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Team AllEars Archives

January 27, 2014

It was not a good idea….it was a great idea

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by Mike Scopa and Michelle Scribner-MacLean

Team AllEars did not exist before cancer…but it was forged because of cancer.

Yes, the adopted charity for Team AllEars was Deb Wills’ Avon Walk for breast cancer, which had already established it’s own incredible legacy…but cancer is blind and comes in many forms and from any angles.

That is why Team AllEars grew, and grew with passion. Every member of Team AllEars has his or her own story as to what led them to this team and the fire that continues to burn inside of them to do whatever they can to help those who cannot help themselves, and to protect those who may be prone to cancer’s clutches in the future.

Many years ago, during an awards presentation, an honored recipient stepped up to the podium to receive a distinguished award and acknowledged that he would not be there if not for a contingent of supporters.

But instead of mentioning each and every one of those supporters, he gazed into the audience and made eye contact with every pair of eyes gazing upon the stage and said, “First, if I were to name everyone who has contributed to my success then we would be here all night. Secondly, I would not want to risk missing out naming any one individual because you all, in your own personal way, have brought me to where I am today. In fact, we are a team…a successful team, and for that I thank you.”

In the same manner, it would be impossible to recall all the great contributions that so many of the Team AllEars members have made to this team that I hesitate to attempt such a chore.

There are some moments in general that will always remain fresh in our memories:

• Walking to the corrals with Deb Wills and looking into the lights and recognizing that it was sleeting…in Orlando…in Florida…as we prepared to run a half marathon.

• The times, oh so many times, on FaceBook, when one of the members told us that a family or friend had been stricken by Cancer…or even worse….had been taken by this demon.

• The Annual Meetings in which we shared why we were there…and the courage of one man talking about the son he and his wife never had the opportunity to hold…because of this wretched, heartless monster.

• The pink tutu that saw two races one year, and barely made it through the second one…but survived, like so many of those who will, partly because of the efforts of Team AllEars.

• The applause and tears as each year’s numbers were revealed giving hope to helping those who need just that…hope.

• The many team calls in which ideas were shared and team building took place.

• Seeing dear friends complete a 5K and not fighting the tears, realizing hope important that accomplishment was to that friend.

To borrow a line from the American Adventure, when we first started to gather, “we were stained and tinted (by cancer) with all colors...but as we grew as a team we became “more alike than different” as we all stood for the same cause…for the same purpose.

There was, however, never an indication of what other dividends lay in wait for this team.
The one dividend that was expected was that of friendship, a bonding if you will, of individuals teaming up for the same cause…but that was only the beginning.

As the years unfolded, it became apparent that this team was not just becoming another part of the overall army in fighting cancer. It was more than that...we supported each other…we had fun with each other…we laughed together and we cried together…many times.

We were not limited to just Orlando races…we also ran together in Anaheim, and who can ever forget the laughter during one Pirates of the Caribbean attraction and enjoying ice cream on Main Street USA, possibly standing on the same spot Walt Disney stood on some 50 plus years ago.

It went beyond runDisney as other races in other states began to see the Team AllEars logo and word soon spread about this amazing team and what it stood for…and what legacy it was building.

Then of course the first time we heard race announcer Rudy Novotny yell out “Team AllEars is in the House” to the 20,000+ waiting in the corrals….we had arrived….and then things really took off.

Pretty soon while running a runDisney race we would hear cheers from the folks volunteering, and cast members…”Way to go Team AllEars.”

Since the inception of Team AllEars there have been countless numbers of teams that have sprouted up. We don't have to list them here. We salute all of them for their efforts to their individual causes and wish them well. But let us not lose sight of the fact that none of them will ever be like Team AllEars.

Team AllEars has served as a model for these teams, although these teams will be hard-pressed to forge what Team AllEars has worked ever so hard for over these years to produce not just dollars for the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer…but also camaraderie…friendship…family...love.

Finally, as much as this has been an education for all of us we have also done an amazing bit of mentoring for a most important group of individuals…our children.

As our families have grown, our children have learned an important lesson…that is to help those who are less fortunate...to give to help those who need our help…to let those who are struggling know they are not alone…..to let those who are wounded by cancer know there are those standing by them to help fight the battle.

Our children have learned and that….that is also part of the legacy of Team AllEars that we should all be proud of as we look back over the years.

Everything runs its course and so must Team AllEars…but this is not a day of sadness…it is a day of triumph because it is recognized that the efforts of Team AllEars has made a difference in the lives of those who never help coming, and this will continue….Deb’s Avon Walk for breast cancer efforts will continue as long as Deb Wills and her incredible drive to fight this beast lives on…and we will always be there to support her.

So look forward and continue to work individually on what we have all collaborated on for these last five years…continue to look to help others who are unable to fare for themselves…continue to do whatever you can in the battle against Cancer…continue to teach your children that the most important duty we have in our lives is to reach out and help others!

Team AllEars has raised over $330,000 in the five years for the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer.

Continue…to run with purpose!!!

November 17, 2013

Hail to the Bus Driver

by Michael Miller

One of the oldest, most respected distance races in the world is the Comrades Marathon in South Africa. A 56-mile race, Comrades has a very strict 12 hours cut-off, which most people cannot even imagine making. That being said, one of the key things that have helped people complete this race was the creation of the concept of “The Bus.” To some, The Bus is a fancier term for a pace group, which has become more common in races of all distances; however the Bus is more than that.

The Bus is a group of runners who develop an identity over the life of the race, setting a pace and tone that get the whole group across the finish line. And unlike the pacesetter in a pace group whose sole purpose is to get people across the line at a specific time, the Bus Driver's sole purpose is getting everyone through to the final destination... before the cut-off. Besides having to run their own race, the Bus Driver often becomes responsible for the races of others.

This past Wine & Dine race at Epcot, 12 of us Team Allears Members were fortunate enough to form our own bus for the race. Rich Gairing was the Bus Driver who got us all to our final destination. When the team aggregated in Corral H for the race, we did so with the intent of running together. However as often happens with large groups, I am certain quite a few questioned the sanity and ability of a dozen people trying to run together for a night race through crowded/narrow parks. All I can say is that while our group was a cross-section of various speeds and abilities, it didn’t matter as that night we weren’t fast runners, or slow runners -- just runners dedicated on the journey itself versus focusing on the finish.

Rich was the ideal Bus Driver. Not just because he wielded The Glow Stick of Destiny as we called it -- a blinking plastic sword with a Mickey-shaped handle, sold to kids every night in the parks. It had to do with the fact that Rich legitimately wanted to spend time with everyone in the group. As for the group, it was easy to follow Rich, not just because he was carrying a three-foot blinking light sword (oh, I wanted to write saber), it’s because quite simply, he is one of the nicest, most giving people you could meet. He was more than willing to do the work of timing our run-walk intervals and would constantly verify that we were together as a group.

Like most Disney races we had to navigate large crowds, narrow choke points, uneven pavement and a myriad of other issues that could have broken up our group. However through it all, Rich would wield the Glow Stick of Destiny to tell us when we should walk (stick held horizontally, high above his head); when we should run (stick held vertically in front of him); and when we should sashay (whenever there was music or entertainment). Besides using the Glow Stick as a beacon when we would spread out in the narrow parks, or when people peeled off to do their business, Rick also worked with the team to ensure we were together. For instance, due to the very narrow paths of Animal Kingdom, our group had to separate somewhat. However when we exited the park, Rich moved to the side and waited for everyone to collect back together, wielding his Glow Stick like someone using a red flashlight to direct a plane in from the runway.

Overall, running as a large group could have been an annoyance or even a hindrance to others running the race. Once again though, our Bus Driver went to great lengths to ensure this didn’t happen. Rich was able to keep everyone around us aware of our intent through counting down to our run/walk breaks, as well using the Glow Stick to signal our intentions. Throughout the race, we were more often than not asked if we were a pace group that could be joined versus a large group that was in the way. And near the end, we even received some comments from strangers about what a great group we were.

For the 12 of us who ran together, it’s safe to say we had fun. While we quickly dispersed after crossing the finish line in three waves of four -- hands held together and high -- from the first step to the last, our trip was a collective one. And not unlike those people running the Comrades Marathon (albeit we were running a lot less mileage), it’s thanks to our Bus Driver, Rich Gairing, that we got to our destination together.

Thanks, Rich.

September 27, 2013

Fundraising for Team AllEars by Dave Aulen

My wife Holly signed up for (and completed) her first Goofy Challenge in 2010. That was the inaugural year of Team AllEars Running and her first time being a member of a charity team. It was also Holly's first time attempting something like Goofy - a half marathon on Day 1 and a full marathon on Day 2. We knew we were going to make a personal financial contribution to fight breast cancer, especially since we weren't sure how much we would raise from our family and friends. So we decided to find a way to make donating ourselves both fun and meaningful.

We had discussed that since she was stepping up her number of running sessions to train for Goofy she should get "paid" for each training run. We came up with $5 a run and $10 for a race. We picked $5 because she trained for 5 days a week - so $25 a week. That was less than a Friday night dinner out, which would now be replaced with a pasta dinner at home. She wouldn't get paid for skipping a run, which meant she wasn't helping people fighting cancer - and that's not nice. We've been doing this for five years now and I can count on one hand the number of times we skipped a payment.

We wanted a visible indicator of how we were doing at collecting the money, so we needed some form of a piggy bank. One day I came home from a successful trip to Michael's with a jar and stickers. The jar was born! It sits on the kitchen counter as a daily reminder to us that we are doing something to help others almost everyday and it's also a conversation piece we use to guilt people into a donation. Conversations go like this:

Guest: what an attractive jar! I love the stickers. What's it about?

Us: we are members of a Disney-focused running team that raises money for Avon's Breast Cancer Foundation. That's money we put in every time Holly does a training run. Would you like to contribute?

Gonzo, from the Muppets, has become the Team AllEars fundraising mascot. He was kind enough to fly out to Illinois to do a photo shoot with the jar. And yes, before you ask, I do still have the stickers and could update the year on the jar. I choose not to because.......ok, I'm just lazy.

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Here's another saving technique I recently learned. This can work for fundraising or saving for that next trip down to Orlando. Each night when you come home empty your wallet of all $1 bills. Put them in a jar or somewhere safe and see how much you have after a month. The one time we did this we had $71. Not too bad over a year's time. If you're looking for a good cause to put that money to consider donating it to your favorite Team AllEars member, or spread it around...... Use the following link to find our individual and team pages on Avon's Do-It-Yourself Fundraising pages.

We take credit card!
http://info.avonfoundation.org/site/TR/DIY/General?pg=team&fr_id=2350&team_id=122630

September 13, 2013

Team AllEars Runner Profile: Ellie Argaluza

Where are you from?
Cary, North Carolina

Races you’ll be doing in January:
Goofy’s Race & a Half Challenge! The challenge consists of running the ½ Marathon on Saturday followed by the Full Marathon on Sunday.

What do you enjoy running Disney races OR what excites you most about running Disney races?
Disney races are well organized and have lots of entertainment along the way. You get to run through parts of the Parks that are back stage which is an added bonus for Disney geeks like me.

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While I love running their races the best thing is that I get to run and spend time with my team mates from Team AllEars. I have been on the team for three years now, each race weekend is better than the last one. I look forward to spending time with them whether it is on the course or in the parks.

Why did you join Team AllEars?
I was diagnosed with Stage 1 Breast Cancer in 2008. I joined the team because I believe that we need to find a way to end Breast Cancer in our lifetime. I am happy to say that I have been cancer free for five years. While I will be celebrating life with Team AllEars this coming January; I will also be in Washington DC for the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer in May.

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July 21, 2013

Preparing for Dopey

by Mike Paxton

It's about seven months until the 2014 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend. These last two weeks I've been on the road quite a bit and I'm sure like many other Dopey runners, I have been trying to think about how best to train for the Dopey.

I'd like to make the caveat up front that everyone is different and we all have different training styles that work for us. Some of do better with a higher volume of running, others might use a lot of cross training in their training plan. This post is really to give you some ideas of what I'm thinking about and hopefully adding to your toolbox some things that you can take and use for yourself.

Assumptions
There are some assumptions I'd like to make here. First of all, I'm running the Dopey here. I've done the Goofy now twice and I'd like to survive the weekend of races and also work on improving my overall time for the marathon. That is where I'm coming from but many of these suggestions can be used for people of all levels.

Training to Train

I call this period of time from now until the middle of September, "Training to Train." This is where we build our base and do a lot of experimentation so that when we get to the fall we don't have a lot of decisions left to make in our training plan. Now is the time to try new things out.

Speedwork
I plan to incorporate speedwork into my workout schedule for the race. I'm going to use this period of time to experiment with new and different types of speedwork. For those of you who are thinking about adding some to your training plan, start looking around and try some of these workouts. Whether it's running on a track doing 400m repeats, hill repeats, fartlek runs, or Yasso 800s there are lots of workouts out there that can help improve not only your speed but also your stamina. Speedwork not only makes us faster, but it also helps train lesser used muscles that will overall help out support our bodies better.

Run/Walk/Run
If you are going to use Jeff Galloway's run-walk-run method of training/running, now is the perfect time to experiment and figure out which interval length works for you. It might even be that if you are doing multiple races during race weekend you might use a different interval depending on the length of the race. I myself do a 4 min run/1 min walk for the marathon but for the 10k I plan on doing a 4:30 run, 30 sec walk. Everyone has a different interval that works best for them.

Building a Base
I'm going to keep a solid base of running during this period. This means about three days per week with my long runs going up to about 11 miles or so. This also will keep me ready for the Disneyland Double Dumbo Dare in September. This way when I get into my race specific training, I will be already used to running on a schedule and will have a good base of fitness.

Nutrition
If you haven't nailed down your nutrition training yet, now is a great time to start experimenting. For Dopey we are going to be burning a lot of calories. Maybe GUs have never really sat well with you. Perhaps you have never tried gel shot blocks. This is the time to try something new. I really suggest going down to the local running store and buying a variety of different types of running nutrition snacks and giving them a try to see what works for you. If none of those work for you, try to eat real food while you run (fruit, nuts, pretzels, etc). Figure out what works now on your stomach and for your fueling needs.

Losing Weight Before Training
This is a good time to focus on losing weight. For most of us the more weight we lose the less impact on our legs/feet and the faster we can go. A general rule of thumb is that losing 1% decrease in body weight can lead to a 1% improvement in your race time. Weight loss is a tricky thing in our society, everyone is different and for many of us it's a bit struggle. If you are at a place where you can afford to lose some weight, just think of it as free speed that you don't have to train for. For myself I'm hoping to lose 15 pounds this summer just to reduce some of the impact I've been feeling on my knees.

Burnout/Injuries
If you feel yourself getting burned out during this period, do something else. Go for a trail run. Go biking. Run with friends. Also if you have any injuries going on, take care of them now. It's very important that you manage this period of your training so that when you get into your race specific training in the fall that you are excited and healthy to train. For many of us it's going to be 12-20 weeks (depending on which race you are doing) of a lot of running. You really want to make sure that do not go into the fall burned out or injured if at all possible.

SAU (Spousal Approval Units)
This is a term that a friend of mine taught me. Urban dictionary explains it as: The SAU or "Spousal Approval Unit" is a measure of how much spousal approval will be lost or gained by performing an action that one's spouse either approves of (SAU's earned) or disapproves of (SAU's spent). Training takes a lot of time and this period of time, before my actual race begins I'm going to be focusing on building up as many SAUs so that when training gets intense in the fall, I will minimize any issues with my wife. If that means cutting a workout a bit short to go see a movie with her, that's what I'll do.

Race-Specific Training
This is when your actual training for the race begins. For most of us doing the Dopey or Marathon it may be 16-20 weeks out from the race. Here is where the real work begins for Marathon weekend.

Training Plan
I suggest that by now you have nailed down a training plan. Once you have it, try and make yourself somehow accountable to it. Maybe that means finding a running buddy and the two of you are accountable to each other. Maybe it means using daily mile. If you don't have a training plan, Jeff Galloway has several on the Run Disney website. Otherwise you can adapt of the many out on the internet (like Hal Higdon or one from Cool Running) for your race or speak to one of your teammates. I believe that running is like many things in life, what you put into it is what you get out of it. If you can, find a training plan that works with your schedule and your body and stick with it throughout the training season.

Speedwork
By now you may have tried several different workouts and decided to incorporate them into your training plan. Yay! Speedwork sucks for most of us. It's not necessarily fun per say but it will make you stronger. I try and wrangle my friends to run with me on speedwork days so that we can suffer together.

Nutrition/Hydration
Hopefully you are close to locking down your nutrition and hydration. The goal here is not only to fuel our bodies during the run, but it's also to help train our bodies to process nutrition while running (something that it doesn't do very well). When you take nutrition and have to digest it, you are moving blood from your muscles to your stomach to process the nutrition. The more we train our bodies to do that, the better that system works. For me that means on any run longer than 45 minutes I'm taking some sort of nutrition every 45 minutes while running, whether I need the fuel or not. Same can be said of hydration.

Sleep/Rest Weeks
Recovery is very important for our bodies to build the muscle that we working on with our training. That means not only getting adequate sleep each night but also it is suggested that runners build in a week of rest every 3-4 weeks where they scale back their running by a percentage to allow the body to rebuild the muscles.

Weight Loss During Training
This was a tricky one for me to learn, but when I got into my race specific training, weight loss for me had to go on the back burner. When you lose weight you are basically forcing your body to use fat as fuel instead of glycogen. When you are training for a race and attempting to build more fitness you really want to properly fuel yourself as much as possible. Eat healthy foods, drink lots of water but try not to focus too much on weight loss. Don't worry, you will be building muscle during this time.

Burnout
This is a problem that plagued me this past year for The Goofy Challenge. I had gone through a summer and fall season of races and when I got to Goofy training I was already a bit burned out. This summer I'm taking it easy so that when I get to the fall I'm ready to go full ahead with my training.

Again, everyone is different. We all have different backgrounds, levels of fitness, age, history of injuries, etc. Hopefully there is something here that can help you prepare for Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend.

Please remember, not everything in here will pertain to everyone...but there might be something for you.

July 14, 2013

Team AllEars Runner Profile: Sue Lopresti

Name:
Sue Lopresti

Where are you from?
Turnersville, New Jersey

Races you’ll be doing in January:
10K


What do you enjoy running Disney races ?
The best moment for me was running up Main Street last year. The cheers and the crowds were amazing and getting to run through the Castle was a moment I will never forget.

Why did you join Team AllEars?
I discovered Team AllEars while on the AllEars Website a few years ago. I followed along as they trained, raced and raised money for the fight against Breast Cancer. I knew then that if I ever decided to get serious about running that I would join the Team AllEars Family. Then about three years ago two of my sisters tested positive for the gene that causes breast cancer. I have watched as they both under went a preventive mastectomy and reconstruction. I joined the team to raise money for Avon Walk for Breast Cancer soon after. I'm excited to be back for for my second year with Team AllEars.

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July 7, 2013

Team AllEars Runner Profile: Brian Thompson

Where are you from?
Mount Joy, Pennsylvania

runDisney Event in January:
5K

What do you enjoy running Disney races OR what excites you most about running Disney races?
I’m very excited to be a part of something that I’ve been hashing around in my head for a number of years. I think just being there and crossing that finish line will give me a great sense of accomplishment and validate all that I’ve been through over the last year.

What is your favorite Disney attraction or restaurant and why?
My favorite attraction is a toss-up between Soarin’ and the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. My favorite restaurant is Artist Point.

Why did you join Team AllEars?
I joined TAE because my wife and I have been supporters of Deb Wills' efforts for years, not to mention the friends I have on the team who have been nudging me in that direction for quite awhile (cough, cough... Brad, cough, Melanie)

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June 30, 2013

Team AllEars Runner Profile: Christine Surh

Where Do You Live?
I currently live in Levittown, NY on Long Island. I moved here with my husband about six years ago for his job. I am from Mohegan Lake, NY which is about an hour north of NYC. I hope to move back to that area someday.

In Which runDisney Events Will You Participate?
I will be doing the 5K, 10K and Half Marathon.

What do you Enjoy Most About Running Disney Races?
I haven't had a lot of experience with Disney races but what I enjoyed most about the ones I have done are seeing the characters and everyone cheering for you. It is really a fun time and spoils you for other races.

