Tuesday, June 10, 2014

RunningArts.org is Live!!!

All foxes love RunningArts.org

So it has finally happened! RunningArts.org has gone live. It only took two days of screaming at html before it finally relented and mostly obeyed me. The final product is a very simple, yet what I hope is elegant, resource for our humble little group!


Run Like a Fox 5k Coming this Summer!!
The launch of the site is honestly just a steppingstone for the pending Run Like a Fox 5k which we are planning for later this summer. If I get my way, before we are done, it will not only be an amazing little race for around 500 participants, but will feature a time-traveling DeLorean, and a cuddly red fox...yes, I really located a volunteer fox kit!

A few nights ago I found myself wondering how I could find a way to do nothing but this type of philanthropy for the rest of my life. The answer may seem obvious, no. However, I think of it this way, I have just spent months working toward this gigantic goal of making my donation goal for Team Fox, I've slept less than ever before, still maintained my “real” job, and I've never felt better about my purpose on this planet! So truthfully, yes, I can keep this up forever. This feeling is addictive, and even without millions of dollars, I know this is where I am supposed to be!

So what is next? Well, more running first off... we are getting too close tot he TCS NYC Marathon, and now I don't have to sit in front of this screen all the time. Second, assuming the amazing folks at the City of Orlando Families, Parks and Recreation Dept. come though on my preferred venue for the Fox 5k, I am going to be spending more time recruiting sponsors for the event! Sounds like a regular next step, but as a first time race director, I know I am going to have 5000 tasks to plan and accomplish, and I'm probably only going to get to half that. So that brings us to step 3, which is recruit talented volunteers!

I've actually been exceptionally luck in this regard, from Boy Scouts, to Blue Key, to Disney Voluntears, I have some excellent contacts. That being said, I'm still going to be pounding the pavement seeking more generous folks who are going to be there on registration and race day. The great news folks, is that this is a wonderful family to join!

So, that about sums up my next three months. I know at the end of this summer we are all going to be successful, proud, and on our way to New York!
In the mean time, please continue to spread the word of the beautiful work of RunningArts.org, and keep the donations coming!!

Did I mention that everyone who donates over $10 to my Team Fox page before the official race launch will get a complementary entry??

Pass it on!!

Monday, June 9, 2014


Finally Announced...

Proudly Presents:
Summer Donation
Drive for the Prize!!!

You could win one of three hotel stays
attraction tickets in New York or Orlando!!!!!

Times Square NYC

We at RunningArts have been working very, VERY hard to secure some wonderful gifts for giveaways, and we are off to an amazing start!!
Here is what we have planned in order to raise the remaining donations...SO FAR...
Between now and June 30th, all donors will be entered in a random drawing with

Grand Prize Number One:

One night Four Star hotel stay off Times Square in NYC!!

Washington Square Park - Greenwich Village
Grand Prize Number Two:
One night Three Star hotel stay in Greenwich Village/Bowery, NYC!!

Grand Prize Number Three:
One Night Orlando, Fl hotel stay in the attractions area!!

Orlando, Florida
We are currently supplementing these donor premium gifts
with one pair of local attraction tickets as available!


Team Fox - Michael J. Fox Foundation

Considerations are made for each fully tax-deductible $20.00+ donation at my Official Team Fox Donation page !!

Donation Amount                              Sweepstakes Entries
                     $20                                                       1

                     $40                                                       2

                     $60                                                       4

                     $80                                                       5

                     $100                                                     7

Fantastic donations over $100 adds these amounts on top of the given 7 Entries!!

So you can see, the more you donate, the greater the chances of an amazing escape getaway!!

If you are already a donor you are already entered, but please feel free to further your donation for better chances!!

Final prize drawing will occur Monday June 30th, 2014, and donors will be contacted by email with their gift details!!

Official Rules:

Monday, May 26, 2014

Rising Eagles!

My Vintage '93 Eagle Scout Ribbon w/ Gold Palm

In some ways I felt guilty about being on vacation, and being lucky enough to spend time with so many loved ones. Our family hasn't been untouched by strife, but we definitely, as a whole, do not take enough time to celebrate the little things along with the big events.

The Eagle Candidate is Prepared!

This past week has seen my oldest nephew graduate high school, go through his Eagle Scout ceremony, his mother, my Sister, celebrate her birthday, and my youngest nephew as King Triton in his school play. In attendance for all has also been uncles and aunts and a stack of Grandparents. All focused on those big events, but also trying so hard to celebrate the smallest accomplishments.

