Goofy In A Day Recap

Yesterday I ran (and completed) my Goofy In A Day 39.3 mile run fundraiser for ‘Give Kids The World‘ Village. Rather than describe me going around and around in circles for 7 hours I thought I’d just recap the day with my Tweets in the order they were posted. I’m very tired today but it was totally worth it. As of today I raised $1,250.

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40

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39

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38

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34

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2015 Rutgers UNITE Half Marathon – Race recap

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It has been a very long winter and as a result I haven’t been able to get outside to run too much over the last few months. So with that in mind I was looking for a spring race to get me ready for the upcoming season and as a tune up for the Pittsburgh Marathon next month (May 3rd). I had a choice of running the Bucks County Half Marathon in Tyler Park which I have run 3 times already or try for something new. As I listen to my friend John’s ‘The Runner Of A Certain Age‘ podcast (as well as being a guest now and again) I decided based upon his review from the prior year to sign up for the Rutgers UNITE Half Marathon.

2015 Rutgers UNITE Half Marathon Course

2015 Rutgers UNITE Half Marathon Course

The Rutgers UNITE Half Marathon is put on by the CGI Racing team and they are responsible for other races such as the LOVE Run Half Marathon which I ran last year and also the New Jersey State Triathlon which I signed up for this year (my first triathlon) and I’ve had a good experience with this organization in the past.

So, before we start, I have to confess that I messed up a little with the planning. I know that locally Rutgers has a campus in Camden, NJ which is not too far away and is an area where I have run races before (Benjamin Franklin Bridge 10K) and we live not to far away from Rider University. For some reason in my mind I thought I would be running locally. Not so much. The main Rutgers University Campus is up in Piscataway, NJ which is over 45 miles away and a good hours drive. Hmmm….

Once I figured out that I realized my mistake in not signing up for race day packet pickup. I had to travel up to Piscataway the day before and on the day of the race. I probably spent more on gas and tolls than the cost of the race day packet pickup. Now before you think I’m completely crazy my experience of race day packet pick up is fine if I was to run a 5K or 10K but I don’t want to feel rushed before a half or a full marathon. In fact, based upon my experience with the LOVE Run marathon from CGI the year before it was a big race and I didn’t fancy the idea of fighting the crowds. Also, the race guide talked about parking at the starting area or the finish area and shuttling to and from. I didn’t want to deal with that on top of this all.

On the day before the race I got up early to be at the race expo as it opened so I could get back home and not be too disruptive to our planned family activities. I didn’t know at the time that it was Rutgers Open House weekend. The weather was beautiful and it was an easy drive for the most part. It took me under an hour to get to the campus but once upon arriving it took me almost 20 minutes to get into the parking area for packet pickup.

Finally made it to the expo

Finally made it to the expo

The packet pickup was at the Sonny Werblin Recreation Center. It was a busy morning there. There were swim meets going on, there were other sports being played so there was a quite the foot traffic inside. The expo however was well signed and separate from all the general hubbub outside.

The expo itself was held inside a large gymnasium. It wasn’t huge but it was set up clearly. As you entered there was a small area for a speaker series and next to that a desk to look up your race number if you didn’t already have it with you. Then at the far end of the hall was the bib pick up and next to that the shirt pick up.

Expo set up

Expo set up

Bib and t-shirt pick up

Bib and t-shirt pick up

Race mugs

Race mugs

There weren’t too many vendors displaying. The National Running Center was there for any last-minute purchases as well as a local therapy provider giving back massages. Also, one of the sponsors (Agua Enerviva) and a local fitness equipment dealer. They also had a table to pick up your souvenir mug. This is quite a nice perk and something I also received when I ran the LOVE Run last year.

I got what I came for

I got what I came for

Ready for the next day's activities

Ready for the next day’s activities

In hindsight this would have been an ideal race for same day packet pick up. I would highly recommend this option if you are going to sign up for this event. The race itself isn’t small but it isn’t a huge field and there is ample parking at the start line area which is right next to the start line. Also, I met up with John at packet pickup and it was calm and orderly and well run.

Race day arrival

Race day arrival

Race day arrival

Race day arrival

Race day arrival was very easy. The drive, the parking on campus and the whole traffic flow was a breeze. I arrived with plenty of time before the start of the race to stretch, use the port-a-potties and loosen up. I headed down to the packet pick up area to meet John before the start of the race. I always like to meet up with people I know before a race as just chatting with and hanging out with people helps calm the nerves and just generally lifts my spirits before a race.

Meeting up with John (host of 'The Runner Of A Certain Age' podcast)

Meeting up with John (host of ‘The Runner Of A Certain Age’ podcast)

It was a little chilly at the start but I knew it was going to warm up based on the forecast. The sky was clear and the sun was out. I pulled a mylar blanket out of my check bag to wear while waiting in the corral with a plan to throw it out just before crossing the start line (TIP – if you have mylar blankets handed to you at a race keep them for future races so you can stay warm in the corral of another race).

I walked to the corrals with John and we noted that the corrals were set up by pace per mile not any designated letter. I left John at his prefered pace and I moved up towards the 8:00-9:00 pace area. I didn’t notice any side entrances for the corrals so I had to move slowly through the crowd (politely I may add) to get to where I was going. Once there I settled in and waited for the National Anthem and the starting signal. The start was about 5 minutes delayed but the crowd seemed to be cheery enough. After all, this was some of the best weather we had experienced here in a long time!!!

Foiled up and ready to run

Foiled up and ready to run

My goal for this race was to see what I had in me after a long winter of running indoors. I recently have been struggling with injury. I tweaked my back and pelvis shovelling snow during the last couple of snow storms we had. As a result of the injury I had taken a full week off from running. If you know me that is a big deal. I was also on antibiotics for chest infection and back on Ventolin for my asthma (for the first time in three years). Also, with the upcoming Pittsburgh Marathon I wanted to try out some gear in race conditions. I have recently been experimenting with Injinji running socks and although I had already run some longer distances in them I was playing around with the thickness options they have (original weight vs medium weight). My goal therefore was to see if I could comfortably be under 2 hours. With a time goal in mind I didn’t get a chance to take too many pictures on route.

The course itself takes you around the Livingston Campus and Busch Campus for the first 9 miles before you cross over the bridge to Johnson Park and then finally through to the finish along College Avenue. It is not flat and fast as was advertised as there were a number of turns involved on the course and some gently rolling hills but nothing that would lend me to say this was a hilly course.

There were plenty of water stations on the course but very sparse spectators, although it should be remarked that this was very early on a Sunday morning on a college campus so I cannot imagine how many students would really be up early. The weather was fantastic and really made for a relaxing run. It actually felt like I was out for a simple weekend long run. The race wasn’t too large so as a runner you had plenty of space to move around and although the streets were a little narrow in places you never felt jammed in.

The first few miles ticked away and everyone just set into their own pace. I had started out with the 9:00 minute pace group but soon passed their leader and headed out for my own race.

