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February 18, 2011

Team AllEars Profile: Stephanie's Story

by Team AllEars member Stephanie Mathias

As soon as I saw Team AllCheers on Facebook, I knew I had to be part of that. I had met Deb Wills, the founder of AllEars, the co-captains of Team All Ears, and a lot of the team members during the many Disney meets I had attended. So along with supporting a good cause, I knew I would have a good time.

In September I turned 60 and being the huge Disney fanatic that I am, I spent it bringing the Disney Magic home from Barcelona across the Atlantic to Florida. The internet was spotty at best on the ship, but I had to have access on the day that my friend Myrna had her breast cancer surgery. She came through with flying colors and I relaxed for the rest of my vacation.

However, when I returned home it wasn’t such good news for some of my friends. My friend Donna’s breast cancer had spread to her thyroid. My friend MJ had been recently diagnosed and was going in for a double mastectomy. And then there was Jess. Dear sweet Jess, wonderful wife to John and mother to three of the best sons. Jess is only 37 years old. Same age as my daughter. I have watched her boys grow up. Jess was diagnosed seven years ago with stage four breast cancer. When I left on my cruise it had spread to her brain and spine. When I came home it had spread to both lungs. I felt so helpless. I knew I had to do something. I went on the Run Disney site and signed up for the 5K. Then I emailed Michelle at Team AllEars and asked if I could be part of the Team. I would complete the 5K in Jess’s honor.

I was so happy they said yes. As I mentioned, I’m 60 years old and to say that I’m out of shape is being kind, but I was determined to walk/jog the 5K and to finish within the 16 minute mile so I could get my medal. My bling. The trainers at the gym called me Marathon Woman. I got my Couch to 5K app for the iPhone and away I went.

I really wish I could put into words the feeling of excitement when I got down to Disney in January. Jess’s Aunt Debbie made the journey to cheer me on. The excitement started as we went to the Wide World of Sports to pick up my bib and race packet. Then we met at Riverside for a team dinner and we were given Team AllEars banners and cowbells. Absolutely awesome.

Friday morning (I really didn’t have any proof that the clock passed 4:00 twice in a day until then) we were up and at EPCOT by 5:30 am. The spirit of the team was electrifying. At dinner the night before, Brad told me to have fun. “Do you know the difference between the medal for the first runner and the last runner?” Nope. “That’s cause there is none. Enjoy yourself.” Words I ran by. I stopped and had my picture taken with Mulan. I stopped to take pictures of Geppetto. Pictures of Chip and Dale. Pictures of Snow White and Dopey.

Another thing I need to tell you about me. I was raised during the Jackie Kennedy era, when she buried her husband President John F. Kennedy and didn’t shed a tear. I marched during the Civil Rights movement. Even when you got beat you could never shed a tear. I don’t cry. My friend and co-captain Mike Scopa wrote a column a little while ago about Mousetears. Something happens at Disney that just makes it okay to weep. Right around Canada I ran into a lady named Barb. She said you’re running for someone aren’t you? I told her about Jess and I started to weep. “I can’t get picked up by the sweep bus. I must get my finisher medal.” Barb assured me the sweep bus was way behind us. She told me she was going to get her medal and on we went.

As we came around Spaceship Earth I heard the cowbells. That was my team!!!! I knew my team had waited for me even though I was the last team member coming across the finish line. I was so happy to see them I almost forgot to cross the finish line!!!

During the team dinner at Trails End Deb Wills did the big reveal (at that time we had raised $46,677). Then Deb and the captains gave everyone a Team AllEars Running With Purpose medal. Deb also gave Debbie one to give to her niece Jess. I know that I shed more Mousetears that weekend than I have shed in my entire adult life. I can’t begin to relay the joy and inspiration each team member shared. It was awesome.


Debbie and I came home and we just couldn’t wait to see Jess and give her the medal. She really loved it. Two weeks later her husband hung it on her casket during her viewing.

I’ve already booked my room for marathon weekend 2012. I will be running... with purpose again. I can’t wait.


February 20, 2011

Team AllEars Profile: Julia's Story

By Team AllEars Member --Julia Mascardo

Near the end of May 2010, I heard some words that no pregnant woman really wants to hear: emergency c-section. The baby was fine, but I was a mess: gestational diabetes, blood pressure spikes and elevated protein levels from preeclampsia, edema, and the list went on. After complications in the c-section itself, I was put on medication that would hopefully prevent me from having seizures. If I had a seizure in the first 24 hours, I would have them for the rest of my life. Thankfully, everything came together and within a few days, I was at home with my little girl.

