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September 2, 2011

373 to 0

That's the score…at least as it stands today.

In my lifetime I have visited Walt Disney World a total of 373 days and the 400 mark is probably less than a year away. The other number represents the number of days I have visited Disneyland, but that's about to change.

On Labor Day weekend I will get my first look at the House That Walt Built, as I am heading to California to run in the 2011 Disneyland Half Marathon. This plan has been in place for almost two years and it's finally here. More on this half marathon business later.

I've talked to many people about the differences between the two coasts, Florida and California, Walt Disney World and Disneyland. I have heard many opinions.

There are those who love the grandeur and spaciousness of Walt Disney World and the abundance of theme parks, including the water parks. There is also the draw of the many themed resorts; the number of things to do; and most of all, the buffer from the outside world that Walt Disney World provides its guests.

Then there are those who swear by the “original” theme park, and knowing that Disneyland is the one and only Disney theme park that Walt Disney himself ever had the opportunity to experience himself…the one he personally had a hand in creating from the ground up. Of course, there are some who have also said that neither one is their favorite because each coast has its own unique set of components that appeal to Disney fans.

As I anticipate my first visit to Disneyland, I have made a list of things I want to see and certain expectations I have in my mind. I thought that I would share these thoughts with you BEFORE I get on the plane and then revisit them when I return.

Let's see if I can give you a proper account of what these expectations and/or curiosities are.

Footprint Difference

I know Disneyland is smaller. I'll always remember the first fact I learned about Walt Disney World when it first opened. That fact made the point that the Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom parking lot, known as the Ticket and Transportation Center Parking Lot, could fit all of Disneyland and still have room for over 100 vehicles. I also get the impression that the Disneyland theme park allows for shorter distances between attractions. So I am looking towards experiencing a more “cozy” Magic Kingdom out west.

Quality of the Character Experience

Since the Disneyland Resort has been around a bit longer than Walt Disney World it would make sense that there is a bit more experience in several areas than its East Coast cousin. I am not sure that statement is entirely true for all aspects of resort operations. I'm sure Walt Disney World may have taught Disneyland a lesson or two. One area that I have heard Disneyland is supposedly better than Walt Disney World is the character experience. I have been told that the characters, both fur and face, just “do it better” in California than in Florida. We'll see.


Nighttime Spectaculars

By nighttime spectaculars I mean shows like fireworks over Sleeping Beauty Castle, Fantasmic, and World of Color. I could be wrong but I'm guessing that Fantasmic cancels each other out, although I'm giving a slight edge to WDW's version before I even get on the plane to California. Why? Because once while watching Orlando's version I sat next to some Californians who said it was much better just because they were able to sit comfortably and watch, whereas in Disneyland they had to stand.

I will be interested to see how the West Coast version of fireworks high above Sleeping Beauty Castle compares with Wishes above Cinderella Castle. This is another case of two different performances and I'm already ready to say that they both will have their own highs and lows. However, I am most looking forward to seeing the World of Color and how that compares with Illuminations: Reflections of Earth. One wonders if perhaps Epcot's show may someday be replaced with its own version of World of Color.

Disney Dining

I am not sure I will have ample time to give this area an honest look but I can at least tell you what my expectations are. First, I think that Walt Disney World obviously offers more choices for its guests. As far as quality goes, my inclination is to assume that the signature restaurants on each coast strive for the same level of quality. However, as the years have gone by, I have, seen unevenness in the quality of restaurants across the WDW resort. This may be another area in which each resort will have some pros and cons regarding the Disney dining experience.

Attraction Comparison

This could be an entire blog in itself. This will be an ongoing exercise. I don't know if I will get to explore all the attractions. I do know that there are V1.0 attractions in WDW that became V2.0 attractions in DL and vice versa. I also know how space was a huge factor in how such attractions as the Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean were constructed. I keep telling myself that for these and other reasons, not to be judgmental and to just enjoy the attractions. However, I'm sure I'll come back with some opinions.

Disney Zone Effect

This is a big one. I will be using my virtual Disney Zone gauge to give me a sense as to how well Disneyland gets me into the Disney Zone as compared to Walt Disney World. What do I mean? Well I will try to measure how efficient Disneyland is in helping me leave my troubles behind as compared to how well WDW accomplishes this objective. I think Disneyland has in its favor the fact that it is the only park in which Walt has actually walked through and I will be very conscious of that fact. Stay tuned for this one.

Castmember Experience

This is a bit different from the character experience discussed earlier and the entertaining I discuss next. I've had almost 40 years of castmember experience from WDW…I've seen the good, the bad, and the ugly, I've seen how the quality of service has varied over the years so it will be interesting to see how my overall experiences on Disneyland compares with that of WDW. If I were to make a guess my thoughts tell me that I should expect a more consistent and high quality level of experience in Disneyland than in Walt Disney again because they have been at it longer and should know the importance of maintaining it.

Entertainment

By entertainment I mean the shows and how the performers compare from coast to coast. This will range from everything to parades, to stage shows, to even how the skippers handle guests on The Jungle Cruise. I'm not sure exactly how I will objectively compare the two coasts but at least I have a good sense of what WDW has to offer and it gives me a benchmark to compare what I experience in Disneyland. I am looking forward to this exercise.


Shopping Experience

Shopping is HUGE in Walt Disney World. The size of WDW offers its shopping guests many options regarding specialty shops and the number of places to shop. Perhaps when it comes to shopping and stuff I should be comparing the two Downtown Disney areas. We'll see.

Overall Value

I really feel I will have a difficult time being objective here. I think this will be no contest because of once again the vastness of Walt Disney World and how the many things you can do in Orlando dwarf the opportunities in Anaheim. However, I plan to be very objective and give my honest opinion as if the two resorts were just a hundred miles apart instead of over 2000 miles apart.

Coast-to-Coast Challenge

I don't want to lose sight of why I am making this trip. There is a carrot by the name of the Coast-to-Coast Challenge that is waiting for me.

This Coast-to-Coast Challenge is open to all those who have aspirations of running the Walt Disney World half marathon and the Disneyland half marathon in the same year.

A number of members from Team AllEars, including my fellow co-captain and AllEars writer/blogger Michelle Scribner-MacLean, will be in California for this Coast-to-Coast Challenge.

We all hope to to parlay this medal…

2011_WDW_Half_Medal1.jpg

…with this medal…

2011%20DL%20Medal91.jpg

…and receive this bling…erh… medal…

CTC11.jpg

So this looks to be an interesting trip. There is so much to explore; so much to see; so much to observe; and so many miles to run…that I'm sure my next blog will be filled with many impressions that are right now just expectations.

There is only thing I am sure of and that is the title of my next blog…

…Walt Disney World 373 " Disneyland 1

Have a safe and enjoyable Labor Day Weekend!


May 8, 2010

The Princess Marathon Chronicles: The Home Stretch

As you leave the Magic Kingdom the course once again does it's best to prevent you from running as fast as you possibly can along Floridian Way. The course narrows to about a 10 or a 12-foot width that prevents you from getting into too much of a rhythm.

Because of the narrow course runners are quite bunched up and some tend to run on the grass. I tried to pick my spots and continue as steadily as I could.

So what happened was that I ended up doing something that I try to avoid but frustration took over and I weaved in and out of folks. This is not recommended because it results in running an extra distance...but I did it.

From this point on I found myself stopping at every water stop. It was worth slowing down and making sure that my body was continually hydrated. The water and PowerAde kind of re-energized me too…and I needed all the help I could get.

After passing the Magic Kingdom toll plaza again I saw the princes and the pirates except this time some of them were on the sidelines and runners were stopping to have their pictures taken with Prince Charming and Captain Jack Sparrow.

From that point on, other than seeing Flick near the Tough to be a Bug billboard, there was no entertainment and it was gut time for me.
In January I had stopped running at the10 mile mark. For some reason after 10 miles I felt best to walk a bit and did so before continuing to run.

This time around as I passed the 10-mile mark I felt fine. I surmised that this time I had run a smarter race and had taken advantage of the water stops during this race, something I had not done in January.
By now the sun was out and it was warm so I made a pact with myself that from this point on I would take advantage of every water stop and to make sure I took in fluid.

Before the first hill I grabbed an energy gel and then some water and hoped it would kick in before that nasty mountain.

Now I had been keeping track of my time and knew I was going faster than I had in January but was not really sure as to what my exact time was so I could not let up.

The first “hill” is actually a ramp from World Drive and it goes on forever. Imagine running some 10 plus miles and then having to do a rather long ramp. I've done it four times before but only once was I able to run the entire ramp; it's that long.

This time I had a plan. The ramp banked considerably to the right and of course common sense says run on the inner bank of the curve or ramp because it would be the shorter distance.

I decided to go against that thought process and ran on the outer rim of the ramp. Why did I take this approach? Well in looking at the ramp I noticed that the outer rim somehow did not appear to have that much of an incline as did the inner rim.

Again the argument can be made that says running on the outer room requires you to run a longer distance to get to the top of the ramp…but I needed to try my theory.

My thought was that the outer rim was also higher than the lower rim and it you watched your steps real carefully you would not feel as if you are running uphill as much because frankly…there is no banking of the road on the outer rim.

Well it worked.

I made it to the top of the ramp with much more gas left in me than in my previous half marathons and in fact every once in a while I looked to the right and found myself passing folks that were supposedly running a shorter route.

The next hill was a long stretch of a hill….I want to say it is about a half mile…a gradual upgrade….I had some problems with this part of the race because once again the course narrowed and there was a water stop that caused so much congestion that we almost had to stop running….grrrrrr….but I did not stop running……what was ahead of me was the killer hill.

Those of you who have run this course know what I mean. There is a hairpin turn and then a final hill (overpass) that runners must climb before the final descent into EPCOT.

Again, I knew I was going to finish faster than I had in January because frankly I had run the entire distance so far. Something I had not done in January.

This overpass hill would bear to the right and I used my theory again…this time on the right side of the climb and I focused my sight on the ground…did not look up…and listened to my music.

I had NEVER been able to do this hill and I was determined to give it my best shot.

When I got to the crest of the overpass and began to feel the ground even out it was the most exciting feeling I had ever had since finishing my first WDW Half-Marathon in 2006.

I knew at that point I was going to run the entire distance for the first time and I raised my fist up in the air and said “Yeah!”
On the way into EPCOT there was a mile marker with a clock on it…I

knew I was definitely going to have a better time than in January but I had to do the math to be sure.

Once I figured it out I said to myself, “Holy cow I may have a shot at a Personal Record!”

But did I have enough stamina left in me?

I was excited about conquering that last hill and felt energized…just had to push on for that last mile or so….my feet were burning but my heart was racing with excitement.

I had no timer or clock to let me know how I was doing…I just had to go as strongly as I could but I knew that sprinting at this point in a race is not the smartest thing to do...pulled muscles and cramps can come out of nowhere so I continued to run just at a steady pace and as I entered EPCOT and saw the crowd...more adrenalin hit.

I did not sprint but instead tried to lengthen my stride a bit.

I needed that gospel choir at Spaceship Earth to give me one last boost...and they made my day.

When I turned the last corner and saw the home stretch I could barely make out the clock at the finish line. As I got closer I got excited as I noticed that I was within a minute or so of my PR I had set in 2007.

“Steady Mike!” I said to myself. I was careful not to overdo it.

I had completely forgotten about my back issues and was now worried about other muscles...I kept saying to myself, ”Steady…Steady” and as I moved closer and closer to the Finish Line I did the math over and over again…had I miscalculated? Was I excited for nothing?

I finished the race and after running through the finish line turned around and looked at the clock. I immediately did the math and was pretty convinced I had come close to my PR and was pretty happy; but was my math correct?

When the official results came in later that day it was final...I had beaten my PR by just over one minute.

That made this medal a bit more special than the others I had previously earned.

I searched around for some familiar faces to celebrate with but among the mass of runners I could not for the life of me find any of my friends who had run that day.

I grabbed some nourishment...banana…fruit cup…fruit bar, water, and then went to baggage claim to get my car keys, towel, and other things and headed for the car.

When I got to my room I immediately took a shower and headed out the door. I learned from my first Half-Marathon that taking a nap after 13 miles is not the smartest thing to do.

Besides this prince was anxious to show off his medal…his tiara medal.


Princess%20Half%20Marathon%20Medal.jpg>

So….let me see…Wine & Dine Half Marathon erh?


April 4, 2010

The Princess Marathon Chronicles: The First 10K

Part 1 of my Princess Marathon Chronicles - The Preparation!

As I crossed the Start I thought, “Everything seems to be okay!” as my back was not being too cranky and everything else seemed fine…except I could not get my watch to start. Hoo boy…in January I had issues getting my iPod to start with the right song and now, in March, my watch was on the fritz.

Have you ever started a race and had issues with your running watch?
It does not do anything for your running pace and frustration sets in immediately.

I decided to stop fumbling with my watch and just concentrate on running...but was a bit stressed because I was now looking at trying to figure out how fast I would be going.

In hindsight I'm thinking I should have stopped off to the side of the course, take a minute to get the watch going, and then get back in the race…but I panicked and said, “Forget about it!” and plodded on.

About ¾ into the first mile I saw a woman rolling on the grass on the right side of the course. She was holding her calf and was in some definite pain.

Luckily there was an emergency crew attending to her.

My thought was that she might have committed a cardinal sin of running on the grass. It is so congested at the start of these races that frustration sets in quickly and people zig and zag around the slower runners or sometimes run on the grass.

Here are the problems and dangers of running on the grass for this marathon.

First and foremost it's dark for the first 45 minutes of the race so why risk running in the dark on something other than solid pavement?

Pavement offers a flat even surface and who knows what uneven surfaces lie in waiting along the side of the road on the morning grass.

Morning grass is also slippery grass so if you add slippery to uneven what do you get? You get a slippery uneven surface….ready to attack unsuspecting ankles.

So as I passed this fallen runner I could only imagine that she got frustrated with the slow pace early on and tried to speed ahead by running on the grass and may have turned an ankle.

I know a little something about ankles.

My watch was still not responding but interestingly enough my concern for the watch had me completely forgetting about my back issues and by the time I remembered that I had some back issues the sciatic muscles had loosened up and I had virtually no pain…I just didn't no how long I would be running in this painless state.

So with me hoping to do better than I had in January how was I to figure out how fast I was going? Well as I approached the first mile marker I recalled how we started 14 minutes after the official clock start so whenever I would pass any mile marker I subtracted 14 minutes from the time and used that as my time reference. I hoped I was right.

There was quite a difference between the January Half and the March Princess Half...and the big key was the weather although I must say that the mile markers used for the Princess Half were very much welcomed as they each had a Disney theme.

Along the way to The Magic Kingdom, about a half-mile before the toll plaza, runners were treated to the sight of a huge pirate ship and several pirates hanging around in the predawn hours.

Some runners actually stopped for photos…not me; I was on a mission.

About a hundred yards beyond the pirate ship was a staging that held all the famous Disney princes including Aladdin, and Tarzan…again…no pictures for me.

One of the issues I have with this particular course is that every once in a while there comes a point in the course that reeks havoc with your attempt to achieve a Personal Record.

One such area is near the Ticket & Transportation Center. All you veteran WDW runners know what I mean…as you approach the area where the tickets are sold the course narrows to the point where you almost have to walk.

I decided that I would take this opportunity to make use of the TTC men's restroom.

The problem, however, was that on this day…both the women and men's restrooms were being stormed by the 14,000+ women running this race.

Thus I found myself in my first Walt Disney World unisex restroom…something to tell my grandchildren, “Yes…it was back in 2010 when…”

Now the course turned to the Magic Kingdom…it's exciting to approach the Contemporary and I knew Deb Wills would be looking for me and I also know that Deb would be smart enough to stand somewhere remotely removed from the crowd.

I found her on the left side of the course and made sure she saw me.

Mike Scopa Princess Half Marathon


I took off for the Magic Kingdom. I was approaching “Ankle Alley” which is where in 2006 I had broken my ankle...the memory is so vivid that I always take care around the guard shack before going into the Magic Kingdom.

No matter how many times I do it I still get a thrill running up Main Street, USA.

Running through the Magic Kingdom is one of those carrots which draw runners to enter this race and I never get tired of the feeling of running towards the castle….the problem is that it is too short…before you know it you are done with Main Street and are heading through TomorrowLand and FantasyLand.

I've done it five times now and my time in the Magic Kingdom is probably a cumulative 15 minutes…but it's the shortest 15 minutes on record.

During this particular race, as I approached the Castle from the Carrousel I saw a line of runners waiting for a chance to have their picture taken with Cinderella.

I made a quick count and found the number of people in line to be 20...do the math...would you risk 30 minutes of your running time for a picture with Cindy?

Not me…now if we were talking Belle there may be some merit for discussion.

I've often said that when you train for the Walt Disney World Half-Marathon you are basically training for not the first half of the race but the second half of the race.

The first 6.2 miles (10K) are relatively easy thanks to the adrenalin pumping through your body, because, hey, you are running towards and through The Magic Kingdom.

However, once you leave the Magic Kingdom and face the last 6.2 (or 6.9) miles, including the Heartbreak Hill Trinity, it's then that you begin to appreciate all those long hours training and running all year long.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Team AllEars 2011 Launch Announcement

On Monday night, April 5th, 8 - 9 P.M. ET we will be launching Team AllEars 2011: Running with Purpose on MouseWorldRadio.

This is a live podcast that will also offer an opportunity to speak with Deb Wills, Michelle Scribner-MacLean, and yours truly.

You can be a part of the Team AllEars 2011 Launch show by calling in at 914 202 EARS (914 202 3277).

Spread the word.

Team All Ears 2011: Running with Purpose goes LIVE, Monday night, April 5th @8 P.M. on MouseWorldRadio.


March 26, 2010

The Princess Marathon Chronicles: The Preparation

So you want to be a runner? You want to be able to lace up some snazzy running shoes, put on some sleek looking running gear, and enter races and bring home fancy running shirts, and if possible, a medal or two?

Well then I've got just the thing for you....my Princess Marathon Chronicles which will give you an idea as to what it's like to participate in a Walt Disney World race.

Sit back and read my first person account of the 2010 Walt Disney World Princess Half-Marathon and tell me if this does the trick for you.

Friday, March 5th

I went to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex to pick up my bib and racing pack. There was quite a difference in the number of people picking up race packets for this March race as compared to January's race.

I am one of some 500 gentlemen who had chosen to run in the 2010 Princess Half-Marathon and would be surrounded by approximately 14000 princesses.

My race pack included a purple running bag and a frilly running shirt…fit for a princess but not this prince.

Mike Checks In for Princess Half Marathon


My running bib had my name (Michael) followed by my bib number (5198) followed by the name of my favorite princess (Belle).

That night before going to sleep I decided to browse through the “Official Storybook Program” that came with my race pack.

Page 24 had some interesting medical information regarding pain relievers and supplements. Runners were cautioned to avoid taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) like Advil, Motrin, Aleve, ibuprofen, aspirin, and naproxen within 24 hours of running.

The fear is that these pain relievers may cause hyponatremia, which is a metabolic condition in which there is not enough sodium (salt) in the body fluids outside the cells. Thus there was a concern that they may be harmful to kidney functions.

So the recommendation was to not take anything but an acetaminophen (e.g. Tylenol®) until six hours AFTER finishing the race.

This was not a welcomed bit of information to me because for the last two and a half weeks I had been nursing an injured sciatic nerve on my lower left back and my doctor had prescribed these NSaids for me. It looked like I had to put a moratorium on using them for about a day or two...how would I be able to get through the race?

The best way I can review the race is to recap how my day went and sort of take you along for the ride…erh run.

My wake-up call was for 2 A.M. I needed to give myself some extra time to work on my back and loosen it up if I had any chance of even starting this race.

