Wandering with a Purpose

Tag: marathon

Chicago Marathon: Training Update 1

October 11, 2020, is the Chicago Marathon! I am really looking forward to this run and hope it won’t be canceled due to COVID-19 concerns. I am training like there is no chance of cancellation, even though I know that is still a possibility.

In June, I started training using the RunDisney marathon training plan. This is the plan is simple and steady. Just three days per week using short runs on Tuesday and Thursday with a long run on the weekend with increasing mileage. It is a longer plan than some because every other week you do a 4 mile “long” run, which helps me with my schedule and other commitments. Marathon training requires serious time commitments when you get to 10 miles and more! I used this when I did the 2018 WDW Marathon.

If there are too many days required, I get overwhelmed and can’t commit to training. If I cannot commit to 3 days, then I should not run the race. That being said, my goal is not to qualify for Boston or have an outrageously good time!

GOALS – Making IT PUBLIC

My goal for the race (saying this publicly!) is to finish in less than 5:30. This works out to be about a 12:30 pace for the entirety of the race. I feel like this is an achievable goal. I finished my first marathon in 5:52 at Disney. This means there were character distractions and more. I also stopped at the restroom more times than was necessary because I was nervous. The second marathon at Disney was awful! 80 degrees and 90% humidity are not what you want to do a marathon. It was so horrible. I finished that one in 6:46, so at least I know I can finish about that time with walking and character stops.

So far, my runs have varied. There have been ones where I felt strong and confident and others that have been dreadful. Humidity levels make a big difference for me. I just need to focus on getting the time on my feet those days. I feel like this is not normal for others, but I need to accept that it is for me. Maybe others feel this way, too, but it amazes me when I see runners running during lunch on a Southern, summer day.

If I did a really good job training, I would add in strength exercises and yoga. I definitely need motivation and guidance on this. In the end, I can’t wait! Only 117 days left!

Trip Synopsis: 2020 Dopey Challenge

Dopey 2020 Medal

Dopey 2020 is the ultimate challenge of the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend. This year, it was on January 9 – 12, and it was fantastic! I’m writing this a month and a half later, so I’ve had a chance to reflect and reminisce over the weekend. I’m going to share other details later, but I wanted to give the highlights of the weekend because it was just SO. MUCH. FUN!! Spoiler alert – I would do it again!

Wednesday, January 8

My friend Ursula and I traveled to Orlando on Wednesday, January 8. This year, we stayed at Pop Century again because of the location, price, and the new Skyliner. We had to go to the expo, which in the past has been so much fun. We learned that Wednesday expo is not the same as Friday or Saturday – it was awful. The expo was overwhelming and entirely too crowded. I bought a Dopey finisher shirt as a gift for Ursula to have if she did a good job (she did the same for me because – come on! You can’t actually buy it unless you finish!) We had a low-key day and hung around the hotel and Disney Springs – we had a long few days ahead!

Thursday, January 9

WDW 5K course

The first race morning (start time 5:30 am, wake up: 3:30 am) is a 5K around Epcot. The course is fantastic because you run around Epcot the whole time. This is the only race they don’t time; you just have to complete it. It was surprising how many families were there with their children. That must have been fun for them. They had 3 or 4 character stops and one of them was the Beast. I should have stopped, but I get so nervous by the long lines. If I was faster, then I would do it. Goals for the future!

finishing 5K
Dopey 5K

I finished and got my first medal – Pluto! We were 3.1 miles down out of 48.6. I made a decision that I was going to get a picture with Dopey and my medal after each day, and I’m so happy that I did!

After the race, we went back to the hotel and showered. We spent the rest of the day at Animal Kingdom. Our stops:

  • Festival of the Lion King (awesome!)
  • Finding Nemo the Musical
  • Na’vi River Journey
  • (Unfortunately, we couldn’t get a pass to the Avatar journey, which I think is the coolest ride ever!)
  • The safari
  • Pictures with a whole lot of characters!
Chip and Dale

Friday, January 10

WDW 10K

Day 2 and we were ready for the 10K. It was another early morning, but we met up with more college friends. Like the 5K, the corrals starts were towards the front, and we wore the 5K bibs. The course was very similar to the 5K but added in more highway running. While on the highway, the two Frozen princesses were on the overpass looking down where it was snowing! On the course, they even had Abu, the Monkey from Aladdin. It was really neat.

When we finished, we got an Oswald medal, which I promptly took to Dopey for another victory shot.

