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December 1, 2011

Following Your Runner WDW Marathon Weekend PART III of III

In Part III of our series on following your runner during Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend Jessica Atawonta and Dave Aulen summarize all that they and their families have learned regarding how to follow runners during the half and full marathons on that weekend.

Here are those helpful hints that we hope they help you successfully watch your runner during these races:

  • Before each race study and become familiar with the course. Study the course map. Check the http://espnwwos.disney.go.com/events/rundisney/spectator-tool on the runDisney website. It allows you to input your runner’s expected running pace or finishing time and then choose from different viewpoints, and it gives you instructions on getting from spot to spot.
  • Give yourself plenty of extra time. As mentioned before, traffic on these two days can be slow and frustrating. When the roads are closed you will be detoured which will add to your travel time.
  • During the races ask cast members what transportation options are available. The original plan for the full marathon was for Jessica’s family to go from the Magic Kingdom to the TTC and get a bus from there to the Animal Kingdom. There were no buses running between the two parks at that time and they had to take the monorail to Epcot and take the bus from there to Animal Kingdom.
  • Stay in contact with your runner as much as possible. Let your runner know by phone or text where you are standing. Your runners should give a call or text when getting close to your location. This would allow the spectators to start looking for their runners and for runners to know specifically where their cheering section is. It takes
    a long time for texts to get through sometimes though so if you need to get in contact with your runner or spectator quickly, the best thing is a phone call. If that is not possible then sign up BEFORE the race for tracking notices to monitor where your runner is at certain points in the race.
  • It’s easier for your runner to find you than for you to find your runner. There are thousands of runners to look through to find that one familiar face. Wear something distinctive for your runner to look for. This can be a bright piece of clothing, or a brightly colored and distinctive sign. Jessica’s dad wore a bright colored hat that I
    could spot quickly in a crowd. Dave now has a bright red Team AllEars shirt for Holly to spot him. In our experience the runner always sees their cheering section before the cheering section sees the runner.
  • When you tell your runner where you are located be as specific as you can. If you just say Main Street, it will be more difficult for your runner to find you than if you say you are in front of a specific store on Main Street.
  • Spectators have more time to get to Main Street to see their runners for the full marathon. During the half marathon, runners come through the Magic Kingdom around mile 5. The full marathon runs through the Magic Kingdom around mile 10. The marathon relay should have similar mileage milestone points as the full marathon.
  • The only park open early for spectators both days of WDW Marathon Weekend is the Magic Kingdom. To be seen in any of the other parks, your runner will have to be slow enough for the park to be open by the time that park opens. You will have to use a
    park ticket to get into those parks to cheer for your runner. This was the best thing about being a “slow” runner. Jessica’s family got into Animal Kingdom just after the 9:00 am opening and was able to get into World Showcase soon after the 11:00 am opening. If runners are really fast, they will be through these parks before they open. The best bet for seeing fast runners is to go to places outside of the parks. The Magic Kingdom has the left side of Main Street open at 5:30 am on race mornings and does not require park admission to get in.
  • When you get to the park to see your runner, go to the furthest place of the course they could be at and then walk against the grain to find a good spot. An example of this strategy is; in World Showcase full marathon runners come in between the UK and
    France pavilions and go counterclockwise around the lagoon to the front of Epcot. If you are unsure of where your runner is, the best bet would be to start at the front left of Epcot and walk around World Showcase clockwise to your favorite viewing location.
  • Before the races start arrange with your runner to meet in a certain spot after they finish. The last thing runners want to do after running 26.2 miles was stroll around the family meeting area trying to find their group. There are tents with letters on them, pick one (maybe your last name?) and plan to meet there.
  • What’s the most important tip? HAVE FUN!! Cheer for everyone, it lifts the runner’s spirits and can be a really great time for those cheering too!


December 16, 2011

December Gut Check Time

So Thanksgiving has come and gone and we are well into December.

We're just about a month from Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend and that means it's final gut check time for all of us who are looking to run or more of the several races taking place that weekend.

Before we start please let me remind you I am NOT a trained professional and NOT a running coach. I have been running since, well, since I was a junior in high school so I do have many years of experience, and many years of observing what works for many, what works for a few, and what has worked for me so here's hoping some of that can rub off and help you in your upcoming Orlando quest.

