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January 2012 Archives

January 1, 2012

IT IS TIME!

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So most of the training for the 2012 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend should be behind everyone by now and the tapering is in full swing. The practice of tapering down before a big race must have been thought of by someone who either had the foresight to realize how important it was to taper off…or by the rest of us who have foolishly over trained for a race in the interest of getting faster and suffered a minor injury. What a mistake. Tapering is definitely preventative maintenance.

So now that we have this tapering thing all squared away it's time to start planning for our trip to Walt Disney World and the 2012 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend.

So what's the first thing on everyone's mind?

Weather

Yes sir. That is number one on everyone’s list, especially after the 2010 WDW Marathon weekend brought us sleet for the half marathon and a cold, brisk, and windy morning for the full marathon. A television weatherman friend of mine once told me that weather forecasts are pretty accurate up to 36 hours ahead of time. After you go beyond that 36-hour period however, all bets are off.

If you are already monitoring the weather forecasts for marathon weekend in Orlando please take them with a grain of salt. Regardless of what the forecast calls for, be prepared for everything and anything…after all, we are talking January. Be ready to run regardless of whether it’s hot, cold, wet, or dry.

Running Garb

Let's talk about clothing. First and foremost let's make sure we take only those things that we have run with during our training runs. We are comfortable with those tops, shorts, tights, socks and shoes so let's not tempt discomfort and purchase a new pair of shorts or a top at the expo to wear in our race.

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One consideration is to bring an old sweatshirt that you may have thought about throwing out or giving away. If the start of the race is in cold temps the sweatshirt will come in handy…an hour or two later you may want to discard that piece of clothing.

Running Gadgets

Who said running is a cheap sport? Runners now take to the roads with several hundred dollars worth of gadgets that play music, time their runs, figure out pace and distance and also monitors heart rate.
If you run with music then you are probably putting the final touches on your playlist or playlists so you will have the right “tunes” to get you through the race. Put your music player and charger on your packing list. While you’re add it, you may want to not just pack your primary ear buds you use to listen, but also add a backup pair, just in case.

Don’t forget that running watch. If you happen to have a watch like a Garmin which makes use of GPS technology be sure to pack the charger to keep the watch battery in good shape. It may also be a good idea to pack a charger you can hook up in your rental car, if you will be renting one. It never hurts to have that extra option.

Nutrition

Then there's the matter of a running or fuel belt. If you've never run with a belt before than now's not the time to start because we once again will be dealing with the comfort/discomfort factor. But if you have been training with a running belt and feel you need one for your race then put that on your packing list.

Now let’s talk about what to put in that belt. If you are wearing a belt that carries one or more bottles, you probably have a favorite liquid to put in those bottles. Be sure you are consistent and use the same contents you used during your training runs. Some prefer water while others like electrolyte replenishment fluids.

There will be water stops throughout your race but with your belt you don’t have to stop at these water stops to hydrate throughout the race. Better yet, use the water stops and save your fluids for when there aren’t any water stops around.

Nutrition is a big deal these days and things like gels, energy beans and other alternative sources of energy are available for all runners. If you have used any of these on your training runs, then your body is used to having an even keel of nutrition throughout your workout.


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Do whatever is necessary to maintain that even keel during your race. Pack your favorite nutrition element for the trip. Also, if you are in the habit of drinking protein shakes either before or after your workout, don’t betray your body or forgot your protein powder.

Remember, the whole idea is to make your race experience just like your training experience. You want to enjoy the race so make it feel just like it does at home.

What Else?

Oh yes there are a few other things you need to remember for marathon weekend.

Have you printed and signed waivers for all the races you are doing? If so, then put them in a folder and put that folder in your luggage now or better yet…put them in your carryon so you won’t forget them. It may also be a good idea to bring a long a copy of your race fee receipts, and if you are doing so, your race retreat receipt as well…try to be prepared.

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The most important gift I received at Christmas was a RoadID bracelet that I can wear when I run. It identifies me if I run into some trouble and will hasten any assistance I need. I intend to wear mine on Marathon Weekend and I encourage you to do the same if you have one. If you don't have one, consider getting one. You never know when it will come in handy.


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Timing is Everything

The last thing I want to mention is the importance of time…that is…making sure you are in time for your race. RunDisney races begin early in the morning to help the race impact theme park guests as little as possible.

This means runners have to get up extra early to get to the waiting area and corrals in time for race start.

A few days before your big race you may want to get into the habit of getting up earlier and earlier each morning as you get closer to race day. This will help you get used to not just getting up early but also getting to bed early…as you will need to do the night before your race. If this is your first Disney race, my words aren’t necessary because you will have a tough time sleeping the night before the race.

