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.

 

Philly2Goofy – An origin story…

cropped-goofy.jpg

I’m heading down to run the 2015 Walt Disney World marathon. This will be my 4th Walt Disney World Marathon weekend.

For the last 3 years I have run for Team Up with Autism Speaks. I had signed up on my own in April 2012 for the 2013 Goofy Challenge and was looking to perhaps run for a charitable cause when my niece was diagnosed on the autism spectrum. I decided then to sign up and run for an autism charity and put my miles to good use. Over the last three years I have raised over $11,000 for this cause and hope that in some way all this running has changed or helped other people in ways that running has changed my life for the better. Although I cannot be with my family in the UK as an extra pair of hands I hope that the work I have done to raise funds has benefited other family such as mine.

I have had the great pleasure of running with my wife in her first marathon (Disney 2013) and look forward to her joining me running her first Goofy Challenge this weekend as a Team Up team member. Notice that I said her first!!! Along the way I have made many friends in the running and runDisney community (a big shout out to all my fellow Mickey Milers) and I also started this blog to document these races (although it includes more than just Disney races now).

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

January 11, 2013 – the night before my 1st Goofy Challenge

Custom T - front

Custom T - back

So as I head down for another year I will proudly wear my ‘Team Sadie’ shirt and hope to have 39.3 miles of fun with a few thousand of my fellow Goofy (and Dopey) friends. I’ll look forward to writing my 2015 race reports after this weekend but for now I will look back and share the first race recap(s) from the 2013 Goofy Challenge.

what-is-the-goofy-challenge

Day 1, Day 2 and Day 3.

You can also still make a donation at the following this link.

Thank you and I’ll be in look forward to sharing our weekend with you soon.

 

Going “Goofy” (again…)

Celebrating the 2013 Goofy Challenge with the Goof himself

Celebrating the 2013 Goofy Challenge with the Goof himself

I got a pleasant surprize in my email this morning from the National Director of ‘Team Up’ for Autism Speaks. They received their allotment of spaces for the 2015 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend and opened up the site for early registration (general registration is on April 22nd). So I am pleased to announce that in January 2015 I will be running the Walt Disney World ‘Goofy’s Race and a Half Challenge’ (2 days, 2 races, 39.3 miles) with ‘Team Up’ with Autism Speaks to raise funds and awareness for autism.

In January 2013 I ran the ‘Goofy Challenge’ and raised over $3,400. In 2014 I ran the inaugural ‘Dopey Challenge’ and raised over $3,800. My goal in 2015 is to match or better this total.

2015 is a special year for many reasons. This will be the 10th anniversary of the ‘Goofy’s Race and Half Challenge’ at Walt Disney World, this will be my ‘hat-trick’ year of running for Team Up for Autism Speaks, but the most special reason for me is that I will be running the ‘Goofy Challenge’ together with my wife Shari 🙂

Earlier this year when Shari returned from running the 2014 Walt Disney World Princess Half Marathon ‘Glass Slipper Challenge’ she expressed interest in joining me for the 2015 ‘Goofy Challenge’. This morning when the link came through for me to register she told me that we should both register with Team Up together. That felt awesome. I was fully prepared to sign her up as a general entry runner but now that we are together as a team and raising funds together for our team that is very special to me. We both have a close family connection to this cause as our niece in the UK is on the Autism Spectrum and although we are far away it is some way we can give to families with similar situations and needs.

The end of a very enjoyable 39.3 miles

The end of a very enjoyable 39.3 miles

If you would like to support us in this cause please follow the link to our personal fundraising pages – Shari’s PageMy Page.

Thank you in advance for your ongoing support of me and in following this blog. Lots of things to look forward to between now and January 2015.

Autism Speaks

2014 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend – Part 5 – Full Marathon – January 12, 2014

Today was the main event, the Walt Disney World Marathon. This was the last event of the Dopey Challenge and the culmination of 24 weeks of training. Did I mention that it was the last early wake up of the event too (score!!!) I guess with the excitement and adrenaline due to this being the big event I didn’t feel really tired despite all the previous days of running and park time. Also, with the thunderstorm the night before it cooled the temperatures quite a bit which would be great (as compared to the 2013 Marathon) So again today I dressed in my Team Up gear and coordinated my Pro Compression socks to match Dopey (you can see it was pretty close later in the recap) and headed out for another early arrival at EPCOT for the start of the race.

Cooler than yesterday and still dropping before the start

Cooler than yesterday and still dropping before the start

It was cool with a slight breeze as I walked towards the bag check area. After last year of bringing down throw away gear I got smarter thanks to a very helpful tip. I tend to keep those mylar blankets they give out after marathons and they are small and light enough to pack with no problem. I wore my blanket from essentially the time I got out of the car until the start of the race. It was easy to pack up in my gear back and doubled as something to sit on later in the corrals while we waited.

