Archive for the ‘AllEars.net’ Category

It’s been a long stretch of little sleep, standing on the side of the road yelling at complete strangers, and it’s not much of a vacation.

But it ranks as one of the most amazing weekends of my life.

“But why?” you might ask.

Simple. It comes down to the most amazing group of people I’ve even been associated with. These are people from all walks of life… bankers, lawyers, professors, nerds, and even a singular typesetter. These are people I am proud to call inspirations and proud to be associated with.

I saw pretty much everything, most good, some things that I wish I could unsee (Speedo guy). I saw the full range of human emotion, ranging from people in tears as their minds and bodies began to give up to people who were all smiles, enjoying the fact that they were doing something that not many others will ever even attempt.

I’ll start with the good…

I wasn't kidding... he did 39.3, playing every mile.

I wasn’t kidding… he did 39.3, playing at every mile.

Seeing the joy in my teammates faces as they came by, all the while enjoying that we were out and supporting them. Seeing the pride in which people wore their medals around the parks. Seeing my teammates and other friends complete their first race, or first marathon. Seeing my new friend Sam grind his way through 48.6 challenging miles, never giving up and claiming his medals. Seeing some random dude do a half marathon and full marathon, all the while carrying and playing a sousaphone.

I kid you not.

The incomparable Joe Weeks with the AllEars cheering section

The incomparable Joe Weeks with the AllEars cheering section

There was a juggler and a guy dribbling two basketballs. There was a guy dressed as Buddy the Elf, complete with snowballs (Yes, that was Bryan). There were men in kilts, men in skirts, men in tutus, and one of the most genuine people I’ve even met wearing a Team AllEars shirt (Talking about YOU, Joe Weeks). There was a woman doing the half and full in full firefighter gear, including an oxygen bottle on her back.

Jamison and Deb reveal the year's fundraising total

Jamison and Deb reveal the year’s fundraising total

I mentioned that Saturday was the big reveal of the year’s fundraising total. This was a huge deal because it is the last year of Team AllEars. So we gathered in Ballroom 6 of the Walt Disney World Swan and reminisced. There was a lot of laughter, a lot of applause and a lot of tears. Good tears, because we managed to obliterate last year’s total and come up with almost $105,000, all to fight cancer. So, thank you to everyone who contributed to my personal page.

I’m not going to overload you with everything in one post… that would be too much, and it’s still pretty damn emotional to me (typed as tears are welling up again)

I will write more soon, and even have a video of me lumbering across the finish line with me “entourage” in tow. But, before I go, I want to take a moment to acknowledge every member of the team…

Thanks to Deb, Mike, Michelle, Melanie, Brad, Barb, Chris, Amanda, the amazing Ellie (more on her later), Debbie, Heather, Matt, Stephanie, Molly, my awesome mentor Rich, Laura, Laura, Jessica, Dominic, Tom, Julie, Eddie, Heather, Stan, Kim, Jamison, Phill, Steven, Holly, Sara, the amazing Ed, Tabitha, Tammi, Lesley, Dave, Jill, Eve, Dave, David, Mike, Julie, Christina, De’Dee, Bryan, Linda, Tim, Michael, Alex, Ashley, Mike, Robert, Evelyn, Daniel, Lee, Charlie, Laura, Judy, Sara, Beth, Susan, Christine, Brad, Beth, Joe, Erwin, April, Karen, Tracy, Terry, April, Helen, MaryJean, Debra, Suzanne, Joan, Phil, Ana, Christine, Sandie, Pam, Amy, Dan, Julia, Rhonda, Jason, Cindy, Penny, JT, Ethan, Pamela, Kerry, Kirsten, Jason, Wesley and Jeremy. You all are the best! I also want to thank the Nerds… their support has been invaluable throughout and I look forward to their 2014 Virtual Race Series.

More soon!

The morning, I completed my first ever 5K.

I know… it’s hard to believe.

Mr. “I only run if chased” actually did it and even ran a bit of it.

I’ve been wanting to do this and working toward it for so long that I didn’t think I could get too emotional afterward. Then I reached that point where I just overfilled with emotion and starting crying. Tears of pain, relief, and joy. What a combo.

See, in a surprise move, the dastardly tag team of Wayne and Stubby have been acting up.  I mean, why wouldn’t they? I’m in my supposed happy place and I would have no desire to not have to wrap my toes like an Egyptian mummy, right? So, as late as Tuesday night, I was thinking about bailing on the whole thing. Then it really struck me just how much it meant for me to do it. Then yesterday, we hit the expo. Things really started to click at that point. We met up with our friends from Colorado at the expo and braved the chaos. I never saw anything quite like that. Just a sea of people milling around the Wide World of Sports complex. It was pretty freakin cool. I also met some other folks from the team and to have strangers telling me how proud they were that I was doing this started pushing me toward the happy scale.

