Category: Anaheim Antics

Anaheim Antics: Keeping Fit at the Animal Kingdom Lodge

Today is a day that forever changed me and the events that occurred 13 years ago live with me everyday. Take a moment today to reflect, remember and most importantly tell people you love them…life is too short.

Now…let’s talk about vacations!!  Everyone loves a vacation, but what about your fitness?  Does that begin to suffer due to all of the fun you are having?  Well John is here to tell us that it doesn’t!  This month’s Anaheim Antics are brought to you from his recent vacation to Walt Disney World where he heroically kept up with his race training.  No excuses!!

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“I’m on vacation!” The mantra we use to enjoy some much deserved time off. We get to eat what we want and do what we want, all guilt-free. But like all vacations, we eventually get the bill, and when it comes to our health, the bill can come with post-vacation lethargy and a few extra pounds.   In recent years, however, consumers have become more health conscious, and true to the laws of supply and demand, the market has responded. The fitness club industry is now a $25 billion industry, and vacation resorts are no stranger to wanting a piece of that pie. Disney is no exception, having added fitness centers to its Resort Hotels. Even the four Disney Cruise Line ships have fitness centers that rival the competition.

For better or worse, vacationing is no longer an excuse to not stay fit. On a recent stay at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, I decided to see what the fitness possibilities were. Being a Disneylander, I was already familiar with the fitness centers at the three Disney Anaheim hotels. And, to be honest, on previous visits to the Walt Disney World, fitness was furthest from my mind. Not so this time. If you’ve never visited Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, it’s a must see. The acreage is ample, the architecture and design are top notch, and the immerse experience is all-inclusive. And fitness? How’s about two fitness centers appropriately themed to the Resort?

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Adjacent to Jambo House is the Zahanati Massage and Fitness Center. Loosely translated as “wellness center”, Zahanati is a full-service workout facility and sauna offering full-service massage, body and facial treatments. The workout room is nicely appointed, with a full variety of machines. There is an abundance of cardio equipment and strength training machines. Were this not African themed, I’d use the phrase “practically perfect” to describe this venue. The atmosphere was relaxing, clean, and motivating. It would be easy to spend an hour here as you work your way through a workout circuit and finish with a treadmill run while enjoying the lush view outside.

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Zahanati is the larger of the fitness offerings, but its location at Jambo House makes it a bit of a hike for Kidani Village Guests. Sure, you could get on a shuttle or golf cart to Jambo House, but that’s the equivalent of pulling into an LA Fitness parking lot and finding the space closest to the entrance. Thankfully, Disney Imagineers took Kidani Village Guests into consideration.

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Adjacent to Kidani Village is the Survival of the Fittest Fitness Center. The name alone is enough to make you smile. It’s smaller than Zahanati, but no less appointed.   A full array of cardio machines including treadmills, bicycles, ellipticals, stair climbers, and weight machines are available here. It has the same relaxing and motivating ambience of its big brother at Jambo House. Its view adjacent to the Samawati Springs Pool makes good use of its bank of windows and ample natural lighting.

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Both Zahanati and Survival of the Fittest Fitness Centers make use of MagicBand technology to grant access to Guests. But these fitness centers are not the only fitness opportunities available to Resort Guests. Being an Anaheim resident, where land at the Resorts is at a premium. I couldn’t help but notice the abundance of acreage dedicated to, well, just roaming. There are numerous walking paths coursing throughout Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge that are perfect for that morning run, jog, or walk. Anyone jogging along these paths in an early morning will be taken by the lush greenery and spectacular views.

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Contrary to popular belief, you don’t burn off more calories than you take in when walking a theme park. If that were so, theme park visits would be a mandatory part of every fitness plan (hey, I might be onto something there!). It’s still necessary to stick to a health and fitness plan when vacationing. Thankfully, vacation spots like Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge and other Disney Resorts make it much easier to stick to a plan. That means you’ll be able to continue training for that Disney race while on vacation, and when the vacation is over. We can officially say goodbye to weight gain and post vacation lethargy. Okay, maybe not, but at least we have the option, and that itself can be enough to make our vacation even more relaxing and enjoyable.

