Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Meet the Family: Bill

Hey there!  My name is Bill Stater, a 34 year old Educational Consultant from Las Vegas (but originally from the central valley of California).  Having a job that requires me to be away from home a lot definitely presents some unique challenges when it comes to exercising, particularly running long distances.  On the other hand, this also enables us to rack up frequent-flier miles and hotel rewards, making it much easier to travel to places like Disneyland and Walt Disney World and participate in these Disney races which I have grown to love.  Good times!

Races Completed:
2010, 2011, 2012 Disneyland Half Marathon
2012 Walt Disney World Marathon
2013 Walt Disney World Half Marathon
2013 The Giant Race Half Marathon
2013 Dumbo Double Dare (10k and Half Marathon)
2013 Wine & Dine Half Marathon
2014 Walt Disney World 10k

Inspiration for Running:
Oddly enough, my running journey began as the result of a bet that I lost.  Each year during March Madness, my wife Aly and I make a bet to see whose bracket does better.  A few years ago, our bet was that if I won, we would fly to Denver to watch my Giants play the Rockies.  If Aly won, I had to run a half-marathon with her.  Well, you can probably figure out who won that year!  Ten races later, I have to admit that this has been the best bet that I have ever lost.  Don’t get me wrong, I have always enjoyed being active through sports, but just running never really appealed to me.  However, I now understand what people are talking about when they mention ‘runner’s high’.
Favorite Disney Character: 
I don’t know if I can say that I have a favorite character.  I know I have favorite Disney films, such as The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad and The Hunchback of Notre Dame.  But to pick a specific character, that’s really tough.  I guess I would say that when I was younger, it was Donald Duck.  In fact, I used to be able to imitate his voice pretty well.  Today, though, I would have to go with Eeyore.  Perhaps it is because I always like to root for the underdog (hmm…maybe THAT is why I lost the bet), and let’s be honest, that guy needs some cheering up.  I also am a fan of Gaston.  That guy cracks me up!

Why I Love Running Disney:
I love running Disney for three reasons.  First, because they are so well run.  I have heard so many horror stories of other races where they have run out of snacks, served contaminated water, and generally been disorganized.  Second, there are generally quite of few spectators to cheer you on.  It really does make a difference when you are running.  And third, it gives me and excuse to take a vacation to Disney for a few days!  Need I say more?

Advice for Training:
If it’s your first time, my advice for training is to focus on logging the miles and not worrying about your pace.  If you have logged the miles while training, you should feel confident that you will finish.  Keep in mind that once you get to the starting line, your adrenaline should kick in and cause you to pick up your pace slightly.  Don’t overdo it on the training and hurt yourself.  Then you’ll be disappointed because you won’t even make it to the starting line.  Remember that there will be good runs and bad runs.  Tomorrow is another opportunity, so don’t be too hard on yourself.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Race Report: 2014 WDW Marathon--10k

Huge line in the hotel lobby at 3:45 am waiting for the bus?  Check.
Enough KT Tape to span the globe in every color imaginable?  Check.
Hundreds of women and dozens of men dressed like Minnie Mouse?  Uh, check?!
Seeing these things can only mean one thing, it was the morning of the inaugural Minnie Mouse 10k!  Here’s the recap:

On the bus (almost awake)!
This Friday morning began with the alarm clock blasting at precisely 3:10 am.  Why 3:10, you ask?  Because Aly and I determined that it would take us exactly 35 minutes to get ready, and those extra 10 minutes are HUGE.  We began our morning routine of fixing peanut butter and jelly bagels for breakfast and getting dressed in our running costumes.  Being a Minnie Mouse themed race, we opted to go with matching Mickey and Minnie outfits.   A quick check to make sure that nothing was forgotten, and… we’re off!

After a pretty uneventful bus ride to the Epcot parking lot, checking our bag, and using the restroom just one more time, we entered Corral C and waited for the announcement that we could start.  Now, in my experience with Disney races, there is usually 2-3 minutes given between corral starts in order to space out the runners.  You can probably imagine our surprise, then, when we realized that we were being given 10 minutes between groups.  Looking back, it was fairly nice to have the groups spaced out that much, although I don’t think it would work for the half-marathon and full marathon since there were only five corrals in this race and upwards of 16 in those races.  Some people would be running well into the afternoon.  In the Florida heat, that sounds less than appealing. Eventually, our corral was herded towards the starting line, Minnie gave the count down, and fireworks were set off to signal that once again… we’re off! 

