No, seriously – LEGO DINOSAURS

I mentioned at last Friday’s weigh-in that we had a plan to visit Legoland Florida over the weekend – and visit Legoland we did.  The tickets are pretty expensive (and don’t include parking!), so we found that it made sense to buy season passes.  All we have to do is go one more time and they more than pay for themselves.   I ordered them online last Friday, and off we went.

Legoland Florida is in a town called Winter Haven, and has only been in existence since 2011.  I’ve been coming down here now for 9 months, and from the beginning I’ve thought that Winter Haven was a weird place to put a major amusement park.  It turns out, though, that the site for Legoland is the site of an old Florida institution called Cypress Gardens.  Cypress Gardens went bankrupt in the 2000s (9/11 and the three-hurricane year of 2004 did them in), and Legoland bought the whole shebang and fixed it up.

Our first impression was that the administration of the park, and in particular the lines, feels like an old, somewhat rural, amusement park.  Disney World is famous for how well than handle a huge number of people and their line management.  Busch Gardens is also quite good at it.  Legoland?  Not as much.

Not that this is going to be a negative post – that’s pretty much my only critical comment.  We had a really good day.

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Right inside the gates. This little chef is amazing, and is just a tiny taste of the Lego creations…

Two things really stood out early in the park.  First, the large-scale Lego “statues” are unbelievable.  The chef in that picture above is almost an afterthought, and had to have taken hours and hours to build.  Second only to the grandeur was the attention to detail – there were little Lego details everywhere.  Squirrels in the trees, stop signs made out of Legos, just every detail.

Right inside the park there is a carousel.  In retrospect, we should have headed straight to the back of the park and worked our way forward – the line was long and the rides were short.  But we got in line, and rode the Lego horses.

He was already anti-picture

He was already anti-picture

And then we came to the most amazing thing.

They call it the Mini-City.  They have all of these scenes and cities that they re-create … with Legos.  The attention to detail is mind boggling.

The Golden Gate Bridge

The Golden Gate Bridge

On the pirate ship

On the pirate ship

The grandstand at the Daytona 500

The grandstand at the Daytona 500

The infield at the Daytona 500

The infield at the Daytona 500

They have the Florida State Capitol, Washington DC, Times Square and Grand Central Terminal in NYC, just an unbelievable spread of Lego detail.  We were amazed.

Just up from that is a sandwich place for lunch, and then we split up so I could take a look at a couple of different things.

Lunch time is the best time...

Lunch time is the best time…

The original Cypress Gardens Park had been built around a big botanical garden, which itself was built around a big banyan tree that was planted back in the 1930s.  As the park started going through financial distress and started changing hands in the 80s (and all the way through 2011), there was some concern in Florida about the “old Florida” elements of the park – and particularly the botanical garden – being dismantled and swept away.  At one point either Polk County or the State of Florida actually owned the property and just leased it out, to make sure that this didn’t happen (not sure how that ownership works now).  As part of that, in the middle of Legoland and on the edge of the lake, the old Cypress Gardens Botanical Park still exists – and I needed to go take a look at that.  So my wife took the bigger kid and they went looking for rides, and I took the baby and we went for a walk.

Obligatory alligator, because Florida

Obligatory alligator, because Florida

Right inside the gate we saw our alligator, so we got that out of the way.  Little guy, but he was there.  And then we started winding through the grounds.  Because of the middle of the day and the fact that I couldn’t chase birds and butterflies (babies, you know – plus people waiting on me), I didn’t get a ton of pictures.  But let me tell you, the place is beautiful … and then you walk up on the banyan tree.

Pictures do not do it justice

Pictures do not do it justice

This thing – wow.  As the limbs grow, they send out their own roots that, when they find the ground, develop into their own little trunks to support the limbs.  Over the course of 80 – 90 years, it develops into this massive system of limbs and trunks and roots and just an amazing piece of nature.

