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March 2, 2011

Team AllEars Profile: Sara Rhodes

My first ½ Marathon

From the title alone, you know that I am now a half-marathoner, and I plan on doing more. This is a goal finally realized, and what a journey it has been.

I should explain my background first; it helps to set up the whole story. Growing up, my sister and I were athletes. We were encouraged by my parents to get out there and play. I joined the local swim club in grade school, and I found my true passion. I found a sport that my body was built for…speed was not my forte. I was built for distance.

I stayed stick-like until high school, where my freshman year on the varsity swim team I put on 15 pounds of muscle. I still look back at my years on the swim team as special. It was a great group of people to be around, and to this day they are some of my biggest supporters and cheerleaders. When I got my acceptance letter to the University of Illinois, my high school coach was one of the first to congratulate me. It meant the end of my swimming career and the beginning of my struggles with weight, food and working out. But I don’t think I would change my mind, even if I knew what my life would be like for the next 12 years.

I stayed thin…until junior year hit. My roommate and I moved into our apartment, and I met my future ex-husband. He graduated, had a full time career and wanted to date me. I have never had luck with guys (and still don’t)…but here was a cute guy who wanted to take me out to dinner and cook for me. On top of that, I had a car to drive back and forth to class and work. I had a boyfriend who wanted to play video games and watch movies. And I settled. The weight continued to pile on over the next few years as real life begin.

Life was fast food for lunch, take out for dinner, oversized portions of food when we did make food at home. I found myself looking into the mirror and not recognizing the person looking back. After a particularly fattening holiday season, I had it. I stopped looking at the scale at 185 pounds, and I know I probably hit at least 190. For a girl that was 120 pounds of pure muscle just a few years earlier, it was depressing. 2007 needed to be the year of change. Little did I know what that meant until later.

I started to get kind of serious about my health…and then…

Life got way to serious. My then husband started acting strange. He wasn’t happy, and I didn’t know how to fix it. To this day I don’t know if I could have fixed it. He stopped talking to me, despite my every attempt to get him to talk. My best friend now looked at me like I was his enemy. For months I fought to save my marriage. He promised to try too, but in the end he didn’t.

Following my sister’s wedding, I took a solo trip to Disneyland. It would be my first trip to DL, as well as my first solo trip.

I spent a Monday – Friday in Disneyland, exploring Walt’s dream. I looked in every hotel, walked through every store, and rode every open ride. While I spent a lot of time texting and calling my family and friends, but for the most part it was me and my thoughts in the Happiest Place on Earth. How amazing was that feeling when I said “self, what do YOU want to do next?” Compromise was not necessary, it was just me. Every day my confidence in my ability to be out on my own grew.

3 pm on Jan 4th, at the age of 26, I was divorced. I spent that weekend in front of the tv, barely eating. I don’t like to miss meals, so after two days of that I decided to pick myself up, head to work. Work was a great way to escape the feelings, and became my safe haven. June of that year I bought my own house, and life really felt like it was getting back to a positive place. I learned to live on my own (and that, by the way, is the best advice my cousin Tracey gave me!)

Since then, life has only gotten better. I still work for the athletic department, I still love my house. My sister had a baby, and my niece is the greatest kid ever. Still, something was missing.

I continued to lose weight, and hit about 140 late in 2009. My goal weight was 130, and I struggled to get past the 140 mark. Something had to change, and not just my eating and drinking habits.

I couldn’t tell you when I got the crazy idea to run a half marathon. I think I was in college, probably about the same time that I decided I wanted a tattoo. (Yes, I do have one! it is on my left wrist, and it is the Chinese symbols for Inner Strength).

A friend from work needed a 4th person to run on her Marathon Relay for the Illinois Marathon in Champaign. For the next four months, I trained. I didn’t have a drop of coke. I mostly resisted sweets and fatty foods. And those last 10 pounds came off.

There are a lot of comparisons between swimming and running. Yes, it can be a team sport, but ultimately it is just you, staring at the bottom of a pool, running to the beat of your own feet on the pavement. It is just you and the clock. I found one of the feelings that I had been missing…

I was hooked after that first race. 5k races kept me busy over the summer, and I used them as an excuse to travel. I decided that I survived a 7 mile run, I could double that. I wanted my first half marathon to be amazing, so I chose to make a trip to the Disney World Marathon weekend.

My First ½ Marathon: Running for a Purpose

Reading all that I could on the Disney Marathon Weekend, I quickly became overwhelmed. In talking to Dad about possibly using their DVC points, Mom decided she wanted to go with me and walk the 5k. I felt better knowing someone would be there with me, and I signed us up for the 5k. Shortly after, I came across information about Team AllEars.

