Monday, April 30, 2012

5 days to the Expedition Everest Challenge!

Only 5 days left until the 2012 Expedition Everest Challenge! I'm planning on heading up Friday morning so only 4 more days until I'm at the Mouse House. Unfortunately the weather is putting a damper on training. It's been raining and raining and, well, you guessed it, raining for the last three days. And looks like more of the same for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. We've been under almost constant flood watches the whole weekend and into today. Makes me glad I'm doing the individual again this year (if they have us start in the first wave/corral again). I could just walk the course and still be done before the last people are even halfway through. Though I won't be walking the whole thing even if I can't get outside to train all this week.

And no, I'm not running on the treadmill. Tried that before and it was awful--I couldn't even keeping walking on the treadmill after I tried running on it, that's how badly it threw me off (no, it didn't throw me off the machine, I meant in general and stride/pace/everything-wise). I wouldn't mind running in the rain if it was just a light rain or drizzle but we've been getting seriously heavy downpours...not worth it to go out in this weather for "just" a 5K. I'll be fine for EEC even if I take this week off.

Almost time to conquer the mountain!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

I'm not ignoring you; earning extra money; single digit days to Everest

It may seem like I'm ignoring you but I'm not. I have two blogs now, this one (well duh) and The Disney World Files (you can access it from one of the tabs above). I started the Disney one as a way to write about my favorite place so I could share information and maybe some tips and tricks, etc. And so I've been spending some time working on my information pages which are taking longer than I expected (and those pages are just overview pages...there's just so much to tell about Disney, even in an overview!).

I've also been researching becoming a Disney travel planner/agent, checking out different host agencies and trying to make contact with several of them. I figure with as much as I know about Disney and love the place, I could help others plan and book their trips (I've certainly planned enough of my own and some other people's as well)...not necessarily full-time since I already have a full-time Monday thru Friday job, but at least part-time evenings and weekends (which is when I'd think lots of people would be looking into booking vacations anyway since so many people are Monday-Friday workers like me).

Since my fun-money account has been dwindling down and there's not much available in the mystery shopping/auditing world that's worth doing (have I said on here that I do that in my spare time? If not, yes I do...or at least I've done it in the past, not much out there that pays decent anymore), I've been thinking of ways to earn some extra cash so I can do more races and more Disney trips (of course!). There's really no part-time positions available close by-I'm not spending a ton of gas just for a PT job-so I've turned to home-based ideas.

I could probably gather enough "stuff" from the house and garage for another garage sale, but even if a friend was having one that I could join (my complex doesn't allow it unless it is a complex-wide event) that would just be a one time thing and while that would be nice short-term, I'm really looking for something sustainable.

So again, since I'm a Disney fanatic and have been there over fifty times (at least, it's probably more but you lose count after a while), the Disney travel agent idea seems like a no-brainer for me. I love planning trips, especially to Disney World. So I'm waiting for responses. I've heard back from two agencies so is only looking for full-timers, the other sent me information and a contract if I decide to sign with them. My only money outlay to get started with them would be to get added on a rider to their E&O insurance. But I'm going to wait a bit longer to see what other responses come in to compare commission charts and such (though theirs seemed pretty good).

I know several of my Disney running friends/ROTErs are Disney planners, do any of you have any information to share on getting started that I might have missed? Or advice of any kind? I've already been doing independent contractor work so I'm familiar with that aspect of it. I know this is something I'd really like doing (again, not full-time)...I know volume could be next to nothing or really huge...I'm not looking to get rich doing this, just make some extra and maybe get some travel perks if my volume is high enough to qualify. We'll see what happens!

Only 9 days left until we leave for Expedition Everest Weekend! Looking forward to doing EEC again, had such a good time last year (recap here). Plus this year's medal is pretty nice with the 5th anniversary...I'll leave you with some pics of it:

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Expedition Everest waivers up; Tower of Terror filling fast; my other blog

runDisney has put the link up to the 2012 Expedition Everest waivers here. They've also posted final race instructions. This year I'm bib #366 so if you see me there, come on over and say hi! Not quite as low as last year's 95 but not a 5-digit number like I always am at the half marathons (and the full marathon) at Disney. I'm hoping they keep the wave starts like last year with the individuals going first before the teams, it was really cool last time to be able to go off with the first wave instead of the last or next to last like I usually do. Speaking of last year, if you haven't already read my report from last year's event, you can read it here.

