Catching up…at 88 miles per hour!!!

This is going to be a quick and rapid catch up as I can only use the ‘Wayback Machine’ for a short time.

With all the training that I was doing for my July half iron distance triathlon I let the blog updates sit on the back burner for a while. Something about the 3am wake ups and two a day work outs that finished around 9pm made me avoid logging on late at night. Strap in tight…this is going to be a very quick update.


Garmin Connect – June 2017

This was by far the biggest month of training for my half iron distance triathlon. I logged 398 miles (107 running/279 cycling/12 swimming).

Back in early June I ran in the Freedom Mortgage 5K. I was right in the middle of my triathlon training so I was feeling fit. Given that I had run this event well last year I was looking forward to returning. Also, this is the event that my wife was the race director for. As was the case last year I came down with the boys and my father in law. The race course was certified this year (it was long last year). I ran hard and ended up running the exact time as my previous 5K PR (from back in 2012). I was really pleased. I placed 1st in my age group and 15th overall. I earned my donuts that day.

My finish time for the 5K

We made it a family affair again this year.

At the end of the month my wife finally convinced me to participate in The Color Run. I have been hesitant to participate in these races although my wife has run the past few years. I only agreed to do this as we were going to run as a family. At the end of the day it was a fun time and my kids had a blast…until we got home and we had to scrub them clean in the shower.

Running through the Phillies stadium during The Color Run

In the midst of it all…

I guess this says it all

June was a really intense training month for the triathlon and I was more than happy to start my taper at the end of the month.


Garmin Connect – July 2017

The above calendar tells quite a story. In the end I logged 157 miles for the month (32 running/121 cycling/4 swimming).

July was my big event month. I had been training hard for the Rev3 Williamsburg triathlon and was looking forward to having the whole family down with me in Williamsburg for the weekend. As you can read here, the race didn’t really turn out as planned but it definitely was a memorable experience.

The rest of the month was pretty much me being sidelined. I ended up having to cancel my race entry to this year’s New Jersey State Triathlon. I had to rest my body as best I could. I tried running late in the month but I was a little too ambitious. I had to dial it back. However, I found a good compromise by using a sling and slowing my pace down…. a lot!!!

How I felt getting started again

End of July sling running


Garmin Connect – August 2017

Albeit very slowly, I logged 143 miles this month. Running only. It will be a while before I’m back in the pool and I’m staying away from the bike for now.

My actual training plan for this year’s Philadelphia Marathon began in the last week of July. By August I was just getting into the early stages of the plan and struggling a bit with pace. I would still be wearing my sling and by the end of each run I would be hot and tired due to the heat and humidity. I still gutted it out though. We had our family vacation in Myrtle Beach, SC during the third week of August. I was up early to beat the heat every day (not that you could really escape it) and despite my lack of pace I was able to pretty much stay on my training plan. By the end of the month I was running without the sling. Taking it easy still but getting back to form.

Free winging it


Garmin Connect – September 2017

This month I logged 182 miles of running.

September primarily consisted of buckling down to marathon training. I had chosen Hal Higdon’s Intermediate II training plan which is slightly higher mileage than the Intermediate I which I have mostly used. I thought following all the triathlon training I would be in a better position to do the higher intensity training. I hadn’t planned on my accident back in July and so hadn’t gone back to update my annual training plan. I figured I could do a couple of extra miles here or there. My mid-week runs are higher than on the Intermediate I plan and coming up in October I will be doing three 20 mile runs vs two which would be my usual training for a marathon. September therefore had pretty high mileage.

It was a very warm month with no break in the weather that one would expect for early fall so my pace was slower than would normally be.

During the month my wife and I participated in the Philadelphia Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon. This year however we didn’t immediately sign up for the 2018 race so we shall see if this will be on our plan for next year.


Garmin Connect – October 2017

This was the big month of training as I get ready for the 2017 Philadelphia Marathon. I logged 203 miles of running.

I spent a lot of time on my feet running around. This month included the three 20 mile runs I mentioned earlier with three 50 mile weeks out of the month. I didn’t have much time to sit back and relax but all in all I was glad to get through the month uninjured and ready for the taper.

One change that occurred this month was that I finally changed out of my regular shoe after 6 years in the same type (Brooks Adrenalines – I’d worn models GTS 11 through GTS 17). I had been struggling a while in this shoe and the last two iterations (the GTS 16 and 17) just didn’t have the same fit and feel. However it takes a leap of faith sometimes to try something new.

I read a review about the updated Saucony Omni 16 and decided to give it a go. I took them out on a 5 mile run and they felt fine. I was already experiencing difficulty in the Brooks shoe and to some extent my feet were feeling some pain points at the end of runs. On the day of my second 20 miler of the month I had run about a half mile before I had to turn around and go home. There was pain on the top of my foot from the Brooks overlays. I took a risk and ran in the Saucony’s after only wearing them for 5 miles the day before. They came through the challenge as did I. The shoe profile is slightly different (there is a lower drop in the Saucony vs the Brooks) but the stability was there when I needed it.  Needless to say I return the two unopened boxes of Brooks and replaced them with the Saucony’s. Fingers crossed this is the right move for me. So far so good. I ran the rest of the month in them including the third and final 20 miler.

