2016 HITS Hudson Valley, NY Triathlon – Race recap

 

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I am thrilled to be writing this race recap.

On July 9th I completed my first half iron distance triathlon at Williams Lake, NY up in the Hudson Valley put on by the HITS Triathlon Series. This is a 70.3 mile event made up of a 1.2 mile swim, a 56 mile bike ride and a 13.1 mile run.

Since I started running back in the late summer of 2010 I have achieved many things I didn’t think possible. Just getting off the couch and training for a 5K was a big accomplishment for me. Slowly I built up my running endurance and 15 months after my first run I finished my first marathon, the 2011 Philadelphia Marathon. Since then I have achieved some big milestones for myself. In May this year I completed my 15th marathon and I have completed a number of the runDisney Challenge races and even an ultra distance run.

However, I never even considered a triathlon. I don’t know what made me finally decide but in late 2014 I signed up for my first triathlon, the New Jersey State Triathlon for the Olympic distance in July 2015. My problem was that I hadn’t been swimming in years and I needed a lot of work. I ended up freaking out a few weeks before the race and stepping back my distance to the sprint triathlon as I was really nervous for the swim. I did conquer the swim in my first triathlon but unfortunately the race did not turn out as planned. It was cancelled due to a lightning storm mid race. I quickly rebounded by signing up for another sprint distance a couple of weeks later and finally completed a triathlon. I followed up that after some encouragement (peer pressure) by a number of work colleagues to sign up for another local sprint triathlon which I successfully completed. Okay, my triathlons were over. Done. Complete…Or so I thought.

Competing in the Medford Lakes Colony Sprint Triathlon last August.

Competing in the Medford Lakes Colony Sprint Triathlon last August.

Some of my friends were talking about doing longer distance triathlons and a few were actively talking about half iron and full iron distance races. Around the same time they announced a new 70.3 distance race down in Atlantic City, NJ and I was considering that, however, it was a little costly and the timing didn’t work out. I also lacked the ability to swim far enough at the time (or so I thought) and I only owned a hybrid bike which I knew wouldn’t get me through a longer distance race. Speaking to my friend Bob, he mentioned that he had signed up for a smaller sized 70.3 race up in the Hudson Valley. It was also held on a Saturday so it wouldn’t take up a full weekend away and it was a good value (about the same price of a runDisney half marathon). I looked into it and thought maybe…I just had to convince my Wife. Challenge accepted!

Somewhere somehow my Wife was informed (probably by my Sister-in-law) that triathlons involved swimming in shark infested waters. I had to convince her that there were no sharks. All my previous sprint tri’s were in ponds or man-made lakes but she was still convinced there would be sharks. I explained that (at the time I signed up) the swim was held in a bend in the Hudson River and that there were no news reports of sharks in Upstate New York (bears maybe but not sharks). She then asked if I had enough life insurance and whether it was fully paid up. Seeing as my Father-in-law is our insurance agent I said we were covered and paid up. Finally she said I could do it as she knows there was no talking me out of it. So, in early November last year I signed up for my first 70.3 race, the HITS Kingston, NY Triathlon.

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Now that I was signed up I found a half iron distance training plan that seemed to fit into my schedule from Endurance Works, I joined LA Fitness so I could go swimming regularly (the plan called for at least 3 swims per week, I subscribed to a swim training plan (Tri Swim Coach) and purchased a road bike (with all my saved up gift cards and a some birthday money) from my local bike store (Guy’s Bicycles). The training plan fit in perfectly between the New Jersey Marathon and the actual race. I steadily built up my swim distance and endurance in the pool and got used to sitting on that bike saddle for a few hours. By the time the race approached I felt that I was ready, nervous…but ready.

One final thing I needed to take care of was a wetsuit. I hadn’t used a wetsuit for any of the sprint distance tri’s I had done last year but based upon the distance it was recommended that I take advantage of the extra buoyancy a suit would provide me and so not wanting to jump into a big expense straight away I decided to rent a wetsuit. I ended up renting from a company based in Florida called Tri Wetsuit Rentals. The owner, Mike, was very helpful in answering my questions about sizing and suggested a couple of suits and even said that in the (unlikely) event that I lose some weight before, all I had to do was call before the suit was shipped in late June and let him know.

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I had my first minor freak out when the wetsuit shipped but got lost by the US Postal service for about a week. I could see from the tracking information that it was close but it had gone via multiple post offices including my local post office more than once before it was finally delivered exactly one week before I was due to leave for the race. Mike was very helpful throughout and we had a ‘Plan B’ to send a replacement but thankfully it wasn’t required. Unfortunately I missed my last opportunity to try out the suit in an open water swim with the Bucks County Tri Club as the suit arrived too late. I wouldn’t get a chance to try the suit in the water before race day. I did watch a few YouTube videos in advance of receiving the wetsuit (some more helpful than others) on how to get into and out of a wetsuit, none of which helped prepare me for the full body workout that was putting one on without any help!!! It was a struggle the first time but after a couple of attempts I found a method that worked best for me.

For someone who has been overweight most of their life, having Orca emblazzoned across your chest isn't exactly flattering.

For someone who has been overweight most of their life, having Orca emblazoned across your chest isn’t exactly flattering.

When my Wife saw this she had a field day with orca related jokes…

Thanks honey for all your support…

Race Weekend:

Race weekend finally arrived. I had been in touch with my friend Bob over the weeks leading up to the race and we had planned to meet at the staging area (Williams Lake) and get a quick open water swim and then grab lunch before the mandatory athletes’ meeting that afternoon.

Having taken a vacation day from work I packed up my car and headed (via a quick stop at my chiropractor for a last-minute alignment check) on my way to Kingston, NY.

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On my way. 70.3 or bust!

