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August 2011 Archives

August 5, 2011

My Journey to Running at Disney

By Eric Bouchet


My journey actually began in January 2008. I was extremely overweight and getting closer and closer to the 315-320 lb. mark. I was a reader of the AllEars.net website and occasionally read the blogs.

One evening I happened to come across Mike Scopa's blog. At that moment in time, my life began to change. The blog series he was writing was called "Marathoning With Mike And Mickey" and was about the 2008 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend. He wrote about his participating in the half marathon that year; talking about everything beginning with the training leading up to the race, the race itself, and the aftermath, including followup thoughts. This was done over the course of a few weeks and for some reason I was transfixed to each of his entries.

Now the thing you have to realize about me is that in 2008 the word "running" was not even in my vocabulary. To run meant “that thing you do sprinting from the garage door to your car door when it's pouring down rain outside.” Of course then I would have to catch my breath from that 15 foot jaunt and eight second “run." My how things had gone downhill for me!

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I Met Jeff Galloway

In grade school, I was usually considered somewhat active. I played baseball. I played soccer for a couple of years. I even gave football a try. But the two things that I did the most were karate and playing the trumpet. I was not a heavy child by any means and my parents always made sure that I was as active as possible and were so very supportive of any extra curricular activity I wanted to try. Karate was my thing....for 16 years.

In high school I discovered marching. I have played the trumpet since the forth grade and for seven years marched throughout high school and college.

Ah college......the college years. Yeah, lets just skip those years. The total lack of anything that would be remotely considered as exercise continued until January 2008.


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I Met a Little Einstein

Along came this writer and The View From Scopa Towers blog. I read every single word he wrote about running a half marathon. Don't ask me why, because even to this day I don't really have an answer. All I do know is that something inside me began to change. I read those articles and found myself crying. I read those articles and found myself yearning for something to say “look at me!!! Look at what I did!!!” I found myself wanting a medal. I found myself inspired.

In March I informed my wife Tasha that I wanted to run the Walt Disney World 2009 Half Marathon. She never batted an eye. All she said was “Ok do it!!” I was actually not prepared for her immediate support. It actually took me a few more days to talk myself into signing up. When I did finally hit that submit button Tasha told me point blank “Now do it, or you just threw away $125!!”

Because of my weight the first few weeks were absolute shear torture. My first timed mile was almost 21 minutes. My ankles and knees screamed at me not to do this..... the impact pains were horrendous. I was questioning myself and my sanity. After only about four weeks I had pretty much given up. Then the bottom fell out of my life.

In April my grandmother, Ma, passed away very unexpectedly. This hit me so very, very hard and it really gave me a reason to stop this whole running nonsense. I talked with my grandfather, Da, and he flat out told me to suck it up. Ma was so happy that I was trying to get healthier and she would be extremely upset with me if I just gave up. I had found a whole new reason for undertaking this journey. I hit the local high school track even harder. Then the strangest thing happened.

The weight started dropping, the pains went away, and I clocked a mile at under 16 minutes. And then in August my Da died as well. They were married for 56 years, and being separated four months apart was just too long and too much. When Ma died it was as if I had been gut punched and could not breathe. When Da died the world came to a complete stop for me. My whole life I had grown up thinking that they were invincible. I took them to Walt Disney World in May of 2005. Unfortunately they never got to see me race. My very first race ever was the 2009 Walt Disney World Half Marathon and I dedicated that race to them.

Crossing that first finish line was an instant addiction for me. It was shear euphoria and I instantly wanted more: the joy, the tears, the happiness, the understanding of what I had just accomplished, and of course that beautiful, beautiful medal. That Donald Duck medal was my Olympic Gold medal.

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All Smiles

Since that first race I have ran too many races to count and am very proud to say that I have ran eight half marathons and completed my second full marathon this year with TEAM ALLEARS 2011. I was blessed and lucky enough to be an Inaugural member of TEAM ALLEARS 2010. This team has become a VERY large outside family. The friendships that are made over a simple Facebook page are just absolutely amazing, especially when we all get to the WORLD and meet everyone in person; some face to face for the very first time.

