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June 2011 Archives

June 6, 2011

Green and Growing....Lesson From My Running Mentee

by Michelle Scribner-MacLean
Co-Captain, Team AllEars

This year for the first time Team AllEars has implemented a running mentor program: members can request a veteran runner to offer one-on-one virtual guidance along the way. Although we have lots of support systems in place to help our runners, the hope was not that folks would have professional coaches (because none us are), but rather that they could have a personal and more experienced cheerleader. I believe that the original idea came from Team AllEar Bud Amanda Gonzales, but right away I knew that it was a good one. During my first Walt Disney World race several years ago, Mike Scopa volunteered to take me through the ropes and offered lots of support over my many months of training and it was so valuable (and I will always be grateful to him for that help).

Here’s one of the nice things about being team co-captain: I get to assign the mentees. As people request help, I consider the race that they are going to be running, their experience level, and where they live (if possible, I try to match people with mentors who are close by). Lots of people have requested mentors and lots of wonderful Team AllEars veterans have offered to informally coach people through their first 5K, half, marathon, or even Goofy.

Something wonderful happened…we had so many requests for mentors that we ran out of people to fill the slots. Because Mike and I are so busy with team planning, we weren’t going to mentor, but when a request came in from a new runner in the Boston area, I decided to jump in and be a mentor…and I’m so happy that I did.

Although we haven’t met in person yet, we stay in touch weekly via email. She gives me training reports and I make suggestions (based on my three whole years of running). We talk about everything from how to train (I’m suggesting cross training so she doesn’t run into the problems I had with IT bands and stress fracture), to technology (she now uses the DailyMile so I can see her progress), to what gear to use.

As I was replying to an email that she wrote this morning, I realized that something else was happening. I was learning from her just as much as she was learning from me. Answering her questions was helping me to reflect upon my own practice of running, why I do what I do in terms of training, how to be prepared mentally and physically. Through every interaction and through her very thoughtful questions, I have to stop and think about why I’ve made the choices that I have.

Today we were discussing what it takes to be prepared to run a WDW race and I told her….well…wait…let me just find that email and I’ll tell you exactly what I said:

“I have to say that part of doing a half is just being mentally prepared. It took me 4 or 5 just to start to have fun and not feel the worry about whether I could finish. It's kind of like taking a big test at school that you're worried about...you can study and study but you don't know if you can do it until you actually sit down to do it. Then you realize that you're fine because you did the work. Same with running...as long as you have several 10-11 mile runs under your belt about a month before the race, you'll be fine.”

As I finished writing, I thought, “Gee….I never really considered mental preparation before she asked me that question. I’m learning, too.

In my regular job, I prepare people who are going to be teachers. A large part of what I get them to work on is reflecting on their practice. After a lesson they should consider what worked and why, what didn’t work and why, and what can be done next time to help improve. Until I started working with my mentee, I really hadn’t taken the time to realize that improving at running requires that we ask ourselves these questions each time we run.

What worked about that run? Did I try something new? Did I change anything? What made that run better than the last?

What didn’t work about that run? Did I change my stride? Did I change my gear? Was it the weather? Was I just not rested?

What one or two little things can I change to do better next time? Should I bring more water? Wear different socks? Should I try a new route, a longer distance, start earlier in the day? Should I ask someone for advice?

I often tell my students that teachers can either be “green and growing or ripe and rotting.” The great teachers are the ones who are constantly reflecting and improving their practice. My mentee, Christine Griffin, is teaching me the same thing about my running. I need to constantly think about what I’m doing, why I’m doing it, and what I can do better next time.

Thanks, Christine! Can’t wait to give you a high five and a big hug at the finish line as we rock these Walt Disney World races in January and work together to beat breast cancer.


[Postscript: I've advised her NOT to run with the apple on her head. -- MSM]

June 13, 2011


By Amanda Gonzales

"Track, Track, Track!"

That is the subject of the email I receive two times a week on Tuesday and Thursday from my running coach. I see the email and take a deep breath to calm my nerves. Then, I double click to unveil the torture that will be awaiting me at the track that morning. The most feared and dreaded email is the one that delivers the message that simply states, "Hills, bring lots of water." After receiving that email once and enduring that workout, I am slightly relieved for every email I open that does not deliver that message.

Why am I doing this to myself you might ask? It is simple. I do it for the love of running I have developed. Running is now a passion and a hobby of mine and I want to improve my speed, my form, my endurance and hone the skills I already have. I am also doing it to prevent future injuries. By learning proper running form and breathing techniques, I will hopefully be saving my body from future injuries that can occur from having poor form and stride.

I want to become a faster runner. My goal is to be able to run a 10 minute mile pace and be able to maintain that for 13 to 26 miles. I currently wog at a slow pace of 15 minutes per mile. I am not ashamed. I consider myself a strong runner.

Since I started running two years ago, I have completed a marathon and two half marathons in addition to several shorter distance races.

It is simply that after two years, I am ready to improve, I really want to improve. I am not satisfied being the last finisher in every race I enter anymore. Again, not that there is anything wrong with that, I have been doing it and proud of it the past two years. It is always easy to find my race time by scrolling to the bottom of the race standings and discovering me in the bottom five.

I have, in previous races, been passed by walkers. I've tried to catch up to walkers only to be unable to catch them. I have been passed by 80 year old men. I have gone out for a run with a friend I have inspired to try running and been left in the dust by that friend on her first time running. Oh and I have been passed in a race by an amazing woman running with one leg on stilts. I think I have some room for improvement.

