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The 2016 NYC Marathon

On November 6th I had the pleasure of running the NYC Marathon with almost 52,000 of my closest friends… Or at least for the 26.2 miles of the race everyone seemed pretty awesome!

After months of pretty good training, my training for the last month before the race wasn’t good at all. Life got in the way and, since I’ve never earned a single dollar for my family by running, life took priority over training. Rich and I decided that we would make this race about enjoying the moment and not about running quickly. We were fortunate to be able to run with our dear friend, Michael, who is not only fun person but also raised an enormous amount of money for St. Jude – a cause near and dear to his heart.

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We were able to make this a marathon weekend, even in our home city. Friday after work we went to the Expo to pick up our race bibs.

We didn’t only Run 4 Rich…. We ran WITH Rich!

img_6444An artist at work!

Saturday we did an amazing bus tour of the marathon course. We sat next to the tour guide  who makes a living from leading tours around NYC. He was knowledgeable and fun. The tour was LONG – about 4 hours or so – but made the marathon more interesting and fun. We ended the day with a yummy pasta dinner near Time Square before heading home to prep our stuff.

Flat Rich and Flat Amanda are ready for an EARLY alarm! We drove into NYC and parked near Michael’s hotel before heading up to Central Park South to take the bus to Staten Island. We hung out in the starting village until it was our turn to head to the Verrazano Bridge. It’s hard to imagine the hordes of humanity!

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Getting ready to start!

img_6467The highest point in the race is on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge.

We spent a lot of time in Brooklyn and that’s a good thing. The crowds in Brooklyn are great! There are so many interesting neighborhoods from Bay Ridge –  which still has large Irish, Italian, and Greek populations – to the Satmar Jewish neighborhood in Williamsburg. We crossed under the Williamsburg Bridge and entered the hipster part of Williamsburg.

img_6465Almost at the 15k mark…

img_6466On our bus tour we were toward the building behind us was once called the Tower of Terror because it was filled with dentists

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Missing many of our running friends!

img_6464Halfway done!

img_6462I had warned Rich and Michael that the 59th Street Bridge sucked and I think they now believe me!!!!

 

img_64601st Avenue in Manhattan is AMAZING for crowd support. And you can always grab a drink at the Mile 17 Bar (which isn’t quite at mile 17 but close enough!).

img_6456My AWESOME resident, Laura, with her husband and nieces were cheering for us just as we were hitting the wall. Totally energized me!

img_6459Leaving the Bronx to re-enter Manhattan. This is the last DAMN bridge of the race!

img_6458We had to get a picture with Alexander Hamilton….The hottest ticket in town!

img_6457Full marathon #7 for me and #10 for Rich. Not my fastest but one of my favorites. It was such a different experience running this with friends and taking the time to really appreciate every moment. Such a privilege to be able to do this!!!!!

Thank you to all my family and friends who donated money to the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore! And thank you for all of the love and support during the training and the race. I am truly blessed to be part of this running community.

 

Having faith in running

This could obviously be a post about religious beliefs and how they relate to running which, since most of my mid-week runs are done in a very large cemetery, could be interesting, but instead will be about believing in the training process. How do you know that you’re training will carry you across the finish line on race day?

Since I mentioned that I run through a cemetery almost daily, I will digress for a moment to share some thoughts. When we first moved into our house – almost exactly a year ago – and the previous owners suggested that we could run in the cemetery, we were both a little horrified. It seemed a little macabre and perhaps a bit disrespectful. Instead I’ve come to see my time in the cemetery as peaceful and meditative. I enjoy seeing my elderly neighbor on his morning constitutional where he not only greets me with a smile and wishes me a good day but he picks up trash from around the cemetery and clears the walkways of fallen branches. I read the names of the decreased and try to imagine what they were like. I’ve read about the Nobel Prize winning geneticist, Marshall W. Nirenberg, who helped crack the code of the translation of RNA into amino acids. I’ve come to believe, as Dumbledore has said, “To the well organized mind, death is but the next great adventure.” I consider it an honor to run in the company of so many lives who stories are unknown to me.