Thankfully it was a smooth and easy ride up. About 30 minutes out from my destination I pulled over at services to grab a drink and a snack before the last leg of the journey and happened to bump into Bob who was also on his way up to meet me. I followed him the rest of the way to the race area and we quickly set about getting ready for a swim. Bob gave me a couple of tips on putting on the wet suit and we headed down to the water. It was a hot and sunny day and the water temperature was really nice. It was time for my first wet suit swim…I let Bob go first.

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Arriving at the race site. This confirmed we were in the right place.


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The finish line just a day away.


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Williams Lake. The buoys were being set up as we arrived.


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Bob went first. We planned to swim out and back to the first buoy.


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Not nervous at all…


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Okay…ready…set…

I ventured out. Bob advised me to go a little slower than I would in the pool to keep my heart rate down as you can quickly overheat in a wetsuit. Once I started swimming it did feel a little weird and there were a couple of anxious moments early on but I followed his advice and I set out to the buoy, circled around it and came back. One thing that was very evident from my swim is that my sighting in the water needs a heck of a lot of improvement…that would be evident the following day as well. As you can see from the GPS map below, this was supposed to be a simple out and back, i.e. pretty much a straight line. Not quite.

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Not the best sense of direction


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I did it. A little out of breath but I got it done.

Even though it was a short swim I felt comfortable in the wetsuit, the water temperature was warm but not too warm and the spring fed lake was clear (you could see your hands in front of your face!).

After we both completed the swim we stayed to talk to a few of the people setting up and looked around the staging area. This was a small race to be sure. There were 5 events going on the next day – full distance, half distance, Olympic distance, sprint distance and an open distance.

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Hanging the suit up to dry


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The packet pickup tent


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Swim course map – Two loops around the lake


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Bike route around the Ashokan Reservoir


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The updated run course


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A small merchandise tent who made custom shirts on request (more on that later)

When I had signed up for the race originally it was a two-day event. The swim was supposed to be in a bend in the Hudson River in Kingston, NY with the full and half distance being held on the Saturday and all other races being held on Sunday. Back in February it was announced that the location was moving to Williams Lake in Rosendale and that it would be a one day event with the races staged at 4 different times during the day (the full and half would start together).

After the swim we went to pick up our race packets. I have to say that the staff were all very friendly. The staff took time to ask if we were okay and were happy to chat and answer questions.

Bob and I headed into Rosendale and had lunch at a small cafe with lots of vegetarian options (perfect for me) and chatted over lunch. Bob showed me how to use my Garmin 910 in multisport mode which I hadn’t really tried before. We then headed back a few minutes before the Race Director started the athletes meeting.

Tom Struzzieri, the founder and CEO of HITS, was there to talk us through each leg of the event, the how to’s of the transition area and the weather outlook for the next day. He shared the plans for the aid stations and explained what would be provided even down to how many scoops of Heed would be in the pre-made water bottles on the bike rides (so that we had an idea how much nutrition to carry and could take in on the route).

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The race director giving the pre-race athletes meeting

The weather overnight was forecast with a storm and lots of rain. As the race wasn’t too big most people decided not to check in their bikes the night before so we could keep all our equipment dry and bring it the next day.

After the meeting Bob and I took a walk through the transition areas and walked the start of the run course. As the course had changed from the original location I hadn’t seen the new map. The course was described as an initial run out, a loop through a cave (a bat cave…) and then a double out and back along the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail across the Rosendale Trestle Bridge.

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Everyone was provided with their own individual transition box. It was spacious compared to other events I have taken part in and the stool they provided was a nice touch.


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The exit from the swim to transition


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The exit from transition to the bike course.


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And back to transition. You can see from the debris on the side of the transition that this whole area is currently under development. This should make the site much more attractive and with added features in the coming years.


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The view back into the transition at the start of the run

I hadn’t realized before now but as soon as we started walking the course we saw it was a proper trail, i.e. not paved…mud, rocks, sticks and roots…and a bat cave.

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Yes…that’s a trail.


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I will point out that this is ‘before’ the heavy rain that fell overnight.


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Yup, that’s a cave.


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They said there were bats in side.


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I just looked straight ahead to the exit and didn’t look deep into the cave. No need to cause a kerfuffle with the locals…


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I’m ready for the next day. I may have to change my outfit though.

Bob and I decided around 4pm to head back to our respective lodgings (I was about 15 minutes away in a hotel in Kingston and he was staying with family about 30 minutes south) and so we wished each other a relaxing evening and said we would see each other bright and early the next day.

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By the way, you may notice from the above picture that I am wearing a ‘Team Up! Autism Speaks’ shirt. Since 2013 I have run a number of events for this charity and this was the first year I had missed running the Walt Disney World Marathon (or Challenge) with them. Over the last three years I have raised close to $13,000 for the cause. As this was to be a special event for me I decided to dedicate my race to continue to raise funds for them and I signed up through their Team Up! Your Way with the goal of raising $1,000. I’m pleased to say that in addition to completing my event (spoiler alert) I was able to meet my goal. As of the date of posting this recap I have raised a total of $1,092.

I headed to my hotel in Kingston and moved all my gear (not packing light) into my room on the second floor.

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My two-wheeled roommate for the night.

I quickly looked through my race packet to make sure I had everything and decided to find somewhere local for an early dinner. As I was traveling on my own I asked the front desk at the hotel for places to eat and was recommended the Olympia Diner across the street. Well, I love a good diner so I was happy to head over and see what they had. Although the diner was just across the street there was a huge downpour and I ended up driving over. Glad I didn’t leave my bike outdoors overnight.

After a meal of gazpacho and spaghetti marinara, I followed my usual pre-race routine…a cookie (unfortunately not oatmeal raisin)…and headed back to the hotel and started getting ready for the next morning with a goal of getting some sleep.

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My pre-race ritual. Stick with what works, right?