My mother, an amazing painter, was just commissioned, by the city of Gainesville, to paint a portrait of a fallen serviceman for whom the new station is being named. My Dad, still rather wobbly, is up and moving around, and smiling to be in such a beautiful part of the country. The rest of us, I believe, are truly just happy to observe the tribulations.

Smallest Oconee Bluegill Ever
For me, when I am asked why I'm always happy or optimistic I say it's because of these little things. Of course I am always proud of my family's accomplishments, but I'm also happy for the small victories. I love the sunshiny days on the lake, or now that it's clouding up, I'm happy cause the fish are gonna start biting. Moreover, I'm pleased to share those things with my nephews and parents while we all have this opportunity. Perhaps that is the real reason my Dad is smiling lately, cause he has always known the value of relaxing and letting the world bring happiness to those who are ready to discover it!

My Brother empowers the Trident
So why share this now? Well, without too much grandeur, when I run and hit the wall, I try to find the things that are going well, perhaps my knee isn't acting up, or perhaps it is noticing the ancient bricks I'm treading on are the same as the ones in St. Augustine and Greenwich Village. Further, and more to the point, There are only so many days in this fight against Parkinson's. I can continue a campaign every year if needed, but for my father, his battle is going to be so much shorter, so I'm glad we all get to see him smile!

If this sounds familiar, or if you believe the same way that I do, then please donate now to this Team Fox campaign! We are getting closer every day, and we need your help!!!

Thank You!!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mother's Day with Parkinson's

Happy Mother's Day!

Day Lillys, Mom's favorite!

I totally failed to write yesterday as promised, my apologies!

To make up for it, I figured a Mom's Day special would be a good challenge. However, as my Mom doesn't run, this post will be a bit about a Mom dealing with my Dad's Parkinson's.

My mother, Marsha, grew up all over the Southeastern US. She is the daughter of talented migrant farmers, and if you want a wholly depressing idea of what that means, read a short story titled Angel City, by Patrick D. Smith.

That being said, everyone always told me that my Grannie Berlie loved her three kids more than anything, and would “give up her last penny” for any of them. So, my Mom was always very loved, no matter what circumstances they were brought up in. Mom passed that love on to all three of us boys.

We were very lucky having a “stay-at-home” mom for much of our childhood. Whether it was staying up till midnight to help finish a pasta map of Australia, or being up early to start laundry while fixing school lunches, Mom never really complained, at least not to us. I am sure, though, that Dad got regular earfuls of how we tortured her, or each other, or the cats, hamsters or turtles. It has been twenty years since the last baby left the nest, and now Mom once again deals with all that, except now she is taking care of my Dad.

Now, it's a good time to say that for all the challenges Dad has, he is not too bad yet. Mostly, his balance and his short-term memory are the culprits. However those two things can present a world of unforeseen caveats when it comes to something simple, like laundry.

Imagine if you will, Mom will come home from a full day at work, and she will find fourteen tons of laundry filling the living room. No real order to it, and in the middle is Dad slowly folding clothes that may, or may not, be clean.

Here is what might have happened: Dad wanted to help out around the house and feel useful, so he started on the job Mom likes the least, laundry. In the midst of this work he over-exerted himself, possibly fell but definitely felt dizzy, and he sat down to rest while the wash was running. Then, he forgot he was doing laundry. You get the idea. The end result is Dad frustrated that he no longer sees himself as able to provide, and Mom is frustrated first out of sympathy fro the man she loves, then out of bother because of the amount of work now ahead of her. Also, there was probably a red sock forgotten in the whites.

That one red sock

The above exceptionally simple description applies to so many things around the house: the dishes, the trash, the mail, even dinner. All these things become mountainous challenges, daily, all because of Parkinson's.

What truly must frustrate the most though, is that when you're a teenager's mother, you know they are learning and developing, and will eventually grow up and move out. The torment will be over. For the wife of a Parkinson's patient, though, it's almost a Benjamin Button effect, where the person you care for the most in this world, slowly devolves, and there is no graduation day to look forward to; there is just more pink laundry to fold.

So, now that I've induced melancholy, I shall try to explain why all this is a beautiful thing on a day like today.

Our Moms continue to make sacrifices long after all the kids go off to start their own families. You are always going to be loved by the person who literally gave of her own life to create yours. Remember today, and every day, that your mother will never stop being a Mom, and that she needs you.