I also posted yesterday that I'm officially registered for the Tower of Terror 10-miler the last weekend of September. If you are wanting to participate, better get over to the site to register ASAP...on Friday it was 87% full, yesterday it was at 91%, now today it's up to the final slots are filling fast! I know there will be a HUGE group of folks from Running of the Ears there. If you haven't checked out the ROTE forums I highly recommend doing so-lots of great info and fantastic people who love running and love Disney!

Okay, gotta go work on my other blog that I started, The Disney World Files. I figured that since I love Disney World so much, I wanted to write all about it. I'm hoping to make it a place people can check out with tips & tricks, interesting facts, things like that. I want to make it different than other sites/blogs about Disney where I'm not just telling the same information over and over (like hotel details, ride descriptions, restaurant choices). I'm thinking I'd like to be more...I don't If you were going to read a blog about different Disney World resort topics, what would you want to see? For example-reviews of the different resorts/restaurants, overview of Downtown Disney, Disney transportation options, etc.

But something more than just the everyday, every Disney site/blog out there talks about the same thing stuff...any unique things, out-of-the-way things, etc-interesting topics/viewpoints that everyone else hasn't already done to death, you know?

Let me know if you have any ideas/requests...and if you have questions/ideas/requests from friends, send those over as well. There is no such things as too many topics/questions and no such thing as too "small" of a topic to cover.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Officially in for the Tower of Terror 10-miler!

Nothing like waiting until the last minute. Just Friday the Walt Disney World Tower of Terror 10-miler was at 87% capacity so I emailed my hubby just to keep it in his it went to 91% so I sent another email. And now I get to say THANK YOU a zillion times to him with lots of hugs and kisses as I was given the go-ahead to officially register :-) I was already working on hotel plans with friends (remember my post about Creatively financing race trips? Sharing hotel rooms are an easy way to chop money off the price of the trip!) already, now at least I know I'll be running while there LOL.

Can't wait until the end of September! Cool GLOW IN THE DARK bling will be mine!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Creatively financing race trips

I'm trying to figure out how to make the only two race trips I want to do coming up (2012 Tower of Terror and 2012 WDW Marathon Weekend) feasible budget-wise. I'm doing as many online things (surveys, MyPoints, etc) to earn gift cards to use for food, gas, etc as I can. That's one of the ways I've reduced my costs for my upcoming Expedition Everest trip...I earned myself a $25 gift card to Rainforest Cafe (or any other Landry's restaurant, but really-RC is right there in Animal Kingdom and in Downtown Disney so why go elsewhere?) from MyPoints. I also have enough stripes on my TGI Friday's card to get a free steak or ribs entree. I'm staying at Pop Century on WDW property and they now have mini-fridges in all of the rooms so I'll be bringing breakfast stuff and snacks. Since I go up on Friday and come home on Sunday, just those things right there pays for most of my meals.

I've already paid the first night of my 2 nights of the hotel as the deposit for Everest...and I'm sharing my room with my SIL and her hubby so they're paying the other night. Sharing a room is always a great way to keep room costs down. I'm thinking for TOT and MW that maybe getting enough people to share a suite at All Star Music or Art of Animation might even be more cost effective since those can sleep even more people (up to 6-one queen bed, one double sleeper sofa, one sleeper convertible chair and one sleeper convertible ottoman at Music; one queen bed, one double "table" bed and one double sleeper sofa at AOA). There's also the higher end places like the deluxe villas and the treehouses that can sleep up to 8 or 9 people too, though I haven't done the math to see if they'd also work out really cheap like the value resorts would.