I unpacked all my gear for transition and laid it all out for one final check. As you will notice from the pictures below I used flash cards in my shoes to remind me of the steps I would need to remember in transition if I was not thinking too clearly in real-time the next day.

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I think that’s everything.


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Cut me some slack…I’m 44 with two kids. Sometimes I cannot even remember their names.


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At least I didn’t have to tell myself which wrist to put it on.

With all my gear repacked I took a hot shower and put myself to bed around 8pm hoping to get as much sleep as I could.

Race Day:

My Fitbit shows that I got just under 7 hours of sleep, waking up just before my 4AM alarm (one of three that I had set just in case). I made myself a cup of coffee and tried to remain as relaxed as possible. I grabbed my pre-race Powerbar for breakfast and checked my emails, other messages and the weather before getting all my gear ready. As expected, my Wife sent me a message wishing me all the best in her own way.

Thanks again honey…

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My training plan sent me this message to my inbox.

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I headed out around 5:15AM to the race site. There had been plenty of rain overnight and you could the result of the storm as there was quite a bit of debris on the road. I was a little nervous about riding in the rain on my road bike tires. I already had concerns about the elevation of the course and making the cut off time (I hadn’t trained too much on hills). I had never ridden on wet roads before.

When I got to the race site the course had been impacted by the rain too. Although the temperature had cooled considerably the parts of the parking areas were under water. I arrived as cars and trucks were being towed out after getting stuck in the mud. I moved my car further away on some higher ground and started to unpack.

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Cars being towed out.


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The aftermath. I hadn’t considered what it would do to the running trail yet.


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I’m here, the bike was pumped up and so was I.

On Thursday night before I left I decided at the last-minute to grab a few kitchen trash bags to pack up any wet and dirty gear after the race. I’m glad I did as there was more rain scheduled for later in the day. I’m so glad I had them with me as when I got to transition it was very wet underfoot (and squishy) and so I used one of the bags as a waterproof barrier between the ground and my transition set up. With the extra bags I wrapped up my bike and running gear to protect them from the rain that was predicted. That was a good move.

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My home base for the next few hours.

I ate my Honey Stinger waffle for a last-minute fuel top up and after a couple of bathroom breaks I got my swim gear ready and my wetsuit on and made my way through the transition to the edge of the lake.

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Everyone getting ready in transition.


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Ready to suit up. See you in a few hours.

As we got to the beach for the final race announcements before the start the race director asked that due to the road conditions that we are extra vigilant on the bikes and announced that they had people out on the course doing clean up where ever needed so that conditions would be as best as they could get them for us for the bike.

The race was scheduled to start at 7AM. The full and half distance athletes were due to go off at the same time. The full distance athletes would swim four times around the buoys and the half distance athletes twice. My plan was to stay steady and smooth and try to keep my heart rate down. As the race started I stayed at the back of the pack and waited until almost everyone was in the water. I didn’t plan on getting into a mess right out of the gate.

The temperature was great, a couple of degrees cooler than yesterday, and my plan was to keep a steady rhythm. My sighting wasn’t perfect…I did veer of course a couple of times but it got better as I started to get into a groove. I actually found myself passing a few people. I could feel the difference that a wetsuit provides. It was a definite help. My confidence was building as I rounded the first loop and I was able to maintain the same rhythm on my second loop.  I still had a couple of sighting issues but if you look at my map below I didn’t do too bad. Ultimately my distance swam was 1.4 miles not 1.2. Not sure if it was my bad sighting or the GPS trying to grab a signal which led to the difference but I was pretty happy.

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The official results had me at 54:32 for the swim. I was pleased with that. Anything under an hour for that distance was a win for me. I actually got out the water and wasn’t too out of breath. As I got out the water the race had ‘strippers’, volunteers to help you get out the wetsuit. On a side note I mentioned that in the car the next day when I was talking to my wife. She was quite taken aback…however, two little voices from the back of the car then asked “Daddy, what’s a stripper?” Oops. I explained in triathlon terms. Move along. Nothing to see here.

As I got out the water there was a little light rain. I’m glad I had my gear wrapped up. I was even more glad for the stool. I was a more tired from the swim than I thought I would be. I dried off my legs and my feet, covered them in talc and popped on my Injinji socks (not the best at helping me rush through transition). 8:02 in transition. Not good but I had a 56 mile ride ahead of me and I wanted to make sure I was ready (my longest ride previous to this was 52 miles on a bike trainer). I quickly ate an energy gel and grabbed my bike and headed out.

Once out of transition and on the bike I started slowly. I started out on the small chain ring so that I wasn’t beating up my legs early into the ride. I didn’t get out of the small chain ring for the first 8 miles.

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The bike route


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Bike elevation chart

The first big hill (big for me) was around mile 6. Thankfully I was able to get up the hill and knew that somewhere on the back of the course I would probably make up some time coming down the same hill. My cadence and speed were not very fast for the first hour. It was really a matter of me getting up the hills for the ride around the reservoir. My goal was to maintain an average speed over 14mph so that I would make the four hour cut off. After the first hour it wasn’t looking good…13mph. I settled into a rhythm on the bike and as the course flattened out in areas I was able to make up some time. There was light rain at the time and I had to stop a couple of times to wipe clear my glasses as they were getting wetter and wetter.

Around mile 20 the heavens opened. This was rain. The real stuff. Not the wet misty type that had been going on from the start. It was a slog for the next 20 or so miles as the rain continued. For someone who was nervous about riding in the rain and worried about the bike cut off this was not a good combination.

What I can commend the race organizers for is that despite the conditions out there, each turn on the course was clearly marked out or was manned by police or volunteers who stood out in the rain the whole time. For a race with such a small field it must have seemed a very arduous task and I fully appreciate all the volunteers that day.

