January and February 2017 – Two months in review

Life has been a little busy, all good though. I’m only just getting around to catching up so this will be a quick recap of both January and February together.

Here is my Garmin and Nike data for January.

Garmin Connect – January 2017

Over 201 miles this month – 178 miles running with a couple of days cross training (Swimming – 1.66 miles and Biking – 21.85 miles). Notice January 7th with the snow shoveling activity that got added!!!!

Nike just records my running total. This is the result of training for a marathon during the winter.

Nike + Summary – January 2017

I was happy to wake up early on January 1st and knock out a 15 mile run while the streets were quiet. Best running day of the year (provided you are dressed for the weather). We have had a fairly warm winter although I did have to take a few long runs on the treadmill due to juggling some parent handling duties and extra early morning runs. Still, I was able to keep myself occupied with numerous episodes of Star Trek – The Next Generation.

My wife and I were still able to get outdoors together thanks to the mild weather. This made winter marathon training much more fun – especially when we were able to get our long runs in together while the boys were in school on Sunday mornings.

Here we are running along the Delaware Canal Towpath

 

Crossing the Delaware River at Washington Crossing. A little colder but still a great morning.

Here are my Garmin stats for February.

Garmin Connect – February 2017

You will notice another day of snow shoveling on February 9th. To have only 2 days of major shoveling in two months is great and welcome relief for my lower back! No swimming this month but total miles of 166 miles for the month made up of almost 141 miles of running and 25.5 miles of riding (indoors). As you can see we knocked out the last of our long runs mid month and very happily enjoyed the start to our taper.

Nike + Summary – February 2017

February weather was incredible. I got to run my last 20 mile run outdoors in t-shirt and shorts….in February!!!!!!

Incredible weather for mid-February. So lucky.

For Valentine’s Day this year my wife decided to sign me up for a couple’s class at the Orange Theory Fitness gym she attends regularly. Boy, was I not prepared for that. I did hold my own but I’m not used to doing squats holding medicine balls or doing multiple rounds of burpees (they are not a nice thing!). I was very happy to have survived and enjoyed our sushi dinner at the restaurant next door post workout. With an extra helping of green tea ice cream.

My one, and to date only, Orange Theory Fitness class report

I had to skip my running for a couple of days after this as my quads were beaten up from the squats and burpees but I guess it was good for me.

February also brought about registration for the 2018 Walt Disney World Marathon weekend. Usually registration opens up in April but it seems to be getting earlier and earlier. My wife and I haven’t done a runDisney race since we did the Goofy Challenge back in 2015. This was the 25th Anniversary Walt Disney World Marathon and that it would be a special race (we had run the 20th Anniversary race back in 2013, my wife’s first marathon). We would also be timing this to be my wife’s ’10th’ marathon and my ’20th’ marathon. Big goals. To add into the mix we decided to register for the Goofy Challenge again. This is really such a fun race and this will be her 2nd Goofy and my 4th (if you include the Goofy distance that I ran as part of the 2014 Dopey Challenge). Our boys are signed up for the ‘Mickey Mile’ too that weekend. Lots to look forward to in 2018.

It should be a very special race again

Ready for a redo of our Goofy fun. Costume ideas are being planned.

Looking forward to another Goofy Challenge together

But firstly in March we have the upcoming Rock ‘n’ Roll D.C. Marathon and then I will be back in triathlon training mode. It will be a busy year.

October 2016 – Month in review

October was a fun but busy month. It involved a number of days of business travel for both my wife and myself but also a marathon and continued training.

October 2016 - Nike+ Summary

October 2016 – Nike+ Summary

My total mileage for the month was 132 miles. All running, as you can also see from the Garmin summary below, there was no swimming or biking this month. There were a number of rest days this month as I tapered towards and rested after the Mohawk Hudson River Marathon that I ran in the early part of the month.

October 2016 - Garmin Connect Summary

October 2016 – Garmin Connect Summary

After the marathon I was into my back to back plan. There are six weeks between running the Mohawk Hudson race and the running the Rocky Challenge at this years Philadelphia Marathon weekend. The challenge is to run the half marathon on the Saturday and the full marathon on the Sunday. Although I have done this three times already at Disney (Goofy Challenge 2013, Dopey Challenge 2014 and Goofy Challenge 2015) this still takes a lot of effort and is not to be taken lightly.

I am using Hal Higdon’s multiple marathon plan which I have used successfully in the past. It is a 6 week program divided into 2 weeks of recovery, 2 weeks of training and 2 weeks of taper. I have been making sure that the days before the long run are at least half the miles I will be running for my long run in order to simulate race weekend fatigue on my body.

With all that mileage I am lucky that I have something to absorb the calories from another Halloween. I enjoy this holiday as I get to dress up with my kids and go trick or treating. I never had this growing up in the UK so I really go all in here in the US, decorating the house and for the last few years coordinating costumes with the boys. This year however, my eldest decided he wanted a scary costume and I was not allowed to coordinate with him. I was free to choose what I wanted.

I chose to be Captain Kirk as it was just after the 50th anniversary of Star Trek. I revealed my costume the week before Halloween to my kids, only for my wife to tell my youngest that Daddy was a ‘Wiggle’! What???? Thanks Honey 😦

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Ready to Boldly Go

This was not the look I was going for

This was not the look I was going for

Either way, I had the last laugh when it came to Halloween. I dressed up and went out with the boys. I wasn’t collecting candy (although I did hold the bag for my youngest…and saw to it that he wasn’t overstocked with Kit Kat’s) but I reached house who insisted I look at their license plate on their car and then gave me my own candy. Score!!!

Ready to beam up

Ready to beam up

Appropriately, I got candy from this house

Appropriately, I got candy from this house

I hope you had a good October. It was fun for me. I’m looking forward to November and returning to my local race, the Philadelphia Marathon and to cheering on my wife in the 2016 TCS New York City Marathon at the beginning of the month.

