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December 24, 2012

The Night Before runDisney

By Michael P. Miller*

'twas the night before runDisney, when all thro' Jambo House,
Not a character was stirring, not even The Mouse;
The compression socks where hung on the balcony with care,
In the realization that the wakeup call was ever so near (*1);
The children were nestled on the pull out sofa beds,
While visions of Dole Whips and Mickey Ears danc'd in their heads,
And Mama in her running skirt and I in my wicking cap,
Had just settled our brains for a very short nap (*2) --
When out in the night arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
And tripped over the souvenirs on which I spent all my cash.

Peaked through the curtains and looked down below,
(as we had a Standard View that overlooked the front portico,)
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a line of people by a bus labeled “Mears,”
I knew in a moment I must have over slept,
And into my mind some panic now crept;
More rapid than I thought I could move at the time,
For in a minute I was to learn it was only Two Twenty-Nine (*3);
I called out for items, my Drinks, and my Gus,
My Team All Ears shirt, my shorts and my Shoes,
Through the room I moved like a man possessed,
So much so that I left the room partially dressed!
Down the stairs, ‘cross the lobby and out the front doors,
I got into line and waited... and waited.... and waited 'til Four (*4).


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During this time my wife, she did purposefully come,
Apparently she realized she had time to prepare some.
She brought me my bib, my race bag and body glide,
The running bottle I always carry in a belt on my side,
And then on the bus all of us did load,
As finally to our race we are all sure to go.
Now dash away! No, Galloway! Galloway all!
Until Epcot Drive, where we slowed to a crawl!!
We waited in traffic, moving at a snail’s pace,
Eagerly trying to get to our race.


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When we arrived at the lot, outside it was still dark (*5),
Got off the bus and trudged past the theme park.
“Bag Check,” “Reunion,” “Refreshments” said the signs,
Must be near the Start, so we sat on our behinds.
To conserve energy we thought we would rest,
But with DJs blaring, racers dancing, we were put to the test.
We saw Princesses, fairy wings, and even a Goofy,
And of course the lead characters from the new Disney movie.
People were entering the Runners Retreat (for which entry was sold),
A source of great debate about whether it’s worth all that gold.
We were searching for the spot where we’d line up to run,
When over the speakers came something most fun,
The song, Gangnam Style, to which we danced with a smile,
Until we were told to the race start was over a mile.

Another slog down a dark, winding path,
How far have we walked? I won’t do the math,
Finally, bright lights, blaring music and all the corrals,
Into which we were jammed with a thousand new pals.
Up ahead, out of sight, witty banter from someone I could not see,
Only later would I learn that was the famous Rudy Novotny.
As the clock counted down, the darkness still loomed (*6)
As I eagerly awaited the start guns’ big boom,
More jokes, more banter, they said “look at the running-short clad tooshes,”
‘cuz, on the big screen they were showing some men peeing in bushes.

From 10 down to 1, the big clock counted,
And blasts of horns, music and fireworks abounded.
But lest my excitement get my heart racing too high,
I remembered I was way back in Corral Letter I.
So again, and again this specter played out,
‘til finally it was our turn and we all let loose a shout.
And as we passed the Fab Five with a wave and a cheer,
My dreams of this day was finally here,
So whether it’s the Goofy, the Full, the Half or Family 5K,
There is only one thing left that I have to say…..
So a runDisney to all, and to all a good night,
For you see, we have 2 more hours ‘til we see any sun-light. (*7)


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******with apologies to Clement Moore.

*1 we had a 2:30 wake up call
*2 seriously a 2:30 wake up call, seriously?
*3 outstanding, I am up before my wake up call
*4 AM.... as in Ahhhh Mother of God it's early
*5 who was the genius who thought to start a race this early
*6 for any other race I would be getting up at this time
*7 I mean really, this entire race is run on property….couldn’t we have started this at a reasonable hour?

May 16, 2012

Positive Peer Pressure

By Dee Dee Webster

Before joining Team AllEars, there were a lot of things that I didn’t think that I could do. One decision can make the biggest difference in someone’s life. I’ll be honest, when I became a team member, I didn’t run. Not even a block, let alone 13.1 miles.

I’m not sure how I got talked into the half marathon but it had something to do with Helen Norlund telling me that I could and would do it. She had more confidence in me than I had in myself. I will be forever grateful for her and her words of encouragement.

After I joined the team, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I had quite a few people friend me on Facebook and a few days were spent trying to put faces with stories. Then the panic set in. I wasn’t sure if I could raise my share of the promised amount. And I was also trying to run 13.1 miles. I had considered withdrawing but what reason did I have? Fear? That didn’t seem right. Jamison Reynolds was assigned as my mentor. I’m not sure if he knew what he was getting himself into on that one. However, I’m glad he was the chosen one because he’s really good at talking somebody off the “OMG, what was I thinking?” ledge. Jamison also happens to be THE fundraising guru. He challenged me to simply ask for donations for the cause, not for me. Fighting breast cancer is a good cause and I wanted to make a difference so I did as he asked. I hope that I made him proud when I doubled my promised amount.

The time leading up to the half was a whirlwind. I did my first 5K in April. I met my teammates for the Wine and Dine half marathon relay. Libby Goldberg met me in Virginia Beach to do the Wicked 10K. Then I met more teammates at the Hot Chocolate 15K, DC. That was the worst race to date but you couldn’t beat the company, hands down. With every race, I heard my teammates telling me that I was strong, that I was fast, that I rocked, etc. I admit that it gave me a boost to have that playing in my head. I started thinking that I could do more and wanted to do more.

The morning of the Disney Half Marathon was magical. I wasn’t nervous at all. I was excited and determined to make the most of MY day. I admit that I cried when I crossed the finish line. I’m teary-eyed thinking of it now. I accomplished something that I never knew I could do; something that I didn’t know I wanted to do until I was “pressured” into it. I ran 13.1 miles. I raised money to fight a cause that I strongly believed in. I couldn’t have done it…

…until someone told me that I could…

…until someone had the confidence in me…

…until someone made me look at myself and help me find my inner strength.

I’m not sure who gained the most from this. Yes, we raised over $67,000 for breast cancer but I gained a more confident me.

That to me is everything.

Next year, you ask? I don’t know…but somebody did mention that I should do the Goofy.

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March 14, 2012

Team AllEars 2013: Continuing with Purpose

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It happens every spring…the snow melts…clocks spring ahead…pitchers and catchers report for spring training…but more importantly it’s that time of year to launch a new year of Team AllEars.

In the Beginning

The Team AllEars Running Team was founded in 2009 with several goals in mind. One was to motivate those who have wanted to acquire a more active and healthier lifestyle through walking, jogging, and running. However, the team was also constructed for a purpose…and that was to not just get healthier but to help others. We are talking about those battling in the fight for survival from breast cancer.

Team AllEars would become a force committed to increasing breast cancer awareness by raising funds for Deb Wills' Avon Walk for Breast Cancer .

Regarding launch of Team AllEars for 2013, Deb Wills expressed:

“I am so excited to announce Team AllEars for 2013. The Team has exceeded all my expectations. Each year new people make a decision to get healthier and off the couch and join the team. Also, as a Team that Runs with Purpose, Team AllEars has raised over $140,000 in three years to fight breast cancer. Many lives have been saved through everyone's hard work and determination. I am so proud of everyone involved.”

A Team Becomes a Family

At the annual team meeting this past January at the Walt Disney World Dolphin Resort in Orlando, Florida, Team AllEars Co-Captain Michelle Scribner-McLean used “family” as the proper word to define what Team AllEars has become over the years. As she expressed it to the team members, “A family answers questions when people have issues or worries, or their it band is blown, or they’re nervous about a race, or they don't know how to get from one resort to the other. That’s what a family does and you have given me so much and, I really feel that we are a family, and you are my family, and I really appreciate everything you do.”

The team’s support mechanisms for the fight against breast cancer, support for their fellow teammates, and in fact the support they have given all runners at the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend, has prompted Rudy Novotny, the voice of runDisney, to remark, “The AllEars Team was a fabulous "addition" to the entire weekend of events. RunDisney, and in fact, the running community as a whole, is better for having Team AllEars out on the roads. All of those that are touched and benefit from AllEars fundraising efforts surely appreciate the blessing you all bring more than you will ever know.”

So what does it take to become part of Team AllEars?

First, team members commit to running in one of the various races held in January, during the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend. These races range from a 5K distance (3.1 miles), to a half marathon (13.1 miles), and finally to a full marathon distance (26.2 miles).

Secondly, team members commit to raising $500 in funds for Deb Wills' Avon Walk for Breast Cancer. The team has fundraising experts who assist team members with ideas on fundraising events and, in fact, the entire team shares ideas in this area, which in turn aids towards the success of the team.

The team gathers in January to run and celebrate their achievements over the previous 12 months and to hold their annual team meeting where they share what motivates them to “run with purpose”.

Mike Scopa, Co-Captain for Team AllEars, described the annual meeting as, “The culmination of all those miles on the road, all those hours training, and all those efforts throughout the year to raise funds…it’s understandable why everyone is emotional at this meeting. Not only do we get to share our success as a team, and as a family, but we are also reminded how each one of us has been touched by cancer. As we end the meeting you can see the determination in everyone’s faces…faces that seem to say, “I’m not done…the fight goes on.”

During that weekend the team spends time with the annual Team AllEars YeeHaw Bob Meet at Port Orleans Riverside, and other get togethers such as meals and desert parties.

Team AllEars includes Team AllCheers who support the Team AllEars runners and their efforts by also attending the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend and rooting them on.

Beyond the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend in January, team members join up throughout the year to run in other races around the country to enjoy friendship and support.

So as Team AllEars moves into it’s fourth year, the energy, the drive, and the motivation to get healthier and to fight the battle against breast cancer is stronger than ever before. Each year sees some change in the numbers and names of those on the team, but there is no denying, that although the numbers and names and faces may change slightly…one thing never changes…this team Runs with Purpose.

How to Join

For you to join the Team AllEars 2013 you must first be registered for one of the 2013 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend races.

Secondly, you are asked to committing to raising $500 or more to Deb Wills' Avon Walk for Breast Cancer, along the way raising breast cancer awareness as well.

Member Benefits

Team members will receive official AllEars® Running Team Newsletters that will feature special articles along with some tips and hints on preparing for the big race.

Team members will be encouraged and welcomed to contribute to the team newsletter with questions regarding training and to share their success stories in the team blog.

Team members are encouraged to participate in the private Team AllEars Facebook page (open to members only).

All team members will be invited to special team events during the 2013 WDW Marathon Weekend.

If you would like to become a member of the Team AllEars Running team please send an email to Team AllEars Co-Captain Michelle Scribner-MacLean at michelle@teamallears.com.

Remember, the only way to run is to Run with Purpose.

Lift off!


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February 16, 2012

I Finally Did It!!! Walt Disney World Half Marathon

By Joan Smith

I finally did it!!!! That’s the feeling that I had when I crossed the finish line at the Walt Disney World Half Marathon in early January. That simple sentence doesn’t seem like enough to convey all of the feelings of that day though. There were so many thoughts...where are my friends, my family; thank goodness I didn’t get swept; I am hungry; I want to sit somewhere; let’s go celebrate; I wish my boys were here; what time is it; etc. It’s hard to sort them all out. However, the overwhelming thought was, “I finally did it!!”

It may sound funny to say that I FINALLY did it – but my track record wasn’t so stellar. You see, I was supposed to do this race before. The first time I hadn’t trained and I just stayed in bed. My sisters and my husband and my brother-in-law completed the race that year and I said that I might try it again sometime in the future. At that time, my heart wasn’t in it. My sisters were the runners in the family and my husband had completed many marathons in his life. For me, it was impossible to even think about it. After all, I wasn’t a runner, and never had been.

Fast forward a couple of years. Again, I said I would participate in the race. This time, I didn’t have to be embarrassed. I was given a reprieve by my visit to Urgent Care (a short drive from Disney’s Boardwalk) and my strep throat diagnosis. Again, my sisters and husband completed the race. As this year’s opportunity presented itself, I again told my sisters that I was not a runner. However, one of them forwarded me an article, written by a man on Team AllEars, and I was inspired. The author mentioned that he didn’t like a photo of himself and his son that was taken outside of Cinderella’s castle. He mentioned that they were so happy on the trip and that he didn’t want to remember it the way that the photo depicted him. So he started training – and lost weight – and completed the half marathon and doesn’t take pictures like that anymore. As I read his article, it dawned on me that I too had pictures like that and that I too could change them. So I signed up for Team AllEars!

Now there is one thing that you have to consider. My youngest sister is a “Bud” on Team AllEars. She is a great coach and great source of information and my older sister is Perfectly Goofy and has completed 50 marathons in her lifetime. This is inspiring, but as a sibling, it’s also annoying!!! They offer great advice, but sometimes it falls on deaf ears – which is maddening to them – and ultimately to me, too. So, with their encouragement, I started on my path towards walking the half marathon. I agreed to raise the money and see where it took me.
I tried to walk at least five times a week, starting at 30 minutes a day and at an 18 minute mile pace, and sometimes I was successful. I bought a couple of books and initially logged my time/feeling/pace, etc. Eventually, I got a couple of friends to train with and this was the best way to do it (in my opinion). I much preferred training outside to the treadmill and knowing that I had to meet someone made me show up. We were fortunate enough to have the W&OD trail nearby which provides a safe, groomed, marked trail on which to walk/run. As we continued to show up and walk, our pace got quicker and we got up to race pace.

Now you have to understand, I am 51 years old – and starting this training program was a daunting task. I have a full time job, a 15-year-old son who is involved in sports, and still needs to be driven everywhere, a husband that travels, and two dogs…in other words, a full life. Fitting in a training regimen was challenging. Lucky for me, I happen to be a determined person – so once my mind set was right, I found a way.

Fast forward from July to January…the race was here. My training really slipped over the Christmas holidays with lots of fun and food, but although the training slipped, I still felt prepared. My goal was to finish…not to be last, and not to get swept!

I arrived in Orlando with my fundraising goals reached and ready to have some fun with my sisters and girlfriends. We were all participating in different races, the 5K, the half marathon, the full marathon and the relay. There was a lot of nervous energy but with signs of encouragement taped to our hotel room door we went out and competed! The rest, as they say, is in the record books. As the race started, I was in Corral G with my friends – and we started out together, but before mile marker 1 we were all on our own. Again, my goal was to finish, not to finish together! I fell into a groove and just kept moving along. I talked to lots of people along the way, made a couple of bathroom stops, and was grateful to my son for the playlist he made for me. His musical choices carried me along much of the route. When we reached the marker for mile 8 – instead of feeling discouraged – I began to compare the distance to the distances on the trail we trained on at home, so when suddenly we were in Epcot and I heard them say, “1/10th of a mile to go” and I thought, “Wow, that’s the length of my driveway!!” and I actually started running! It was a fantastic feeling to cross the finish line – a personal accomplishment – and a small contribution to Cancer Research.

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What comes next you ask? For me and my friends, we have all committed to coming back next year 20 lbs. lighter and shooting for a sub-3 hour race. With any luck – we’ll make it! For my older sister, she’ll be back to stay Perfectly Goofy (the 8th time) and for my younger sister, she has the 20th anniversary Marathon medal to tempt her! My prediction is that you’ll see all of us again!!

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February 9, 2012

From Zumba to a Disney Half Marathon

By Erinn Casazza

Have you met Jamison Reynolds? If you have, you know that Jamison Reynolds has been blamed for many things. Here is something else he can add to his list: I blame Jamison Reynolds for how utterly happy I am right now! Weird, right?

Here’s how it happened:

In the fall of 2010, through the wonders of Facebook, Jamison discovered that I am a Zumba instructor and he asked me to help him fundraise for a running team he had joined. Jamison is on a running team? Huh? We had not kept in touch much since college, but I did not remember him being a runner. He may have run to Sheetz for more beer, but running on a team? Really?

He sent me a link to a video of a wonderful lady named Deb Wills with information about what she does in the fight against breast cancer. Not that Jamison had to twist my arm to do him a favor, but hearing Deb’s story and seeing all the change she has inspired helped me say “yes” more quickly.

After raising $250 at the Zumba event, I decided it was silly to give that money to Jamison when I could raise money, run and go to Walt Disney World myself, so I signed up for Team AllEars 2012!
Clearly, it was all Jamison’s fault.

I am not a runner, but what better excuse to become one? Sure I would be helping others by raising money for the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer, but I would get to go to Walt Disney World too! As a former cast member who has been itching to get back to Orlando, that reward motivated my untrained feet and calves.

I started the Jeff Galloway training program and tried to enjoy it. I cannot lie. It is hard to enjoy running on the hills of Morgantown, WV. But I did feel a sense of accomplishment when friends and family would look at me in amazement when I explained what I was doing and why.

It is hard to explain the emotions and thoughts running through my head while I traveled solo to marathon weekend in Orlando. My husband had been in Miami covering the Orange Bowl and we didn’t get to see each other before I left for Florida. I was without my immediate support team and freaking out a bit over what I had signed on to do. I couldn’t stop chatting with my fellow travelers about running, meeting new friends, raising money, and West Virginia’s 70 point victory at the Orange Bowl!

Luckily, strangers were spared more of my nervous chatter when my friend Kristy picked me up at the airport and we headed to Port Orleans to take in YeeHaw Bob and meet up with Team AllEars. I have to be honest. I felt nauseous. I was nervous, happy, exhausted and excited, all at the same time.

I tackled Jamison upon arrival and received the sweetest hug from Deb. I relaxed. We were seated with two of the hippest chicks in running shoes: Libby Goldberg and Julie Olsen. We quickly got to know each other and then laughed and sang together with good ol’ Bob. I decided that night that I could maybe start to forgive Jamison for what he had gotten me into.

Race day came a little too quickly with a 2:30 am wakeup call after I had fallen asleep at 11 pm. Nerves, people. Nerves.

My one-woman cheering squad, Kristy, drove us to the team meet and I found my corral buddies Libby and Julie. It seemed like we were in Corral F and ready to go within minutes.

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I kept having thoughts of “I can’t believe I’m doing this!” and “I can’t wait to see the Christmas decorations at MK!”
Again, I felt nauseous.

Libby, Julie and I started the race together but we eventually were separated by our running speeds. In the few miles when I was alone with my thoughts I was overwhelmed with how extremely cool this half marathon is, and how lucky I felt to be part of it and a part of Team AllEars. I felt a sense of pride in what I was doing for others and for myself. I felt a sense of excitement because, if for only those 13.1 miles, running was fun. I felt humbled by those running around me with shirts proclaiming “Survivor” or “I run because they can’t” or “I’m 80 and you’re behind me.” I felt warm and fuzzy because I knew I was part of an amazing family that instills the feeling that you can do anything. This is when I forgave Jamison a little bit more.

I caught up with Libby in time for her to see me cry like a baby when we hit Main Street in the Magic Kingdom. This was why I initially signed up to run. This was why I had trained on the hills of Morgantown.

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This was what made every stair on Law School Hill worth it. I finally got to see Christmas in the Kingdom! Seeing our Team cheering us on at the top of Main Street was much appreciated (Here’s looking at you, Dan “I ran a marathon!” Rajnik).

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The remaining miles were a blast, even the slow, boring ones when my feet felt like they might fall off. Libby and I were able to keep each other going and we were encouraged by Team AllCheers and the thing-a-ma-jigs on the sidelines. I laughed at the “hill” at Mile 10 and cried when my right calf got a cramp. Then Julie found us so we could all finish the race together!

One thing I will always remember is the three of us stopping for our photo shoot at Mile 13. Jamison, Dan and others were urging us to finish, but we could not be bothered with that. Kristy had a camera and we were celebrating – leg cramp and all. Why? Because that is what this whole marathon weekend and Team AllEars seems to be about: Celebrating.

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We celebrate our triumphs. We celebrate people. We celebrate the bonds we have created through helping others and ourselves. We celebrate life. And we keep running – or hobbling – to the next party.

Ok, Jamison. I forgive you.

Erinn would like to take this opportunity to officially claim she is Going Goofy in 2013!! Bring it on you silly dog!

February 5, 2012

My first Half Marathon at Walt Disney World

By Casey Dylan

Back-story

Last fall, in what can best be described as a moment of mid-life crisis, I decided to put down the beer, turn off the TV, get off the couch, go outside and…(wait for it)…run a marathon. Due to my rotund shape, and generally lazy disposition, this was a statement far fetched enough to make those around me smirk openly.

About a month into training, I found myself in the back of an ambulance being rushed to the cardiac lab at one of the major hospitals in Boston. When the doctor leaned over to me and said “In a few minutes we might have to crack you open, is there a loved one you want to speak with?” I was blindsided by the possibility that I wouldn’t see my wife and two little boys again. It’s funny the things that race through your mind in moments like that, and one specific thought kept repeating: “I can’t be sick, In a few days I’m supposed to take my little boys to Walt Disney World for the first time.”

It turns out that I wasn’t in quite the dire straights they feared, and after several days in the cardiac ward, recovering from a case of strep-related pericarditis, I convinced the doctor to release me in time for our family vacation. Getting to see my boys discover the enchantment of Disney for the first time was magical to be sure, but I was unable to hold them, ride the attractions with them, or swim with them in the pool…in short, it was not the experience I had envisioned. While thankful to have been able to go, I came home with some degree of disappointment. Shortly after my return, the cardiologist placed me on a 3-month hold to any strenuous activity…my nascent commitment to running was put on the back burner.

After the requisite waiting period, and upon receiving the “all clear” status to resume training, I started looking for a big hairy audacious goal to set for myself. I learned about the Walt Disney World Half Marathon from a friend who had run it previously, and was planning on doing so again with her running group, Team All Ears (a group of runners dedicated to raising funds to fight breast cancer). The opportunity to set a daunting challenge for myself, while leveraging the support of a team and doing something good for others, was exactly what I was looking for.

Training

I began training with the “Couch Potato to 5K” plan. The C25K program seems simplistic at first glance, but really works well for fat, lazy, out-of-shape guys like myself, and in no time I was huffing and puffing my way through 3 to 4mile runs.

Unfortunately running around with a bunch of extra pounds takes its toll on a body, and it really wreaked havoc with my knees. My wife suggested I look into Jeff Galloway’s Run/Walk training, and I tried a 3/2 split on my next five-miler. It was the easiest five miles I'd done, with the average minutes per mile about the same as when I shuffled along. Furthermore, I felt great during and after the run. I was a convert! I shifted to the Galloway half marathon training regime. As the mileage grew with each successive “long run”, the daunting nature of what once seemed impossible became less so, and the day I ran/walk for 10 miles I knew I could do it.

The Race

When the alarm went off at 3 am on race day, I was already awake and anxious to get going. I arrived at the race sight at 3:45 am shivering both from the cold and from nervous excitement…getting to this day had been a long journey. Walking to the corral took longer than I anticipated, but it kept me warm and gave me something active to do. I was gratified to have my wife (who had trained with me, but due to a knee injury couldn’t run) and a group from Team All Ears to chat with on both the walk to, and in, the corral.

The race began and I was pounding the pavement so quickly that I hadn’t even gotten my iPod plugged-in and fired-up (rookie move). It was hard not to let adrenaline get the best of me, and at Mile 1 I entertained thoughts of running hard to Mile 2, but I was committed to running the race I had trained for, so I reigned it in and forced myself to walk. Things were going well until around Mile 5, when I really started feeling sluggish. I got to Main Street USA and decided to take it easy, enjoy the spectacle, and fuel up on GU Chomps and PowerAde. I was already feeling better by the time I left the Magic Kingdom. The next few miles flew by quickly.

Miles 11 through 13 are a bit of a blur, as tunnel vision started set in and I focused on driving to the finish. I remember looking at my watch and thinking “It would be great to do this in under 3 hours!”, but I didn’t really have enough energy in the tank at that point to speed up, in fact my run/walk splits were inverted from 3/2 to 2/3 and I was slowing down. I was able to pick up the pace thanks to the energy of the crowd at Epcot, and when I rounded the corner to the grandstand and I saw my wife and boys I felt wings on my feet carry me across the finish line.


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Final Thoughts

The next day, as I alternated carrying my boys on my shoulders on our way to riding just about every ride at the Magic Kingdom, it occurred to me that it had only been a year since I had to scooter around and watch my kids riding those same rides from afar. I was moved to tears as I realized that in that year I had demonstrated to my boys how to get up off the mat when you get knocked down; achieved a key milestone along the road to realizing the ultimate goal of running a marathon; added years to my life; and raised money to try and help add years to the lives of others.


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It was a fantastic experience, and I look forward to doing it again (this time with my wife) next year!

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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 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 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 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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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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!

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November 26, 2011

Following Your Runner WDW Marathon Weekend PART II of III

In Part II of our series on following your runner at Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend, Dave Aulen shares the strategy he perfected for following his wife Holly through the Magic Kingdom and Epcot without a car during two Goofy Challenges.

Heeere's Dave...

I know what you’re thinking, “I didn’t choose to run this thing so why should I get up so early and go with my runner to the start area?” The simple answer is that by doing just that it will make getting around the property so much easier for you. The added bonus is getting to share in the excitement and experience with your runner and the rest of Team AllEars. Driving to the EPCOT start area gives your runner a warm place to sit for a few minutes and allows for an easy exit after the finish line.

I follow the EPCOT-Monorail-TTC-Magic Kingdom-Monorail-TTC-EPCOT strategy Jessica mentioned. You can't get off the TTC monorail at the Magic Kingdom until the park opens, which is 5:30 am. Your choices are to either keep riding the loop or get off at The Contemporary Resort for coffee (the lobby coffee kiosk and Contempo Café opened early last year for the race weekend), and walk to the Magic Kingdom. You do not need a park ticket to watch the race from inside the Magic Kingdom.

At 5:30 in the morning you will find an empty park. You have some time to walk around and snap pictures before picking a viewing point. I prefer not to stand on Main Street proper because it's roped-off to create a narrow path for the race and it gives you mostly a side view of the race. The direct center of the hub is where you want to be to take that special photo of your favorite runner. It's a coveted spot and that's why you are there at 5:30 am. My actual favorite spot is just beyond the hub at the entrance to the Tomorrowland Bridge. There the runners are rounding a corner which gives you a better view of them for your photos.

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View from the Hub Center


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Half Marathon View from Tomorrowland Bridge

Once your runner passes get ready to move. The Tomorrowland Bridge area gives you the chance to turn around and go close to a roped-off area by the castle entrance. From here you can see your runner come out of the castle and get pictures as they run the ramp down toward Adventureland. Another good spot to stand for the “Castle Shot” is right behind the ChEAR Squad VIP area by the Adventureland Ramp.

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View From Front of Cinderella’s Castle by the ChEAR Squad VIP Viewing Section


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View In Front of Cinderella’s Castle from the Roped-off Area Behind the Hub

Time to go. Get on the monorail and go over to TTC for the EPCOT Monorail. Monorail lines are very long this weekend, but don't panic like me. You will get there in time because the runners are six plus miles from the finish. When you get down the monorail ramp at EPCOT, turn right, (away from the finish area) and you should be able to see your runner as they enter EPCOT (this is the spot Jessica mentioned).

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Entering Epcot Near Bus Terminal

Then, book it over to the finish line. Depending on how fast your runner is you should be able to see them come into the finish area.

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View In Front of Cinderella’s Castle from the Roped-off Area Behind the Hub

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Finish Area

EPCOT Viewing Strategy

On marathon day (Sunday) I follow the same strategy of getting to EPCOT early and taking the Monorail to the TTC and then to Magic Kingdom; still entering the park around 5:30 am. Once I see Holly on Main Street USA and see her leave the castle, I exit via Monorail back to EPCOT.

Unlike for the Magic Kingdom, you are required to have a ticket to enter EPCOT to watch the race. The first year I just went into the park and killed some time in Innoventions until it was time to exit the park and head to the finish line area. Last year, I decided to skip the marathon finish line area in favor of watching the race in the park. I went to the UK Pavilion and watched the runners entering EPCOT and head counter-clockwise around the World Showcase for their final mile. You can choose some other countries to watch from (just not Canada) depending on how fast your runner is and if World Showcase is open.

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The View From The UK Area of World Showcase

After you see your runner in the UK you can walk back to the World Showcase Plaza and see them coming toward you from Mexico. This is a good photo location because they are heading straight at you and your vantage point is on a slight incline.

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View From the Mexico Area in World Showcase

After that you can exit the park and meet your runner at the family reunion area. Bring your sunglasses because there will be lots of shiny bling there.

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Jessica and Holly: Bling Twins

In Part III of our series on following your runner at Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend Jess and Dave combine all that they and their families have learned and summarize all their top tips for you.

November 21, 2011

Following Your Runner WDW Marathon Weekend PART I of III

The excitement of a RunDisney race is not owned exclusively by the runners. Family and friends can also get in on the fun by following their runners along the course. Team AllEars runners look forward to finding their supporters on the course for that special photo at a special location, running supplies, a smile or hug for encouragement, or a reminder of the reason why they are running...to fight breast cancer.

Walt Disney World is hard enough to navigate on a normal day. Imagine how even more of a chore it is to get around when roads are closed and normal transportation rules are altered. That’s why most spectators settle on watching the races from only one location. To get to see your favorite runner on race day it takes time, patience, planning and good luck, but for our family, it’s so worth it.

Today, we'll feature Part I of our "Following Your Runner" strategies as learned from two Team allEars members and their families.

In Part I Jessica Awotona offers her family’s tips for viewing the Walt Disney World Half Marathon using their car for transportation.

Heeeere's Jessica...