Why Did You Join Team AllEars?
I joined for two reasons. First, is in honor of my grandmother, who past away 16 years ago from breast and ovarian cancer. The second is my love of Disney. It was my grandmother who passed on that love of Disney. She and my grandfather always said that Disney knows how to do things right. I have a lot of memories of seeing Disney movies in my pajamas at the drive-in theater in the back of my grandparents station wagon. :) Last year was my first year on the team and I loved it. So glad to be back again this year.

What Is Your Favorite Disney Attraction or Restaurant and Why?
My favorite Disney attraction is It's a Small World. It is the one ride I have to go on every trip. It is a classic and I still enjoy it every time. And yes, the song is my phone ringtone.

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June 23, 2013

Team AllEars Runner Profile: Rich Gairing

Name: Rich Gairing, Jr (Never Richard please unless I am in trouble)

Where Do You Life? I am from Newtown, CT – a great place to live

In Which runDisney Events Will You Be Participating: This year I will be too lucky with my Disney running (my wife calls it an addiction). I will be out in California in August for the Dumbo Double Dare and my Coast to Coast medal. Running my first 10k and getting to run in an inaugural race for once is going to be amazing!

Then in November, I get to team up with my Team AllEars friends again at the Wine and Dine, for my first real nighttime race. Finally, in January, I am capping off my running career with the Dopey Challenge. Four days of running with the most amazing people in the world (they have to be to wake up at 2 AM).

Why Do You Enjoy Running Disney Races The thing I love most about running Disney races are the following (like children – you can love them all the same): I love that you get to see the parks and the fans in such a different setting, to be able to ride a bus or monorail and say “I ran there” or “the DJ was up there."

I love being around people who are enthusiastic and are there for the fun of it all. I love the challenge and satisfaction of finishing a Disney race and getting that amazing bling. But most of all – I love the friends that I run with. Bonds are developed, and cemented during the Run Disney weekends, that will live forever.


What is Your Favorite Disney attraction or Restaurant and Why?
I love Splash Mountain and am amazed that they went to build such an amazing dark ride / thrill ride combo. The joy I get from seeing Brer Bear with the beehive on his nose, I laugh every time I see it. When it is working right, from Brer Rabbit hoppin’ along the boat, to the fountains overhead, to those mangy vultures – smiles every time. (Jungle Cruise is the my favorite old school ride & and Pooh’s Honey Hunt wins best overseas ride)

Why did you join Team AllEars? I joined TAE last year because I’ve had too many friends who suffered with breast cancer. While I am thankful so many were saved through science, I lost a close friend in July to this horrible disease. I think about her constantly, about her laugh and how loving she was to her family… and it just makes me angry that she wasn’t with us in January so I could share this with her. Sure my love of Disney and my desire to change my life were important, but I run for all those who are have, are, or will be fighting.

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June 16, 2013

Team AllEars Runner Profile: Evelyn DeLuccia

This year we'll be featuring some of the runners on Team AllEars. We asked them to tell our readers a little bit about themselves, their connection with Disney, runDisney, as well as Team AllEars. We hope you enjoy these runner profiles.

Name: Evelyn DeLuccia

Where Do You Live? : White Plains, New York

In Which runDisney Event Are You Participating?
The Dopey Challenge, January 2014

Why Do You Like to Run Disney Races? Disney races are fun running through the parks, meeting up with our team mates from Team AllEars, and of course touring the parks after the Races.

Why Did You Join Team AllEars? Originally I joined Team AllEars to have others to meet up and run with as well as working for the Avon. I also joined to share information, ideas, training, information about Disney, etc.

What Are Your Favorite Disney Attractions? Tower of Terror, Pirates of the Caribbean and Toy Story Mania are favorite attractions. I LOVE Disney at Christmas time. Osborne light show is awesome. Food and Wine Festival is one of my favorite things to do as well. As for Toy Story Mania, I get competitive playing. My favorite Restaurant is La Hacienda (new restaurant in Epcot) and my favorite Drink spot, LaCava!!!!!

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March 27, 2013

3...2...1....Launching Team AllEars 2014

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Team AllEars Logo

It's that time of year again; spring...a time to start anew...or a time to start over.

For the members of Team AllEars that means it's time to roll up our sleeves and get to work again as we launch Team AllEars 2014


The Origin of Team AllEars

The Team AllEars Running Team was founded in 2009 to motivate everyone into a healthier lifestyle via the activities of walking, jogging, and running. The team also had another goal in mind as well and that was to do more than just motivate people into adopting a healthier lifestyle. The goal was to serve others who were dealt a challenge...the challenge of dealing with breast cancer.

Team AllEars focused on increasing breast cancer awareness by raising funds for Deb Wills' Avon Walk for Breast Cancer .

Regarding launch of Team AllEars for 2014, Deb Wills expressed:

"Team All Ears has exceeded every expectation I could have ever imagined. Each year veteran and new runners join together to Run With Purpose - to get healthier and fight breast cancer. Together we can and do make a difference and since its inception, Team AllEars has raised over $220,000 in the fight against breast cancer and touched countless lives through awareness and fundraising. I look forward to this year being the best ever!"

A Family Strong

Every year during the annual Team AllEars Official Team meet at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, team members celebrate their accomplishments of not only completing their goal of finishing their target race for that weekend, but also on how much they have contributed to breast cancer awareness through various means of fundraising.

At the 2012 Team meeting Team AllEars Co-Captain Michelle Scribner-McLean used “family” as the proper word to define what Team AllEars has become over the years. Those words have rung true as this team, this family, continues to do things far above the expectations set when the team was first created.

Team AllEars has become well known in the runDisney world and at every runDisney sponsored race you will always hear runDisney race announcer Rudy Novotny pay tribute to the efforts of the team members and all they do. Novotny has been quoted as saying runDisney "...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."

How Team AllEars Works

The members of Team AllEars commit to walking, jogging, or running in one of the various races held in January, during the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend. These races include a range; a 5K distance (3.1 miles), a 10K distance (6.2 miles), a half marathon (13.1 miles), and finally to a full marathon distance (26.2 miles).

Each team member commits to running "with purpose" and that means a commitment to raise $500 in funds for Deb Wills' Avon Walk for Breast Cancer. Members are also asked to sign a liability waiver before becoming official members of the team. 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.

Mike Scopa, Co-Captain for Team AllEars, says of the membership, "These folks are tireless in their quest to help those who have been ravaged by this demon Cancer. We and all families have all been victims of this terrible disease and thus we work together to help the fight to snuff it out. I cannot express how proud and in awe I am by the devotion, the effort, and the labor of love each member gives year after year in this cause."

During Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend the team holds meets and its annual Illuminations dessert party to top off the weekend and celebrate their success.

Team AllEars has much more than runners. It has 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 and to enjoy friendship and support.

The Fifth and Final Year for Team AllEars

Earlier this year honorary Team captain Deb Wills and co-captains Michelle Scribner-MacLean and Mike Scopa announced that this would be the final year for Team AllEars and that the goal is to have the best year yet. The call has gone out to have Team AllEars alumni come back and help the team go out with a rousing success.

Everyone who has and will be part of Team AllEars will take with them a legacy that will have them smiling and continuing with their own personal fight to help those who need help in the fight against breast cancer.

So the call has gone out...to our present members...to those who are coming back for one final year...and for those of you who have wanted to be part of Team AllEars and have said, "Maybe next year."

Well, next year is now. Cancer does not wait until next year...it strikes as soon as it can.

How to Join Team AllEars

Team AllEars 2014 has a limited number of open slots and we are offering these slots to those who would like to join the team.

For you to join the Team AllEars 2014 you must plan to register for at least one of the 2014 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend races.

Secondly, you are asked to commit 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.

If you need help in the form of a coach the Team AllEars Mentor Program is ready to help you achieve your goal.

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 2014 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.

This is your last chance to join Team AllEars and become part of an amazing group of individuals who Run with Purpose.

Lift off!


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March 13, 2013

Defining Success

By Christine Surh

After signing up for the WDW Half Marathon early last year, the only goal I could think about was finishing. I had done two half marathons previously with finish times of 4:05 and 4:01. I knew it would be a challenge to train to finish under 3:30. I signed up for local half in September to use as a gauge to see how I was doing. I trained all summer and finished the half in September in 3:39. It would have been even better except that at mile 8 I was hit with knee pain and had to slow to a walk for the rest of the race.

Because of my knee problems, I had to revise my training and worked out mainly on the elliptical during the week with a long distance walk on the weekends. There was still only one thing on my mind. Finish the half marathon.

Marathon weekend arrived and I was nervous to say the least. On top of not being able to train like I had planned, the weather was hot and humid. Humidity and I are not friends. I knew it was going to be rough but the only goal still in my mind was to finish.

I was lucky enough to be running with my mentor, Julie, who had been a constant source of support throughout all of my training. As we started it out, it didn’t take me long to realize this was going to be rough. By mile 3, I knew I was in trouble but kept going. We ran through the Magic Kingdom which seemed to go by pretty quickly but by the time we got out onto the highway in the blazing sun with the humidity, I was really struggling. By mile 8, I was just felt like I was done. I had no energy left. Julie was willing to stay with me but I couldn’t let her take the chance of not finishing so I sent her on ahead. I was not going to quit but I could not run anymore.

At that point, I made the decision to just keep moving and if they stopped me, so be it. Around mile 10.5, a woman on a bike started riding next to me to make sure I was ok. She asked if I had 2.5 more miles in me. I said I did but it wasn’t going to be fast. As we got to the mile 11 sign, another man on a bike told me that I was too far behind and I was going to be swept at that point.

So there it was. I didn’t finish. The only event that was going to make the weekend a success for me didn’t happen. But did that really make the weekend unsuccessful? Absolutely not!

Here are just a few of the many successes I experienced this weekend:
- I got to meet a great group of people who together raised over $78,000 for breast cancer
- I got to participate in the family fun 5K and have a great time
-I got to be in the Magic Kingdom to cheer on all the marathon runners
-I got to have an opportunity to challenge myself in difficult conditions and do the best I could do.

Would I have liked to have finished? Of course. Does not finishing make that event a failure in my life? I don’t think so. Will I be back next year to go for it again? You bet!!!

March 7, 2013

Who Is Team AllEars

by Michael Miller

Over the past year, I've been repeatedly asked about the team and who we are.....the following is a summary of some of the key points I've used in describing the team.....

Who are we? Team AllEars, over 100 strong.

Professionally we are a cross section. From teachers to students, engineers and sellers of ball bearings, administrators, PhDs and an accountant (or two); consultants, podcasters and nurses by the bunch. Vets who are retired, school kids, bankers, homemakers and even a cartoonist. On and on our professions range and on paper we are diversified in our background, our training and our vocations. While we are a team, it is our individuality that united us.

Individually we are mothers, daughters, sisters. Fathers, sons, brothers. Grandparents, grandkids, Aunts, Uncles, Nieces and Nephews. Significant others. And while we hold multiple roles in our family, mother to some, daughter to others, it’s our other roles that bring us here. Survivors, fighters and supporters of each. And sadly, tribute makers honoring those who could not be there, remembering friends and family alike. Keeping their memories alive, for ourselves and for their families. In this we are all sharing a common purpose.

Our purpose is Active Remembrance. Active not in our thoughts, but by our actions. We walk, we run, we Galloway. We strive with each step to reclaim a sense of control for ourselves and for those who are impacted by Breast Cancer, by cancer, by any life changing malady. For the survivors and fighters it’s a chance to physically reclaim not just the body, but the spirit. And for the supporters and remembers we are doing it for those who can’t, a physical tribute to lay claim to the idea that with each step you are not forgotten. We do this with a determined goal.

Our goal was to raise money….and boy did we ever. $79,027, to be exact, for this year alone; and just under $225,000 since the team began. Though impressive, we don’t measure our success in dollars…..we measure it by impact. And what an impact we are having, roughly:

• 1200 meals for homebound breast cancer patients will be delivered
• 200 mammograms or bone scans for uninsured patients will be done
• 200 uninsured patients now have access to chemotherapy
• 100 people will have bloodwork to identify the best course of treatment for their breast cancer

While we don’t know the specifics of how our contributions are used, we do know that either through some subset of the mechanisms above, or in the funding of research that will spawn cures. By meeting our financial goals, we are not collecting dollars, we are impacting lives.

This is Team AllEars, 100 strong. A running team of professionals, of individuals, with a common purpose and a shared goal. We are “In It to End It” and our focus isn’t on winning the 5K, the Half or Even the Full (except for Eddie, he would like to win each) it is on winning the race to a cure.

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February 20, 2013

The Gift

by Jamison Reynolds


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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February 6, 2013

The Adventure Begins

by Matt Allgaier

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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February 1, 2013

Journey to a Half Marathon

by Sandra Hall

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

January 7, 2013

Life is Better With a Little Pixie Dust

by Sara Rhodes

How many of us have heard “you are going to Disney, again!?” For a gal like me who has made the trip from Illinois to Florida over 30 times in my 31 years, I have heard it too many times to count. My answer is usually a “uh huh” or “yep”. I don’t know if they would have the patience to hear my long answer….

Our family’s love of Disney started when my dad was a kid, watching TV with his eight siblings. Growing up as one of the youngest in a big family, he wasn’t quite as spoiled as my sister and I have been. As a kid, Dad would watch The Wonderful World of Disney, and dream about the day when he could go to see the Disneyland castle for himself. He hasn’t made it to Disneyland yet (Fall of 2013?), but he has been on countless trips to the Disney World Resort with his own children, in a variation of that childhood dream. Mom and Dad have worked hard over the years to provide for my sister and I, and they still take us on vacations even though we are in our 30s.

We already have thousands of happy WDW memories, and we’re still adding family members and memories to our list. We all agree that life is better with a little pixie dust, and every trip has given us hours enjoyment on the trip, but hours of happy planning pre-trip.

As many times as we have visited, no two trips have been alike. We have been there during the holiday season, for quick weekends and for extended multi-week stays. We’re always thinking of new ways to change things up and my latest discovery has been the runDisney races.

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A few years ago I took up running to get back into athlete-like shape, and I ventured off to the WDW resort for my first ever half marathon. Since then, I have been hooked on the runDisney series, and on the new running family I found along the way: Team All Ears. I now have another excuse to book a plane ticket to Florida, even if it does mean running a half marathon! It adds yet another layer to the (delicious) onion that is the WDW resort, and now you can head to Central Florida for rest, relaxation, rides AND to get in some exercise.

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Disney races are some of the best I have done, mostly because of the pixie dust they add to every race. Themed races, such as the recent Tower of Terror 10 Miler, are fun for the swag and cool medals. The Marathon Weekend in January has an expo that, in my experience, is only second to the Chicago Marathon Expo. The crowds are amazing, and running in the parks is something special.

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Running isn’t just for the most fit and athletic people. Running allows for people of all walks of life to join in, and runDisney does a good job of making sure that everyone of every level is included. Kid’s races and family friendly 5ks are great for shorter distances. The half and full marathons allow for a 16 minute mile pace, which is generous in the running community. Jeff Galloway partnered up with runDisney to help out with training plans, many of which are used by Team AllEars. But the important thing is this: No matter where you finish in the order of results, your medal shines just as brightly as anyone else’s.

Not sure how to get started with running? Check out runDisney.com for the Galloway plans. Visit your local running stores to ask about shoes and running gear. here are many running magazines that have online resources for people of every level. Soon, you’ll be able to check out the allears.net weekly newsletter for insider tips about the runDisney races from our very own Team AllEars members.

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Find a running friend who wants to go on a journey with you. Having a friend to get you up in the morning, hold you accountable for the food you eat, and ultimately travel with you to race is one of the best things you can do for yourself.

Start small. Check out a local 5k, or if you already have a Disney vacation planned, see if there are any races going on during that time. Remember, no matter how small or how slow you start, it is better than not doing anything at all.

And next time someone says “Disney, again!?”, you can answer “Yep! Life is better with pixie dust…and some sweet race bling around my neck!”

Happy Running.

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December 30, 2012

My Team AllEars Journey

by April Arnold

My journey to Team Allears begins with a love story. My husband and I met in college in 2005, just two crazy kids with an affinity for political science. We soon discovered we also had a shared interest in Disney. We had traveled to the land of the mouse many times growing up and we soon found out we were both just kids at heart.

Our first trip in 2007 sealed the deal and we were hooked. We were just broke students but we had splurged for the Disney Dining Plan. Our love for food equals our love for Disney and our reservation at Le Cellier steakhouse was an excursion to heaven. Five trips later (including an engagement in the Magic Kingdom) and several blissful years of marriage, we’ve kept going and never looked back.

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Running has had a place in my life ever since I realized I had no hand eye coordination. Starting as a sprinter, my post high school running career pushed my distances further and further until my first full marathon this past January 2012. When the announcer at the starting line told us our lives would be changed after this race, I knew I wanted to run it again.

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So how does Team Allears fit in all this?

Earlier this spring, after finding a lump on his throat, my husband was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. We were terrified. Our doctor told us to relax, this type of cancer has an incredibly high success rate and he will be completely fine. He had surgery in late April and is ready to do another spin on Toy Story Mania.

Something we both took away from this experience was how incredibly lucky we were. Trips to the doctor for a biopsy, seven hours in the waiting room during his surgery, and days in the hospital aren’t even close to what someone who has breast cancer has to go through. I knew I wanted to give back and Team Allears was the answer.

Now I run for those who can’t. I get up to train at 5 a.m. and run hills to find a cure. Don’t feel sorry for our experience. Be angry for those who have no have no choice and take action.

See you in the parks!

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November 27, 2012

Support Team AllEars - 5 Bedroom Vacation Home Plus tickets - Auction for a Cause

Auction for a Cause!

Team AllEars® Member David Schaefer is offering this beautiful luxury 5BR/5BA
Pool Home Vacation Package to support Deb Wills' Avon Walk for Breast Cancer on ebay.com

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http://www.ebay.com/itm/150954411759

The Florida vacation you have been waiting for - 7 nights in a 5 bedroom luxury pool home, passes for one day for up to eight people to SeaWorld, two adult 7 day park hopper passes to Walt Disney World and a one week car rental!

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The winning bidder will get to choose any seven consecutive nights in our vacation rental. Choose any week with no restrictions - if the date is available you can book it! Current availability can be checked at our management company listing: http://www.allstarvacationhomes.com/res/property.asp?ID=501 You can see many more pictures of the vacation home there as well!

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It isn't just a vacation home package though - courtesy of our management company, AllStar Vacation Homes, the winning bid will also get one day admission for up to eight people at Seaworld and a one week mid-size car rental from Enterprise. Place a bid and get ready to pack you bags!

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All this and it still gets better! It is the 20th Anniversary of the Walt Disney World Marathon and to help raise even more money for The Avon Breast Cancer Foundation I am going to top last year and include two seven day Walt Disney World park hopper passes!

This package is worth thousands of dollars and the bidding starts at just $1. All of the proceeds go to a great cause so place a bid and keep an eye on the auction! You don't want to miss this opportunity. Take a look at what last yer's winner had to say about his trip in November of 2012:

"The house was awesome I cannot say enough about it. Plenty of room everything we needed was in the house. Real close to Disney. If you plan to rent house please make some time to enjoy this wonderful place. Don't just use it for a place to sleep. The owner and All Star vacation homes were very good to us anything we needed they took care of. I would recommend this house 110%+++. Will be renting again next year. Thanks again Dave and All Star."

I am raising funds for The Avon Breast Cancer Foundation as part of Team All Ears for the fourth time this year. We have raised over $145,000 over the last three years and hope to break a new record this year. You can see some highlights from last year's race in the video below:

A great vacation and a great cause - 100% of all proceeds will be donated to The Avon Breast Cancer Foundation, a 501 3(c) charity - and bidding starts with no reserve!

REMEMBER: ALL PROCEEDS FROM THIS AUCTION GO TO
DEB'S AVON WALK FOR BREAST CANCER.

Happy Bidding - Please don't hesitate to ask if you have any questions!

November 19, 2012

Mickey's Jingle Jungle 5K

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By now it’s no secret....I love Disney 5Ks! For Mickey’s Jingle Jungle 5K, runDisney has combined some of my favorite things -- Disney theming, holiday theming, and a chance to run a Disney event with good friends. It was the right mix for a wonderful experience.

This newly-themed runDisney event was one of the events during the Wine and Dine Race Weekend. More and more runDisney is packaging running events with an opportunity for everyone in the family to run. This “family fun 5K” is definitely for everyone, with everyone from toddlers in strollers, to young children, to teens and preteens, to new adult runners, to very experienced teen and adult runners. Everyone was there!