As it was when I went to sleep I did not even know whether I would wake up feeling well enough to run.

I had spent the night before laying out my running gear and getting everything ready, wanting to save as much time for treatment as possible.

Saturday, March 6th

As always I was awake well before the alarms and the wake-up call but did not get up until the wake-up call arrived.

I got out of bed and my back had a dull ached but it was really not that bad.

I took the hottest 15 minute shower I could handle with the hot water pounding my right lower back.

I slowly got dressed and everything seemed to be okay. Just before leaving the room I took some Magnesium Oxide which both my primary care physician and Chiropractor suggested to help prevent back spasms from popping up.

I also took my handy bottle of Tylenol for after the race.

I left my room at around 3 A.M. and arrived at EPCOT around 3:30 A.M. where I met up with Team AllEars teammates Brad Garfinkel and Jessica Cutler as well as a few other friends who had participated in a sort of Scavenge Hunt in EPCOT the day before, Caroline Baggerly and Terry Gaff.

Soon we were joined my my WDWTODAY Podcast colleague Len Testa who apparently cleaned out all the Orlando area of hand warmers and was passing them out.....unfortunately they did not work.

This morning was unlike that cold, wet, and windy morning back in January. Sure it was a bit chilly….something along the line of 45 degrees.

That felt like a heat wave as I did not have to wear four layers of running gear, gloves, and a hat as I had some eight weeks ago.

We walked down to the corrals, about a mile and a quarter distance, and then waited for what seemed to be a week and a half….but it was actually an hour....before the race started.

The pain in my lower right back kept playing Russian Roulette with my emotions….saying to me, “So whaddaya think Mike, do ya think I'm gonna let you run? Or do you think I'm just gonna let you start and then WHAM hit you hard and leave you for the sweeper bus?”

I spent the hour rubbing my lower back and wondering what the morning had waiting for me...or the first mile at least.

I have to give credit to Mother Nature for the inspiration because if it was not for the cold, wind, rain, and sleet on the morning of the WDW Half-Marathon I probably would not have found myself back at WDW in early March later facing another 13.1 mile trek…but there I was…back in one of the corrals.

I was in Corral C. That meant my corral would start seven minutes after Corral B, which would start its race seven minutes after Corral A.

As each corral is released the one behind moved up.

I got my ipod ready…. didn't get it going real well in January…fumbling with gloves and all….no gloves today.

Got my watch ready....ready to start it as I crossed over the Start.

Next Installment: The Princess Marathon: The First 10K

April 10, 2009

Announcing the AllEars Running Team

We are pleased, honored, and excited to announce the formation of the AllEars® Running Team.

This team will be co-captained by AllEars® feature writer Michelle Scribner and yours truly who together have combined to participate in over a dozen Walt Disney World sponsored races including four half-marathons.

Our Goals

So what is the goal for the AllEars® Running Team?

It's very simple. We all care about having good health…right?

We know that exercise goes hand in hand with developing good health…right?

We also know that having the support of others helps us reach our goals….right?

Thus it occurred to us that we can do all those and more by putting together a team to encourage our readers to start moving, get healthy, and improve the quality of their everyday life.

Another important goal is to help those who are considering taking up running and reaching for that ultimate goal of running in either the Walt Disney World half or full marathon…and we want to help.

Remember, we are not running experts nor are we medical professionals…but with over 40 years of running experience between us we can call upon our experiences to pass along to our team members what seems to work to help you get the most out of your training.

We also know where to go to get help…advice…training tools…almost anything you need.

How to Join

For you to join the 2010 AE Running Team you need to be registered for the 2010 Walt Disney World Marathon or Half-Marathon.

We will be focusing on helping everyone train for that weekend and we are excited for those who are planning to do either race for the first time as well as those returning.

If you would like to join the AllEars Running Team, please note that for 2010 we are limiting the number of participants. At this time we do not know what our participation limit will be.

If you would like to become a member of the AllEars Running team please send an email to Michelle at michelle@allears.net and tell her why you want to be on the team and how you hope the team can help you.

We are striving to help not just our team members reach a specific goal but also looking to help others in need and so we are asking all who become members to work towards raising $500 towards Deb's Avon Breast Cancer Fund.

Our initial AllEars Running Team newsletter will contain more details on this fundraising effort. More on the team newsletter follows.

Member Benefits

Team members will receive official AllEars Running Team Newsletters that will feature special articles along with some tips and hints on preparing for the big race.

Team members will be encouraged and welcomed to contribute to the team newsletter with questions regarding training and to share their success stories.

All team members will be invited to a special team meet the night before the 2010 Walt Disney World Half-Marathon. Time and venue is TBD.

We may also be holding a special post-race celebratory meeting in January….but we are getting ahead of ourselves here.

We are working on other surprises for team members…surprises we will announce in upcoming team newsletters.

Co-Captains Mike and Michelle

Oh and in case you were wondering, we are both registered to participate in the 2010 Walt Disney World Half-Marathon and are feverishly training.

Again, if you are interested in becoming a member of the AllEars Running Team send an email to Michelle at michelle@allears.net today.

January 3, 2009

A Reluctant Request for "The Reluctant Runner"

I know I've been late with my recap of my Mousefest adventures and I promise to get on the stick and tell you about them this week.

While i continue to gather my Mousefest notes please let me discuss a more important matter with you.

I'm sure this blog entry will get me in trouble....so let's keep it between us...just you and me.

For the first time since Marathon weekend 2006 I will not be running in either the Walt Disney World Half or Full Marathon.

This is due to orders from my doctors to sort of take a year off, which I have reluctantly agreed to do....but I'm back on that horse in 2009.

What I have not stepped back from is giving support to all of you who have elected to go on the adventure of training for the Walt Disney World Half-Marathon.

Some of you have contacted me with questions and comments and I hope I have helped you prepare for a wonderful and rewarding experience.

I honestly must admit that I will have a difficult time next weekend as my heart will be with all my friends who are down in Orlando, carbo-loading the night before their respective race, going to bed early, getting up around 2 A.M. and somehow making their way to EPCOT at around 3:30 A.M. on race day.

I wish everyone the best of luck...you are all winners...and my special support goes to those of you who are first timers for this event. I'm sure you will all be sporting some "bling" next week.

Mike the Troublemaker

So why will this blog get me in trouble?

Well, you see of all those who are running the 2009 Half-Marathon this year I have a special affection for one first time runner and that is my All Ears Colleague Michelle Scribner-MacLean.

Michelle has been down in WDW in the past during the Marathon Weekends and after last year's trip she decided she would give it a whirl for 2009.

Michelle is one of those people who would get you out of breath just from showing you her schedule.

I won't tell you about her full-time job as a College Professor who instructs her students on how to be the best teachers possible, or mention how she is involved in her sons' activities, or donates hours of her time towards professional development in her sons' school district, her piano lessons, tennis schedule...and all that.

Her husband Andrew, and sons Evan and Liam will all attest that Michelle is a busy person yet always finds the time to give them whatever they need as a wife and mom.

Still with all that she does Michelle has found the time to train for this 13.1 mile event...even though she's never run before in her life.

Michelle lives but 10 miles from me; among hills that would make Expedition Everest jealous. It's not easy training on those hills.

What most people don't know about Michelle is that she is one of the most giving people in the world. The AllEars team has had the luxury of seeing Michelle in action.

I have marvelled at her uncanny ability to know when someone needs anything...and that does not just include a hand for helping but also an ear for listening.

Michelle cannot walk by a Salvation Army bowl during Christmas time without tossing a few dollars in the pot.

She will be angry at me for saying this but over the past two Mousefests I've seen her treat many people who she felt were on tight budgets to a meal ....keeping it quiet...not saying a word. She's not one to accept pats on the back for what she calls, "just doing what's right."

This past Mousefest was the same. This woman was always quick to volunteer at any of the Mousefest events and was quick to shy away from any accolades.

What she IS is a giver...a very subtle giver.

You may have seen a recent article by her entitled, "The Reluctant Runner" in which she discusses her year long adventure and dream of running in the 2009 Half-Marathon.

What Michelle is reluctant to mention most of the time is that what pushes her...inspires her to get up every morning to run...and it's cold up here in NH from October to January.

What motivates her is the memory of her late mother Marlene Scribner, who served as a nurse at Boston's Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital.

Spaulding Hospital is a special place. It is the largest provider of rehabilitation medicine in New England and provides countless hours of rehabilitation services.

Michele's mom Marlene, is somewhat of a legend at Spaulding Hospital. Marlene served Spaulding for 29 wonderful years and to this day those who knew and loved her have in them a piece of Marlene...a special positive attitude and approach to life that uplifted every patient and co-worker who was blessed to have known this woman.

Marlene's legacy also includes a very comprehensive, multi-disciplinary and effective anti-coagulation program that is now the standard for all SRH patients.

Marlene's greatest legacy however, may be her daughter Michelle who every day lives life as her mother would want her to...giving of herself....unselfish...caring...the model of how we all should lead our lives.

So it just so happens that there is a Marlene Scribner Award that is awarded to a deserving registered nurse every year to help send that nurse to the Annual Regstered Nurse Conference.

This award constantly reminds everyone of how dedicted Marlene Scribner was to the mentoring and development of new nurses...who in turn would better serve the patients of Spaulding Hospital.

Well, quietly Michelle has dedicated her training to her mother and this award but because this fundraising stuff is relatively new to her, she has only told a few close friends and colleagues.

Well, I'm about to get in trouble with Michelle because I'm here telling everyone that of all the wonderful causes and fund raising efforts that go with the Walt Disney World Half-Marathon, nothing touches my heart more this year than Michelle's effort to raise funds for her mom's award.

Yes Michelle and I are dear friends and I plead guilty to wanting my friend to achieve her goal but it's more than that.

When Michelle talks of her mom and her life work her eyes light up and a big smile comes across her face. She misses her mom dearly and this is how she pays respect to her mom and her legacy.

A daughter's love for her mother always hits home for me.

I try very hard not to show favorites when there are so many wonderful causes out there.

Many of them get lots of PR..and support.

Very few, if any, have the dedication and love of a daughter for her mother and the chance to continue the wonderful work and legacy that has helped so many people.

So if there are any of you out there who I have helped to work towards this goal of stepping up to the starting line of the WDW Half-Marathon and you are looking to help someone who I feel is running for a most worthy cause please join me in helping Michelle raise funds for her mom's award by going to Michelle's donation page .

Thank you for helping my friend Michelle but please don't tell her I told you about this...I'll be in big trouble.

God bless Marlene Scribner and God bless Michelle Scribner-MacLean next weekend.

Shhhh....not a word to her....promise?

Mike and Michelle

July 8, 2008

Marathon Training

Marathon Training

Okay, July 4th has come and gone.

For those of you who are training for either your first Walt Disney World full or half-marathon…how are you doing? You should be in full swing training by now.

Hopefully by now you are somewhere in the 3-5 mile range and are at a comfortable pace. Remember, as your conditioning improves your pace may improve as well. Don't push yourself too much…just “nudge” yourself a little more each time out.

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By “nudge” I mean add a minute or two to your workout each day. You want to gradually build your stamina and ease your body into a longer workout rather than rush it.

If you've never participated in a race before now is the time to think about trying out a local short 5K race. It will be good experience for you to get a few races under your belt before the big one.

Good luck.

Check out my entire series on Running With Mickey!

February 26, 2008

The 2008 Walt Disney World Races

It seems that Walt Disney World has very much adopted the idea of hosting races year round.
Unfortunately not everyone lives is Central Florida and can make every one so we have to make choices.

Of course we need information to make these choices and my purpose today is to provide you with some information on all the planned WDW sponsored races for 2008, as well as info on the 2009 WDW Marathon Weekend.

I have done most of these races myself and hopefully can shed enough light on each so that you can get an idea as to what each race is all about.

So let's see how the 2008 WDW Race Calendar stacks up.

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Date: March 8, 2008
Name: National Kidney Foundation 5K
Location: Epcot
Distance: 5K (3.1 miles)
Comments: This is a new race for 2008. The course is pretty familiar. It starts in the EPCOT parking lot (I'm guessing the Wonder parking lot) and eventually enters the park and makes its way to World Showcase. The course continues counter-clockwise around World Showcase and finishes in the parking lot. It looks like all participants will be required to maintain a 15 minute per mile pace.

For more info on this race like go to the National Kidney Foundation 5K Event Page.

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Date: May 2-4, 2008
Name: Minnie Marathon Weekend (2 Races)
Location: EPCOT, Disney's Animal Kingdom, Disney's World of Sports, and Disney's Hollywood Studios.
Distance: 5K (3.1 miles) on Saturday and 15K (9.3 miles) on Sunday
Comments: If I had to choose one weekend to go to WDW to run this would be the one. I have done this duo of a 5K and 15K race on two consecutive days and I think it's the best deal of all the WDW sponsored races. I have heard some rumors regarding this as being the last year for the Minnie Marathon Weekend. I hope not.

On Saturday the Go Red for Women 5K is held and the course for that race is located in EPCOT, specifically World Showcase. This is a great warm-up race for the 15K race on Sunday.

All participants must maintain a 15-minute per mile pace.

For more information on this race go to the Go Red for Women 5K Event Page .

On Sunday the Women Run the World 15K (9.3 miles) is held and that one has the absolute best course as it starts at Disney's Animal Kingdom, makes its way through Disney's Wide World of Sports, down to Disney's Hollywood Studios, then over to the Beach and Yacht Club and then into EPCOT's World Showcase before finishing in the EPCOT Parking Lot.

All participants must maintain a 15-minute per mile pace.

For more information on this particular race go to the Women Run the World 15K Event Page.

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Date: May 10, 2008
Name: Muddy Buddy
Location: Disney's Wide World of Sports
Distance: 6.5 miles plus obstacle course
Comments: I've never done this race. It is a team race involving biking, running, leapfrogging, and finally a crawl through a mud pit. Each team alternates running and biking for the first part of the race. I guess this race is best suited for those who are interested in a different type of race. It does look like fun…but imagine if it's a rainy day…talk about mud.
For more information on this race go to the Muddy Buddy Event Page .

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Date: May 10, 2008
Name: Danskin Women's Triathlon
Location: Seven Seas Lagoon, Fort Wilderness, Magic Kingdom
Distance: 400 Yard Swim; 9 mile bike course; and a 2 mile run
Comments: This sounds pretty cool and pretty exhausting. Imagine swimming in the Seven Seas Lagoon and then getting on a bike and pedaling for 9 miles and then have to run 2 miles…phew. I am not sure exactly where the bike course is but I do recall someone mentioning to me that it goes through and out Fort Wilderness and possibly down the back road to Downtown Disney and back again.

For more information on this race go to The Danskin Women's Triathlon Event Page.

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Date: September 27, 2008
Name: Expedition Everest Challenge
Location: Disney's Animal Kingdom
Distance: 5K (3.1 miles)
Comments: This is the first year for this race and the announcement has received mixed reaction from the running community. This is not so much a race as it is some sort of combination race and hunt for special stamps needed to complete the challenge. Individuals and teams may enter this race. The mixed response has been mostly because of the cost ($100 for individuals, $195 for teams of two people) as well as the fact that it's not a pure race.

Also, get this. All participants must maintain a 16 minute per mile pace but there is a 2.5 hour time limit for the entire race…remember…it's sort of a scavenger hunt too.

Anyway, if you're interested in this race go to The Expedition Everest Challenge Event Page for more information.

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Date: October 5, 2008
Name: Susan G. Komen Central Florida Race for the Cure 5K
Location: TBA (In the past this race has been held at Disney's Animal Kingdom)
Distance: 5K (3.1 miles)
Comments: This race is near and dear to my heart. The first time I ran in this race it was sort of an accident. I was planning to run in the Race for the Taste on Sunday and found out about this Saturday race and signed up a day before.

The race supports the fight against Breast Cancer and I guarantee that if you ever participate in a Komen race you will never find a better organized race…ever. I was overwhelmed by my first Komen race and the following year got involved in raising funds for this worthy cause.

Although I love the Minnie Marathon Weekend if I could do only one WDW race a year this one would be my choice.

The exact location for this year's race has yet to be determined. You can check for updates at The G. Komen Central Florida Race for the Cure 5K Event Page.

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Date: October 12, 2008
Name: Race for the Taste 10K
Location: Disney's Wide World of Sports, Disney's Hollywood Studios, Disney's Beach and Yacht Club, and EPCOT
Distance: 10K (6.2 miles)
Comments: This is very much a fun race and has grown in popularity over the last several years to the point at which you need to register early to guarantee entry. It celebrates Disney's Food and Wine Festival and participants are treated to dome foodies from the F&W festival at the finish line.

I highly recommended this race. It used to be held on the Sunday following the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure 5K but unfortunately they are now held on separate weekends.
I believe, but am not certain that all participants must maintain a 15 minute per mile pace.
Look for more information on The Race for the Taste Event Page.

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Date: October 25, 2008
Name: The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 13K


Location: Disney's Hollywood Studios and Disney's Wide World of Sports
Distance: 13K (8.2 miles)
Comments: This race was first held in 2007 and many participants had some issues with this race. Tt was held at around 10 P.M. which is not the best time to run for most folks as it puts a real hold on their day being careful not to use up much energy. Then there were parts of the course that were on uneven ground and muddy.

Finally the party was less than adequate so my guess is that many hard core runners may pass on this race for this year.

If you are into night running however this is the race for you.

The only pace requirement that I know of is that participants need to finish within 2.5 hours but that pacing requirement may change.

As of the day of the posting of this blog entry an event page has not been put up yet for this race.

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Date: January 8-11, 2009
Name: Disney's Marathon Weekend
Location: The Walt Disney World Resort
Distance: 5K, Half-Marathon (13.1 miles), Full Marathon (26.2 miles)
Comments: If you've been reading this blog for the past 9 months you should be familiar with this huge annual event but if not then head over to The Marathon Weekend Event Page.

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Well there you have it…all the Walt Disney World races in a blog nutshell.

There are also events for kids and you can find info on them at Endurance Kids Races Event Info Page.

For updates through the year constantly check The Endurance Event Listing Page.

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Helping Others

Before signing off for today I wanted to make one more comment.

There has been much criticism tossed at Walt Disney World regarding the number of races held every year. Those critics point to the revenue that these races generate.

Let's not forget that the Disney Company is a business and all businesses look towards both making a profit and achieving customer satisfaction.

Let's also not lose sight of the fact that in almost all cases these races are involved in raising funds for very worthy causes.

For instance the Disney Marathon Weekend last month raised almost $8 million for charities.

It was those participants in the weekend races who were responsible for helping The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society raise $5.6 million, the AT Children's Project raise $900,000 to cure a rare childhood disease, and another $1 million was raised for various other charities.

In describing the event and it's current legacy Senior Vice President of Disney Sports Enterprises Ken Potrock stated, “The marathon that started 15 years ago as an outlet for runners to reach their athletic goals, has turned into so much more than an athletic event; it's a way for runners to rally around organizations that are making a difference to millions,”

He went on to say, “We're thrilled that through the Walt Disney World Marathon and Half Marathon we've created a platform for teams of athletes to help find cures for serious diseases - and momentum is building.”

One group that should be saluted is Team In Training. The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Team In Training program kicked off their 20th Anniversary at the WDW Marathon. “This is a great opportunity for our organizations to raise funds to support our mission,” said Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Senior National Director of Team In Training Donna Grogan. “We're so thankful to Walt Disney World for providing the venue for athletes to participate in a world-class event while doing something for the greater good of others. This race has allowed us to fundraise over $53.1 million over the past 15 years.”

From time to time when running comes up in conversations I get strange looks as if to say, “Why run? Why sweat? Why risk injury?"

Maybe I should have them talk to two-time marathon runner, Emma Kieran, who started running in 2006 for her grandfather who died from lymphoma.

