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January 2010 Archives

January 5, 2010

Marathon Week Planning

Here we are…Marathon Weekend Week.

For those of you who are about to experience Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend for the first time, you may have some questions and thoughts about how to go about preparing for your particular race as we get within days, hours, and minutes prior to that gun going off.

Here are hopefully some points to ponder and think about. They come from my own experiences over the last five years and some dozen or so Walt Disney Races, including three half-marathons.

These thoughts are with the half-marathon in mind which takes place on Saturday.

Thursday, January, 7th

You should start drinking a bit more fluids this day and get your body hydrated for the big race. Try to add a glass of water here and there during your day. This should continue up to race day.

By this day you should have begun shifting your sleeping habits. You should be getting up a little earlier each day. I myself try to start getting up no later than 4:30 A.M. starting within five days of the race. I want to get up early so I will find it necessary to go to sleep early. Race day will be an early day and I want to be ready for that day.

Remember, you need to be at EPCOT pretty early on race day and for most of us that means a 2 A.M. wake-up call.

When you arrive in Orlando, be it Thursday or Friday, try to maintain the same diet and don’t try anything that may upset your stomach. Be careful. Play it safe. You can be adventurous after your race.

Also, go easy on the park touring….slug touring is recommended and also…you may want to avoid any thrill rides that may bang your knee, strain your back, or hurt your neck…you’ve got a race to run you know. Those attractions will be waiting for you after your race.

Friday, January 8th

Get up as early as you can. I’m thinking myself about taking a walk around 4 A.M. I want to be real tired by 8 P.M. that evening.

Go to the Fitness Expo at the World of Sports and get your bib and race packet as early as you can. That Expo will be packed on Friday and the earlier you go the quicker you will get in and out. Don’t wait for the afternoon.

Don't forget your waiver forms....erh....why not pack them now?

Again, easy on the legs…I would avoid EPCOT the day before your race (Friday for Half-Marathoners and Saturday for the Full Marathoners)…stick to a small park like Disney Hollywood Studios but I would avoid Rock ‘N’ Roller Coaster and the Tower of Terror until after your race.

Eat three medium sized meals today and knowing what you require before a race, plan accordingly. Some folks, like me, do not eat solid foods closer than 12 hours before a race…thus my last meal will end around 6 P.M.

Oh and this carb loading practice…..if you are on an Atkins diet then perhaps you may want to do some carb loading…but for me…the only carb loading I may involve a No Way Jose’ from Beaches and Cream.

Lay out your running gear before you go to sleep. This means put your chip on your running shoes, attach your bib to your running shirt, and have everything else ready.

Don’t take any chances.

Use your resort to arrange for a wake-up call, use the radio in your room as well, also use your cell phone’s alarm system and your running watch is possible. C’mon, after training a full year and spending all this money you’re not going to take every precaution to prevent you from oversleeping and missing the race?

You may want to set your alarm to wake you up no later than 2:30 A.M.

Saturday, January 9th

Don’t hit the snooze alarm,

Get out of bed and immediately start stretching.

Take a shower to warm up those muscles and do a bit more stretching.

Put on your running gear. Is it comfortable? You will be wearing it for at least 7-8 hours if not more.

Before you leave your room, don’t forget to put the “Do Not Disturb” sign in your door. The last thing you want to find when you return for a nice hot shower is resort housekeeping in your room.

You should arrive at EPCOT no later than 3:30 A.M. to relax and stretch and get ready.

Hit the portable toilet sometime around 5 A.M…..watch the lines….a few years back I waited 20 minutes for one. Now you know why I try to not eat 12 hours before the race. Juice and milk and sports drinks are okay…but no solids for me.

Head for the corral as soon as you can.

Move up as far to the front of your corral as possible and be alert. With so many people around you, you may not hear the start. Be alert.

When the race begins, watch your feet. Don’t step on anyone. Also, don’t be frustrated by the slow start. Things will improve.

Remember that it’s your chip time that is important so start your watch as you cross over the Start line.

During the race monitor yourself and also stop at every water stop….don’t chance dehydration.