Thank you for reading.

 

2015 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend – Part 2 – Half Marathon – January 10, 2015

2015 Walt Disney World Half Marathon

2015 Walt Disney World Half Marathon

Having set no less than 3 separate alarms for 2:00am it was time to get up. With all four of us running the half marathon (me, my wife, my sister-in-law Rina and her husband Mike) we had made arrangements for a babysitting service (“Kids Night Out“) to be at our hotel room by 3:00am to look after the boys while we were gone. I was up and dressed and sat down to wait for everyone. It was hard not to doze off but I managed to keep it together. I didn’t have such a good nights sleep for some reason. Not nerves but just my head was pretty active with stuff.

These feet were waiting patiently for everyone else to be up and ready

These feet were waiting patiently for everyone else to be up and ready

Just before 3:00am there was a knock at the door and it was the babysitter. Shari and I chatted with her for a few minutes and we peeked in at the boys who at this stage were lying either on top or across each other without noticing. We left our details with her and set off to wait for the rest of our party. The temperatures were calling for mid 40s rising up to the 50s but we knew getting there early (as required by the race instructions) we would be standing around for quite a while. We were all pretty much bundled up as we headed to the race start at EPCOT.

Waiting for our running party to join us in the hotel

Waiting for our running party to join us in the hotel

As we arrived at EPCOT (remembering to take a photo of the car lane number in which we parked) we headed through the security checkpoint and into the pre-race area. Shari and I briefly stopped by the Team Up – Autism Speaks booth to say a quick hello to Phillip and then headed in to the meet up area for the Mickey Milers.

On our way into the meet up area

On our way into the meet up area

The meet up was scheduled for 4:00am with a group photo at 4:15am. We were catching up and meeting some fellow Mickey Milers for the first time and it was a good way to relax. It was chilly and almost everyone was wrapped up against the cold. Shari was already in her plastic trash bag with a bath towel wrapped around her to keep her warm. I was wearing my throw away jacket and gloves. It was great to chat with everyone. If you’ve never been a part of a team or running community (either locally or online) it is such a great experience. It was great to meet everyone. Most were wearing their easily recognizable team shirts (underneath all the warm gear) and it was easy to spot fellow runners over the next two days either on the course or cheering from the sidelines.

Mickey Milers meet up before the half marathon

Mickey Milers meet up before the half marathon

Shari, Rina and Mike were also chatting with people and trying their best to stay warm. One of the best things about these races is that even through we get there so early and stand around until they call us to the corrals people are friendly and approachable and you can always strike up a nice conversation.

Doing our best to stay warm

Doing our best to stay warm

So after wishing everyone good luck we headed to bag check and through to the corrals. Shari and I went through ‘S’ back check, Rina through ‘G’ as she registered way back before the wedding and Mike in ‘E’. Eventually meeting up on the other side we made the long walk to the corrals. Shari and I were starting together in Corral F and Rina and Mike were starting together a few corrals back. We said our goodbyes and good lucks as the corrals split in different directions and headed to the start. We got there just in time for the National Anthem so we knew we had about 5 minutes to the race start and probably another 10-15 before our corral was to get the countdown to go.

Heading to the corrals

Heading to the corrals

I’d made the decision (which turned out very wise) to check my throw away jacket so I had something warm to wear after the race and just grabbed my runDisney space blanket from a prior year. I’ll talk about that later.

Donald Duck came up on the stage and gave the countdown to start the race and off went the fireworks. I love that. Gets me every time. We waited as our corral got closer and closer to the start and then I ditched my space blanket, kissed Shari good luck and with race announcer Rudy Novotny calling us “Corral F – the fun corral” and calling us at with our Team Up gear we crossed the start line and we were on our way, only 39.3 miles to go. First we had to get through today’s 13.1 miles.

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Approaching the start line

There go the fireworks

There go the fireworks

As this was our first Goofy together we decided to be a little strategic with our photo stops knowing that we would see some of the same characters the next day. Depending upon the lines as we approached (and also whether we recognized some characters on sight) we felt okay skipping some today to catch them tomorrow. As we approached the first stop, Captain Jack Sparrow, we decided to skip. Shari at this point had been wearing her trash bag and was just beginning to warm up. She was running along like an inflated balloon with the bag willowing behind her and decided she was warm enough to ditch it before the first photo stop. She promptly discarded her bag…right in front of me (thanks Babe) and having seen the line for the Pirates we moved past and headed towards the Magic Kingdom knowing we would probably spend most of our pictures stops there.

This is one of my favorite photos each year along with the castle shot

This is one of my favorite photos each year along with the castle shot later on the course

As we made it through the turnstiles to the Magic Kingdom (free this time…although it has risen to $17 this year for cars!!!) we headed towards the TTC (Ticket and Transportation Center). As we passed by the back of the Speedway there was a new character stop this year. ‘Wreck it Ralph’ and ‘Penelope Von Schweetz’ were together. We stopped for a quick photo which didn’t come out in the light. We made a note to make sure we got back there tomorrow. We then headed further up and saw Jack Skellington and Sally. ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’ is one of our boys favorite movies and we pretty much know this story by heart after watching it and listening to the soundtrack so many times so that was a must do today.

What's this?

What’s this?

At the TTC we saw the first of the big cheering sections. Plenty of folks out there cheering everyone on. This is also a great place for a bathroom break as there are real bathrooms, not port-a-potties, and they are heated, which was great for this morning. It was still a little chilly out. From there we run under Bay Lake and past the Contemporary Resort and get our first long distance view of Cinderella’s Castle. We run around the back of Space Mountain and take a path backstage before arriving on Main Street USA in the Magic Kingdom. As you may know from my previous write ups for the 2013 and 2014 Marathon Weekends I absolutely love running up Main Street. It is for me the most special part of the race. The street is all lit up and there are cheer sections all along the route. You run with a direct view of the Castle all aglow with thousands of little lights. Breathtaking. It was starting to get a little light at this time (we had spent some time lining up for pictures already) but we still got the full effect.