My husband had been training for the half marathon with Team AllEars for a few months at this point (probably to get out of the house away from my pregnancy complaints!), and I was amazed and inspired by his progress. I knew that there was no way that I would be able to run a half marathon in 7 months, especially given that I had never been a runner in my life, but the 5K sounded fun and a great way to show that I could go from death bed to doing something healthy in less than a year.


Once I got the all-clear from the doctor, training began in earnest with a couch-to-5K plan. With the inspiration of awesome teammates and my personal goal (to finish the race), I made huge steps forward. Going down for the race weekend was incredible. Everywhere I went, I saw people from the team. It was one giant extended family. My race was first, and although the 5K is closed to spectators for 90% of the race, seeing the whole team right as I came out of Epcot was wonderful. It also helped to run into team members in the corral before the race. There’s something great about having someone who has “been there, done that” able to help calm the nerves of us newbies!

That afternoon was my more-or-less crawling kid’s diaper dash. The next day was cheering my husband and more team members in the half marathon. Who thought that standing in a median strip at painfully early in the morning could be so much fun? Next, there was a morning of cheering for the full marathon (and Goofy and Dopey) runners from the castle hub. Finally, a team breakfast with lots of stories and tears.

Unless you’ve been through it, there isn’t any way to describe how exceptional the experience is when you are part of such an amazing team. And although life schedules won’t permit us to be there for 2012, you can bet that I’ll be one of the virtual cheerleaders for the team. If you’re on the fence about doing something like this, maybe because (like me), you don’t really think you’re a runner, go for it! You’d be amazed what you can do with such a supportive group. Need one more reason? Remember, this is also good work for a great cause, too!


February 22, 2011

Team AllEars Profile: Julie's Story - 13.1 Meets 30: My First Half-Marathon

by Team AllEars Member Julie Loiselle

January 8th haunted me and excited me. But it all started in April, nine months before. I read the AllEars Newsletter about the call for Team AllEars members for WDW Marathon Weekend. Even though I never considered myself a runner, the challenge of it excited me and knowing I’d have a lot of support really enticed me to enter. And the piece that put it over the top: it was in my favorite place, Disney. Could I do the 13.1 miles? Why not? Others had.


Our Team AllEars commitment has two parts: the running and the reason.

We ran and trained on our own then came together online to motivate and support each other. I set my playlist, grabbed my hat and had to dig deep each training run. One. Foot. At. A. Time. Even though running a race was on my Bucket List, I was not a runner until I started this journey. Now I consider myself a runner. I had always frequented the gym but with no goal. This was tangible, measurable and an image I could hold onto: crossing that finish line!

The reason we all came together was to fight breast cancer with Deb Wills at our helm. All of us took it to heart. For me it was close to home. This summer my mother in law celebrated being 5 years breast cancer free. My mom’s best friend wasn’t so lucky many years ago. Joan found a lump and was too afraid to get it checked out. By the time she was diagnosed, it was too late. I have wonderful memories of her and those memories drive me to travel and to further my education. My husband’s Nana also was fortunate to beat cancer the first time, but a second round, 20 years later, was too strong. To be able to give back to these three women, as well as others, pushed me beyond any mental or physical barrier I had.

I had all these reasons to run: my Bucket List, these women, and my 30th birthday the week of the race. But my IT band gave me a darn good reason to consider not running. I had problems a few years ago with my IT band, the muscle that runs from the outside of the hip connecting just below the outside of the knee. My goal became to finish the 13.1 miles and finish the race healthy. I spent a few hours researching training plans and advice for first-timers, and consulted a trainer at my gym.

After I reached the 6 mile mark, I registered for the race. “I made it half way and could go the rest of the way” was my thinking. A little more than a month after I registered, I reached 10 miles for the first time. It was an unbelievable run. The sun warmed the morning and brought out all the furry friends to greet me as I lapped the neighborhoods. Neighbors used to seeing me were waving at me. I felt what everyone talked about in the blogs: my body was in a rhythm and it was doing its thing. I had a mile left when I felt that thing I was dreading: the pang of pain in my left hip.

I kept going at my pace, not paying the pain any attention. After my cool down routine my IT band became tight and it hurt to flex. Cautiously, I took a week off from running, but I still used the elliptical and the bike. On my next scheduled run I could not run longer than 1 minute. One minute! I had logged 2 hours and 20 minutes two weeks ago and now I couldn’t make my feet carry me any farther than 1 minute. Failure, that’s all I could think. I walked the 8 mile route which was possibly the stupidest thing I’ve ever done. I had trouble walking now. Pain shot up my leg.