RADically yours,

John

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John grew up in the Orange County area of California, always living in the shadow of the Disneyland Resort.  Known as the consummate storyteller to his friends, he has had an admiration of Disney since childhood, and is most interested in the Company’s history and heritage.  His favorite memory to date is setting foot in Walt’s apartment over the Main Street Firehouse.  John lives by what he calls the three F’s: faith, fun, and fitness.   Being healthy isn’t about adding years to your life; it’s about adding life to your years.  Nothing sums that up more than making Disney races a goal in every fitness plan.

Anaheim Antics: Battle of the Theme Park Races

Wait…there are races outside of Disney???   Ha Ha, just kidding!  Today John is back with more Anaheim Antics and compares a runDisney race to another Anaheim theme park’s race.  How do you think it will compare??

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“The Gold Standard”  That’s the term we often apply to Disney Theme Parks, describing superior quality and legendary guest service.  But that standard also comes with a price.  runDisney events have quickly become the gold standard of running events, not just in spectacle, quality, and service, but also in price.  Any runner who has done a runDisney race will attest to the Disney difference.  But here in Anaheim, Disney is not the only theme park in town with a race series.

Just a stone’s throw from the Happiest Place on Earth is Knott’s Berry Farm, proudly billing itself as “America’s 1st Theme Park”.  Indeed, Knott’s predates Disneyland by 15 years, when Walter Knott built a replica Ghost Town next to Mrs. Knott’s Chicken Dinner Restaurant.  Today, Knott’s Berry Farm hosts their annual Coaster Run, which offers a 5K, 10K and the beloved Camp Snoopy Kids Run.  Having recently run the Disney’s Tinker Bell 10k, I of course had to run Knott’s Coaster Run 10k as well.  So how do two theme parks within a few miles from each other pull off running events? Let me tell you.

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OPERATORS:  Disney races, including the Tink 10k, are managed by runDisney, which means a very well managed race with high emphasis on service and quality.  You’re guaranteed a positive runner experience thanks to their management.  Knott’s uses Renegade Racing, started in 2004 by competitive athlete and former US Marine Jonathan Pauley.  Knott’s was the third Renegade race I’ve run, but it won’t be the last.  I’ve been very satisfied with their operations at every race.

REGISTRATION:  $43-$55 for Knott’s compared to $105 for runDisney.   Of course, runDisney’s Tinker Bell 10k sold out within hours, while the Knott’s Coaster Run had same-day registration available.  Put simply, $50 is a lot easier to swallow than $100.  But the laws of supply and demand say both of these races are reasonably priced.  Both use Active.com as their registration portal.

PACKET PICK-UP: Disney runners must pick up their packets at the runDisney expo at the Disneyland Hotel.  This means greater Downtown Disney parking lot congestion, and a guarantee of your wallet being thinner once you’ve found that perfect product in the expo.

By comparison, Knott’s runners can simply stop by the Buena Park Mall or Sports Authority in Irvine.  You should be in and out in 15 minutes, whereas the runDisney expo will carve a good hour or so out of your evening.  There’s no expo, but there’s also no congestion.  Unfortunately, there’s also no related merchandise, which might have a place there.

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RACE DAY PARKING:  Disney runners will want to park in the Mickey 7 Friends lot, but you’ll have to pay for parking.  The race start is on Disney Drive adjacent to the structure, so it’s not much of a walk at all to your assigned corral.  This is where Knott’s really shines.   Parking is in the Knott’s Berry Farm parking lot, and parking for race participants is free.  I wasn’t expecting this, as I pulled up to the parking lot with my wallet out.  It was a very pleasant surprise indeed.

THE COURSE:  Both courses start on-property, and wind through the respective parks.  Both have characters on the course, and both have courses that are clearly marked.  Both have parts of their courses on public streets, and both have finish lines in reasonable proximity to their park entrances.  What differentiates the two is the overall quality of each.  Disneyland is, without a doubt, the higher quality park as far as show standards.  Goofy looks like Goofy should, and Mickey looks like Mickey. Charlie Brown and Snoopy, though, look like 6 foot tall stuffed animals.  That’s not to say they look bad, but it’s hard to let go of the Disney show quality.

