Well, it’s been almost a month since I’m embarked on my Ironman journey, and what an educational few weeks it’s been. So let me take a few minutes to catch you up on what’s been going on. IN short, however, the past month can be summed up with three little letters: WTF. That’s right…

W – Water
I joined the Reebok Sports Club on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, mainly because they offer all the tools for me to train throughout the year (an indoor pool, an outdoor track as well as tons of dreadmills, and virtual cycling machines that are fairly fancy). Each weekday morning I find myself in the pool somewhere around 5:15am, getting my laps in. The first few mornings were rather humbling, to be quite honest. Being born and raised on City Island (a little island in the Bronx of approximately 5,000 – 6,000 residents), I’ve spent a ton of time on and in the water. So I just figured that the swim portion of the Ironman would be the part of the race that would concern me the least. Now, after four weeks of swimming alongside a couple of Ironmen and Half-Ironmen, I realize that I may be able to swim well…but I am truly not efficient in the water. And as far as endurance is concerned, I have some serious work to do. I went into this endeavor thinking that I’d just need to work on cycling in order to be successful. I was about as wrong as a person can be.

In order to move on to the cycling portion of the Ironman, I must complete the 2.4 mile swim in less than 2 hours and 20 minutes. 140 minutes. That’s all the time I have. I’ve watched YouTube videos of people being informed by race officials that their Ironman day was done as they hopped out of water with an official time of 2 hours and twenty minutes…and 7 seconds. That’s the stuff that nightmares are made of, when you train for this event. Of course, The Tool has begun to show up poolside, busting out one of those really creepy speedo bathing suits and inflatable floaties, along with a neon pink swim cap. I picture the little 4cm tall schmuck sitting on the edge of the pool, laughing at me as everyone makes me eat their wake as I clip off my laps. Each time I touch the wall where he’s perched, he holds up a rude sign: “2 hours, 20 minutes and 2 seconds…hahahaha”, “you’re as buoyant as a rock”, etc.

I have some real work to do. And I need to get to a point where the 140 minute limit does not scare me. I am NOT there yet. Not by a long shot.

(I’ll re-blog my entry where I introduce The Tool as my main antagonist shortly…)

T – Tricycle.
I signed up for the 2014 Ironman Texas and I didn’t even own a bike. I believe the last bike I owned was actually a Mongoose. I used to love riding my dirt bike….when I was 12. So how much different could this be?

Well….I’ve found out that it really is different than riding my old Mongoose with the thick dirt tires and the plastic racing number on the handle bars (oh yeah – my old Mongoose was pimped out. Big time).

For the first two weeks of training, I hopped out of the pool in the mornings and transitioned immediately to a virtual cycling station where I logged anywhere between 5-11 miles. The amount of sweat that riding these virtual bikes drew from me was ridiculous. Since this is all new, however, this cross-training has been an amazingly positive influence on my running. I’ve noticed an improvement in endurance and speed. So – note to everyone reading this – cross-training is a GOOD idea. It DOES help.

About two weeks ago, I conducted my search for my first real adult grown-up mature bicycle. I went to the local bike store, checked out the whole gamut of selections available (aluminum and carbon) and decided on a Scott Speedster. They fitted the bike for my specifications in the store…and, of course, I almost fell on them as I sat in the saddle for the first time. Unreal. I wasn’t even out of the store yet with my new bike, and I already almost caused a casualty. I couldn’t help but overhear some jackass proclaim “that guy should have training wheels…or better yet, fit him for a tricycle”. Now – anyone who knows me also knows who one of my heroes is: Dr. House. Honor dictates that I had to respond, channeling the good doc…

“Hey dipshit – are you sure you are allowed to be outside unattended? Now go home and tell your Mommy and Daddy that you’ve been a very bad boy. Then go to your room and don’t come out until you’re sorry for what you said.”

The laughter from the other people in the store was enough to change the mood in the store. Ten minutes later, I walked out with a new bike and a free helmet (as a gift for the good belly laugh).

I’ve been steadily raising the daily mileage to a morning ride of 12-15 miles completed in approximately 45-48 minutes. In order to continue on to the marathon portion of the Ironman, participants must complete the 112 mile cycling course by 5pm local time. So if an athlete exits the swim portion of the event in 2 hours and 19 minutes, and the race begins promptly at 7am, the athlete has approximately 7 hours and 50 minutes to complete the distance. This means that I’ll need to average an approximate speed of 15.5 miles an hour throughout the cycling portion of the Ironman in order to ensure that I have enough of a time cushion to transition to the marathon.

So far it seems to me that one of the keys to a successful Ironman attempt resembles the key to comedy: TIMING.

F – Frackin’ Running
While I’ve been continuing to participate in races each weekend, my weekly mileage is now beginning to creep up the way I had hoped, as I’ve now begun the marathon training season with the New York Road Runners Team for Kids (running on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays) and Team in Training (on Tuesdays). I have learned one fairly interesting concept: transitioning from a long bike ride to running in Central Park is REALLLLLLY hard. Your legs get into a rhythm while riding a bike at a fast, even pace. The lactic acid builds up in the thighs, and it’s got nowhere to go as you ride. Then, when you hop off the bike and transition quickly to running, it feels like hopping off a sailboat after being at sea for a month. You have to get your landlubber legs back in a hurry.

The first time I tried to transition quickly from the bike to running….I tripped and fell. Over my own two feet. In front of a bunch of people. Oh yeah – I’ve checked my pride at the front desk and I’m really being humbled by the effort that this undertaking requires.