I decided to join up with the group. I might as well raise money for a great cause while training; it would be an extra motivation. A private group on facebook was set up for the team, and I got to know everyone by friending them. Over the last several months, I have followed everyone’s training, learned about them and their families, and most importantly, had their support.

Veterans helped us rookies out with information and suggestions, and we all swapped information about everything from what music we listen to on our training runs to tips about injuries. I felt like I knew many of them well before we met. Many teammates hit their $500 goal well before the races, and with the support of friends and family, I got to $540 at the beginning of December.

Training went well, until December. Turns out, December 2010 had some of the highest snowfall and coldest temps in recorded history, and that makes for tough training conditions. The treadmill and I have our differences, and by the end of December, I hated it. With a passion. (Teammate Mandy calls it the “dreadmill”.)

I didn’t train nearly long enough, and my mileage quickly slipped below where it should be. I knew that this first ½ marathon was going to be rough, but I kept up the positive attitude. The best advice from one of my bosses (who is also a cross country coach)- “Just finish. It is your first, you can use it as a base for you next runs”. I struggled with eating and drinking properly, and 5 lbs quickly were put back on over the month of December.

Finally, it was time to leave for Disney. Mom and I are veterans at traveling, and we know Disney better than home. We headed over to ESPN Wide World of Sports from Saratoga Springs and picked up our packets. I loved WWofSports, I hope to head back there to visit and watch a game or two someday. Everything was well directed, and after about 2 hours we had our packets, free samples and all kinds of info on other races and running gear. Dinner at Cap’n Jacks (turns out you CAN eat healthy in Disney!) and then a bit of shopping before we headed back to the room.

The 5k wake-up call was 4:30 am for a 7 am race. 5500 runners and walkers were ready to go in the pre-race area. Disney had a nice set up, with bag checks, a DJ and concessions. Mom and I wandered around before eventually taking our places in the corrals. Buzz and Woody were on hand to start the race, and fireworks went off as runners headed out. It was an untimed fun run, so I used it as a pre-race warm up.

I used the first mile to warm up and get used to the feeling of pavement under my feet. Once we headed from the back stage area into the EPCOT World Showcase, I was able to relax and enjoy the run and view. The sun was just coming up over the countries, and it was fun to see characters in various pavilions. The final turn to the finish line had Team AllEars/AllCheers lined up and yelling loudly.

I had a Buzz and Woody medallion placed around my neck, and I felt good. 3 miles felt like nothing, and I just got to run though EPCOT. I introduced myself to a few teammates and got a big hug from Deb before finding mom and heading back for showers and breakfast. We headed out to Hollywood Studios for a few hours, with lunch at Mama Melrose. I headed back to the room for a bath and a nap, and decided to relax and rest. I chatted with an aunt and sister, and watched crappy tv. Being bored helped to slow everything down so I could focus on what I was about to do.

Sleep came surprisingly easy, but nothing can really prepare you for a 2:40 am wake up call. I had everything lined up and ready to go, and I was at the bus stop by 3 am. Around 4 am I was able to meet up with other teammates who were running the half, and it was great to finally say hi in person. Talking to them kept me calm. Thanks, mates.

After a long walk from the pre-race area to the start line with 27,000 other runners, I was ready. I found myself doing some of the same ‘shake offs’ that I used to do before my swim races. They could have put a starting block in front of me, I would have used it. I was in the 4th wave of runners, and we were started off with fireworks. The first 5.5 miles felt great. But the run though MK was magical, and there were a TON of people cheering. The next 2.5 miles until mile 8 felt good, and after the half way point my mentality shifted from first half to second half.

Somewhere between miles 8 and 10, I started to hurt. I was hungry and felt a little dehydrated, so I used the Clif Bar stop and water stops to walk and try to regain my energy. Miles 10-12 were brutal. I think I cursed them with every word in the book. The course was flat until after mile 10, then there were two overpasses to climb. Those of us from central Illinois are not used to any kind of hills at all, so they were a bit of a struggle.

Thankfully, right before that second overpass, Team AllCheers was there to get my spirits back up. PERFECT place to cheer, thanks again mates!

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Once over the final overpass, Spaceship Earth loomed in the distance. Finally, a point in the distance that meant the end. The final 1.1 miles were amazing, running through future world in EPCOT and past a gospel choir to the finish where thousands were cheering loudly (and Journey’s Don’t Stop Believing on my IPod)… it made it worth it. The training, the dreadmill, sore muscles and knee pains, the fundraising,…worth it.

