This will be a quick one…I promise to be a bit more creative during my next installment…
After I finished the 2012 Walt Disney World Marathon I waddled very slowly back through Epcot, around the Boardwalk to my room at the Beach Club. I was one gigantic ache. Nothing – and I mean nothing – about me felt good physically. There was one thing that offset the pain, and that was the mental victory I earned. It wasn’t pretty, but I finished 26.2 miles with hardly any sleep, very little fuel in my tank and a complete lack of preparation. I knew that my lack of careful planning was evidence of the clear fact that I have a ton to learn.
So here are some quick takeaways for those of you that are planning to run the Walt Disney World Marathon in the future:
Time your sleep properly. I know that sounds simple….but with this marathon, it’s not. And here’s why: buses begin to run from the Disney resorts at 3am to bring runners to the starting line. This means that alarm clocks are ringing all over on-property resorts beginning at around 2am. Nope- that’s not a typo. 2…a….m. That means, in order to get a decent account of sleep, you need to hit the hay by 7pm. At the latest. AT WALT DISNEY WORLD. How hard it THAT??? I mean COME ON!! Extra magic hours, Illuminations, fireworks, Fantasmic – tons of reasons to stay up late and stay on your feet. Somehow, you have to resist the temptation to ride Space Mountain at 10pm.
Time your meals properly. I know – another easy thing to do…or so it seems. Trying to get to bed by 7pm on a Saturday evening at Walt Disney World is difficult enough. But try eating dinner at 4-5pm the evening (or late afternoon?) before race day. Oy. But 4-5pm for dinner is about the right timing to follow in order to be able to get a good night’s sleep and ready to go at 3am. Oy. I called Dominos at 8pm…and the rest is history.
Have an actual game plan for race day. Let me clarify: have an actual game plan that is more than just “make sure my Iphone is fully charged so that I can take pictures all morning”. Tried that game plan, and it – for a lack of a better term – stunk. Review the course map before race day and picture yourself running it. Establish goals or targets in your head that you will run to. Prepare yourself mentally for the 26.2 mile stress test.
Have a game plan. Get to sleep on time. Time your meals properly. Three tiny recommendations to help you succeed during your attempt at the most magical 26.2 you’ll ever run. Until next time! Make sure you double-knot your shoe laces, get out there and get moving!
Well, it’s one down, only 11 more to go! Last weekend I completed my first marathon of my “12 in ’12 To Support the Dream Team Project”. And I began my year-long quest in a big way: running the 2012 Walt Disney World Marathon on January 8th. Let me sum up the festivities in a single word: supercalafragalisticexpealodocious! (always wanted to see if Microsoft Word considers that Poppins-ism a true word…but alas, it does not…) That being said, let me provide a run-down of the weekend for all of you that are beginning to consider dipping your toe into a Disney race in the foreseeable future.
First off, let me say that Marathon Weekend in WDW offers something for absolutely everyone. There are kids races that go for distances of 200 meters to the Mickey Mile. Then there’s the Family Fiesta 5k on Friday morning. Then the Half Marathon is run on Saturday and the full Marathon is run on Sunday. Regardless of the distance you choose to run, you can count on really solid support on the course, unexpected surprises and an incredibly celebratory atmosphere that motivates over 50,000 athletes from start to finish.
The Family Fiesta 5k takes the runners through World Showcase and Futureworld within Epcot. The half marathon gives the runners a tour of Epcot and the Magic Kingdom. And the full marathon allows the runners to experience all four parks….before lunch!
I ran the full marathon this year alongside over 30 members of the WDW Radio Running Team. The support and camaraderie that the team provides gives each runner a wonderful boost of motivation throughout the course. I have some pictures to share…but before I bust out the Polaroid’s, let me describe the marathon course – and my morning – to you.
My alarm went off at 2:30am. I was already half awake when my Iphone began playing “The Brain” from the Broadway musical Young Frankenstein. I hardly slept the night before, and I was hungry. (note to all future WDW marathoners: Dominos pizza is NOT the way to go for carbo-loading. That cheesy bread is not a runner’s friend). I knew I didn’t eat enough the night before, as my stomach grumbled as I came out of the shower. So – mistake number one was made: I did not fuel my body correctly. Mistake number two was in the books as well – I did not get the necessary rest. Mistake number three was also made clear as I prepared to leave the hotel for the 3am bus ride to the starting area: I didn’t drink enough water. The marathoner’s trifecta from hell.
I rode a 3am bus to the starting area, and proceeded to enjoy the company of my team prior to heading for the corrals at 4:30am. (note to Disney: it’s OK to actually give away some bagels at the starting area – I guarantee you that the company’s profit margin won’t be irreparably damaged).
The long wait in the dark was worth it, as fireworks were set off for each of the corrals, as they set out upon their 26.2 mile quest in 3-4 minute intervals. By the time I passed the starting line, I all of my mistakes made during preparation were long forgotten. Those haunting thoughts were replaced by the happiness that adrenaline pumps through your body.
The first 2 ½ miles are spent waddling toward Epcot. By the 5k marker, I had entered Epcot and enjoyed the feeling of running past Spaceship Earth, entering World Showcase at Mexico and departing quickly through Norway. The next time I pass the statue of Grete the Great, I will be almost finished with the race.