Emma puts it best when she says, “It's great to be out there at Disney on race day knowing we're all doing something for ourselves and to help improve the quality of life for so many patients and families. It's simply an incredible feeling.”

It certainly is.

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February 10, 2008

Marathoning with Mickey: Looking Back and Looking Ahead

Monday! Monday!

You would have thought that I would have slept in on Monday but no. I was up early, as in 7:30 A.M., which is pretty early if you fell asleep around 2:30 A.M.

I attended to quite a few emails from friends and relatives who had sent emails about the race. It took time to answer most of them and before I knew it the time was 10 A.M.

I did a little packing, then hopped into the shower, got dressed and then stopped short of heading out the door. I really hadn't put together any plans for the day.

I called Mike Newell and told him that due to the night before I was getting a late start.

I had to laugh when Mike told me he was on the same schedule as me and he was just getting started as well.

I asked him if he was hungry…silly question…of course he was.

I suggested we meet at Boardwalk and head over to the Dolphin so I could introduce him to The Fresh Mediterranean Market for lunch.

I headed over to Boardwalk somewhat quickly and took a stroll over to where the Breathless II was docked. I was looking for a friend who does Illuminations Cruises but the CMs there told me his shift started at 6 P.M. that night.

I made a mental note to come back that night and see him.

I didn't as plans would eventually change….so Mike Scibetta. if you're reading this we'll see you on the next trip.

Stormalong Bay is so peaceful in the morning.

Stormalong Bay View

I met Mike Newell near Big River Grille & Brewing Works and we walked over to the Dolphin.

Mike enjoyed Fresh. I need to thank Deb for introducing me to this little restaurant. It's on my list as a must do from now on for either breakfast or lunch.

During lunch my cell phone told me that the battery was low. I had talked with some friends that morning and had used the speakerphone option and that had pretty much drained the battery. I knew that I would either have to go back to the room to charge it or find some portable charger in the Dolphin store…highly unlikely for the latter.

During lunch Mike and I decided it would be fun to send some photos of the chocolate desserts to our chocoholic friend Annette. I'm sure she appreciated the gesture.

While eating lunch I got a call from a friend who I had made arrangements to meet at Beaches and Cream that day. Yikes…I had completely forgotten.

It was now about 1 P.M. and we were supposed to meet around 2ish. I was stuffed but I knew it may be the last time I would see my buddy David from the UK until we were both in WDW so Mike and I walked to Beaches and Cream, met David, and had another dessert.

More pictures sent to Annette...the things I do for my friends (sigh).

While we were there we witnessed not one but two Kitchen Sinks being delivered to booths with eyes bigger than their stomachs.

Kitchen Sink Dessert

After the dessert I decided I would shoot back to my room and give the phone a charge and also buy a sweatshirt as that night was supposed to be a bit chilly.

We said good-bye to David. I had tentative plans to meet David and family at the Biergarten that evening.

Mike had to do something too so we agreed to meet later in the day.

I went back to my room and charged the phone. I did more packing and then took a stroll to the resort store to shop for a fleece top for that evening.

Nothing there caught my eye; especially pricewise so I decided to wear one of my long-sleeved shirts I had packed just in case the weather would be chilly.

Before leaving the room I checked with Mike Newell again. We made plans with Beci Mahnken to meet at the Magic Kingdom to watch Wishes and we also agreed to have a late dinner at Kona's.

I began to realize that the trip was winding down.

It was the third leg of a whirlwind set of trips and everything that had happened kept flashing in my mind.

I drove to the TTC and managed to get a parking space so close that I was just a five minute walk to the TTC ticket booths.

I took the monorail over to the Magic Kingdom and sent a message to Mike and Beci that I was in the park. They were standing just outside the Crystal Palace.

I snuck up on them...shhhhhh.

Beci and Mike

I was looking forward to Wishes…hadn't seen it in ages.

Mike and Beci were thinking about doing a few attractions so I sent them off to do so while I waited for fellow AEN staffer Michelle Scribner-MacLean. Michelle wanted to see Wishes that night too.

The Crystal Palace looks so majestic at night.

Crystal Palace at night

I sent a txt to Michelle, she was almost at the park. While waiting I watched the castle show from the Crystal Palace area.

Castle Show at Night

Michelle arrived just as the show was ending and we talked about our trip until Mike and Beci returned.

We watched Wishes from that spot which was an interesting experience. I would not recommend this unless of course you've seen Wishes many times and wanted to see it from a different point in the park.

We waited until most of the crowd left and we started out.

I then said, “Wait, I want to see the Kiss Goodnight!”

I got some looks.

“What's that???” they almost said in unison.

This wasn't the first time I had mentioned Kiss Goodnight to friends and had received stares as if I was sporting a third eye.

I began to explain that Kiss Goodnight is a traditional signoff for the Magic Kingdom and it involved a combination of music, light, singing and…

…as I was into my explanation lo and behold “KISS GOODNIGHT”” began and I got pretty excited.

I dragged Michelle, Beci, and Mike, up close to the Partners Statue and they all witnessed their first Kiss Goodnight.

If you're interested in what Kiss Goodnight is all about look for more information in my All Ears newsletter article later this month.

After Kiss Goodnight we headed out of the park.

The queue for the monorail was just too long so we took the ferry.

Good choice.

At the TTC we Mike, Beci , and I bid farewell to Michelle who was off to Downtown Disney to get her son who had enjoyed the evening at Disney Quest.

Mike, Beci, and I enjoyed a quiet meal at Kona's before the final goodbyes and we called it a night and a trip.

Now you may have noticed that this was yet another day in the life of yours truly in which I was not going from park to park and enjoying attraction after attraction.

It just didn't work out that way and what's amazing is that it didn't bother me. When I return to WDW in three, six, or nine months from now I'm pretty sure my favorite attractions will be
there…but there is never a guarantee as to when you'll catch up again with friends.

It was a good trip in many ways.

Looking Back and Looking Ahead

This trip represented so much to me. There were so many people who made the trip to experience their first Walt Disney World Half-Marathon and they brought with them so many dreams of doing something important for themselves and accomplishing a feat that perhaps they never thought was in their reach.

I wanted to be there to see these people bask in their happiness and see the glow and pride in their faces as they proudly wore their medals around their necks.

By the way, I sent this photo of my medal to Steve Barrett and mentioned the Hidden Mickey…do you see it?

Hidden Mickey on Medal

I was also amazed and warmed from the fact that so many people came down to support their friends in this quest.

There is no question that nothing matches the feeling of running and finishing the WDW Half-Marathon for the first time.

No matter how many times you do this race crossing the finish line is never the same as the first time.

However, you can do this race many times over and every time you turn up Main Street USA you will get a chill and a thrill as the crowd cheers you on…as you run towards the castle and through Tomorrowland and Fantasyland.

As you come through the castle you find yourself saying everytime , “This is what it's all about.

So looking back on the several times I have done this race I can undoubtedly say that the Walt Disney World Half-Marathon holds for everyone a little bit of Disney magic.

Be it your first one or you twenty-first one, there will always be something waiting for you and that something more often than not is the opportunity to say to yourself, “I did it.”

For me this time around I got to see so many friends participate in this race and so was given the opportunity to say to myself, “They did it!

As I look forward I am hoping more of you get to experience what many experienced this year.

Congrats to all.

Next Time: I'll discuss the Walt Disney World 2008 running events.

February 2, 2008

Marathoning with Mike and Mickey: Race Aftermath: Part 2

Sunday: The Day After

I woke up and the first thing I thought was, “Okay, let's see what the knee has to say.”
It didn't say anything. It sort of screamed at me.

A hot shower helped with the stiffness.

I headed to the Studios theme park to have lunch with Deb and Linda at the Brown Derby.

Along the way the knee actually felt better. However, any first steps after sitting for a while were reminders for me to see the doctor down the road.

Of course the Full Marathon was in full swing. Thankfully the foreboding forecast for this day was going to be a bit wrong or late. There was no rain in sight as most of the runners were plodding through the Studios.

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For this course about the time you start heading down Hollywood Blvd. you've already covered over 20+ miles and you are just anxiously awaiting to get out this park, make it over to EPCOT, and finish.

The characters were there to cheer the runners on.

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Some runners did take the opportunity to pose with some of their favorite characters.

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The Brown Derby is famous for its Cobb Salad and that's what we all opted for.

While at the restaurant we received a visit from Hollywood's Tastiest Celebrity Gossip Columnist, Vivian Dish. I'm sure you have read her column, “Tasty Tidbits from Vivian Dish.”
She and Deb got along famously.

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Beci was able to join us for a bit before speeding off to yet another meeting.

As we prepared to leave Brown Derby the skies opened up. I was hoping all the runners had crossed the Finish Line before the downpour. Luckily we had our ponchos.

Linda and Deb were heading out of the park and I had to go to a meeting. We bid farewell and off we went on our separate ways.

After my meeting with several folks I headed back to the room to rest, a request from my left knee.

I then headed to EPCOT to hopefully take in Spaceship Earth while soft openings were still going on.

So what did I find?

Well, I'm going to give the Imagineers the benefit of the doubt and say that there are still some things to do to complete this rehab of SPE. So I will hold off mentioning any details and passing judgement. I will say however that the attraction has undergone much more of a change than I had anticipated.

I stopped over at the pin board to purchase a few Disney Valentine's Day pins for Carol before heading to World Showcase.

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Along the way I heard my name being called and turned around and did not recognize anyone within my sight. About eight people approached me and said, “You don't know us but we know you.”

That's a scary thing to hear being said to you…even at Walt Disney World.

These were folks who had been at the 2007 MagicMeets and wanted to say hello. I believe at least one of them had also run that weekend.

After a few minutes of good talk I had to excuse myself and meet Mike Newell.

I met Mike right in front of where OffKilter performs and we headed to the American Adventure where I wanted to do some research.

While in AA we ran into some other friends, notable AEN researcher Kenny Cottrell.
I spent time talking with Mr. American Adventure himself Lonnie who told me a few tidbits about the attraction. Some of these tidbits were mentioned in my newsletter article.

Here's a shot of folks walking past that painting with the plane whose nose follows you.

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Time was running short and we had to scoot over to Marakesh for dinner.

I thanked Lonnie for his time and Mike and I walked briskly to the Moroccan Pavilion.

This was my third meal at Morocco and I'm still on the fence regarding this restaurant. It's not spicy by any means but the variety on the menu leaves a lot to be desired. Still if you are looking for a place to eat on a weekend night in EPCOT this could be one of the few places where you can walk right up and be seated immediately.

Beci joined us and we ate quickly because Illuminations would be starting soon.

We found ourselves walking around World Showcase just as Illuminations was beginning…first time that had ever happened to me.

We met up with some friends and watched the rest of this spectacular.

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After that Mike, Beci and I met up with the very elegant Deb and Linda for some quiet time chat

Don't they look like the type of people they are...special?

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The quiet time involved good talk and we enjoyed the company so much that we talked until 1:30 A.M.

Deb and Linda were leaving in the morning so it was time for final hugs and goodbyes.

I had a long walk back to where I had parked my car. I think the temps were in the 40's and I had shorts and a short sleeve shirt on…brrr.

I found myself hungry. Well…it was 2 A.M. and I had last ate at 8 P.M.

I was more tired than hungry so fatigue won over hunger.

I probably got to sleep about 2:30 A.M.

Next time: Looking Back and Looking Ahead

January 31, 2008

Marathoning with Mike and Mickey: Race Aftermath: Part I

The race was over. There were race chips to get cut off, medals to be worn, bananas to peel and eat, and water to guzzle.

Oh yes, and of course there is always the official photo of the happy medal wearers. No. I don't have one handy.

I didn't stay too long talking with everyone as I needed to get back to my car as quickly as possible to let Carol know I was alive. I was sure she was tracking me all this time but I wanted her to hear my voice and assure her that I was okay. It's a promise I made ever since breaking my ankle in the 2006 Walt Disney World Half-Marathon.

After talking with Carol I answered about a dozen voicemails and txt messages before FINALLY heading back to my room.

Wouldn't you know it, I had forgotten to put the “Privacy Please” thingy in the key lock…I NEVER forget to do that…but some eight hours ago my mind was elsewhere.

As I pulled up to a great parking space that would leave me no more than perhaps 80 feet from my room I saw one of the housekeeping folks go into my room.

Sigh. Okay, no big deal…I'll just wait about 15 minutes and the room will be ready. I was kicking myself for forgetting to put that thing in the key lock.

When I got into the room I took the hottest shower ever and gave the knee a good pounding with the water. The knee didn't feel that bad but I knew things would change.

I got dressed, placed the medal around my neck, and headed off to The Magic Kingdom.

I decided to grab a celebratory Dole Whip before heading over to the Tomorrowland Terrace for the Half-Marathon Meet ‘n' Greet.

When I arrived at Aloha Isle I was pleasantly surprised to see my AllEarsNet colleague Michelle Scribner-MacLean and her son Evan sitting down and enjoying the tasty treat.

No sooner did I sit down and talk with Michelle and Evan when I was approached and asked, “Are you Mike?”

I don't recall his name, I want to say Scott.

We invited him to sit and talk with us for awhile. I decided not to get a Dole Whip as time would not allow for it….plus I think I would have downed it so quickly I would have suffered brain freeze.

After chatting for a while we headed over to the Tomorrowland Terrace.

I will say right now that I do not recall everyone who was there but I do know that Lou and Deanna were there as was Bryan Ripper, Mike Newell, Matt Hochberg, and I'd say about two dozen other folks who came to chat and talk about Disney and the race.

Half_Mar_TTerrace_Meet.jpg

I cannot say how pleased I was to meet so many people for the first time, especially those who had come down to do their first Half-Marathon. If any of you are reading this blog I thank you for coming over to say hello and to share your joy of running in the race with us.

For some there was no wiping the smile of their face as they looked at their medal

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The race stories were great and each of us who did the race that day had some tidbits about not just the race but everything from the time we all woke up around 2 A.M. to the point at which we crossed the Finish Line.

We talked for a long time and the early afternoon soon grew into late afternoon and early evening.

After the goodbyes I left the park and went back to my room to check on some emails before heading to the Yacht Club to have dinner with Deb, Linda, Steve, Vickie, Beci, and fellow podcaster Mike Newell.

I got there early and found a very relaxing chair in the lobby and was soon pleasantly surprised by Deb and Linda, and then not much later Steve and Vickie. Mike and Beci would join us later.

I'd like to say here and now that over the last few years an amazing transformation has taken place regarding how I see Walt Disney World. I now see my visits to Orlando as an opportunity to spend good times with colleagues and friends and frankly the parks and the attractions take a back seat to my joy of seeing my good friends and enjoying their company.

I have proof for this. During my last 19 days spent at Walt Disney World I estimate that I visited perhaps a dozen attractions. I did not miss the fact that I did not spend as much time touring the parks as in years past.

During that same time I had at least 20 occasions in which I had meetings or meals with friends. I wish there were more of those occasions.

Soarin' is all well and good but nothing beats spending time with friends and WDW serves as the vehicle for these opportunities. During this marathon trip I took in very few attractions…and had no regrets. The regrets would have come had I not been able to spend at least one instance with all friends and colleagues who were also at WDW.

Diner was at the Captain's Grill at the Yacht Club and I enjoyed the food and the company. However, sometime around 9 P.M. or so my body said to me, “Do you realize that we have been up almost 24 straight hours? Not to mention you dragged me 13.1 miles earlier today?”

The time had come that day (I should say evening) when all the adrenaline and endorphins had begun to lose power and it was time to call it a day.

I bid goodnight to my friends and headed back for a well deserved good night's sleep.
As I walked to the car I caught another message, this one from my knee. It said, “You realize of course you put me through a lot today and there will be a price to pay!”

I didn't have to be reminded of that.

Boy did I sleep well that night.

January 26, 2008

Marathoning with Mike and Mickey – Saturday, January 12th: Race Day

If there is anything I have learned from doing the Walt Disney World Half Marathon several times is that there really is no separation between the Friday before the race and race day itself. Friday sort of folds into Saturday.

This year was no different.

On Friday night before the race I recall glancing at the clock before hitting the pillow…it read 9:30.

I tried to get a good night's sleep…oh I really tried…no luck.

The best I could do was manage about four or five catnaps that lasted anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes.

Sometime around 12:45 A.M. my cell phone beeped. A text message. I ignored it. Every minute or so however my phone beeped….reminding me of the message waiting for me.

Arrrgggh!

I got up and read the message. I replied and then jumped back into bed. As soon as I closed my eyes the phone beeped again. The person to whom I replied to had replied. I jumped out of bed, read the message, and then tried to go back to sleep.

I couldn't turn the phone off because it was one of my three safety valves for wakening me up at 2:00 A.M.

I tried to get back to sleep….nothing.

I tossed and turned and then decided to get up. It was 1:30 A.M.

Race Day had arrived.

I showered and made sure the hot water pounded my sore knee…I needed the knee to get me as far as possible. I was pretty sure I'd be walking a portion of the course…just wasn't sure exactly what portion and how far.

I read the runner's guide to make sure I was aware of any rules.

I had to use the clear bag to check stuff at baggage claim.

I stuffed the bag with a towel, a few gels, a hat to ward off possible raindrops from raining upon my head, and my car keys….oh yes…and took about 100 feet of toilet paper and some anti-inflammatory pills.

I arrived at EPCOT at 3:00 A.M. and called Lou and Deanna Mongello. They were there too…and were parked only six cars to my left….I thought I was early…they were earlier.

While talking with them who comes by but Bryan Ripper, co-host of the All About the Mouse Podcast.

We were all excited and made our way over to the waiting area.

While we were there we met up with Jennifer Stennett and Mary Lurk. Both Jennifer and Mary had been reading this blog and preparing for their first half-marathon…heck…<strong>first race ever.

Spending time chatting in a group before this race is a Godsend because it helps to pass the time away and ward off any pre-race jitters.

We chatted for a while before checking in our bags and going to the other side of the tent. The lines for the portable toilets were long…35 minutes long…but runners don't want to carry “excess baggage” when they run so a visit was necessary.

It was kind of funny to see several people holding rolls of toilet paper while in line and occasionally asking strangers, “Do you need any?”

We all got some bio-freeze before the race, I gulped down a couple of anti-inflammatory pills to help me deal with the knee and we were off to the Start.

The corrals were overflowing like you wouldn't believe.

My corral had over 250 people waiting outside of the corral…overflow that is. I could not get into my corral until the elite runners had begun the race.

The sound system decided not to work this morning.

My corral/wave got off at about 6:30 A.M. which was some five hours from the time I had gotten out of bed. Those five hours had flown by.

I had no clue as to how I would do. I had not run since October, I was dealing with the remnants of my Mousefest cold, and my left knee kept hinting that somewhere on the course it was going to scream at me.

I decided to run as far as I could but to run slowly because my conditioning was next to nil. I had trained all year up to October before the knee let me know there would be an issue. That training was not all for naught because I still had that base and it would help me this day. My pace is usually somewhere between 11:20 and 12:20 per mile but for today my plan was to just run 14-15 minute miles.

My thinking was that if I ran slowly my knee would last longer, not to mention me lasting longer too.

If this was my first half marathon I would not have attempted this but knowing the course and understanding what I needed to do brought me to the Start…the question was would I finish.

As always it was crowded at the Start. I just concentrated on a steady pace and plodded along. I actually felt better than I expected.

Although I had not trained in almost three months my body seemed to remember what to do.

I planned to take advantage of each water stop and that I did. I knew it was important to alternate PowerAde with water and I religiously held to that rule.

The first mile was a bit slower than I wanted…well over 15 minutes….so I quickened my pace and for the next several miles I was doing low 14's and doing okay…breathing was fine…knee was fine…I was having a good time.

