Archive for January, 2013

The Mickey Medal, Part 1

After the half marathon on Saturday, my roommate and I wandered over to the Magic Kingdom to get some lunch.  I was really hoping to try the new Be Our Guest restaurant but the line was ridiculously long and we decided to bail.  We headed over to Liberty Tree Tavern and were seated within minutes.  We both ordered the pasta which was good but huge.  About mid-way through lunch I started to feel sick.  Run down. Exhausted.  Just done.  My roommate had tried to convince me, repeatedly, that taking a nap on Saturday was a terrible idea because I wouldn’t be able to sleep on Saturday night.  I suspected she was right but also knew that I needed to lay down.  So back to the hotel we went.

I quickly fell asleep.  For 2 hours.  Waking up just in time for an early dinner.  We had no particular dinner plans so we headed to the quick-serve place at the Polynesian and ordered the marathon pasta special.  Although the meal most closely resembled Chef Boyardee, it was definitely comfort food.  We were joined by some friends and I enjoyed the company more than the food.  I did feel adequately nourished and hydrated to conquer another day.

After our early dinner we headed back to our room and finished getting our gear ready for race day.  It’s amazing how much stuff you need for 26.2 miles in predicted 82F heat! I was in bed by 6:30pm and probably asleep only a few minutes later.  Amazingly I didn’t wake up at all until just before by 2:30am alarm clock.  My roommate had gotten up at 2:15am and was fully dressed by the time I awoke.  I’m really surprised that I slept through.  I actually felt much better that morning which seemed a good start to the marathon!

By 3am we were headed over to the monorail to Epcot and the starting line.  We reached the runner’s retreat early and grabbed some food.  After my previous day’s experience, we were determined to head to the corrals early.  My roommate seems to know everyone so we had plenty of company at the retreat! We did notice that the race announcers called for Corrals A and B to head to the start earlier than everyone else.  I guess Disney does learn some lessons! The walk to the starting corrals was much less crowded today.  Whether due to the slightly smaller size of the full or due to our timing or due to Disney calling the first corrals early, we’ll never know.

I said goodbye to Susan as she headed to her start and I entered corral C.  I knew I wanted to start in the back of the corral even before I got there.  And then I saw that the 4:45 pace group was starting at the front of corral D and realized that I definitely belonged at the back of the corral.  I luckily ran into someone I had met before at runDisney events and spent the time hanging out with some other people from the Disboards.  The women I knew wanted to hang with the 4:30 pace group so she headed forward while the rest of us stayed way in the back of the corral.  It was a nice group of people and it was comforting to spend the time talking to others!

I was wearing an OR gown over my running outfit to stay warm while waiting.  It was an ideal “throw away” for this race.

To give a sense of the crowds at this race:

The pink “canopy” up ahead is the starting line.

The 20th anniversary!

And, as always with Disney, there were fireworks for each corral!

After a discussion with Jeff Galloway in the week before the race, I chose a very conservative run/walk ratio.  He warned me to start slow because if I overheated I would never be able to cool off.  So I chose a run 15 sec/walk 45 sec ratio.  I was one of the last Corral C starters across the line and it wasn’t long before the front runners from Corral D were overtaking me.  It was a little disconcerting for about a mile and then I found myself in a more proper pacing group.  In retrospect I probably should have started somewhere in Corral D but I think it was ok in the end.

I was having some major Garmin issues in the first few miles.  I had my pace and my distance showing up but not my elapsed time.  I’m really not very savvy with my Garmin and need to learn more about the bells and whistles but this was making me crazy.  And I was trying to fix it during my walk breaks at the same time that I was being overtaken by the Corral D runners.  It was getting frustrated and stressed which is not a good way to start a long race but I finally figured it out without losing any data.  Similarly to the half, the first water station came up quicker than I expected and then the first mile marker.

This part of the race was almost identical to the half except my pace was a little faster and I started in my assigned corral!

I didn’t take many pictures of the kites and marching bands because I had seen them the day before.

But I couldn’t resist the toll plaza for Magic Kingdom!

I was a little disturbed that there was no 5k timing mat until I passed the 5 mile marker and realized that the splits for the full were different from the half!

I was on the wrong side of the Ticket and Transportation Center for mile 4!

My friend Katie took this picture of me:

I’m not much for stopping, especially during a full marathon, but Katie’s a great photographer and I didn’t have any family to take my picture during the race!