I know there are probably places off property that are cheaper, but honestly the convenience of staying on Disney property, plus the fact that on property I don't have to pay for parking at the parks and can get to them quicker if of more value to me personally. I do consider staying off property on the first night up for a trip though, especially for January's Marathon Weekend when I usually go up from Thursday through Monday...I've been racking up survey dollars with eRewards so I can redeem for Hilton Honors points. When I redeem those points later this year I should have enough for one night hotel in my Hilton Honors account *YAY!*

One of the trip expenses that keeps getting bigger is gas. Like with the hotel expense, sharing helps keep this down (SIL and her DH are riding up with me for Everest so we'll share gas expense too). I can also use the gift cards I can earn on the MyPoints site for gas as well. I do take the Florida Turnpike for my trip so there is some toll expense, but that's another convenience I'd rather pay for--there's usually less cars on the Turnpike and it is much closer for me as it lets you out on Osceola Parkway up there which is a straight shot right into the back side of the WDW property.

I'm also currently going over the stuff in my office and garage that I'm basically just storing and not using to see what I might have to sell. I'd rather try and sell it at a garage sale than do Craigslist or eBay, but my complex doesn't allow them (unless it is complex-wide and they've only done one of those) and no one I know is having one for me to tote my stuff over. This part is a work in progress, hopefully I can figure something out...I'll probably wind up using Craigslist since we've had success on there before. At least it doesn't cost anything to use Craigslist so if things don't sell I don't lose any money on listings.

I'd say my favorite way to save is using MyPoints to earn the gift cards (if anyone is not on there, is interested and wants me to send an invite, let me know). I just click on the emails to show I've read them, do surveys and sometimes shop through the links on the site--they have TONS of well-known stores that you can click to from the MyPoints site, then you earn points for each dollar you spend. If you're going to be buying something on a site that has the click-thru anyway, might as well earn points for it, right? I've found it's the best site to easily earn gift cards without having to invest crazy amounts of time.

Anyway, if anyone has other ideas for creatively financing a race trip, feel free to leave a comment, I'm always open to (reasonable) suggestions! Anything to help me make my race trips happen, gotta get that bling and see all my online running friends!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Jelly Beans and the Easter Bunny (aka ME) heads out for some miles

So remember I posted about the Jelly Bean Virtual Race? Well the week is over now and I went with just the 5K and 10K (still pining away for a bike of my very own *sigh*). Forgot to take pictures for the 5K but snapped some today. I was in Target last night and just for the heck of it wandered over to the Easter section and stumbled upon a lone pair of fuzzy bunny ears lying amongst the remaining scattered bags of candy. They were only a dollar so I decided to get them, just for fun. See?

And yes, I did wear them the whole time out today like I was the Easter Bunny. Got lots of smiles from the other people I passed along the way. A runner headed in the opposite direction got a kick out of them and gave me a thumbs up (she said something too but I was listening to heavy metal at the time and by the time I realized she was talking to me, she had already passed me). It was beautiful out today. It was around 74 degrees by the time I headed out with hardly a cloud in the sky and warmed to 79 by the time I was done. Thankfully the humidity was only around 58% so the temps didn't feel too hot-plus my route was shaded about 75% of the time and there was a decent breeze going.

For the 5K I did during the week I did 48:12 and today's 10K was 1:38:20. Not fast but still decent. Had some fun along the way making bunny shadows:

And as the Easter Bunny will tell you, jelly beans are a great fuel source...and they sure taste better than a gel!

Now to submit my times and pics to the virtual race. No, the times don't "count"-meaning winners aren't determined by how fast you were...prizes are randomly awarded so we'll see if I win anything...and even if I don't, it was a fun way to spend my miles-even with some of the odd looks I got from passing cars...could it have been the bunny ears?

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Countdown to Expedition Everest 2012

Only 27 days to go until I leave for the 2012 Expedition Everest Challenge weekend at Walt Disney World! I'm interested to see how they've changed it for this year...from what I've read, it seems like there will be clues along the 5K course to help us after the 5K portion is completed and we start picking up our clue cards in the park. I don't know if I'll like that or not...though it might make it easier for me to add more run segments in since I'm guessing when we come up to a clue area I'll be pausing to read the information so will have short rest breaks.

