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April 2011 Archives

April 1, 2011

WDW Marathon Weekend 2011: Reflections

Although I had been running for some 37 years before taken on the challenge of a half-marathon, I felt invigorated back in 2005 as I trained for my first 13.1-mile trek.

Along the way something inspirational happened.

In October 2005 I visited Orlando to run in the Race for the Taste 10K. On Friday when I went to get my race pack I found out that on that Saturday, the day before the 10K, a 5K being held in Disney’s Animal Kingdom; it was the Central Florida Susan B. Komen Race for the Cure 5K.

The race offered some “carrots” for me…the primary one being the opportunity to contribute to the fight against Breast Cancer…and running through Disney’s Animal Kingdom and the opportunity to have a nice warm-up run the day before the big race seemed pretty cool too.

On the morning of the Komen race I was moved more emotionally than I would have ever imagined. I found myself in a sea of pink, surrounded by survivors as well as those who had lost loved ones to this terrible demon Cancer.

As I lined up with everyone to start the race I could not help noticing the messages on the back of some of the shirts, “I will always love you Mom” or “To Sis, I miss you…this is for you.”

There were several men running in the race, one in particular who was a breast cancer survivor who had run in all 50 states. I had no idea men could contract this disease.

I ran the race and afterwards ran into some cast member friends who told me this was the only race they run all year…to “help the fight.”
I was overwhelmed by the emotions around me…so many people with so many stories. I was touched.

Later on that day I was in Epcot and while sitting outside the American Adventure pavilion I was approached by a middle-aged man who held out his hand and said, “Thank you!”

I was puzzled. “Excuse me? I said.

“I noticed your Komen medal.”


I had forgotten I was wearing my Komen Medal.

He continued, “I want to thank you for helping us. My wife is dealing with breast cancer and your kind gesture today to run in the race makes us realize we are not alone.”

Wow…this amazing day continued to bring strong emotions.

His wife came from out of the gift shop, say her husband talking to me, and before she could introduce herself to me, she burst into tears and hugged me and said “Thank you! Thank you so much!” We talked a bit and I did all that I could to keep from falling apart.

The emotions that this couple displayed gave me such a strong understanding of what these people must go through that I knew it would have an impact on me.

But the icing on the cake came while strolling through France in World Showcase. It’s a known fact that I am a huge Belle fan and I actually had a favorite Belle who I visited in Epcot whenever I was in World Showcase.

On this day she when she saw me she gave me a nod and said, “Hello again!” She saw my medal and while still in character she held it in her hand, paused for a few seconds, looked at me and said, “Thank you.”
I had the immediate sense that she or someone in her family had also been touched by the dark hand of Cancer and was, while still in character, letting me know how grateful she was.


I was sold.

The following year I took a step to not only to run in the race but to also be a fundraiser. I ended up finishing second to only the race director and was called up onstage. I could not speak; I was completely overwhelmed…and wondered what more I could do.

Here I am five years later surrounded by my AllEars family…that’s right…my family.

It’s wonderful to see Team AllEars do so much for the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer.

It was emotional last year to see my dear friend Deb Wills put herself through so much to train and finish her WDW half marathon…then to do the DL half marathon later in the year to capture the coast to coast medal. No one knows more than Deb herself, how difficult and arduous her training was…there’s something deep in this lady that many do not know…it’s called courage…and she displayed that badge of courage very well.

It was thrilling to see the expression on Stephanie Mathias’ face this year as she came around the corner in the EPCOT parking lot to finish her first 5K race. I was worried, until I saw that big smile of hers. As I type these words I can feel myself tearing up again as I remember that amazing moment with the rest of the team cheering her on.

It was heartwarming to see many of the people on Team AllEars, like Evelyn DeLuccia, Holly Aulen, and Eric Bouchet to do it all with a smile and show so much zest for life as they raise funds for the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer.

And it’s inspirational to see my Team AllEars Co-Captain, Michelle Scribner-MacLean run both a 5K and then the next day, run the half-marathon, even though she had a stress fracture because, as she explains, “It was the right thing to do.”

There were so many other stories for this year’s WDW 2010 Marathon weekend that I wish I could do them all justice…but in many cases the experience of seeing them take place convinced me that there are no words to properly describe them.

I do know one thing for sure…after spending time with the members of Team AllEars it is all too clear that this is no longer a team but a family…a family who fights…fights side by side to someday defeat enemy #1…Breast Cancer.


April 10, 2011

To Preview or Not To Preview a Race Course

In about a week I will be running a local 10K race on a brand new course and so I decided this past weekend to do a dry run and worked out on the course. During this training run I thought about whether or not doing so would actually help me for the race.

I know it made me feel better to run the course before the race than to wait until race day to do it for the first time but I could not really say why this was important to me.

I decided to ask if any of my Team AllEars® members felt strongly about previewing a course and why it was important to them.

Team AllEars® member Amanda Gonzalez seems to fall in my category of one who likes to preview a course.

Amanda says, “…I like to drive or run the course before race day. I am a big believer in visualizing myself running the course before race day. It helps me on the tough parts of the course to imagine myself running up the hills, into the headwinds with no problems.”

