A Recap of My 12 in ’12 To Benefit The Dream Team Project


2012 was an interesting year, filled with ups and downs that resembed a ride on California Screamin’.  I figured that I’d look back real quick at the year’s running events and try to share one take-away from each adventure. 

 

January 2012: I ran the Walt Disney World Marathon.  THAT was a VERY fun way to kick off my year-long adventure.  WDW is never a fast race for me – I am too busy taking pictures and soaking in the atmosphere.  Visiting WDW allows me to remove myself from reality and immerse myself in levels of creativity that stimulate my own imagination.  I leave WDW each time with a bunch of new ideas and very decompressed.  LESSON LEARNED: January in Orlando can be cold.  When traveling for a marathon, plan for the unexpected.

 

February 2012: I ran 26.2 With Donna in Jacksonville, Florida.  It was 25 degrees and windy.  This was the only marathon I have ever completed wearing full running pants and three layers…and still felt frozen at the end.  LESSON LEARNED: Plan out your pre-race breakfast in the morning.  Don’t wing it. Not a good idea.  If you don’t eat well, your empty stomach makes any other obstacle (like 25 degree weather) that much more unbearable.  I also learned, during this race, that I am a bit tougher than I thought.

 

March 2012: I ran the Ocean Drive Marathon in New Jersey.  Lost a tooth at mile 8 by biting down on one of those chewy energy blocks.  There must have been somehting hard in the center of it, because I snapped the back of a molar and also had a crown fall out.  I put the crown in my pocket and kept going.  LESSON LEARNED: Running in a cold headwind makes 26.2 miles feel like 30.  I also was once more reminded of the importance of nutrition – this time, during the race itself.  Have a plan for taking in fuel during the race.  AND THEN STICK TO IT.

 

April 2012: I ran the Gettysburgh North-South Marathon.  16 miles of hills and very little shade.  LESSON LEARNED: Several, in actuality:

1) Pennsylvania may look flat on an ordinary map.  But….it’s not.

2) Focus on the hill in front of you – not the ones coming up in the future.  Tackle one obstacle at a time, or else the marathon can become mentally overwhelming.  FOCUS ON THE TASK AT HAND.

3) The sun is a real factor to consider on race day.  The sun can drain your energy pretty quick, so use sunblock as part of your pre-race procedure.

 

May 2012: I ran the New Jersey Marathon.  It was a very enjoyable race, but the amount of fans on the course were more scare than I originally anticipated.  LESSON LEARNED: As Sun Tsu said – “every battle is won before it’s ever fought”.  Prepare yourself mentally for the 26.2 miles.  Use some positive visualization to picture yourself running certain sections of the course that you may find challenging.  During the race – dial in to your effort.  Focus inward.  Don’t look for the fans to push you through the rough patches – do it yourself.

 

June 2012: I had planned to run the Lake Placid Marathon, but was unable to participate.  Life simply got in the way.  So I performed my first solo marathon around Manhattan.  LESSON LEARNED: Once more I say – planning is the key.  If you become really thirsty in the middle of the marathon, then you waiting too long to hydrate.  Drink water the day before the race, and then plan out your water intake during the marathon in the same way you planned to ingest your fuel.  I know – this sounds like planning overkill.  But trust me – IT ISN’T.

 

July 2012: I ran the San Francisco Marathon.  What a wonderful course.  Great weather.  Great organization.  Cannot wait to run this one again.  LESSON LEARNED: Sometimes the challenges you picture in your head based on the reputation of the course do not accurately portray the course you run.  I figured that San Francisco would be the most brutal course I’d run all year.  One of the race mottos even says that it’s “the race that marathoners fear”.  The reputation got into my head and played with it.  I got psyched out while toeing the line.  My nervousness became a distraction and took away from my execution.  So – HAVE A PLAN AND STICK TO IT.

 

August 2012: I ran the Self Trancendence Marathon in Rye, New York.  9 loops of a 3 mile course that circles a lake.  VERY hot and humid.  I did everything wrong.  Everything.  Plus – I was injured during the race.  LESSON LEARNED: when you mail in a race (you don’t prepare, you don’t plan and you don’t think), bad things happen.  I didn’t eat well the night before.  I didn’t track how much water I took in.  I didn’t eat breakfast.  I took in fluids every 3 miles – not every 2.  I became severely dehydrated, lost focused, and sprained my ankle.  The result: 30 minutes in a medical tent spent taping up my dumb ankle so I could get back out there.  There is no need to be a martyre.  If you are going to run a marathon and you spent months in training – take a few hours to plan for race day in detail.

 

(getting the message yet: HAVE….A….PLAN!)

 

September 2012: I was scheduled to run the Air Force Marathon in Ohio.  However, once more, like got in the way and I was unable to fly out for the race.  As a result, I ran my second solo marathon around Manhattan.  LESSON LEARNED: On marathon Sunday, leave the Ipod at home.  Tune out the Eminem and RUSH, and tune into yourself.  I have found that, when I listen to music while trying to really push myself, my mind is split between focusing on the task at hand and focusing on the tunes that are pumpin into my ears.  If I want to be the best runner I can be, I’ll need to be 100% focused on one thing at a time.

 

October 2012: I ran the Chicago Marathon in Chicago, Illinois.  Great course, great fans, and VERY fast.  LESSON LEARNED: Go out slow.  Let the Kenyans take off like bats out of hell.  Start your marathon so slow that your pace actually feels TOO easy.  If it does, then you are perfect.  If you go out too fast, you burn too much fuel too early in the race, and you won’t have enough to propel you 26.2 miles.  Pacing is key.  Again – when it comes to your marathon pace: HAVE A PLAN AND STICK TO IT.