This year on TEAM ALLEARS I am very proud to say that I am a Mentor. I look back to January 2008 and now realize that unknowingly Mike Scopa was my mentor. His words through his blog touched me more than I could ever express in words. I will never be able to repay Mr. Scopa for his inspiration. Instead I will continue to RUN WITH A PURPOSE for as long as I can. Running has become an addiction for me. It is my drug of choice that I will gladly share it with anyone.


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Mike Scopa, Yours Truly, and Jorge Romero...and Little Friends

TEAM ALLEARS is a collection of people from all over the United States and Mexico (shout out to Jorge Romero)! We come together not only for our love of DISNEY, but for a burning desire to become healthier people. In our quest to become healthy we also RUN WITH PURPOSE and that purpose is to raise much needed awareness and money for Breast Cancer Research. One day Breast Cancer will be wiped from the face of this planet we like to call Spaceship Earth. In a way, every time I go out and run I am helping to see this happen. If it doesn't happen in my lifetime then so be it. At least I will know that I helped make a difference. Together with Deb Wills and TEAM ALLEARS, we will continue to make a difference.

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Celebrating with My Team AllEars Family

August 12, 2011

I'm Not a Runner, But I'm Working on My Ways

by Libby Goldberg

When asked to write a post for the Team AllEars Running Blog I was
flattered and also nervous. What do I have to say that is important?
What do I have to say to motivate anyone? Most importantly, my lack
of experience makes me very under-qualified to give any advice. So
what do I have to say about myself? I am a not a runner, but I am
working on my ways.

I was never “bitten” by the running bug and if you ever saw my family
you would know that my gene pool makes my un-athletic ability shine
through. I was never a star athlete during high school; I was never
on any of the athletic teams at West Springfield High School actually.
I still had always thought to myself that I would like run a marathon
someday. It was a thought that crossed my mind, sort of in passing,
and quickly vanished without further actions taken towards my goal.
Then this January I made the New Year resolution that most make, get in shape and eat better. The idea behind that resolution was that I would start to run which is the first step to my long-term goal.
There it started; I was working on my mindset and trying to change my unhealthy patterns into healthy ones.

Well sure, I, like many others, did not follow through with my
resolution. That was until about February, I was asked to accompany a friend of mine at the St. Patrick’s Day 8K that was at the end of
March. I agreed on the spot without thinking about the training or
any other aspect involved in running a race. I signed up, still
blinded with excitement by the idea of running. I was motivated and
after a little bit of research (not much at all), I joined a gym and
hit the treadmill. I had an only a month to train for the race and
that is what I did. I went to the gym EVERY DAY for an entire month.
Race day finally came and at that point I was feeling confident and
felt conditioned enough to run the entire distance. I was wrong.
Midway through I was tired and beyond burnt out, the treadmill was not the proper training and I had pushed myself too hard, too quickly. I finished the race with a sense of accomplishment of completing the race, slight disappointment in my inability to run the entire 8K, and a late lunch at my favorite Washington, DC Mexican restaurant, Cactus Cantina. I had run, but was a long way to becoming a runner.

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After the St. Patrick’s Day 8K, I did not go to the gym for about six
weeks, I was burnt out and the gym had not remained an enjoyable
experience. Then I started going and working out but not really
running. I rode the bike or elliptical and lifted weights. The
treadmill was not getting any of my attention. Then I saw a post from
Mike Scopa, I was his friend on Facebook because of his fabulous
podcast (WDW Today), about Team AllEars and joined just as spontaneously as I signed up for my first race. This time though I had a plan, I was going to start running, I had the motivation, I love Disney World and I wanted to run so adding the two together made perfect sense. I learned that being a member of a running team did not make you a runner and signing up for a race meant I had to start running again. I started easing my way back into running. Shortly after joining Team AllEars, I signed up for the half-marathon. I was so excited!