One of my favorite things about running at Walt Disney World is seeing my family in different places along the course. The first race I ran at WDW was the 2010 Walt Disney World Half Marathon. My father, sisters, and boyfriend came to watch me run that year and they got to see me twice on the course. During that race we learned some important spectator lessons.

My family wanted to watch the runners come up Main Street, but were caught in traffic so long due to the road closures that they made it only to the Ticket and Transportation Center (TTC) luckily before I arrived at that point in the race.

They cheered me on from the right side of the bridge at the TTC and then took the monorail to Epcot to cheer again just after mile 12 (near the resort bus stop terminal). It was a great place to see familiar faces, and with just one mile to go, it gave me the lift I needed to finish strong.

This past January I ran The Goofy Challenge, which is both the half marathon on Saturday and the full marathon on Sunday. My dad and youngest sister came this year and learning from the lessons of the year before, had a very successful weekend of cheering. For the half marathon on Saturday they drove to Epcot before the roads were closed, parked the car, and took the monorail to the TTC, and then to the Magic Kingdom.

They were able to watch me run on Main Street USA, and saw me again when I came through Cinderella’s Castle. After that, they took the monorail back to Epcot and cheered from the same location as last year, before meeting me after the finish line.

Full Marathon Strategy

For the full marathon, I was able to see my family at four places in three parks! The first two locations were the same as the half; Main Street USA and coming back through the Castle. After seeing me in the Magic Kingdom, they took the monorail back to EPCOT and took a bus to Animal Kingdom and saw me near Expedition Everest.

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I'm Beating the Yeti

Then, they took the bus back to EPCOT and cheered one last time near Germany in World Showcase. I think they were as exhausted as I was after almost six hours of cheering and park hopping. They said they had a great time and look forward to doing it all again this year as I go for my second Goofy medal.

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View from the Germany Pavilion

Next: Part II of our Follow Your Runner series will feature Dave Aulen's no-car strategy for Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend.

November 9, 2011

Putting the “I” in “Purpose”

By Daniel Rajnik

When I first joined team AllEars last year, I thought the tag-line was “Running with Porpoise”. As I thought about how fun it would be finding running shoes to fit a dolphin, my wife gently explained to me it said Running with “Purpose”, not “Porpoise.”

“Purpose?” I thought, “whatever THAT meant..”

Well, I actually knew what that meant. In joining Team AllEars I knew I was committing to raising funds to help with Deb’s fight against breast cancer, but in all honesty, it wasn’t the #1 reason in wanting to join. I wanted to run a half marathon, I wanted to do it in Walt Disney World, and I knew I needed help doing it. The promise of getting that help from Team AllEars was just too cool to pass up. So I joined, and my journey to the 2011 Marathon Weekend began.

But a funny thing happened on the way to Spaceship Earth…

As the team evolved and grew, I began to read more about why others had joined – personal stories of fights with cancer, memories of loved ones already lost, and concern for friends and family that may have to fight the disease themselves someday.

And as the training miles piled up on my “new” running shoes, I was also humbled by my friends and family’s generous response to my own fund raising efforts. Quietly, I realized my reason for being on Team AllEars was changing and the team’s goal was becoming my goal.

Fast forward to January 2011. My training completed, my fund raising goals exceeded, and my travel reservations secured, I was at a fever pitch anticipating meeting my Team AllEars family in person and tackling a fitness goal that I thought was unattainable. Well, at least I thought it was a “fever pitch.” Unfortunately, it turned out it was just a real fever. Three days before my trip, I came down with the flu – not just any flu – but last year’s version of H1N1.

I was devastated - stuck in bed, cursed by my own thoughts. No trip to the World. No half marathon. No meeting up with people I had corresponded with for months. But while I laid there feeling both physically and mentally sick, I was reminded of how powerful the drawings of a three and six year old child can be. My kids (with the help of my wife, I’m sure) created a new team, Team “No-tEars.” While it was a small team (comprising of rather small people), they did make their own posters and drawings designed to cheer me up and show me that I had achieved something great, even if I didn’t get a chance to prove it physically in Florida. And they were right, I had become part of a community – Team AllEars – something that was furthest from my mind when I joined almost a year before.

So while I didn’t make it to the race in 2011 (let alone complete it), I did realize that “I” had become part of the “purpose.” And as I look forward to tackling the full marathon in January 2012, I look forward even more for getting a chance to finally meet those I’ve known virtually for almost two years, and those that will be experiencing Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend for the first time (just like me).

Postscript

While I failed to complete my first half marathon at Walt Disney World, I’m happy to say that with the help of fellow Team AllEars teammates Brad and Jamison, I reached that goal in March 2011 by finishing the National Half Marathon. Now bring on 26.2!


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November 3, 2011

For Me It all Began as a Birthday Challenge

by Jill Bent

My journey to Team AllEars and the fight against breast cancer began when, with a significant birthday looming, I resolved to adopt a healthier lifestyle and weight. I decided to explore running and made use of a popular "Couch to 5K" program to start.

Jill_Bent_Pic1A1.jpgAbout a month into my training, I was planning a trip to Walt Disney World when purely by accident I discovered the inaugural Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend. Being a huge Disney fan and a new found ahem, “runner,” I was elated to discover that not only was the event taking place during my trip but (and here’s the really good part) it included a Halloween-themed 5K race. What could be more perfect than running my first 5K at Walt Disney World? The rest of the summer was like the night Cinderella went to the ball. Everything fell perfectly into place. I recruited a lifelong friend to join me in what we termed our “significant birthday challenge.” We trained through the hot Texas summer and before we knew it, we were heading to Walt Disney World. Mickey’s Halloween 5K was all that we had hoped it would be and we had the time of our lives running through the Magic Kingdom. We agreed we could not have picked a better place to try our hand at running. To celebrate our accomplishment Lisa and I planned to attend the Wine & Dine party at Epcot later that night, but on our way we stopped by the finish line to watch the half marathon. The pride and joy on the faces of the runners as they crossed the finish, the enthusiasm of the spectators and the energy…the energy Disney had created for the runners was truly amazing. Almost immediately we found ourselves swept up in the excitement and we realized at that point that our birthday challenge was not nearing an end but rather just beginning. We decided we would extend the challenge to run a 10K in the spring and return the following October to run Disney’s Wine & Dine Half Marathon.

Jill_B_Pic_2.jpgAfter arriving back in Texas, we embarked on another six weeks of training and ran Leg #2 of our challenge at the Capitol 10K in Austin, Texas. We set out on a beautiful spring morning running through the Texas capitol complex, amidst the cheers of Texas Longhorn coach Mac Brown and alongside Lady Bird Johnson’s Town Lake to the finish. With Leg #2 on the books, it was now time to begin training for the big one. I admit the thought of running 13.1 miles was quite daunting as I had only been running about nine months which in my mind certainly didn’t classify me as a real runner. Since I realized I needed much more than a virtual coach, I signed up for a Galloway half marathon training program. I had the pleasure of meeting Jeff Galloway at the Disney expo and purchased his book “Running until You're 100.” His approach to injury-free running for older runners seemed to be a perfect fit for me. Almost simultaneously I also registered for the Wine & Dine Half Marathon because I knew that would carry me through the uncertainty of training.

Not being a morning person, my first step was to learn to rise at dawn to run. Every Sunday I would run with my Galloway group and what I worried might be an overwhelming experience quickly turned to one of the best experiences of my life. Oh don’t get me wrong, achieving new distances was challenging alright, but the program, the people and the Galloway experience overall was unmatched. From the very start, we learned to work together as a team, encouraging one another, exchanging ideas and becoming friends as we trained for whatever race we hoped to complete. Our leaders provided so much insight and direction that I quickly found myself looking forward to getting up before daybreak to run.

After a very harsh training season, summer finally turned to fall and it was once again time to head to Orlando. For the second time, we set off for Disney World filled with excitement and more than just a little apprehension.

JillB_Pic_3.jpgOn the day of the race, we woke early to watch Lisa’s nieces run the kids’ races before heading over to the expo to begin soaking up all of the excitement of race day. Once there we picked up our race gear, did too much shopping, took more than a few pictures and tried to distract ourselves as much as possible. After the expo, we headed back to the hotel for some lunch, pool time and an afternoon nap, but, despite our best efforts, napping was out of the question as pre-race jitters had really set in.

RunDisney’s slogan, "Runners Night Out", could not have been more apropriate for the Wine & Dine Half Marathon as the party atmosphere was apparent from the time we boarded the bus. After a pre-race party at ESPN, we embarked on a 13.1 mile night run filled with the sights and sounds of Disney. The Tree of Life in Animal Kingdom, a preview of the Osborne Family Lights in Disney Studios, floats from the Main Street Electric Light Parade, Disney musicians and my favorite, Disney characters, lined the route. We made our final turn at Epcot and crossed the finish for the big prize…the Disney bling. We had done it! We had finished the birthday challenge and run a half marathon. It was truly a night to remember.

On the plane ride home, as I reflected on the past year, I quickly realized that so much of my new found enjoyment in my life was as a result of my decision to try running. I had just enjoyed an unforgettable experience with one of my dearest friends. I had met and made so many new friends from both the running community and the Disney community. I had improved my lifestyle. I had improved my outlook, and the pièce de résistance was that I had combined my love for running with my passion for Disney.

The Next Step – Adding a Purpose

I can still remember the tone of my mother’s voice as she said, I have breast cancer. The sense of helplessness hits you immediately and all I could think was, " What do I say? What should I do?"

I had only known my mother as one of the most beautiful, vibrant women on the planet, but as I later sat with her during her first meeting with the oncologist, all I could see was fragility and fear. I knew the woman before me had been forever changed; she had cancer.

Shortly after my mother was diagnosed in 2010 I learned of Team AllEars and remember thinking how coincidental it was that this team of runners was raising money for breast cancer at Walt Disney World.

Fast forward to 2011, Mother was immersed in chemotherapy and the horrific lifestyle that accompanies it. During this time I would often find respite by running and I soon discovered that my running gave Mother and I both a little peace as it provided us something to share that didn’t involve diagnoses, medical procedures or treatments.

So as I sat on the plane that day thinking about a next step, I already knew the answer. I wanted to honor my mother by becoming a part of Team AllEars and the effort to raise money for breast cancer. I wanted to share the next Disney experience with my Mom. You see mother has never seen me run and it is her hope (and mine) that she will be well enough to join me for marathon weekend to witness it for the first time. We want to put this cancer beast behind us and celebrate...celebrate that Mother is cancer free, celebrate the end of the horrible treatments and most importantly, celebrate our love and the admiration this daughter has for her beautiful mother.

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October 29, 2011

October Gut Check Time

Welcome back to this edition of “Gut Check Time.” This service is brought to those of you who are about to take an amazing journey to Walt Disney World this January to run in your first runDisney event. I’m talking of course about the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend that includes a 5K, Half Marathon, Half Marathon Relay, and Full Marathon.

I’m here to prompt you to step back a bit and evaluate where you are and if you are satisfied with your progress to date and if, just if, you need to adjust your training schedule.

Now I am NOT a trained professional. I am NOT a running coach. My thoughts and advice stems from my experience from running for over 40 years and what I have learned from others and myself. Please take my words as just my humble opinion based on my observations over the years. I hope that you will find some of my words helpful…or at least encouraging.

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So let’s talk to those of you who are doing your first 5K. By now you should be able to cover between 1.8 to 2.3 miles of the 3.1 miles you will be doing in January. That means you have just over two months to build up to another .9 to 1.3 miles. When you break that down, it means you need to increase your distance by about by as much as 220 yards per week which doesn’t sound so ominous when you think of it like that.

If you happen to already be doing that distance, well, CONGRATULATIONS. Keep up the good work and continue to work on your conditioning. You are on your way. Remember that the 5K, more so than any other WDW Marathon Weekend race, is filled with fun and good times and no one should feel any stress when doing this race…so look forward to the fun.

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When we look to the Half Marathon and Half Marathon Relay we of course are looking at a distance of 13.1 miles. At this point in your training you should be somewhere in the vicinity of at least 7.8 miles or greater. Over the next two months you should be working on stretching that mileage out in a safe manner. With ten weeks to go that means you don’t necessarily have to be able to cover 13.1 miles in your training…but you may want to consider getting into the double-digit distance sometime in December. This could mean doing something as simple as adding 3-5 minutes to each workout from this point on. You don’t want to overdo it. You want to build up your stamina slowly and steady.

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The 26.2 miles that awaits everyone in January requires a bit more training. By now you should be doing long runs that are in the 13 to 15 mile range and recognizing what works for you in terms of how you spread out your energy. As a first-time marathoner your primary goal should be to finish and not be concerned about your pace (more on that later) and focus on finishing and finishing healthy. When you begin to approach the higher teen distances your mental discipline becomes more of a participant in this challenge. It’s important to, like all athletes, understand your body and not to push too fast. Each individual must listen to his/her body and respect what they hear. Over the next two months listen more and gradually build.

The Matter of Pace

I’ve always heard and also felt that pace comes after stamina. By now, regardless of what distance you are doing on WDW Marathon weekend, you should have reached a stamina level that will now allow you to focus on pace.

It’s important for all first time runners to focus on finishing and finishing healthy. Of course the minimum pace requirement of 16 minutes per mile is something that cannot be ignored. If you are struggling with that threshold then now is the time to address that issue. Think about how best to spread out your energy over the length of your race. It’s important to maintain that 16 minute or better pace early on in your race as you can then put the extra time “in your pace bank.” For instance, if you do your first mile in 15 minutes then you have a “minute” deposit and you can use that later in the race. There are many ways to increase your pace. Some use the Jeff Galloway run-walk-run method, which helps to preserve energy later in the race when you need it. Others will run at their regular pace most of the race and once every several minutes run at a faster pace for a set time before dropping back into their regular pace. Now is the time for you to experiment. It should not take long for you to figure out what works for you. If you intend to walk your race and struggle with the 16-minute requirement try adding some light jogging into your workouts.
Now that you have the stamina and have a good handle on covering the distance, you can now add the component of pace to your training.

Gearing Up

With the majority of your training behind you, by now you should have a pretty good idea regarding what you will be wearing on race day. Let’s go through the list:

- Running shoes are most important. Make sure they are comfortable
and broken in. Don’t bring new shoes to the race. Shoes should have
a few weeks of breaking in time before used in a race.

- Along with the shoes comes the importance of choosing the right
socks. By now you know what works for you and what makes your
feet happy. Stick with what brought you “to the dance.”

- Orlando weather in January is unpredictable so think about what you
would wear on a cold day, hot day, dry day, or wet day. Bring every
imaginable piece of running gear you feel you would need. Shorts,
tights, singlet, long-sleeved running shirts, and so on. Be prepared.
I’d also throw in a pair of running gloves just to play it safe.

- By now you may have decided if you will use a running belt in your
race. If so, start wearing it now when you train so you will get used to
it. Also understand what you will need to take along in that running
belt.

Running to the Beat

There aren’t that many people who DO NOT listen to music or podcasts when they run. At this point you hopefully have figured out what you want to listen to when you are out on the road. Now is the time to start toying with the playlist you will use for your race. Think about the type of songs and the sequence. For my first Walt Disney World Marathon I tried to arrange my playlist so that when I hit Main Street USA I was listening to the “Remember the Magic” Parade. It gave me a lift. I also arranged my list so that I would be listening to Tapestry of Dreams as I approached EPCOT. Music may be just as important as those water stops to get you through your race.

Homework Assignment

Okay, gut check time is over. I’m thinking our last gut check session will take place just after Thanksgiving.

Here’s your homework:

- Build up your distance so that by early December you can say you
can cover somewhere between 80-85% of your race distance.

- If you are currently struggling with that 16-minute per mile pace
requirement then begin playing with methods to help you increase
your pace.

- Experiment with running gear, not shoes but everything else so that
you are comfortable with whatever you have to run in come January.

Most importantly, continue to build confidence and be careful not to
over train.

See you on the road.

October 6, 2011

Why on Earth Did You Sign up to be on a 'Running' Team??

By Tammi Trout

I can't tell you how many times I've been asked this question since joining Team All Ears. You might ask me why people are surprised by my joining this team. That's easy to explain - those who know me know that I'm lazy; I'm overweight; and I certainly don't run. I am not an athlete, and never have been, and quite honestly - don't think I ever will be, or ever will want to be. I'm more of a music person - I love to sing, and I love to dance. I go to football games to watch the band!! So joining a running team - seemed a little out of character for me. So they ask...."Why on earth did you join a running team?"

I pondered the question for a minute, and wondered...why did I join this team?? And then it seemed so clear -

First off, despite some struggles in my life, I honest to goodness feel very blessed to have what I have. I have a great job. I have a great family. I have great friends. My life is pretty darn good. I don't have a mansion or a fancy car, but what I have is more than sufficient. And I know in today's world, what I have truly is a blessing. So I can give back to the world. Be it leukemia society, breast cancer research, the humane society, or for the local high school prom committee...I can give back by walking. Its (usually) painless, it doesn't take much time, and it doesn't hurt the checkbook much.

Second, it's Walt Disney World!! Do I need to say anything else on that front? I love Walt Disney World. I visit at least once a year, and any excuse I can find to squeeze in a extra trip works for me. :) And if I get to hang out with some Disney-celebs (and you all are, whether you know it or not), that is just that much more awesome! Being a part of this team, well, it really is a very special thing, because from what I've seen - you all are very special people.

Third - as I mentioned before, I am basically a lazy person. I don't like to sweat and I don't like to exercise, and my body shape shows it. BUT....A few years back, I had gastric bypass surgery, lost over 100 pounds and decided to keep from gaining all that back - I had to set some goals for myself. Regular exercise, dagnabit, is an important part of keeping all that weight off - so running 5K races became a goal. I don't know if I'll ever be able to 'run' because of the 40 years of abuse to my knees, but I certainly can walk. Something that just a few years ago, was getting more and more difficult to do for any length of time.

So now, I have done numerous 5Ks, and really challenged myself with the Twilight Zone, Tower of Terror 13K a few years ago. I finished it, I got the medal, and I will probably NEVER do that again! It was very hard, and I was very sore afterwards!! BUT, I was also proud of myself. And I wore my medal at Epcot the next day - and though it hurt to walk that park, I did it anyway - to show off my accomplishment. What a feeling!

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Here I am at the Finish Line

Finally- cancer. I hate cancer. I lost my father to stomach cancer, my mother to lung cancer, and discovered that I inherited a gene (and passed it to both my kids) that puts me at a MUCH higher risk of certain cancers (specifically colon cancer). I haven't had any breast cancer in my family (Thank You God), but I honestly believe if they can cure one cancer, they are well on their way to curing all cancers...so I will support any group that is fighting cancer. This evil disease has touched the life of nearly everyone I know in some manner. We simply have to win this battle. And it really is a win-win situation - cancer gets a little money, I get a little exercise (and make a few friends??), and we, as a team, make a positive impact on the world.

So why am I on this team? When they ask me why, I don't hesitate to answer. I am on this for Deb, for Becky, for Tammy, for Thelma, for all the people who NEED this team. I'm on this team to give hope. And it doesn't matter if I walk or run. Or if I win or lose because even if I lose, WE win. It seems so simple to me. Take action. Do something. Be somebody. Give hope. And have fun doing it.

And never, ever forget (especially when being 'stalked' by the race sweep truck) - Dead Last Finish is greater than Did Not Finish, which greatly trumps Did Not Start. Have the courage to Start.


"It takes a great deal of courage to stand up to your enemies, but a great deal more to stand up to your friends." A. Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

September 22, 2011

Coast-to-Coast Challenge Report: Part I Before the Race

Within the last several years the relatively new runDisney brand has offered running enthusiasts the opportunity to achieve what is referred to as Coast-to-Coast Challenge status. The Coast-to-Coast Challenge offers runners a chance to earn a special medal depicting the famous Partners statue seen in the Magic Kingdom and in Disneyland. This medal is achieved by completing a runDisney half marathon on each coast within the same calendar year.

In 2011 there were only three combinations from which runners could choose to earn a Coast-to-Coast Challenge medal. Starting in 2012 there will be more races and options offered to runners. In fact there will be a total of eight combinations to choose from which will appeal to all runners and individual schedules.

Walt Disney World runners will have the Walt Disney World Half Marathon as well as the Chip and Dale Marathon Relay. In late February WDW will hold the Princess Half Marathon and in October the Wine & Dine Half Marathon. Besides the Disneyland Half Marathon in September, Disneyland will also offer the Tinkerbell Half Marathon in early 2012.

Recently, Team AllEars Co-Captains Michelle Scribner-MacLean and Mike Scopa completed the Coast-to-Coast Challenge. Their combination of races was the 2011 Walt Disney World Half Marathon and the 2011 Disneyland Half Marathon.

So what are the differences regarding running on both coasts? This is the first of a three part series in which they pass along their observations on pre race happenings, race day happenings, and post race happenings. Note that each piece was written without the knowledge of what the other was writing, and it shows how differently runners can feel about races.

Pre-Race: Michelle's Take

The race expo was held in the convention center next to the Disneyland Hotel and right away it was clear that Disney had worked out the fact that there was lot of pedestrian traffic. Cast members directed us to a ramp that led to the bottom of the convention center which was decorated with a rug that looked like a track and silhouettes of the characters on the side wall.



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Mickey's Silhouette

The packet pick up area for the Star Wars Family Fun 5K was very short, but then we turned around and saw the line for those trying for the Coast-to-Coast....yikes! The line was five people across with about 40 people in each line.


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Patient Runners

There were about 30 stations open for those doing the regular half, but only five stations for the 2800 Coast-to-Coasters. Not fun. When we finally got our packets, a volunteer fitted us with plastic bracelets, which distinguished us as CtC-ers. The only thing that was puzzling was the fact that it was Thursday and we were racing on Sunday...that meant three full days with a lovely bracelet (and mine was loose...I was so afraid that it would fall off).

The expo itself was upstairs and, just is the case with everything in Disneyland, it was smaller than the expos at WDW...but also more manageable. The expo area also had a small stage, where audiences got to listen to race info, as well as some tips from runDisney consultant, Jeff Galloway.


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Jeff Galloway Holding Court

Pre-Race: Mike's Take

First off, I liked the idea that I could actually walk from my hotel room at Paradise Pier to the waiting area and corrals. The disneyland Resort area is much smaller than the Walt disney World Resort and being able to walk everywhere was huge. Here's the view of California Adventure from Paradise Pier.

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Paradise Pier from Paradise Pier

Obviously with Disneyland races being on a bit of a smaller scale than those held in WDW, things are handled differently. I found that the DL packet pickup process was less organized than WDW’s edition. I felt as if the race organizers did not take into consideration how many runners were doing the Coast to Coast Challenge and thus there were huge lines for those runners yet virtually no lines for those just doing the half.

I counted 40 volunteers manning the booths for just the Half and only eight manning the booths for the Coast-to-Coast Challenge. Not only that but the Coast-to-Coast Challenge lines were in direct conflict with the line that runners needed to go through to print their forgotten waivers. This led to a gridlock of sorts.

The runner’s expo was as expected, smaller than WDW but still adequate for the number of runners. I think the space was made to good use and the suppliers chosen to attend the expo was well thought out. I felt there were more bargains, be it shoes, socks, running belts, etc. at this expo than I have seen at the WDW expos.

We ran into Joe Taricani who is the host of The Marathon Show podcast and Joe asked us to record the opening of his Disneyland Half marathon show. You can listen to this show here and listen as Joe describes the Disneyland Half Marathon events, including the EXPO and the race itself.

The crowds at the expo indicated to me that the race would be quite interesting since it was obvious that the course would be dealing with a large number of runners.

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Runners are Shoppers

Next up: Race Day!

September 11, 2011

9/11, Tim, and Running With Purpose

Has it been 10 years since that devastating day, September 11, 2001? I’m sure, like me, you remember where you were the exact moment when you first heard about the attacks. I would guess that you also went through a period of denial in which you did not want to believe what was happening.

It all became too real too soon and we were all glued to our televisions and computers, trying to find out more as to what happened and also questioning why and how this could have ever happened.

That day touched the lives of especially those who live and work in New York, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C. Their lives were touched in a way they could have never imagined. Not only did it touch but also changed their lives…perhaps making them more aware and more cautious every time they walk out the door.

Perhaps that day ensures that before they start their day they remind their loved ones how much they care for them and love them and not take for granted any time they spend with friends and families.

Although that day touched me in a certain way, I had no idea how it would indirectly motivate me towards running long distances for a cause...for a purpose.

I had been running for 35 years but in that time the farthest I had run was maybe seven miles. In 1981 I had suffered a serious knee injury and was strongly urged not to run more than six miles a day no more than three times per week.

Entrenched in my mind was that not only should I keep to that plan but that even if I wanted to go beyond it I couldn’t. So I did just that…until January 2005.

On that day, one of my virtual sons was taken from me. You see, as all jocks, there was a time in my life when I decided to coach…and coach I did…you name the sport and I coached it. All my players…I estimate I coached at least 2500 boys and girls…became my extended family.
However, there is one particular player who will always have a special place in my heart and has played a vital part in my need to run and help others.

His name is Tim Gibson.

Tim first walked into my life in 1988 as a 6-year old blonde haired, blue-eyed little boy who looked like he had just stepped out of a Norman Rockwell masterpiece. Tim was the youngest and smallest player on my Little League team…but he had the biggest heart and a no quit attitude.

My relationship with Tim and his family grew through the years and Tim and I enjoyed several baseball and basketball championships as player and coach. I coached for almost ten years with Tim’s dad Tom.
I last coached Tim just before 2000. He became a star for the high school baseball team and also, using that amazing heart of a lion, became quarterback for the football team, even though he was about 5’ 9” and maybe 140 pounds soaking wet.

It made sense to me when I heard Tim had decided to join the United States Marine Corps in April 2001. He was one of the most courageous athletes I had ever coached. Tim was assigned to 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, and Marine Corps Base Hawaii.

Once the events of 9/11 occurred all focus was turned to the Middle East…eventually Tim’s outfit was called to make the trip and that meant he was heading for Iraq. It was on January 26, 2005 that 23-year-old Tim was killed when his CH-53E helicopter crashed near Ar Rutbah, Iraq in a sandstorm.

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Tim touched so many people’s lives with his personality, charm, huge heart, and humor that it was inevitable that his death was to impact so many people in the town that he grew up in.

I often found myself, after Tim’s death, running many times and thinking about his life and how he had touched me. At times I often thought he was coaching me about life and to never, ever quit. He always went above and beyond anything I asked him to do on the playing field and I felt I needed to pay tribute to him.

It was in late February 2005 that I decided to train for the 2006 Walt Disney World Half Marathon and Tim would be with me. Every time I went out to train I would look up and say, “Let’s go Tim!”
I had many fond memories of Tim and always remembered him as someone who never backed down from a challenge. I decided I needed a challenge.

So I trained for 11 months. I lost 45 pounds. Got up every day at 5 a.m. and ran and trained hard for this thing.

In October I traveled to Walt Disney World to run in the Race for the Taste 10K. Two days before the race I went to pick up my race packet and noticed another race was being held. It was the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation 5K Race for the Cure. I decided to sign up for that race, it was only a 5K distance and for a good cause. Little did I know that particular race would contribute to my association with Deb Wills and her Avon Walk for Breast Cancer.

When January came I was ready. I used a safety pin to attach a photo of Tim to my running shirt. Tim and I would start, run, and finish together.

That was a cold January morning and most of us had layers on. We would peel these layers off as the temperature rose and we heated up. My heart was racing that morning and I found myself running the first five miles at an unexpectedly fast pace.

Something else unexpectedly happened during the race.

Between the Contemporary Resort and the Magic Kingdom guard shack I stepped on a sweatshirt that had a plastic bottle under it. I almost went down but managed to stay up. I immediately thought I had twisted the ankle.

All I remember thinking and saying out loud was, “I'm not going to stop!” My thought was, “Tim would keep going!” and so I continued, with eight miles to go.

After running through The Magic Kingdom and making my way out to Floridian Way, I kept wondering how long I would last and if the pain would do me in.

My 10-minute pace had turned into a 14-minute pace and I felt I was running on one leg...but I continued…Tim would not want me to stop. It was pretty apparent to me by now that extensive damage had been down to my ankle…I knew it had to be a bad sprain…I kept going. Knowing that Tim would not quit in a situation like this, as I took each stride I found myself whispering, “We can do this Tim! We can do this!”
Just after the nine-mile mark, I saw one of the race officials with a bottle labeled “Bio-Freeze” and I asked him to give me a shot. I was thinking I could numb the pain so I could finish strong.

That plan was dashed when he asked me to remove my sneaker. I thought better than to risk not getting it back on and continued to run, albeit very slow, with pain shooting up my left leg…the same leg that had suffered an exploded ACL a few decades back. Was I crazy? Was I stubborn? Perhaps, but Tim never let me down and I was not going to let him down. I knew somewhere he was cheering me on.

As much as I wanted to continue running as fast as I could, I succumbed to the pain at Mile 10 and went into a slow jog/fast walk.
When I caught my first glimpse of Spaceship Earth and EPCOT my pride…or was it Tim’s virtual encouragement…got me running again.
I was happy to see Mile 12 and said in a breath, “Let’s take it home Tim!” Each stride offered me new insight into the world of pain, but my ego was battling the pain and as we hit Epcot and the side of Spaceship Earth my ego was winning that contest.

I ran up to World Showcase Plaza and turned around for the last leg. At one point, I passed a chorale in gold robes and felt inspired from their singing. When I turned the final corner I saw a huge crowd waiting at the finish. I held back from the group I was running with so that maybe, just maybe, I would be running by myself and maybe the PA announcer would mention my name.

He did…but I wanted him to say…”Here comes Tim Gibson and Mike Scopa from Merrimack, New Hampshire.