From the philosophical to the practical…. How much does one’s training plan really matter? As someone who has relied on Galloway training for all of my previous marathons, it is a mental shift to my current training plan. Galloway training, for better and for worse, relies hugely on the long run. Most of your training endurance comes from very long long runs with the mid-weeks runs mainly there to maintain fitness. As someone who often works long hours, there is a certain appeal to being about to do two 30 minute runs mid-week and, as long as nothing goes wrong on the weekend, put the fate of your training entirely on an every-other-week mega-run. Jeff Galloway believes that your “wall” will be the distance of your longest run in the prior 3 weeks and, therefore, recommends long runs up to full marathon distance. And I have done that several times.

My current training plan has a VERY different philosophy. Instead of 60 minutes of mid-week running, I am training almost every day. I spend over an hour on the bike twice a week for cross-training. I have 2 midweek runs in the 75 minute range – one is usually a fartlek run and the other an interval run – plus a weekly hill training session of about 35 minutes. Instead of 60 minutes midweek, I’m running 185 minutes midweek. Plus the biking and my Saturday long run and Sunday recovery run. My longest long run before race day will be a measly 3 hours and 15 minutes. At my training pace that translates to maybe 16-17 miles. Not the 27 miles I ran before my previous NYC Marathon. How will that work on race day?

I truly believe that my overall fitness levels right now are very high (minus my current cold with the cough that won’t go away). I’m running faster at the same heart rate than before, even though the temperature and humidity haven’t improved yet. The cross training has made me stronger and I’ve been mostly without injury (minor shin splints which resolve quickly with the foam rolling that I should be doing more consistently). And so it becomes a matter of faith. Do I believe in my coach and my training plan? At this point I have no choice so I will believe that I can get myself across the finish line in November feeling strong.

On the morning of Wednesday, July 13th, Rich and I headed to LaGuardia Airport for his first trip to Chicago. Although we had many touristy things planned for our adventure, the purpose of the trip was to run the Rock n Roll Chicago Half Marathon on Sunday, July 17th. There is a group of people among our closest running friends who has run this race since it started. We have followed their escapades in previous years and made it a priority to join them this year.

In the days leading up to the race, we did everything against the rules of good race preparation. We went to two museums, explored the Willis Tower, tried craft beer, kayaked the Chicago River in peak sunshine with 12 friends, walked up and down Michigan Avenue, and explored Navy Pier.  We ate deep dish pizza, delicious burgers, and tasted tropical beverages. Not exactly your typical pre-race routine but absolutely worth every minute.

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A little Disney in Chicago… Cinderella’s Castle in legos at the Museum of Science and Industry.

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A rainbow greeted Rich for his first night in the Windy City!

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Looking down from the Willis Tower! It’s a LONG way down!

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The amazing Bean!

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The Race Expo at McCormick Place.

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(Nothing like a little sunburn the day before the half marathon!)

Running a race in Chicago in July is always an iffy proposition at best. Apparently last year’s race was brutally hot. This year was overcast which kept the heat down. We were lucky to have a fun group to run the race together, including my little cousin who I rarely see.  Incredibly, her bib number was in sequence with mine and Rich’s….

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We followed our friend Holly’s typical race strategy – run 2 minutes/walk 1 minute. Rich and I have been doing heart rate training rather than run/walk for the past year but the 2/1 intervals worked fine for us. We had a comfortable pace for our group and enjoyed the tour of Chicago.

img_5779This was the Glukos fueling area. Just as the rain was starting. Shortly after this the weather turned bad. As we ran through the tunnel at McCormick Place, the thunder and lightening started. The race didn’t do a great job of communicating with the runners. We were told the clocks were being paused for the thunderstorm but that clearly didn’t happen. We chose to head for the finish line…. Since Holly is deathly afraid of thunder and lightening, we picked up the pace a bit!

img_5780Luckily we made it safely to the finish line! There was a little chaos after we finished because the volunteers had been sent to safety so it was hard to find the medals but we persevered!

img_5775Another fun race!!!!

img_5777My cousin was so much fun!!!! We were all glad she ran with us. Her next race is the Chicago Marathon.