 

November 2012: I ran the Philadelphia Marathon in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.   Fun fans, Really well organized.  Great volunteer support.  Cannot wait to run this one again.  LESSON LEARNED: I run better in a huge crowd than in a small one.  I like the feeling of being part of a big event – it’s easier for me to get fired up, and I perform much better. 

 

December 2012: Since the ING New York City Marathon was cancelled due to Hurricane Sandy, I ran my third solo marathon of the year around Manhattan.  LESSON LEARNED: As much as I love running in the big “events”, it’s not why I push myself.  While running solo, it’s easy to quit.  No one would look at you and shake their heads, saying “I cannot believe he’s giving up”.  No one on the streets knew what I was attempting to accomplish, so it was just me versus my limitations.  That makes the distance even more personal.  Good marathoners have a mean streak in them somewhere.  One that comes out when the going gets tough, saying “hey – there is NO WAY I am quitting.  So push through this pain and get the damn job done”.  The mind wants to quit before the body – so you have to get pissed off and tell your mind to shove any idea of quitting up…..well, you get the idea.

 

So there you have it – some take aways from each marathon this year.  Don’t make the same mistakes I did.  Make new ones, and enjoy every step of the way.

 

One last comment before I switch gears and begin planning for 2013: whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you are probably right.  Regardless of your pace per mile or the shape you are currently in, you can accomplish great things.  All you need to do is believe in yourself, and fight.  Here’s a quote from Rocky Balboa to wrap this entry up – I think it says what’s on my mind:

 

“Let me tell you something – the world isn’t all sunshine and roses.  It’s a mean, cruel place and it will knock you down and keep you there if you let it.  No one – not me, not you – no one punches as hard as life.  But it’s not about how hard you hit.  It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.  It’s about how much you can take, and keep moving forward.  That’s how winning is done’.  Whatever you plan to do in 2013, dive into it.  Expect setbacks along the way.  Take whatever hits are thrown at you…and keep pressing forward.

 

Here’s another quote I’ll share from a movie I just saw with Mini Me this morning: “I have found it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay.  Small acts of kindness and love”.  Gandolf the Gray said this to Galadriel, in response to the question of why he chose a hobbit – a very small form of human with absolutely no desire for adventure – to become a key member of a very important journey.  I throw this quote out there for a reason: we’re all ordinary folk.  And it is the everyday deed of choosing a goal and working hard to attain it which keeps the darkness of giving up at bay.  You choose to get out there and run a mile…or 3…or 5 – whatever the day’s training plan calls for – and you don’t stop until you accomplish your goal.  Accomplish your small goals each day, and you’ll definitely attain your larger goal on Marathon Sunday.

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If you’d like some information on The Dream Team Project or would like to make a donation to their amazing cause, please stop by the website: www.wdwradio.com/the-dream-team-project I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I really believe in what The Dream Team Project stands for. It raises money for the Make-a-Wish Foundation, helping to grant the wishes of children suffering from life-threatening illnesses. Being s former wish-granter for the NYC Chapter of the Make-a-Wish Foundation, I can tell you first-hand just how much of an impact this organization makes in the lives of children. Please consider donating to this worthy cause. Thanks!

…and if you’d like a bit more information on the WDW Radio Running Team, please check out the Facebook page at: http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/WDW-Radio-Running-Team/163606410344409

Marathon #12: Early One December Morning…


After a great Sunday in Philadelphia, marathon number 11 was in the books. All I needed was one more run of 26.2 miles in order to attain my goal for the year. But there were no marathons scheduled which were easily accessible for me through December 31st. As you might be able to tell….that’s a problem.

My confidence was shot based on the failed solo marathon attempt a few weeks prior – but Iknew that the weather could take aturn toward the 30’s very soon. So I made the decision to gun for marathon number 12 on Sunday, December 2nd. This would have to be a solo effort, and I knew that I couldn’t just run laps around Central Park – I have the attention span of a cocker spaniel surrounded by squirrels. So this run would need to be an out and back course. I determined that the best thing for me to do was to begin covering the same course that I ran solo – with success – earlier in the year. Knowing that literally running around Manhattan like a tourist maintained my attention throughout the entire effort made my confidence rise. The added pressure of the cold weather coming in ernest also raised my sense of urgency – and that should help keep me motivated as well. It was either complete the distance on December 2nd – or fail to accomplish my goal for 2012.

The Saturday before the long run, I found myself in Eastern Mountain Sports, looking through the various Camelbacks that they have available. Last time I ran out of water at around mile 15-16. The last ten miles were rough. I needed to ensure that this type of issue would not occur again – so I purchased a camelback bladder which held 100 ounces of water. I figured that should get me further along the course! I filled it up, threw it in my small backpack…and the realized just how much additional weight I would be carrying along this run. No personal best times in the morning, that’s for sure. I didn’t sleep well the night before the run – the make or break for my year would occur in the morning, and I would be lugging along some added weight on my back that I didn’t really budget for. Nerves set in as if I were bracing myself for the ING New York City Marathon. Then it hit me: this run would take the place of the New York City Marathon for me this year, and I did obtain one of the medals that would have been bestowed on any finisher of the race a month prior. So I made the silent decision that, if I am able to finish the run tomorrow, I would crack the 26.2 mile marker right near Tavern on the Green in Central Park. Then I would do somehting special with the medal in January during the Walt Disney World Marathon weekend.