Do not zigzag around people…that will not only add to your overall distance but also opens chance for injury.

There is no shame in walking; in fact in 2007 I remember the weather being so warm that I remember most participants walking the last few miles.

As much as we all love to cover the 13.1 miles as fast as possible we should be smart and not overdo it. We all want to be around for the next race.

When you finish, have our photo taken, get some refreshments, meet up with friends and/or family, and then head back to your room, shower, and then hit the parks.

Do not take a nap. It is best if you continue to be active that day into as late as possible.

You will have a good night’s sleep.

Good luck.

Fitness Expo Thoughts

The Fitness Expo has some interesting merchandise. I am not sure you will find the best prices but you may find some running product you cannot find anywhere else. One strong point I would like to make is that I do not think it is wise to purchase anything at the Expo that you intend to wear in your race. Comfort is not guaranteed.

Music Thoughts

Just want to remind everyone to use your music wisely and possibly hold off using it unless you have to.

Personally I have estimated where I will be on the course and at what time and have arranged my music as such to help me at that time.

I have slow, building music to get me to The Magic Kingdom, then Magic Kingdom music to get me through the park, then bridge music to get me through the tough part of the course....between the Magic Kingdom and the first glimpse of EPCOT...then EPCOT music with Tapestry of Dreams bringing me home.

Cheerleading Thoughts

First, here are the three places I recommend you have your cheerleaders look for you.

The first place is on the monorail side of the Ticket and Transportation Center. The best spot to set up is behind the gift shop but be on the left side…this is the road to the Contemporary.

The second place to set up is along Floridian Way, near the Grand Floridian, especially near the wedding Pavilion.

Finally a good spot is just before the runners go into EPCOT. This is down near where the bus terminal is for EPCOT.

Be sure and plan as to where you will be looking for your cheerleaders and make sure they make signs you will be able to easily spot and recognize.

Your cheerleaders are best to use the monorail to get around and they need to be up early to get around.

Be sure and give your cheerleaders accurate estimates as when they might be able to spot you in the race.


I think we’re all set.

As the runner’s credo goes….”Have a good one.”

January 30, 2010

Running with a Purpose

by Mike Scopa
Team AllEars Co-Captain

So I’ve had a week or two to reflect on the 2010 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend and specifically my fourth Walt Disney World Half-Marathon.

Over that weekend there were so many stories…so many smiles…so many memories that it would be virtually impossible to recall every one and do them all justice. I also fear I would forget a few.

When I think about that weekend I think about a secret I held for the last two years.

It all started two years ago while running in the 2008 WDW Half-Marathon. Right about mile 8 I felt a severe pain in my left knee. The pain was so severe that I ended up walking…or I should say, limping to the Finish.

The rest of that weekend saw me in pain and on the flight home and for the first few days back home.

I went to see my Orthopedic Surgeon who recommended the dreaded MRI…not my favorite thing to do.

The results of the MRI had my doctor telling me things I did not want to hear.

First there was the talk about bone spurs and other things which were a result of my destroying my anterior cruciate ligament some thirty years ago…all that brought my doctor to say to me, “Mike you need a knee replacement.”

This announcement was certainly no music to my ears.

“Okay!” I said, “So how long after the operation can I resume all my activities?”

Then came the other news.

He said there would no longer be any running or jumping because it would eventually wear out my “new knee.”

Was I done?

The pain in my knee was making a case for me to hang it up...it was speaking loud and clear…except my heart was speaking louder to me.

I could not bring myself to tell anyone of what my doctor had said. I kept it to myself. I was not supposed to run anymore…but I was not about to tell the world or myself I was done.

I was not done.

So I waited until the pain subsided and started to train again. It was not easy…it was a long and slow journey back….figuring out how much and how fast I could run without causing further damage to the knee.

The first half of 2008 was spent resting the knee and the second half began the long journey back.

In January 2009 I registered for the 2010 Half-Marathon and crossed my fingers.

Every other day or so I would go out and run….not too fast….not too far. Every outing would see me extend my running time….eventually building up to running for two straight hours. I did not want to risk any more.