Upon exiting through Norway, I began the long quiet waddle North, toward the Magic Kingdom. Approximately 5 miles of subdued plodding along various WDW roadways resulted in my arrival at the TTC. 9.5 miles in, I had passed the Contemporary Hotel, and I had Space Mountain in my line of sight. Half a mile more, just past mile 10, the army of runners ran down Main Street USA and into Tomorrowland. Then through Fantasyland, through the Castle, into Frontierland and finally out of the Magic Kingdom near Splash Mountain. Miles 10 through 11.5 were incredible. However, I had begun to feel the effects of my mistakes: I had become nauseous and the feeling was distracting.
Once we exited the Magic Kingdom, we passed the Grand Floridian and the Wedding Pavilion. This marked the half way point of the marathon. Four more long miles of quiet WDW roadways until I entered the Animal Kingdom near mile 17. Animal Kingdom is another amazing part of this race. Running by Everest, I noticed that some marathoners hopped on the train ride to give it a spin before continuing on their quest for 26.2! Not me – if I sat down at this point, I’d NEVER get up!
Past Everest, Finding Nemo – The Musical, Dinoland and The Tree of Life. Then out into the parking lot, past the front gate and 19 miles were in the books. At this point in the race, I hit The Wall. I had thrown up twice, I felt dizzy and weak. It was all I could do to place one foot in front of the other. Front here on, it became a mental game.
Another four miles of WDW roadways landed us at Hollywood Studios, entering near the Backlot Tour, spinning past New York Street, past the Sorcerer’s Hat and out of the park near mile 24. 2.2 miles to go.
Once we exited the front of Hollywood Studios, we ran along the concrete path that carried us to the Boardwalk. Past the Yacht & Beach Clubs, and finally arriving back at Epcot, entering near the U.K. Pavilion. It was amazing to see my WDW Radio Running teammates screaming and yelling here, as I had absolutely nothing left in the tank. I felt horrible. But their enthusiasm pulled me through – it was the perfect elixir.
Around the World Showcase – past France (I tried to buy a glass of wine and received a look of shock from the unsuspecting cast member), heading toward America. Next thing I knew, I passed the Italians….then the Germans….then the Chinese. There was hope. Less than a mile to go. Finally passing Norway (I made a quick detour to pay my respects to Grete’s statue – the Queen of marathoning) and Mexico. A right turn into Futureworld. Almost there.
Passing MouseGear and the Fountain. Less than half a mile to go. Now passing Spaceship Earth. It actually aches when I swing my arms.
Mile 25.9 is emotional: the gospel choir. It lifted my soul. No doubt I would finish now. My legs began to stretch out and I took off. Out into the parking lot, and across the finish line. Done. Finished. In the words of Dandy Don Merredith – “Turn out the lights – the party’s over”.
I got emotional as I had the medal draped over my neck. I always do. Call me a real sap, but every time I push my body beyond where I believe my limits dwell, I feel a potent mixture of accomplishment, relief, and empowerment. I remind myself that a person’s limits are dictated only by the parameters we set for ourselves. I leave the finisher’s area sore – yet proud. Weary – yet energized.
I take a picture of the medal and send it to my daughter. She immediately calls me to make sure I’m OK. I tell her not to worry – we’ve got a bunch more of these to get through!
Before I sign off, I want to remind everyone reading this that you can do whatever you set your mind to. My grandmother always said “whether you think you can or you think you can’t – you’re probably right”. Set a goal for yourself. Make it manageable. Let it involve something that you can be passionate about. And then shoot for it every single day until you achieve it. Enjoy the feeling of victory – but don’t rest on your laurels. Then set a slightly bigger goal and old on tight. For this is the essence of life: striving to improve, overcoming the bumps in the road, and dipping into our courage when we need to in order to see us through to our goals.
My next marathon is February 12th in Jacksonville Beach, FL. I hope you’ll continue to follow my antics!
I am running to raise awareness and funding for the Dream Team Project, which benefits the Make a Wish Foundation. This is a charity that truly means a lot to me, and any donation – regardless of the size – goes toward aiding children with life-threatening illnesses and their families. While I slog through these marathons all year, I think of some of the kids I’ve met over the years. How much they and their families go through, and the strength they have to never quit. Those thoughts remind me that the pain I feel along the course is NOTHING compared to what they all deal with on a daily basis. When I feel the pain come on late in the race, it serves as a not-so-subtle reminder: I’ll push through some pain in order to give some kids a break from their’s.
I went for a simple run on New Year’s Eve at around 11am today…and I wanted to fill you in on the rather interesting things I got to see. It’s the kind of run that reminded me of how lucky I am to live in New York City. It also reminded me just how whacky people can be!
I geared up and took off into Central Park, entering at 72nd Street and Central Park West – right near the Dakota Hotel and Strawberry Fields. Go figure: blasting through my earphones was “I Am The Walrus”.
I waddled along the west side drive, and exited at Columbus Circle….
…hung a left at the statue….