It was a few days later that, while at home, I decided to see my doctor. Ankle continued to give me enough pain that I found it difficult to sleep. My foot was also discolored.

My visit to the doctor was a revelation. I was told I had suffered a singular fracture of the ankle…oops. I probably should have stopped running…oops.

Why did I continue to run? You could call it stubbornness or you can call it ego or even pride. I have to believe that part of it was that little Norman Rockwell baseball player with the baggy pants who laid down that perfect bunt on a 0-2 count that ended up winning a baseball championship that was slipping away prior to that beautiful bunt.
Tim would not let that game slip away…and he would not let my dream of running my first half marathon slip away either.

So as many of us look back at the events of 9/11/01 and think about how it has touched our lives I look back and see how it has indirectly motivated me to take running to another level, to honor a fallen soldier’s legacy of helping others, and to keep on going until I cannot go any further.

I run for all those battling a horrible disease…I run for those who are yet to be born, in the hope they will not have to face this monster, and I am reminded this month that I run in memory of my “son” Tim, who would do the same…to run with purpose.

God bless all those who were touched by the events of September 11, 2001.

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September 3, 2011

Gut Check Time - Running with Mickey

This is "Gut Check Time" for anyone working towards their first race ever at Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend. Now that may sound ominous but I'm just trying to catch the attention of all of you who have started this incredible life-changing journey.

Please treat this as my way of doing a general checking in with all of you to see how you are doing.

So how are you doing?

If you want something similar to a training checklist here are some areas to consider:

- Regardless of the distance you are training for, by now you should have a pretty good idea as to what your race day gear will be and hopefully have trained in your race day outfit. I'm talking about the running shoes, socks, shirts/pants, and top you plan to run in for your race. Also, will you be wearing a hat...water belt...iPOD????

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It's important to feel as comfortable as possible on race day and discovering what makes you the most comfortable is one of the key factors towards insuring your success. Don't wait until the last minute to figure out what shoes, socks, shirts, etc. you'll be wearing. Experiment now and decide as soon as possible. It will be one less thing to worry about and allow you to focus on your training.

So how's your stamina? For those working towards a 5K you should be at least one third there and are working steady towards that 5K distance. My suggestion is to think about setting your goal to be 4 miles instead of 5K (3.1 miles). I say this because I want to encourage you to look beyond January and that 5K distance. It will do a wealth of good for your confidence.

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For you first time half and full marathoners you should be even more in tune with your running gear for your big day. Most of you will be spending two or more hours running on your feet and you want to be as comfortable as possible.

For you half-marathoners I'm hoping that by this time you have been able to cover at least six miles and maybe even have had a chance to run in a 10K race or two to get some race experience. If you are at 6 miles by early September you are in good shape for the Half. You don't have to be able to do 13.1 miles before January but you should aim to do at least one double-digit run before Christmas. This is important for you to understand how you need to pace yourself for an extended run (or walk/run or walk) and again, also for your confidence. Add a quarter mile per week between now and the end of December and you will be fine.

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You first time marathoners are a different breed. For this distance my advice is to have you turn to the advice of any of the many marathon running/training plans out there. A marathon distance requires a very disciplined training plan that is best determined by the individual. That means my words may not work for everyone so my hope is that you all have figured out what plan works best for you.

I do hope that your base weekly miles is up there and that you do at least one long run once a month. As we get into the fall months you should be even more disciplined in your training and try to folly to the T whichever training plan you are following.

FInally, a word about pace. Of course everyone knows the dreaded minimum pace requirement for a Walt Disney World sponsored race is 16 minutes per mile. I have heard from many experienced runners that stamina must precede speed. You need to be in shape before you can turn on the jets. That means that before worrying how fast you can run, focus on how far and how long you can run.

Before you know it your body will begin to surprise you and you will naturally begin to run faster and faster. Why? Well as you improve your stamina you improve the efficiency of your run vehicle...your body. Your cardiovascular system's improvement will have your body working like a well tuned machine.

I would not be concerned with pace until mid to late October. That's about the time where you should be at a confidence level regarding the distance you are training to run. Once you are confident you can cover that distance you can then begin to experiment with how to cover that distance as fast as possible.

But for now....concentrate on how far and how long you can stretch out your workouts.

We'll visit Gut Check Time again in late October.

So here is your homework.

By the end of October you should again understand what your running gear will be for your race day.

You should also have trained to the point of covering 60-75% of your goal distance.

Here's another assignment...for those who plan to listen to music during the race, start planning not only what you will listen to but also what sequence....that's important because music can pick you up when you need it most.

Finally, think about your confidence level now and plan to measure that against your confidence level in late October. If you stay on track and focus I'm sure your confidence level will be at a level you'll like.

See you at the next Gut Check Time!!!

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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

July 30, 2011

Tools of the Trade

Sometimes the student can teach the mentor and this can be very beneficial for both parties as they learn together. Such is the case with myself and my Team AllEars Co-Captain Michelle Scribner-MacLean.

Michelle is essentially still relatively new to the sport of running, having taken up the sport within only the last five years or so, but her knowledge equals that of a veteran runner. Of course, knowledge does not just drop out of the sky and hit you on the head. Knowledge comes from curiosity, a knack for learning, and a commitment to doing the research. I became one of the benefactor's from Michelle's hard work.

It was Michelle's penchant for learning that made her aware as to the little things that can enhance her running, and over the last two years or so her knowledge has grown and, in turn, has enlightened her co-captain, me, in many ways.

The purpose of this blog is to first, as the say, "give props" to Michelle for opening my eyes and convincing me to try some things I have wavered on for years. Secondly, I want to share these with you because they have enhanced my running experience and I hope they do the same for you.

The Running Watch

So let's start off with what every runner has...a running watch. The mentor, me, has been using a running watch for several decades, whereas Michelle never really saw the need for a watch. She really was not concerned about time. Her initial goal was to complete the Walt Disney World Half Marathon and she did both her training and race without the help of a timing device. One day she decided to try a running watch and began using it on her training runs. It didn't take too long for her to wonder if there was a better mousetrap...erh...I mean watch that would do more than just keep time. She looked into the science of running watches and her research eventually led her to the land of Garmin watches.

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Garmin watches (and others) use Global Positioning Satellites to determine where you are, where you're going, and how fast you're going. Some of these watches also keep track of such data as calories burned, pace, elevation, and even your heart rate. You can program some of these devices to beep when you hit a certain milestone in those categories.

At first her mentor, yours truly, did not pay attention to this device. Heck, I've been using running watches since...well...for quite a long time. I was not impressed because frankly I felt all I needed was a simple watch to keep time...until she showed me how the watch logged her runs, splits, distances, elevation, calories burned, and also created maps and charts which represented this data.

The Garmin, as well as the Nike assortment of running watches, also synched with the Dailymile website to record workouts. After seeing the assortment of bells and whistles, I was hooked. Michelle has a Forerunner 310XT. My watch, shown to the left, is a Garmin Forerunner 305. It took me a few workouts to get the hang of it. I had to figure which buttons to push and where to look on the screen to get the information I wanted. It is definitely a tool every serious runner should consider, especially when it's important to keep track of pace, distance, and even heart rate.

Since I have been using my watch I can honestly say I understand more so how my body works during a training run and my limitations. What's somewhat interesting is that I am finding that the watch helps me run, not as fast as I want to, but as slowly as I want to run as well. This is important for older runners who really need to understand how to pace themselves for those long runs.

It is not unusual for me to go out and do 10 miles or more on a run and find myself running 2 minutes/mile faster towards the at the end of the run as compared to the beginning of the run. The watch helps me stay in "warmup" pace early on so I don't empty the tank too soon. Some runners make use of the heart rate monitor accessory to make sure they run in a certain heart rate zone during their workouts. I spent time researching the Garmin watches at this page and it helped me in finding the right watch for my needs and budget.

The Digital Audio Device

Nowadays practically every runner you see uses some sort of mobile device to listen to music or podcasts. For many years I ran with a small headset and listened to radio stations and sports talk shows. At one point I started using an MP3 device to listen to music while I ran. I found that music can be dangerous...making me run too fast...but that's a story for another day. Anyway, one day while warming up for a run with my fellow Team AllEars Co-Captain, I noticed this tiny little square that she had latched onto her running shorts.

"What's that?" I asked. "It's an iPod shuffle!" she answered. I then asked about 145 questions about the device and, to make a long story short, I soon had my own iPod shuffle.
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Now although I had experience using an MP3 player, the world of the shuffle opened new avenues for me. Imagine, I could create my own playlists for whatever my needs. For instance, if I wanted to go out for an hour long easy run I would put together a playlist that would have songs that would encourage me to maintain a slow, steady pace. Also, if I happened to be running in a race that required me to pace myself and gradually move from a warmup state to a fast pace, I created a playlist that started me off slowly and eventually worked towards increasing my pace at certain points in the race.

I also discovered how important it was at times for me to listen to a podcast instead of music, especially when I needed to back off on my training and just go out for a leisurely run. I will talk more of these podcasts in a future blog. You will never find me running without my iPod shuffle. In fact, I don't know how I would have been able to run the 2010 Walt Disney World Half Marathon without that device. If you were there you know why.

Speaking of podcasts, I need to also pay kudos to Michelle for introducing me to several podcasts that deal with running…for info and for music. Those key elements, along with the iPod, made it much easier for me to handle those long runs. I will touch upon running podcasts in a later blog.

It's the Little Things that Count

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Also related in this category are a couple of devices I first used in January at the 2011 Walt Disney World Half Marathon. Actually I should not have used them in a race without first trying them out in a training run. I'm talking about my yurbuds, which are designed to hold your earbuds in your ears. For a longtime I've been thinking about changing my earphones and happened to come across the yurbuds booth at the Runner's Expo in January.

I was very curious as to how these little blue plastic things worked. First I was measured and found that I needed a size six yurbud. I had to learn how to use these sort of "cups" and I found out that you place them over each of your earbuds and there is a little "lip" that is positioned to point forward. After you put the yurbud over the earbud and position the lip to face forward, you then place the yurbud in your ear, lip down, and then twist it so that the lip is facing forward and is snug in your ear. So I ran with these little blue things in January and they worked fine. They were light, held the earbuds in my ears, and I could hear my music rather well.

I've run with these yurbuds for the last six months and they are beginning to stretch a bit. I am convinced that they, like everything else, has a limit and may need to be replaced some day. For more information you may want to visit the Yurbuds website.

A Water Belt: Who Knew?

There's nothing like a running buddy to understand how you feel when your tired and sore. My running buddy Michelle, can also attest to the fact that her running buddy, me, can be pretty stubborn at times. I like to say I'm "cautious."

For years I ran without anything like water or nutrition gels or energy beans, or any of those supplements. I never really got thirsty during my runs and when I ran in races I always had water stops to help me. The only time I really recall thinking I should have brought water with me was on Labor Day in September, 2005, when I went out and ran 14 miles. Hoo boy I was thirsty.

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Not only was that stubbornness but also…not smart. Michelle, as practical as they come, ran with a water belt on long runs, especially in warm weather and seemed to be much more refreshed at the end of a training run than I was, and it was obvious why.

Also, she was paying attention to what the experts were saying about nutrition and taking care of business before, during, and after her runs. Not me. Other than grabbing something to drink at a water stop in a race I just ran without anything....except my iPod shuffle.

To take care of nutrition during my runs I needed something to enable me to do so...a nutrition or water belt.

Last year during one of my trips to Orlando, I checked out a couple of running store outlets. At the Nike store I noticed a running belt that seemed to hit me as something I might like. It had four water bottles and at least four pockets to put whatever I needed to carry during a race. The price was also intriguing...at least $15-20 less expensive than what I had seen in other stores. I purchased the belt and figured that someday if I need one I will have it and not have to go out and buy it at that time.

The belt has been put to use. Last month during 80 degree weather I ran 10+ miles on a Saturday and repeated the distance the following day. In both days I used that water belt and now if I plan to run more than an hour I bring the belt with me.

Nutritionally Speaking

This year I find myself training for a pretty tough challenge in January and need to run occasional double-digit distances so the belt is one component that I definitely need to help me get through the training.

However, there is one other complimentary component to the water that I have started to pay more attention to...something Michelle has brought to my attention a while back. I'm talking about nutrition...nutrition that is essential before, during, and after a long or hard training run.
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I am one of these runners who prefers to go out and run on an empty stomach. Heck, if I am gearing up for a race I want nothing in my stomach closer than 12 hours before race start. That's me.

Michelle's brother Mark, is an ironman, and takes his training seriously. For his training Mark focuses quite a bit on his nutrition and had been talking to his sister about the importance of nutrition. In turn, Michelle has shared her conversations with me. She would do things like have a bit of applesauce before her training runs, or some energy gels.

I had never tried a gel until my first half marathon. It was about nine miles into the run that I had one and noticed it gave me a lift. Still, I never used them during training runs because of course I had no water to chase the gel down my throat. I do now.

Well, again with the training I have to do this year I started practicing what Michelle had been preaching. Fifteen minutes before my training run I would have a gel and then take one every 45 minutes during my run. I also would consume a recovery drink after my run to get the amino acids and electrolytes back into my system as much as possible.

I have found that if I can keep my nutrition levels up that I am more refreshed during and after my run. I use Performance GU products but there are several out there besides GU...check them out.

So what does this all mean? Well beyond the specific thoughts on watches, iPods, earbuds, water belts, and nutrition it's about having an open mind and realizing that sometimes the student can be the teacher...providing the teacher listens.

Thanks Michelle.

July 8, 2011

Do You Know Where Your Runs Are?

by Brad Garfinkel

Did you wake up January 1st and make the New Years resolution to lose weight, to exercise and to stop being a couch potato? Did you get really crazy and register for the Walt Disney World 5K, half marathon, full marathon or goofy challenge as your motivation? Are you looking at the calendar only to realize that the 'I will start my training next Monday, no wait, I'll start the Monday after that' procrastination has put you in the position of now only having a little more then 6 months until Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend. If you are looking at the calendar and are somewhat panicked, I am here to help but you have got to start now! You have roughly 31 weeks to train but more realistically 28 once you subtract out major holidays and a taper week.

If you are a beginner and are running the 5K, I suggest looking into a 'Couch to 5K' program. 'Couch to 5K' programs are readily available on sites such as www.active.com as well as www.halhigdon.com. Additionally, there are a handful of 'Couch to 5K' applications available for smart phones. The average plan has you building up to handle a 5K in just over 2 months. This type of plan gives you plenty of time to prepare for Marathon weekend and allows for time to participate in local 5K races in your home community.

If you are a beginner and are running your first half marathon during Marathon weekend, I would also strongly suggest starting out with a 'Couch to 5K'. Completing the plan in 8 weeks leaves you 20 weeks to focus on building your base mileage and stamina to handle the half marathon. Once you are able to handle a 5K, then I suggest jumping right into a half marathon program such as Hal Higdon's novice half marathon program that will have you running up to 10 miles in an additional 12 weeks. You are saying to yourself "10 miles is fine but a half-marathon is13.1 miles!" Have no fear! Most half marathon plans have you running 10 miles as your maximum during training. The excitement and adrenaline of the actual race will get you to the 13.1 finish line. If that is not enough, throw in Main Street, USA, Cinderella Castle and Spaceship Earth for good measure. If the excitement of the race doesn't do it, the magic of running through the Disney parks will! The 'Couch to 5K' program along with the half marathon training will get you to January with plenty of time to spare and possibly even with time for a practice half marathon in late fall or at least a 10K in your hometown.

If you are like me and your eyes are bigger then your stomach and you registered for the full marathon, then we need to get moving, now!!! If you are a beginner, I would recommend going right into a 10K training program. The 10K training program has you running 6.2 miles by the end of 8 weeks. After completing the 10K training program, I would suggest immediately going into a novice marathon training program that will have you running 20 miles in an additional 18 weeks. Once again, the magic and adrenaline of the big day is sure to carry you to the full 26.2 miles.

While the purpose of this piece is to remind you that the clock is ticking and that it is important to start or to have already started your training for the January races, it is also a time to stop and realize that you have already taken a major step. You have committed yourself to a goal and accepted a challenge. The hardest part of this journey is getting to the starting line and you have already done that. Now let's continue as we train ourselves to handle the miles necessary to run, walk or crawl across the finish in January. Don't forget that whether you finish first, finish last or don't necessarily accomplish your goal, make sure you stop and take in the sights, smells and experiences of the journey. Lastly, please remember that you are not in this alone as there is a team full of eager runners to help motivate, inspire and help you prepare.

July 1, 2011

Run/Walk Strategy Basics for Runners and Walkers

By Helen Dunn

In recent years the run/walk strategy for completing an endurance event has become extremely popular. The technique is bound to become even more popular at Walt Disney World sponsored races since the chief proponent of the run/walk method, Jeff Galloway, has become the Official runDisney Training Consultant. In fact, Galloway provides specific training plans for the runDisney races at the runDisney website (training plans for the January races are not listed yet – stay tuned!)

These plans are certainly worth checking out for a structured guide on training for a race, but what I want to talk about are some of the basic concepts of the strategy and how that strategy might be useful to members of Team AllEars.

Before I go any further please allow me clear to up a couple of misconceptions:

• Not every runner will run every single step of a half or full marathon. In fact, very few runners will accomplish that feat. It’s really OK to walk during a half or full marathon, no alarm bells sound if you take a walk break!

• Running as far as you can from the start line until you run out of gas and then starting to walk is NOT run/walk. Run/walk is a real strategy, not a last resort.

I’ll say it again: run/walk is a real strategy. It means going into your training and your race with a plan of attack that you stick to. In order for it to work best, you can’t just wing it. If you do stick to it, athletes are likely to feel less fatigue, recover more quickly, avoid injury and, in some cases, even get faster!

One of the main ideas behind the run/walk strategy is to go slow during the longest training event of the week. The longest training session should be done a minute or two SLOWER than the pace you want to hold during the race itself. You can work on speed during shorter runs mid-week, but the long one should always be at an easy pace where you are not huffing and puffing and where you feel really good, and strong, at the end of the session.

The second big idea behind run/walk is to take walking breaks early and often during your training sessions and on race day. By taking these scheduled breaks, athletes use different muscles while they exercise and therefore experience less fatigue than if they stuck with one activity. It’s important to take the breaks early, even when they seem unnecessary, in order to gain the most benefit from the technique later in the race.

Here’s something surprising that you might not know about run/walk: even though it’s called run/walk, it works for power walkers too! For walkers, instead of taking a walk break, it’s suggested that you take a “shuffle” break. Instead of running, walkers would do their power walk for the run segment and then switch to regular, easy walking for the walk segments. Walking in this slightly different way eases fatigue the same way switching between running and walking works for runners.

One of the biggest mistakes distance athletes make on race day is going out too fast. You will hear this warning from every veteran racer out there. We all know that it’s a mistake and yet most of us still do it. It’s a difficult trap to avoid, but embracing run/walk will help with that problem! Conserving energy in the first mile or two by taking scheduled walk breaks will help runners and walkers maintain a steady pace throughout the race and many (if not most) will find themselves passing other athletes in the later stages of a race. What a great boost to the ego!

Another thing I hear often from run/walk skeptics is “I don’t want to try that – when I walk, I find it really hard to start up running again.” This is true when you start taking walk breaks at a point where you are already tired from going out too fast. However, when starting this strategy from the beginning of a race, most people will maintain a steady pace over the length of the event and will not have trouble running later in the race.

Another very common strategy I hear from endurance athletes is, “I’m going to go out fast and bank up some time so I’ll have a cushion later when I’m tired.” That sounds great, but unfortunately, it doesn’t always work, and, in many cases, it backfires. If you follow a run/walk strategy from the beginning the hope is that late in a half marathon (around mile nine) or marathon (around mile 18) you will feel great and will either continue to maintain a steady pace until the finish line or start to SKIP the walking breaks because there is a feeling that the walking breaks are not needed. Many runners and walkers actually get FASTER using this method because they have less fatigue in the later miles of an event. Sounds great, doesn’t it?

Using run/walk can also help with the mental aspect of distance training too. The run/walk method breaks up seemingly impossible distances into small, manageable chunks that athletes know for sure they can handle. It’s a lot easier to say “I’m going to run for the next two minutes” than it is to say “I’m going to run for the next thirteen miles.”

It can be hard to figure out a run/walk ratio that’s best for you, so you should experiment. I have found that a 2:30 run with a 1 minute walk works best for me. Some people will run for 30 seconds and walk for 30 seconds. Some people will take breaks, not by time, but by mile markers. The trick is to find something that feels good to you and stick with it from the very beginning of the training session or race.

My own experience with run/walk has been fantastic! I ran my marathon PR in 2006 (using the “bank time and then fade plan”) and never came anywhere close to running that pace again until I tried run/walk. In 2011 I ran Marine Corps Marathon sticking with the run/walk plan on race day. I came within 16 seconds of my PR and in my book, I really couldn’t have had a more successful day!

You won’t know if the strategy works for you until you try it yourself, so I encourage all of you to test it out on a day when you are running or walking a distance that is at the edge of your comfort zone. Try the run or walk once the regular way you’d do it and write down your time and how you feel before/during and after. Next time you do that distance, try the run/walk method and record the same information and see how it goes. I think you might be surprised!

For more information on the run/walk method visit Jeff Galloway’s site.

You can also find Jeff Galloway's 18 week training plans at the Disneyland Half Marathon site.

May 2, 2011

I Hate Running But I Love Runners

by Helen Dunn

I am a marathon runner. For most people who know me, my running is what defines me. I am the person who people come to when they want to try out the sport. I’m the one who answers their questions, who is their sidekick for their first run, who encourages them to try out a 5K or a half-marathon. I am a runner, no doubt about it. But here’s a surprising fact: I kind of hate running.

At first I thought that I only hated it because I was new. I thought that it would get better, that the first mile of every run would stop feeling like the worst 11 minutes of my life. I’ve been running for nearly ten years and the first few steps still stink every time. Running is hard. It’s uncomfortable at best and painful at worst. It’s almost never fun. I do it though, and I’ll never give it up, because running gives me access to the thing I really do love: other runners!

The running community is the best thing that ever happened to me. I’ve been lucky to have become part of two fantastic running groups over the years. My local running club has supported and encouraged me in my adventures over the past six years. I run with the kind of people who literally stay up all night, some running, some just keeping the coffee warm, to support one of their own who was running trying to run 100 miles in 24 hours. (He did it!) The kind of people who text me from their vacations to wish me luck on marathon day. They make it possible for me to get up at 5am, drive an hour to run a hilly half-marathon, and be able to say, with complete honesty, “That was fun!” at the finish line because I’d spent that time with them.

And then I have Team All Ears.

It’s hard to believe that I could be lucky enough to find a group that combines two of my biggest passions into a single entity but here we have it. One of my fondest memories is running with Brad Garfinkel towards the end of his first marathon in Harrisburg, PA. I was struggling, and having a bad day, but when I found Brad, who was suffering the way most of us do during our first attempt at 26.2, we started chatting about our favorite Disney podcasts and suddenly we were at the finish line! Amazing! How about when I ran into Barb Kennedy, who I never met before, at the Hershey Half Marathon and complained to her that my iPod was acting up: she happily handed over her own MP3 player for me to use for the rest of the race. The boost of her music gave me what I needed to catch up with Jamison Reynolds on the course. Jamison and I ran together during some of the more difficult miles and we talked about the Team and what it meant to us and to others and suddenly, the finish line was in reach. It was a little bit of running magic.

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It happened again at Marine Corps Marathon when Jamison, Brad and I managed to find one another amid 30,000 runners on the streets of DC thanks to the Team All Ears logo we were wearing. Jamison shared his enthusiasm with me, and Brad shared his electrolyte pills, and their support helped me finish within 30 seconds of my marathon PR. I was thrilled about my own race but I was even happier that Brad got a huge PR and that I was there to hug Jamison at the end of his first marathon. I’d watched him train for nearly two years to achieve that goal and it’s just amazing to take that ride with someone. I wish that everybody could experience the feeling. Achieving your own personal goals is great but watching other people do it is better. Helping them to do it is the best feeling of all.

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To me, that’s what the running community is all about: helping people to achieve their goals. In the case of Team All Ears we’re adding the dimension of helping the world fight one of the most insidious diseases on the planet while helping our friends have small triumphs every day. It was truly a moving experience when I watched Deb unroll the sign unroll to reveal that the group raised $46,677. For me though, the small victories along the way are what makes the team extra special. I’m excited when I see that Amanda got in a spinning workout and it makes me want to schedule one of my own. When I know that Holly is running 20 miles, I think about her doing it, I use that to push myself a little harder during my own run. I’m excited when my friends achieve PR after PR in their races (Brad and Jorge, I’m talking to you!) I’m sad when my friends have setbacks and I do my best to encourage them not to give up (Michelle, Barb, Cailin & Josh…) It motivates me to know that I have a network of built in friends across the nation that are having the same experiences that I am, good and bad. I love being part of the team, not just in January, but every single day.

My point here is that running is hard. You might never feel the “runner’s high” but even if you don’t, you will probably find these little glimpses of magic along the way that make the struggle worth it.

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If you're planning on running a Walt Disney World race in January 2012 and you'd like to join Team AllEars® in the fight against breast cancer, please email Michelle at Michelle@teamallears.com.

April 25, 2011

I Am A Runner

by Jorge Romero


My adventure began almost two years ago. One evening I was showing some friends the photographs I took on our last trip to Disney World. When we all saw a photo where I am with my son in front of Cinderella castle, everyone was speechless. No one knew what to say. It was evident, it was undeniable. The way I had abandoned myself, the lack of self-esteem, all the pounds I had won the last three years were clearly seen on that photograph.

Jorge - Before


I felt so ashamed of myself I turned off the camera. It was enough; I had gone too far, I needed to take action immediately. I decided it was time to return to exercise. I spent the following week with the intention of waking up early and going out to run, but that remained only as an intention.

That weekend the WDWToday podcast was having a live show. While I was listening, Mike Scopa and Michelle Scribner-MacLean began talking about a team they were creating with Deb Wills called Team AllEars. At that moment I knew I wanted to be part of it. After reading Michelle’s blog about her first half marathon and several Mike Scopa’s blogs about running at Disney, I was convinced I had to run someday trough Disney World and this was the perfect opportunity to do so.

While I was listening to the show I went into the Disney sports web page and signed up for the half marathon. I told my wife right away and she told me I was crazy. (Recently, she confessed me that at that moment (and the following months) she was very concerned, she was afraid that with my obesity and the lack of fitness I had I might had a heart attack).

Then the hard work began, suddenly that hesitation was transformed into determination and I can tell you that in the nine months leading to the Disney World half marathon 2010 I didn´t skip a single running session I had scheduled on my training plan. That determination was possible with the support and motivation of my family and my Team AllEars team mates.

Because of the distance that comes from living in another country that motivation was only possible thanks to the team Team AllEars Facebook group. That was the place where friendships were born, the place where novice runners found answers to all of their doubts. There were days where I felt like I was going nowhere, where I felt I was not going to be able to achieve the fitness to run 13 miles but there was always someone to encourage me and tell me it was possible.

Then 20 days before leaving for Disney World I was laid off. It was a very difficult time for me; it was the first time in my life that something like that had happened to me. I was very worried and almost canceled my half marathon trip. I was supposed to go with my wife and kids but in the end I had to go solo. Those days where the most difficult ever.

Finally the day arrived and I left my wife and kids to finish what I started 9 months before. I already had lost 35 pounds and I felt like I was ready. I was so nervous when I arrived late to the Yee Haw Bob meet at Port Orleans, I’ve always been kind of shy and meeting new people has never been a skill in me, let alone meeting new people that didn’t speak my native language. When I arrived I first saw Michelle, and then Mike, Suzanne, Tacey, Jamison, Julie and Melanie and Matt Hochberg from the WDWToday podcast was also there with his wife, Marissa. It was so surreal; I was so nervous but then it was as if we had known each other forever, just a group of friends meeting again after not seeing each other for a while.

Jorge


I successfully ran my half marathon it was a great feeling. The satisfaction from achieving that goal was priceless, but just as rewarding was the journey in which I met the wonderful people of Team AllEars. All the healthy new habits I’d formed (exercising at least four days a week, eating healthy, all the running knowledge I gathered) and how all of this changed my life so dramatically is something I would have never imagined. I am now a better person, friend, father, husband and even a much more efficient employee. I am different now, I am a new better, improved version of my former self … I am a runner.

Final Jorge

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If you're planning on running a Walt Disney World race in January 2012 and you'd like to join Team AllEars® in the fight against breast cancer, please email Michelle at Michelle@teamallears.com.

April 13, 2011

Running...It's All In the Family

by Amanda Gonzales

Two years ago, I had a reality check. I was 100 pounds overweight. I was classified as morbidly obese. I am a mother of four young children and this was not acceptable. I had sacrificed myself to care for everyone but myself. Noble? Maybe, but more importantly, self-destructive? Yes. My doctor told me that if I want to see my children graduate from college, that I would have to make dramatic changes. I would have to let go and learn to trust others and myself. It was time to make myself a priority and to in a sense give myself a chance by believing I was worth it.

There is this sad thing that happens when you gain a lot of weight. You start feeling like you are not worth it anymore. Like your turn has passed you by. Like you let it happen so you deserve the consequences. The lethargy, the stares, the feeling of being miserable all the time. That sums up how I felt about myself two years ago. Don't get me wrong, I had and still have a wonderful and loving husband who told me I was the most beautiful woman in the world. I had four beautiful children but something was missing. It was my confidence and my sense of self-worth. I knew I was cheating myself. I knew I was not setting a good example for my children. I worried that one day my kids might get teased at school for having the overweight mom.

