My Thoughts Regarding the WDW Marathon Weekend, Running Disney: Running the Disney Calendar


My original blog post Running Disney: Run the Disney Calendar for WDW Radio can be found here ….and yes…my 3rd blog entry for WDW Radio…..have I bored you yet?  No worries – I’ll get back to whining soon…..

In this blog entry, I’ll begin to summarize for my fellow DisneyGeeks the Run Disney calendar of events.  For those of you that are already runners (but haven’t given a Disney race a shot yet), hopefully these descriptions will help you select the race that sounds best for you to dip your toe into the Run Disney water.  And for those of you that are considering taking up walking, jogging, or running, maybe these descriptions can help you select the first race you enter.  As a reeeeeeally slow runner, I know that I need a carrot to dangle in front of myself in order to stay focus while I’m training.  Is there any bigger carrot to dangle in front of my eyes than a trip to WDW?  Not for me there isn’t!

So the Run Disney calendar kicks off in a BIG way, with what has become their signature event: The Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend.  There are shorter distance races for kids, a 5 kilometer (3.1 mile) race on Friday, followed by a Half Marathon on Saturday and, to put a huge bow on the racing weekend, The Walt Disney World Marathon goes off on Sunday.  Some absolutely crazy runners actually run the half marathon on Saturday, and then wake up the next morning to run the full marathon.  Let’s face it – you gotta be Goofy to do that, right?  So if you run both races on this weekend, you travel home with not 1….not 2….but 3 medals!  A Donald Duck medal is hung around the necks of all Half Marathon finishers.  A very shiny Mickey medal is all yours, as long as you run all 26.2 miles on Sunday.  And….if you dare to run both….you also earn the Goofy Challenge medal, thereby making it clearly evident to those around you that the cheese must have fallen off of your cracker a loooooong time ago.  (I ran the Goofy Challenge in 2009, and most of my buddies have taken that act as firm confirmation that I’m slightly…well….askew).

This weekend of races has historically been held the second weekend in January.  The next WDW Marathon weekend is slated for January 5th – January 8th, 2012.  As of June 30th, the half marathon and the full marathon were at 50% of their overall participant capacity (which reminds me – I got to sign up soon).

The Family 5k Fun Run held on Friday, January 6th takes the participants through Epcot.  I think this is a great opportunity for teens (or tweens) to get their first taste of running in a large group with a runner pinned to their shirts.  Fun runs like this aren’t held with a fierce competitive overtone to them, so each person can go at his or her own pace and feel the satisfaction of finishing a distance that maybe they’ve attempted before!

The Walt Disney World Half Marathon will be held on Saturday, January 7th.  The race takes the runners through the Magic Kingdom before a big finish in Epcot.  Runners have the opportunity to run through Cinderella’s Castle, down Main Street USA, and through the World Showcase.  There are characters and photo opportunities everywhere, so most runners don’t come into this race with a goal time in mind…but I bet they run with a camera in their hands!

The Walt Disney World Marathon will be held on Sunday, January 8th.  This race is truly special, because it’s the only race on the Run Disney calendar that allows the participants to run through all four theme parks.  The number of characters out along the course, rooting for the runners, is amazing.  By finishing this race, each runner can say that he or she was in every one of the four theme parks….before lunchtime (or, in my case, before a late dinner – I really need to stop running with a grand piano on my back….but I digress…)!

Volunteer support throughout the weekend is fantastic.  Water stops and medical facilities are always available.  Cheering spectators can be found lining the various courses all weekend, helping you to achieve your goal.  By the time you pack your bags for home, you cannot help but depart with an incredibly positive vibe that you’ll carry with you for weeks….hopefully months!

Another good thing about this Marathon Weekend is the time of year that it’s scheduled for.  Early January provides comfortable temperatures and slightly lighter crowds within the parks. So you can celebrate your achievements by riding Splash Mountain, beating a family member at Toy Story Mania, or simply strolling down Main Street USA, taking in the splendor, unparalleled creativity and unique ingenuity that is Walt Disney World.

So get out there, get moving, and make sure you double-knot your shoe laces, because Marathon Weekend is only 6 months away!  In my next entry, I’ll continue to share with you brief a description of the other races that Run Disney offers.  In the meantime, if you have any general running questions, feel free to drop me a line at joseph_kolinsky@yahoo.com.  I’ll try my best to offer advice – and I’m more than willing to offer motivation to get your ears in gear!  I’m not a doctor, specialist, elite athlete or coach – I’ve just run a few of these races and I’ve made every single dumb mistake a runner can make.  If I can help you not to duplicate my utter stupidity, I’ll do my best!