Thanks for sticking with me on this. Time to hand the Wayback Machine to its real owners and get…


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 😦


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.


July 2014 – Month in review

July 2014 - Nike+ Summary

July 2014 – Nike+ Summary

As I end the month of July I am just over a couple of weeks away from the ‘Chasing the Unicorn‘ Marathon. This was a month of buckling down and get my training runs in. This month I managed 194 miles as I keep up the training plan I chose this time around. In hindsight, training for an August marathon is probably not my wisest decision based upon the heat and the training plan I chose (Hal Higdon’s Intermediate 2) but there has been some cooler weather so all the runs were manageable and I’m feeling good and confident of my goal for the race.

I took part in one race this month, the In24 Midnight Madness 8 mile run. This was more of an event than a race and I ran a pretty decent time considering the time of day and how many hours I had already been up at that time. It was fun and you can read my recap here. I got to try out some new gear (Noxgear Tracer360) during this race which was fun and did draw some positive attention. I’ve subsequently run while wearing this during my early morning runs when it wasn’t part of the night run…not sure the attention was as positive…more strange looks, especially from the wildlife in the park where I run. Literally I know what ‘a deer in the headlights’ really looks like close up 🙂

Wearing my Noxgear 'Tracer 360'

Wearing my Noxgear ‘Tracer 360’

As this was a holiday month and we didn’t go away for our usual week of vacation for July 4th we have taken advantage of our weekends. I gave each of my boys a special day during the month. With my youngest we went to the Bucks County Children’s Museum and with my eldest we spent a day in Philadelphia celebrating ‘Benjamin Franklin’ and visiting all places related to the Founding Father. We also as a family spent two days in New York City. We had a great time and took the boys to the top of the Empire State Building and also to the Statue of Liberty. We also got to eat at the Peanut Butter Company Sandwich Shop. I would recommend it as a place to visit if you are ever in Greenwich Village.

Family time with 'Thing 2'

Family time with ‘Thing 2’

Family time with 'Thing 1'

Family time with ‘Thing 1’

Lady Liberty with Things 1 and 2

Lady Liberty with Things 1 and 2

I received my Mickey Milers team jersey this month. It’s great to be a part of a running group even though everyone is spread out across the country (and beyond). I have managed to meet up and run with a couple of team members so far and we will be having a group meet up at the upcoming Philadelphia Rock ‘n Roll Half Marathon in September. The team’s goal is to raise funds for the ‘Give Kids The World‘ Village in Orlando, Florida.

Mickey MIlers team shirt

Mickey MIlers team shirt

Also this month I was invited to join the INKnBURN Ambassador Program. I am very excited to be a part of this team as I really like the products they make. I mentioned last month that I had wanted to try this brand for a while and when I did I really liked how they looked and performed. Now I am proud to have been chosen to ‘spread the word’. I will be doing a detailed review in the near future and will be able to share a special discount code with everyone. I’m excited to see some new products and look forward to sharing my impressions of them and wearing them in some upcoming races.

This month I am continuing to promote my two virtual runs to raise funds for Autism Speaks. If you haven’t yet checked them out please do so here. I have some great medals and great prizes which were donated from some leading running gear providers. Also I am continuing to fundraise for Team Up for Autism Speaks as my wife and I both run for their charity team for the 2015 Walt Disney World ‘Goofy Challenge’. If you would like to support me please use this link here. A big thank you in advance.

'Going Goofy' 5K medal

‘Going Goofy’ 5K medal

'Secret Agent 005K' medal

‘Secret Agent 005K’ medal

Upcoming I have the ‘Chasing the Unicorn’ marathon on August 17th and I just recently signed up for the Bucks County Duathlon on August 31st (I participated in 2011 and 2012 but missed last year due to a family wedding). A lot of things to look forward to and a goal to achieve in August.

Thank you for reading. I hope you had a good July and have a great August.


June 2014 – Month in review

Lots of fun times in addition to running this month including a couple of nice surprises.

June 2014 - Nike+ Summary

June 2014 – Nike+ Summary

I reached a new milestone this month. This was the first month since I started running that I ran more than 200 miles in a month (202 per my stats). No wonder I’m tired. This is mostly due to me using Hal Higdon’s Intermediate 2 plan which has more mileage midweek and an extra 20 miler in the plan (1 down and 2 to go as of June 30th). So far all is going well even as the heat and humidity makes the runs more of a workout than normal. I guess training for an August marathon will test your endurance.