Excited for the race and wearing my Dopey colored socks

Excited for the race and wearing my Dopey colored socks

I didn’t see many familiar faces in the starting area this time around although I did bump into a new Facebook friend (Jennifer) who spotted me as I arrived. She was running her first marathon as part of the Goofy Challenge. I headed through the bag check very early as like the day before I wanted to get over to the corral and sit for as long as I could to rest up before the 26.2 miles which lay ahead. I will admit that this was probably the most calm I have ever felt during a marathon. This would be my 7th marathon so I knew I could do this but I think due to the continuous high from the weekend I was just relaxed. Anyone who knows me well (read ‘my wife’) will tell you I am always a little uptight before a big race. Today was just, in my head anyway, a long run and I was going to treat it that way and have fun. Time didn’t really matter to me much. It was day 4 of the Dopey Challenge and I was there to have fun and make it to the finish line.

Keeping warm before the race

Keeping warm before the race

As we all started the long walk to the corrals (via ‘Backstage Lane’) I started chatting to a few folks, some doing the Dopey, some Goofy and some running their first marathon. With words of encouragement being shared among us it really felt more of a communal long run than a big city race. People running a Disney race bring with them an expectation of fun and camaraderie that I have not experienced in many of my other races. Sure you say ‘hi’ to people but people just seem more open to chat about the events. It could be the nature of these multi-race events which is unique and everyone is checking to see how other people are doing and sharing thoughts. Just my opinion really.

As we approached the split between corrals A to H and I to P one of the people I was talking to suddenly said, “Hey, you’re Ian from ‘Philly2Goofy’. I thought you looked familiar”. I was totally taken by surprise, especially being as dark and so early in the morning. They said they had followed the blog and actually printed out the training plan I was following and stuck it up on their wall. I was flattered (although all the credit must go to Hal Higdon and Jeff Galloway as I wouldn’t be here doing this without them). That totally lifted my spirits higher and I cheerfully headed to the corrals. I didn’t see Mark or Rob who I knew were supposed to be in my corral so I took a seat and waited while watching the pre-show. Various folks were brought up and interviewed including Dave McGillivray, race director of the Boston Marathon and Jeff Galloway. Both were running Dopey along with me and the other 6,999 folks.

Waiting in corral F

Waiting in corral F

During the pre-show one of the race announcers (or interviewers I forget which) ask who was ‘just doing the Marathon’. Let me say now for all readers and runners…THERE IS NO JUST…anyone out there running a Full Marathon is a champion and just because there are other challenges out there that runDisney has made popular should not in any way diminish the awesome experience and success of a person training, running and finishing a Marathon. I guess it is only at a Disney event when someone says of themselves I’m “just doing a Half or a Full” or even “I’m just doing Goofy”. Everyone is a runner and a champion for just toeing the line. There, I said it!!! I’m of my soapbox now. 🙂 Soon we would hear the ‘National Anthem’ and we knew we were ready for the start. Mickey (and even Dopey earlier before the race) was there to count us down and with fireworks shooting off we were starting. Yes, I got my fireworks today 🙂 All was good in the world. And then we were off.

The countdown was given by the 'Mouse' of the hour

The countdown was given by the ‘Mouse’ of the hour

I got my fireworks!!!

I got my fireworks!!!

Like yesterday, Bart Yasso was waiting on the left of the start line cheering everyone along on their way. I said a quick ‘Hi Bart’ and settled in for the first mile. Now at this point I want to do a little number crunching. At this point we had finished 3 of the 4 races that make up the Dopey Challenge which might sound like were 75% of the way there but in reality when you looked at the actual distance we had at this point run a 5K, a 10K and a Half Marathon which totaled 22.4 miles. As the Dopey Challenge would actually end up being 48.6 miles that mean we wouldn’t actually reach 50% or half way through the total mileage until we hit mile 1.9 in the Full Marathon. A little warped but, hey, we’re Dopey aren’t we 🙂

What we had ahead of us

What we had ahead of us

My strategy of stopping for photos early the day before worked well so I could maintain a steady pace going towards the Magic Kingdom where I knew I would be spending lots of time today. It wasn’t long before I saw that we were approaching the start of the way towards the Magic Kingdom and the Ticket and Transportation Center.

Nearing the park. Through the turnstiles to the Ticket and Transportation Center

Nearing the park.
Through the turnstiles to the Ticket and Transportation Center

It was encouraging again to see so many folks out cheering the runners as we approached the Ticket and Transportation Center and as we moved onwards towards the side of the Contemporary Resort we got our first view of the day of the Magic Kingdom. You will know from my recap from the Half Marathon yesterday how much I enjoy running into the Magic Kingdom and up Main Street USA. It is always magical. Today was as magical but also special. As soon as I ran onto Main Street I bumped into Joe Taricani, the host of ‘The Marathon Show‘ podcast. Joe runs holding an ‘On Air’ sign and speaks to runners as they experience their journeys. Today I got to run up Main Street with Joe and even made it onto the podcast. Another great experience and one that adds to the memories of this weekend. Check out Episode 228 to hear the recap of the day. In all of this I still managed to get my Main Street USA photo to make the day complete.