In the words of my wise Irish grandmother,

“whether you think you can, or you think you can’t…you’re probably right.”

My Second Post For WDW Radio Running Disney: Ya Gotta Start Somewhere…


My original blog post Running Disney: Ya Gotta Start Somewhere on WDW Radio can be found here…please check it out!  I hope you like it!!!

In my first entry, I simply painted a brief picture of my rather pedestrian background, as well as providing you with a quick synopsis of what to expect from this blog.  In this second installment I’d like to do to turn my attention to you, the reader.

I’m figuring that, if you’ve read my first blog entry and made it this far into rant number two, you might have some interest in running a Disney race – or at least learning a bit about what Disney offers for runners, joggers, walkers….and waddlers like myself.

The great thing about Disney races is that is offers something for literally everyone.  For the serious runners (I’m talking about those runners out there that actually get to stand next to the starting line when the gun goes off, or those rabbits that weave around everyone on their way to a personal best time each time they race), Disney offers races that range from a 5K to a marathon in distance.  So whether you’re a shorter distance specialist or a true endurance athlete, there’s a race just waiting for you.  In addition, the courses are usually quite flat – so setting a personal best time is not out of the question.  Lastly, there is solid support throughout any Disney racing event –so there’s always enough water and available medical assistance on the course.   Quite simply, Disney knows how to organize a race – you won’t be disappointed.

For the casual joggers (and here I’m talking about those athletes that jog several times a week and run a few races a year, mainly for the fun, social aspect of it all), Disney races offer all the great qualities that I just mentioned as well as one other pretty interesting characteristic: a relaxed atmosphere.  Here in New York City, I consider myself very lucky to have Central Park as my backyard for running.  There are quite a number of races held in the park throughout the year, and the overall atmosphere on race day is intense.   Don’t get me wrong – I’ve come to LOVE that feeling.  But when I first started jogging, I felt as if I needed to “keep up with the pack”.  That feeling of competitiveness was a bit intimidating for me, since I constantly felt like I was running with a Steinway piano on my back.

I can assure you that the intimidating feeling I’m trying to describe does not exist in Disney races.   When I jog in a Disney race, I feel no pressure.  I feel like I can take in the sights and the energy around me, and simply enjoy the event.  That, combined with the feeling of accomplishment I get as I cross the finish line, is a combination that’s hard to beat.

For those of us that enjoy walking – or those that are thinking about trying something new or setting a new personal goal…something that would get them moving….something that they can build on….Disney races present an amazing opportunity.  Participating in a Disney running event provides you w

When I first began “jogging” (again – let’s throw that word in quotes for me, because what I look like while “jogging” can best be described as an excerpt from a reeeeeeally horrid 1950’s horror movie.  One guy from my old neighborhood actually told me I run like Herman Munster – not a good athletic role model), I couldn’t go 3-5 minutes without stopping and walking.  It took a lot of work to get myself to the point where I could jog a mile at a slow (and I do mean SLOOOW) pace.  I felt impatient – I wanted to be able to just throw on my sneakers and jog with everyone else I saw in the park, at their pace.  After a while, I felt like giving up.  Fortunately for me, I didn’t.  Instead, I picked a race 4-5 months away, and I used it to focus my efforts.

Each day I got just a little bit better.  Weeks went by, and my efforts began to very slowly show results.  On race day, it felt great to simply finish this small assignment I gave to myself.  Once I crossed the finish line of that first race, I picked another one.  Then another.  From there…I was literally off to the races!

If you’re a real DisneyGeek / DisneyNerd / Disney Enthusiast (I am all three, and proud of it), or even if you aren’t a huge fan of the House of Mouse, Disney races offer that carrot that you can hang in front of yourself, motivating you to get out there and get active.  At a Disney race, there is no feeling of judgment.  Instead, there’s a feeling of electricity.  Each time the gun goes off at a Disney race, it symbolizes a bunch of people taking strides to achieve their own personal goals.  I look to my left – then I look to my right – and I always wonder what motivates each runner to the starting line.  At any other race, I normally stand alone, waiting for the gun to go off and the masses to begin moving slowly forward.  At a Disney race, I don’t just look to my left and right – I actually strike up conversations with strangers.  I ask them what motivated them to run this race.  The stories I get to hear are amazing.  Next time – I hope to hear yours!