The month started with me continuing on the training plan for the marathon but now the distances are becoming greater every week. The good thing is that it is lighter in the morning and with the exception of when I had to travel out of town for work (more on that below) I have been able to run in the daylight and on a few occasions see the sun rise. It’s been fun. I am seeing a lot of familiar faces and a few new faces as I run my usual laps of the park. Good to see some folks out there making their first strides. I encourage with a smile and a wave as I run past as it seems everyone is plugged in but it is paying off now and I get the smiles back. Runners etiquette. Love it.

We finally said goodbye to our BOB Ironman double stroller. Our boys are just too big for this now and I was really struggling to run and push them and keep up with my wife when running. They really had exceeded the weight limit and my eldest son’s knees were pretty much touching his ears. We had lots of fun with that stroller over the last couple of years and we put on a good number of miles together. It was great while it lasted but when casual observers commented that my son was big enough to push me we knew it was time.

Our first stroller run - Memorial Day 2012

Our first stroller run – Memorial Day 2012

Our last stroller run - Memorial Day 2014

Our last stroller run – Memorial Day 2014

On Father’s Day I ran the Gary Papa 5K for Prostate Cancer and met up with my fellow Mickey Miler, Joe. It was nice to meet him and it was a fun day. I travelled down with my father in law and it was good to see him back running races. He is signed up for a few more this year including the Rock and Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon in September. Together with my wife, my sister in law and future brother in law we have a full caravan of cars heading down and it should be a fun day.

At the start with my Father in law

At the start with my Father in law

At the finish line with Joe.

At the finish line with Joe.

On Father’s Day we also go to celebrate my son’s team winning the Flag Football Superbowl. They were unbeaten all season. Now I have to start building my son’s trophy shelf. He was very happy and we are very proud of him and how he played with the team.

My little champion

My little champion

This month also included the Cycle Bucks County event. This was the third year I have taken part in this event and it was a really beautiful sunny day. I opted for the 25 mile route (actually 27 miles) and there were also 10, 50 and 60 mile routes to ride. It was very hilly but a good workout. I did walk a couple of hills (as did many others) as I didn’t want to fry my quads and also as I had a 19 mile run on the training plan the day after.

I earned my ice cream on this ride.

I earned my ice cream on this ride.

With a net elevation of almost 1,900 feet it was a very good workout. You can see the route here.

We had a pleasant surprise when my in laws offered to take our two boys up to Albany, NY for the weekend to visit family. My wife and I had free time which we had not planned that weekend and we took advantage of having some personal time on Saturday to get some stuff done which we wouldn’t have had a chance with the boys around, go out for a nice relaxing dinner and catch a movie. The next day we could sleep a little later and both get our long runs in. I had 19 to run as I said earlier and my wife joined me at mile 8 and we ran my last 11 miles together. She took me to some places in Tyler Park that I had never visited and some hills I had never run before (probably not planning to run those again either). We then had a nice quiet brunch and then headed out to an evening concert (The Steve Miller Band and Journey). A great weekend.

Running the 'Covered Bridge Trail' in Tyler Park. A first for me.

Running the ‘Covered Bridge Trail’ in Tyler Park. A first for me.

Work took me to Atlanta, Georgia this month (and I will be heading there a few times this year). My hotel was nearer Piedmont Park this time around and the office I needed to visit was next to my hotel. With the exception of my first travel day when I headed straight to the office I was able to run every morning. With my short commute (next door) I was able to get my longer training runs in without getting up so early. I usually commute about 55 miles each way so I have to get up early to get my running in. This was also the first of my big weeks on the training plan and it called for runs of 5, 10, 5, 10 and 20. The sun does rise later as we are further west so I had my headlamp for both of the midweek long runs but was able to finish in the day light. It was warm and humid but good training for the heat I will expect in August.

While in Atlanta I got the chance to catch up with ‘Fast Eddie’ McCoy. He is a big part of the Mickey Milers running team and is a big inspiration to many as well as lots of fun. He met me on Wednesday evening while I was there and took me out for a group run from one of the local breweries (Red Brick Brewing Co.). It was about 90 degrees when we ran and it we hit some pretty big climbs. Eddie is fast and his slow is my fast. I was keeping up but it was a hard and fun workout, especially considering the heat. We shared a couple of beers and then had a really nice dinner at Tin Lizzy’s Cantina in Midtown Atlanta. I will definitely be heading back there when I next visit. The last couple of trips to Atlanta I have participated in group runs. I will be looking into doing another one evening on my next trip as I will be travelling solo next time.

Post 5K run with Eddie.

Post 5K run with Eddie.

I finished off the month with a 20 mile long run when I got back from Atlanta. It went well and I felt good even the day after when my boys and I had a crazy busy day together using our membership at the Adventure Aquarium in Camden, New Jersey.