Some people might say it’s a waste to run a race for a fun time instead of a fast time but we knew that we were in Chicago to spend quality time with family and friends. Spending the miles with people we love is always valuable!!!! We are SO lucky!

Remember… I’m running the NYC Marathon as part of my Children’s Hospital running team. Please consider a donation, however small, to support an amazing institution!

Thrive 7 Day Reset

When I decided to register for the NYC Marathon, I realized that I needed to do something about my nutrition. During my training for my first marathon, I gained 10 lbs. Then over the last 2 years, I gained another 8-10 lbs. Although I’m not sure that I’ll ever get back down to my pre-marathon weight, I would like to fit in my clothes again. Furthermore I know that I’m very sensitive to food choices – both during the work day and during my longer training runs.

Back in March I tried to make sure I was increasing my fruit and vegetable intake. My goal was modest: eat one serving of either fruit or vegetable daily. That should have been easy but, honestly, there were days that I didn’t even achieve that goal. I knew that as the weather warmed up, it would be easier to get fruits and vegetables. We’ve planted a nice garden this year and we’ve joined a CSA which starts this week. Both should make eating a more plant-based diet easier. (I had a salad made from fresh-picked greens, carrots, and pea pods from the backyard tonight!)

In May we finally bought a Ninja smoothie maker. We used Simple Green Smoothies and started with the 10 day kick start. We had a smoothie for breakfast each morning and then ate our usual food the rest of the day. The smoothies all started with spinach and then added liquid and fruit. They were surprisingly filling and we were definitely getting several servings of fruits and vegetables every day.

For reasons of temporary insanity….or just inspiration….we decided to go a step further. Rich and I thought it would be helpful to do a 7 day cleanse. Rich researched options and we chose the Thrive 7 Day Reset. The plan is vegan, gluten-, caffeine-, and alcohol-free. A pretty far cry from how we usually eat. The initial shopping list cost over $200 for 2 people and we had to re-stock during the week. Eating a plant-based diet is apparently quite expensive!

We drank the same smoothie for both breakfast and lunch each day. The smoothies were either spinach or kale based. Most of them were tasty although I have found that I don’t love smoothies that have a lot of avocado in them (and I love avocado). Upon awakening we were supposed to drink hot water with lemon and turmeric in it. That lasted exactly one day as I couldn’t get it down. In addition to the smoothies, we ate a mid-morning snack and a mid-afternoon snack each day. The snacks were tasty – avocado, almonds, apples with almond butter (not eaten together, those are just a few examples).  Dinner was the equivalent of a large salad most nights. The most filling night was roasted vegetables which included sweet  potato.

We cheated one night when we attended a wedding. I think we both stuffed our faces as much as possible! I had some coffee without sugar (I usually drink my coffee to taste like coffee ice cream) but only a few days of the week. We went to our local brewery for beer one night but didn’t eat any food there. Other than those cheats, we followed the plan pretty closely.

The positives: I lost 3-4 lbs that week. I didn’t get the caffeine withdrawal headaches that I expected. I felt pretty energized the whole week. The food tasted pretty good.

The negatives: Rich and I had the same calorie intake even though we are not the same size. We were both starving all week but I think it was worse for him than for me. Some of the snacks weren’t terribly portable which made it challenging to figure out how to bring the food to work. The hardest of all was not being able to eat with other people. It was so restrictive that eating outside the home would have been almost impossible. And I gained some of the weight back as soon as we returned to regular eating.

Would I do it again? I think so. It was expensive and labor-intensive but I generally felt good the whole week (hungry but good). I could see doing this 2-3 times per year to reset my diet. More importantly we are continuing to have smoothies for breakfast most days (every so often you just need bacon and eggs) and I am placing greater importance on making sure that plant-based foods are included in my diet. I know that there is some seasonality to it – having a weekly farm share plus a garden will make that easy for the next few months – but I can do better than I was.

