ugh.

We plowed ahead anyways, running for what felt like 4 minutes and then walking for what felt like 1 minute.  Unlike our 19 mile run two weeks ago, I wasn't all up in my own head - I just kept moving forward (and tried to stay warm).

In the end, we figured out (with the aid of that we ran 20.34 miles in 3 hours and 35 minutes - not to shabby.  I felt good when we finished - cold and tired, but good.  Couldn't have done 6 more miles, but probably could have done another 3.

There is no after picture because both of our phones were dead and we just wanted to move on with our days. When I started taking off later after layer I heard something hit the ground. Turns out layer three was soaked in sweat, which froze and then broke off an hit the floor. Gross, I know. 

Things that got me through the run:

1.  Listening to Anne's story of trying to get to Florida last Sunday for a two day conference. She made it to Philly (with an unplanned stop in Albany); spent a night there and just came home the next day.  That got me two miles.

2.  Learning that Anne has reached her fundraising goal!  That got us another mile.

3.  Talking about my letter and the follow-up on the Dis Unplugged podcast.  A mile.

4.  Christmas stuff.  A mile.

5.  General Disney discussions.  A mile.

6.  The $#@@*&%% cold.  14 miles.

Another step closer!  Less than a month to go!


P.S.  High temperature today in Portland was 13 degrees.  THIRTEEN DEGREES!

P.P.S. I'm buying a new watch tomorrow. 

Friday, December 13, 2013

Mother Nature

Well the extreme cold (and my being a whimp) has resulted in my taking a week off from running.  I was, however, able to catch up on some much-needed sleep, which is always good.  Training is coming to an end!  Anne and I were scheduled to run 10 miles tomorrow, 20 miles on Sunday and 22 next Saturday. However, after listening to this guy this morning . . .

we had to change our plans.  Turns out we are going to get some snow - starting Saturday night and lasting through Sunday.  I don't mind running in a little snow, but not a blizzard - no need to get hurt, right?

So we've decided to skip the 10 mile run and simply do 20 tomorrow (before the snow) and 22 next Saturday.  Our back-to-back runs have been good and I think we'll be okay doing only the long runs.  hard to believe, but we start FOUR weeks from yesterday!

We'll report back after the 20 miler - if we make it.  In the meantime, Anne is still just a few hundred dollars from her goal - if you know anyone looking to spread some holiday cheer . . . .there is a "Donate to Anne" link to the right.

Stay safe and warm this weekend!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013


Look at what runDisney posted today!!!

The 5k and 10k courese!

The Half Marathon Course!

The Full Marathon Course!

Very excited!!!

Getting the word out

I was falling asleep last night, listening to a Disney Podcast and counting the days until we are back at the Magic Kingdom.  Truth be told, I was 95% asleep.  Then I thought I heard the host say "Tourettes" and I woke up a bit.  It only took a few more groggy seconds for me to realize that he was talking about my email (see earlier post).  He recounted the joke he told and apologized for the insensitive punchline.  He then read my entire email and gave me some props for "grace" - me?  Gracefull! Ha!

Anywho . . . he also sent me a nice note of apology, invited Theo and I on the podcast and invited us to dinner while at Disney for the Dopey.  I responded that dinner was unnecessary (although very kind and generous), but that we might take him up on the podcast invite - I figure, the more we can get the word out the better.  So I ended up wide awake, but it was all good.  Not sure how many people listen to this podcast, but it is more than read this blog, so the email worked.

Here is the text of the original email:


First, thank you for putting out such wonderful material!  As a Disney lover who happens to live in (artic) Maine, your podcasts keep me connected to Disney World and help bridge the gap between trips.  I want you to know that I am not certifiably insane and I thought long and hard before writing this email. 