Play it safe the night before the race and set your room clock to wake you up, along with your cell phone alarm, and also use your wake-up service…three shots at waking you up…one of them and hopefully all three will work so you won’t oversleep…and one more thing, you’re training to get up early so don’t even think of that snooze button.

Okay…are we ready?

Weather? Check! Clothes? Check! Playlist? Check! Ear buds? Check!
Running watch? Check! Running belt? Check! Nutrition? Check!
Alarm clock? Check! Training to get up early? Check!

Okay!

Let’s do this!


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January 4, 2012

Runner Etiquette - WDW Marathon Weekend

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I'm fairly new to running -- my first race was the WDW Half Marathon four years ago and I was scared to death for many reasons, one of which was that I didn't know the "rules for running." What I mean is that having played sports all of my life, I figured that there was a certain protocol for what to do and what not to do during the race. Not only was I nervous about finishing my first race, but I was also nervous about committing some sort of faux pas that would give away the fact that I was a complete newbie at running.

runDisney to the rescue! When I picked up my race packet the day before that first race, it was full of lots of materials. Being someone who reads every detail, I carefully perused through it and out slipped a flimsy sheet of paper that I almost overlooked. One the back was listed Runners Etiquette -- a set of rules and suggestions for running Disney races. Yipeeee!! This was just what I needed!! Although I wasn't able to remember all of them, they were very useful for teaching me the "lay of the land" when I got out there and started running.

Now a few years later and a few half marathons under my belt, I not only understand these rules, but understand WHY they have these rules. They make sense to me now, so I though it might be helpful for me to share what these tips include and the rationale for having them.

This list was included in my race packet when I ran last year's January races. It is subject to change, but you'll find that everything on this list is applicable to every race at WDW…or any organized race.

Please pay attention to pre-race instructions both print and verbal. What you hear will keep you safe.
Safety is #1. runDisney wants everyone to have a good race, but they also want you finish with a big smile and a medal. It is important to read everything they give you -- it will let you know about everything from course conditions,to tips for running to hydration to how to get help along the way. Reading carefully will not only keep YOU safe, but will help keep others around you safe.

Please enter your correct start corral and correct wave. This will entire that you are running with people who have similar pace.

When you sign up for a race, you're asked to give an expected finish time and this is used to assign you to a corral (the letter listed on your race bib). This assignment is important because it's the way runDisney sorts you into categories -- in race terms, these categories are your corrals. Why should you be with others who run a similar pace? Because it's the safest place to be. If you're really fast and you're with all walkers, you're going to find yourself dodging and swerving to get past people (and all this swerving adds distance and time to your race). You may bump into someone or they might bump into you. If you're slower and find yourself with faster runners, you might get clipped or bumped as they go by. Starting in the right corral means that everyone around you runs at about the same speed

Run or walk with no more than two abreast. Other runners will want to get by you. If you are walking in a group, please start in the last corral.

This is an important one. Many people sign up for WDW races with their friends and families, so it makes complete sense that you want to stick with that person throughout the race. However, it's important to consider that people run and walk at different paces. If you're in a group of three, four, or five across, you're effectively creating a human wall and others can't get by. So please be aware and move single file, especially in those narrow areas.

If you want to run with a friend and they are in a different corral, the faster of the two can move back to the slower corral.
What they are saying here is that your friend can't move up to the faster corral with you. This ensures that similar paced folks stay together.

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If you are stopping at a water or food station, move away from the table. Grab water and move away from the table so that others may get water, too.

After you've been running for a while and you see the oasis in the form of a water station, your tendency might be just to stop, rest, and drink your water, but remember that there are loads of people behind you. If you grab your water and keep moving forward, it will cause fewer backups. You don't have to run with your water, but just walking forward will help.

Move to the side if someone behind you says "Excuse me" or "Coming Through."
I like to use my iPod and listen to music while I'm running, but I make sure that the volume is low enough so that I can hear people passing me from behind. If you hear someone say "excuse me," they are most likely asking you to move to quickly but safely the right so they can pass on the left. Before you move, first take a quick glance to your right to make sure that you're not bumping into another runner.


Feel fee to shout words of encouragement to other runners. You will hear words of encouragement in return.

Show the love, get the love. It's good karma.

