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February 2013 Archives

February 1, 2013

Journey to a Half Marathon

by Sandra Hall

I have never been a runner and I haven't run since playing field hockey in high schoo some 50 years ago. I had read blogs on allears.net about the WDW Marathon Weekend and wondered about walking the half. After my son did "Goofy" in 2012, he told me that some people did walk the half-marathon at WDW. So I thought that perhaps I could do that, and in February, 2012 I began walking as fast as I could for varying distances.

I joined Team Allears - the best, most enthusiastic, encouraging, caring, inspiring group of fantastic people - raising money for breast cancer!

When checking out the runDisney website, I discovered Jeff Galloway's run-walk-run method and decided to give it a try. Starting by running 5 seconds and walking 55 seconds (in jeans and heavy sneakers), I gradually progressed to 20/40 seconds and began to think that maybe I could do this for 13.1 miles! One day I was so excited to have run for a whole minute!!

More progressing, more playing with the run/walk ratios and I was almost having fun! Some days it was so hard to get out the door for my training run especially when the weather got colder, but once outside I was okay and never did I regret not staying in bed. Yes, usually my runs are early in the morning when it is so peaceful, and I can watch the sun rise over the fields or the trees and sometimes startle a squirrel or even a deer.

In spite of losing several weeks of training to a couple of injuries and the death of my mom - my biggest supporter - I made it to WDW Marathon Weekend 2013! I arrived at Disney with a horrible sinus infection including very clogged ears which the plane ride worsened. I was taking antibiotics, but recovery was very slow.

With meds in my system and a bad case of nerves, my stomach was churning on the morning of the race. My son walked with me to meet up with the team and my wonderful teammates took over.

I was so overwhelmed by everything and was way out of my comfort zone, but somehow, in spite of sinus pain, stuffed nose and ears, heat and humidity, and a gurgling tummy, I started my run/walk at a slower than normal pace. I thought I was prepared with GU packets, but my hands were so sweaty that I couldn't open them, so I just depended on the water and Powerade along the course. I walked most of the last 3 miles, but I FINISHED A HALF-MARATHON!

Will I do it again? When asked that question the night after the race, I wasn't too sure, but now the answer is a resounding "YES." I'm already looking forward to next year and maybe even a half-marathon or two before then!

And in case you were trying to do some math back in the first paragraph, I was a newbie runner at 64, and I celebrated my 65th birthday by running 10 miles!

February 6, 2013

The Adventure Begins

by Matt Allgaier

Writing a blog is something that I have never attempted before but then again it’s a blog on a subject that I never attempted before so it seems appropriate. It’s about running – something that had you asked me about it a year ago, I would never have thought of attempting. That said, it is now with pride that I can refer to myself as a half marathoner and maybe even a runner!

Normally, I would never think of writing about something I consider a “once in a lifetime” experience, which is what I thought running a half marathon would be, all the way until I crossed the finish line. Crossing the finish line ranks very high on my list of adrenaline rush moments in life - its right up there with first skydive, first SCUBA dive in the open ocean, and flying a plane. Just like all those other activities, I want as much of that feeling as I can get.

But first, I think I should tell the story of how I got to this point. Two years ago I was over 300lbs with no running experience at all. The closest I’d come to running was walking a 5K. I attended the 2010 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend solely as a spectator to support some friends that were running the half marathon. At the finish area of this race, after congratulating the friends that I had been there to cheer on, I ran into my friend Mike Scopa. He posed a simple question to me: "When will I see you do one of these?"

Mike’s simple question "sparked the fire" in me to maybe attempt a half at some point in my life. Even so, not much changed until February of 2011 when there just happened to be a 5K in Walt Disney World when I was already planning to be there. I figured, why not try it? This, in hindsight, didn’t compare at all to a half marathon, but I did enjoy it, so I set myself the goal to run the half marathon in 2013!

My first step towards reaching my goal was weight loss. I hate going to the gym so instead I decided to go back to something I liked as a kid: martial arts. After about 9 months of martial arts training I had dropped nearly 70lbs and I thought that I would be ready to try the half marathon and I registered to run!

I was still afraid because I had no clue what actual training was required to complete the race successfully and injury free. I reached out via Facebook to see if anyone could point me in the right direction. I was surprised at how many great responses I received from friends! One in particular, from Brad Garfinkel stuck out: he suggested that I join him and Mike Scopa on Team AllEars. This idea was perfect to me because not only was the team preparing for the race but they were raising money for cancer research. I’ve lost my grandfather to cancer, almost lost my mother to cancer, and currently have a best friend struggling with cancer. It was the perfect thing for me and from that point on I was 120% in!!