For a moment or two my competitive spirit would pop up on one shoulder and say, “Y'know Mike, I'll bet you could pull off at least one 12 minute mile so why not give it a shot?”

Luckily the voice of reason appeared on my other shoulder and said, “Remember when you did that in October after the Tower of Terror 13K race? I rest my case.”

I stuck with low 14's.

The first challenge came near the Contemporary. I think we're talking mile four. There is this overpass that we run under and it dips and then we have our first hill. I managed to continue running up this hill…just kept my head down.

I actually passed people on the way up. I train on hills in New Hampshire and that training offered me a dividend.

As I approached the Magic Kingdom I saw the part of the course where two years ago I had broken my ankle. I navigated this area very carefully and headed for the backstage area and Main Street USA.

When we got to Main Street and started running up it a woman who had been running next to me for virtually the whole time in silence turned to me and said, “Oh this is so cool!”

It is! Running up Main Street USA and through Tomorrowland, Fantasyland, and Frontierland is one of the main reasons why runners love this race.

As I ran up Main Street USA I caught a glimpse of several fans including Deb and Linda Mac.

Mike on Main Street in the Magic Kingdom

We turned into Tomorrowland and that's when I heard and saw both Deanna and Lou Mongello run right past me. There was no doubt that those two would be crossing the finish line with a smile on their faces.

That made my day. Both were dealing with some respiratory issues during training and I had concerns for them. There were motoring along just fine.

We were entertained by some musicians in Tomorrowland and then we headed into Fantasyland and then through the castle and down to FrontierLand.

We then headed backstage and saw a pirate ship and Mr. Jack Sparrow and a few pirates. There was another water stop back here but no bananas as in years past.

This is just about the halfway point in the race or at least pretty close to the halfway point.

The first half of this race is entertaining but the second half is boring.

As I passed the 10K mark I was assessing my condition. First I was ecstatic that I had been able to run non-stop from the Start through the Magic Kingdom.

I honestly wasn't sure if my conditioning would let me run that far but steady as she goes.

Fatigue was not a factor. In fact, I felt great. Perhaps going slowly was the key to getting me through this year.

My breathing was fine but as we headed down Floridian Way I received a message from my knee.

Basically it said, “Mike, taking the anti-inflammatory pills, rubbing the bio-freeze on me, and taking it slow has helped but I'm telling ya dude, the pills are wearing off and I need to let you know there may be trouble ahead.”

A slight discomfort in the knee accompanied that message.

It wasn't too painful but just enough for me to notice. I realized that unless I could find some Tylenol or Advil over the next mile or so that I'd have to deal with this pain the rest of the way.

When runners get pains like a stitch or something like that very often the endorphins make it tolerable. I'd need a truckload of those guys to help me.

I continued to run. I had thought that maybe I should stop and walk but something inside of me just kept telling me I need to continue at my pace and run as far as I could.

I made it through Mile 7 and kept my 14 minute pace. The miles seem so much longer on the way back to EPCOT.

I soon saw the Mile 8 marker and with each stride the pain was increasing…where is the Tylenol from previous years?

As I hit the 8 Mile marker I decided to stop running and give the knee a rest.

I wasn't worried about being swept.

“Okay” I thought, “Now I need to adjust!”

My plan was simple; I would walk several minutes and then run 10 minutes. This would allow me to cruise into EPCOT.

As I walked I could still feel the pain and I tried to convince myself that the pain would dull because I would not be running as much.

I had stopped pounding on the knee so that was a good thing.

After about five minutes of walking I decided to get back into my jog.

Nope. It was not going to happen.

The pain had elevated to a level that pretty much negated any thoughts about running.

I took just two strides and had to halt.

I can't describe the pain except that it was pretty sharp and made me stop dead in my tracks.

Now I was questioning my decision to stop running.

Okay, I will walk another few minutes and see what happens.

Nope.

Another few minutes.

Ouch.

Okay I'll walk for a solid 10 minutes.

I tried again. I managed about four strides but that was it.

I was extremely disappointed.

It became clear to me that my running on this day was behind me and that I'd be walking the rest of the way.

Still, my thought was that certainly I'll be able to run across the Finish line.

Mile 9 and Mile 10 went by ever so slowly and every so often I would try a slow jog, my knee would have none of that.

At Mile 10 we received some nutrition gels and water…a little further down the road was some bio-freeze.

I went for it and rubbed it on my knee thinking it would grant me some sanctuary from the pain and perhaps give me at least a five minute window in which I would be able to manage a slow jog.

Wrong again.

I really could have used a Tylenol.

So the walking continued.

I was beginning to worry about my time…even getting embarrassed…I always finished under three hours but this year looked like I would go way over that threshold.

As I negotiated the ramp on mile 11 I hugged the curve trying to gain as much with each stride as I could.

I am quite stubborn; I actually ran on my broken ankle several years ago and sprinted across the Finish Line. That would not happen this year. I would have given anything to trade the pain in my knee for that broken ankle.

EPCOT soon came into sight as did another bio-freeze station.

Maybe if I rub a lot on it and deeply it will help.

Another pipe dream.

So I approached the hairpin like turn that takes all the runners over heartbreak hill…the overpass guests can use when leaving EPCOT.

I tried to walk as fast as I could and even take a few jogging steps.

Oh the pain.

I got into EPCOT and I figured the adrenalin rush would mask the pain.

Arrrghhh…wrong again. I was striking out every time.

I walked past Spaceship Earth, up to World Showcase Plaza, and turned for the last big chunk of this race.

I'm still thinking I'm going to run across the Finish Line.

As I passed the fountain and headed for backstage I tried to muster one more try but my knee said, “No Mike. We're almost there. We need to walk.”

The one last bit of backstage on the course had a choir of singers which helps the runners in that last half mile.

In my case I was walking and after some 15 WDW races I had run in this one would be the first in which I would have to walk across the Finish Line.

But…I would FINISH!

I saw Deanna and Lou waiting for me at the Finish and hugged them both.

Lou and Deana Mongello Congratulate Mike as he crosses the finish line

It was more important to me to know that they finished than for me to finish.

The first time experience for this race is amazing. It was their turn and I was proud of them.

Although not too happy with everything there was some solace in that despite my lack of preparedness for the race I was able to run a portion and complete it.

My knee was on fire but it didn't matter because my heart was kind of jumping up and down.

Mike and Lou Hold Their Hands High in Celebration

I received my medal and had my picture taken, one with Lou and Deanna, and grabbed a bottle of water and a banana and for a brief minute had one of those special moments in everyone's life when you think to yourself, “Good job! You're stubborn...but good job!”

Half Marathon Medal

What a day!

Next Time: Race Aftermath & Celebration

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

If you haven't already, read Mike's previous blogs about the Walt Disney World Half Marathon Experience:

Marathoning with Mike and Mickey: Friday, January 11th

Marathoning with Mike and Mickey: The Saga Begins

January 22, 2008

Marathoning with Mike and Mickey - Friday January 11th

Friday, January 11th

Knowing I had to get up real early Saturday morning I decided to get up real early this morning.

I got up and headed to Disney's Animal Kingdom to root for some friends running the 5K Race. It was a fairly chilly morning but one which I was hoping for when it was my turn to cross the Start for my challenge.

I ran into a friend, David Barrett from the United Kingdom, and the two of us cheered our friends.

Approxiamately 4500 runners lined up for this race. The race is especially appealing to those who are fans of Disney's Animal Kingdom theme park as the majority of the course flows through the park

The race went off and in the early dawn hours the 2008 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend had officially begun as the runners sprinted towards the entrance to Disney's Animal Kingdom park.

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Just look at the smiles on these runners. It's true..this IS a Fun Run!

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Rafiki was in the house for those who wantred a photo with him.

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Patience is a virtue and we waited patiently for our friends to finish and eventually they came around the corner. Congrats to Sheryl, Margaret, Betsy Anne and Izzy.

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After hugs and congratulatrions it was time for me to determine my schedule for the rest of the day.

I decided to spend the rest of the morning and the early afternoon at Disney's Hollywood Studios. This was an easy decision. The Studios is the smallest, most compact theme park and thus would be easiest on the legs. I also think it has the most benches per linear foot which is also appealing to anyone who is planning to run an extended distance race the following day.

Did I also mention shade? It's important not to let the sun drain your energy.

So I spent a few hours in this park.

I watched a little of the High School Musical 2 show.

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I then took in a performance of Beauty and the Beast.

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Then watched some of my favorite Streetmosphere…oops…I mean Citizens of Hollywood…do their thing. Here is pose #327

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I had an Asian salad at the Commissary and then headed to Muppetvision 3-D.

I never noticed this cutout of Sweetums…see the paddle ball?

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I sat in the pre-show area for a long time just taking in the atmosphere and the jokes. Eventually I went in and enjoyed Muppetvision-3D.

When I came out of the theater I noticed work being done on what used to be the theater that was home to the Hunchback of Notre Dame stage show. Apparently that theater was being retrofitted to house several different events.

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It was time to meet Lou and Deanna Mongello at the World of Sports to pick up our race packets.

On the way out of the studios I stopped at Sid C's. There was a quiz on the chalkboard. I was in a hurry so I did not go in and give all the answers for a certificate. A few guests from the United Kingdom were having a problem with two of the questions so I gave them the answers…then I was off to World of Sports.

Do you know the answers?

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I met Lou and Deanna at WoS and we were pretty surprised at the crowd we found there. This was the first time I had picked up my packet on a Friday and although it was much less crowded than previous Thursdays it was still wall to wall people.

The lines to pick up the race packets were pretty long.

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We picked up our packets and then went downstairs to get our goody bags and shirts and check the Expo. The Expo can be very helpful in that runners can purchase various things to help them in the race…wicking socks…nutrition gels…headbands…sunglasses…throwaway running suits if rain is an issue, assorted ointments, and other running gear.

We left the WoS and bid each other a good night…we had specific plans for that evening and tried to coordinate meeting the next morning…actually middle of the night…at EPCOT.

I headed for the Polynesian Resort and Ohana for a pleasant meal with about a dozen friends…six of whom were also doing the half on Saturday. This evening was devoted mostly to protein. I ate a light meal and then bid everyone a good night and headed for my room.

At my room I selected my running shorts…I brought several pair down because of the question of the weather, decided on my running shirt, and socks, and put my number on my shirt.

I set my room clock radio and cell phone for 2 A.M.

I also arranged for a wakeup call at 2 A.M.

My head hit the pillow at 9:30…trying to fall asleep the night before running the WDW Half-Marathon is about as difficult as it was falling asleep on Christmas Eve as a child.

Next Entry: Race Day

January 11, 2008

Marathoning with Mike and Mickey - The Saga Begins

Come along with me in my quest for my third Donald Duck half-marathon medal in as many years.

It seems that with each year comes more challenges. This year the triple threat challenge of a cold, a crankee knee, and a winter that wouldn't let me train, places my streak in jeopardy.

On top of that the threat of rain really makes for an "interesting" day.

So here we go.

Wednesday, January 9th

I thought I'd try something different and instead of taking the first flight out I took a late afternoon flight to WDW.

The difference was I obviously got a good night's sleep, not worrying about oversleeping.

Also, the plane was not full…maybe at 90%.

MCO was not crowded when I landed.

The line to register at Pop Century was not long at all.

Overall it was a decent experience and I had no urge to hit the parks when I arrived…well it was about 9 P.M. anyway.

So will I adopt this method from now on? Not sure. It will depend upon the time of year. I think during the summer I will always opt for the early flight.

I checked in to Pop Century. This is my 19th visit to Pop Century. I have yet to be in the same room twice but the room I am in on this trip is just two doors down from my Hurricane Charley Room of 2004.

Before going to bed I watched the weather…looks like it will be WET on Friday night and Saturday morning…hoo boy.


Thursday, January 10th

I enjoyed breakfast with Lou, Deanna, Marion, and Nicholas Mongello at Cape May Café.

Of course you would hope that Marion and Nicholas would look at “Uncle Mike's” camera and smile. No. Here these two cuties are smiling with Goofy and looking at Daddy's camera.

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Well, at least Minnie is looking at me.

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We talked about Saturday's race and planned to meet at the Expo on Friday, when it would be less crowded simply because the 5K participants HAVE to go on Thursday and most of the half and full marathoners will also go on Thursday.

After breakfast the Mongello gang headed for Magic Kingdom and I headed to Epcot.

Ahhh, a tent…getting ready for the marathon I see.

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It was very early and hardly anyone was at this point in EPCOT.

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How often do you see this?

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It is so nice, even for just a short time, to feel like you have EPCOT to yourself.

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The only remains of Christmas decorations in Epcot are these two pieces of The Lights of Winter.

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Here's a closer look at the Lights of Winter.

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I ran into some friends from the UK and we decided to take in Soarin'. The queue was for 30 minutes and this was my chance to check out the interactive kiosks.

The first game had those in line swatting beachballs.

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The second game had us guiding this bird through a forest…please excuse the picture…it was extremely difficult to get a good photo….but this will give you the idea of what this is all about.

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We got the bird to change directions by working as a team and doing this…

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The kiosks do a good job of entertaining guests while they wait.

I managed to convince the loading CM into letting us sit top center for the attraction. I never get tired of Soarin'.

From there I bid my friends goodbye for now…I would see them for dinner at Boma.

I scurried to Norway to meet Brian Bennett for lunch.

Now usually we say, “No picture with the princess!” but Brian said to me…,”Ahhh Mike you may want to make an exception here."

Like they say, a picture is worth a thousand words.

I don't have my scanner with me so this is a photograph of a picture. I apologize for the quality but I just HAD to share.

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Yes, I am wearing a 16-0 New England Patriots shirt.

GO PATS!

So Brian and I are having lunch and each princess came over to our table to chat. We rated the princesses according to image and character and I felt that Jasmine was the best and for that she gets a spot on this blog…

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After lunch Brian had to head home so we bd farewell until next time.

I went over to the American Adventure and tried to take a photo of the 15 star flag that flies about the pavilion.

It was windy so capturing the flag so you could see all 15 stars was next to impossible.

I went into the pavilion and found my friend Eldon.

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Eldon is in his 80's and owns about 800 pins. He brings some to the parks and usually has about five pounds of them wrapped around his neck.

He, like me, loves The Voices of Liberty and was there to listen to them.

By the way, the next time you enter the American Adventure, go to the left side of the rotunda and look for the painting with the plane.

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Stand to the right of this painting and focus on the front of the plane…the nose of the plane.

Keeping your eye on the nose walk from right to left.

No I'm not going to tell you what happens…just try it next time you are at this pavilion.

I stayed to listen to the Voices of Liberty before being joined by a friend from Canada.

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Let me say right here that perhaps there is no place on Earth for me that can compare to the American Adventure rotunda to listen to these talented people.

when they dedicated "God Bless America" to the troops I found myself wiping tears from my eyes and a few of the singers who see me many times there noticed and sort of nodded their heads. As a matter of fact the woman leading this group came up to me afterwards and putting her hand on my shoulder asked me how I was doing.

I have coached a few young men who have lost their lives recently in Iraq and I was thinking of them and their families...and it was a dificult moment.

Okay, enough of that.

I chatted with my buddy Benjamin from Canada for a while and then I ran into a few more friends and I realized it had taken me five and a half hours to go from Akershus back to The Beach Club where I had parked my car some 10 hours earlier.

I hurried over to the Animal Kingdom Lodge to meet some friends for dinner and when I got into the lobby I spotted a CM friend of mine working the desk.

I had to congratulate her on her recent wedding. I mean, how many people get married on Halloween and then take in a Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party? On HALLOWEEN?

Here's Natalie…

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...who is awesome and always has a smile and ready to help those who are lucky to stay at Disney's Bnimal Kingdom Lodge Concierge Level.

Boma was fun. There were 12 of us. I was the only one at the table who was NOT from the United Kingdom.

I convinced everyone to try the frunch...I had two glasses of this nectar. I wonder if someday there will be a Frunch Whip...like a Dole Whip.

I actually ate a bit more than usual because my plan was to stock up on the carbs tonight and let them sort of setle in my system for fuel for Saturday morning. I planned to eat light on Friday.

After dinner we hung out in the lobby and talked about what we had done that day. we also went looking for hidden Mickeys before I said, "Well folks i need to turn in early."

I cam back to the room about 9:15 and wrote this blog.

More to come.

January 7, 2008

Mike’s Marathon Dump: Part II

This is the second and final submission of information on the Walt Disney World Half-Marathon and is dedicated to those of you who are participating in this race for the first time. In this entry you will find information on the course, post-race guidelines, spectator information, and encouragement from yours truly. I hope this helps everyone.


The Course

The number of runners in this race will make most of the course somewhat crowded but the most crowded portion will be mile one.You will not find yourself running at the outset nor will you find yourself running as fast as you would like to when you CAN run.

It is important for the first mile at least to keep your eyes focused on where you are stepping. It is so crowded that it is possible to step on someone's foot or bump into someone. Eventually the crowd will thin out enough for you to feel comfortable but the first mile will not be your favorite mile on the course.

Oh and I would not suggest running on the grass. The surface is uneven and you could turn an ankle. Remember that the race begins in the pre-dawn hours and it is DARK. Stay on the pavement.

You have to maintain a 16-minute mile pace which means finishing the half-marathon in 3.5 hours or less. Now there is always a question as to when this official pace clock begins. In the past the official pace clock for each wave began when the last person in that wave crossed the Start.

So let's think about this. The majority of us will be running in the third wave or Wave C which is supposed to get off at 6:25. My guess is that if this pace clock practice continues for this year and, let's say, it takes about 10 minutes for that last person to cross the Start then that adds some “buffer” to the pace requirements. It adds 10 minutes overall or about 40 seconds per mile. Every bit counts.

That should ease your angst a bit. Again, that assumes the pace clock starts when the last person in the corral crosses the Start.

The course is fairly flat although there are some not so flat portions.

One area is the overpass near the Contemporary Hotel. Coming from under that overpass you will find a pretty steep incline. Be ready for that.

Just after mile 10 there is a ramp that most runners despise. You may need to take that ramp slowly because there's a whopper coming up.

The whopper is close to the end of mile 11 and it's a huge overpass you must take to get back into EPCOT. This is best described as “Heartbreak Hill”. Last year I did fine until I got to this mountain as it was the only portion of the course that forced me to walk. It was only for about a half-mile but it would have been nice to have run the entire course.

There is one other slight incline that sort of sneaks up on you. As you enter EPCOT and run past Spaceship Earth on the way to World Showcase Plaza you will sense a slight incline. This incline is really noticeable after logging some 12 plus miles.

“The Turn” as it is affectionately called at the World Showcase Plaza brings with it a sigh that you are well under a mile to go before the Finish Line.

As you go past Spaceship Earth you will be directed to run a bit “backstage” and for those who make it this far there is a treat waiting back there for you. In past years this treat has been a huge choir of gospel singers singing Americana favorites. Last year runners were treated to a choir singing “High School Musical” songs.

When you hit the home stretch a wonderful thing happens…fatigue leaves you, pain leaves you, and you get a shot of adrenalin.

Now as you approach the Finish Line you may hear, “Finish strong!” which to some people serves as a trigger to sprint to the Finish. I'll leave that up to you.

I used to do that until the 2006 Race for the Cure when I pulled a hamstring 30 yards from the finish.

After 13 miles I'd be careful…but it's up to you.

Upon finishing you will be directed to a number of volunteers who will cut your timing chip off your shoe.

You will also be offered Mylar to wrap yourself in. Mylar is like thin aluminum like foil that traps heat and is preferred by some runners at the end of a long race.

The race officials will also “encourage” you to move out of the general Finish Line area and into the area where there is fruit, water, PowerAde, and other goodies awaiting you.

You will be given your medal and then directed to an area where your picture will be taken.