Having never been to college here it was nice to see the campus. I was impressed by the amount of space that there was and that the campus looked pretty well looked after. The roads were a little cut up but I think that was a result of the harsh winter we had and the toll it took on the roadways. You had to be a little careful with footing in some places.

Around mile 7-8 we started heading back towards the start line area and in fact headed back up the starting chute for the second part of the race. It was around here that we started experiencing the first of many of the turn arounds. I hadn’t really studied the course map too much and you can never really tell the detail from a picture but from mile 9 onwards there were four hairpin turnarounds. I’m not usually a big fan of turnarounds but based upon the need to squeeze 13 miles into their campus I understand what needs to be done.

I settled into a pretty good rhythm and was really enjoying the scenery of the campus and also the park when we crossed over the bridge. Once we entered into the park we stayed along the pathway and ran from one hairpin turnaround to the other. That was probably the least enjoyable part (but still enjoyable race) and we saw a few more spectators on that side of the course as other people were getting along with their own activities in the park at that time of the morning.

Heading towards mile 12 all I could see ahead of me was a hill. Uh oh I thought. I was just beginning to feel a little tired at that point. Before the hill however we had to turn right into Buccleuch Park for what turned out to be the final turnaround of the race. At least this wasn’t a hairpin as we got to run around a little gazebo.

Buccleuch Park Gazebo

Buccleuch Park Gazebo

Once out of the park we had to tackle that hill I had seen confronting us as we entered. To my surprise it had just been a trick of the eye. Yes, there was a an uphill to run but it was short and not as steep as it looked and once you hit the crown you could see pretty much all the way down College Avenue to the finish line.

The run down College Avenue was so nice. It is a natural chute funneling you to the finish. Crowds were lined on both sides of the street and they were cheering you along. The downhill wasn’t to steep and allowed you to just glide through the finish. I felt great at that point. I was running around 8:33 pace which was the best I had achieved in a while and I felt comfortable doing it. I crossed the finish line with a time of 1:53:49. Well under two hours and within a couple of minutes of my half marathon PR. I was very pleased with the result.

I crossed the finish line and received my medal and also was handed a bottle of water. It had warmed up quite a bit at this point. Not too hot but was just a beautiful day.

Feeling great at the finish

Feeling great at the finish

By the way, my choice of outfit was my new INKnBURN Flow shirt. I think it was a perfect choice and very comfortable for the conditions. This has become my favorite shirt recently. I had been trying to decide between this shirt and my Mickey Milers shirt (as I was meeting up with fellow Miler John) but went with this combo. The socks worked out great too. I would recommend trying a pair if you get the chance. A little weird to look at and to put on but if you are prone to blisters these offer great protection.

After coming through the finish line chute we turned left to the post race area. The campus was ideal for a post race area as the streets were wide, the crowds were separated to the family reunion area and there was a lot of green space to stretch out and relax.

Post race area

Post race area – nice and open space

Post race area

Post race area – a great place to chill

The food tent was labeled clearly for runners only and they checked your bib to go through. I was very grateful for the soft pretzel. What I didn’t see was any sports drink to replenish any lost electrolytes. That was probably my only complaint.

Food station marked for runners

Food station marked for runners

Very ordered food hand out

Very ordered food hand out

One of the best post race treats

One of the best post race treats

The medal was a decent size but a little ‘lightweight’ and a little plain. Also, on the medal and on the ribbon it said ‘Half Marathon and 8K’. I wasn’t sure if this was the same medal handed to people who ran the 8K also. That seemed a little strange that these wouldn’t be unique to the race.

With my medal

With my medal

Front of the medal

Front of the medal

Back of the medal

Back of the medal

Note the ribbon says Half Marathon and 8K

Note the ribbon says Half Marathon and 8K

Overall though I would totally recommend this race. Timing was perfect, we lucked out with the weather, the course was enjoyable and the size of the field made it feel like a big race without being a big race (i.e. plenty of room to move about). I would recommend that if you register for this race (and you should if you are nearby) you opt for race day packet pick up as the expo wasn’t a compelling reason to go twice in two days.

John and I spoke about this race on his podcast. Here is the link to the episode (Episode 35 – It’s A Beautiful Morning Edition’).

Thanks for reading.

March 2015 – Month in review

March 2015 – Nike+ Summary

March 2015 – Nike+ Summary

So as you can see from the Nike+ summary I managed to get in 140 miles this month but if you look at the tail end of the month you will see that I actually had a week break. I’m nursing a sore back/pelvis as a result of all the snow shoveling over the winter. I managed to tweak my pelvis out of alignment. Ouch. Time to get my 8 and 4 year olds out to shovel the snow…or move to Florida. I think the move may be easier.

The weather did not deter my training for the upcoming Pittsburgh Marathon however it did take my running indoors for some of the long runs.

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My run from Sunday March 8th.

My run from March 14th.

My run from Sunday March 14th.

The gym can be a lonely place on a Sunday morning in winter.

The gym can be a lonely place on a Sunday morning in winter.

However, shortly after my indoor 20 miler I was lucky enough (well required) to take a trip to Scottsdale, Arizona for work. I went from running in sub 20 degree weather (sub zero with wind chill) to running in the low to mid 60s for a week. It was beautiful and flat. I wore shorts again!!! Yes, my legs saw the sunshine albeit at the end of the run as these were still early morning hours. What amazed me about running in Scottsdale was how clear the air was. As I was running I could smell the flowers, bushes and other landscape smells (nice smells) as I ran. I don’t think I’ve had much of a chance for that recently. Also it was flat. That helps alot. I’d been on a treadmill for more than a month so it was great to be out there.

Beautiful place to run

Beautiful place to run

Citrus trees and the smells in the air were incredible

Citrus trees and the smells in the air were incredible

Yes....yes it was

Yes….yes it was

Desert running is pretty cool

Desert running is pretty cool

I discovered where Iron Man keeps his horses

I discovered where Iron Man keeps his horses

Lots to investigate

Lots to investigate

Mind you, I got a rude awakening when I flew back to Philly. I arrived back to 4 inches of snow…ON THE FIRST DAY OF SPRING!!!! Ugh. My back still hasn’t recovered. Nothing like having to dig your way into your house around midnight. Luckily though that was the end of the snow. It warmed up a bit after that and I was able to run outdoors locally again.

Woo hoo!!!

Woo hoo!!!

During this month as I have been preparing for Pittsburgh I have been trying out some new gear. Last year at the Philadelphia Rock n Roll Half Marathon Expo I was recommended to try Injinji toe socks. They look a little weird and are a little tricky to put on but I have always had an issue with my toes rubbing together and usually use some vaseline to prevent blisters. Anyway I thought I’d give these a try and see if they were as good as they were presented.

Actually, they are pretty good. I’ve since bought a couple of pairs in various thicknesses to see how they differ but so far so good. I am using them almost exclusively right now. I cannot comment on the longetivity of the product but from a comfort perspective they seem good and from a blister prevention perspective they absolutely hit the spot. I’ve been using the Run 2.0 sock.