Morning came, and the weather was questionable. Damp, foggy and in the low 40’s. Strong chance of rain. Not exactly the greatest juju – but not the worst either. The weather was as questionable as my chances of success.

I began my run along west side drive at 72nd street, heading south. I coasted past the Intrepid, and checked out the Space Shuttle. After playing the tourist for 2.3 seconds, I continued south toward Chelsea Piers all the way to Battary Park. I ran out along each and every pier along the west side, just to get myself out above the Hudson River for a few minutes at a time. Coming from a small island in the Bronx, I grew up on and around the water. My family owned a boat yard for generations. I love to swim, fish, and scuba dive. Water is the element that I feel most comfortable in and around – so just being near it relaxes me. I know- that sounds sort-of, well, dumb – but it’s true. I pressed on around Battery Park, and made the turn up the east side drive.

Once I hit South Street Seaport I decided to hang a left on to Fulton Street to see the really nice, trendy shops. I was stunned to see every single one of these stores destroyed by the hurricane and the subsequent looting that took place. Not exactly the sight I hoped to see almost 9 miles into my run – but it served as a reminder to be thankful for just how lucky I am. I go through my days and complain when I get stuck in traffic or I have to work late. In the grand scheme of things, I am so damn lucky compared to others – I just lose sight of it. Passing through Fulton Street was just the reminder I needed to keep my life in perspective.

I hung a left and made my way to Wall Street, where I checked out the spot where George Washington took his oath as first President of the United States. That big stone block and monument is something I really enjoy checking out each time I get to lower Manhattan. From there, I went down Broadway to The Bull, then turned back around and began heading North to City Hall, running up The Canyon of Heros.

I passed through City Hall Park, and headed toward the Brooklyn Bridge…where I made a last second decision to head into Brooklyn. Over the bridge I went, to Cadman Plaza. One small loop around that little park, and I headed back over the Brooklyn Bridge. Cool – I was in 2 boroughs thus far.

Once I got back into Manhattan, I continued up Broadway, where my time was hampered by traffic and tons of street lights – but who cared? I was more than half way to my 26.2 mile goal. At this point, I had less miles to run than I had already logged. The backpack was getting lighter as I sipped water whenever I felt like I needed it. The backpack itself wasn’t a terrible distraction – but it did slow me up a bit at the start. This factor may have actually been a good thing because I normally go out too fast. The next cool tourist spot I passed was The Flatiron Building on 23rd street, followed by Macy’s on 34th Street and then Times Square. I hung a right on 42nd and ran past Grand Central Station all the way to First Avenue. I made a left on First Avenue and ran past the United Nations, and continued north.

While on First Avenue, I realized that I had just past mile 20. Only ten kilometers to go. For the first time I began to postiviely visualize the completion of my year’s goal. At the same moment, however, I also realized that I had run out of water. I was cold, sore and tired – so I made the decision to just slug it out for one more hour and then I can head home, victorious. I picked up my pace slightly and noticing that I was on the corner of 57th street and First Avenue, made the decison to run over the 59th Street Bridge and back. Lets get a 3rd borough in this morning, I said aloud to…no one in particular.

As I looked up the incline of Mount Sonofabitch (the 59th Street Bridge’s real name – look it up, Google is your friend), I realized that running the hardest hill on the ING New York City Marathon course in both directions 20+ miles into a solo marathon is ridiculously dumb. But I also thought that something like this – running a dozen marathon in a year for a wonderful charity – should not be finished with a nice flat coast to the end. What this deserved – what this effort almost required – was one last hurdle to clear. And this bridge has been my enemy since 2005. So it was almost poetic that I dueled with this obstacle at the end of my journey. Up the incline I went, slow, cold and steady. When I got the the highest point and the roadway began its downward angle, I actually picked up my pace and it felt incredible. 22+ miles in to this run and I was groovy.

When I arrived at the base of the bridge on the Queens side, I turned and began the slow trek back. Remembering that the mind quits before the body does, my mantra for getting back over the bridge was simple: “Nope – not yet” (as in: Nope, not yet – not time to stop yet. Nope. Keep moving. Nope. Don’t quit. You’re fine. Move.). When I finally arrived back in Manhattan, I had less than 5 kilomters to go – so I headed toward the park. I put in a lower loop and had to backtrack along the west side roadway of Central Park a second time so that I could finish my 26.2 miles close to Tavern on the Green. When I stopped my watch, I placed my hands on my hips and bent at the waist. My chest was sore. So were my arms. I was cold and hungry. Definitely thirsty. My calves were cramping pretty badly. But I didn’t move. I just stood there. Right near the official finish line of my annual Superbowl. No fans to scream for me. No medals, heat sheets and photographers. Just me and the moment – and that felt right.

OK – I’ll admit: I teared up a bit. I’m sure runners that passed me by and saw me a bit emotional were probably thinking “what a pansy – that’s not even a hill and it made him cry!!”. I didn’t care. I found a park bench near the South Lawn and took a few minutes for myself. I thought of what I went through during the year. 314.4 miles of marathons in 12 months, three of which I ran solo. There were injuries, tons of assinine mistakes, poor planning, weak preparation, shoddy diet maintenance throughout the year, and an abundance of lackluster training efforts. However, in spite of everything I did poorly, I managed to finish the goal I put in place a year ago. Lord knows I’m not fast. I’m not even close to qualifying for Boston. I have a TON of work to do to become the distance runner that I want to be. But this year I found something in myself that I didn’t know I had much of: courage. The one and only thing I did consistently right this year was have the courage to push through pain and not quit (even when I reeeeeeeally wanted to). So I may be as slow as a turtle – but I have the foundation to improve. Greater things are possible.