I had always been an avid fan of www.allearsnet.com. One night, I was soul-searching and I was thinking about when I used to feel happy and athletic and healthy and full of life and I remembered that I was a high school and college athlete and loved to run. Nothing felt better than the freedom and peace of hitting the road and letting it all go. That was what I was missing and I needed to find it. I admired who I used to be when I was running. I was fit, healthy, people respected me, I wanted that back. It was that same night that I read the announcement about Team AllEars in the weekly newsletter.

The Disney 1/2 marathon, I had heard of it, but never thought in a million years that I could ever run 13.1 miles. Never, not me, I mean if I could get back to running two miles twice a week, that would be an accomplishment. For some reason, I registered that night for the Disney 1/2 marathon I sent an email requesting to join Team AllEars. I don't think I knew what I was doing that day, but it turns out that was the day that saved me and brought my family closer together and forever created a bond that will never be broken. That was the day we became a family who runs together!

Running Kids


I started walking and running after that day. It was hard and progress was slow, but I kept going. Very soon after I started, my kids started to become interested in what I was doing. They were asking to go running with me. We started going for walks and running together and before I knew it, in two months, we went from being a sedentary family to an active one.

It is true, your children learn from what you live. They saw me making an change in my life to become healthy and active and they wanted to join me. Our weekends now are filled with activity. We walk together, run together, and bike together. We do races together. Most road races have children's "fun runs" attached to them. When I do a race now, they do, too. They are proud of their fitness and wear their t-shirts with pride and share their accomplishments with friends and teachers.

This year, a year after I completed my first 1/2 marathon in Disney in 2010 and my first full marathon in Boston in 2010, at The 2011 Walt Disney World Marathon weekend, every person in my family completed a race. I completed the 1/2 marathon, my husband completed the 5k, my oldest two children ages 7 and 8 completed the Mickey mile, and my youngest two completed the 100 and 200 meter dash.

Running Family


We have transformed from a sedentary family to a running family. However, what makes it more meaningful is that we are a family running with purpose. My children understand that we run for our health, but also to raise money for those battling breast cancer. Throughout the year we had lemonade stands and tried to raise awareness and commit to community service with an awareness that we were running for our health, but also running with purpose to help others.

My children never knew their grandfather, who passed away from cancer in 1987. We have decided to make a change in our lives as a family and become a family running with purpose. We challenge you to do the same! The rewards are endless. Good luck from my family to yours.

Deb and Amanda


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If you're planning on running a Walt Disney World race in January 2012 and you'd like to join Team AllEars® in the fight against breast cancer, please email Michelle at Michelle@teamallears.com.

April 10, 2011

To Preview or Not To Preview a Race Course

In about a week I will be running a local 10K race on a brand new course and so I decided this past weekend to do a dry run and worked out on the course. During this training run I thought about whether or not doing so would actually help me for the race.

I know it made me feel better to run the course before the race than to wait until race day to do it for the first time but I could not really say why this was important to me.

I decided to ask if any of my Team AllEars® members felt strongly about previewing a course and why it was important to them.

Team AllEars® member Amanda Gonzalez seems to fall in my category of one who likes to preview a course.

Amanda says, “…I like to drive or run the course before race day. I am a big believer in visualizing myself running the course before race day. It helps me on the tough parts of the course to imagine myself running up the hills, into the headwinds with no problems.”

She also adds that by going over the course before race day she can “…know how to shuffle my music in the ipod the go along with the tougher parts of the course.”

One thing I never considered regarding previewing a course is the nutrition factor. Amanda says by trying out the course before race day she can determine when she might need some energy gel or how often she would need to hydrate during the race.
I know when I might need a GU for extra energy and when I might want to hydrate

Lastly, Amanda says, “I also like to know the mile markers so I can mentally prepare to count down, one down only five more to go for example.”

Team AllEars® member Jamison Reynolds sings a familiar song when he talks about previewing a course.

Jamison says, “I am concerned with elevation changes. Especially for inclines…” and Jamison make a good point when he says that for those who use the Galloway method of walking and running that, “…it is important for folks to see if those inclines will work with their walk breaks or runners will want to modify those breaks to work with the course. For example, you don't want to waste a walk on a downhill when an uphill is just around the corner.”

I think that is a great point for anyone who uses the Galloway method…but you have to preview the course to understand how best to approach the race.

Team AllEars® member Helen Norlund scoped out the Walt Disney World Half Marathon Course before running it in last January, because as Helen says, “I thought it would help me to understand the course and see where I was going and what I was up against.”

Unfortunately for Helen, there were some things that prevented this plan from working the way she had hoped.

As she explains it, “I got disoriented with the people and trying to place in my mind where things were. It was nice however to realize that I had a hill to climb and also that some would be off the beaten path.”

Helen makes an interesting point too when she points out something that I had remembered. On World Drive the runners came across a huge hot air balloon that looked like Spaceship Earth. It was confusing at first and Helen remembers, “…I got turned around when I saw the balloon for Epcot. I was panicking thinking I had done something wrong...but then realized that so did everyone else since I followed the pack but it did give me a good reality check there.”

The point here is that sometimes previewing a race does not always give you the identical conditions you will encounter during the actual race so you try to take away from that preview as much as you can but also realizing that the time of day, crowd, and unexpected things, may throw you off a bit.

For me, my concern is always the need to pace myself. Pacing is important during a race because for some people, the start of a race gets their juices flowing so much tat they tend to start off faster than they would if they were just going out for a training run. I know that there have been races in the past where I had run too fast too soon and did not have the reserves left to negotiate some hills later in the race.

When I preview a race I take into consideration the various twists and turns and where along the course I could use an interval running technique to help me put in a decent time.

One of my friends, who is also into interval running says he likes to preview a race because he then can pinpoint that point in the course where he know he can go into his interval training mode and have enough energy to not only do that but also give a final kick on that last mile.

For me, I guess it comes down to a number of reasons why I prefer to preview a race.

First, I want to be comfortable and familiar with the course and that means knowing if there are any odd areas to watch out for.

Also, as stated above, as someone who likes to throw in some interval training in a race, I need to know where the “difficult” parts of the course are to plan accordingly.

Running a race is more than just a physical chore…it also involves strategy that you need to use to do your best…hence, why some prefer to preview races.

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If you're planning on running a Walt Disney World race in January 2012 and you'd like to join Team AllEars® in the fight against breast cancer, please email Michelle at Michelle@teamallears.com.

April 1, 2011

WDW Marathon Weekend 2011: Reflections

Although I had been running for some 37 years before taken on the challenge of a half-marathon, I felt invigorated back in 2005 as I trained for my first 13.1-mile trek.

Along the way something inspirational happened.

In October 2005 I visited Orlando to run in the Race for the Taste 10K. On Friday when I went to get my race pack I found out that on that Saturday, the day before the 10K, a 5K being held in Disney’s Animal Kingdom; it was the Central Florida Susan B. Komen Race for the Cure 5K.

The race offered some “carrots” for me…the primary one being the opportunity to contribute to the fight against Breast Cancer…and running through Disney’s Animal Kingdom and the opportunity to have a nice warm-up run the day before the big race seemed pretty cool too.

On the morning of the Komen race I was moved more emotionally than I would have ever imagined. I found myself in a sea of pink, surrounded by survivors as well as those who had lost loved ones to this terrible demon Cancer.

As I lined up with everyone to start the race I could not help noticing the messages on the back of some of the shirts, “I will always love you Mom” or “To Sis, I miss you…this is for you.”

There were several men running in the race, one in particular who was a breast cancer survivor who had run in all 50 states. I had no idea men could contract this disease.

I ran the race and afterwards ran into some cast member friends who told me this was the only race they run all year…to “help the fight.”
I was overwhelmed by the emotions around me…so many people with so many stories. I was touched.

Later on that day I was in Epcot and while sitting outside the American Adventure pavilion I was approached by a middle-aged man who held out his hand and said, “Thank you!”

I was puzzled. “Excuse me? I said.

“I noticed your Komen medal.”

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I had forgotten I was wearing my Komen Medal.

He continued, “I want to thank you for helping us. My wife is dealing with breast cancer and your kind gesture today to run in the race makes us realize we are not alone.”

Wow…this amazing day continued to bring strong emotions.

His wife came from out of the gift shop, say her husband talking to me, and before she could introduce herself to me, she burst into tears and hugged me and said “Thank you! Thank you so much!” We talked a bit and I did all that I could to keep from falling apart.

The emotions that this couple displayed gave me such a strong understanding of what these people must go through that I knew it would have an impact on me.

But the icing on the cake came while strolling through France in World Showcase. It’s a known fact that I am a huge Belle fan and I actually had a favorite Belle who I visited in Epcot whenever I was in World Showcase.

On this day she when she saw me she gave me a nod and said, “Hello again!” She saw my medal and while still in character she held it in her hand, paused for a few seconds, looked at me and said, “Thank you.”
I had the immediate sense that she or someone in her family had also been touched by the dark hand of Cancer and was, while still in character, letting me know how grateful she was.


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I was sold.

The following year I took a step to not only to run in the race but to also be a fundraiser. I ended up finishing second to only the race director and was called up onstage. I could not speak; I was completely overwhelmed…and wondered what more I could do.

Here I am five years later surrounded by my AllEars family…that’s right…my family.

It’s wonderful to see Team AllEars do so much for the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer.

It was emotional last year to see my dear friend Deb Wills put herself through so much to train and finish her WDW half marathon…then to do the DL half marathon later in the year to capture the coast to coast medal. No one knows more than Deb herself, how difficult and arduous her training was…there’s something deep in this lady that many do not know…it’s called courage…and she displayed that badge of courage very well.

It was thrilling to see the expression on Stephanie Mathias’ face this year as she came around the corner in the EPCOT parking lot to finish her first 5K race. I was worried, until I saw that big smile of hers. As I type these words I can feel myself tearing up again as I remember that amazing moment with the rest of the team cheering her on.

It was heartwarming to see many of the people on Team AllEars, like Evelyn DeLuccia, Holly Aulen, and Eric Bouchet to do it all with a smile and show so much zest for life as they raise funds for the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer.

And it’s inspirational to see my Team AllEars Co-Captain, Michelle Scribner-MacLean run both a 5K and then the next day, run the half-marathon, even though she had a stress fracture because, as she explains, “It was the right thing to do.”

There were so many other stories for this year’s WDW 2010 Marathon weekend that I wish I could do them all justice…but in many cases the experience of seeing them take place convinced me that there are no words to properly describe them.

I do know one thing for sure…after spending time with the members of Team AllEars it is all too clear that this is no longer a team but a family…a family who fights…fights side by side to someday defeat enemy #1…Breast Cancer.

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March 26, 2011

Getting Started: Setting Goals

Once you make the decision has been to get off that couch and to start an exercise or running program it’s very important to put together some realistic goals for yourself.

The important word in the paragraph above is “realistic” because if you aren’t honest with yourself, the first month or so can lead to frustration, stress, disappointment and that means that you may find yourself giving up or just quitting.

So being able to look in the mirror and say, “I want to be able to…” and to finish that statement with a goal that is reachable is important.

Remember that you are allowed to also adjust your goals as you go along this journey. No one says “Well Mike you can set your goals only now and that’s it…no adjustments…no takeys back…now or never.”

Nonsense. Is that how life is? Certainly not. We go through life making adjustments all the time…we have to be flexible in order to get through the day, the week, the month, the year…through life.

The same holds for a running and/or exercising program.

So here are a few questions for you to ponder when taking up an exercise or running program:

• What is the most important overall goal you are looking for?
• Is your goal overall improvement in health?
• Do you want to be able to run a certain distance?
• Do you want to run a certain distance in a certain amount of time?
• Do you want to lose weight?
• Do you want to do a combination or all of the above?

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One of the realistic areas we all have to consider when setting goals with an exercise or running program is to understand exactly what our limitations are and that is something that is different for everyone. So for instance, this year I am setting a long-term goal for myself, and to meet that goal by setting short-term goals as well.

For instance, the long-term goal is to improve my half-marathon pace. So I am looking for a certain pace range for that distance. Is it realistic? Yes because in the past I have come within 30 seconds of that pace so it’s doable.

Is there a way to put together short-term goals to help me reach that long-term goal? I think so.

I know I cannot go out tomorrow and run a half marathon in a certain amount of time…maintain a certain pace…but over the past month I have been slowly building up my stamina and conditioning to hit that goal pace mark on shorter distances. I have a plan over the next six months to gradually look at how often I will run and how I will gradually add not just the distance but incorporate the pace for which I want to eventually run for a half marathon.

So I am being realistic about not just how long it will take me to achieve this goal and whether or not it’s achievable but also realizing that along the way I need to set realistic and timely milestones so that I am making progress along the way and feeling good about it.

For anyone starting off with a running program one of your first goals is to understand that it’s not going to be an overnight training session and that running is very much like a half or a full marathon…it takes a while to do it.

It’s a good idea to set milestone goals…for instance. If you have never run start simple and for the first several weeks walk and slow jog and every day add two to five more minutes to your workout.

Perhaps a short-term goal for you is to be able to run an entire mile without having to stop to walk…in a sense to build upon a foundation and to add a little each day.

One of the pitfalls we are all prone to is overdoing it and thus resulting in a setback. You don’t want to get into the rut of one step forward and two steps back…hence why it’s important to be realistic…especially early on.

Once you get into the rhythm of running and exercising routines your goals become both easier and realistic to establish.

For instance during the first month or two of your running program you will recognize how much you can add to your workout each day…understanding what is just right for you and also what is too much.

You will also recognize, as your body talks to you, what you will require for rest…this will vary and shift as your program goes along.

I’ve often been a fan of the “milestone chunking” approach mentioned above, which to me seems to be the safest and most realistic approach to training.

When you “chunk” you have two visions…a long-term vision, and in my opinion, much more importantly, a short-term vision that once you reach…allows you to set another short-term vision.

So here’s an example…going back to my plan for this year…I might as well stick to something I feel I can easily explain.

In my quest to run a half marathon within a certain pace, I recognize that this is a gradual process…thus I have set a thirty day plan for myself that says at the beginning of each month I hope to run an two miles further than I did at the beginning of the previous month…at the pace range I want.

That gives me 30 days to increase my mileage by 2 miles while maintaining the pace I want to achieve. This gives me the opportunity to take a gradual approach to this quest of mine.

Yes my long range vision has me focusing on a particular date to run a half marathon distance at that pace but I’m really ignoring that because I need to focus on the short-term goals and I know that if I can attain and meet those goals then I have a pretty good chance of reaching the long-term goal.

To that end I take the short-term goal…that monthly goal and break it down into weekly and even daily chunks so that it’s easier to see little pockets of progress.

Finally, think about what makes you happy and what you need to do along this journey to keep you going.

By happy I mean…RESULTS….if you are realistic in your goals…that’s half the battle towards achieving success.

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To help…why not figure out a way to check your progress…chart your training…perhaps join a tracking website like www.dailymile.com which will give you the opportunity to log your progress.

Seeing results is a great motivator in helping you get up every day and look forward to building towards your eventual long-term goal…your long-term realistic goal.

So…be real….be realistic.

If you are a member of Team AllEars join me in a discussion of goals on the Team AllEars FaceBook page.

If you would like to become a member of the Team AllEars Running team please send an email to Team AllEars Co-Captain Michelle Scribner-MacLean at michelle@teamallears.com.

Remember, the only way to run is to run with purpose.


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March 15, 2011

Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend 2011 - Reflections Part 3

We made a commitment to participate in the January 2011 WDW Marathon Weekend. We trained, we got healthier, we raised awareness and funds in the first against breast cancer, we laughed, we cried, we were injured, we had triumphs and setbacks, we made new friends, found unexpected support, and we gave it our all.

We are Team AllEars Running with Purpose.

Here are final reflections of this amazing journey by Team AllEars members - Part 3!

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Evelyn DeLuccia

Being a part of Team AllEars 2011 has been the best experience. Raising money for breast cancer, making new friends both on Facebook and finally meeting them in person Marathon weekend, being motivated to train and help motivate others, doing the 5K and 1/2 marathon with a great bunch of people, all made this year's marathon weekend extra special.

I loved every moment.

I enjoyed attending many of the "meet and greets", especially the Illuminations Dessert Party. Making plans to do some other races during the year with team members is great. Getting the 1/2 marathon medal AND receiving a Team AllEars medal was super special. Having my husband, daughter, future son-in-law and some of his family at the many races marathon weekend, to cheer me on as well as to cheer for all Team AllEars members, was terrific. I look forward to going "Goofy" and/or "Dopey" in 2012 with Team AllEars. Go Team!!

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Amanda Gonzales

It was an honor and a privilege to be a part of Team All Ears 2011. I was amazed by the commitment so many teammates made to change the path of their lives by working hard to improve their fitness and achieve their race goals.

As an "All Ears Bud", I was able to closely interact and follow the progress of many incredible individuals as they progressed from never running a mile before to running a 5k and half marathon and more. Anyone can do this if you take that first step and leap forward with confidence. Team All Ears is a family to me.

The most cherished part of this experience for me this year was that unlike last year, my entire family raced and fund raised with me. My 9, 7, 5, 2 year old and my husband all ran races this year. Training with my family helped me convey the importance of nutrition and exercise to them and hopefully that lesson and commitment will stay with them forever. It was also important to involve my children in fund raising this year and teach them about their need to be involved in the community and to dedicate their time toward helping others in need. The support and friendship from this team and the lessons learned have forever changed my life for the better.

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Erwin Mascardo

As the the first major accomplishment that Julia, Lily, and I have done together as a family, our whole weekend was all about personal achievement, and also about being a team and supporting each other. Even though the photo is of me alone after crossing the finish line, I would have never made it there without everyone from Team AllEars having stood behind me through the many months of training. This especially includes the teammates who are also my immediate family! Well done to Julia and Lily as well!

Be sure to read my wife Julia's story too!

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Heather Little


WOW! I ran 13 miles... I ran 13 miles! Looking back, it seems like the weekend flew by however during the actual run, miles 9 through 12 seemed to last FOREVER... Over the past 8 months, I became a runner (I finally feel comfortable calling myself that). It was very difficult to get to that day ~ my dad having a stroke 2 weeks before, finding care for my kids for the long weekend was hard, the training was hard (not to mention extremely cold) however finding the time to run was the most difficult part. Looking back, totally worth it, raising money for breast cancer research


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There is this one point in the race, after passing the Grand Floridian, on the road back to Epcot, that a DJ playing music with the people cheering me on, and I remember thinking to myself "This is pretty cool."

My knee pain kicked in around mile 9 and I owe quite a bit to the Gu and BioFreeze tables. I was so afraid that I was going to get swept so I ran as much as I could through the pain. When I finally made it through the finish line and I saw the words MEDICAL, so I ran straight in for some ice. Unfortunately, I didn't realize how this would look to my poor husband, who had been cheering me on for the last 3 hours, from the sidelines. I freaked him out quite a bit, causing him to demand to get to that medical area to a poor, unsuspecting race volunteer. Something for us to laugh at now. After it all, it was a great day ~ beautiful weather, a lot of laughs, wonderful cause, motivation was in the air, a big, blingy metal, the sense of pride, and all that Disney magic.


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Tim Tosten

On that fateful day in April 2010, Deb Wills told me about her experiences in running the Disney Half, and Kerry, Dan and I all said lets do it! Having never really even ran, and being many pounds over weight, who would have thought that the training, the great virutal team support, and the all of the fundraising would actually culminate in us running our very first half marathon. Fast forward to January 2011, and Kerry and I (Dan was much faster) started out in the dark to see how these next 13.1 miles would go. Having never run more than 10 miles in training, I fretted about how the last 3.1 miles would be and how my body would react. I kept telling myself that it is only a 5K left to go, I have run them before, and I can do it now (trying to convince myself that I hadn't just run 10 miles.)

I got to 11.5 miles and I saw the big overpass looming ahead and thought wow...this is going to be hard, how am I actually going to do this. Then...I saw our Team cheering us on. I needed that. I wanted that. And as you can tell from the picture...I hugged Deb with all of the energy I could muster, and she did the same.

That hug got me over than dreaded incline, got me through Epcot, and got me around the turn to the finish line. What did I see there at the turn...more Team All Cheers, and Dan holding his medal (told you he was faster!) Seeing our team, and that hug from Deb pushed me through to the end. I did it...I ran a half marathon (with Kerry by my side the entire time.)

Team All Ears was such a wonderful group of supportive persons and while most of us never met in person until marathon weekend, I felt I knew them all. I am really looking forward to being part of the team next year...they have become my running family.

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Mary Jean Kancel

When I joined Team AllEars 2011, little did I know the amazing journey I was about to undertake. As a first time runner the advice, insight, and encouragement from experienced runners on the team was invaluable. It was reassuring to learn other team members new to running shared the same fears and worries as me.

I had never participated in fundraising prior to this and that was as daunting as the thought of running a Half Marathon. But I learned the generosity of my family and friends was beyond anything I could have imagined. To say I reaped more from this experience than I sowed would be an understatement. It was an honor and a privilege to be a part of the team.

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Gordon Harvey

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Serving on Team AllEars was an honor. A privilege. First, the cause that we supported and the incredible person who supported us, Deb, made this one of the most worthwhile things I’ve ever done.

It really didn’t hit me until I saw three things. First was during the Half-Marathon when I ran by a couple of AllEars cheering stations. These people knew me; they called my name. I teared up! My teammates were cheering me on as I ran in support of ending breast cancer!

The second time was in the Marathon. There they were again. Up so early, they could have been snuggled in bed, warm and cozy. Yet they came out to cheer us on. Holding signs, taking pictures. My teammates, all incredible people.

But I was thunderstruck at the gathering on Saturday afternoon for photos and for Deb to put her medals on us. I looked around and saw some of the most amazing people I’ve known. All united in a singular purpose, all sharing a camaraderie that centered around a love for all things Disney and a love for life, and the extension of life through the eventual end of cancer. I felt so small compared to these giants around me. They worked tirelessly to raise money for Avon Cancer Walk, they didn’t give up, they pressed on and raised a record amount of money so that someday we will see an end to breast cancer. I will never forget that moment. I will never forget these people. And I will never forget the amazing hug that this giant of a woman gave me that day. Thank you Deb, for letting me tag along as part of this incredible group of heroes.


March 11, 2011

All About Team AllEars 2012


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What is Team AllEars 2012?

It is nothing less than a group of friends who for the last several years have set out to do some important things with joining the fight against breast cancer at the top of their list.

Team AllEars was founded in 2009 and spent that initial year raising funds for Deb Wills' Avon Walk for Breast Cancer. By the time the 2010 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend had arrived, the team had raised over $26,000 dollars.

Beyond that the team had raised breast cancer awareness throughout the year and along the way, found themselves getting healthier and stronger as they trained for the big weekend.

In 2010 this team continued to add to their still young legacy by growing in number and, despite a challenging economy, surpassed their fund-raising total during their first year of existence.

As Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend 2011 approached the team worked hard, in both training and fund-raising efforts.

When the smoke had cleared the team had truly accomplished what no member could have ever dreamed they would see. The team not only surpassed the total they had raised their first year but had come oh so close to doubling that figure. Later in February, when all donations had been counted, the Team Raised $50,535 to fight breast cancer!

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Team AllEars also includes Team AllCheers who support the Team AllEars runners and their efforts by attending the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend and cheering them on.

The Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend is the culmination of all their efforts and is filled with celebratory events…meets…dinners…breakfasts, and other special get togethers to celebrate the team success and to re-energize for the upcoming year.

Beyond the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend in January, team members join up throughout the year to run in other races around the country to enjoy friendship and support. Through the last two years the team has grown into a family with a major goal in mind.

As the team moves into its third year momentum continues to grow.
As each year comes and goes, the expectation is that at the least, the team will continue to bring breast cancer awareness to as many people as it can touch, and along the way, find themselves getting healthier and healthier as they train and run to defeat this demon Cancer.

Listen to the Live Show when we Kicked Off Team AllEars 2012!~!!

How to Join

For you to join the Team AllEars 2012 you must first be registered for one of the 2012 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend races.

Secondly, you are asked to committing to raising $500 or more to Deb Wills' Avon Walk for Breast Cancer Fund, along the way raising breast cancer awareness as well.

Member Benefits

Team members will receive official AllEars Running Team Newsletters that will feature special articles along with some tips and hints on preparing for the big race.

Team members will be encouraged and welcomed to contribute to the team newsletter with questions regarding training and to share their success stories in the team blog.

Team members are encouraged to participate in the Team AllEars Facebook page (open to members only).

All team members will be invited to special team events during the 2012 WDW Marathon Weekend.

If you would like to become a member of the Team AllEars Running team please send an email to Team AllEars Co-Captain Michelle Scribner-MacLean at michelle@teamallears.com.

Remember, the only way to run is to run with purpose.

March 2, 2011

Team AllEars Profile: Sara Rhodes

My first ½ Marathon

From the title alone, you know that I am now a half-marathoner, and I plan on doing more. This is a goal finally realized, and what a journey it has been.

I should explain my background first; it helps to set up the whole story. Growing up, my sister and I were athletes. We were encouraged by my parents to get out there and play. I joined the local swim club in grade school, and I found my true passion. I found a sport that my body was built for…speed was not my forte. I was built for distance.

I stayed stick-like until high school, where my freshman year on the varsity swim team I put on 15 pounds of muscle. I still look back at my years on the swim team as special. It was a great group of people to be around, and to this day they are some of my biggest supporters and cheerleaders. When I got my acceptance letter to the University of Illinois, my high school coach was one of the first to congratulate me. It meant the end of my swimming career and the beginning of my struggles with weight, food and working out. But I don’t think I would change my mind, even if I knew what my life would be like for the next 12 years.

I stayed thin…until junior year hit. My roommate and I moved into our apartment, and I met my future ex-husband. He graduated, had a full time career and wanted to date me. I have never had luck with guys (and still don’t)…but here was a cute guy who wanted to take me out to dinner and cook for me. On top of that, I had a car to drive back and forth to class and work. I had a boyfriend who wanted to play video games and watch movies. And I settled. The weight continued to pile on over the next few years as real life begin.

Life was fast food for lunch, take out for dinner, oversized portions of food when we did make food at home. I found myself looking into the mirror and not recognizing the person looking back. After a particularly fattening holiday season, I had it. I stopped looking at the scale at 185 pounds, and I know I probably hit at least 190. For a girl that was 120 pounds of pure muscle just a few years earlier, it was depressing. 2007 needed to be the year of change. Little did I know what that meant until later.

I started to get kind of serious about my health…and then…

Life got way to serious. My then husband started acting strange. He wasn’t happy, and I didn’t know how to fix it. To this day I don’t know if I could have fixed it. He stopped talking to me, despite my every attempt to get him to talk. My best friend now looked at me like I was his enemy. For months I fought to save my marriage. He promised to try too, but in the end he didn’t.

Following my sister’s wedding, I took a solo trip to Disneyland. It would be my first trip to DL, as well as my first solo trip.

I spent a Monday – Friday in Disneyland, exploring Walt’s dream. I looked in every hotel, walked through every store, and rode every open ride. While I spent a lot of time texting and calling my family and friends, but for the most part it was me and my thoughts in the Happiest Place on Earth. How amazing was that feeling when I said “self, what do YOU want to do next?” Compromise was not necessary, it was just me. Every day my confidence in my ability to be out on my own grew.

3 pm on Jan 4th, at the age of 26, I was divorced. I spent that weekend in front of the tv, barely eating. I don’t like to miss meals, so after two days of that I decided to pick myself up, head to work. Work was a great way to escape the feelings, and became my safe haven. June of that year I bought my own house, and life really felt like it was getting back to a positive place. I learned to live on my own (and that, by the way, is the best advice my cousin Tracey gave me!)

Since then, life has only gotten better. I still work for the athletic department, I still love my house. My sister had a baby, and my niece is the greatest kid ever. Still, something was missing.

I continued to lose weight, and hit about 140 late in 2009. My goal weight was 130, and I struggled to get past the 140 mark. Something had to change, and not just my eating and drinking habits.

I couldn’t tell you when I got the crazy idea to run a half marathon. I think I was in college, probably about the same time that I decided I wanted a tattoo. (Yes, I do have one! it is on my left wrist, and it is the Chinese symbols for Inner Strength).

A friend from work needed a 4th person to run on her Marathon Relay for the Illinois Marathon in Champaign. For the next four months, I trained. I didn’t have a drop of coke. I mostly resisted sweets and fatty foods. And those last 10 pounds came off.

There are a lot of comparisons between swimming and running. Yes, it can be a team sport, but ultimately it is just you, staring at the bottom of a pool, running to the beat of your own feet on the pavement. It is just you and the clock. I found one of the feelings that I had been missing…

I was hooked after that first race. 5k races kept me busy over the summer, and I used them as an excuse to travel. I decided that I survived a 7 mile run, I could double that. I wanted my first half marathon to be amazing, so I chose to make a trip to the Disney World Marathon weekend.

My First ½ Marathon: Running for a Purpose

Reading all that I could on the Disney Marathon Weekend, I quickly became overwhelmed. In talking to Dad about possibly using their DVC points, Mom decided she wanted to go with me and walk the 5k. I felt better knowing someone would be there with me, and I signed us up for the 5k. Shortly after, I came across information about Team AllEars.

I decided to join up with the group. I might as well raise money for a great cause while training; it would be an extra motivation. A private group on facebook was set up for the team, and I got to know everyone by friending them. Over the last several months, I have followed everyone’s training, learned about them and their families, and most importantly, had their support.

Veterans helped us rookies out with information and suggestions, and we all swapped information about everything from what music we listen to on our training runs to tips about injuries. I felt like I knew many of them well before we met. Many teammates hit their $500 goal well before the races, and with the support of friends and family, I got to $540 at the beginning of December.

