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Expedition Everest Weekend 2013: Expedition Everest Challenge

Sunday, May 5th, 2013

When Carra pointed out the listing for the corrals for the Expedition Everest Challenge (EEC) this year we knew things were going to be a little different.  In the past all individual runners have been placed in the first wave and then the teams followed.  Steve has always registered us as single runners just to ensure that the three of us could get in the same corrals since teams are limited to two folks.  This year the three of us were in Corral F.  Volunteers working at the packet pick-up were  able to find out that a estimated pace was requested when we registered and people were placed in corrals based on that with teams and individuals being mixed together.  I was anxious to see what other changes might be coming our way.

The final race instructions said to arrive before 9:15 to avoid traffic.  From my more recent race experiences I decided to give us an hour to get there, so we left the house at 8:15 to make the usual 20 minutes drive.  We hit a small back up getting into the parking lot but nothing to panic about.  We were soon in our parking spot and I was in need of a port-a-pot.  We walked up to the runners area and got our first glimpse of the corralling area.  My first thought was that these corrals were extremely tiny.  Unfortunately Corral F had a speaker that was unavoidable no matter where you moved in the corral so we stepped back out to protect our hearing.  We made our way back towards the corrals with about 10 minutes before the start line and it became apparent that these tiny corrals were not large enough when people didn’t want to stand next to a stranger.  I kept hoping that the speakers would request everyone to step forward, but luckily when the first few corrals started moving they were able to get us all into our corral with plenty of time to spare before our start.  Unfortunately this crowding prevented the volunteers from being able to properly check bibs to make sure folks were in the correct corrals.

The corral starts were paced about 6 minutes apart so we anticipated starting at about 10:30.  One observation that we saw was as corrals were pulling away from us even the A corral had walkers in it.   This has become something that people have been getting accustomed to at Disney races: people fudging their estimates to give them more time to finish the race or more time at the party.  Our corral was sent off by smoking rising from the start line rather than the usual fireworks, which I was surprised to see last year give how close we were to the animals.  The first mile was rather congested as usual so we were weaving our way through and getting close to the right side trying to pass.  Suddenly I hear “DADDY!” from behind me and turn around to see Steve on the ground.  He rolled his ankle on the side of the pavement and scraped up his hands, elbow and knee.  He said he was okay and we were soon on our way to the first obstacle.

The first obstacle was hay bales again but rather than use my foot to jump over I tried to leap at Steve’s suggestion.  It was a stretch for my legs but I managed it and I think it may be why I am sore today.  When we got to the park I anticipated our first issues with the clue seekers crossing the race course.  A gentleman stopped right in the middle of the gate to read his clue and nearly was plowed into.  I cringed thinking about this happening repeatedly during the race course like last year, but I was pleasantly surprised.  Disney was able to limit this issue to just this one area this year by changing up the 5K course.  I admittedly hadn’t looked at the detail of the course map and seeing the long out and back just assumed it was the same course as last year.  It was not.  Finally I was running a completely new 5K course at Animal Kingdom which included portions of the park I have never seen during my other races including the area behind Expedition Everest.  I was really excited.

The second obstacle again was the tires and as we made the turn to go towards them an announcer called out to us saying, “This looks like a family running together!”  I gave her a thumbs up and she got excited that she called it out right and E waved to her.  There was a slight back up at the tires that I was concerned would slow us down, but when I timed it it only lasted about a minute before we were on the tires ourselves.  The change in the course made the second and third obstacles come up in close succession.

The third obstacle was also the same as last year: crawling under a cargo net.  I had forewarned Steve and E that I would most likely have to skip any cargo net obstacles for fear of re-injuring my shoulder.  When we saw that it was crawling under a cargo net we decided it wasn’t good for Steve either since he was dealing with freshly skinned knees.  We ran around the obstacle and turned around expecting E to be behind us and we spotted her under the net.  She was stuck behind a slower gentleman, but being as skinny as she is she was able to pass people under the net.  We laughed as we waited for her then ran to the finish.  Next up is the scavenger hunt.