Hopefully, this snippet of my life has inspired you to do two things:

  1. CALL YOU MOM!!!!

  1. Donate to Team Fox now, please, so that one day soon nobody's mom has to discover the things which mine does every day when living with Parkinson's.

Thank You

Saturday, May 3, 2014

A funny thing happened on the way to the bank!

Last night I had a very surreal experience, I witnessed a cyclist on his way home from work get hit by a driver who wasn't paying attention. It was at a full-on red light, and the cyclist, named Josh, was clearly in the crosswalk with a walk signal.


Josh is ok! He got so very lucky, as I am sure so many of my running fans have as well; I know I have. So, after I tweeted about it, waiting for the police, it was suggested that I write a road safety post...sounds good to me!!

First let me say that there are some fantastic guidelines available at the Road Runners site, very common sense stuff that you probably already know or practice, www.rrca.org/education-advocacy/etiquette-for-runners/

They are quite general though, and as I was brought up by a cop, a great cop, so I'll happily share some of the things I was told on how to stay alive! As a note, these are just more guidelines, and I'm in no way responsible if you still fail to look both ways!!!     *especially while reading this

*RunningArts' 7 Advanced Road Runner Rules!!*
  1. Everyone is trying to kill you!
    This is a good reminder as you head into traffic, especially in a city like Orlando, where I live and run. Basically Dad means that no car, or driver, is to be trusted; play out every scenario for every direction change a car might make, and you’ll usually be ready.

  2. Just cause their blinker is on, doesn’t mean they are really going to turn!
    Dad put it this way, “Did the driver just put on that blinker, or has it been on for 5 miles?”

  3. Watch their wheels, not the driver!
    Wheel Watcher
    From a full stop, at a perpendicular angle, it is easier to see a car's wheels begin to rotate, verses the entire car move against the background. This might give you the moment you need to adjust or stop as needed.

  4. Know your route!
    I always observe the same traffic hazard in the same place on my run. It is at a major intersection where the forward traveling lanes have green lights, and for some reason the right turn arrow stays red an extra 30 seconds. Everyone runs the turn arrow without stopping. Knowing this I either avoid ever crossing there, or I am overly cautions of the flow of traffic there.

  5. Seek alternatives, and always seek to improve your course!
    I run along a beautiful road beside a golf course. For the first month that I lived here I always dodged intersections and driveways on the East side of the road. Then one day the my regular sidewalk was under construction so off to the West I went. What a different world, probably only a quarter of the intersections and obstacles then lined my path. Always seek a more runner-friendly path!

  6. Always ALWAYS carry some sort of ID and let someone know where you're going.
    Whether it's your actual DL in your tiny keypocket that you stretched, or a RoadID item, if you can't talk for yourself in an emergency, let your ID talk for you. Also, whether it's telling your husband or wife which route you're about to head out to, or a quick Tweet that you're headed out for your “regular” run, let there be somewhere to start looking for you in an emergency!

  7. For the love of all that is holy, DO NOT JAYWALK!
    Think about it this way, IF drivers hit you in crosswalks where they expect you to be THEN they will do it even more when they don't have the slightest clue that they should look up from Snapchat  so they can watch your new Asics bounce off their hood!!!
    It is covered really well here: www.popcenter.org/problems/pedestrian_injuries/

      “Pedestrian-vehicle crashes also tend to concentrate at certain places:6
  • The majority of pedestrian-vehicle crashes (60 percent in urban areas; 67 percent in rural areas) occur at places other than intersections.
  • Seventy-four percent of pedestrian-vehicle crashes occur where no traffic control exists.

Just 10 more feet!



I hope that these reminders help keep you and all your running friends just a little bit more safe! Please share these notes with others, but remember they are just a step to being as safe as possible!

In the event that you are curious, yes, I have been hit while running, twice!

Both times were at the same crosswalk, crossing the right turn-lane on a “Walk” signal after making eye contact with a slowing driver. Both times I gave myself a little extra space in the crosswalk, and that allowed me to spring away from their hood as the driver stood on their brakes. I was very fortunate, and I have my Dad to thank!!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Disney's Wilderness Lodge Review - Get Prepped for Run Disney!!!

I had a good running friend call me the other day and ask where they should stay when it comes to this years Run Disney events. I figured it would be a good opportunity to delve into some Disney resort reviews, and dust off my old skills as a concierge and back office staffer.