The first few miles saw us running through parking lots and streets.  Not the most exciting stretch of course ever created, basically up and down one of the major parkways that run between the parks.  It gave you ample opportunity to notice that it was a bit on the hot and humid side today.  Much different than yesterday, which was (by Florida standards at least) freezing!!!  It wasn’t until just after Mile 3 that we that entered Epcot, through the back entrance to Test Track.  It was quite fascinating to see just how long the track on this ride was.  You definitely don’t get the full feel for it while on the ride.   
Can’t spend too much focusing on this though, because the course began to narrow as we took a left and began the run through World Showcase.  In my opinion, World Showcase has always been one of the most visually appealing sections in all of Disney World, so this definitely made for one of the best stretches of the race. Because we had just spent a good amount of time in this section of Epcot just a few months prior during the Disney’s Wine and Dine weekend, this portion of the race was a great opportunity for us to be a bit nostalgic.  I found myself reminding Aly of lobster rolls, garlic shrimp, filet mignon, fresh watermelon juice, and a number of other items that we had enjoyed so recently.  What a wonderful distraction.  

We exited Epcot and took a trip to the Epcot resorts: The Boardwalk and Yacht & Beach Club. The smell of pastries baking and coffee brewing caught our attention, as well as several people around us.  Great, now I’m hungry!  As we looped around, it was nice to hear the cheers of some spectators; this course is not very spectator friendly. 
Quickly we were back at Epcot running through Future World.  We were in the home stretch and the sun was just starting to come up.  Around the geosphere, probably better known as the “Big Golf Ball” and we were at the finish line.  We finished together, and each held back the urge to sprint ahead to beat one another by just a second (yes, we can be just a tad bit competitive).

It’s always fun to be part of something inaugural, and we were not disappointed.  We wish the course would have gone through 2 parks (Hollywood Studios and Epcot would have been perfect), but overall, it was a great race experience!  We accepted our medals, grabbed a snack box and some Powerade and congratulated those around us as we walked towards the bag check area.  Bag in hand, we headed to the meet-up area and checked our phones to confirm our time.  For me, it was in fact a 10k personal record!   To cap it all off, we took a few celebratory photos, and then once again, we’re off… but this time it was to the hotel for a quick nap before heading to Disney’s Hollywood Studios!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Meet the Family: Aly

Hello everyone!  I am 35 years old, and currently live in New York (though I grew up in NJ, and will always consider myself a Jersey Girl).  I love everything Disney, especially running Disney races.  I work as an online fitness coach, a running coach, a group exercise instructor, and I also work part time at the local community college.  Fitness is truly my PASSION and I love every moment I get to spread the love of fitness, especially running. And yes, you can say this whole "runDisney" addiction is my fault...and I couldn't be happier!
2013 Coast to Coast

Races Completed:
2005 Las Vegas Marathon
2010, 2011, 2012 Disneyland Half Marathons
2012 WDW Marathon
2013 Goofy Challenge (WDW Half Marathon & Full Marathon)
2013 Family Fun Run 5k (to make me unofficially Dopey)
2013 Giant Race Half Marathon
2013 Dumbo Double Dare (Disneyland 10k & Half Marathon)
2013 Jingle Jungle 5k
2013 Wine & Dine Half Marathon
2013 Rock n' Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon
2014 Dopey Challenge (WDW 5k, 10k, Half, & Full--48.6 miles)
Okay...updating this...I seriously lost count of races and years, but here are a few other races I've done:
Surf City Half Marathon
Princess 5k, 10k, & Half
Star Wars 10k & Half (Disneyland)
Hot Chocolate 15k

Inspiration for Running:  This one is interesting for me.  I am a total freak, I know, but I absolutely LOVE being in the gym and working out. It's not a tough one for me.  On that same note, I acknowledge that I am a freak and 99% of the population does not share this love.  Because of this, I try to show people that fitness can be fun!  Whether it be running at Disney or dancing for an hour during Zumba, I want others to love being fit too!  So, that's #1!  I'm inspired by people looking to find a way to add health to their life. I don't think people realize the feeling I get when a friend will comment on a post and says, "Okay, I'm going to workout today or I'm going to start a healthier habit today." I am truly humbled when I am able to inspire just one person to do something for themselves. As a newer mother, this rings true today even more than when I started this blog years ago.

