Whittakers’ Thanksgiving Collection

As we celebrate Thanksgiving today, I wanted to share some of the things that Rachel and I collectively are thankful for. This is not an exhaustive list by any means, but hits the high points.

  • Marriage

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  • Family
  • Friends
  • Work
  • Church

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  • Running
  • Disney
  • Travel
  • Sports
  • Food (especially desserts)

I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving!

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Atlanta 10 Miler Recap

Back in the spring of 2016, I signed up for the Triple Peach Race Series in Atlanta. The Triple Peach consists of running, in the same calendar year, the AJC Peachtree Road Race (July 4), PNC Atlanta 10 Miler (October 23) and Thanksgiving Day Half Marathon (November 24). I will be running the Thanksgiving Half tomorrow morning to complete the 3 races!

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Today’s blog is about my experience running the Atlanta 10 Miler on October 23, exactly one month ago.

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The race number pickup was down at Atlantic Station on Friday and Saturday. I decided to go on Friday right before lunchtime, when I figured the crowds would be pretty low. I grabbed my race number and hoodie (which was awesome!), talked to a few people and made my way back home. There wasn’t really any kind of expo, except for Big Peach Running Co., which had a small area for people to buy shoes, shorts, socks, gels, etc.

On Sunday morning, I made my way back down to Atlantic Station, which had plenty of parking, even though the race was sold out. Atlanta Track Club (who sponsors this race) advised runners to get there 75-90 minutes before the race start, so I aimed for 6am. I got down there with no issues and sat in the car for a while to stay warm.

The weather was actually quite chilly, especially for late October in Atlanta. I ended up wearing a long-sleeve running shirt and a throwaway jacket as a waited in the corrals. I ended up running into an old friend, Joel Beck, in the parking garage and walked over to the corrals with him. Since I am doing the Triple Peach, I was able to self-seed, which is nice. I decided to put myself in Corral C and got myself ready to go.

Now, since this race was literally 2 weeks after the Chicago Marathon and quite hilly, I knew I wasn’t going to break any records. The goal was to have fun and finish injury free.

Once we got started, I found a nice groove and settled in for the 10 miles. Some of the course takes you through neighborhoods in the area. The houses had some great Halloween decor up and a lot of the residents in the area came out to watch and cheer on all the runners. Miles 4-6 included a good bit of downhill (and some light hills in between), so I was able maintain a great pace through these miles.

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The course was definitely very hilly (it is Atlanta), but one of the highlights of this race course is running the Cardiac Hill Challenge. Right around mile 7 of the race course, Mizuno sponsors a challenge to see who the King & Queen of Cardiac Hill are as well as the 100 fastest. The challenge clocks your time over the course of a mile as you run a 12 story elevation gain on Peachtree Road. I am always up for a good challenge, so pushed myself through this mile and ended up with my fastest mile of the 10. Take that, Cardiac Hill!

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The last few miles had several more hills, but I have to say, the crowd support was excellent. Nothing like people cheering you on to help you push through the final few miles!

I crossed the finish line and grabbed my finisher medal, water, recovery jacket and snack box, before making my way back to the car. Since the race fell on a Sunday and I work in the church world, I needed to get back so I could clean up and go to work.

Atlanta Track Club did a great job putting on a wonderful race experience. I enjoyed the course, crowd support and swag. I definitely plan on running this race again in the future.

 

Checking In

After a much needed 2-week break from the blog, I’m back! It’s been a busy few weeks recently in our household. Between my duel role at the church and Rachel’s crazy work schedule that took her to Washington, D.C. for a week, it’s been a little chaotic.

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Back together after a week a part!

I have found myself working quite a few longer days than normal and on days off as well. Sometimes life just stays busy and you have to go with it.

Fortunately, this week should slow down quite a bit with Thanksgiving and extra days off. I am planning on catching up with several blogs posts over the course of the week. Some things to look forward to over the next week or so…

  • My recap of the Atlanta 10 miler race on October 23.
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Atlanta 10 Miler Finisher Pic

  • I was the special guest worship leader at the Dunwoody UMC High School Fall Retreat this past weekend.
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The Senior Class at Dunwoody UMC. It was a great retreat!

  • Allen’s Thanksgiving List!
  • And finally…my recap of the Thanksgiving Half Marathon in Atlanta on November 24.

Blogging Anniversary

As we have entered into November, I have hit 1 year with the blog. It’s been a great first year sharing my journey with all of you. Below are a few of my favorite posts of this first year.

California Road Trip My first set of blog posts, which documented our road trip from San Francisco to Anaheim. 

What I’m Thankful For I did a series of blog posts on everything I’m thankful for in my life.

Training Runs I’ve spent quite a few blog posts sharing about my training runs for multiple races, including the Dopey Challenge and Chicago Marathon.

Dopey Challenge I shared about my experience running the Dopey Challenge in January 2016 at Walt Disney World.

Friday Favorites I’ve used the blog multiple times to share about some things in my life that I think are awesome.

Race Recaps As you know, I have run quite a few races this year. Some of my favorite posts take a closer look at the different races I’ve participated in.