My local YMCA offers my track class by an incredible person and coach who is track-certified, a personal trainer, local college track coach, and most importantly, a runner. He knows what he is doing and specializes in making runners run until they are light headed and feel like they might puke. Ok, maybe that is just me who gets that effect!

I emailed the coach asking him if he would be willing to accept a runner who is overweight, slow, and in need of massive improvement. His answer? "You bet, just do it!"

My first class was a tad intimidating. I showed up and guess who is in my class with me? Six women, all intelligent, incredible moms who are all about six inches taller than me, perfectly fit, average about 100 pounds less than me in weight, and run anywhere from a six to a nine minute mile.

I took a deep breath, smiled, introduced myself, and told them I was here to make them all look good! Inside, I thought to myself, "Here I am a heffalump among gazelles." I have to say that every single woman in that group is amazing and cheers me on. It is a supportive environment and that is one of the things I love about it.

You may wonder, "What is the speed work?"

Every class starts with a warm up jog anywhere from 1x400 (one full lap of the track) to 4x 400. Then we move on to agilities and plyometrics. After that we stretch and then, we are given our workouts, which are variations of what was in the dreaded email. The fantastic thing about our coach is that he takes the time to vary everyone's workout based upon ability, race schedule, and injuries.

My last workout was 2.5x400, 2x400, 1.5x400, 1x400,1x200, and finally 1x100. Each of these are to be run at a speed that is race speed or as fast as you can run with a two to three minute rest in between each leg. In other words, torture! It is very challenging.

Would I ever do this to myself? No Way! That is why this class is amazing and why I am hoping it will improve my pace over time. There is also something about being in a group of people cheering you on with a coach that is watching you when your run, helping you improve your form that just makes you push yourself harder and work harder than you would on your own.

There is nothing like the feeling of finishing a track workout, feeling like you might puke, feeling your heart race and jump, feeling sweaty and sore and sometimes hobbling off the track, but knowing you left it all on the track and you did it!


I strongly encourage you to go out and try it! Check your local YMCA and running clubs for Track classes or speed training.

Like my coach said to me, "Just do it!"

My improvement so far in four weeks had me running a three minute 400 two times in a row, which would be a 12 minute mile, so I think it is working for me!

June 24, 2011

You’re Running a Half Marathon?!!

by Heather Melito-Dezan

The title says it all.

This is the reaction I get when I tell people about my latest endeavor. I don’t really take offense to this statement because I too can hardly believe I have signed on for this.

I am a 34 year old married mother of a nine and (nearly) three year old child and I have found every excuse in the book to avoid exercising and getting healthy. I have always found something else that needed to get done. For years friends have been telling me that I have to take time to take care of myself and my response has always been the same-- “I know, I know.”

Over the past 10 years or so, I have been an on and off member of a local gym, though my last “on” has been a few years. I am not a runner…I have never run more than a couple miles on a treadmill, but I knew I had to start somewhere so why not start at Walt Disney World?

In January 2011, my husband and I participated in the Buzz and Woody Best Friends 5K in Walt Disney World (our second home). From the time we registered for the race, we intended to train for it, especially since it was our first ever race, but life got in the way and we found every excuse not to get out and run.

We finished in about 46 minutes, which wasn’t too bad for someone who had not trained at all for the race but still, it was not where we wanted to be. We decided during the 2011 Marathon Weekend that we would certainly be back for 2012 Marathon Weekend, but this time would bring the kids along to participate too.

In March I registered my husband, my son, and myself for the 2012 Family Fun Run 5K and was trying to convince myself that I could complete the Half Marathon, but several times I clicked in and out of the registration for the Half Marathon without committing to the race.

During Marathon Weekend 2011, I had seen people of varying levels of fitness participating in the Half and the Full Marathons and thought to myself that I had no excuse not to do it. Still I was hesitant, so I visited www.allears.net, specifically the Team AllEars Running Blog and I read the blogs recapping experiences of team members during 2011 Marathon Weekend and their fundraising efforts.

The stories were so inspirational and helped push me toward registration for the 2012 Half Marathon. I saw that Team AllEars 2012 registration was also open, and I sent an email to Michelle telling her that I wanted to be a member of Team AllEars. I figured that at this point the only way to get me moving in a healthier direction is to have another purpose as well. I also needed that final push to hit the register button for the Half Marathon and Michelle provided that push for me. I registered for both the WDW 2012 Half Marathon and Team allEars 2012.

My heart was pounding the whole time I clicked through the pages.

This is the first time since I was in school that I have attempted to do any serious fundraising. When I approach people to tell them my story and ask them if they would be willing to help out, their initial reaction is one of astonishment, even from people I don’t know that well. Initially I thought that the reaction was an unintentional insult to me, but then as I continued the conversations, I discovered that many of them do not think they could ever go from being a non-runner to a half marathoner.

This is the same thing I still struggle with each day, but I in the end I tell myself I can do it. Of course, I have those days where I struggle to get to that point, but then I visit our Team AllEars FaceBook page and grab a little inspiration.

Since I am really still a beginner at running, I am taking it slowly and trying to get out and jog three days a week…I hope to get up to four days a week. Some days I get out only two days, but at least I get out. Sometimes my son comes out with me and that helps keep me going.

I have participated in one local race thus far and intend to fit in a couple 5Ks and a 10K before January to get myself ready for the big weekend. I have even recruited my best friend and my sister-in-law to run the local 10K this fall with me…I am such a bad influence.

You’re running a half marathon? YES, YES I AM and I am doing so with purpose!

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About June 2011

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

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