I was excited to run with three of my buddies -- Amy, Sara, and Christine. The 5K is a perfect race to run...or walk, as we did together, with plenty of chances for photo ops.

The “Jingle” part of this race referred to the holiday theme. In the pre-race area, folks had a chance to get their photos taken with giant Nutcrackers, “snow covered” scenery, and Christmas trees. Holiday Mickey and Minnie were also on hand for some photos.

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The “Jungle” part of the title was in reference to the setting -- Disney’s Animal Kingdom. The park was decked out with the traditional huge animal-themed tree at the entrance, many characters along the way -- of the animated and real variety.

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Pluto and Goofy were around for photos, too, but I got a chance to hang out with my favorite character in his holiday best....Donald.

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As with all Disney races, the race start and mile markers were themed and my buddy race announcer Rudy Novotny was even decked out in a holiday scarf and hat to call the race.

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Another fun feature of 5Ks is that often runners dress up to match the theme. We saw elves, Santas, reindeer...and even Wreck It Ralph.

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Runners received a cute holiday-themed race shirt....and of course, the bling was pretty neat, too (I especially liked the candy-cane colored ribbon).

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The only down side of this race series is that the 5K is held on the very same morning as the Wine & Dine Half Marathon. This made for a very tiring day (up at 4:30 a.m. to get to the 5K and then running 13.1 miles that very same evening...and then the after party!).

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Overall, a very fun time! I would definitely like to do the Mickey’s Jingle Jungle 5K again.

June 3, 2012

Gear Up Now

by Michael Miller Team AllEars 2013

Typically, when people sign up for their first race, the first thing they do is establish a training plan to reach their goal. All too often, while these plans are technically sound, they don’t take into account everything that can help you be successful when you set out to run a race. One suggestion I’ve given to all of the people running their first race is to “gear up now.” In this case, I am not talking about running shoes, performance “technical” shirts or other running gear. I am referring to something more intangible; something that allows you to stay focused on your goal. I am talking about finding something symbolic to help you maintain the right mindset during your training.

In 2008, after a couple of years of injury and illness, I signed up for my first runDisney event. While I knew what I needed to do to be able to run the distance, I also knew I needed something to keep me focused on my goal of running a race after so many years of being unable to do so. For me, it was an Addidas Sport Goofy shirt I ordered off of eBay. To some, it may not be the most fashionable of shirts. However, wearing it after a long run felt like wearing Iron Man’s Suit, swinging Thor’s Hammer or carrying Captain America’s Shield…you get the point (and really should see the Avengers). The thing was, whenever I wore it, I felt like I had already completed my race at Disney. More importantly, it made me feel more like a super hero than a middle aged guy prepping for a race.

The shirt wasn’t the only thing I bought. There was also a little lapel pin of Goofy running in a sweat suit that I wore to work every so often. Wearing it started as a sly nod to the long hours I was putting in training, but it became more than that. Since a Goofy pin on your lapel isn’t typical business attire, it led to conversations with my co-workers and unexpected encouragement and support to reach my goal.

One of my favorite pictures of myself at Walt Disney World shows me in my Goofy shirt. I am wearing it at a place I love, with my race medal around my neck, my arms around my kids and a big grin on my face. After long runs, I still wear that shirt as a reminder above all else, running should be fun, and from time-to-time, we all need to feel like superheroes.


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Michael’s always been known as a bit of a Goofy Runner, and he has the shirt (and goofy grin) to prove it!!!


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Michael’s all “frogged up” in his Kermit hat and a “Kiss me I might be your prince charming” shirt for the Disney Princess Half. Apparently Prince Naveen didn’t want to be left out despite being told there was room for only one frog in the photo.


Here are some of my Team AllEars running buddies and their running gear:

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Team AllEars Running Diva Ella Argaluza charms herself, and us, prior to her race, with her Disney Charmilla “Dreams Come True” and Pandora Sneaker charms.

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Brad Garfinkel’s running buddy may be a little Goofy, however this well traveled running companion was always with Brad on those long runs leading up to his first Goofy Challenge.

So remember, it’s just as important to add to your gear list those fun things that motivate you to celebrate the journey, not just the goal. Running a race at the Happiest Place on Earth is as much about having the right attitude as it is the right shoes. So get a runDisney shirt, buy some charms for your Pandora bracelet, put rockets on your shoes, or even carry a stuffed Goofy in your Fuel Belt. And while anything that will get you excited is fair game, please consult with your significant other prior to getting any tattoos. (Fine Print: The author of this blog post is not responsible for any tattoos, other than of the temporary kind.)


May 9, 2012

Hoist the Colors

By Mike Fuller

We all have our reasons for running; getting healthier, accomplishing a goal, running somewhere we never dreamed we could. The reasons are numerous, and each just as important as the rest. For me, it started as the same as most of us, wanting to get healthy. I had tried working out, but that meant a membership, driving back and forth, and all that involved. That is not an easy thing with toddlers running around. I needed something that was more accessible, something I could do on my own and not in front of others who are much better than me. I found that in January of 2010.

We were living in Orlando and found out my best friend Eric Bouchet was running the Walt Disney World Marathon. So we went and after seeing him finish, I simply said “I want to do this.” We talked about it on the way home; I told my wife my plan. To my surprise, she did not laugh at me, nor ask me if I was crazy, but simply said she was behind me 100 percent. Also on my side was my best friend Eric and Team All Ears, a group of runners who all run with Purpose. That purpose is to raise awareness and funds in the battle against Breast Cancer.

The training began for me. I was hooked on the Galloway (run/walk/run) Method, and, at first, used a conditioning training he had to help me in getting ready for my goals. Next in my sights was a 5K. I figured it was the smallest distance and a good stepping-stone in helping me reach my Half Marathon goal. Along the way I started noticed something, people not only took notice of my running, but also of the cause I was running for. It was no longer about me; it was no longer about getting healthier. I was running for something more, something bigger, and it took over.

I decided to run for my PopPop, who passed away in August of 2010 from Breast cancer. I started noticing something else along the way; it was more than just breast cancer I was running for. I was running for the survivors, the ones battling, and the ones who lost. Breast cancer, stomach, kidney, liver, leukemia, you think of the cancer, and I was running for it. I told friends and family what I was doing, and started asking if I could run in honor of memory for someone. That is when it really hit me, when I really noticed how big this cause really is.

Knowing I was running for something or someone other than myself gave me extra motivation to run. When things got hard, I remembered those for whom I was running, the ones who can’t run. It was my PopPop who I would hear which kept me going, “…don’t give up…don’t give in.” I saw him in his last days, how no matter what type of condition he was in, he never gave up. I would go see him and could see a twinkle in his eye. On his last day he held on until my Dad could make the drive down to make sure my grandmother was taken care. It was his strength I felt, and the strength of all those I was running for. It often reminded me of a scene from “Pirates of the Caribbean: At Worlds End” when about to take on Beckett and the East India Trading Company.

Outnumbered, outgunned, Kiera Knighetly gives a speech. She essentially tells them to fight for their colors, to fight for their freedom, and that is what will allow them to win the day. It was the mention of the colors that brought the connection for me. I know we all ran for something, some cause, and that is what brings us together. Pink for breast cancer, white for lung cancer, orange for leukemia, light blue for prostate cancer to name a few. We all “fly” under different colors, but we are all part of the same team. So here is to your color, whatever it may be, may it drive you to the finish. I know it helped me, and will help me to be Goofy in 2013. “By the sweat of our brows, the strength of our backs, and the courage of our hearts-Gentlemen-Hoist the Colors.”

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Where it all began!

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Poppop, my dad, me and my son Jacob.

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WDW Half Finish, not a prouder moment.


April 15, 2012

You Can Do It!

by Eddie McCoy
Team AllEars 2013

Almost four years ago I weighed 308 pounds. I went to the doctor because I was feeling sick and found out that my blood pressure was high and that I was borderline diabetic. It hit me like a ton of bricks. I have two daughters: a two year old (Emma) and a newborn (Abby), and I knew I had to change myself so that I could be a Dad to them and a husband to my wonderful wife Anna for many years to come.

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I decided that I was going to lose weight. I didn’t have an immediate game plan on how exactly to do it, but I needed to get started and figure it out along the way. I joined a gym and began by hitting the elliptical machine for 30-45 minutes per day. I used Weight Watchers to teach me moderation when eating. I was able to knock off 120 pounds in less than two years by being faithful to the elliptical machine every single day.

Going to the gym allowed me to meet a good friend, Alex, who loves Disney as much as I do. He hounded me to sign-up for the Disney Wine & Dine Half marathon with him in 2011. I decided that I would do that race and check it off the list. One and done.

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I foolishly thought I could train for that race without ever doing any outdoor running. I decided that if I put in a few hours on the elliptical machine on Saturdays for two months before the race, that it would be enough training for me to finish the race. On race day, I struggled mightily, but I finished in just under two hours. My body was the sorest that it has ever been…but I was hooked! It took a week before I could walk right again. Still, the first thing I did when I got back home was sign-up for both the Disney World Half Marathon and the Princess Half Marathon!

I started looking for local 5Ks and started doing those one after another. I was addicted to running! I started running long distance on the weekends. I have another friend, Roger, who was training to run the full marathon at Disney in January. I thought he was nuts. I knew how tough a half marathon was! When Marathon weekend came I ran well in the half marathon, finishing in 1:34. As I watched him race on Sunday I was so proud of him and all the other finishers. . I had watched him train for this race and on that day, I really hated that I was not running with him.

I immediately signed up for the Georgia Marathon with Roger and we started training by running five times a week, averaging 45-55 miles a week. I ended up running four half-marathons in the beginning of 2012. Especially exciting was participating in the Disney Princess Half Marathon with my wife. It was her first half and I am so proud of her! During my training I proudly became a member of the Half Fanatics club and on March 18th, a MARATHON FINISHER! (I cried like a baby when I crossed that finish line!).

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I went from being a 308 pound guy who wouldn’t even think of running unless I was being chased, to being a fit guy running a full marathon within six months. Amazing, right?!

As a runner, I have ambitious goals. I want to qualify for the Boston marathon, become a Marathon Maniac and become a part of Team AllEars. Finding this group where I can meet and train with like-minded people that share my two passions for running and for Disney is awesome. The icing on the cake is being able to help raise money for Deb Willis’s Avon Breast Cancer Fund. We all know someone personally that has been affected by cancer, for me it was my Mom & Aunt, and running in support them is truly motivating.

I’m convinced that anyone can do anything when they put their mind to it. It takes motivation to start and to continue along the way, but once your mind is set, it will happen.

March 24, 2012

It’s Kind of Fun to do the Impossible

by Christine Griffin

I suppose you could say I started running to get away from the law. No need to fret - Deb, Michelle, and Mike are not harboring a fugitive among their merry band of runners. Allow me to explain…

At this time last year, I was more than halfway through my first year of law school. As my Team AllEars teammate Heather Melito-Dezan knows, the first year of law school is the academic equivalent to being placed in a gigantic pressure cooker. Professors utilizing the Socratic method, competing against your classmates for grades and interviews, and a general lack of sunshine and fresh air make for an interesting atmosphere. I had never been in great shape, although in college I participated in many fun extracurriculars - ballroom dancing! rock climbing! snowboarding! Zumba! – the things you could get credit for as an undergraduate! But any athletic progress I made before starting law school came to a screeching halt once my legal studies commenced. My first semester, I did absolutely nothing in the way of exercise – unless you count hauling those heaving textbooks back and forth from my locker to the library (Which may be a valid point, but I digress).

I realized, however, that I had to start doing something, if not for my physical health then at the very least for my mental well-being. So, once I settled back in for the second semester, I joined a local all-women’s gym with the intention of taking one or two Zumba classes a week, since Zumba was one of the few forms of exercise I did not equate with torture. Soon, I branched out to other areas of the gym – the elliptical, the rowing machine, the stationary bikes and weight machines. I avoided treadmills like the plague, though.

One day, in the middle of a Zumba class, it occurred to me that if I could do fast-paced dancing for an hour without croaking, then surely I could complete a 5K. As an avid AllEars.net reader, I remembered reading the TAE blog posts recounting the running adventures of Mike, Michelle, Deb, Laura, Lee, and others in awe, living vicariously while thinking that I could never complete a half marathon. Much to my delight, I discovered that TAE members, in addition to meeting their fundraising goals, only had to complete the 5K during Marathon Weekend! No half or full marathons required! And if anything could get me to run, it was a trip to Disney World. Additionally, my aunt is a breast cancer survivor and TAE raises money for breast cancer research. It was a match made in heaven.

I cannot remember which came first, my signing up for the WDW Family Fun 5K or my email to Michelle, one of the team’s co-captains. She assured me that TAE consisted of runners, walkers, and run-walkers of all abilities. At some point in this process, massive quantities of pixie dust clouded my judgment and I did the unthinkable – I registered for the WDW half marathon. I rationalized it to myself, saying I could power walk to stay in the 16 minute-per-mile required pace. But, as someone who couldn’t run even a half-mile at the time, even I thought I was crazy. I told very few people of my crazy plans at first, mostly just Michelle and my family.

My credit card sufficiently walloped (Disney races may be magical, but come cheap they do not), I had no choice but to begin running. A friend from school brought me to a running store to get fitted for my first pair of proper running shoes. I sheepishly confessed to him that I signed up for the half marathon, some eight months away. But something funny happened – he didn’t reply with incredulous disbelief like I expected. Instead, he fully believed I could do it, which meant a lot since I hadn’t yet convinced myself I could. At around the same time, I found the perfect quote to put on my team t-shirts: “It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.” It was as if Walt himself offered encouragement.

Additionally, I received loads of support and encouragement from my mentor, the wonderful Michelle Scribner-MacLean, who took me on as a mentee despite her other, less-important jobs, namely being a college professor, mother, and TAE co-captain. But in all seriousness, we connected instantly, both being Boston girls. I’m pretty sure Michelle is actually my long-lost aunt and I will be forever grateful for her support and guidance.

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The more I ran, the more it occurred to me that running has quite a bit in common with law school. In both pursuits, you learn new ‘languages’ – caveat emptor, enfeoffment, and “the myrmidon of res judicata” are some choice terms in legalese, while running taught me fun new words like Gu, Zensah, and overpronation. Studying for a law school exam is a lot like training for a long race. Much as you cannot cram for a law school exam, you cannot fake hundreds of miles of training come race day. Finding a good mentor is invaluable, whether they are a respected attorney or a fellow “runnah.”

As spring turned to summer and summer turned to fall, I began participating in local races – a few 5Ks, a 10K, and at Michelle’s suggestion, a hilly, seaside half marathon. It wasn’t pretty, and it certainly wasn’t fast, but my mentor’s advice was spot-on – completing a half at home made me much more confident in the weeks leading up to WDW.

Before I knew it, I finished the first semester of my second year and headed down to the World for a whirlwind week of races and TAE love. The excitement of the race expo and meeting all of my teammates in person was amazing. My mother, sister, and father participated in the 5K, the first ever race for each of them. I laid out my running gear the night before the Half, since I knew my 2:30am wake up call would come early.

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Come early it did, and after a never-ending bus ride I found myself waiting in Corral C with Michelle, Mike, Mandy, Heather, and Helen. The corral gods work in mysterious ways – the TAE New England coalition was well-represented in C and being surrounded by my mentor and teammates I knew well helped to keep my nerves at bay. Words cannot describe the atmosphere of a runDisney race; I believe it’s something everyone should experience at least once in his or her lifetime.

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Just as Michelle promised, the miles flew by. In the blink of an eye, we were running through the gates of the Magic Kingdom; however, by far the highlight of my fledgling running career came when Michelle and I ran through the castle together. Before I knew it, I crossed the finish line and received my (surprisingly hefty) Donald medal.

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Before I conclude, I’d like to make a few shout outs to everyone who believed in my running, even when I didn’t – my family; my wonderful mentor Michelle; Mike, Deb, the Ear Buds and the rest of TAE; Pat; all my Body to Soul girls, especially Pasqualina and Tracie; my law school classmates and running buddies; and last but not least all my friends and neighbors whose generous support of my TAE fundraising efforts floored me. Your encouragement and enthusiasm made all my hard work and training worthwhile.

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Clichéd though it may sound, joining TAE changed my life. Over the course of a year I went from someone who could not run a mile to someone who has run many 5Ks, a 10K, and two half marathons and actually (gasp) enjoys running. I am far healthier and happier than I was at this time last year. Most importantly, I have acquired a new extended family, one that offers unconditional support, loves Disney as much as I do, and fights breast cancer. I rejoined TAE for 2013 and am looking forward to training for the WDW full marathon. Whether you are a seasoned runner who would like to try a longer distance, a casual walker or jogger, or a complete novice, I highly encourage you to join TAE for our 2013 season. The team has all the support, advice, and camaraderie you could ever need, and besides – it’s kind of fun to do the impossible.

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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 29, 2012

If You Can Dream It, Then You Can Do It!

By Heather Przystas

So it seems the second week of January for me is 'pain week'. Last year, I found myself curled up on my bed, feeling sorry for myself. I'd been swept off the course of the Walt Disney World half marathon, skipped the Team All Ears meets completely, fought with my traveling companion and spent the last 24 hours of my Disney trip locked in my room at the Wilderness Lodge.

This year, I found myself curled up on my bed, howling as my best friend peeled my shoe from my swollen foot, staring in horror at the black and blue of a blood blister that took over my little toe.

Luckily, they were two completely different worlds of pain.

After last year's pity party, I was done with running. The image of the race officials stepping in front of me and taking me off the course was burned into my eyelids. What made me think I could do something like a half marathon?

Then one day a box arrived. It wasn't huge, it wasn't fancy. But inside, I found all kinds of goodies: a Team AllEars magnet, postcards from Deb Wills, and most importantly, a Team AllEars medal that the team insisted I had earned. I hung it up next to the Donald medal I felt I HADN'T earned. For days, I stole constant glances at the two medals, hanging side by side. Eventually, a friend invited me as her guest to her gym. I agreed to go, intending to swim when I got there, but the pool was being used by a class.

I made excuses for not running. She wouldn't take them. I refused to run, thinking back to how much I was crying on the sweep bus but she refused to let me sulk. Reluctantly, I agreed to walk. The images in my mind began to change. I saw the look on Deb's face when she saw me at mile one of the half marathon. I saw the Team AllEars medal. I saw the total amount of money raised by the Team. I started to trot. My friend saw me. "See, you're still a runner."

I guess I am.

When asked if I’d like to return to Team All Ears I said yes. I needed to. When registration for marathon weekend opened, I signed up for the 5K. My mouse hesitated over the half marathon registration button. I looked at the Donald medal. I looked at my Team medal. I registered.

Soon, the news broke about the new Chip and Dale relay marathon. Seemed like a cool idea and I asked my friend, who had now become my coach, if she wanted to relay with me but she already had plans. The idea stuck. I watched other teams form and thought about how much I wanted that new medal that no one else had. I finally found a relay partner in Jan Lurey Pepe. I became a Pirate. One with Purpose. We were registered!

I started training using the Jeff Galloway run/walk method. I like this guy! He doesn't think I need to RUN a whole race to finish. I stuck to the training. My health interfered. I tried to slow down but couldn’t. Eventually, my body said I had to. It felt strange when I wasn’t running, like I was missing something. I got the all-clear to run again but it was harder now. Maybe this isn't a great idea after all. Maybe I should just give up.

But then who would run with Jan? Lace ‘em up, you big baby! Get Going!

It got a little easier. I bought a treadmill. Distances got longer, times got shorter, and that 15 minute mile was attainable. Melanie Camphouse, my mentor, was right behind me the whole time, asking questions, giving encouragement. I had to do this for her, for Jan, for my daughter, for ME.


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Marathon weekend had finally arrived! I was traveling with my best friend. We hung out with my All Ears teammates. What incredible people! I probably stayed later at the YeeHaw Bob meet than I should have, but the 5K isn't THAT early, right? I walked the 5K with my best friend and Tammi Trout from the team. We had a BLAST! I'm so proud of the two of them for finishing! A short day in the parks, and then we were back at the resort to rest up for the half marathon. I laid everything out and tried to calm my stomach. I couldn't sleep. At 3AM, Stitch called to wake me up. I was scared.