While every member of Team AllEars was fantastic, one of them in particular stepped into the role of mentor for me. Christine Griffin was a wonderful mentor and was there for me every step of the way to answer questions. (The only issue was that I didn't fully listen to her and never went to a running store to get properly fitted for running shoes - something I am now rectifying!) I believe skipping this step caused me the slight injury I dealt with for the second half of the half-marathon.

Needless to say, after finishing the race in January, I now consider myself a runner and am currently registered to run two more half marathons and four 5Ks in 2013! I am also considering a 10 mile run in October and the Disney half marathon again in January. (I would really like to attempt the full marathon but I may hold back on that adventure so I can pass on what I have learned during the past year to friends and run the half marathon with them in 2014).


February 20, 2013

The Gift

by Jamison Reynolds

“To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.”-Steve Prefontaine

On Sunday January 13th, my best was my worst. The 20th Anniversary of the Walt Disney World marathon was my most difficult run in the five or so years I have been pounding pavement. I simply crashed. I turned in my worst time. I swore multiple times that I was done running. I am quoted as saying "I want to punch running in the face." I hurt more than I had ever hurt before…and I would do it all over again.

As a runner I normally don’t have the luxury of having someone running with me. I train alone in the Shenandoah Valley in the great state of West Virginia. The cold state of West Virginia I should add during the training weeks leading up to marathon weekend. Many of my fellow northerners were fretting about the temperature forecasts but I honestly wasn’t worried about because I was going to have a running buddy for the marathon. My friend and teammate Christine Griffin and I were going to run together and I excited to have someone to talk to a crack jokes with for 26.2 miles.


The marathon started with a nice temperature predawn and although the course was tight in places Christine and I were maintaining a decent pace. We decided not to stop for pictures and characters early as to try and get as far as possible ahead of the heat. We made it to the Contemporary before the sun started poking out and it was still dark enough when we hit Main Street to truly appreciate the beauty of the Castle fully covered in ice.

We were still running strong together as we entered the speedway when we got our 1st look at the effects of the impending heat. The mist over the speedway was incredible. It looked like something out of a special effect department. It was beautiful and eerie at the same time. I should have known that ominous view would be a precursor to my race going horribly wrong.

On the way to Animal Kingdom was when it happened. Right before mile 10, I felt a twitch and then in an instant my calf cramped. I pulled over to the right and watched my friend disappear into the crowd. I walked for a mile and then tried to run but after a few minutes it cramped again. I don’t know if it was the heat, poor hydration prior to the run or something else, but there was no more running for me.

I know there is a difference between hurt, pain, and injury and I knew this was not injury so I had two simple choices. 1) Stop, head back to the room and shower and meet my family at Magic Kingdom to drown my sorrows in a Dole Whip. 2) Keep moving forward. I know how lucky I am to be able to do this race in Walt Disney World and I did not want to sacrifice the gift so I kept going.

I ran/walked intervals for 1 minute increments until about mile 16, past Animal Kingdom, past my friends from Team Allears waiting with the most delicious can of coke I ever had, over the World Drive overpass until I couldn’t ever do that anymore. From that point I was going to walk, which was crushing because I could already feel the blisters forming on the balls of my feet.

I hit my wall shortly before the mile 20 “spectacular” (infer as much sarcasm as you would like) but at that moment, THE DAN RAJNIK came up caught me on the course. Dan is one of my teammates and one of my good friends on the team and after some jokes and Boba Fett sightings we decided to finish to course together. My feet hurt, my leg hurt and my ego was gone… and it was some of the best 6 miles I’ve ever had in a race.

Although I could feel the blood in my shoes, and my leg was starting to lock up, we had a blast. We cracked some great jokes. We chatted with runners and some the great fans along the course (including the many members of Team Allears and Allcheers). We took full advantage of all the hydration options available along the course. We picked up team member Rob Wilhelm at mile 25 and the 3 of us finished together. As a reward for my course struggles I got to see Dan win his 1st Goofy Challenge. When I got back to my room, my family had made a sign to greet me and they were waiting to great me in person at the Magic Kingdom. It was all worth it. I would do it again.


Prefontaine’s quote runs through my mind all the time. I think about what the GIFT is. I don’t think the gift is some singular thing. Its something that changes based on a given situation. Why did I keep going? My gift is the fact that I am a healthy able bodied person who FINISHES marathons. There are those who cannot. My gift is that I have a loving and supportive family that inspires me to keep going. There are those who do not. My gift is that I am a part of a caring and dynamic support structure of a running team. Some just aren’t that lucky. To walk off the course would not have been my best. Yes, my best was my worst, but I was not going to sacrifice my gifts.

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About February 2013

This page contains all entries posted to Team AllEars® Running Blog in February 2013. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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