10K finish Dopey

After showering, I headed to Hollywood Studios. I got to meet even more characters and saw:

  • Beauty and the Beast show
  • The Little Mermaid show
  • Played Toy Story Mania!
  • Toured the Disney Museum (saw in Oswald poster)
  • Went to Star Wars World
Monsters Inc
Buzz Lightyear

This won’t be a popular statement, and I have no credibility because I am not a Star Wars fan, but I hated that place. It was overwhelming and awful. We made a reservation for “lunch” months before at the “Cantina” but apparently, it’s just a bar. I was hungry! I won’t plan to go back there…

We spent the rest of the night at the hotel where our group hung out at the pool and a simple dinner at the hotel…we needed an early night.

Saturday, January 11

WDW Half Marathon 2020

Another 5:30 am race start, which means that we had to wake up at 3:00 am. Luckily, the early mornings hadn’t bothered me yet. I think I was just too excited about the races.

Cars

The half marathon was a long one. My friends all did a great job! I didn’t because I walked; I was having back problems, so I didn’t want to hurt myself before marathon day. That being said, it was my worse time ever. On the bright side, I stopped for a picture with Lilo and Lightning McQueen & Mater. There were so many characters, but the half course is my least favorite. Epcot and MK were a blast to run through, but there is just so much highway. There’s no way to change that, but it was just blah.

Half Marathon Castle
Lilo

At the end, we were awarded the Donald Duck medal! It is one of the best looking medals I have. We didn’t get to show it off in the parks since we needed to rest our feet. Instead, we walked around the boardwalk and hung out at the pool for the rest of the day. Two days down and 46% of the miles through; we needed a good night’s sleep.

Half Finish
Half Group
Sunday, January 12
WDW Marathon Course

Marathon day was finally upon us! Disney moved the start time up to 5 am, but it was ridiculous because they didn’t end up starting until 5:30 am because of traffic. I think I woke around 2:30 am. That morning was the hardest to get going because I was tired and also nervous for the marathon.

Stitch

This was a new marathon course from when I did the marathon in 2018. I liked the course a lot this year because we started running through Epcot which got us to MK around mile 10 instead of mile 6. It was nice to finish MK and be to the halfway point. The hardest part was after MK (around mile 13 to AK around mile 17). It was so long, just highway, and there was very little entertainment along the way. I thought they would have more characters there or the signs with jokes like they had in ESPN. But at least ESPN was GONE!

Sebastian

It was incredibly hot that day – around 85 degrees with 90% humidity. It was awful, and I was going slowly. I walked the beginning and ran through the parks. RunDisney decided to cut out Blizzard Beach at a certain point to reduce the course by 2 miles for people at the end. I was really lucky and got in before they cut it off, so I got to complete all 26.2 miles. Right before there was mile 19. I was done with the race and just wanted to finish. At that point, I blasted my workout mix and had a dance party until the finish line.

Marathon Finish

Because of the redirection, I actually caught up with Ursula, so I got to see her around mile 21 or so. I stuck with her and her new friends for a while, but then I just needed to finish. Dan Mott and his girlfriend met me at mile 25.7 with a margarita, so I had to go fast! I got it, and it was worth it!

Then I waited for Ursula to catch up so we could cross the finish line with each other. We did it and were relieved. 48.6% were complete, and we proved it by getting three new medals – marathon, Goofy Challenge, and the Dopey Challenge!

Marathon Finish with Dopey
The Celebration
Picture with Mini

Our tradition is to celebrate a race at Epcot where everyone wears their medals and drinks around the world. We had dinner at the Bier Garten in Epcot since it was a good location for a group. We also got to walk around and do some rides and see characters. It was a nice night, but I was exhausted!

Monday, January 13

Cinderella
Ariel

Most of our friends had left by this point, but today was our day to hang out in the Magic Kingdom and meet lots of characters. We started the day with breakfast at Be Our Guest with Belle and Beast. The food isn’t great, but it’s such a cool setting. Then I can’t even start on all of the characters we saw! We got a ton of pictures with my Dopey medal and rode some of the rides.

Aladdin and Jasmine
Gaston
Brave
Rapunzel

We ended the journey with the “Happily Ever After” fireworks show, and it just makes me so happy! This journey was definitely a “Dopey” fairy tale come true!

Disney Marathon Weekend – 2018

2018 WDW Marathon MapDisney’s WDW 2018 Marathon Weekend was January 4 – 7, 2018. My friends and I went down to run the 25th anniversary of the marathon: 26.2 miles around all four WDW parks. You started outside of Epcot and ran to the Magic Kingdom, to Animal Kingdom, to ESPN Sports (the hardest part!), briefly through Hollywood Studios, then your final mile was around the world in Epcot.