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When you are approaching the finish line, you may see loved ones cheering you on. Please do not encourage anyone to join you in the finish line stretch. Your support team is very important , but please communicate that the finished area is for registered runners and staff only.
Those people on the sidelines have helped you during this journey. It makes sense that you'd want them to join you as you finish, but can you imagine what it would be like at the finish line if everyone did that?! Have them meet you in the family meeting area or near the baggage claim. You'll have your medal and believe me, the hugs and congrats you get there will be genuine and well-derserved.

Enjoy the post-race refreshments, but remember that others will want to enjoy the goodies, too. Race officials want to make sure that there will be food left for the last people who are finishing the race.
This is runDisney's polite way of telling us that we shouldn't stuff 17 bananas and 12 Powerades in our bags for later, nor should we be taking snacks for the nine cousins who came to cheer us on. Please take only what you need.

Thank your volunteers and have a great race!
I've run a few races now and I can tell you that runDisney volunteers are the absolute best! These nice folks got up early, they worked for hours, and did this out of the kindness of their hearts just for you. Please offer a big smile and thank every volunteer you see.

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Celebrate! This is your day…or days if you are Goofy enough to run both the marathon and the Half Marathon.

Take your time, take lots of photos, soak it all in. You've worked hard! Enjoy...and then think about which Disney race that you'll be running next.

So...that's it, Runners. When explained, all of those suggestions make perfect sense. If we're all safe and considerate runner and we'll have a lot more fun.

Final note, as I get ready to depart for Orlando in a few days, I want to wish all runners a safe and fun run, but especially to Team AllEars, our 93 person running team dedicated to supporting each other, running Disney races, and fighting breast cancer. If you'd like to donate to Team AllEars, please visit this link.

Also, if you're in the parks and see me, my co-captains Mike Scopa or Deb Wills, or anyone with a Team AllEars shirt on, please come up and say hello.

Good luck everyone!


January 15, 2012

The Inaugural Chip & Dale Marathon Relay: A Review Part 1

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Disney inaugural races are difficult to resist. First, there is the thrill of the unknown…the promise of a new course through one or more theme parks. Second is the bling...that new race medal, which few Disney running fans can resist. These are powerful motivators, so when the new Chip and Dale Half Marathon Relay was announced, we knew that we had to do it.

The inaugural Chip and Dale Marathon Relay took place on Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend Sunday. It was held on the same day as the Walt Disney World Marathon and the two races shared pretty much the same course, but there were obvious differences.

Before the race, there was little information about how the relay was organized. We learned general information about the Relay Exchange area, but had many questions about the specifics, such as, how would partners find each other; how would the person doing Leg 2 get to the Relay Exchange area; and how would each runner gather his/her belongings after the race (since they were going to end up at a finish area other than where they started)?

Several questions were answered when runDisney sent final race instructions about a month before the race. Other questions were answered when we picked up our numbers at the Health & Fitness Expo. Most of what we learned made sense, but when they handed us an 8” x 8” Mylar and nylon mat when we checked in, we quickly realized that there was going to be one big problem; both runners had to report to the race wait area in the early morning hours. Runner 2 would be bussed to the Relay Exchange area and wait several hours before running in Leg 2 of the Mararathon Relay. That Mylar mat? That was meant for Runner 2. It would serve as a seat to relax upon in the Ticket and Transportation Center Parking Lot area where the Relay Exchange area was set up.

The following is a personal account regarding each leg of the race.

Go back with us now to the morning of the Marathon Relay and relive our adventure.


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Mike: Walking to the Start

My role on Sunday was to cover the first leg of the race. With all Walt Disney World races, the long walk to the corrals was a necessary evil. With some six thousand fewer runners than Saturday’s Half Marathon, the walk seemed more palatable than the day before. I knew the course would be different than the previous day’s race, but was not quite sure just how different.

Michelle: Getting to the Relay Exchange Area

I was grateful that Mike suggested that I run Leg 2 of this race, as this would allow me to travel through a route different from the day before and would also allow me a few more hours of rest and recovery before attempting another half marathon. That’s what I thought, at least but, as mentioned above, in reality, the Leg 2 runners were asked to arrive with their partners early in the morning, catch a bus over to the Relay Exchange area, and wait on complimentary little mats. We assumed this was necessary because of the need to close several roads during Sunday’s race. What this meant was that, instead of sleeping in and taking a bus from my resort later on to the Relay Exchange area, I had to get up early and, like all Leg 1 runners, arrived at EPCOT by about 4:30 a.m. This was the only way the race officials could ensure that Leg 2 runners would be where they needed to be.