Just breathtaking

Just breathtaking

Me and the little lady in our happy place

Me and the little lady in our happy place

The route of the half marathon (similar to tomorrow’s marathon) takes us up Main Street USA to the hub where we then turn right into Tomorrowland (another good place for a bathroom break if needed!!) and then into Fantasyland. We made the decision to spend most of our photo stops in the parks. Neither of us had any concerns about timing at this point as we knew we could pick up the pace on the second half of the course and our corral was far ahead of the balloon ladies. Let’s just say that we had a couple of 18-20 minute miles in the first half of the race.

Running across the bridge into Tomorrowland

Running across the bridge into Tomorrowland

In Tomorrowland the line for Buzz Lightyear was too long for us to stop so we headed over into Fantasyland where we saw the Red Queen from Alice in Wonderland. If you haven’t noticed by now, when I run with Shari we tend to have a very good time.

Off with his head!!!

Off with his head!!!

As we rounded Fantasyland we came across one of the characters we didn’t recognized by name. I knew him as the mime from ‘Tangled’ but as we didn’t know his name as we approached we didn’t stop. His name is ‘Ulf’ by the way. Usually during the half Donald and Daisy are situated by the castle but as there are improvements being made to Cinderella’s Royal Table there was no where for them to be. They did have Elsa, Anna and Kristoff on the balcony above the tunnel through the castle. I’m sure that if they had been available for a photo opportunity the lines would have been insane. We did a little goofing around (no surprises there) while in Fantasyland. Neither of us was able to pull the sword from the stone.

I'm sure she would have been worthy

I’m sure she would have been worthy

My excuse? Well, puny arms I guess ;-)

My excuse? Well, puny arms I guess 😉

With the Frozen characters on the balcony behind

With the Frozen characters on the balcony of the castle behind us

From Fantasyland we get to experience running through the castle. Always a great spectacle (if not a little crowded). We stopped for our picture in front of the castle before heading down towards Frontierland.

Running through the castle

Running through the castle

This is what makes all those miles of training worth it

This is what makes all those miles of training worth it

As we ran through Frontierland we passed by Louis the Alligator from ‘Princess and the Frog’ and one of the characters from ‘Country Bear Jamboree’ who was in the place where I’ve seen Woody, Jessie and Bullseye in the past. We decided not to stop for these characters as we knew there would be a long line ahead of us for one of the princess backstage. We did stop however for a little photo opportunity with the steam train from the Walt Disney World Railroad.

Stopping the train to save my damsel in distress

Stopping the train to save my damsel in distress

We left Frontierland before the entrance to Adventureland and ventured backstage to where there was a long line for a photo stop with one of the Princesses. We decided to stop here despite the amount of time we had already spent in the park as the Princesses change out regularly and we figured we would get another opportunity tomorrow and if it happened to be the same photo tomorrow we could just skip and go on our merry way.

With Cinderella and Prince Charming (note that Cinderella was bundled up with a warm coat)

With Cinderella and Prince Charming (note that Cinderella was bundled up with a warm coat)

There was a water station just past this point which was the first one since the TTC area. This is the longest section of the course without a water station due to the logistics of navigating the areas of the park. We took the route out of the side of the park and onto Floridian Way which is the narrowest section of the course as you have everyone huddled onto one side of the road (the other side is open to emergency vehicles). This is also the section  that people refer to as ‘Cone Alley’. There are cones as far as you can see. In this stretch you run past the Grand Floridian Resort on your left, one of the Walt Disney Resort golf courses on your right and the Polynesian Village Resort on the left. Although space is tight here, as soon as you approach the resorts there are cheering sections which were very crowded and much appreciated. The Team Up – Autism Speaks cheering section was situated along this section of the course near the Polynesian. It really is a long stretch along the course here until approaching the overpass which takes you back to EPCOT. There are a few character stops on the course.

With Mary, Bert and the penguins

With Mary, Bert and the penguins

With Genie (who had just come out of the cast member trailer and was nice and toasty)

With Genie (who had just come out of the cast member trailer and was nice and toasty)

A quick selfie with the Baymax/Big Hero 6 mile marker (we knew our boys would appreciate this)

A quick selfie with the Baymax/Big Hero 6 mile marker (we knew our boys would appreciate this)

The road finally opened up from the cones and Shari and I were able to recapture some of the time we had lost during the early photo stops and the time in the park. It is pretty near impossible to make up time in Cone Alley due to the congestion. Unless you are in Corral A or decide not to stop for any photos this is not the race to try for a PR. I think the half marathon is usually more crowded than the marathon due to the numbers involved.

Finally an open space for us to run in

Finally an open space for us to run in

As we made our way along the course back towards EPCOT around mile 11 we encounter the only real hill on the course, the overpass, which takes us from World Drive up to EPCOT Center Drive. The cool part of this is when you are on the overpass looking back down below and seeing the endless stream of runners. It’s pretty cool to see everyone out there.

Heading into EPCOT we knew we were in the final mile of the half marathon. There is the short little out and back as we enter the park which takes us to the lagoon in front of World Showcase and then we head back towards Spaceship Earth and out towards the finish line. I felt a slight ache in my right knee around mile 12 so we took the last mile a little easy as we still had the marathon to run the next day. No sprinting to the finish line today.

Back in EPCOT with the finish line in reach

Back in EPCOT with the finish line in reach

Approaching the final turn

Approaching the final turn

One last stop for Minnie

One last stop for Minnie

Our half marathon was in the books

Our half marathon was in the books

We crossed the finish line feeling pretty good. It was still quite cool but we got our medals and headed to the medical areas to ice down. We had to wait for Rina and Mike so we took advantage of the time to ice down with the help of the volunteers who packed our legs in ice. Shari was nursing her right ankle and I was nursing my right knee. We saw Mike pass us while we were there but it was so busy he didn’t hear us call out to him so we sent him a text message and told him we’d meet him outside.