There were two aid stations, one of which we passed twice, for a total of three stops. The first was around mile 12 just after we had climbed a big hill. I made a quick porta potty stop there (obviously I had been hydrating to this point) and grabbed some more fluids. The aid stations provided Hammer gels, Heed and water. The second stop was around mile 30 I think. When I got there the rain was heavy. The table was set up for a bottle exchange. I stopped and poured a bottle of Heed mix in with my existing bottle of Heed and moved on as there was no point in hanging around too long with the rain.

One thing that I will take away from the ride is that I am weakest on the bike. I have definitely become more comfortable in the seat but I did most of my riding either on the bike trainer or outside in an enclosed park loop with little elevation. It showed. I need to do more hill riding and get my cadence up. It’s all too easy to ride for three hours watching movies but I really need to know how to maintain a high cadence with my legs and how and when to push. I also need to learn how to properly fuel while riding. I kept to my plan on taking in an energy gel every 45 minutes but I had to pull over each time for fear of falling off the bike. I was able to maintain my drinking every 15-20 minutes just slowing down while I used a bottle.

The route along the reservoir itself was beautiful…well at least what I could make out through the rain and clouds was beautiful. There seemed to be a lot of ‘S bend’ curves as the road travelled around the reservoir and by this point we were sharing the road with cars. We had travelled down a major road (Route 213) earlier, however, there was a wide shoulder and although cars and trucks were zipping by, there was plenty of space for riding.

I played leapfrog along the bike course with a couple of other riders almost the whole way. I didn’t catch up with many people nor was I passed too often other than by participants in the full distance race on their much more expensive and faster tri bikes.

Finally, with about 15 miles to go the rain ceased and the skies cleared a little or maybe just the clouds got thinner. Either way the last 15 miles were more comfortable weather wise. My socks inside my shoes were soaked through by the rain and so I had to endure the sound of squelching for the last hour but I figured it was a small price to pay. My average speed was now over 14.5mph so I knew I would make it under the time limit and I still had a couple of large downhill rides.

The roads were still damp on the reverse trip down to the transition area but I flew down them (white knuckled). At one point I hit over 36mph. I’m not one for riding roller coasters…and this to me felt almost as freaky. I guess that’s another thing I have to get used to in training.

I finally made it back into transition with a time of 3:48:19 (official split was 3:48:58). Not great by any means but a) not last, and b) under the cut off. I now have a baseline for a 1.2 mile open water swim and a 56 mile bike ride (although my actual GPS distance was just over 55 miles).

On returning to transition after the rain I was glad to have kept my gear wrapped up in those trash liners and was extremely pleased that I had packed a second pair of socks. My feet were soaked through and I pretty much had to repeat almost the same transition that I had after the swim (minus the wetsuit). Dry off, talc on feet and the struggle back into the Injinji socks!!! Time in second transition was 6:01. Slow but typically it would just be changing shoes and swapping my helmet for a visor. I took the opportunity to take another  energy gel before heading out on the run.

I’ve done many brick work outs in training (bike to run transition) but never after a 56 mile ride nor anything longer than a 30 minute run. This was going to be interesting.

As I headed out to start the run the ground was more soaked than before. As I ran up the hill to the first aid station I was told that the ‘bat cave’ was wet and to be careful. That was an understatement. I hadn’t even reached the cave yet and I was already having to be careful with my footing. The trail was soggy and puddle filled. In fact there were a couple of places early on where I had to walk for fear of slipping in the mud. I didn’t expect to run my normal pace for the half marathon (my PR is 1:51) but I also didn’t expect my first mile split to be 11.36min/mile.

When I had walked the course the previous day I wasn’t wearing sunglasses so when I got to the cave I could kind of see my way through with the little daylight that was streaming through the entrance and exit. I was also walking. Today I was running and wearing sunglasses. BIG difference. Once I hit the cave I could barely see. I decided to take the higher ground on the left of the cave on the assumption that it might be drier as the water would flow down to the lower side. What I didn’t know about or see was that there were rocks on that side. I tripped…twice. While I didn’t wipe out I was a little shaken and pretty much ended up walking through the cave rather than run (hence the slow 1st mile).

Once out the cave I was back in the daylight and it was then just the double out and back to run. The ground was still soaked, soft, slippy and puddled in many places. My nice clean shoes didn’t stay that way for very long. I stepped in a few places where I went down into muddy water to the tops of my shoes. I had been glad I had some dry socks on to start with but they were soon beginning to get damp from the ground below.

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The run was a double out and back.

I passed the first aid station again (I would see it two more times) and the folks manning the table were very cheery and supportive. Each aid station stocked water, Heed, flat Coke, chips, orange slices, candy and cookies. At first I drank only water and Heed at each station (there were another two out on the course) but as it was getting hotter and I was beginning to feel more tired so I started to dunk a cup of cold water over my head at each station too.

I passed Bob on my way out the first time. He had a much stronger ride than me and was at least 30 minutes ahead of me. Just before the third aid station we ran across the Rosendale Trestle Bridge. If you are scared of heights you may want to rethink this race. The bridge was wide, sturdy and safe but quite a way up.

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Rosendale Trestle Bridge (picture from the HITS Facebook page)


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An aerial shot of the bridge on a much sunnier day

It was a spectacular setting and the benefit of running mostly in the shade kept temperatures down. It wasn’t the sunniest of afternoons as there was still a lot of cloud cover but it did feel cooler in the shade.

The turnaround was about a mile past the bridge and at that point I was taking my time negotiating points on the trail that were like mud rivers. Nevertheless it was a keep moving forward mentality. By this stage I had been on the go for over 5 hours and counting.

On my way back to the first aid station (and turnaround for the second leg) I took another energy gel to give myself a boost. I needed something at that point. At the aid station one of the volunteers suggested I take in some flat Coke. I had heard that ultra runners used this as a quick sugar energy boost and as I had just taken a gel I decided to pass this time around but as I progressed on my second out and back I decided to try something new (yeah…during a race…smart!). Luckily I had no bad reaction to ingesting the flat Coke. I haven’t had any soda since quitting last August so this was a bit weird. I had sworn off soda and now I couldn’t get enough… I was still pouring water over my head at each aid station but I was now substituting the Coke for the Heed just to keep me going.