It was July; I had 6 months to rehab and build up my miles. I could do it, but at what cost? The month of August was spent stretching, icing and doing hip strengtheners. I biked and hit the elliptical harder to keep up my cardio. Each time a nice morning or beautiful evening graced the sky, I told myself I would get out running soon. It was not over until I crossed the finish line!

My training schedule went through a huge makeover. Jeff Galloway’s walk-run program became my program but with smaller mileage increments. Building up the distance the second time took twice as long. By November, I ran only once a week and used the elliptical for the other 2 runs to reduce the strain on my newly healed IT band. Before the race I had only run 11 miles, never the 13 miles of the race.

Frustrated and angry I turned to music to motivate me through the second training. Did you know that Disney has a handful of songs about working? “Whistle while you work”, “Hi-ho”, “Happy Working Song”, “Spoonful of Sugar” and the next song is what became my theme song: “Go the distance” from Hercules. I knew that every mile in training would be worth my while for the race (I’m paraphrasing from the song). My 3 inspirational women and countless more had gone through so much and truly inspired me to kick up my efforts fundraising and training.

Jump ahead to the month before the race: I cut back to only using the elliptical to save my IT band, I made my packing lists, I enlisted my husband, Jeff, and friends Jess & Jon, for Team AllCheers, and I made my final playlist. “Go the Distance” was my lead song, my halfway song and my last song.

We arrived for the Saturday race on Wednesday. I had two full days to relax. Yeah, right. I was getting up early in preparation for the event and constantly listening to my body. Questioning: was I thirsty, hungry, did my leg hurt, should I take my allergy medicine, are the alarms set, will Jeff, Jon & Jess get up in time to see me go by, what time should I go to the Team meets, and it went on and on. There was no relaxing before the race, but I did do 2 things that made me very happy. I met my team members in person and I bought KT tape.
It was so exciting to see people I only knew electronically. Stephanie’s voice was so familiar to me and her worries mirrored my own on the last team call. As soon as I met her, I felt like I belonged. Silly, huh? To be talking and typing to so many people for months, but not feeling the “team” until then? Then I met all the other wonderful people I was dying to see, Deb, Mike, Michelle, Melanie and Julie, Mike Paxton, Jamison, Helen & Helen, Brad G, and that is only naming the ones I can think of as I write this. EVERYONE made me feel part of the cause and a valued member.

KT tape & Michelle are my new favorite things. I am convinced that if Michelle had not taped my leg before the race, then I would not have been able to finish. The morning of the race my hip was tight. Not good. After my warm up I headed off in the wee hours to meet the team. I should note here that my cheerleaders Jeff, Jess & Jon, put up with me getting up early the past 2 mornings in prep for the race. Kudos to them!

My husband found Google Latitude, an application for the Driod that would broadcast my position during the race. Jeff, Jess, and Jon would all see me real time during the race. I felt a little pressure from it, but also thought that after all the support my family and friends gave that I should share this with them too. My parents, family members, friends and survivor mother-in-law all signed up to watch too.

At the race start I stretched and tried to stay as warm as possible. Even though I am a New Englander, I hate the cold and it crept into my bones. My corral moved to the front and excitement and doubt filled me. As flames of fire lit over the start banner, I gave up on my doubt. I would finish the race. Cue “Go the Distance” cue stop watch, off I went!

It was the most magical morning I have ever experienced. The cheerers, the characters, the sunrise over Florida. I will never pass under the Magic Kingdom toll archway again without thinking about my first race.

One of my fears would be that everything would happen so quickly and I wouldn’t be able to absorb it all. So my trusty camera came with me every step of the way. I videoed and took tons of pictures, including my corral start. The most important reason I had my camera was so I could video my run down Main Street. I didn’t care where I was in the walk-run split. When the time came I would run down with my legs pumping.

Here is where I cried. Not at the mass of people cheering or ay my first glimpse of the castle. I cried when I saw Team AllCheers members at the walkway just before the bridge to Tomorrowland. Bells clanged, cheers went up and I saw Stephanie there, holding our sign. I was bursting with the emotion of the moment. I had made it through my training - twice! – and fought my doubt and injury to be right here, right now, to give everything I could. This moment is what I will cherish the most.

The tough battle would come once I left the Magic Kingdom. I maintained my 13 minute per mile pace until mile 8. When I slowed to a walk to take a picture of that mile marker I felt my hip and my knee scream out, “No more!”. I texted my husband one word “pain”. He said he could tell something was the matter via Google Latitude, since I slowed down so much. By mile 9 I knew I was walking the rest. The good news was I had 2 more cheerleading locations to go – and I had a ton of time on the clock. Making use of the time I stopped frequently for stretching and for BioFreeze.