I’m expecting the months of September through December to be loaded with running miles. Will I make the goal of 2,013 miles for the year? I will try my best. It has become increasingly tough because the physical toll that this effort exacts requires rest days each week – making my required running miles for my active days each week to consistently increase. My weight has begun its downward trend – so I’m close to beginning to post my weight lost and pounds to go. Close….but not quite there yet. Still embarrassed about the amount of pounds I need to lose and my lack of consistent effort to correct my crappy diet. I’m a work in progress, I guess.

I cannot lose focus now. I have to consistently remember the motto of the Ironman, which is simply “I can”……

A Quick Statistical Snapshot of Where I Stand as of June 25th 2013:

Goal #1: Run at Least 2,013 Miles in 2013
Miles logged: 516.32
Miles to go: 1,497.68
In order to accomplish my goal, I need to average7.6 miles per day through December 31st, 2013. There are 189 days left.

Goal #2: Drop to 185 Pounds
Starting weight: way too embarrassed to admit right now
Weight lost thus far: not enough to even warrant mentioning at this point
In order to accomplish this goal, I need to lose more than 25 pounds by December 31st, 2013.

Goal #3: Run the Fifth Avenue Mile in Less than 7 Minutes
Quickest mile run: 7:05 (2011 NYRR Fifth Avenue Mile)
Quickest mile run in 2013 thus far: 8:03 (accomplished on May 22nd).
In order to accomplish this goal, I need to drop my speed for the 1 miler by 1:04.

Goal #4: Run a Sub 4 Hour Marathon
Fastest marathon run thus far: 5:07:36 (2011 ING New York City Marathon)
Fastest marathon pace maintained: 11:43 per mile
In order to accomplish this goal, I need to drop my average marathon pace per mile by 2:30 (shooting for a pace of 9:13 per mile) in order to drop 1:07:37 from my best marathon time.

Goal #5: Complete My First Ultra
Furthest I have ever run: 29.5 miles (not run during an official race)
Distance of my scheduled 2013 ultra: 37.28 miles
In order to accomplish this goal, I need to finish the NYRR 60k on November 16th 2013.

Goal #6: Complete My First Triathlon
Furthest swim distance: 1,500 meters (June 3rd )
Furthest cycling distance: 15 miles (June 22nd)
In order to accomplish this goal, I need to complete the 2013 New York City Triathlon, scheduled for July 18th. 1 mile (1600 meters) swim, 25 mile bike, 6.2 mile run.

BY setting some pretty challenging goals for myself, I am trying to generate interest in / donations to The Dream Team Project. This charity’s mission is to raise 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 New York City 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.

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. 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



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.


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?


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
























A Good, Hard Failure.

A week went by, and Sunday November 11th arrived with absolutely no fanfare whatsoever. The weather was perfect – 50 degrees, no humidity, and just enough sun to start a person’s day with an air of positivity. The game plan for the morning was simple: grab my iPhone and my running watch, throw on the most comfortable running clothes, head to Central Park and just run. Run along the outer loop and then change over to the Bridal Path when I felt monotony setting in and a change of scenery required. The road to perdition, however, is paved with good intentions.

I set out along the outer loop of the park, bright and early that Sunday morning. I coasted along the west side hills. Harlem Hill was greeted warmly and I traversed to the northeast portion of the park without difficulty. The music became white noise as I hit the downslope of Cat Hill for the first time. I completed a full loop with a smile on my face. 10 kilometers down and I was feeling groovy. You know the saying “if something seems too good to be true, it probably is?”…well the next hour would further validate that hypothesis.

As I began my second full loop and waddled along the west side drive once more, the music morphed from motivational background noise – from the type of subtle sounds played during a feature film enhancing the emotional intensity of the moment – to distracting chatter. The slight headwind began to make my eyes tear up, adding to my growing irritability. These two stupid little things signaled a swift change in my mood from focused and positive to distracted and rudderless in mere minutes. And once my mood changed, there was no way to right the ship – this boat was going down by the head, and there would be no stopping the cascade of negativity as it made it’s way past one emotional bulkhead after another. Since this was a solo marathon, there were no other ships at sea to pick up my S. O. S.

As I began to climb Harlem Hill for the second time, The Tool made an appearance, firmly perching himself on my left shoulder. Now I understood the situation: he had taken over the helm of this ship and quickly turned the bow toward the rocks. The little four centimeter bastard snuck up on me. I didn’t foresee this complication and was ill prepared to defend myself mentally.

At 11 miles into my run, I completely lost focus on what I was doing. I began thinking about what this effort would do to my performance the following week in Philly. I thought about how hungry I was. How thirsty. How sore. How no one would know if I failed – so the option to call it a day would be easy to take advantage of. Just quit. Save your legs for next Sunday. Just quit. Today just isn’t your day.

I have dealt with this negativity all year long. And all year I have fought the tiny bastard and delivered him a good old’ down-home Mississippi ass-kicking. Well today The Tool finally got that one haymaker in…and it landed flush on my chin. I began to slow down…….and then I switched to walking….and then I stopped near the Boathouse the second time around.

I had failed for the first time ever to complete the marathon distance on a day that this form of challenge was presented. I failed, and it messed with my confidence. I mean – I can deal with the pain. I embrace it – I welcome the soreness and uncomfortable ache that lingers post-race for days at a time. I feel like the pain is the price you pay for the accomplishment. It’s a badge of courage. My confidence was shot for Philly. My motivation to attain my goal of 12 marathons in a year was at risk.

This was a good, hard failure.