It was at this point that I started playing the math game. I had no goal time other than to finish somewhere between 7-7.5 hours and I knew that my bike leg would eat up a great deal of that time. I was now looking at my Garmin every few minutes to see how much distance and time was left. I had seen Bob on the second out and back as I was going out and he was coming back. I figured he would be done before I reached the turnaround for the second time.

As I rounded the turnaround for the last time I began to realize that I had just under 5 miles to go. I could do this. I was going to do this. Having once run 39.3 miles in 7 hours I knew I had the endurance, but that was straight running and now I was beginning to feel a soreness in my left quad and hamstring from the bike. Everything else felt good other than tired and achy shoulders. I just put one foot in front of the other, walked around the muddy parts and powered on until I saw the first aid station for the final time.

Once I hit the aid station it was just a small up and down hill to the finish line.  This was not a fast half marathon for me by any means but I was going to be under 2:20 and that meant I would be under 7:20 total time. I just had to make it another half mile to the finish.

Rounding the corner to the finish I could see Bob standing by the finish line and he had his camera out taking photos of me coming in. I ran up and gave him a fist bump and turned towards the finish line where to my surprise my Wife’s Aunt had driven down with her family from Albany (about an hour north) to meet me at the finish line. What a wonderful gesture. Totally unexpected. I got so excited I jumped high in the air as I crossed the finish line. Having family and friends meet me at the finish really lifted my spirits and took away any tiredness I was feeling.

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Bob took this photo of me running into the finish


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Woohoo….70.3 DONE!!! (Thanks for the photo Francine)


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Hey, I know you!


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Let me stop my Garmin so I can give you a High Five

I arrived during the awards ceremony so, as had been my luck all through the event, I missed having a photo taken by the official photographer. Luckily, between Bob and his wife Francine and my family I was able to get some photos at the finish line. A volunteer handed me my medal and a bottle of water and I stopped to catch my breath and take some finish line photos with everyone.

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Nice to have a family meet me at the finish (Thank you Nadine, Steve and Benjamin)


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Bob and I. He looks a little more rested than me.


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Bob making sure I saved my multisport event file.


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YES!!!

My official finish time was 7 hours 15 minutes. Not great…but not last. I did my first half iron distance triathlon and finished smiling. That’s enough for me. Will I do another 70.3? Probably, but I’m going to enjoy this one for a long time.

I said goodbye to Bob who had been waiting to see me finish and went over to transition to pack up my gear. My family wanted to take me to lunch (a late lunch) before I had to drive home. There wasn’t much food left by the time I had finished. I was told they were going to order more food (pizza) within the hour for the final finishers and for the full distance finishers. I decided that I would be better off having a full meal to refuel.

So much for my fancy shoes...

So much for my fancy shoes…


...and fancy socks. Just a little muddy

…and fancy socks. Just a little muddy

In transition I used the changing tents to put on some dry clothes. Those trash bags came in handy as I threw all my wet gear and towels into them to carry to the car. Before I left transition I sat down and took it all in. I had just finished my first 70.3. It was a different feeling than finishing my first marathon. That was a runners high which lasted days. This was more a mix of joy and relief. I tried to explain to someone a couple of days later that sometimes when I run I can zone out and just get into a rhythm until I am near the finish line. With the triathlon it’s a matter of focus, concentration and technique. You cannot really zone out doing a triathlon. You’ll drown or crash!!! I’m pleased to say I did neither.

I quickly called my parents in the UK to let them know I was done. I’m 44 and I still call my mother to let her know I’m okay 🙂

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Once I was dressed, the car packed and the bike racked we headed to Kingston where we had a late lunch/early dinner at an Irish pub. Those were the best fish and chips I’d had all day! I drank lots of water to rehydrate and a few cups of coffee to keep me awake before I said goodbye to the family and headed for my three-hour drive home…with a HUGE smile on my face.

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The guy on the left in 2010 has just finished a half iron distance traithlon in 2016

I really enjoyed the event. HITS put on a professional, supportive and friendly event. For anyone dipping their toes into longer distance triathlons I would recommend one of their events. Their communication was responsive in the weeks leading up to the event, the staff were friendly the whole weekend and it was just a relaxed informal atmosphere the whole weekend. They took care of the athletes and it was good value for money compared to some of the other big race organizations out there. Check out their events list.

Oh, by the time I got to the finish line the merchandise tent was being taken down. I wasn’t able to get a finisher shirt that I had spoken to the supplier about the day before. I was waiting until after so not to jinx myself.  The owner gave me his card and told me to call him the following week and he would customize any shirts that I wanted and ship them to me. Pricing was very reasonable so I followed up and ordered a customized long sleeve and short sleeve ‘70.3 Finisher’ shirt. Nice.

That night I had a pretty good long deep sleep.

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Something like this. Even my kids let me sleep in.

In my inbox the next day was this message from my training plan. I didn’t need telling twice 🙂

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Thank you for sticking with me for this (longer than normal) race recap. At least this took you less than 7 hours to read.

March 2016 – Month in review

March

Nike+ Summary – March 2016

My total mileage for the month was 200 miles. Although my Nike+ summary says 150.5 there seems to be an error in the site 😦 as the total running actually adds up to 163. I managed to knock out 1.6 miles from the limited time I spent in the pool this month and I put down 36 miles on the bike (unfortunately indoors on the bike trainer only).