Training went well, until December. Turns out, December 2010 had some of the highest snowfall and coldest temps in recorded history, and that makes for tough training conditions. The treadmill and I have our differences, and by the end of December, I hated it. With a passion. (Teammate Mandy calls it the “dreadmill”.)

I didn’t train nearly long enough, and my mileage quickly slipped below where it should be. I knew that this first ½ marathon was going to be rough, but I kept up the positive attitude. The best advice from one of my bosses (who is also a cross country coach)- “Just finish. It is your first, you can use it as a base for you next runs”. I struggled with eating and drinking properly, and 5 lbs quickly were put back on over the month of December.

Finally, it was time to leave for Disney. Mom and I are veterans at traveling, and we know Disney better than home. We headed over to ESPN Wide World of Sports from Saratoga Springs and picked up our packets. I loved WWofSports, I hope to head back there to visit and watch a game or two someday. Everything was well directed, and after about 2 hours we had our packets, free samples and all kinds of info on other races and running gear. Dinner at Cap’n Jacks (turns out you CAN eat healthy in Disney!) and then a bit of shopping before we headed back to the room.

The 5k wake-up call was 4:30 am for a 7 am race. 5500 runners and walkers were ready to go in the pre-race area. Disney had a nice set up, with bag checks, a DJ and concessions. Mom and I wandered around before eventually taking our places in the corrals. Buzz and Woody were on hand to start the race, and fireworks went off as runners headed out. It was an untimed fun run, so I used it as a pre-race warm up.

I used the first mile to warm up and get used to the feeling of pavement under my feet. Once we headed from the back stage area into the EPCOT World Showcase, I was able to relax and enjoy the run and view. The sun was just coming up over the countries, and it was fun to see characters in various pavilions. The final turn to the finish line had Team AllEars/AllCheers lined up and yelling loudly.

I had a Buzz and Woody medallion placed around my neck, and I felt good. 3 miles felt like nothing, and I just got to run though EPCOT. I introduced myself to a few teammates and got a big hug from Deb before finding mom and heading back for showers and breakfast. We headed out to Hollywood Studios for a few hours, with lunch at Mama Melrose. I headed back to the room for a bath and a nap, and decided to relax and rest. I chatted with an aunt and sister, and watched crappy tv. Being bored helped to slow everything down so I could focus on what I was about to do.

Sleep came surprisingly easy, but nothing can really prepare you for a 2:40 am wake up call. I had everything lined up and ready to go, and I was at the bus stop by 3 am. Around 4 am I was able to meet up with other teammates who were running the half, and it was great to finally say hi in person. Talking to them kept me calm. Thanks, mates.

After a long walk from the pre-race area to the start line with 27,000 other runners, I was ready. I found myself doing some of the same ‘shake offs’ that I used to do before my swim races. They could have put a starting block in front of me, I would have used it. I was in the 4th wave of runners, and we were started off with fireworks. The first 5.5 miles felt great. But the run though MK was magical, and there were a TON of people cheering. The next 2.5 miles until mile 8 felt good, and after the half way point my mentality shifted from first half to second half.

Somewhere between miles 8 and 10, I started to hurt. I was hungry and felt a little dehydrated, so I used the Clif Bar stop and water stops to walk and try to regain my energy. Miles 10-12 were brutal. I think I cursed them with every word in the book. The course was flat until after mile 10, then there were two overpasses to climb. Those of us from central Illinois are not used to any kind of hills at all, so they were a bit of a struggle.

Thankfully, right before that second overpass, Team AllCheers was there to get my spirits back up. PERFECT place to cheer, thanks again mates!

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Once over the final overpass, Spaceship Earth loomed in the distance. Finally, a point in the distance that meant the end. The final 1.1 miles were amazing, running through future world in EPCOT and past a gospel choir to the finish where thousands were cheering loudly (and Journey’s Don’t Stop Believing on my IPod)… it made it worth it. The training, the dreadmill, sore muscles and knee pains, the fundraising,…worth it.

Later that afternoon was the official team meeting that most of the team was able to attend. I was so glad to finally, FINALLY meet everyone. Deb gave a great speech, and Mike, Michelle and the rest of the ‘buds’ got their much deserved recognition. Jamison made a CD with running music, picked from various people’s running list discussed on our chat board.

Deb gave us all an additional medal. But the most amazing moment was the final tally… of nearly $47 thousand dollars raised. The money raised goes to a great organization, and now those who suffer from this deadly disease will have the help they need to fight.

Dinner at Trails End was good, but the company was amazing. Mike and his wife Joelle, Julie, Deb…it was like we were all old friends. The bus to the main part of the complex to hop in Mike and Joelle’s car had a few other teammates to chat up. I was sad that the evening had to end, but many of them had to get ready for another early start for the full marathon. Mom and I headed back into the room to pack and get ready for our early 4 am wake up call.

Running is amazing, but the experiences that come along with running are what make it all worth it. I have met some amazing people, and I hope to run alongside all of them again.
Thank you to all of my Team AllEars mates who cheered, encouraged and kept me otherwise from going crazy. Thank you to all of you who donated to this amazing cause. This last year has been one amazing ride; I hope that 2011 is even better.


February 27, 2011

Team AllEars 2012 Live Show

LIVE Podcast, February 28, 2011

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Team AllEars® will be broadcasting LIVE on Monday, February 28 at 8 P.M. ET.

AllEars Founder Deb Wills, Team AllEars® Running Co-Captains Michelle Scribner-MacLean and Mike Scopa will be joined by team members Evelyn DeLuccia and Dominic Abram to talk about WDW's Marathon Weekend and to answer your calls.

Team AllEars


This broadcast will be heard LIVE on MouseWorldRadio and will be available later for download on AllEars. You can also join in our chat room:

http://www.allears.net/btp/liveshows.htm

Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend 2011 - Reflections

Team AllEars 2011
Team AllEars Logo

We made a commitment to participate in the January 2011 WDW Marathon Weekend. We trained, we got healthier, we raised awareness and funds in the first against breast cancer, we laughed, we cried, we were injured, we had triumphs and setbacks, we made new friends, found unexpected support, and we gave it our all.

We are Team AllEars Running with Purpose.

Here are final reflections of this amazing journey by Team AllEars members - Part 1!

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Melanie Camphouse and Julie Rogers

Ring, ring, ring.
Yes we are still ringing our cow bells…or is that ringing just in our heads?
The highlight of marathon weekend 2011 was being members of the first ever Team AllCheers.

We loved seeing the familiar pink logo of a Team AllEars member running towards us, but we never knew if we should take a photo, ring our bell or shout “go”!

The Colorado Sisters - Mel and Jules

Melanie Camphouse and Julie  Rogers

Melanie Camphouse and Julie  Rogers

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Steven Cantafio

I appreciated the friendliness and support of so many people who prior to January I barely knew. The Internet has changed the way people connect and I am awfully grateful to be joined by such wonderful people who share and believe in the Disney magic.

Many friends of mine didn’t understand how I could be traveling to Florida by myself not having known most of the people I would be meeting. I didn’t give it a second thought and was overwhelmed by the caring and support of everyone as I completed my first marathon!

Steven Cantafio

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Jamison Reynolds

I did the Dopey. I ran 42.4 miles in 3 days. I did what I NEVER thought I would EVER do... but that is not what I am most proud of. Running became a family affair that weekend. My two year old ran the 100 meter. My 5 year old ran the Mickey Mile. My wife ran the 5k with me and we ALL raised money for the fight against cancer. Being a member of Team Allears is one of the things that I am most proud of in my life. Through this amazing group of people I have made a positive improvement in my health, I got to share an amazing weekend with my family and I got to make a small dent in the fight against cancer. Bring on 2012!!!

Jamison Reynolds

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Heather Przystas

My race weekend experience wasn't what I wanted it to be - I felt like I hadn't completed what I'd come for, I wasn't feeling that "Disney Magic" at all. Except for one exception - being a member of Team AllEars. The people I met and got to call teammates that weekend are outstanding. Although I felt I had failed, my teammates would hear nothing of it. They boosted me, carried me... and they are the reason I look forward to next year with eagerness and excitement instead of trepidation. Count me in for next year. I can't wait. =)

Heather Przystas

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Michelle Scribner-MacLean

I was so proud and honored to have been co-captain of Team AllEars for a second year.

This is an amazing group of spirited, dedicated, focused, and kind individuals, who have all helped create an amazing community of Disney runners, determined to do what they can to help fight breast cancer. Our weekend was packed with wonderful meets and meals and I truly enjoyed meeting new team members and renewing old acquaintances. There is nothing quite like standing at the starting line at a Disney race with a group of like-minded and energetic friends.

One of my favorite memories of the weekend was running with my son, Liam, who was a member of Mini-Team AllEars and was participating in his first Disney race, the Buzz and Woody Friends 5K.

Crossing the finish line together and watching him get his first Disney "bling" was wonderful, but he was also afforded the opportunity to hear how his fundraising would make a difference and to be surrounded with some truly inspirational runners.

Michelle Scribner-MacLean

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Tom Troost

The best way to describe this was "Wow, what a rush."

I can't thank everyone enough for the support that Team AllEars provides to all the members during the training and build up to marathon weekend.

Being able to join a group that works hard to support a great cause like the Avon Walk, meet fantastic people, and top it all off with all of the great memories of the gatherings during marathon weekend was a wonderful opportunity. Oh, and we got to run a couple races, too!

Coaching, encouraging and cajoling my wife to join me for 2011 made it that much more fun. Looking forward to seeing everyone for Team 2012!

Tom and Molly Troost


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Michelle Cunningham

Wow – so I had no idea I still had any long race running in me after a few years off – but felt Team All Ears was a worthy opportunity and was compelled. I loved having the other Team Members support through out the year. The weekend itself was busy with me running around and trying new things – plus running the ½ Marathon then cheering on those in the Marathon race. I had dinner with friends at Kouzzina and really enjoyed that.

Our Team meet was the highlight though at Trails End. Meeting everyone and hearing their stories was just uplifting The Race itself was the best one I’ve ever run, and I think its cause I did not train or over train very much all year. It was great seeing Deb near the end as well to cheer me on the last mile. The cheering for those tough marathoners and Goofy runners on Sunday just made me realize wow, what a great group of people! thanks Team All Ears!

Michelle Cunningham

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Cailin and Josh Gidlewski

There are so many amazing things about WDW Marathon weekend but the most magical is being their with so many friends. The race, or races as it may be for some of the team, are not an independent entities. There are organized meets and so many chance meetings on the race course and in the parks in the days surrounding. Throughout the last 2 years we have been there to support each other through an amazing journey of fitness and fundraising and marathon weekend was where we all came together and celebrated the amazing accomplishments of each individual and the team as a whole. Go Team AllEars!

Cailin and Josh Gidlewski


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Helen Norlund

For me, the Marathon weekend was a turning point from beginning to end. I think just meeting Deb in person at the Belle Vue lounge and having her share with each and every one of us, especially those of us who were running for the first time, how proud she was of us and how she knew, just knew, that we would finish the race was truly a turning point for me.

I remember holding her Coast to Coast medal in my hand and thinking to myself, "I am going to have one just like this one!" and here I had not even run nor completed the first race yet. She looked me square in the eye and told me "you will finish this race because you have the passion, the drive and the determination to do this and it shows" - that really was the kick in the pants I needed to do this.

The other great moment was seeing Barrie and Stephanie at Mile 6 after coming through the Castle. I could hear Stephanie shouting for all she was worth "Hey, there is another All Ears....Go Helen, Go Helen, Go Helen" just totally made my day.

Helen Norlund

Helen Norlund

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February 25, 2011

Team AllEars Profile: Chris

by Team AllEars Member Chris Mushrush

If someone would have asked me in January of 2010 that I would run a half marathon a year later, I would have laughed in their face and questioned their sanity. Even when I was “in shape” back in the Stone Age when I was an athlete in high school and as a cadet at the U.S. Air Force Academy, I struggled mightily on anything more than 400 yards.

I found myself at 37 years of age, grossly overweight, and fairly sedentary. Add to that a family history (both sides of the family) with heart disease and…yeah, it’s easy to see why I thought that there was no way I’d ever do a long distance run.

In the back of my mind, though, I remembered hearing a person by the name of Michelle Scribner-MacLean appear on an episode of the WDW Today podcast, and, in passing, mentioned something about “Team AllEars”. For some reason, that random episode stuck with me, even though I really didn’t know much about the Team (it may have been the “Boom Boom Pow” playing in the background during part of the episode…that was the theme song for the 2010 Team).

The 2010 Marathon weekend came and went, and I read the accounts via Twitter and Facebook of some of the experiences with the weather. I then listened to an episode of Gordon Harvey’s Running To Disney Podcast, where he played call-ins about the race. About 15 minutes in,

I hear Holly Beck Aulen report about being a member of Team AllEars and doing the Dopey race. Then I heard a very inspirational report from Byron Hall, who completed his first half. A couple of race reports later, I hear Jorge Romero talk about joining the Team and his training for his first half. I distinctly remember playing back several of these race reports to listen to all that was being said. Some of these people sounded kind of like me, and they were able to do it.

While I have always halfheartedly had running a marathon on my bucket list, I never put any thought whatsoever to actually make a move towards accomplishing that. Hearing the reports coming in from the 2010 Marathon Weekend, however, got me thinking that perhaps doing something like this could be within my reach.

After letting it sit on the back burner for a few weeks, the idea of participating in a race started creeping back into my mind, and, in late March, I decided to hop over to the high school track in my back yard and see what one mile felt like after an 18 year hiatus. I walked almost all of it, but I was under the 16:00 pace that Disney requires you have for their races.

Soon afterward, I noticed that Michelle had posted something online about a live call-in event for Team AllEars. Curiosity got the better of me, and I contacted her about following the team and seeing what needed to be done to be a part of the 2012 team (I had assumed that the 2011 team had already been assembled, and I had no intention of running this year). She informed me that the team was just getting set up and that there was plenty of room if I wanted to be a part of the team. I decided to listen to the call-in show before making a decision.

Deb Wills started off the show with the reason the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer was so important to her – up to this point, I never realized that she is a breast cancer survivor. The story of her battle, her beating the odds, and her perseverance to do whatever she could to help out hit me like the proverbial ton of bricks. While nobody on my side of the family has ever had to experience breast cancer, both sides of my wife’s family has done so, and both went through the treatments in the past few years. I made the decision to sign up before I could second-guess myself.

And so I became a member of Team AllEars 2011.

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I was definitely nervous – partially about being a new runner in the online presence of some darn good athletes. My fears were allayed in no time as the veteran runners of team took plenty of time helping the multitude of new runners. After picking out a training regimen, I started working on getting some weight off and getting some miles in. I noticed several surprised glances and restrained laughs from many people when I told them I was going to try to run my first half marathon.

I had about 30 weeks before the race, and I knew I was going to need nearly all of them for training. 13.1 miles seemed such a long distance, and I was barely able to do 2. Still, as suggested by most everyone, I slowly increased the mileage by ½ to 1 mile a week until I got to 6 miles. The weight was starting to come off (I was down about 17 pounds after about 3 months), and the pace was starting to come down.

It was about this time-frame that I started the fund-raising efforts for the Team. Initially, I wanted my goal to be $1,000 (never mind the fact that money was very tight across the nation). I revised my lofty goal to $500 after having raised $70 with only 3 months to go. Still, as a member of the team (Jamison) said, every dollar is 1 dollar more than we had before! As I made it to double-digits in training, I started to get more confident in finishing the race and less confident in making the fund-raising goal.

Then came the month of December.

In the last month of fund-raising, the outpouring of support reached a level that, to this day, still leaves me speechless. Donations came in from places that I never imagined! From a former student to our daycare provider; from breast cancer survivors to a childhood friend currently battling her own disease; from the Postmaster of my small hometown to a fantastic group of online freaks who used to hang out and have fun at the same boards; from colleagues at work to hometown friends; and from family members to a family I met but one time in passing in the Disney World parks last June, the contributions totaled well over the $500 goal.

The confidences again switched…due in part to weather and in part to sickness 2 weeks before the race, I was really getting nervous about successfully completing the half. Though I had run 13 miles once before (in November), the longest run I could complete in the month prior to the race was 11 miles (with significant leg cramping at the end), and I was still a bit weak as Marathon Week arrived.

My wife, Sheri, and I flew down on Thursday and hit the Expo to get all the race materials. It was about this time that the realization hit me that I was actually going to try doing this.

The first major highlight of the weekend was the first Team meet-up at YeeHaw Bob over at the Port Orleans Riverside resort. There, I finally got to meet people I have known online for months actually in-person for the first time. It was fitting that the first people we saw were Michelle and Mike – the team Captains. We sat with Stephanie and her friend, Debbie that evening. I was beyond ecstatic when Deb arrived and went around to all the tables – I finally got to meet this amazing woman who has impacted the lives of so many people on multiple fronts. While my wife might argue that seeing me try to do YMCA in front of everyone was the highlight of the night (I tried staying off to the side of the stage, but I got pushed to the very middle next to Mike, who stands a good 6-8 inches taller than me), my highlight most definitely was meeting Deb.

Friday was to be a relatively slow day for us, and I tried to get to sleep by 10 pm for the 2:45 wake-up call. Expecting to get absolutely no sleep due to nerves, I managed a good 3+ hours of fairly restful sleep. The alarm went off, and I was out the door by 3:00. As I walked to the buses at Port Orleans French Quarter, I met up with a woman also preparing for the race. She had somewhat of a resemblance to another Team AllEars member, so I asked her if she was on the Team. She wasn’t, but she knew exactly what the Team was and was excited for what we were doing. THAT was an awesome way to start off the day.

The bus got me to the Epcot lot around 3:30, and I mulled around and took in the sights and sounds of all that was going on in the staging area. As I talked with some of the Team members before the group picture, I could feel the electricity and the excitement all around me.

I took the opportunity to add the names of my wife’s cousin and aunt to Shawn and Jodie Moffett’s banner, which had dozens of names of people we were running on behalf of. As we waited, we mingled with the WDW Radio’s running team (and I even got to meet Beci Mahnken that morning!). After the pictures and motivational pep talk from Deb, we all started to head out for the long walk to the corrals.

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Several of us were assigned to Corral F (Julie, Melanie, Erwin, Heather, Mike, Shawn, and me), so we all made the 20 minute walk together, and we all got to know each other better during this time. Since I was running with another friend, we wished each other good luck when we reached the Corral and parted ways. Once I found my friend, we made our way up the Corral to find the rest of the Team, but I couldn’t find them.

I’ve seen videos of the start of the race, but I cannot put the actual experience into words. The characters…the jets of flame…the fireworks all around us…it was jaw-dropping!!! We crossed the start line, and my friend, Maureen, let me dictate the pace. I had been training for a 14:00-14:30 pace, with a 3:00/1:00 run/walk ratio. This pace and ratio worked out really well for the area I was in; since it was crowded, we wouldn’t be able to run much faster without doing a lot of weaving around early on, but we weren’t being passed by everyone.

A little over a half-mile in, I see Team members (and sisters) Melanie and Julie pass us by, which meant I went past the group in the Corral before the start! A little ways past the 1 Mile marker, the Team AllCheers squad had a spot set up, and they were absolutely insane!!! They were clapping, ringing those cowbells, calling out people by name…AWESOME! I gave many in the group a “running five” as we went by and set in for the rest of the run to the Magic Kingdom.

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The pace was pretty much right on target for the first few miles, and the excitement progressively ratcheted up as we approached the Ticket & Transportation Center. Disney had entertainment set up every so often to keep the motivation up, and the crowds swelled as we got closer to the Magic Kingdom. I made a mistake as we went under the water bridge near the Contemporary resort…as I ran, I was hitting the pavement really hard instead of taking smaller, lighter steps, and, at around the 5 Mile marker (before entering Magic Kingdom), my right quad started getting pretty sore. I was dealing with that as we entered Town Square, so I was a bit distracted, until the turn onto Main Street, USA towards the Hub.

The spectators were packed on the road to our left, and they were having a ball cheering for everyone! As we made it to the hub, I started looking for the Team AllCheers spot where Sheri would be at. I looked but couldn’t find her, so I found who I thought was Allears.net staff member Barrie Brewer and stopped momentarily for a “memorable” introduction (“Are you Barrie? Good! I’m Chris…do you know where my wife’s at???”) I found Sheri near the bridge to Tomorrowland, and we talked for a minute and got a couple of pictures. Stephanie was just a few feet away, so I got to wave to her as we passed by. The fascination that goes with running through the Magic Kingdom allowed me to temporarily forget about my ever-throbbing quadriceps…I even had goosebumps as the trumpeters heralded my arrival to pass through Cinderella Castle.

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I passed another team member in Frontierland, Tom, who, while not moving at the moment, gave the thumbs-up that he and his wife, Molly, were doing fine. Maureen and I headed off-stage, and, with the excitement of the Magic Kingdom behind us, the quad pain made itself known again.

At the halfway point, I pulled out my phone to check my pace and noticed that my text inbox was nearly full. I started deleting texts during one of my walking intervals when I heard someone nearby hollering at me to “put the phone away and get running!!!” Tom and Molly had to pass me at that very instant when I had the phone out (I had the phone out for less than 10 minutes the entire race). That ended up becoming a running joke between us the rest of the weekend (no pun intended).

A little before the 7 mile mark, we caught back up with Melanie and Julie, and we chatted for a brief moment. Some walking stretches seemed to help my quad a little, so we bumped up the pace a bit, and we did mile 8 at a 14:20 pace and mile 9 at a 14:32 pace – my 2 fastest miles. The quad then started tightening up a bit again, and the pace slowed considerably, with the throbbing combined with a bottleneck where the course was reduced to 1 lane of traffic.

Much of the 11th mile consists of the off-ramp from World Drive to Epcot Center Drive. I heard horror stories about this one, so we took it slow until I thought we were done, and then we picked it back up. The only problem was that we were not quite half-way up the incline yet. With the vast majority of the crowd walking now, we try pushing it a bit and weaving around a little; that decision was a costly one as my left calf tightened up. We immediately slowed down in the hopes that I could avoid a full-blown cramp.

Just past the 11 mile marker was the Team AllCheers squad, still out there and still as loud as ever. Helen Norlund’s husband was catching as many Team members for a picture and got a good one of Maureen and me. Though Deb wasn’t running the half, she had to have exerted just as much energy from all the constant cheering and jumping…that was a great sight to see at this point. I could tell that many of the other runners around us were feeding off of the enthusiasm from the cheering squad.

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With only 1.5 miles to go, it seemed like this was in the bag. One of my Corral F Team members, Heather, caught up with me, and we talked a bit as we neared the 12 mile marker. At mile 12, though, the left quad tightened up on me. I wished Heather good luck for the last mile and started figuring out how to finish with both quads and a calf hurting. I threw out the 3:1 run:walk interval and switched to a “run when you can and then walk for a minute” strategy.

When we made the turn at the tree in Epcot, the realization hit me that this was actually going to happen. I was hobbling, but I knew I could crawl the last 600 yards if need be. Just before the 13 mile marker we saw Maureen’s family, and we waved with big smiles on our faces. Sheri was about 150 yards from the finish line, so we looked for her and gave even bigger smiles as we passed her. There it was…THE FINISH LINE!!!! We picked up the pace a bit…and both quads and the left calf seized up on me (ARGH)! I was not going to walk across the finish line, so I bit my lip and almost hopped across.

The moments that followed were almost surreal. I remember hugging Maureen and talking to the volunteer who presented me with the medal. I also remember staring at the medal for several minutes after she placed it around my neck. Other than that, well, it was pretty much a blur. I caught up with Tom and Molly as well as another Team Member, Julie Olson, who were all waiting for transportation back to the resort.


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I thought the day could not get any better than it already was; I could not have been more wrong on that prediction. Later on in the day during the Team AllEars meet-up, I got to talk to a bunch of the members and have a good time with them. My only real regret I have from the weekend was that I was unable to meet all of the Team. There were several that I knew were there, but there just wasn’t enough time to talk to all of them.

As the main meet started, we got to hear some heart-felt speeches from Deb, Michelle, Mike, and other coordinators of the team. When it came time for the reveal of the total amount raised at that time, Deb gave us one number at a time. At the #?6,667 reveal, I was really happy in my assumption that we broke $35,000…until I saw that the hidden number was not a 3…it was a 4!!! Very few eyes were dry at that point, and I saw Mike, without a word, simply put his arm around Michelle for a well-deserved congratulatory hug.

Deb surprised us all with special “Team AllEars” medals, and I honestly am just as proud of that medal as I am of the one signifying the completion of the half. Probably one of the greatest moments came on Sunday when we were on a bus and sitting next to a couple of families who were talking about the distance events. They saw my medals and recognized the one in the shape of Donald. When they saw the Team AllEars one, though, one of the women’s faces perked up and asked if I was a member of the Team. When I smiled and answered in the affirmative, she started talking excitedly to everyone else about Deb, her site, and our team and what we were doing this weekend. The recognition of our Team is out there, and I am as proud as one can be to have the honor of being a part of this group of people.

Marathon Weekend will forever be etched in my memory. I ran for myself for the experience. I ran for my family so that I may start down the path to a healthier lifestyle and be around for them for a long time. I ran for Deb. I ran for Cathy Carney and for Mary Bargmann. I ran for friends and for many, many others who have battled or are battling breast cancer. And, yes, I hope to continuing running for all these people for years to come.

If anyone is considering running their first distance event and/or becoming part of the team but unsure if they can do it, please use this as a springboard to do it; if I can do it, anyone can!

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February 22, 2011

Team AllEars Profile: Julie's Story - 13.1 Meets 30: My First Half-Marathon

by Team AllEars Member Julie Loiselle

January 8th haunted me and excited me. But it all started in April, nine months before. I read the AllEars Newsletter about the call for Team AllEars members for WDW Marathon Weekend. Even though I never considered myself a runner, the challenge of it excited me and knowing I’d have a lot of support really enticed me to enter. And the piece that put it over the top: it was in my favorite place, Disney. Could I do the 13.1 miles? Why not? Others had.

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Our Team AllEars commitment has two parts: the running and the reason.

We ran and trained on our own then came together online to motivate and support each other. I set my playlist, grabbed my hat and had to dig deep each training run. One. Foot. At. A. Time. Even though running a race was on my Bucket List, I was not a runner until I started this journey. Now I consider myself a runner. I had always frequented the gym but with no goal. This was tangible, measurable and an image I could hold onto: crossing that finish line!

The reason we all came together was to fight breast cancer with Deb Wills at our helm. All of us took it to heart. For me it was close to home. This summer my mother in law celebrated being 5 years breast cancer free. My mom’s best friend wasn’t so lucky many years ago. Joan found a lump and was too afraid to get it checked out. By the time she was diagnosed, it was too late. I have wonderful memories of her and those memories drive me to travel and to further my education. My husband’s Nana also was fortunate to beat cancer the first time, but a second round, 20 years later, was too strong. To be able to give back to these three women, as well as others, pushed me beyond any mental or physical barrier I had.

I had all these reasons to run: my Bucket List, these women, and my 30th birthday the week of the race. But my IT band gave me a darn good reason to consider not running. I had problems a few years ago with my IT band, the muscle that runs from the outside of the hip connecting just below the outside of the knee. My goal became to finish the 13.1 miles and finish the race healthy. I spent a few hours researching training plans and advice for first-timers, and consulted a trainer at my gym.

After I reached the 6 mile mark, I registered for the race. “I made it half way and could go the rest of the way” was my thinking. A little more than a month after I registered, I reached 10 miles for the first time. It was an unbelievable run. The sun warmed the morning and brought out all the furry friends to greet me as I lapped the neighborhoods. Neighbors used to seeing me were waving at me. I felt what everyone talked about in the blogs: my body was in a rhythm and it was doing its thing. I had a mile left when I felt that thing I was dreading: the pang of pain in my left hip.

I kept going at my pace, not paying the pain any attention. After my cool down routine my IT band became tight and it hurt to flex. Cautiously, I took a week off from running, but I still used the elliptical and the bike. On my next scheduled run I could not run longer than 1 minute. One minute! I had logged 2 hours and 20 minutes two weeks ago and now I couldn’t make my feet carry me any farther than 1 minute. Failure, that’s all I could think. I walked the 8 mile route which was possibly the stupidest thing I’ve ever done. I had trouble walking now. Pain shot up my leg.

It was July; I had 6 months to rehab and build up my miles. I could do it, but at what cost? The month of August was spent stretching, icing and doing hip strengtheners. I biked and hit the elliptical harder to keep up my cardio. Each time a nice morning or beautiful evening graced the sky, I told myself I would get out running soon. It was not over until I crossed the finish line!

My training schedule went through a huge makeover. Jeff Galloway’s walk-run program became my program but with smaller mileage increments. Building up the distance the second time took twice as long. By November, I ran only once a week and used the elliptical for the other 2 runs to reduce the strain on my newly healed IT band. Before the race I had only run 11 miles, never the 13 miles of the race.

Frustrated and angry I turned to music to motivate me through the second training. Did you know that Disney has a handful of songs about working? “Whistle while you work”, “Hi-ho”, “Happy Working Song”, “Spoonful of Sugar” and the next song is what became my theme song: “Go the distance” from Hercules. I knew that every mile in training would be worth my while for the race (I’m paraphrasing from the song). My 3 inspirational women and countless more had gone through so much and truly inspired me to kick up my efforts fundraising and training.

Jump ahead to the month before the race: I cut back to only using the elliptical to save my IT band, I made my packing lists, I enlisted my husband, Jeff, and friends Jess & Jon, for Team AllCheers, and I made my final playlist. “Go the Distance” was my lead song, my halfway song and my last song.