If I was going to do any further damage it would be at the Half-Marathon. I had fears that race would be my last race.

So I waited…and then came that Saturday morning. Those of you who were there will not soon forget how cold, windy, and raw it was as we made our way to Epcot in the wee hours of the morning.

Nor will we ever forget seeing the sleet as we made our way toward the corrals with two, three, or even four layers of running gear on to keep the muscles warm.

It’s very difficult to describe what goes through one’s mind when running any WDW race…from the 5K races to the Full Marathon. It’s surreal; it’s emotional; and it’s something you really never feel fully prepared for…even if you have done it several times.

For me the focus was an area near the Grand Floridian…the spot where two years earlier I had said, “No Mas!” and limped the rest of the way.

This year when I got to that mark I focused on my knee and…no pain…none in fact.

I saw my AllEars Running Team Co-Captain Michelle Scribner-MacLean at the finish line and we had our celebratory hug.

She asked why I had tears in my eyes and I told her my secret…how my doctor had said no more running and all that jazz…and that although this was my fourth Half it felt like my first.

I had bettered my 2008 time by 18 minutes.

I’m sure there were many stories…so many personal stories like mine which deserve to be told…to hopefully help others look towards facing a challenge.

So in the month of January usually celebrated as a time for a new beginning and a new year I would instead like to treat it as November and its holiday of Thanksgiving and hand out a few “Thank Yous.”

And here they are…

…to Dr. Lynn for giving a stubborn Mike all the reasons in the world to hang up the running shoes…it worked. I’m obviously not a good patient.

Thanks Doc.

…to the American Adventure’s Golden Dream film at the end of the attraction where I see Dick Hoyt pushing his disabled son Rick in a wheelchair 26 miles in the Boston Marathon…an incredible feat he has done for so many years…and an inspiration to me.

Thanks Dick.

…to Jonathan Dichter, who along with my good friend Bryan Ripper, co-hosts the AllAboutTheMouse podcast, I also give thanks. Jonathon has always said nice things about how I have inspired him to take up running and in turn he has inspired me to challenge myself as he has challenged himself. Jonathan went on to do several half-marathons last year….I love you buddy.

Thanks Voice.

…to Mary Jo Collins, who has emerged as probably the greatest ambassador for running today as she is just everywhere, running all kinds of races and having a blast….congrats on doing the 2010 Goofy challenge. Your smile and attitude and joy of running kept me going last year. When I grow up I want to be just like you.

Thanks Mary Jo.

…to all the incredible AllEars team members who came together as friends and family to fight for a cause that affects us all….you all are wonderful…and I see all of you as part of my family. You all worked together to raise at least $24,000 in the fight against breast cancer while at the same time proving something to yourselves.

Thank you for all your effort and your friendship.

…to my dear friend Deb Wills, the first lady of the Disney internet and who, more than anyone I know, inspires people to do amazing things, and went out and did her first Half-Marathon this past January. This woman’s boundless heart and incredible spirit and generosity continue to amaze and thrill me every day. I drew positive energy from this woman. I am always proud to call her my friend.

Thanks Deb.

…and speaking of friends, my last thank you goes out to my New Hampshire neighbor, Team AllEars Co-Captain, and running buddy Michelle Scribner-MacLean who ran in her first ever race, the 2009 WDW Half-Marathon to raise money for her mother’s Scholarship fund for nurses, and whose idea to put together an All Ears Running Team for the 2010 WDW Marathon Weekend did so much to put me over the top with my training. I could not have done it without you Michelle.

Thanks Scribby.

So if you put all of this together with the backdrop of a dark, cold, windy, and sleet-filled morning in Orlando in January, you can see how it’s hard to describe the feeling, the excitement, the emotion, and the exuberance of that weekend.

For me I feel I can say it all in two words…

…thank you!

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About January 2010

This page contains all entries posted to Team AllEars® Running Blog in January 2010. They are listed from oldest to newest.

December 2009 is the previous archive.

February 2010 is the next archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.