Main Street USA during the 2014 Marathon

Main Street USA during the 2014 Marathon

I had a specific goal for the Marathon this year in terms of photos in the Magic Kingdom. For the last two years I never got a shot of Mickey at the Castle. This year no matter the lines I was going to do it.

Am I late?

Am I late?

The one and only Tigger

The one and only Tigger

With Royal Minnie and Mickey outside Cinderella's Castle

With Royal Minnie and Mickey outside Cinderella’s Castle

Every race or trip or famous landmark that I go to with my wife she always takes a ‘jump shot’. I have albums from vacations where my wife is doing a jump shot on almost every page of the book. It has become her trademark and although I do participate in the fun from time to time I never do so during a race, especially a marathon. Well, I was having so much fun over the course of the last few days I threw caution to the wind and just went for it. I was at mile 6 of the Marathon (mile 28 of the Challenge) and while normally I would be anxious about my knees I was feeling good so it seemed a given that as my wife wasn’t here I needed to ‘represent’ 🙂

Running through the Castle

Running through the Castle

I do look like I'm having fun

I do look like I’m having fun

I did notice as I ran through Fantasyland and the New Fantasyland that there were less characters out this year. Last year it was all Princesses outside New Fantasyland but this year there were none. I ran through Frontierland but didn’t stop for photos this time but headed backstage to exit the park. I finally found a Princess and stopped for a quick photo.

With Rapunzel and Flynn Rider (that's Eugene Fitzherbery for those that know) :-)

With Rapunzel and Flynn Rider (that’s Eugene Fitzherbert for those that know) 🙂

Coming out of the Magic Kingdom we are around mile 6.5 and begin our little trip up Cone Alley past the Grand Floridian towards the Speedway at mile 8. Again, no Mary Poppins today. She was hanging out with the Penguins in Race Retreat. There were a couple of character stops along the way. I even stopped for the Villains this year which was a first for me.

Hanging with Goofy on the golf course

Hanging with Goofy on the golf course

With Maleficent and Dr Facilier

With Maleficent, Scar and Dr Facilier

We hit the Speedway just after mile 8. I remember last year the sun was up at this time and the heat was already up high. This year was much cooler but there were some wet patches under foot which wasn’t great around Cone Alley as you sometimes run along some grassy areas trying to get around other runners. As we approached the Speedway I noted there were no characters outside like there were last year. Again, less characters throughout the course this year. When entering the Speedway there is a really narrow and steep downslope and upslope onto the circuit. As it was still wet underfoot the runners ahead had slowed down and there was a slight bottleneck at this point but once out on the track it opens up. The trick is to stay on the inner circuit of the track as it is flat with no banking. As was the case last year there were car clubs represented as you ran around the circuit. Different from last year was that there were no ‘Cars’ characters out on the track. This was fine with me as it allowed me to just keep running. I had spent a lot of time in the Magic Kingdom and although I wasn’t going for a time goal at all it was nice to just get a nice rhythm going.

Keeping within the speed limit

Keeping within the speed limit

As we excited the Speedway there was a quick trek over a grass median and we were off towards the Animal Kingdom. This is the part of the race that takes us past the Water Treatment Center. Well, the good news with the cooler temperatures and the slight breeze, there was no smell when I ran past this year. BONUS!!! I’m usually taking an energy gel around mile 10 so glad I didn’t have to deal with any added ‘extras’.

Together with Captain Hook and Mr Smee

Together with Captain Hook and Mr Smee

As I approached the Animal Kingdom I heard my name being called. It was Mark my fellow Team Up teammate. I hadn’t seen him earlier in the day while waiting in the corrals so I actually headed back to catch up with him to check in. He was nursing a leg injury which he had coming into the Goofy Challenge but he looked strong and I know that he did finish as I saw his results later on. After saying good luck I headed into the Animal Kingdom just around mile 12.

Wishing upon a star with Jiminy Cricket

Wishing upon a star with Jiminy Cricket

As we entered the park we ran past a variety of animals with their handlers. I found out later that the animals were all wearing special Marathon bibs with their names on. Cute. At the time that I arrived in the Animal Kingdom the ‘Expedition Everest’ ride was not yet open for the day. Some of my fellow runners behind me took the opportunity to stop and ride ‘Everest’ on their way through the park. It’s a Disney race, when else would you stop mid marathon to ride a coaster? Awesome.