My Favorite Character:  I'm cheating and picking 2 (don't tell the rest of the family).  First, Winnie the Pooh is my fav.  What can I say?  I love that cuddly bear!  He's just so cute!  My second is my favorite princess--Cinderella.  I grew up going to Disney World, and my favorite childhood picture is me with Cindy when we had lunch at the castle.  In my dreams, I'm Cinderella.  I keep trying to convince my hubby that I actually AM Cindy, but...

Why I Love Running Disney:  I love Disney.  I love running.  What's not to love?  But seriously, I love running Disney for 1,000 reasons, but one huge one is that Disney supports all runners and supports running for fun!  It's okay to run/walk/run at a Disney race.  It's okay to walk at a Disney race.  It's okay to take pictures.  It's okay to run fast.  It's okay to put on a tutu and tons of glitter at 3 am.  Disney is all about fun, and having fun while being fit is what I'm all about!

My Advice for Training:  Okay, I'm getting serious here.  Respect the distance.  Whether it be a 5k or the Dopey Challenge, you need to respect the distance and what it means to you.  Training is hard.  There are times I don't want to run.  I do, though, because I want my races to be nothing but fun.  You never want to be at the starting line wondering if you can finish.  You want to own the race and be able to enjoy every mile.  So please, train for your races.  I promise, it will pay off when you are sprinting toward the finish line AND able to spend the rest of the day proudly wearing your medal while running all around Disney!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Race Report: 2014 WDW Marathon--5k

Part 2 of the 2014 WDW Marathon Weekend Race Report.  If you missed part 1, all about the expo, check it out HERE.  The 5k began at 6:15 on Thursday, January 9.  Luckily my phone has beautiful-sounding chimes as the alarm, because today was the first of four very, very early mornings!  It was also somewhat comedic, with all that went wrong.  Luckily this all happened during the 5k and not one of the longer distances of the weekend.

Early wakeup meant I wasn’t quite “with it” yet.  I woke up, got dressed in my Figment costume, and my dear husband made a comment about his i-pod.  Oh crap!  I didn’t charge anything last night!!!!!  My Garmin was completely dead and my i-pod had a little juice left.  I quickly plugged them in, but there was no way to get it all going in 10 minutes.  I took my chances with the i-pod and left the Garmin behind.  We went along to the lobby thinking the fountain drinks would be open.   Drat!  No drinks, which equaled no caffeine.  Alright, let’s get on the bus (we stayed at the All-Star Sports, so we used Disney transportation to the start line).  Here we go—where’s my breakfast?  Damn!  I left it on the bed!  See…like I said, comedic, but only because it was the 5k and not a longer distance!  Guess I was running on an empty stomach and with no caffeine. 

In training for the race, I really stuck with Jeff Galloway as the “lead plan” (I added a little Hal Higdon and modified the Galloway “walk” to be a run).  I also listened to him on the Mickey Miles Podcast and other outlets to figure out what a good race plan would be.  My plan for the 5k was to run it like a weekday training run, which I usually run around a 10-minute mile, and walk through the water stops. 
There was the usual fanfare at the start.  The 5k is nice because the start line is fairly close to where you get dropped off.  I started in corral B, so it wasn’t long before we got going.  The course was a little congested at the start, but thinned out quickly.  The first mile is on road/parking lot before you enter Epcot under Test Track.  We circled “around the world” with a small detour around the international gateway park entrance.  I ran with my phone and contemplated a picture with Dopey, but the line was literally over a hundred people long.  I stopped for a few selfies, but really just wanted to get to the finish.  There weren’t many other tempting photo stops, anyways, so it wasn’t too much of a struggle.  Around Spaceship Earth and off to the finish line.  It was a great warm-up run. 

At the finish, I collected my Pluto medallion and headed to the Dopey tent for my wristband.  This was a mess, with everyone being herded too early and people not moving through toward the end of the line.  I walked to the end where dozens of volunteers were waiting with no lines (for the record, runDisney fixed this the next day).  I also collected my water, Powerade, food box, and banana.  My hubby snapped a few finish line pics and BOOM—race 1 was done!

It really went by fast.  I didn’t do much in terms of recovery, since this was pretty much nothing compared to the distances I had been putting in during training.  We DID, though, get a little nap in after a shower.  We spent the day in the parks, enjoyed some great meals, and made it a somewhat early night, trying to get to bed knowing those beautiful-sounding chimes were about to go off again, even earlier. 