And the first 5 mile split! 1:08:06 or 13:37min/mile pace.  On target for a sub-6 hour finish.  A bit slow for my 5:30 finish but running at a comfortable training pace appropriate for the temperatures…

So 15k are done.  I’m not feeling particularly well.  It’s fairly hot and humid.  And I’m starting to wonder how the heck I’m going to survive 26.2 miles in 24 hours.  Instead I tried to focus on just getting through the half marathon and then taking the full marathon in its own time.

The big pirate ship that we saw early in the race was very popular on the way back!

There’s something special about mile 10 in a half marathon.  It’s sort of the point where you know you can probably finish.  Only 5k left! In this race it was also the point where I realized that I could probably pick up the pace and finish sub-3 hours.  I then realized that I had a full 26.2 miles on my schedule for the next day.  My half marathon PR is sub-2:30 so a barely sub-3 hour half is still a personal worst for me.  I quickly decided NOT to push the pace and safe myself for the big one on Sunday.  I still think I made the right decision!

Between mile 10 and mile 11 is one of my favorites moments in the race.  There’s a big cloverleaf uphill onto the overpass that includes mile 11.  It’s the biggest hill in the half marathon.  And on the hill is a green army man – straight out of Toy Story.  And he has a megaphone and he’s yelling at us to keep moving.  On a personal note I last encountered this particular hill 2 years ago during my first race.  This time I didn’t think the hill was nearly as hard as I had remembered.  I guess I’m getting better!

Almost there!!! Mile 12 is always deceptive because it’s not 1 more mile.  It’s 1.1 miles.  And, trust me, after 13 miles that last 0.1 matters!!!

Getting back to Epcot!


Time to enter the finishing chute!

Now I’m really almost there!


And the Donald Medal is mine!!!  Time was 3:03;49.

Donald Medal, Part 3

I was pretty satisfied with my performance up to this point.  After leaving the Magic Kingdom we came to my least favorite part of the course.  It’s a narrow road with some crowding as we ran past the Grand Floridian and Polynesian Resorts.  This was also a nostalgic part of the course.  During the 2012 Half Marathon my family and I stood outside the Grand Floridian handing out Twizzlers as the runners went by.  My mom had really enjoyed that experience and I remembered doing that with her at this point.  The following day she had been cheering for me in the same spot during my first full marathon.

Before mile 8 and the Grand Floridian was a crazy runner dressed in a full-length Cinderella gown and posing with Mary Poppins and Bert.

I have a certain respect for that kind of dedication but I honestly couldn’t imagine doing it!!!

I honestly don’t remember seeing the Genie but apparently I did!

And finally we reached the 15k mark!  My pace was 14:05 min/mile which is pretty much right on target.  I was definitely started to feel the sinus infection as well as the heat.  I decided around this time to pick up my intervals to a run 5sec/walk 55sec ratio to try to finish before it got any hotter!

The Donald Medal, Part 2

The first 5k went according to plan.  Mile 4 was around the Ticket and Transportation Center where there started to be more spectators.

From there we run by the Contemporary Hotel.  There’s a DJ on the overpass with huge Mickey hands cheering you along.  This part is a little tricky because it’s narrow and there is a curb separating the road from the sidewalk.  Someone ahead of me had wiped out here and had to be taken for medical evaluation.

After the Contemporary we headed to a back stage area which leads to the BIG reveal. We enter the park and turn right onto Main Street, U.S.A.  This is probably my favorite part of the race.  Main Street is packed with spectators and the castle is in full view.

I saw a few people I know, including the crew from the Mickey Miles Podcast who were locating at the end of Main Street as we turned right into Tomorrowland.

We then turn left and run past the Tomorrowland Speedway where we got a glimpse of the New Fantasyland.  Outside the teacups were some characters:

We then get get ready for the BIG highlight of the run: Running through the Castle.

After the Castle we make a right and travel toward Frontierland.  I took a picture of Ye Olde Christmas Shoppe in honor of my husband who makes fun of the spelling each and every time…

Princess Tiana was holding court in Liberty Square:

And, shortly thereafter, was mile #6.

I loved that these women got their pictures taken while laying across the train tracks in front of the train.

At this point we exit Magic Kingdom via a backstage area.  Princess Aurora was waiting for us with Prince Phillip.

And then the 10k splits! 1:26:43 for me.