…and headed down Broadway toward Times Square. As I waited for a light to change at 57th Street, I came across a family of tourists encircling a rather large guidebook to New York City. They appeared to be confused – unsure as to where they were currently standing in comparison to where they wanted to be. So in a moment of actual kindness (I get approximately 5 of these moments a year), I asked the gentleman holding the guidebook if I could be of assistance. The following was the brief yet funny conversation:
“We are looking for Times Square.”
“No problem, Sir. Just keep walking down this avenue – Broadway – until you hit the incredible mass of humanity packed shoulder to shoulder, surrounded by tons of billboards and flashing lights.”
“Oh. We just came from there. Was that not Occupy Wall Street?”
My gut instinct told me to tease this man mercilessly in front of the fruit of his loins – but in a very un-Joseph like moment of clear perspective I refrained and instead replied…”No Sir. That’s Times Square. NOT Occupy Wall Street.”
“……OOOOOH. Thank you. But where do all of those people go when they need the bathroom?”
“Sir….that is the $1 million dollar question. It’s also the reason I will NEVER….EVER….spend New Year’s Eve in Times Square.”
He stood there with a blank stare on his face for a very long moment, before responding with a loud “EEEEEEEEEEWWW!”
“Exactly. Happy New Year!” And with that, I resumed my morning run. As I approached 46th Street, the northernmost checkpoint for the gigantic New Year’s Eve extravaganza, I could not get over the sheer amount of humanity standing shoulder to shoulder 13 hours prior to the Ball dropping.
After snapping a cool picture of the Square 13 hours before 2012 commenced, I headed west to the West Side Highway…where I found a wonderful little apartment designed exactly to my specifications:
First off: Happy New Year!!! Now with said, I wanted to share with you a guest blog entry I just wrote for The Edmonton Tourist. Please take a moment to check out her blog – it’s extremely well written, fun, and thought-provoking!!! You can find it at ragrobyn.wordpress.com. I was asked to write something motivational – so I shared a quick conversation between my grandmother and I…..enjoy!
My grandmother was five feet tall. She barely weighed 100 pounds, and came from a large Irish family dominated by domineering older brothers. Growing up, she experienced the transition from a horse & carriage to the automobile – yet she never once sat behind the wheel of a Dodge Dart. She lived through World War I, Babe Ruth moving from Boston to NYC, the Great Depression, World War II, the assassinations of JFK and Martin Luthor King Jr., the Korean War, NASA placing a man on the surface of the moon, Vietnam, Watergate, twenty six New York Yankee World Series Championships, DiMaggio and Monroe, the Rat Pack, the music of Louie Prima….and the all four New York Ranger Stanley Cups (that last one is a biggie). (…I just re-read that last sentence – wow do I love commas). She passed away at the ripe old age of 94 years…yet she would never admit her age to anyone. If someone asked her how old she was, her response would always be “I’m 21+”. My grandmother is one of my sources of motivation – for I cannot comprehend the degree of worldly change she took thin through those crystal blue eyes.
One of the many, many things I have learned from my grandmother came from a conversation I had with her about a year before she passed on. I recall asking her, “Grandma – you’ve seen and experienced so many difficult times…how did you keep going when things got tough? I mean, it couldn’t be easy getting by during the Great Depression and World War II. So much negativity throughout the world. Not much was going right. How did you see things through?” ….her answer floored me – and it echoes in the back of my head each time I feel like things are taking a turn for the worst.
My grandmother took my hand in her’s and said in that soft voice which carried a wonderful Bronx accent “Joey, you gotta wake up every morning ready to go toe-to-toe with the world. Life’s like a boxing match, and you gotta be Rocky Marciano. She’ll throw lefts and rights at ya all day long. Wake up late and miss your bus to work? Whack – right in da face. Gotta work overtime and won’t be home for dinner? Pop – a hard left to da jaw, ya know? But every time the world slugs ya a good one in the kisser, ya gotta smile and say ‘is that all ya got?’ and then egg the bastard on to throw the next punch. And once in a while, da bastard will get lucky and sock ya a good one right on da button. You’ll get knocked down. But then ya gotta bounce back up quick, ya know? Dust yourself off and then tell da bastard he got lucky and egg him on again. That’s da key.”
“What’s the key, Grandma?”
“Joey, whenever the bastard clocks ya a good one in the face and knocks ya down, ya gotta pop right back up. Don’t waste a second on the canvas. Get the hell back up quick, even if you’re still walkin’ down Woozy Boulevard. Get up. That’s the key. Get the hell up. Don’t stay down.”
“But what if it’s something really tough, Grandma? Sometimes I feel like I cannot handle my responsibilities. And I have goals for myself – big ones. But there are times where I feel like I don’t have what it takes to attain them.”
She sighed, took a sip of tea, and patted my hand and replied “Joey, we were all born as undefeated champs. Ya can do anything ya want in life, as long as ya stand toe to toe with da world. Look the bastard in the eye and tell him ‘one of us is eatin’ canvas…and it ain’t gonna be me’.
Unfortunately, I forgot that conversation for a few years. I got popped on the chin a few times and took a looooooong time to get back up. But that’s OK, and long as I keep answering the bell for the next round.