I’m not going to pretend that I relished the idea of sitting in a parking lot, even a WDW parking lot, for many hours. Many of my running buddies did just this. I was lucky enough to visit with a friend who was staying at the Polynesian and was able to wait out the time in comfort. While I understand the reasoning behind this decision by runDisney, I believe that there should be more comfortable accommodations made for the Leg 2 folks. One running friend told me that she spent four hours asleep on the pavement sandwiched between two pieces of Mylar. Not a great way to start a race.

Mike: The Course Early On

Like the day before, I was anxious to start. I looked around in my corral and noticed bibs for the Marathon, Marathon Relay, and Goofy Challenge. Once the corral in front of me took off, I turned on my iPod and started my playlist. Mickey Mouse made the countdown and then fireworks and my corral were soon off. I noticed that we spent a good amount of time running around the outside of Epcot before eventually entering the front turnstiles. We ran past Spaceship Earth, up to World Showcase Plaza, took a left, and entered World Showcase, and approached the Mexico Pavilion. We did not spend much time in World Showcase, as we soon found ourselves running backstage and I realized what was coming.

After the first three miles I found myself running the reverse of the last seven miles of the Half Marathon course from the day before. If you are familiar with that course, then you may recall a hill here and there and the cloverleaf ramp before World Drive.

What was nice about this trek up to The Magic Kingdom was that, unlike the day before, daylight had made its presence felt while we were on World Drive. The day before we found ourselves running up World Drive in the dark. I must say, daylight and a reduced running field made for an enjoyable run to The Magic Kingdom.

Michelle: Waiting at the Relay Exchange Area

The Relay Exchange area was very quiet compared to the regular race start area, but runDisney set up a huge video screen, which rotated through different parts of the race. There was also a DJ as well. It was nice to hang out with some Team AllEars folks while I waited.


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I checked a bag with Mike’s belongings before I headed to the corrals (this was a very small area and went smoothly). The race directions were not clear regarding where we were to stand, but we figured it out by asking other runners.

Bib numbers dictated where the Leg 2 runners stood and since partners had sequential numbers, I placed myself where Mike was supposed to come in. However, as I mentioned above, most of the Leg 1 runners didn’t know this, so I observed many of them running towards us, checking their bib numbers to figure out where to go.

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Mike: The Magic Kingdom and Beyond

As I approached the Magic Kingdom, I realized that today I would be on mile 11 as I ran up Main Street, USA. The day before, while approaching the castle, I was on mile 6. Even though I had run up Main Street USA 24 hours earlier, it was still thrilling to do it all over again. I think I speak for all runners when I say that no matter how fatigued you are, when you turn the corner and run up Main Street USA with guests cheering and music playing, you feel an energy boost that has no equal.

At one point I thought I had a chance to achieve a Personal Record (PR), but it was just that, a chance and that faded rather quickly as my body began telling me that today might not be the day. I was approaching my 30th mile in the last 48 hours. As I left the Magic Kingdom I had about 2.5 miles to go before I would get to the Relay Exchange and pass the virtual baton to Michelle.

As I was running down Grand Floridian Way, I noticed one of the Polynesian Longhouses and looked for signs directing me to the Relay Exchange area. With about a mile to go, a sign and a cast member indicated that full marathoners stay in the right lane and marathon relay runners to shift to the left lane. This was awesome. I had the whole left side of the road to myself and it felt great...but I was dragging a bit. The calendar said January but the thermometer made it feel like a warmer month.

Eventually I saw some yellow cones and a cast member telling me to head to the left. There were more cones giving me a path to what was the Exchange Area. I was almost there.

I could not see Michelle but noticed signs with number ranges. Obviously I needed to look for the sign that had a range in which my number bib fell. I found it and Michelle waiting for me with camera in hand.

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I was about five minutes early from my predicted finish. When I caught up to her we ran for about 20 yards before coming up to a race official who waved Michelle on and directed me towards the area where I would receive my medal.

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Come back tomorrow for Part 2!


January 16, 2012

The Inaugural Chip & Dale Marathon Relay: A Review Part 2

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Michelle: Starting Leg 2

Leg 1 runners came in off of the main road towards the Relay Exchange area and after meeting them, Leg 2 runners did a hairpin turn and moved back out onto the road, where we met the marathon runners at mile 13.1. After I ran over the chip-timing mat to signify the start of Leg 2, I was on my way.

Right away I noticed a few things....first of all, my legs were very stiff from running the Half Marathon the day before (and the 5K the day before that) and were not happy with the prospect of running again. It took a few miles before they said, “Ok, Michelle...let’s do this!”