Next up:
Day 2 of the Dopey Challenge!
The 10k!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Race Report: 2014 WDW Marathon--The Expo

It’s time to start recapping the 2014 WDW Marathon Weekend!  In all honesty, I can’t even believe that it’s over.  I trained so long and so hard to get to those 4 finish lines.  Let’s start at the beginning: the expo!  With a new year comes a new line of merchandise.  We got “first dibs” at some items, such as the Vinalmation and (of course) the 2014 New Balance shoes.  Knowing that I had to have a pair of those Cindys, I planned to get to the expo early.  Not crazy early, just early in the day.  We boarded the buses around 9:30 to get to the expo for the opening.  We ran a little late, so we weren’t there as early as I would have liked, but I made a pact with my hubby that no matter what, we were going to have fun.  No getting upset over little things like shoes or rude people.  That’s not what this was all about. 
On our way to stand in line!
We split up; he waited in line for the “virtual queue” for the NB shoes and I went to the expo.  I was sure to bring my list on my phone to keep me focused and knowing that I got everything I needed.  I started at the official merchandise and picked up my “I Did It” shirt, jacket, magnet, Sweaty Bands, water bottle, and lanyard.  There were a few other items that were tempting, but I refrained.  I found this part to be easy, with short lines and enough space to not feel like I was going to pass out.  I was able to try on my jacket and shirt in the corner to be sure everything fit just right.  Truth be told, since the 2013 Disneyland Expo, I have always had that nervousness that it would be a disaster.  This part definitely restored a little more faith in the expo!
Off to the other vendors.  I really have to hold on tight to my wallet here; I love buying running gear!  I grabbed some Body Glide, a new Sparkle Athletic skirt and Shwings, and got my free art card.  I was pretty much in and out of the expo in less than 45 minutes. 
At this point, I thought this would be an awesome experience—well, I texted my hubby and my delusional self was brought back down to earth.  He was still waiting in the long, long, long New Balance line to sign up for the virtual queue.  I met him in line to find that he had at least another hour wait.  We got to talk to some other runners, which is always a fun way to pass the time.  I debated getting started on packet pickup, but didn’t have the authorization form to pick up my hubby’s stuff.  **Lesson learned: I think from now on I will always have copies of all the IDs and authorization forms so anyone in our group can do packet pickup—that would have saved us a lot of time**  We finally made our way up to the queue and signed up for our text alert.  To my shock, they were unable to give us a time to come back (I thought that was how it worked).  We were told we would get a text when our number was up, and we had 20 minutes to get to the booth to get shoes.  If we missed our time, they would try to “squeeze you in” but there were no guarantees.  Well, we were already this far into the commitment, so we might as well go all the way. 
Our race swag
We both then went to the Jostens Center for packet pickup.  Again, everything went super smooth.  I was even able to exchange my shirts (which is good, because I ordered and women’s XL and ended up needing a M).  I have to give major kudos to runDisney and Champion!  The shirts this year are AWESOME!  The women’s cut is great, but even more-so, the material is super soft.  The designs are also really nice.  Good thing, too, since I came home with 6 shirts from the Dopey Challenge.  The only complaint would be that the 10k shirts were a little feminine with the Minnie theme.  Not sure what more they could do, though, to really change this.  I had pre-ordered pins and a Dopey necklace.  They are great additions to our growing collection!
We had lunch reservations at Hollywood Studios and decided to try our luck at leaving the expo and coming back for the shoes.  We were looking at hours of wait time, and we wanted to get to the parks.  Thanks to the power of social media, I was able to keep up with a few people who posted updates on times and when they finally got the text. 

So, here’s the honest truth: We saw on a Facebook group that someone just walked up and purchased shoes without having a number.  I’m honestly not sure how true that was, because they were pretty strict all the times I passed by.  I also read others saying they didn’t get the text or they got it late.  I got nervous/annoyed, and we decided to leave the Studios (yes, we got in a few rides after lunch) and head back to the expo.  On the bus, we got the text.  It was like a Devine intervention.  I literally walked up to the booth at the 20 minute mark, tried on the shoes, and bought mine, my mom’s and my sis-in-law’s (because, after all, Disney Runs in the Family).  If I had waited any longer, I would have missed it.  The actual “try on and buy” process was awesome.  Took 10 minutes—I just wish the 10 minutes would have been about 6 hours earlier.
Here is my quick assessment:  the process is okay at best.  We still waited in a 2-hour line, but ended up with no shoes until 6 hours later.  This would work better at Disneyland where you could, theoretically, get back to the expo in 20 minutes from a park.  If they had just given us a return time or even a window, I would have been much more impressed with the process.  Also, the registration to get into the virtual queue was taking way too long.  I realize that New Balance wants to gather data from this process, but really, who cares where I’m from.  They should have had at least 20 registration stations; they only had 6.  That would have moved the line along much faster.  I thought they had learned some lessons from last year.  Clearly they are trying, just haven’t hit the nail on the head.