Just past the banyan tree

Just past the banyan tree

We walked around a bit more, and then hurried back to meet up with the other two.  When the weather breaks a bit here, I’ll go back during the day (I only work 15 minutes from Legoland) and get some good pictures.

And then came the rides and the ice cream.

He got a driver's license for this.

He got a driver’s license for this.

This is his

This is his “don’t take a picture” face

Coastersaurus - and his first roller coaster!

Coastersaurus – and his first roller coaster!

At this point, the day was hot and we were starting to lose our children to tiredness and crankiness, so after that dinosaur roller coaster we mostly just pushed through.

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One thing we had missed, though, over by the Mini City, was the Star Wars section.  They had scenes set up from the movies, but the cool things were the statues.

Darth Maul is apparently a short guy

Darth Maul is apparently a short guy

Here I will say that Darth Maul is an under-rated Darth, I feel.  There was also a Darth Vader, but the line for him was several people long.  We waited zero minutes at Darth Maul for the opportunity to take a picture – and he was really cool.  #nerdalert

We really had a great time, and we learned some things.

  1.  11am on Saturday morning is not an ideal time to arrive.  Chaos entering the park, but it was calm and quiet by the time we left around 4pm.  Either get there early or go ahead and wait until after lunch.  This may change when the weather gets better – if the park fills up, all bets are off.
  2. When it is busy, head straight to the back of the park and work forward.  You’ll be working the opposite way of the crowds.  This is a good thing.
  3. There are lots of scheduled things – shows, etc. – that, now that we’ve seen the whole park, we will be sure and make time for next time.

Will let you know how it goes when we take our next trip.

Weigh-In – 9-25-2015

Good morning and a happy Friday!  This week was the week that my wife started her own workout regimen … which means that dinners at home are an awful lot easier to fit into a point budget.  She’s still very sore, but two of us doing this is going to make it a lot easier.

Current Weight:  304.8 pounds

Weekly Loss: (-1.6) pounds

Total Loss:  (-18.2) pounds

Average Weekly Loss:  (-1.65) pounds / week

Good week this week.  The running has been going well, and the eating has been going well.  I’ve lost 3 WeightWatchers daily points since the beginning (21 points a week – that’s … a lot), and I’m starting to feel the pinch a bit as I make substitutions throughout the day.  So far the hunger has stayed mostly at bay, though, so there is that.

My first 5K since last year is a week from tomorrow – I’m excited and nervous at the same time.  I’m trying not to focus on the time.  That’s not the point.  The point is to get out there and do it, and not be disappointed regardless of how long it takes.  The race also has lots of bacon, so there is that.

Looks like we’re taking the kiddos to Legoland this weekend, so hopefully I’ll have some good pictures of that.  The weather is finally starting to ease here in Florida, and we’re getting glimpses of the glory that will be winter here.

Onward!

Saddle Up

It doesn’t get easier, you just go faster.

                                        – Greg LeMond

 I went out for my 3-miler this morning, and immediately felt crappy.  My legs didn’t feel like they were waking up, and there was a general tired-ness about the whole affair.  I knew two minutes in that this wasn’t going to be one of those enjoyable runs that comes around every now and then.  Nope – I had a slog on my hands.

I’ve been thinking lately about an upcoming running / racing schedule.  Back in 2013, I had my goal of running an event in every month, with a couple of big, checkbox, kind of events out in the future (Ragnar Tennessee, RnR Va Beach Half Marathon).  Those things helped motivate me, and I got enough nerve up to register for a full marathon.  Though my nerve got me to register, my brain didn’t compute all of the variables.  I made it through my 16-mile long run before I realized I’d never be able to get all of my training in during the winter.  Early spring marathons, it turns out, are really tough for people that live where it snows and gets cold.  So instead of attempting the full, I switched my registration to the half marathon.  I let the goal get away despite the fitness level.

But the goal didn’t die.  It exists.  I’ve got my half marathon in January, just registered for a 10K in April (Star Wars – The Dark Side Half Marathon weekend at Disneyworld), and then … nothing planned.  But I will be checking that marathon box.  My parents taught me (quite literally) that when you fall off a horse, you have to get right back on – for your sake and the horse’s.  I’m back on the horse.  Fall of 2016 – here I come.