Mike: Leg 1 Complete

I turned and watched Michelle run until she was out of sight. I looked around the Relay Exchange area. There weren’t too many people around. In fact, there were more volunteers and cast members than guests or runners. It was very quiet. I received my Chip and Dale medal and went over to get my bag, which Michelle had checked for me earlier in the morning. They saw me coming and had the bag waiting for me.

Michelle: Leg 2 Observations

I noticed that because I was running the second half of a marathon, there were more frequent water and food stops. At nearly every mile there was water and Powerade, bananas, GU gels, and, while running through Disney's Hollywood Studios we were given (my personal favorite) Hershey’s miniature chocolates. A fellow runner and I agreed, “This is the best tasting chocolate EVER!” And we had earned it.

Mike: Back to EPCOT

After retrieving my bag from bag check, I boarded a bus for EPCOT. Once I got to EPCOT I had some nourishment in the form of Powerade, a protein bar, and a banana. During the race I had consumed two gel packs and one water bottle.

I walked to my car and checked my phone for updates to see how my partner and others were doing but the updates were spotty that day. I knew there were several friends along the course so I asked them to text me when Michelle passed them.

I relaxed in the car and then headed for the stretch run area, which is about 100 yards from the finish. Along the way I met up with a few other members of Team AllEars who had run that day, and we all waited for Michelle.

Michelle: Leg 2 Warming Up

There were a lot more medical tents on this leg of the race, which made sense, as those who were running the full marathon would need more attention at that point. I made use of the medical folks several times, as I needed ample supplies of Bio Freeze for my sore neck. I'm happy to report that, despite the rising temperatures as the morning went along, I did not see many injured runners.

Mike: Waiting for Michelle

As we waited I thought about the differences between the two legs, and one thought entered my mind. Runner 1 enjoys the fanfare start and runs through the castle while Runner 2 most likely would get more frequent and better nourishment, and enjoy the big crowds waiting at the finish in EPCOT.

Michelle: A New Course

The race route was very different than what I had seen the day before. Leg 2 runners were lucky enough to experience new sights as we ran through Animal Kingdom, Disney Hollywood Studios, and back into EPCOT.

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Another nice change was the entertainment along the way. What I saw on the second leg of the race were things that were different than I'd seen at any other WDW race. There were hysterical "Florida tourists" (whom I suspect were Citizens of Hollywood), gravediggers along the side of the road with a mock cemetery (some runners were even brave enough to lie down, have their photo taken, and get up and run again),

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...handlers with critters at Animal Kingdom (how many times can you get your photo taken with a donkey while running a long distance race? Not many, I'd wager!). In addition, there were lots of characters -- Mr. Incredible, pirates, and I’d soon discover, Goofy and Donald at the finish line.

Mike: Waiting at the Finish

I knew Michelle enjoyed warm weather, but also knew that today could be an issue for her, not to mention she had participated in a 5K race on Friday and the half marathon the day before; and she was battling some issues with her legs so she was wise enough to figure out just how fast she could go without injuring herself.

One of our team members spotted Michelle entering EPCOT and I knew she would soon be heading for Spaceship Earth and the Finish Line.

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She finished with a smile on her face and a sense of accomplishment that all runners feel when they hit another milestone or threshold.
I returned the favor and took a photo of her as she approached the home stretch.

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That smile paled in comparison to when she found Donald and Goofy waiting for her at the Finish Line.

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Michelle: FInal Thoughts

I did one other inaugural race -- the WDW Wine and Dine 1/2 Marathon -- in 2010. I was a bit hesitant about doing another one. Inaugural races are tough (and I think this goes for all races, not just Disney races). The Chip & Dale Marathon Relay had its kinks, but, aside from the hours of waiting at the Relay Exchange area (which runDisney really needs to rethink), and a few issues in communication, this was a fun race and I'd recommend it.

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We enjoyed coming up with a team name and a team shirt idea (a big virtual high five to our buddy, artist Chris Eliopololus, who not only designed our team logo, but also ran his first marathon that day himself).


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And the bling…well, it's a mighty fine medal to add to the collection.

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Mike: Final Thoughts

I was pleasantly surprised by how well this Inaugural Marathon Relay worked, and the best complement I can bestow upon this race is that I would do it again in a minute. I would even go so far as to say if I had to choose between the WDW Half Marathon and the Marathon Relay, I would do the relay, hands down. Nice job RunDisney.


January 22, 2012

My First 5K!

By Leslie Bird

(The following is a first hand account, or diary, by Leslie Bird, on her first trip to Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend.)