My goal going forward is to increase the amount of plant-based foods in my daily diet. I hope that will help shed a few pounds but that’s a secondary goal. Let’s see how things go as I increase my weekly mileage….

 

Choosing a Training Plan

When I started running – way back in 2010 – I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. I had seen the Couch to 5K training program on the internet and decided to start there. I found that after a few weeks “life” would happen and I’d give up. Even when I tried to stick with it, the amount of continuous running time kept increasing faster than my ability. The plan said to repeat a week as needed but it just seemed hard to me. Around this time I somehow thought it was a good idea to sign up for the Disney World Half Marathon which would take place in January, 2011. No matter that I couldn’t run a mile and didn’t have a plan. I’d somehow make it happen.

During that training cycle I did a lot of “winging it.” A virtual running friend (another newbie like me) was using a run 5 minutes/walk 2 minutes plan in her training so I decided that must be a great idea. I didn’t really have a concept of run/walk nor did I know who Jeff Galloway – the founder of the run/walk/run method – was…yet. As luck would have it, Jeff Galloway would be named the official training consultant to runDisney right around the time that I started to run Disney. The runDisney website made his free training plans available for their races and it was easy to adjust the calendar to any race. As a new runner I loved the concept of run/walk. It allowed me to transition from the couch to a half marathon and then to a full marathon and even race challenge weekends  with minimal injury. By adjusting how often I took a walk break, I could finish even a difficult training run or race and still feel pretty good.

When I made the leap from full marathon to the Goofy Challenge (half marathon on Saturday/full marathon on Sunday), I decided that I should sign up for e-coaching with Jeff Galloway. He created a training plan for me – based on my training goals, my race schedule, etc. – and I had weekly emails with him to discuss my progress. It definitely helped to keep me accountable and, even with a stress fracture in my foot about 6 weeks before the race, I was able to finish 39.3 miles in the weekend.

 

I continued to use e-coaching in training for both the NYC Marathon in November, 2013 and then the Hartford Marathon in October, 2014. I took about 45 minutes off my full marathon finish time from my first Disney Marathon until the Hartford Marathon, which was the last full marathon I ran with a time goal in mind. But I was still frustrated with my speed and I often felt that Jeff Galloway’s goal was more for me to finish strong than for me to finish fast. At Hartford I definitely went out much faster than he recommended and was still able to maintain my pace. And although Galloway’s plan of two 30 minute runs during the week and one long run every weekend (and he sends you very long – I ran 27 miles 3 weeks before the NYC Marathon) will get you across the finish line, I wondered if more training miles wouldn’t get me across the finish line faster.

My training took a bit of a dive after Hartford. Lots of life changes made running lower on my priority list. My fitness level and finish times were both worse than they had been since I started this journey. I was ready to look for a new way of training and Rich had never been a huge Galloway fan as he found the starting and stopping led to injuries. So we started looking for another path.  I think we were both attracted to the science behind heart rate-based training so we decided to give it a go.

The theory of the heart rate training plan that we use is to spend most of your training (80%) in lower heart rate zones and then build speed and cardiovascular efficiency by spending 20% of training doing intervals at higher heart rates. At lower heart rates our bodies use oxygen and burn fat. At higher heart rates not enough oxygen is being delivered to muscle so they use glycogen for fuel (the body “burns muscle”). Over time your pace at any given heart rate will get faster. The process can be frustrating. A lot of base miles are done in heart rate Zone 2. When I started this training, I did A LOT of walking to stay in Zone 2. In many ways it mimicked my Galloway training and was similar to run/walk. Now I find that a Zone 2 run has more running and less walking. Similarly to Galloway the amount you run or walk on a run will depend on how you’re feeling that day and what the weather is like. At warmer temperature your baseline heart rate will increase which means you have to run slower to maintain the desired heart rate.