Walt Disney once said that “I think it’s important to have a good, hard failure when you’re young. I learned a lot out of that. Because it makes you kind of aware of what can happen to you. Because of it I’ve never had any fear in my whole life when we’ve been near collapse and all of that. I’ve never been afraid.”. Well I am not young – but I am afraid. I am afraid of failing. I am afraid of not keeping my promise to my daughter. I am afraid of failing to do all I can to help the charity I believe in. All of a sudden, I was afraid of a lot of things – and that’s not normal for me.

I need to get out from under the dark clouds that just planted themselves firmly above my thick noggin. And I need to do it quick.

S. O. S.


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 #9: Another Self-Inflicted Marathon Through Central Park

After my horrid performance in Rockland County, New York, I felt like I needed to bounce back in a rather quiet, determined way. My September marathon was scheduled for the middle of the month in Dayton, Ohio. I have heard nothing but amazing things about The Air Force Marathon, and I was really looking forward to it; however, life gets in the way at times – and responsibilities elsewhere required me to cancel my reservations. So just like June, when I missed the Lake Placid Marathon, I was faced with a dilemma. I needed to keep my promise of a marathon a month – but I was now left without a race to run.

I enjoyed a relaxing, long Labor Day Weekend visiting family in Ann Arbor, Michigan. I even got to play a really fun round of golf with my cousin Dennis, on the Michigan University course. I hacked away at the ball for a few hours, actually hit 4-5 ok shots (the rest of my swings were downright embarrassing – at one point a woodchuck literally rolled his eyes at me as i attempted (in vain) to escape the rough along the 8th fairway). As poorly as i played, i could have cared less because laughed the whole way through. good company has a way of making you forget some of the things that sat sour in your mind. Spending time with family was just the type of magic elixir I needed to shake off my lousy August performance.

Upon my return, I felt that spark come back. I had been feeling a bit down due to my inability to push through a rather tame injury during the Self Transcendence Marathon. I expected much more from myself than I actually delivered. Now that the spark was back, I decided to capitalize on my new-found positivity and crank out 26.2 in the same manner as my June run. Time to completely exorcise the demon.

The Saturday after Labor Day, I decided to leave my apartment really early and run at least 13 miles before the beginning of my Team for Kids weekly long training run. I would then join up with the team as a mentor, and run with them for my last 13-14 miles. I woke up that Saturday morning…well…in the words of John Geutfriend (former CEO of the old Solomon Brothers) “ready to bite the ass off a bear”. (I think that term is another way of saying “I’m all fired up”…but I’ve been dying to use that quote – so there you go).

I grabbed a water bottle – I chose not to use my hydration pack because there are water fountains all over Central Park – dosed myself with Body Glide, grabbed my studly sunglasses and off and headed to the park.

I paced myself as I made my way along the outer loop of the Park.  As I’ve mentioned a few times before, Central Park is pretty hilly in spots, and I am VERY anti-incline.  So pacing conservatively early on allowed me to save energy for the second loop.  By the time I had completed my two loops, it was almost time to meet up with Team For Kids near the Columbus Circle entrance of the park.  13 miles down in 2 hours, 6 minutes.  I shocked myself – that was a personal best for the half marathon distance.

The team broke up into three groups: those that run sub 9 minute miles (I wish!), those that run approximately 9-10 minute miles (I can do that for a 10k – but it’s tough for 20 full miles, and I had 13 down already), and those running 10:30 minute per mile or greater.  I went with this last group, in order to maintain my momentum.

 As our group made its way along the park’s Bridal Path, the energy generated by running as a team kept the spring in my legs long after the point where I expected to be fried.  Early on I had one teammate that dealt with some nasty stomach issues (and boy do I have my MBA in THAT field!), so I slowed up and tried to coach her through it. I got her around one loop of the path, and then she made the decision to call it a day.  A wise move.  You can prepare as well as humanly possible for a long run…but you never know what your body has in store for you once you’re out there, doing your thing.  Some days are fantastic, and some days aren’t.  As a runner, you just have to be enjoy the good days, and learn from the bad ones.  We parted ways, and I kept slowly chugging along.

As I watched her walk toward our team’s meeting area to pick up her bag, I thought back to my golf game in Ann Arbor.  I hit a BUNCH of lousy shots.  Ones that made the pigeons giggle and the squirrels nervous.  But being with friendly people, on a perfect day, walking on a gorgeous course – my mistakes were forgotten almost instantly.  My head simply stayed in the present.  The 4-5 good shots that I did manage to slug – those are the only ones I can recall.  In my years of studying the game of golf, I read a few books written by Dr. Bob Rotella.  My favorite was “Golf is Not a Game of Perfect”.  Within it, Dr. Rotella talks about how the best players in the world develop a “shooter’s mentality” – the ability to forget the shots that went wayward, and focus on the successful ones.  He also mentions that the best players work really hard at the game – they practice every type of shot, every day.  They practice so much that, when it comes time to play a match, they trust their swing to do exactly what it normally does in practice.  They “train it and trust it”.  As I plodded along the path, attempting to catch the rest of my group, I decided that I needed to develop my own Shooter’s Mentality when it came to running.  In order to do that, I need to train it and trust it – train my legs and trust that they can go the distance I tell them to.