Sharing a romantic moment with my wife after the race

Sharing a romantic moment with my wife after the race

We make ice look good

We make ice look good

We did it

We did it

One thing that was missing from the finish line area were mylar wraps. Yup, no space blankets. It wasn’t as if it was a warm weekend or anything and I was sure that after the previous two days when the temperatures were in the high 30s/low 40s they would have been prepared, but no. No blankets. That’s when I was pleased I’d packed my throw away jacket in our checked bag.

We made it through the finish line area and grabbed our food. We took our picture and walked through to the Goofy lanes. No one was checking our bibs or looking us up based upon the pictures we took at the expo. Strange. Last year when I ran the Dopey Challenge they made us all pick up a wristband. With the new method I figured we would have to report into someone. By the way, there was nothing too amazing to report about the runDisney food boxes. Pretty much the same as last year. Would it break the bank to have bagels or a soft pretzel available?

So on to bag check. We entered the ‘S’ tent and Shari told me to pick up the bag but they couldn’t find it. They kept asking my number and I was showing them my bib but no use. They made us head out to a central table and report the bag and had a volunteer run back and forth into each tent for any loose bags. At this point it was getting cold without any jacket or space blanket. Shari was turning blue. Kind of matched her outfit but not appropriate to tell her that at the time. Ultimately they asked us how many bags we checked and we said one and then they asked if it was under Shari’s number. We hadn’t thought about that. Duh!!! Once we established it was her number they found the bag right away. Like runDisney would really lose our bag!!! Felt kind of stupid but thanked them all. At least we had something warm to wear now.

Based upon the race text alerts we saw that Rina was near the finish so we met up with Mike and waited outside for her. Once she came through the bag check we didn’t hang around (we had the babysitter charging mucho dollars!!!) as we had a lunch reservation at the Sci Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant at Hollywood Studios and we all needed to get back for a shower in time to get there.

We spent the afternoon at Hollywood Studios where we did some character meet and greets and had a really nice lunch. We managed to secure our Fast Passes to Toy Story Mania but this wasn’t the best park for the kids and we were all a little tired. We did head over to the Frozen Sing-A-Long which we had Fast Passes for. This allowed Shari and I a few minutes off our feet. We grabbed a light supper of pizza from one of the quick service options along Hollywood Boulevard but made sure we headed to ‘Sweet Spells’ to get some special treats carbs before we left for the night. We chose Hollywood Studios as our park as they had the earliest closing time for us (we skipped Animal Kingdom this trip) so we could say we stayed until the park close and still get home for a relatively early night.

Celebrating our half marathon in Hollywood Studios

Celebrating our half marathon in Hollywood Studios

A fun time at the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater for lunch

A fun time at the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater for lunch

With Sorcerer Mickey

With Sorcerer Mickey

With Baymax and Hiro

With Baymax and Hiro

We got home, got the boys to bed, laid out our clothes for tomorrow’s marathon and attempted to get some sleep before our early morning alarm in a few hours…

2015 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend – Part 1 – Expo January 9, 2015

Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend 2015

Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend 2015

So the weekend finally arrived. All the training was done, all the fundraising was done, all the packing was done. We had our advance dining reservations (actually done way back within the 180 day window in July!!) and all our Fast Pass+ reservations were booked. We were all set.

This year my wife and I were running the Goofy Challenge (39.3 miles over two days) for Autism Speaks. Last year I ran the Dopey Challenge (48.6 miles over fours) but wised up and ‘only’ signed up for the Goofy. Actually the big difference was that we were able to travel down as a family this year. The first couple of days of the week I was following my friends who were running the Dopey Challenge and were already down in Orlando. I was getting antsy.

Thursday evening finally rolled around and we set off from the Philadelphia airport on time. I think I was more excited than my boys about going to Walt Disney World (as always). We were traveling down with my sister-in-law and her husband who were running the half marathon this year.

On board our flight and ready to go.

On board our flight and ready to go.

Okay, so maybe my youngest looks a little more excited.

After settling into our hotel and getting a few hours sleep (more than we would be for the next two days) we got up early and headed over to the race expo. I was planning to wear the charity gear for the half marathon and our ‘costumes’ for the full marathon so I wore my ‘Mickey Milers‘ shirt to attend the expo. I also had my Mickey Milers button on my jacket so I could meet or catch up with fellow team mates.

The expo was held as in prior years at the ESPN Wild World of Sports. The bib pick up was in the HP Field House. The Goofy and Dopey bib pick up was upstairs while the half marathon and full marathon were downstairs.

Arriving at the Expo

Arriving at the Expo

Not too busy at pick up

Not too busy at pick up

Here we are

Here we are

Very excited to have this in my hands again

Very excited to have this in my hands again

While picking up the bibs we were handed our race shirts. I actually selected a smaller size this year at registration and that worked out well. The race shirts were really nice. The Goofy shirt would be useful in case of being stranded on an island…it was BRIGHT orange. I like the changes that they made to the race shirts last year and they kept them for this year too. Very nice and soft to the touch.

Trying on the Goofy shirt for size

Trying on the Goofy shirt for size

While we were there we bumped in my friend and fellow INKnBURN Ambassador Jill who started talking to my wife about the special runDisney shoes. Hmmm…

There was a little merchandise in the Field House but I don’t recall that it was open at the time we arrived so we rejoined my sister-in-law and her husband and headed over to the Jostens Center for the main expo. There were also some stand alone booths outside near the stadium but it was cool outside (it had been raining) and we knew most of the stuff we wanted would be inside.

One thing that was different this year was the new rule that anyone running one of the runDisney challenges during the weekend (Goofy and Dopey) had to have their picture taken with their bib. This was to replace the wristband system that was in place last year to prove that you have completed each race.