Enjoy time at the Adventure Aquarium

Enjoying time at the Adventure Aquarium

Great times at the Adventure Aquarium

Great times at the Adventure Aquarium

Enjoying a 'Cake Batter Shake'. I claim only 1/3rd of the calories :-)

Enjoying a ‘Cake Batter Shake’ with my boys

Also new this month, for me anyway, were my new shirts from ‘INKnBURN‘. I took advantage of some discount codes online and purchased a few items. I’m really happy with them. I think the shirts are great and they work well as technical running shirts. Very comfortable.

The 'Healing Mandala' tech shirt

The ‘Healing Mandala’ tech shirt

The 'Ganesha' tech shirt

The ‘Ganesha’ tech shirt

The 'Rock and Roll Run or Die' tank top

The ‘Rock’n Roll Run or Die’ tank top

It was a busy month and I had lots of time on my feet outdoors both training, running with friends, running with my wife and playing with my boys. I’d say June was a success. Looking forward to the rest of summer.

While I have your attention (if you have stuck with me this far I guess I have) I’d like to remind and ask you if you would be willing to support me in my fundraising efforts for Autism Speaks. As you may know from this blog I will be running the 2015 Walt Disney World ‘Goofy’s Race and a Half Challenge’ with Team Up / Autism Speaks. This will be my third year running for this team and I hope to take my total raised over the years to over $10,000. I cannot do this without everyone’s support. If you feel you can contribute I would very much appreciate this. I thank you in advance. You can donate by using this link.

Thank you for reading and have a great summer.

April and May – Month(s) in review

As I was starting my review for May I realized that I never posted the month in review for April. It may have been that I was a little busy around the month end (see here) which took my mind elsewhere for a few days and I never actually realized my oversight until just now. April, after all, was a pretty big month for me.

April 2014 - Nike+ Summary

April 2014 – Nike+ Summary

My monthly stats show 152 miles but that is not the whole story for the month. I set a new Marathon PR (3:54:30) at the New Jersey Marathon. In addition I ran a the inaugural Philadelphia Hot Chocolate 15K and the Bucks County Half Marathon. With the inaugural Philadelphia LOVE Run back on March 30th this made for a very busy few weeks of training and racing. The cool thing about that is that all my race times were around my marathon goal pace so I actually went into the marathon with confidence. All the hard work paid off. I was a very happy fellow for a few days…until I had to take about 10 days of unforced rest.

Philadelphia Hot Chocolate 15K

Philadelphia Hot Chocolate 15K

Bucks County Half Marathon

Bucks County Half Marathon

What else…oh yes, my wife and I signed up for the Baltimore Running Festival. We will be running the Baltimore Marathon together. My hope is that we can bring her marathon PR down further. I’m confident she can. We also signed up for the 2014 Rock and Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon. I was hesitant to do this again as I have run it for the last 3 years and we had discussed skipping this but for some reason we decided to give it another chance this year. After all, we have a family wedding later this year and we want to look good in the pictures.

April was also registration time for the 2015 Walt Disney World Marathon weekend. Again I signed up with Team Up/Autism Speaks for a third year but this time ‘just’ the Goofy Challenge. My wife also signed up with Team Up so we are fundraising together (harder than training if you ask me). As part of our fundraising efforts we are running two virtual 5K fun run/walk events. This proved both popular and successful for me last year and we are hoping for the same this year. We actually have some really great medals and vendors have been generous to offer some cool prizes for participants this year. I hope you take a few minutes to take a look, perhaps join in one of the events and please do share this with your friends/running partners. It should be fun. Here are the medals designed for the events.

005K medal

005K medal

Going Goofy

Going Goofy

With a rather abrupt end to April (running wise) and a short break in training in May I had some ground to make up…well, really I was antsy and wanted to get back out there ASAP. Here is my recap for May.

May 2014 - Nike+ Summary

May 2014 – Nike+ Summary

I still managed to get 113 training miles in during the month and was very grateful to be able to do so. The weather outside in May has been glorious. Yes, there have been some cool mornings but with the exception of a couple of rainy runs it has been great to be outdoors in the early mornings as the sun is rising and get my runs in. Now that I am training using Hal Higdon’s Intermediate 2 training program my weekday mileage has crept up a little. I’m glad for the extra sunlight so I am not so reliant on the headlamp right now.

My wife ran in a couple of races this month. Early in May she ran a new PR at the Broad Street Run 10 miler in Philadelphia and on Mother’s Day I signed her up for a local 10K where she came back with a 2nd place age group finisher award. Go Shari!!! I’m a big fan (when I can keep up with her).

My wife with one of her awards (2nd place age group - Mother's Day 10K)

My wife with one of her awards (2nd place age group – Mother’s Day 10K)

The rest of this month has really been focused on managing the new training program and the increase in mileage. I am trying to follow the program diligently and doing the pace runs before the long runs. So far so good. Holding about an 8:30 min/mile pace on the hilly course where I train so I’m pleased with that.

On Memorial Day I finally took the bike out for my first ride of the season. I’m pleased to say that I got in 20 miles and felt comfortable. I have signed up for a third year now for the Cycle Bucks County riding event in June so I’m looking forward to that. I think 25 miles is my comfort level when it comes to cycling right now. I’m not yet ready for the Ironman training.