As miles 21-22 were being reeled in, I decided to transfer from the Bridal Path to the outer loop of the park.  I needed the last miles to be focused, and for that I needed to run solo.  In my head, I reviewed prior performances this year.  Some were good and others…not so much.  But I finished each one that I began.  There was my shooter’s mentality: I finish what I start.  I’ve trained enough to trust my legs to get me at least 26.2 miles.  Now all I need to do is improve.  Mile 22 rolled into mile 23…..and suddenly I realized I was 24 miles into my run.  I had begun to walk after talking water at each fountain along the loop, and it was becoming very hard to start running once I downshifted to walking.  My shooter’s mentality came back again – you can do this.  You can do this because you’ve done it many times before.  That was the positive kick in the ass that I required.

The final 3 miles were spent at a VERY slow pace, with a big smile on my face.  I looked at my watch as I neared the Boathouse on the east side of the park: 27.8 miles.  Time to shut this thing down.  I had never felt so good physically after a marathon.  I think it’s because my head was in the right place. 

Funny….one game of golf changed my mental chemistry.


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

My Self-Inflicted Marathon

Before you start reading this blog entry find yourself a comfy chair, preferably someplace massaged by air conditioning.  A tasty alcoholic beverage is always a plus.  So – all set?  Good…because you’ll be reading for a few minutes….

OK, for those of you just joining us – welcome.  I’ll give you a brief synopsis of the story line thus far:

  • I made a decision late last year to run one marathon during each calendar month of 2012 in order to generate interest and donations to The Dream Team Project  (www.wdwradio.com/the-dream-team-project).  It’s a charity that I really believe in, for it combines my affinity for the Disney community, my love of running and my desire to help children that are battling life-threatening illnesses as well as their families.
  • The experiences have been wonderful and rough at the same time.  So far I’ve run one race in 27 degree temperatures, I’ve lost a tooth eight miles into another race while in the process of simply taking fuel, I’ve finished a race which provided sixteen miles of hills (which is odd, because the state of Pennsylvania looks so much flatter on a map), and I’ve finished two marathons in a week.  (I just re-read what I wrote, and I just called a shrink.  I need professional help.)  (And yes – I’ve known this for a while – but that last paragraph served as a self-intervention).
  • June’s marathon was scheduled for the weekend of the 9th and 10th in Lake Placid, New York.  Unfortunately, I was unable to attend the race due to personal issues.  (Let me translate that one for you: I was sick as hell and was having a hard time breathing.  Now I’m not the brightest bulb on Broadway – as a matter of fact I’m as sharp as a bowling ball – but even I knew that it wasn’t a good idea to attempt a marathon when I was in the middle of coughing up a lung).
  • I didn’t want to break my promise…so I needed to come up with another marathon to run before the end of June.  I searched the internet – no luck.  There was only one thing for me to do: just run my own race.  So I made the decision to run 26.2 on my own around Manhattan on Sunday, June 24th. (and let me put it this way: in the history of mankind, this was NOT the best decision ever made.)

OK – so now you’re all caught up.  I’ve attached links to the blog entries that described each race, if you’re interested in reading more about my prior races.

I woke up here in Manhattan Sunday morning at around 5am and, quite honestly, I wished that I could simply roll over and catch another four hours of rest.  I took a hot shower, got changed, and had a bowl of raisin bran (just recently determined that this cereal is the key for me on race day  and I’m pissed about that.  Why couldn’t it be Lucky Charms instead?  Marshmallows…sugar…a little leprechaun on the box…it’s breakfast perfection as far as I’m concerned).  This lovely meal was followed by some light stretching, where I simply waved at my toes from a distance.  I threw my hydration pack over my shoulder, and off I went.

I slowly walked west from my apartment to Riverside Park.  I really got lucky: the weather was perfect. Not a cloud in the sky, low humidity and temperatures only going up to about 80 degrees at the height of the day.  I felt strangely relaxed.  I brought money with me, just in case I needed fluids while on the road, my iPhone was fully charged and ready to play music and snap some pictures, and I felt like I was as ready as I was ever going to be.  I made my way down toward the runners’ / bikers’ path that runs along the Hudson River, and stood for a few moments to take in the view.  This might be a nutso thing to attempt – but at least it was a gorgeous day to do it.  I started my watch, and headed south along the path.

Since this was a solo marathon – a so-called “self-inflicted marathon” as some referred to it – I quickly realized that it was simple to keep my pace under control.  Why?  Because there wasn’t a crowd of runners surrounding me that automatically drew out my inner Steve Prefontaine.  I find that, regardless of how many marathons I run, I always go out to fast because of the people around me.  I want to be able to say to myself as I run “hey – look at me – I can stay with these guys, no problem”.  Well the issue of going out too fast was not a factor this morning.  I took off down the path nice…and…easy.

About a mile and a half into my run, I passed the U.S.S. Intrepid – a wonderful retired aircraft carrier which now serves as a museum.  It is accompanied by a World War II submarine, The Concorde, and…as of July 2012…the Space Shuttle.  I took a moment to snap a couple of pictures, and then I waddled on.  My momentum was just beginning to develop.  My pace felt great.  I was truly in rare spirits.  But of course, me being…well…me, my mind went back to that first marathon I ran in 2005.  Mile 15.  The 59th Street Bridge.  Some seasoned marathoner saw me smiling and asked me how I felt.  When I responded in a rather obnoxious, over-emphatic positive manner, his reply was simple: “So you’re feeling good?  Reeeeally good?  Well don’t worry – that won’t last.”

As I made my way downtown along the river, I just found my rhythm and took in the sights: I passed several greenways which were literally extended over the water, I ran past Chelsea Piers (in the area of the city that my daughter is named for), and enjoyed the view of southern part of the island – the financial district.