During the pre-race festivities the Team was so supportive. They were sure I was going to beat this thing, finish the race, and earn the duck. Deb gave us a pep talk. Sometimes I think that's the biggest reason I do this. They sent off the corrals, one after another. I heard Team AllEars announced over the loudspeaker so many times! I was proud to holler every time.

When it was my turn, I took one last deep breath and tried to center myself. The fireworks went off, and I began running. My iPod was playing but didn't put my ear buds in because I wanted to hear AllCheers at mile one! I felt good, and the amount of 'beep beep's around me told me that I wasn’t the only the only interval runner. We reached mile one, and I heard the cowbells! I remember this moment from last year, and smile. I wave, and tell them I'll see them in a couple of hours at mile 11.5.

I never put my ear buds in because there is too much to hear and see. I wave at the monorail going by, and suddenly there's the Magic Kingdom arch! I take a picture, same as last year. It's getting close now... around this corner... this is where they swept me. My stomach lurches and I start to panic. And then, it's gone. There are no flags, no bikes, no one screaming for me to go faster... just the bridge, with the banner... "You can go the distance!"

I can see the Contemporary. Now we're turning onto Main Street USA! I want to cry but I'm smiling too much. More cowbells! There they are! They're yelling - they're calling MY name! I’m running through Cinderella’s castle! This is so much fun!

We’ve left the Magic Kingdom and now I’m starting to get tired. We’re at mile 10!? Just a 5K left? I've done lots of 5Ks! I make it to 11.5, and I hear the magic cowbells again! I’m so happy to see everyone. I didn't get this chance last year! My best friend walks a bit on the grass next to me, and I cry a little. "It hurts..." I whine. He knows. He can see the hill I'm facing, and he gives me a hug, tells me he'll see me at the finish.

Up the hill... that awful hill! One more mile… Half a mile… I start offering deals to the people on the sides of the course: $50 for that medal around your neck , $25 if you push me in that stroller to the finish line! They cheer back. I'm almost there, the duck is almost mine! And then he is. He's mine, and I did it! A little slower than I'd hoped, but I did it! I see Mel, and my best friend and they hug and congratulate me. I break down. After almost a year of agonizing over whether I can do this or if I'm a fool, I‘ve done it!

Later that day, I get to sit next to Jan at the Team meet. I'm trying not to look terrified. Today was so hard, and tomorrow it isn't just me, it's her race too. I can’t let myself worry anymore; it’s time to have fun.

At Downtown Disney, with my medals clanging together, people congratulate me, wish me well. I didn't get to do this last year. Deja Vu at the resort: I'm putting my race stuff back together, pinning on my third number and hoping my stomach can survive one more day of this.

A phone call from Stitch wakes me up again. I find the Team and Jan at the pre-race meet and everyone looks ready. We chat for a while with the team until it’s time for the Leg 1 runners to head to the corrals. I head over to the Polynesian resort with the other Leg 2 runners to rest before our part of the relay begins. I get the best hour of sleep I’ve had since before the 5k, and then I wake up to the text that not only is Jan doing well, she's BLAZING through the course. I have to hustle over to the transition area to meet her. There's my girl!!!! I hop out, give her a big hug, and point her to where she can go get her chipmunk bling. I head out, over the mat, and mix in with the big kids: marathoners, Goofy Challengers... these are the REAL runners! What am I doing here!?

I hear the beeps again from the interval runners. This is just like yesterday. I survived then, I can survive now. Chug along. Take pictures of all the mile markers, in case each one is the last one I see that day. Mile 14, 15, 16. As I hit Disney's Animal Kingdom, I hear another runner from my over my shoulder. "Third park, we got this."

By the time we hit the out and back, near Wide World of Sports I'm tired. I text my friend, "I'm out of gas." It must be obvious how tired I am, because racers around me are encouraging me, patting me on the back as they go by.

I make it into Hollywood Studios. I look around but I don't see much. I hurt. I'm so tired. There's Mike and Sully, and a mile marker. I take another picture, but it's blurry because I can't hold the phone still. I keep telling myself that seeing the sweepers would be a blessing at this point. I can't go anymore but my feet keep moving. I'm too tired. Why won't my feet stop? I’m waiting for the sweepers but I'm still moving forward.

I see the Sorcerer’s Hat. I should stop. I’m so tired.


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Then I see them... the officials on the side of the course, with a big thick rope. Sweepers, closing the course! Oh, thank goodness! Hold on, a minute, why am I suddenly running? Before I know what's going on, I'm dashing up Hollywood Boulevard. I'm RUNNING from the sweepers.

My body and my brain start to have a conversation about who wants what, because there's a bus RIGHT THERE with Caribbean Beach on it... I could be back in my room in less than an hour. Forget this running stuff! But my body is in charge now, and I’m heading to the Boardwalk instead of my resort. I hear cowbells. They can't still be out here, can they?

I hear my name. Deb's yelling through her megaphone. I think I smile. I try to, anyway. That little boost of energy gets me into Epcot. I remember this part from last year, only back then I was on the other side of the cones, watching and moping. But here I am, still moving. People are cheering and clapping as they spend their day in the World Showcase. Encouraging words are coming from everywhere. American Experience, into Italy, past my favorite stand in China. As I approach the Christmas tree I hear the sweepers on bikes approaching. At this point, I don't want to see them anymore, what are they doing here? One of them asks me if I'm okay. I tell him "Unless you're here to take me off the course, I'm fine." He promises me, the only way off the course at this point is across the finish line.

I keep moving toward Spaceship Earth, and I hear another cow bell. I look over, and there's my best friend . I want to hug him, but I tell him "I think if I stop now, they'll take me off the course!" and I keep going.

The sweepers are an honor guard now, cheering me on. A couple of TNT coaches come to see if I need anything and they tell me they're proud of me. Backstage, there's a choir singing. I joke to one of the sweepers, "Am I dead??? Is this heaven???" She responds, "I bet you didn't know you'd be going to church today!" and I tell her I've certainly been praying! Cast members are still clapping for me. How do they stand out there all this time?

A few people are still along the sidelines clapping and screaming. The sweepers peel off, letting me do the last stretch by myself. They call off the TNT coaches, saying I've been here before, I know where I'm going. I see the finish line and start to cry and smile at the same time. I hear Rudy Novotny announcing my name, where I'm from, and that I'm part of Team AllEars. Mickey and Minnie are waiting for me. Minnie kisses me on the cheek and I get a high-four from the big cheese himself. I cross the finish line and a young lady finds me and puts my medal around my neck. I can't believe the weight of it.

It took five hours to finish, most of those spent convincing myself that it was okay to get swept this time, but I still kept going. I will be forever in debt to Jan for running an incredible first leg to give me the time I needed to finish. And there she is! She's waiting for me, with my best friend. It's so good to see them. The TNT coaches find me again, tell me they're proud of me. They point toward the Goofy tent and tell me to remember where it was, so I'd know next year. I laugh.


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The second week of January may hold pain for me, but it also means I get to see my teammates, run in the most magical place on earth, and accomplish things even my own mind and body don't think I can do.

So, is it January yet?

February 19, 2012

Moving Out of The Comfort Zone

by Dana Birch

For me, it all started in January 2011. For many years I’ve been checking into AllEars.net for my Walt Disney World fix and information updates. One of my best buds, Sara, had just finally gotten her life back through running and had run in her first half marathon with Team AllEars. As I read her post-run blog, I sat at my computer crying uncontrollably. In the past few years since my wedding to my wonderful husband I hadn’t felt like the woman he had married. Life was comfortable, wonderful actually, but getting too comfortable. I needed a challenge just for me, something to get me out of my comfort zone. I figured with all the training and work that I’d have to undergo I would be forced to push myself in ways I had never done before.

Let me back this up a bit. I have NEVER been an athlete. In high school I was an athletic trainer, I taped ankles, and found ways to get out of running the presidential mile in gym class. In the years right before my husband and I got engaged, and married, I had lost a lot of weight and had been in the best shape of my life, to date, but running was still a nightmare for me. The thought of running a half marathon, or even a 5K was a joke. So here I was, almost four years into my marriage and completely out of shape, fat and happy. Yeah, that was me.

So I talked to Sara and my husband and they both encouraged me to go for it. In the process I not only made the decision to run a half marathon, but also to join up with Team AllEars. Both seemed so daunting. The half marathon seemed like an insane thing for me to do, especially given my history with running, but I figured if I was going to try this anywhere, Walt Disney World was the place to make this dream a reality. I secretly hoped that maybe a bit of pixie dust would rub off onto me and I’d somehow survive it. The other thing that seemed like a challenge was joining Team AllEars. I had never raised money for anything like this before. I mean, I had sold Girl Scout cookies, and worked retail before, but that was all together different. Up to this point, my family had been fortunate to not be touched by cancer. However, I had lost friends to different cancers and a couple of my co-workers had had either close family members have to fight cancer or have had to fight it themselves. It is not a nice disease, it doesn’t discriminate, and it doesn’t care who it hurts. But raising $500 in this economy seemed both possible, and yet impossible. Sara and I had teamed up to raise $1000 together as team Monorail Mavens. That seemed even more difficult, but in reality it was easy. A garage sale here, a cookie sale there, and some very gracious donors, it took the whole year, but by Christmas we were at the $1000 mark. Now all I had to do was run.

It was more than the fundraising though. Team AllEars was a family, a welcoming family, full of knowledge about running, the race I was going to run, and support. I had chosen a few 5Ks, and a 15K as milestones in my training. The 15K in November was really the turning point for me. Up to this point I had only been in talks with the other members over Facebook and e-mail. This was the first time I was going to be running as a team with Team AllEars members. I had never run that far, and knew I was going to be one of the last to come in. I finished the race, and Sara was there to cheer me on. We met up with the rest of the team members for lunch, and quickly strangers became friends. As I hobbled into the restaurant that day I got cheers and a round of applause, it was the best feeling in the world. I felt like I belonged, and when the topic of conversation at the table was both running and Disney related I knew I had found a group I definitely fit in with.

To be honest, throughout the year my main focus was on my training, I wanted to finish the race, that was the big goal, wasn’t it? Then summer came. My uncle got sick….cancer, kidney to be exact, and to this day he is still fighting it. My focus changed. Not only did I want to finish this race, I had to, for him and for others like him. I had to run because they can’t, and I had to raise the money to fight cancer, to fight this horrible disease, to do my small part. It was no longer just about me, and my health, it was about the health of those around me and those I will never meet. So the training continued.

Injuries abound, leg, back, etc., but it was all a small price to pay. Then Christmas came, New Years and my 32nd birthday, and then we were on the plane to Orlando. I tried not to be nervous, but I couldn’t help it. I wanted to finish, I had to finish, and failure was not an option. So 3am on the morning of the race I was on a mostly empty monorail to EPCOT with my husband. We then met up with the Team for our picture and everyone was great, welcoming, and it was nice to finally meet people I had been in contact with for so long. The time had come, I kissed my hubby, and I stuck with some of the girls as we filed like cattle to the starting corrals. They had all done this before and it was nice to have someone show me the ropes even if we weren’t in the same start corral.

For a long time I stood there in the start corral alone in the crowd and then out of the blue some other first time Team AllEars ladies walked by and I joined them for the start of the race. We all had the jitters and then it was our turn. It was all so exciting and all so dark in those early morning hours, but my adrenaline was pumping, and I was feeling good. I knew the route well, having spent so many years traveling the road between EPCOT and Magic Kingdom, and the hotels that surround the Seven Seas Lagoon. I knew how far it was, and I had to keep pushing it out of my mind for the first few miles. With my iPod pumping the new mix I had just created especially for this race with a few Disney tunes sprinkled in, I headed for the Magic Kingdom. As I passed the first monorail beam on my route, Monorail Red traveled overhead.

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Now I have to explain here that for some reason I have an obsession/connection with this monorail train and hadn’t seen it on any of the lines until just that moment, mind you we had been there two whole days by then. We had a family friend who was a fellow Disney fanatic and teacher pass away a few years ago, and when I saw that train as I passed under it I felt like it was his way of cheering me on. We ran past familiar landmarks, the main gate, the Ticket and Transportation Center (TTC) where, again, Monorail Red was there to greet me, past the Contemporary, and then into the Magic Kingdom.

I was fine until I heard a cheering cast member call out to me and others, “Welcome to the Magic Kingdom!” I lost it, tears streaming down my face and smiling ear to ear as I ran up Main Street. I was able to wipe them away as I rounded the bridge to Tomorrowland where my husband had joined the Team AllCheers group to cheer all of the runners on. Running through the park was so emotional and fun,and by this point, mile 6, I was feeling great.

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Then we headed out past the hotels and back towards EPCOT. By this point I wasn’t worried about my time and I had taken some pictures with some characters, and was really enjoying the entire experience, until mile 10.

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This was the furthest I had gone until now, and I still had roughly a 5K to go. It was then that it became a mental game. Monorail Red passed me again and that gave me a boost. I rounded the overpass to EPCOT, looked down World Drive and saw the dreaded sweeper busses about a mile or so back. I looked ahead and saw EPCOT’s entrance, I couldn’t come this close and not finish. I pushed, through the pain in my hip and feet and found the strength to get to mile 12, with more Team AllCheers people among others cheering us all on. I knew I was home free. I shed a few more tears as I headed into EPCOT, saw Monorail Red pass over me one more time, heard the choir sing, and saw my husband as I headed into the last .1 miles of the race. He was standing there taking pictures with the group of Team AllCheers folks that were standing near the finish area, he snapped the picture and I ran up and kissed him and then headed in for the finish. I had done it! I grabbed my medal and again began to cry, I had succeeded. My husband met me and he helped me hobble back to the monorail station to head back to our hotel. I was in such pain that the monorail operator at the TTC even felt compelled to put the handicap ramp down for me to get into the resort monorail. Yes, that was a bit embarrassing but I didn’t care I had a medal around my neck and no one could take that accomplishment away from me.

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A bit of a rest and then it was off to the official Team AllEars meet-up and hugs all around. Sara was so proud that I finished and it was so great to get to meet everyone again. There were a few speeches, but two things really stuck out during this meet-up, first it was the $67,000+ that we had raised as a group, and more importantly it was the personal stories that a few brave souls shared about why they “Run with Purpose” for Team AllEars. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house and, while I couldn’t bring myself to share, I connected with everyone in that room. We were all there to run for those who couldn’t and to run for those we knew, and those we would never meet. It was a great end to a great year with Team AllEars. It was also the beginning of my year of no excuses. I may not have lost all the weight I had planned to loose, but I was able to do something I had never done before, and that has been enough to spur me on further this year. I have an 8K, two to three 5Ks, a 10K, and another half marathon in Disneyland to earn my Coast to Coast medal all lined up for this year. This experience has been nothing but wonderful. It is a wonderful cause, a spectacular group of people, and definitely a magical milestone for me. I look forward to supporting Team AllEars for years to come.

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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February 1, 2012

I Stopped Saying "I Can't"

by Amy Frank

Doctors have told me since the 80s that I can’t run because of a motor neuron dysfunction and I believed them. And I never challenged them. Then one fateful day, I read an AllEars newsletter by Michelle Scribner-MacLean detailing her first race at WDW, and I was so inspired that I decided to work around my disability and run the marathon at WDW.

I read books and blogs, signed up for my first 5K (2009 Expedition Everest Challenge!), and put on my sneakers to see how far I could go. I got a half block from my house and thought I would die. That was ok! I had 6 months to work up to those 3.1 miles and had my husband’s support and company, since I talked him into going on this journey with me. But in those 6 months, I grew very discouraged because I learned just how much my disability affected me. I ended up angrily walking much of the 5K but maintained my determination and registered for WDW’s 2011 Half-Marathon.

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Somewhere along the way, I accepted the fact my body won’t allow me to run like the wind and I adjusted my expectations to do this my way. Not only did I complete the half-marathon, I had so much fun that I decided I would complete the 2012 Full Marathon!

Realizing I would need a lot more motivation & support, I joined Team AllEars.
I definitely found the motivation I needed with this team! Every time I wanted to give up, I reminded myself that my fatigue, aches, and pains are nothing compared to fighting cancer. Adding the names of team members’ family and friends to my own list of survivors and fighters gave me specific reasons to keep going which, for me, was so much more effective & meaningful than just a general “for breast cancer” declaration. This was for John. For Rhonda. For Beth …

And it worked. I wasn’t the fastest by any stretch of the imagination, but I completed a marathon. As the finish line grew closer, I kept welling up. I attributed the raw emotions to the exhaustion I was experiencing. Not only was our awesome Team AllCheers along the sidelines, ringing those cowbells and hoopin’ and hollerin’, guests at the parks, who paid to ride Tower of Terror that day, stood along the Streets of America, clapping and cheering for us. Tears come even as I think about it now.

Crossing the finish line, I hugged the absolute stranger who was giving me my medal – not a nice little pat; a full-blown embrace with tears, and she just hugged me back. Gotta love those Disney volunteers!

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I set out on this journey to prove something to myself, but I ended up with so much more (and I’m not just talking about the great Mickey medal hanging on my wall). I knew I’d help this team raise money for Deb’s Avon Walk ($67,050! Woot!), and I knew this team would provide me with an incredible support system, but I had no idea the inspiration I would provide to others.

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My cousin emailed, asking advice on how to start running. My mom has committed to walking the Princess Marathon with me next year (her first at 60 years young!). I convinced a cast member to run the Princess this year and another to start walking around his apartment complex and consider his first 5K. Every time someone said “I could never do that,” I told them my story and hoped they at least stop telling themselves, “I can’t.” It’s certainly not a phrase I use any more.

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January 28, 2012

We Are Family

by Sara Rhodes

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

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

Now, they are my family.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 4, 2012

Runner Etiquette - WDW Marathon Weekend

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Good luck everyone!


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 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

August 26, 2011

If It Was Easy....

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bravo, Oprah!

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

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

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

Running isn’t easy.

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

August 19, 2011

Team AllEars Training: Making it a Family Event

by Chris Mushrush

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We started:

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

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

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

…and another seed has been planted.

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August 12, 2011

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

by Libby Goldberg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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July 22, 2011

My First Marathon

by Dave Dunkowski

For serious runners this is probably a milestone in their running accomplishments. For me it was an extra special achievement, because I ran my first marathon at the age of 60. So where do I start to describe the experience?

I started running when I joined Team AllEars 2011 about a year ago. Having a goal of raising breast cancer awareness, and money for research and to help breast cancer victims was all I needed to get me going. The icing on the cake was that running a race at Walt Disney World during Marathon Week justified yet another trip to my favorite place. Knowing that I had a “team” behind me was an added incentive to my training.

My first goal was to finish the Walt Disney World Half Marathon 2011 which was my chosen race as part of Team AllEars 2011. I completed the half marathon in January 2011, and exceeded my fund raising goal for Team AllEars 2011.

I decided to sign up for the Buffalo Marathon, which was scheduled for Memorial Day weekend in my hometown of Buffalo, NY. I started training during the cold winter months. I ran quite a bit at the gym on treadmills. Winter was very snowy and cold in the Northeast this year, and I really didn’t get as many long runs outdoors as I had hoped. As the day of the marathon approached, I decided to go on with it and see how well I could do.

May 29, 2011 was a beautiful overcast morning with temps in the low 60s. The Buffalo Marathon was also a half marathon, with the shorter race using the first half of the course. I had several members of my local running club, The Lancaster Striders, running with me as we started the race at 7:00am. I was on my own soon enough, as they were all much faster runners. I decided to take it easy on the first half, trying to save enough energy for what was yet to come. I knew that a fast time was out of the question, due to my lack of enough training. I would be content with just finishing within the allotted time.

We ran through a large part of the Buffalo Metropolitan area, including our downtown area, waterfront district and parks. The morning clouds gave way to brilliant sunshine, and I knew the hot sun would come into play in the second half of the race. The first half took us around our Waterfront District, and it was actually very pleasant and cool running along the water. I felt good at this point and I was a little behind in time as I had expected. Around the 10 mile point I was cheered on by fellow club members who were volunteering at the water stop. I can’t emphasize enough how valuable it is to have supporters there to cheer you on.

The sun was starting to feel hot, the temperature was reaching the 80 degree mark, and I was feeling tired. I was hydrating at every water stop. Before long I reached the “moment of decision.” As we approached mile 13, there came a point where the half marathoners were directed to the left to their finish line, and marathoners to the right. For a moment the thought crossed my mind about turning left and making it a half marathon. I was feeling that moment of doubt. That’s where I had to kick in the mental power. I started to recall the reasons for my marathon commitment, and I took the right turn. It would be all or nothing.