So there you have it: the expo!  If you were there, how did it go?  Did you get the shoes?  If you weren’t, would you have waited?  I’m interested to see if they tweak the process at all for the Tinkerbell Half Marathon.  Up next: the 5k!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Meet the Family: Katie

I am 36 years old from the sunny state of California and I have fallen in love with running and especially running Disney!   Registered nursing is my profession and passion and I am part of the night owl team in the emergency department, which means sleeping days and up all night make my schedule crazy at times.  I have a husband in school at the moment and 2 busy teenagers.  Needless to say, I'm a busy working wife and mom.  If I can find the time to run and train, ANYONE can!

Races completed:  I have run 3 half marathons, ALL at Disneyland.  2 were the Disneyland half and one was the Tinkerbell Half.  I have aspirations for WDW one day soon!  I have also completed 2 10k races.  One at Disneyland as part of the Dumbo Double Dare (which I highly recommend and will come in a later post) and 1 in San Francisco as part of the SF Giants race series.  As for 5k races, I have done many of those as well, although now looking back none have been at Disney.  Something else to put on my list!

Inspiration for running:  I have said this before but it bears repeating... I used to HATE running!  I loathed it in high school and never ran or even jogged as part of exercising, UNTIL I went to cheer on the family at the Disneyland Half Marathon in 2010.  In fact I was not only in awe of all the runners in costumes and their medals, I was jealous and wanted one too!  So, I found myself talking not only myself into training for the next Disneyland Half, but the hubby as well.  I will never be able to express what a HUGE inspiration Aly and Bill were to me that day and the impact of running my very first race at Disney was.  I will save all that for another post.

My favorite character:  I'm not sure I have a favorite character.  But if I had to choose one, I think I would pick Dumbo.  He was my favorite costume to date and inspired me during a very hot inaugural Dumbo Double Dare weekend in 2013!  However, I do own a lot of Mickey so I can't leave him out.  Remember, it all started with a mouse!

Why I love running Disney:  That's easy!!! Because no one else does it like Disney!!! There are lots of fun races out there, and I definitely have not tried them all, but there is something about Disney magic and costumes and running through the same streets that Walt walked himself that is inspiring and downright magical.  It is the place where dreams come true!!!

My advice for training:  Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming!!! Beginning is not easy and takes loads of courage.  Focus on small goals at first,  like running to the end of the block or running 1 minute without stopping.  I posted before about the couch to 5k app.  It really did help me build up my runs.  Always remember that a "bad" run is better than no run. But be mindful of your body and how it feels.  NO INJURIES!!!  Joann had great advice about not comparing yourself to others.  Any distance is an accomplishment!!! Any race is an accomplishment!!!! Any finish or for that matter any start is an accomplishment!!!! If you are dreaming of running a Disney race and getting that Disney medal, DON'T stop, KEEP going, because dreams do come true!!!!