Still motivation was lacking, I talked to team mate Brad Garfinkel about other races and then decided that I needed short-term goals along with my long-term goals. I signed up for the Hershey Half-Marathon Relay with team mate Barb Kennedy, Hot Chocolate 15K , Wicked 10K, and am hoping to get a Thanksgiving race in there also. Spaced out goals with increasing distances pushes me and keeps me motivated and forces me bring my “A” game every day.

Keep in mind that I am also a teenager, I just turned 19 in June
and like most teenagers I love sleep, junk food, and I procrastinate,
wait doesn’t everyone do those things? Anyways, I still was slacking
as the summer months came along, but I started a Couch to 10K program and have been following that and am on track for the Hershey Half Relay in October. I do not consider myself a runner yet because I have not done many races yet, I will get there someday and until then I will restart my training, re-evaluate goals, and enjoy every moment.

My attitude toward running has completely changed from a year ago and I cannot deny that Team AllEars has been a part of that. I will
eventually reach my goal of running a marathon and I hope to one day complete the Goofy Challenge and earn the Coast to Coast medal. Right now though, I will follow my C210K program, eat right, and study hard in school. I’m not a runner, but I’m working on my ways.

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August 19, 2011

Team AllEars Training: Making it a Family Event

by Chris Mushrush

One of the things that “comes with the territory” of training for longer distance events is the time involved pounding the pavement. For many, this ends up being a time for yourself – a chance to get away from the constant stresses of life. As the distances get longer, however, you may find yourself trying to fit in a workout at the expense of spending time with your family.

Family and workouts do not have to be mutually exclusive, however. I was faced with a dilemma one day where I wanted to get a run in but was also watching my two boys, ages 8 and 6. As usual, they seemed to have a lot of extra energy, so I decided to kill two birds with one stone: get some running in while burning off some of the boys’ energy. I asked them if they wanted to go out with me, fully expecting them to beg to play the Wii instead. I was pleasantly surprised when they agreed to see what it was like!

We went out, doing a really short run/walk interval, and, though they felt like they were going to die doing the 100 yard run / 100 yard walk, they were amazed to hear that they completed 5K in that workout. Immediately, they started bragging to their friends and family that they “ran a 5K.”

You all know what the next question was going to be...

I asked them if they wanted to try running a “real” 5K event and got a chorus of “YES!!!” answers from them. After sitting them down and explaining that it would involve quite a few more runs, they still were eager to try it. I immediately knew that the race to have them do was our local one done on the Fourth of July weekend. It gave us a couple of months to train, and it was small enough and included a walker’s category so that there wouldn’t be a ton of pressure to finish with a sub-30 minute time.

It was a win-win situation for all: I was able to get in more training; I got to spend time with the kids; the kids were willingly outside doing things and exercising; etc.

I decided to try a 1/1 run walk ratio with the boys to see if they could handle it. The first time out had us around 53:00, so I made my internal goal for the boys to shoot for around a 15:00 pace, which would have us finish in around 46-47 minutes. The next practice run with the boys yielded little improvement, with a finish around 52:00. We got out a week or so later with a change of scenery…I also let the boys alternate taking the lead on the pace during the run segments. That must have done the trick because they dropped more than five minutes off of their time and finished under 48 minutes (15:20 pace). We had one more practice session before the race, so I had them run the actual route of the 5K. Again letting them alternate the lead runner, they broke through the 15:00 pace and finished with a 14:36. It took a couple of hours for the smiles to finally fade from all of our faces.

Race day was upon us, and it was going to be a little hotter than we had trained in. I internally had a goal for the boys to finish below 45:00 but, with the heat, was expecting to be slower.

We started:

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We did the first mile in 13:48, which was our fastest pace to date. They were hot…hotter than they’ve been in any of the training runs, so keeping them hydrated and cool was the priority over the time. We completed the second mile in 15:03, and mile three at 15:34. With about 300 yards to the finish (on the high school track), I asked the boys if they want to run the rest of the way. Aaron, my 8 year old, left Eric and me in the dust. He finished to the applause of the crowd assembled in the bleachers. His time: 44:13! Eric and I continued around the track, and somehow, Eric had just enough energy to finish a couple of steps ahead of me ☺ . His time: 44:54! Were we the last ones to cross the finish line? Yes. Does it matter at all? Nope! They did it!!!