They're watching your every move!!!

They’re watching your every move!!!

As we entered we put into effect our plan to keep the boys occupied so we could all browse the expo. My wife and I use our old iPhones as iPods for our boys and so they have some games/apps/movies to keep them occupied. We chose a corner of the expo where they could see us and where we could see them. Everyone was happy.

The expo was set up like previous years and we hit the official runDisney merchandise section. It was set out in aisles by races with each race having some unique merchandise vs other races (e.g. jackets vs fleeces). After grabbing our car magnets we looked around for a while. We didn’t do too much damage this year. How much can you really buy these days having done these races for the last few years. Not much other than the year and color changes on some products. Still, some nice stuff. The character hats were unique though but not really runDisney as we did say some for sale in the parks later. I did notice that the ‘I Did It’ shirts were cotton this year and not the tech like last year. I had planned on purchasing one of those but skipped as a result.

Expo was spaciously laid out and not too crowded

Expo was spaciously laid out and not too crowded

Did most of our shopping down this aisle

Did most of our shopping down this aisle

Checked out some of the merchandise for the marathon down this aisle

Checked out some of the merchandise for the marathon down this aisle

The Mickey hats were fun. They also had Donald and Goofy variants.

The Mickey hats were fun. They also had Donald and Goofy variants.

The 'I Did It' shirts area

The ‘I Did It’ shirts area

Check out was quick and easy. We didn’t spend too much time there as we wanted to have a quick walk through the expo and we had Fast Passes waiting for us at EPCOT.

We did stop by to say hello and meet up with Jeff Galloway. Without Jeff’s training methods both Shari and I wouldn’t be multiple marathoners. We got a chance to have a quick chat with him. He is so approachable and encouraging.

Meeting Olympian and runDisney training consultant Jeff Galloway

Meeting Olympian and runDisney training consultant Jeff Galloway

A quick family stop at the expo for some Goofy fun

A quick family stop at the expo for some Goofy fun

Walking around the expo we saw the regular attendees. We didn’t go there needing anything so planned to walk around and see if there would be something unique. There were a few nice runDisney specific shirts at the Champion booth but there weren’t any left in my size by the time we got there. My wife however picked up a few ‘Sweaty Bands‘ including her runDisney branded band and I picked up a pair of arm sleeves by 2XU. My wife was intrigued by the runDisney shoes following our conversation with Jill earlier. While the New Balance runDisney process for getting these shoes includes pre-registering for an appointment (which we didn’t do) my wife is, how do I say it, umm…on the smaller size. Jill and Shari were of a similar height and Jill told her that she might be able to fit into the youth sizes for which there was no pre-sign up required. We headed over and before you knew it I was shelling out for some of the pink polka dot Minnie Mouse shoes (from the 2014 range).

runDisney Minnie Mouse shoes

runDisney Minnie Mouse shoes

Very happy with our purchase

Very happy with our purchase

Wearing the shoes later...with added charms

Wearing the shoes later…with added charms

They also had on display the new ‘retro’ “Steamboat Willie” 2015 runDisney shoes. They didn’t really do much for me and for the price of $185 they were a bit of a surprise compared to the 2014 colorful ones.

The 2015 runDisney New Balance shoes

The 2015 runDisney New Balance shoes

They were still selling the 2014 New Balance runDisney editions

They were still selling the 2014 New Balance runDisney editions

As I was waiting for everyone to wrap up their time at the expo I bumped into and said a quick hello to Runner’s World Chief Running Officer Bart Yasso.

A quick hello with Bart Yasso

A quick hello with Bart Yasso

So having left the expo we headed over to EPCOT. We planned to spend the day there as the team dinner for Team Up – Autism Speaks was planned for that evening at the Living Seas Pavillion. It had been raining when we arrived at the expo but had dried up but it was far from warm. My wife was already wearing her Goofy race jersey (I gave her the stink eye because I’m in the ‘don’t wear your race shirt before or during the race’ camp). As you can see, it was a little cold (ok…we may be exaggerating a little!)

As you can see we were a little bit cold....brrrrr...

As you can see we were a little bit cold….brrrrr…

After some time in the front of the park (yeah for Soarin’) and a quick trip around World Showcase with the boys we were all set to meet up with everyone for the dinner at the Team Up dinner. I did make a small purchase in the American Pavilion. My wife is a big fan of the Alex and Ani bracelets and they have a Disney line (of which I’ve already invested quite a bit). In the store they had a ‘Goofy’ charm which I bought as another keepsake to celebrate her ‘first’ Goofy Challenge.

Not to be worn until Sunday after finishing the marathon

Not to be worn until Sunday after finishing the marathon

We met up with everyone outside the Living Seas Pavilion at the front of the park before heading into the ‘Living Seas Salon’ banquet suite on the other side of aquarium. I had changed into my One More Mile custom Goofy shirt that I had made up for my first Goofy when I ran for Team Up back in 2013.

My special Goofy shirt

My special Goofy shirt

Custom T - back

Custom T – back

Dinner was hosted by Phillip, the National Director for Team Up and was a nice pasta buffet and dessert dinner. I think there were about 80 runners for this years team and at the date of the dinner we had raised over $163,000 for this event. While at the dinner there were a number of speakers sharing the stories of why they run for Autism Speaks. Some of the stories were amazing. Very inspiring evening. While the speakers were talking our boys were off in a corner making signs for us for the next day and generally enjoying the views of the aquarium.

2015 Team Up Autism Speaks team dinner

2015 Team Up Autism Speaks team dinner

2015 Team Up Autism Speaks team dinner

2015 Team Up Autism Speaks team dinner

2015 Team Up Autism Speaks team dinner

2015 Team Up Autism Speaks team dinner

2015 Team Up Autism Speaks team dinner

2015 Team Up Autism Speaks team dinner

2015 Team Up Autism Speaks team dinner

2015 Team Up Autism Speaks team dinner

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2015 Team Up Autism Speaks team dinner

2015 Team Up Autism Speaks team dinner

2015 Team Up Autism Speaks team dinner

After dinner it was a quick ride on Spaceship Earth, Illuminations fireworks and then heading back to our hotel for the first early wake up call (2:00am) for the half marathon.