As I got closer to lower Manhattan, I got the urge to wind through the streets and play the part of a tourist.  So I deviated from my planned course and crossed over the West Side Highway to get up-close and personal with The Freedom Tower.  This is going to be one gorgeous building when it’s completed.  I passed by Ground Zero – and area that still sends shivers up my spine.  I was in midtown that fateful day, and the sights and sounds of that horror are still vivid in my mind, just like I am sure they are in the minds of every other New Yorker – and everyone else for that matter.  I wanted to pass by the memorial reflection pools – but I was too early in the day, and you need a pass to get in.

Once I made my way around the Ground Zero area, I headed back toward the World Financial Center so that I could lift my spirits a bit by staring at luxury yachts in the harbor.  In the World Financial Center Harbor, the types of yachts moored probably have their own zip codes.  They’re huge.  I mean – HUGE.  One was so big that the stern actually acts as a garage for – you guessed it – a smaller boat.  When I grow up, I got to get me one of those!

Just south of the World Financial Center I passed into Battery Park.  I took some shots of the Statue of Liberty before heading past the Staten Island Ferry and beginning my trek up the east side.  I snapped a couple of shots of the Brooklyn Bridge as I approached South Street Seaport; however, it was here that I decided once more to deviate from my planned marathon route and check out a few more touristy locations before moving on.

I headed up Wall Street to the New York Stock Exchange.  Across the street from the Exchange is the location where George Washington took the oath as our first president.  I stopped my watch just for a moment to take a picture…and I hit the wrong button!  8.16 miles into my run.  Oy.  Now I’d have to start my watch up again, and make sure to run another 18.2 miles.  Just my luck.  I reset my watch, and continued on.  Snapped a shot of The Bull on Broadway before turning east and heading back on my original course.

I worked my way northeast from Wall Street, toward the Fulton Street Fish Market. I only got a few blocks north of this area when I realized – I should pass by City Hall.  So – I did.  (Deviating from my planned route once more!)  I then past the Brooklyn Bridge…and decided to run up Broadway instead of the FDR Drive along the East River.  So up Broadway I went.

As I worked my way uptown, I passed Union Square, the Flatiron Building on 23rd Street, and Macy’s on 34th Street.  It was then that I made another decision: I cannot be in this area without passing Madison Square Garden.  As I past MSG, the video playing on the jumbotron was showing great moments in MSG history.  I look up – and there it is.  1994.  Messier (one of my idols).  A good sign.

While in this neck of the woods, I also spun by The Empire State Building before heading back onto Broadway and up to Times Square.  I hung aright on 42nd Street, went past Bryant Park and Grand Central Station, all the way to First Avenue before finally turning north once more.

I ran past the United Nations and up toward the dreaded 59th Street Bridge.  Once under the bridge, I began to run the final ten miles of the official ING New York City Marathon course. It was at this point in the race that I decided not to look at my watch until I entered Central Park.  And…somewhere between 60th and 70th street I also realized that my legs were beginning to get sore.  Plus – I had run out of water.

The water issue was easy enough to address: just run into a store, buy a 20 oz. bottle and move on.  The legs, however – that was another story.  And I knew what was causing the discomfort.

In order to run around Manhattan and not get pancaked by trucks, buses, or crazy cabbies, you need to run on the sidewalks.  Well, New York City sidewalks are all made of concrete…and concrete has virtually no “give” to it.  Any other substance is easier to run on than concrete.  It was along the concrete of the West Side Highway that I first developed plantar facitis during the New York City Half Marathon in 2007.  I should have thought of this factor before beginning Manhattan waddle.  But…this is me we’re talking about.  Just about the only thing I use my head for is a hat rack.

So, after about 14 miles of running on concrete, my legs sent a telegram to my brain.  I believe it was worded as follows:

“To: Brain.  STOP

From: Legs.  STOP

This hurts.  STOP

Concrete sucks for running.  STOP

If you keep this up, you’ll be sorry.  STOP


I was more than half way to my goal, however.  So – I mentally tossed the telegram into the garbage can located in my cerebrum (that’s where I also store other useless data such as my memories of my favorite F Troop episodes, batting averages of the 1977 New York Yankees, and other odd factoids gleamed from countless visits to the American Museum of Natural History), and soldiered on.

By the time I hit the Willis Avenue Bridge, I had already stopped into one small store for a bottle of water.  It was on the corner of 116th and First Avenue.  The gentleman behind the counter saw me, looked at the bottle of water, and asked the simple question:\

“so it looks like you’re running far today”.

“yeah – I’m trying to finish a marathon.  Running for a charity.”

He paused before taking my money. A rather confused / stunned look crossed his face.

“Wait”, he said, “seriously?  A real marathon?  By yourself?”

“Yeah – I have about 9 miles to go.”

He asked me about the charity.  I quickly described what The Dream Team Project does.  His response lit me up.

“Your money is no good here.  Take the water.  You want anything else?”

Now it was my turn to be stunned.  “No – you are way too kind.  Thanks!”  And I continued my waddle northward.  As I made my way to the Bronx, I silently promised myself that I would pay that simple act of kindness forward.

I crossed over into the Bronx with about 7 ½ miles to go.  I had deviated numerous times from my simple route.  I was starting to tire a bit.  And the ache in my legs began to transition to pain.  I started to worry about the plantar facitis coming back.  I chose to ignore it.  I’ll worry about this nonsense when I’m done.

I crossed back into Manhattan, and followed Fifth Avenue to Marcus Garvey Park.  Around the park I went (FYI: I LOVE HARLEM.  There’s something about that neighborhood with all of those turn of the 20th century brownstones that makes me smile), and turned right back onto Fifth.  Up the long incline that I knew so well from past marathons.  Into Central Park at the Engineer’s Gate.  It was at this moment that I checked my watch…and saw that it had died!  I thought I charged the thing!!!  Now I was mad.