Post-Race Guidelines

You would think that would be it as far as a guideline to this day but there is another important point I'd like to make and that is that you should continue to move around and not sit still. My suggestion is to walk around for at least 15 to 30 minutes after the race BEFORE you get into a bus or a car to go back to your room.

You want your body to slowly cool down and you want to avoid stiffness.

Let's add to that. Go back to your room, take a hot shower, get dressed, and then get back out there and enjoy the rest of the day.

Do not take a nap….unless you want to wake up incredibly stiff.

You need to get back out there and enjoy the rest of the day and lessen the stiffness and soreness in your body by moving around, keeping the muscles moving, and especially encouraging your circulatory system to bring nourishment to your joints.

Don't forget to eat. You will have burned quite a few calories over the course of 13 miles and this is the time when you will NOT feel guilty about eating.


Spectator Information

The Half or Full Marathon is not just a challenge for those participating in the races but also for those there to support or to cheer for their family members or friends.

Let's look at what you can do to cheer your favorite runner/walker.

Forget about the Start. You will not be able to get to that area.

However, do try the following:

• The Ticket and Transportation Center. All the runners need to go under that overpass the TTC trams take all of us from the TTC parking lot to the Monorail or Ferry Boat to MK. This is a great place to stake out a spot to cheer runners. I would get there no later than 6:30 A.M. and look for a spot where you can see the runners BEFORE they are on top of you.

• Main Street USA. This is most difficult and you may have to decide between the TTC or Main Street USA areas for your first sight of runners. A good place to plant your self is near the walkway to Liberty Square. Runners will go through the castle and come down the left side ramp and over to Frontierland. You can see them as they come down the ramp.

• Floridian Way. This is the boring part of the course for the runners and usually has the fewest spectators. If you cheer on runners at the TTC you will have time to scoot over to the Grand Floridian and cheer them on Floridian Way. You cannot do TTC, Main Street USA, and Floridian Way…but two out of three is possible.

• Finally, the other good place to cheer on runners is where they enter EPCOT. The runners will enter EPCOT near Living Seas. Actually the runners will come down the ramp and enter near the bus terminal. That is a great spot to see your favorite runner. From there you can head over to the Finish area which is the Imagine Parking Lot at EPCOT.

• It would not hurt to have a sign or something that your favorite runner can spot so he or she can see you. Make sure you show them the sign before the day of the race so they know what to look for and where to look for it.

• One note…for the Full Marathon add the Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios theme parks to your viewing spots.


It is Time!

So are you ready?

It's important for all of you who are this race for the very first time to understand that before the race even begins that you are all winners.

The training and the commitment to attempting a 13 mile race, with pacing requirements no less, can be daunting and I commend those of you who have taken on this challenge.

Everyone who makes it to the Start on Saturday morning is a champion in my book.

I have had many friends who have tackled this race. Some did not finish the first year but were still proud of the fact that they gave it a shot and kept trying each year until they did finish the race.

In some cases individuals need two years before being able to complete the WDW Half Marathon because the first year is best seen as the test year. Experience is a very important teacher.

It is so important for everyone to understand that the journey you have all taken just to get you to the Start is an accomplishment in itself.

For many of you this is you challenging yourself. It's a test….but not a pass/fail test.

It's a test to see how far you've come in giving yourself a healthier life. This race is a barometer or a measuring stick to see just how far you've come and perhaps how much further you can go.
Not everyone who attempts their first half-marathon will finish. Not everyone who begins this race will have a medal around their neck at the end of the day.

But so what?

Everyone who makes it to the Start should proudly imagine their virtual medal of courage and personal achievement that they earned all year just to get to Saturday.

I offer my congratulations to all who will be at the Start.


Mike's Training Diary

This will be a most interesting half-marathon for yours truly.

Due to some “stuff” going on in my left knee and a very stubborn cold I caught at Mousefest my training has been reduced to just about nothing over the last month or two.

The 47 inches of snow we've received these past four weeks also has sort of impacted the training. The streets are snow covered and slippery.

I'm never one to back down from a challenge so I do still plan to “negotiate” those 13 miles on Saturday. I expect that I will adopt a run/walk mode instead of my normal run only mode.

Am I anxious? Sure. Am I worried? Not really.

I'm guessing some of you, like me, are asked, "Why the heck are you doing this?"

"Very simple!" I reply, "You live only once."

Good luck everyone.

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January 5, 2008

Mike’s Marathon Mind Dump: Part I of II

While preparing for my first Walt Disney World Half-Marathon a few years ago I could not get enough information to please me. Actually I could not find enough help to ease the angst I had as I trained for my first half-marathon.

So today, I am hopefully about to ease the angst of those of you doing your first WDW Half-Marathon by performing Part I of a two part mind dump of just about everything I think that would help you next week.

So here we go.


The Training is Over

There's not much more you can do to prepare. All the training is “in the bank” and now it's time for you to just do it, be it the 5K, half-marathon, full marathon, or even the Goofy…it is time.

Whatever your conditioning is today is what it will be on race day.

By now all of you should have received your Marathon packet which is your marathon weekend booklet as well as your Official Race number Pick-up Card and Waiver.

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So let's take a look at how all this will unfold next week and cover some aspects of getting ready for the 2008 Walt Disney World Half-Marathon.


Race Garb

You never know what to expect for weather in Orlando in January. For the most part, there is a fairly good chance that it will be dry but the temperature on race day is harder to predict. I have seen the temperature on race day to be as low as 42 and as high as 80 so you need to prepare for anything.

So what should you bring?

Here are some thoughts:

• Running shorts. Your thighs generate a lot of heat so if the temperature is high on race day you definitely want to run in shorts instead of running tights, sweat pants, or running pants.

• Running tights. This is an option a lot of runners opt for because they are light yet will keep you fairly warm in case start time temperatures are low. I always pack my tights in case I need them.

• Sweatpants. The only issue with sweat pants is their weight. Of course if you plan on discarding them during the race then go for it. Remember, as you sweat these babies get heavier.

• Wicking shirt. Many runners prefer to run in material that draws the moisture away from their body. Wicking running shirts can do this for you.

• Sweatshirt. If the temps are cold at the start you may want to bring a cheap sweatshirt that you can discard sometime during the race.

• Socks. This is a tricky one. Use whatever kind of socks you've been running in. Don't change now.

• Running hat. Some runners prefer to run in a hat to keep the sun out of their eyes. Keep in mind that a hat also works to trap heat so that has to be a consideration.

• Running watch. Of course.

• Running shoes. You should be running in shoes that you have broken in already. Hopefully you've been running in them at least a month or so. If you use insoles for your shoes for comfort then by all means use these for the race.

• If you have concerns about rain then you may want to invest in a rainproof running suit and just bring the top to the race. Waterproof running suits are not cheap so think about this before you buy.

Above all be sure that whatever you feel most comfortable in is what you should wear. Be sure you dress for the weather too.


Marathon Weekend Itinerary

Here is a general idea of what you can expect a few days prior to the weekend, the day of the race, and a day or two after the race.


Thursday

Thursday is the first day of the Health and Fitness Expo held At Disney's Wide World of Sports complex. The Expo is open from Thursday to Saturday but the busy day is Thursday where most runners show up to hand in their waiver and receive their racing pack. This all takes place at the Milk House at Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex. All runners will turn in their waivers, show a photo ID to pick up their racing pack, and verify their running chip before leaving the Expo.

I suggest that all first time half-marathoners mark Thursday as the beginning of their race day preparation. That means take it easy. I would also suggest trying to get to bed early so that you will get up early on Friday morning. You want to get your body in tune to how Race day will be…especially if you are not used to getting up early.


Friday

How you handle Friday will have an impact on your Saturday and the half-marathon. If you take my advice and go to bed early on Thursday night then perhaps you will get up a bit earlier on Friday morning. This is good because you will want to go to bed real early on Friday night so you will be fresh on race day.

For Friday the number one rule is to take it easy. Don't do too much on your legs and by all means do not go crazy in the parks. Try to stay out of the Sun and also plan on an early dinner. It is wise to eat an early dinner the night before the half or full marathon.

Oh yeah, before I forget. Unless you've been on The Atkins Diet, don't go crazy thinking you have to carbo load the night before your race. Just eat your normal meal.

You will also want to try and get to sleep somewhere between 8:00 and 10:00 P.M. because Saturday will be an early day for you. Don't take any chances, set your alarm clock and cell phone to wake you up at a certain time and also request a wake-up call as well. This way you will not oversleep.

So when should you wake up for the big race? That is up to you and how you intend to get to EPCOT on Saturday morning. All race participants using Disney busses must leave their resorts no later than 4:00 A.M. on the day of the race. My timetable has me getting up sometime between 2:00 and 3:00 A.M. and driving to EPCOT around 3:00-3:30 A.M. because of the traffic.

Lay out your race gear BEFORE you go to sleep. This means get all your running stuff ready and that also includes putting your running chip on your shoe and attaching your bib (race number) to your shirt. You do not want to do this in the morning…save time and do this the night before.


Saturday

You want to make sure that you are well prepared for this day. This means you are well rested the day before and ready to take on 13 plus miles.

Make sure your wake-up time allows you plenty of time to get to EPCOT. Remember that if you are relying on Disney transportation (busses) then you must be on a bus by 4:00 A.M. to guarantee you will be on time for the start. The morning of the WDW half-marathon is one of the heaviest traffic days of the year.

When you get to EPCOT's Wonder Parking Lot where everyone will meet, you should check anything you do not plan on running with like keys, cell phone, or anything else at the Gear Bag Check-in. Bring a small backpack or fanny pack and put everything in it so you will have everything in one compact place. You may want to bring a towel or a change of clothes or something else too.


Sunday

Treat Sunday as you would a normal day but start off slowly as you may find yourself stiff and sore in the morning. As the day goes on you may feel better but keep tabs on your energy level and take a break if you feel necessary. You deserve it.


The Race: What to Expect

It's next to impossible to describe the atmosphere on the morning of a Walt Disney World Half-Marathon. I can best start off to say that the early morning hour, crowd, and atmosphere is just so surreal you will never forget it.

You will be amazed at the number of people who will be at EPCOT that early in the morning. Besides the race officials and the race participants you will also have spectators. It can be overwhelming but it's important to focus on the matter at hand and not worry about the huge crowd. This is YOUR DAY.

When you picked up your race packet at the Expo you will have been given your corral assignment on your race letter. There are three corraIs; A, B, and C. Corral assignment is based upon expected finish time. Faster runners will be placed up front.

Each corral will be notified when to make its way to the Start. This is the first surprise. It takes about 20-30 minutes to get to the Start. My guess is that this year's huge crowd may make this journey even longer.

Each corral usually has its own official start with fireworks and streamers.

There will be the singing of the National Anthem and a countdown. Can you stand it?


Water and Food Stops

Some runners like to hydrate as much as possible before a race. If you hydrate too far in advance of the start of the race then your body may process this fluid into waste. Everyone is different so do what is best for you.

I will bring a bottle of water with me to the corral and Start and drink it about 15-20 minutes before the race begins.

There are nine water stops for the Half-Marathon. Even if you are not thirsty it is a good idea to drink at every stop, especially if the temperature is warm on race day.

Right after the Mile 10 marker race volunteers will be handing out Clif Shots which are gels that can give your system a little sugar and caffeine boost for the last 3 miles. This is a matter of preference but if you are feeling that you are running out of energy you may want to grab one or two of these gels, get it into your system, and then grab a drink. It might help. I like the apple pie flavor myself.

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Part II

Part II of my marathon mind dump will talk about the course, post race guidelines, spectator information, and anything else I can squeeze out of what I remember from the several WDW half-marathons I've experienced.

November 15, 2007

Of Nighttime Races and Mousefest Preparations

First an apology for my absence.

Buckle your seatbelts however, because from here until the aftermath of the d2008 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend we are on for quite a ride.

Thoughts on my Tower of Terror Trip

On Friday of my trip Len Testa and I took in the newly refurbished Haunted Mansion. If you plan to go to WDW soon and want to be surprised about the new enhancements to HM then you may want to skip the upcoming bulleted list, if not then read on:

• The first notable change was in the stretching room. The audio seemed to completely surround me. Also as the room starts to “stretch” you could hear squeaking sounds. Oh and our ghost host showed us (with better lighting) his way out.
• One more thing about the stretching room…are those gargoyles saying something?
• Once in the doom buggies the fun really began. As we entered the corridor we saw some stairways with candelabras…that's new.
• The left side of the corridor/hallway has very long windows and it seems it was thundering and lightning outside.
• There were many new pictures adorning the walls.
• There also seemed to be eyes following us on our journey.
• Then there were the stairs…seemed taken out of an M.C. Escher painting with footsteps appearing and disappearing at the same time…upside down.
• The séance room had a fresh well lit assortment of instruments and Madame Leota…the new Leota…was floating in her crystal ball about four feet higher than I recall in the past. There is a flaw in this room…look for it.
• The attic was very different as special photographs told us about the famous Masey family and we learn quite a bit more about the Widow Masey.

From there we toured the Caribbean with some swashbuckling pirates. We noticed that this attraction has some deliberate debris placed in the water. Look for it the next time you ride this attraction.

We then strolled over to Tomorrowland and rode Buzz Light-Year.

Here's proof...

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Then while I made a few phone calls Mr. Testa rode Astro-Orbiter.

As we were leaving the Magic Kingdom I was accosted by some wild woman.

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Here is one of the scarecrows that adorned Town Square.

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We then took off to visit the monorail resorts…first stop the Contemporary…work coming along fine on the new DVC addition.

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From there we shot over to the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa. Neither one of us had ever seen Victoria and Albert's so we ventured over and looked into the restaurant. If you ever saunter over to V&As to check out the menu bring some smelling salts… for when you gaze at the prices.

From the GF we walked to the Polynesian as were we were meeting friends for lunch.

Along the way as we past by Luau Cove we checked the Scopa family brick…looks worn.

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Lunch was at Kona.

From there it was time to head to Pleasure Island to pick up the race packets.

I ran into many friends there.

From there I drove some friends to All-Star Sports to check on the refurbished rooms.

Check them out.

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From there it was onto TMK and the Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party where I ran into my friends Matt, Marissa, Sara, and Josh.

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The party was just like the last two years. We did our trick or treating and did a few attractions and saw the fireworks...

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...the Villains Mix and Mingle....
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...and the BOO-To-You Parade.

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I was kind of fading and had a race to run the next day so I headed back to my room. I did run into Batman and Robin at the Ticket and Transportation Center.

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I fell asleep about 12:30 A.M.

Saturday morning I spent in Epcot with a friend who I hadn't seen in almost two years.

One of the "Can't Miss!" off the beaten path places everyone should visit is the mini-museum devoted to the history of Epcot. It just behind Club Cool.

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Be sure to visit this exhibit, especially if you are a Horizons fan.

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By mid day we each had commitments to attend to. He went to PI to get his race packet and I met a young lady by the name of Deb Wills for lunch at Fresh at the Dolphin…highly recommended….both Ms. Wills and the restaurant.

After lunch I went looking for some pins in Epcot before going back to the room to rest before the race.

I tried to nap but it must have been the rolling thunder that kept me awake.

The Race

I headed to Disney MGM/Studios around 7 P.M. and met about a dozen of my friends at the start line.

The race was really building up…thought it was going to rain. The weather was mild.

The race was late in starting because of traffic snarls and runners being held up.

The race began just about 9:50 P.M. or 20 minutes later than scheduled. But if you want to be real technical the race started 50 minutes late from the originally scheduled start time.

As expected it was a dark and at times a challenging course. Somewhere around Mile 2 the course was diverted into a gravel road. Thanks to some rain a few days earlier there was a portion of this road that offered a few sections with mud.

It was along this portion of the course that the runners were provided with entertainment in the form or volunteers who were dressed as insane asylum escapees. I'm sure it was entertaining for many of the runners but for me I questioned why this entertainment was focused on this area of the course when it was most important for the runners to concentrate on the footing…the uneven ground…the mud…and those poorly lit portions of the course.

The 13k (8.2 mile) course finished in the MGM Studios theme park. Runners came in through near Sid Cahuenga's then turned left to go up Hollywood Blvd and down towards the Commissary and the Sci-Fi Drive-In restaurant before heading toward the Lights! Motors! Action! Stunt Show stadium. From there we weaved our way through the Backlot Tour route.

The course also winded through some off-stage areas before coming out somewhere near Sunset Blvd. and then taking a right to go to Hollywood Blvd…then once on Hollywood Blvd. the course headed towards the front of the park and took a left at Crossroads and then made it's way up the hill to the Hollywood Hills Amphitheater and then eventually finishing just behind the Rock 'n' Roller Coaster Courtyard.

This race was described as the first Annual Tower of Terror 13K which suggests it will return in 2008.

Hopefully the feedback the race organizers get from this race will provide some improvements in next year's race.

If in fact this race returns next year here are some suggestions I have for the race directors.

• Regardless of whether packet pickup is at Pleasure Island or Disney's World of Sports the setup should be such so that the line flow should be packet pickup, shirts, and tickets. This year there was some backtracking involved and people were bumping into one another. I truly think the pickup should be at the WoS.
• Begin the race earlier in the evening. I would suggest moving the start time to 9 P.M. or even 8 P.M. Most of the runners struggled because let's face it, it's Walt Disney World and curbing your daily activity to save energy for a nighttime race doesn't work for everyone.
• Also, for those participating in the race, there was little time to enjoy the party afterwards. With an earlier start there is more opportunity to enjoy those attractions which are open for the party.
• Some consideration should be given to the medals. The 13K participants and the 6.5K participants both received the same medals even though the 13K participants ran twice the distance and paid more for registration. At least maybe change the ribbon color and décor to identify the course covered by the medal wearer.
• Regarding the course, there should be two corrals at the start with the 13K corral up front and the 6.5K corral at the rear. When the race started there were 6.5K participants in the midst of the 13.5K participants. This made for an awkward start.
• I'm sure I speak for most of the 13K participants when I say to scrap the gravel road portion of the race. It is difficult enough to run at night without worrying about an uneven surface. A slight adjustment in the course still allows the finish line to remain where it is.

After the race several of us had a late dinner/early breakfast at Picabu's at the Dolphin Hotel…at around 2:30 A.M.

I got back to my room around 3:30 A.M. and after a much welcomed shower hit the pillow about 4 A.M. but never really got into a deep sleep.

I was up at 7:30 and spent the morning strolling around Pop Century in search of information regarding the beginning of the Legendary Years Phase for this resort. All I could find was some refurbishing of the Generation Gap Bridge.

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I called up Disney Dining and was surprised that I was able to make an ADR at Boma for dinner that evening. I was planning to dine with some friends from the United Kingdom who favor the restaurant.

I headed into Epcot and had lunch with Beci Mahnken of MEI & Mouse Fan Travel®
At the Garden Grill in the Land pavilion. It was a very enjoyable and restful lunch.

I then went on a search to locate a special Halloween pin for my wife but came up short.

In the late afternoon I left Epcot and drove over to the Animal Kingdom Lodge where I met my friends for dinner.

We checked into Boma and waited to be called.

When our little gizmo buzzed and flashed we went to the podium where we were surprised to be announced as “Boma Family of the Night.” This meant we were escorted into the restaurant serenaded by drums and were seated at the front center table and made our way to the food before everyone else.

It was a nice final meal for me as Boma is one of my favorite restaurants and my company was exceptional

We then went to Epcot with plans to watch Illuminations before finishing the night at Beaches and Cream where my companions had visions of attacking the Kitchen Sink.

However after seeing the Oh Canada! film I felt the fatigue suddenly hit me. The past two days were finally catching up to me. I knew that sleeping just seven hours over two days while touring the parks and putting in an eight mile race would lead to fatigue at some point. This was that point.