Later that afternoon was the official team meeting that most of the team was able to attend. I was so glad to finally, FINALLY meet everyone. Deb gave a great speech, and Mike, Michelle and the rest of the ‘buds’ got their much deserved recognition. Jamison made a CD with running music, picked from various people’s running list discussed on our chat board.

Deb gave us all an additional medal. But the most amazing moment was the final tally… of nearly $47 thousand dollars raised. The money raised goes to a great organization, and now those who suffer from this deadly disease will have the help they need to fight.

Dinner at Trails End was good, but the company was amazing. Mike and his wife Joelle, Julie, Deb…it was like we were all old friends. The bus to the main part of the complex to hop in Mike and Joelle’s car had a few other teammates to chat up. I was sad that the evening had to end, but many of them had to get ready for another early start for the full marathon. Mom and I headed back into the room to pack and get ready for our early 4 am wake up call.

Running is amazing, but the experiences that come along with running are what make it all worth it. I have met some amazing people, and I hope to run alongside all of them again.
Thank you to all of my Team AllEars mates who cheered, encouraged and kept me otherwise from going crazy. Thank you to all of you who donated to this amazing cause. This last year has been one amazing ride; I hope that 2011 is even better.


March 4, 2011

Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend 2011 - Reflections Part 2

Team AllEars 2011
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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 on this amazing journey - Part 2!

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Brad Garfinkel

My race memories began when I arrived at BWI and first met fellow team members Dan, Tim and Kerry who were all on the same flight to WDW.

I arrived at WDW and immediately went to the race expo where I ran into fellow team member, and fraternity big brother Rob. A special highlight was the time spent talking with Eric as we reminisced about meeting in the half marathon corral during our first race 2 years prior and how far we have each come with our improved health and and focus on running.

Arriving at Port Orleans, it was like coming home and seeing family when I got to catch up with Jamison, Melanie, Julie, Jessica, Holly & Dave, Amanda as well as our leaders Deb, Mike and Michelle. It was a thrill to run the 5K on Friday and get the first taste of crossing the finishing line which I would repeat two additional times over the weekend. A highlight of the 5K was seeing a smiling Stephanie cross the finish line to earn her well deserved medal.

The camaraderie of the 4am pre half-marathon team gathering, photo and pep talk really got the adrenaline flowing for the 13.1 journey ahead. It was a thrill to see Team AllCheers stationed throughout the race course and to be cheered by complete strangers rooting for Team Allears. Saturday’s meet at Fort Wildness was exciting as we got to congratulate first time half-marathon finishers who were already planning ahead for their next personal challenge.

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The unveiling of the fundraising total really got the emotions flowing and for those of us running on Sunday, this was the motivation we needed to tackle 26.2 miles. Sunday’s 4am pre full marathon team gathering again helped bond team members who were running 26.2 miles or capping off their Goofy or Dopey weekends of 39.3 or 42.4 miles. Once again seeing Team AllCheers out on the course really gave the runners something to look forward to.

The final race highlight for me was heading down Hollywood Blvd at the Studios and running into Josh and Dominic. It was great to share part of the final leg of the marathon with several Team Allears teammates as we headed towards the finish line. The weekend went by way to quickly. While the weekend was about running and raising funds for a terrific cause, the relationships and friendships that were developed are what I will remember and cherish the most. It is amazing that a group of like-minded strangers can do when they join a team “Running with Purpose.”

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Julie Olson

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Team All Ears means so much to me. For the last two years I have been able to meet some incredible people who helped me through the hardest parts of training and made me laugh when I needed it most. I loved getting to run side-by-side with my teammates and hear people scream out our names! Most of us started out as strangers but we ended up a family. I'll see you next year!


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Stan Harris

I had such a blast being part of the team for this year. Made some fantastic new friends, teammates & memories. I was blown away by the team meet we had on Saturday afternoon. Can't express enough how much I enjoyed being involved in a such a worthy cause, Thanks so much for letting me participate. I enjoyed running the Goofy challenge so much, I think I will do it again.

1st one is me,Dominic Abram & Gording Harvey after the 1/2 marathon, 2nd one is me, Dominic & Josh Gidlewski during the full marathon

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Holly Aulen

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Being a part of Team All Ears once again in 2011 was such a rewarding experience. The people I have met through the Team are now life long friends. I received 4 medals for running the weekends races but the 5th medal I received for being a part of Team All Ears is the one that means the most to me. It represents so much. Strength, courage, friendship and most of all a huge step to end breast cancer. I can't wait to be a part of the team again in 2012.