Memorial Day was also the last time we did a family run with our double stroller. The boys are just too big. We bought the double stroller back in 2012 so that my wife and I could both run together with the boys. We have put on well over 150 miles running together with the stroller including three 5K races as well as a couple of long vacation runs. We figured that the boys were on the cusp of the weight limit at the end of last summer but held on to it over the winter. We took it out on Memorial Day and I just couldn’t keep up with my wife. My boys are getting bigger and we were not able to keep up with each other. It was time for it to go but we had some great times running and a lot of fun. It went to a good home.

Our last stroller run. As you can see, the boys are big enough to push me.

As you can see, the boys are big enough to push me.

With the good results of the medical procedure behind me I can now concentrate on other matters. One thing I wanted to look at since I PR’d at the New Jersey Marathon is a chance to better it. I think I can do it. I signed up for a local marathon held in late summer on a flat and fast course along the Delaware Canal Towpath. It is in August so there may be some heat to deal with but that is my goal and after that I can enjoy Baltimore and then Goofy with my wife.

I’ve also signed up for the Gary Papa Father’s Day 5K in Philadelphia. I ran this back in 2012 and this is still my 5K PR (23:31) although I don’t run many anymore. I haven’t decided if I am going to race this for a PR or do this for fun. We shall see how I feel closer to the date. It is a good fundraiser for prostate cancer awareness and draws a large number of entrants. It is a fairly flat and fast course down by the Philadelphia Museum of Art. That is coming up on Father’s Day (June 15).

Also, I finally I decided to sign up for a race that I had been tempted to in the past but had not done yet. A midnight 8 miler in July as part of the ‘philadelphia#in24‘ series of races taking place along the banks of the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia on July 19 through the 20th. It is a 24 hour event featuring an ultra marathon, a relay challenge, a midnight run and a 5K. Should be fun. I’ll be there all lit up in lights and reflective gear.

I have a pretty busy season coming up and lots to look forward to. It’s not all running though. As much as my wife and I pack in with our training and racing we still have plenty of time for our boys. There is a swimming pool in our development for those hot summer afternoons, we just bought a trampoline so our kids can tire themselves out (hopefully) as well as memberships at Sesame Place, the Adventure Aquarium in New Jersey, the Philadelphia Zoo and the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia (thank you Groupon for all you do!). We are also planning a weekend in New York City with the boys and are planning a trip to the Statue of Liberty. As I said, running is just part of our lives…not all that we do.

Thanks for reading. Hope you are having a good start to the summer.

Chasing the Unicorn…or at least trying


Coming off my recent PR earned (on the second attempt) at this year’s New Jersey Marathon I didn’t really have anything on my race schedule until the Baltimore Marathon in October and the Walt Disney World ‘Goofy Challenge’ next January. Both these races I will be running with my wife and so there are two goals: (1) In Baltimore it is to break 4:30 with Shari in her third marathon (we ran 4:45 together at the 2013 Philadelphia Marathon) and; (2) To successfully complete the Goofy Challenge still upright and smiling.

It was interesting for me that my reaction to achieving my PR at the New Jersey Marathon was a very brief high, but it soon faded. Why? I don’t know. I had prepared for this for over a year (longer if you count the training leading up to the 2013 Marathon). Personally I look back on the race and think I can do better. Yes, I did achieve my goal but it wasn’t pretty in the second half. I was nowhere near a negative split and I didn’t pace myself well in the second half. Am I being too hard on myself? Maybe, but perhaps it’s a reflection on my new focus and desire to do a bit better and achieve greater goals. This is what spurred me into registering for the ‘Chasing the Unicorn‘ Marathon taking place August 17 this year.

Why is it called ‘Chasing the Unicorn’? What is it all about? Why am I running it?

The logo of the Boston Marathon is the Unicorn. The primary objective of this particular race is for runners looking to earn a BQ (Boston qualifying standard) ahead of the registration deadline in September. In order to run the Boston Marathon, runners need to achieve a certain qualifying time goal in relation to their age group. For male runners in my age category (40-44) the qualifying standard is a marathon time of ‘3 hrs 15 min 00 sec’.

This race was first put on last year as a response to the increased demand to qualify for Boston in the wake of the 2013 bombings. Here is an article from Runner’s World Magazine that was published about the inaugural event in 2013.

As you may have read from my New Jersey race recap my marathon PR is 3 hrs 54 min 30 sec, not even close to the qualifying time unless I was in the 60-64 age category. So why is it that I have chosen to participate in this race and why was I allowed as I appear to be well outside the qualifying time?

I was already familiar with the ‘runBucks‘ series of races and the race director Pat McCloskey having participated in a few of his races in the past. My wife has won a couple of awards running in his events and is all too pleased to show me her awards (sore point in our household) 😉 I hadn’t considered running a race like this last year as I didn’t feel there was any way I would be reaching the BQ standards any time soon but two things made me reconsider. Firstly, I do some of my training runs on the canal and I have probably covered most if not all of this course during my long runs and secondly I think I can better my PR.