Disney's Wilderness Lodge and Villas

First for the series is one of my unabashed favorite resort hotels, Disney's Wilderness Lodge and Villas. It is a vast property, and I apologize for the length of this review. The short version is this, if you have the money, it's a great value and should be your choice of Disney Resorts!

This 800+ resort consistently delivers world-class service for it's guests. From the drive in through imported Northern Pines, past the manicured wild flowers, and right to the tin-roofed log facade based on lodges of the Pacific Northwest, this property awes!

Stepping past the granite of the porte-cochere and into the cathedral-like lobby makes every guest stop and stare up, way up, over 100 feet to the exposed wood-beam roof trusses. The lobby alone is a destination with ample seating, a bubbling geyser and the unreal three-sided fireplace which displays strata designed to replicate the sandstone layers of the Grand Canyon. Two other fireplaces grace the lobby on higher floors including my favorite niche for a nap, on the fourth floor right over the entrance.

The Front Desk staff is exceptionally knowledgeable, and separates into three basic sections: Main Check-in, Online Check-in, and Concierge. If you are arriving via Disney's Magical Express, please be prepared for lines as many families surge for the desk. Instead, go on and leave your bags locked up with bell services, a complimentary service plus tip, and walk through the property. Grab a beverage at the handy quick service location, Roaring Fork, and relax, you're on vacation. Let the other travelers from the bus go crazy for their rooms, and when the desk is no longer rushed, you can walk up with it being totally empty.

Once you have your room number, take your time walking the halls. This building is an Urban Design Group masterpiece, and it doesn’t let you forget it. Every corner, every room and every wall is decorated like Teddy Roosevelt's Sagamore hill. Details abound, and in fact, you can ask the Concierge for a fact booklet on the Lodge and they also have a “Hidden Mickey” hunt sheet.

Well appointed Bunk Bed Category Room
The rooms are not exceptionally large for the price in the Orlando market. They are what I call Disney standard size, but they have wonderful balconies, and above-standard baths. Depending on the season, rates run from $289 to $390 for most rooms, about double that for Club Level. Accommodations come in many, many, far-too-many different price categories based on view and bed appointment. In general, but not always, “Standard” view is of the service yard, rooftops, or bus loop. “Woods” view rooms are just that, they look out at trees. “Courtyard” may refer to views of one of the two pools. Within these are separate categories for two queen beds, one queen and two bunks or one king; many king rooms are ADA accessible, and feature a lower bed and a huge zero entry shower. Honestly, aside from needing an ice bath after a marathon, I always go for the giant shower!

For those who like a little extra luxury, there are Junior Suites which sleep six, and the Club Concierge Floor. The Club Floor rooms are run-of-the-house, meaning you do not get to specify view of bedding, it is all mixed, and no requests are guaranteed. Also, the 7th floor balconies and half those on the 6th floor are not slat-railed, they are privacy balconies that sort of “pop-up” from the green tin roof. This floor also houses the four Honeymoon suites which are just king bed rooms with a jacuzzi tub and a private balcony. The Junior Suites are located throughout the hotel, but none on the 7th Club Floor. All Guests staying in the suites do have card access to the Club level and Lounge. The Lounge has several small offerings throughout the day including a nice continental breakfast, snacks through the afternoon, several hot items in the evening, and dessert in the evening. Some beer, wine and spirits are available in the evening in moderation, and your ID will be checked, so don't leave it in your room.

Lastly are the Presidential (Yellowstone) and Vice Presidential (Yosemite) Suites. They are almost mirror images on the 7th floor. The Vice has a very very large open balcony with an amazing view of the sunrise on the lake. The Presidential has this area enclosed as extra living space. Both have one King bed, one pull out sofa, jacuzzi tub, and small meeting area.


One of the most exceptional Disney restaurants is located just off the main lobby, Artist Point. This is a lovely change to the darker hues of the rest of the decor in the Lodge. Whitewash beams lighten the high ceilings while huge arts and crafts windows look out over the pool and lake. The menu is small because it can be. Stars of the menu include the cedar-plank salmon and the astounding bison fillet. Let me explain the fillet this way, have you ever been to a steakhouse and the smells are so mouth-watering you want your steak to taste just like that smell, and instead you get a chewy piece of tasteless cow. This is the first place, since I dined at the Belvedere Hotel in Manhattan, where I have found a meal which tastes just like that amazing aroma, and it is the bison fillet, medium-rare!