I bid my friends farewell and would see them again in January for the WDW half-marathon.

I passed through the International Gateway and made my way along Boardwalk, stopping to capture my last photograph of the trip.

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It was one of my shortest yet most intense WDW trips because of many factors, mostly of trying to squeeze so much into a few days. If I could have done it over I would not have done the MNSSHP the night before the race. I hope someone besides myself learns from this experience.

However, I came away from the trip with the satisfaction of knowing that I made each moment count as I spent 90% of my time with friends and it seems that more and more that seems to be the most important part of my WDW trips…to share the joy of the Disney culture with those with whom I care about.

One thing for sure….it made me even more excited to look forward to Mousefest.

Speaking of Mousefest

Are you ready? We are less than a month away and those on the Mousefest Organization Committee, Sponsors, and everyone else are working very feverishly to get everything in place for this annual event.

I've been making a list of things I have to do and this is the week I need to complete some tasks.

One of my tasks is to prepare for a new meet this year. It takes place on Thursday, Dec. 6th at 1 P.m. at the Tomorrowland Terrace in the Magic Kingdom. The meet is called “Mousefest 101” and it is geared towards helping first time Mousefest attendees understand what Mousefest is all about and how to get the most out of the event. I will be joined by Mark Goldhaber who is co-hosting the event with me.

If you are coming to your first Mousefest please try and attend this meet. I'm sure it will help you enjoy Mousefest.

A Word about January

We are about eight weeks from the Walt Disney World Half-Marathon.

Where should you be? Well, I'm thinking that for those of you planning to run in your first half-marathon that you should be in the 8-9 mile mark right now.

At this point you should be taking note of your pace.

Over the next few weeks we'll talk about what you should consider as we close in on the race, be it your first half or full marathon.

For now as you get into the 8 or 9 mile workouts consider giving yourself an extra day or two of rest between these workouts. Your body will appreciate the gesture.

Sometime in the next few weeks we will all be receiving race information from the race organizers. This information will include a waiver sheet and a booklet that explains just about all you will need to know about the race.

Keep your eye out for that chunk of mail.

I'll be back in a few days, and that's a promise!


October 20, 2007

Imagine If You Will…

Yes imagine if you will that the end of October is coming fast and that means the Walt Disney World Twilight Zone Tower of Terror races are fast approaching as well.

I hope all of you who are intending to run that day, erh night, are putting together a plan for this and next week; a plan that will best prepare you for your adventure.

As you get closer to race day it's important to look at a schedule that works best for you in preparation for the race. This takes a lot of thought and the plan may vary depending upon such factors as time of year, day and time of the race, and race distance.

The objective is to put together a plan that discusses training within a week of the race, what to bring to Orlando, what you can expect a day or two before the race and on the day of the race and some guidelines and suggestions as to your activities the days before, day of, and day after the race.

I'd like to share with you what my plans are and along the way hopefully get you to think about just how your week will run.

If this were any other typical WDW sponsored race I'd have an easy time planning but it's very atypical. We have Start Time of 9:30 P.M.

Training

When workouts get into the high numbers we all must listen to our bodies and recognize what is best in terms of rest between these workouts. Everyone has a certain threshold in which their body says, "Okay, well if you're going to take me out for this distance then I should warn you that I need X number of days off or I'll be screaming at you."

It gets even more important as you close in on race day. You want to remain finely tuned but you don't want to overtrain or injure yourself.

Only you can determine how many workouts and how many miles in works best for you before race day. What works for me may not work for you and vice versa.

The safe bet is to not throw off your schedule. That is if you run every two days then maintain that schedule for race day. Your body is used to it so there should be no problems.

Running Gear

Just as with any other trip to Walt Disney World it's a good idea to start choosing your travel gear a week ahead of time.

For runners the important thing is choosing the most comfortable running gear for the environment in which you will be running.

If you rotate your running shoes, that is alternate using two pairs and switching them every day, then you may want to continue with this practice. It's probably not a good idea to bring down a brand new pair. They may be too stiff and not broken in.

Bring the pair that you feel is most comfortable and never look back. Your feet will thank you.

Same with socks. Don't experiment with new socks. Use a pair that you know will not cause blisters.

It's late October but it's Florida so bring a nice light pair of shorts and if possible bring a pair that is made with material that will wick the moisture from your body. I always bring two pairs of shorts because some days one pair just feels better than the other.

A short sleeved running shirt will be in order for an evening run in Florida. Long sleeves may be a little warm for you. Again, one made of material that wicks moisture may be something to consider.

Let's mention one more piece of equipment; bring a hat or visor…not to keep the sun out of your eyes but the rain in case Mother Nature wants to slap on yet another challenging component to the race.

This is important especially if you wear glasses or contacts. Imagine running at night and not being able to see where you are running. That notion frightens me.

Internal Clock Adjustment

A 9:30 P.M. start time is quite different than the time I normally run so I have some work to do.

Since I am an early riser I am already adjusting my daily routine so that I get used to staying up later and sleeping as late as I can.

How does the 9:30 P.M. start sit with you? Are you comfortable with it? Do you need to make an adjustment? If so, do it gradually.

If you arrive in Orlando next Thursday then you have two nights to do any late adjustment and might I suggest attending Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party on the 26th and staying out to the wee hours of the morning.

You'll sleep later the next morning and hopefully be well rested for the race that evening.

When to Arrive

That is a matter of preference. I like arriving Wednesday or Thursday for Saturday races. I prefer at least two days to get acclimated to the Florida climate. It's also nice to get settled in and get at least two good nights sleep before the day of the race. Some people prefer to arrive the night before the race. Everyone is different.

Do what's best for you.

Concerns

I have some concerns.

What concerns me is the footing and the lighting for the courses, especially the 13K distance.

Unlike other WDW races I have participated in over the years, this one will find it darker at the Finish than at the Start.

With this in mind, the start time, artificial lighting, and footing concerns have led me to approach this race far differently than any other race.

This is not a race in which I will be shooting for my best time...especially with bigger fish to fry in January. Now is not the time to get hurt.

I would suggest to all who are participating in either the 6.5K or 13K race to not be too concerned about how quickly you cover the distance.

Enjoy yourself and be safe.

Mandatory Packet Pickup -- Updated Location!

This just in from the race corordinators...the location for Packet Pickup has been changed.
Here's the note:

Please note that the mandatory packet pick-up location has changed. Mandatory packet pick-up will now take place at Downtown Disney Pleasure Island in Motion Friday, October 26 from 3pm - 8pm, and on Saturday, October 27 from 10am - 4pm.

If you purchased extra party tickets or a commemorative pin in advance, you may also pick these up during packet pick-up hours. Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 13k & 6.5k event merchandise will be available for sale during packet pick-up, as well as during the race at Disney-MGM Studios.

Reader Tip

My thanks to Chad Swanson who sent me a pointer to Hal Higdon's website.For more information on knee issues and treating them go here. Higdon is the author of Marathon: The Ultimate Training Guide.

When you go to the site navigate to the page that discusses how to train for the specific distance for which you are training.

Thanks Chad.

Meet and Greet?

So how many out there would like to meet after the race and have a group photo taken of us with our medals?

If so please plan to meet near the Tower of Terror sign that leads up to the garden. You know the sign.

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I'm assuming everyone will have finished their respective race by 11:30 so we'll try to gather between then and 11:45.

We'll take a group photo and I also encourage anyone who is doing their first race to send me a photo of themselves proudly showing off their medals. I will proudly post your picture here.

Blogging from Orlando

Speaking of posting, I hope to be posting daily blogs during my ToT trip so don't forget to come visit me here every day beginning late next week. And for those of you going down to run or cheer on the runners please come up and say hi.

…there's a signpost up ahead…it says, “Next Stop! The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 13K race.”

Woo-hoo.

October 6, 2007

Addressing 13.109375 Miles

I remember a long time ago when I started running that I had no idea as to what it took to run several miles. I remember being in awe that my High School track team had a few guys that could run two whole miles.

I remember thinking to myself, “Man that's something I'd never be able to do.”

Such are the thoughts of a husky high school track man who tossed a cannonball (shot put), Frisbee (discus), and spear (javelin) for his track team while his teammates just ran, ran, ran.

Of course distance, and the difficulty of running a distance, is all in the eye of the beholder.

Two miles seemed like an awfully long distance to run. I figured I'd have to lose 100 pounds and eat only celery and carrots for a year to be able to run that distance.

About ten years later I started running and I remember that it took me forever to get to the 5K (3.1 miles) distance. When I did get to that distance I remember saying to myself, “So what's the big deal?”

I had not passed out when reaching three miles…I had not collapsed from exhaustion or dried up from thirst. More importantly, in my mind I had realized that it wasn't just a physical hurdle but a mental hurdle as well that had stood in my way of attempting this distance.

I then went out one day and decided to try and run four miles.

Piece of cake.

I had finally understood that long distance running was very much linked to the working cooperation of the mind, body, and spirit.

You need all three to accomplish whatever distance you want to attack.

The Mind

When I say the mind I mean lots of things. First and foremost you have to believe in yourself that you can cover the distance you set out to run. This means confidence or self-esteem or whatever you want to call it. Basically you have to believe in yourself and say, “I can do it.” Although the mind is only one of the three components it definitely means more than 33% of the formula. Without confidence in yourself you don't have a chance.

I'm serious.

For everyone who is attempting to run their first half-marathon my belief is that all would not have committed to this feat unless they had some confidence, no matter how small or how large, that they could do it.

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You know what they say, “If you put your mind to it…”

The Body

Obviously this is the physical part of the formula. You have to train for the distance. You just can't walk to the Start on race day and expect to be able to do it without paying your dues beforehand.

When it comes to the body part of the equation, and by that I mean the training aspect, it's very much like a marathon in itself. When you train for a long distance race it takes time to gradually build your stamina and strength to the point where you can safely attack this objective.

Of course this is much easier accomplished when you have the self-confidence and belief that you can do this.

The mind, belief, confidence, or whatever you want to call it, serves as the catalyst in this adventure and helps to launch a sensible and steady as she goes training program.

Then the body or physical component comes into play with the training required to fulfill the mind's belief.

Once you have the confidence and the stamina established all you need is a little spirit to get the job done.

The Spirit

The word “spirit” to me means emotion, excitement, adrenalin, call it whatever you want. Let's face it; none of us want to do boring things. Doing either the Walt Disney World Half of Full Marathon is far from being boring.

As a matter of fact I would go as far as to say that somewhere in the neighborhood of 75% of those who do either one of these races will find the experience to rank up there as one of the top ten highlights of their life.

Sure it's boring to train all year and get ready for the race but there is a pot of gold at the end of this training rainbow and it is the very indescribable race day.

It's surreal, it's exciting, it's thrilling, it's a rush…I'm running out of words to describe what you will feel on that day.

My point is that EMOTION will play a big part in this adventure and EMOTION will carry you to success and will supplement the Body and Mind portion of this formula.

Sure I call it spirit…but its emotion.

You need all three…Mind (confidence), Body, (physical stamina), and Spirit (emotion) working as a team to get you to the Finish.

About the Distance

A half-marathon is 13.109379 miles. That seems a long way doesn't it?

I remember talking to a lot of people going for their first half-marathon and constantly hearing “I don't know! 13 miles is a long way!”

Yeah…it is…but don't think of it that way…don't picture it as a mountain you can climb but instead…see it as several hills.

Huh?

Yeah….hills…they are much less ominous.

While training for my first half-marathon I remember stretching after a 9.5 mile run and thinking, “Hmm, I still have to run another 4 miles or so to get to the half-marathon distance. Gee it's like running several 5K races.”

When I thought about that I said, “That's it! I just ran three 5Ks…all I have to do is run one more.”

I also thought about how it takes me several miles to warm up…namely four and thought, “Heck, once I'm warmed up all I have to do is eight miles.”

So then I was thinking in terms of not only four 5K runs but three 4-mile runs.

Then when I looked at the course and saw that basically it was a 10K from EPCOT to The Magic Kingdom and 10K back to EPCOT I thought, “It's also only 10K distances and the first one is running to TMK so that should be fun.”

I kept on viewing the distance differently than THIRTEEN MILES…trying to suppress the thought of covering a double-digit distance (DDD).

DDDs can really deflate your confidence so you need to look at them differently.

So when you address either the half-marathon or marathon distance think of it in terms of several components and try to focus on one component at a time….it's easy to look at several hills than one huge mountain.

That approach helped me tremendously in getting over the mental hurdle of running that distance.

Remember, the physical hurdle pales in comparison to the mental hurdle.

Mike's Training Notebook

Well, it's October and the Tower of Terror 6.5K and 13K races are fast approaching.

The 13K race serves well as a milestone for those training for the WDW Half-marathon as the 8.2 mile course should be in line with what everyone is running these days on their long runs.
For myself I have been hit with some knee issues lately and these issues have forced me to cut back a bit on my training.

While dealing with these issues I thought it best to discuss them here in case some of you are also having some problems.

For those of you who may be experiencing some discomfort or soreness please listen to your body. It may be telling you that you are running too much…actually, it may be a sign that you are now running distances that require you to reassess your training schedule and perhaps extend your time between runs.

For instance, I know that my knee likes to remind me that once I hit the seven mile threshold that I need to rest at least 48 hours before running again…otherwise I'm in trouble.

So I listen.

Everyone has a threshold and when you get into the longer distances you need to recognize your threshold as soon as possible and adjust accordingly.

In the last two weeks my runs have been mostly in the seven to eight mile range but this week I put in a 10 miler and it had been a while (like since January) since I had compiled a DDD so I had to be careful, especially with my knee being sore anyway.

So I gave myself 96 hours off before running again.

I know my knee would appreciate my decision as well as the preventative maintenance I've been following this last month.

It's called “icing down the knee” and it would not hurt everyone to consider this as we close in on the end of the year.

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Major League baseball pitchers are usually wearing a ton of ice on their shoulder and elbow after a game to keep down the possibility of injury to those joints. Ice will cool down the joints and go a long way towards preventing inflammation.

Remember that if you are bringing your body into uncharted territory (DDDs) then you have no idea how it will respond to the rigors of long distance running.

We do know however that icing down after a workout is a good idea so play it safe and ice down and be sure to give yourself plenty of rest between workouts.

For more information on knee issues and treating them go here.

Next Time

We'll concentrate on the ToT races and put together a plan that discusses what to bring to Orlando, what you can expect a day or two before the race and on the day of the race and we'll also look at what you may want to follow as a guideline regarding your activities the day before and the day after the race.


September 15, 2007

Can I Do It?

In a few weeks we will be within 100 days of The Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend. As this century mark approaches I'm beginning to sense some anxiety out there.

No I'm not a psychic but I do receive quite a few emails that all seem to echo the same cry. Many of you are asking yourselves if you can really do your first half-marathon.

It's only natural to wonder about such a feat as running some 13 plus miles so let's talk about how we are going to accomplish this quest.

I've gone through this too so I know what's going through your minds.

One of the questions I remember asking myself was exactly in the words at the top of this entry, “Can I Do It?”

Sometimes you need to nudge yourself or challenge yourself in order to accomplish something you have never dreamed of ever doing.

Regardless of whether you are a novice or seasoned runner, doing your first half or full marathon is a bit ominous and can generate some anxiety.

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Anxiety Thresholds

I think there are several thresholds of anxiety that come into play. Let's explore them:

Pace Anxiety " This is above all the biggest worry for most first time half-marathoners. Its one thing to complete the distance but to maintain a minimum pace just adds another layer of concern. We'll address this concern in the next few weeks and talk about the best ways to increase your pace and to avoid the dreaded sweep bus.

Run Anxiety " This is the anxiety I had to deal with during my initial training for this distance. I had this personal goal of running the entire distance. My fear was that my stamina would fail me and I would have to walk a portion of the race. I have great admiration for anyone who can cover the distance walking in the allotted pace. I can't do it. To this day I have this run anxiety and my way of dealing with it is simply to run as slow as I have to so as to conserve enough energy to run the entire course.

Distance Anxiety " Let's face it, 13 miles is quite a distance to run, walk, or run/walk and for anyone who has never even come close to a double-digit distance, it's downright daunting. We'll need to address this anxiety later in this blog. One thing I want everyone to keep in mind is that the mental aspect of covering this distance plays a key in the ever important area of confidence. Once you have convinced yourself mentally that it's in your grasp then the rest is easy.

Injury Anxiety " If you've never done anything quite like this before then you may not know what to expect once everything is over. You could be concerned that you may be setting yourself up for some health issues. The best thing to do is to do the best job preparing for the event and take some steps in the post race hours to insure there are no recovery issues. We'll talk about this as well and I can speak from experience as to the right and the wrong things to do before and after the race.

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Distance Anxiety

For now, let's talk about this distance anxiety.

Some of you have asked if it is necessary to be able to cover the half-marathon distance during your training for the race. That is, should you at one point go out and actually run the 13.2 miles?

That is a very difficult question to answer.

When I was training for my first half-marathon my training goal was to get to the point where I would run no more than 9 or 10 miles. I did not want to over train.

I must confess however that I did cover the distance a few months before the race; but it was purely accidental and was not planned…which makes it a not so smart thing to do. I went out on Labor Day 2005 for a leisurely run. When I went out to run that day I wasn't concerned about time or distance and just decided to take it easy. It's important to keep in mind I never intended to run more than 8 miles.

I ended up running 13.6 miles. How did it happen? Well when I approached the 8 mile mark I felt good so I decided to go another mile. This happened for several miles and when I finally returned home from my run I had covered well over 13 miles.

I was excited but at the same time a bit concerned. My concern stemmed from what my body was telling me. I was pretty tired, not sore, but tired, and my legs were shaking a bit. I had not prepared to do this distance on this day…had not spent the last day or two adding a few more carbs to my diet nor had I hydrated more so than usual and my body was basically telling me, “Mike, we need to talk. You have to let me know about these things!”

I was very tired. I was curious as to just how many calories I had burned I went to this calorie burner calculator and plugged in the data.

I had burned more calories during my run than I take in on an average day. No wonder I was dragging.

Although I was somewhat dehydrated, quite tired, and very hungry I thought to myself, “Well I know I can run this distance,”

But I also realized something else.

I realized that if I had left the house that day planning to run that distance that I probably would not have been able to do it. I wasn't ready to tell myself; “Okay, today I do 13 miles!” In an actual race adrenalin takes over and adrenalin did play a part in my run that day but it was not a factor until I had 8 miles behind me.

Walt Disney World races have this uncanny knack of pumping adrenalin through you before, during, and after the race. This adrenalin plays a huge factor in everyone's ability to finish their race.

I also realized that I didn't have to run that distance to prove to myself that I could do the distance.

That's so important for everyone to understand.

You don't have to cover the distance prior to race day.

Last year while training for the 2007 Half-Marathon I never went beyond 8 miles in any run and from Thanksgiving thru New Year's I ran but 12 times and averaged 7-8 miles a run.

So my advice to everyone who is training to run their first half-marathon to seriously think about capping off their training distance at 9 or 10 miles and here are my reasons.

• You don't want to over train. Believe me, this is very important. My philosophy is that if I'm going to over train at all it will happen during my race. I won't risk injury before race day.

• You are in unchartered territory. If you've never run these distances before then you don't know what your body requires in terms of recovery. It's a learning experience which means that it's a gradual learning curve so no leaps.

• The adrenalin factor. Believe me when I tell you that adrenalin will play a part in your race day performance. It will give you an energy boost. That adrenalin rush is hard to come by during your training. Besides, if you wait until race day to cover the miles and then realize you're about to do it, the rush is even greater. Wait for it.

• Disappointment. That's right. You are more likely to FAIL at running the distance during training than you are during the race. Do you need that? If you try to cover the 13 plus miles and come up short by a few miles you will doubt yourself on race day. Don't take that chance.