When it comes to the course, Disneyland paths are wider and more level, while Knott’s tends to have narrower walking paths with more noticeable changes in elevation.  I recall one very tight hairpin switchback in the Knott’s race, which had a great deal of bottlenecking and shoulder bumping, and another whose incline was steep enough that a runner near me almost lost his footing.

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THE FINISH LINE:  After an hour of running, there’s no greater sight than the finish line in the distance.  Disney’s finish line is festively appointed, with a huge video screen allowing spectators to watch your victory sprint.   Just past it is a nice wide area to prevent bunching of runners.  A runDisney volunteer congratulates you, and then awards you by putting the beautiful medal around your neck.  Next is a series of Photopass backdrops for the perfect shot.  And don’t forget to pick up your assortment of fruit, bottled water, and other goodies.

By comparison, the Knott’s finish line itself is just fine, but once you pass it, you immediately hit a wall of runners trying to squeeze through single, poorly placed photo backdrop, and then the medal distribution, where you are simply handed your medal as you continue for much needed fruit and water.  One thing Knott’s is known for, though, is boysenberries, and part of the perk is a slice of their famous boysenberry pie at the end of the race.  It’s a great perk, but this area of the finish line is so congested it can be downright uncomfortable.

THE MEDALS:  There’s no denying it:  runDisney medals are works of art.  They’re huge, have some serious weight in them, and are clearly where a good portion of your registration fee went.  The Knott’s medal is nicely designed, colorful, and the size of a standard medal (about 2” square, give or take), which will look great on your medal rack.

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PERKS AND PIQUES:  After the Knott’s race, my group proceeded right over to Mrs. Knott’s Chicken Dinner Restaurant.  What better way to celebrate your victory than with a generous chicken serving of southern fried chicken smothered in gravy?  But it needn’t end there.  All race participants get 50% off park admission for the day.  You’ve already parked for free, so why not stay a little longer?  Disney doesn’t offer an admission discount for runners, but there’s the appeal of grabbing a post-race breakfast at Tangaroa Terrace, Steakhouse 55, Goofy’s Kitchen, or Storyteller’s Café, all of which are outside the Parks.  You’ve already paid to park, so why not?

OVERALL COMPARISON:  In some aspects such a show standards, it’s simply unfair to compare the Disney look to the Knott’s look.  They’re apples and oranges, and should rightly be judged on individual merit.  If I didn’t have Disney on the brain, I probably would find no fault in Knott’s characters or walking paths.  But some comparisons are rightly of concern.

Knott’s post-race bottleneck and areas of steep elevation changes should be reviewed.  Likewise, runDisney should give consideration to how packet pickup at the Disneyland hotel adversely impact traffic in the Downtown Disney parking area.  But successes of both should be similarly considered.  Disney’s atmospheric level of quality comes as an expectation given the price tag of the race, and even there, the level of Guest service exceeds expectations.  Knott’s doesn’t have to let you park for free, or let you into the park for a discount, but they do.

All in all, when weighing expectations, it stands to reason that there’s no race like a runDisney race.  But other theme parks are similarly capable (and in Knott’s case, quite successful) at putting on a race event that promotes a fitness lifestyle, a family tradition, and a fun atmosphere.  See you next year, Knott’s.  Please keep that slice of boysenberry pie at the ready.

RADically yours,

John

*****

John grew up in the Orange County area of California, always living in the shadow of the Disneyland Resort.  Known as the consummate storyteller to his friends, he has had an admiration of Disney since childhood, and is most interested in the Company’s history and heritage.  His favorite memory to date is setting foot in Walt’s apartment over the Main Street Firehouse.  John lives by what he calls the three F’s: faith, fun, and fitness.   Being healthy isn’t about adding years to your life; it’s about adding life to your years.  Nothing sums that up more than making Disney races a goal in every fitness plan.