So there you have it. 12 marathons in 12 months to raise money for the Dream Team Project. Mission accomplished. Hmmmm…..so what’s next?

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If you’d like some information on The Dream Team Project or would like to make a donation to their amazing cause, please stop by the website: http://www.wdwradio.com/the-dream-team-project I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I really believe in what The Dream Team Project stands for. It raises money for the Make-a-Wish Foundation, helping to grant the wishes of children suffering from life-threatening illnesses. Being s former wish-granter for the NYC Chapter of the Make-a-Wish Foundation, I can tell you first-hand just how much of an impact this organization makes in the lives of children. Please consider donating to this worthy cause. Thanks!

…and if you’d like a bit more information on the WDW Radio Running Team, please check out the Facebook page at: http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/WDW-Radio-Running-Team/163606410344409

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So Now What? I Might Be One Marathon Short….


Marathon Sunday came and went here in New York City, and New Yorkers were really focused more on recovery efforts than anything else.  Runners from all over the globe that were visiting The Big Apple to participate in one of the world’s largest running events decided to help with the relief efforts by bringing needed clothing and goods to Staten Island.  Other runners spent the sunny Sunday in Central Park, hovering around a finish line that felt so close…yet so far away.

 

I realized that, based on my marathon schedule, that the cancellation of this race would leave me one marathon short of my goal for 2012.  11 marathons in 2012 is NOT 12.  I’m no rocket scientist…but that’s math that even a dimwit like me can handle.  So I made a conscious decision to run a solo marathon the following Sunday, November 11th.  That would allow me to finish my 2012 marathon of marathons in Philadelphia the following Sunday, November 18th.  It was a makeshift, aggressive plan – but it would have to do.    

 

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If you’d like some information on The Dream Team Project or would like to make a donation to their amazing cause, please stop by the website:  www.wdwradio.com/the-dream-team-project  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I really believe in what The Dream Team Project stands for.  It raises money for the Make-a-Wish Foundation, helping to grant the wishes of children suffering from life-threatening illnesses.  Being s former wish-granter for the NYC Chapter of the Make-a-Wish Foundation, I can tell you first-hand just how much of an impact this organization makes in the lives of children.  Please consider donating to this worthy cause.  Thanks!

 

…and if you’d like a bit more information on the WDW Radio Running Team, please check out the Facebook page at: http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/WDW-Radio-Running-Team/163606410344409

 

Race Number 5: The 2012 New Jersey Marathon – PART 1


The morning of my 5th race for my “12 in ‘12” project arrived with….well…absolutely no fanfare whatsoever. It was refreshing not to have to really travel for this race as I have all year long. I got changed, packed my bag for the day, and headed out the apartment door before 4am in order to catch mass transit to Penn Station, where a FREE New Jersey Transit train to the starting line awaited for a prompt 5am departure. It’s direct destination: Monmouth Park racetrack in southern New Jersey.

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The weather appeared to be absolutely perfect for a marathon, although the high temperature for the day would cross the 80 degree barrier. The train ride was relaxing and it allowed me to collect my thoughts for the day. I find that locating some time to close my eyes and visualize a successful run on Marathon Morning really works wonders to both relax my pre-race jitters and sets me forth upon the course with some much-needed confidence.

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As the train gently rocked back and forth like a fishing boat docked in a comfortable slip, I went through my mental preparation for the race. I closed my eyes and tried to picture the flat course, the quiet streets, and a steady pace. I took deep breaths as the course displayed itself in front of me within my mind. The mile markers flew by me, one after another as if they were lined up with only 100’s of feet between them instead of a firm mile. For some reason, I felt at ease with this race. As I opened my eyes, I felt truly calm. The positive visualization really worked this time around. Now all I needed was my theme music for the race – today’s selection was Ode to Joy. I played the piece in its entirety several times on my Iphone,This allowed the notes to become engrained in my head so that, when I needed something to call upon to either drive away the negative thoughts that were bound to flood my dense cranium thanks to the heartless work of The Tool, the work of Beethoven would drown his tiny squeaky voice out.

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As I strode from the train to the starting area, I ran into one of my Team for Kids coaches, Coach Vinny. First some effective positive visualization, add to it a heaping dose of Beethoven, and top it off with a coach that I consider to be one of the most positive-thinking guys I’ve ever had the pleasure of listening to. This was shaping up to be an excellent day. Coach Vinny and I chatted about running in general, this race, our upcoming goals – simple subjects to pass the time and maintain the positive aura that was really taking hold of the morning. Before we knew it, it was time to toe the line and get moving. Coach Vinny is an accomplished marathoner who’s run 26.2 in less than 3 ½ hours…and he’s constantly getting faster. In short: a good running role model to have. While he headed the to “A” corral – the corral for the competitive runners – I headed to Corral D – the one which housed all those who would not be threatening the current world marathon record of 2:03:02 this Sunday morning. We shook hands, wished each other good luck, and headed to our respective corners to start our slugfest against the asphalt.