When I look at the map on runDisney's website, it looks like last year with clue cards being available in the same places (Oasis, Camp Minnie-Mickey, Africa and Asia) and the scavenger hunt finish near Expedition Everest. So I guess the info along the 5K course will help us solve those clue cards as opposed to last year just getting the cards and having to figure them out ourselves. Since my only goal this year is to finish faster than last year, hopefully these clues for the actual clue cards will make the scavenger hunt portion go much faster. If you've read my blog entry from last year's event, you know I lost quite a bit of time at the beginning of the scavenger hunt since I couldn't figure out where to turn in my first clue.

4 weeks of training to go!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

2012 WDW Marathon Weekend Recap Part 1-Pre-race and Expo

So this year I was originally just going to do the Chip & Dale Marathon Relay (the “C&D”), but was drawn toward the Half Marathon (the “Donald”) for two reasons-number one, 2012 is the 15th anniversary of the race so of course you know the medal will be an anniversary medal and will be unique. Number two, my sister-in-law who recently started running was making Donald her first half marathon. And so that is how I came to register for both. Yes, that’s right-both. I’d be doing my first back-to-back days of half marathons...not back-to-back weekends---DAYS. As in a half marathon on Saturday AND Sunday. Really. Me. Nutso, right?

Well, I figured hey-2010 I did the half, 2011 the full, now 2012 I’d do half and half (sounds like I need a cup of coffee with that, right?) 2013 I should just do half and full for the Goofy next. Well, let’s not get ahead of ourselves quite yet.

Anyway, when I posted looking for a partner for the relay I stated I was looking to run the 2nd leg...for two reasons-first, I’m normally slow, coming in near the 16mm mark. Since I’d be doing the Donald the day before and didn’t know how that would affect my pace and how my body would feel doing half marathons two days in a row, I wouldn’t want to go first and get swept (although now I know the 2nd leg runners would have been allowed to run anyway, at the time I was concerned I’d screw them up if something happened). Second, the half marathon on Saturday follows just about the same course as the first part of the full on Sunday and I didn’t want to run virtually the same thing two days in a row. By doing the 2nd leg I’d basically get to do the whole full marathon course, just splitting it up over two days. I was lucky to hook up with Carol (U.S.) from Running of the Ears who was just fine with being runner #1 and we got together on the phone the day registration opened to sign up. Yay!

I wound up registering for Donald while at the Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend Expo (yay for no fees!) along with Princess. Once back from W&D I started my training for my double half marathon weekend. Didn’t do too much different, just threw in a few double long run weekends which weren’t bad at all.

Marathon Weekend is now a yearly trip for me; this year I left really early Thursday morning (January 5th) before the sun came up to pick up my SIL and start the 3+ hour drive to the Mouse House. I wanted to be at the Expo when it opened; we arrived a little after and headed on in. It was pretty neat that I got to go to two different places to pick up two sets of stuff, makes you feel kinda special. Once we had our bibs we went over to the next building for our shirts and the Expo. Again pretty cool getting two different shirts, a nice navy blue for C&D and a brighter blue for Donald. I was kind of bummed that I didn’t see any C&D merchandise for the race-no shirts, glasses, knick-knacks, keychains...I did find out the next day that they actually DID have “We Did It” shirts so since we went back the next day anyway to meet some of SIL’s friends who had just arrived, I was able to buy one of those. Yay for a C&D shirt! When I spoke with the rep there about the lack of C&D merchandise, he said with the small number of teams it wasn’t really cost effective for them to have all the different merchandise made. BOO!!!

Anyway, after picking up a velcro wrist strap for my Garmin 305 (since the holes on my regular strap are just about to rip), we headed out of the Expo with our goodies and to the hotel to drop off our stuff...then headed out for some park time. Did Animal Kingdom and Magic Kingdom Thursday/Friday before eating an early dinner at the hotel before our very early bedtime Friday night (can you believe it, we went to bed around 7pm!). Alarms set for 2am!