Anaheim Antics: A Girl’s Race from a Guy’s Perspective – Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend

One of my favorite things about all of the Princess Half Marathons I’ve run are the guys embracing the sparkle.  The Tinker Bell Half Marathon is the west coast version of this and John is here to share the guy’s perspective with us.  So fun!!

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Runners live by many motivational phrases. Phrases like “pain is temporary, glory is forever” or “no one ever drowned in sweat.” For males running the Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend at the Disneyland Resort, it could be “be careful what you wish for, you just might get it”. As the name implies, the “Tink” (like its WDW Disney Princess counterpart) is marketed towards women. But the appeal for me was multifold: I had not yet run a Disney race, and that was high on my priority list. When runDisney added the 10k to the existing Tink roster, the thought of earning a medal with the word “Inaugural” stamped on it was appealing. Plus, several other Cast Members in my department were running (oops, the secret’s out! Yes, I’m a DLR Cast Member, and nope, I can’t sign you in!), and it seemed only fitting that there be at least one guy representing the male species of my department. So how does a guy adapt to what is otherwise a girl’s weekend? There were just few caveat emptor moments.

The “Inaugural” Tinker Bell 10k medal

The “Inaugural” Tinker Bell 10k medal

Before the day of the race, runners must stop by the runDisney Expo to pick up their race bibs, shirts, and appointed swag. Participants in runDisney events know that “Expo” is defined as “take my money now”. There were plenty of vendors selling fairy-themed merchandise. If I were daring enough to wear wings, a tutu, or frilly shoelaces, I’d have had no problem finding a source. Even though I was secure in my manhood, I decided to pass: I run for time, so wearing attire that would slow me down was a no-no … at least that’s the excuse I went with. Thankfully, there was plenty of other running-themed merchandise catering to people of both genders. I emerged with my wallet only slightly thinner. My one major purchase was a FlipBelt, which worked impressively during the race. More on that in a future column…

No visit to the Expo is complete without a look at the runDisney exclusive merchandise. Again, lots of wings and wands, and plenty of themed merchandise for the Half Marathon. For the 10k, not so much. Perhaps it was the fact that the race was added later, or that men were a small portion of total runners (out of 8300 participants, just over 1500 were men), but male-specific merchandise was pretty much nonexistent. From a male perspective, this was rather disappointing. There were some unisex white tees with the 10k logo, and several styles of shirts in women’s cut, but that was it. I ended up getting a 10k logo pin; I would have been willing to spend considerably more, given the opportunity.

The most notable gender concern happens just prior to entering the Expo, when runners are getting their race shirts. Now, I gotta give kudos to the runDisney team for making their race shirts available in men’s and women’s cuts. Even though women make up 60% of runners in the average race, unisex shirts are often the norm, completely ignoring more than half the demographic. runDisney knows their market, at least when it comes to sizing. When it comes to color, well, that’s a different story. The color of the shirts for the 10k was a very non-manly lavender. This one actually bothered me a little, given the cost of entering a runDisney event. I hope for future races, they choose colors that are a little less gender-exclusive, such as plum, teal, or even a deep jewel-tone pink.

A shirt color fit for a Princess, not so much for a Prince

A shirt color fit for a Princess, not so much for a Prince

As for the race itself, Disney races are definitely the gold standard. The organizers have this race well-executed. Runners are corralled into very specific pens. I was corralled near the starting line, and my corral was about two-thirds female, and one-third male. For a race where women outnumber men more than 5 to 1, this surprised me somewhat. As runners were released through the starting line in waves, it became clear that there was plenty of space in between waves to mitigate bunching. The on-property portion of the course was clearly marked, clean, and lined with Cast Members and Characters. Being a Cast Member, I’ve seen backstage a million times, but there’s something special about seeing it as part of a special public event. Whenever I saw a Cast Member that I knew, I had to resist the urge to slow down and say hi. So if you’re a Cast Member reading this, and I stopped to say hi to you, you must be very special indeed! One of the most endearing moments was when I passed my own building. Seeing my fellow Cast Members taking the time out of their busy morning to cheer us on was very heartwarming.