I heard “Go the distance” for a third time and I was only at mile 10, not 13. In the pictures from the event photographers you can see how pissed I am, head down, jaw set and a frown pulled at my mouth. I used up my sunny, motivational thoughts and could only focus on crossing the finish line. That was when I could stop, not now. My husband was checking on me via text “where are you, you can do it, are you on the off ramps ye, charge the finish!” It surprised me then and even now how his texts were like bits of gold.

The second of the AllCheers stops was at mile 11.5 with Deb and company. I blew by them, walking much quicker than I ever had in my life, a whopping 14.30min/mile! My short goal was my husband, Jess & Jon at the top of the last hill. As I came up, there they were, clanging the bells, cheering and I knew I was only 1.1mi away from the finish. I cried, I waved and I blew a kiss but didn’t stop for a hug. If I did stop I wasn’t going to start moving again. They gave me the same burst of emotion and energy that the Main Street peeps did. I could do this, I would finish!

“We are the champions” sang the gospel choir as I came around the bend. Then viola! The finish line was there. I was going to cross this baby! I started singing with the choir and kicked up my feet to walk a little faster. I was going to do it! Out of the corner of my eye I saw Goofy at the finish line. Giving him a high five at the end was icing on the cake.

Afterwards with ice bags taped to my leg and the finisher’s medal around my neck, I hugged my husband and friends. I am damn glad I have family and friends to motivate me and support me, and a circle of supportive teammates who fought the same fight. As we were ready to leave, Jeff gave me the 40th Anniversary Duffy Bear to celebrate 13.1 miles and my 30th birthday. I made only one character photo stop. I guess my husband and I were channeling each other!

In memory of: My Auntie & Jeff’s Nana and in honor of Jeff’s mom. Three of the strongest fighters I know.


February 25, 2011

Team AllEars Profile: Chris

by Team AllEars Member Chris Mushrush

If someone would have asked me in January of 2010 that I would run a half marathon a year later, I would have laughed in their face and questioned their sanity. Even when I was “in shape” back in the Stone Age when I was an athlete in high school and as a cadet at the U.S. Air Force Academy, I struggled mightily on anything more than 400 yards.

I found myself at 37 years of age, grossly overweight, and fairly sedentary. Add to that a family history (both sides of the family) with heart disease and…yeah, it’s easy to see why I thought that there was no way I’d ever do a long distance run.

In the back of my mind, though, I remembered hearing a person by the name of Michelle Scribner-MacLean appear on an episode of the WDW Today podcast, and, in passing, mentioned something about “Team AllEars”. For some reason, that random episode stuck with me, even though I really didn’t know much about the Team (it may have been the “Boom Boom Pow” playing in the background during part of the episode…that was the theme song for the 2010 Team).

The 2010 Marathon weekend came and went, and I read the accounts via Twitter and Facebook of some of the experiences with the weather. I then listened to an episode of Gordon Harvey’s Running To Disney Podcast, where he played call-ins about the race. About 15 minutes in,

I hear Holly Beck Aulen report about being a member of Team AllEars and doing the Dopey race. Then I heard a very inspirational report from Byron Hall, who completed his first half. A couple of race reports later, I hear Jorge Romero talk about joining the Team and his training for his first half. I distinctly remember playing back several of these race reports to listen to all that was being said. Some of these people sounded kind of like me, and they were able to do it.

While I have always halfheartedly had running a marathon on my bucket list, I never put any thought whatsoever to actually make a move towards accomplishing that. Hearing the reports coming in from the 2010 Marathon Weekend, however, got me thinking that perhaps doing something like this could be within my reach.

After letting it sit on the back burner for a few weeks, the idea of participating in a race started creeping back into my mind, and, in late March, I decided to hop over to the high school track in my back yard and see what one mile felt like after an 18 year hiatus. I walked almost all of it, but I was under the 16:00 pace that Disney requires you have for their races.

Soon afterward, I noticed that Michelle had posted something online about a live call-in event for Team AllEars. Curiosity got the better of me, and I contacted her about following the team and seeing what needed to be done to be a part of the 2012 team (I had assumed that the 2011 team had already been assembled, and I had no intention of running this year). She informed me that the team was just getting set up and that there was plenty of room if I wanted to be a part of the team. I decided to listen to the call-in show before making a decision.

Deb Wills started off the show with the reason the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer was so important to her – up to this point, I never realized that she is a breast cancer survivor. The story of her battle, her beating the odds, and her perseverance to do whatever she could to help out hit me like the proverbial ton of bricks. While nobody on my side of the family has ever had to experience breast cancer, both sides of my wife’s family has done so, and both went through the treatments in the past few years. I made the decision to sign up before I could second-guess myself.