She also adds that by going over the course before race day she can “…know how to shuffle my music in the ipod the go along with the tougher parts of the course.”

One thing I never considered regarding previewing a course is the nutrition factor. Amanda says by trying out the course before race day she can determine when she might need some energy gel or how often she would need to hydrate during the race.
I know when I might need a GU for extra energy and when I might want to hydrate

Lastly, Amanda says, “I also like to know the mile markers so I can mentally prepare to count down, one down only five more to go for example.”

Team AllEars® member Jamison Reynolds sings a familiar song when he talks about previewing a course.

Jamison says, “I am concerned with elevation changes. Especially for inclines…” and Jamison make a good point when he says that for those who use the Galloway method of walking and running that, “…it is important for folks to see if those inclines will work with their walk breaks or runners will want to modify those breaks to work with the course. For example, you don't want to waste a walk on a downhill when an uphill is just around the corner.”

I think that is a great point for anyone who uses the Galloway method…but you have to preview the course to understand how best to approach the race.

Team AllEars® member Helen Norlund scoped out the Walt Disney World Half Marathon Course before running it in last January, because as Helen says, “I thought it would help me to understand the course and see where I was going and what I was up against.”

Unfortunately for Helen, there were some things that prevented this plan from working the way she had hoped.

As she explains it, “I got disoriented with the people and trying to place in my mind where things were. It was nice however to realize that I had a hill to climb and also that some would be off the beaten path.”

Helen makes an interesting point too when she points out something that I had remembered. On World Drive the runners came across a huge hot air balloon that looked like Spaceship Earth. It was confusing at first and Helen remembers, “…I got turned around when I saw the balloon for Epcot. I was panicking thinking I had done something wrong...but then realized that so did everyone else since I followed the pack but it did give me a good reality check there.”

The point here is that sometimes previewing a race does not always give you the identical conditions you will encounter during the actual race so you try to take away from that preview as much as you can but also realizing that the time of day, crowd, and unexpected things, may throw you off a bit.

For me, my concern is always the need to pace myself. Pacing is important during a race because for some people, the start of a race gets their juices flowing so much tat they tend to start off faster than they would if they were just going out for a training run. I know that there have been races in the past where I had run too fast too soon and did not have the reserves left to negotiate some hills later in the race.

When I preview a race I take into consideration the various twists and turns and where along the course I could use an interval running technique to help me put in a decent time.

One of my friends, who is also into interval running says he likes to preview a race because he then can pinpoint that point in the course where he know he can go into his interval training mode and have enough energy to not only do that but also give a final kick on that last mile.

For me, I guess it comes down to a number of reasons why I prefer to preview a race.

First, I want to be comfortable and familiar with the course and that means knowing if there are any odd areas to watch out for.

Also, as stated above, as someone who likes to throw in some interval training in a race, I need to know where the “difficult” parts of the course are to plan accordingly.

Running a race is more than just a physical chore…it also involves strategy that you need to use to do your best…hence, why some prefer to preview races.

* * * * *

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.

April 13, 2011

Running...It's All In the Family

by Amanda Gonzales

Two years ago, I had a reality check. I was 100 pounds overweight. I was classified as morbidly obese. I am a mother of four young children and this was not acceptable. I had sacrificed myself to care for everyone but myself. Noble? Maybe, but more importantly, self-destructive? Yes. My doctor told me that if I want to see my children graduate from college, that I would have to make dramatic changes. I would have to let go and learn to trust others and myself. It was time to make myself a priority and to in a sense give myself a chance by believing I was worth it.

There is this sad thing that happens when you gain a lot of weight. You start feeling like you are not worth it anymore. Like your turn has passed you by. Like you let it happen so you deserve the consequences. The lethargy, the stares, the feeling of being miserable all the time. That sums up how I felt about myself two years ago. Don't get me wrong, I had and still have a wonderful and loving husband who told me I was the most beautiful woman in the world. I had four beautiful children but something was missing. It was my confidence and my sense of self-worth. I knew I was cheating myself. I knew I was not setting a good example for my children. I worried that one day my kids might get teased at school for having the overweight mom.

I had always been an avid fan of www.allearsnet.com. One night, I was soul-searching and I was thinking about when I used to feel happy and athletic and healthy and full of life and I remembered that I was a high school and college athlete and loved to run. Nothing felt better than the freedom and peace of hitting the road and letting it all go. That was what I was missing and I needed to find it. I admired who I used to be when I was running. I was fit, healthy, people respected me, I wanted that back. It was that same night that I read the announcement about Team AllEars in the weekly newsletter.

The Disney 1/2 marathon, I had heard of it, but never thought in a million years that I could ever run 13.1 miles. Never, not me, I mean if I could get back to running two miles twice a week, that would be an accomplishment. For some reason, I registered that night for the Disney 1/2 marathon I sent an email requesting to join Team AllEars. I don't think I knew what I was doing that day, but it turns out that was the day that saved me and brought my family closer together and forever created a bond that will never be broken. That was the day we became a family who runs together!

