Friday, July 26, 2013

I wouldn't walk 500 miles... but I might wanna run 100.

Friends of mine are, this very weekend, competing in a Tough Mudder race.  I was offered the opportunity to join their team in this endeavor. 

My response?


I have exactly zero interest in plunging myself into anything called an “Arctic Enema.”  The thought of attempting to get over a “Berlin Wall” calls to mind entirely too well my childhood memory of hanging from a wave pool’s hand rail in some Miami-area water park as a 10-foot wave passed over and left me shrieking in its trough, 15 feet above the pool’s concrete floor.  And running through a forest of electrified cords? Uh… NO.  Thanks.

This fun obstacle is called "Shock Therapy." Makes ya wanna sign right up, doesn't it?

I wish my friends and their teammates the best of luck and wish I could be there in person to cheer them on, but I haven’t the slightest interest in joining them on the course.

Know what else I don’t want to do?  Run a marathon.  

A half-marathon? Sure.  

19.3 miles of a the two-day Glass SlipperChallenge?  Absolutely.  

26.2 all at once?  Nope.  

Would I, could I on a Wall? No sir, no sir, not at all.

It’s not really a matter of distance.  I feel quite sure that with the proper training, I can run a full marathon.  I’m just not motivated enough to try.   I don’t care to spend a huge amount of training time away from Leo.  I’m not excited by running all over a city.  The thought of preparing the vast amount of food I’d require to traverse 26, forget that last .2, miles makes me feel physically ill.

Nope, not that into it.


Wanna know what I fantasize about running?

100… as in 100 MILES.

Over mountains.  Across rocks.  Through streams.  In rain, sleet and/or snow.  As well as scorching heat.  With a total elevation change of almost 68,000 feet.

Let me be clear: I live at sea level and get altitude sickness when we vacation at 5,000 feet.  The highest “hill” I run is a 74-foot high bridge to the beach.  I run on rocks sometimes – the gravel trails at a local nature park.  I don’t ever contend with sleet or snow… though I’ve got the market cornered on running in the rain and scorching sun.

Do I really think I can run a 100-mile race?  No.  But I’m pretty sure I could run some, walk some, nap some and finish the distance.  Eventually.

I probably never will, if I’m to be honest.  But just watch this stunning recap of the 2013 Hardrock 100 and see if you don’t start thinking, “Maybe…”

Friday, July 12, 2013

Running Route Review: Port Orleans Riverside Resort

Okay, I promised a route review of Disney’s Port OrleansRiverside (POR) Resort and I’m here to deliver!

This short run came on the heels of our second Walt DisneyWorld (WDW) trip this summer.  It also came on my last morning of the trip in question, after several days of walking parks, hiking water park stairs, and generally being on my feet in the heat.  I was not in the best of spirits when my alarm went off at 6:30am and I thought seriously of bailing on the run altogether.

But I knew I’d regret it if I skipped out, so I dragged myself out and found a beautiful summer morning!

We stayed in the Magnolia Bend section of the resort, where the buildings are designed to resemble antebellum river plantations.  I have mixed feelings about the motif; yes, they are very, very pretty, but is it really appropriate to hearken back to a time when such buildings only existed due to the back-breaking efforts, not to mention total ethical ick, of slavery?  Questionable, at best.  Personal feelings aside, it really is a lovely resort, though.

Front of our building, Magnolia Terrace.

I began my run at the back of our building, where a brick-paved walkway leads to the Sassagoula River and a wide stone path for walkers, runner, bikers and carriages.

View from the second floor landing, looking out toward the river.

View from the river path, looking across toward the lobby, stores and food areas.

Taking a left on the river-front path, I ran past two other Magnolia Bend buildings and across a bridge that spans the river and U-turns back down to a path on the other side of the river.  From there, I could go left and follow the river around the other side of POR.  But I went right, following the path under the bridge and over to the neighboring Port Orleans French Quarter (POFQ) Resort.