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Scott Lebeau

Here's a picture I had taken somewhere around mile 20-22. A supporter was holding the sign and it summed up how I felt. The feeling of crossing that finish line was worth the torture I put myself through to reach it. I look at the pictures from the race, and my medal, with pride and I don't even remember the sore legs anymore. It was an honor to run as a member of Team AllEars and to raise money for your cause. The pride associated with that equals crossing the finish line.

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Shawn Moffett

When I signed up for Team AllEars, I was a Disney Fan, but not a runner. I thought it sounded like fun to run through the parks. But, since I was 39 years old, I figured it was now or never. Although I had never met any of my other Teammates, I felt like I had known them for years. Anytime I was down, hurting or lost my motivation, they were there to boost me back up and steer me in the right direction.

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I did not get a chance to meet any of my Teammates until Marathon Weekend. Each and every person I met treated my wife and I like family. No matter what our finish time or pace was, they cheered us on along the way and hugged us at the end.

Since this was my first Half-Marathon, I had no idea what to expect.

Running at Disney is truly amazing. Not only are you running with thousands of other Disney fans, who motivate you along the way, but there are total strangers cheering for you and yelling your name. It’s a great feeling to be running along, wondering why you decided to do this and how much it hurts, and then standing in the crowd is a group of people with a Team AllEars sign. You hear these people above everyone else (the cowbells helped) and for a brief time you forget the pain and you forget how tired you are.

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Team AllEars was a great experience. I have many new friends that I would not have met without this Team. Thanks to everyone for their support over the past year. I am planning on returning next year and I can’t wait to see everyone again.

For those of you who supported Team AllEars and the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer, Thank You. We could not have done it without the support of all of you!

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Debbie Belloli

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Joining Team AllEars was one of the best things I have ever done. It was the friendliest, kindest and most helpful group of people I have ever met. People that have never met me before I got to Florida for the rest gave me great advice and helped me make sure I had everything I needed for race day.

Many times I almost chickened out thinking I'm too old, inexperienced and out of shape to do the race. But with everyone's encouragement I was able to finish 10 miles of the race before being swept. I am very proud of myself and even prouder to have been part of Team AllEars! And the bonus...we raised lots of money for Breast Cancer! I can't wait for next year.


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Eric Bouchet

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This year was my second year with Team AllEars. Words cannot describe the emotions that well up within me whenever I tell people about this magnificent group of people. The people I have met and the Friendships and memories that have been made will last a lifetime.

Becoming a runner was a very difficult thing for me but it has been such an overwhelming experience, and an absolutely incredible journey. In 2 and a half short years I have become a 7 time Half-Marathoner and a 2 time Marathoner with multiple smaller races in between. I look forward to many many more years of TEAM ALLEARS as we all continue TO RUN WITH A PURPOSE!!!!!!.

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Jessica Cutler

After finishing my very first half marathon during the 2010 Marathon weekend I was hooked in this running thing. After seeing the fun times that my teammates during the Goofy Challenge that year had, I knew that's what the next step was for me.


On the very first day registration opened for 2011 Marathon weekend, I signed myself up for the Goofy Race and 1/2. The entire year of 2010 was spent getting ready for that Half Marathon and Full Marathon. Thanks to Team AllEars I had Friends, REAL friends who were training right along with me, going through the same things. I could ask questions and just have someone to talk to about how my training was going. It made the year speed by and before I knew it, it was January again, Time for the races!

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Marathon weekend 2011 is a weekend I will never, ever forget. It is one of the best weekends I've had in my entire life. Seeing friends from my team before the race who shared my nervous energy, seeing teammates on the course cheering us on and going to the team meets were some of the most happy memories I have.

The best part of the weekend was running the Full Marathon with Holly and Rhonda. These two women are amazing and without them, I think I'd still be somewhere between the Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom. They were so supportive and happy, running with them really made the miles fly by.

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The full marathon part of the Goofy Challenge was my first full marathon. It was an experience I cherish everyday, and it was "plussed" by running with two friends. Finishing the marathon and getting that Mickey medal and then walking over and getting a Goofy medal was so surreal. I'm still pinching myself because I'm still amazed that I could do it. I care so much for each person on Team AllEars and can't wait to see old friends and new ones next year. I'm such a lucky person to have met such wonderful people.

March 11, 2011

All About Team AllEars 2012


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What is Team AllEars 2012?

It is nothing less than a group of friends who for the last several years have set out to do some important things with joining the fight against breast cancer at the top of their list.

Team AllEars was founded in 2009 and spent that initial year raising funds for Deb Wills' Avon Walk for Breast Cancer. By the time the 2010 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend had arrived, the team had raised over $26,000 dollars.

