Posts Tagged by Marathon

Mission to Marathon: 2015 WDW Marathon Recap

We’ve been following Hannah’s journey to marathon redemption in her Mission to Marathon series for a year now.  She has shared the realities of training and given up some great tips!  Well it all led up to WDW Marathon Weekend and when Hannah DID complete her first marathon, but not without some difficulties. This is a wonderfully honest recap and I’m so proud to feature it here.  


Things NOT to do when preparing for a marathon:

  1. Don’t train (like…at all)
  2. Don’t hydrate/fuel in the days leading up to the race
  3. Don’t hydrate/fuel properly the morning of the race
  4. Don’t stretch or strength train to manage a prior injury
  5. Be super anxious and stressed not just for the race, but also about other aspects of your life

Yup…don’t do those things. But guess what, you can do all of them and still finish.

I’m not in any way advising you to do those things. And, I’m not suggesting it is a smart move to run a marathon after you’ve done them, but it is possible.

But back to what you want to hear about — The RACE!


Running at Disney is like nothing else. It is a completely different experience from other races you will run in. There is entertainment and support from volunteers and spectators that far exceeds any other race. Fair warning that I do not have many pictures. Well, none from the race itself. I will try to throw a few in and at the end you can click the link to watch my video (unedited raw footage and probably not that thrilling to most people, but you can see me fake a smile while in pain and head from the finish line to the med tent…but more on that later!).

Miles 1-5: Just full of anticipation. I feel like Magic Kingdom gets further and further away with every race, but it’s really just that it seems like the early part of the race, but it is five miles in so it its quite a bit of time before you actually get there.

Miles 5-6: Oh man, that anticipation kills you from mile five to entering the Kingdom. You’re SO close! And then you get your reward, you get to run down Main Street!!! This part of the course is PACKED with spectators and they are awesome! Hang a right and head through Tomorrowland then through Fantasyland before heading through the Castle. Yup! Disney lets you run through it.

The hubs and I got separated (bathroom break) so I waited on the backside of the castle until he caught up so we could run through together. Oh, and thanks to Anna and Elsa for a the little Disney magic of sprinkling snow! You finish up by running through Liberty Square and Frontierland before heading back outside the park. I was feeling pretty good at this point. Starting to think 10k is my distance, haha.


Miles 6-8.5ish: This is a bit of a boring stretch, but it’s not that long and you’re still on a high from all the fun at Magic Kingdom.

Mile 8.5-9: Running the Track! This is truly a cool experience and the only race you get to run here! Here is where I was really wishing I’d kept up with training. Not because I was hurting, but because I knew I needed energy to get me through the entire race so I had to stay focused through here rather than enjoying myself. I come from a car/racing family so this is a big thrill for me and I couldn’t even pay attention to the cars.

Miles 9-12ish: Another boring stretch. I was starting to feel a little bit of the fatigue at this point. We had been doing 5/1 run/walk ratio and cut it down to about 4/1 at this point.

Miles 12-13: I love running through Animal Kingdom. Just be careful of your footing because the park is a bit rougher than the others! We got to see Monkeys jumping around and the park is already open by this point so people are out and cheering on all the runners. We debated riding Expedition Everest but decided if we sat down in the cars we couldn’t get back out at this point, haha.


Mile 13.1: This was such a great point for me! Halfway done and also where the hubs and I parted ways last year. It was so nice to pound through this point and keep going, TOGETHER!

Miles 13-17: Last year I hobbled through until 16.5ish after the hubs went on his way. This is a long stretch on the dreaded Osceola Parkway. It started drizzling and then raining while we were running here. This was probably the beginning of my downfall. I don’t do well with weather changes under normal circumstance and rain just makes me cold. The bigger problem came after the rain stopped and then it got muggy hot. Ick! Oh, also, they switched up one of the fuel stops and instead of Clif Shots they had Clif Bars. I wish I had looked at the course map and known this. I would’ve scarfed down one of my own gels before the water stop. Instead I tried to choke down a dry, gritty Clif bar (sorry…but that’s what they taste like after 14ish miles). I only got about a third down before pitching it.