I’d been running using the “run walk run” method, alternating a four minute run with a one minute walk. I actually walked for a few minutes during the transition into the second half of the race. When I started to run again, I found my calf muscles beginning to cramp. OK, so I’ll just keep a fast walk going for now and try again in a while. My calf muscles were good for walking, so I just kept moving forward. I kept this walk for a good part of the second half, as my attempts to run brought on more cramping. Slowly, I was picking up mileage as I worked my way through our Delaware Park area of town, 15, 16, 17 miles. Then I reached mile 18 and my quad and calf muscles both started acting up. My feet were sore but still good, and I prayed that I could just keep moving. This was the point where I had to kick up the mental power, remembering why I was doing this. I thought of all the people I was running for, and all the time and effort I had put into this endeavor. All the people cheering me came to mind. I couldn’t let then down, and I wouldn’t let myself down.

I know they say endurance running is like a 90 percent mental thing, and I believe it now. I felt like I was in a semi-hypnotic trance as I slowly proceeded onward. I developed a mantra that kept humming in my mind…”they believe in me, keep fighting!” I reached a point where the pain I felt was no longer a focal point, and as I passed the 20 mile mark, I started to feel more confident that I could actually finish the 26.2 miles. I found that I had settled into a pace that my aching muscles could tolerate. Miles 23 and 24 took me past my Alma Mater, the State University College at Buffalo, and I thought about the hard work I had done to achieve my degree. I thought of how this marathon was yet another event in my life requiring hard work, and I kept moving along the course. I reached mile 24 and then 25, where a fellow club member was working the hydration stop. I knew that it wasn’t far to the finish line.

As I approached mile 26, back into the downtown area, I was greeted by one of my teammates, who had finished ahead of me. He cheered me on and was going to walk me in. I decided to go in with a running finish. I started passing my friends holding up signs of cheer saying “Run Dave, Run!” One last turn and the finish line was in sight. I heard the cheers from my friends as I proudly crossed the finish line. My marathon medal was presented to me, and I realized that I had done it.

As a final thought, I can’t stress enough how much of this is a mental thing. Surround yourself with friends to cheer you on and thoughts of why you are running. These things are what got me through my first marathon. It was one of the hardest things that I’ve ever done, and one of the most gratifying.

I’ve joined Team AllEars 2012 where I’ll be running the “Dopey” = 5K + “Goofy” during the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend 2012.

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July 19, 2011

Team AllEars Northeast Summer Run and Beach Bash

by Michelle Scribner-MacLean

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As our team grows, so grows relationships. Since Team AllEars members live all over the United States and in three different countries, one thing that has emerged is the need for people to run local races together (when possible) and to just find time to hang out together and talk about two of our favorite subjects: Disney and running.

Now in our third year, the meets have started to turn into traditions and last week we met at the home of Team AllEars members Nik and Amanda Gonzales for our second annual Northeast Team AllEars Summer Run and Beach Bash.

We started off with a leisurely 5.12 mile run in gorgeous Marblehead, Massachusetts (if you're not from around the northeast, it's right next to Salem, MA and right on the beach). The sea breezes and running with friends made it a perfect run. It was great to run again with Amanda (our Team AllEars Facebook "Bud") and to meet Heather Melito- Dezan, who is a new and welcome edition to our team this year. Extra special for me was to finally get to meet my Team AllEars mentee, Christine Griffin, in person. We got a chance to talk running, Disney, and even did a loop around the little light house.

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After our run we were hungry so we met Nik and my co-captain, Mike Scopa on the beach with other Team AllEars members and their families: Josh and Cailin Gidlewski, and Jamie Curcie.

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There were nine Team AllEars folks there in all and we had a blast talking Disney, running, and breaking the conditioning diet for just one day (well, maybe that was only me...but there was so much great food).

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Team AllEars is about running at Disney, it's about raising awareness and money to fight breast cancer, but it's about being a community.

We hope to share news of other Team AllEars meets around the country (and perhaps around the world). Thanks to everyone who made it to the northeast meet and to our wonderful hosts. Looking forward to next year!

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July 15, 2011

The First Step

by Tabitha Williams

When people ask me what I’m interested in, or what my hobby is, I usually say traveling and Disney. I haven’t really traveled all that far from my home but I can talk your ears off about Disney. I have never really liked running and never, ever considered a marathon. So to be completely honest, I grin when I think about how I ended up on Team AllEars.

I absolutely love AllEarsnet.com so I listen to the online shows whenever I can.
I hadn't heard much about TeamAllEars, but I knew of Deb Wills' fight with breast cancer and that she raised money for the AvonWalk.

I signed on to the TeamAllEars Live show in April. With my daughter away at college and my husband at work, that night I was home alone with my teenage son. We usually would have a TV show on at this time, but knowing my addiction with all things Disney, he gave up on me that evening so I could listen in on the show.

Fifteen minutes into the show I was taken...totally engulfed! These people were so dedicated! The longer I listened the more I felt like... well, I still can’t describe what I was feeling. I signed into the chat room and asked a few questions; things to me that were kind of silly that I was to embarrassed to call in and ask. Immediately people (not just one, but two or three) answered. I even had someone ask where I lived and before the show was over they had looked up and told me a good place to go shoe shopping.
Ten minutes before the show was over I signed up for Team AllEars.

Am I the only one to get all excited after signing up? My name was called out on the show and everyone on the chat room posted a welcome! I was giggling so hard that my son came over to the computer to see what was going on. He was really happy for me too! A little shocked perhaps, but he even agreed to help get me off the sofa and out the door!

Wow, I signed up to walk in a WDW race.

I was so excited about being a part of something, it never really occurred to me: “Um? Hey, you’ve never run a race, let alone run before!” As I started reading about group members on the Team page, intimidation set in. The more I read about everyone and their experience, the more I felt like I was “out of my league.” My daughter caught me at a low moment one evening, I told her that maybe I should just back out, I wasn’t cut out for this. She just hugged me and said, “Oh, yes you can, there are people counting one you. And I’ll be there with you!”

So here I am a new member of Team AllEars! Maybe, I could help. Yes, I can make a difference; every little bit makes a difference.

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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.

June 24, 2011

You’re Running a Half Marathon?!!

by Heather Melito-Dezan

The title says it all.

This is the reaction I get when I tell people about my latest endeavor. I don’t really take offense to this statement because I too can hardly believe I have signed on for this.

I am a 34 year old married mother of a nine and (nearly) three year old child and I have found every excuse in the book to avoid exercising and getting healthy. I have always found something else that needed to get done. For years friends have been telling me that I have to take time to take care of myself and my response has always been the same-- “I know, I know.”

Over the past 10 years or so, I have been an on and off member of a local gym, though my last “on” has been a few years. I am not a runner…I have never run more than a couple miles on a treadmill, but I knew I had to start somewhere so why not start at Walt Disney World?

In January 2011, my husband and I participated in the Buzz and Woody Best Friends 5K in Walt Disney World (our second home). From the time we registered for the race, we intended to train for it, especially since it was our first ever race, but life got in the way and we found every excuse not to get out and run.

We finished in about 46 minutes, which wasn’t too bad for someone who had not trained at all for the race but still, it was not where we wanted to be. We decided during the 2011 Marathon Weekend that we would certainly be back for 2012 Marathon Weekend, but this time would bring the kids along to participate too.

In March I registered my husband, my son, and myself for the 2012 Family Fun Run 5K and was trying to convince myself that I could complete the Half Marathon, but several times I clicked in and out of the registration for the Half Marathon without committing to the race.

During Marathon Weekend 2011, I had seen people of varying levels of fitness participating in the Half and the Full Marathons and thought to myself that I had no excuse not to do it. Still I was hesitant, so I visited www.allears.net, specifically the Team AllEars Running Blog and I read the blogs recapping experiences of team members during 2011 Marathon Weekend and their fundraising efforts.

The stories were so inspirational and helped push me toward registration for the 2012 Half Marathon. I saw that Team AllEars 2012 registration was also open, and I sent an email to Michelle telling her that I wanted to be a member of Team AllEars. I figured that at this point the only way to get me moving in a healthier direction is to have another purpose as well. I also needed that final push to hit the register button for the Half Marathon and Michelle provided that push for me. I registered for both the WDW 2012 Half Marathon and Team allEars 2012.

My heart was pounding the whole time I clicked through the pages.

This is the first time since I was in school that I have attempted to do any serious fundraising. When I approach people to tell them my story and ask them if they would be willing to help out, their initial reaction is one of astonishment, even from people I don’t know that well. Initially I thought that the reaction was an unintentional insult to me, but then as I continued the conversations, I discovered that many of them do not think they could ever go from being a non-runner to a half marathoner.

This is the same thing I still struggle with each day, but I in the end I tell myself I can do it. Of course, I have those days where I struggle to get to that point, but then I visit our Team AllEars FaceBook page and grab a little inspiration.

Since I am really still a beginner at running, I am taking it slowly and trying to get out and jog three days a week…I hope to get up to four days a week. Some days I get out only two days, but at least I get out. Sometimes my son comes out with me and that helps keep me going.

I have participated in one local race thus far and intend to fit in a couple 5Ks and a 10K before January to get myself ready for the big weekend. I have even recruited my best friend and my sister-in-law to run the local 10K this fall with me…I am such a bad influence.

You’re running a half marathon? YES, YES I AM and I am doing so with purpose!

June 13, 2011

TRACK, TRACK, TRACK

By Amanda Gonzales

"Track, Track, Track!"

That is the subject of the email I receive two times a week on Tuesday and Thursday from my running coach. I see the email and take a deep breath to calm my nerves. Then, I double click to unveil the torture that will be awaiting me at the track that morning. The most feared and dreaded email is the one that delivers the message that simply states, "Hills, bring lots of water." After receiving that email once and enduring that workout, I am slightly relieved for every email I open that does not deliver that message.

Why am I doing this to myself you might ask? It is simple. I do it for the love of running I have developed. Running is now a passion and a hobby of mine and I want to improve my speed, my form, my endurance and hone the skills I already have. I am also doing it to prevent future injuries. By learning proper running form and breathing techniques, I will hopefully be saving my body from future injuries that can occur from having poor form and stride.

I want to become a faster runner. My goal is to be able to run a 10 minute mile pace and be able to maintain that for 13 to 26 miles. I currently wog at a slow pace of 15 minutes per mile. I am not ashamed. I consider myself a strong runner.

Since I started running two years ago, I have completed a marathon and two half marathons in addition to several shorter distance races.

It is simply that after two years, I am ready to improve, I really want to improve. I am not satisfied being the last finisher in every race I enter anymore. Again, not that there is anything wrong with that, I have been doing it and proud of it the past two years. It is always easy to find my race time by scrolling to the bottom of the race standings and discovering me in the bottom five.

I have, in previous races, been passed by walkers. I've tried to catch up to walkers only to be unable to catch them. I have been passed by 80 year old men. I have gone out for a run with a friend I have inspired to try running and been left in the dust by that friend on her first time running. Oh and I have been passed in a race by an amazing woman running with one leg on stilts. I think I have some room for improvement.

My local YMCA offers my track class by an incredible person and coach who is track-certified, a personal trainer, local college track coach, and most importantly, a runner. He knows what he is doing and specializes in making runners run until they are light headed and feel like they might puke. Ok, maybe that is just me who gets that effect!

I emailed the coach asking him if he would be willing to accept a runner who is overweight, slow, and in need of massive improvement. His answer? "You bet, just do it!"

My first class was a tad intimidating. I showed up and guess who is in my class with me? Six women, all intelligent, incredible moms who are all about six inches taller than me, perfectly fit, average about 100 pounds less than me in weight, and run anywhere from a six to a nine minute mile.

I took a deep breath, smiled, introduced myself, and told them I was here to make them all look good! Inside, I thought to myself, "Here I am a heffalump among gazelles." I have to say that every single woman in that group is amazing and cheers me on. It is a supportive environment and that is one of the things I love about it.

You may wonder, "What is the speed work?"

Every class starts with a warm up jog anywhere from 1x400 (one full lap of the track) to 4x 400. Then we move on to agilities and plyometrics. After that we stretch and then, we are given our workouts, which are variations of what was in the dreaded email. The fantastic thing about our coach is that he takes the time to vary everyone's workout based upon ability, race schedule, and injuries.

My last workout was 2.5x400, 2x400, 1.5x400, 1x400,1x200, and finally 1x100. Each of these are to be run at a speed that is race speed or as fast as you can run with a two to three minute rest in between each leg. In other words, torture! It is very challenging.

Would I ever do this to myself? No Way! That is why this class is amazing and why I am hoping it will improve my pace over time. There is also something about being in a group of people cheering you on with a coach that is watching you when your run, helping you improve your form that just makes you push yourself harder and work harder than you would on your own.

There is nothing like the feeling of finishing a track workout, feeling like you might puke, feeling your heart race and jump, feeling sweaty and sore and sometimes hobbling off the track, but knowing you left it all on the track and you did it!

TRACK, TRACK, TRACK! I love it!

I strongly encourage you to go out and try it! Check your local YMCA and running clubs for Track classes or speed training.

Like my coach said to me, "Just do it!"

My improvement so far in four weeks had me running a three minute 400 two times in a row, which would be a 12 minute mile, so I think it is working for me!

June 6, 2011

Green and Growing....Lesson From My Running Mentee

by Michelle Scribner-MacLean
Co-Captain, Team AllEars

This year for the first time Team AllEars has implemented a running mentor program: members can request a veteran runner to offer one-on-one virtual guidance along the way. Although we have lots of support systems in place to help our runners, the hope was not that folks would have professional coaches (because none us are), but rather that they could have a personal and more experienced cheerleader. I believe that the original idea came from Team AllEar Bud Amanda Gonzales, but right away I knew that it was a good one. During my first Walt Disney World race several years ago, Mike Scopa volunteered to take me through the ropes and offered lots of support over my many months of training and it was so valuable (and I will always be grateful to him for that help).

Here’s one of the nice things about being team co-captain: I get to assign the mentees. As people request help, I consider the race that they are going to be running, their experience level, and where they live (if possible, I try to match people with mentors who are close by). Lots of people have requested mentors and lots of wonderful Team AllEars veterans have offered to informally coach people through their first 5K, half, marathon, or even Goofy.

Something wonderful happened…we had so many requests for mentors that we ran out of people to fill the slots. Because Mike and I are so busy with team planning, we weren’t going to mentor, but when a request came in from a new runner in the Boston area, I decided to jump in and be a mentor…and I’m so happy that I did.

Although we haven’t met in person yet, we stay in touch weekly via email. She gives me training reports and I make suggestions (based on my three whole years of running). We talk about everything from how to train (I’m suggesting cross training so she doesn’t run into the problems I had with IT bands and stress fracture), to technology (she now uses the DailyMile so I can see her progress), to what gear to use.

As I was replying to an email that she wrote this morning, I realized that something else was happening. I was learning from her just as much as she was learning from me. Answering her questions was helping me to reflect upon my own practice of running, why I do what I do in terms of training, how to be prepared mentally and physically. Through every interaction and through her very thoughtful questions, I have to stop and think about why I’ve made the choices that I have.

Today we were discussing what it takes to be prepared to run a WDW race and I told her….well…wait…let me just find that email and I’ll tell you exactly what I said:

“I have to say that part of doing a half is just being mentally prepared. It took me 4 or 5 just to start to have fun and not feel the worry about whether I could finish. It's kind of like taking a big test at school that you're worried about...you can study and study but you don't know if you can do it until you actually sit down to do it. Then you realize that you're fine because you did the work. Same with running...as long as you have several 10-11 mile runs under your belt about a month before the race, you'll be fine.”

As I finished writing, I thought, “Gee….I never really considered mental preparation before she asked me that question. I’m learning, too.

In my regular job, I prepare people who are going to be teachers. A large part of what I get them to work on is reflecting on their practice. After a lesson they should consider what worked and why, what didn’t work and why, and what can be done next time to help improve. Until I started working with my mentee, I really hadn’t taken the time to realize that improving at running requires that we ask ourselves these questions each time we run.

What worked about that run? Did I try something new? Did I change anything? What made that run better than the last?

What didn’t work about that run? Did I change my stride? Did I change my gear? Was it the weather? Was I just not rested?

What one or two little things can I change to do better next time? Should I bring more water? Wear different socks? Should I try a new route, a longer distance, start earlier in the day? Should I ask someone for advice?

I often tell my students that teachers can either be “green and growing or ripe and rotting.” The great teachers are the ones who are constantly reflecting and improving their practice. My mentee, Christine Griffin, is teaching me the same thing about my running. I need to constantly think about what I’m doing, why I’m doing it, and what I can do better next time.

Thanks, Christine! Can’t wait to give you a high five and a big hug at the finish line as we rock these Walt Disney World races in January and work together to beat breast cancer.

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[Postscript: I've advised her NOT to run with the apple on her head. -- MSM]

May 14, 2011

Neverland

by Dave Aulen

I'm not going to string you along. There will be no mention of pirates, pixies, or Pan in this blog. Instead, I'll be writing about what keeps me going.

I caught the travel bug from my family. My parents enjoyed vacations for the same reasons most of us do: relaxation, new experiences, and a change of scenery. Living in New York put us within a few hours drives to great East Coast destinations like Mystic Seaport, Cape Cod, Washington, and The Jersey Shore. I was seven when we took our first road trip to Walt Disney World. We visited the parks three times as a family.

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We stopped going on family trips when I entered high school. During Freshman year I had a chance to go to Europe on a school-sponsored trip. My mom jumped on this opportunity to send me and my grandmother since the tour matched-up with what I was learning in school, and my grandmother had never been to Europe. Flash forward two years later: I arrived home from a trip to Russia to find my mom crying. She just found out that day that she had breast cancer. My travels the rest of the summer were on the commuter train to New York City; exploring the east-side blocks around Sloan-Kettering Hospital.

Mom had a mastectomy and went through radiation. Everything was eventually clear and life was back to normal. I was given one more trip to Europe, then started college on the other side of the state that fall.

Then the cancer came back a year later.

Mom was hospitalized while I was in college and she told me not to worry - just to concentrate on my studies. I came home for Thanksgiving week and spent all the time in the hospital, still hopeful she'd get better. About an hour before I was to begin my road trip back to school we got the call that the end was near. My grandmother and I were a minute too late.

That was over 21 years ago. As I think back to the time and think about my mom, I always come back to one thing. She never got to go to Europe. She postponed that dream for me to go. The day she entered that hospital was the day she entered Neverland -- Never going to see new places, never going to see the rest of her son's milestones, never going to enjoy growing old with her spouse. I can't fathom what could go through one's mind during those final weeks.

When I get crap from people for all my travels, I go back to this: There's nothing more important to me than spending quality time with my wife Holly. Fortunately she has the travel bug too. For both of us Day 1 of any trip is very exciting (once we land). There's always something on the calendar to look forward to.

When the opportunity for Holly to join Team AllEars came up in 2010, I was happy. A new trip and we get to do something good for others. That was just the surface. We have so many new friends and have been moved to tears so many times as we've witnessed the generosity and support of this community. Now that I've been through my own health issue (heart-related), I decided it was time for me to join my friends and commit to fighting cancer in my mom's honor. I have joined Team AllEars 2012 and will raise money participating in the Disney Family Fun Run 5K in January.

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Travel may not be everyone's thing. What is your thing that keeps you excited? Running? Scrapping? Kid's sports? Photography?

What are the things you want to do and haven't? Would not doing these things be a regret if you found yourself in "Neverland?" Can you plot a course towards these things? Of course you can give your kids everything they could want...but save a little for yourself.

Travel and spending times with my wife keeps me up. I'm going to do everything I can to keep myself up and I encourage anyone reading this blog to find what keeps you up. Once you find that thing, do everything you can to stay up and NEVER LAND!

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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.

May 8, 2011

Being A Sports Enthusiast

by MaryJean Kancel
I am a Sports Enthusiast. Yes, I’m enthusiastic about sports. I participated in various sports in high school and college. I enjoy watching sports. But at Disney, being a Sports Enthusiast means you are a volunteer. A volunteer for athletic events held at Walt Disney World.

My adventures as a Disney Sports Enthusiast started as a volunteer for the 2006 January Half Marathon. Shift start was 2:30am, the temperature was in the 30’s, and I was stationed at the start corrals with thousands upon thousands of runners. Feeling overwhelmed I wondered what did I get myself in to. Talking with other volunteers I learned that there were opportunities to volunteer for events other than Disney’s Marathon Weekend.