I waddled down Cat Hill and across the 72nd street transverse.  The statue on the west side of 72nd street in the park was going to be my finish line – but first I needed to complete one more center loop of the park.  So – up to 104th street.  Then across the transverse.  Back down the east side drive and past the Engineer’s Gate once more.  Past the Boathouse to the 72nd Street transverse once more.  As I turned right to finish, the doubts were rattling in my head – what if all of the deviations from my plotted route caused me to come up just short of 26.2 when I measure it out on MapMyRun this evening?  I cannot come up short, I told myself.  So….I VERY SLOWLY added on one more inner loop.

I finally crossed my pre-planned finish line.  Done.  As I waddled home, I felt content with the effort.  I needed to ice my legs and hope that my old nemesis (plantar facitis) didn’t decide return.

And speaking of returns – I had wondered all day long why The Tool decided to sit this race out.  So I asked him as I sat in the ice bath.  His response was simple:

“Dude, you were running alone.  There was no audience to witness my handiwork.  And think about it, doorknob: you decided to run one solo.  Not the brightest move ever made.  I just figured that you were doing my job for me.”

The little schmuck was right.  Not the brightest move ever.  Hydration was an issue.  Running on concrete was an issue.  The sun was even an issue (I, once more, forgot to use sun block.  Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I am the Wile E Coyote – Super Genius of running…only without any real speed whatsoever).

I logged on to my computer to find out how far I ran.  When I was done mapping my route with all of the twists and turns, the total came out to be just a fraction more than 29 miles.  So I pushed past marathon distance simply because I didn’t know I was doing it at the time.  I gave myself a tour of the city that I love.  I was sore, but I kept my promise…and that – to me – is what really mattered.


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:  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, you can do it by visiting the secure donation page here Make-A Wish-Foundation   Thanks!

…and if you’d like a bit more information on the WDW Radio Running Team, please check out the Facebook page

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Turtle 2.0

After taking two straight days off from running in preparation for this weekend, I was up and out of the apartment early this morning to join my team for its weekly long run.  I know I have 26.2 coming up tomorrow morning – but I also realize that it’s early in the marathon preparation season, and beginner who never ran more than 5-6 miles in their lives might get a little discouraged as the mileage increases.  So I don’t want to miss the weekly long runs, because I just want to do my part to help these nuggets complete the goal in November.


I remember how I felt in 2007.  It was the first time I ever ran with a team, and I was even slower than I currently am (which is extremely difficult to believe, yet true nonetheless).  When I began running with the group, I realized that almost all of them were faster than me.  They could run longer and harder.  When they stretched, they could actually touch their toes, while I simply had to wave hello to mine from an embarrassing distance.  I felt discouraged.  I didn’t feel ready.  I didn’t feel like a true part of the team because I felt like I held the team back in some odd way.  So….I stopped showing up.  I didn’t quit – I just stopped showing up.  By the time Marathon Week arrived, I was not physically or mentally prepared for the challenge ahead, and I suffered all day long.  Fifth Avenue felt like a death march.  The 59th Street Bridge looked like Everest.  It was a wonderful experience from a macro perspective; however, it was my third ING New York City Marathon and I was still making DUMB mistakes.  Things had to change.


So here I am, five years later.  My sixth year with this Team For Kids and my second with The WDW Radio Running Team.  I have qualified to be a Marathon Maniac, and I’m almost half way there to running a dozen marathons in a year.  All of this would not have been possible if I gave up completely in 2007.


And – like I said – I was REEEEEEALLY close.


Heaven knows I am NOT a talented runner.  Someday, when I grow up, I aspire to be.  However, presently I remain a work in progress.  If my running life were a technology company, I’d be spending a ton of money on research and development in an aggressive attempt to develop Turtle 2.0.  The battery life would be MUCH improved.  Response times would be much faster. And…yes…the product would weigh less and be a bit easier on the eyes.


I know how important this aspiration for personal evolution is to me.  And, for me, running is at the core of this process.  If I had quit in 2007 – this evolution would not even be a consideration.  I’d still be running Turtle 1.0…and trust me: that would NOT be a product that many people would find much use with.


Maybe there are other runners that just joined Team For Kids this year.  Maybe they are already feeling like I did in 2007.  Maybe they are looking at this marathon training process as the challenge that kickstarts their evolution into Marathoner 2.0.  And maybe…just maybe…this might be the practice where one of them decides to quit.  Well – I don’t want that to happen.  I want to make sure that I do my part to help these nuggets to stay motivated and positively focused on the challenges ahead.  MAYBE – just maybe – I’ll make them laugh a few times and they leave practice feeling in a slightly better mood than when they began their 5 miler.  That could make the difference between them showing up next week – or not.


That’s why I run.  That’s why I love being a mentor.  Sure, I enjoy getting in shape and helping my own evolution along.  But the feeling of getting someone through a long run that they never thought they could handle – yet they did – is the good stuff.


So today’s 5 miler was fun.  I got a couple of beginners around the 5 mile loop of the park, and we had a few laughs all along the way.  A good way to start the day.


Now that that’s over, I need to focus on tomorrow.  26.2 alone, around Manhattan.  I’ve decided to risk it and use the hydration pack – chaffing be damned (my skin wasn’t silky smooth to begin with).  I figured I’d head out my door at 5am, and start near 72nd and the west side drive.  I’ll take pictures throughout the run, and share them with you tomorrow evening.  My time won’t be great because I’ll be left standing at MANY a red light in the morning, that’s for sure.  But I won’t shut down until I hit my goal.