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Once the gun went off, that positive air that I spent the morning cultivating carried me through the half way point of the race. I spent the first half of the marathon enjoying the sights of southern New Jersey, chatting with fellow runners who waddled along at the same pace as I was. As the mile markers continued to pass by, 7…8…9…my confidence grew. For the first time this year, I controlled my excitement and did not go out too fast early on in the race. I hit the half way point of the race at the 2 hour 20 minute mark. Right on schedule. All I needed to do was stay steady, and a personal best could well be mine.

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My first mistake was made as I passed the half way point of the race: I began doing Mental Math. And The Tool is an “A” student when it comes to the course of Mental Math.

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Every runner is different. Some live or die by their Garmin, Nike +, or Timex GPS watch. I think of this type of runner as a Watch Warrior. They constantly monitor their pace throughout the race by continuously glancing at their current pace per mile, their overall pace per mile, and their elapsed time. The clock is the motivating factor for this type of runner. They know what pace they need to maintain in order to exceed their goals. For these runners, keeping their pace at or below a certain set time per mile is like a person treading water in the middle of the Atlantic; keep your arms and legs moving at a certain rate and you keep your head above water. Slow down…and drown. The constant calculations between the statistics oozing out of the runner’s watch whilst running a marathon and comparing it to his/her goal time for the race is what I mean by Mental Math. It takes a tenacious runner to be a master mental mathematician.

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Other runners can simply feel their pace per mile. No satellite assistance required. Simply double knot your shoe laces and take off down the road. Mental Math was never their major. They never even took the class as an elective. I refer to these runners as Gazelles. They simply react to the moment. They feel like they need to pick up their pace – so they do. The clock doesn’t dictate their actions. There appears to be a simple freedom that comes with being able to run like a Gazelle. Don’t think – just run and let the clock take care of itself.

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Watch Warriors. Gazelles. All that matters is that the runner breaks the tape. Finish.

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As I hit the half way point of the race, I found myself attending Mental Math 101…and my professor was none other than The Tool. The second half of this race just became vastly more complex.

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If you’d like some information on The Dream Team Project or would like to make a donation to their amazing cause, please stop by the website: www.wdwradio.com/the-dream-team-project I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I really believe in what The Dream Team Project stands for. It raises money for the Make-a-Wish Foundation, helping to grant the wishes of children suffering from life-threatening illnesses. Being s former wish-granter for the NYC Chapter of the Make-a-Wish Foundation, I can tell you first-hand just how much of an impact this organization makes in the lives of children. Please consider donating to this worthy cause. Thanks!

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…and if you’d like a bit more information on the WDW Radio Running Team, please check out the Facebook page at: http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/WDW-Radio-Running-Team/163606410344409

Beware the Ides of Freakin’ March…..


The month of March was rough indeed.  After a poor showing in February during my second marathon of my “12 in ‘12”, I decided that changes needed to be made.  In my last blog entry, I noted that I gave up on chocolate and Diet Coke.  While I stayed disciplined and stayed clear of that delicious carbonated elixir through the end of the month, my resolve folded like a cheap lawn chair when it came to chocolate.  Hindsight being 20-20, the fact that I caved and resumed my love affair with all things dark chocolate probably saved lives.  I’m just going to leave it at that – no more detail is necessary.  Trust me.

 

In the weeks that built up to my third marathon of the year, The Ocean Drive Marathon in Cape May, New Jersey, I became more focused on my training and starting racking up more miles during the early mornings.  Each time I laced up my sneakers and waddled around Central Park, my confidence grew.  My pace became easier to maintain for longer periods of time.  I began to hold a 9;15-9:20 pace for 3-4 miles…which, historically for me, was simply a pipe dream.  I felt like I would erase all feelings of disappointment on March 25th.  All of the growing frustration stemming from my self-imposed Diet Coke de-tox was going to be worth it.  The constant, slight ache that was the result of a more spirited work ethic was going to be worth it.  My constant overall crankiness which was taken out on the world in general (during this time frame, my cherub-like demeanor morphed into a mouthy grouch a la Dr. House…sans chemical enhancements) would be worth it.  Right?

 

I took a New Jersey Transit bus from midtown New York City to Cape May, New Jersey on the morning of Saturday, March 24th in a real positive mood. (This is unusual for me, as I normally stomp around like a troll with a Bronx accent).  I checked into a fantastic small hotel near the center of this quaint town, and realized that the starting line for the marathon the next morning was literally a 4 minute walk from my room.  The expo was held in a small convention center on the boardwalk.  The volunteers were very polite and efficient.  Aside from a light rain, this marathon was shaping up just the way I had hoped.

 

I went to a local restaurant for an early carb-intense dinner, and sat alone in a small booth as I waited for my hefty serving of pasta to be trotted out.  My Iphone was playing the audiobook of “Too Big To Fail” through my earbuds…when all of sudden I was no longer sitting alone.

 

Like a genie escaping from a bottle, The Tool appeared on the worn wooden table that my elbows currently rested on.  He had that Cheshire Cat grin on his narrow face that immediately told me that my good vibes were about to become a thing of the past.

 

“So…..feeling good?”

 

“As a matter of fact – yes I am.  Go away”.

 

“Feeling really good?  Like a personal best time is on its way tomorrow?”

 

“Yup.  Now hit the bricks”.

 

“Feel like you’re going to surprise yourself – like you’re going to go sub 4:50?”

 

“Absolutely.  Now GO.  Leave.  Go play in traffic.  Go chase parked cars.  Go annoy someone – anyone – else.  I don’t care where you go or what you do – just do it somewhere else.  Hasta la vista, numbnuts”.