Stopping to meet King Louie

Stopping to meet King Louie

We were very close to the halfway point at this stage of the race and we cleared the Half Marathon timing mat just after the water stop leaving the park. This was also the location of the Autism Speaks cheering section today so I made sure to say a big thank you to everyone for coming out and supporting the team.

Cheering on my cheering section

Cheering on my cheering section

I hit the half way timing mat at a time of 2:27:55, this was 15 minutes quicker than I had actually run the Half Marathon the day previously including all the photo stops. It was a complete adrenaline rush. I don’t know where this energy was coming from especially 4 days and 35 miles in at this point but I felt really good.

For the last two years I have avoided a photo stop with the Gravediggers from the Haunted Mansion. Each year I have seen runners lay down and have their picture taken with them. Every year I have looked at these people and thought they were absolutely crazy. How could you get up off the ground having run 14 miles already. This year I was feeling good and became one of those crazy people…it was fun. Luckily the cast member helping out was a pretty strong guy. I guess he had to be for this particular stop. He pulled me up with zeal and I was grateful I didn’t have to try on my own to get up 😉

Just kidding

Just kidding

The next stop on our journey would be the ESPN Wide World of Sports it is a long stretch (well 4 miles) from the Animal Kingdom to ESPN and there isn’t much to see around here. It is pretty wide open at this point and runners spread out. It’s nice to have some space after running in some tight lanes through the parks. During these part of the race Scott who I had met at the 5K spotted me and we ran together for a couple of minutes. We are both Galloway runners and we were running different intervals so we said our goodbyes when the timers went off. Scott looked like he was doing fine. Glad to know that everyone I had met up with over the weekend seemed to be doing fine. The weather today was definitely a positive factor for everyone today.

The ESPN Wide World of Sports is the one part of the course that I just find takes too long. I know it sounds silly as it’s only 3 miles but with all the twists and turns we take, maybe it’s just psychological, but when you think you are close to leaving you hit another turn and it is not the way out. At least this year was cooler (I’ve said that before a few times). As I entered the ESPN Wide World of Sports I made sure to grab a wet towel that they were handing out. Last year I missed it and regretted it. This year the towels were ‘ice’ cold. I squeezed the towel over myself and immediately regretted it. There was still a slight breeze and I started to get the chills. Eek!  I knew I would warm up but for the next mile I was shaking my shirt to try to dry it out a bit and warm up. Oh well, live and learn.

One of the cool things about running around this part of the course is that you get to see all the athletes getting on with their day of training and games. We ran past a soccer game in progress and there were many spectators on the course at this point. The ESPN Wide World of Sports also includes a lap around the outfield of Champions Stadium (spring training home to the Atlanta Braves).

Here I am going to share my biggest tip from running through the Wide World of Sports. As soon as you leave the stadium if you suspect at all that you have any gravel in your shoes stop and empty your shoes. You still have over 6 miles to go and you don’t need anything that will annoy you or irritate you. I’m talking from experience. This year I stopped and took out plenty of gravel. Phew.

Taking a lap around the running track at the ESPN Wide World of Sports

Taking a lap around the running track at the ESPN Wide World of Sports

Running the outfield of Champions Stadium

Running the outfield of Champions Stadium

Leaving the ESPN Wide World of Sports is just before mile 20. You’re beginning the home stretch. Mile 20 is usually where I slow down a bit but I was feeling fine so I knew now that I was going to make it. There is a 2 mile stretch back up towards Disney’s Hollywood Studios and there is not too much to see. They had the big screen out playing movies as they had during the 10K on Friday and all along the route back up (a very slight incline) they have motivational signs along the course. I had to stop for this one:

Walt said it best

Walt said it best

At the end of this 2 mile stretch there is the final ‘big hill’ of the course, the overpass to Hollywood Studios. Each year I have run this event they have had a toy soldier from Toy Story yelling out to runners to get up the hill. Again, this is one of those places that in previous years I have seen runners doing push ups with the drill sergeant (the crazy folks I liked to call them). Well, welcome me to the crazy club. I was feeling good and had the energy and I got down and did my requisite push ups to earn my photo opportunity.

Not kidding

Not kidding

At this point I know I’m 4 miles to the finish. I was getting very excited at this point. I knew the rest of the course from prior years and I knew I felt better than I had the last two years that I had run so I just went for it. I picked up the pace a little. We entered Hollywood Studios just behind Tower of Terror and rounded the corner to head through the tunnel alongside the costume department. Then you have the amazing view when you run up the Streets of New York and head towards the front of the park past the Sorcerer’s Hat. Other than Wreck-It Ralph as we entered the Studios there were no other character opportunities here. Last year there were three. A little disappointing but at this point in the race with only 5K to go you just want to keep going.

The parks were now open and guests as well as supporters were now cheering us on. I have heard many stories of guests being inspired by the runners to look into running a runDisney event in the future. I hope that we inspired one or two (or more) today. After the Studios we head along the Boardwalk through the International Gateway and head towards World Showcase.