We grabbed our first clue and flash light at a tent clearly labelled clue distribution.  Another great improvement over last year to help make sure people didn’t miss their clues.  We were surprised to not get a marker to write our answers.  In fact there was no need to write down the answers.  We were given a clue to solve before the race that had the answer of “Keep the solutions to the first four clues!  They will be used to solve a symbolic final clue.”  So we made sure to keep our clues with us as we walked from station to station.  Luckily the scavenger hunt used the same locations as last year so we knew where to walk and if we didn’t we could have just followed the crowds.

Before long we noticed a trend in our answers.  They were all directions on the compass.  NW, NE, SW and NE.





I will admit the fourth one we had assumed would be SE and we ran up and tried to use that, but it was wrong, lol.  Before too long Steve overheard someone saying NE and we used it to get our last clue.  I later studied the card till I finally noticed  the “nor the ast” in the three sentences stacked.  The final clue had us flip our cards over and use our directions to rotate our cards until we had a shape that matched one of the shapes on our bibs.



At first I thought that the directions would indicate where in our configuration the card would sit, but that wasn’t working since we had two NE.  Then I tried putting the cards rotated to have the directional corner in the order that we answers the clues, but that was over thinking it.  Finally I was able to just take the indicated corners for each clue and place them to get them to fit together.


This matched the white flag on our bibs.


I expected then to check that we had the right flag before we got to the finish but we were able to cross the finish line before we had to show anyone our solution to the final clue.  That surprised me because we had a final time when we may have had the wrong shape.  The finish line was back out in the parking lot of the Animal Kingdom this year and not in the shadows of Expedition Everest.  So the scavenger hunt portion was much longer than last year.  I didn’t mind if it relieved congestion.

We walked back into the park to hop on Dinosaur just once and we were able to walk right onto the ride.  We were all tired so we started to walk back out.  We stopped for some ice cream on the way out.  A Mickey Premium bar was an awesome reward for our day’s races in addition to our awesome bling.


The price increase of EEC this year was a shock, I will admit.  I am glad to see that that increase seemed to go towards improving the race in some way and didn’t pay for the same exact race as last year.  I am very proud of E and her dedication to her training given her tender age of 11 and all the changes she has been dealing with this year.   She kept up the 90:30 intervals we did yesterday like a champ and didn’t complain about my speed walking from clue to clue.  If E wants to do it again next year we definitely will.  Heck even if she doesn’t I might do it by myself to see just what I can do when on that scavenger hunt portion.  😉




Expedition Everest Weekend 2013: Family Edition

Sunday, May 5th, 2013

This weekend I participated in my 42nd and 43rd runDisney events, the Expedition Everest Challenge:Family Edition(EEC:FE) and the Expedition Everest Challenge(EEC).  As some of you may remember we participated in the 2012 Expedition Everest Challenge event with E and she had a blast.  Needless to say G was a bit jealous, so when runDisney introduced the Family Edition this year we decided to give it a try.

The weekend started with me logging out of work early and taking E with me to hit the packet pick up at Wide World of Sports(WWoS).  The packet pick-up for the events had a little bit of an upgrade this year with a couple vendors on hand.  They had Sweaty Bands, Raw Threads and New Balance to name a few.  Since I was picking up for both races and all family members I had a good stack of waivers in hand as we went down the line and scooped up everyone’s goodies.

The EEC:FE included a bib customized with your team name, a cotton t-shirt, and a finisher’s medallion for the $35 registration per individual fee.  Teams could have between 2 and 6 people and was open to ages 4 and up.  Our registered team consisted of me, G, E, Steve and Pop (my father).  As team No Way Jose we named ourselves after our favorite Disney ice cream treat at the Yacht Club’s Beaches and Cream.  We wore clothes that followed the theme: Mom wore white and brown to be our chocolate and vanilla ice cream, I was in a white shirt dyed with tea to look like Peanut Butter Sauce, Dad wore brown to be our hot fudge, E was in a white shirt with brown and beige spots to be our whipped cream with chocolate and peanut butter chips and G was in a red shirt with a cherry drawn on the front.