Ten Tips for Tink

Are you running the Tinkerbell Half Marathon in Disneyland?  Have you felt left out with all the hype from the WDW Marathon Weekend?  Don't worry, we've got a post just for you!  While none of us are running this year, I (Katie) experienced the Tinkerbell Half Marathon 2013.  Here are ten tips to get you ready for this awesome runDisney event!
  1. Wear a costume!  Everyone else will be, so join in on the fun!  This family ALWAYS runs in costume, sometimes matching, sometimes similar, sometimes it's on our own.  And don't feel like you are bound to Tinkerbell.  You can dress in whatever costume you want--we've seen Elvis, Superheroes, and (of course) every Disney character from the big cheese to the least known. 
  2. If wearing a costume, ALWAYS take it on a test run! Especially if you intend to use your wings!  Buying fun stuff to run in at the Expo is sometimes unavoidable, but wearing your new purchase race day with out testing it out while running can be extremely uncomfortable.  Last year at Tink, I bought race sleeves to match my skirt.  I had never run with them and it left a very painful rash on my arms for the rest of my weekend at Disneyland.  OUCH!!! Sad face.  So if time allows, run with your costumes!!!
  3. While training, train for everything!  Run in all kinds of weather.  Hot, cold, rain, or shine.  You never know what you will get in Southern Cali.  Especially now that Tink is moving to May in 2015.  On average, May should be pretty mild, but you never know!
  4. Also, run all kinds of courses.  Tink's course is a little different than Disneyland's Half Marathon.  It starts in the opposite direction, going north and begins going up hill slightly and over two over passes before you enter the parks.  After the parks, it is relatively flat for the rest of the course so you can fly with your wings and pixie dust to the finish.
  5. We tend to arrive at these events a couple of days early to attend the ever growing Expos and get in some park time before the big race.  After buying all our goodies, we will have a nice lunch somewhere either in Downtown Disney or in the park.  I can recommend ESPN Zone in Downtown and Café Orleans in Disneyland.  We then like to stroll leisurely around the parks riding some rides and taking in all the sites, sounds and beautiful mouth watering smells that they have to offer.  We also always try to find something that we haven't seen, done or noticed before on previous trips. Snapping pictures in various places and poses is a must for us as well!
  6. After "taking it easy" in the afternoon it's time for carb loading.  A favorite of mine and the family's is Naples in Downtown Disney.  Great for getting those carbs before race morning!  There are also multiple restaurants near the park that have incredible food.  It's then time to call it an early night.  Tink starts EARLY!!! It started at 5:30 last year!! So, that meant that I was up around 2-2:30 preparing and getting a snack. YIKES!!!  It's ALWAYS a great idea to consult your race guide or talk to runDisney personnel.
  7. Have a race plan, and don't let others discourage your plan.  Some races, I plan to run for fun and take lots of pictures.  Other times I run for a PR.  Some people will tell you do not try for a PR at a Disney race.  It is possible, if that is what your plan is!  It is your race to run, so run YOUR race--don't let others tell you otherwise!
  8. Celebrate the ladies!  Disney is one of the few races (though they are growing) where women outnumber the men, and Tinkerbell is geared toward women.  Men can run too, but it's a great time to leave the family at home and have a girl's weekend.  Sounds like a great bachelorette party to me!  
  9. Know before you go.  Review all the info runDisney has sent you about where to go, the expo, the race itself, and all other events. You can pick up a race program when you pick up your bib (they will likely give you one), so no need to print everything  We are all planners, so we like to know when we are going to the expo and may even make some dinner reservations before we arrive.
  10. My biggest tip for running Tink is, HAVE FUN!!! Someone in my corral last year brought "pixie dust" aka, glitter, and sprinkled it over everyone.  And at every mile!!! Once you're there, stop worrying about pacing, corrals, and PR's cause if your worried about all that stuff that you have been obsessing over through training, you will miss all the beauty and magic that Tink and all runDisney events offer it's participants.  So, have some faith, trust and pixie dust for 13.1 miles and smile pretty for cameras, spectators and most importantly for yourself. Finishing is a HUGE accomplishment and smiling while you cross that finish line, being proud of your feat, and high fiving Mickey while tossing some "pixie dust" is one feeling that you will never forget!

"Faith, Trust, and Pixie Dust"

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Meet the Family: Joann

I’m Joann, a 61 year young Disney nut from NJ, who loves to watch her family run. 

When I’m not at Disney World or Disneyland, I work my magic as VP of Operations at a warehousing company that specializes in footwear.  Running is a new adventure for me, but Disney is not, so what better place than Disney to fine tune my experience!

Races completed:   3 runDisney 5Ks & 2 runDisney 10ks
1) My daughter convinced me to join her at the 5k during WDW Marathon Weekend in 2013.  I was nervous I wouldn’t finish (and even more nervous about the tutu I was wearing!), but I did and I was hooked.   I had so much fun.  Disney knows how to feed the adrenaline.  I knew I wanted to do it again.  
2) The first 5k inspired me to take off 70 pounds just in time for my second ---Mickey’s Jingle Jungle 5k-- during Wine and Dine Weekend in November 2013.   What a difference at this race.   
3) Had to try a race at Disneyland, so my third 5k was the Disneyland 5k during the Disneyland Half weekend in 2014.
4) First 10k at the Tinkerbell Half Marathon Weekend in 2015.
5) 10k at the Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend in 2015 (didn't do well, but love that I ran through the castle!