My wife with one of her awards (2nd place age group - Mother's Day 10K)

My wife with one of her awards (2nd place age group – Mother’s Day 10K)

I had struggled a little after the New Jersey Marathon back in 2013 and was a little demoralized having trained and not earned my PR but throughout the rest of 2013 I just set out to enjoy myself, run races with my wife and took my races with a relaxed attitude. I did attempt a PR in the Benjamin Franklin Bridge 10K which I did achieve but mostly it was about maintaining my fitness going into the inaugural Dopey Challenge back in January of this year. If you look at my recap of those four days down at Walt Disney World you will see how relaxed I was and how I found the marathon such an enjoyable experience (even after the previous three days of running) compared to my previous two years running that event.

I came back from Walt Disney World with a new confidence in my running and throughout all the training for New Jersey I felt comfortable and watched my speed become more consistent and a little quicker. In fact I ran three races in the four weeks leading up to the New Jersey Marathon at or close to my marathon goal pace. I felt confident going into the New Jersey Marathon and did in fact achieve my goal.

Okay, so not a BQ by any means but I do feel like I can do better. This prompted me to reach out to Pat directly and ask him if it was okay to register. I told him upfront that I wasn’t anywhere close to a BQ but I feel that this was the type of event that I could aim to improve my PR. It wasn’t going to be crowded (a very limited field) and I would be running solo so it seemed like a good opportunity to try. I also asked Pat if it was okay based upon the field size if it was okay to enter. I didn’t want to take away a BQ opportunity from a runner who was genuinely in a position to earn a qualifying time. Again, Pat reassured me that this would not be a problem just to keep my awareness up that I was going to be lapped…a lot (this is a double out and back loop of about 6.5 miles).

So here I am. Back at it in marathon training mode. In the past (marathons 2 through 8) I have used Hal Higdon’s Intermediate 1 training plan with Jeff Galloway’s run/walk method. This time I am ‘upping’ to Hal’s Intermediate 2 plan. It calls for a little increase in mileage (I get a third 20 mile training run) and with the summer here I can get up a little earlier and make time to do some speed workouts without fear of slipping on ice!! I know it will be warmer than I am used to training for a marathon but hopefully I will acclimatize enough over the summer to make this work. Here is my training plan for this event, the Baltimore Marathon and through the Goofy Challenge next January.

It’s going to be tough especially with the increased mileage but my goal is to be sub 3:50. Yup, I’ve put this down here in writing.

I’ll keep you posted 🙂


2 new virtual races/challenges to raise funds for Autism Speaks

In an earlier post I mentioned that I had signed up once again to run for ‘Team Up for Autism Speaks’ for the 2015 Walt Disney World ‘Goofy’s Race and a Half Challenge’. This will be my third year in a row running for this team. This year my wife will also be running with the team and we will both be ‘Goofy’ together.

As part of my fundraising activities, and with the success of last year’s “Where’s Dopey 5k” my wife and I are planning two events this year to help raise funds for Autism Speaks and hopefully get closer to achieving our fundraising goals. We are pleased to share that these events which are now live and the details are below:

Race/Challenge 1:

‘Going Goofy 5K Run/Walk for Autism Awareness’

This is a themed 5K run or walk with a fun challenge. Everyone who enters by making a $25 donation to Autism Speaks receives a special themed medal. The $25 fee covers registration fee, medal and shipping (international registration fee is $30 and includes additional shipping costs). You can sign up using this link.

Here is the medal (design is based on original artwork last year by the wonderfully talented Ruby Dee).

Going Goofy

Going Goofy 5K Medal

Now here’s the challenge. Taking a lead from my son’s ‘Flat Stanley’ school project, in addition to running or walking a 5K I am asking participants to take Goofy along with them (either a picture or a character doll) and take a picture and post it to my Facebook page. You can sign up early and do the run or walk anytime between now and July 31st. Just remember to send those pictures in by the end of the event.

Race/Challenge 2:

‘Secret Agent ‘005K’ Run/Walk for Autism Awareness’

This is another themed 5K run or walk with a fun challenge. Everyone who enters by making a $25 donation to Autism Speaks receives a special themed medal. The $25 fee covers registration fee, medal and shipping (international registration fee is $30 and includes additional shipping costs). You can sign up using this link.

Here is the medal.

005K medal

005K Medal

Now here’s the challenge. Whether you go undercover or are wearing your best evening wear you must take a photo of you or your running friends in your best secret agent action pose and post it to my Facebook page. Again, you can sign up early and do the run or walk anytime between now and July 31st. Just remember to send those pictures in by the end of the event.

The most creative or impressive pictures for both events will be voted on for prizes.