I didn’t want to let my teammates down.

Team All Ears and friends before the start of the 5K

Team All Ears and friends before the start of the 5K.
Photo courtesy of Tom Troost

So, at 5:30 this morning, Supportive Partner Woman (5K finisher!) and I were at the team photo.

See? Lots of people

See? Lots of people

Then the waiting begins, because, as it turns out, there are a LOT of people doing this race. We were, of course, in corral E, which was the last one. Thankfully, a lot of my teammates stayed with us and walked along. I wasn’t planning on running, you see, due to my issues with Wayne and Stubby.

As we plodded along, the rains came. Not a heavy rain, but one that was starting to dampen my spirits. My inner Debbie Downer started to gnaw at me and I fumed to myself, thinking, “Well isn’t THIS just ^@$## perfect?”

I kept a smile, but that voice kept yelling at me, “What were you THINKING, you dumbass?”

Still we plodded along.

Then something magical happened. We came across a single team member standing by the International Gateway and she was just screaming for me. That’s what started my inner bitch-slapping of my inner Debbie Downer. (Big thanks to Laura Ozo!)

I realized I only had another mile to go. My pace started to pick up… the heavy feeling in my legs started to dissipate… We came around Spaceship Earth and hit the three mile mark. I saw a group of teammates and I started to hear them cheering for me. Just then, that huge lump of self-doubt flew out of me. I looked at Mike and Brad and said, “I got this.”

Then I ran.

Lumbered, really, but is that really a bad thing?

Getting a medla and hug from Lori was a great ending to an amazing morning.

Getting a medal and hug from Lori was a great ending to an amazing morning.

I crossed that finish line in stride to be greeted by a dear friend who was volunteering with a big hug and my first-ever medal.

See, they may say that running events are a solo thing. Maybe they are, but in my case, my team made me able to run.

This was followed up with congrats and pictures and a tasty brunch. Supportive Partner Woman went off to the parks, I came back to the room to write and to rest the toes.

This little bit of time has allowed me to reflect on what has happened to me today. Oh, and also to start thinking of how I’ll handle a back to back 5K and 10K next year. Because runDisney has its hooks into me now. I want that feeling again.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention a few people who have really helped me. First off would be our team founder, Deb Wills, and our team captains, Mike Scopa and Michelle Scribner-MacLean. Also, my friends Melanie and Bryan for putting the bug in my ear and just generally being awesome. Brad Garfinkel for being a friend and pushing me to do better. Rich Gairing, for being a great mentor and just an all-around awesome human being. It also goes without saying that the rest of my team gets credit. They are all rock stars and it would take too long to list every one of them individually.

I also wanted to thank the Nerds for a great virtual series. These folks have been so supportive as well (and yes, there’s a lot of cross-pollination) .

A "We did it" selfie

A “We did it” selfie

The real rock, though, is Supportive Partner Woman. She thinks I deserve all this credit, but the fact is that it is due to her support and encouragement that I was there at all today. I was truly blessed to have her in my life.

So, the rest of the weekend will be taken up by cheering for my teammates as they finish the other races. I hope that I can give them the same lift that they gave me. There’s also the other event coming up… the big reveal of this year’s fundraising total. That becomes available on Saturday and I will be sure to keep you updated.

After that, well, there’s the brand new Mickey Milers team, an offshoot of the Mickey Miles podcast. This will help to fill the void of Team AllEars. I’m already signed up and I’m sure I’ll be begging for donations to help Give Kids the World before too long.

Until that time, keep on moving.

IMG_1808Well, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to make it to the gym today. I had to work at 8 AM and the gym only opens at 7 on the weekends. So, I just went after work. It wasn’t as long as I would’ve liked it to be… they were closing early today due to a staff function. However, I did what I could and felt pretty good afterward.

Tomorrow will be a weight lifting day, as well as cardio. On the advice of the trainers, I only lift every other day. That gives the muscles some time to recuperate. I do the majority of my lifting at the bariatric center, because they have me doing free weights and the free weight area at the rec is a little intimidating. It’s not loaded up with the hardcore juicers like it was when we went to Gold’s Gym, but there are enough that it makes me feel like an interloper. So, on the days when I lift at the rec, I use the machines. I guess it’s not a bad thing, because they are always telling me to change it up.

So, my consecutive day streak stands at 11. Tomorrow will be 12 and yes, Supportive Partner Woman (bestest wife ever!) is planning on joining me. I hope that she will keep up with it, although the likelihood of her getting up at 4:45 AM during the week is slim to none.