Running Kids

I started walking and running after that day. It was hard and progress was slow, but I kept going. Very soon after I started, my kids started to become interested in what I was doing. They were asking to go running with me. We started going for walks and running together and before I knew it, in two months, we went from being a sedentary family to an active one.

It is true, your children learn from what you live. They saw me making an change in my life to become healthy and active and they wanted to join me. Our weekends now are filled with activity. We walk together, run together, and bike together. We do races together. Most road races have children's "fun runs" attached to them. When I do a race now, they do, too. They are proud of their fitness and wear their t-shirts with pride and share their accomplishments with friends and teachers.

This year, a year after I completed my first 1/2 marathon in Disney in 2010 and my first full marathon in Boston in 2010, at The 2011 Walt Disney World Marathon weekend, every person in my family completed a race. I completed the 1/2 marathon, my husband completed the 5k, my oldest two children ages 7 and 8 completed the Mickey mile, and my youngest two completed the 100 and 200 meter dash.

Running Family

We have transformed from a sedentary family to a running family. However, what makes it more meaningful is that we are a family running with purpose. My children understand that we run for our health, but also to raise money for those battling breast cancer. Throughout the year we had lemonade stands and tried to raise awareness and commit to community service with an awareness that we were running for our health, but also running with purpose to help others.

My children never knew their grandfather, who passed away from cancer in 1987. We have decided to make a change in our lives as a family and become a family running with purpose. We challenge you to do the same! The rewards are endless. Good luck from my family to yours.

Deb and Amanda


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.

Team AllEars 2012 Live Show - April 18, 2011

LIVE Podcast, April 18, 2011

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Team AllEars® will be broadcasting LIVE on Monday, April 18 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 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:


RSVP on Facebook!

Miss our Kickoff Show? Listen to our February 2011 Live Kickoff Show!

April 25, 2011

I Am A Runner

by Jorge Romero

My adventure began almost two years ago. One evening I was showing some friends the photographs I took on our last trip to Disney World. When we all saw a photo where I am with my son in front of Cinderella castle, everyone was speechless. No one knew what to say. It was evident, it was undeniable. The way I had abandoned myself, the lack of self-esteem, all the pounds I had won the last three years were clearly seen on that photograph.

Jorge - Before

I felt so ashamed of myself I turned off the camera. It was enough; I had gone too far, I needed to take action immediately. I decided it was time to return to exercise. I spent the following week with the intention of waking up early and going out to run, but that remained only as an intention.

That weekend the WDWToday podcast was having a live show. While I was listening, Mike Scopa and Michelle Scribner-MacLean began talking about a team they were creating with Deb Wills called Team AllEars. At that moment I knew I wanted to be part of it. After reading Michelle’s blog about her first half marathon and several Mike Scopa’s blogs about running at Disney, I was convinced I had to run someday trough Disney World and this was the perfect opportunity to do so.

While I was listening to the show I went into the Disney sports web page and signed up for the half marathon. I told my wife right away and she told me I was crazy. (Recently, she confessed me that at that moment (and the following months) she was very concerned, she was afraid that with my obesity and the lack of fitness I had I might had a heart attack).

Then the hard work began, suddenly that hesitation was transformed into determination and I can tell you that in the nine months leading to the Disney World half marathon 2010 I didn´t skip a single running session I had scheduled on my training plan. That determination was possible with the support and motivation of my family and my Team AllEars team mates.

Because of the distance that comes from living in another country that motivation was only possible thanks to the team Team AllEars Facebook group. That was the place where friendships were born, the place where novice runners found answers to all of their doubts. There were days where I felt like I was going nowhere, where I felt I was not going to be able to achieve the fitness to run 13 miles but there was always someone to encourage me and tell me it was possible.

Then 20 days before leaving for Disney World I was laid off. It was a very difficult time for me; it was the first time in my life that something like that had happened to me. I was very worried and almost canceled my half marathon trip. I was supposed to go with my wife and kids but in the end I had to go solo. Those days where the most difficult ever.

Finally the day arrived and I left my wife and kids to finish what I started 9 months before. I already had lost 35 pounds and I felt like I was ready. I was so nervous when I arrived late to the Yee Haw Bob meet at Port Orleans, I’ve always been kind of shy and meeting new people has never been a skill in me, let alone meeting new people that didn’t speak my native language. When I arrived I first saw Michelle, and then Mike, Suzanne, Tacey, Jamison, Julie and Melanie and Matt Hochberg from the WDWToday podcast was also there with his wife, Marissa. It was so surreal; I was so nervous but then it was as if we had known each other forever, just a group of friends meeting again after not seeing each other for a while.


I successfully ran my half marathon it was a great feeling. The satisfaction from achieving that goal was priceless, but just as rewarding was the journey in which I met the wonderful people of Team AllEars. All the healthy new habits I’d formed (exercising at least four days a week, eating healthy, all the running knowledge I gathered) and how all of this changed my life so dramatically is something I would have never imagined. I am now a better person, friend, father, husband and even a much more efficient employee. I am different now, I am a new better, improved version of my former self … I am a runner.

Final Jorge


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.

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About April 2011

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

March 2011 is the previous archive.

May 2011 is the next archive.

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