Since that first chilly, early morning I’ve volunteered at track and field events, soccer matches, triathlons (Danskin and Ironman), running events including Expedition Everest, Wine and Dine Half Marathon, Marathon Weekend, Muddy Buddy, and the now defunct Minnie Marathon, Race For the Taste, and Tower of Terror 13K.

Jobs have included water stops, course monitor, bag check, race packet pick-up, javelin retrieval, pulling tape/measuring shot put throws, retrieving soccer balls that have gone out of bounds. I’ve been out there in freezing cold temperatures and broiling hot Florida summer afternoons. I’ve accumulated a significant amount of volunteer swag.

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Having watched the fun and excitement at the start of Disney races, I decided I would sign up for a 5K – the January 9, 2009 Circle of Life 5K, part of the Marathon Weekend events. I had done two 5K’s in my hometown of Pittsburgh, before moving to Florida. If I could manage those surely I could manage a race in the Happiest Place on Earth. I started my training a few months before the race – run some, walk a lot, and worked my way up to 3 miles.

On race morning, having volunteered for so many events, I felt out of place in the start corral – as if I didn’t belong and should be over at bag check helping out. The race started, we raced through Animal Kingdom and I had the best time of my life. I’ll admit, most of the race was a blur but I remember seeing the 3 mile marker. Although the last 1/10 of a mile seemed endless, I crossed that finish line and received an amazing medal.

After that I signed up for every Disney 5K race they had. I wasn’t hooked on running, I was hooked on the thrill of racing thru a Disney Park!! And the excitement of crossing a finish line and getting that medal!

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During the 2010 Disney Half Marathon I was volunteering just beyond the finish line, directing runners. I saw all levels of fitness cross that finish line. I thought, I can do this. I have the mental fortitude to keep going – I just wasn’t sure if my legs and knees (my weakest link) had the strength.

Before I could change my mind, I registered for the 2011 Half Marathon. One of the scariest moments of my life was hitting that submit button. I read Team AllEars was being formed for the 2011 Marathon Weekend. I had followed the blogs of the 2010 team and thought it was a great idea.

My Dad died of lung cancer in 1991. Members of my family on both sides fought battles with cancer, including breast cancer. Here was an opportunity to help fight this terrible disease. I joined the team and have never regretted it.

It sounds cliché, but joining Team AllEars truly was a life changing experience. The advice, encouragement, and friendship of my teammates were invaluable thru the long months of training.

When the 2011 Marathon Weekend finally arrived, it was exciting to finally meet all my teammates I had come to know only by status updates in Facebook. At the main team meet, Deb Wills gave a heartfelt thank you speech - not a dry eye was to be found. I knew I was part of something special but didn’t realize how much until that team meet.

It drove home that we were part of something much bigger than running a race and raising money. We had the opportunity to help lives impacted by breast cancer.

It was a whirlwind weekend with races (I completed the Half!!) and Team AllEars events, but I did not neglect my Sports Enthusiast duties. My mom and I volunteered for the Marathon on that Sunday morning. We were at water stop 15, located exactly at the 15 mile marker. It was so exciting to be watching for Team AllEars folks running by and to shout words of encouragement to them.

I had never been positioned at a spot where there was pontential for the dreaded sweep bus to pick up those behind the pace. At one point I saw the race official put the orange flag on the Mile 15 marker, signaling runners were now behind the pace needed to complete the race. I looked and there were approximately 100 runners still to come. My heart sank. I could see the sweep bus, with “Parade Bus” displayed where it normally had happier words such as “Magic Kingdom” or “Epcot”.

Suddenly, the volunteers started waving the runners on and broke in to even louder shouts of encouragement - “you can do it,” “keep going.” As if by our words alone we could keep everyone off that bus. It was a very emotional moment and one I will never forget. For me it was the point where being a volunteer and being a runner had suddenly merged. I knew what it was like to train for a race and the anticipation of crossing the finish line. I knew how it would feel to have the sweep bus at your heels. As volunteers, we were in a unique position to encourage and help drive these folks on. Yet it was heartbreaking to know that some may not make it, despite their determination.

At the time I thought I never wanted to volunteer that far along in the race again – it was just too emotional. Now I realize there will always be those in jeopardy of the sweep bus. On the course, especially where there are no spectators, it falls to the volunteers to provide shouts of encouragement and support. This is as much our job as it is to hand out water. So I will return!

Thinking back to my first volunteer shift on that cold morning in January 2006, I had no idea the path it would lead me down. It has been an incredible journey of fitness, friendship, and being part of an amazing group of people working to fight breast cancer – Team AllEars.


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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.

May 5, 2011

Small Steps Lead To Big Changes

by Rhonda Speer

While preparing to write this post I decided to reread the profiles of my fellow team members. I quickly realized that sure we all love Disney and we share a desire to Run With Purpose but there is another common thread that binds us together. The majority of our members have reached a point in their lives when suddenly they realized that changes needed to be made. That's exactly how my story begins too.

After a series of life events in the early and mid 2000s, I lost the active me and became sedentary. One day I looked in the mirror and didn't recognize myself. My sense of adventure was gone, I felt horrible, my joy for life was gone and you could see it in my eyes. It took quite a while for things to click into place in my brain but one day I finally decided I was tired of the way things were and I was going to make changes. In the fall of 2007 I started walking. The first time I walked up a short steep hill my heart was pounding, I was gasping for air, I had to stop and rest. I couldn't believe how out of shape I was! I continued my walking stretching the distance each day.

By November I was walking 5 or 6 miles a day and I was starting to get bored. I wanted to do more to get into shape, I wanted to start working with a Personal Trainer. I had never been inside a gym in my life and it took some time for me to get the courage to walk into the gym that is near my house just to see how much it would cost to join. I joined the gym in January 2008 and began working with a Personal Trainer. I began weight lifting and found that I loved it (who knew?!). My Trainer and I worked hard all year but by October I was starting to feel restless again and my heart was telling me that it was time for a new challenge. This is when I came up with the really crazy idea that I was going to run the January 2010 Walt Disney World Half Marathon.

The thought of running 13.1 miles scared me to death. I'm not an athletic person. I've never played sports of any kind. I'd never run in my life. December 2008 I signed up for a special 3 week run class at the gym. I could survive 3 weeks, right? Day 1 of run class my new Coach put us on the treadmill and informed us that we would be running for 30 minutes. Run for 30 whole minutes!? I wanted to panic but this new Coach was a no nonsense type of person and I knew that she wasn't going to put up with me saying, "I can't." So, I DID IT! I ran for 30 minutes on that first day and the huge sense of pride I felt had me hooked on running.

I knew that my first race would be special and I wanted it to be at Walt Disney World so I picked the March 2009 Royal Family 5k. I was nervous. Real runner people would be there and I was afraid that I would stick out as not a real runner. I wasn't very sure of what to do or what to expect. Arriving to the race (at a crazy early time of the morning) I heard music and it sounded like a party. Looking around I saw people dressed in costumes and they looked like fun running people not intimidating at all. I roamed around the start area taking in all the sights and sounds and looking at all the people talking together. I wished that I knew someone there. Soon it was time to line up and then we were off and running. At first I was caught up with pacing myself and getting used to running with so many people around me. I had to remind myself to soak in the moment and remember the beauty of running through Epcot in the early morning.

October 2009 I ran my second race, The Race For The Taste 10k at Walt Disney World. This is where I met Holly and Dave from Team AllEars. I had heard about Team AllEars early in 2009 and I really wanted to join but the Team filled up quickly that year and I was too late to get my application in. I knew early on that if I was going to run half marathons and beyond I wanted to make those miles count for something bigger than me. When registration opened in 2010 I quickly contacted Michelle and became a proud member of Team AllEars.

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I achieved my goal of running the Walt Disney World Half Marathon in January 2010. It was an incredible uplifting experience. I worked hard for a year. I became a runner and discovered something new about myself. I love long distance running. Since then I've moved on to run my first marathon and my first Goofy Challenge. I'm no longer standing alone in the start area wishing that I had someone to talk to. I have my Team AllEars friends to keep me company. MaryJean was at my first marathon. She was running her first half marathon and we bonded over our mutual nervousness that morning. Holly and Jessica ran with me during my first Goofy Challenge and made the miles easy and fun.

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I began with a very small change, a short walk down a neighborhood street. Now I run marathons and I'm preparing for bigger challenges. On that first day when I decided to do something different and take a walk I never could have imagined where those steps would lead me. On a daily basis I don't think about how far I've come. Writing this post has forced me to take time to pause, reflect, and be amazed. I think I'll be a bit easier on myself the next time I get frustrated because I feel that I'm not fast enough or strong enough. I'll remember that at one time my heart pounded and I gasped for air when I walked up a short steep hill.

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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.

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

Team AllEars 2012 Live Show - April 18, 2011

LIVE Podcast, April 18, 2011

Team AllEars Logo

Team AllEars® will be broadcasting LIVE on Monday, April 18 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 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

RSVP on Facebook!

Miss our Kickoff Show? Listen to our February 2011 Live Kickoff Show!

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.

March 24, 2011

The Fight - Team AllEars

by Jamison Reynolds

I would like to think that someday teams like Team Allears will not be necessary. I am not talking about eliminating camaraderie, running, or Walt Disney World from our lives, but the idea that we need to raise money for the fight against cancer. I know my group of friends on Team Allears and I am sure that if cancer did not exist then we would find another disease to fight, but cancer decided to try and take on our friend Deb Wills about 25 years ago and not only did it fail in that battle, it now has to deal with us!

Although a person is considered a survivor from the moment of diagnosis, not everyone has a happy ending. Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in women today (after lung cancer) and is the most common cancer among women, excluding nonmelanoma skin cancers. In 2011 alone, over 1.3 million women from across the globe will be diagnosed and 465,000 survivors will be lost.

Team Allears supports Deb and, by extension, the Avon Walk For Breast Cancer because of the great work that organization does in the fight against breast cancer. The efforts of last year's team went to support continued research on a biomarker that may be able to identify breast cancer patients who are at a higher risk of recurrence, research on biomarkers that can accurately distinguish breast cancers that are very aggressive from less aggressive types, mobile mammography service known as the "Mammovan" which serves 2,500 women in Washington, D.C., and numerous patient navigation programs. Avon does not just support the research that will be employed in the fight against cancer tomorrow, they support those that are living with the disease today.

Research says that one in three Americans will eventually develop some form of cancer in their lifetime. Those who do not develop cancer will most likely know someone directly fighting the disease. For most of my life I was lucky enough not knowing what cancer looked like. Cancer was always something I heard about, but not something I ever really "worried" about. I started smoking when I was 14, starting drinking before I was 21 and did not lead the most healthiest of lifestyles. By the time I was 22 I was smoking my 1st cigarette of the day as soon as I awoke, with my pack next to my alarm clock.

My wife had the opposite experience. Many of her family members fought the disease as she grew up. Her mother was a cancer survivor, having beaten breast cancer. Shortly after we were married, my mother-in-law went in for a scan shortly after her 5 year anniversary of beating cancer (for those who don't know, that 5 year mark is a MAJOR milestone in the fight)... and they found a spot on her lung. For the first time in my life I saw cancer. I saw my mother-in-law go through surgeries, chemo, and radiation. I saw her lay in bed unable to move, unable to eat, but I saw her FIGHT.

We lost Pat, an amazing women, an anchor in her community, in January 2005. Her funeral was like a head of state had left us. People lined up in the rain for hours to pay their respect. I had never seen any thing like it. I saw for the first time what cancer can take. Pat never got to see her grandkids and only got to be at one of her daughters' weddings. Five girls lost their mother, two were still in high school.

The following month I took as position with the American Cancer Society as a Community Manager. I was angry and I was going to get directly involved in the fight. I was going to do what I could to fight this awful disease. I had already quit smoking, l and after having been rattled by losing Pat I was ready to make cancer my full time job.

Shortly afterwards, my grandpa went to the doctor, got x-rays, and was in the hospital. Having gone in for a bad cough and weight loss, the doctors found cancer in his lungs, liver, spine and the base of his scull. After having never seen cancer growing up, there was MY grandfather, seven months after having lost Pat and six months after going to work for the ACS, laying in a hospital bed hearing the extent of his cancer.

They started him on a aggressive treatment plan to get it under control... to buy time. The doctors thought they could manage the disease to the point he would have six months to a year. Two weeks later I got the call, that horrible call no one who has moved away from home wants to get.

He held on long enough for his grandson and his wife to drive from West Virginia to the Jersey Shore. He passed 15 minutes after we arrived. He got to hear me make one more bad joke and I got to kiss his forehead and tell him goodbye. He passed two months before his first great grandson (named Patrick in part to honor my lost mother in law) was born.

Over the coming months articles will be written on this blog about everything from training programs to favorite music selections to diet to how to get up for a run at 2:30 in the morning, but make no mistake. Team Allears is in a fight against cancer.

We may not be the scientists who will find the cure or the doctor who will administer that cure, but we will be the ones that helped fund that cure. We will be the ones that raised awareness about the fight against cancer.

Please stay tuned as to how you can get involved, either by joining us as a runner, supporting us as a friend or donor, or simply doing what you can to prevent cancer in your own life or the lives of your loved ones.

We are Team Allears and we RUN WITH PURPOSE.


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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

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!

Team AllEars

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 4, 2011

Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend 2011 - Reflections Part 2

Team AllEars 2011
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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 on this amazing journey - Part 2!

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Brad Garfinkel

My race memories began when I arrived at BWI and first met fellow team members Dan, Tim and Kerry who were all on the same flight to WDW.

I arrived at WDW and immediately went to the race expo where I ran into fellow team member, and fraternity big brother Rob. A special highlight was the time spent talking with Eric as we reminisced about meeting in the half marathon corral during our first race 2 years prior and how far we have each come with our improved health and and focus on running.

Arriving at Port Orleans, it was like coming home and seeing family when I got to catch up with Jamison, Melanie, Julie, Jessica, Holly & Dave, Amanda as well as our leaders Deb, Mike and Michelle. It was a thrill to run the 5K on Friday and get the first taste of crossing the finishing line which I would repeat two additional times over the weekend. A highlight of the 5K was seeing a smiling Stephanie cross the finish line to earn her well deserved medal.

The camaraderie of the 4am pre half-marathon team gathering, photo and pep talk really got the adrenaline flowing for the 13.1 journey ahead. It was a thrill to see Team AllCheers stationed throughout the race course and to be cheered by complete strangers rooting for Team Allears. Saturday’s meet at Fort Wildness was exciting as we got to congratulate first time half-marathon finishers who were already planning ahead for their next personal challenge.

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The unveiling of the fundraising total really got the emotions flowing and for those of us running on Sunday, this was the motivation we needed to tackle 26.2 miles. Sunday’s 4am pre full marathon team gathering again helped bond team members who were running 26.2 miles or capping off their Goofy or Dopey weekends of 39.3 or 42.4 miles. Once again seeing Team AllCheers out on the course really gave the runners something to look forward to.

The final race highlight for me was heading down Hollywood Blvd at the Studios and running into Josh and Dominic. It was great to share part of the final leg of the marathon with several Team Allears teammates as we headed towards the finish line. The weekend went by way to quickly. While the weekend was about running and raising funds for a terrific cause, the relationships and friendships that were developed are what I will remember and cherish the most. It is amazing that a group of like-minded strangers can do when they join a team “Running with Purpose.”

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Julie Olson

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Team All Ears means so much to me. For the last two years I have been able to meet some incredible people who helped me through the hardest parts of training and made me laugh when I needed it most. I loved getting to run side-by-side with my teammates and hear people scream out our names! Most of us started out as strangers but we ended up a family. I'll see you next year!


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Stan Harris

I had such a blast being part of the team for this year. Made some fantastic new friends, teammates & memories. I was blown away by the team meet we had on Saturday afternoon. Can't express enough how much I enjoyed being involved in a such a worthy cause, Thanks so much for letting me participate. I enjoyed running the Goofy challenge so much, I think I will do it again.

1st one is me,Dominic Abram & Gording Harvey after the 1/2 marathon, 2nd one is me, Dominic & Josh Gidlewski during the full marathon

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Holly Aulen

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Being a part of Team All Ears once again in 2011 was such a rewarding experience. The people I have met through the Team are now life long friends. I received 4 medals for running the weekends races but the 5th medal I received for being a part of Team All Ears is the one that means the most to me. It represents so much. Strength, courage, friendship and most of all a huge step to end breast cancer. I can't wait to be a part of the team again in 2012.

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Scott Lebeau

Here's a picture I had taken somewhere around mile 20-22. A supporter was holding the sign and it summed up how I felt. The feeling of crossing that finish line was worth the torture I put myself through to reach it. I look at the pictures from the race, and my medal, with pride and I don't even remember the sore legs anymore. It was an honor to run as a member of Team AllEars and to raise money for your cause. The pride associated with that equals crossing the finish line.

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Shawn Moffett

When I signed up for Team AllEars, I was a Disney Fan, but not a runner. I thought it sounded like fun to run through the parks. But, since I was 39 years old, I figured it was now or never. Although I had never met any of my other Teammates, I felt like I had known them for years. Anytime I was down, hurting or lost my motivation, they were there to boost me back up and steer me in the right direction.

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I did not get a chance to meet any of my Teammates until Marathon Weekend. Each and every person I met treated my wife and I like family. No matter what our finish time or pace was, they cheered us on along the way and hugged us at the end.

Since this was my first Half-Marathon, I had no idea what to expect.

Running at Disney is truly amazing. Not only are you running with thousands of other Disney fans, who motivate you along the way, but there are total strangers cheering for you and yelling your name. It’s a great feeling to be running along, wondering why you decided to do this and how much it hurts, and then standing in the crowd is a group of people with a Team AllEars sign. You hear these people above everyone else (the cowbells helped) and for a brief time you forget the pain and you forget how tired you are.

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Team AllEars was a great experience. I have many new friends that I would not have met without this Team. Thanks to everyone for their support over the past year. I am planning on returning next year and I can’t wait to see everyone again.

For those of you who supported Team AllEars and the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer, Thank You. We could not have done it without the support of all of you!

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Debbie Belloli

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Joining Team AllEars was one of the best things I have ever done. It was the friendliest, kindest and most helpful group of people I have ever met. People that have never met me before I got to Florida for the rest gave me great advice and helped me make sure I had everything I needed for race day.

Many times I almost chickened out thinking I'm too old, inexperienced and out of shape to do the race. But with everyone's encouragement I was able to finish 10 miles of the race before being swept. I am very proud of myself and even prouder to have been part of Team AllEars! And the bonus...we raised lots of money for Breast Cancer! I can't wait for next year.


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Eric Bouchet

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This year was my second year with Team AllEars. Words cannot describe the emotions that well up within me whenever I tell people about this magnificent group of people. The people I have met and the Friendships and memories that have been made will last a lifetime.

Becoming a runner was a very difficult thing for me but it has been such an overwhelming experience, and an absolutely incredible journey. In 2 and a half short years I have become a 7 time Half-Marathoner and a 2 time Marathoner with multiple smaller races in between. I look forward to many many more years of TEAM ALLEARS as we all continue TO RUN WITH A PURPOSE!!!!!!.

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Jessica Cutler

After finishing my very first half marathon during the 2010 Marathon weekend I was hooked in this running thing. After seeing the fun times that my teammates during the Goofy Challenge that year had, I knew that's what the next step was for me.


On the very first day registration opened for 2011 Marathon weekend, I signed myself up for the Goofy Race and 1/2. The entire year of 2010 was spent getting ready for that Half Marathon and Full Marathon. Thanks to Team AllEars I had Friends, REAL friends who were training right along with me, going through the same things. I could ask questions and just have someone to talk to about how my training was going. It made the year speed by and before I knew it, it was January again, Time for the races!

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Marathon weekend 2011 is a weekend I will never, ever forget. It is one of the best weekends I've had in my entire life. Seeing friends from my team before the race who shared my nervous energy, seeing teammates on the course cheering us on and going to the team meets were some of the most happy memories I have.

The best part of the weekend was running the Full Marathon with Holly and Rhonda. These two women are amazing and without them, I think I'd still be somewhere between the Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom. They were so supportive and happy, running with them really made the miles fly by.

