Walt Disney World Marathon Archives

March 14, 2012

Team AllEars 2013: Continuing with Purpose


Team AllEars Logo

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

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

Lift off!

Team AllEars Logo

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.


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!!


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.


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.


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).


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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


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.)


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 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!



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!


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.


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.


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!


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!


January 16, 2012

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



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.


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),


...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.


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.


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


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.


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).


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


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



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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


Come back tomorrow for Part 2!

December 16, 2011

December Gut Check Time

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

I'll see you on the course.


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

The 30-Day Checklist

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 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!


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.

View from the Hub Center

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.

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

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).

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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 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.

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.

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.


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.


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.


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.


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

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!

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 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

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 as well as 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 13, 2011


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!


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!

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.


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.


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.


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

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.


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


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

April 1, 2011

WDW Marathon Weekend 2011: Reflections

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

Along the way something inspirational happened.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I was puzzled. “Excuse me? I said.

“I noticed your Komen medal.”


I had forgotten I was wearing my Komen Medal.

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

Wow…this amazing day continued to bring strong emotions.

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

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

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

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


I was sold.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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!


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!!



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.



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!



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


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.


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.



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.



Gordon Harvey


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

Team AllEars Logo

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

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

March 2, 2011

Team AllEars Profile: Sara Rhodes

My first ½ Marathon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My First ½ Marathon: Running for a Purpose

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Team AllEars Logo

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:

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!


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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.

Team AllEars Logo

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.


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.


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 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.


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.


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.


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!


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.


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.


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.


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!


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.


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.


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:

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:

Please wish us luck!

September 2, 2010

Jeff Galloway: Olympian and Running Expert Joins runDisney Team as Official Training Consultant

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (Sept. 2, 2010) – Jeff Galloway, one of America’s foremost marathon trainers, has been named the official training consultant to Disney’s series of endurance events, which has been rebranded runDisney.

Galloway, a 1972 Olympian and founder of the popular Galloway Marathon Training Program, will offer his running and training expertise to beginners as well as experienced runners, helping runners of all ages lead more active lifestyles. Galloway’s unique training methods and tips will be available to runners through online runDisney videos and programs, as well as through special Galloway appearances at all runDisney events.

The runDisney brand brings together all four current Disney marathon and half marathon weekends to create a unique series of destination races that offer one-of-a-kind running experiences for the more than 75,000 people who compete in runDisney events annually. All runDisney events feature various races through Disney theme parks, signature Disney characters and entertainment, first-class event management and exclusive race medals. The upcoming lineup of runDisney events include the Disneyland Half Marathon (September), Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon (October), the Walt Disney World Marathon presented by CIGNA (January) and Disney’s Princess Half Marathon presented by Lady Foot Locker (February).

The new runDisney brand also includes a new website,, which will provide runners with a wealth of running-related information and content, from Galloway training videos to endurance tips to complete runDisney event information. Additionally, newly launched will provide opportunities for the endurance community to connect and interact with runDisney.

“The runDisney brand greater aligns our incredible collection of race weekends, which are designed as destination events offering family fun for runners of all ages and levels,” said Faron Kelley, director of Marketing, Disney Sports. “And now with access to Jeff Galloway, those runners will be able to enhance their running experience at Disney, which we hope will lead them to live healthier and more active lives.”

Galloway, who has completed all 17 Walt Disney World Marathons, is well known around the world for his highly successful Run-Walk-Run method to improve performance and avoid injuries. He is a member of the Road Runners Club of America Hall of Fame as well as the Westminster School Hall of Fame, and has a bronze bust in the Nike Walk of Fame in Oregon.

A renowned authority on endurance training, Galloway is a best-selling author and a regular columnist for Runner’s World magazine. In his four decades of endurance training, he has coached more than 200,000 runners and walkers, and helped stage hundreds of races, events and clinics throughout the United States and internationally.

“The runDisney events are widely respected and are all favorites among runners everywhere,” Galloway said. “I’m really excited about working with Disney to help the beginners get started, to push the experienced runners to improve their performance and to help everyone at runDisney events have even more fun.”