Today is my 4 year ‘Runiversary’

It’s been 4 years to the day that I set foot inside the gym and began a ‘Coach 2 5K’ plan. I wrote about this on last year’s runiversary. With marathon number 9 just 13 days from now I thought I would look back at my achievements and remind myself that anything is possible when you set your mind to do something. Even if you never achieve the goals you set at least you can say that you tried which is greater than saying I wish I should have.

1 – Philadelphia Marathon – November 2011

Philadelphia 2011

2 – Walt Disney World Marathon – January 2012

Disney 2012

3 – Philadelphia Marathon 2012 (first sub 4 hour marathon)

4. Walt Disney World Marathon – January 2013 (my first Goofy Challenge and my wife’s first marathon)

Disney 2013

5. New Jersey Marathon – May 2013

Finsish line

6. Philadelphia Marathon – November 2013

 

7. Walt Disney World Marathon – January 2014 (my first Dopey Challenge)

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8. New Jersey Marathon – April 2014 (Current PR 3:54)

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I have a lot to look back on and be proud of and a lot to look forward to and achieve.

My upcoming races are:

August – Chasing the Unicorn Marathon

September – Philadelphia Rock’n’Roll Half Marathon

October – Baltimore Marathon

January – Walt Disney World Goofy’s Race and a Half Challenge (Half and Full Marathon)

I’ll keep going for as many miles as I have in me. Thank you for following me on this journey.

 

 

It’s been a fun and rewarding journey…and I haven’t finished yet

A few months ago my Wife told me about an application for the iPhone called ‘Timehop’ which describes itself as follows:

A time capsule of you. See your photos and updates from this exact day in history. Timehop helps you celebrate the best moments of the past with your friends!

Or as some folks probably would say it shows how much time you may have wasted on social media over the last 4+ years (LOL).

For me though it provides a window and a reminder of some of the things I did with my kids when they were little (they are still only 7 and 4 but time flies for sure). Today’s ‘Timehop’, however, was a big ‘Wow’ moment for me. In the feed today it had the photo shown below.

Timehope 2010

This is me back in June 2010 at Sesame Place with my youngest who was about 5 weeks old.

Also in the feed were a few more photos (which for personal reasons I will not be re-sharing) showing me playing in the water with my eldest son and wearing a heavy cotton shirt despite the sweltering temperatures on that day. Why is it a ‘Wow’ moment? It is this picture that  which prompted me to change my habits and start to get healthy. I got my first iPhone around this time and started using the LoseIt app. Shortly after this and I began running a few weeks later using a Couch to 5K app. My life over the last 4 years has transformed.

You can see from this blog as a whole how much I seem to enjoy life and not just running but family and other activities we do together and with friends old and new. It is amazing how I had been a yoyo dieter and an exercise quitter for many years over and over again. Something about this picture of me holding my newborn son changed everything…for the better.

Running the 2014 Dopey Challenge at Walt Disney World

Running the 2014 Dopey Challenge at Walt Disney World

I’m very proud of how far I’ve come on this journey and what I have achieved. I didn’t do it alone and I cannot tell you how much I appreciate the support, especially from my Wife who has joined me on this journey. I never knew what I was capable of and I am still tapping into that potential but along the way I have had the most amazing time. I’ve also been able to use my new passion for good and have to date raised over $8,000 running events for Autism Speaks. None of this would ever have been possible had it not been for my reaction to that photo. Thank you Timehop for showing me how far I have come.

2013 San Francisco Half Marathon

2013 San Francisco Half Marathon

Thank you for sharing this adventure with me. Long may it continue.

2014 New Jersey Marathon recap

This post is a few days later than anticipated but I just completed marathon number 8, the 2014 Novo Nordisk New Jersey Marathon. This brought a little redemption from when I ran this race last year 🙂

2014 Novo Nordisk New Jersey Marathon

2014 Novo Nordisk New Jersey Marathon

I decided to run this race again this year for a couple of reasons. First, I wanted to see the course over it’s mostly original restored course a year after Hurricane Sandy and second, to earn the PR I had set myself as a goal last year before the wheels fell off. So having re-registered in December I set about training for this event straight after completing the inaugural 2014 Walt Disney World ‘Dopey Challenge’. Actually I was already a couple of weeks into the training program when I got back from Florida and so with 16 weeks to go I set about training for New Jersey.

In case you hadn’t noticed, this was a pretty harsh winter and I did most of my training (including long runs) on the treadmill. Thankfully I was able to run outdoors by the time the 20 milers rolled around. Coming into this event I had run three good races all below my marathon goal pace (9:00/per mile) and was feeling confident although a little apprehensive based upon last year.

The race director does a great job of keeping everyone informed of events and starting out 10 weeks before the day there were weekly updates on the New Jersey Marathon blog which were very helpful as the day approached. In addition, the organizers were very active on Facebook updating everyone on the activities going on and introducing the marathon pace teams to everyone. Communication was top class.

I headed to the expo on the Friday evening before the race as my office is very close by and I didn’t have time to come back the following day (I live about 60 miles from the expo/start line area). The race expo and the race start and staging area is at Monmouth Park in Oceanport, NJ. The expo is held inside the pavillion.

Arriving at the expo

Arriving at the expo

Entering the park

Entering the park

Arriving for packet pickup

Arriving for packet pickup

Packet pickup was very simple. I was picking up bibs and shirts also for two friends running the Long Branch Half Marathon (which started and finished along the full marathon course). The volunteers were very helpful and there were tables for bib pickup for each race and t-shirt pickup for each race. Shirts were offered in male and female sizes which I see more of these days rather than the unisex shirts that other races offer.