Here we go – I was catching up on some old episodes and heard Pete talk about an experience at Publix where his cashier thought he was retired.  Although a funny story, the punch line was that his Publix “has Tourette’s.”  Again, trying not to be completely insane – and I pride myself on not taking life (or myself) too seriously – but this throwaway line struck a nerve.  I know that Pete meant nothing by it.  I get that.  Your support of Ben and Ferris and GKTW demonstrates your kindness and empathy.  But the comment – although not malicious – continues a stereotype that is hurting people.  My 11 year old son, Theo, has Tourette’s Syndrome – and it sucks.  It sucks for him and it is really hard to watch (for me and others).  Tourette’s is an inherited neurobiological disorder and is characterized by involuntary sudden movements and vocalizations, known as tics. A common misconception is that those affected curse uncontrollably. In fact, less than 10 percent of those affected have what is known as coprolalia.  I hemmed and hawed about writing to you because I don’t want to be “that guy” who is uber sensitive and can’t take a joke.  But as I thought about it, I thought this might be a teachable moment.  Just as it would be inappropriate to call your Publix the “Autistic Publix” if you had an experience with a socially awkward or a non-communicative cashier, people should not throw out the “Tourette’s” label whenever they run across someone who may not have a filter and says whatever comes to mind – that is not Tourette’s.  Rude, perhaps, but not Tourette’s.

Tourette’s is little understood; difficult to witness; and it remains one of the few conditions which is acceptable to ridicule.  I hope that by bringing this to your attention you will recognize that it is a serious condition and that those living with it would really like to change the public perception of it. 

My family will be at WDW for Marathon Weekend and would love a chance to meet you – Theo is a great advocate and can fully explain what Tourette’s is, what it is not and what it feels like to live with it.  I am running the Dopey (I know, certifiably insane, but please don’t hold that against me!) and raising money for (and awareness of) Tourette’s Syndrome.  I am including a link that talks about the Dopey and my amazing son.

Again, thank you for the hours of entertainment and information and I hope this is received in the spirit in which it was sent – I really don’t want to be some over-sensitive dad - just trying to get the word out.

Many thanks!


So maybe listen in January as Theo makes his podcast debut, talking about TS to Disney fans.  What could be better?

The roads continue to be super icy, so we haven't gone out in a few days.  We HAVE to run tomorrow regardless of the weather!  This weekend is 10 and then 20 - our longest weekend of training!  Unfortunately, they (whoever THEY are) are calling for a high on Saturday of 15 and a high on Sunday of 21! OUCH!

Anne and I are also trying to organize a group run of sorts for our final 22 mile run on Saturday 12/21.  More on that soon.

Trying to stay warm, 


Monday, December 9, 2013

Have I become "that guy"?

I was listening to a Disney-related podcast as I wandered through Hannaford's yesterday and was enjoying a funny story about one of the hosts visiting a Publix and the cashier thinking he was retired (he's only 48).  He was, as you might imagine, incensed that she thought he was old enough to be retired.  His punch line, however, was something to the effect of "Yeah, my Publix has Tourette's!"

So I thought about it for a while.  On one hand, I am getting more and more frustrated by the continued misconceptions about TS and how it is completely acceptable to use it as a punch line.  On the other hand, I generally don't take things too seriously and I really don't want to be so sensitive that I can't take a joke.

What to do?

In the end, I decided to send him an email and explain that I recognize it was a joke (and a funny story) but that the punch line furthers an incorrect (and hurtful) stereotype.  I'm fairly sure nothing will come of it, but it did feel good to get it off my chest.  (Although I still struggle with the balance issue - am I being too sensitive???)

On a brighter note - only 31 more days until the Dopey, which means only 30 days until we leave for Florida!  Yeah!!!  I had some good runs last week and was scheduled to run 10 this weekend, but with everything going on and the prospect of some very early mornings for the next several weekends, I decided to sleep in both mornings and did't run at all.  Johnny and I will be back at it tomorrow and then Anne and I will do our biggest weekend of training -- 10 on Saturday and 20 on Sunday!  We follow that up with a 22 mile run the following weekend and then it's time to taper!  We've been at this since April (and in earnest since August) - it feels good to see the light at the end of the tunnel!  And even taking the weekend off, I feel as ready as I can be at this point and am actually looking forward to the challenge of this coming weekend. (I am sure that will change as the weekend gets closer!)

Keeping my eye on the prize(s)!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

A mini-Dopey

Well, I did it!  Over the past four days I spent some quality time with family; saw 85% of Disney's Frozen; ate way too much turkey, stuffing and potatoes; and ran 38 miles.  Phew!