Crossing the finish line was hands down one of my biggest accomplishments. If you know me, you know how unbelievable it is that I ran a marathon. In college, I never ran more than 3 miles, and I only did that once because I thought it was a 2 mile turkey trot. I usually ran two. Even though I enjoyed running 2 miles, I couldn’t understand why you would run more. I didn’t know what to think about for that long (I now listen to books or podcasts) nor was I physically fit enough complete the challenge – let alone the challenge there is to commit to training. Long-distance runners were crazy to me.

A few years after college, a few of my friends started running halfs, then my friend Dan ran a marathon. He is still crazy to all of us, but it is because him and my other friends’ accomplishments and their simple encouragement that I tried my first half marathon in 2015. Because of peer pressure, I agreed to do this marathon in August 2017.

photoshoot with Mickey Mouse

Pre-Race Prep

WDW Pre Race Prep        Nervous couldn’t begin how to describe my feelings on January 6, the day before the race. I couldn’t believe what I had gotten myself into. My training didn’t go as expected; the longest run I did was 18 miles. My training plan was to 22, but cold weather got in the way (I’m a complete wuss). We had a fun day around Magic Kingdom, but then it was time to have a good dinner (spaghetti) and go to bed early. A 2:30 am wake up call isn’t natural for anyone!

bundled up for the start of the raceWe bundled up since Orlando decided the best way to run this race would be in below freezing temperatures. You need to layer with lots of old clothes so you can throw them off. Disney will donate these clothes to people who are less fortunate. We checked in our bags with everything we needed after the race: flip flops, a shirt (my new long-sleeve race shirt!), sunglasses, my portable power pack, and chapstick. Dan, the expect, gave these suggestions, and they were invaluable.

I then made my way to my corral. (If you have raced in a half marathon before, you have to submit your time to place you in a corral.) There I waited; I waited for all of the faster groups to start their race. As if I wasn’t already nervous, the wait continued to add to it, but it also added a LOT of excitement! They played Disney songs from each year of the 25 years. I got to listen to most of the 90s which were the movies from my childhood. Then finally, the fireworks went off for my group…

My 26.2 Miles

Miles 0 – 10

running through Magic KingdomIt was dark and crazy early, but over 12,000 people were there for the race. Then there were family and friends cheering us on. I was on a cloud. I couldn’t believe I had just started out on my first marathon, and 26.2 miles later, I would be back there. The first 9 miles were some of the best miles I have ever run. I’m not a good runner, but I do it, and I’m completely okay with that. My first 9 miles were very decent. I tried to stop at a character, but the line was too long and didn’t want to destroy my good time or risk getting picked up by the balloon ladies if I was too slow. I made the decision to keep going.

Running in the Magic Kingdom was awesome! There were so many people and you could look at all of the rides. You run through Tomorrowland (there are real bathrooms there) then Fantasy and Frontier lands. You then get to go through the castle and out of the park. It was simply fantastic. This is one of the reasons I’m going to do the half in 2019 – MK and Epcot were the best parts of the race. You leave out the side on a road towards the Grand Floridian. It was between here and Animal Kingdom that it hit me – I still had 16 miles left!

Miles 10 – 16

With 2/3 of the race looming in front of me, I knew I needed to conserve my energy. When I train, I run/walk and my goal is always to run at the end. Therefore, I tried implemented my run/walk pattern of run 3 minutes, walk 2 minutes. Unfortunately, I couldn’t stay on it. It got too exciting, I wanted to run through Animal Kingdom, a water station was coming up, etc. I couldn’t stay on pattern, so I just ran and walked as I could. I did that until the long stretch of highway before ESPN Sports. My friend warned me that this would mentally be the hardest part of the race. Boy, was he right.

Mile 16 – 25

Thank goodness he gave me that warning. He even suggested during training that I visualize how it would feel at each part of the race. He told me to think about how I would feel physically, what I would see around me, and how to push myself to keep going. I found this exercise challenging, but I did try it once. When I got to this part of the race, the visualization did help. Once I got to this highway, the sun was out, and I was tired. I thought there was no way I could make it another 10 miles, so for my own survival, I decided it was time to walk. I was so impressed how people were still running at that point! They had trained and they were killing it. Luckily, Disney entertains you. We saw many characters, ran around the baseball stadium, and read jokes on signs.

Then it was off to Hollywood Studios. To get there, you run on the highway and up an exit ramp. Those are steep! I was still walking at this point, and running up would not be an option. They had a solider from Toy Story stationed on the ramp and that was one of the best characters. He was yelling at people to pick it up, not to slack off and keep running. He would run up with people as encouragement. After I passed him, I heard him say, “get down and give me 10!” After a brief pause, I heard a huge applause and cheers! A good sport got down and started doing push up. Everyone around was encouraging him. This is a great example of how encouraging this crowd is and why Disney is many people’s first marathon.