A very runner-friendly event

A very runner-friendly event

The off-property portion, which winds through the streets of Anaheim, was considerably less impressive, but not at all disappointing. Unlike my previous Laguna Hills 10k experience, there were several local high school musical groups, cheer squads, and similar on-course “enter-couragement” (my word for entertainment and encouragement). The most fun was that moment at the end of the race when I came back on-property, saw the chEAR squad, heard the roar of spectators, and crossed that finish line, my first Disney race becoming a part of history. Oh, and my time? I finished the race in 1:01:31, placing me 680th out of 8331 runners (274th place out of 1539 men). Soon after, I regrouped with my fellow Cast Members. Together, we reveled in our achievement.

When the phrase “You run like a girl” is a compliment

When the phrase “You run like a girl” is a compliment

There is a famous bible verse written by the Apostle Paul to the early Christians in Galatia, where he wrote, “there is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male or female”. I would say this applies not just to those early Galatians, but also to modern runners. Despite concerns about running shirts, expo merchandise, and male-to-female ratio, the moment my feet passed that starting line, I was no longer a male in a female race. I was a runner, an athlete, and a winner. We weren’t people of color, race, or gender. We were champions. For those who don’t see the appeal in running, this concept might seem incomprehensible. But to those of us who have set foot to pavement at a starting line, felt that runner’s high halfway through, raised our arms at the finish, and basked in the satisfaction of a medal around our necks, that concept is irresistible.

RADically yours,

John

Sarah’s Note: Next year John, we will get you in a tutu!! 🙂  Congrats on a great race!!

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John grew up in the Orange County area of California, always living in the shadow of the Disneyland Resort.  Known as the consummate storyteller to his friends, he has had an admiration of Disney since childhood, and is most interested in the Company’s history and heritage.  His favorite memory to date is setting foot in Walt’s apartment over the Main Street Firehouse.  John lives by what he calls the three F’s: faith, fun, and fitness.   Being healthy isn’t about adding years to your life; it’s about adding life to your years.  Nothing sums that up more than making Disney races a goal in every fitness plan.

Anaheim Antics: Running the Same Race Twice

Do you run the same races year after year to see how you’ve improved?  It’s always a great way to gauge your progress.  Well John is back and recapping his second year running the Laguna Hills 10K…his improvement is quite impressive.  Read on to find out how good!

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In my previous column, I shared with everyone my story of how I got into running, and of my first 10k, the Laguna Hills Memorial Day 10k, back in 2013. I shared how I finished the race with a time of 10:07 per mile, and how I was looking forward to running the race again, with the goal of shaving 30 seconds off my time. Well, the 2014 Laguna Hills 10k was this past Memorial Day, and I’m sure you’re all dying to find out: how’d I do? Did I beat my own time? Did I manage to meet my goal? Did I once again survive what is arguably the hilliest race in Orange County? The answer to all your questions is, in the words of the Bruce Almighty, “Yes, to all!” If you’ve ever run a race more than once, you’ll understand that feeling of familiarity one has with a race: the organizers, the course, the availability of water stations, the parking, the offerings at the expo, etc. One starts to develop a certain expectation, reasonable or not, when running the same race more than once. So, that begs the question: How did this year’s Laguna Hills 10k compare with last year’s?   Let me count the ways!

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There are large races, and small races. With about 3500 participants, the Laguna Hills Half Marathon event fits into the “just right” category. Not too crowded, but with enough of a crowd to feel like a worthwhile race. Renegade Racing, the race organizer, does a professional job with all their events, and this is no exception. Everything from pre-race check-in to the post-race expo was reasonably organized and executed. They don’t corral the runners separately, but simply setup designated markers before the starting line based on your estimated time. All the participants start together: 5k, 10k, and half marathon. The start of the course is nice and wide, but there were still a few groups of runners that had bunched up, which I had to work your way around. The first 5k of the course is roomy. But the reason the city is named “Laguna Hills” is because it’s truly hilly. The 5k portion has numerous upgrades and downgrades, which can easily slow the novice runner.