Injinji Run 2.0

Injinji Run 2.0

Finally this month I’m happy to share that both my wife and I were successful in the lottery for the 40th Marine Corps Marathon later this year. We are so excited to be able to run this event and especially excited because of the special anniversary year. It is sure to be a great event and memorable to all who run.

We're in!!!

We’re in!!!

In the coming weeks I have the Rutgers UNITE Half Marathon in Piscataway, NJ. This will be my first event since running the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend races. It will be fun to get back into race mode. Also, I’ll complete the training and start my taper for the Pittburgh Marathon. We are looking forward to the marathon weekend and hope we have enough time to take some sights in with our boys.

Don’t forget that I’m doing other crazy stuff for a change. I’m running the ‘Goofy In A Day’ for Give Kids The World a couple of weeks after that. If you feel like you can make a donation that would be really appreciated.

Thank you for reading.

‘Goofy In A Day’ for ‘Give Kids The World’

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Goofy, yup, that’s me. I am asking for your help and support in raising funds for the ‘Give Kids The World Village’ in Florida.

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For the last 4 years I have taken part in the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend in Orlando, Florida. I had only just begun my running career in late 2010 and ran my first marathon in Philadelphia in 2011. I ran my first Walt Disney World Marathon in January 2012.

Since that time I have run in the various challenges that are part of the Marathon Weekend. The challenges are multiple events over multiple days. I ran the ‘Goofy Challenge’ (39.3 miles consisting of half marathon and full marathon over 2 days) in 2013 and 2015 and the inaugural ‘Dopey Challenge’ (48.6 miles consisting of a 5K, 10K, half marathon and full marathon over 4 days) in 2014. While running these challenges I have raised over $11,000 for charity.

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In May 2015 I am planning to undertake my most challenging fundraiser, running the ‘Goofy Challenge’ in just ONE day. Yes, that’s 39.3 miles equivalent to a half and full marathon back to back.

Why do something so completely…well, Goofy? I’ve been inspired by a number of things.

Firstly, I am part of a running team called the Mickey Milers. It is a running team that was formed by the co-hosts of the Mickey Miles podcast (a podcast dedicated to running Disney races). This team was formed in January 2014 and its goal is to raise funds for the ‘Give Kids The World’ Village in Kissimmee, Florida.

The Village is a 70-acre resort complete with over 144 Villa accommodations, entertainment attractions, whimsical venues, and fun specifically designed for children with special needs. With the help of many generous individuals, corporations and partnering wish-granting organizations, Give Kids The World has welcomed more than 134,000 families from all 50 states and over 75 countries.

Mickey Milers Running Team

Mickey Milers Running Team

I am very fortunate to be blessed by two healthy children. Both my boys are the joy of my life and I am truly thankful for their good health and we have been fortunate enough to be able to take them to Walt Disney World on a number of occasions (while their Mommy and Daddy are off running insane distances in the early hours of the morning). Some families are not as fortunate and with this great cause this will offer those families what may be a once in a lifetime opportunity to take their families to a magical place and with the support of the Village perhaps have the opportunity to also see their children enjoy a very special time with their needs accomodated and escape their daily routine for a short time.

With Sorcerer Mickey

My family with Sorcerer Mickey – January 2015

Secondly, the team has come up in the past with some great fundraising ideas. This year a group is getting together on the same date in August at both Walt Disney World in Florida and at Disneyland in California and they are undertaking the ‘Small World Challenge’ which involves riding the famous 1964 ride over and over (and over) again from park opening to park closing. That’s probably around 14 hours or so listening to that theme. As I am unable to join them in person I was inspired to come up with a challenge that dovetails in with their special day. That is how I came up with the ‘Goofy In A Day’ for ‘Give Kids The World’. So in addition to running that distance in one day I have upped the ante as part of this challenge by promising to only listen to the theme song from the ride for the whole time I am running.

SWC

What? Really?

Yes. This is going to be two endurance events in one. Both mind and body are going to be challenged as part of this attempt.

Now, this is not going to be a race against time by any means. Based upon my race times I could achieve this challenge in less than 6 hours…but, since I’ve never run more than 26.2 miles (marathon distance) before my goal is to do what is recommended for an ultra-marathon (distances greater than 26.2 miles). I’m going to start slow…then back off a little. I think I may be able to achieve the total distance in around 7 hours so this is going to be a full day event for me.

So, what are the details? When and where (and why)???

When

I’m hoping to ‘run’ this event on May 18 (rain date May 19) which is just a couple of months away. There are a couple of reasons why I chose this time. I will just be coming from completing the Pittsburgh Marathon in early May so I should be still conditioned to run the long distance. Also, I’m hoping to avoid the heat of the summer. The Small World Challenge is being held in mid-August which is a tough time to run long distance outside. I ran a marathon in mid-August last year, I finished but it wasn’t pretty.

Where

I had a few choices here but my goal was to make this as manageable as possible so I chose the location where my running actually started, my work campus (Vonage Headquarters) in Holmdel, New Jersey.

My Company has always been very supportive of my charity efforts, in fact there is a picture of me running the 2014 Dopey Challenge posted a wall in the cafeteria which highlights all the charitable causes the company supports.

Running the 2014 Dopey Challenge at Walt Disney World

Running the 2014 Dopey Challenge at Walt Disney World

I began running in August 2010 after a little encouragement by colleagues to join the fitness center there. I’ve already written about how I started here but I will always be grateful for the opportunities I have been given here by my company. The campus has a self-contained loop which is about 0.93 miles around (according to my GPS). It is also pretty flat (limited elevation). The campus offers me the opportunity to set up my own aid station (a table) with supplies that I can have within reach. Essentially this is a self-supported run so there are no aid tables or supplies as would be in on an organized course. The campus circuit allows me the ability to manage my water and fuel supplies as well as give me access to bathrooms as needed.

Campus loop

Campus loop just under 1 mile

Little to no elevation

Little to no elevation

My other choices were 5 times running an 8 mile loop in Philadelphia where I ran the Midnight Madness race in July 2014. While flat this offers challenges with parking and maintaining supplies of fuel and water, or running in Tyler Park nearby my house which has a 5 mile loop which I would run 8 times however this has much elevation which would make this more of an effort…I still want to be standing when I finish.

8 mile loop along the banks of the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia

8 mile loop along the banks of the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia

Little elevation but not great logisitically

Little elevation but not great logisitically

Tyler State Park, Bucks County, Pennsylvania

Tyler State Park, Bucks County, Pennsylvania

Hills!!!

Logistically workable but hilly!!!

Why

Well, I feel a certain kinship with the running group. They are such a strong team of supporting everyone in their goals whatever their ability. Really a great bunch of people. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting up with many of them outside of Walt Disney World at other races, for a run when I am out of town and even just socially. They all have such ideas for raising funds for this cause and the best part of this group is the collective fun we have doing it.