This was a big month for marathon training for the upcoming New Jersey Marathon on May 1st. Although I still have one long run left in April before the taper, March saw me crank out three long runs of 17, 18 and 20 miles. I’ve managed to wear down two pairs of shoes so I’m getting ready to break in the new shoes for the marathon soon, taking my last two pairs of Brooks Adrenaline GTS 15‘s out. Post marathon I’ll be looking to do some more runs in the Altra Provision 2.0s and looking to move up to the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 16’s. The Brooks has really been my ‘Go To Shoe’ (GTS) since I started running marathons back in 2011.

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Breaking out the last pairs of Brooks Adrenaline GTS 15’s to break in for the marathon.

At the beginning of the month we found out the results of the New York City Marathon lottery. My wife was accepted but for me it’s another year with no entry. I actually had signed up for the Princeton Half Marathon on the same day prior to entering the lottery but now that my wife is running I will forego the race so I get a chance to travel, support and cheer for her on race day. I’m looking forward to going and I’m planning how I can crisscross the subway system to see her as many times as possible. I will probably look at the lottery again for another year.

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Maybe next year.

With not getting into New York City this year I looked to a Fall race that my wife and I had discussed as a backup plan. We are now going to be heading to Albany, NY in October to run the Mohawk Hudson River Marathon. My wife will be running the half marathon that day as it fits nicely into her training plan for New York City. We have family up there so are planning to take the boys and making a weekend out of it.

With my calendar now all confirmed for the year (plus signing up again for the 2016 Philadelphia Marathon when registration opened up on April 1st) I was able to update my training plan for the year. You can follow the link to my insanity here.

This month I finally got fitted and took ownership of my new road bike for the upcoming HITS Hudson Valley Triathlon this July. The folks over at Guy’s Bicycles near me were really helpful in finding the right bike for me for the right needs and at the right price I could afford, a 2015 model Scott CR-1 30. They took time to explain the different options available and they fitted me for my specifications on the bike swapping out any components that needed to be adjusted to fit me just right. I’m looking forward to getting outdoors on this once the weather improves and I have enough early morning daylight hours to ride outside before work.

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The fitting process included adjusting the seat height, angle of the seat post/saddle and the reach over the frame. They did replace the saddle….

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See? I did leave with a saddle.

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Ready to roll. Yes, my license plate does say 007.

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Back home and ready to ride.

Mid month I had to take a trip down to McLean, VA to do some work out one of our offices. It was an opportunity to run outside again as it was a little warmer down there. The office is on a very large corporate campus near Tysons Corner, VA and my hotel was right next door. I planned out my routes and each and every day and still I got completely lost. It was only the sight of my office building (beautifully lit from the outside) that I was able to locate my hotel each day. Headlamp running does have its drawbacks, especially for the geographically challenged.

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This was my guiding light home every morning. Easy to spot and much more impressive when seen for real.

Also this month I ran the Philadelphia Phillies Charities 5K with my wife. She has run the event every year since it began and this was a first time run for me. It was a chilly morning but it was a fantastic run. We ran together and hit a pretty good pace. The swag from the race was impressive with each of us getting a shirt, a medal and two tickets each for a pre-season game, one of which we were able to swap for a later game in the season. We also got a chance to get onto the field to take a few pictures after the race. We earned our pretzel that day.

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Pre race. Trying to keep warm and wearing as much red clothing as I could manage. Go Phillies.

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Medal, schmedal. I got a pretzel!!

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Happy with our pace. We ran step for step together.

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And finished with a fun photo opp.

I got a package late in the month from my buddy, fellow Mickey Miler and host of The Marathon Show, Eddie McCoy. In addition to all his training, work, life and other activities he has managed to plan for and provide team shirts and jerseys for our running team the Mickey Milers. Looking forward to wearing my new long sleeve jersey (although hoping for warmer weather to so I don’t have to wear it too often).

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Hmmm….wonder what this is?

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Yup. They got that right. Mickey Milers purple and yellow.

Earlier in the month I was invited to participate in a recording of the ‘Let’s Run Disney’ podcast to discuss my ‘Goofy in a Day’ experience from last May. The podcast was released at the end of the month and you can get to the link from here. It was fun to talk about the experience and it was nice to be a part of the show.

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Thanks for taking the time to read my month in review. I appreciate you stopping by each month. March was very busy but there is plenty to look forward to this year with the upcoming New Jersey Marathon coming sooner than later.

As a reminder, I will be participating in the HITS Hudson Valley Triathlon this July and raising funds for Autism Speaks through this event. If you would like to sponsor me you can get to the sponsorship page here. I appreciate your support.

Autism Speaks

February 2016 – Month in review

February 2016 – Nike+ Summary

February 2016 – Nike+ Summary

My Nike + Summary shows 127 miles for the month. There was still no cycling this month but I got 2 miles done in the pool.

I did, however, go to my local bike store (Guy’s Bicycles) to meet with the owner regarding a new road bike for my upcoming half iron distance triathlon this summer. I had briefly spoken to him during the annual Bucks County Triathlon Club get together at the start of the month and subsequently set up an appointment with him. I think I’ve chosen the best bike based upon his recommendations and what I can afford and will be waiting for the weather to get warmer to go out for a full test ride. The bike has been built and we are just waiting on the weather. Very exciting.

As per last month, month of the training was done indoors on the treadmill. I’ve certainly got more use out of my home treadmill this month than I have since we got it last May. I just have to get up extra early now so I can coordinate with my wife who typically uses it mostly during weekdays before work while I run outside. I’ll be happy to be outside again so I get to sleep in a little longer and we can both start at the same time.

During the month I finally ran in my first Bucks County Road Runners ‘Winter Series’ race. I have been a member of the running club since 2011 and never had the chance to run in a Winter Series event. My wife has done a few of these but I was always training for a Disney race and the distances and timing/logistics with family never worked out. Our friend is the Race Director this season and our boys happened to have a sleep over that weekend so both my wife and I were able to run together in the ‘Eenie-Meanie-Minie-Moe’ Half Marathon in Tyler State Park.