Beyond that the team had raised breast cancer awareness throughout the year and along the way, found themselves getting healthier and stronger as they trained for the big weekend.

In 2010 this team continued to add to their still young legacy by growing in number and, despite a challenging economy, surpassed their fund-raising total during their first year of existence.

As Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend 2011 approached the team worked hard, in both training and fund-raising efforts.

When the smoke had cleared the team had truly accomplished what no member could have ever dreamed they would see. The team not only surpassed the total they had raised their first year but had come oh so close to doubling that figure. Later in February, when all donations had been counted, the Team Raised $50,535 to fight breast cancer!

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Team AllEars also includes Team AllCheers who support the Team AllEars runners and their efforts by attending the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend and cheering them on.

The Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend is the culmination of all their efforts and is filled with celebratory events…meets…dinners…breakfasts, and other special get togethers to celebrate the team success and to re-energize for the upcoming year.

Beyond the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend in January, team members join up throughout the year to run in other races around the country to enjoy friendship and support. Through the last two years the team has grown into a family with a major goal in mind.

As the team moves into its third year momentum continues to grow.
As each year comes and goes, the expectation is that at the least, the team will continue to bring breast cancer awareness to as many people as it can touch, and along the way, find themselves getting healthier and healthier as they train and run to defeat this demon Cancer.

Listen to the Live Show when we Kicked Off Team AllEars 2012!~!!

How to Join

For you to join the Team AllEars 2012 you must first be registered for one of the 2012 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend races.

Secondly, you are asked to committing to raising $500 or more to Deb Wills' Avon Walk for Breast Cancer Fund, along the way raising breast cancer awareness as well.

Member Benefits

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

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

Team members are encouraged to participate in the Team AllEars Facebook page (open to members only).

All team members will be invited to special team events during the 2012 WDW Marathon Weekend.

If you would like to become a member of the Team AllEars Running team please send an email to Team AllEars Co-Captain Michelle Scribner-MacLean at michelle@teamallears.com.

Remember, the only way to run is to run with purpose.

March 15, 2011

Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend 2011 - Reflections Part 3

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 3!

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Evelyn DeLuccia

Being a part of Team AllEars 2011 has been the best experience. Raising money for breast cancer, making new friends both on Facebook and finally meeting them in person Marathon weekend, being motivated to train and help motivate others, doing the 5K and 1/2 marathon with a great bunch of people, all made this year's marathon weekend extra special.

I loved every moment.

I enjoyed attending many of the "meet and greets", especially the Illuminations Dessert Party. Making plans to do some other races during the year with team members is great. Getting the 1/2 marathon medal AND receiving a Team AllEars medal was super special. Having my husband, daughter, future son-in-law and some of his family at the many races marathon weekend, to cheer me on as well as to cheer for all Team AllEars members, was terrific. I look forward to going "Goofy" and/or "Dopey" in 2012 with Team AllEars. Go Team!!

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Amanda Gonzales

It was an honor and a privilege to be a part of Team All Ears 2011. I was amazed by the commitment so many teammates made to change the path of their lives by working hard to improve their fitness and achieve their race goals.

As an "All Ears Bud", I was able to closely interact and follow the progress of many incredible individuals as they progressed from never running a mile before to running a 5k and half marathon and more. Anyone can do this if you take that first step and leap forward with confidence. Team All Ears is a family to me.

The most cherished part of this experience for me this year was that unlike last year, my entire family raced and fund raised with me. My 9, 7, 5, 2 year old and my husband all ran races this year. Training with my family helped me convey the importance of nutrition and exercise to them and hopefully that lesson and commitment will stay with them forever. It was also important to involve my children in fund raising this year and teach them about their need to be involved in the community and to dedicate their time toward helping others in need. The support and friendship from this team and the lessons learned have forever changed my life for the better.

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Erwin Mascardo

As the the first major accomplishment that Julia, Lily, and I have done together as a family, our whole weekend was all about personal achievement, and also about being a team and supporting each other. Even though the photo is of me alone after crossing the finish line, I would have never made it there without everyone from Team AllEars having stood behind me through the many months of training. This especially includes the teammates who are also my immediate family! Well done to Julia and Lily as well!

Be sure to read my wife Julia's story too!

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Heather Little


WOW! I ran 13 miles... I ran 13 miles! Looking back, it seems like the weekend flew by however during the actual run, miles 9 through 12 seemed to last FOREVER... Over the past 8 months, I became a runner (I finally feel comfortable calling myself that). It was very difficult to get to that day ~ my dad having a stroke 2 weeks before, finding care for my kids for the long weekend was hard, the training was hard (not to mention extremely cold) however finding the time to run was the most difficult part. Looking back, totally worth it, raising money for breast cancer research


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There is this one point in the race, after passing the Grand Floridian, on the road back to Epcot, that a DJ playing music with the people cheering me on, and I remember thinking to myself "This is pretty cool."