So there’s something for everyone at a Disney race.  It doesn’t matter how slow or fast you are.  It doesn’t matter if you run or walk.  All that matters is that you motivated yourself to the starting line.  Get yourself there, and let Disney take care of the rest, because each race they host is special.  In my next entry, I’ll briefly describe each of the Disney races for you, and I’ll discuss some of the really fun aspects of every one of them!

Until next time…throw on your sneakers, get out there and get moving!  And, as my coach constantly reminds everyone within earshot, double knot your shoelaces!!!

I’ve Added a Few New Blog Entries For WDW Radio, Running Disney: An Introduction


….and here’s my first one!  I hope you enjoy it!  I’ll get back to whining about my running life in just a bit….

Visit WDW Radio to read the original blog post Running Disney: An Introduction

Since you’re a fan of WDW Radio, I’m going to go out on a limb and just assume that you’re a Disney enthusiast.  Am I right?  I figured as much.  Well, so am I.  I’ve been called a “Disney Nerd”, a “Disney Geek”, a “Disney Addict”…and the list of labels goes on and on (and, frankly, I’m proud of every moniker that I’m assigned when it comes to my admiration for Walt and his works).   Spending time in the parks, at the resorts, and amongst fellow Disney enthusiasts makes each trip to WDW special for me.  I always seem to come home relaxed, refreshed, and with a bit of renewed creativity.

Another passion of mine is “running”.  Yes, that’s not a typo – I put the word “running” in quotes, because I firmly believe that what I do while wearing a pair of sneakers can be loosely referred to as running…although it looks more like waddling.  I look in the mirror each morning and the same thought passes through my rather dense cranium: I’m built for comfort, not speed.  But that doesn’t stop me from lacing up my sneakers at an obscene hour each morning and logging a few miles before going to work.  I know I’m slow – that I’m as quick as a turtle – but who cares!  Running – just like all things Disney – puts a smile on my face.

While my appreciation for Walt Disney World was easy to establish and cultivate through my joy of being a Dad (my daughter and I first visited WDW in 2004 – when she was 5 years old – and we’ve been Disney Geeks ever since), my passion for running was one that required a prolonged incubation period.  I always looked at running as a punishment.  In high school, if I threw an interception in a football game, the coach would yell “take a lap!”  In little league, if I struck out with runners in scoring position, my coach would yell “take a lap!”  When I joined a crew team in college, the first thing my coach would yell each morning was “take 5 laps!”  So let me be quite honest here: by the time I graduated college, I hated running.  However this opinion would drastically change after I made a promise to my daughter to run a marathon.  (I know – I should have promised her a Dole Whip and an Fastpass to Toy Story Mania – what was I thinking!)  I trained for and waddled through the 2005 ING New York City Marathon – and shortly after crossing the finish line, I wondered whether Disney held any running races at any point during the year.  I hopped on the internet…and eureka!

Being able to enjoy two of my passions at the same time – Disney and running – is what motivated me to begin this blog for WDW Radio.  In future entries I’ll provide updates on the various races that Disney offers, as well as some motivation and recommendations on how you can start working toward a goal of earning a medal in a Disney race.  All this…and a load of laughs mixed in for good measure.  So stay tuned!!

Let’s Get This Up to Date…


Saturday, September 25th – Thursday, October 14th……With the decision made to skip Hartford on October 9th, I began to feel truly disappointed in myself.  I needed to clear my head – but in order to do that, I needed to run.  Enter the dilemma.  I needed to think outside the box for a moment – come up with an idea that would replace the cardiovascular workout that I sorely miss; which would help keep my endurance up, burn the calories normally gobbled up along the bridal path, and let my foot heal. 

Now for anyone that hasn’t heard the term “thinking outside the box”, that just means that I need to become creative with my ideas. I need to brainstorm.  Now I’m pretty solid in the creativity department (let’s face it: if you’ve read my blog thus far I think you’ve noticed that my way of thinking is slightly….well….askew.  I plainly appear to be “not quite right in the head”.) – so it didn’t take me long to find an answer to my issue.  And where did I find it?  In of all places, my college year book.

During my college years, I rowed for the Iona College Crew Team.  Each morning I’d wake up at 5:30am, drive to our boathouse on Glen Island in Pelham Manor, New York, and spend 1-2 hours on the water with my teammates.  We’d row in the rain.  The cold.  The heat.  We even rowed while it was snowing a few times.  Regardless of how well each of us performed, the team developed an almost family-like attitude toward one another.  Those were great times.  During the off season, the team would train on equipment called ergometers (“ergs” for short).  Maybe your gym has one or two: it’s a rowing machine that consists of a sliding seat, support for the rower’s feet, a handle attached to a chain which winds its way inside of the front of the machine, where a metal wheel embedded with wind-resistant folds is encased in a metal shell.  The older model ergs make a ton of noise when the rower gets the momentum going…which pisses other people nearby off royally….which is why not many people actually USE the erg….which is why they usually have layers of dust on them whenever I hit the gym.  When you sit on the sliding erg seat, facing you is the handle that you’ll be tugging on, as well as a small computer screen.  You can follow your strokes per minute and your average pace per 2,500 meters (which is the normal length of a crew race). 