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My one gripe is that there was only one water station along the 5k portion. Most 5k’s I’ve done have two. As all the runners reached the 3 mile point, the 5k runners veered off to the right, directly to into the Finish Line area. All roads were very clearly marked with arrows directing the 10k and half marathon runners. Renegade does a great job clearly marking the course for all runners involved. Many of the 10k and half runners would call out cheers of congratulations to the 5k runners, and they likewise return cheers of encouragement.   Just after the 5k mark, I finally came to the second water station.   With the 5k runners gone, the course got a little quieter, and more serious. But just as I got to that new vibe, the 10k racers, of which I was one, peeled off to the right, with the half marathoners continuing straight ahead (again, the course was very clearly marked). “Go half marathoners, you can do it”, some of us shouted. “We’ll see you run with us next year,” one of them replied.

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This is where it got rough. The rest of the 10k course was through a narrow wilderness greenbelt. There were a lot of very sharp hairpin turns, quickly descending trails, dark pedestrian tunnels, and steep inclines.   There was even the occasional low hanging tree branch. The course was now a narrow trail, with little room to pass other runners (word of warning: be polite when passing your fellow athletes; they’re just as tired as you are). One major difference between this year and last year was the weather. It was very mild and cool this year. Last year was slightly warmer, and I witnessed two racers on the side of the course receiving medical attention.   Not something you wanted to see in your first-ever 10k.

Once I passed the 5 mile marker, that last burst of energy seemed to come out of nowhere. But it didn’t last very long.   The last ¼ mile was a steep incline which made me feel like I was pre-qualifying for the Everest Challenge. Trying to keep a reasonable pace while traversing this last bit of course qualified as one of those “if you didn’t have bulging neck muscles before, you will by the time you reach the top” moments. But suddenly, there it was, the last 500 feet, a nice even flat surface. With relief, I poured on that last bit of speed, crossed the timing pad, and received my medal from the volunteer. Did I beat my time? Yep, 9:39 a mile. 28 seconds per mile faster than my time last year. A quick “woohoo” and it was off to grab the obligatory water bottle, slice of orange, and half a banana!

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The Laguna Hills 10k is no Disney race, but having run it twice, I’m rather happy with how it’s organized. As noted earlier, one gripe is the long distance between water stations on the course. While there is some enjoyable entertainment at the finish (local pre-teen band Rikochet entertained us, and they’re quite talented), the on-course offerings are all but absent. It would be nice to see an occasional high school pep squad or drum corps cheering us on. Another gripe is the distance between the start and finish areas. The race starts at the Laguna Hills Mall, but the finish is about a mile away at the Laguna Hills Community Center. They have a shuttle that transports runners and spectators between the two locations, but the queue for the shuttles can be lengthy.

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However, the course is well-thought out. Their medals are nicely designed. One special draw is their new medal series this year. The organizers have started a series of five medals over five years that honor a different US armed forces branch (this year’s is the US Marine Corps). If you race every year for the next five years, runners in 2018 will earn a “Joint Chiefs of Staff” medal commemorating runners who have run all five races in the series. So it looks like my next four Memorial Days are booked for me!

(Courtesy Laguna Hills Half Marathon)

(Courtesy Laguna Hills Half Marathon)

But first things first.   For now, it’s time to look ahead to the Avengers Half Marathon later this year. And now, with the advent of the Star Wars Half Marathon weekend next January, it looks like I’ve got a Rebel Challenge in my future!

RADically yours,

John

*****

John grew up in the Orange County area of California, always living in the shadow of the Disneyland Resort.  Known as the consummate storyteller to his friends, he has had an admiration of Disney since childhood, and is most interested in the Company’s history and heritage.  His favorite memory to date is setting foot in Walt’s apartment over the Main Street Firehouse.  John lives by what he calls the three F’s: faith, fun, and fitness.   Being healthy isn’t about adding years to your life; it’s about adding life to your years.  Nothing sums that up more than making Disney races a goal in every fitness plan.