And so I became a member of Team AllEars 2011.

Team AllEars Logo

I was definitely nervous – partially about being a new runner in the online presence of some darn good athletes. My fears were allayed in no time as the veteran runners of team took plenty of time helping the multitude of new runners. After picking out a training regimen, I started working on getting some weight off and getting some miles in. I noticed several surprised glances and restrained laughs from many people when I told them I was going to try to run my first half marathon.

I had about 30 weeks before the race, and I knew I was going to need nearly all of them for training. 13.1 miles seemed such a long distance, and I was barely able to do 2. Still, as suggested by most everyone, I slowly increased the mileage by ½ to 1 mile a week until I got to 6 miles. The weight was starting to come off (I was down about 17 pounds after about 3 months), and the pace was starting to come down.

It was about this time-frame that I started the fund-raising efforts for the Team. Initially, I wanted my goal to be $1,000 (never mind the fact that money was very tight across the nation). I revised my lofty goal to $500 after having raised $70 with only 3 months to go. Still, as a member of the team (Jamison) said, every dollar is 1 dollar more than we had before! As I made it to double-digits in training, I started to get more confident in finishing the race and less confident in making the fund-raising goal.

Then came the month of December.

In the last month of fund-raising, the outpouring of support reached a level that, to this day, still leaves me speechless. Donations came in from places that I never imagined! From a former student to our daycare provider; from breast cancer survivors to a childhood friend currently battling her own disease; from the Postmaster of my small hometown to a fantastic group of online freaks who used to hang out and have fun at the same boards; from colleagues at work to hometown friends; and from family members to a family I met but one time in passing in the Disney World parks last June, the contributions totaled well over the $500 goal.

The confidences again switched…due in part to weather and in part to sickness 2 weeks before the race, I was really getting nervous about successfully completing the half. Though I had run 13 miles once before (in November), the longest run I could complete in the month prior to the race was 11 miles (with significant leg cramping at the end), and I was still a bit weak as Marathon Week arrived.

My wife, Sheri, and I flew down on Thursday and hit the Expo to get all the race materials. It was about this time that the realization hit me that I was actually going to try doing this.

The first major highlight of the weekend was the first Team meet-up at YeeHaw Bob over at the Port Orleans Riverside resort. There, I finally got to meet people I have known online for months actually in-person for the first time. It was fitting that the first people we saw were Michelle and Mike – the team Captains. We sat with Stephanie and her friend, Debbie that evening. I was beyond ecstatic when Deb arrived and went around to all the tables – I finally got to meet this amazing woman who has impacted the lives of so many people on multiple fronts. While my wife might argue that seeing me try to do YMCA in front of everyone was the highlight of the night (I tried staying off to the side of the stage, but I got pushed to the very middle next to Mike, who stands a good 6-8 inches taller than me), my highlight most definitely was meeting Deb.

Friday was to be a relatively slow day for us, and I tried to get to sleep by 10 pm for the 2:45 wake-up call. Expecting to get absolutely no sleep due to nerves, I managed a good 3+ hours of fairly restful sleep. The alarm went off, and I was out the door by 3:00. As I walked to the buses at Port Orleans French Quarter, I met up with a woman also preparing for the race. She had somewhat of a resemblance to another Team AllEars member, so I asked her if she was on the Team. She wasn’t, but she knew exactly what the Team was and was excited for what we were doing. THAT was an awesome way to start off the day.

The bus got me to the Epcot lot around 3:30, and I mulled around and took in the sights and sounds of all that was going on in the staging area. As I talked with some of the Team members before the group picture, I could feel the electricity and the excitement all around me.

I took the opportunity to add the names of my wife’s cousin and aunt to Shawn and Jodie Moffett’s banner, which had dozens of names of people we were running on behalf of. As we waited, we mingled with the WDW Radio’s running team (and I even got to meet Beci Mahnken that morning!). After the pictures and motivational pep talk from Deb, we all started to head out for the long walk to the corrals.


Several of us were assigned to Corral F (Julie, Melanie, Erwin, Heather, Mike, Shawn, and me), so we all made the 20 minute walk together, and we all got to know each other better during this time. Since I was running with another friend, we wished each other good luck when we reached the Corral and parted ways. Once I found my friend, we made our way up the Corral to find the rest of the Team, but I couldn’t find them.