We arrived for the Saturday race on Wednesday. I had two full days to relax. Yeah, right. I was getting up early in preparation for the event and constantly listening to my body. Questioning: was I thirsty, hungry, did my leg hurt, should I take my allergy medicine, are the alarms set, will Jeff, Jon & Jess get up in time to see me go by, what time should I go to the Team meets, and it went on and on. There was no relaxing before the race, but I did do 2 things that made me very happy. I met my team members in person and I bought KT tape.
It was so exciting to see people I only knew electronically. Stephanie’s voice was so familiar to me and her worries mirrored my own on the last team call. As soon as I met her, I felt like I belonged. Silly, huh? To be talking and typing to so many people for months, but not feeling the “team” until then? Then I met all the other wonderful people I was dying to see, Deb, Mike, Michelle, Melanie and Julie, Mike Paxton, Jamison, Helen & Helen, Brad G, and that is only naming the ones I can think of as I write this. EVERYONE made me feel part of the cause and a valued member.

KT tape & Michelle are my new favorite things. I am convinced that if Michelle had not taped my leg before the race, then I would not have been able to finish. The morning of the race my hip was tight. Not good. After my warm up I headed off in the wee hours to meet the team. I should note here that my cheerleaders Jeff, Jess & Jon, put up with me getting up early the past 2 mornings in prep for the race. Kudos to them!

My husband found Google Latitude, an application for the Driod that would broadcast my position during the race. Jeff, Jess, and Jon would all see me real time during the race. I felt a little pressure from it, but also thought that after all the support my family and friends gave that I should share this with them too. My parents, family members, friends and survivor mother-in-law all signed up to watch too.

At the race start I stretched and tried to stay as warm as possible. Even though I am a New Englander, I hate the cold and it crept into my bones. My corral moved to the front and excitement and doubt filled me. As flames of fire lit over the start banner, I gave up on my doubt. I would finish the race. Cue “Go the Distance” cue stop watch, off I went!

It was the most magical morning I have ever experienced. The cheerers, the characters, the sunrise over Florida. I will never pass under the Magic Kingdom toll archway again without thinking about my first race.

One of my fears would be that everything would happen so quickly and I wouldn’t be able to absorb it all. So my trusty camera came with me every step of the way. I videoed and took tons of pictures, including my corral start. The most important reason I had my camera was so I could video my run down Main Street. I didn’t care where I was in the walk-run split. When the time came I would run down with my legs pumping.

Here is where I cried. Not at the mass of people cheering or ay my first glimpse of the castle. I cried when I saw Team AllCheers members at the walkway just before the bridge to Tomorrowland. Bells clanged, cheers went up and I saw Stephanie there, holding our sign. I was bursting with the emotion of the moment. I had made it through my training - twice! – and fought my doubt and injury to be right here, right now, to give everything I could. This moment is what I will cherish the most.

The tough battle would come once I left the Magic Kingdom. I maintained my 13 minute per mile pace until mile 8. When I slowed to a walk to take a picture of that mile marker I felt my hip and my knee scream out, “No more!”. I texted my husband one word “pain”. He said he could tell something was the matter via Google Latitude, since I slowed down so much. By mile 9 I knew I was walking the rest. The good news was I had 2 more cheerleading locations to go – and I had a ton of time on the clock. Making use of the time I stopped frequently for stretching and for BioFreeze.

I heard “Go the distance” for a third time and I was only at mile 10, not 13. In the pictures from the event photographers you can see how pissed I am, head down, jaw set and a frown pulled at my mouth. I used up my sunny, motivational thoughts and could only focus on crossing the finish line. That was when I could stop, not now. My husband was checking on me via text “where are you, you can do it, are you on the off ramps ye, charge the finish!” It surprised me then and even now how his texts were like bits of gold.

The second of the AllCheers stops was at mile 11.5 with Deb and company. I blew by them, walking much quicker than I ever had in my life, a whopping 14.30min/mile! My short goal was my husband, Jess & Jon at the top of the last hill. As I came up, there they were, clanging the bells, cheering and I knew I was only 1.1mi away from the finish. I cried, I waved and I blew a kiss but didn’t stop for a hug. If I did stop I wasn’t going to start moving again. They gave me the same burst of emotion and energy that the Main Street peeps did. I could do this, I would finish!

“We are the champions” sang the gospel choir as I came around the bend. Then viola! The finish line was there. I was going to cross this baby! I started singing with the choir and kicked up my feet to walk a little faster. I was going to do it! Out of the corner of my eye I saw Goofy at the finish line. Giving him a high five at the end was icing on the cake.

Afterwards with ice bags taped to my leg and the finisher’s medal around my neck, I hugged my husband and friends. I am damn glad I have family and friends to motivate me and support me, and a circle of supportive teammates who fought the same fight. As we were ready to leave, Jeff gave me the 40th Anniversary Duffy Bear to celebrate 13.1 miles and my 30th birthday. I made only one character photo stop. I guess my husband and I were channeling each other!

In memory of: My Auntie & Jeff’s Nana and in honor of Jeff’s mom. Three of the strongest fighters I know.

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February 20, 2011

Team AllEars Profile: Julia's Story

By Team AllEars Member --Julia Mascardo

Near the end of May 2010, I heard some words that no pregnant woman really wants to hear: emergency c-section. The baby was fine, but I was a mess: gestational diabetes, blood pressure spikes and elevated protein levels from preeclampsia, edema, and the list went on. After complications in the c-section itself, I was put on medication that would hopefully prevent me from having seizures. If I had a seizure in the first 24 hours, I would have them for the rest of my life. Thankfully, everything came together and within a few days, I was at home with my little girl.

My husband had been training for the half marathon with Team AllEars for a few months at this point (probably to get out of the house away from my pregnancy complaints!), and I was amazed and inspired by his progress. I knew that there was no way that I would be able to run a half marathon in 7 months, especially given that I had never been a runner in my life, but the 5K sounded fun and a great way to show that I could go from death bed to doing something healthy in less than a year.

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Once I got the all-clear from the doctor, training began in earnest with a couch-to-5K plan. With the inspiration of awesome teammates and my personal goal (to finish the race), I made huge steps forward. Going down for the race weekend was incredible. Everywhere I went, I saw people from the team. It was one giant extended family. My race was first, and although the 5K is closed to spectators for 90% of the race, seeing the whole team right as I came out of Epcot was wonderful. It also helped to run into team members in the corral before the race. There’s something great about having someone who has “been there, done that” able to help calm the nerves of us newbies!

That afternoon was my more-or-less crawling kid’s diaper dash. The next day was cheering my husband and more team members in the half marathon. Who thought that standing in a median strip at painfully early in the morning could be so much fun? Next, there was a morning of cheering for the full marathon (and Goofy and Dopey) runners from the castle hub. Finally, a team breakfast with lots of stories and tears.

Unless you’ve been through it, there isn’t any way to describe how exceptional the experience is when you are part of such an amazing team. And although life schedules won’t permit us to be there for 2012, you can bet that I’ll be one of the virtual cheerleaders for the team. If you’re on the fence about doing something like this, maybe because (like me), you don’t really think you’re a runner, go for it! You’d be amazed what you can do with such a supportive group. Need one more reason? Remember, this is also good work for a great cause, too!

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February 18, 2011

Team AllEars Profile: Stephanie's Story

by Team AllEars member Stephanie Mathias

As soon as I saw Team AllCheers on Facebook, I knew I had to be part of that. I had met Deb Wills, the founder of AllEars, the co-captains of Team All Ears, and a lot of the team members during the many Disney meets I had attended. So along with supporting a good cause, I knew I would have a good time.

In September I turned 60 and being the huge Disney fanatic that I am, I spent it bringing the Disney Magic home from Barcelona across the Atlantic to Florida. The internet was spotty at best on the ship, but I had to have access on the day that my friend Myrna had her breast cancer surgery. She came through with flying colors and I relaxed for the rest of my vacation.

However, when I returned home it wasn’t such good news for some of my friends. My friend Donna’s breast cancer had spread to her thyroid. My friend MJ had been recently diagnosed and was going in for a double mastectomy. And then there was Jess. Dear sweet Jess, wonderful wife to John and mother to three of the best sons. Jess is only 37 years old. Same age as my daughter. I have watched her boys grow up. Jess was diagnosed seven years ago with stage four breast cancer. When I left on my cruise it had spread to her brain and spine. When I came home it had spread to both lungs. I felt so helpless. I knew I had to do something. I went on the Run Disney site and signed up for the 5K. Then I emailed Michelle at Team AllEars and asked if I could be part of the Team. I would complete the 5K in Jess’s honor.

I was so happy they said yes. As I mentioned, I’m 60 years old and to say that I’m out of shape is being kind, but I was determined to walk/jog the 5K and to finish within the 16 minute mile so I could get my medal. My bling. The trainers at the gym called me Marathon Woman. I got my Couch to 5K app for the iPhone and away I went.

I really wish I could put into words the feeling of excitement when I got down to Disney in January. Jess’s Aunt Debbie made the journey to cheer me on. The excitement started as we went to the Wide World of Sports to pick up my bib and race packet. Then we met at Riverside for a team dinner and we were given Team AllEars banners and cowbells. Absolutely awesome.

Friday morning (I really didn’t have any proof that the clock passed 4:00 twice in a day until then) we were up and at EPCOT by 5:30 am. The spirit of the team was electrifying. At dinner the night before, Brad told me to have fun. “Do you know the difference between the medal for the first runner and the last runner?” Nope. “That’s cause there is none. Enjoy yourself.” Words I ran by. I stopped and had my picture taken with Mulan. I stopped to take pictures of Geppetto. Pictures of Chip and Dale. Pictures of Snow White and Dopey.

Another thing I need to tell you about me. I was raised during the Jackie Kennedy era, when she buried her husband President John F. Kennedy and didn’t shed a tear. I marched during the Civil Rights movement. Even when you got beat you could never shed a tear. I don’t cry. My friend and co-captain Mike Scopa wrote a column a little while ago about Mousetears. Something happens at Disney that just makes it okay to weep. Right around Canada I ran into a lady named Barb. She said you’re running for someone aren’t you? I told her about Jess and I started to weep. “I can’t get picked up by the sweep bus. I must get my finisher medal.” Barb assured me the sweep bus was way behind us. She told me she was going to get her medal and on we went.

As we came around Spaceship Earth I heard the cowbells. That was my team!!!! I knew my team had waited for me even though I was the last team member coming across the finish line. I was so happy to see them I almost forgot to cross the finish line!!!

During the team dinner at Trails End Deb Wills did the big reveal (at that time we had raised $46,677). Then Deb and the captains gave everyone a Team AllEars Running With Purpose medal. Deb also gave Debbie one to give to her niece Jess. I know that I shed more Mousetears that weekend than I have shed in my entire adult life. I can’t begin to relay the joy and inspiration each team member shared. It was awesome.

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Debbie and I came home and we just couldn’t wait to see Jess and give her the medal. She really loved it. Two weeks later her husband hung it on her casket during her viewing.

I’ve already booked my room for marathon weekend 2012. I will be running... with purpose again. I can’t wait.

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October 4, 2010

WDW’s Inaugural Wine & Dine Half Marathon: A Review

As I write this I am less than 24 hours removed from Walt Disney World’s Inaugural Wine & Dine Half Marathon so it makes sense to organize my thoughts while the memory is still fresh.

One thing for sure…I need to remember to turn my Garmin watch off the next time I run a race. According to my watch I did 209.69 miles in 4:52:23…which means my pace was 1:23 min/mile and my best pace was 00:06 min/mile. Those would be PRs in anyone’s book.

Pre-Race:

The race was to begin at ESPN’s World of Sports and for the most part everything was run fairly well. The first thing runners look for before a race is the portable toilets and there were plenty.

There was music playing and entertainment and water for runners to hydrate with before the race and the atmosphere was very good.

The bag check line had me concerned. I had checked my bag early but a lot of the runners had waited for a while and I thought the race start would be delayed because we would to wait for everyone to check their bags…but that was not the case.

Not being a nighttime runner, I dearly wanted the race to start off on time.

The corral wait was probably the best I’ve experienced in all the WDW Half Marathons I’ve run so thumbs up to that.

The Race:

This was a new Half Marathon race course and it proved to be very challenging…or maybe since I had run a Half Marathon the week before made it challenging…and of course the start time.

Anyway, the best I can say about the course was that the boring part was early as we ran to Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park. One of the highlights of the course was as we entered the park through what can be best described as a tusk corridor. There were gigantic tusks lined up on both sides of the runner’s path and they were lit up in orange and it was very surreal.

Running through DAK is a challenge in the daylight and at night it’s even more difficult, especially for those of us who have a history of ankle injuries running in a race. Thus this part of the course slowed a lot of people down. For all intents and purposes the course lighting in the park was barely passable. In checking my splits I noticed my pace in DAK was my slowest of the night, which I expected.

The course area just before we entered Disney’s Hollywood Studios was not lit at all and I heard several comments by some disgruntled runners about this. I would say we are talking about 150 yards where everyone hoped and prayed they would not step on anything that would lead to a disaster.

The path through DHS was odd as we did lots of backstage routes. However another highlight of this night was that the runners were treated to the Osborne Lights, or what had been put up so far. I felt a lift when I saw the bright lights…thank you to whomever made that decision.

One thing I noticed at this point in the race was that the mile markers began to slip. My watch began to hit the next mile points several minutes before the mile markers.

The finish line was just before you get to the International Gateway turnstiles. I managed to call on some stored energy to sprint across the finish line.

Post-Race:

The area following the finish line was a bit congested. The runners had to go into what many people call the Millennium Village building to get their bags…more disgruntled runners. We’re all tired and hungry and we are packed in like sardines.

After Finish Party:

I have been going to Walt Disney World since 1975 and I have never seen EPCOT crowded as it was at this party.

“How crowded?” you ask. Well it was so crowded that every restroom I passed in World Showcase had a line that stretched out at least 30 feet. It could have been Christmas.

More disgruntled runners as many of us were not in a physical or mental state to wait 45 minutes to use our vouchers that came with our race packet…besides, it took so long to get our bags that if we were lucky we would get 90 minutes of the party in before calling it a night.

Summary

So here are some points I want to make around this evening and I have suggestions for those areas in which you might say I think need suggestions.

• This is a half marathon course that is probably best for first time marathoners because frankly it is not conducive to speed and putting in a Personal Record (PR) would be challenging. If it’s your first half then it IS a PR for you.

• There needs to be better lighting in several areas and specifically closer to the ground, especially to highlight those uneven areas.

• While running in the parks there is virtually no room to run so I would like to see the course take the runners through the widest streets in the park and keep us from the more narrow areas.

• The pathway from the Studios to the finish is quite narrow in spots. If there is an alternate way to get the runners from the Studios to EPCOT I would go for it.

• I really feel that any race that ends in EPCOT should end in the parking lot as does the WDW Half and Full Marathons and the Princess Half Marathons. There is much more room and it allows the runners breathing room after logging those miles.

• If this race stays as is next year there should be some race officials at the bag pickup to regulate how many runners enter the building at once. It will make everyone happy.

• The After Finish Party was packed and runners were on the short end of the stick to get to the kiosks because of the lines. If there is any way a fastpass line for runners could be incorporated, it would be quite welcomed.

Although I may sound critical I am just here giving my thoughts while fresh in my mind.

For me the course was interesting and I knew beforehand I would not put in a good time…in fact of the four half marathons I have run this year this one was my third slowest.

I attribute this to the time of the start, being a nighttime race with darkened areas, many narrow areas which limits your running strategy, and last but not least, the fact that I had run a half the week before and my body really wasn’t ready to do it again.

Ken Potrock, Senior Vice President of Disney Sports Attractions and his entire staff need to be commended for their efforts in pulling off this inaugural event. It was by no means an easy task to do with all the coordination required, not to mention the fact that it is a nighttime marathon. To his credit, Potrock also ran the race, which is a great way for him to see what worked, what didn’t and what needs to be tweaked.

I also want to thank everyone who made an effort to say “Hi” to me during the race. It’s awesome for me to meet so many people who I had never met before. I hope all of you had a great race and are enjoying your medals.

By the way…talk about heavy metal


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September 28, 2010

A Couple of Entrees for Wine and Dine Half Marathon at Walt Disney World

This Oct. 2nd the Walt Disney World Endurance Series will hold its inaugural Wine & Dine Half Marathon. This race will take participants from the ESPN World of Sports Complex to Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park, through Disney’s Hollywood Studios, along the path to Disney’s Beach and Yacht Club complex and Stormalong Bay, before the finish at EPCOT.

The course is not new as it’s somewhat close to what has been used in past races such as Race for the Taste and others but what is unusual for this race is the combination of length and time of the start.

For the majority of the participants, this may be their first half marathon with a 10 P.M. start. That’s right! We’re talking 10 P.M.

So let’s take a look at the challenges a 10 P.M. start time presents to runners who normally look at an early morning race start for most races, especially half-marathons in Florida.

The most obvious issue is how a runner’s routine gets thrown off track by this start time. When we talk of a runner’s routine we refer to such things as training schedule 72 hours prior to race start, diet and eating schedule, activity schedule, and most importantly how to rest before the big race.

For those who have participated in WDW sponsored races in the past the ritual is well ingrained in their minds. Usually the last run for the big race is no closer than 48 hours. Eating is easy…most runners prefer to eat their last substantial meal within 12 hours of start time, although maintaining a high level of hydration at all times. Most runners like to run “light” and worry about eating post race.

Activity schedules for runners are pretty standard; the day before a bug race requires most runners to take it easy on their legs and feet and not overdo it. Rest is pretty simple; go to bed early and get a good night’s sleep.

One thing that works best for early morning starts is that with a good night’s rest runners are refreshed and ready to call upon their bodies for energy when the gun sounds. A well-rested body is ideal for a long race.

Now all that is well and good for that typical morning starts...but what about a 10 P.M. start?

Well that is what is facing my Team AllEars Co-Captain Michelle Scribner-MacLean and I as we approach this, our first nighttime half marathon.

For what it’s worth Michelle and I would like to share with everyone what we feel will work best for us starting a few days before the race and we will cover the issues of training, eating, activities, and resting before the race.

First up is Michelle:

Training

I was very pleased with my summer training routine, which included running, biking, and a little bit of swimming. My distances were increasing and I got more and more confident, until I found out the hard way that I was missing something important: strength training. My iliotibial band (lovingly known as the IT band for most of us) started acting up. I was running, sure…but I wasn’t working on getting all the muscles in my legs stronger. This resulted in knee pain and, eventually, a trip to an orthopedist. Now, my physical therapist and I have become good buddies. I had to cut back on the running, work on stretching and strengthening my legs, and gradually build up my distance again.

I’ll be running smarter for the Wine and Dine, remembering to stretch and adjust my pace, as needed, for the long distance. I’ll also be tapering my running a week before the race, so that I’m as rested as I can be.

Because I’ve worked so hard to build back up, I am going to be very careful running this, my first, nighttime race. My biggest concern is Animal Kingdom. Its uneven pavements do a great job simulating the pathways of Africa and Asia, but could result in a potential twisted ankle or strained muscle for a runner who isn’t paying attention. My strategy is to take it slow through that park…and pick up my pace for the longer stretches outside of the parks.

Eating

In addition to training, I’ve been working on weight loss for the past six months. I’ve lost 30 pounds and can really feel the difference in my neck and knees…and I can see the difference in my speed…my pace has picked up. I’m still going to stick to my diet, but will be drinking lots more fluid during the days leading up to the race. My brother, who is a tri-athlete, suggested that I drink 100 ounces of water three days before and that I drink a sports drink a few hours before. He also suggested a big breakfast and lunch the day before the race, but a light meal the night before. I’ll also be avoiding fruits and veggies the day before the race and starting my morning by eating apple sauce a few hours before I start to run.

Activity and Rest

“Resting” and “Disney” are two words that usually don’t go together for me. It’s very difficult to be so close to so many wonderful attractions and take it easy, but I’m planning on doing my best to try to rest. I’m going to be staying out late the night before the race to attend Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party; this will force me to sleep late on Saturday. The rest of the day I’m going to stay off my feet as much as I can until race time.

I’m very much looking forward to this race; I know from experience that Disney races are fun…but an inaugural race…at night…with food and wine at the end? That’s a recipe for fun, in my estimation!
Those are Michelle’s thoughts.

Here are mine:

Training

I like to give myself at least 60 and no more than 72 hours of rest before a half marathon. For the Wine & Dine Half it’s a bit unusually for me because one week before this race I will be running the Wicked Half Marathon in Salem, MA, home of witches and goblins. So after running 13.1 miles that day I will probably rest until Wednesday morning when I’ll run about 8 miles just to keep my legs loose, and then shut it down between then and race night. That gives me 90 hours of rest. The extra 18 hours will come in handy because I really need some stored energy to run 13 miles; no less at night.

Eating

I admit that I am one of those people who do not want to eat any closer than 12 hours before a race so a 10 P.M. race start offers quite a challenge for me. Usually for a 6 or a 7 AM start I will have a light dinner the night before, including dessert. I am looking at an unusual dining plan for Wine and Dine. On the Friday before the race I plan to stock up and have three solid meals and I will be attending a dessert party that night. You might say I will be carbo-loading in grand style. Heck, I may even have a Midnight snack at the Picabu Buffeteria at the Dolphin. Methinks that may be a popular place to eat come 2-4 AM after the Wine & Dine Finish Party.

For the Wine & Dine Half marathon Saturday I am probably looking to have a late breakfast on that day and once that meal is finished, try to get by the rest of the day with fluids and juices before race start. Like Michelle, I plan to hydrate as much as possible from Wednesday on. What I will need to be aware of this day is that unlike morning races in which I would eat dinner the night before and then sleep and rest all night, breakfast normally follows a full day of activity…not this time…read more.

Activity & Rest

Here’s where it becomes somewhat difficult and discipline needs to step in and play a big role. Normally for a Walt Disney World race, participants can usually have a leisurely day in the parks the day before the race and pack it in early the night before.

However with a 10 PM start time what should the runners do? Well, here is my plan. As I said above I plan to have a light breakfast…but I also hope to be out late the night before and not sleep that much so that on race day I will find myself tired enough to require a four or five hour nap in the mid-afternoon.

There are several things I need to avoid…temptation to go into the parks that day…sure I could go in the morning, especially if I want breakfast in the park and do a few attractions…but once the Noon hour hits my plan is to get off my feet and rest…I may just take in a movie or two as well.

This is the most important part of the preparation for Wine & Dine is to adjust my activity schedule so I will be well rested for the race. Normally for the WDW Half Marathon my wake-up call is at 2 AM and I leave my room around 3 AM for a 6 PM start.

For this race my schedule has me leaving my room at 7 PM for a 10 PM start, if not earlier. You see, starting at 6 PM Disney transportation will be shuttling participants from the EPCOT parking lot to the ESPN Disney World of Sports Complex. All participants are to be at the Complex by 8:30.

So how will I do? I don’t know. First and foremost the goal is to always finish the race…secondly not to overdo it and injure myself…been there…done that…finally it’s always nice to shoot for a Personal Record (PR) but in this case we are talking a brand new course being run at night so your guess is as good as mine as to what will happen.

I just don’t want to run in a hurricane.

Good luck to everyone running the first Walt Disney World Wine & Dine Half Marathon!!!

August 13, 2010

The Could vs. Should Question - Running

For anyone who has ever laced up a pair of running shoes, and has gone out to jog or run, the thought has always occurred, “How fast can I run?”

I know that’s a thought that eventually crossed my mind one day. For me I didn’t really care as to how fast I could run, I was interested in just how far and for how long I could run.

When I first started running, back when I was a teen, I never wore a watch, heck I didn’t even know if there were such animals as running watches back then.

The only gear I was concerned about was comfortable running shoes and a pair of shorts and a shirt…who needed a watch? Certainly not me.

I’m not sure anyone starting a running program today would have the same luxury…to not care about how fast to run.

Sure the first time out, or maybe the first few times out there will be no concern for speed. However, there is no doubt that there will come a day when every runner will say to him or herself, “I wonder how fast I am running and…I wonder how much faster I can run!”

When that day comes then the watch finds a home on the wrist and then the fun begins.

Of course I’m being sarcastic when I say “fun” because I’m guessing that the majority of runners are never truly satisfied with their speed or pace. Runners by nature seem to be very focused and that means always looking to better themselves…and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Speed does come naturally to anyone who starts and maintains a consistent running schedule. There’s really no way to avoid getting faster. The body becomes more fit; most likely there is a weight loss; and I’m guessing that as anyone gets more and more into running they look at running in gear that suits them best.

Also, as runners train they find that their stamina builds and naturally they become faster.

A professional trainer once told me not to worry about speed and that once my body got into a certain rhythm and a certain level of stamina was reached then my body would begin to work as a tuned up machine and the speed would occur naturally…up to a point.

He went on to say that this stamina build would account for a majority of my increased speed and that a smaller percentage would come about through “conscious effort.”

I took that to mean that my body’s natural speed has a threshold and that the only way I could raise that threshold was to figure out a way to push or train myself so I could run faster.

There are many ways to increase your speed and there are books that can help you accomplish the goal of running faster.

You could read books like…
“Run Faster from the 5K to the Marathon: How to Be Your Own Best Coach” by Brad Hudson and Matt Fitzgerald or “Run Less, Run Faster: Become a Faster, Stronger Runner with the Revolutionary FIRST Training Program” by Bill Pierce, Scott Murr, and Ray Moss.

I’m sure there are many books that touch upon how to run faster. The question I want to ask you, however, is not what technique is best for you but instead, are you aware as to how fast you should run?

The awareness of which I speak is in regards to your body and what your body’s threshold is.

Maybe I need to be a bit more specific here.

When anyone begins a training program there comes that day again when speed comes to mind and then the great “Could vs. Should” question soons follow.

This question is basically a question to yourself and it goes like this.
“How fast could I run without hurting myself?”

In other words how far should you push yourself?

We all have thresholds in life and when it comes to running at various stages of our training we have two limits…one is distance and the other is speed. By varying these two parameters we can usually meet our every day training regimen and also tweak them to meet the needs on a specific training session.

For instance…many runners will settle into a nice comfortable run on most days and do whatever distance they normally do at a comfortable pace.

Those same runners, on race days, may make an adjustment for personal reasons. For instance, if you have Jon Smith who runs several times a week at a certain pace at a certain distance…he may change that pace for a shorter distance.

Maybe he’s running 10K three or four times a week at a 9-10 mile per minute pace but this particular day he is in a 5K-road race.

He may then elect to run the race at an 8-9 minute per mile pace because he will be out there for a shorter period of time.

For some this is how it works…for others it doesn’t matter what the distance is because the pace remains the same. I find that is how I run. Regardless if I run a 5K, 10K, or half-marathon, I seem to run the same pace.

There is something I have learned about pace and it was an eye-opener for me…and it helps to answer for me the “Could vs. Should” question.

Think about those times when you have gone out to run and decided to pick up the pace. What happened? Well you found out just how long you could keep up that pace before running out of steam.


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You may also discover that your increased pace may change your stride length and how you land on your feet…that is toe strike vs. mid-strike vs. heel strike.

But the main lesson to be learned from increasing your pace is to see how your body reacts and this does not always involve instant feedback.

You may go out today for your normal 10K race and say to yourself that you want to run the distance at a clip that’s 30 seconds faster per mile than you normally run.

You may be tired after your run but you may not experience any pain. This would tell you that your increased pace had no ill effect on your body.

Wait 24 hours.

After 24 hours have passed if your body has any issues with your pace increase I’m sure it will send you a very clear message.

Any pain should be a flag that says you need to, at least in this point in your training, not run that fast, and perhaps try increasing your pace, but not so much.

This lesson is best learned by older runners who get to a point where they need to figure out how fast they SHOULD run to avoid injuries and to allow themselves to run as much as they can.

We all get to a point where we recognize, “Well I know I can run faster but is it worth it?”

So keep this in mind as you enter the point in your training where you want to improve your pace…but remember….it’s more important to know how fast you SHOULD run than how fast you COULD run.


July 6, 2010

Team AllEars Live Podcast Now Available

Team AllEars 2011
Team AllEars Logo

On Monday night, June 28th, 8 - 9 P.M. ET Team AllEars 2011: Running with Purpose held their 2nd live podcast produced by MouseWorldRadio.

The live podcast featured Deb Wills, Michelle Scribner-MacLean, Mike Scopa, Gordon Harvey as well as Team Members Kerry Lenny and Mike Paxton!

To get more information about Team AllEars email michelle@teamallears.com

Link to the live podcast recording!

June 14, 2010

Team AllEars® 2011 - Live Podcast Announcement! - Disney Marathon

LIVE Podcast, June 28

Team AllEars® will be broadcasting LIVE on Monday, June 28th at 8 P.M. ET. AllEars Founder Deb Wills, Team AllEars® Running Co-Captains Michelle Scribner-MacLean and Mike Scopa will be welcoming Gordon Harvey from www.runtodisney.com to talk about Marathon Weekend 2011 and to answer your calls.

This broadcast will be heard LIVE on MouseWorldRadio and will be available later for download on AllEars.


Team AllEars® NEWS

The 2011 AllEars® Running Team continues to grow and as we move into the summer months and are within six months of Marathon Weekend 2011 decision time is quickly approaching.

We will be closing team registration by September 1st or when team membership reaches 100, whichever comes first. This is necessary to underscore the need for time for our fund raising commitment.

There are no plans to close registration for Team AllCheers.