Trust me!

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Mike's Training Notebook

Well my 10-day trip to Walt Disney World has reaped havoc on my training. Prior to the trip I was at 7 miles. I am now at 5 miles and I have the 8.2 mile Tower of Terror race to run in Orlando on October 27th. On top of that I am having knee issues with my left knee.

This means I have to allow for more off days yet build up my stamina. If you experience any pain then take precautions to prevent it from getting any worse and spread out your workouts.

For me I ice down my knee for 20-30 minutes after my run and I'm giving the knee a 72 hour rest between workouts.

So my new plan is to run one day and take two days off. Each day I run, however, I will extend my run by about 3-5 minutes.

By mapping out this strategy on paper I can see that I'll be in the 7 " 8 mile range by late October.

I will practice what I preach and not push myself to do the 8 miles prior to race day. If it happens it happens but I'm confident that if I am at 6 or 7 miles by the day I take off for Orlando then I should be ready.

For those of you who aren't aware, the Tower of Terror race course maps have been posted. Go here to see the 6.5K Course Map and here for the 13K Course Map.

Next Time

Next time we'll talk about how to approach the half-marathon distance so it does not seem so daunting. There are some tricks you can use to ease your distance anxiety.

We'll also talk a bit about how to relieve your pace anxiety. Pace and distance anxiety go hand in hand.

Happy running

August 22, 2007

Day 8 – A Very Sunny Sunday

Put your hands together because I actually got out of bed on this morning at around 5:30, put on my running gear and went out at 5:45 to run around the resort.

It had been at least a week since my last workout and I had no idea what to expect. My whole body was screaming at me until I hit Alligator Bayou over at Port Orleans Riverside.

I ended up running a bit over 40 minutes and felt great at the end of the run. However I am definitely behind schedule for the Tower of Terror 13K and when I return home I will be working hard to train for that race.

I had finished my run, showered, and got dressed in time for us to shoot over to EPCOT for Extra Magic Hour Morning

Here's the latest on the deconstruction of Mickey's arm/wand from Spaceship Earth.

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There were two lines to get into EPCOT. We got into the line on the right side…it went almost to the bus depot….want to see?

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The lines moved fairly fast.

Once we got in we went over to Soarin' and grabbed a FastPass and then went in line. For the third time in a row Carol got us top row center. I may have to start renting her out to folks who want that top row center experience.

After Soarin' we had a light breakfast and then rode “Living with the Land” to kill some time before using our Soarin' FPs.

This time our luck ran out and we ended up center but second row instead of top row.

By the way, the next time you experience Soarin' I suggest you watch the screen very carefully. If you count only 8 hot air balloons then you are not watching close enough.

If you do not see six fighter jets then you are not watching closely enough.

We walked over to see Nemo and Crush. Does anyone else out there just love that Starfish?

From there we went over to visit Figment. We took in “Honey I Shrunk the Audience" since it was the Imagination Institute's annual....

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We then walked back to the Land for lunch at the Garden Grill. We were early so we watch “Circle of Life” first.

Then we had lunch with farmer Mickey…

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After lunch we visited Innoventions. We checked out the Rockin' Robots

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…we played that IBM game and that pizza game (think goodness it was virtual pizza) and a few other things before checking out Mouse Gear. You never know when a neat new WDW shirt will show up.

Now since this was a surprise birthday trip for Carol I tried to get ADRs for all of her favorite restaurants. In order to do so I had to sometimes book meals a bit close together….like a late lunch and early dinner.

This was one of those days. We tried to eat light for lunch because we were going to the Kona Café for dinner.

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We got into the car to drive over and when I started the car up look what I saw on my rear view mirror…

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That explains the two glasses of ice tea and two glasses of water I had at lunch.

We drove over to the Polynesian Resort. My three favorite resorts are Pop Century, Port Orleans, and the Polynesian Resort.

Here's a cute picture.

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Look again, the tiki on the left is outside and the tiki on the right is inside.

Did I mention why the Polynesian Resort is one of my favorite resorts? A picture is worth a thousand words.

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Let me take this opportunity to put in a good word for the Kona Café. It is one of the better restaurants in all of WDW and especially when it comes to teriyaki ANYTHING.

It is one of the few sit-down restaurants in WDW I love so much I will actually dine there alone when I do solo research trips. The bread is very decadent.

So Carol and I are eating and we are thinking about where to go and what to do next. The heat of the day (remember what the mirror said) had really taken some energy out of us so we decided to return to POFQ and do some laundry and check up on email and try to recoup some of that energy that the sun was draining from us.

Besides tomorrow was Carol's birthday. You always want to be well refreshed when waking up in WDW on your birthday.


August 11, 2007

Taking a Break

How appropriate that MagicMeets interrupted my training regimen.

This “stop in the action” reminded me that no matter how hard we try to maintain our routines that sometimes scheduled and unscheduled events will impact these routines.

Events could be in the form of vacation, a crazy work schedule, or something unexpected that plays havoc with our daily or weekly routine.

So when that happens what should we do? How do we get back? More importantly, what should we NOT do?

Well, again I need to emphasize that everyone is different and what works for me may not work for you and vice versa. Above all play it cautious to avoid a setback.

So when we run into these times when we find our training interrupted what is the first thing we should do?

The first thing is to accept the fact that you should not expect to immediately pick up where you left off.

I'll use my own experience as an example.

The day before leaving for MagicMeets I had a very good run in the five to six mile range and felt pretty good after the run.

However, between the drive down, my several days there, and the drive back I really hadn't run except for maybe a 2 mile jog one morning.

When I returned home I was ready to resume my training.

This had to be done right. Too many times in the past I got a little too anxious and ambitious upon coming off a “break in the action.”

What resulted was a setback as I asked my body to perform like a machine that just needed to be turned on again…no, it doesn't work that way.

My rule of thumb is that the amount of time you take off from your training should dictate the amount of time you should take to get back to where you were before the interruption took place.

Again, this works for me….but I can tell you that it also seems to work for a lot of friends of mine…so maybe there is something to this philosophy.

So my plan was to take about a week to get back to where I was before the interrupt.

How?

Well I think that most of us are capable of at least going out and running at least ½ of what we were doing before the interrupt.

For me I went out and ran 5K (3.1) miles for my first day, then, as each day came I added not miles but time to my workout. I added about five minutes per day and within seven days I was pretty close to where I was prior to my trek to Magicmeets.

I was prepared to stretch it out to 10 days if need be but I listened to my body at the end of every day and it told me I was moving along slowly enough so not to worry.

I just didn't want to try and take one step forward prematurely and have that result in two steps back.

So just a little tip that could go a long way…don't rush back too soon…you may end up injuring yourself.

Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 6.5K/13K Course

I do have a lot of work to do as the TZTOT 13K is only about 2 ½ months away.

I've revised my training plan so that I will be in the 6-7 mile range or better by the end of August.

As a matter of fact, I have recently gone out and run 7 miles so I'm already there. It's just a matter of getting used to doing 7 miles once or twice a week, while doing a few shorter runs the other two or three times I go out.

It doesn't hurt to assess your training schedule and adjust it accordingly.

For those of you who are planning to participate in the 6.5K (4.1 miles) or 13K (8.2 miles) events you may be interested to know that there is some “noise” about the course being posted sometime soon.

As soon as this happens I will let you know as I'm curious as to exactly where we will be going.

Some of you have emailed me and have asked if I have any idea as to exactly where the course will take us.

My best guess is that the course will essentially be a double-back course that is normally used for the Race for the Taste except that we will not finish in EPCOT.

Here is a description of the course taken from the TZTOT 13K Event Info page:

The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror™ 13K is an 8.1 mile night-time road race that will end in the shadows of The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror attraction at the Disney-MGM Studios. The course will also feature Disney's Wide World of Sports® Complex, before returning to Disney-MGM Studios where the course will feature the Lights, Motors, Action™ Extreme Stunt Show and then down New York Street, past the Sorcerer's Hat, to an unforgettable finish at The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror™.

I expect that due to the overwhelming response that we will all begin the race in the MGM Studios parking lot. My inclination is to believe that again, due to the number of participants, we will then continue along outside the park to Disney's World of Sports.

When we get to Disney's World of Sports we may find the course eventually heading back to MGM Studios, however here's where we are looking at two different ways of entering the park.

One option is to enter through the back entrance of MGM near the Tower of Terror. There is an access back there and other races have used. As you enter the park the Tower is on your left.

The other entry is from the other side of the park in which the participants will run through Lights! Motors! Action! Stunt Show and then through the backstage area before running down the Big City Streets area and then over near “Buy the Book” and the Sci-Fi Drive-In Restaurant, past the Commissary and then run clockwise around the Sorcerer's Hat in front of TGMR then either over to Indy Jones and then to Sunset Blvd or go directly from the hat to Sunset Blvd.

I would think that the finish line would be in the park although I have never run in a WDW race in which the finish line was inside the park. Usually the runners are crossing a finish line in that park's parking lot.

Well, let's hope we soon find out…I'm excited.

But I need to get back to my training.

But before I go let me address this “take a break” issue a bit further. It really is important for anyone training to give their body a rest when your body “talks” to you.

If you find that your legs, knees, ankles, feet, or back give you pain then take a day off and give those areas some rest.

Pain speaks volumes.

Here's another indicator that you need a day off. Remember our discussion on watches and how evil they can be? Well, they can be your friend too.

Once you have settled into a comfortable pace for yourself you will begin to notice if during a run whether or not your normal pace is in fact happening.

If after two miles you notice that your pace is off by at least a minute then you are overtraining and your body is telling you that it needs a day or two off to replenish and rest.

I guarantee you that if you rest from time to time then you will find your training to be a lot easier and also more productive.

Listen to your body. You don't have to run every day.

Take a break.

Blogging from Orlando

That's right! I'm taking this blog to Orlando for a week or so and plan on blogging a bit more frequently while down there. So if you are in need of a WDW fix I hope I can help fill that need.

It looks to be hot while I'm there so you just KNOW that I'll have to be sure to keep my body hydrated.

Can you guess what I will depend upon to keep me hydrated?

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Like there was any doubt!

Happy training!

August 4, 2007

Your Running Identify

As most of you are now into your own running program it's probably a good time for you to take a look at yourself and see what kind of a runner you are.

Discovering your running identity is important because it will help you to understand how your body works as a machine when you train or run.

Once you have identified your running identity you will also be aware of what to expect from your body regardless of the distance you will run in upcoming races.

It also does wonders for your confidence because you will feel better about yourself simply because you will know more about your limitations.

Here are the three running identities.

The Turtle

Okay, the connotation that comes to mind is the word “slow” but that's not what I am implying here. The turtle is known for having one speed and one speed only. It's not slow and it's not fast but steady.

This identity has nothing to do with pace it's just that there are runners out there who are pretty consistent when they run; never wavering from a basic pace.

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These runners will run close to the same pace regardless of whether they're running a 5K distance or even a marathon with maybe a slightly slower pace for the longer distances.

I've known many people like this and the one thing I have noticed is that most of these runners all have the same pre-race routine. This routine includes some special warming up and stretching exercises. Thus for the beginning of every run they are in their own designated warm-up state.

During their runs mile one will be covered in the same time or within a few seconds as miles, two, three, four, and so on. Consistency is the key word here. There is no significant speeding up or slowing down for these folks. “Steady as she goes!” is their battle cry.

These runners fall into a rhythm and never leave this rhythm.

This works for a lot of people because to them it is an injury prevention approach to running. That is, you are less likely to pull a muscle or hamstring or injure yourself if you maintain a steady pace. For some people it's natural to have a steady pace and for others they actually work at it.

So are you a turtle?

The Rabbit

If you're wondering the answer is “Yes, this runner's identity has a lot to do with speed.”

I'm sure you've heard people say, “Oh he's the rabbit for this race.”

The rabbit is that type of runner who starts out fast. For the first portion of the race this runner is untouchable, the pace is quick, as if this runner is shot out of a cannon.

In some cases the rabbit is there not to win but to help a friend or, in team competition, to help his teammates.

For instance let's say you are a running coach and you have a team of several runners with their own specialty.

As a coach you might throw in your two-miler specialist in a 10K race to speed up the pace for your 10K runners and perhaps subliminally get them to run faster.

Rabbits don't always win…in fact they hardly win.

Why? Well, let's face it; you cannot keep up that pace for too long.

Many times I've seen rabbits in races, including all the races I've ever participated in at Walt Disney World.

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These runners zip by me during the first or second mile but for the most part cannot keep up that early pace and soon settle down to a more comfortable pace.

Rabbits run the risk of injury especially if they do not warm up before a race. If you start off fast then your muscles and body should be well warmed up to best avoid a pulled muscle.

One of the reasons I am glad I'm not a rabbit is that I would not just worry about injury but I would worry about running out of gas before covering the race distance.

I'm not a rabbit…are you?

The Snowball

That's me. I'm a snowball. That is my running identity.

I didn't realize I was a snowball until one day some 30 years ago while running in a local 5K race. At each mile marker there was a race official yelling out the split times as we crossed each marker.

When I hit the second and the third mile splits I noticed that my times were quite different. How different? Well my third mile was over a minute faster than my first mile.

Ever since that race I started to pay attention to this aspect of my running and to this very day the same holds true for any distance I run. The first mile is always my toughest mile and I think it has a lot to do with my preference to use that first mile as my warm-up time.

During the 2006 Walt Disney World Half-Marathon I noticed that the difference was even greater. My first mile was something like 95 seconds slower than miles two through five.

So why do I use the term snowball? Well, picture yourself standing at the top of a mountain and making a snowball and rolling it down the mountain. It starts off slowly and gradually picks up speed. That's what some runners do as well.

akr0017.jpg

For those types of runners there is a certain point in every workout where their running rhythm begins to click and they actually go on something that they call “autopilot.” When you hit that point and everything is working well…your breathing, your muscles, everything, it is at that time that you're probably running at your optimum speed.

So when you start a race you'll have all three kinds of runners and what you will see is the rabbit who leads the pack from the start and running like there's no tomorrow. Then there is the turtle that is very consistent and maintains a steady pace throughout the race.

Then you have the snowball who is nothing like the turtle but sort of a reverse rabbit…maybe we should call this runner a “tibbar” or rabbit in reverse.

You're body and its approach to exercise, stamina, and running determines what kind of a runner you are. I don't subscribe to the philosophy that says you can adjust your identity to whatever you want it to be.

It's a natural thing so embrace whatever identity you are because it's what's best for you.

So which identity fits your running style?

Mike's Training Diary

The dogs days of summer are upon us and we al have to be real careful that we don't over do our training.

Heat and humidity can do a job on you so constantly hydrate yourself all day.

I'm presently trying to run every day but alternating long days and short days. I had to do a little catching up due to some time off I took will at Magicmeets. We'll talk a bit about that in my next visit.

I am closing in on six miles and this puts me right on schedule for the TZTOT race in October. My pace is also settling down into what is normal for me.

The pace is not as important as stamina. I have a good idea as to how long I need to be able to run by October's race and that is my objective.

We have so much to discuss between now and October and now and January.

One important discussion is what I call “Taking a Break” and we'll discuss this next time.

Happy running everyone.

July 9, 2007

Routines: Part II

We have talked about the pros and cons of running in the morning. The morning running routine is definitely for morning people who, like me, love to jog in the pre-dawn hours and ward off the creatures of the morning.

But if morning runs don't work for you let's look at another option: the mid-day routine.

For many years I maintained this type of routine. At the time, it was probably the best routine for me. I worked for a company that encouraged physical fitness so every building had a locker room and shower facility.

What was also important was that I really didn't need to punch a clock. Whenever I wanted to take time off during the day to run I could do so.

I usually would run either just before or just after the traditional lunch hour…mostly after wards because I hated crowded locker rooms.

I would hit the locker room at about the time everyone was just buttoning their last button or lacing their last shoelace to return to work.

It made for a long morning but if I went out somewhere between 12:30 and 1:00 I would usually get back to my desk sometime around 2. Of course in those days I was not training for a half-marathon so my runs were usually no more than one hour long.

What is nice about a mid-day routine is that it allows you the best chance of training all year long…something quite difficult for the morning routine.

In the dead of winter the best time to run is during mid day when it's probably the warmest….and you can see your footing.

Not so in the early morning hours….cold temps mean more layers and also a greater chance of “Whoops!” icy spills.

For a lot of people being up and about for a few hours is just as important as stretching.

For many the mid-day routine works best for them because they can function best at that time of the day.

The other thing to keep in mind is fuel. If you run during mid-day then you at least would have had breakfast so you've got some “fuel in the engine”…not so when you run in the morning.

Not to be forgotten is the Sun. Some people hate to run in the Sun while others draw energy from it…if you are among the latter then this may be the right routine for you.

Are there drawbacks?
Let's see.

Well it DOES interrupt your day and for some people that is not a good thing. However others prefer that “break in the action” and gets them through the day knowing that they will be able to give themselves that special time they need each day.

Another drawback to the mid-day means that those lunch hour errands are now shoved to the end of the day. There's a domino effect here…if you do those errands after work then that chunk of errand time will delay your getting home.

Running during the day also means you must allow time to pack your running gear in the morning before you leave for work. Of course you could do this at night instead of the morning.

The other thing to consider is traffic. Now unless you are living in some rural area or near a track that you can run on you are going to have to deal with traffic which means dodging these vehicles with which you must share the road. This also leads to another health issue; exhaust fumes.

So that's about it for the mid-day routine.

Does that work for you?

There's one more option and that of course is the late day routine.
This workout time could be right after work or even later than that.

Let's look at the pros and cons of this option.

A late-day routine allows you to work out the stress of the day. Many people look forward to their late-day workouts for that very reason.

Also for some they need to have most of their day behind them before they can relax and work out. If there are things on their mind then it takes away from the enjoyment of the workout….sort of like “unfinished business” that needs to be taken care of before the workout can begin.

We have talked about fuel. If you do your running late in the day then you have already enjoyed two meals and should have plenty of energy to burn. If you are someone who needs that fuel then the late day routine will work best for you.

The drawbacks are pretty obvious. There are more people out and about in the late afternoon and early evening so crowds and traffic may be an issue.

Of course with traffic comes the exhaust fumes problem too, unless you do your running on a treadmill or a track.

One of the drawbacks of a late day routine is it's vulnerability to being bumped. That is, sometimes a day comes along in which one thing leads to another and the whole day gets put out of whack, especially your best laid plans to run.

The later in the day you do your routine the more likelihood of that routine being wiped out simply because of delays or unforeseen issues that force you to cancel your workout.

Finally, the late-day routine may not prove to be a good choice because there will be those days that just wear you out to the point where you are just in no condition to do any running.

I'm sure there are a many other pros and cons I've overlooked regarding morning, mid-day, and late-day running schedules.

What's important to note here is that regardless of what I do or your neighbor does or your friends do it's what works best for you and your schedule that will offer you the best chance for success.

If you're not sure which routine works for you then give each one a chance. This means trying a routine for a full week before passing judgment on that routine.

Also, don't forget that even combo routines will work for you….maybe a few morning runs…then a few mid-day runs…then late day runs. You may even find that your work week routines are different than your weekend routines.

You make the choice and stick with it.

Next time we'll talk about runner identities…I'm a snowball.

What about you?

Mike's Running Journal

For those of you training for either the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 13K and/or the 2008 Walt Disney World half or full Marathon I thought I'd let you know where I am in my training.

I'm currently running about 5 miles every other day. Each time I go out I am adding anywhere from 1/10 of a mile to 2/10 of a mile to my distance. Actually I'm not adding distance as much as I am adding time.

Each time out on my “on” days I am adding one more minute to my workout. That amounts to about 3 to 4 minutes each week.

It's a gradual build but it works wonders for the stamina and I am beginning to see some subtle gains in my pace. On my “off” days I just run between 2 and 3 miles.