My knee pain kicked in around mile 9 and I owe quite a bit to the Gu and BioFreeze tables. I was so afraid that I was going to get swept so I ran as much as I could through the pain. When I finally made it through the finish line and I saw the words MEDICAL, so I ran straight in for some ice. Unfortunately, I didn't realize how this would look to my poor husband, who had been cheering me on for the last 3 hours, from the sidelines. I freaked him out quite a bit, causing him to demand to get to that medical area to a poor, unsuspecting race volunteer. Something for us to laugh at now. After it all, it was a great day ~ beautiful weather, a lot of laughs, wonderful cause, motivation was in the air, a big, blingy metal, the sense of pride, and all that Disney magic.


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Tim Tosten

On that fateful day in April 2010, Deb Wills told me about her experiences in running the Disney Half, and Kerry, Dan and I all said lets do it! Having never really even ran, and being many pounds over weight, who would have thought that the training, the great virutal team support, and the all of the fundraising would actually culminate in us running our very first half marathon. Fast forward to January 2011, and Kerry and I (Dan was much faster) started out in the dark to see how these next 13.1 miles would go. Having never run more than 10 miles in training, I fretted about how the last 3.1 miles would be and how my body would react. I kept telling myself that it is only a 5K left to go, I have run them before, and I can do it now (trying to convince myself that I hadn't just run 10 miles.)

I got to 11.5 miles and I saw the big overpass looming ahead and thought wow...this is going to be hard, how am I actually going to do this. Then...I saw our Team cheering us on. I needed that. I wanted that. And as you can tell from the picture...I hugged Deb with all of the energy I could muster, and she did the same.

That hug got me over than dreaded incline, got me through Epcot, and got me around the turn to the finish line. What did I see there at the turn...more Team All Cheers, and Dan holding his medal (told you he was faster!) Seeing our team, and that hug from Deb pushed me through to the end. I did it...I ran a half marathon (with Kerry by my side the entire time.)

Team All Ears was such a wonderful group of supportive persons and while most of us never met in person until marathon weekend, I felt I knew them all. I am really looking forward to being part of the team next year...they have become my running family.

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Mary Jean Kancel

When I joined Team AllEars 2011, little did I know the amazing journey I was about to undertake. As a first time runner the advice, insight, and encouragement from experienced runners on the team was invaluable. It was reassuring to learn other team members new to running shared the same fears and worries as me.

I had never participated in fundraising prior to this and that was as daunting as the thought of running a Half Marathon. But I learned the generosity of my family and friends was beyond anything I could have imagined. To say I reaped more from this experience than I sowed would be an understatement. It was an honor and a privilege to be a part of the team.

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Gordon Harvey

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Serving on Team AllEars was an honor. A privilege. First, the cause that we supported and the incredible person who supported us, Deb, made this one of the most worthwhile things I’ve ever done.

It really didn’t hit me until I saw three things. First was during the Half-Marathon when I ran by a couple of AllEars cheering stations. These people knew me; they called my name. I teared up! My teammates were cheering me on as I ran in support of ending breast cancer!

The second time was in the Marathon. There they were again. Up so early, they could have been snuggled in bed, warm and cozy. Yet they came out to cheer us on. Holding signs, taking pictures. My teammates, all incredible people.

But I was thunderstruck at the gathering on Saturday afternoon for photos and for Deb to put her medals on us. I looked around and saw some of the most amazing people I’ve known. All united in a singular purpose, all sharing a camaraderie that centered around a love for all things Disney and a love for life, and the extension of life through the eventual end of cancer. I felt so small compared to these giants around me. They worked tirelessly to raise money for Avon Cancer Walk, they didn’t give up, they pressed on and raised a record amount of money so that someday we will see an end to breast cancer. I will never forget that moment. I will never forget these people. And I will never forget the amazing hug that this giant of a woman gave me that day. Thank you Deb, for letting me tag along as part of this incredible group of heroes.


March 24, 2011

The Fight - Team AllEars

by Jamison Reynolds

I would like to think that someday teams like Team Allears will not be necessary. I am not talking about eliminating camaraderie, running, or Walt Disney World from our lives, but the idea that we need to raise money for the fight against cancer. I know my group of friends on Team Allears and I am sure that if cancer did not exist then we would find another disease to fight, but cancer decided to try and take on our friend Deb Wills about 25 years ago and not only did it fail in that battle, it now has to deal with us!