So if you are planning to run the 5K, Half-Marathon, Full Marathon, Goofy, or Dopey next January and/or interested in cheering on the AllEars Running Team please email Team AllEars Co-Captain Michelle Scribner-MacLean at Michelle@AllEars.net with your request.


Keep checking with AllEars for more information.

June 7, 2010

The Struggling 2011 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend

As we approach summer 2010 there are signs indicting that the 2011 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend is losing the momentum it has enjoyed over the last decade.

Recent Marathon Weekend History

Back in May of 2002, for its 10th anniversary, the Walt Disney World Marathon capacity was increased from 13,500 to 16,000 participants. This race was so popular it reached capacity by mid-spring. Meanwhile, that same year, the Half Marathon with its 6,000 slots, reached capacity during the first few days of May. A total of 22,000 participants ran on Marathon Weekend 2003.

Moving ahead a few years we saw WDW race officials bump capacities again in 2005. The Full Marathon saw an increase of 2,000, while the Half Marathon, sporting a running distance that was becoming more popular every year, saw a boost of 3,000 for its capacity. (Note that in 2005 the Half Marathon reached capacity in late August while the Full Marathon closed registration in early September. WDW Marathon Weekend continued to enjoy tremendous popularity and success).

Jumping ahead two years we found that as early as March 2007 the 2008 Full Marathon registration was already at 50% and the 2008 Half Marathon was even further ahead already surpassing 60% capacity.
Despite the capacity ceilings both races were enjoying healthy registration rates.

Marathon Weekend 2010

This snowball was not to be stopped. This year some 55,000 participants ran during Marathon Weekend 2010 and there was no end in sight. There was even some consideration in early 2009 that perhaps there was a need to hold two WDW Half Marathons for the 2010 Marathon Weekend. That’s right. There was a plan that if registrations continued to grow as history had shown, that there would be a Half Marathon on both Friday and Saturday of Marathon Weekend. However, this decision would obviously have to be made relatively early in the year and as registrations slowed down, the two race plan was dropped, or at least on hold.

Following the 2010 WDW Marathon Weekend, there was no telling what the next threshold would be…but there are signs that the telling is becoming quite clear.

As of early June, the 2011 Half Marathon registrations moved to just over 50% capacity while the big brother Full Marathon had not approached 50% capacity status…at least that is the assumption.

Why the sudden drop? Perhaps there are several culprits who are responsible for this slowdown.

The Economy

First, we need to take into consideration that the economy serves as a major catalyst for a lot of things. If the economy is healthy and in full swing then we all benefit. If the economy slows down then it’s a no-brainer that the slowdown will impact many industries, especially the travel and vacation industry where disposable income tends to land.

The domino effect is quite apparent.

Airfare Hits the Stratosphere

Airfare has gone through the roof and that perhaps has many people hesitating about doing Marathon Weekend. Over the last five years or so I have seen the cost of airfare for me not quite doubling but coming close and it has caused me to rethink not just the frequency of trips, but length as well.

Obviously if it costs more to fly to WDW then the alternative is to take fewer trips but if possible, extend stay. This increase in airfare could easily be a factor in the low registration rate this year. Let’s say for instance that you take your family to WDW once or twice every year and also go down on Marathon weekend. With the cost of airfare so high now you may need to think about cutting back…do you eliminate one of those trips? Is Marathon Weekend a likely candidate?

High Registration Fees

Another issue for some potential participants may be the race registration fees.

Take a look. 


The fee for the Mickey Mile is $25.
The fee for the Disney Family Fun Run 5K is $45.
The fee for the Half Marathon is $135.
The fee for the Full Marathon is $135.
The fee for the Goofy is $310.
If you do the “Dopey” (5K and Goofy) the fee total is $355.

For first-time participants, the fees, plus the reminder that they could be swept, could serve as deterrents.

Other Contributing Factors

Let’s not forget that the cost of park admission has gone up, so if you bring the family for Marathon Weekend then you need to consider that cost, as well.

Another component goes back to what I had mentioned before. With the capacity of the races basically being as high as possible, it gets pretty crowded on those courses and for some people, too crowded.

I would estimate that there were 20-20% fewer participants in the Princess Half Marathon than the WDW Half Marathon in January and still there were portions of the course…TTC…Main Street USA…just leaving TMK…and parts of Floridian Way…that were very congested, and I found myself trying to avoid bumping or running into my fellow runners while trying to keep my pace.

Perhaps for a lot of runners this large field has hit its limit and maybe WDW race officials need to seriously reconsider their 2009 idea about holding two Half Marathons.

One other thought. With the WDW Endurance Series now holding three Half Marathons during the year we may be seeing runners making a choice.

Weather could be a factor, especially after this past January where my fellow runners and I walked to the corrals during a cold, windy, and sleeting morning in Orlando.

Running in late Feb./early March or late September or early October is more appealing, especially the latter where the Annual Walt Disney World International Food and Wine Festival is in full swing.

So mull on all those factors and think for yourself if one or a combination of those factors may be holding you back.

The Carrot?

Recently WDW Race officials announced what could be termed as a "carrot" to entice those on the fence to make the plunge and register for the marathon. This carrot is that those who participate in the 2011 WDW Full Marathon will be able to use their Marathon medal as a ticket to a Disney park on the following Monday. I don’t know if that is enough of an incentive to convince more people to register…and I mean register now.

The decision to offer marathon registrants a “park pass” in the form of a medal may bring with it some problems. It may not sit well with those who are doing the Half Marathon, who may feel slighted because the same carrot has not been extended to these participants. No medal for running 13.1 miles, I guess,...even though…and please, everyone pay attention…the fees for both the Half and the Full are the same!

I hope someone IS paying attention.

Maybe offering a discount on the 2012 races would have been a better, fairer carrot? We’ll see what happens as we move into the summer months.

For the record, I am registered for the Half Marathon…for now…and I will use my Annual Pass to enter one of the parks on Monday, thank you.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Team AllEars NEWS

The 2011 AllEars Running Team continues to grow and as we move into the summer months and are within six months of Marathon Weekend 2011 decision time is quickly approaching.

We will be closing team registration by September 1st or when team membership reaches 100, whichever comes first. This is necessary to underscore the need for time for our fund raising commitment.

There are no plans to close registration for Team AllCheers.

So if you are planning to run the 5K, Half-Marathon, Full Marathon, Goofy, or Dopey next January and/or interested in cheering on the AllEars Running Team please email Team AllEars Co-Captain Michelle Scribner-MacLean at Michelle@AllEars.net with your request.

LIVE Podcast, June 28

Team AllEars® will be broadcasting LIVE on Monday, June 28th at 8 P.M. ET. AllEars Founder Deb Wills, Team AllEars® Running Co-Captains Michelle Scribner-MacLean and Mike Scopa will be welcoming Gordon Harvey from www.runtodisney.com to talk about Marathon Weekend 2011 and to answer your calls.

This broadcast will be heard LIVE on MouseWorldRadio and will be available later for download on AllEars.

Keep checking with AllEars for more information.

April 12, 2010

Team AllEars 2011: Running with Purpose

We are pleased, honored, and excited to launch Team AllEars® 2011: Running with Purpose.

This running team will once again be co-captained by AllEars® feature writers Michelle Scribner and Mike Scopa who together have combined to participate in over a dozen Walt Disney World sponsored races including seven half-marathons.

If you missed our live call-in podcast which launched this year's, team you can still listen to it by clicking here to learn more about Team AllEars 2011.

Our Goals

The goals for the AllEars® Running Team are quite simple.

It's all starts with promoting healthy lifestyles.

Exercise goes hand in hand with developing good health and a long term goal of ours is to promote a healthy lifestyle for everyone.

We also know that having the support of others helps us reach our goals….right?

Team AllEars can do just that through support, encouragement, advice, and friendship.

Team AllEars is dedicated to helping those who are considering taking up running and reaching for a ultimate goal...be it a 5K, Half-Marathon, or Full-Marathon…and we want to help.

Keep in mind we are not running experts, nor are we medical professionals…but with many years of running experience the team can call upon our experiences and pass along to our team members what seems to work to help get the most out of training.

We also know where to go to get help…advice…training tools…almost anything you need.

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How to Join

For you to join the 2011 AE Running Team you need to be registered for the 2011 5K, Half-Marathon or Full-Marathon for the 2011 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend.

We will be focusing on helping everyone train for that weekend and we are excited for those who are planning to do any race for the first time as well as those returning to "do it again."

If you would like to join the AllEars Running Team, please note that for 2011 we are again limiting the number of participants.

If you would like to become a member of the 2011 Team AllEars Running team please send an email to Michelle at michelle@teamallears.com and tell her why you want to be on the team and how you hope the team can help you.

We are striving to help not just our team members reach a specific goal but also looking to help others in need and so we are asking all who become members to work towards raising $500 towards Deb’s Avon Breast Cancer Fund.

Team AllEars 2010 worked together to raise over $25,000 for this cause and we are ramping up again.

We are very focused on making as many people aware of breast cancer as possible and to ask them to join us in the battle to defeat it.

Member Benefits

Team members will have access to a member only Team AllEars Facebook page with a community of friends who will offer encouragement, advice, support, and friendship.

Team members will be invited to special Skype meetings with Deb Wills, Michelle Scribner-MacLean, and Mike Scopa.

All team members will be invited to contribute personal success stories to the AllEars Running Blog.

And speaking of blogs we'll be launching a Team AllCheers blog this year too for those who are interested in cheering on the AllEars Running team.

Team members will also be invited to meets during the 2011 Walt Disney World Marathon.

Again, if you are interested in becoming a member of the AllEars Running Team send an email to Michelle at michelle@teamallears.com today and perhaps you will find yourself in a photo like this someday.

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April 8, 2010

Team AllEars 2011 Announcement

Team AllEars 2011
Team AllEars Logo

On Monday night, April 5th, 8 - 9 P.M. ET Team AllEars 2011: Running with Purpose was official launched on MouseWorldRadio.

The live podcast featured Deb Wills, Michelle Scribner-MacLean, and yours truly, Mike Scopa.

To get more information about Team AllEars email michelle@teamallears.com

For more information about Team AllEars email: allcheers@teamallears.com

Link to the live podcast recording!


March 3, 2010

A Prince (Or Frog) Among Princesses - Walt Disney World Endurance Series

by Mike Scopa

On Sunday, March 7th, I take to the streets again, as I lace up to run in my 14th Walt Disney World Race, the Walt Disney World 2010 Princess Half-Marathon.

This will be my fifth half-marathon, to go along with one 15K, one 13K, three 10Ks, and four 5Ks….all Disney races.

The last time I ran in a race such as this was in May, 2006 when I ran in the Minnie Marathon Weekend Women Run the World 15K.

I remember at around Mile 6 a Florida State Trooper called out to me and said, “So how does it feel to be a prince among princesses?”

It felt fine.

That particular weekend was quite a challenge for me.

In January I had broken my ankle while running the Walt Disney World Half Marathon.

Thanks to some dedicated physical therapists in my town and my stubbornness, I was back in shape to run by early April and trained hard for this May race.

Actually there were two races. I ran a 5K on the Saturday and the 15K the next day…sort of a mini-Goofy kind of thing...less some 26 miles.

So four months after breaking an ankle I faced a challenge and it was that weekend that helped me work hard to recover enough to run that soon. I love challenges.

This weekend is going to be another challenge for me.

For the past week I have been nursing a sprained back, my right side actually. I first hurt it by not being careful taking something out of my truck. Then on a flight back from Orlando this past weekend I re-injured it to the point where I have not been able to run for over a week.

A trip to the doctor and several visits to the chiropractor are helping but it’s going to be close. My dream of a PR may have to go by the wayside but I’m still looking to better my January time.

I have been asked many times if it’s okay for men to run in a Disney race specifically targeted for women.

Why not?

A race is a race.

Of course all the men who enter these races are not eligible for any prizes…something I never have to be concerned with in any race.

The course is exactly the same as the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend course so there will be the familiar dips, turns, curbs, ramps and overpasses to negotiate.

I wish good luck to all who are running this weekend including a special shout out to AllEars Running Team members Deb Wills (5K), Jessica Cutler (Half), and Brad Garfinkel.

Let’s hope this frog can hop come Sunday morning….and no I will not be wearing a tiara.

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March 1, 2010

Making Music Work for Your Running Identity

I’m still a snowball…that’s my running identity.

I first described my running identity back in August 2007.

I mentioned back then what I felt were the three types of runners:

• First there is the "rabbit" who will try to lead the pack from start to finish and starts off as fast as he/she can…but eventually will slow down.

• The "turtle" starts off and ends slow but is consistent and steady throughout the entire race.

• Then there’s the "snowball." That’s me. I start off kind of slow and pick up momentum, as does a snowball rolling downhill. I have run in races in which my last mile was as much as two minutes faster than my first mile. I can’t explain it…it just happens.

Well anyway, I am still a snowball today but not just a plain old ordinary snowball runner…I have one more thing going for me and that is music.

For the very first time in a long time I have been running with music, using a tiny iPod shuffle that I carry in a small pocket in my running shorts.

Why?

Well I’ve done some research on what music can do for you and I have found out that music can be a runner's best friend.

I’ve heard such things as that music aids in getting your heart to bring nourishment to your body during training sessions; that it relaxes you in a manner that helps prevent your muscles from getting too tight during long runs, and most of all it helps you get into a cadence with your body and makes it easy for all your “stuff” to work together to make your run, your workout, or whatever, more enjoyable and less stressful.

It was music that certainly played a huge part in getting me through the 2010 Walt Disney World Half-Marathon monsoon.

Actually the music had me focused so much that unfortunately I did not even catch some friends rooting for me along the pathway, notably my friends Melanie and Julie...sorry guys.

Anyway, since the 2010 WDW Half-Marathon was my first race (note that I’ve been running for 40+ years) in which I listened to music, I wasn’t sure what to expect.

During my training for the race I played with my music and tried to figure out what songs worked for me and in what order.

My shuffle can hold a gazillion songs so I could put as many songs on there as possible because I knew that I would eventually finish the race before I ran out of songs.

That meant I had to pick the “right” songs for the race and in a blog a few weeks before the WDW Marathon Weekend I talked about song selection.

Well, now that I’m gearing up for the Princess Half-Marathon in March my musical needs are changing.

I have found that during the January race that some songs worked better for me than others and it was because of my runner’s identity as a snowball.

Here’s what happened, the first few miles of the race saw Mike the snowball trying to get into a rhythm and eventually get into a cruising pace.

The middle five miles of the race are crucial and that is where snowball runners begin to pick up the pace…HOWEVER in my case I don’t think I picked it up as much as I would have liked and I think that part of the problem, besides other things, was my musical arrangements.

For snowball runners music should gradually increase in tempo and mine was all over the place and in some cases there was a song here and there that would change tempo and sort of throw me off.

So since January I’ve put a lot of thought into my musical medley and have decided that I can make best use of music that reflects my running identity.

My musical medley for a half-marathon distance starts off with music that will eventually get me into a rhythm…for example one of my early songs is the music your hear as you enter EPCOT.

As I get warmed up and ready to move into a faster pace I will listen to music like that which you hear prior to Illuminations.

Finally when I need a little push I hear songs that have a stronger and faster tempo, much like Phil Collins’ “Strangers Like Me” from Disney’s “Tarzan.”

This has taken time for me to properly arrange the musical selections to fit my running identity for a particular race I am training for and it’s important to note that the arrangements are based on BOTH those components.

So if you are one of those runners who looks towards music to assist you in your workouts or races you may want to consider what your running identity is and then use that information to figure out how to make the music work for you.

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January 5, 2010

Marathon Week Planning

Here we are…Marathon Weekend Week.

For those of you who are about to experience Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend for the first time, you may have some questions and thoughts about how to go about preparing for your particular race as we get within days, hours, and minutes prior to that gun going off.

Here are hopefully some points to ponder and think about. They come from my own experiences over the last five years and some dozen or so Walt Disney Races, including three half-marathons.

These thoughts are with the half-marathon in mind which takes place on Saturday.

Thursday, January, 7th

You should start drinking a bit more fluids this day and get your body hydrated for the big race. Try to add a glass of water here and there during your day. This should continue up to race day.

By this day you should have begun shifting your sleeping habits. You should be getting up a little earlier each day. I myself try to start getting up no later than 4:30 A.M. starting within five days of the race. I want to get up early so I will find it necessary to go to sleep early. Race day will be an early day and I want to be ready for that day.

Remember, you need to be at EPCOT pretty early on race day and for most of us that means a 2 A.M. wake-up call.

When you arrive in Orlando, be it Thursday or Friday, try to maintain the same diet and don’t try anything that may upset your stomach. Be careful. Play it safe. You can be adventurous after your race.

Also, go easy on the park touring….slug touring is recommended and also…you may want to avoid any thrill rides that may bang your knee, strain your back, or hurt your neck…you’ve got a race to run you know. Those attractions will be waiting for you after your race.

Friday, January 8th

Get up as early as you can. I’m thinking myself about taking a walk around 4 A.M. I want to be real tired by 8 P.M. that evening.

Go to the Fitness Expo at the World of Sports and get your bib and race packet as early as you can. That Expo will be packed on Friday and the earlier you go the quicker you will get in and out. Don’t wait for the afternoon.

Don't forget your waiver forms....erh....why not pack them now?

Again, easy on the legs…I would avoid EPCOT the day before your race (Friday for Half-Marathoners and Saturday for the Full Marathoners)…stick to a small park like Disney Hollywood Studios but I would avoid Rock ‘N’ Roller Coaster and the Tower of Terror until after your race.

Eat three medium sized meals today and knowing what you require before a race, plan accordingly. Some folks, like me, do not eat solid foods closer than 12 hours before a race…thus my last meal will end around 6 P.M.

Oh and this carb loading practice…..if you are on an Atkins diet then perhaps you may want to do some carb loading…but for me…the only carb loading I may involve a No Way Jose’ from Beaches and Cream.

Lay out your running gear before you go to sleep. This means put your chip on your running shoes, attach your bib to your running shirt, and have everything else ready.

Don’t take any chances.

Use your resort to arrange for a wake-up call, use the radio in your room as well, also use your cell phone’s alarm system and your running watch is possible. C’mon, after training a full year and spending all this money you’re not going to take every precaution to prevent you from oversleeping and missing the race?

You may want to set your alarm to wake you up no later than 2:30 A.M.

Saturday, January 9th

Don’t hit the snooze alarm,

Get out of bed and immediately start stretching.

Take a shower to warm up those muscles and do a bit more stretching.

Put on your running gear. Is it comfortable? You will be wearing it for at least 7-8 hours if not more.

Before you leave your room, don’t forget to put the “Do Not Disturb” sign in your door. The last thing you want to find when you return for a nice hot shower is resort housekeeping in your room.

You should arrive at EPCOT no later than 3:30 A.M. to relax and stretch and get ready.

Hit the portable toilet sometime around 5 A.M…..watch the lines….a few years back I waited 20 minutes for one. Now you know why I try to not eat 12 hours before the race. Juice and milk and sports drinks are okay…but no solids for me.

Head for the corral as soon as you can.

Move up as far to the front of your corral as possible and be alert. With so many people around you, you may not hear the start. Be alert.

When the race begins, watch your feet. Don’t step on anyone. Also, don’t be frustrated by the slow start. Things will improve.

Remember that it’s your chip time that is important so start your watch as you cross over the Start line.

During the race monitor yourself and also stop at every water stop….don’t chance dehydration.

Do not zigzag around people…that will not only add to your overall distance but also opens chance for injury.

There is no shame in walking; in fact in 2007 I remember the weather being so warm that I remember most participants walking the last few miles.

As much as we all love to cover the 13.1 miles as fast as possible we should be smart and not overdo it. We all want to be around for the next race.

When you finish, have our photo taken, get some refreshments, meet up with friends and/or family, and then head back to your room, shower, and then hit the parks.

Do not take a nap. It is best if you continue to be active that day into as late as possible.

You will have a good night’s sleep.

Good luck.

Fitness Expo Thoughts

The Fitness Expo has some interesting merchandise. I am not sure you will find the best prices but you may find some running product you cannot find anywhere else. One strong point I would like to make is that I do not think it is wise to purchase anything at the Expo that you intend to wear in your race. Comfort is not guaranteed.

Music Thoughts

Just want to remind everyone to use your music wisely and possibly hold off using it unless you have to.

Personally I have estimated where I will be on the course and at what time and have arranged my music as such to help me at that time.

I have slow, building music to get me to The Magic Kingdom, then Magic Kingdom music to get me through the park, then bridge music to get me through the tough part of the course....between the Magic Kingdom and the first glimpse of EPCOT...then EPCOT music with Tapestry of Dreams bringing me home.

Cheerleading Thoughts

First, here are the three places I recommend you have your cheerleaders look for you.

The first place is on the monorail side of the Ticket and Transportation Center. The best spot to set up is behind the gift shop but be on the left side…this is the road to the Contemporary.

The second place to set up is along Floridian Way, near the Grand Floridian, especially near the wedding Pavilion.

Finally a good spot is just before the runners go into EPCOT. This is down near where the bus terminal is for EPCOT.

Be sure and plan as to where you will be looking for your cheerleaders and make sure they make signs you will be able to easily spot and recognize.

Your cheerleaders are best to use the monorail to get around and they need to be up early to get around.

Be sure and give your cheerleaders accurate estimates as when they might be able to spot you in the race.

Okay.

I think we’re all set.

As the runner’s credo goes….”Have a good one.”

December 30, 2009

Homestretch Training: Part II

With the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend just about a week or so away Michelle Scribner-MacLean and Mike Scopa, co-captains of the AllEars Running team discuss their preparations one week prior to getting on their flight to Orlando.

Mike’s Last Minute Stuff

“Here are the here are five things that I am focusing on before I get on the plane to head for Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend.

First and foremost is last minute training. With a week to go before my flight I need to not only maintain my level of training but to also not overdo it. I plan to do one more long run and then gradually pull back the distance to keep my legs fresh. For me this means about three or four more runs before the big race.

I fly out on a Thursday so my last run before the race will be Wednesday.

The second area I am focusing on is my running gear. I am one of those runners who are never 100% sure as to what to wear on race day until that morning. So I have settled on bringing three pairs of running shorts, one pair of running tights, and three running shirts. I will pack them the day before I leave. I plan on running in these items between now and that day so I am comfortable with them. I have also been running in the shoes I plan to run in on the big day so that part of my preparation is also set.

Nutrition is next. At this point in the training calendar it’s important not to sway away from what got me “to the ball” so to speak. I continue to eat what I have been eating all these months although I’m a bit light on the portions. I want to be light for the race. I do tend to drink more fluids a week or so before the race. It’s good to get your body used to being as hydrated as possible…especially with the potential of running in Florida heat and humidity.

Music has become a part of my training process this year and it looks like I will be running with an iPod Shuffle on race day. In preparation for this I am putting together a playlist that contains songs that are not too fast…not too slow…but just right for the pace I want to run.

One more thing…I am putting the songs in a certain order because there are tunes I want to hear at a specific point on the course. I’ll let you in on a secret….if my calculations are right my last 2-3 miles before the Finish will have me listening to “Tapestry of Dreams.”

Last but not least is sleep….it’s so important. A few days before getting on the plane I will start going to bed earlier and getting up earlier each day. I know Saturday morning will be an early wake-up call and I want my internal clock to get ready as early as possible.
Those are my last minute preparations before getting on that plane…my last blog before the race will discuss my plans from the time I step off the plane in Orlando to the start of the race.”

Michelle’s Last Minute Thoughts

“This year I feel a lot more confident and sure of things, since I already have one Disney half marathon under my belt, so “start to panic” is NOT on my last minute “to do” list this year.

First thing on my list is to try to squeeze in at least one more long run. The weather in New Hampshire has not been conducive to running outside, so we’ve been doing most of our long runs on an indoor track, where 8 laps equals just over one mile. I enjoy running, but going around and around and around the same track is like some form of torture…but I know how important it is, so I will attempt one more nine or ten mile run in the next two weeks.

The next thing on my list is to gather a wide-variety of clothing. As I recall, last year the temperature ranged from 45 – 60F from race start to finish. I have my preferred race clothes picked out, but there may be rain, it may be colder, may be warmer. Like Mike, I have to consider the possibilities. In addition, I’m going to go through my old clothing and pack a sweatshirt and pants as layers to wear to the coral and peel off just before the race begins (and because Disney collects and donates the discarded clothing to charity, I feel good about leaving it behind).

My music is the next thing I need to get in order before I leave. I’ve been modifying my running play list all year and I may make some last minute changes, but I’m pretty set in what I’m going to listen to. Since I want to be able to listen to the music Disney provides at points along the way, I know I’ll be turning my iPod off along the way, so I’m not going to worry about the order of my music. One thing is certain; the Black Eyed Peas “Boom Boom Pow” (our Team AllEars song) will be on the list.

Finally, I need the support of my “peeps” and also need to make sure that I’m there as a cheerleader for all of my teammates. I’m sending this linkto my friends and family.

My bib number is 44319 and Mike’s is 44320 (if you want to follow our progress. I can only speak for myself – I won’t be breaking any speed ¬records, but I feel excited and ready to go.

Boom Boom Pow!”


December 24, 2009

Homestretch Training: Part I

As we head into the last few weeks before the big Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend it’s important to note certain homestretch training issues that I have certainly learned from through the years and wanted to share them with you.

Please remember that I am NOT a professional trainer but am just sharing my experiences with you and that what works for me may not work for you.

I just want you to be aware as to what might work for you.

Rule 1: Do Not Over Train

It is so easy to over train a few weeks before a race. To me overtraining means one of two things.

First it means injuring yourself. This could occur from either running too much or trying to run too fast.

It’s normal for you to want to improve during your last few weeks of training but a pulled muscle is a terrible setback.

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Secondly, overtraining to me means that you have forgotten that your body needs to rest up…don’t over do it.

At this point you should be running no more than every other day.

One more thing…I would suggest that you should give yourself at least 7 to 10 days between your last long training run and the day of the race.

Rule 2: Be Sensible About Fashion Sense

That’s a cutely phrase to remind you that comfort is essential on race day and between now and race day you should be establishing three important decisions.

The first decision is what you will be raining on a warm day. Shorts and a short sleeved running shirt I would guess.

The second decision is what you will be wearing on a cold day. That is a bit more difficult a decision. I suggest go to your local discount department store and buy a cheap sweatshirt.

If you have running tights you should bring them.

Within 3 days of your traveling to Orlando, start monitoring the weather.

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In regards to rain….well let’s hope it doesn’t rain.

Most importantly from this point on you should be running in the shoes you intend to run in on race day. Each time you go out and run these shoes will gradually mold into what your feet want them to mold into and that will lead to comfort.

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So starting today decide what you’ll be wearing from head to toe on race day.

Rule 3: Be Diet Conscious

Instead of overtraining to get better why not go on a little diet to lose a few more pounds…less weight to drag for 13 or 26 miles.

This could be very simple like cutting out just a small bit from your every day intake.

Do not skimp on carbs and protein however. Whatever your daily minimum intake should be for your age, build, gender, weight, or whatever, is what you should maintain...you neeed fuel to run that long distance and you don;t want to run out of energy.

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I know it’s the holiday season but watch those goodies.

Rule 4: Music or No Music?

I’ve run in over a dozen or so WDW sponsored races and see many people running with music. As long as you don’t have the music blasting and can hear beyond the music you should be okay.

But here is the question…do you need the music?

If you have trained all this time with music then perhaps you have depended upon it to get you through your workouts and now you may need it to get you through the race.

Here’s a thought…do you need the music for the entire race of just a little bit? Do you need it for the start, for the early miles? Or for the late miles?

Oh and what kind of music do you need and what about the sequence?

In my Homestretch Training: Part II blog I plan on talking more about music and what I plan to do.

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December 6, 2009

Beware of Overtraining

Here I am sitting in front of my laptop after a two hour run…well actually I ran for 1:59:27 but here among friends I’m sure you’ll give me the other 33 seconds.

Anyway, the first thing that popped into my mind as I did my stretching was the fear of overtraining.

It’s happened to me before and I am hoping that it doesn’t happen again.

For those who are training for their first full or half marathon the obvious question that continues to run through their head is, “Just how far should I be able to run BEFORE the day of the big race.”

Oh I have been there. While training for my first half that question bothered me so much that on Labor Day, some four months before my first half-marathon, I went out and ran almost 14 miles.

Then in December I tried to work too hard on speed and overdid it…and it cost me a week of training.

It’s very easy to fall into the overtraining syndrome…especially if this is your first real long distance race.

First you worry about doing the distance.

If that isn’t enough you may also be concerned about your pace and just how fast you COULD go if you went through the perfect training regimen.

Even those who have done these long distance races are prone to overtraining because we want to always do better than our last race…we want to be faster…stronger….and more refreshed when we finish.

So how do you know if you are overtraining?

It’s an individual kind of thing. Overtraining for me may be just basic training for the next person.

There is one voice who you should listen to when you are within one month of a long distance race…that voice emanates from your body.

If a day or so after your most recent workout if you feel a new pain or ache that you haven’t heard before that’s your body saying, “I think we need a break or something serious could happen.”

Overtraining could result in a pulled muscle, a possible stress fracture, or just about anything that could set you back.

You don’t want a setback with only a couple of weeks to go.

For the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend the key is to level of right about the first week in December.

I won’t tell you what you should do but I will tell you what I do.

I try to run one long distance once a week from now until one week before the race.

To me, a half-marathon runner, that means no more than 10 miles once a week.

I allow myself only two other training runs during the week, both of which are no more than 6 or 7 miles long.

The week before the race I will do a long run exactly one week before the race….and at a slow pace.

Five days before the race I will run 7 miles and three days before the race I will do about 6 miles…I want fresh legs for the big day.

