Archive for January, 2014


The road to the starting line of the Disney World Marathon wasn’t as straight as I’d expected. After the horror of the Boston Marathon Bombing, I decided that I had to run the NYC Marathon in November, 2013.  NYC became my “goal” marathon and it didn’t take long to realize that I couldn’t have 2 goal marathons 10 weeks apart.  Although I finished the NYC Marathon without any injuries – other than some minor wounded pride – I felt spent.  It took a few weeks for me to get myself motivated to run again.  I was inconsistent with my training for the first month.  This was made worse by a wonderful trip to Hawaii (jet leg much?) and then a short pre-Christmas trip to Disney World.  I did manage a 20 mile run in Hawaii and a 27 mile run about 4 weeks before race day.  During my taper period I started doing speed work to prepare for my April Half Marathon and aggravated my old left foot injury (stupid, stupid me!). I was well-prepared to finish 26.2 miles but not necessarily ready to have the race of my life.  At least not from a speed perspective.

After finishing the 10k on Friday, I was on a mission to hydrate and recover.  Unfortunately I made some poor food choices and ended up with gastroenteritis starting at dinner on Friday and continuing all night and into Saturday.  Luckily I was able to drink fluids and managed to stay on top of my hydration.  I made the decision to test my stomach with a few roller coaster rides on Saturday morning and seemed ok.  By Saturday night I felt confident that I wouldn’t be dehydrated for the marathon and hoped to avoid excess pit stops on the course. The weather reports were looking promising and I was optimistic that I could have a decent race.  I was even thinking I might pull off one of those unexpected PRs that happen when the stars align.

Sunday morning started at 2:30am with my alarm.  I quickly got myself ready to head out the door.

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Another great selfie!

I wore an OR gown over my running clothes for some pre-race warmth and hopped on the monorail.  Once at Epcot I took advantage of my last indoor plumbing stop for many hours and then wandered over to the bag check area.  Again the security was tighter than in previous years.  I made it through the security stop and dropped my bag off before heading to meet up with Team Studios Central.  Fortuitously our meeting spot was near several other popular Disney running teams and I saw many friends.

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For several weeks I few of my runDisney friends had been inviting me to run the marathon with them.  I wasn’t sure what to do.  Part of me was worried that they would use long run/walk intervals and I wouldn’t be able to keep up.  Part of me was worried that I wouldn’t enjoy running the race for fun instead of trying to do my best.  And, of course, part of me was worried that they’d find me annoying by mile 10 and then feel like they were stuck with me for 16.2 very long miles! We had spent some time talking at a Mickey Miles Podcast meet on Friday night and I felt pretty convinced.  Luckily for me I saw them early on Sunday and they wouldn’t take no for an answer.  I was running with them and I would like it.  Whether I wanted to or not! Agreeing to join the group turned out to be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my life!

I ended up joining a group of about 11 people.  We added some and lost some over the course of the race but the core group of 11 was pretty much together for all 26.2 miles.  (Or 27+ miles when you add the extra miles for our antics).  Some in the group are super fast and accomplished runners who have qualified for Boston.  Others (like me) are back of the packers who can manage the distance as long as we aren’t expected to go to fast.  I was definitely one of the slowest in the group but I had a slight advantage in that I was one of the few non-Dopey runners so I was better rested than most.  (The Dopey Challenge is a 5k on Thursday, 10k on Friday, 1/2 marathon on Saturday, and full marathon on Sunday.)

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The gang in the starting corral.

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Mickey Mouse and Rudy Novotny calling the start of our corral.

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I’m ready to run 26.2 miles! I was wearing a pace band prior to this picture and realized that it wouldn’t be necessary since I was giving up any time goals for fun.

And off we went! Our friend was working at the 1st water stop just before Mile 1 but I didn’t get a picture with her.

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One advantage of running with fast friends is that I could send one of them ahead to get the pictures I wanted.  Here’s Fast Eddie with Mile Marker 1.  I was on the other side of the road waiting for other friends to use the ports-potty.

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While a few friends were waiting in line for the bathroom, we waited for a picture with the Johnny Depp look-alike.  Arrrrgh!

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Mile 2. This was definitely a “No runner left behind” type of group.  Which is great when your one of the slower ones! We used a 30/30 ratio.  Except when waiting for someone to catch up after a potty break.  Then we used a lot of walking.

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It’s hard to get great pictures when it’s still so darn dark out! Still one of my favorite signs to see during the race. Magic Kingdom!

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And then it became clear that I needed to pose with each mile marker.

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We had recently watched the Nightmare Before Christmas for a movie night with my kids.  I *needed* this picture!