Just outside of the entrance back into the United Kingdom Pavillion there was the main guy himself. Dopey. I stopped to say a quick hello and get my picture. Best photo of the week for me (can you say ‘Profile Picture’?)

The shot of the week for me

The shot of the week for me

When you hit the United Kingdom you are reaching mile 25. You are almost there. Essentially, barring a major disaster you can run, walk or crawl your way home. No one will take you off the course once you make it to here. 🙂 As I ran through the Magic Kingdom I heard my name being called out. I wasn’t sure from where but I later found out that it was Jill (one of my Facebook friends) who sent me a note later to confirm I wasn’t just imagining this.

I ran through World Showcase stopping for a photo with a couple of French-speaking ladies in the France Pavillion and then headed towards future world and the finish line.

Aurora and Belle

Princess Aurora and Belle

Running through World Showcase

Running through World Showcase

Almost there

Almost there

Completing the Dopey Challenge

Completing the Dopey Challenge

The home stretch

I did it!!!

I cannot tell you much about that last mile other than it being a blur of complete and utter happiness. I was doing it, completing the Dopey Challenge. Feeling great and realizing 9 months of fundraising and 6 months of training. In the process I recorded over 700 miles of training and raised over $3,800 for Autism Speaks.

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!!! I even ran the second half of the Marathon in around 2:12:30, 10 minutes faster than the first half for an overall time of 4:40:26.

I got my Marathon medal and headed over to the self-treatment area to ice down (I had a plane to catch in a few hours) before heading out to pick up my Goofy and Dopey medals.

With my Mickey medal

With my Mickey medal

Showing off the hardware

Showing off the hardware

Seeing as I had to leave later that evening I didn’t really have too much time to wait around after the race. I headed back to the hotel to shower and finish packing with the goal of spending as much time in EPCOT before I had to head to the airport.

*BLING* *BLING* *BLING* *BLING* *BLING* *BLING*

*BLING* *BLING* *BLING* *BLING* *BLING* *BLING*

My new ‘Ear Hat’ to celebrate my accomplishment.

My annual souvenir. My 'Ear Hat' with my milage.

My annual souvenir. My ‘Ear Hat’ with my mileage.

I spent the next few hours stretching my legs walking around EPCOT. I went straight to Innoventions West to have my photos taken with Mickey, Goofy and Minnie with all my medals.

Celebrating at EPCOT

Celebrating at EPCOT

A closing highlight of the trip

A closing highlight of the trip

I walked around the park congratulating my fellow runners who were all proudly wearing their medals. It is a great feeling of camaraderie which is really only experienced at a runDisney race. People hang around after the races and enjoy their post Marathon time. It feels great. Congratulations to all my fellow runners.

In summary, would I do the Dopey Challenge again? Not sure. I enjoyed it but I have done it now. I’d love to run Goofy again as I really enjoy the atmosphere of the Half and the Full. Racing on 4 consecutive days with 4 early wake ups and early nights was tough. I travelled solo this year as 4 days of running would really have imposed on my family. I missed them greatly. This is the first year they haven’t been there for me at the finish and that is perhaps why I didn’t stick around too long once I finished. I love running at Disney and I love Disney Parks. It is better when my family is with me. That is probably my ultimate reason for not doing Dopey in the future for now (but never say never).

What a great week. I met so many good friends this week and had a really special time running with everyone. I want to thank runDisney, the volunteers and the cast members as well as my Team Up teammates and all my fellow runners for making this a week to remember.

So, my final Fitbit stats for the day. I ran 26.2 miles and ended up showing 34.68 miles. For the whole of the 5 days I ran 48.6 miles and ended up walking another 44 or so miles. I think I need another medal 😉

Thank you for sticking with me through what has been a ‘marathon’ recap. I hope you got a sense of how much fun I had during the Marathon and the whole weeks events.

2014 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend – Part 4 – Half Marathon – January 11, 2014

Wake up number 3 for race number 3. I did actually feel like I needed to use the foam roller to get my eyes open today. Nevertheless I was up thanks to my 2 alarms and hotel wake up call and got up and dressed into my ‘Team Up’ gear. Today the closest I was going to get to a costume was my Pro Compression Marathon Socks were coordinated with my ‘Team Up’ colors. No more costumes this weekend. Looking at the forecast the day before there was a chance of rain and runDisney had already posted a heat advisory for the weekend. We would just have to wait and see how this would impact today. The goal was to take it easy so there was enough left in the tank for tomorrow’s marathon.

Bright and early again at EPCOT. Look at the temparature!!!

Bright and early again at EPCOT. Look at the temperature!!!