Tomorrow will be interesting.  Yet another step toward a turtle upgrade.



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

A Father’s Day Run in Central Park

So I made a very unorthodox decision yesterday.  Since I was too sick to run the Lake Placid Marathon last Sunday, and I really want to keep my promise and run one full marathon a month to benefit The Dream Team Project, I decided to run a full marathon by myself early next Sunday morning, June 24th.  There are some pros and cons to this endeavor:



  • I keep my streak, and my      promise, going
  • I get my long run in for      the week (ha…ha…ha)
  • Since I’m getting my long      run in for the week, and I’m probably going to burn 4,000 calories, I CAN      EAT WHATEVER I WANT WHEN I COME HOME AS A TREAT!  Oh yeah – a double chocolate cookie from      Levain Bakery on 74th and Amsterdam (that, folks, it chocolate      HEAVEN)
  • Running this solo means      that I will need some new gear.  Oh      yeah.  Break out the VISA and      purchase a new hydration pack.  I      just ordered one from Salomon, and it’s gonna make me really look like I      know what I’m going.
  • I’m psyched about playing      the part of a “running tourist”.       During my run I will take pictures from all around town and share      them in this blog and on my other social networking outlets.  Hoping to spin by the Intrepid, the      space shuttle, Ground Zero (I want to pay my respects), The Statue of      Liberty, Battery Park, The Staten Island Ferry, South Street Seaport, The      Brooklyn Bridge, and lots more!
  • Part of my route will take      me along the last 10 miles of November’s ING New York City Marathon      course.



  • Since I am running solo,      there won’t be any peer pressure to keep moving forward.  As a result, the ability to shut it down      and begin walking at any point is much easier.  I cannot allow that to happen.  I need to give my absolute best.  But – I know me – I lack focus.  This will be a challenge.
  • Another issue stems from      the fact that I’ll need to provide all of my own fluids and fuel.  That means I’m carrying it with me for      26.2.  I am not used to that.  The closest I’ve come to this is when I      ran the marathon in February in sweat pants and a huge sweatshirt.  The bulkiness was hard to deal      with.  I hope I can deal with the      distraction that comes with wearing a hydration pack.
  • There are no mile markers      to use as targets as motivation to keep moving forward.
  • Lots of traffic lights      will make this long run a very slow go.
  • Possible heat and humidity      – oh joy.


The way I’m looking at this challenge is that it will be another pure running test.  Me versus myself.  Me against The Tool.  May the best man win.


So before I sign off today, I wanted to share something that I noticed whilst running in the park this morning.  The benches all through the park are dedicated to people from friends and family that wanted to memorialize them.  As I came around the lower loop, I usually go really slow and read a few of them – and they never disappoint.  I had to take a picture of the one I have attached to this blog entry.  Louise Buckley.  I have no idea who she was – but she lived to the ripe old age of 93, had 9 children and 30 grandchildren.  Talk about being surrounded by love. Let’s face it: I’m betting she lived a very full and interesting life.  So – here’s to you, Louise.  I know it’s Father’s Day…but every day is Mother’s Day.


Yet another reason why, in my opinion, Central Park is a truly special place to run.


Well, I have to sign off for now, since my daughter’s dance recital is scheduled to begin in just a couple of hours.  For all of you out there: double knot your shoe laces, throw on some shorts and a t shirt, and enjoy your day.  Sweat a little bit.  Try to log a run today – I don’t care whether it’s a marathon or to your corner and back.  All that matters is the effort.  You don’t get this day back – so make the most of it.


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



T – Minus 10 and Counting…

So I made the decision to run a marathon a month in 2012 to raise awareness and funding for the Dream Team Project, and I went public with it on Lou Mongello’s podcast a couple of weeks ago…so there’s no backing out now!

My year of insanity begins a week from Sunday, down in Walt Disney World, where I am all set to run the marathon on January 8th.  This will be my 4th Walt Disney World Marathon, and it’s an event that I believe gets better each and every year.  Yes, my day will begin at 3am – and yes, a majority of the mileage I’ll log will be along WDW’s roadways with little overall ambiance – and yes, I’ll be really tired afterward…so much so that I’ll probably doze off while I ride Tower of Terror later on in the day.  HOWEVER, Walt Disney World is one of my favorite places to spend my time.  Being able to say that I visited – on foot – all four theme parks before lunchtime is a pretty cool statement! 

Training has been lackluster lately, to say the least.  A combination of travel for work and my usual bout with utter laziness has resulted in me feeling not quite 100% for the upcoming challenge.  Bottom line: I’m nervous.  I want to kick this year-long marathon of marathons with a really solid performance…I just hope that the work I’ve done up to this point is enough to get me through.

I’m planning to put in some serious work over the weekend.  Of course, this is supposed to be the time where I tone down my workouts in preparation for the big day.  However, I am…..well…..not-very-smart.  I am looking at this weekend as me cramming for a final exam in high school.  (Crap – I was a solid D- student…so you can see just how well cramming worked out for me in the past…)

I feel the need to “cram” for this “running exam” because lately I’ve felt like The Tool has returned, and has perched himself once more on my left shoulder whispering sweet stupidity into my ear as I slog around the Central Park outer loop.  For those of you who don’t know who I am referring to when I mention “The Tool”, I’ll re-post my earlier writing later on today to provide the necessary detail.  Here’s the Crib Notes version: The Tool is the imaginary 3” tall little annoying, distracting, negative schmuck that reminds me of my weaknesses and lack of talent.  He’s the virtual embodiment of my self-doubt.  Only this time, he appears to have come out of hibernation stronger and more effective since my last encounter with the tiny turd.  It’s almost as if he visited Balco and started juicing negativity steroids.  (Oh yeah – I just made a Balco reference – never thought I’d get to do that….I feel somewhat cooler now…).  I think I’ll call this tiny putz “Tool 2.0”.