This all ran through my mind as I was slogging through a random Thursday 3-miler.  The zombies made me run hard just once, and so I was able to let it wander.  And then I got back to the house and checked my pace.  It was still slower than I know I’ll be able to run – but it was the fastest run I’ve done since I quit running last July.  It sucked because I was running “fast”.

I’ll take it.

Precious Resources

I used to think that my most precious resource was energy.  If I could just get and keep my energy up – my energy to focus, to remain upbeat, to work hard – I could accomplish anything.  That energy seemed to be in shorter and shorter supply (especially as I gained weight), and I treated it as the most valuable thing in my life.

This week I finally came to the realization that my energy is not my most precious resource.  Mine, instead, is the same as everybody else’s:

Time.

This last week, as I’ve mentioned, was our national sales meeting for my company.  This company is very good about having fun at these meetings – we’re still pretty small, which leaves a lot of possibilities open.  On the last night of the meeting, they took us to a place called Top Golf, which is basically a driving range that scores golf like bowling.  Now, I’ve never hit a golf ball before – I’ve always somehow found a way to not take up golf.  Since we’ve moved to Florida, though, golf has come up a lot as something I really need to take up.  The weather is beautiful, and there are courses everywhere – heck, my regular three mile run takes me by the clubhouse of one of the better courses around.  And this week I had my shot at taking a few swings …

… and it went fairly well.  I had my share of laughers, but I hit a few good shots, too.  One of the guys I was hitting with plays, and he told me that if I want to I’m going to be able to play the game – my swing is not bad at all.  This got me excited-(ish) about the idea of picking up golf.

Another thing the company does is plan a set of events, and we all get to choose what we want to do.  I chose to go fishing for reds out on Tampa Bay with a big group.

 

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I grew up fishing, but it has been years.  When I moved to New York I let it get away from me – the fish were different, the water was different, the rules were different.  But I always missed it, and I always wanted to make sure my son(s) get exposed to it.

Well – I had a blast.  We didn’t have a great day – just that one keeper red between all three boats – but I did catch several catfish and there were several other kinds of fish pulled into the boat.  Spending a day on the water is just so much fun – we had a dolphin come and check us out:

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This was much more impressive in person

And I kicked myself over and over for not having my good camera with the lens (all of these were taken on my iPhone) … because the birds were spectacular.  Pelicans and cormorants and ospreys … and a group of snowy egrets that came for a snack.

 

Snowy Egret

Snowy Egret

And then I got all excited about getting back into fishing.  And that’s when it hit me.

I don’t have time for all of this.

I don’t have time to be a finance executive in the business world, a good husband, a good father to two wonderful little boys (who deserve one), a blogger, a photographer, a runner, a triathlete, a golfer, a fisherman, a traveler, a chef, and all of the other thousand things I want to do and be good at.

My days don’t have enough hours.  My weeks don’t have enough days.  And my months are starting to not have enough weeks.  One day my years won’t have enough months, and the idea scares me.

I’m not going to give any of those things up (except maybe the golf – that’s just going to have to wait), but I’m going to have to work harder to prioritize.  Husband and father come first – the rest we’ll have to shake out.  One benefit of running and losing weight is that my energy level is rising, and I’m going to need it.

Because there’s a lot to do.

And miles to go before I sleep.

And miles to go before I sleep.

Weigh-in 9/18/2015

This week the company I work for had our national sales meeting, which involves screwing up routines and lots of hard eating (and drinking) that is, at times, difficult to stay away from.  But:

Current Weight:  306.4 lbs

Weekly Loss:  (-1.2) lbs

Total Loss:  (-16.6) lbs

Our meeting was at the Epicurean Hotel in Tampa, Florida.