Day 3 and excited for the Half Marathon

Day 3 and excited for the Half Marathon

Again I arrived early at EPCOT and as you can see from the photograph above it was already quite warm. I headed over to the entrance to the ‘Race Retreat’ for today’s Team #runDisney meet up and after a quick photograph with the group I headed through bag check. I was definitely earlier than I had planned but I recalled last year’s Half Marathon where it was absolutely jammed getting to the corrals. This year was a little different as runDisney had reduced the number of runners which made it easier getting to the corrals.

Heading to bag check.

Heading to bag check.

As I was walking to the corrals I started chatting with folks around me and bumped into Mark who was also running for Team Up. I didn’t have the opportunity to meet him the previous night so we chatted all the way to our corrals (we were both in corral F). Chatting away with someone is a very good way to relax before the start of a race. Mark and I grabbed space in the corral and sat down waiting for the start. Getting there early allowed us to have enough space to sit and get off our feet. Incidentally the speakers around our corral were not working so although we couldn’t hear all the excitement of the pre-show we were able to sit and have a nice chat.

Without the speakers working we suddenly noticed that the crowd had become quiet and we heard the start of the National Anthem so we got up knowing that our start was minutes away. runDisney had reduced the number of overall runners and increased the number of corrals this year. Last year I started in corral B and this year I was in corral F. When I first got my waiver I was a little shocked by the change in corrals but thanks to some great research by the blog ‘Run, Knit, Travel‘ it seems that by the numbers I was pretty much in the same place I would have been last year. We watched the first few corrals leave giving me a good opportunity to get some good firework views as we waited for our corral to be brought forward. Soon it was our turn…

Donald waiting to give us the word.

Donald waiting to give us the word.

So we were called to the start line…Donald counted us down…3…2…1…GO!!!!!!

Wait…what happened? Where were the fireworks? No fireworks? Really? That’s why I’m here? Can I get a refund? What?

So, no fireworks for our corral. A little disappointed I set off for the start of the race. Just past the start line on the left was Bart Yasso cheering on the runners who were part of the Runner’s World Challenge. Bart is a great guy and was friendly to all the runners passing by. Just as an aside, I ran the Philadelphia Marathon with the Runner’s World Challenge back in 2011 and would recommend the experience. Okay, back to the race.

Due to the timing between corrals a couple of minutes later I heard fireworks. Yup, corral G got them 😦 , nevertheless I was on my way and looking forward to the day. As I approached the first mile marker I bumped into Kimberly from ‘Mother Maker Marathon Runner‘. Kimberly and I have been Facebook friends for a while but we had yet to actually meet up despite some attempts during the previous two days. Some of you may know Kimberly already but for those of you who don’t she is truly an inspiration. She is a cancer survivor and has continued running through her chemotherapy treatments. Since undergoing surgery and her treatments she has run the Dumbo Double Dare in Disneyland, the Chicago Marathon, the New York Marathon and was running the Dopey Challenge…and also was scheduled to run the Tinkerbell Half Marathon the week after the Dopey. Amazing.

Meeting the amazing Kimberly Markey

Meeting the amazing Kimberly Markey

Meeting Kimberly was a great start to the day. We chatted while standing in line to have our photo with Captain Jack Sparrow. I said my ‘so long for now’ and wished her luck and headed off for the Magic Kingdom.

Aaaargh!!!

Aaaargh!!!

You approach the main entrance to the Magic Kingdom and make your way up to the Ticket and Transportation Center. That is a great place for supporters to gather and see their runners pass through. Today was no different and the crowds were out in full force. Also, the Ticket and Transportation Center has nice indoor bathrooms. Just at the right time having been in the corrals for so long 🙂

Heading through the main gates on our way to the Magic Kingdom

Heading through the main gates on our way to the Magic Kingdom. No charge for being on foot.

I took the opportunity today to make stops at as many characters as I could with the plan on taking it easy and so that I could bypass the same photo stops during the Marathon. This worked out well as sometimes depending upon the time you arrive at a character stop there are different although related characters, for example Peter Pan and Wendy might swap out with Captain Hook and Mr Smee. Today gave me the opportunity should there be someone different there tomorrow. As always I tried to get the pictures of the characters that my sons will most want to see.

With Jack and Sally. Both my boys love 'The Nightmare Before Christmas'.

With Jack and Sally. Both my boys love ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’.

As you pass through the Ticket and Transportation Center you start to approach the Magic Kingdom. First you pass ‘under’ ‘Bay Lake’ via a small underpass and them run alongside the ‘Contemporary Resort’, round the back of ‘Space Mountain’ and then enter ‘Main Street USA’ just past ‘Town Square’.

Outside the park just behind Space Mountain

Outside the park just behind Space Mountain

My very favorite part about running at Walt Disney World comes when you enter the Magic Kingdom and you run up ‘Main Street USA’. This is truly one of the most unique opportunities in the most special of locations that I can think of. As a self-confessed ‘Disney Head’ I admit that I absolutely love this part of the race and it wouldn’t matter to me if it was mile 1, mile 6 or mile 20 (although it would be cool if it was mile 26.2!!!) This was the 4th time I had experienced this and it was still as ‘magical’. The crowds line the street left and right, the street is all lit up and Cinderella’s Castle is all aglow just in the distance. You cannot beat it for atmosphere. As you can see from my pictures, I’m in my element here.