 

The Tool stood up and began to walk his tiny 4-inch persona toward me.  When he reached my large glass of ice water he paused, folded his pudgy arms and leaned his shoulder on the cold, sweaty glass.

 

“Look.  Here’s the deal.  All I wanted to do was stop by and let you know that I was here for you.  I made the trip all the way down to Cape freakin’ May New freakin’ Jersey for you.  Now I thought you’d appreciate the company.  But instead of being polite, you got rude.  You asked me to leave.  That was not nice.  Not nice at all.  Something will need to be done about this disrespect.”

 

And with that, he instantly evaporated.  The only thing left that signified his presence was a hint of Drakkar in the air.  Once more, I sat alone in the booth.  Alone with my thoughts.  The seed of doubt had been planted – I just couldn’t let it take root.

 

The audiobook had lost its amusing flare.  As I turned my Iphone off, the waitress arrived with my linguini.

 

“Let me guess – you’re running tomorrow?”

 

“How did you know?”

 

“Pasta.  Call it an educated assumption.”

 

I tried to show my positive attitude… “Well I feel ready.  I think tomorrow’s going to be a good day”.

 

“26 miles, right?”

 

“Yup – 26.2 miles”.

 

“….how – that’s a long way to run!  Must be painful.”

 

There went my positive aura –  “……yeah – it does for a bit.  But….it’s worth it.”

 

“Well, good luck!”  And the young waitress strolled back to her spot near the bar.

 

….and in the distance, I heard a faint chuckle.

 

 

 

If you’d like some information on The Dream Team Project or would like to make a donation to their amazing cause, please stop by the website:  www.wdwradio.com/the-dream-team-project  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I really believe in what The Dream Team Project stands for.  It raises money for the Make-a-Wish Foundation, helping to grant the wishes of children suffering from life-threatening illnesses.  Being s former wish-granter for the NYC Chapter of the Make-a-Wish Foundation, I can tell you first-hand just how much of an impact this organization makes in the lives of children.  Please consider donating to this worthy cause.  Thanks!

 If you’d like a bit more information on the WDW Radio Running Team, please check out the Facebook page at: http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/WDW-Radio-Running-Team/163606410344409

Two Down, Ten To Go…Part 2


As I’ve mentioned in my past few blog entries, my goal for 2012 is to run a marathon during each calendar month of the year in order to generate awareness and donations for The Dream Team Project.  Well I am happy to report that I survived marathon number two on Sunday, February 12th.  I completed the “26.2 With Donna Marathon”, run in Jacksonville, Florida in a time of five hours and fourteen minutes.  I’d like to briefly share with you the day’s experience, because it truly was amazing.

As I walked out of the hotel which was wonderfully close to the start/finish line of the race alongside the Mayo Clinic campus, I realized that I may have bitten off a bit more than I could chew this Sunday morning.  As the doors swooshed open, cold air blasted me right in the face. Should have looked at the temperature before getting dressed….it was 28 degrees.  With a strong wind.  Which was currently whacking me in the face.  I ran upstairs to my room and changed into long pants, 3 shirts and a sweatshirt (which represented approximately 85% of the clothes that I actually brought on the trip).  I never ran 26.2 miles in long pants before….but there’s a first time for everything I guess….

This marathon has grown substantially since it’s inception five years ago, and it’s growth can be primarily evidenced in the quality of the Runner’s Village.  What a great setup.  I cannot recall another marathon offering oranges, bananas, and freshly-baked chocolate chip muffins that immediately reminded me of the Boardwalk Bakery in Walt Disney World (a personal favorite of mine whenever I’m hanging out in La Casa de Walt).  What a great way to kick off a really cold morning.  The chocolaty goodness took my mind off the freezing temperatures, that’s for sure!

After I dropped off my bag (along with my sweatshirt – hello wind chill) and headed to the starting line, a couple of people asked me about the WDW Radio Running Team.  So I gave them the quick explanation of The Dream Team Project, and why running for the team means so much to me.  They, in turn, shared their own experiences running for another cancer charity…and it was wonderful to listen to the passion in their voices as they were so grateful to get an opportunity to do something to help a cause that was close to their hearts.

Before you knew it, the gun sounded and off we went!

The first mile presented an immediate challenge: a rather long incline.  Fortunately for me I chose to run with the five hour pace group – a bunch of runners slowly plodding along together, following two “pacers” that carefully watch their GPS devices whist running with several balloons attached to a three foot stick in their hands (the balloons attached to stick act as a target for runners that begin with the pack that may fall off pace due to a water stop, pot-o-potty break, or simply because the time that they were shooting for did not correlate to their actual pace / training). I had hoped that the chill that ran down my spine from the cold temperature and rather impolite wind (oh trust me – the wind was rude…no manners whatsoever) would dissipate as my morning exercise commenced.  Boy was I wrong.

The five hour pace group ran using The Galloway Method.  Now if any of you reading this have not heard of this distance running method and are interested in possibly attempting a distance event of any sort (from a 5k to a marathon – it doesn’t matter), I highly suggest reading Mr. Galloway’s books on running.  They emphasize taking “walk breaks” throughout your run, in order to allow your body to “rest” for a minute or two between periods of jogging / running.  Sticking with this group from the start was a wise move for me (and I usually only get about 5-8 wise moves a fiscal year, so I have to use them sparingly), because it provided a welcome distraction from the miserable conditions and the 25 miles looming ahead.