Anaheim Antics: John’s Story

This week, I’m excited to introduce another new series here on Running at Disney and this time it’s from the West Coast!  Anaheim Antics features John, an Orange county native and Disneyland admirer, who has recently began his running journey.  He will be sharing his training leading up the runDisney events in Disneyland, some practical ideas for runners, and also just some fun Disneyland stories and updates! Take it away John!

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Can one short year make a difference?  It’s a question we often ask ourselves often.   We make life choices based on how long it takes to see results.   We weigh our educational goals, relationships, apartment leases, even our auto loans based on what’s in it for us over time.  It’s a valid question.  In the first year of an auto loan, most of our money goes to interest, and very little into principle.  That’s what I thought about fitness.  After all, how many of us dive into new diets which cause us to shed major pounds in the first 6 months, only to find most of that weight creeping back on a few months later?

Years ago, I remember being bored after months of mounting the elliptical at my local LA Fitness:  same routine, same playlist on my iPhone, same time of day.  I’d immediately start looking forward to the end of my 30 minutes.  But then, one day, as I got on, I noticed an episode of “The West Wing” on the monitor in front of me.   Having a serious interest in political science, I became hooked.  I lost track of time, and before I realized it, I had stayed on the machine for a full 51 minutes, without even batting an eye.   From that day on, you’d find me on the same night of the week, being the shining example of multitasking as I’d burn off an hour while watching my favorite new show.  Nine months later, I discovered I was tone, fit, trim, and, more importantly, healthy.  I wasn’t the Olympian ideal, but I was sleeping better, was finally able to buy “slim fit” clothing (yes, people of the opposite sex DO notice) and, most notably, my frequency of tension headaches had dropped from once a month to once a quarter.

Fast forward to one year ago.  I had just gotten into running.  Never in a million years did I think running would be for me.   I was in my mid 40’s, after all, and running was a sport for the young.   But when my daughter ran her first half marathon (the Rose Bowl), something in me just clicked.  I wanted what she experienced (plus, the medal was cool).  So I blindly registered for the Brea 8k.  Not my most shining moment, since not only was there no medal, but the City of Brea isn’t flat like Anaheim is.  My time was 10:48 per mile, below average for the other men in my class.  But it got me hooked.  “10k is just 2k more”, I thought. I had heard a rumor that Disney would be doing a 10k soon, so I thought I needed to get serious.  Next up was the Angels 5k, which saw my per minute time drop to 10:39.  Not great, but better.  I need a “real” 10k.

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So on Memorial Day 2013, I was at the starting line of the Laguna Hills 10k.   By mile 2, I understood why it had the word “Hills” in the name.  But I finished with a time of 10:07, a full 41 seconds improvement over my first race just 3 months earlier.

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If you’re wondering, yes, I ran the Inaugural Tinker Bell 10k earlier this year, with a time of 9:55 per mile.  But I’m saving that story for a future column.  For now, I wanted to see what a year could do.   It’s been one 5k after another:   The Anaheim Beer Run, the Chapman University 5k, another Angels 5k, and the Santa Anita 5k, all keeping me focused on my goal.

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Once again, I’ll be running the Laguna Hills 10k this Memorial Day, nearly a year to the day since my first 10k at that same race.  My goal is to knock off a full 30 seconds off my previous 10:07 per mile time.   Can I do it?   What difference will that year make?  I’ll keep you updated 🙂

RADically yours,

John

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John grew up in the Orange County area of California, always living in the shadow of the Disneyland Resort.  Known as the consummate storyteller to his friends, he has had an admiration of Disney since childhood, and is most interested in the Company’s history and heritage.  His favorite memory to date is setting foot in Walt’s apartment over the Main Street Firehouse.  John lives by what he calls the three F’s: faith, fun, and fitness.   Being healthy isn’t about adding years to your life; it’s about adding life to your years.  Nothing sums that up more than making Disney races a goal in every fitness plan.

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