Here I am on Main Street USA - Magic Kingdom

Here I am on Main Street USA – Magic Kingdom

You don’t spend too much time on Main Street but you run up and make a right turn into ‘Tomorrow Land’ where I encountered the real ‘Buzz Lightyear’ as compared to my fake Buzz from the 10K. This was the first of three character stops in a row where just as I ran up to have my photo taken the character went inside for a quick break (I assumed Buzz had to re-energize his fuel cells, Pooh Bear needed a quick shot of honey and Daisy Duck had to re-arrange her feathers). However, all was well despite this becoming a ’19 minute mile’ that included these character stops.

Buzz Lightyear

Buzz Lightyear

Pooh Bear

Pooh Bear

Viewing the Castle from Fnatasyland

Viewing the Castle from inside Fantasyland

Donald (minus Daisy)

Donald (minus Daisy)

Then comes another fun part of the race which is running through the Castle and the chance for a great photo opportunity in front.

Hey, look where I am!!

Hey, look where I am!!!

After running through the Castle we make our way out of the park through Liberty Square and Frontierland and then backstage out onto Floridian Way (a.k.a. ‘Cone Alley’). I took one more character stop to have a photograph with Woody on the way out of the park.

3,6

He’s got a friend in me

At this point in the race the sun had started to rise although it wasn’t what I would call sunny. I guess daylight is a better way of saying it. Thankfully there was cloud cover as it was already warm and very humid at this point however once we left the park a cool breeze was blowing which made the run a little more comfortable. It as at this stage that I always look forward to seeing Mary Poppins as she is usually located just outside of the Grand Floridian. However this year she was not there (on either day). I later learned that she was with Bert and the Penguins in the Race Retreat tent on both days. So I settled in and with the exception of a few character stops maintained an even pace from here on out until we started to approach the overpass that would lead us to EPCOT.

There is not too much to see on this part of the course as it is basically a retread of the route to EPCOT from the other side of the Magic Kingdom but it does give opportunities for some character stops. This year however those were few and far between on the way back. Generally I noticed less characters out on the course than in prior years. That may well have been part of runDisney’s plan to help get foot traffic flowing along with reducing the number of runners and the changes to the spacing of the corrals.

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Aloha

There are a series of rolling hills (this is Florida…don’t get the wrong idea…they are still pretty flat) as you make your way back to EPCOT. While running towards the overpass along World Drive I heard my name being called and turned to find Jonathan who started with me in the 10K the day before. We had a little chat during my walk break and then parted ways as I began to run again. He looked to be having as good a time as I was so that was great to see.

Having fun out there

Having fun out there

Once you have gone around the ramp up to the overpass you are only a couple of miles out and as you cross over the overpass you can see the sea of runners coming up behind you. It is a pretty cool sight to see so many of your fellow runners out there and is encouragement to know that you are within a couple of miles from the finish line. It was at this time that I ran alongside Sid Busch (who I actually had lunch plans with that day). Sid has run 19 of the 20 Disney Marathons and is ‘Perfectly Goofy’. He was out here running the Dopey. Sid is a retired naval officer and runs carrying the American Flag in support of our Armed Forces and runs in memory of fallen soldiers. He is kind of famous out here at the Walt Disney World Marathon (and other races too). He was looking good.

Great to see Sid out there on the course. Getting lots of crowd and runner support for all his good work.

Great to see Sid out there on the course. Getting lots of crowd and runner support for all his good work.

There is a sharp right turn at mile 11.5 and that leads you straight towards EPCOT. Once you have made the turn you can see the park and you know you are close to the finish. From there on in you run through Future World and out towards the finish line. As you can see from the photos I was enjoying myself alot. Actually I felt much better than at this point the year before where I almost had injured myself ‘racing’ to the finish line. I took it nice and easy this year. Experience shows.

The home strectch

The home stretch

Made it!

Made it!

I made it through the finish line with a chip time of 2:43:54. Not fast by any means but considering my goal of taking it easy and all the character stops (including the ‘disappearing’ characters in the Magic Kingdom) I wasn’t too disappointed with my time. I had said to myself at the start that anything around 2:30 would be fine. WIth 26.2 miles to run the next day I was feeling good and that was what counted.

I got my medal and headed over to the to the self-treatment area to ice down my legs. As I was travelling solo this year I had actually taken a studio apartment rather than a one bedroom like usual which meant that there was a shower but no bath tub where I would have soaked in cool iced water. I took extra time at the self-treatment area to ice down my quads, hamstrings, knees and calf muscles. I looked a sight for sore eyes. I have to thank the folks from the medical team for volunteering and for wrapping me up in ice and clear wrap.