I’m also inspired by many of the runners in the group. Whether they know it or not, even though many people tell me how impressed they have been with my endeavors, I am more than inspired by their efforts. In fact, I’m not the first to do the ‘Goofy In A Day’ idea (see how my team mates ran a marathon in one State in the morning and a half marathon in the evening in another State) but I may be the first in the group to do it all in one go!!!

I’ve done many ‘Goofy’ things as a runner (I’ve been known to get up at 2:30 am and run 22 miles during a bachelor party weekend, or run 20 miles before work one day) but my goal has always been to maintain a new found level of fitness, to be a good example for my two boys and to make my miles count for others. I am therefore asking for your support in helping me achieve this crazy challenge.

Please visit my fundraising page here and show your support. I would be most grateful if you could share this with your friends too given the short window of fundraising for this. I have no ultimate goal for this but if we can send just one family to the Give Kids The World Village it will have been worth it. (Note – this link may update as the Team Page updates so I will make sure to keep it current as changes happen).

By the way, here is the math:

39.3 miles is just over 42 loops of my campus.

The official album for Walt Disney World lists ‘It’s A Small World’ at around 5 minutes long so it would repeat 12 times an hour. If I’m estimating this will take me 7 hours that would be 84 times listening to the same tune…THAT tune.

SW

I’m not asking anyone to join me…I don’t think anyone would volunteer(!) but hopefully I’ll complete the challenge and raise a good amount of funds in the process.

Thank you in advance.

Ian

January 11, 2013 - relaxing before the night before the Goofy Challenge

January 11, 2013 – relaxing the night before my first Goofy Challenge

February 2015 – Month in review

February 2015 – Nike+ Summary

February 2015 – Nike+ Summary

What can I say about February which doesn’t involve a treadmill? Of the 163 miles run during the month only 14 of them were outdoors and one was even during a snow storm…I was that desparate to go out. I did get to go out on my birthday though and also once in 5 degree temperatures (that was fun!!!). I had to try out the new earphones that I got for my birthday (BOSE SoundSport). Truly excellent sound and they stay firmly in place when I run.

My birthday run

My birthday run

5 degrees of pure fun (brrr)

5 degrees of pure fun (brrr)

On the bright side the days are getting a little longer and we are closer to Spring.

I also took a spin in a pair of Hoka Constant. I do this once a year and try a new shoe. As the old adage says, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Yes, I’m still with my Brooks shoes as a consequence.

Well, worth a try, but not for me.

Worth a try, but not for me.

The organizers finally decided upon a race date for the postponed Philadelphia Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon this Fall. It is usually mid-September but the Pope is visiting Philadelphia that weekend. This is a race my wife and I usually run together. The date was announced as October 31, 2015. Well, what do you know? A race on Halloween. I am sensing some costume ideas coming together. We signed up as soon as they announced that registration was open. I already have a costume in my shopping cart on Amazon.com (those birthday vouchers come in handy).

So here’s to goodbye to snowy February and anciticipation of March and the welcome return to Spring weather and the great outdoors!!!

Thanks for reading.

January 2015 – Month in review

January 2015 – Nike+ Summary

January 2015 – Nike+ Summary

A little late in posting but getting this done before the following month is over so technically I am still okay, right?

My training shows I ran just over 150 miles for January. This included running 39.3 miles as part of the 2015 Goofy Challenge. You can read my recaps for the Expo, Half and Full by clicking on the links. It was a fun weekend and one that my wife and I had been training for and that we also made time for a family trip which made the experience much more enjoyable.

The rain had stopped an park had emptied and I managet to get one last photo in before we left.

I certainly made the most of this as there were a couple of milestones for me. It was my third year running for Team Up with Autism Speaks and it brought my fund raising total over $11,000 for this cause. Also, this might be our last runDisney race for a while. Logisitics wise it is hard with both boys in school to take the time to do this. Also, I think I need to give my generous donors a small break from fundraising. Finally, I’m hoping to find a way to do one of the Disneyland races and that will take a while to build up some funds as I want to take the whole family to the West Coast.

Mind you, I say that now and you know I’ll be trying to find a way to get back there sooner. I just love the runDisney races plus it’s great to be a Mickey Miler. I’m already trying to figure out a way to participate somehow in the upcoming ‘Small World Challenge‘ to help raise funds for the ‘Give Kids The World‘ Village. I’ll keep you updated when my plans are final :-)

With the temperatures being what they are here I’ve had very little opportunity to run outside and so I’ve been taking some time to catch up on my podcast backlog while running many miles on the treadmill. Not that I mind too much as it gives me the chance to wear my INKnBURN shirts during the winter months. Hey, I like to look good when I run (it distracts from the facial expressions that I probably make). Here’s my new shirt from their new 2015 catalogue.

Men's Long Sleeve 'Run or Die' striped shirt

Men’s Long Sleeve ‘Run or Die’ striped tech shirt

So, after completing the Goofy Challenge my wife and I are straight into our Pittsburgh Marathon training. I’m also looking for some potential other long races (yes, let’s say marathon distances) in addition to waiting for the Marine Corps Marathon lottery to open in March. We shall see. It’s been a good start to the year.

2015 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend – Part 3 – Marathon – January 11, 2015

Goofy Challenge 10th Anniversary Medal

Goofy Challenge 10th Anniversary Medal

So today was the big day. The full marathon. Also Shari’s second day of the Goofy Challenge. I think she was a little nervous but she seemed to be pretty upbeat. Me? Well I was excited. This is the day I have been waiting for. The first time I ran Goofy was back in 2013 and I was a little nervous but as it was Shari’s first full marathon I was focusing on her then and less of me. I did struggle but I finished. Last year when I ran the Dopey Challenge I had a blast. I felt great and had so much fun. Today would be a little different but fun all the same. Having the kids with us was much more tiring than running Dopey!!!

Another day...another pair of compression socks (of course coordinated with the outfit)

Another day…another pair of compression socks (of course coordinated with the outfit)

The whole point of today was to celebrate our running and our fundraising. Oh, and to run a little race dressed in costume (which had been decided upon months ago).

So again with the multiple alarms I was up at 2am. No baby sitter today. We had an adjoining suite with my brother-in-law and sister-in-law and we had left the doors open and the kids knew to look for them when they woke up. Shari was up around 2.30am and we were dressed and ready to leave around 3am. It was time for the big costume reveal.

Ready to head out to EPCOT for the marathon

Ready to head out to EPCOT for the marathon as Mr and Mrs Incredible

We arrived at EPCOT around 3:30am. Although it was warmer this morning than the previous few days Shari wanted to stay in the car a bit longer and this meant we sat there a while as she watched me squirm with nervous energy, itching to get out and mingle at the race meet up. Eventually I won and we headed into the staging areas.