I started Thanksgiving early, peeling 10 pounds of spuds before everyone arrived at our place for the big Thanksgiving day 4 Miler through (twice) downtown Portland.  It was cold and really windy, so Andy and I put on layer after layer after layer after layer.  We piled into two cars and made our way into town and then to the office building they open so everyone can stay warm until the absolute last minute (and visit the restrooms one last time).  The race started at 9 and we starting making our way to the start line at about 8:45.  I did not want to get caught up in the race aspect of the day.  Instead I just wanted to get my 4 miles in.  I ended up starting out a little faster than I wanted and then just tried to hold on.  In the end, I finished with a respectable 33:44.  I could have gone faster, but not if I was going to run my mini-Dopey.

Here's the gang.  Joseph (37:34), Darren (27:04 - bastard); Kyle (28:45); Andy (37:33), Moi (33:34); Gib (30:00) and Renee (32:36)

This was followed by more potato prep and then a trip to my parents' house where I ate way too much!  I slept in on Friday and then procrastinated for a long long time.  I was scheduled to run 6, but I couldn't find anyone to run with.  And it was cold.  And windy.  And I was really enjoying being lazy.  I eventually just walked outside and started running.  I thought about making the turn that would make the 6 mile a 4 mile run and I also thought long and hard about stopping at 5 miles.  But in the end, I ran the full 6.  Finished in 55:46 or a 9:18 pace - decent for me.
This is the end of the 6 mile solo run (call it 'proof')

Renee, Anne and I were back at it on Saturday, scheduled to run 9.  It was again really cold and our route took us by the water (a lot) which made it even colder.  Other than the cold, it was a pretty uneventful run.  Here's the finish of that run:


And then there was today.  19 miles.  Ugh.  I was up at 5:15, trying to make sure I didn't have any digestive issues out on the road.  I left the house (uncertain about whether I would be successful on that front) at 6:15 and started dropping water and Powerade along the route.  I did miles 3, 6, 9 and 17 while Anne dropped at Miles 12 and 15.  I had a little time left after making my drops so I swung by a McDonalds, bought a coffee and visited their men's room.  Eek.  We started at 7 AM in a light snow.  It was actually pretty cool to run in those conditions.  We made it to 3 without issue (or hills).  We got to 6 pretty easily as well.  There were a lot of hills between 6 and 9 and the snow was starting to pick up (and stick to the ground).  By 9 I was tired and weary.  I started eating at mile 5 and was snacking just about every mile from 5 - 15, so I wasn't feeling poorly, I was just tired of running and my head kept going back to how much further we had to go.  There isn't much worse than running 9 miles in the snow and realizing that you have not yet at the halfway point.  Yuck.

At Mile 9 I started counting intervals.  We run for 4 minutes and then walk for one minute.  If we maintain a 10 minute mile pace (which we don't, but it's close) then we need to run 6 intervals (30 minutes) between each 3 mile water stop.  So at Mile 9 I started counting intervals.  I would count from 1 to 3 and then down from 3 to 1 and BOOM! there's our water (Mile 12).  I did the same thing from 12 to 15.  Because of the route, our final water stop was not at Mile 18, but at Mile 17 - only 2 miles from our Mile 15 water.  This worked out really well as it was only FOUR intervals to get from 15 to 17.  And then from 17 to 19 was along Portland's Back Bay - a route I have run hundreds of times.  For whatever reason, Anne and I started talking about the Georgia/Georgia Tech and the Auburn/Alabama games at mile 17 and before we knew it (or before I knew it) we were at 18.5 miles and almost done!

Now I couldn't have run the additional 7.2 miles necessary to finish the marathon, but I could have run more - maybe another 3 miles (6 intervals).  Had that been the plan all along, I think I would have felt differently, as Mile 12 and Mile 15 and Mile 17 wouldn't have felt as close to the end as they were today.  In the end, we averaged 10:23's which is right where we want to be.  We finished in 3:17:23 - yup, I ran for almost three and a half hours this morning - no joke!  Each of our long runs have included some really tough times (today it was from 9 - 15), but I've felt pretty good when it's over and today was no exception.

Next weekend, we are back to a 10 mile run.  The following weekend we will do 10 and then 20 (ouch).  The weekend after that, we will do 21 or 22 and Anne and I talked about trying to do something special for that final long run (more soon).

Here's the map of today's epic run:

If this were at all legible, you'd see that it is far

So that's my mini-Dopey - 4 then 6 then 9 then 19. 38 miles in four days. The real Dopey is an additional 10.6 miles. Ugh!