Miles 17-20: When you really look at it, you are in ESPN for quite a long time! Its a nice change of pace because you get to run off the track, but its also a windy route so its a bit confusing and turns you around. It started drizzling again through here. Also, my LEAST favorite part of the course. I HATE running through the baseball stadium. At this point in the race (or at any point) you don’t want grit and dirt kicking up into the backs of your shoes. You gotta slllooooooowwwww down to avoid this and it stinks. The crowds through there are a great, but I gotta be honest that they could cut this out and I wouldn’t care a bit.

Miles 20-22: This is where I really started to sink. I think everything just started hitting me at once. The Achilles in my right foot and my left IT band/knee were killing me so I was doing a bit of a shuffle. The hubs kept trying to get me to run, but it wasn’t happening.

Miles 22-23: Hollywood Studios! Woot woot! A little boost of energy to run through the park, but only after a pit stop for me to sit down and breath. I know sitting is bad, but I was light headed and afraid I’d pass out. The chocolate candy (holla at ya Hershey’s!) helped, but not enough. But the run through the park, past the hat and out the entrance was great!


Miles 23-25: What? We’re this far into the race? Really?! Running through the Boardwalk was really neat, but that lightheadedness and the slat boards of the boardwalk were just making me dizzy. Hubs said there were a lot more spectators out by this part of the race last year, but it was pretty sparse when we came through. Still fun and a great part of the race!

Miles 25-26: The LONGEST trip you will ever take around World Showcase! BTW…anyone else on the slower than slow track of this marathon, did you see John Stamos at Mexico? Hubs says “That guy looked like John Stamos” and I said, “I’m pretty sure it was” and then we kept moving. He had a sort of entourage and came running out to cheer someone on, so we’re thinking it was actually him? Anyone confirm?? On the bridge between World Showcase and Future World I took my 3-4 sit break to catch my breath. At this point I realized I wasn’t sweating, but there was no way I wasn’t finishing!


Miles 26-26.2: Hubs tried to get me to run the WHOLE .2 miles but it wasn’t happening. We did hold hands and run across the finish line! Yay!! Such vindication after last year. It felt awesome!

Post race: But immediately after the finish line I veered right towards an RN from the medical tent and a wheelchair. She, of course, got us our medals before wheeling me to the tent itself where they checked my vitals, gave me fluids and a heated blanket. We were there for about a half hour while I got my body back under control. They didn’t officially say what it was, but we are thinking heat exhaustion from my symptoms. After about 10 mins of being there I started getting really confused and was shaking and crying…but they gave me the heated blanket at that point and some powerade and after another 10 mins I was feeling much better.

I am so very grateful to have my wonderful husband who puts up with me and all my craziness. He was the reason I crossed the finish line and helped calm me down in the medical tent. He was so encouraging and uplifting. I was afraid I was disappointing him, but he was just so proud of me pushing through. And, I am so proud of him for finishing his second marathon (without training)!


We hopped a bus back to our resort, grabbed some food and rested in our room for a bit (with compression socks on…get some if you don’t have them). We were planning to head to Downtown Disney in the evening, but it was chilly and rainy, and my left knee was killing me. We ended up just doing a walk up dinner at Maya Grill at our Resort, Coronado Springs. I highly recommend this restaurant, especially if you are staying at Coronado. The food was delicious! We only ate about half our meals so we took them back and enjoyed the remainder for breakfast the next day (cold Tex-Mex is pretty good)!

So you CAN do everything wrong and still finish a marathon, but you will hurt like you’ve never hurt before, might end up in the medical tent, and will be so mad at yourself that you won’t enjoy the race.

That’s my recap!

Marathon Finisher Hannah

Congrats Hannah on finishing your first marathon and for being so honest about your experience.  I know first hand that it is an incredibly difficult experience.  

Here is Hannah’s raw footage from the Marathon and I think it perfectly shows the ups and downs of the race.  It’s not all smiles and running…and that’s ok 🙂

Hannah is an attorney from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. She started running in 2011 while preparing for the Bar Exam as a means of helping her focus on her studying. Hannah completed her first half marathon in October 2011 at the Nike Women’s Marathon in San Francisco. In 2013 she completed 13 running events including 5 half marathons, 2 10ks, 3 5ks and 3 fun races (2 color runs and a zombie run).  She enjoys setting goals and crossing things off of her “bucket list.” Follow Hannah at, where she blogs about her everyday goals and challenges.