Admittedly, the car was much warmer than standing around outside

Admittedly, the car was much warmer than standing around outside

On the way in we stopped by the Team Up Autism Speaks tent and said hello to Phillip who was waiting to meet and great the folks walking through the charity village on the way into the staging areas. As we were talking to Phillip we met Sarah (Sparkly Runner), her boyfriend Matthew and her Dad (running his first marathon). It was great to catch up with them (multiple times that weekend too) and we chatted together as we headed in. As I said in my previous post, the camaraderie and friendship at runDisney races is amazing and also helps you relax pre race.

A quick stop at the Team Up tent on the way into the staging area

A quick stop at the Team Up tent on the way into the staging area

Although we were not there in time for the group photograph this morning we were still able to meet up with and hang out with the Mickey Milers again. It was warmer this morning but we still needed something to cover us up until the start. Shari was proudly showing off her trash bag look again and I wore my throw away jacket that this morning decided to not zip up. Good choice for a throw away item. After wishing our friends good luck we headed off to bag check (we remembered who was checking the bag today!) and the long walk to the corrals.

Rocking the trash bag look

Rocking the trash bag look

Today’s walk to the corrals seemed a little less crowded. Again, I believe it may be because the full marathon field is just that bit smaller that it doesn’t seem so cramped. Although it is still cramped. It is dark as you walk along despite the overhead spotlights. As we are all bunched together that throws a lot of shadow on the ground. We saw a few people slip and fall on the side of the walking path. One of the worst was when we saw a man fall and because he was wearing a trash bag he couldn’t put his arms out to stop himself. Thankfully we saw him get up and he seemed okay but he had fallen on his side and burst all his energy gels and was a mess. That is not the way you want to feel at 5:00am in the morning and just about to start a marathon. I hope he did okay.

Waiting to go

Waiting to go

We got to the corrals just as the interviews with the runners were ending and just before the singing of the National Anthem. We were then ready to go. We were in Corral F again so we watched the big screen as the wheelchair racers went off and then the elites. We slowly moved forward until it was our turn to go. Today we were not in our Team Up charity gear but Mr and Mrs Incredible were sure excited to go.

At the Start line

At the Start line

And before you know it we were off!

The marathon takes the same route as the half marathon until just after mile 7 and the character stops are pretty much the same both days. We decided that today would be the day to stop at the characters we missed the day before. Our first stop was just before mile 2 as we reached the ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ set with Captain’s Jack Sparrow and Barbosa. As it was warmer, Shari had ditched her trash bag and I’d said goodbye to my old jacket.

Aaaargh!!!!

Aaaargh!!!!

We made our way from there through the turnstiles and on towards the Magic Kingdom.

Step in time

Step in time

I love the fact that the music that is playing is ‘Step In Time’ as they warn you about the speed bumps at the turnstiles. I always find Mary Poppins to be a very motivating factor in my running :-)

As we approached the Ticket and Transportation Center (TTC) today it was better lit and we were able to get our picture of Wreck-it Ralph and Venelope Von Schweetz that didn’t quite come out yesterday. Probably because the Walt Disney World Speedway was being used today and is beside the parking lot that provided better lighting. It was there that we bumped into another Goofy runner who we seemed to meet at every photo stop for the rest of the day (and were on a table near him the next day at breakfast!) One of my favorite things about running these events is seeing faces throughout the parks all weekend long who you have run alongside during the races. Always good to say hello and congratulations after the races.

Wreck-it Ralph and Penelope Von Schweetz

Wreck-it Ralph and Penelope Von Schweetz

As we reached the TTC we took the opportunity for another bathroom stop. While waiting outside the bathroom for Shari I saw and cheered a few Mickey Milers and also saw another couple dressed as Mr and Mrs Incredible (oh yeah…the challenge was on now whether they realized it or not). From there we headed towards the Contemporary Resort and through the tunnel under Bay Lake. As we were running we bumped into our friends and fellow Mickey Milers Eddie, Phill and Joe. Eddie was running with his Go Pro so we made it onto his video. From there we ran around the back of Space Mountain (mile 5) and looped into the back stage area before making it out onto Main Street USA (my favorite part of the race).

All smiles on Main Street USA

All smiles on Main Street USA

As we reached the hub on Main Street and were about to turn right into Tomorrowland we saw Sarah again who was there to cheer on her Dad and Matthew. As we circled into Tomorrowland it was the first time that I noticed that the neon lights were the same colors that appear on Buzz Lightyear. Strange what goes through your mind and I’d never noticed that before. I guess the lighting was just right. Anyway, today we stopped for Buzz as the line wasn’t too long today.

Too Infinity and Beyond with Buzz

Too Infinity and Beyond with Buzz

From Tomorrowland we ran past the Tomorrowland Speedway and into Fantasyland where today we stopped to have our picture taken with the White Rabbit from Alice in Wonderland.

Are we late?

Are we late?

As we continued through Fantasyland there was the same character from Tangled that we had seen the previous day. Again…we didn’t stop but continued through to the castle past Prince Charming’s Regal Carousel. As we approached the carousel there were cast members handing out tissues to runners. It was a nice little touch…plenty of waste baskets too.

Running past the carousel

Running past the carousel

As was the case during the half marathon yesterday, because of the repairs to Cinderella’s Royal Table there was no appearance by Mickey and Minnie in front of the castle which was a shame. That is a great photo to have. I’m so thankful that I took the time to wait in line last year for that photo. We got some great professional photos as we ran through and in front of the castle.

Running through the castle is so amazing

Running through the castle is so amazing

With my very incredible Mrs Incredible

With my very incredible Mrs Incredible

So on towards Frontierland and out towards the backstage areas and out of the park. We got an awesome photo with Woody (first time I think I’ve had a race photo with him) and also stopped for a quick photo with Rapunzel and Flynn Rider (although we had to wait for a group of runners who wanted at least 5 different pose variations each with their own cell phone cameras…ugh).

Reach for the sky!!!

Reach for the sky!!!

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With Rapunzel and Flynn

….and out of the park into ‘Cone Alley’. As we made our way along this narrow stretch I heard the funniest line from the DJ. He said ‘You’re all at about 2 hours into the race. No-one has crossed the finish line yet so you are all still in with a chance!” Funny. Runners humor I guess. 2 hours, wow, we really had spent a lot of time taking photos. I think at one point our lap times showed that we ran an 18 minute mile through the Magic Kingdom thanks to all the photo opportunities. Oh well, there would be plenty of open road on the second half of the course to make up any time. Believe me…plenty of open road!!!

A quick stop with Donald alongside the golf course

A quick stop with Donald alongside the golf course

We skipped a stop with the Genie from Aladdin today as we had stopped yesterday and this is the point where the half and the full marathons change course. In the half marathon you start to make your way from here back towards EPCOT. For the marathon you make a turn onto the Walt Disney World Speedway. As you approach the track you run alongside some exotic cars as you head into the tunnel. The tunnel has the steepest downhill and uphill of the course before making it out onto the track for a lap (which is about a mile). The track is flat on the inside lower level and is banked up on the outside. Classic cars and other car clubs had set up their cars on the bank of the track and we stopped to take a quick picture with Herbie.