Hollywood Studios is neat but was very short. The park was open, so it is fun to have onlookers. I tried to run a little bit, but I was too tired. We got outside to the boardwalk where I knew there were only 3 miles to go. Just a 5K, but it was the longest 5K I have done. Then my Apple Watch ran out of battery.

Miles 25 – 26.2

You enter Epcot around Great Britain and mile 25. It was the last push; now was the time. I wanted to run the last mile. To my encouragement, they had Disney music playing over the park’s speakers. It was so motivational to me. I turned off my podcasts and took in the moment. I hadn’t stopped to visit a character all day because I was scared of getting too far behind, and I also was afraid that I would get my legs started again! As I ran through France, I saw Belle and Sleeping Beauty taking pictures with guests (not for the race). I carried my camera the whole race, and went to take a picture. Their handler asked if I wanted a picture. I hesitated knowing I didn’t want to wait. She noticed this and said I could cut in front of everyone! I got a picture with characters. That put me over the moon!

my character picture with Belle and Aurora

As I started running again, Hercules “I can go the distance” started playing. Can you think of a more perfect song to play at the end? I was pumped! Then, the camera in front of the Epcot ball was open, so I got my picture there, too.

Marathon and Epcot Ball

marathon finish lineThat was it, less than half a mile left. I had this! I ran out of the park and started to hear the gospel choir. My friend also told me they would be at the end, and it was so motivating. Then, I could see it. The finish line was right there! People were tired and slowing down, but I had to make it. Chip and Dale were there. I could do this! It wasn’t my fastest run, but I ran over the finish line. Tears welled up in my eyes. I had completed a full marathon. I had prayed to God and asked my late puppy Amie to watch over me. I knew that they had. Somehow, I pulled through and did it.

Recovery

When you finish a race, they always have lots of water and sports drinks to help you recover. Disney also had photo booths so you could take pictures with your new medal.  They even gave us mouse ears as a present for the 25th anniversary! I got my bag and found my friend. Flip flops and a clean shirt were amazing! I can’t drink beer after a race, so I stuck with my water. There is no way for me to capture my pride and excitement having completed this race. Something I thought was impossible became possible. Like so many things in life, you just have to do it.

We met up with our other friends as everyone completed the race. Then it was time for a well-earned shower and nap. After we recovered slightly, we went walking around the world at Epcot. On marathon Sunday, everyone comes out to show off their medals. We wore our marathon medals proudly, but it’s a funny experience. I told people I “just” did the marathon as I admired their Dopey medals (earned by completing the 5K, 10K, half, and full). Then we had dinner and watched fireworks.

marathon accomplished

I’m not saying completing a marathon is for everyone, but if I did it, anyone can do it. Talking about wandering…

Ready? Set? Disney Marathon!

It takes me a lot of time to make a decision. This particular decision has been in the works for 2 days short of 8 months. I’ve gone back and forth on it, but this weekend, I committed and it is done. I am going to train for and run the Walt Disney World Full Marathon in January 2018. I had resisted because I didn’t think I would be in good enough shape for a full, but I gave into peer pressure.

Seven Reasons for Running Disney 2018
  1. Of any marathon, this is one of two I would consider (the other is NYC). I’m not a good runner and don’t particularly enjoy it, but I love pushing myself to accomplish something. Disney provides entertainment and the opportunity to take pictures with characters.
  2. A unique way to see the parks! I mean, after I complete this I can say I ran through all four parks. My seven-year-old self cannot understand how this can be possible – Disney World is a huge space.
  3. It’s the 25th Anniversary.
  4. Time to check off another bucket list item. It hasn’t been on there for long, but now that I enjoy doing halfs, the next step is to go for a marathon. I am going to train for it and push myself to improve my overall health. You can’t slack on training for a marathon.
  5. “Experiencing” Run Disney last year provided an energy and excitement that convinced me that last year and this year won’t be my only Run Disney experiences.
  6. It’s a fun race, and it isn’t just for serious runners. Last year, it looked like some people hadn’t ever run a half and were doing a full. I know I’ll be able to finish it (even if I have to walk), but I still won’t finish. To run New York – you have to be a good runner. There is pressure. Disney – it’s just magical.
  7. A large group of friends who are doing it. Peer pressure.

Well here’s to my next 6 months of training! It’s not going to be easy, but I’m motivated and ready to run for the Mouse! Who knows, maybe Tinkerbelle will give me a little pixie dust…talk about a happy wandering!

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