When I was running Galloway, my target pace for long runs was around 13 to 13:30 min/miles or 2 min/mile faster than race pace. Currently my long run pace for heart rate training is around 12:30 min/mile. I’m curious if my faster long run pace will translate to a faster race pace. I’m running more days per week than with Galloway and logging more miles. My longest long run with heart rate training has been 12 miles. I’ll be curious to see if I can sustain my pace when the long runs start to get longer. Otherwise I can always return to run/walk…

Saturday morning dawned sunny and cool. Cold enough for a debate about how many layers I would need instead of the expected long-sleeves vs. short sleeves with arm warmers debate. At least Friday’s rain had given way to clear, sunny skies. A typical pre-race breakfast including one pop tart, one travel mug of coffee, and one shaker of General UCan and then a drive into NYC. (Ucan is a powder that I mix with water before any long run. It contains a super starch that helps keep blood sugar levels pretty even for about 2-3 hours. It’s one of many types of runner’s fuel. For runs over an hour, I generally need some sort of fuel or I end up feeling light headed.)

The Central Park Spring Classic 10k is put on by New York Road Runner’s (NYRR), the same organization that puts on the NYC Marathon. This race was billed as a throw-back race. No race shirt. No finisher’s medal. But at a throw-back price of $10. For comparison runDisney has recently opened early registration for the new Wine & Dine 10K race. The privilege of running a 10k at Disney costs $120 and includes a long-sleeve technical shirt, on-course entertainment with Disney characters,  and an elaborate medal. That price does not include park entry after the race…or any travel expenses associated with a Disney trip.

Rich and I found parking on 5th Avenue, just a few blocks north of the 102nd Street transverse – which is where the race headquarters was located. Same day bib pick-up was quick and easy. Our confirmation email had a QR code which was scanned at any of several stations. The bibs were not pre-assigned so you got whatever the next bib number was. A corral letter was affixed to the bib, although corrals seemed to be more “suggestions” than assignments. The last several corrals seemed to be mixed together. There were plenty of port-a-potties near the start line. The national anthem was sung and then we were off.

Central Park is hilly. I must have a selective memory because, despite having run several races in the Park – including my half marathon PR, I seemed to have forgotten the hills. The biggest hills were in the first two miles which included Harlem Hill. I probably started too conservatively as I planned the first 2 miles in heart rate Zone 3 and the rest in Zone 4. Since my heart rate seems to skyrocket with hills, I ended up walking a lot of the Harlem Hill to keep my heart rate in Zone 3. I averaged about 12 min/mile for the first 2 miles before switching to Zone 4.

I love running races in Central Park. I think it’s beautiful and I love seeing bits of Manhattan outside the protected green space of the park. This was a sunny, lovely day. I was slightly overdressed by mile 2 but not so much so as to cause a major impact. There were more than enough water stops. And it just felt good to run outside.

I’ve had a difficult time trying to figure out how to translate heart rate training into race performance. I haven’t found a formula that says, “run a 10K in Zone 4” or “run a half marathon mostly in Zone 3.” So it’s a work in progress. My training has recently stabilized after 18 months of sporadic running where I lost some speed (and gained some weight). I’ve seen some improvement in pace on my training runs this year so I was hopeful for a decent finish time. I was pretty satisfied with my finish of 1:11:39 (which translates to 11:32 min/mile). I was hoping that I could compete with my 10K PR (1:07-ish) but that will wait for another day. At least I’m getting myself back to where I was. And I definitely could have run the whole race in Zone 4 as I had enough juice at the end to know I could go faster.

Next training stop will be a pair of half marathons on my way to the NYC Marathon…. If you want to contribute to the Children’s Hospital please click the link below…

To most people March 8, 2016 was just another date on the calendar. For the 82,172 people who entered the lottery to run the NYC Marathon this year, March 8th was Selection Day. 19,083 runners won a spot in the NYC Marathon. Unfortunately, I was not one of them. Outside of the lottery, there are several ways to gain entry into the largest marathon in the world. If you are super speedy, you can qualify for the marathon based on your finish time in another race.  You can gain automatic entry by having run the race 15 times in the past. New York Road Runners (NYRR) offers a 9+1 program where you run 9 NYRR races and volunteer at 1 race in the previous year to guarantee a spot. Or you can run for charity. Which is what I’ve decided to do.