Miles two through five carried us in to the Jacksonville Beach area.  This neighborhood seemed quite sleepy at this early hour, although the streets were lined in pink.  The bright decorations on the homes signified that the residents were with us in spirit…but 6:30am was a bit early for them.  We weaved our way through the town’s streets, winding up on Jacksonville Beach at mile six.  The pace group synchronized 2 minutes of running at about a 9:20 pace with 60 seconds of walking.  At this point in the race, a 9:20 pace was just fine with me.  Things were looking good thus far, from a course strategy standpoint.  But this is me we are talking about – it’s just a matter of time before the fit hits the shan.

If it wasn’t so mind-numbingly cold, I would have really soaked in the incredible view that Jacksonville Beach presented from miles six through eight.  The wind was 10-15 miles per hour off of the water, making the group waddle the miles together like a bunch of emperor penguins.  It was between miles seven and eight where The Tool announced his presence with authority.  As the cold really began to work its way through my damp upper layers, I let the growing discomfort distract me from the business at hand.  The little schmuck decided that it was time to engage the enemy.

“Wow.  It’s cold,” the little nuisance muttered in my ear.

“Yeah.  I noticed.  Thanks, Captain Obvious.”

“Well I couldn’t help but notice that we’re only at mile eight.  If my math is correct, that means there are eighteen more miles to go,” said The Tool.

“Well check out the CPA over here.  Glad to see you can do simple math.”

To which, the tiny jerk responded: “….I can see you’re busy.  I’ll check in later.”  …and then he let out a chuckle that sounded something like Dr. Evil from an Austin Powers movie.  Not a good sign.

By mile eight, we turned away from the beach and back on to town streets.  This far into the race, my body had not heated up enough and the cold was becoming a distraction that overpowered by ability to focus on the job at hand.  I resigned myself to the simple fact that this wasn’t going to get any better, and I just need to soldier on.

Unfortunately, the next twelve miles went by in a haze.  Two minutes of running at a 9:20 pace, followed by one minute of walking.  Run.  Then walk.  Run again.  Then walk.  The only way to distract myself from how horrid I was feeling was to focus on the two minutes of running.  Two minutes at a time.  This marathon was going to be run in 120 second increments.  This went against my race strategy…but it was working so far, so why screw up a good thing?  Small yet sturdy groups of fans braved the cold and provided the warmth we all needed to continue waddling onward.

By the time we approached mile twenty two, we transitioned to running along a major roadway – J Turner Butler Blvd.  It was at this moment of the race – with only four miles to go, where the wheels began to come off.  I began to falter.  I slowed down to grab some water and detached from the pace group.  I hustled to catch up, trying to pace at 9:00 while the group clipped off their 9:20.  As I attempted to catch up, I ran right into The Wall, face first. And guess who was right there, waiting for me.  Bingo.  That little 4cm tall moron.

“Well good for you.  You at least made it this far.  Too bad you are broken”, uttered the little imp.

“Shut up” was my witty retort.

“Four point two miles is still a bit of a trip to the finish.  Look – you never quit before, so there’s no shame of quitting now.”

I didn’t have the clear head to fire a solid come-back line.

“it’s so hard to motivate yourself to begin running again after you’ve been broken, isn’t it?”

He had a good point.

“Hey look – there’s mile marker twenty-three.  A long way off.  Let’s shut this down for the day and grab a burger & fries.”

A burger and fries.  Man did that sound good.

The next two miles were spent in just this fashion, with The Tool whispering nonsense into my ear as I tired again and again to locate some of the momentum I had long lost.

Shortly before reaching mile twenty five, a large hill greeted me.  The mile marker sat atop the rather rough-looking incline, like a twelve foot-tall carrot hanging in front of my overly-pale face.  The final obstacle loomed.  I was still on my feet and somewhat coherent, so I took that as a sign to get my rear-end in gear and finish this.

The last mile is basically a downhill coast to pay dirt: a wonderful finish line and a quick waddle back to the nearby hotel.

I truly recommend this race for someone that is looking to participate in a distance event without the feeling of pressure to reach a specific time goal.  I would rival the friendly atmosphere of this event to that of the Walt Disney World Marathon – only at a much, MUCH smaller scale.

Any of you that have read my prior blog entries know that I have a passion for the ING New York City Marathon and ALL Disney races. However, I can honestly say that I will definitely run this race next year, since the experience was enjoyable, memorable, emotional and very motivational.  It would definitely be a great event to fit into your schedule on your way toward preparing for a Disney event!

Next up for me: marathon number three in my year-long odyssey: The Ocean Drive Marathon in Cape May, New Jersey on March 25th, 2012.

In my next installment, I’m planning to offer up some tidbits on how to stay focused during your run, regardless of the distance.  Until then, make sure you double-knot your shoe laces, get out there and get moving!  And remember: you can do anything you set your mind to.  There are no limits.

_________________________________________________________________

If you’d like some information on The Dream Team Project or would like to make a donation to their amazing cause, please stop by the website:  www.wdwradio.com/the-dream-team-project  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I really believe in what The Dream Team Project stands for.  It raises money for the Make-a-Wish Foundation, helping to grant the wishes of children suffering from life-threatening illnesses.  Being s former wish-granter for the NYC Chapter of the Make-a-Wish Foundation, I can tell you first-hand just how much of an impact this organization makes in the lives of children.  Please consider donating to this worthy cause.  Thanks!

…and if you’d like a bit more information on the WDW Radio Running Team, please check out WDW Radio’s website at: http://www.wdwradio.com/running/  , or the Facebook page at: http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/WDW-Radio-Running-Team/163606410344409

The 2012 Walt Disney World Marathon: 1 Down, 11 To Go


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.