Coming out of the tunnel onto the track

Coming out of the tunnel onto the track

Making a quick stop with our little Love Bug

Making a quick stop with our little Love Bug

Once you exit the Speedway you make a small trek across a grassy strip and head out towards the Animal Kingdom. I took a quick stop at the med tent for a little vaseline as the shirt I was wearing was irritating me just a little (never wore this before race day…). Thankfully I wasn’t bothered by the shirt for the rest of the race. We were only at mile 8 at this point. As you approach the Animal Kingdom you run past the water treatment plant. Luckily it was not such a warm day although you could still pick up that ‘delightful’ smell as you ran past. They do good job at trying to entertain you as you run along this part of the race. They have signs along the left side of the road with interesting facts about Donald Duck. Also they had a great photo opportunity along the right side of the road which involved our longest wait in line of the race. As you can see below it was well worth the wait.

Such a villanous bunch...well worth the wait

Such a villanous bunch…well worth the wait

As we moved away from the villains (having chatted in line with our runner friend from earlier in the day) we literally bumped into another Mickey Miler (Tammy) who was running her very first marathon. Earlier this year Tammy had volunteered at the ‘Chasing the Unicorn‘ marathon which I had run and it was great to see her again and cheer her on for her first marathon. We ran alongside her for a little while as we approached the Animal Kingdom until Shari and I split off to take a photo with Jiminy Cricket.

Always let your conscience be your guide

Always let your conscience be your guide

As we got closer to the Animal Kingdom we saw but did not stop at some of the less seen characters. They had Robin Hood, Little John and Friar Tuck out for a photo opportunity. The line was really long as these are not seen very often these days so we decided to move along. As we were running we started to see some of the Animal Kingdom parade decorations which started a small group of runners singing ‘Circle of Life’ in which we all joined in. Hey, this is a Disney Marathon and we get entertained any way we can. As we entered into the Animal Kingdom we ran alongside the cast members who were outside with various animals. We decided not to stop for photos as we probably smelled worse than the animals.

We had discussed the possibility of riding Expedition Everest if it was open and looking at our watches we knew we would probably be hitting the park just as it was opening. I wasn’t really looking forward to doing this as I’m not a coaster rider BUT I had promised Shari I would try. As we entered the park we saw a long line of folks at the entrance to the ride. As we approached the cast member said that the ride wasn’t yet open and there was a 30 minute wait from the point we were arriving at. Disappointing and I didn’t really feel like standing around for 30 minutes on these legs when we still hadn’t reached the half way point of the race. There was a little disappointment in Shari’s face (although I think she resented the fact that I looked relieved). So we headed on and ran through the park stopping along the way for a quick photo opportunity with Minnie and Daisy. Everyone we spoke with after agreed that if there wasn’t a line then it would have been a definite stop for Everest but 30 minutes…not happening.

Hanging out with the ladies

Hanging out with the ladies

The exit to the park is just about half way. There is a water stop here before we head out towards the parking lot and then out onto the main out and back part of the course which also includes a loop around the ESPN Wide World of Sports. As we were leaving the Animal Kingdom we met another cheering section of Mickey Milers. Despite me not wearing my team shirt today they still recognized me and we stopped so they could take a quick photo of us.

Heading out of the Animal Kingdom (just past the half way point)

Heading out of the Animal Kingdom (just past the half way point)

The point past the Animal Kingdom to the next stop is a long stretch. It’s from mile 13 to mile 17 where we reach the ESPN Wide World of Sports. Luckily the weather was cool as we were able to pick up time and run a little faster. There is not much to look at between these two stops but runDisney did a good job of trying to keep us entertained with a few character stops and show performers. This is always one of the toughest parts of the race and probably the point where my wife was most likely to get irked by my incessant chatting (judging by how she tried to off me with the Haunted Mansion grave diggers).

Yes...I think she really meant it.

Yes…I think she really meant it.

I’m pretty proud of my jump shot here. I totally outdid myself and definitely out jumped the little lady this time. Then again, it may just be the difference in height and the angle of the camera…but I’ll take it!!!

Yeah...that's pretty good

Yeah…that’s pretty good

I'll see your jump shot and raise you a bigger jump shot!!!

I’ll see your jump shot and raise you a bigger jump shot!!!

The stretch from mile 17 to 19 (and a bit) is the out and back and run through the ESPN Wide World of Sports. We get to see lots of folks running on our way in and way out of this section of the race. Once you turn into the complex you wind your way around the various pieces of the complex. You run a lap around the track, you run a loop around the football fields and you ultimately get to run through Champions Stadium (spring training home for the Atlanta Braves). It’s pretty cool to see yourself up on the big screen in the stadium as the announcer calls out your name. You run the outside circuit of the track (which was followed by a quick stop to empty the gravel from my shoes). As we were starting our run through the ESPN complex it started to rain lightly and that increased gradually as we ran through the complex. It did however stop as we made our way out. Again we got a chance to see Sarah again. She was all over this course doing a great job cheering her runners. Well planned spectating!!!

There was a giant inflatable Baymax set up as we entered the ESPN complex. My boys would have loved seeing this.

There was a giant inflatable Baymax set up as we entered the ESPN complex. My boys would have loved seeing this.

We ran past the medal backgrounds which had been set up for the expo on our way out so we stopped to get a quick medal selfie.

This was our goal

This would be ours in just a few miles

As we were leaving the complex we were able to see runners entering. It was great to cheer fellow Team Up runners and Mickey Milers as we passed by them. Also, it gave us a chance to see some great looking costumes.

Once you exit the ESPN complex there is a left turn and then you are on your way to Disney’s Hollywood Studios. That is mile 20 through mile 22ish. As we were approaching the overpass towards Hollywood Studios we approached another Mickey Miler who was not running the races but came out to cheer on all her teammates. She made sure she was very easy to spot and had a big sign and goodies for all her teammates. Nice job Laura.

This is how you get runners to find you during a race. Awesome spectating Laura.

This is how you get runners to find you during a race. Awesome spectating Laura.

After a quick hello and goodbye to Laura we ran on towards Hollywood Studios. As we were working our way up the hill under encouragement from the Green Army Sergeant we stopped and I was forced (again this year) to do push ups. At this point I noticed that this was the second time in the last few miles that I was the only one of the two of us who seemed to have to get down and dirty (following my escape earlier from the graveyard). Something was wrong with this. Never mind…I’m sure my wife loves me.

As we entered Hollywood Studios it starting raining lightly again. BUT THEY HAD CHOCOLATE!!! Yes, as you enter the park backstage they were handing out Hershey miniatures. Shari took ‘a few’ as we passed. I’m saying no more. Anyway, we were on a mission. We had to find Mr and Mrs Incredible. This was the one character stop we knew we were going to stop for regardless of time. We passed the point of the park where we remembered them being in years past and were a little disappointed until we turned a corner and there they were….both of them. We had only seen either one or the other in prior years. There it is…the money shot!