Carolwood Pacific Room
As amazing as the design, the rooms and the dining are, the biggest draw for this resort is the state of mind it should put you in. This hotel sits just across Bay Lake from The Magic Kingdom, but it is hard to believe it. The Lodge is tranquil and quiet, except for the kitschy Whispering Canyon Restaurant in the lobby, though they quiet down by 9pm every night.

Walt Disney's Private Train Collection
If you’re not traveling with young kids, try the ambiance over in the Wilderness Lodge Villas' lobby. There is a hidden gem getaway in the Carolwood Pacific room where leather chairs and a warm private fire nestle amongst some of Walt Disney's own train memorabilia. This is also where you will find Sturdy Branches Spa and Fitness Center. Also, tucked into the pine forest out back, you will discover the smaller pool which has fewer guests, and best of all, the most incredible boil-your-skin-off sunken Jacuzzi!

Disney's Wilderness Lodge Villas Quiet Pool

This covers just the surface of the Wilderness Lodge. Put simply, assuming you do not expect a stark white, modern-minimalist hotel, you will absolutely be pleased with this property!

I do hope this is helpful! Other reviews of Disney proberties will follow soon as you get geared up for Run Disney!

******I do have to add a big disclaimer with this review in particular, I worked many years at the Wilderness Lodge Front Desk and Back Office. That being said, by no means did I soft-ball this review, but I do think I'm almost an expert. Like I said in my original posting of my Declaration of Principles, I will not endorse a product I do not honestly believe in!******

Monday, April 14, 2014

One of My Favorite Halfs Just Opened!!!

Just announced today is the registration open for one of my favorite runs ever! The 2014 Key Largo Bridge Half Marathon!!

Key Largo Bridge Run

Top reasons why I love this run:

  1. It's completely beautiful!
  2. It's not very technical! (Except for the GIANT bridge)
  3. It's inexpensive! (only $60 at open)
  4. It's a small field!
  5. It is mentally exhausting! (Cause I like a challenge)

Up for that challenge? If only those five reasons hooked you, then head to the race website. They have a special early registration bonus of a free second race tee till April 21st.

The November 8th run is an out-and-back route, along the famous Florida Stretch. It's 18 miles of causeway built on Flagler's old rail-bed, and in some places appears to be a foot off the water. This race also features a 10k and 5k out-and-back that all start at the same time, so volunteers along the road literally hold up signs telling you when to turn for each distance.

The half is the most sparse of the groups. It's kind of un-nerving to be running with 1000 people who just disappear at the 10k turn, then suddenly there are about 100 other runners scattered up the remaining three miles in front of you. That is one of the things that make this a challenge; there are no spectators after the first mile. At each water stop there were amazing volunteers, of course, who cheer like crazy, but you are pretty-much on your own.

The race starts at the Southern end of the newly built Jewfish Creek bridge, a 100 foot tall monster. This is the best feature though, cause right about the moment you hit the top of the bridge is sunrise, and you can see Florida Bay to the South, the Atlantic behind you, and see the route all the way to Florida City! Breathtaking is not the right word.

There are a few drawbacks, assuming you don't see being all alone as one. The entire course is at about a four degree bank up to about 14 degrees in the one big corner for drainage. This means that to run truly flat you have to be right on the edge of the shoulder, so there can be some discomfort. Also, I mentioned no cheering fans; I didn't think this would matter that much, but I really coulda used those extra voices urging me on the last few miles of pain. The last thing that could actually be improved, is that since the half field is so small, by the time you get back most of the vendors have packed up.

Key Largo Bridge Run Medal 2011
So why do I really love having run this in 2011??? Well, I did get a personal best of 2:19:34 for the half. Sadly I had been on a 2 hr pace, then around mile 10.2 my piriformis muscle started swelling and pushed my sciatic nerve against my pelvis...Owww. So I limped most of the way back. However, even so, the take-away of this race was a huge feeling of pride and ownership of a race. I definitely discovered the inverse proportion of number of people running, and personal attachment to a course. There are so few people who have done this race, and now I stand in a small honored club!


I really wish I could do it again this year, but it is a week after the New York Marathon. By now you should know that I'm running with Team Fox for Parkinson's Research on Nov 2nd. In the process I am fundraising and collecting sponsors at www2.michaeljfox.org/goto/RunningArts

Spread the word about both these world-class opportunities!!!