Thursday, December 19, 2013

Friday, December 13, 2013

Race Recap: runDisney Wine & Dine Half Marathon

After the early morning running the 5k, I woke from my afternoon nap, had a few snacks, got changed into my race gear and caught the shuttle bus from All Star Movies over to the Wide World of Sports about 7:15. It took about 30 minutes to get there, and I met up with some other Team Studios Central members for a group shot.

I was amazed by how well runDisney handled the logistics – more than 14,000 runners were gathering along with hundreds if not thousands of supporters. There were countless porta-a-potties and with about 20 minutes before corrals opened the lines were long and growing.

The DJ was still going strong and leading group dances when the corrals opened just after 9pm. I promptly moved to the front of Corral D.

I didn’t want to sit on the concrete so I ended up standing the entire time, talking a little with the people around me, including the husband of a bird trainer cast member at Animal Kingdom. He was running his second half marathon and we joked about the start is so exciting it’s hard not to get caught up and running too fast.

The Wine and Dine Half Marathon course runs through three theme parks: Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios and Epcot. Only the Magic Kingdom is left out.

At 10pm sharp the first wave of runners started to fireworks and cheering. Every few minutes another corral would start and ours would move closer to the starting line. As we got closer I noticed bubbles floating around, and then it was our turn to go.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Race Recap - runDisney Jingle Jungle 5k

I hadn’t originally planned on running the Jingle Jungle 5k, which is held the same morning of the Wine & Dine Half Marathon. But I started to get interested in it after reading race recaps from people who had done the 5k the morning of the Tower of Terror 10 Miler in September.

Although the race was sold out, I found a woman who had registered for the race but had to cancel her trip. She kindly allowed me to use her race entry, so I picked up her bib, with her name prominently displayed across the bottom. That’s why you’ll see my iFitness running belt covering the bottom of the bib in each picture.

The race started at 7am with shuttles scheduled to run starting at 5am. I got up at 4:30 with a plan to catch the bus over around 5:15. I had laid out all my stuff the night before so I was showered, dressed and out the door a little after 5am. There was a bus waiting and it left just a few minutes after I got on.

I arrived at the Animal Kingdom parking lot about 5:25 and was impressed with the scope of the pre-race logistics. 
So many port-a-potties!
There was a DJ playing and trying (mostly unsuccessfully) to get people dancing and a long line for a picture with Mickey and Minnie. 
You'd have to be a fool to get in this line.

With nothing else to do for the next 90 minutes, I decided to get into the line. It took about an hour, but I got my picture.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Wonka's Factory: the RunDisney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Meet-up

I had such a great time last week at my first RunDisney events. You might think it impossible that they'd live up to the hype, but they really do. It's no wonder the races sell out so quickly.

My race weekend began with an exclusive opportunity to participate in a RunDisney Meet-up. It's really tricky to get invited, but I managed to be one of the 125 lucky participants! After finishing up some work appointments, I hustled over to Epcot around 8pm on Thursday night of race weekend. This is the first evening Meet-Up RunDisney has ever put on.

At the check-in table they gave me a shirt to change into, a FastPass for Test Track and instructions to report to a special viewing area by 8:45 for Illuminations.

I changed into my shirt and went over to Test Track, spotting some other people in the queue with the same shirt and exchanging knowing glances. After the ride we gathered near the Mexico Pavilion and I had the chance to meet some super nice people like Wendy (a.k.a. MapsGirl) and Carrie (who I didn't even realize was a member of the Disney Mom's Panel). I also recognized a ton of bloggers who post about RunDisney events. It was by reading their sites that I even knew about these Meet-ups and how to get in!

At 9pm the fireworks started, and we had the best seats in the house.

After Illuminations we had a little more time to mingle as guests exited the park. When the coast was clear we walked up to the America Gardens Theater where they had some fruit, wine and a sample of the Trick'n Chick'n with Curry, which is one of the vegetarian dishes served at the Food & Wine Festival. We also had a chance to meet the head chef.

The speakers included Faron Kelley, Director of Marketing & Communications for Disney Sports. He had the line of the night: "We've got Epcot to ourselves, we left the torches on, and we're going to run. How cool is that?!?" RunDisney Training Consultant & Olympian Jeff Galloway and Nutrition Consultant Tara Gidus shared some advice about getting ready for a night race.

We got to hear from another Olympian, Jenny Simpson, who holds the record for the fastest women's mile in 2013 at 4:19. That's very fast.

A pair of chefs and Disney's head Sommelier gave us some recommendations for what to try at the Food & Wine festival

And then it was almost time to run. But first, a couple more photo opportunities. Jeff Galloway again...

...and some other folks who need no introduction.

We split into two groups for the approximately two mile run around Epcot. I went with Jeff's group which used the run-walk-run method I've been using in my training and races since early this summer. The other group did a straight run led by Jenny Simpson.

The two groups met up for a huge group photo. Can you spot me?

Faron Kelley then led us in a champagne toast.

It was after midnight when we left Epcot, but the experience was so exciting I had trouble falling asleep when I got back to the room. RunDisney treated us all as VIPs and did a first-rate job of handling the logistics. I'm excited to try to get into the Meet-up for the WDW Marathon Weekend in January!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Golden Ticket

It’s no surprise that the most exclusive events at Walt Disney World tend to have the highest demand, and on race weekend, there’s no tougher ticket than the runDisney Meet-Up.