Packing

I’m not a runner. Really, I’m not. If you would have told me at this time last year that I’d be running a 5K at Walt Disney World on Marathon weekend, I’d laugh you right out of the room. But here I am, packing for Disney so I can run a 5K. I’ve never packed for a race before. I think my suitcase is in danger of exploding. I’ve got cold and warm weather gear, a rain poncho (please NOT rain gear), and half of my closet in there. The bag with my running shoes, iPod, moleskin, and a few other necessities, makes it look like I know what I’m doing.

How did this happen? When did Disney become a race destination? Go back to March 2011… I was online listening to my very first podcast. I’m an allears.net junkie. You see...I’m a planner. I make lists upon lists for every trip we take. Allears helps me know what’s going on. I needed the current menu for Coral Reef and noticed the post about a podcast the next day. I had to ask my son how a podcast worked, but the next night I was at my computer when people started talking about Team AllEars. Huh? What’s Team AllEars? It’s people who run marathons to raise money for breast cancer research. That got my attention. But I can’t run a marathon. No way... but then they started talking about a 5K. My brain said something like “Hey a 5K isn’t that long…Google it real quick”. 3.1 miles. The chat lines were flying up the screen so fast I barely had time to read them. People were saying they walked it last year. WAIT! I can WALK 3.1 miles. If I can walk around Epcot for eight hours, I certainly can walk 3.1 miles. (Irony of irony the race is around World Showcase). Sign me up!

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Training

I’ve been doing Relay for Life the past two summers, but I wanted to DO something more, make a difference. You see, my best friend Kim died four years ago from breast cancer. I miss her every day. And let’s face it; I could stand to lose a few pounds, and this makes me accountable to the rest of my team (I belong to a team!), so I can’t quit. The runDisney site says you have to maintain a 16-minute mile. I bought a stopwatch, put my sneakers on, and went to the track. Four laps later I was in trouble. 22 minutes. Now what? For the next three weeks I walked as fast as my feet would go, but even then I couldn’t get the time under 19 minutes. It turns out I’m not a fast walker.

Hmm. I’m going to have to run part of it. Nice going genius. You – run - HA. You just had knee surgery. Dr. Schwartz is going to LOVE this! Then my brain jumped in and said something like “Hey Kim can’t run at all, so shut up, suck it up, and DO it!” So I started running one straightaway in each lap. Four weeks later I was running one curve and one straightaway on each lap. My time was down to 16 minutes. I could do it! But then I started playing the “What if?” game. What if I get swept? I’m not going all the way to Florida and getting swept. I started alternating walking a lap and running a lap.

When I felt like quitting, I chanted, “You’re running for Kim and raising money to help Deb”. That’s how I breathed… I worked on my time, now I had to work on my endurance. I didn’t have a coach, and I didn’t know about Jeff Galloway yet, so I just winged it. About the beginning of August I added the second mile. Those first few times were rough. My husband would come out and hold the stopwatch, but mostly this was a solo journey. My friends encouraged me on Facebook, but thought I was a little nuts for doing this. I added the third mile in late September and haven’t really thought about distance since. Oh, and I could run the WHOLE thing! Wow! So I’m going to Walt Disney World to do a 5K. Holy cow!

Thursday

It’s Thursday night. We just got back to our room from Yee Haw Bob’s show. It’s 11 pm, and I need to get my things ready for tomorrow morning. Running shoes-check, socks-check, running clothes, jacket, iPod, running belt I bought at the expo (yes against everyone’s advice I am doing something new on race day), gum, chap stick-check. Need to go to sleep. I get up at least four more times to make sure I have everything, and finally pass out around 12:15 am.

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Race Day

Four hours later the alarm goes off. Oh my Lord I’m tired. I get up, get dressed, as we have to be at Epcot soon, and I’m not sure what the traffic will be like. Eat breakfast…a banana, rolled up turkey breast, a cheese stick, and a few wheat thins. I make sure I have my gum and chap stick for the umpteenth time (for some reason I can’t run without gum and chap stick). Make sure I have my camera and we go. There’s no traffic and we’re really early. It sure is cold. I parked the car and walked around the corner and I stopped dead in my tracks. Holy cow! There are SO many people! How am I going to keep up with all those people? Stop. Breathe. You can do this. You trained, you will be fine. This is only my second race... there were 12 people in my first one.

Wow this is a lot of people. We need to find the team. More people are arriving… costumes, teams like ours. There’s the team! Now I’m excited and less nervous.

The announcer says 8000 people. What!?! We’re going out in three waves. My time is wave two. The team goes all together in wave one. Uh oh… I’m not fast enough for wave one. Breathe. Just do what you do. Let them run past you. It will be ok. I didn’t realize how much I talked to myself until I did this race! We’re waiting for the start. The crowd has swallowed up most of the team and I can only see a few people.