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Mile Marker 4 was in a bad spot for a picture and I realized as I ran on by that I wasn’t going to get.  My thoughtful friends offered to try to go back for it but it was a narrow spot in the course and it really wouldn’t be fair to other runners.  So here’s #5.  At the 5 mile mark I got a text message with my split.  What was the number? I have no idea! I remember saying that we were enough ahead of the 16 min/mile pace requirement but that’s all I know.  I did announce that I wanted to finish within the 7 hours time limit for the sake of my pride.  The overwhelming response of the group was that I would learn that pride and hanging out with this group wouldn’t really go hand-in-hand and I should just get over it!.

The Inaugural Minnie 10k

On January 10, 2014 my husband, Tom, and I woke up at 2:45am to get ready to run the 1st Minnie Mouse 10k.  Tom thought that I had lost my mind when I explained that we needed to get on a monorail shortly after 3am but he went along with my insanity.

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(Forgive the funny expression on my face.  I was trying to get a decent Selfie.)

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The Super Heroes were ready to go!

We hopped on the 2nd monorail of the morning and headed over to Epcot.  We later heard about some people waiting and waiting for transportation to the start so we were super happy to be there early.  The morning was pretty comfortably warm, which isn’t a great temperature for a race but since this was a 10k and not the full it was ok.

One of the things that was immediately obvious to me was the increase in security.  In order to enter the start area (or the finish area), everyone had to go through bag check.  Running belts were inspected as were any “check” bags.  The start set-up was similar to the Royal Family 5k that we ran last February.  Unlike the half and the full, the starting corrals were right in the Epcot parking lot without the endless walk.

While waiting to enter the corrals there was a DJ and we had the opportunity to meet up with several friends.  One of my favorite things about becoming a regular at runDisney events is how many friends I’ve made over the years!

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Tom getting ready to run.

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We started in Corral E with 2000 of our closest friends!

There were 10,000 runners participating in the 10k of whom 7,000 were taking part in the Inaugural Dopey Challenge.  There were 5 corrals and I’m still not sure how the corrals were divided.  The corrals were crowded and there was a long lag between starts.  Annoyingly the first runner crossed the finish line before we crossed the starting line! There were fireworks for each Corral although more limited than for the full marathon.

We decided on a run 20 sec/walk 40 sec ratio to start the race.  The first 3 miles were outside of Epcot.  I was pretty disappointed by the lack of entertainment, especially since the scenery wasn’t interesting either.   Early in the race we saw one of my DISboard friends – McFlurry John.  He had his name on a piece of paper attached to the back of his hat.  John is famous for being a 60-something year old race walker who can walk a 2 hour half marathon and routinely finishes long-distance triathlons.  What an inspiration! He talked with us for a few minutes before leaving us in his dust.

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Here’s a picture of the crowd early in the race. In the middle of the picture, you can see some balloons.  It was somebody dressed as the bird from the movie Up and the balloons were part of the costume.  Crazy!

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Mile 3 was near-ish the entrance to Epcot.

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Finally some in-park time!

We did a clock-wise loop around World Showcase.  While there were a few characters stops, I must say I was a little disappointed.  Granted we were near the back of the pack so they may have started packing up to prevent issues with the Sweepers.

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An early morning shot of the World Showcase lagoon.  The Epcot “ball” is in the distance.  I love running through an empty World Showcase at sunrise!

We exited at the International Gateway and started a clockwise loop around the Boardwalk area.  We had such a magical stay at the Boardwalk Villas in August so this area has even more meaning to me, now.

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Mile 5!

Football Goofy was outside the ESPN Club with quite a line and I didn’t get a decent picture.

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Tom doesn’t look nearly as happy as I do….

 

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An iconic shot of the Boardwalk looking from the Yacht Club.  Love early mornings at Disney!

As we were leaving the Boardwalk area to head to a backstage area near International Gateway, we saw something amazing.  The very last runner on the course was entering the Boardwalk area with the Sweeper bikes right behind her.  Every single runner who saw her stopped to cheer for her.  It was an amazingly emotional moment and I sent some speedy thoughts to her as I hoped she finished.  I won’t lie.  A few tears were shed.

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As we re-entered Epcot, we headed towards the front of the park.  Tom was definitely hurting at this point and my goal was just to get him to keep going to the finish line!

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We’re in the home stretch now!

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Is this a metaphor? I look like I’m pulling Tom across the finish line!!!

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Even with his painful ankles, wearing a medal makes Tom smile!

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So proud!!!!

Overall it was super fun to run this race with my husband and get him across the finish line.  I thought Disney “phoned it in” a bit with this race.  The first 3 miles were just boring and the next 3.2 miles were mostly interesting because we ran in places that I love.  The characters stops were much fewer than I expected, especially given the price tag.  I’m glad we got to run the first Minnie 10k.  I think I’d only run it again if I had family or friends who needed someone to help them finish.  My almost 10 year old is threatening to run it next year and I’d be more than happy to run with him!