We weren’t entirely sure what to expect of the EEC:FE when we arrived at Wide World of Sports in the morning.  Steve unfortunately ended up having to work so our team was me, G, E, Grammy and Pop (my parents).  The weather for the entire week was iffy so we were hopeful walking into the WWoS complex that it would hold out long enough for our adventure.  Unfortunately it spent the entire morning switching between a heavy mist, a steady rain, and no rain at all.  We made our way back towards where the kids races were then we spotted the EEC:FE check in tent on one of the ball fields.  We headed up to check in where we were greeted by our friend and fellow ROTEr Kimberly.  A volunteer gave us our clue book and an adventure map that was not of the WWoS complex then Kimberly explained how things would work for the morning.

We were given 8 clues to solve and we needed all of those clues to help us figure out what action we needed to do as we crossed the finish line.  There were no winners in this event, but they did ask that we all keep our clue booklets sealed until the race officially started.  That was easier said than done in the weather since the dampness kept making our yellow label seal pop open, lol.  When the race was officially started I opened the booklet and read through the direction really quick as instructed.   We had 8 clues represented by various symbols that we needed to travel various place in WWoS to help get clues to solve.  I flipped to the map of the WWoS complex and decided we should start at the furthest away clue and make our way back to the clue closest to the finish line.


There adventure map we were given had 18 different locations on it and each had an action wrapped up into its name, so for some examples there was Hop-A-Long Hideaway, Jump Pass, and Cartwheel Crossing.  Each clue gave us a location on the map to circle.

The clues were not terribly difficult, so a later elementary school aged child could figure them out given time.  Some were easy to guess by looking at the map like the one in this picture that included the two words with three letters each.  Others were easy to guess just because of the letters you were given.  For instance only one location had a “Q” in its name.


DSC02731 (2)





I think the hardest clue for us, honestly, was the one where we needed to find the difference between the yeti pictures.  This clue had no location and in the end wasn’t needed to solve the final clue.  The final clue had us draw a line through the locations in a certain sequence based on the icons that represented those clues.  Where the lines we drew intersected gave us a location name whose action we had to perform to gain access to the track and the finish line.



When we gained access to the track the kids took off running and left me and my parents behind.  I felt safe with them on the Disney track though so I didn’t try to chase them down.  When we did arrive at the finish Kimberly was there again and gave me my medallion.  They had some snacks available including water, Powerade, mini Cliff bars, and bananas.  I had trouble trying to explain to the kids that as kids they didn’t really need the Cliff bars and in my opinion would not enjoy the taste at all.  Carra, another ROTEr, was volunteering in the food distribution and it was good to see her.  A big thank you to everyone that volunteered that morning!



When we were done we hit the Art of Animation food court for some lunch then headed home to rest up for the EEC later that evening.

I think in the end we all had fun.  E wanted to have more control over the book, but with the questionable weather we were having trouble with keeping the book dry so the umbrella had to stay with the book and she couldn’t hold both at the same time.  Also I was typically the first to solve the clues and I think that prevented the children from feeling as engaged as they could in finding a solution.  I tried to keep them as involved as I could in finding the clues and gathering information but with both of them wanting to help I kept ending up with more information than I needed, lol.  For the low price tag I think I would try this one again.  Hopefully next year Steve can join us.


Half 51: 2013 Disney’s Princess Half Marathon – Expo

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013

This was my 5th running of the Princess Half Marathon, which in Disney’s books makes you a “Perfect Princess”.  With it came some fun swag including a pink sash that said “Perfect Princess” on it and a crown to wear.


One big change this year was that the expo was moved to the Coronado Springs resort instead of Wide World of Sports.  This made travel to the expo tricky as they were not allowing parking or guest drop off directly at the resort.  To get to the expo you needed to park at Downtown Disney West side.  Steve and I were talking about doing lunch at the Polynesian so we went there with the intentions of parking then using the monorail to get to Magic Kingdom then we were going to use resort transportation to get to Coronado Springs.  As luck would have it as we were walking into the Poly we saw a woman holding a clip board that said “Disney’s Princess Half Marathon” on it.  We asked if we could use the resort transportation from there to the expo and she said yes, so we joined the growing group of runners waiting for a bus.  The bus took maybe 10 minutes to arrive and we were on our way.  We made a new friend on the bus so the ride went by very quickly.  We pulled into the Coronado lot and about 30 minutes after the expo opened and the line was still very long leading into the ballrooms.