I have run many miles in that park and the course still took me somewhere I had never been. Somewhere new to include in the course rotations going forward. It was fun. They had a great number of runners and people could choose a series of different distances (based upon the number of loops run). We did the half marathon distance which was the most available on the day. It fit nicely into our New Jersey Marathon training. There was a great post race gathering which apparently happens every week during these races. There is a fire pit, coffee and hot chocolate and all the food you can think off. I took my share of the oatmeal raisin cookies and the (really good) hot chocolate with me as we had to head out to pick up the boys.

Running the 'Eenie-Meanie-Minie-Moe' Half Marathon

Running the ‘Eenie-Meanie-Minie-Moe’ Half Marathon

Also this month we entered the lottery for the TCS New York City Marathon. It is the 40th anniversary race this year and sure to be something special in addition to being one of the world majors and a bucket list race. My wife and I both tried for the lottery in 2014 and didn’t get in. This year we both entered again and committed that whoever gets in will run regardless of whether the other doesn’t (spoiler alert – the drawing took place on Tuesday March 8th. My wife got in, I didn’t).

At the end of the month I launched my fundraising page for Autism Speaks. I’ve run for Autism Speaks for the last few years at the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend. This year I will be raising funds for them through participating in the HITS Hudson Valley Triathlon this July (the name changed from the Kingston, NY to Hudson Valley, NY this month with a slight course change). I am hoping to raise at least $1,000 this year. You can reach my fundraising page here and read about my fundraising here.

Thanks for reading. Looking forward to more outdoor than indoor running as we move headlong towards Spring.

Autism Speaks

 

 

 

December 2015 – Month and Year in review

December is over and a new year has begun. Time to take a look back at the month, the year and look forward to what 2016 has in store.

Dcember 2015 – Nike+ Summary

December 2015 – Nike+ Summary

For the month of December I ran 128 miles, swam 1.3 miles and cycled 39 miles. This is nothing compared to the 1,150 each way journey I embarked on from my home to visit my parents in Florida. Interesting journey…just pleased (and relieved) that my 9 and 5 year old passengers were awesome the whole way down.

2015 – Nike+ Summary

2015 – Nike+ Summary

All in all for the year I ran less but still racked up mileage by introducing swimming and biking as I started my triathlon career. A total of 1,964 miles for the year. 1,576 running, 366 cycling and 22 swimming. No wonder I am so tired.

Our ride to Florida. The kids were in the back, not on top (as tempting as it may seem).

Our ride to Florida. The kids were in the back, not on top (as tempting as it may seem).

See...they're in the back. This is outside a Dunkin' Donuts at 5am. #roadtrip

See…they’re in the back. This is outside a Dunkin’ Donuts at 5am. #roadtrip

After two days of travel we were glad to reach our destination

After two days of travel we were glad to reach our destination

Before I revisit the year I’ll take a quick look back for the month of December.

With such a mild December I was able to still run outside for the most part, even when I visited Atlanta, GA for business (although it was cooler there than I had expected). It was just a matter of avoiding the rain. More often than not I was outside. When I got to Florida, the weather was glorious. Very hot and humid so that slowed my pace a little but I was fortunate to have my parents look after our boys so that my wife and I could get out almost everyday for mid to long runs. It worked out great.

Nice to have a chance to run together

Nice to have a chance to run together

While we were down in Florida we signed up for a the local Bradenton Running Club’s Annual Manatee River 5 Mile Run. We even signed the boys up for the kids races. It was a hot day and not much shade but it was a good day to be out there. I also met up with my fellow Mickey Miler team-mate Robert.

Ready to run

Ready to run

Running family

Running family

Discussing race strategy

Discussing race strategy

With a fellow Mickey Miler and a junior one

With a fellow Mickey Miler and a junior one

Reward for his 200 meter run

Reward for his 200 meter run

Making it look easy

Making it look easy in the 400 meters

Beautiful location at the Emerson Point Nature Reserve in Palmetto, Florida

Beautiful location at the Emerson Point Nature Preserve in Palmetto, Florida

Being out-sprinted by my wife

Being out-sprinted by my wife

Determination

Determination

A great end to a fun year. Lots of family time and a great chance to get out and run a lot. We did eat a lot of ice cream on vacation so the running was badly needed!!

2015 – Looking Back

It was a very busy year. My wife and I ran 3 marathons together and I ran 4 in total. This included us running for Autism Speaks while we ran the Goofy Challenge at Walt Disney World back in January. We ran the Pittsburgh Marathon together in May and the Marine Corps Marathon together in October. I ran the Philadelphia Marathon in November as well as a few half marathons during the year. Happy to be able to compete and even better for being able to run with my wife for most of these events.

In May I ran my first unofficial ‘ultra-marathon‘ (any run longer than 26.2 miles is considered an ‘ultra’) for the charity ‘Give Kids The World‘. I ran 39.3 miles in one day (the equivalent of the Goofy Challenge – a half marathon followed by a full marathon but all in one day). This charity is supported my my running team, the Mickey Milers and through this event I was able to raise $1,250 for this cause.

This was also the year I ventured into triathlons. I attempted (weather shortened) my first triathlon back at the New Jersey State Triathlon back in July. I was able to finally complete my goal of a sprint triathlon at Medford Lakes, NJ and then added a final sprint event before the end of my triathlon season in Hightstown, NJ so I could concentrate on my Fall marathon schedule.

It was a year of accomplishments for me and I’m grateful I was able to complete these events and remain relatively injury free.

2016 – Looking Forward

While my running schedule isn’t set for the full year, I am signed up for a couple of big events. First, my wife and I are signed up to run the New Jersey Marathon on May 1st. I’ve run this event twice before and this is still my marathon PR race. We also entered ourselves for the New York City Marathon in November. We will not find out about whether we get in until March so I’m looking at other races in the Fall just in case although I haven’t committed to any yet. Of course, I will be signing up for the Philadelphia Marathon as long as I am around that time of year.