I am about 65-70% ready for the Tower of Terror 13K race (about 14 weeks away) and 40-45% ready for the half-marathon (about 27 weeks away)..

I'll revisit these numbers each time we meet and I encourage you to take a look at where you currently are in your training as well and if necessary revise or adjust your training to be sure you are ready for your targeted race.

MagicMeets 2007

MagicMeets is less than a week away. I plan to be there and am pretty excited to see everyone.

If you are going to MagicMeets please stop by and say hello, especially if you are intending to run in either the Tower 13K race in October or the WDW half or full marathon in January.

Harrisburg, here I come!

July 1, 2007

Routines: Part 1

We are all creatures of habit so it becomes quite a challenge for us to start a running program that impacts our daily or weekly routine.

But before you begin your new routine you need to figure out how best to transition into it.

If we are talking about adopting a serious running program in which you will approach 25+ miles per week then the planning process becomes a bit more involved.

So what do you do?

The first thing you do is to create a “routine calendar” which basically is a document that gives you a snapshot of your present routine.

This calendar should represent a typical week for you.

It should include…

…sleeping habits such as about what time to you go to bed at night and what time you wake up in the morning…

…eating habits such as how many times you eat during the day, when you eat, and how long you usually take to eat…

…the time you leave for work and when you leave work to come home and what time you get home…

…when you do shopping, any type of shopping like grocery shopping or clothes shopping…

…those special nights which you have designated as “date” night or dining out night…

…nights for watching your favorite television shows…

…days and times you presently visit the gym…

…family times that are set aside each week…

…house and garden chores like laundry, mowing the lawn, etc.

Quite a lot to think about isn't there?

Let's not forget weekends.
Weekends are important to note because we all have our Monday to Friday routines which hardly change but the weekend routines can vary. Do the best you can for Saturday and Sunday.

By now you are thinking, “Mike aren't you going a little bit overboard with this calendar thing?”

The answer is definitely not because I cannot tell you how many friends have told me that they had to abolish any thoughts of running because they just could not “fit it into” their schedule.

In most instances they would from time to time try to get in some running but never could find themselves getting into a good rhythm.

Now this is due to one of two things, either they really have a difficult schedule and would find it impossible to figure out any kind of routine adjustment to help them get into a running program or they really weren't serious about running in the first place.

So if you are serious about running this hopefully will help you get started.

So what do you do with this calendar once you've finished putting it together?

Look for gaps. That is, are there blocks of unoccupied time that jump out at you? For instance does it seem like every day there is one hour, the same hour that is always open?

If so, is it a time during the day when you could see yourself being able to get your gear on, do your miles, clean up and get back into your day? If so you may want to think about that possibility.

As you look at your calendar is there anyway you can shift some of your weekly errands or chores so as to adjust the week so that you have a consistent block or open time for at least three days a week?

Only you can answer that question.

For most people there are three choices for when they do their running.

For some people, like me, the choice is the morning option. This works well for those people who consider themselves “morning people.” I happen to be one of those people and I do most of my running in the morning, the early morning.

The early morning option is best for me because nothing else can interfere with my routine. If my first action of the day is to go out and get my running in then that means unless I oversleep there will be no “domino effect” from other events that will endanger my routine.

It does make for a long day as my job roles now include waking up all the roosters in town to make sure they announce the coming of the next day. I probably should get a paper route and earn a little extra cash.

Morning runs have pros and cons.

Running in the morning means breathing in fresh air, especially if you run before rush hour begins.

Running in the early morning in the summer means you avoid high temperatures.

Running in the morning gets your heart pumping and gives you a jump start for the day.

However there are some drawbacks.

If you run in the morning that means you need to get up in time to stretch and get your body ready for exercise. You just cannot jump out of bed and fly out the door…not good.

Running in the morning means cold temps during the fall, winter, and spring months so then the question is how cold is too cold to run?

Another occupational hazard of running in the morning is the company you run into.

I happen to live in New Hampshire and some of the courses I run go into some real rural areas.

I've been running in the morning for about 10 years now and I have had some interesting close calls.

One morning while running I was hailed down by one of my town's finest because he wanted me to know that 15 minutes earlier there was a black bear sighting just a ¼ mile from where we were talking. Thank you officer.

Another morning I was running and an old farmer drove up to me in his 90 year old pickup truck to warn me about a moose he had spotted down the road and that the moose had it's offspring with it. I changed my direction.

One time I was running and as I turned the corner I was surprised to see what I thought was a cardboard cutout, in great detail mind you, of a beautiful deer with magnificent antlers.

The cardboard cutout took off.

Another morning I remember running and as I approached a slight hill I thought I had seen a beautiful white cat walking along the side of the road…until I got close enough to see it was a white skunk.

I crossed onto the other side of the street.

Of course it wouldn't be New Hampshire if I didn't see an occasional wild turkey or I should say several wild turkeys out for a stroll.

We grow them tall up here so they can be brazen.

There are two instances that will always be at the top of my memory regarding my morning runs.

The first one happened about five years ago. I was running on an early Sunday morning, around 5 A.M. or so. There were no cars on the road.

As I was into my second mile I was in a somewhat rural area and as I made my way around a bend I noticed what was either a wolf or a coyote crossing the road. I always forget which of the two is the larger animal but I can tell you this four legged creature was the size of a Great Dane.

Luckily this animal did not see, hear, or smell me. I'm not sure if we would have had a confrontation but I wasn't about to encourage one. I did an immediate about face and backtracked. My pace was pretty good that morning.

So, does it sound like you want to run in the morning?

Let me tell you one more story.

This took place about three years back during October. Now, as you can imagine, it's at 5 A.M. in October so it's still dark and a bit chilly.

My plan was to run somewhere between three and four miles that morning.

I'm into my first mile and everything seemed to be normal except that as I turned up one road I heard something I had never heard before, a wolf howling.

I thought that was pretty cool.

I saw this as entertainment and wondered to myself how long this entertainment would last.

It didn't last long. After a few minutes it stopped.

Then I thought, “Wait! Wolves howl only while standing still or sitting down so that means…”

A slight wave of fear came over me. Was this howler on the move and would he have any reason to want to join me on my run?

I didn't know but these are the things that go through your mind on a dark road on a dark morning after hearing a wolf howl….and then stop his crooning.

From the moment the howling stopped I frantically looked around for something like a broken tree branch to make my trusty companion.

I found something to give me a bit of confidence if things got a bit exciting.

What I remember most however is that for the rest of my run I found my head swiveling around like that of an owl trying to be sure I was not going to be caught be surprise.

Most of the time I kept looking over my right shoulder.

Nothing happened but since then every time I go out to run I know that there could be company waiting for me.

But my present schedule pretty much dictates that morning runs are best for me so I'm stuck with them for now, and the surprises that await me every morn.

We'll talk about the mid-day and late-day routines next time and hopefully all this information will help you determine what best works for you.

* * * * * * *

Mike's Training Diary: Presently I am running about 5 miles every morning…or at least every morning I run…I do take days off. My total miles for June is 95 miles which is the most I have run in one month in almost two years.

My pace is about minute to a minute and a half slower than I would like it to be and I know what the problem is…my weight.

The less weight I push the more energy I have and the more energy I have the faster I can go.

So starting this week I am going to limit my caloric intake and really start focusing on the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 13K.

tztot.jpg

Down the road we'll explore running and weight.

I'm trying very hard to practice what I preach and not over train so I expect I will slowly transition into a 10K (6.2 miles) distance over the next month. My plan is to be in the 8 mile range by early September. It doesn't make any sense; trust me, to push it any faster than that because peaking too soon is something we all want to avoid.

Happy Fourth everyone.



June 11, 2007

Friend or Foe?

Once you decide to take up a running program you need to focus on a couple of things, most importantly your running gear.

Of course the prime focus should be on comfort. That means comfortable running shoes, shorts/pants, and a top that wicks the moisture away from your body. Can't forget the socks.

Comfort rules.

It may take time for you to figure out what works best for you. I have some advice…TAKE THE TIME!

Before spending hours grinding out the miles you need to be 100% sure that you will be as comfortable as possible with what you are wearing during your workouts.

That's half the battle...being comfortable. If you start off comfortable then you will insure that your workouts will start out enjoyable as well.

Once you have your running gear all selected and have found everything to be just right for you, my guess is that you may be thinking about getting one more piece of equipment.

This piece of equipment is a key component in your training. It might help answer a few questions for you like, “I wonder if my conditioning is improving.” or “Am I making any progress with my training?”

Let me guess. Is this component a runner's watch?

You're thinkiing, “Of course Mike! The watch will help me train.”

Well, yes it should.

However…keep in mind that the watch can also serve as a double-edged sword.

Imagine those old cartoons where the main character is trying to decide on a path to take. On his right shoulder is a reduced image of himself all dressed up in white with a halo hovering over his head. That angelic version of himself is trying to point him down the right path.

On his left shouilder is another image of himself this time all dressed up in red and sporting a set of devilish horns. This particular image is not in his best interest and is trying ever so hard to push him down the not so right path.

Well, your watch could very well serve as either angelic or devilish in your pursuit of training to get healthier and aim for a particular race.

Now the good watch, the one who would reside on your right shoulder with the halo is saying, “Okay now let's be sure that we do this right and not to be too overanxious.
What we will do is just start me when you begin your workout and then just forget about me until you finish and then stop me at that point and I'll be happy to tell you how long you have been ruinning.”

That sounds like a plan...the right plan.

Then there's the evil wicked watch figure on your left shoulder and he is whispering some bad advice into your ear.

“This is gonna be great. Once you start me we'll really be rocking. I want you to constantly check in with me as much as possible. Keep track of how far you are going and how fast you are going. Now remember, you want to get better so if when you check me and I tell you that you're not going fast enough I want you to pick up the speed and try harder."

“Remember, I am here to help you.”

Uhhhhhhh,,,,no!

Don't believe him.

The worse thing you can do is become too buddy buddy with your watch. That's a buddy you don't need because it could lead to problems.

If you constantly monitor your watch while you work out then you may find yourself subconsciously pushing yourself to perhaps do that first mile a bit faster or cover a distance that much quicker or just do something too fast too soon.

Over time your conditioning will bring you to the point where you will run faster and stronger and feel better at the end of the run. You, and not your watch, will do that for you.

If you are constantly checking your watch during your workout and figuring out how fast or how slow you are going then you will add unnecessary stress to your workout.

Worry about your watch at the end of the workout.

The watch should be used as a tool to help you gradually improve your conditioning.
Use it to help you properly assess your workouts and to prevent yourself from overdoing it.

Here's an example. If you start out in a walk-run combination type of workout use the watch to time your walks and runs…For instance…you may want to use a 4 to 1 ratio of running 4 minutes and walking 1 minute. Use the watch for that purpose to time how long you've been running or walking and not how quickly it has taken you to get from point A to point B.

Also, use it to measure your overall workout time. For instance, today you will workout for 30 minutes and tomorrow you will work out for 32 minutes.

Constantly change your course. This will prevent you from subconciously keeping track as to how far you have gone within the workout. Worry about that later and measure it later.

I am not advising you not to use a watch…I am advising to not use it in a way that results in you taking two steps forward and one step back because it may push you to an unecessary injury.

Next time we'll take this further as I will get into the reason why I have brought up the subject of the watch as being friend and foe...it's known as the Walt Disney World race pacing requirements.

June 2, 2007

Deal or No Deal?

Well everyone, for those of you still undecided as to whether or not the 2008 Walt Disney World Half-Marathon is for you, time is growing short.

It doesn't appear that the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 6.5K or 13K races are in any danger of having it's registration being closed soon but the focus for me today is the WDW Half-marathon.

At last check the registration database was at 95% full. My guess is that registration for that race will close during the first week in June.

It's important to remember that committing to the WDW Half-marathon goes much deeper than many people think.

First off there is the physical commitment to the event and that means more than committing to a day in January to cover some 13 miles in under 4 hours.

The physical commitment requires devoting a considerable amount of time towards training for the event.

It's not really all about doing the race on that particular day as is the training for the race.

When you commit to the race you are "signing up" for an extended period of time of serious training. That is a key point to keep in mind....make that a critical component in the decision making process.

On the day of a WDW sponsored racing event there are many smiling and happy faces. This year alone I saw about 14000 smiling faces on the morning of the WDW half-marathon. More were smiling than others. Before the gun had gone off I could look around and pretty much tell who had trained properly for this race and who hadn't.

Nervous smiles mean there is some doubt as to whether enough training hours were put in.

When you train for any race you not only build stamina but you build confidence.

I can tell you that if you train and prepare for the race then your confidence level will spawn so much enjoyment that when you cross the finish line you may not even feel like you've covered some 13 plus miles.

Here's something else to keep in mind. If you train well enough then something very unusual will happen to you during the half-marathon. Your confidence will combine with the adrenalin rush and you will hardly notice the first 5 to 6 miles of this race.

The first half of this race heads up World Drive to the Magic Kingdom Auto Plaza, the Ticket and Transportation Center and into the Crown Jewel of WDW...the Magic Kingdom.

With so much going on and so much excitement in the air you will be quite energized...especially when you turn up Main Street, USA.

Personally, I feel the real race begins when I find myself running back towards EPCOT. It is at that time when I thank myself for investing all those hours in running. It is at that point when you really call upon your training and stamina to get you through the race.

So invest in your training time well...for the reward is priceless.

Most importantly...do not rush your training...steady as she goes.

So do we have a deal? Promise me you'll put in the time training an I promise you that you will have a great race day experience.

Sounds like a deal to me

May 19, 2007

TZTOT: This Pace is for You!

Well there have been some interesting developments regarding the Tower of Terror 6.5K and 13K races. I know that many people were hesitant to register for either one of these races because for awhile there were no indications as to what the minimum pace would be for each course.

Considering that there are entry fees involved can you blame anyone for not jumping forward blindly without first determining if in fact they can do the pace that the Disney race folks will require for each distance?

Well I'm happy to tell everyone not to worry. The pace requirements have been posted and they have made everyone smile.

Regardless of which race a participant enters the pacing requirement is the same. The requirement is to complete the course in 2 and ½ hours.

That means those doing the 6.5K distance are looking at about a 38 minute per mile pace and those doing the 13K race are looking at about a 19 minute per mile pace.

My guess is that once everyone saw that pace requirements the registrations started pouring in.

A little bird told me that the longer course may have quite a few surprises for the participants and I'm looking forward to that myself.

By the way, the start time for the race and party at Disney/MGM-Studios has been pushed back to 9:30 P.M.

For those who usually run in the morning or mid-day that start time makes for even more of a challenge

Every race that I have run at WDW has started anywhere from 6:00 to 7:30 A.M. so this will be quite different for me.

Oh yeah, don't let me forget to tell you that there is a Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party event scheduled for the night before the race on Friday, October 26th and if you're wondering, yes I plan to go and I already have my ticket in hand.

I figure that I might as well stay out late Friday night and sleep in on Saturday morning because I'll need to be well rested for the race on Saturday night.

Will I see YOU there?

Training Tip

If you are new to running or are returning to running after a long layoff your first priority should be to find the best running shoes for your needs.

The absolute best way to insure that you will select shoes that will work for you is to go into a store that specializes in running shoes and do the following:

• Tell them of your running plans. Let them know what your goals are and how far you plan to run per week.
• Have them measure your feet so that you will be sure to get the proper fit.
• Let them know if you have and issues with aches and pains in your legs, ankles, back or feet. That can help with the selection. Running shoes fall into classes that are designed for special needs such as cushioning and stability.
• Finally, have them observe you walking so they can see how your gait works and how you naturally land on your feet.

A running store staffed with knowledgeable people will go far in getting you off on the right foot…no pun intended.

Try all the shoes suggested and go with the most comfortable fit.

It may take a week or so before you know if they are the right shoes for you.

Once you know you have the “right” model for you it may be worth getting a second pair and rotate them as you train.

There's so much more to talk about as we train.

Mike's Training Notebook

If you're interested my training regimen now has me at the point where I'm running one hour a day at least three times a week. I'm not worried about pace for now. My objective is to slowly build up my stamina. I'm taking my time and so should you.

Let me ask one more time...

…Will I see YOU in October?


May 3, 2007

I'm Registered!!!

Okay gang I'm back and I have registered for the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 13K.

Oh yeah.

I'm really excited about this race because not only will be the first time I've ever run a night time race in WDW it will be the first time I've run a night time race period. As far as I'm concerned my 5 A.M. 10K runs never qualified as running at night.

13K is an interesting distance because most runners, when training, stick to the usual 5K or 10K courses because basically those distances are popular for most road races.

Of course anyone who has trained for distances no longer than 10K should not worry. The adrenaline realized while running a WDW sponsored race will more than carry them those extra two miles.

So how do you register for this race? Well you go to
the official event page and click on the Register link in the upper right hand corner.

This will bring you to the registration page. The registration fee for the 13K is $65 and the fee for the 6.5K race is $40. The fee includes entry to the special party at Disney-MGM Studios.

Non-runners can purchase tickets to the party as well. The cost is $25 per ticket.

This party runs from 9 P.M. to 1 A.M. Three attractions will be open during this party.

Of course the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror is one of them, as will be Rock ‘n' Roller Coaster starring AEROSMITH. Rounding out this trio will be The Great Movie Ride.

Hmmmm…looks like there will be an incentive for the runners to finish the race as fast as possible ‘cause the race will be cutting into party time.

I'm anxious to see the exact course map for this 13K race. I do have my own thoughts on exactly how this course will run.

My guess is that the course is similar to the course laid out for the Race for the Taste…except it's backwards.

I'm thinking the race will start in Disney-MGM Studios near the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror and make its way out the park and along the road to Disney's Wide World of Sports. The runners will then sort of backtrack and come back to the theme park through the rear entrance, make their way through the Lights! Motors! Action! Extreme Stunt Show, then weave through New York Street, go past the Sci-Fi Drive-In Restaurant, head for Mickey's Sorcerer's Hat and eventually end up on Sunset Blvd to finish back at the Tower.

Sounds awesome to me.

So…are you thinking about it?

Are you saying, “Gosh that sounds like fun!”

You're right. It does sound like fun.

Before the fun part comes all the training and planning part in all of this.

Of course a lot goes into the planning of a Walt Disney World race trip. It's not your basic everyday visit with Mickey.

Next time I'll tell you about my plans.

See you then.

Mike

April 26, 2007

Shall We Begin?

Hi Folks.

First allow me to thank Deb for inviting me to participate in this new phase for AllEarsNet. I'm pretty excited on the opportunity to share some insights with all of you and hopefully help in any way I can to assist you in your Walt Disney World Trip planning activities.

So what's new? Well recently Walt Disney World announced yet another race in their Endurance Series and I'm pretty excited about running in it.

This brand new race is called The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 13K (8.01 miles).

This race is to commemorate the 13th Anniversary of the opening of the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror attraction at the Disney/MGM Studios theme park. Actually my family and I were there the first day the cast members donned their bellhop costumes. I hope to tell you what that day was like.

This race is pretty cool because it takes place on Saturday, Oct. 27th at 9 P.M. That's right…at night.

I'll talk more of this race next time including how to register and recommend how to prepare to run in a WDW sponsored race. Over the last 18 months I've run in eight WDW races and have learned a lot and I want to share my "education" with you.

Oh there'll be other topics we'll cover and I hope you'll feel free to contact me here as to what you would like to hear from me. As I prepare for my trips, experience them, and learn from them I will share my experiences with you in the hope of helping you with your own trips.

Just as Deb has graciously invited me to share my thoughts with you I'm inviting you to my blog and to encourage you to let me know what you think of it and of course WDW.

Mike

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About Running with Mickey

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to The View from Scopa Towers in the Running with Mickey category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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