Although a person is considered a survivor from the moment of diagnosis, not everyone has a happy ending. Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in women today (after lung cancer) and is the most common cancer among women, excluding nonmelanoma skin cancers. In 2011 alone, over 1.3 million women from across the globe will be diagnosed and 465,000 survivors will be lost.

Team Allears supports Deb and, by extension, the Avon Walk For Breast Cancer because of the great work that organization does in the fight against breast cancer. The efforts of last year's team went to support continued research on a biomarker that may be able to identify breast cancer patients who are at a higher risk of recurrence, research on biomarkers that can accurately distinguish breast cancers that are very aggressive from less aggressive types, mobile mammography service known as the "Mammovan" which serves 2,500 women in Washington, D.C., and numerous patient navigation programs. Avon does not just support the research that will be employed in the fight against cancer tomorrow, they support those that are living with the disease today.

Research says that one in three Americans will eventually develop some form of cancer in their lifetime. Those who do not develop cancer will most likely know someone directly fighting the disease. For most of my life I was lucky enough not knowing what cancer looked like. Cancer was always something I heard about, but not something I ever really "worried" about. I started smoking when I was 14, starting drinking before I was 21 and did not lead the most healthiest of lifestyles. By the time I was 22 I was smoking my 1st cigarette of the day as soon as I awoke, with my pack next to my alarm clock.

My wife had the opposite experience. Many of her family members fought the disease as she grew up. Her mother was a cancer survivor, having beaten breast cancer. Shortly after we were married, my mother-in-law went in for a scan shortly after her 5 year anniversary of beating cancer (for those who don't know, that 5 year mark is a MAJOR milestone in the fight)... and they found a spot on her lung. For the first time in my life I saw cancer. I saw my mother-in-law go through surgeries, chemo, and radiation. I saw her lay in bed unable to move, unable to eat, but I saw her FIGHT.

We lost Pat, an amazing women, an anchor in her community, in January 2005. Her funeral was like a head of state had left us. People lined up in the rain for hours to pay their respect. I had never seen any thing like it. I saw for the first time what cancer can take. Pat never got to see her grandkids and only got to be at one of her daughters' weddings. Five girls lost their mother, two were still in high school.

The following month I took as position with the American Cancer Society as a Community Manager. I was angry and I was going to get directly involved in the fight. I was going to do what I could to fight this awful disease. I had already quit smoking, l and after having been rattled by losing Pat I was ready to make cancer my full time job.

Shortly afterwards, my grandpa went to the doctor, got x-rays, and was in the hospital. Having gone in for a bad cough and weight loss, the doctors found cancer in his lungs, liver, spine and the base of his scull. After having never seen cancer growing up, there was MY grandfather, seven months after having lost Pat and six months after going to work for the ACS, laying in a hospital bed hearing the extent of his cancer.

They started him on a aggressive treatment plan to get it under control... to buy time. The doctors thought they could manage the disease to the point he would have six months to a year. Two weeks later I got the call, that horrible call no one who has moved away from home wants to get.

He held on long enough for his grandson and his wife to drive from West Virginia to the Jersey Shore. He passed 15 minutes after we arrived. He got to hear me make one more bad joke and I got to kiss his forehead and tell him goodbye. He passed two months before his first great grandson (named Patrick in part to honor my lost mother in law) was born.

Over the coming months articles will be written on this blog about everything from training programs to favorite music selections to diet to how to get up for a run at 2:30 in the morning, but make no mistake. Team Allears is in a fight against cancer.

We may not be the scientists who will find the cure or the doctor who will administer that cure, but we will be the ones that helped fund that cure. We will be the ones that raised awareness about the fight against cancer.

Please stay tuned as to how you can get involved, either by joining us as a runner, supporting us as a friend or donor, or simply doing what you can to prevent cancer in your own life or the lives of your loved ones.

We are Team Allears and we RUN WITH PURPOSE.


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If you're planning on running a Walt Disney World race in January 2012 and you'd like to join Team AllEars in the fight against breast cancer, please email Michelle at Michelle@teamallears.com

March 26, 2011

Getting Started: Setting Goals

Once you make the decision has been to get off that couch and to start an exercise or running program it’s very important to put together some realistic goals for yourself.

The important word in the paragraph above is “realistic” because if you aren’t honest with yourself, the first month or so can lead to frustration, stress, disappointment and that means that you may find yourself giving up or just quitting.

So being able to look in the mirror and say, “I want to be able to…” and to finish that statement with a goal that is reachable is important.