I’ve seen videos of the start of the race, but I cannot put the actual experience into words. The characters…the jets of flame…the fireworks all around us…it was jaw-dropping!!! We crossed the start line, and my friend, Maureen, let me dictate the pace. I had been training for a 14:00-14:30 pace, with a 3:00/1:00 run/walk ratio. This pace and ratio worked out really well for the area I was in; since it was crowded, we wouldn’t be able to run much faster without doing a lot of weaving around early on, but we weren’t being passed by everyone.

A little over a half-mile in, I see Team members (and sisters) Melanie and Julie pass us by, which meant I went past the group in the Corral before the start! A little ways past the 1 Mile marker, the Team AllCheers squad had a spot set up, and they were absolutely insane!!! They were clapping, ringing those cowbells, calling out people by name…AWESOME! I gave many in the group a “running five” as we went by and set in for the rest of the run to the Magic Kingdom.


The pace was pretty much right on target for the first few miles, and the excitement progressively ratcheted up as we approached the Ticket & Transportation Center. Disney had entertainment set up every so often to keep the motivation up, and the crowds swelled as we got closer to the Magic Kingdom. I made a mistake as we went under the water bridge near the Contemporary resort…as I ran, I was hitting the pavement really hard instead of taking smaller, lighter steps, and, at around the 5 Mile marker (before entering Magic Kingdom), my right quad started getting pretty sore. I was dealing with that as we entered Town Square, so I was a bit distracted, until the turn onto Main Street, USA towards the Hub.

The spectators were packed on the road to our left, and they were having a ball cheering for everyone! As we made it to the hub, I started looking for the Team AllCheers spot where Sheri would be at. I looked but couldn’t find her, so I found who I thought was Allears.net staff member Barrie Brewer and stopped momentarily for a “memorable” introduction (“Are you Barrie? Good! I’m Chris…do you know where my wife’s at???”) I found Sheri near the bridge to Tomorrowland, and we talked for a minute and got a couple of pictures. Stephanie was just a few feet away, so I got to wave to her as we passed by. The fascination that goes with running through the Magic Kingdom allowed me to temporarily forget about my ever-throbbing quadriceps…I even had goosebumps as the trumpeters heralded my arrival to pass through Cinderella Castle.


I passed another team member in Frontierland, Tom, who, while not moving at the moment, gave the thumbs-up that he and his wife, Molly, were doing fine. Maureen and I headed off-stage, and, with the excitement of the Magic Kingdom behind us, the quad pain made itself known again.

At the halfway point, I pulled out my phone to check my pace and noticed that my text inbox was nearly full. I started deleting texts during one of my walking intervals when I heard someone nearby hollering at me to “put the phone away and get running!!!” Tom and Molly had to pass me at that very instant when I had the phone out (I had the phone out for less than 10 minutes the entire race). That ended up becoming a running joke between us the rest of the weekend (no pun intended).

A little before the 7 mile mark, we caught back up with Melanie and Julie, and we chatted for a brief moment. Some walking stretches seemed to help my quad a little, so we bumped up the pace a bit, and we did mile 8 at a 14:20 pace and mile 9 at a 14:32 pace – my 2 fastest miles. The quad then started tightening up a bit again, and the pace slowed considerably, with the throbbing combined with a bottleneck where the course was reduced to 1 lane of traffic.

Much of the 11th mile consists of the off-ramp from World Drive to Epcot Center Drive. I heard horror stories about this one, so we took it slow until I thought we were done, and then we picked it back up. The only problem was that we were not quite half-way up the incline yet. With the vast majority of the crowd walking now, we try pushing it a bit and weaving around a little; that decision was a costly one as my left calf tightened up. We immediately slowed down in the hopes that I could avoid a full-blown cramp.

Just past the 11 mile marker was the Team AllCheers squad, still out there and still as loud as ever. Helen Norlund’s husband was catching as many Team members for a picture and got a good one of Maureen and me. Though Deb wasn’t running the half, she had to have exerted just as much energy from all the constant cheering and jumping…that was a great sight to see at this point. I could tell that many of the other runners around us were feeding off of the enthusiasm from the cheering squad.


With only 1.5 miles to go, it seemed like this was in the bag. One of my Corral F Team members, Heather, caught up with me, and we talked a bit as we neared the 12 mile marker. At mile 12, though, the left quad tightened up on me. I wished Heather good luck for the last mile and started figuring out how to finish with both quads and a calf hurting. I threw out the 3:1 run:walk interval and switched to a “run when you can and then walk for a minute” strategy.

When we made the turn at the tree in Epcot, the realization hit me that this was actually going to happen. I was hobbling, but I knew I could crawl the last 600 yards if need be. Just before the 13 mile marker we saw Maureen’s family, and we waved with big smiles on our faces. Sheri was about 150 yards from the finish line, so we looked for her and gave even bigger smiles as we passed her. There it was…THE FINISH LINE!!!! We picked up the pace a bit…and both quads and the left calf seized up on me (ARGH)! I was not going to walk across the finish line, so I bit my lip and almost hopped across.