Mr and Mrs and Mr and Mrs...

Mr and Mrs and Mr and Mrs…

AWESOME!!! Totally energized us for the last 3 miles.

We had a quick stop with Mike and Sully from Monster’s Inc. and then took what would be our last run past the Sorcerer’s Hat (which by the time you read this will probably be gone).

One of us can only see out of one eye. The other is Mike Wazowski.

One of us can only see out of one eye. The other is Mike Wazowski.

The park was open for guests as we ran through and it was amazing the cheers and support from the guests who were watching us pass by. We got a few shout outs for our costumes. I will admit we may have hammed it up for them. Just a teensy bit.

Having some fun despite the rain

Having some fun despite the rain

Upon exciting the park I felt someone tap on my shoulder and I quickly apologized to that person thinking I had either cut them off or knocked them in some way with realizing (the one eye thing is my excuse here). We saw an appropriate spectator’s sign and I was able to get a quick photo of Shari with the sign.

They must have known we were coming

They must have known we were coming

Suddenly I felt a tap on my shoulder again. What? Why? I turned around and there was a runner standing there trying to get something out of his pocket. He wasn’t talking and then suddenly he pulled out a plastic bag with a bingo card inside. He said he was playing ‘Marathon Bingo’ and he had a square which told him he needed to get a selfie with people dressed as Mr and Mrs Incredible. Wow!! We made it to the bingo card. We cracked up but let him have his photo. Hey, we may have run almost 39.3 miles but that doesn’t compare with being a winning square on the marathon bingo card (LOL). That (together with the amount of sugar Shari had ingested) made us laugh as we headed out towards the Boardwalk. As we ran along the path to the Boardwalk we were giving high fives to the little kids who had come out to spectate and everyone was cheering on the ‘Incredibles’. It was lots of fun.

Pretty cool mile marker we thought

Pretty cool mile marker we thought

Upon reaching the Boardwalk, Shari knew that her friend from college might be out supporting runners and started to keep a look out (this was between taking Twizzlers and Oreo cookies from generous spectators). Eventually as we approached the Yacht Club Shari saw her friend Cori and stopped for a quick sweaty hug and a photo.

Shari and her friend Cori

Shari and her friend Cori

As we moved around the Boardwalk to the path alongside the water way behind EPCOT we bumped into Mickey Milers Team Captain Mike Scopa (check out the Mickey Miles Podcast and WDW Today to find out who Mike is) and we stopped for a quick hello. He was out to cheer on fellow Team Captain Michelle and all the rest of the Mickey Milers still out on the course. It’s such a great team.

Oh Captain, my Captain

Oh Captain, my Captain

We were almost at EPCOT, the home stretch. We enter EPCOT through the International Gateway which is located between the Canada Pavilion and the United Kingdom Pavilion. Just before the entrance we got to have a little moment with the Fairy Godmother. I think her magic was working as Shari and I were feeling good…although Shari had so much sugar in her system from all the snacks she was like a little Energizer Bunny (more so than usual) even at mile 25!!

Bibbidi bobbidi boo

Bibbidi bobbidi boo

The end was now in reach. We just had to do a short run around the world!!! Well, just World Showcase. It was still raining slightly but wasn’t really bothersome. As was the case with Hollywood Studios the park was open and it was great to have park guests cheering us along (although looking at us rather strangely in our outfits). I was high fiving and fist pumping every time someone yelled out ‘Hey, it’s the Incredibles’. It was a lot of fun. I was aching a little in my right knee but it was pretty much an adrenaline fueled last mile. Shari was feeling particularly good. She had struggled over the last few miles of the Baltimore Marathon back in October and that had not followed a half marathon the day before. She kept telling me she felt great. I think there may be another Goofy in our future :-)

Back in World Showcase at the United Kingdom Pavilion

Back in World Showcase at the United Kingdom Pavilion

We made sure to get some character stops in as we were doing fine for time with only a mile to go. This wasn’t going to be our fastest marathon by any means but it was definitely one of the most enjoyable ones.

A quick stop in the Morocco Pavilion

A quick stop in the Morocco Pavilion

Running through World Showcase

Running through World Showcase

Soon we were exciting World Showcase and heading towards the finish line. The rain was steadily increasing but then again so was the crowd support. It was awesome.

We are back in Future World

We are back in Future World

Once you are by Spaceship Earth you know the end is close. We rounded the corner of the Future World attractions and headed out towards the parking lot, past the choir and down the home straight with the finish line in sight.

We could see the finish line just ahead. We look a little happy.

We could see the finish line just ahead. We look a little happy.

We were greated by Mickey and the gang at the finish line.

We were greeted by Mickey and the gang at the finish line.

We did it!

We did it!

We did it. We had run 39.3 miles and raised over $4,300 for Autism Speaks. We were both Goofy!

We both felt great and headed over to get the marathon medals. From there we went over to the medical treatment area to get some ice packs to help with the post race recovery. The rain started to come down harder (probably the worst rain of the day at this point) and we sat shivering as ice was being applied to our knees, ankles, quads, etc. What was missing? Mylar blankets. What??? All weekend had been on the cool side and I did not see any mylar wraps being provided to runners. If that was my biggest complaint over the last two days it was not a big deal but really, come on runDisney, you could have provided wraps for the runners. Especially as the weather had been so cool for the first few days of the event you would have thought they would have been prepared for the marathon.

We were shivering by this stage so rather than sit for 10-15 minutes as would be the norm for us we just decided to get up, grab our drinks and food and go through to get our Goofy medals. Brrr. Ironically, they were handing out cooling towels as we left the medical area!!!

I pull of the ice walk pretty good.

I pull off the ice walk pretty good.

Interestingly as we headed through the Goofy chute they had volunteers with laptops open and they were checking our bib numbers and looking us up to match our sweaty tired faces to the fresh happy faces that they took a picture of a couple of days earlier at the expo. From there we went through the tent and into the photo areas for the official race photos. As we were still wrapped up with ice (well mainly me) because we had left the medical area so quickly I said to Shari that it would probably not make such a great picture. She told me no-one would notice. Oh really???

A little ice with your picture Sir?

A little ice with your picture Sir?

When you have a short wife it is very difficult to crop the picture and not show the amount of ice attached to your legs. My excuse is that I was channeling both Mr Incredible and Frozone in the same costume (yeah…right).

Here we are with both the Marathon and Goofy Challenge medals.

Here we are with both the Marathon and Goofy Challenge medals.