Eric apparently had more energy, because he turned right around and ran a 400 yard kids fun run…and he ran the whole thing.

Of course they now think that they can do the half-marathon with me at Walt Disney World. While that may be several years down the road, the proverbial seed has been planted. Aaron has also asked me about what Team AllEars is and why I’m a part of that.

…and another seed has been planted.

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August 26, 2011

If It Was Easy....

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During the past three years, I’ve been fortunate to have the opportunity to meet lots of wonderful folks who have inspired me in more ways that I can count… and one of my new friends is a teacher from New York named Kathleen Pantaleo. She had some running questions so she emailed me and we chatted back and forth and soon discovered that we were both educators.

Recently I found myself in Philadelphia at an educational technology conference and lo and behold…Kathleen was there, too. We got the chance to meet for coffee and chat about running and about what drove us to run…and for both of us, cancer figured into the story, as it had touched family and friends.

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I offered Kathleen some tips about getting started and then she shared something that a running friend said to her…something that has stuck in my head ever since…something that is so simple and eloquent that I thought it worthy of a blog….

Running…if it was easy, everyone would be doing it.

I think most of us would agree that, regardless of whether you’re trying to do your first mile, your first 5K, or the Goofy, running isn’t easy. Many of us on Team AllEars have shared the numerous things that inspire us to run — for fitness, for weight loss, or to raise money for breast cancer research. Coming up with reasons to get out there and run isn’t difficult, but taking those first steps….and getting back out there day after day to train isn’t always easy.

Every day that I wake up with plans to run, it’s difficult. I can think of 100 reasons not to drag my bottom out of bed: I’m tired, I deserve to sleep late, I have a busy day ahead of me….it’s not simple.

When I get to the track or the running trail, I can think of 100 more reasons why it’s not a great day to run…it’s too cold, I didn’t wear the right socks, I feel a little sore, I don’t have enough time…I struggle with these thoughts every single time I start.

When I first start running, these thoughts often challenge my success again…my running belt feels funny, my muscles take a while to warm up, I can’t seem to find the right song on my iPod.

Every single time I start I have to overcome many mini obstacles. But you know what happens? After the first mile or two, I’m having a wonderful time and I’m also so pleased with myself for getting out there. The bottom line is that I’m never proud of myself when I talk myself out of running, but I’m always proud of myself when I get out there and do it.

So folks, I’m here to tell you that running isn’t simple. Whether you’re experienced or a novice, the biggest battle that you’ll have, in my opinion, is not necessarily getting to the start line of your WDW race, it’s getting out to train a few times each week.

For the first time in my writing career I’m about to tell a story about Oprah, but here goes (bear with me, there is a connection to the topic here, I promise): Years ago I remember people criticizing Oprah when she lost a lot of weight. They said, “Sure, if I had a personal chef to make healthy meals for me and I had a personal trainer come to my house every day, I could lose weight, too.” Her reply was simple, something to the effect of, “Sure, I have lots of resources, but I’m the one who has to choose to eat well and to get my bottom out of bed and exercise each day. No one can do that for me.”

Bravo, Oprah!

Each of us has different resources and different challenges. Maybe you’ve got an athletic build or maybe you’re really overweight. Maybe you have a supportive family or maybe you have people offering you nachos and cheese for a snack every day. Perhaps you’re coming back from an injury, or maybe you’re just plain scared to death about taking that first step. In the end each and every person reading this has their own hurdles and can make 100 excuses.

Running isn’t easy….if it was, everyone would be doing it.

Find that thing that gets you out there each day. Find that thing that convinces you to make better choices at meals. My personal mantras to overcome the hurdles are, “I deserve to be healthy. My kids deserve a healthy mom who will be around for a long time,” and “I am doing this for my mom and all the others who have been affected by cancer.”

Running isn’t easy.

Don’t do it for me…or for Oprah…do it for you.

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About August 2011

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

July 2011 is the previous archive.

September 2011 is the next archive.

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