Inspiration for Running:    My biggest inspiration is my daughter, Alyson.  She is definitely the reason I even considered doing a Disney run.   Her encouragement (and the thought of sharing this experience with her) got me through my first race.  She is an amazing woman and inspires me in many ways.   I also got some inspiration from my son in law, Bill.   I love how he supports Aly’s passion and runs by her side.  

My favorite character:  That’s a tough one.  I guess it would ultimately have to be Mickey.  I’d like to be creative and name some other character with an elaborate reason, but it’s simple.  I love Mickey!  Always have.

Why I love to run Disney:   Running Disney is such a high.  There is a great community of runners, spectators and voluntEARs who create a dynamic atmosphere at these races.   Being able to dress up in an alter ego costume while you’re running is the icing on the cake!

Running Advice:   Being a novice runner, there’s not much advice I can give, except to keep going. Always look at your personal accomplishments, whether it’s one mile, 3.1 miles or 26.2.   Don’t compare yourself to others.  I’ve learned that’s a big part of what running is about.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

The Art of Spectating

How do you “prepare” to be a spectator?  You could just show up, that’s fun, too.  But, I like to be ready. 

This year at WDW Marathon Weekend, I’m concentrating on “spectating”.   It will be a short trip, arriving on Friday and leaving Monday.  I will be there for the half and the full and I will get to see my Dopey runner get her “pièce de résistance”.   (Of course, I’ll add a lot of fun stuff between the races.  After all, I’m at Disney World!!)
This year, I only joined the ChEAR Squad for the marathon, not the half.  The ChEAR Squad package can be picked up starting Wednesday.  My kids have the signed waivers ready to get it for me and I'll be able use the fun stuff for the half, as well as the full.  I also stay at the host hotels, because I cannot imagine trying to drive into WDW the morning of the race.
So, what do I do to plan?  If you want to be at the start line and see your runner take off, you must rise early.   Yes, you must be on those early morning buses that the runners use.   Make sure you check the times these buses start and stop because they do stop running to keep the roads clear.  Besides rising early, just like the runners, make sure you have a quick snack for breakfast because there are no restaurants or stores open that early.  I’ll probably pick up something light for breakfast at the hotel the night before.

Last year's swag
I like to be a member of the ChEAR Squad, so I get to bring the waterproof blanket with me.  It has a handy strap, which makes it easy to carry.   It could be cold at 5am, and if you feel like sitting in your spot while you’re waiting, it protects you from the morning dew on the grass. I will also have the clappers to be sure to make a lot of noise as the runners, especially mine, go through their journey.
Wear comfortable shoes.   If you plan on visiting multiple spots to view, you will be doing a lot of walking.  (But, who doesn’t do a lot of walking at Disney, and therefore, must wear comfortable shoes?)

Bring water.  That strong sun warms up fast and if it’s anything like last year, you’ll need it (forecasts are looking warm!).  On marathon day, I’ll be in the ChEAR Squad section, and they supply cold drinks!
Bring your camera/phone.   You will want to take some great pictures.
Track your runner.    Sign up to track your runner here.  Know their anticipated pace.  Why is this important?  With all the moving around you may be doing, you need to anticipate when your runner will be at specific spots.

Review the course map (links to Course Maps can be found below) and transportation in advance.   Choose which locations are going to be your viewing spots.   My first spot is the castle (mile 5.3), so after the start, I head towards the monorail.   The Magic Kingdom opens at 5:30 am to allow spectators to enter.   You do not need a ticket to get in.   (However, if you want to view the runners in any of the other parks, you will need admission to the park.)  You can also find points on the roads near the Transportation Center.  If you make arrangements with your runner in advance, and they stop for the picture in front of the castle, you can get some amazing shots of them with the castle in the background.  Then, I head back to Epcot to catch the transportation to ESPN stadium (between miles 19 and 20).  You can also find spots near the other parks, hotels, etc.   It’s all about reviewing the maps and transportation.  For the finale, I will be at the finish line when my runner crosses.
Signs done!
This year, I’m bringing signs.   It will help your runner find you in the crowds and, as I saw in the 5ks, some were fun to read as you pass.  You can make signs at the Expo, but since I’m arriving so late, I’m bringing some with me.
Bring your strong voice!  Runners appreciate the cheering they hear, even from strangers, especially towards the end of their long runs.  

Finally, have fun.  Disney helps you get caught up in the spirit of the day, even if you’re not running.   Talk to fellow spectators.   You’ll meet a lot of nice people who are doing exactly what you are doing ---cheering on your runners.   Enjoy!