Yeah – read that again. <sigh>

But I was overall really happy with my ability to keep it under control.  There were buffets for breakfast and lunch every day, but there were always ways to eat mostly very good things and keep the very not-good things down to reasonable portions (mostly a bite or two here or there).  My strategy was typically to fill half of my plate with the salad at the beginning of the buffet.  That made it harder to load that plate up with creamy stuff or tons of meat later.  It worked.

I did miss two runs this week – my Wednesday morning run just didn’t happen, and then when I got home yesterday I had come down with some kind of nasty cold thing.  This morning I actually called out to work and went back to bed … and slept until past noon.  Tomorrow is traditionally my long run, but we’ll see.  Hopefully I can get out there, but my scheduled 5-miler will likely not happen.  I’ll shoot for 3.

I had forgotten that when I re-started WeightWatchers this time I set my goal weight at a loss of only 5%.  I did that to make sure I was keeping perspective and not let the daunting number that I’ve really got in my head overwhelm me.  So when I logged that weight I didn’t expect WW to get all sparkly and congratulate me for hitting my goal – it was nice.  Even though I know I still have a long way to go, I also know I’ve lost 5% of my weight and I’ve set things up well to go even farther.  The next goal is another 5%, which will happen when I get under 291.

Onward!

Weigh In – 9/11/2015

Good week this week, across the board.  The hunger has settled down and become more manageable, and I’ve been able to tell a difference in how my clothes are fitting.  As such, I was optimistic about this weigh-in, and it didn’t disappoint.

Weight:  307.6 lbs

Weekly Loss:  (-3.2) lbs

Total Loss:  (-15.4) lbs

Weekly Average: (-1.71) lbs

So, yeah.  This is one of those weeks that will happen when you weigh over 300 pounds.  The 1 – 2 pounds / week average is a long term average, and also includes those weeks when I weigh much less than I do now.  Until then, there is so much extraneous crap on my body that it’ll shed pretty fast.  Obviously I’m very happy with this number, but one of the goals here is to not get all that excited.  In the coming weeks, I’ll have weeks where I barely lose any weight, if I lose any at all.  There may even be weeks with a slight uptick.  Those are OK, as long as the long term trend is down by 1 – 2 pounds per week.  That’s just math.  And I’d rather my energy and excitement level stay pretty steady than to get all excited by this and then get all down in the dumps when I have a week that’s not so good.

I had a couple of runs this week that didn’t feel good at all – I even skipped one on the theory that a little recovery isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  This morning’s run felt better, though.  The first mile was brutal, but the second and third miles felt a bit like old times, and let me know that it WILL come back, if I will just keep working at it.

Next week is a travel-for-work week, and it is our national meeting and all of the food and alcohol that goes with one of those.  I’ve moved my schedule around so that I only have one run scheduled during the week, and I’m determined not to flake out on that.  And then I’ll just have to watch myself with the food.  Wish me luck.

Onward.

Just like I drew it up…

Yesterday morning – Labor Day, holiday, good excuse to sleep in day – I actually roll when the alarm goes off at 5am.  I had a three-miler scheduled, and I was ready to knock it out.

But then I struggled.  I fiddle-farted around, used the bathroom, checked my email, just generally took my sweet time.  I did get dressed, and then I put my shoes on, and was starting to get the electronics all going, when I hear from the top of the stairs:

“Daddy, are you back yet?  Daddy?”

Turns out the 3-year old apparently made it into the bedroom and asked my wife if he could go downstairs.  She, thinking, reasonably, that I had left for my run told him he could when I got back.  So he came to check.  And I, having expected him to sleep longer, was not only not back … I had not left.

So.

So I wound up not going yesterday morning.  I did the good husband thing and also dealt with the baby when he woke up at 6:30 and I let my wife sleep.  We had a get-together at a friend’s house, and I felt guilty all day about missing my run.

And then I realized – no reason I couldn’t do it in the evening, right?  I get so set in my ways and my schedules, and if something doesn’t work, I tend to throw my hands up and say “that’s it!”  Its a weakness.