The moments that followed were almost surreal. I remember hugging Maureen and talking to the volunteer who presented me with the medal. I also remember staring at the medal for several minutes after she placed it around my neck. Other than that, well, it was pretty much a blur. I caught up with Tom and Molly as well as another Team Member, Julie Olson, who were all waiting for transportation back to the resort.


I thought the day could not get any better than it already was; I could not have been more wrong on that prediction. Later on in the day during the Team AllEars meet-up, I got to talk to a bunch of the members and have a good time with them. My only real regret I have from the weekend was that I was unable to meet all of the Team. There were several that I knew were there, but there just wasn’t enough time to talk to all of them.

As the main meet started, we got to hear some heart-felt speeches from Deb, Michelle, Mike, and other coordinators of the team. When it came time for the reveal of the total amount raised at that time, Deb gave us one number at a time. At the #?6,667 reveal, I was really happy in my assumption that we broke $35,000…until I saw that the hidden number was not a 3…it was a 4!!! Very few eyes were dry at that point, and I saw Mike, without a word, simply put his arm around Michelle for a well-deserved congratulatory hug.

Deb surprised us all with special “Team AllEars” medals, and I honestly am just as proud of that medal as I am of the one signifying the completion of the half. Probably one of the greatest moments came on Sunday when we were on a bus and sitting next to a couple of families who were talking about the distance events. They saw my medals and recognized the one in the shape of Donald. When they saw the Team AllEars one, though, one of the women’s faces perked up and asked if I was a member of the Team. When I smiled and answered in the affirmative, she started talking excitedly to everyone else about Deb, her site, and our team and what we were doing this weekend. The recognition of our Team is out there, and I am as proud as one can be to have the honor of being a part of this group of people.

Marathon Weekend will forever be etched in my memory. I ran for myself for the experience. I ran for my family so that I may start down the path to a healthier lifestyle and be around for them for a long time. I ran for Deb. I ran for Cathy Carney and for Mary Bargmann. I ran for friends and for many, many others who have battled or are battling breast cancer. And, yes, I hope to continuing running for all these people for years to come.

If anyone is considering running their first distance event and/or becoming part of the team but unsure if they can do it, please use this as a springboard to do it; if I can do it, anyone can!


February 27, 2011

Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend 2011 - Reflections

Team AllEars 2011
Team AllEars Logo

We made a commitment to participate in the January 2011 WDW Marathon Weekend. We trained, we got healthier, we raised awareness and funds in the first against breast cancer, we laughed, we cried, we were injured, we had triumphs and setbacks, we made new friends, found unexpected support, and we gave it our all.

We are Team AllEars Running with Purpose.

Here are final reflections of this amazing journey by Team AllEars members - Part 1!


Melanie Camphouse and Julie Rogers

Ring, ring, ring.
Yes we are still ringing our cow bells…or is that ringing just in our heads?
The highlight of marathon weekend 2011 was being members of the first ever Team AllCheers.

We loved seeing the familiar pink logo of a Team AllEars member running towards us, but we never knew if we should take a photo, ring our bell or shout “go”!

The Colorado Sisters - Mel and Jules

Melanie Camphouse and Julie  Rogers

Melanie Camphouse and Julie  Rogers


Steven Cantafio

I appreciated the friendliness and support of so many people who prior to January I barely knew. The Internet has changed the way people connect and I am awfully grateful to be joined by such wonderful people who share and believe in the Disney magic.

Many friends of mine didn’t understand how I could be traveling to Florida by myself not having known most of the people I would be meeting. I didn’t give it a second thought and was overwhelmed by the caring and support of everyone as I completed my first marathon!

Steven Cantafio


Jamison Reynolds

I did the Dopey. I ran 42.4 miles in 3 days. I did what I NEVER thought I would EVER do... but that is not what I am most proud of. Running became a family affair that weekend. My two year old ran the 100 meter. My 5 year old ran the Mickey Mile. My wife ran the 5k with me and we ALL raised money for the fight against cancer. Being a member of Team Allears is one of the things that I am most proud of in my life. Through this amazing group of people I have made a positive improvement in my health, I got to share an amazing weekend with my family and I got to make a small dent in the fight against cancer. Bring on 2012!!!