Traveling From Australia for a Dopey 50th Birthday

When Andrew first contacted me and told me about the adventure he had planned for his 50th birthday, I was beyond excited to share his experience here on RAD.  Andrew and his family traveled halfway around the world as he took on the Dopey Challenge.  He might have recruited them to run a bit with him as well.


How best might a runner celebrate a ‘big’ birthday and have the family join in as well?  The Dopey Challenge provided the answer!

Exactly one year ago (and the date of the 2014 WDW marathon) I set the challenge for me and my family: I’m going to run this event next year for my 50th birthday and you’re invited to come with me, but there’s a catch – you have to join me in at least one leg of the Challenge each!

And with that, baited by the idea of an overseas trip (and not really understanding the 3:30 am wake-up times!) the Dopey Challenge for 2015 became a year-long family adventure. From planning the rest of the trip, raising the funds, making the bookings – and training – it was a step up for each family member. But the running was where the big steps were required;

  • for the 14 year old who had never run longer than 10k to run a half,
  • the daughter who isn’t into running to run a 10k,
  • the 16 year old to get out of bed at 3:30am!,
  • the wife to go from 0 kilometers as a runner to a full marathon in exactly 12 months.

Now the other challenge was traveling half way round the world. From Australia to Orlando. From summer to winter. From time zone to who knows what time zone it is! We joked that jet lag might actually help!!

After a white Christmas we hit Orlando and thought it was just as cold! We stayed in a family room at the All Star Resort and it was just the right size and space. We bought 6 day tickets and had marathon Sunday ‘off’. The four events made an incredibly memorable birthday experience that lasted for four days!

The Family 5K was first – and it should have featured Elsa on the medal and not Pluto… it was a truly Frozen event!

These guys had great costumes …. And at least some warmth!

These guys had great costumes …. And at least some warmth!

Despite the cold we had great fun. We started in Corral A which helped get the race over with faster and we dressed up as Peter Pan and Captain Hook. We met a fellow runner whose surname was ‘Hook’ and he even asked to have a photo with us! We got lots of comments about how strange it was for Peter and Hook to be doing something together to which we assured them this was a once-off!



How hard is it to order a drink around here!!

The 10K was a heat wave by comparison!

After a day at Hollywood Studios – and the last sighting of Mickey’s hat – we got up for the 10K.  Tinker Bell joined me this time and boy was she glad she didn’t have that costume on the day earlier!


A highlight was the cheerers chanting “Pan and Tink! Pan and Tink!” That really lifted us over the finish line! Another highlight was my 16 year old son racing – and winning – his age group and coming 11th overall 🙂

Magic Kingdom here we come …..

The Half Marathon was a long day!   Not only because of the 3:30am start but because we started in Corral P, the last corral (because one of us didn’t have a qualifying time).

Again it was very cold but there was a lovely warm camaraderie in the very last group. Running with my two super guys was terrific fun as Captain America, Mr. Incredible and Hercules. Once the cold thawed out we got into the run but the lines for character photos were SO long by this stage we pushed on, most of the time on the grass to go around the walkers. No one complained though, they all just enjoyed the experience. For some pretty fast teenagers, this shows how the crowd experience at runDisney events is bigger than individuals.

Sharing my sons first official half marathons was a great feeling for a Dad!

Sharing my sons first official half marathons was a great feeling for a Dad!

Epcot here we come!

Epcot here we come!

Marathon day was amazing.

For this one I was worried about the crowds but the Disney organization really shined. We had so many character photo opportunities, often just running straight into the front of the line. Everything was well spaced and, compared to Corral P, the experience was much more pleasant.

I really enjoyed some of the different experiences – like the Speedway and Wide World of Sports (the track and the baseball ground).


A light sprinkling of rain at Hollywood Studios was refreshing rather than wet (especially compared to the next day’s thunderstorm). My wife and I ran as Jasmine and Aladdin and two of our favorite photos were with the ‘Aladdin’ characters because of the over-the-top welcome we received!