The big event for me this year is that I will be participating in my very first Half Iron distance triathlon (70.3 miles) in Kingston NY in July. This is quite a step up from the sprint triathlons I did in 2015. I hope to be in good shape and ready when the time comes. Looking forward to it very much.

My other goal this year is to work on speed (and stay injury free). I’m looking for a fairly local goal race in the Fall (maybe before New York if we get in) to see if I can get to that 3:45 marathon time goal I seek. We shall see.

Thank you for sticking with me for the last few years as I have been writing this blog. I hope that I have lots of good stories to share in 2016 (and beyond).

Wishing you all success in all your endeavors this year. Happy New Year.

 

May 2015 – Month in review

May - Nike+ Sumary

May – Nike+ Summary

142 miles during May. As you look at my monthly stats you will notice that there were a lot of rest days but that’s not the whole story. It’s been a busy month.

At the beginning of May my wife and I ran the 2015 Pittsburgh Marathon. We had been looking forward to this race weekend for a long time (we had signed up last September) and we included a family trip as part of our race weekend. It was a lot of fun. The race was great and we had a good time showing the boys around my wife’s alma mater (University of Pittsburgh).

2015 Pittsburgh Marathon

2015 Pittsburgh Marathon

After some recovery from the race and the trip I rested up a little more than normal as I undertook my first (unofficial) ultra-marathon where I ran ‘Goofy in a Day’ for the charity organization ‘Give Kids The World’. This was effectively the two days we ran at Disney rolled into one day and was the distance of the half marathon and the full marathon combined. It was a great experience and I was fortunate to have a couple of folks separately run about 12 miles with me. This definitely helped get over some of the tougher miles. My fellow Mickey Miler team-mate Tammy drove up and ran 9 miles with me which took me over the 20 mile mark and marathon distance and then a I co-opted a colleague who was running to join me and pace me for a few miles when I was into the 30s.

Goofy In A Day

Goofy In A Day

Goofy In A Day

Goofy In A Day

I was astonished at my actual time/pace for the day. I’m not sure I would rush to undertake such a challenge again too soon but ultimately I raised $1,500 for ‘Give Kids The World’ and brought my fundraising through running total to $13,000 over the last few years for both Autism Speaks and Give Kids The World. I’m quite proud of that fact.

I am a brand ambassador INKnBURN apparel and on May 4th this year they offered a secret product that you had to sign up for sight unseen. The hint was that it was May 4th (when people celebrate Star Wars day) so I threw caution to the wind and purchased this mystery item and waited for my package to arrive. When it did it was “O.M.G!!!!!! I’m hyper(space) ventilating”. It was a full sleeve Boba Fett t-shirt!!! Although my wife thinks I said I was bald and fat…and she calls me a Trekkie. I still love her though. I also love my INKnBURN. So proud to be an ambassador.

Boba Fett

My INKnBURN Boba Fett shirt

Now, getting back to that 142 mile image up at the top, since I started this blog I have always used the Nike+ image to start each monthly review. With the Pittsburgh Marathon over and the Goofy in a Day done I am now able to concentrate on my summer goal of completing my first triathlon (New Jersey State Triathlon). Some of my running days are now being replaced or supplemented with biking and swimming. Swimming is where I need to most work so I am trying to concentrate on that skill set the most for the time being. In regards to biking, I typically only get out during the summer months and then only at weekends. Well, we managed to rectify this situation this month by setting up a gym at home.

Both my wife and I have long commutes to and from our places of work and with the activities for the kids it is getting harder and harder to get to the gym before or after work. As both of us are training for the Marine Corps Marathon this October we are both needing to get our miles in at the same time. Typically I go out in the dark with a headlamp before dawn but I didn’t want my wife to be outside at those hours so we finally purchased a treadmill for the home (a NordicTrack Commercial 1750) so she can run inside when I run outside in the early morning hours. We also now have the flexibility to jump on the treadmill when the boys are in bed or when one of us is travelling for business and the other has to stay home with the boys.

A trip to the Home Depot was required

A trip to the Home Depot was required to set up the base for each machine

The end result - our private workout space

The end result – our private workout space

So as I cleared out my office to make way for the new machine (we figure after 17 marathons combined it is more than a fad) I decided to also set up a bike trainer so I could get some bicycle time in during the week. So far so good. Together this has allowed me to do a couple of brick workouts (bike to treadmill) in preparation for the triathlon in July. I’m also getting to the gym early enough to get around 30 minutes of swimming in a few times a week. I’m getting there…slowly, but still I can see some improvement. So now I cannot use the Nike app alone to recap the month. I use Garmin Connect to give me the ability to record all activities so its not just 142 miles this month but 171 miles. Again, pleased with this although I’m finding muscle groups I never thought I had. I am sure my body will get used to it. I hope so!!!

Garmin Connect - May 2015

Garmin Connect – May 2015

Garmin Connect - May 2015 detail

Garmin Connect – May 2015 detail

This Memorial Weekend we celebrated our 12th wedding anniversary. We had a great family weekend together with the boys at Sesame Place and we also took them to Philadelphia for a day at the Franklin Institute and tosee the Lion King before I had to jet off again to Arizona for business.

Celebrating at Sesame Place

Celebrating at Sesame Place

Enjoying the Lion King touring production in Philadelphia

Enjoying the Lion King touring production in Philadelphia

While in Arizona I took advantage of the unseasonably cool (for Arizona) temperatures and enjoyed some time exploring the area through running from my resort. It was a busy week with many hours sitting on planes and in airports but looking back it was a good trip that yielded some good work.

Taking in some of the sites

Taking in some of the sites

Exploring new areas to run

Exploring new areas to run

So May was a pretty busy month by both running, racing, home and business activities but was rewarding all around.

Thank you 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 🙂