About runDisney

The runDisney series is a collection of marathon and half marathon event weekends that provide runners unique opportunities to run through Disney theme parks. Race participants also get to earn Disney-themed medals, experience legendary Disney entertainment and guest service, and ultimately celebrate their accomplishments with a Disney vacation. The original event in the series, the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend presented by CIGNA, takes place each January and features both marathon and half marathon distances. Other races at Walt Disney World in Florida include Disney’s Princess Half Marathon presented by Lady Foot Locker in February and the new Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon in October. The Disneyland Half Marathon takes place each September in California. More than 75,000 people participate in runDisney events each year. For more information visit

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 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 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 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 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.

January 30, 2010

Running with a Purpose

by Mike Scopa
Team AllEars Co-Captain

So I’ve had a week or two to reflect on the 2010 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend and specifically my fourth Walt Disney World Half-Marathon.

Over that weekend there were so many stories…so many smiles…so many memories that it would be virtually impossible to recall every one and do them all justice. I also fear I would forget a few.

When I think about that weekend I think about a secret I held for the last two years.

It all started two years ago while running in the 2008 WDW Half-Marathon. Right about mile 8 I felt a severe pain in my left knee. The pain was so severe that I ended up walking…or I should say, limping to the Finish.

The rest of that weekend saw me in pain and on the flight home and for the first few days back home.

I went to see my Orthopedic Surgeon who recommended the dreaded MRI…not my favorite thing to do.

The results of the MRI had my doctor telling me things I did not want to hear.

First there was the talk about bone spurs and other things which were a result of my destroying my anterior cruciate ligament some thirty years ago…all that brought my doctor to say to me, “Mike you need a knee replacement.”

This announcement was certainly no music to my ears.

“Okay!” I said, “So how long after the operation can I resume all my activities?”

Then came the other news.

He said there would no longer be any running or jumping because it would eventually wear out my “new knee.”

Was I done?

The pain in my knee was making a case for me to hang it was speaking loud and clear…except my heart was speaking louder to me.

I could not bring myself to tell anyone of what my doctor had said. I kept it to myself. I was not supposed to run anymore…but I was not about to tell the world or myself I was done.

I was not done.

So I waited until the pain subsided and started to train again. It was not easy…it was a long and slow journey back….figuring out how much and how fast I could run without causing further damage to the knee.

The first half of 2008 was spent resting the knee and the second half began the long journey back.

In January 2009 I registered for the 2010 Half-Marathon and crossed my fingers.

Every other day or so I would go out and run….not too fast….not too far. Every outing would see me extend my running time….eventually building up to running for two straight hours. I did not want to risk any more.

If I was going to do any further damage it would be at the Half-Marathon. I had fears that race would be my last race.

So I waited…and then came that Saturday morning. Those of you who were there will not soon forget how cold, windy, and raw it was as we made our way to Epcot in the wee hours of the morning.

Nor will we ever forget seeing the sleet as we made our way toward the corrals with two, three, or even four layers of running gear on to keep the muscles warm.

It’s very difficult to describe what goes through one’s mind when running any WDW race…from the 5K races to the Full Marathon. It’s surreal; it’s emotional; and it’s something you really never feel fully prepared for…even if you have done it several times.

For me the focus was an area near the Grand Floridian…the spot where two years earlier I had said, “No Mas!” and limped the rest of the way.

This year when I got to that mark I focused on my knee and…no pain…none in fact.

I saw my AllEars Running Team Co-Captain Michelle Scribner-MacLean at the finish line and we had our celebratory hug.

She asked why I had tears in my eyes and I told her my secret…how my doctor had said no more running and all that jazz…and that although this was my fourth Half it felt like my first.

I had bettered my 2008 time by 18 minutes.

I’m sure there were many stories…so many personal stories like mine which deserve to be told…to hopefully help others look towards facing a challenge.

So in the month of January usually celebrated as a time for a new beginning and a new year I would instead like to treat it as November and its holiday of Thanksgiving and hand out a few “Thank Yous.”