In other news, the second Blu-Ray player I got my sister is actually working. The first one had a defective remote control. It just seems that these players are very persnickety. I know we have a Samsung that likes to make all sorts of noises and stop, especially if the disk has a speck of dust on it. If it’s a Redbox movie, you’re screwed.

So, I have to start thinking of what I can do to keep me busy. I keep thinking I should consider a second job… twenty hours a week or so. Enough money to fund the Disney travel habit, It would serve a twofold purpose, though. Extra money and keeping me from being bored. It’s when I’m bored that I tend to graze and grazing is not a good thing.

I realize this post is all over the place. Just have a lot of thoughts bouncing around the noggin. One last topic to cover. This is Disney Marathon weekend and I’m so proud of our friends who ran the half marathon today and/or will be running the full marathon tomorrow. You are an inspiration to me. I’m also pleased to announce that Team All Ears managed to raise almost $79,000 for Avon breast cancer charities. It’s a special group of people and I’m thrilled to know many of them. A special shoutout to team co-captains Mike Scopa and Michelle Scribner-MacLean, and to AllEars.net founder Deb Wills, without whom none of this would happen. She’s an inspiration to the team and to so many others in the community. We are proud to call her our friend.

Hope that everyone has a great Sunday!

Song of the Day: Fields of Athenry – Dropkick Murphys

Currently reading: Nano – Robin Cook

One of the biggest challenges someone trying to embrace a healthy lifestyle can face is vacation. Now, Supportive Partner Woman (bearer of plentiful camera equipment!) and I aren’t going anywhere until the end of September, but I’ve started thinking ahead.

Primarily what kills me is the meals. I tend to embrace the “calories don’t count on vacation” philosophy. That’s obviously not true, but I did tend to go overboard on what I was eating when we’d go away. We’d sit down at a nice restaurant and while I might order a “healthy” option, it would be bathed in a cream sauce or some other preparation that would pretty much kill me.

Many of you know that SPW (owner of the original geek vest!) and I go to Disney World on a regular basis. This is good and bad, as there’s a lot of lousy options to choose from. If you’re willing to do a little research, you can make some decisions ahead of time and lessen the caloric collateral damage.

My first stop when I need to check Disney facts is All Ears. For more that 15 years, All Ears has been the authority for Disney info. It’s a fine site run by one of the best people I am privileged to call a friend, All Ears offers every fact you could conceivably want to know about Disney World. Curious as to what a typical room might look like in a given resort? Check All Ears. Reviews of restaurants, resorts and attractions? All Ears. Curious as to what a menu looks like at a particular restaurant? You guessed it… All Ears. Deb and her team have most of the facts and if it’s something they don’t know, they find out.

Healthier items in blue, not quite-so-healthy items in red.

It’s the menu section I visit most frequently. Used to be so I could drool over the latest offerings, but nowadays, it’s to see where the sensible choice might be. In addition, the menus give pricing (current as of when the menu was dated), ingredients, and other useful information.

Disney has made a lot of strides over the years of serving diners with food allergies and restricted diets.

‘Ohana Fruit Bowl (photo courtesy of Disney Food Blog)

As a diabetic, when I make a dining reservation, I let Disney know of my condition. When I arrive at the restaurant, a chef will come to the table and go over what is low in sugar and carbs with me. Often times, the chefs will go the extra mile and create something special. For example, when dining at ‘Ohana at Disney’s Polynesian Resort, the family style meal includes a bread pudding with bananas and caramel sauce. When I asked if there were alternatives, the chef came out, said he could work with this and brought me a lovely bowl of fresh fruit served in a hollowed out pineapple. Not only was it a great presentation, the fruit was very fresh and quite tasty.

To summarize, it’s possible to eat healthy when you’re away on vacation. It might take a little more effort and research, but it can be done.

Other places you can go for information and reviews of Disney restaurants include the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World, by Len Testa and Bob Sehlinger, available on Amazon in both book and Kindle format, Passporter’s Guide to Walt Disney World, available at Amazon, and Passporter’s Open Mouse for Walt Disney World and the Disney Cruise Line. This has not been updated in a few years, but has a lot of specific information useful to travelers with challenges.

If you are looking for other web-based resources, Disney Food Blog has a great section regarding special diets, ranging from kosher to vegan to gluten-free to diabetic to low-carb/South Beach.

Not much of a reader? In addition to having her own podcast, AJ from Disney Food Blog makes semi-regular appearances on the WDW Today podcast. Listen for her reviews and tips on dining throughout the World.

I’ve concentrated on Disney because that’s where we’ve been vacationing the most, but the same principles apply anywhere you travel. Even cruise lines have gotten into the act. Royal Caribbean has a low-cal section to their dinner menus each night and offers a sugar-free or no sugar added desserts. You can continue to make better choices as to what you put in your mouth while you’re on vacation and not lose out in the taste department.