With the rain still coming down we headed back to the car. I took off the ice as it was bound so tight I couldn’t bend my legs. We managed to get our bags straight away today. Inside we had packed ourselves towels from the hotel (a great packing tip by the way) so we could dry off and wrap them around our bodies to stay warm. We scooted out of the bag check area and made our way to the parking lot. As we were walking some guy with a marathon medal ran past us. Show off!! He must have ‘just’ run the marathon ;-)

We headed home for hot showers and quickly got ready to head over to the Magic Kingdom. We had Fast Passes for Peter Pan and I needed my Mickey Bar ASAP!

All refreshed and ready to head to the parks.

All refreshed and ready to head to the parks.

Ready to show off our bling.

Ready to show off our bling.

We returned to the Ticket and Transportation Center (we didn’t run there this time). As we got on the tram from the parking lot to the TTC I was sitting up front with the stroller and people started noticing my medals and asking what they were. I told them that my wife and I had just run the marathon and that were other races over the last few days too. They were intrigued. One fellow asked how I did in the marathon. My response? “I medaled in the race”. That got a laugh from people who got the joke. I’m not sure he did though LOL.

As we walked up to the monorail I saw Jennifer (The FInal Forty) and her boyfriend Todd also getting on the monorail to the Magic Kingdom. They were still in costume as Ariel and Prince Eric and must have come straight from the finish line. Ha ha.

We spent the rest of the day wandering around the park to keep our legs moving and wishing everyone wearing a medal congratulations. We hit up our Fast Passes (which included the ‘Enchanted Tales with Belle’ and the ‘Seven Dwarfs Mine Train’ which was excellent) and generally relaxed. Despite running all that distance we didn’t really do a big meal. I got myself a cup of Lefoux’s Brew at Gaston’s Tavern and then after the character photos at Pete’s Silly Sideshow we all sat on a wall and ate Mickey pretzels and Mickey ice cream bars. Perfect.

Relaxing with the boys in the Magic Kingdom

Relaxing with the boys in the Magic Kingdom

Some light refreshment post race

Some light refreshment post race

With my brother in law Mike and Belle

With my brother-in-law Mike and Belle

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train fun

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train fun

Sharing our Goofy with Goofy

Sharing our Goofy with Goofy

We ended the day with me hiding my 4-year-old from the fireworks while everyone else saw them. Oh well. There was always Plan B tomorrow when I would get to see the fireworks. At least I got a nice shot of the Castle as we were leaving.

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On Monday we were up bright an early. Some idiot (ahem) booked an early morning character dine at the Crystal Palace inside the Magic Kingdom which meant we had to get up and out really early. I will admit that getting up at 6am is much easier than getting up at 2am. Not everyone else was that enthusiastic though. Today would be very much a celebration of our weekend for both my wife and I and also for my sister-in-law and brother-in-law. We had been rushing around so much since before we headed down to Orlando and we hadn’t really had a full day at any of the parks yet.

We entered the Magic Kingdom before rope drop and took advantage of the absence of people along Main Street USA to take some professional photos before our breakfast reservation.

PhotoPass_Visiting_Magic_Kingdom_Park_7155066534

PhotoPass_Visiting_Magic_Kingdom_Park_7155065836

At breakfast we bumped into our runner friend from the marathon and had a chat about how much fun the day before had been for us all. It was great as we got a chance to relax and refuel. I also had pre-ordered a gift bag with treats as a special reward for my wife. She had done similar for me when I arrived at the Magic Kingdom last year.

Refueling at its finest

Refueling at its finest

The boys took 'selfies' with the characters

The boys took ‘selfies’ with the characters

Shari seemed pleased with her bag of treats

Shari seemed pleased with her bag of treats

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Compression sock Monday

Compression sock Monday!

Compression sock Monday! Notice how well I coordinated my outfit

One of the best things about this week was meeting and catching up with friends old and new. Today was no different. While walking through Adventureland I again bumped into Sarah, Matthew and her Dad. I was congratulating them on a job well done when my Mickey Miler teammate Jennifer saw me and came over. She had been looking to meet up with me to give me a little gift that she had brought with her all the way from California. I also bumped into Chris (@DopeyRunr) and Laura from the Mickey Milers while in line for Pirates of the Caribbean. I was loving meeting up with everyone. It was such a great experience.

Catching up with Jennifer

Catching up with Jennifer

Jennifer's awesome gift. Customized Mickey Miler Cookies and a special Cookie Monster for you know who

Jennifer’s awesome gift. Customized Mickey Milers Cookies and a special Cookie Monster for you know who

While we were on the Jungle Cruise that afternoon we got on board with another couple of Mickey Milers, David and Darren. Both had run their first marathon the day before so it was great to congratulate them in person. David took this photo of my family while we enjoyed the cruise.

Taking my family on a 'Cruise'

Taking my family on a ‘Cruise’

Pretty much after we finished the Jungle Cruise the heavens opened and it poured for most of the rest of the day. We were prepared with our ponchos but either way were we a little damp but this did not dampen our experience. The park actually cleared out which surprised me. I thought that any indoor rides would be crowded but people seemed to have just left and we found ourselves able to ride and re-ride certain attractions with little to no wait. That was great.

Making the best of the rainy day

Making the best of the rainy day

Although we missed the Festival of Fantasy Parade because of the weather (it was cancelled) we stuck it out long enough to see the evening Castle show and fireworks. Tonight we decided to let Asher wear a pair of headphones and play on the iPod and he completely was unphased by the fireworks. Genius!!! It only took 3 visits to Walt Disney World to figure that one out.

We stayed until they pretty much kicked us out the Magic Kingdom. What an awesome day it was. We enjoyed every second and made the most of our day in the park. We actually only just made the last monorail out of the park.

The rain had stopped an park had emptied and I managet to get one last photo in before we left.

The rain had stopped and the park had emptied and I managed to get one last photo in before we left.

On Tuesday we did our usual last day breakfast with Chef Mickey at the Contemporary Resort before making our way back home.

Breakfast with Chef Mickey

Breakfast with Chef Mickey

Breakfast with Chef Mickey and Goofy

Breakfast with Chef Mickey and Goofy

Waffle buddies

Waffle buddies

On the way out of breakfast I bumped into Jennifer and Todd once again. It was such a fun weekend that I knew I was going to miss seeing everyone once we left. I have so many good memories with family and friends from the weekend. It was great to feel such camaraderie and be part of a team like the Mickey Milers. We were truly all looking out for each other. Amazing.

All that was left was the saddest monorail trip…the one at the airport and then the flight home.

Riding the airport monorail is not as much fun

Riding the airport monorail is not as much fun

Leaving with such great memories

Leaving with such great memories

I know this was a very long post (it stretched over an extra couple of days) but I wanted to express how much fun the marathon (Goofy Challenge) was for Shari and I. How much fun we had meeting friends along the way and making new ones, raising beyond our goal for the charity and ultimately enjoying the parks with our family. I appreciate all the kind words of support and donations you have provided on this journey and look forward to many more events such as this in the years to come. Hopefully I’ll see some of you along the way.

Thanks for sticking with this one…I do talk…a lot :-)