Taking along you own personal cheer squad really helps!

And then before you know it, Donald and Pluto greet you at the finish line and you’re wearing 6 medals around your neck and you’re officially “Dopey”. That last kilometer is really a bit of a blur!


So how do you capture the four days (and year’s journey) in words? I got the kids to wear costumes! I captured it all with (maybe) a million photos! I got to run and experience their running ‘firsts’ as well. We wore medals and enjoyed the Parks together. I still can’t think of another experience where we could do all these things as a family together.  A great birthday overall with a ripper celebration dinner on marathon night at Downtown Disney.

I’ve been disappointed with some posts I’ve been following where runDisney is criticized for many things. Apparently some people think it’s possible to create a perfect Disney experience with 30,000 runners. The logistics were great, any question was answered happily, lots of goodies, great bling. In fact the next running event is going to be hard to match up to this one.

My key bits of advice:

  • Get a time registered or beware of ending up in Corral P. OK if you’re a walker or slow, but if you’re anything of a runner it makes a long hard slog of an event.
  • Make a dinner reservation for the night to make it pleasurable and not like some who wandered around fruitlessly.
  • Get the photo pack – and take in as many opportunities as you can.

The 51st birthday celebrations are going to seem a little low key compared to this!!



Sneak Peak at the 2015 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend Merchandise

Today runDisney released some photos of what you will find at the Health & Fitness Expo taking place January 7-10, 2015 during Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend!  Since this is the largest runDisney race weekend you can expect to find a LARGE assortment of merchandise items from shirts, hats, pins, glasses,

runDisney WDW Marathon Weekend


Here we have some of the overall Marathon Weekend items.  As always, I love the pint glass but I especially LOVE the edition of the new runDisney Magic Band!!  Those will surely sell out quickly!

2015 Coast to Coast & 2016 In Training


Here are the designs for the 2015 Coast to Coast shirts featuring the Partners Medal design which is a great addition.  If you have your sights already set on a 2016 race, you can also pick up an “In Training” shirt to keep you motivated throughout the year.

I Did It!


Each race and challenge over Marathon Weekend features it’s very own “I Did It!” merchandise.  You can pick up one or six if them if you are taking on the Dopey Challenge!

There is also a wide variety of options that feature all the events…I’m loving the addition of tank tops this year, something I have been asking for for a LOOOOONG time!!

WDW Half Marathon


WDW Marathon


Goofy’s Race and a Half Challenge


Dopey Challenge


WOW…that’s a lot of stuff!! As with most runDisney expos, it’s best to get there as early as possible if you have your heart set on certain items since they tend to sell out quickly.  It’s hard to pick favorites out of all this great merch, but I’d have to go with the entire runDisney glass set, the aqua Marathon hoodie and BondiBand, and the pink Goofy pullover hoodies as my favorites.  What will you be getting over Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend??

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Goofy Giveback for 2015 Walt Disney Marathon Weekend

Earlier this week runDisney announced the Goofy Giveback for the 2015 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend.  According to Faron Kelly, Director of Marketing & Communications for Disney Sports, they had an overwhelming number of people reach out on social media after watching an inspiring episode of Extreme Weight Loss.  People wanted to participate in a race during 2015 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend after seeing a father-daughter team run the 2014 Walt Disney World Half Marathon, but they were disappointed to find most of the events sold out.

So runDisney decided to do something about it and split up a few of the remaining Goofy’s Race and a Half Challenge (both the half and full marathons) spots and allow more people to register for the individual races.


The slots will be open until October 24th, but I have a feeling they will be gone long before that.  As of the time of this post, here is the availability for 2015 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend:

  • Walt Disney World Half Marathon – 95% full
  • Walt Disney World Marathon – 90% full
  • Goofy’s Race and a Half Challenge – 95% full

This is a great opportunity for anyone who got block out of one of the races and was hoping to participate, but HURRY and register now!

Here is the official video announcement from runDisney:

Are you participating in the 2015 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend?