Here’s a link to the Dream Team Project, in case you are interested in learning more or would like to donate: The Dream Team Make-A-Wish Foundation

A Back-of-the-Packer’s Attempt at “12 in ’12” to Benefit The Dream Team Project


The Dream Team Project, through its founder, Lou Mongello, and countless volunteers, is working to help make a child’s wish come true. With your help, we can send a seriously ill child and their family to Walt Disney World with the help of the Make-A-Wish Foundation

Today I would like to formally announce my 2012 goal of raising money for WDW Radio’s Dream Team Project by running one marathon per month throughout the upcoming year. My first marathon of the year will be the Walt Disney World Marathon on January 8th 2012.

Then, from February through December of 2012, I’ll run a marathon each month in order to raise money for The Dream Team. I’m calling this “A Back-of-the-Packer’s Attempt at 12 in ‘12”.

OK – right about now you might be thinking that attempting something like this is a pretty goofy thing to do. Well, Goofy is my all-time favorite Disney character, so I guess this fits for me. But now that I’ve put my goal out there and I cannot rescind it (insert large gulp! here), let me take a few moments to explain why this rather goofy idea makes so much sense.

When I became a dad in 1998, I realized how much happiness a child can bring into a person’s life. I became motivated to help causes that benefited children in my area (New York City). For a bit of time, I was a docent a few weekends per month at the Bronx Zoo, where I tried my best to teach kids simple things about the wildlife that was present. I enjoyed the experience….but I wasn’t able to stick with it. Life got in the way. Then I volunteered as a Wish Granter for the Make-a-Wish Foundation in New York City. This experience opened my eyes to children suffering from life-threatening illnesses within less-than-affluent areas of the five boroughs. This experience was deeply moving…but again I was not able to stick with it. Again, life got in the way. Then along came 2005…

2005 was a very rough year for both myself and my daughter. Fortunately for us, we found two things to bond over – two things to make us smile whenever things really took a turn for the ugly: Disney and running.

My daughter and I would spend hours together flipping through the travel guides and websites, planning out our next long weekend in WDW, and then circle the date on the calendar. Knowing that our trip was only 105…..81….54….30 days away helped us deal with the rocky road we were both traveling on. We would both be so pumped up about our trip that we would hardly sleep the night before our flight. Once we got on the plane, our smiles were ear to ear…and they’d stay that way until we boarded our flight back to New York City. Then the planning would begin for our next trip the moment the flight attendant closed the plane’s hatch. Some of my favorite moments with my daughter have been in WDW.

In between trips down to WDW, I trained myself to run a marathon during the summer of 2005. Even though I made every rookie mistake in the book, I still enjoyed every moment since my daughter acted as my “coach”. She’d motivate me to get out there and run – don’t skip a workout. She was 6 year-old female version of Lombardi. The moment I crossed the finish line and draped that medal around my daughter’s neck was the moment that things began to change for the positive in both our lives.

As we both maintained our upward, positive momentum, I found Team for Kids (“TFK”). This charity running team raises money to fight childhood obesity in New York City schools by providing running programs. On November 6th 2011, 1,500 TFK runners completed the ING New York City Marathon and raised over $4 million for this fantastic cause. I’ve seen the programs they provide. Every penny is put to good use, and the values the kids learn – to work hard, stay focused, try to be healthy, and exercise regularly – stays with them for a lifetime.

So as I sat on a bench in Central Park one Saturday morning a month or so ago, I began to think of an idea that would allow me to incorporate many of the things that mean a lot to me. The result was this “12 in ‘12” concept. Personally, this year-long effort allows me to use something I love – distance running – to help children suffering from life-threatening illnesses through a charity that is wrapped around a passion for all things Disney. I’m also hoping that this effort will show people that you can do anything that you set your mind to, regardless of the difficulty. All you need to do is pick a goal, work toward it, and don’t ever give up.

As the New Year approaches, I will finalize my race schedule. As of right now, the preliminary list includes:
• January 2012: Walt Disney World Marathon (FL)
• February 2012: Surf City Marathon (CA)
• March 2012: Ocean Drive Marathon (NJ)
• April 2012: Gettysburg North-South Marathon (PA)
• May 2012: New Jersey Marathon (NJ)
• June 2012: Rock n Roll Seattle Marathon (WA)
• July 2012: San Francisco Marathon (CA)
• August 2012: Self-Transcendence Marathon (NY)
• September 2012: Disneyland Half Marathon (I’ll run 13.1 miles before the start of the race)
• October 2012: ING Hartford Marathon (CT)
• November 2012: Philadelphia Marathon (PA)
• December 2012: Las Vegas Marathon (NV)

This list may need to be altered at some point, for logistical purposes – but let’s hope not.

I plan to provide weekly updates on the “12 in ‘12” progress on the WDW Radio blog. In addition, you will be able to follow my tri-weekly updates on my own personal blog,  The Back of the Packer. Subscribe so you don’t miss a moment of the adventure! I promise that these updates will provide you with plenty of opportunities to laugh with me and at me! Since I’m not a professional runner by any stretch of the imagination (I love Diet Coke, pizza and Oreos waaaaay too much to be confused with some elite runner), comments and feedback from all of you would really help keep me motivated!!!

Any donation to The Dream Team Project, regardless of the monetary value, will make a difference in a child’s life….and I cannot think of a better way to spend a dollar.

Until next time, make sure you double-know your shoe laces, pick a goal and stay focused!