I reached out to vendors whose products I regularly use who were willing to donate a product for the event. To date prizes include:

Hal Higdon

A signed copy of Hal Higdon’s recent book about the events of the Boston Marathon Bombing in April 2014.

tiger tail

Product from Tiger Tail, a rolling muscle massager (which I carry in my gear bag post marathon). It is an awesome product. Love it.

Sweaty Band

An ‘Autism Speak’s’ branded Sweaty Band. a great way to stay sporty and look good for a great cause. Stay sweaty!!

LL_Triathlete Ad December_half-page_v2a 10-2013_OL

Some product from Lock Laces which is a brand I use on all my running shoes (my wife does too). I cannot say enough about this product.


A SPIbelt. You cannot carry everything. In races I dispense with a water belt and use this to carry my phone and gels.

Pacific Health Labs





Pacific Health Labs are providing some of their new Pina Colada ‘2nd Surge Energy Gels’. They sound yummy.





GU Energy are providing some sample packs (I hope that includes some of their Salted Caramel product).

I am hoping to add to this list as the event progresses. I will update this page as necessary if I receive any more vendor sponsors.

So, sign up, get out there and get creative. Most importantly have fun doing it 🙂

Thank you for supporting Autism Speaks. Your contribution is greatly appreciated.

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

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.



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.

A very Dopey training week

So first of all, don’t yell at me. I happened to be on vacation last week and missed all the big snowfall in the North East. If it makes you feel any better I had to dig my way back into my driveway when I got home from the airport and I was not appropriately dressed warm enough. Okay, now on to the blog post 🙂

Last week while on vacation I took advantage of the time to run a mini-Dopey Challenge. I was fortunate to have:

  1. My parents looking after our two boys
  2. My wonderful Wife to run along side me for most of these runs
  3. Warm weather and little elevation (not many hills in Florida)
  4. Extra time in the day so I didn’t have to run in the dark (except for one day)
My mini-Dopey training week

My mini-Dopey training week

On my first day in Florida I was finishing up my previous weeks training. I was tired from the late night arrival and got up a little later than usual but headed out to run 16. Having run up in Pennsylvania for the last few weeks, while not frigid cold, I was not used to the change in heat and humidity. It was a brutal 16 miler in which I ran out of water by mile 14. I was running with my Camel Bak hydration pack which I have never before emptied on a long run, even in summer’s up in PA and NJ. Ugh. I felt drained by that and was relived to have a rest day coming where I could sit and relax (as much as a 3 and 7 year old can allow you to).

My 16 miler around the Island

My 16 miler around the Island


Nice view – makes a change from running in the dark

Next up was the mini-Dopey.

My Wife had run a 6 miler on my rest day and she joined me the following day for another 6. This was not part of the training plan as I had set out. I had planned on just 4 miles as the plan was to run 4, 6, 10 and 20 as part of my 4 day plan but we ended up running 6 on Monday as it felt okay and wasn’t too hot to do so. No-one ran out of water that day.

Monday's 6 miler running along the bay

Monday’s 6 miler running along the bay

photo 3

My Wife’s obligatory jump shot

photo 2

A palm tree at the turnaround…nice!

Monday's 6 miler

Monday’s 6 miler

As I have written about previously, I am using an adjusted version of Hal Higdon’s multiple marathon training plan. I used this last year and adjusted my Saturday runs to be at least half the Sunday long runs to simulate the Goofy and this year I planned on doing the same with the difference being throwing a couple of 4 days into the mix. My plan for this week as mentioned above was 4, 6, 10 and 20 miles. The 4 and 6 went off without a hitch. I had to pull myself back from running more than 4 on the Tuesday and my Wife ended up running 5. I stayed back and made sure to stretch while she ran that extra mile.

Tuesday's 4 miler

Tuesday’s 4 miler

We were staying on Bradenton Beach which is a small strip of land on the Gulf Coast near Sarasota, FL which runs from Anna Maria Island at the top of the strip to Lido Key at the other end. In between the two there is a stretch of about 20 miles which encompasses Anna Maria, Holmes Beach, Bradenton Beach, Coquina Beach, Longboat Key and St. Armand’s Key. We set off in different directions every day to explore the island.

Tuesday’s 4 miler took us from Bradenton Beach to Holmes Beach and back. Wednesday’s 6 miler took us over the bridge that stretches from Coquina Beach to Longboat Key and back.