I have previously run the NYC Marathon for charity. My mother, who had been my biggest running fan, died unexpectedly at Christmas in 2012. A few months later the Boston Marathon bombing occurred. The combination of the two tragedies convinced me that 2013 was the year for me to run in the NYC Marathon. I wanted to run for my hospital – Montefiore Medical Center – but they didn’t have a running team…yet. I decided to run for Team for Kids, a great charity that helps children get and stay healthy through running. Besides the obvious advantage of helping children, running with Team for Kids offered several benefits. As the official charity partner of the NYRR, Team for Kids had convenient bussing to the start line and a large tent in the starting area – not insignificant for someone starting in the last wave who would be sitting in the starting area on Staten Island for hours.

Last year I was invited to join the newly formed Champions for CHAM, the running team started to support my hospital. CHAM stands for the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore, an amazing institution that I’ve called home for almost 9 years. Unfortunately my life wasn’t in a place where I could commit to training for a full marathon. This year my boyfriend and I both entered the lottery, mostly in solidarity with a dear friend who had committed to running NYC for charity. We were both shocked when he won a lottery spot in the marathon. At that moment we both agreed that I would reach out to the Champions for CHAM team and see if I could join them. I consider myself lucky to be running for a charity that means so much to me. In addition to training to run 26.2 miles, I will be adding meaning to my miles by raising a minimum of $3000 for a great children’s hospital. I am so excited to begin this endeavor.

In upcoming posts I will be sharing the great training debate, updating on my training and fundraising, and talking a bit about why I love working at CHAM in the Bronx. I also hope you’ll consider donating to a great cause. Even $5 can help!

 

Pre-Race Thoughts

Tomorrow morning I will run the MORE Magazine Women’s Half Marathon for the 5th time. I think it’ll be half marathon #15 but I may have missed one or two in my counting…
I love this race. It’s usually a beautiful spring day in Central Park and tomorrow’s weather forecast is consistent with that history (the year before my first time running this race the weather was awful with rain and cold). I have PR’ed this race 3 out of 4 years that I ran it. And I had high hopes of getting another PR this year when I registered. Then winter happened…
Anyone who lives on Planet Earth is probably aware that this was a particularly cold and snowy winter. To save money I quit my expensive gym in December and didn’t join an inexpensive gym until the winter was almost over. The treadmill in my basement died and would have cost almost as much as a new treadmill to repair. While I know many people who were able to get outside and run in single digit degree weather, I was not one of them.
This winter also represented a huge transition in my personal life. Life is full of change and we can go with the flow or get stuck in our own thinking. The last 6 months have required me to learn how to move forward and find a new normal for myself. It hasn’t been an easy time and there have been lots of ups and downs. The future is coming and I think I’m finally getting ready to meet it head-on. Change is hard and that impacted my motivation and my drive. “Now is the winter of our discontent” could definitely apply to this past winter. But I also found this quote, “No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn.” And with the coming of spring I am re-finding my mojo.
My training has not been ideal. After finishing the Dopey Challenge in January, I basically didn’t run for almost 2 months. My come-back has been spotty. I managed one run over 10 miles – a really pleasant 12.5 milers on a lovely new trail (for me) 2 weeks ago. I used a conservative run 15 sec/walk 30 sec ratio and finished with a 13 min/mile average pace. I felt good afterwards and felt hugely encouraged. I have done a few runs on hilly courses but haven’t done the hill training necessary to kick butt on this hilly course. I have done no speed work. And barely got in my mid-week maintenance runs. But I will finish.
My strategy for this race is to start slowly and conservatively. I know I can easily maintain a 13 min/mile pace because I did it in training. So I will start around 12:30 min/mile and see how I’m feeling. I’m planning the same super conservative ratio – probably run 15 sec/walk 30 sec – for the race. This will work really well on the hills. Instead of walking up the BIG hill in Harlem, I can run for 15 sec without trashing my legs or bringing up my heart rate too much. Hopefully on the second lap I’ll feel good enough to pick up the pace a bit.
I love racing. The adrenaline rush. The feeling of camaraderie amongst the participants. The support of the spectators. The joy of crossing the finish line. I’m hoping that re-claiming that feeling will get me ready to start training again. I want to work on speed for shorter distance races over the summer before tackling another half marathon over Labor Day weekend.
Tomorrow is the first day of the future…