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The Race

3-2-1- GO! It takes a few minutes to get to the start line. People are lined up cheering. Don’t start too fast, you’ll get tired. Just do your pace. So I run and weave through the crowd of runners and walkers. I don’t know where my teammates are, but I know they’re with me somewhere. We run around the parking lot and then backstage. Where the heck is the mile marker?!? It has to be close. Go around the corner behind Test Track. The first mile marker shows a time of 16.42. WHAT?!? Breathe. It took a few minutes to get to the start line. We run into World Showcase through Mexico.

Wow! I’m running in Epcot. How cool! First thought… ALL the people are going the same way and no one is trying to run you over with a stroller!” I laughed at myself. Look characters! They said to stop and take pictures. But I don’t want to stop, but I do stop at the American Adventure to take a few pictures across the lake. Keep going!

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People are passing me, but at the same time I’m keeping up with a good deal of the crowd and passing others. I’m not tired now, my adrenaline is going... France. Cross the bridge. Go towards International Gateway. Mile 2 around the corner and the water station. Run past Canada, and Spaceship Earth. It’s getting closer! That means I’m almost done! Still running! Still going! Around Spaceship Earth. Past the memories. Up the hill. Ugh. Getting tired, but still running.

Wait! I can hear COWBELLS! That’s Team AllCheers! Keep going! You’re nearly done! Mile 3. UP a hill...grrrr. Cowbells. Cowbells! I SEE them! I SEE the finish! “GO Louise! (my nickname)” Keep going! Going across the finish I holler “Team AllEars!” I DID IT!!! I DID IT!!!! I ran the whole race! I’m so excited, but I want to HUG someone! Why can’t people wait for you at the very end? I get my medal, take the finish photo, and get my food bag and water. Then I walk about another mile back around the tents to the cheer spot.

Thelma gives me a hug. You did it Louise!!! Now I stand at the railing and watch the other runners and walkers come up the hill and cheer. GO! GO! GO! I drink two bottles of water and eat the banana and bagel from my food bag. I start to think about when was the last time I ate a bagel. I am freezing, and need to get warm, but I’m not leaving until the team has all finished. I wish I had brought my coat. We head back to the car after the last person goes past the cheer location. Besides being cold, all I could think was I ran with 8000 people!

I really don’t remember the drive back to Coronado Springs. I don’t remember if we talked about the race (I’m sure we did). I do remember standing under the shower for 25 minutes trying to get warm. No rest for the weary, we headed straight over to Animal Kingdom. People are wearing their medals. I left mine in the room. Didn’t know people would be wearing them in the parks. When we got onto our safari vehicle our driver asked who had run the 5K that morning. Two of us raised our hands. The woman sitting in front of us said “I don’t think I could be a runner.” During the whole safari ride I smiled, and not because I finally saw more than that lion’s backside… I smiled because while I may not be the fastest, or in the best shape, and I wasn’t going to be doing the marathon; I smiled because I guess I’m a runner. A runner running with purpose…Team AllEars!

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January 28, 2012

We Are Family

by Sara Rhodes

Call this a write up to get others to join in or donate to the cause, call this homage to the amazing people on Team AllEars, or call it what it is: my thank you to my running family.

I am not going to lie to you, this is the most amazing group of people ever to exist. No, that is not an exaggeration. I have never been around a group of people (outside of my own family) who loves and supports unconditionally. When I first joined up with TAE over a year and a half ago, the people on the team with me were nothing more than some Facebook friends who wanted to raise money and run.

Now, they are my family.

The day after running my first half marathon back in January of 2011, I knew I wanted to be a part of not only the WDW Marathon Weekend, but part of this team again. Once the call went out a month later to join up again, I immediately responded with my pledge to once again raise the money and join the team in Florida. Around that time, I also signed up for the Wine and Dine weekend, the Hartford Half marathon…and thanks to my teammate Jamison, the Chicago Marathon.

As I mentioned earlier, the support of the team was amazing. Without going into horrific detail, 2011 was a rollercoaster of emotions with running. Around March I developed a serious IT band issue and battled with it on both sides on and off. At several points, I had my IT Band scraped, and my upper legs were bruised for days after. Most days it hurt to walk, run and sometimes even nap on the couch. Other days, it hurt to even bend my leg. I even had x-rays on my hips to make sure I didn’t have stress fractures.