These events fill up in literally just a few minutes after they’re announced. To get in requires stalking the runDisney Twitter Feed and Disney Parks Blog in the weeks leading up to a race. Shortly before they begin taking RSVPs (sometimes a day or two prior, sometimes just an hour or two) they’ll put out a little teaser indicating that something’s coming. Then with a post to their blog, they take RSVPs on a first-come, first-served basis.

Since I was going to be in Orlando a couple of days before the Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend, I knew I’d have time in my schedule to participate in the runDisney Meet-Up – but first, I’d have to get in.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Mostly Dopey

The Dopey Challenge is fast approaching, with less than two-and-a-half months remaining to prepare myself for running a 5k, 10k, Half Marathon and Full Marathon (a total of 48.6 miles) on four consecutive days. This weekend I wanted to find out how my training was going and learn a little about how my body might react to all that running.

I ran 3 miles last Thursday, 6 miles on Friday, 9 miles on Saturday and 18 miles (my longest run yet) on Sunday. Saturday's 9 miles were probably toughest of all, with 25 mph winds and 34 degree windchill. My legs were definitely feeling tired Sunday but I got the run in without any injuries.

I made a short video to chronicle my 18 mile training run.

I have some shorter runs between now and the RunDisney Wine & Dine Half Marathon at Walt Disney World on November 9th. Then more long runs leading up to WDW Marathon Weekend.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Training vs. Running

I started the day with a 4:30am wake-up call in Charlotte, NC. I took an early-morning flight home to Rochester, where I was greeted by stiff winds and temperatures in the lower 40s. I went straight to the office and worked most of the afternoon (no time for lunch), then headed for home with six miles on the training plan - only to find this scene awaiting me.

As tempting as it was to curl right up in front of the fire, I managed to change into my running clothes, get out the door and get six miles in. I'm at the stage of the plan for the Dopey Challenge where this is clearly Training and no longer just Running. 

The Mickey Miles Podcast spent some time discussing the differences between Training and Running recently (Show 98 and Show 104). I thought I'd add on with my personal observations.

I've only been running since January 2nd, 2013 - about ten months. While much of the spring and summer were spent building a base of weekly mileage in preparation for training for the Dopey Challenge, I've really only been training for the last couple of months. The biggest differences I've noticed are:
  1. The overall time commitment. As my mileage has increased from 15 miles/week to close to 40 miles this week, the time devoted to pounding the pavement has really jumped up. I had expected that the training programs would be difficult physically, but I wasn't fully prepared for the amount of time I would need to devote to running, especially in the last 2-3 months before the marathon.
  2. The devotion. The training plan I'm following requires an increasing number of miles over the next 12 weeks until the races. To skip a scheduled run in favor of sitting in front of the fire would bring instant gratification but would put me off schedule and potentially derail the plan.
  3. The boredom. I'm not really a big fan of running. As I embark on these long runs (16 miles a
    couple of weeks ago, 18 miles tomorrow) I find myself increasingly bored. I typically listen to podcasts and I've tried audiobooks, but after about 90 minutes I start counting down the time until I finish (although I did find this neat secret message painted by a utility crew in our neighborhood to help encourage me).
  4. Fear of injury. My number one goal since my January start has been to avoid injury. I've had a couple of issues pop up early on (IT Band pain and plantar fasciitis) caused by either running too fast or too far. Each put me on the sideline for a week or two. I can't afford that to happen now, so much of my focus during a run is avoiding the temptation to sprint up that hill, or close too fast at the end of a run on tired legs.
I know that if I follow my Training Plan, I'll be successful in completing the Dopey Challenge injury-free. But I'm looking forward to being done with Training and going back to just Running for fitness.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Rochester Half Marathon Recap

I ran the Rochester Half Marathon last weekend - my second Half Marathon of the year. When I ran the Shoreline Half Marathon in Hamlin, NY in July, I wasn't really adequately trained to "race" it, so I used it like a long training run, with convenient water and refueling stops along the way. My time was 2:27.

But going into the Rochester Half Marathon I felt great. I had been training well and my legs were fresh. I mapped out a strategy to finish around 2:10 (a stretch goal), with a more conservative goal of beating 2:15. The course is relatively flat, but there are some hills in the early miles. I charted out my goal pace for each mile, allowing a little more time for the uphill portions, and a little less time for the downhill and flatter sections.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

On Tapering

I was reading the Wall Street Journal over breakfast this morning when an article about the term "tapering" caught my eye.

In the week or two (or three) before a long distance race, most training plans call for a "taper." Weekly and daily mileage is slowly reduced over the days leading up to the race. This helps avoid injury and keeps your body and legs fresh to enable a maximum effort on race day.

The article in the WSJ refers to the use of "taper" as a description of the Federal Reserve's actions to reduce the monetary stimulus that has been in place since the Great Recession. But what I found most interesting was the origin of the word itself:

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Final Long Run Before Rochester Half Marathon

I finished my final long run before next weekend's Rochester Half Marathon in pretty good shape. I ran  pretty steady at about 10 minutes/mile, with a couple of miles at a slightly faster "race" pace. The route took me on the Erie Canal Path from Bushnell's Basin northwest through the village of Pittsford and into Henrietta.

It was cool to start, with temperatures around 50, but I pretty quickly regretted my choice of a long sleeved shirt. I was also in need of a tissue was was annoying. Halfway through I took a GU, which I had never tried before. I bought it mistakenly, thinking it was the brand used by runDisney, and wanting to try it out. But runDisney actually uses Clif brand. Anyway, the Peanut Butter GU was actually pretty tasty and presumably helped me power through the second half of my run.