The Donald Medal, Part 1

January 12, 2013 started early for me with a 2:30am alarm.  I had already prepared all of my race day gear so I got up, took a quick shower – yes, I fully acknowledge the insanity of showering right before running a half marathon – and got dressed for race day.  My roommate got up to wish me luck and see me off.  One huge advantage of staying at the Polynesian is that it’s a very pleasant walk to the Ticket and Transportation Center where I was able to take a quick monorail over to Epcot.  The monorail was fairly empty and the trip to the start line was uneventful.  It is a LONG walk from the monorail to the general starting area.  I had signed up for the runner’s retreat since I was running both days.  This was quite an expensive proposition but definitely enhanced my Goofy experience.  Runner’s retreat is a large, climate-controlled tent with a private bag check area, private port-a-potties, stretching areas, character meet and greets, and food and beverage.

I was pleased to find a few of my fellow Team Studios Central members at race retreat.  I ate half a bagel with peanut butter and drank a bit of Powerade.  I took advantage of the private port-a-potties (there was no line like there always is in the general area but, trust me, a port-a-potty is still a port-a-potty!) and had plenty of time to relax.  My teammates and I did get some pictures taken with the Fairies.  Unfortunately my group picture is too blurry to share.

At about 4:30am I suggested to my teammates that perhaps we should start wandering over to the starting corrals since Disney said it would be a 20 minute walk and we were supposed to be in the corrals by 5am.  The 20 minute walk ended up being a nightmare of crowding and bottle-necking! Our “20 minute walk” took 75 minutes.  One of my teammates and I were supposed to start in Corral C but unfortunately missed our start due to incredible crowds.  We ended up starting at the very front of Corral D instead.

The announcers with Donald, Mickey, and Goofy getting ready to call our start!

My race strategy for the half was SLOW and STEADY.  I figured I’d start with a run 5 sec/walk 1:55 sec to make sure my foot and my overall health were ok with the idea that I could pick up the pace as the race continued.  My goal pace for this race was about 14 min/mile which is a slow long run pace for me (before my foot injury I was doing my long runs at 13:30 pace).  I was a little worried before the start that using a slow training pace in the front corrals would cause me to be a road block for faster runners but I was happy to learn that the front of Corral D was really about the right place for me.

The course goes from the Epcot parking lot over to the Magic Kingdom and then through the Magic Kingdom before coming back to Epcot.  Aside from running through Magic Kingdom and part of Epcot, the course itself doesn’t offer much – except, of course, for the Disney-provided entertainment.  Our first water stop was right before mile 1 and I was moving along at my desired pace.

The course was crowded, as you might expect with 27,000 runners, but I actually found that by starting in an earlier corral than I have before, the crowding didn’t affect me as much I had feared.

I don’t think Johnny Depp was actually available for this particular pirate meet and greet but the ship was pretty spectacular! There had also been a few High School marching bands up to this point.

There’s something special about running through the toll booths to the Magic Kingdom!!! I always get a little emotional here.

There was a mat for the 5k split and I actually saw a runner go around the mat (I’m assuming due to inexperience and not for any nefarious purposes). My 5k split was 43:09 which is hardly impression but I was trying to keep my weekend goals in mind.