Our usual routine when we get to an expo is to head for the Official Merchandise first, but it seems almost everyone had the same plan so they line was already an hour long when we got there.  I left Steve in the merchandise line with one direction, to get me the medal replica pin, then I headed over to pick up my packet.  Of course my line was the longest in the room, but once again I made some friends and the wait wasn’t bad at all.  When my turn came I walked up and announced myself as a “Perfect Princess” as the runDisney twitter had told us to do.  The volunteer looked a little disappointed and said she was going to surprise me, then showed that we had a little pink oval on our bibs that said “Perfect Princess” on them.  She handed me my crown and sash and I was on my way to collect my swag bag.

Things had taken a drastic turn when I left Steve and the lines for the swag bag pick up were now running into the line for merchandise as well as the vendors opposite them.  I felt really bad for the vendors as lines had swarmed their merchandise and they were looking a bit stressed.  I weaved through the crowd to make my way towards my shirt size.  This is one even where being a big girl had its advantages because I was able to walk right up and get my shirt with no line.  I didn’t want to even attempt to go into the merchandise tent so I met up with a MD friend and started texting Steve to see where he was.  Luckily he was checking out and he remembered for me that I needed a mini-medal for my runDisney Vinylmation and grabbed it while he was in there.  Yup, he is a keeper.

We decided to only make one more stop in the expo and that was at the runDisney booth to register for two more 2013 races: Tower of Terror 10 Miler and Wine and Dine Half Marathon.  We made our way back out to the buses and happened to run into more MD friends on the bus and decided to have a nice lunch with them back at the Polynesian.

Overcrowding at the expo was my only real complaint about our overall experience.  There were lots of complaints about transportation but we got lucky with our stop at the Poly and being able to use their report transportation to get there.

The Fine Line

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

One thing I have been struggling with recently is finding a way to teach the children to lead an active lifestyle and eat healthy, balanced diets without making them self conscious about their bodies. Especially when one of them is a pre-teen girl.

There is a girl the same age as E that has decided to call her fat. E goes back an forth from thinking the girl is joking to over-thinking it and calling herself fat. The girl who has decided to tell E she is fat is an obese child. E on the other hand is perfectly healthy. Not overweight, not under, and I would have killed to look like her when I was 10. When we try to tell E that the other girl is the overweight one not her she is adamant that the other girl is not fat.

We are finding it difficult to tell her “no” when she asks for sweets or telling her that she needs to be more active without her considering it a suggestion that she needs to lose weight. She most certainly does not need to lose even an ounce of weight. I just want to instill in her the good habits that will ensure that she never will have to struggle with her weight like myself and her parents do.

It is interesting that in their eyes chicken nuggets and macaroni and cheese are healthy. When we tell them that they aren’t then they are shocked that we let them have them. I try to use that as a teaching point for moderation. That things like nuggets and mac n’ cheese are good to have every once and a while but not every day.

I have a feeling this is one of those things where I will never know if we are doing the right thing. We just need to try to lead by example and hope that in the end they at least come out not eating a pint of Ben and Jerry’s every day.

Back to the Old Routine Tonight? OR Start a New One!

Sunday, January 6th, 2013

Tonight we get the kids back from their Mom and we need to get them back into a routine. The past couple weeks of being able to focus on me have been great. I feel more energized and stronger. I need to keep that momentum going when the kids come back into the house. We did have them with us Friday night into Saturday and I was able to get up yesterday morning and get my workout in before anyone else woke up. That has always been the way I have been the most successful when it comes to a workout routine is getting things in before the day starts for everyone else. Now I just need to determine if that is what I want to do going forward. Ahhh decisions, decisions…