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The full marathon part of the Goofy Challenge was my first full marathon. It was an experience I cherish everyday, and it was "plussed" by running with two friends. Finishing the marathon and getting that Mickey medal and then walking over and getting a Goofy medal was so surreal. I'm still pinching myself because I'm still amazed that I could do it. I care so much for each person on Team AllEars and can't wait to see old friends and new ones next year. I'm such a lucky person to have met such wonderful people.

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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January 5, 2011

Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend 2011: Ready, Set, Go!

by Michelle Scribner-MacLean and Mike Scopa

You’ve been training, you’ve been crossing off the days on the calendar…and now it’s almost here…the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend! Get ready for a wonderful racing event with 25,000 of your favorite racing buddies. Here are some last minute tips to get ready and to remember once you get there.

Rest and Relax
You’ve done your training and now it’s time to get off your feet and relax. Allow your body to rest and conserve energy so that you’re 100% on race day.

You should be tapering off by now. There is nothing more you can do to prepare yourself for this coming weekend then the obvious…rest. This is especially true for those of you who may have over trained a bit. You know who you are; those of you who wanted to get a little faster; you may have run too many miles, too fast, or not given yourself enough rest. Now it’s time to rest.

Drink, drink, drink
During the few days before the race, it’s really important to keep yourself hydrated. Drink lots of water during the few days before you leave so that your body well hydrated and ready to go before you get to the start line.

During the race you should make an attempt to take in water at every water stop. You may not realize you need the water but you do.

When You Arrive at WDW:

Stay Off of Your Feet
If there is anywhere on earth where this advice is very difficult to follow, it’s at WDW, where you could easily walk 10 miles per day. When you’re with your family and friends at the “vacation capital of the world,” it is very difficult to tell them, “Sorry, I’m hanging out by the pool all day,” but that’s exactly what you should try to do on the few days before your race. If you’re not sitting by the pool, hang out at your resort. If you do find yourself at the parks, try to walk as little as possible. The parks are a great place to people watch…instead of standing in line, perhaps spend some time at the best place ever to “people watch.”

BE CAREFUL of what you eat and what you do. Sure it’s the Happiest Place on Earth and there are attractions and shows and Mickey…but what are you here for? Hopefully after your race day you can enjoy the parks and the talking Mice and Ducks.

The day before your big race should be spent strolling around the expo and taking it easy. You may find something at the Expo you may THINK you need for the race. Be careful. Unless it’s something like a throwaway waterproof jacket or maybe sunglasses or even gloves…you don’t need it. Imagine buying a pair of socks or running shorts that you’ve never tried before and on the day of the race you find they are not as comfortable as the ones you trained in. Remember what got you to the ball and use them at the ball.

Music Check
Make sure your music works with the type of runner you are. That is, make sure that if you are a progression runner (starts slow and get faster) then you have the right type of music queue for you…don’t put your highest pace music up front…you’ll run out of gas…make sure your music is in order.

If you are a rabbit type runner that starts off fast then you want your highest paced music early on in your music queue.

If you are a steady runner then all your music should have the same beat or close to it.

Eating for the Race
A day or two before your race don’t eat any foods your body is not comfortable with. Unless you are on the Atkins diet you really don’t need to carbo-load. What you could do is add a few more carbs in your diet some four days before the race; but realistically, if you drink and eat, as you would normally do then you should be fine.

You should know by know how close to a race you feel comfortable eating or drinking. Some runners like to be “fueled up” before a race while others want to be kind of “empty” because they fear they would have to make a pit stop during the race. Watch the clock and plan accordingly.

The Night Before
The night before the big race lay out all your clothes and pin your runner’s bib on your shirt. You should bring extra safety pins with you; don’t depend on the race organizer’s to be 100% efficient in making sure everyone’s packet has safety pins.

Get to bed early…get at least six hours sleep before your race and play it safe and set your room clock radio and your cell phone to wake you up. Just to play it safe arrange for a wake-up call.

Race Day
Be sure you get to the race at least an hour or so before race time because it will take time for you to do bag check and get warmed up.

When you arrive at your corral; try to work your way up to the front. The less people in front of you the quicker you will be able to get into your normal pace.

Do not run on the grass because it is wet and uneven and you can injure yourself.

Do not weave in and out of people. It uses up energy and also adds distance to the race. There have been folks who have run a Half Marathon and afterwards their Garmin watch said the distance ran was 13.6 miles…because they weaved in and out.
Pace yourself as only you know how….don’t let other runners influence your running style…just worry about you. Doing a PR is all well and good but just finish healthy so you can run another day.

At the end of the race be sure to stretch, drink water, and eat something.

One last piece of advice: HAVE FUN!

January 4, 2011

UPDATED: Reluctant Runner Sidelined

by Michelle Scribner-MacLean

Sometimes you do everything right: you train, you plan, you eat right….on paper everything looks good as you prepare for your race…but something goes wrong. Sadly, that’s what happened to me and, as we approach Disney’s Marathon Weekend, I’ve spend a bit of time feeling sorry for myself, but also have pushed myself to keep things in perspective.

After three years of feeling like I was “runner-ish” versus a real runner, in the year 2010 I found myself making great strides (pun intended) in my running. I ran three half marathons (and had a personal record), did a 10K, and a few 5Ks. I spent the summer cross training, adding biking, tennis, and strength training to my regimen. I also worked through a pesky IT band problem and found myself in the best shape ever and ready and excited to meet Team AllEars and to run my 5th half marathon.

With 10 days to go, things started to go downhill. At the end of a 6 mile run, I found that my foot was aching. This was unusual, as I’ve never had any foot problems at all. I rested and then a few days later went out for a short run…and that is when I knew something was really wrong. Sharp pains in my foot. Not good.

One of the things that I never bargained for when I started running was the fact that I would gain a whole community of wonderfully supportive running pals…. Running folks are very supportive in general (in my experience), but combine this with Disney-loving folk and, let’s just say you’ve got the makings for a very helpful and supportive group…and this is where they come into the story. I shared my concerns with a few people on Team AllEars. Up until this point my plan had been to rest and run my ½ as planned, but my running peers urged me to get it checked out at the doctor….just to be on the safe side. Thank you Amanda, Deb, Jamison, and Mike…this turned out to be a very good idea.

To make a very long story short, I quickly found out that I had a stress fracture and that it had been there for a while. When I asked why I hadn’t felt any pain before, the doctor said that sometimes with this injury it just feels ok until… BAM…one day it doesn’t. He also said that if I’d run with this fracture I might have done permanent damage to my foot. He said no running for at least six to eight weeks.

I’m not going to lie. I left the doctor’s office feeling very sorry for myself. One year’s worth of training and now… no ½ marathon with my friends, no 5K with my son Liam, and no walking around Walk Disney World. I allowed myself a bit of a cry and to feel sorry for myself, but then I pulled myself together and put things into perspective.

Team AllEars is running to raise money to support people who have real problems: breast cancer. I have been sidelined, but I know that I will heal and be out there on the road running with my buddies again very soon. There will be other Disney races, but I need to keep in mind those who can’t run for themselves, who can’t raise money for themselves, those who struggle every day to fight against cancer.

So…as I approach race weekend, I’m no longer feeling sorry for myself and I’m content with my new roll….to take my place alongside Team AllCheers and support my wonderful Team AllEars members who are raising money for a courageous group of people who are fighting a horrible disease.

If you’d like to support Team AllEars, please visit the following link:

http://allears.net/AvonWalk/#donate


Last year the team raised over $26,000. Let’s see if we can join together and do more this year.

As for me…
I promise you all, I’ll be out there training again soon and will join you next year.

UPDATE: Well, I learned another lesson as a runner: sometimes the first opinion isn't the correct opinion. After I'd been sidelines, I asked to see a specialist, who told me that I have something common in runners -- a neuroma (painful growth on nerve tissue). I was given a simple orthotic, told to take some pain killers, and given the best news...that I could safely run with my team without doing further damage.

I had made peace with not running, but am happy that I'm going to be able to give it a shot.

You can follow members of Team AllEars by clicking on the link below:

http://live.activeresult.com/msg/MSG-signup.tcl?event_id=3

Please wish us luck!

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 21, 2010

Team AllEars® 2011 - Live Podcast Announcement! - Disney World 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 16, 2010

Are You A Runner?

Note from Michelle and Mike: Recently someone in our Team AllEars discussion group started an interesting thread entitled Are You a Runner? This prompted a very spirited discussion about what it takes to be a runner and what it takes to finish a Disney race (or any race, for that matter).

One of our team members, Helen Dunn, is an alum from last year's Team AllEars, but more than that, she's a veteran runner who is known for her positive and supportive attitude. She's a wealth of knowledge and we're thrilled that she is back on the team this year.

Her response to this question -- Are you a runner? -- was so inspirational that we asked her to develop it into a blog.

Thanks, Helen, for being such a great team member and sharing your wisdom.

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


Hi, my name is Helen and I’ll confess: sometimes I don’t really feel like a runner.

Sometimes I feel too slow or too fat or too lazy to really believe that I’m a runner but guess what? I AM a runner and I’ve been one for a long, long time.

When I tell my story, I usually say that I got started in endurance sports in 2002 when I trained for and walked my first marathon. That’s not the whole story. The truth is that in the summer of 2000 I registered for the Disney half marathon with my sister. We planned to walk the 13.1 miles together in January of 2001. I went to Disney that January but I didn’t make it to the starting line of the race. It wasn’t because I was injured; I was just scared. I gave up on the idea because I convinced myself that I wasn’t the type of person who could do a 13.1 mile race. I didn’t believe in myself so I just stopped trying. My sister on the other hand, finished that first race and then went back the next year to run the marathon. She hasn’t looked back since.

It took until the spring of 2002 before I signed up for another race. This time it was a full marathon. I followed my training schedule to the letter; I raised money for charity and told everyone I knew that I was going to do it. Most people thought that I was crazy. The only person who believed that I could do it was my sister. She convinced me that I had it in me and somehow I started to believe that she was right. She was a regular person like me and she had done it, so why couldn’t I?

In November 2002 I finished my first marathon and now, 8 years and 17 marathons later, I’m still slow, I’m still fatter than I want to be, and I’m still pretty lazy. If I let those thoughts creep into my brain they start to make me think that I don’t deserve to call myself a runner.

But I AM a runner and I’ve been earning the title since 2000.

I gave up on a dream at first but then decided to do the work to make it come true. I have logged hours and hours of walking and running in heat, humidity, rain, snow and sleet to prove it. I have had blisters and chafe marks and sore knees and ankles. I have lost toenails. I have come back from a run with my face coated in dusty white dried sweat. I have spent alarming amounts of money on GPS devices, sneakers, running skirts and race entries. I have pushed myself to the point where I tossed my cookies at the finish line. I have spent seven hours on a marathon course helping my running partner make it to the end of her first Goofy challenge. I have coached friends to their first 5Ks and on to their first half-marathon. I have risen from bed at 3 AM to don a Hefty bag (to ward off cold) in order to make it to a starting line on time.

All those things are what make me a runner. I don't think size, shape, speed, distance, or any of that make people runners. It’s getting out there more often than not and doing the work - at whatever level you're at – that makes you a runner. Its being part of the community of runners - a group of people who all speak the same language of training, effort, struggle and joy.

If you have ever struggled through and finished a hard run without quitting, no matter if it was 10 minutes or 10 miles, you are a runner. If you’ve laced up your shoes when all you really wanted to do was watch TV, then you are a runner. If you have ever come home and slapped a bag of frozen peas on your throbbing knee, you are a runner. If you’ve ever been scared to death to head to the starting line but did it anyway, then you are a runner. If you have been happy for days because you crossed the finish line, then you are a runner.

Don’t get caught in the trap of thinking that long distances are the only distances that matter.

Don’t believe the ads that hint that it only counts if you run really fast.

You don’t have to be skinny to be a runner.

You don’t have to be fast to be a runner.

You don’t have to be a marathoner to be a runner.

All you have to do is run.

I've been active in running groups and training groups since 2002 and every spring I meet a new group of people who are hoping to finish a full or half marathon. I meet confident runners and people who can't even run for 5 minutes at a time. Every spring lots of people start the training and lots of people quit the program because they decide that they aren’t “real runners” or that they can’t do 26.2 miles.

Running a marathon is an awesome experience. So is running a half marathon. But they aren’t the most important distances or goals. What’s important is getting out there, getting healthy, feeling better about yourself, making friends and becoming a better athlete than you are today.

Nobody can finish a marathon until they decide on their own to do it. I think it’s like losing weight, or quitting smoking. People can encourage you to do it for your health, or for your family, or because everybody else is doing it. But if YOU don't want to do it for YOURSELF you'll never be able to stick with the training and the mental battles that are all along the path to the marathon. Accomplishing this goal is a difficult and very personal thing. It's incredibly rewarding and you can only do it on your own timeline.

But you can do it, I’m proof of that, and I keep on proving it every day that I run.

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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.

March 7, 2010

2010 Team AllEars: Final Reflections

by Michelle Scribner-MacLean and Mike Scopa

The training is done, the race is over, everyone is home, and we've all shared our medals with family and friends. Even though many Team AllEars members are looking forward and have already signed up for 2011 Disney races, we asked the team to take a few minutes and share some final reflections about their 2010 experiences.

A Quick Pre-Half Marathon Mini Team Gathering Photo! Yes, it really was that cold and sleeting!

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Barrie Brewer

Back in March when I signed up for the Disney Half Marathon it seemed so far away. Now, three weeks since that bitter cold day, I can hardly believe it's already come and gone. I know it sounds hokey but the experience really did change my life, in more ways than I can explain in a paragraph. I'm so glad I did it and was a part of Team AllEars. In fact, I've even started calling this my first half marathon! (Photo copyright: John Ames)


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Holly Aulen

My Disney Marathon weekend was an absolute amazing experience. From completing the 5k, Half Marathon and Full Marathon to meeting all of my Team AllEars members it was a truly life changing experience. It was such a rewarding experience to raise money for breast cancer research and an honor to be a part of such a supportive team. I am officially “Goofy” and also part of a group of wonderful friends.

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Jamison Reynolds

The quote on my shirt sums up our team in my mind. Whether it meant pulling yourself off a couch and into a pair if running shoes for the first time or running for the first time in years, coming face to face with injuries during training and overcoming them, waking up at 3am to be greeted by freezing rain and flurries, pushing yourself down World Drive after the aura of the Magic Kingdom had worn off, finishing the run and deciding to reregister or register for a greater distance in 2011, and for those that did not finish deciding that the sweep bus in 2010 DOES NOT mean a sweep bus in 2011... 'Around here, however, we don't look backward for very long... we keep moving forward.'- Walt Disney. It was an honor and a privilege to be a charter member of Team Allears. The impact of the friendships made, the improved lifestyles and the money raised for the fight against cancer will be felt by myself and all those involved long after race weekend 2010. BRING ON 2011 AND THE GOOFY CHALLENGE!!!"


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Helen Dunn

Team All Ears was a fantastic experience and one I think anybody would enjoy. The support online and on the race course was great and it was a lot of fun to be part of something so special. I'm hoping I can pull the right strings to get another January vacation so I can come back for Team 2011.

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Tom Troost

Team All Ears has been a great experience, and I am very hopeful for the 2011 team (I have talked my wife into running the half in 2011!)

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Kathleen Gordon

It would have been warmer and dryer in Infinity! We had a blast!

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Sharla Manglass
This was my third half marathon, but the first time I had the support of a team behind me. Even though we never met in person, I the support of Team AllEars was invaluable to me. I was able to get my family and friends involved as well by telling them about the Team and breast cancer research. I loved being a part of a team so much!


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Karen Lehtonen and Jessica Gauda

We DID IT!

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Cathy Bock

What an adventure! Congratulations to Team AllEars and our supporters who endured the sleet, the rain and the wind!

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Suzanne Borg Farnan

When I began training for the half marathon, I saw the race as the final destination. As I approached race day, I realized that the race was just the beginning of the journey – this is a life-long endeavour to embrace health, life and hope. It has been an honour and truly a privilege to use my health and good fortune to raise money and awareness for breast cancer and another cause, close to my heart. Deb, Michelle and Mike were real sources of inspiration and I was so thrilled to meet them. Our team was a constant source of knowledge and support and I couldn’t have gotten to the starting line without them (even though I actually lost them all before I got to the starting line due to a port-a-potty stop, that’s just race day reality people!). I was so proud to represent my team, my family and friends on that freezing cold morning in Orlando and so ecstatic to see my family near the finish line and cross that finish line soon after. What an experience, it truly was magical and to quote Walt himself, "kind of fun to do the impossible"!

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Jessica Cutler
Aside from meeting everyone at the AllEars meet, my favorite memory would be crossing the finish line and finding my family. I had accomplished something! I actually finished 13.1 miles, a distance I had never run before in my life. I felt so great! And then I saw my family through the fence and they came over and told me how proud they were of me. I will never forget what a wonderful feeling that was.

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Dave Schaefer

The experience connected me with Dad and my son Daniel. They were with me for the first marathon and I know they were at the marathon as well. There is a stretch of highway around mile 18 to 20 and it isn't much fun, wide expanses of asphalt seldom are compared to theme parks. The sun had risen though and the sky was crystal blue and as I felt the warmth of the sun wash over me after starting in the dark and cold I could feel their spirit. Months of training and the exhaustion of the run strike me as an insignificant price to pay for that moment. I don't run to a finish line, I run to be closer to Dad and Daniel, if just for a moment.

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Julie Olson


I did my first ever half marathon at Disney World and I had so much fun that I keep going back for more races. I love getting to be a part of the team and raising money for such a great cause.

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Eric Bouchet

It all started....... with a question. Can I do this??? Now..... I am a MARATHONER!!!!!!

GOOFY 2011.... SEE YA REAL SOON!!"

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Eric Schneider

"Completing my first marathon at my favorite place in the world is one of the most awesome things I have ever done. What made it so very special is that I was able to have some small part in helping to find a cure for cancer, so that people we know and love don’t have to leave us before their time."


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Brad Garfinkel

Reflections - Running with friends both new and old. Reading the backs of t-shirts in memory of those no longer here to run with us but certainly not forgotten. Hearing my name being cheered by complete strangers. Running alongside the Freedom Runner soldier with the prosthetic foot. Seeing Team Allears members at the base of Spaceship Earth as I was nearing the completion of the Goofy. My daughter Julia pulling me towards her to say congratulations. My wife running into my arms after I completed the full marathon to earn my Goofy. Seeing people do things for themselves and accomplish goals that they once thought impossible. Likeminded strangers coming together as one for a single cause.


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Melanie and Julie (The Colorado Sisters)

Have you ever started knitting a sweater and you ended up knitting a belly warmer instead?

That is how the 2010 marathon was for us. We signed up with lofty goals and noble aspirations and then life, injuries and more life took over.

At first we were sad that our lofty goals didn’t come to fruition, but we had a different kind of success.

On Team AllEars we found new friends, a new stronger love of running and some wiser goals for 2011.

We saw what running a marathon should look like. It turns out it can be done with a smile on your face.

Thank you Helen for showing us what someone who is enjoying a marathon looks like.

That is our new goal….to run a MERRYthon. We want to stop and take photos with characters (we have always been too pressed for time to do that).

We want to smile (at least most of the way). We want to enjoy our merry marathon!

To Team AllEars 2010- thank you for sharing your struggles, triumphs and inspiration with us on Facebook- we LOVED it!

Here’s to more miles and smiles in 2011.

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Deb Wills
It's been a dream of mine to participate since I witnessed one of the first ever WDW Marathons. I watched folks run through the Magic Kingdom, up and down the roads and through the other parks. I thought to myself, how cool; but also thought it would always be just a dream. Neither a runner nor fast am I. Thanks to co-captains Mike and Michelle, Team AllEars, and lots of encouragement from friends, my dream became a reality. It was one of the hardest things I have ever trained for (even harder than 60 mile walks) but once I stepped into the start corral that early, sleet-filled morning, I knew I could make it happen; and I did. One of my proudest moments and one I won't ever forget!

Deb Wills

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Very special thanks to EVERYONE who came out and cheered and all the volunteers and Disney Cast Members.

During the Saturday Half Marathon, Team AllEars members Melanie, Julie and Tacey seemed to be everywhere despite the rain!

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During the Marathon, Team AllEars members were sprinkled throughout the route. Here are Amanda and Mike cheering in Future World!