Goofy Weekend – 1st Thoughts

Anyone who read last year’s marathon report knows that it’ll take me a good long while to finish my update of Goofy Weekend. To be honest, the pictures aren’t even uploaded yet! But I have some thoughts about the days leading up to my race weekend, as well as some global thoughts about the Goofy Weekend.
I was scheduled to leave NY late on Thursday night after week. Monday was my first day back to work after my mom’s funeral and the whole week was exhausting and emotional, Tuesday night I was awake all night with shaking chills and flu symptoms, Wednesday morning I felt so sick that I had to sit down during my morning shower. A little Motrin helped to shake some of the flu-like symptoms but I felt pretty terrible. Perhaps fortuitously, many patients are also sick right now and I finished my operating room day early (we don’t do elective surgery on patients with the flu!). I was ale to take a bit of a nap that afternoon and picked up some antibiotics for the sinus infection that I knew was coming.
By Thursday the generalized flu feeling was better but had been replaced with a rip-roaring sinus infection. I started some antibiotics, bought some sudafed, and powered my way through office hours. I was feeling exhausted and run down by the time I reached White Plains Airport for my flight. I grabbed some snacks (there are no restaurants after security in this tiny airport so limited choices) and found a seat. It honestly seemed that half the passengers had hacking coughs! The flight down was fairly uneventful – except that the cute, gay flight attendant gave me a free glass of wine – and I was soon at Orlando Airport.
Due to the inefficiencies associated with “free” transportation, I didn’t arrive at the Polynesian Resort until almost midnight. My fabulous roommate was waiting for me in the lobby while I got my key. I must say that the Polynesian truly is a magical place to stay for any Disney trip but particularly for marathon weekend where the convenience of the monorail makes the weekend easier. We had a great room location and I was soon unpacked and ready.
We stayed up too late talking and the morning came too early. The sinuses were still bad on Friday. We braved the crowds and headed to the Race Expo that morning. Once nice thing about the Goofy is that there are “only” 10,000 runners so the lines are shorter at the Expo. (The full had 25,000 total runners – 10,000 Goofy + 15,000 Full and the half had 27,000 total runners – 10,000 Goofy + 17,000 Half).
I had brought proof of time from my Fall half marathon in an effort to move up a corral or 2. I felt that corral D was more suited to my projected times than F. Much to my surprise I was moved into Corral C.
The 2nd building at the race Expo was for merchandise and race shirt pick-up. I must say I LOVE the long-sleeved tech shirts that I get from runDisney! And doing Goofy = 3 tech shirts!!! The race merchandise from runDisney was quite disappointing. I did buy a running jacket but was very sad to not see any cute tops like I have from the past 2 years. The Expo was SO packed that we left sooner than we would have. I did buy a pair of yurbuds – running earphones – but really nothing else,
We had early dinner (late lunch?) reservations in Epcot with running friends both old and new. It was really fun and I walked over to the Beach Club afterwards for a Mickey Miles Podcast meet and then a Team Studios Central meet. Everyone was super nice! I truly felt that I knew these people for years, even though I was only meeting some of them for the 1st time. I even had a surprise visit or two from friends! One of the very best part about running at Disney is the awesome friends I’ve made. Some I still haven’t met in person and some are now like old friends. It’s such a supportive and friendly community!
After the big meets I headed back to the Polynesian for an early bedtime. Unfortunately I wasn’t feeling great and tossed and turned all night until the 2:30am alarm (or right before the alarm – I turned the alarm off before it went off). Time for Race Day #1!!!

A Runner’s Eulogy

The last few weeks have brought incredible upheaval and loss into my life. On Christmas Eve my 74 year old mother collapsed while standing in my brother’s kitchen. Despite some heroic efforts to resuscitate her, we said our goodbyes to her a few days later. Although she had some chronic medical problems, she was essentially well until that fateful moment.
While my mother certainly wasn’t an athlete, she was a major fan of my fledgling running career. (I resisted the temptation to call her an “athletic supporter”). My parents came with us to Disney in 2011 to watch me run my 1st race ever, the Disney World Half Marathon. She was so amazed and inspired by watching the race that I think she almost considered training. Unfortunately her previous smoking history (she had quit more than a decade before her death) left her breathless on the monorail ramps and required an ECV to get around Disney.
One year later she was there in January, 2012 to cheer for my first full marathon. The day before the full, we stood outside the Grand Floridian Resort watching the half marathoners run by. I had purchased a huge box of Twizzlers that we handed out. My mom wasn’t very interested in this activity at first. As she watched the runners react enthusiastically to the Twizzlers, she began to participate and later wished we had purchased more boxes of candy to hand out. She gained an appreciation for the role of an active spectator during an endurance event.
My mom was an avid reader of my blog even though she commented infrequently. She loved reading about my training and learning more about the sport of endurance running with me. While many have tried to convince me that running the Goofy is just plain Goofy, my mom totally understood my need to push myself.
The last time I saw my mom was on December 22. We had decided to celebrate Christmas together that day. We had 10 people over for a big turkey dinner at my house. Before she left I had started preparing my water bottles and gels and electrolytes for the following morning’s 24 mile run. We had been talking about my children coming to her house later in the week and she wondered if I was packing them snacks for a long weekend away. I explained that this was what I took with me on my long runs. She was shocked that running required so much stuff!
The next day I called after finishing my run. I had to drive to the hospital to check on a patient and, as was often my habit, I took advantage of my car’s bluetooth to call her. We talked about the details of my long run and my final preparation for the Goofy. Again she was the ultimate cheerleader. Although she wasn’t planning to join me in Florida this time around, she’d be following via runners tracking.
About 24 hours later I got that dreaded phone call.
I suppose, in a way, she WILL be with me during the Goofy after all.