Product Testing As a BibRave Pro, I’ve had the opportunity to test and review several different products.

Disney Trips As Disney World Annual Passholders, Rachel and I get down to Florida quite a bit. We usually get in a blog post or two about each Disney trip we make, including a post about each Disney resort we stay at.

Chicago Marathon Finally, one of my favorite blog posts was sharing my experience running the Chicago Marathon last month.

Very grateful for all of you who have stuck with me for this first year. Can’t wait to see what year two brings!

 

 

The Great Debate, Part Three: Walt Disney World vs. Disneyland – Walt Disney World (Guest Post)

(Rachel is taking over the blog again today with Part 3 of “The Great Debate: WDW vs. Disneyland”)

It’s part three, y’all: when I will finally (hopefully) pick a “winner” between the U.S.-based Disney theme parks. Who will come out on top? Will I lose my nerve and not pick one?! You’ll have to read and find out!

In this post, I’ll focus on my “home” park: Walt Disney World. The park I grew up going to, and the one I’ve visited the most of any theme park, ever. So…feelings.

Magic Kingdom

Starting big with the O.G. park at Walt Disney World. Somehow this park, to me, has managed to evolve and grow over its 45 years and yet stay exactly the same. My earliest memory of Magic Kingdom is riding 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, a classic that’s long gone at this point (next time you’re riding Voyage of the Little Mermaid, think about how there used to be a zillion gallons of water there). I can remember the glass-bottom boat and the fake sea creatures – and how they felt totally real to me. (We’ll skip over the part of me that was totally freaked by the idea of a floor made of glass. Underwater.)

And that’s just the thing about Magic Kingdom: you feel like the fantasy is real. You don’t have to be in Fantasyland to experience it, either. Take Big Thunder Mountain in Frontierland, for example. When you’re listening to “Big Rock Candy Mountain” while riding a train through what’s meant to resemble an old mining town, you really do feel like you’re transported to a simpler time (put those phones away, kids!).

In Adventureland, you can truly feel like you’re on a pirate ship – these days, complete with sea spray! And I might be alone in this, but I truly love the corny jokes on the Jungle Cruise. Depending on your worldview, they’re delivered with either complete sarcasm or an utter lack of sarcasm (I choose to believe the latter).

In Tomorrowland, you can board a spaceship and take flight in a confined space! Or try to defeat the evil Emperor Zurg with Buzz Lightyear! Or – my absolute favorite – sit in a revolving theater and learn about progress! Yes, the Carousel of Progress seems kind of lame now, but Walt Disney himself imagined the ride and presented it at the World’s Fair in 1964. That’s utterly fascinating history, and I unabashedly love it. Also, what better way to get out of the Florida heat than riding the Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover?

I haven’t even touched Fantasyland (save my childhood memory), but suffice to say it’s replete with magical experiences. And then there’s Liberty Square… Reader, I absolutely love Liberty Square. It only boasts one actual ride (and one show, for a total of two fun attractions!), but I seriously love it. I could sit and listen to “Stars and Stripes Forever” for an absurd amount of time. I know. I don’t get it, either.

The Other Parks

I’ll be honest. I’m not as attached to the other parks – EPCOT, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom – as I am to Magic Kingdom. When Allen and I visit, we always, always, always visit Magic Kingdom. We frequently visit EPCOT. But we sometimes visit Hollywood Studios, and rarely visit Animal Kingdom.

These parks all have their merits, of course. EPCOT, as diverse as it is thematically jumbled, is very cool and has tremendous potential to be a truly awesome futuristic and educational park. I think EPCOT has lost its way a bit as of late, but I do really love Soarin’, so there’s that (see: last week’s Disneyland Resort post). The Food and Wine Festival in the fall and Flower and Garden Festival in the spring are always super fun and yummy, and we try to hit both festivals each year (sadly, no Food and Wine for us this year).

The park I remember most as a kid is Hollywood (formerly MGM) Studios. I vividly remember riding The Great Movie Ride, playing in the Honey I Shrunk the Kids play area, watching the Beauty and the Beast and Indiana Jones shows, and going on the Backlot Tour (so much water and fire!). Sadly, some of those attractions are no longer around. With all of the new lands planned, Studios is going to look completely different in the next few years. But for better or worse? Time will tell!

Animal Kingdom is probably the park I have the least attachment to, although I still enjoy spending time there. It also feels a little disjointed in the way that EPCOT has felt lately, but again, it has its merits. (I feel like I should say more, but honestly, I have spent very little time in this park except to ride Expedition Everest.)

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It was cold that day in Florida!

The Verdict

I said several weeks ago (in my part one post) that I was going to select a winner between Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World. The truth is, I really have attachments to both that can’t easily be compared (sort of like apples and oranges). The bottom line is, I obviously love both parks, and will continue to visit both as long as I can.

However, I promised you a winner, so here we go:

Objective winner, based on initial points and also awesomeness: Disneyland Resort

Subjective winner, based on nostalgia and transportive feeling: Walt Disney World (specifically, Magic Kingdom)

There you have it, folks! (I’m just glad I was able to sort of pick a winner! Decisions are hard, you guys!)