Tuesday's 4 miler

Tuesday’s 4 miler

Wednesday's 6 miler

Wednesday’s 6 miler

Longboat Key, FL

Longboat Key, FL

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View from the Longboat Key Bridge

On Thursday we planned to run 10 together from Bradenton Beach up to Anna Maria Island but we kind of got lost and ended up running an ‘unofficial’ half marathon on the Island. Still the views were pretty and we were running in sunshine along the beach. What could be bad about that? My Wife actually ran out of water and we ended up sharing the Camel Bak over the last mile or so. You may know from my blog that my Wife is about 12 inches shorter than me so you can imagine how I was hunched over to one side every time she took a drink 🙂

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The ‘Unoffical’ Anna Maria Island Half Marathon

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We made it to the tip of the Island

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Palm trees at the half way point

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13 miles – mission (and a bit) accomplished

My parents like to walk the 2 miles from Brandenton Beach to Holmes Beach and back everyday (with a stop for coffee at the Anna Maria Island Beach Cafe).  At the Beach Cafe they have an ‘all you can eat’ pancake breakfast option. Guess who took advantage of that after 13 miles 🙂

All you can eat pancakes and coffee on the beach. This must be what heaven is like.

All you can eat pancakes and coffee on the beach. This must be what heaven is like.

On Friday I got up early before dawn so I could get my planned long run in and be home early enough not to tie up the whole family waiting for me. I decided to venture up to Longboat Key as we typically drive the 13 miles or so of the Key and I hadn’t really run along there before. It was much cooler and there was a fair breeze which made it much easier to run. The terrain is fairly flat but the long stretch is paved all the way up. It is also well lit although I did keep my headlamp on until around sunrise. Not many people out at that time so I took it nice and slow. My splits were all around 10:15 minutes per mile, a little slow for me but come my 5th consecutive day of distance running it wasn’t too bad and I was feeling okay. I just wanted to make sure I finished. I actually took myself to 11 miles before I turned back. That would make this run a 22 miler and would be my longest ever training run. I was feeling okay and decided I would go for it as you don’t get the option to run shorter in the Dopey Challenge. I didn’t take any pictures that day as I was in full concentration mode but I did look at all the magnificent homes along this stretch. Wow. I need a lottery win to live here.

The big one. Friday;s 22 miler.

After an ice bath (although the water was never actually that cold from the taps in Florida) and a quick shower I was out the door with the boys as my Wife headed out for a run. She met us along with my parents at the Beach Cafe where as you can guess I ordered my ‘all you can eat pancakes’ breakfast again. Hey, I ran to eat that day for sure.

It was a tough but fun week. I felt good at the end and I have had 3 rest days since. It has given me the confidence I need to get to the Dopey Challenge in just over 3 weeks time. I’m really excited right now and looking forward to racing through the parks and meeting up with friends. It will be over before I know it but my goal is to savor the experience that I have trained hard for.

Thank you for reading.

November 2013 – month in review

November 2013 -  Nike+ Summary

November 2013 –
Nike+ Summary

128 miles this month but a very busy month.

I had been focusing my training on running the 2013 Philadelphia Marathon and strictly following the Hal Higdon Intermediate 1 training plan but somehow I managed to sign up for and schedule two races in the two weeks leading up to the marathon itself and one just over a week after. Yes, two races during the time I should have been tapering. Luckily they both went off without a hitch as did the marathon and I also managed to earn a PR in one event.

The weather was a big factor in each of the races I ran during November. The first race was the Benjamin Franklin Bridge 10K run. It was a cold start but I managed to warm up enough to earn a new 10K PR. I don’t run many 10K distances so it was one of my longer standing goals that I had to beat. I felt good on the day and just went for it.

The following week was the Trenton Half Marathon. It was a really nice course and I ran the race with my wife. We had a wonderful time despite the very cold weather. There was a delay at the start line due to a clock issue and so we stood around in the cold. It took me a couple of miles to feel my feet. All was good in the end. The goal was to do no harm as we were both running the marathon the following week and we stuck to that plan.

On Marathon day itself we ran in t-shirt and shorts. We lucked out for sure with the weather and again it was a wonderful race. It was my 6th marathon (3rd Philly Marathon) and my wife’s 2nd marathon (she ran the 2013 Walt Disney World Marathon with me back in January this year). We had a marvelous time together. Running 26.2 miles with your spouse is definitely both an enjoyable time and a test of how much we support each other. We are already looking to 2014 for another marathon together.

As the Philadelphia Marathon was a week earlier than usual this year I had a decent recovery week before we toed the line for the annual Turkey Trot 5 mile race that my running club hosts. This year my parents had flown in from the UK to join us on the day, taking our boys on the one mile fun run/walk. The temperatures were frigid. It was probably the coldest I had been all year. I had three layers on and was still shaking. Needless to say I warmed up with a nice fast time with my wife setting the pace and me following a step behind her.

With November ending I am now focused on the upcoming Dopey Challenge at Walt Disney World which is (at the time of writing) just over 5 weeks from now. I have spent the first two weeks following the marathon in ‘recovery’ mode, the next four weeks are the intense training weeks and then I will have about a week and a half to taper. Luckily I am spending a few days in Florida on the Gulf Coast perfectly timed (through a happy accident) for the longest runs of the training plan. Altogether my time in Florida will cover about 60 miles of running including one 20 mile long run which I am doing during the 8 weeks between marathons. I am looking forward to some sunshine.

Thank you for reading.