January Marathon - Half Marathon Archives

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.


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 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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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?


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.


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


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.


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.


Another few minutes.


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.


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


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


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.


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.


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


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


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?


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.


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?


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.


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 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.


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.


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 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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

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About January Marathon - Half Marathon

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