2015 Disney World 10K

One day after running the 5k, my alarm went off even earlier for me to run the 10k. After dragging my Night Owl 10 year old out of bed, we were off to the monorail for a slightly warmer trip to the same starting area. Luckily the Epcot monorail was running this time and our trip was easy. The temperatures were at least 10 degrees warmer and lacking the brisk winds from the previous day’s race. We stayed in the same tent from the previous day until it was time for some group meet-ups.
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Unfortunately for my introverted son there was only one other elementary school child in the group (and she was a girl!) so he was stuck with the adults. We were lucky to be in a starting corral with some friends of mine from Team Shenanigans and I was grateful that they helped to entertain Nathaniel.
I had chosen a conservative run 30 sec/walk 60 sec for this race because Nate had never really run further than 4 miles. I was really worried about him going out too fast and crashing and burning towards the end. About 0.5 miles into the race he asked me if we could go faster and I wisely suggested that we waited until at least the 5k mark before speeding up.
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Mile 1
I gave Nate the option of stopping for some character photos but he declined. He told me that he wanted a “real” finish time for the race. I didn’t give the same choice to the younger two children for the 5k because I was worried about not finishing.
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Mile 2
The first half of this race is on roads outside of Epcot. There were some fun characters out. Elsa and Anna were on an overpass with “snow” coming down onto us. We saw several character stops with decent lines of people waiting. I learned during this part of the race that Nathaniel likes to sprint for 30 seconds and then walk at snail’s pace for 60 seconds. This meant that he would get way in front of me on the run intervals and then I’d catch up and pass him during the walk. As we reached the mile 3 mark (which came out too blurry to share), Nate started complaining about feeling light-headed. I gave him some Clif Bloks and he perked right up.
Once in World Showcase we were able to have some fun. In honor of Nate’s drum playing with Joe Weeks during the Wine & Dine 5k, we took a picture in the African outpost with the drums.
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Our time was well within the limits so we started having a bit more fun.
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(Random family with mile 4 marker)
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Nothing like watching the sunrise from World Showcase!
We made a much-needed pit stop in Morocco. After seeing long lines for the restrooms in Germany, I was worried about losing too much time in the bathroom. Luckily the bathrooms in Morocco were nearly empty and we were quickly on our way. I think the lesson is that the bathrooms in the first part of World Showcase have long lines but if you can wait until the end of World Showcase, there are no lines at all!
As we were getting ready to exit World Showcase for the Boardwalk, we decided to increase our intervals slightly. I changed us to run 30 sec/walk 45 sec. A special treat awaiting us at the Boardwalk! A group of running friends formed a cheering squad and it was amazing to get lots of hugs from some familiar faces!!!!
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Nate was starting to lose steam a bit at this point in the race but we were in the home stretch. As we passed the Beach Club we met a mother and daughter running together. They were so impressed with Nate running a 10k at age 10 and I think the compliment really energized him. We re-entered Epcot and Nate’s energy levels increased. He was even hurdling over orange cones!
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As we approached the finish line, my dear friend Rich was ready to text Race Announcer, Rudy, Novotny, that we were coming. We were thrilled to hear our names as we finished! Another friend Fast Eddie got some photos of us finishing.
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I was very proud of Nate’s accomplishment!
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And I think he was proud of himself, too!!!!
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A big thank you to our amazing friends who were cheering at the finish line!
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Running 6.2 miles at age 10 is certainly a challenge. Nate was an awesome running partner. He never complained even when it was hard and he was really fun.