Bib pickup was simple

Bib pickup was simple

Shirt pickup was divided into male/female tables and also by events

Shirt pickup was divided into male and female tables and also by events

There was also a small section of race specific merchandise. I didn’t buy any of the official merchandise this year but there was a broad range of wear and accessories and all the designs were nice too.

New Jersey Marathon Merchandise Area

New Jersey Marathon Merchandise Area

The expo was small. There were a few vendors but they had a full speaker series scheduled during the expo on both Friday and Saturday. You don’t get that at many races. Also there was a chance to meet up with various members of the New Jersey Marathon pace teams. Each pace group had two runners assigned and they were there to answer questions. On my way out the door I passed the small ‘Skechers‘ table. They were beaming from ear to ear in the glow of Meb Keflezighi’s Boston Marathon win. I am sure they will be back next year with a larger table 🙂

Obligatory bib photo before leaving the expo

Obligatory bib photo before leaving the expo

On Saturday I had planned a full family day so they got a chance to watch me carb load on pancakes although to be fair I bought lunch for them too!!! After a couple of stops and a birthday party I finally said my goodbyes (leaving them at a local carnival) and hopped in my car for the drive to my hotel near the start line. I set up all my gear for the next day and ‘attempted’ to get an early night….yeah, like you can sleep the night before a marathon.

'Flat Ian' ready for the big day

‘Flat Ian’ ready for the big day

There was a fairly significant thunderstorm that evening so I’m glad I made it to my hotel just before the weather turned sour. It definitely cooled temperatures down. When I left the hotel the following morning my car had a layer of frost on the windshield. Great….I was dressed in shorts and a t-shirt. Luckily the weather forecast for the day looked good (if a bit breezy).

I set out fairly early for the race as I recalled from last year that the entrance to Monmouth Park is via local access roads. With the Half Marathon setting off at 6:45am (the Full Marathon set off at 8am) I knew that some of the local roads would be shut down for a while so I wanted to get there and parked before the start of the Half. Plenty of other people had the same idea but the traffic wasn’t too bad and I got there around 6.15am. The parking was well organized and they had folks working the parking lots to make sure it was all filled in an orderly manner. My Disney experience showed here as I took a picture of my parking lot location…more of that later.

Remember where we parked the car

Remember where we parked the car

The nice thing about the location is that runners get access to the pavillion early prior to the race. That means you have indoor bathrooms, somewhere to keep warm and a place to sit before having to head out to bag check. I made myself comfortable and relaxed.

Race morning inside the pavilion. Bustling with Half and Full Marathoners.

Race morning inside the pavilion. Bustling with Half and Full Marathoners.

Relaxing pre-race.

Relaxing pre-race.

I didn’t get a chance to catch up with my friends Beth and her brother Larry prior to the Half but I had planned on meeting a couple of other folks prior to the race. While sitting around in the pavillion I also bumped into a former colleague of mine (Marc) and met up with John Thompson from the ‘The Runner of a Certain Age‘ blog and podcast. I had planned to meet up with my wife’s former colleague from her time in London, Chris, but he wasn’t hanging out in the paviilion. I later found out he was staying nearby with family and didn’t plan on arriving too early as he didn’t need to.

With John and Marc

With John and Marc

Around 7:30 we bid each other good luck and headed towards the bag check. Being a point to point race we had to load our gear bags into a waiting truck if we wanted anything like a jacket or other items post race. I packed up my bag, put on my throw away shirt and headed for the corrals.

Ok...I'm ready

Ok…I’m ready

Just after entering the corral I bumped into Chris so I got the photo for my wife which I had been instructed to before the weekend and got ready for the start. I have said this before but I find it relaxing and takes away any nerves chatting with someone in the corral before the start of the race.

Meeting up with Chris.

Meeting up with Chris.

As we were starting at a race track the start to the race was quite unique…a bugle call. This was followed by a short burst of Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Born To Run’ (hey, this was the New Jersey Marathon after all) and off we went.

My goal for this year was the same as last year…you know, the one I blew last year 😦 I had been antsy ever since last year that I wanted to break 3:55 in a marathon and was training hard for this. Still it did give me a little nervousness going in knowing that I was trying to accomplish something I had not managed the year before. I did however feel more relaxed this year. I look back at how good and relaxed I felt running the Marathon on the last day of the Dopey Challenge this past January and how my recent 3 races had gone and felt I could do this.

The course at the start has quite a few turns as you go through the local towns then there is a long stretch out to Asbury Park where it gets all twisty again (seriously twisty) then the run back up the long straight and takes you to finish up on the boardwalk in Long Branch (see the map below).

2014 New Jersey Marathon Course Map

2014 New Jersey Marathon Course Map

Last year I know I went out too fast. I ran almost a PR on the first half of the course and then my heart rate elevated and I couldn’t bring it down. By mile 15 last year I started losing a minute per mile and finished the second half of the race 20 minutes slower than the first half. Not great and was very disappointing. This year I had vowed to be different.

Well…I ran a very aggressive first 10K at 8:34/mile pace without really planning on running that fast and then forced myself to back off a little. Still, I made the half way point at almost my half marathon PR 1:53 at 8:39 pace. As we approached the half way point we started running alongside some of the half marathoners and we also passed the marathon relay point. The split for the half marathon and the marathon was around mile 11. This then took the full marathoners down throught the long straight towards Asbury Park. I was constantly checking my heart rate the whole time during my walk breaks (I was using a 4:00/0:45 interval ratio). I was managing to keep my heart rate stable and was feeling good.