 

Pre-Race Thoughts…. Marathon #4

Let me start by saying that I LOVE going to the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend.  This is seriously, and without exaggeration, up there on my personal calendar at level with Christmas and my birthday.  And I love Christmas and my birthday.  It will not be surprising when I say that I am genuinely looking forward to running my 4th full marathon and some o’dark thirty hour of the morning.  

The weekend started with a 6:30am flight from LaGuardia Airport.  I hate flying out of LGA.  The terminal is dark and old.  The food options are limited.  There aren’t enough seats at the gate.  I will say that security was a breeze and we got to the gate without incident.  Tom and I were hanging out and chatting when I saw my first Disney friend.  This was a member of the Disney’s Moms’ Panel who happens to live in our home town and was heading down on our flight to run the Half Marathon today (Congrats Erin!!!).  We arrived in Orlando, picked up our luggage (our race day clothes were in the carry-on!), and hopped in our rental car.  We made a quick pitstop at Publix to grab some provisions (I would kill for a grocery store like Publix in New York!) and then went to the Race Expo.

The nice thing about the new Dopey Challenge, which started on Wednesday, is the the Race Expo was relatively empty on Thursday morning.  We grabbed our bibs in one building and then headed to the next building for our shirts.  I thought the runDisney merchandise was particularly uninspired (although I LOVE my new race shirts!) and I managed to avoid giving the Mouse any extra money.  Tom waited in line for the lovely KT Tape folks to tape up his ankle while I shopped around.  I bought a few things – new Yurbuds to replaced my broken ones, a few Sweaty Bands, a Dr. Cool wrap for my foot, etc.  We avoided buying the adorable but pricey New Balance sneakers that runDisney has released (although I have a pang of regret because they are SO cute).  Other than my friend from our flight, we saw nobody that we knew at the Expo.  Normally I would see Jeff Galloway but since he is running the Dopey, he wasn’t there at that time.

My husband and I enjoyed a drama-free, child-free afternoon at Epcot which ended with a drink at the wine bar Tutto Gusto and dinner at Via Napoli.  We went to bed early and the alarm went off at 2:45am.  We made it on the 2nd monorail over to Epcot, breezed through the security check (they inspected running belts and water bottles this year instead of just inspecting “checked” baggage), and headed to the area near the DJ.  And that’s when the real fun began! We met a few of my online running teammates from Team Studios Central, ran into a few random friends, and got some text messages from other friends who wanted to make sure we saw each other before the race.  The starting corrals were crowded which prevented us from seeing as many people as we’d hoped but we did run into a few more friends on the course.

I’ll write up the 10k more later but we finished.  And Tom crossed his first finish line!  Once we were beyond the finishers’ chute, we ran into some more “virtual” friends.  One of the women we saw is someone that I’ve “known” for 4 years and finally met in person! There were hugs and pictures and catching up.  Even though my husband’s ankle was really hurting, he realized how important this was to me. Later that afternoon while he recovered from the 10k, I headed over to Epcot by myself.  I sent out a Tweet that I was wandering Epcot and happy to catch up.  One of my Team Studios Central friends was also solo in Epcot and we sat and talked for an hour.  Then we headed over to Beach Club for the Mickey Miles Podcast meet-up.  We were 30 minutes early and so was our other teammate.  We enjoyed some quality time together.

At the Mickey Miles Podcast meet-up I ran into many old friends and finally met some virtual friends.  I also met some wonderful new people.  The love and support of the group was amazing! It’s one of the best things that has entered my life through running – these awesome friendships! Here is a group of people as diverse as you can imagine and yet we all share a love for running and a desire to help one another across the finish line.  I am so fortunate and blessed to know my running friends – whether I’ve met you in person or not. After the meet Tom and I joined another couple (more running friends!) for dinner in Epcot before going home and crashing.

Today we wore our 10k medals around Hollywood Studios where we talked to many Cast Members and fellow runners about running.  We enjoyed some rides but mostly enjoyed some wonderful human interaction.  Even at dinner tonight we talked to more runners about running.  What could be better!

Tomorrow I will conquer another marathon while being surrounded by friends who share my love.  And with my husband on the sidelines cheering.  And with many friends from across the Country sending me “virtual support” via text messages and social media.  All in the name of Running.  It doesn’t matter if I finish in 5:30 or 6:30.  I will finish because I will be carried through the course by the love and support of the running community – both those who are here with me this weekend and those who are home and taking time to cheer anyway.

And this is why I LOVE running and especially running at Disney!