Remember that you are allowed to also adjust your goals as you go along this journey. No one says “Well Mike you can set your goals only now and that’s it…no adjustments…no takeys back…now or never.”

Nonsense. Is that how life is? Certainly not. We go through life making adjustments all the time…we have to be flexible in order to get through the day, the week, the month, the year…through life.

The same holds for a running and/or exercising program.

So here are a few questions for you to ponder when taking up an exercise or running program:

• What is the most important overall goal you are looking for?
• Is your goal overall improvement in health?
• Do you want to be able to run a certain distance?
• Do you want to run a certain distance in a certain amount of time?
• Do you want to lose weight?
• Do you want to do a combination or all of the above?

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One of the realistic areas we all have to consider when setting goals with an exercise or running program is to understand exactly what our limitations are and that is something that is different for everyone. So for instance, this year I am setting a long-term goal for myself, and to meet that goal by setting short-term goals as well.

For instance, the long-term goal is to improve my half-marathon pace. So I am looking for a certain pace range for that distance. Is it realistic? Yes because in the past I have come within 30 seconds of that pace so it’s doable.

Is there a way to put together short-term goals to help me reach that long-term goal? I think so.

I know I cannot go out tomorrow and run a half marathon in a certain amount of time…maintain a certain pace…but over the past month I have been slowly building up my stamina and conditioning to hit that goal pace mark on shorter distances. I have a plan over the next six months to gradually look at how often I will run and how I will gradually add not just the distance but incorporate the pace for which I want to eventually run for a half marathon.

So I am being realistic about not just how long it will take me to achieve this goal and whether or not it’s achievable but also realizing that along the way I need to set realistic and timely milestones so that I am making progress along the way and feeling good about it.

For anyone starting off with a running program one of your first goals is to understand that it’s not going to be an overnight training session and that running is very much like a half or a full marathon…it takes a while to do it.

It’s a good idea to set milestone goals…for instance. If you have never run start simple and for the first several weeks walk and slow jog and every day add two to five more minutes to your workout.

Perhaps a short-term goal for you is to be able to run an entire mile without having to stop to walk…in a sense to build upon a foundation and to add a little each day.

One of the pitfalls we are all prone to is overdoing it and thus resulting in a setback. You don’t want to get into the rut of one step forward and two steps back…hence why it’s important to be realistic…especially early on.

Once you get into the rhythm of running and exercising routines your goals become both easier and realistic to establish.

For instance during the first month or two of your running program you will recognize how much you can add to your workout each day…understanding what is just right for you and also what is too much.

You will also recognize, as your body talks to you, what you will require for rest…this will vary and shift as your program goes along.

I’ve often been a fan of the “milestone chunking” approach mentioned above, which to me seems to be the safest and most realistic approach to training.

When you “chunk” you have two visions…a long-term vision, and in my opinion, much more importantly, a short-term vision that once you reach…allows you to set another short-term vision.

So here’s an example…going back to my plan for this year…I might as well stick to something I feel I can easily explain.

In my quest to run a half marathon within a certain pace, I recognize that this is a gradual process…thus I have set a thirty day plan for myself that says at the beginning of each month I hope to run an two miles further than I did at the beginning of the previous month…at the pace range I want.

That gives me 30 days to increase my mileage by 2 miles while maintaining the pace I want to achieve. This gives me the opportunity to take a gradual approach to this quest of mine.

Yes my long range vision has me focusing on a particular date to run a half marathon distance at that pace but I’m really ignoring that because I need to focus on the short-term goals and I know that if I can attain and meet those goals then I have a pretty good chance of reaching the long-term goal.

To that end I take the short-term goal…that monthly goal and break it down into weekly and even daily chunks so that it’s easier to see little pockets of progress.

Finally, think about what makes you happy and what you need to do along this journey to keep you going.

By happy I mean…RESULTS….if you are realistic in your goals…that’s half the battle towards achieving success.

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To help…why not figure out a way to check your progress…chart your training…perhaps join a tracking website like www.dailymile.com which will give you the opportunity to log your progress.

Seeing results is a great motivator in helping you get up every day and look forward to building towards your eventual long-term goal…your long-term realistic goal.

So…be real….be realistic.

If you are a member of Team AllEars join me in a discussion of goals on the Team AllEars FaceBook page.

If you would like to become a member of the Team AllEars Running team please send an email to Team AllEars Co-Captain Michelle Scribner-MacLean at michelle@teamallears.com.

Remember, the only way to run is to run with purpose.


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About March 2011

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

February 2011 is the previous archive.

April 2011 is the next archive.

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