Jamison Reynolds


Heather Przystas

My race weekend experience wasn't what I wanted it to be - I felt like I hadn't completed what I'd come for, I wasn't feeling that "Disney Magic" at all. Except for one exception - being a member of Team AllEars. The people I met and got to call teammates that weekend are outstanding. Although I felt I had failed, my teammates would hear nothing of it. They boosted me, carried me... and they are the reason I look forward to next year with eagerness and excitement instead of trepidation. Count me in for next year. I can't wait. =)

Heather Przystas


Michelle Scribner-MacLean

I was so proud and honored to have been co-captain of Team AllEars for a second year.

This is an amazing group of spirited, dedicated, focused, and kind individuals, who have all helped create an amazing community of Disney runners, determined to do what they can to help fight breast cancer. Our weekend was packed with wonderful meets and meals and I truly enjoyed meeting new team members and renewing old acquaintances. There is nothing quite like standing at the starting line at a Disney race with a group of like-minded and energetic friends.

One of my favorite memories of the weekend was running with my son, Liam, who was a member of Mini-Team AllEars and was participating in his first Disney race, the Buzz and Woody Friends 5K.

Crossing the finish line together and watching him get his first Disney "bling" was wonderful, but he was also afforded the opportunity to hear how his fundraising would make a difference and to be surrounded with some truly inspirational runners.

Michelle Scribner-MacLean


Tom Troost

The best way to describe this was "Wow, what a rush."

I can't thank everyone enough for the support that Team AllEars provides to all the members during the training and build up to marathon weekend.

Being able to join a group that works hard to support a great cause like the Avon Walk, meet fantastic people, and top it all off with all of the great memories of the gatherings during marathon weekend was a wonderful opportunity. Oh, and we got to run a couple races, too!

Coaching, encouraging and cajoling my wife to join me for 2011 made it that much more fun. Looking forward to seeing everyone for Team 2012!

Tom and Molly Troost


Michelle Cunningham

Wow – so I had no idea I still had any long race running in me after a few years off – but felt Team All Ears was a worthy opportunity and was compelled. I loved having the other Team Members support through out the year. The weekend itself was busy with me running around and trying new things – plus running the ½ Marathon then cheering on those in the Marathon race. I had dinner with friends at Kouzzina and really enjoyed that.

Our Team meet was the highlight though at Trails End. Meeting everyone and hearing their stories was just uplifting The Race itself was the best one I’ve ever run, and I think its cause I did not train or over train very much all year. It was great seeing Deb near the end as well to cheer me on the last mile. The cheering for those tough marathoners and Goofy runners on Sunday just made me realize wow, what a great group of people! thanks Team All Ears!

Michelle Cunningham


Cailin and Josh Gidlewski

There are so many amazing things about WDW Marathon weekend but the most magical is being their with so many friends. The race, or races as it may be for some of the team, are not an independent entities. There are organized meets and so many chance meetings on the race course and in the parks in the days surrounding. Throughout the last 2 years we have been there to support each other through an amazing journey of fitness and fundraising and marathon weekend was where we all came together and celebrated the amazing accomplishments of each individual and the team as a whole. Go Team AllEars!

Cailin and Josh Gidlewski


Helen Norlund

For me, the Marathon weekend was a turning point from beginning to end. I think just meeting Deb in person at the Belle Vue lounge and having her share with each and every one of us, especially those of us who were running for the first time, how proud she was of us and how she knew, just knew, that we would finish the race was truly a turning point for me.

I remember holding her Coast to Coast medal in my hand and thinking to myself, "I am going to have one just like this one!" and here I had not even run nor completed the first race yet. She looked me square in the eye and told me "you will finish this race because you have the passion, the drive and the determination to do this and it shows" - that really was the kick in the pants I needed to do this.

The other great moment was seeing Barrie and Stephanie at Mile 6 after coming through the Castle. I could hear Stephanie shouting for all she was worth "Hey, there is another All Ears....Go Helen, Go Helen, Go Helen" just totally made my day.

Helen Norlund

Helen Norlund


Team AllEars 2012 Live Show

LIVE Podcast, February 28, 2011

Team AllEars Logo

Team AllEars® will be broadcasting LIVE on Monday, February 28 at 8 P.M. ET.

AllEars Founder Deb Wills, Team AllEars® Running Co-Captains Michelle Scribner-MacLean and Mike Scopa will be joined by team members Evelyn DeLuccia and Dominic Abram to talk about WDW's Marathon Weekend and to answer your calls.

Team AllEars

This broadcast will be heard LIVE on MouseWorldRadio and will be available later for download on AllEars. You can also join in our chat room:


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About February 2011

This page contains all entries posted to Team AllEars® Running Blog in February 2011. They are listed from oldest to newest.

January 2011 is the previous archive.

March 2011 is the next archive.

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