I will be very careful with my speed training or interval running. Don’t want to pull a muscle….thus any interval running will be very subtle and actually that’s the best way to go.

For you marathoners the last month becomes even more of a personalized matter because everyone has a different recovery system and hopefully by now you know what you need and that information is vital in helping you how close to the big race should you be doing your last long run.

So be vigilant in your training but don’t do anything drastic.

These distances are long and so is the training….with the short window in front of us we all have to beware of overtraining.

Good luck.

November 28, 2009

Pace Tools - Walt Disney World Marathon

By now most of the heavy duty training for the 2010 Walt Disney World Half or Full Marathon should be behind us. However with just about six weeks left pace may still be a concern so for what it’s worth, here are some things I do to help me improve my pace.

For years I’ve played with all types of techniques I hoped would somehow dividends in the form of a faster overall pace.

I’ve learned many things but the most important lesson learned is that what works for one person does not necessarily work for another.

If you would like to increase your overall pace try a couple of these on for size.

Measured Mile

The first thing you need to do is to find a measured mile and to cover that distance in your normal pace. Take note of the time but even more importantly take note as to how many strides you take.

I did this one Sunday afternoon on a ¼ mile track. I counted the number of strides for each ¼ mile and at the end of the mile I knew just how many strides it takes me to run a mile at that pace.

I thought, “Hmm, if I could just increase the number of strides for just the first ¼ mile of each mile I should be able to increase my overall pace.”

It’s a good theory but it works only if you are on a course which you are able to gauge distances.

On a track it was easy to do this.

So what did I do? Besides counting the number of strides I took in a ¼ mile I also took note of my time. Thus in n minutes I took n strides.

With those two numbers I could then say, “Okay so if I can increase my stride count by 10% for that amount of time every 10 minutes or so then over the length of the run I will have increased my pace.”

That’s one way to increase your pace. It works. I did this on thanksgiving morning in a 5K Turkey Trot.

Music Moves Me

This is the first year that I have used an iPod (shuffle) while running and it seems that using music helped me get into a quicker pace earlier in my training.

Music is good to help you establish a consistent pace but it takes time to compile a list of songs that are also consistent with the pace you want to run.

One of my friends who is a world-traveled marathoner does not use his music until he has to. That is, he saves his music until he feels he needs it to assist him in finishing whatever running distance he is doing.

Music can be your ally for setting a pace but it can also be your enemy. If you mix in too many fast songs in your running play list then you may find yourself running fast too often and possibly hurting yourself and running out of steam.

Know your distance and course and choose not just appropriate songs but also the appropriate order.

Treadmill Treatment

One thing to always remember is that your treadmill workouts will always have you running at a faster pace than your non-treadmill workouts.

I know that I can do a mile at least 25% faster on a treadmill than on the road.

Realizing this I use my treadmill sessions to simulate interval running which I will get to later.

When on the treadmill I start by walking and gradually increase my speed every 15 seconds until I hit the absolute fastest I can go. I hold that pace for about 30 seconds and then gradually work my way back to my regular pace.

After two minutes at my regular pace I increase my pace by 2 minutes for about a minute and then go back to my regular pace….I will do this for about 30 minutes.

The theory here is that if I can train my body to not just allow me to have sped spurts but also learn how to recover then I should be able to transition that onto the road running sessions. This is my interpretation of interval running.

Interval Running

The treadmill treatment technique is quite akin to the matter of interval running in which during the course of your workout you increase your pace for a set time and then pull back to your regular pace…and repeat this over and over for the length of the course.

Interval running is a technique that is unique to every individual.

For many interval running can begin at the start of a training run while for others a warm-up time is required. I usually need about a mile under my belt before I do any interval running.

It’s a very simple technique…run at your normal pace until you feel comfortable to speed up for a certain amount of time or distance. Some runners stick to a set time of 30 seconds to a minute while others imagine a distance of so many yards or feet.

If you can do this technique over a half-marathon or full marathon distance, imagine what your overall pace would be.

Is Twice Nice?

I have never used this technique so I have no data to share but I have read and heard that if you run twice a day…good luck finding the time to do so…that your natural pace tends to gradually increase.

I have not had any personal experience with this technique nor no of anyone who has tried it.

What to Do?

It’s simple. Do what works best for you. I am not an expert at this but am just reporting what I’ve tried over the years.

For anyone who wants to increase their pace I encourage you to try anything that works but does not cause a setback in your overall training.

Sometimes working on your pace leads to overtraining and you don’t want that.

Happy running.


October 13, 2009

Team All Ears Profile: Trey Brush

Note from Michelle and Mike: From time to time we will be highlighting the stories of members of Team All Ears, a wonderful group of individuals, who have agreed to raise money for Deb Wills' Avon Breast Cancer Fund by running Disney races in January 2010.

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When I first started to run six years ago, I was just bringing home our first born son from the hospital and realized that if I wanted to be able to enjoy my kids for many years and be able to keep up with them. Running had always been something I had enjoyed. As a natural introvert and a person of reflection I had always just enjoyed my time on the road thinking and reflecting about life.

Since that time I have lost about 75 pounds and many are not able to recognize me out at family gatherings.

I ran my first Disney marathon in January 2007 and ran again in 2008. Since then my reason and motivation for running has changed quite a bit. I still enjoy my time alone on the road and am motivated to stay healthy for my kids, but I remember crossing the finish line on my first marathon ands suddenly had an empty feeling. Was it the first marathon blues? I thought: "Is this it? Is this why I run? Is it for a medal?"

There was not an immediate answer to that. It became something I began to think about on my runs. I began to reflect on the idea of why I was out there running. I began to search for those answers and they would come.

Running always came natural for me. I began to think about running for purpose. I decided then that my running had to be about others.

Deb Wills and All Ears has done so much for my family to help enjoy the magic of Disney. When I heard about the opportunity to help Deb to raise funds for Breast Cancer Awareness I jumped at the opportunity.

Since that decision, "running on empty" has been a thing of the past. Being a part of something bigger and running for a purpose is what motivates me day in and day out. Knowing that at the end of the race that the impact can be something more than a medal is very satisfying.

To say that I love Disney is to say that there is a little water in the ocean. Disney was the location of my first marathon and always my favorite. There is a feeling that I get in Disney that no other race has ever been able to replicate. It is not just the celebration and the crowd and all of the extra stuff but the idea of running through the place that has given me and my family the chance to create so many magical memories is worth every step.

I am very excited to be a part of Team AllEars and look forward to running as a part of our team in January.

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August 1, 2009

Hello Injuries

I am not a doctor, nor do I play one on television or the internet.

So I am not here to tell you what to do if you have an injury but give you some advice as to how to avoid injuring yourself while training for a big race. When in doubt, always consult a medical professional.

As a jock from way back I have sustained many an injury...the most serious happened while playing basketball....an exploded anterior cruciate ligament which was never repaired and from time to time will remind me to train smartly.

One of the lessons I have learned over the years is to stretch before and after a run. I usually do not start off fast...my first mile is often one minute slower than my last mile of the run. My first mile is certainly part of my stretching routine.

Another lesson I've learned is to vary how I run along the road. That is, when I go on my runs, which are usually early in the morning, I try to mix it up by running on the left, crown, and right portion of the road.

This is important to note if you are prone (no pun intended) to pronation. If you run on either the left or right side of the road for your entire run then you may open yourself to some pronation and possible some uneven wear on your shoes.

It's best to run on the crown of the road but then again there are vehicles to contend with so try and mix it up...perhaps every five minutes make a change.

A few years ago I also discovered that even though I am capable of running faster than my usual pace that if I do so I will pay for it later on. For some reason if I run faster than I should my legs will let me know after the run I did a "no no".

My guess is that this is true for everyone so try to listen to your body and recognize your limits.

Recently on a trip to Walt Disney World I zigged when I should have zagged and had some real issues with the knee. It is slowly healing but each day I think about lacing up and running and I keep reminding myself not to rush it.

Here's the point, if you rush back too soon after an injury you may re-injure and have another setback.

Give yourself and your injury time to recover and then gradually get back into the swing of things.

I should also mention that avoiding injuries goes hand in hand with making sure your running gear, specifically your running shoes, are in good shape.

Everyone is different and so I may change running shoes more often than co-captain Michelle because of my running gait, my weight, etc.

I usually suggest checking out your shoes right around the 300 mile mark and consider replacing them if you feel they are worn down too much or if they do not feel comfortable any more.

I like to alternate between two and three pairs of running shoes....that way I do not wear them out too fast and I have better conditioned shoes for the long run. Basically I can get by one year of training with just three pairs of shoes.

It's good to run in shoes that have stabilizing features. Run in proper shoes.

Overtraining is another way of injuring yourself.

Many people try to tweak their training as they get closer to a big race. Sometimes that training involves more running than necessary and faster running than is necessary. Be careful and just keep your training steady.

Somewhere down the line we'll talk about runner's nutrition. Nutrition can play a part in keeping healthy and avoiding injuries. I'll tell you what vitamins I feel work for me and why.

I take a multi-vitamin each day...to make sure I get at least the minium amount of nutrients to keep me healthy.

My doctor told me that Magnesium is good for joints and knowing how much I run he suggested I make that part of my daily routine.

I also take a baby aspirin each day....should help the blood circulation.

I also take either fish oil or an omega-3 capsule...again to keep things running smoothly.

Finally, and this is probably the most important supplement I take...I make sure I get some Glucosamine Chondroitin in me every day to help me battle osteoarthritis. Glucosamine is an amino sugar that the body produces and distributes in cartilage and other connective tissue, and chondroitin sulfate is a complex carbohydrate that helps cartilage retain water.

This supplement works for me.

Remember, check with your doctor before you go out and start taking supplements.

Remember to listen to your body, not overdo it, and be proactive and hopefully you will escape injury.

June 29, 2009

Pace Patience

The term is “Pace Patience” and what I mean by that is to say, give it time and don’t rush it.

Let’s look at the pace requirements for the Walt Disney World Half-Marathon so that we all understand what those requirements really mean. For the half-marathon all participants must maintain a 16 minute per mile pace. That is, the “official” pace requirement calls for all race participants to cover the 13.1 mile course in fewer than 3 hours and 30 minutes.

I say…No. It’s not true.

Let me explain.

In the past the half-marathon has assigned participants to one of several waves and corrals. In recent years the number of participants has also influenced the race officials to stagger the start of these corrals and waves. The start time of your wave and corral is one factor regarding your pace, but there is another factor which not many people realize and that is exactly when that pace clock begins for your particular wave and corral.

So when does that clock start ticking? There has been a lot of talk around this topic and from what I understand it begins when either the last entrant in that wave crosses the Start or when the very last participant in the entire field of runners crosses the Start. For our purpose let’s say each wave will have its own pace clock.

So think of this. If your wave/corral has a ton of people and it takes as much as five minutes for that last person to cross the Start line then essentially those up front have an extra five minutes to play with over the entire length of the race course. That’s 300 seconds divided by 13.1 miles or about 23 seconds per mile.

Wait, it’s even better than that. It’s actually a tad over 29 seconds a mile…and every second counts. How did I come up with this number? Well, in the past the pace requirements are strict for only the first10.2 miles of the 13.1 course or 78% of the distance. That means participants have almost a full 5K in which they can relax and not worry about pace.

So let’s break this down a bit more. Historically there are four pace checkpoints for the Walt Disney World Half-Marathon. If they have not changed for 2010 they are still:

• The Walt Disney World Speedway which is just beyond the Magic Kingdom toll plaza. It’s
about 3.5 miles into the race and to avoid being swept all participants must reach that
mark within 1:11:00 of the Start. That’s 3.5 miles in 71 minutes.

• The next checkpoint comes just before entering the Magic Kingdom. It’s right around the
Magic Kingdom Park Security Gate. Participants need to reach that 6.3 mile mark by 1:56:00
or face the sweep bus.

• The next checkpoint is a significant one for many people. It’s the 8.1 mile mark right near the
Daisy portion of the Ticket and Transportation Parking Lot and what’s important here is that
it’s right around this point that many participants begin to fade. I always suggest to those
training for their first half-marathon that they should focus first on building up enough stamina
to do at least 9 miles. Anyone who can do that should have no problem completing the
course. This checkpoint requires that the participants have 8.1 miles under their belt within
2:25:00. My personal feeling that if anyone can make it through this checkpoint then they
should be fine…but there is one more checkpoint.

• The last checkpoint is only 2 miles from the last one and it’s the 10.2 mile mark at the World
Drive Ramp on the way to EPCOT Center Drive. The magic number here is 2:58:00. Again,
this is the LAST checkpoint; the last time participants can be swept. Once you get past this
checkpoint you are home free. Think of it this way…if you can cover 10 miles in about three
hours you are then looking good to finish the half-marathon in the “official” allotted time.

Now why do I mention these checkpoints at this time? Marathon Weekend is still six months away.

I wanted to point out these checkpoints to anyone doing this race for the first time to give everyone a sense as to just where the sweep busses will be and to hopefully give everyone an incentive to at least begin thinking about pace.

Think about what your pace was when you first starting your training. If you kept a log and recording your distance and time for every run you would be able to track your progress. If you do not maintain a running log maybe you should consider starting one today.

A running log can be a wonderful support tool for everyone, not just the novice runner.

A few years back after not running for a year I decided to light a fire under myself and sign up for the Walt Disney World Half-Marathon.

After my first time out running I was appalled as to how out of shape I was.

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I will share with you that on that cold March morning I barely did two miles at a pace of 17:36 per mile. When I realized just how much I was out of shape I decided to keep a log and track my progress. One month later my pace was down to the low 14s; the next month it had dropped to the low 12s. It then became a struggle to get my pace even lower but every day I would look at that running log and it would show my progress.

The point I want to make here is that I really was not trying that hard to improve my pace. I was improving because of three important factors. First I was running almost six times a week and so I was getting in shape.

Secondly, I decided to eat as healthy as I could which led to the third factor…losing weight. I was pulling less weight and so my legs were finding it easier to move everything…I did not have to concern myself with pace.

Doing all that…consistently stuck to a running plan, ate healthy, and lost weight, had my pace settling in the low 11s and on one September morning I ran at a 10:1 pace.

I had improved my pace without trying any of the techniques that so many people discuss as ways to increase your speed over long distances.

You may want to consider checking your pace now to see how much in line you are with the checkpoint times.

I’ve always felt that stamina is the priority before pace. It’s important to train your body to work over a long stretch of time…13.1 miles is not covered in a few minutes…more like a few hours.

If you are able to train to the point where in one outing you can cover 9 miles then you are pretty much ready to tackle this race.

Along the way your pace will pick up without you having to consciously work on it.

In a month or so I will revisit the matter of pace and will talk about things you can do to better your pace. There are no miracle running shoes or super running gels to help you improve your time.

A steady training regimen is the best way to improve your speed.

So have some “pace patience” and keep training and getting into shape….add a few more minutes to each workout…build that stamina…your patience will be rewarded.

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June 16, 2009

Pace: The Final Frontier: A Novice's Perspective

Here is Michelle's perspective on pace, especially when it pertains to the Walt Disney World half-marathon.

When I first started running, worrying about pace was the furthest thing from my mind. My only prior running experience had been the one mile warm-up run that our coach tortured us with before practice when I was on the high school tennis team. Then, pace was not a consideration. Getting the running out of the way as quickly as possible so I could get on to the court was all I cared about.

Fast forward twenty-plus (ahem!) years and pace still wasn’t my first concern. I was signed up for a half-marathon…that meant that I needed to manage 13.1 miles without dying! Now that required one mile run of my youth seemed like a cakewalk. I was able to move from running one to two to three miles pretty quickly….then to four…and then gradually to five… but this “pace” thing that people mentioned never clicked with me….until the first time I hit six miles.

One day I was running along and all of the sudden I got into this amazing groove….my head got very clear, I felt much focused, and I noticed that I was running at a constant gait. “Ah, yes,” I mused, “I’ve found my pace.”

I’m very much still a novice runner, but for me “pace” can be defined as a constant and continuous speed at which a runner or walker moves. Your average pace is calculated by simply dividing the time you ran by the distance you covered.

When a person is running on a treadmill, one’s pace is controlled by the machine….and you can adjust it depending on your fitness and comfort level. When you’re running outside, as is the case of the Disney Marathon Weekend races, your pace is something that you have to find on your own. I have found that many things can affect my pace. If I hit the pavement and am not well-rested, it takes me longer to find my pace. Terrain is another thing: If I’m running a route that has variable elevations (which is often the case where I train), my pace can be also be varied, but I can find it and stick with it much more quickly if I’m running my indoor track at the YMCA. The amount I’ve eaten also affects my pace: for me I’ve found that I do best on an empty stomach. Each runner has to find the things that work for him or her (which is one reason why we need to spend so long training, so we can take the time to find out the things we need to learn to have a safe and successful race before you go to that starting line).

For the Disney races, runners need to run, walk, or run/walk at a pace of 16 minute miles, so when training for these races, it’s important to keep track of what you’re pace is. Although I logged my mileage and time, I didn’t really start to think seriously about my pace until I hit nine miles. At that point I worked a little each week at increasing my speed.

I’m not an Olympic athlete by any stretch of the imagination, but I didn’t find the required pace to be that daunting and finished somewhere in the middle of the over 12,000 people who ran with me in 2009. I can make that statement in hindsight and realize that I sound all calm and collected, but I will tell you that I was definitely concerned about pace while I was running. Finishing, regardless of whether I had to crawl over that finish line on my hands and knees, was my only goal. Nothing was going to stop me! I remember running by people who were stopping to get their photos taken with characters and thinking, “HOW CAN THEY STOP?! Must keep running….must keep up the pace.” Now, as veteran, I am looking forward to running my next race without that panic that I will be able to keep up the pace.

One thing that has surprised me as I’ve learned to run is that, for me, pace is not something that gets turned on as soon as I lace up my sneakers and head out the door. I’ve talked to several other runners who have said the same thing. Each time I run it takes me about two miles to find my pace and find that groove. When I get there it is a wonderful feeling, but it takes some patience. It’s well worth it, though.

June 1, 2009

Long Distance Running Gear

Since we have different experience levels with our running, we’ve decided to create a series of blogs that show different perspectives on a variety of running topics.

This week we’ve decide to talk a bit about running gear: what are the essentials?

Michelle’s Take on Running Gear

As someone new to running, my first thought was that I didn’t need anything special. Running involves grabbing a well-worn pair of sneakers, some comfy socks, an old pair of shorts, a t-shirt, and heading out the door. As a tennis player, I knew the importance of having the right type of shoes for the court, using the right type of racket and grip, but never thought I needed to give running gear a second thought. Throughout the year when training for my first half marathon, I learned that it’s a little more involved than that, but it isn’t rocket science either.
I would love to report that re-examining the gear that I was using came from hours of careful study and consultation with experts but, in fact, it came simply as the result of a growing collection of blisters from the socks and sneakers I was using, running tops that seemed to hold in the sweat, and shorts that never felt quite right.

The first things to go were my sneakers. After several miles, I realized that my all-around athletic shoes did not provide the comfort level I needed for the repeated motion of my one-to-two hour training runs. I needed real honest-to-goodness running shoes. While many people suggested that I go to a running store and have my gait analyzed, I thought a good first choice would be to visit my local sporting goods store and see if I could find a pair of shoes designed for running that would be comfortable. That worked for me. I broke them in by wearing them around the house for a week or so and then took them out on the road. After that, I used those sneakers only for running and nothing else. I realize that others might have issues that require that an expert help in the selection of running shoes, but a $70 pair was perfect for me.

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My next revelation was that all socks are not equal. Each time I ran I would choose a comfy pair of cotton athletic socks and thought that would be fine. Along the way, some runner friends mention that wool socks are actually better, but I thought, “Pssssshaw! Wool socks?! These will do me just fine.” Nope. After a certain distance, especially in the warm weather, my feet would get sweaty and, as you might have guessed, the cotton socks held the moisture in very nicely. Then came the blisters. Not fun. I ended up investing (and at $10-$15 a pair, I do mean investing) in a pair of SmartWool socks. What a difference! I guess when I thought of wearing wool, I was thinking of the scratchy sweaters I wear during our long, New England winters. SmartWool is thin, comes with different levels of cushion, and truly wicks away the moisture. Now I own three pairs and won’t run without them.

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My next investment was in some running shirts. I was pretty happy just wearing cotton t-shirts for running, but then the charity I was running for sent me a “real” running shirt as a gift….and I loved it. The mesh allowed the moisture out, but kept me warm during those cold, early-morning runs. I bought a few more and was all set.

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Underneath that shirt was my last important purchase: a really good sports bra. Being a sporty sort of person all of my life, I have found this is one area where you get what you pay for. I don’t cut corners with a sports bra because when I’m running all I want to worry about is running, so I pay a bit more for a really good quality one.

Because I live in an area that gets pretty cold in the winter, I also found that I needed to invest in a few other things: running gloves, running tights, and a long-sleeve running shirt. I picked these up on an as-needed basis and was very careful to just buy one of everything so that I could see if I used the item first.

So, I now realize that just as the case with any other sport, if you’re going to stick with it, it’s important to have the right tools for the job, especially when you’re putting in the time required to successfully complete a long-distance run. The right shoes, socks, top, and other gear has made me more comfortable and kept me healthy and able to continue training.

Mike’s Take on Running Gear

Comfort. When I think about running gear comfort is the priority. It can take you a while before you find the right combination that works for you, but it is worth the effort. Think of it as an investment towards helping you achieve your goal. Let’s face it, comfort will make the journey that much more enjoyable, regardless of the distance. Comfort is priority one.

The most important pieces of running gear are your running shoes and socks. If you are planning to run the WDW Half or Full Marathon in January you need to determine ASAP what shoe and sock combination will work for you over the span of two, four, or even six hours of running and/or walking. Actually it’s more than that because you will be in those shoes from the time you leave your room until you return from the race…easily anywhere from seven to as much as 12 hours. So the shoe and sock deal is VERY IMPORTANT.

I am not particularly 100% in support of the idea of going into a running store and having the personnel watch you display your gait to determine your ideal shoe, but it is definitely a start. The issue I have centers around who is making this call. Hopefully, we are talking about experienced runners or someone who really can look at your gait and come up with the type of shoe that best fits your needs. You don’t want to depend on a sales clerk in a sports superstore because most likely that person may know more about baseball gloves than running shoes. If you go to a running store your chances of getting the right help are much greater.

Once you know the type of shoe for you, then you need to look at all those models that offer you these components…stability…arch support…whatever. Prices will vary so you may NOT want to purchase your shoes in that running store unless you know their prices are compatible with the superstores. Try your shoes on and make sure there is not one iota of discomfort. If they feel comfortable then go with them…just do me a favor…try at least three different shoes before deciding….don’t buy the first pair you try until you have tested at least two other pairs.

Although shoes may feel comfortable in the store, you really won’t know for sure as to whether or not they are right for you until you have spent at least an hour in them during a training session, be it a run, a walk, or a combination of the two. I’ll take it one more step. You may not be able to decide until you have trained in them for a week. So I guess I’m suggesting that you give your new running shoe several training sessions before deciding if it is the shoe for you. If it is, then take note of the model and start looking for sales because running shoes can be pricey.

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For the record over the last ten years I have been running in the same model shoe. It works for me so I stick with it and whenever I see a sale I purchase another pair. Here’s a tip: if you settle on a shoe that from year to year goes through a “model upgrade” then think about searching for last year’s model to save money. If in December of this year I see a 2010 model going for $89 and the still new 2009 model going for $59 (to move the inventory) guess which one I’m buying? I have about 10 pairs of running shoes all the same basic model…Ill stick with this model for as long as it’s around. I hope when you find your perfect shoe that you too have a long term relationship.

I’m not going to tell you what kind of socks to wear. I use basic running socks, ones that wick if possible. Let’s face it, if you have a certain affinity for certain sock material then stick with it for your training and the race ahead. It is somewhat true that for some folks the marriage of socks and shoes are VERY important. It is to me too but it’s simple, give me comfortable socks and I’m fine. I do suggest finding the softest socks you can…not the thickest, but the softest.

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Running shorts/tights/pants come in all types of fabrics. Again comfort is the key here and once you find what works for you it’s not only important to stick with it but also to supply yourself with an extra pair or two. Remember, the race you are planning to do in January will have you spending a lot of time with your running gear so for sure you need to have comfortable shorts. And a word of advice, go into a running store and invest in the lightest material shorts you can find.

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Running tops will also be something that for some folks is of vital importance while others will not care. The material always comes into play here and if you have a preference by all means go with it. Over the last several years wicking material seems to be growing in popularity but if you have never worn it, and especially if you have never run with this material you need to try this before wearing it during a race. The bottom line is that you need to find something that will be comfortable for several hours.

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So that's about it for running gear...at least for now.

Finally, and this is the bottom line, whatever you train in is what you should race in. That is, the comfort level you have for your training runs should be the same for the race. Don’t make the mistake of saving that new pair of shoes, socks, shorts, or top for race day. Test them out…break them in…don’t take a chance.

That's our take...gear up.


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May 1, 2009

Michelle and Mike: On Courage First

When we hear of someone planning to run a long distance race, like a half or full marathon, we often take for granted the courage required to make that commitment.

Regardless of whether that decision is made by an experienced or novice runner, it’s not a decision to be taken lightly.

With that decision comes the realization that a certain type of courage is needed.

How?

Take the novice runner. Imagine you have never run a race before, much less a full or half marathon. Heck…you may have never even run a mile in your life.

This person is staring into the unknown.

Why the unknown? Well, look at it this way….this person has never run before so this person has no idea what to expect from his/her body. Also, this person may not fully understand the commitment to training that is required in order to be properly conditioned for this event.

Then of course is the event itself.

What kind of preparation is needed?

What is expected on race day?

What takes place before the race?

What happens during the race?

What happens after the race?

What else?

So it takes a special kind of courage for someone who has never run before to commit to running in not just their first race but a half or full marathon.

Last year Michelle decided to run…for the first time…having never run in a race before…but wanted to do the Walt Disney World Half-Marathon.

How did she see how courage plays into such a commitment?

In her own words:

“Courage. That word takes on a lot of meaning, depending upon the context in which it’s used. When we’re talking about running a race, one might think of the courage one must draw upon to get to the start line on race day….and that certainly does take some fortitude…but what about the courage it takes to take those first steps…?

As a first time runner, who had never competed in a race before, the first big step for me was to sign up for the 2009 Disney Half-Marathon. It took some courage. By submitting my name, by paying the registration fee, I was, in essence, challenging myself and making a promise to myself. By clicking that “Register” button I was challenging myself to consider that I could, in fact, commit to the training. I was challenging myself to start to tell my friends and family that I was going to do this. I was promising myself that I would set aside the time to learn about running, to ask many questions of my coaches, and to do everything I could to prepare myself to get to that START line in the best shape possible that I could to finish the race.

We must call upon courage when the outcome is unknown….when we know that there are difficult struggles ahead, but when we know we have the strength to do whatever we can to get through. “

Those are the thoughts of someone who was staring at not just her first half-marathon but her first race EVER!

The courage Michelle needed to gather was different from that which Mike, and experienced runner, had to call upon, for his first half-marathon.

You would think that an experienced runner would have far less of a need to find the courage to sign up for such a commitment as a half-marathon.

Think again.

Mike tells us:

“I registered for my first half-marathon at the tender age of 55. Although I had been running off and on for some 38 years I had never run more than 9 miles and basically averaged about 6 or 7 miles a day.

I wasn’t sure if I could do 13.1 miles

I was also concerned about an old basketball injury that resulted in my left knee no longer having an anterior cruciate ligament to keep it stable.

My orthopedic surgeon years ago had recommended no more than a 10K distance per day…otherwise there would be possible “complications.”

So my fears were well known...age and injury were at the top of my list.

I also knew a bit as to what it would take to commit to the training for this race.

So as an experienced runner I knew what I was up against and needed to muster courage somewhere to face these known obstacles.

I’ve always wondered what it would be like to do a full marathon but was not ready to tackle that mountain….but a half-marathon seemed doable.

I knew that signing up for the race and getting to the Start was a sign of courage…and that is what all that are doing their first half or full marathon should understand.”

Signing up for a long distance race…regardless as to whether you are either a novice or experienced runner takes courage.

It’s your first step.

There is no looking at it in an other way. To accomplish this feat you need something important…

…courage first.

We congratulate our Team AllEars members and everyone who has signed up for the ½ or full marathons, but we’re especially proud of our new runners, who took that first step, who have shown the courage it takes to simply register for the race.

Let’s do this!

April 19, 2009

Welcome to Team AllEars® Running with Purpose!

Co-captains Mike Scopa and Michelle Scribner-MacLean recently announced the formation of Team All Ears® now training for the January 2010 Half and Full Walt Disney World Marathon.

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This is the new Team AllEars Running Blog. Mike and Michelle will be posting training ideas, tips and more as you prepare for your January run at Walt Disney World

How to Join

For you to join the 2010 AE Running Team you need to be registered for the 2010 Walt Disney World Marathon or Half-Marathon.

We will be focusing on helping everyone train for that weekend and we are excited for those who are planning to do either race for the first time as well as those returning.

We are striving to help not just our team members reach a specific goal but also looking to help others in need and so we are asking all who become members to work towards raising $500 towards Deb’s Avon Breast Cancer Fund.

Again, for more details, check out the Official Announcement of Team AllEars!

If you would like to become a member of the AllEars Running team please send an email to Michelle at michelle@allears.net and tell her why you want to be on the team and how you hope the team can help you.

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About Running with Mickey

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to Team AllEars® Running Blog in the Running with Mickey category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

Team AllCheers is the next category.

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