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Looking Toward 2011

We once again wish to thank all of our team members. As we start to think about the 2011 Disney races, stay tuned for an announcement about 2011 Team AllEars coming very soon.


February 16, 2010

Disney Marathon Weekend: Challenging Weather, New Friends, and Wonderful Memories

by Michelle Scribner-MacLean

Have you ever looked forward to something for a long time… a really long time… and then when you actually get to experience that thing, it turns out to be even better than you’d hoped? That’s how I’d describe my experience at the 2010 Disney Marathon Weekend, where I got to meet my fellow Team AllEars members, share stories, hugs, and get ourselves to the starting line to tackle the Disney races.

A few days before heading down to Orlando, the team started buzzing about the weather for the race – there was a cold snap predicted – and we knew that we’d need to prepare ourselves with every combination of workout gear imaginable. I packed old hats, mittens, sweats, and raingear with the knowledge that if the weather was a challenge, I could wear layers and peel them off (Disney collects discarded clothing and donates it to charity).

I ventured to Orlando with my team co-captain and AEN colleague, Mike Scopa, and all of our worries about the cold were pushed aside as we saw the sign that always gets us happy and excited.

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Now, being from New Hampshire, Mike and I are accustomed to the cold weather, but we were very surprised to see the effects of the cold snap on Walt Disney World. All around us was evidence that the plant life at the resort was taking a beating.

The butterfly at the Beach Club had a jacket on….

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Plants surrendered to the cold….

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And after a few days Disney must have realized that the cold would cause them to have to initiate a massive replanting effort, as evidenced by this sign.

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Meeting the Team

Our first team meet was that night at YeHaw Bob show at Port Orleans Riverside. I have to give credit to WDWToday’s Mike Newell and Matt Hochberg for introducing me to this phenomenal entertainer last December. After experiencing Bob’s ability to get an entire room up and dancing, we felt confident that this would be a great place to meet some of the running team. With the help of team member Melanie Camphouse, we were able to meet some of our teammates for the first time.

Our team consisted of people from four different countries and included, Jorge, who flew in from Mexico, and Tacey, from Canada, as well as others who flew in from all over the United States. It was so gratifying to meet these amazing people, who had inspired me during my training, but it was equally touching to sit back and watch others, who had formed close relationships, meet each other for the first time.

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Pre-race day

With one Disney half marathon under my belt, I knew that the Friday before the race needed to be a rest day. After heading over to the World of Sports for my race packet and a trip to the Expo, I spent a quiet day meeting more team members and having lunch with dear friends Steve and Vickie Barrett, who were in town for race weekend.

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When I arrived back in my room, I found a surprise – a cooler with lots of snacks, sent as support from my family back in New England. Disney has lots of specialized gift packages for racers, and I truly appreciated being spoiled with these goodies.

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I’m in Florida….and Ice Is Pelting Me on the Face!

This year I was very prepared for the idea that race day starts at 2 a.m at Disney (yes, you read that correctly, 2 AM!). I laid out my clothes the night before, but this year’s forecast meant that I needed to add many more things than the year before. Because of cold, I had four layers of clothes on top, two hats, two pairs of gloves, a gaiter (thanks, Deb!), running leggings, sweat pants, and a rain coat on top of all that. Overkill? Nope. I felt like I was wearing a closet full of clothes, but was happy when I headed outdoors in the 29F temps and I felt comfortable.

Mike, Deb Wills, and I headed over to the race area in Epcot and were able to park very close to the area where the runners queue up. This is definitely one of the advantages of getting up so early – a close parking space means less walking after the race, when you really want to get into the car and go.

Again this year, I chose to do Race Retreat, and convinced Deb and Mike that it might be worthwhile, as well. This year it was money that was wisely spent. It wasn’t so much the separate bathrooms, bag check, food, or comfortable seating that was worth the $75, but it was the heat and protection from the elements. I got a lot of teasing from Mr. Scopa last year when I did Race Retreat, but this year, as the snow and ice started falling outside, he graciously conceded that perhaps I was right (yes, I’m still gloating… and will certainly sign up for it the next time I run).

As we headed toward the starting line, the walk seemed to be a lot longer than last year. Perhaps this was because of the weather, but it seemed like a long march to the race corrals and it was almost surreal to realize that we were in Orlando, Florida, but as we gazed up into the lights leading the way, we were actually seeing snow and ice falling from the sky!!

We queued up and waited about 40 minutes before we started running and I was completely amazed by the fact that ice was pelting against my cheeks as I ran! Later, I heard many people say, “That must not have been strange for you… you live in New Hampshire!” Yes, I do, but I don’t typically run outdoors when it’s in the upper 20s and snow and ice are falling.

The number of people who run the race is astounding… and sadly, I was quickly separated from my running buddy, but knew that he was close by. This was a different race for me this year. I didn’t achieve a personal record, but I felt really calm and I think this is attributed to the fact that I had built some confidence from finishing the race in 2009.

One thing that was exactly the same as last year – as I headed toward Epcot and crossed the finish line, I got choked up and cried a bit, as I waited with my mylar blanket draped around me, for my running buddy Mike to finish. We shared a victory hug and then several more as we ran into other Team members.

Later that day we had a celebratory meeting with fellow Team AllEars members, other friends, and family members to meet (some for the first time), recount stories, and pat each other on the back.

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Because of construction, we had to change our meet location and I would like to apologize to Team AllEars members Jamie, Emily, Jessica, and Karen, who didn’t get word of the new spot. They are all very valued team members and we were sad that we didn’t get to meet them.

Five members of AllEars.net completed the half marathon: Barrie Brewer, Cathy Bock, Deb Wills, Mike Scopa, and myself. We took a minute to take a photo of our “bling.”

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More importantly….there were 35 other people who, not only trained together, supported each other from afar, and build lasting friendships, but they worked together as a team to raise $25,000 for breast cancer research. Special… amazing… wonderful… there aren’t enough words to describe how proud I am to have met and run with this group.

This was our first year with Team AllEars and we did it as a “trial run.” We weren’t sure how it would all work, but I think Deb and Mike would agree that this extraordinary group of individuals made the team what it was… and convinced us that we need to do it again next year.

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I would like to extend my heartfelt love and gratitude to my co-captains Mike and Deb and to all of Team AllEars.

Boom Boom Pow.

October 27, 2009

Team All Ears Profile: Brad Garfinkel

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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I have a bit of a Disney addiction. I had visited Walt Disney World every few years throughout my childhood. The addiction did not really start to get serious until 1992 when I met my (now) wife Cindy and her family, who were annual visitors to Walt Disney World. I got to visit annually, as well. As a 40+ trip veteran and DVC Member, I looked for any reason or excuse to get to Walt Disney World. My past reasons have included attending Food and Wine, Baseballs' Spring Training, Star Wars Weekends, my brother-in-law’s wedding at the Wedding Pavilion. I was looking for a new reason to visit when I began hearing about the Walt Disney World Half Marathon.

13.1 miles? I could probably run 13.1 miles! My only problem was that I had not done anything athletic and physical since playing lacrosse in college 17 years ago.

I ran and completed my first half marathon this past January, running the Walt Disney World Half Marathon. I began January 1, 2008 with the New Year’s resolution of getting off of the couch, losing weight, and reducing my work related stress, while sneaking in another trip to WDW. After registering for the half, my wife Cindy threatened me that I had to complete this or else. I had registered several years ago not training seriously and never actually ran the race. After registering, I never actually ran --- period!

At the age of 39, now 35 pounds lighter, in shape, more relaxed, and a confident athlete, I am addicted to running. I get up at 4:00 am six days a week to workout and run, whether, I am training for a race or just keeping in shape. There is no better feeling and accomplishment then starting the day off with doing something most won't do, running miles at a time. I also completed my 2nd and 3rd half marathons this year, running the Suntrust Half Marathon through Washington, DC in March and the Harrisburg Half Marathon in September. I ran several 5Ks and the Disney Race for the Taste 10K. I am running the Harrisburg Marathon in several weeks, which will be my first full marathon. Needless to say running has become a significant part of my life. Living in chilly PA, I only ran in-doors for 2 weeks this past year. Outdoors is where I belong. As motivation for myself and hopefully others, I post my runs and times daily on Facebook and Twitter and am motivated by other runners doing the same.

Crossing the finish line in January was one of my greatest individual accomplishments. Joining the All Ears Running Team and the thought of motivating others and running for a cause was even more reason to pursue my new passion. I ran by myself for the past 21 months. The thought of letting other runners know that they have support and are not alone is something I enjoy being a part of.

My wife Cindy and I have been regular contributors to Deb's annual Avon walk for the past several years. I donate in memory of my grandmother Naomi Klevans, who lost the battle with breast cancer at the young age of 85 after having been diagnosed with breast cancer in her latter years. My grandmother was a very important influence in my life and taught me to work hard, set goals, and keep a positive attitude, no matter what life throws at you. Even facing such a significant diagnosis, I was awed by her positive outlook and how she took the diagnosis in stride. She waged a tough battle, but ultimately lost her battle with cancer a few years later. It is in her honor and memory that I run this coming year and why this cause and team is so important to me.

I will be competing in and completing the Goofy Race and a Half Challenge this January as I run in memory of my grandmother. My wonderful wife Cindy and my 5 1/2 year old daughter Julia will be there to support me during marathon weekend. This will be Julia's 18th trip to Walt Disney World, but her first time running as she participates in the 200M Kids race. I hope Julia catches the running bug, I sure have!

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October 6, 2009

Team All Ears Profile: Amanda McKittrick Gonzales

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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Hi, My name is Amanda McKittrick Gonzales and I am proud to be a member of the All Ears Net running team.

I am running the Half-Marathon in January of 2010 and have aspirations to run the full marathon in 2011 and perhaps the Goofy in 2012!

I am a life-long Disney enthusiast and have been a fan of Deb Wills and follower of AllEars.net for many years. I am also a mother of four young children under 8 years old.

The past nine years have been extremely busy and I, unfortunately allowed my health and caring for myself slip away. This past April, I finally looked in the mirror and did not recognize the person staring back at me. As a former college athlete, I had always been in excellent shape, I was a pixie, but suddenly, my heart sank as I realized I had turned into a heffalump. I stepped on the scale, consulted my doctor and learned that I was 100 pounds overweight. I qualified as morbidly obese.

My children and my family are the most important things in my life, but I realized that I needed to take drastic measures to change my habits so that I could have the best chance of living a long life. I want to be alive to watch my children and, hopefully grandchildren grow.

I decided to register for the Disney Half-Marathon. Disney would motivate me to accomplish this task. What better place to accomplish this dream than in Disney World the place where dreams do come true! I joined weight watchers, consulted my doctors and began changing my nutrition and exercise habits.

I joined Team AllEars to help raise money for Breast Cancer research because several people in my community whom I am friends with are battling this horrific disease. I also lost my father to Cancer and I want to decrease my chances of developing the disease some day.

It has not been easy, but I am proud to say that with the support of my teammates and some hard work, I have lost 25 pounds and am up to 8 miles on my running mileage. I am proud to be a Team AllEars member ad consider it a privilege and and honor to be raising money for Breast Cancer research, changing my health in a positive way and running the half marathon in Disney!

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September 29, 2009

Team All Ears Profile:Jamison Reynolds

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.

This week we are pleased to introduce Jamison Reynolds.

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Why I Am Team AllEars

We all have our reasons. Some look for the health benefits. Some love the rush of breaking through the wall. Some love the pain. Just as we all have our reasons, another truth is that reasons change. I fall into that group.

When my son Patrick was born in 2005 I put on what some may call "sympathy weight". I actually grew into a very unhealthy 225 lbs on a 5'11 frame. That's a BMI (Body Mass Index) of over 31 which is technically obese. In January 2006 I decided to get into shape and began a weight loss regimen. Part of the routine was cardio. I HATED RUNNING. But as the pounds came off I decided I wanted a challenge. Could I overcome my hate of running and run a half-marathon?

I think at this point I should identify myself as "Disney Obsessive". What better race to prove that I had accomplished my goal then the Walt Disney World Half-Marathon? Well it was sold out and I was not about to commit to a full marathon So thought I would wait... but life, trips and various other distractions kept me from following through.

In January 2009 my youngest son was born and I decided once and for all I was gonna run. I registered in March for the Walt Disney World Half-Marathon right before a trip down to Orlando with the family. While we were down in Florida we noticed a rash on Benjamin, our baby. When we returned from our trip we scheduled an appointment for a routine check the next day.

Within 24 hours of returning from Walt Disney World we were at Ruby Memorial Children's Hospital in Morgantown, WV awaiting a bone marrow biopsy on our little boy because the blood work from the day before showed what looked like acute leukemia.

After the scariest day of our lives, we learned he did not have cancer, but a rare autoimmune disease called "Evan's Syndrome"; a condition where his body could attack his platelets and/or his white cells and/or his hemoglobin at any time. This is a condition that he will have for the rest of his life, can trigger at any moment and can be fatal.

He spent two weeks in the hospital with blood work twice a day and heavy steroid treatment once a day. After he was released he received weekly chemotherapy for a month. Although it was not cancer, the theory was that the chemo would wipe out ALL of his antibodies and when they began to regenerate after treatment was concluded that his antibodies would "course correct". My little boy spent his first Easter in the hospital, IV sticking out of his head, wiped out from chemo and steroids. He was three months old.

Benjamin is now eight months old and healthy as a horse... a horse that cruised for the first time an hour before I wrote this. We still get monthly blood work, but so far his numbers have been well above normal. We thank God every day.

I no longer run for me. I run for my children. I run to stay healthy so I can take care of them, not the other way around. I run because I plan to stay active in their lives. I run to set a good example; so they see physical activity is a norm and NOT an exception. I run to keep my BMI below 25 so my kids have a healthy Dad. I run because Wii Fit is only so much fun. I run because I can.

I am Team AllEars.

JamisonR.jpg

September 7, 2009

Turning the Half into Thirds

by Mike Scopa

Regardless as to how long in your life you have been running, if you’ve basically gone no further than 10K (6.2 miles) or a mile or two further, then the thought of running 30,016 inches becomes rather intimidating. Oh sorry…I meant 69, 168 feet….uhhh….23,056 yards…I’m talking 13.1 miles which is the official the distance for a Half-Marathon.

It does seem rather overwhelming of course…even for me who some four years ago was training for my first half-marathon and wondering if I could cover that distance in the required time.

I had been running for almost 40 years so I had a good running base but I was used to six and seven mile distances and a rare occasional eight mile run. The thought of being out there running for 13.1 miles was a bit overwhelming to me at first and I wondered if preparing myself mentally for this race would be the bigger challenge than that of getting ready for it physically.

As I trained for this race I tried to figure out how I would approach the day of the race and for the most part my training took on a special focus.

Most of my training involved stamina. I figured I was 50% there because I knew I could run six or seven miles but now I had to figure out if I could cover double that distance.

So how did I figure out how to approach the race? It came down to basically the kind of approach that we all should probably use when we are faced with a large task ahead of us…I call it “chunking.”

I decided that I would chunk the WDW Half-Marathon into three even parts and approach the race as being three mini-races of 4.5 miles apiece Heck when you’re training for 13.1 miles 4.5 miles is a piece of cake…in fact I know for myself it takes me about 4 miles just to warm up.

So as I approached the eight and nine mile distances during my training I began to imagine that when I ran eight miles it was really two four miles runs and when I covered nine miles it was actually two 4.5 mile runs. By doing this not only was I able to approach the training this way but also begin to train my mind to how it would work on the day of the race.

So why am I telling you this?

Well I would imagine that some of you out there reading my words are looking at your first half-marathon and are saying to yourself, “How am I going to cover 13.1 miles?”

Try not to think of the total distance…chunk it up.

It certainly helped me get ready for my first half-marathon.

Now, four years later, I find myself using this same approach while training for yet another WDW Half-Marathon.

I know I don’t have to run 13 miles in any of my training runs…for those of you wondering if you should…I personally don’t think you have to.

I shoot for that 9-10 mile threshold. If I can cover that distance then I know I can cover 13.1 miles.

So for my training I “chunk” it up into three 3.0-3.5 mile distances.

As the weeks and months go by I build towards the first chunk and that tells me I’m one third of the way towards being ready for the race. As I hit the 6-7 mile mark I know I will be 2/3 of the way in my conditioning and once I hit the 9-10 mile mark I am ready for the race.

That works for me.

So if you find yourself a bit concerned about the distance then “chunk” it up and see what that does for you.

And for the record…I am 36% ready for the 2010 WDW Half-Marathon

* * * * * *

OH BY THE WAY…..

….earlier this year we announced the formation of the ALL-Ears Running Team for the 2010 WDW Half-Marathon.

At the time of the announcement we had limited the participation to 50 members because of the logistics of communicating with everyone. Unfortunately early on because of our concerns we had to sadly inform some of you that we had reached our capacity.

Well…NO MORE.

We feel we can open up membership again so if you are still interested in becoming a member of the AllEars Running team then please send an email to either Michelle at Michelle@allEars.net or me at MikeScopa@allEars.net and we will get back to you with information on how you can become a member of the team and join us at the WDW Marathon Weekend.

Please keep in mind that in order to participate you must be registered for the 2010 Walt Disney World Half-Marathon, Full Marathon, or Goofy’s Race and a Half Challenge.

August 26, 2009

Work That by Michelle Scribner-MacLean

Music and sports have always had a close relationship for me. For years I did step aerobics and the beat of a good song pushed me to go a bit further or to challenge myself to go faster. A carefully constructed playlist for walking or running also has the same effect…it helps you pick up your pace and can motivate you to do a little bit more.

Another interesting aspect of the music and sports connection is the way people adopt “anthems.” I’m sure you’ve been to a sports event where Queen’s We Will Rock You has had you jump out of your seat, clapping with thousands of other fans. At a Red Sox game, singing Neil Diamond’s Sweet Caroline with 32,000 of your closest friends is a cultural phenomenon not to be missed (unless you're a Yankees fan, of course).

People have their own personal sports anthems, as well. These are those songs that have personal meaning, whose words motivate you to go on when your legs are tired, when you feel that you’ve given all you have.

Team AllEars has adopted the Black Eyed Peas’ Boom Boom Pow as a team anthem. It started when I heard my co-captain, Mike Scopa, singing this song that I had put onto his playlist. I got quite a chuckle (as Mike tends to be more of a Frank Sinatra, Michael Bublé type of fellow), shared it with the group, and before we knew it, we were all loading the song onto our MP3 players and greeting each other with an enthusiastic “Boom Boom Pow!” It’s become sort of our secret handshake (not so secret any more!).

My personal anthem lately is a song from the wonderful Mary J. Blige: Work That. This song speaks to me and when it pops into my iPod, I just want to do a little more.

Runners come in many shapes and sizes and have many ability levels. When I was lucky enough to be on the grandstand at the finish line of the Boston Marathon a few years ago, I was astounded by the variety of people crossing the line. There were the elite athletes, of course, but there were skinny runners, roundish sort of runners, young runners, old runners, runners pushing others in wheel chairs, runners helping others to the finish, runners in many types of clothing, from different countries around the world. It occurred to me for the first time that runners come in all shapes and sizes….but one similarity was, in the words of Mary J., workin’ what they got!

I hear these words….

Work your thing out
‘Cause so many you girls, I hear you been running
From the beautiful queen that you can be becoming
You can look in my palm and see the storm coming
Just because the length of your hair ain't long
And they often criticize you for your skin tone
Wanna hold your head high, ‘cause you’re a pretty woman
Get your runway stride home and keep it going

…and it reminds me that I don’t necessarily have a runner’s body, that I can’t always fit the running in when I want to, that I can’t always go as fast as I want to or for as long as I want to. The lyrics remind me of my TeamAllears running mates: we’re not perfect, we’re not professional runners, but we’re out there, and doing the best we can every day.

I just wanna be myself
Don't sweat, girl, be yourself
Follow me, follow me, follow me
Guess what, I'll be myself
(And I grew to love it)

I think of the people I’ve been lucky enough to meet this year. People who are adding training to their busy schedule to be prepared to run the Disney races in January... people who are different shapes and sizes, ability levels. These are special people who are running for a great cause… breast cancer research.

So to my teammates -- and to everyone else who is training for Disney races -- I say it doesn’t matter how you do it. You need to do it your way. Go out and Work That.

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About Team AllEars

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to Team AllEars® Running Blog in the Team AllEars category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

Team AllCheers is the previous category.

Walt Disney World Marathon is the next category.

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