WDW 5K and 10K

WDW Half Marathon

WDW Marathon

Friday, January 3, 2014

2014 WDW Marathon Preview

We are deep into taper mode, and runDisney is deep into Marathon Weekend overload!  There has been so much information and sneak peaks coming from every bit of media that it's been hard to keep up.  Here is our best attempt to get you up to speed on the upcoming Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend, 2014!

If you haven't already, head over to the runDisney Marathon Weekend site and print your waiver, which is found under the "Runner Info" tab.  I have seen some lines at the expo printing station (really, though, never too bad) but let's face it, you'll be waiting in many, many other lines, so why not skip one and print your waiver at home!  Also, if you are picking up bibs for someone else or having someone else pick up yours, you will need 3 pieces of paper: the waiver, the authorization form, and a copy of the runner's ID.  This is also needed for ChEAR Squad & Race Retreat.

Under that tab, you will also find the final race instructions along with course maps and corral info.  Be sure to check the start times and transportation times for your respective races, as well as the expo. Here's a brief breakdown:
Expo: Wed 1/8: 10-8; Thurs 1/9: 9-7, Fri 1/10: 9-7, Sat 1/11: 10-4
5k: Start 6:15, must be on the buses by 5:30
10k, Half, & Full: Start 5:30, must be on the buses by 4
...and yes, that is all AM!!!!  I'm tired just thinking of the alarm going off!!!
There is also a pretty stern warning about runners trying to get into the corrals from the "backwoods" areas (you may get disqualified).  If it were me, I wouldn't risk it!  Enter through the Epcot lot.

If you're like me, you're dying to get those new shoes!  In an effort to control the crowds, New Balance has instituted a new policy.  Read about it here on the runDisney blog.
In short, you will need to register for a time to come back and purchase your shoes.  I hope this will work out for the better, not worse!

runDisney has also previewed some merchandise, including pre-order of Dooney & Bourke purses, runDisney tutus and official runDisney Champion sports bras. I'm still considering the cross-body purse.  I would guess the Disney Parks blog may offer us a few more glimpses of merchandise in the upcoming days.  I'm expecting most of the traditional gear, of which I have a few items on my wish list.

With all of the races and challenges, it looks like the expo is even bigger this year!  Be sure to come with a plan and check out the map.  You will want to save your legs and not do too many laps around WWoS!

For those of you running challenges, be sure to read up on the bibs and the bracelets.  After completing each leg of the challenge, you will need to get a wristband at a tent in the finish area.  Also, Goofy runners, you will have one bib for both races.  Dopeys, you have two for all four races.

Be sure to register for runner tracking HERE
This is the best way for spectators to know where you are on the course.  I always post my results to Facebook, Twitter, and text myself.  What can I say?  I just have to know my results!!!

Check out your iGiftBag you received in your final race instructions email.  There are a few great things in there.  One, that I always have to have, is the coupon for the free Lasting Commemoratives art card.  There is also info about the Cool-Down Party at Downtown Disney.  Did you know you can get 10% off at Fulton's Crab House just by showing your medal?  That's where we'll be at 7:30 for my Dopey celebration!  You can also get a free pair of socks and a bunch of other deals.  Can't find your e-mail?  Check it out HERE

If you were at Marathon weekend last year (or in 2010), the weather is certainly on your mind.  I've carefully stalked multiple weather reports and it looks like we are in for another hot one (albeit not AS bad as last year).  The highs are:
5k--79 degrees
10k--79 degrees
Half--79 degrees
Full--77 degrees
You might want to think about how you will adjust your race.  Definitely think about fueling and hydrating throughout the whole weekend.  Keep checking the weather and keep those fingers crossed it doesn't get any warmer.  Oh, and you can go ahead and save some room in your suitcase--you won't need much cold weather gear (maybe just a little waiting for the start)!

2013 Disneyland Meet-Up
Finally, if you're waiting for the announcement of the Disney Parks Blog Meet-Up, the rumor is there will not be a meet-up for marathon weekend.  I'm sad, as going to the Disneyland Meet-Up was a highlight for me, but I think my legs won't mind.

I think that's all, without retyping the entire website!
Want some race reports and pictures to get you excited?

Check out my report of the 2013 WDW Marathon Weekend here: Expo 5k Half Marathon Full Marathon

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We will be updating all our social media during WDW Marathon Weekend!  Look out for up to the minute info and updates from the Happiest Race on Earth!