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Transformation Tuesday: Pete Olson

As a former student athlete and smoker myself, Pete’s story really resonates with me.  Sometimes it takes a look in the mirror to find yourself again…that’s just what he did 🙂


From Athlete…to Obese Smoker…and Back Again


So as you’re reading a Transformation Tuesday feature, you might be wondering why that young baseball player in the picture is being featured! Well, just give it a minute…you’ll find out. You see, the guy in the picture is me, and a couple of years ago, when I looked at this picture, what really grabbed me was not how young I looked. No, what really got me was that I weighed 165 pounds and stood at the same height I stand today.

But what’s interesting is that I wasn’t just a skinny, scrawny kid. I was actually in shape. This picture was taken during my college baseball team’s “Spring Training” in January 1985. Two months earlier, in order to earn the practice uniform I was wearing, our coach stipulated that any NCAA athlete should be able to run two miles in twelve minutes, and he required us to do so before he handed us our Spring Training uniforms. Well, it took me a couple extra weeks because I tweaked my knee on my first attempt – with just two laps to go, too – but ended up completing the two miles in 11 minutes, 27 seconds.

That’s a long way of saying (or bragging about how) I was a pretty good athlete in 1985; however, that well-conditioned young man didn’t stick around much longer. I was “hampered” with arm injuries; and unfortunately, because those injuries never fully healed, my dream of a baseball career was pretty much over before it got started.

So now I really didn’t “have” to run anymore. I really didn’t need to be as finely conditioned as I had been, as there was no game to train for, no two miles in twelve minutes to run. So, in retrospect, the day my baseball career ended was really the day I started heading down a slippery slope to a less healthy life and ultimately to a pretty darned unhealthy one. It didn’t happen overnight, but it happened.

Slowly but certainly, I watched the numbers on the scale go up consistently and drastically. After a decade competing professionally (and not very successfully) in golf, I went back and earned my Master’s Degree and started teaching…and that marked the beginning of a sedentary lifestyle to follow for the next fifteen years. In just a couple of years, the scale told me I had gotten up to around 215; and in 1998, I walked into corporate America, sat down at my desk, and within two years I was up into the 230s…and by the time my daughter Mary was born (three years later), I found myself at around 260.

Prior to Mary’s birth, I did have an “I am going to be a dad and need to do something about my health…right now!” moment, and I quit smoking about six months before she arrived. Then, about six months after she was born, I came to realize that I also needed to lose weight (still hovering in the 260 range), and I actually got myself back down to about 210 pounds again…208 to be exact. This was the result of strict adherence to a diet for about a year. That said, though, somewhere in the middle of the weight loss, I thought it would be wise (it wasn’t!) to start smoking again (but “just for a little while”). I actually justified smoking over being obese, and I had the intent to quit smoking again “once I found myself back in the 100s” again. Pretty good logic, no?

At the end of the day, my trip away from obesity was short-lived, and to be honest I can’t remember what triggered me back to my old eating habits…which, basically, was something like “I’ll eat as much I what, when I want it” while hiding from everyone how much I actually ate and how often I was eating. Between fast food places, candy machines at work, bags of chips at home (these were a few of my favorite things), coupled with the days’ “normal” meals (yes, fast food sandwiches became snacks), I once again journeyed back to the 260s and then actually surpassed them to find myself at an all-time high of 278.

From that moment, I panicked and would put myself on crash diets, but nothing stuck…or, more appropriately, I stuck with nothing. I would lose a few pounds here and there, and then they would come back…and this was the cycle for the next few years. The reason why there aren’t many pictures of me from this era is because I guess I was hiding from cameras when I saw them…and I would always seek cover (either consciously or subconsciously) behind people or objects in the photographs that managed to capture my now obese frame. Here are a couple of shots that somehow got by me, though…


So at the end of this fifteen-year period (from 1996 to 2011), I didn’t recognize the guy in the mirror as a former college and professional athlete. Instead, I saw an obese man who lacked power over food and cigarettes, who was too lazy to get out and exercise, and who was ultimately dying a slow, unhealthy death for which he would be deemed the primary cause.

But on November 1, 2011, an unfortunate event finally lit a spark under that obese guy, and he decided right then and there that it was time to change his life…

As my mother-in-law underwent a surgical procedure to repair the arteries that transport blood to the brain, I spent the day working, smoking cigarettes, and overeating…since I weighed around 260-ish at the time, it was probable that I was overeating.