But I went yesterday evening and got my three miles in.

Just like I drew it up.

Photo-op Saturday

Got up this morning to go for a scheduled 4 mile run, but I was having some gastro issues and lets just say that I was nervous to be 2 miles from the house this morning after having run to get there and move on.

Instead, because I was up and had a rare free morning when the sun was coming up, I grabbed my camera and headed out to the big pond / little lake out here by the house that I see so much wildlife in as I drive by on the way to and from work.  This is the same lake where I took the picture of the big alligator a few weeks back, and I thought maybe I’d find something interesting.

And I did.  Lots of things.

One thing I have to say about Florida – when the sun isn’t directly overhead the landscape is absolutely beautiful.

 

Kind of perfect, really...

Kind of perfect, really…

So I walked up and spent a couple of minutes looking around, just to see if there was anything obvious to see.  There wasn’t, so I started walking down the edge of the water.  Within two minutes, I made a new friend.

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This was not the big guy, but I was able to get up very close to him and get some pictures I really like.  This was a rush.

Then I went and found the birds.  A great blue heron:

2015-09-05 08.04.04A great egret:
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A red-winged blackbird (actually a bunch of these, but they didn’t sit still for pictures):

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And a little blue heron (which is a distinct species, not just a small specimen):

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The light was challenging, but I want to practice my photography and try and get better – there is so much here to take pictures of, and it is frustrating to know what you want the shot to look like and not be able to execute.  So I’ll keep practicing – and seeing all of this wildlife is really a rush.

Tomorrow, though, I’ll be running.  I’ve got a 4-miler to make up.

2015-09-05 08.02.07

Weigh In – 9/4/2015

Good morning and a happy Friday to everybody!  Long weekend coming up, college football is up and running (and if the Razorbacks don’t beat UTEP by 40 points or more then I’ll be disappointed), and the weight, it is coming off.

Current Weight:  310.8 pounds

Weekly Loss:  (-2.2) pounds

Total Loss:  (-12.2) pounds

Weekly Average:  (-1.53) pounds

A good week this week.  I feel like the hunger has been under control a little bit more, and I completed the 5K training program that I was working on, so I feel like I’ve “graduated” up to regular running again.

I also signed up for another race – it turns out that the Celebration Rotary Club does a pancake breakfast and 5K/10K every year that starts and ends about a mile from my house.  I signed up for the 5K (on 10/31), and bought tickets to the pancake breakfast for the wife and child(ren) – so that’s a go.  For anybody that’s new (hi!), you can see all of my race reports and upcoming races here

If I can keep this pace up, I’ll go under 300 pounds in late October and be approaching my previous low (around 275) in time for the half marathon in late January.  It has only just begun, but I’m excited about getting back there.

Onward!.

August

It hit me this morning that September has started (I know – I’m a day late – getting older sucks), and that means a look at August is in order.

This was my first full month back in the saddle, and it went well, all things considered. Because of travel (and a few confidence issues) I took a zero in the first week – no miles until August 8th.  Even still, I got out there 16 times – so once every other day on average – for a total of 47.88 miles and an average distance of almost exactly 3 miles.  Not too shabby for being so early on.  I took a look – in my first real month at it the last time I got serious about running I went out 16 times for only 37 miles – so I’m ahead of the curve.

The mileage doesn’t matter nearly as much as the frequency, though.  The trick is to get out and do it – that’s 90% of the thing for me right now, and the other 10% is to not collapse when I get back inside.  My 5K is a month from tomorrow, and I’ll be ready for it.  Another positive – this was August in Central Florida.  The weather can only improve from here, which always helps.

On a different note – I entered August at roughly 320 pounds, and left it at roughly 312.  So I lost 8 pounds in 4 weeks, which is an average that’ll get me places.  Every pound I drop makes me feel better, makes the clothes fit better, makes the runs go smoother, etc., and ad nauseum.

This morning was run #1 in September – I struggled to get out of bed, but I did it, and I’m really looking forward to my September month review.

No excuses.