Injuries aside, I was bound and determined to finish that marathon. Fellow Team AllEars’ MaryJean and I teamed up to run the Wine and Dine Half Marathon relay (Team Doll Whips rocked!). It was great seeing those TAE that represented that weekend, especially DeeDee, who kept me entertained while waiting for the 2nd leg of the relay to start. The following weekend was Chicago and I felt good going into it. Wine and Dine went well and I was feeling loose and excited.

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The group of Jessica, Brad, Jamison and I enjoyed that first afternoon of hanging out, picking up our race packets, and otherwise taking in the sights and sounds of the Greatest City in the World. No, that is not an exaggeration. Holly and Dave, Rhonda and Laura joined in over the next several hours, and TAE: Chicago Marathon Edition began. If you have not met Laura and her thing-a-ma-jig yet, you are in for a treat. The morning of the marathon, we were up early and at Grant Park, ready to conquer the 26.2 ahead of us.

Everything about that morning was magical. The city was beautiful, the crowd was buzzing, and the Chicago Blackhawks National Anthem singer rocked it. Of course, not everything can be perfect. I felt a little tight in my IT bands, and I knew that I would be running slower than I wanted to so they would not act up. Sadly, around mile 9, things went from ok to bad. My legs locked up, and I stopped at a medical ten to try and roll out. I lasted till mile 11.5, and by that point I could barely walk. I was done, and it was heartbreaking.

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It was another few hours before the team joined back up with me at the hotel, and by then I had cried out my tears of anger (mostly.) Everyone was crazy supportive, despite the fact that they all were exhausted and overwhelmed from their finish. Despite my disappointment, I was happy to relish in their victories. How can I not be excited for these people, they are my running family.

I had tears in my eyes when I left Chicago and headed the 2.5 hours south to home. Some were anger and frustration, but I was sad to leave my friends after such an amazing weekend.

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Over the next few weeks, I healed enough to walk a few 5ks, including the Hot Chocolate Chicago race. Laura was my walking buddy, and it was great to add in my old college friend and fellow TAE Dana into the mix. Tom Troost and his daughter joined up with Holly and Dave and the rest of us, and we had quite a fun group for lunch at Heaven on Seven. I enjoyed that lunch to no end, and once again I was sad to leave my friends and teammates.

Meanwhile, between Facebook, texts, and email messages, I am constantly in contact with the team. Jeff of Team Heller-Yeah and I email about our excitement and frustrations with running, sports and life in general. Julie Olson and I are somehow twins separated at birth; we have so much in common. And of course, the other half of Team Monorail Mavens is Dana Birch, a great friend I meet in college and a fellow Disney fan. I could go on and talk about just about everyone on the team, but that would make this blog crazy long.

I haven’t even begun to mention what went down over Marathon weekend. One of my favorite moments was watching Helen’s daughter, Abby, cheer on the “One footed vs. Never Even Ran a 5k” race at the official team meet. And how about walking the 5k with Julie and stopping to take pictures, or sitting with the team at the Illuminations dessert party. Hey, did you know that Dan ran a marathon? Laura lost her keys, Brad and the guys gave me a ride back Animal Kingdom Lodge and Jamison was trying to talk me into the Marine Corps marathon. Again, I could go on, but this blog would be crazy long.

Co-Captain Michelle talked about how we are now a family. A family gets together in Chicago to run a marathon; a family joins up on Main Street after the Disneyland Half to eat ice cream, and to have a cookout on the beaches out east. But most important, a family loves and supports and understands, and gathers together for a higher purpose. Have I not mentioned that yet? This year’s team raised over $67,000 to help out Deb, our fearless and energetic leader!

I should mention that TAE isn’t without the groupies…aka Team AllCheers. Marybeth was there alongside Laura in Chicago both times, and was once again a presence in Disney this past weekend. She is just one of so many that support and cheer us on, and many of them also help out in the fundraising cause. Without our friends and family and Team AllCheers, none of this would be possible. And no, that is no exaggeration.

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To steal a tag line from the 2011 Chicago White Sox and University of Illinois Men’s Cross Country team, I am “All In.” Turns out, my family will be in WDW for the Wine and Dine Half Marathon weekend (thanks to my sister’s 30th birthday!), and I might sneak out to Disneyland for the half in September. I couldn’t bear the thought of not being a part of this amazing team. I hope my current teammates are with me, and I hope we can recruit a few more outstanding individuals to support this amazing effort. See you in 2013 (and the rest of 2012), Team AllEars!!

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About January 2012

This page contains all entries posted to Team AllEars® Running Blog in January 2012. They are listed from oldest to newest.

December 2011 is the previous archive.

February 2012 is the next archive.

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