As Michelle listed the outcomes of the stroke her mother suffered while on the operating table (paralysis, inability to speak or eat), she also shared with me that the sign in the hospital elevator indicated two of the leading causes of strokes were cigarette smoking and obesity…and it was at that moment that the proverbial “light” went off and I knew that it was time to get my life and my health back on the right track. It was at that moment that I realized that my weight and my smoking was leading me down a path of heart attacks, strokes, and lung disease.

So I picked November 11, 2011 (11-11-11 sounded easy to remember) as the day to quit smoking; and over the next couple of very tough months, I allowed myself to eat whatever I wanted to eat (couldn’t get too health crazy all at once) while keeping it in the back of my mind that I was going to undertake weight loss after the “give me a cigarette!!!” moments subsided. And on January 7, 2012, weighing in at 275.6 pounds, the cravings subsided and I started dieting again.

But later that year I realized that dieting just wasn’t enough, so with Michelle’s encouragement to “just go out there and run,” I started running again after a twenty-six-year hiatus. The plan at the time was really about running for weight loss. You see, while I had lost about thirty pounds over the year’s first six months, my dieting had gotten me to a weight loss plateau, which is a dangerous place for a habitual dieter. But rather than repeating past behavior and accepting life at an obese 245 pounds, which would have ultimately taken me back to 275, I was finally ready for a real change.

On July 23, 2012, I woke up at around 5:15am on a hot and humid Monday morning, threw on a pair of gym shorts (not running shorts), a white cotton tee shirt (sweat retaining – not a running shirt), golf socks (not sweat resistant), and what I thought was a decent pair of sneakers I had purchased at an outlet mall (I was wrong). After drinking a cup of water, I walked out my front door at around 5:30. I had neither Garmin nor running app to track my pace or mileage…and I had no clear-cut plan but to “just go out there and run.”

After a few stretches I had recalled from my athletic past, I walked to my mailbox and just started running. Immediately, I knew I wasn’t going to be able to keep this up for very long…my breathing was labored, my fat was bouncing to and fro, and there were varying levels of pain shooting through my body.

I thought to myself, “okay…keep pushing…just make it to that house, and then you can walk.” And I did…so I did. Only later did I find out that the house was just over a quarter mile up the street. After that point, I decided that I was going to walk until I felt good enough to run again. Well, when I reached another house, I figured I would turn around and start running back home. It turns out that the house was about a half mile more up the way, so I had gone a total of three quarters of a mile. I can’t recall how long I ran the next time, but I am certain it wasn’t another quarter mile. In fact, to the best of my knowledge and memory, I don’t know how many run/walk intervals it took to get me through that second three-quarter-mile stretch…but I believe that the walking was about equal to the running. At least that’s what I tell myself.

For that first month, I ran/walked the same route five days a week, and each time I tried to run a little more than I had the last time…no matter what. I iced my knees after every run. I took Aleve at least twice a day. I sweat like crazy even for hours following my showers. At times I knew I wasn’t going to be able to keep this up. And at others I just wanted to quit.

But I didn’t.

I just kept running.

And on a fateful day about a month later, I started running at my mailbox, right past that first house, all the way to the three quarter mile house, and then all the way back home. A mile and a half…without stopping!

Over the course of the next year and a half, with the help of a training apps, good friends to keep me accountable, a Garmin, some real running equipment, and stringent training plans, I managed to lose 100 pounds and to work myself up to running and completing my first full marathon on January 12, 2014, at Walt Disney World. And as my sister Karen had put in an email to me after the race…

“What an amazing journey you’ve started!”

Started? Yes, started. This isn’t the end of anything. Yes, a fence post has been driven in the ground, but for me, there are so many more marathons to run, so many goals for which I am reaching. My sister was right. This is not the end. It’s the beginning. In fact, right now I am halfway through my training for the Chicago Marathon in October…and from there I have many more athletic dreams to realize. That athlete has made it back from smoking and obesity…and I don’t want him to go away again!





Has running at Disney helped to transform your life?  If so, I want to hear your story!  Send me an email at to be featured on an upcoming Transformation Tuesday!

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