I used to hate the erg workouts.  I used to hate the erg altogether.  Local off-season rowing competitions used to held at several teams’ boathouses, and we used to participate in them – one of which was referred to as The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre.  Winning times for heavyweight men’s rowers (any man weighing over 160 pounds was a heavyweight rower) used to clock in at 7 – 7:30 for a 2,500 meter erg race.  My best time was 8:10 in college.  So yes – I’ve always been a turtle, on and off the water.  It seems like the only place where I evolve from turtle to fish is when I actually enter the water and swim.  The water is my natural element….but I digress…..Fortunately for me, my small company gym has a brand new erg sitting in the cardio room, begging to be used.  Who says my college years weren’t good for anything?

I rested the entire weekend of September 25th and 26th.  No long run.  All I needed to do was to focus on healing.  All the long runs in the world wouldn’t do me any good if I show up to the starting line on November 7th with a foot that will only carry me through 11-12 miles.  I need to finish what I start.  In my head, all I could think about was developing a weekly plan that keeps the cardio up and also allows me to work on my core.  Come to think of it, I should have been using this erg all along!

Early the next week, I had to travel for work, so my workouts only consisted of whatever abdominal work and stretching I could get done in a Marriott hotel room.  While I was away, The Tool basked the glory of assumed victory.  My workouts had dwindled.  My confidence had been beaten up.  My apparent dedication to attaining my goals appeared to be flushed right down the ol’ gabinetto (if you’ve read my blog thus far you know this word, lab rats.  If you haven’t, then google is your friend…).  So as I returned to my office on Thursday, September 30th, I pictured The Tool lounging back in an old recliner, smoking a stogy, watching reruns of F-Troop while slugging a pint of Shlitz.  Well the cigar fell out of his mouth and he spilled his lousy beer all over his cheap poly-blend track suit the moment he heard the wheel of the erg howl as I pulled the handle back for the first time.

The first few strokes felt….weird. Stiff.  Over the past few years I have conditioned my body to enjoy the feeling of running on the open road.  In the elements.  The feeling of stretching my legs and pumping my arms in steady motion alongside my teammates or just simply other New Yorkers was what my muscles craved.  They craved what they knew – what was at the forefront of their muscle memory.  It took about 250 meters to remind them all of my college years.  Some of my muscle groups (like my back and my abs) needed to dust off the instruction manuals for this exercise.  Sure, they were mad at me at the outset for throwing them a curveball – but everything fell into place at I hit the 500 meter mark of the exercise.  I gradually raised my stroke rate to 34 strokes per minute.  I remembered all of the coaches’ words of advice: control the slide of the seat…..slide forward slowly – let the boat run under you and listen for the bubbles; if you can hear bubbles running under the boat, you’re motoring along…push your hands low and away as your body begins to slide forward, popping the blade out of the water…raise your hands at the top of the slide, and then drive back first using all legs, then finish with the back…control is key.  The last 500 meters I pushed my pace to 38 strokes a minute.  Then 40.  As I finished 2,500 meters, I realized that I had clocked a time of 8:24.  Not bad for a guy that had not rowed in 19 years!  As I rose from the erg, I realized that I was stronger than I gave myself credit for.  The time off hadn’t hurt my endurance.  This realization was exactly what I needed.  I finished my workout by hitting the weights and working on my core over the next half hour.  The erg….my new friend.  The Tool’s new nightmare.  There’s nothing quite like a dose of renewed confidence to stoke the motivational fires. 

That weekend (October 2nd and 3rd), I found myself in Orlando, Florida.  I had signed up for a half marathon in Walt Disney World.  I decided to tempt fate and see how the foot responded to the rest.  While the course was not exactly hilly, the 13.1 miles took the 7,000 – 8,000 runners through Disney’s Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios theme parks late at night.  Called the Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon, the race began at 10pm.  Two hours and 24 minutes after crossing the starting line, I had a medal draped over my head and was on my way back to my hotel.  The foot was bothering me – but it wasn’t unbearable.  I knew I’d pay for this the next morning…but I really didn’t care.  The Tool enjoyed bothering me the last 3 miles of the race, reminding me of the pain (and how hungry I was!)…but for the first time in quite a while, I put him in his place.  The only other distraction was my Garmin watch.  It decided to flake out on me 11 miles into the race.  It suddenly decided to shut off. For no reason.  While the battery was at 60% power remaining.  THAT ticked me off.  Cannot let that happen on Marathon Sunday…so I’m going to buy myself a new watch. 