So let's take a look at where we all should be by now.


In one of my moments of brief insanity I decided to add the Disney Family Fiesta 5K to my dance card in January. So as one of those 5K participants, where should I be in my training by now? Well if I am a new runner and looking at my first 5K, at this point in time I should be able to complete about 2.6 - 2.75 miles of the 3.1 mile distance.

With several weeks to go before the big day it should not be too difficult to tack on that extra third of a mile or so. The safest and healthiest way to do this is to figure out what your gap is and then determine how many more workouts you will have before the big weekend. Divide that distance gap by the number of workouts and you will know how much more to add each time you lace up your shoes.

If you are already doing the 5K distance then you are in great shape but don't relax. Every time you go out and do your distance you will become more confident in your ability.

I'll see you on the course.


There are really three half marathons being run that weekend. Of course there is the traditional half marathon on Saturday...but then there is the first ever WDW marathon relay on Sunday morning where teams of two will divide the marathon distance into two 13.1 segments.

So if you are participating in one of these races where should you be? Well hopefully you have gotten to the point in your conditioning where you have been able to run 10 miles. It really is not necessary for you to be able to do the full 13.1 miles BEFORE January. Adrenalin is good for a few miles on race day. Your training will pay dividends during the last 30 minutes of the race when your stamina that you have been building, comes to your aid in getting you to the finish line.

For those who have run this race before, you know the drill. For those who are navigating this 13.1 mile race for the very first time, be aware that there are two, and some would say, three hills in the last 3-4 miles in which you will be thanking yourself for all those hours on the road.

Between now and that weekend, it's important for you to determine when it's time to taper off from your training and begin to pull back so as to make sure you do not overtrain....and I will see you on the course as well.


The beast we call the marathon is just that...a beast. When you jump from 13.1 miles to 26.2 miles, you move into a whole new ball game. There are many different philosophies regarding where you should be within a month of a marathon race. I've sort of averaged them all together and would say that it appears that everyone is looking for first time marathoners to be in the 18-22 mile range by now.

That means that your training should be such that within the last month or two you have been able to go out on your long runs and cover between 18 and 22 miles WITHOUT having any issues.

As I mentioned in our last Gut Check get together, those doing their first marathon should have finishing the race as their primary objective. Their first time will be their PR (Personal Record) and they can worry about that as a goal for their second marathon.

It's safe to say that marathon runners are more at risk for injuries caused by overtraining than most other runners. There is always that thought lingering in their minds that they could use more training, can figure out a way to run stronger, or faster.

For those running their first marathon, the overtraining pitfall should never surface because again, the goal should be to finish...not to finish as fast as the runner in front of them.

For you marathoners and marathon relay runners, I will also see you on the course.

The 30-Day Checklist

So with about a month to go please allow me to mention a few things that will hopefully help you as you come down the homestretch to the Starting Line next month.

- Finalize your running gear. Know which shoes, shorts, tops, hats, gloves, tights, anything that you feel comfortable in...that you will wear on race day. Don't experiment with anything that you have never trained in. Remember, bring running gear that works in all kinds of weather. The word to remember is COMFORT.

- Plan your last 24 to 48 hours before your race. This includes how much rest you need, hydration. and food. What you should eat, portions, and when you should eat those portions is important. Make sure you stick to your plan. You've worked hard for this day. You want to be well rested, well hydrated, and without any tummy troubles.

- Still worried about that 16-minute per mile pace? When you enter your corral, move up to the front to give yourself some extra time. Also, if you are a walker then think about jogging a minute for every four you walk. Keep your eye on your time and don't forget to pace yourself...if you run or walk too fast early on you may deplete your energy store.

- Back to running gear. Will you wearing a running belt on the day of the race? If so, hopefully you have trained with the belt so you know how it feels over the distance you will be running.

- Start tweaking your running list. Do you have the right music? Is it fast enough or slow enough to work with your running pace? Do you have enough music on your list?

This has been a short Gut Check because we have most of our training behind us. We are now in the tweaking and tapering mode and we need to firm up a few things, and most importantly, not overtrain.

The physical challenge is well in control...but it's the mental challenge between now and race day that we must all be able to handle in order to be successful.

Okay...commence with the tweaking and the tapering.

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About December 2011

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

November 2011 is the previous archive.

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