Feeling good on the early stages of the race

Feeling good on the early stages of the race

The weather was beautiful and sunny on the day and the crowd support around the towns was good. Not so much along the out and back portion as it was run through a very wealthy neighborhood and not many folks came out to cheer but those that did were appreciated. Going down towards the turnaround I felt good and was enjoying the course and the scenery. This was the part of the course that was changed from the previous year and I found it more enjoyable to run (less interrupting turns and a little wider). Once we hit Asbury Park there were lots of corners to turn before we hit the turnaround point around mile 18.5. Once we rounded that it was back up from where we had come.

You didn’t really notice the wind when we run downwind which we had down through mile 18.5. Once you hit the turnaround you hit the wind. The last 8 miles were effectively run heading into what felt at the time like a wind tunnel. Whew!!! This made the run back up towards Longport just that bit harder. On the return leg in Asbury Park we were able to run a little on the newly reconstructed boardwalk. This was a part of the course that was closed to us last year. Nice to see that the rebuilding of the Shore is ongoing and glad we got to run through part of the restoration.

I started to slow a little as the combination of running into the wind and getting into the last few miles of the marathon began to take its toll. After mile 22 I just had to buckle down and stick to my run/walk intervals. I figured if I could focus on just completing the run section without stopping I would make it to the end and maybe…just maybe I might meet my goal time. Plus there was the view of the beach to my right as I was running. What could be too bad.

I look like am under arrest from the fashion police for my 80s retro tube socks look

I look like I am under arrest from the fashion police for my 80’s retro tube socks look

Having inadvertantly hit my lap button while checking my heart rate early in the race I hadn’t noticed that my mile splits were slightly off the mileage posts on the course (I figured that out by mile 22). But I still had decent splits considering the wind resistance. Here are my splits.

My mile splits

My mile splits

As I rounded the final corner for the last 2 miles on the boardwalk in Long Branch I looked at my Garmin and new I was sub 4 hours but wasn’t sure if I would be sub 3:55. So now it was time to focus. All the weeks of training had to pay off now. I buckled down and focused on the finish line….which was hidden around a bend and took forever to appear. Nevertheless, I skipped that final walk interval and picked up my pace and headed for the finish line.

And…

Made it

Made it

The clock shows sub 4 but as I started in Corral C that morning the truth was on my Garmin.

I like what I see

I like what I see

Yup. I did it. I broke 3:55. My actual official time was 3:54:30.

Official result posted

Official result posted

Very happy at the finish line

Very happy at the finish line

Then I got to receive an awesome medal. Spinners are always cool but this medal in addition to being a spinner also had the towns we ran through shown on the back. Pretty cool commemorative medal. I let my star shine today just like the medal said.

Pretty cool medal

Pretty cool medal

At the finish line we received a bag from Panera Bread. I was quite excited as when we ran the San Francisco Half Marathon last June we received post run treats from Panera and they were yummy. This was a little disappointing. I know this is a much smaller race than San Francisco but in the bag was a breadstick (yeah…a breadstick) a banana and three pieces of salt water taffy. I have to admit I bought my own post race snacks. I have started doing that based upon my refuel needs. I bring along an Accel Recover bar and a Powerade. Just to have properly formulated fluids, carbs and protein.

Once I picked up my gear bag it was time to take the long walk back to the race buses which would take runners back to the parking at Monmouth Park. Just like last year, althought the walk was slow it was the best thing I needed at the time to keep me from stiffening up prior to my long car ride home. As I was taking the walk back I passed by the finish line festival. There was plenty for the kids to do and also some merchandise for sale.

The finish line festival

The finish line festival

I chatted with a couple of folks on the bus journey back to the start line and everyone seemed tired but in good spirits and happy with the day. I remember last year it felt the bus ride took forever but with a full complement of passengers and someone to talk to it passed relatively quickly.

Now, remember above I mentioned the parking? Well, I was parked at row 87. I have learned (unfortunately through experience at Disney races) to take a picture of where I parked the car so I can find it again. The bus dropped us off at row 1. That’s not too close to row 87. Sheesh…that was the toughest part of the day. Not too many folks walking with me by then so it was a loooooong sloooow walk back to the car. I did a good amount of stretching before I got in for the hour plus long journey home and actually felt pretty comfortable that I did.

I made one stop before I reached home to get my special post race treat. I hadn’t yet been to our local Rita’s this year so guess where I headed 🙂

A nice 'root beer' gelati

A nice ‘root beer’ gelati

A couple of days after the race (hence the delay in posting) I had to have some medical tests done which I had put off because of the marathon. As a consequence I was not allowed to take any anti-inflammatory meds for the next few days so it was time for a nice soak in an ice bath (brrrrrrr….) to help soothe out the tired muscles. Luckily no one was home so they couldn’t hear me talk like a sailor when I got in. However, it worked wonders and if you can ever do it post long run I recommend it. Just keep the kids out of earshot.

Waiting on the countdown to finish my ice bath

Waiting on the countdown to finish my ice bath

I had been in touch with John Thompson prior to the race and we had met up on the morning of the race. Subsequently he invited me onto the race recap episode of his podcast and we discussed our experiences together. I tend to talk alot (and write as much) so the episode was split into two parts. Here are parts one and two. Worth a listen. Also, here is the link to his blog and Facebook page. Thank you for the invite John.

So, I PR’d. I am very happy with my time and it felt great but looking back I’m not on the long lasting high I thought I would be. I was much more on a high finishing Goofy and Dopey and even when I completed the Disney Marathon in 2013 and Philadelphia Marathon in 2013 with my wife. PR’s are great but I think I get more out of the ‘fun’ of racing and the achievements than just times alone. Yes, I trainined hard and achieved my goal but in perspective I look back more fondly on the ‘experience’ than the time. I didn’t think that would always be the case. I’m kind of glad it is.

Anyway, would I recommend this race? Yes. Would I go and do it again? Maybe but only if I was running with my wife or a buddy. There are plenty of other races on my wish list and I have had two great experiences running here. I think it is one to consider at this time of the year and the race director and his team do a fantastic job of running this event. It’s a nice day at the beach.

Thank you for reading 🙂