As for a quick review of the race itself, here’s the fairly good, the bad, and the REALLY ugly:

  • Transportation: I stayed at a WDW on-property resort.  However, it wasn’t a “host resort”…so since I was reliant on Disney transportation to get me around the property, I had to take a bus from my resort to one of the four theme parks, then transfer to a bus that takes me to a “host resort”, and then transfer again to a bus that takes me to the Expo & and the Starting Line located at Disney’s Wide World of Sports.  REALLY UGLY.
  • The Expo: in a word – thin.  Not much to see.  I was there for approximately 15 minutes.  Nothing there motivated me to spend any additional time.  BAD.
  • The Start: pre-race provided ample space and port-o-potties (also known as mobile poop houses).  Water was available – but no Gatorade.  The pre-race entertainment was easily ignored…which worked for me.  The walk from the pre-race area to the corrals was short.  The Start itself was nicely executed.  FAIRLY GOOD, overall.
  • The Course: brought the runners through the Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios after closing time.  Nice.  But hardly any characters were out, and it simply felt like the race didn’t have enough creative effort put into it.  Roughly 7.5 of the 13.1 miles was run along quiet highways.  Entertainment was weak.  I expect top shelf stuff from Disney.  They let me down.  BAD.
  • The Fans: Hardly any were allowed on the course until the final stretch that took the runners from Hollywood Studios to the back of Epcot, through the Boardwalk area.  It’s a HALF MARATHON!  13.1 miles isn’t exactly easy.  Fans HELP.  BAD.
  • The Volunteers: one word.  AWESOME.  THANK YOU ALL!!!!   GOOD.
  • The Medal: one word. COOL.  GOOD.
  • Baggage Claim / Post Race: Completely unorganized, very un-Disney.  Shockingly messy.  This was FUBAR, big time.  REALLY UGLY.      

Bottom line: I won’t run this one until the kinks get worked out.  My overall rating: UGLY

Over the next two weeks, I’ve focused on my time in the gym.  Each day I take my time, focusing on specific body parts as I left weights.  As I go through the motions, I think of why the muscle group I am currently working is important to achieving my long-term goals.  The shoulders.  Back.  Chest.  Arms.  Core.  All important muscle groups.  All will be called upon on marathon Sunday.  All will pay a price.  So I am trying to build them up so that I don’t break down when it matters the most.  Thrown in to this routine now is time on the erg.  The steady rhythm of the sliding seat does not clear my head in the same way that running always has.  I miss the road…but the erg is helping my foot heal, and that’s the most important thing right now.

As of this morning, only 24 days until the New York City Marathon.  The air is changing – getting more crisp.  The advertisements are beginning to show up on trains and buses.  People are beginning to talk about the race in the office.  Three weeks to go, and the excitement is already building.  I hope I am healed by then.

I have one trip to take before race day, and that will bring me to a couple of cities north of the boarder.  Toronto and Calgary are two interesting cities, both with sites to see and fun places to visit.  (Too bad that, as far as Canadian hockey teams are concerned, I’m an Oiler fan..unless they are playing my beloved Broadway Blueshirts – I bleed NY Ranger blue).  I’m looking at the trip as my calm before the storm, because once I return to New York City, I’m all business for the next few months.  So a trip up north could be exactly what the doctor ordered.  I am betting that it will spark my creative juices.  One thing is for sure – Canadians are awesome.  Especially a few in Alberta that I know.  Now let’s see if they lose my luggage in Calgary’s airport as I step off the plane wearing a jersey that reads “Messier” on the back….. 

When I woke up this morning, I felt like I was firing on all cylinders.  I feel like I’m peaking at just the right time.  And when my feet touched the floor whilst getting out of bed, I walked – not hobbled – to the bathroom. 

 …and somewhere in the recesses of my pea-sized brain, The Tool extinguished his stogy, took a long slug of his cheap beer, went to his file cabinet where he stores all of his negative mental ammo, and began preparation for a 26.2 mile blitzkrieg. 

Three weeks.  24 days.  Me vs. The Tool.  Not exactly Tyson / Holyfield or Rangers / Devils, but it’ll do for now…