2015 Walt Disney World 5k

On Thursday, January 8th I woke up at 3am and quickly got myself dressed in race clothes. Soon after I found myself waking up my 6 year old son and my 8 year old daughter and getting them dressed in running gear. My weather app on my phone said it was 46F outside but predicted it would get colder. In the weeks leading up to the race, we had carefully planned cute outfits. Jessica and I were going to dress as matching Elsa’s – matching capes and all – and Zachary as Bumblebee from the Transformers. Unfortunately a cold snap in Florida meant dressing for warmth before cuteness.
We hopped on the monorail from our lovely Villa over to the Ticket and Transportation Center where we were sad to learn that the Epcot monorail was stopped. We waited in the cold wind for Disney to send over bus transportation. Eventually a Disney bus (one of the typical theme park buses, not a race transportation bus) arrived and we were happily on our way to the start.
One downside to running Disney races with younger children is that you have to get to the starting line very far in advance. I’m sure for a typical local 5k you can arrive soon before the race starts. But at Disney the huge race size and complicated logistics mean that you are there at least 60-90 minutes before race start. Add cold and windy weather. Super early morning starts. And it’s easy to have some unhappy children.
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We were lucky to hear from a friend that there was room in an unused massage tent for people to wait out of the wind. The tent wasn’t heated but since it was filled with people and relatively wind-proof (if people would remember to close the darn door behind them!), it was still a welcome reprieve from the cold wind. We were starting in Corral E so I wasn’t in a huge hurry to get to the starting area so we waited inside as long as possible. It did mean missing any runDisney team meet-ups but it was more important to keep my children from being miserable.
We finally headed towards the starting area and I encouraged my children to use the porta-potty before getting to the corral. They were reluctant but fortunately agreed. As we were waiting in line for a bathroom, corral A started. Luckily for the 5k the corrals are only a short walk and we were in the corral when corral B was released.
Another downside to the Disney 5k is that there is a relatively long time lag between starting corrals. With children I have always started in a late corral and many people have already finished the race before we started. This, combined with the cold wind and the early hour, meant that my 6 year old was ready to give up the race before we even started. With some coaxing and a reminder of the cool medal he would be getting, he agreed to wait it out.
The children and I had chosen a run 30 sec/walk 60 sec strategy for the race. We had practiced at a run 15 sec/walk 60 sec interval but I thought the race-day adrenaline would win out. Jessica was given her own run/walk timer in case she got frustrated with Zachary’s slow pace but she decided to stay with us the whole time.
Zachary has mild cerebral palsy and didn’t walk until age 2. Physical activity remains difficult for him although his disability is subtle and wouldn’t be noticed by a casual observer. The early hour and long wait to start had made him a bit cranky and he got fairly whiny early in the race. We had a difficult race during Wine & Dine Weekend (Mickey’s Jingle Jungle 5k) with lots of whining and he had promised this time would be different. I gently reminded him of his promise (ok, it might not have been very gently). After expressing some anger and frustration at me, he soon changed his tune and decided that we were going to have fun.
We passed the 1 mile mark before entering Epcot and by the first water station, Zachary had apologized for being crabby. He soon invented a fun game where we had to jump over any lines in the sidewalk and we started singing and dancing our way around World Showcase. We were a little disappointed as we were belting out “Let it Go” along with Demi Lovato and the music started to skip and have problems. But mostly we just had fun.
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Here we are singing along….
The course then heads into Future World. Jessica loved running by Nemo where she was yelling “Mine. Mine. Mine” along with the seagulls. We came around by the iconic “golf ball” before heading to the finish line.
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Zachary is trying to catch up!
One of the amazing things about running Disney over and over again is the special people that you get to know. For me a huge highlight of this trip was meeting famed runDisney race announcer, Rudy Novotny, at the Race Expo. I told him a bit about my kids running the 5k and especially about Zachary’s disability. My friend was waiting for us at the finish line with instructions to text Rudy as we were getting close. My kids were thrilled to get a special shout-out from Rudy as they were finishing! Definitely a highlight of the race!
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Finishers!
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I was SO proud of my kids for finishing with big smiles on their faces!
I think the Disney World 5k is a really fun race. I’m not sure it’s worth the HUGE price tag now attached to it but I’m glad that my children have had the opportunity to run this race. While we didn’t stop for character photos along the course, we still enjoyed seeing the characters. My best advice for this event is to HAVE FUN!