And here they are…

…to Dr. Lynn for giving a stubborn Mike all the reasons in the world to hang up the running shoes…it worked. I’m obviously not a good patient.

Thanks Doc.

…to the American Adventure’s Golden Dream film at the end of the attraction where I see Dick Hoyt pushing his disabled son Rick in a wheelchair 26 miles in the Boston Marathon…an incredible feat he has done for so many years…and an inspiration to me.

Thanks Dick.

…to Jonathan Dichter, who along with my good friend Bryan Ripper, co-hosts the AllAboutTheMouse podcast, I also give thanks. Jonathon has always said nice things about how I have inspired him to take up running and in turn he has inspired me to challenge myself as he has challenged himself. Jonathan went on to do several half-marathons last year….I love you buddy.

Thanks Voice.

…to Mary Jo Collins, who has emerged as probably the greatest ambassador for running today as she is just everywhere, running all kinds of races and having a blast….congrats on doing the 2010 Goofy challenge. Your smile and attitude and joy of running kept me going last year. When I grow up I want to be just like you.

Thanks Mary Jo.

…to all the incredible AllEars team members who came together as friends and family to fight for a cause that affects us all….you all are wonderful…and I see all of you as part of my family. You all worked together to raise at least $24,000 in the fight against breast cancer while at the same time proving something to yourselves.

Thank you for all your effort and your friendship.

…to my dear friend Deb Wills, the first lady of the Disney internet and who, more than anyone I know, inspires people to do amazing things, and went out and did her first Half-Marathon this past January. This woman’s boundless heart and incredible spirit and generosity continue to amaze and thrill me every day. I drew positive energy from this woman. I am always proud to call her my friend.

Thanks Deb.

…and speaking of friends, my last thank you goes out to my New Hampshire neighbor, Team AllEars Co-Captain, and running buddy Michelle Scribner-MacLean who ran in her first ever race, the 2009 WDW Half-Marathon to raise money for her mother’s Scholarship fund for nurses, and whose idea to put together an All Ears Running Team for the 2010 WDW Marathon Weekend did so much to put me over the top with my training. I could not have done it without you Michelle.

Thanks Scribby.

So if you put all of this together with the backdrop of a dark, cold, windy, and sleet-filled morning in Orlando in January, you can see how it’s hard to describe the feeling, the excitement, the emotion, and the exuberance of that weekend.

For me I feel I can say it all in two words…

…thank you!

December 10, 2009

Waiver Forms

This is an unplanned blog so consider this to be sort of a public service announcement.

For those who have signed up to do any of the races that will be held at Walt Disney World during the Walt Disney World Marathon weekend in Orlando you should have by now received an email telling you that you can download your waiver form.

You need to download, print, sign, and bring this waiver form to the World of Sports when you get to Orlando in January.

Well, if you haven't received this email, you are not alone. I had never received this email, but it was forwarded to me. I went to the Disney Sports Registration Verification Site to download my waiver form.

After plugging in my last name and date of birth I hit the Search button and was informed that there was no record of my registration.


I registered on January 17th at 1:13:04:31 P.M. and I know that because I have the registration confirmation.

So I called Disney Sports at 407 938 3398 and talked to Cathy.

Cathy was helpful but could not resolve the problem.

She checked and said, "Yeah Mike, we have you registered so don't worry!"

"That's great Cathy but... I can't get my waiver form."

So after several attempts we were still puzzled as to why we could not get my waiver to download.

Finally Cathy gave me the email of the folks to contact to try and get resolution of this problem.


I sent them a note and within a day or so I heard from Ivy.

She told me to enter my name EXACTLY as it was on my registration form.

I had been doing that but no luck.

I looked at my name. It was "Michael Joseph Scopa, Sr." and I had tried everything...uppercase...lowercase...initial caps....even a direct copy and paste but no luck.

Then I figured I had nothing to lose so I typed in "Scopa, Sr" without the period after the "Sr" and it worked.

I informed Disney of the system's glitch....a glitch that should not be.

Hopefully you won't run into a problem and need to contact Cathy at Disney Sports or Ivy Track Shack.

If you do they are ready to help.

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