It may not look good but it did the trick.

It may not look good but it did the trick.

I then made my way out to the bag check and headed back home to shower up for my lunch reservation in the Magic Kingdom.

Medal number 3 for the weekend

Medal number 3 for the weekend

The 'Donald' medal

The ‘Donald’ medal

Again, the wrist band process was much better today as it had been at the 10K even with the added runners who were participating in the Goofy Challenge.

Three races, three wrist bands

Three races, three wrist bands

So now I was adding to both my bracelet and medal haul. Not bad for three days.

Bling Bling Bling

Bling Bling Bling

So after a quick shower I headed back to the Magic Kingdom for lunch (at ‘The Crystal Palace’) with Sid and new friends Rob and MaryJane where we chatted for almost 2 hours and refueled before the Marathon on Sunday. After we said our goodbyes I spent the rest of the day in the Magic Kingdom. I had a checklist of rides and attractions that I wanted to hit that I had planned would be a little restful (i.e. off my feet) before watching the ‘Main Street Electrical Parade’ and heading off home for another relatively early night.

Obligatory post Half Marathon celebration

Obligatory post Half Marathon celebration

Dole Whip - this is magical fuel...

Dole Whip – this is magical fuel…

I was getting a bit tired around 6pm and headed to my last attraction (the ‘Carousel of Progress’) and had actually decided to skip the Electrical Parade and head home early. It’s not like I haven’t seen it a few times 🙂 Well, what a good choice that was. As soon as I was back at the Transport and Ticket Center the heavens opened up. Rain was steadily coming down and I was driving home through a lightning storm that lasted a decent amount of time. Getting home early gave me the chance to also FaceTime with my family. I got to show them some of the gifts I had bought for them and also read books to them in bed. It was great. The boys seemed very pleased with my purchases. I think they even missed me while I was gone.

The boys seemed very pleased with my purchases. I think they even missed me while I was gone.

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I got my gear ready for the next morning and headed off to bed. My Fitbit stats for the day? Well, considering I had run a Half Marathon (13.1 miles) I racked up a total of 21.27 miles. Again, how that would play out the next day was anyones guess. With that I turn out the lights and tried to get some sleep knowing that in a few hours the main event was going to be here.

2013 – Looking back and forward

Today marks the last day of 2013 and the first full year keeping this blog up to date. It has been a most enjoyable experience writing my recaps, my thoughts and communicating with folks from all over through the comments and on Facebook. Thank you for your support.

2013 was a very busy year running wise with approximately 1,744 miles run (and a few chasing my kids which didn’t get recorded).

2013 Summary - Nike+

2013 Summary – Nike+

I started this blog at the beginning of the year to recap on the Walt Disney World ‘Goofy’s Race and a Half Challenge’ and finished this year writing about my training for the 2014 Walt Disney World ‘Dopey Challenge’. That’s a great start and end to my year. You can read all my race recaps here. The year included 3 full marathons and 5 half marathons. Most of these I had the pleasure of running with my wife (she ran 2 full marathons and 5 half marathons). It wasn’t a big year for PR’s but I did squeeze a fast 10K run (fast for me) in the fall. Overall I just enjoyed running with family and friends and staying fit and healthy which is what counts the most. PR’s will come I have no doubt.

2013 took me running across the country to San Francisco where my wife and I celebrated our 10th anniversary by running the 2013 San Francisco Half Marathon. That was such a great trip. We ran everyday to sightsee and walked all over the City. A great place to visit.

So now I am planning for 2014 and some upcoming races. On the slate for now (confirmed and paid up) are:

January – Walt Disney World Dopey Challenge (4 race, 4 days, 48.6 miles)

March – The Love Run, Philadelphia (Half Marathon)

April – Hot Chocolate 15K (Philadelphia)

April – New Jersey Marathon

My wife and I also entered our names into the lottery for the 2014 New York City Marathon and we will find out if we get in around the end of March. We do have a couple of other races in the hopper should we not get in, but we will wait and see.

Distance running is individual sport (no one else can put the miles in for you) but there are ways to use it to good effect. Back in January I raised a total of $3,406 for Autism Speaks running the Goofy Challenge. In 2014 I will be running the Dopey Challenge again to raise funds for Autism Speaks and as at the time of writing I have raised a total of $3,555. I was also inspired by watching a friend guide a blind athlete during the Trenton Half Marathon to look into becoming a guide for future events. This week I ran with the local chapter of the Achilles Foundation and in doing so introduced myself to the group and hope to be involved in some capacity working with them to volunteer as a guide during some races in 2014. I look forward to the opportunity.

Again, I would like to thank you all for taking time over the year to read my posts and wish you all the very best for the New Year.

Thank you.

Ian