French Quarter at sunrise – pretty!

There really is no obvious way to loop POFQ; the river path pretty much dead-ends at a parking lot at the far end of the buildings.  But I was able to follow a sidewalk around a few buildings, then run through the central section of the resort and back out to the river path, which I followed back under the bridge, picking up the other side of the river at POR.

Looking at the map…

… there was a large parking lot to my left, but I didn’t see that at all!  Trees and landscaping everywhere at POR are lush and full and the views are tranquil and beautiful.

Coming around a bend, the river path next cut through the main public area of the resort, which houses a marina, eateries, and the lobby.

From there, I chose to take another bridge over to Ol’ Man Island, an island in the river than houses the resort’s feature pool, playground and fishing hole.  Note that I chose not to run with music that day… but I got an earful of gorgeous, gut lickin’, make-ya-wanna-dance Dixieland jazz from the speakers all over Ol’ Man Island.  I adore Dixieland and New Orleans jazz and hearing that put an extra bounce in my step!  (Note to self: make an all-jazz running playlist STAT.)

Wooded path within Ol’ Man Island.

Coming back to the river path from Ol’ Man Island, I caught a short view of the rustic, Alligator Bayou section of POR before heading back into the Magnolia Bend area.

I passed the faux, un-PC mansions again, went back over the bridge to the other side of the river, and opted for a little more quality time in Alligator Bayou.  While the river path is wide, relatively flat and contains no sharp turns, the paths running through the Bayou are narrow, constantly changing direction and surrounded by deep, shady foliage.   It’s incredibly pretty and calm in there, but not ideal for momentum and speed while running.  It would have made a great spot for a cool-down walk.

I finished my 3-mile run where Alligator Bayou meets Magnolia Bend, giving me just enough distance to get to my room for a nice cool-down.  Mile 2 was a Magic Mile… and it was my worst Magic Mile time yet: 11:39.  In fact, my overall average pace was much slower than I’d felt, landing me at 12:39/mile.  Not that that’s a bad pace, but I felt much faster than that.  And I felt every one of those dinky 3 miles in my body.  I’ve concluded that I simply cannot run hard or fast after days of being on my feet, especially in the heat.  A good thing to know as I head into Disney race season in the fall: I will not be planning time in the parks prior to my races.

In conclusion, I found my POR/POFQ run to be delightful!  It’s the prettiest route I’ve run at WDW, and one of the easiest, thanks to that fantastic river path with plenty of shade.  It was quite easy to get 3 miles in there, and I could have happily repeated my route several times to make a longer run.  I give it a solid thumbs’ up!

For those wishing to compare, here’s a list of other WDW running routes I’ve reviewed:

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

My treadmill is a big, fat liar.

I HATE treadmill running for the simple reason that it feels much, much harder in terms of physical effort than running outdoors, but produces far less exciting results; for what feels like one and a half times more effort, I travel a far shorter distance.  Or so I thought...

My treadmill is around 15 years old and its most high-tech feature is a motor.  It has a thingy I can move up and down to increase and decrease speed, a "start over" button, and a couple little windows that show speed, distance, time and calories burned.  Incline has two measurements: up and down.  I'd guess up to be about a 15-20% grade, while down is flat.  Based on perceived effort and cadence, I've long figured its data was off... but I'm now realizing it's very, very off.

I used the Nike+ app that magically tracks pace and distance via my iPhone for my last couple treadmill sessions.  Here's one session, according to Nike+ and according to my treadmill:


Um... that's a mighty big difference in distance! 

In the end, I don't really trust Nike+, either, so I took the average of the two distances (time was within 40 seconds of one another) and called it good.  Strangely, I feel a LOT better about my treadmill now! I still can't trust its data, but I know to trust my level of effort now.  And it totally explains why running outdoors feels so much easier; turns out I've been running HARD on the 'mill all this time.