Something tells me this is going to be a loooooong 12 months……

My Sixth Post for Running Disney: Is There a Link Between Disney and the New York City Marathon?

My original blog post Running Disney: Is There a Link Between Disney and the New York City Marathon? can be found here on the WDW Radio Blog. Please check it out!!

Here in New York City the leaves on the trees have begun to change, the temperature has begun to slip into the high 50’s, and children are shopping for their Halloween costumes.  Some boys want to be Captain America this year.  Little girls walk out of the Disney Store in Times Square with Rapunzel costumes.  Children look forward to the end of October and I can relate to that; however, I look forward to what comes right after All Hallows Eve here in the Big Apple…..Marathon Week.

As I walk down Broadway near Lincoln Center, I notice the advertisements for the marathon near train stations and on the sides of our buses.  Banners line Central Park South.  Central Park itself has begun its annual transformation, as grandstands are being assembled near Tavern on the Green, and floods of runners can be seen basically all over the place (most of them passing me as if I’m standing still).  For a runner, this is a magical time to be in Manhattan.  It’s as if The Fairy Godmother waved her magic wand and cast a spell over midtown, spreading the anticipation and excitement.

As I’ve mentioned in prior blog entries, I pride myself on being a bit of a Disney Geek.  Well, truth be told, I’m a bit of a marathon geek as well.  I read the websites and the magazines.  I follow the sport the way that most people from my old neighborhood in the Bronx follow the Yankees.  I study the various books out there about the history of marathoning, as well as how a person can go about improving his/her time. (I keep re-reading those chapters of the books in my small library….but for some reason none of the authors’ brilliant points actually stick with me.  Concepts like “you need to cut down on chocolate or any other foods that might taste fantastic but do not offer optimal nutritional qualities” are lost on me.  Oreos + pop tarts + diet coke = breakfast of champions, as far as I’m concerned).  Well I am happy to say that I found a common link between my Disney Geekdom and my Marathon Nerdyness.  There is a link between the New York City Marathon and the Walt Disney World Marathon…and his name was Fred Lebow.

Now there is a ton of stuff out there on the internet and in books that tell the very interesting story of Fred Lebow – but I’ll quickly give you the crib notes version.  He survived World War II in Eastern Europe, came to New York from Europe, worked in Manhattan’s garment district, and began running with a group of seasoned runners near Yankee Stadium in the Bronx.  Through leadership, creativity, and an almost Disney-like ability to see no limits to what he could achieve, Fred helped to put the New York Road Runners on the map.  He turned his unique vision of a marathon that “celebrates the masses” from a small gathering of 127 runners in Central Park to the wonderful race the 45,000 runners and 2.5 million fans experience the first Sunday of each November.

So I know what you’re thinking – great little story, Joe…but where’s the connection?

In the early 1990’s, Disney began to contemplate the possibility of creating a marathon to be held in Walt Disney World.  Fred Lebow, being the consummate cheerleader for the sport of distance running, thought that this was a wonderful idea.  Disney representatives picked Fred’s brain for several years and, in the spring of 1993, the company green-lit the project of a marathon for January 1994.  Fred flew down to WDW during the spring and summer of 1993, providing his advice and sharing his recommendations.  According to the books I’ve read, he added so much value to the development of the inaugural marathon that Disney named him the honorary chairman of the 1994 event.  Fred, battling cancer and in a weakened state, still toed the line alongside 8,200 of his fellow runners that January morning in 1994 and began to slowly jog with the masses that he felt so close to.  He couldn’t finish the race that morning – but he helped get the marathon off to a sound start.  The rest, as they say…is history.

What's up Fred?Fred Lebow passed away from cancer in October, 1994. I pass his statue almost every morning at about 5:30am.  The tall bronze statue stands at the Engineer’s Gate of Central Park, the entrance to the park that every runner of the New York City Marathon waddles through on their way to spectacular finish.  He’s dressed in his typical jogging suit and painter’s cap, and he is staring at his stopwatch.  A true innovator – I bet Walt would have gotten a real kick out of Fred.

On the first Sunday of November, if you have a few minutes to spare during the morning, I’d like to recommend checking out the New York City Marathon on T.V.  It truly is the best day of the year to be in the city, for it shows off some of the character of the five boroughs.  Thousands of volunteers and millions of spectators line the streets, yelling and screaming – doing whatever they can to help 45,000 people achieve a pretty cool goal.  Families wait at the finish line for loved ones to emerge from the mass of humanity – tired, sweaty and in pain….and with medals draped around their necks.  It truly is a sight to behold.

Until next time!  Make sure you double-knot your shoe laces, get out there and get moving!  I’ll leave you with a quote from Fred Lebow.  While fighting cancer, he still managed to get out there and shuffle his feet around the park – but his friends noticed that he actually walked faster than he jogged.  So someone asked him why he chose to jog, since walking would get him where he was going quicker.  Fred’s response was really cool: “…my friend, jogging has a rhythm that walking doesn’t have”.  Get out there and move to your own beat.

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