This week’s message is simpe: DO NOT QUIT.
You don’t get today back – so make it count.
Triathlons, Wine, Disney, Bourbon….and other stuff too.
Release your inner Rocky. When your workouts – or life in general – knocks you down, you get back up. You’re a winner and that’s what winners do.
Take the punches that road dishes out. Take the road’s best shot and keep moving forward. And never lose sight of the fact that you have what it takes to win the fight.
You don’t get today back – so make it count.
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.
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.
My original blog post Running Disney: Let’s Get It Started can be found here…please check it out! I hope you like it!!!
In my last couple of blog entries, I provided a very brief description of the Run Disney calendar, as well as a few notes from each of the races that Disney offers throughout the year. In this installment, I’d like to provide you with some simple tips on how to begin the journey toward earning your first Disney medal. I’ll gear this entry toward those who never ran an organized race before – but hopefully those of you that already have some running experience will also grab a interesting piece of information before we are done.
In my first couple of blog entries, I wrote about the wonderful, accepting atmosphere that the Run Disney series of races provides the new runner. For those of you who are reading this and thinking to yourself “maybe I’ll give this thing a shot, and earn myself some Disney bling” (…ok, I just read those words back silently to myself – and I apologize), I’d like to offer up some of the basics to help you get started:
1) Go to a running store and pick up a decent pair of running shoes.
It doesn’t matter if you are a beginner, who mixes in jogging and walking. It doesn’t matter whether you are walking a half mile or running a 10k race. Hight….weight….age….it doesn’t matter. Good running shoes should be the el numero uno item on your running to-do list. Go to a running store, and talk to a representative. Let him / her help you pick just the right shoe for your training. Their expert input will hopefully result in resisting some of the normal annoyances that plague us friends of the asphalt.
Note to all of you: I picked up my first pair of running shoes simply because they were 70% off…..without trying them on first…..because I liked the cool colors. And yes – I agree – I need a checkup from the neck – up.
2) Look at the Run Disney calendar. Pick a race. Circle the calendar and BINGO! That’s your target. Now you have something to focus on. Something to aim for. A Mickey-shaped carrot to chase.
The act of selecting a race and entering it into your calendar makes the training you are about to begin worth the effort. It also gives you the motivation you need on those less-than-perfect days. And let’s face it: planning a visit to Uncle Walt’s Backyard is flat-out fun!
3) Pick a nice location – a park, a path alongside a quiet river, or anywhere else that is safe to run on or along – and just begin putting one foot in front of the other.
I’m fortunate. I live in New York City, so my back yard is Central Park. When I wake up in the morning, I lace up my shoes and hit the park, and the sights, smells and sounds of the early morning flood my senses and clear my mind. By the time I get home, I feel energized. Awake and alert. Ready to take on the day. In the evening, after work and the stress of the day has my nerves slightly frayed, I lace up my shoes and hit the park. There’s something about the connection between the body and the environment that washes away the stress while I jog along the park’s bridal path. The great thing about running is that you can really do it basically anywhere. Use running to explore – your neighborhood, or wherever your travels take you. If you’re spending time in Walt Disney World, running around the resort property is a WONDERFUL way to see little touches that the Imagineers have placed all over (more on that in a later blog entry).
That’s really all there is to it! 3 simple steps. Grab a proper pair of running shoes, select a Disney race to use as your motivation to stay focused, and just get out there and get moving. It really is that easy.
Some beginners get self-conscious. They feel like people will look at you walking / jogging / running and judge you. That feeling is pretty normal. Let’s face it: when I began, I ran like a penguin. Waddled around, flailing my arms like a 8 year old on Dinosaur! But I realized that the only person that made me feel this self-conscious was…….me. In actuality, no one was staring at me. No one teased me. No one looked at me as if I was some oddball. It was all in my head. Once I got over that feeling of self-consciousness, I hit the park every chance I got. still do. And the exercise has improved my outlook on life, made me look and feel healthier, and helped me realize that I can achieve any goal that I put in front of myself, as long as I put it on my calendar, plan for success, stay motivated and just keep trying.
I guess that’s the goal of my blog entries. I get a lot of joy out of my DisneyGeekdom (if that’s a word…). I also found tranquility in running. I found that combining these two things resulted in amazing experiences thus far, and many – MANY -more in the years to comes. There are MANY dates circled on my calendar that combine these two aspects of my life…and when each one of these days end, I feel a sense of accomplishment. My newest motivation is to share these with you all – fellow DisneyGeeks that “get it”.
Until next time, make sure to double-knot your shoe laces, get out there and get moving. If you have any comments / questions / suggestions / thoughts, please share them with me. Drop me a line any time at email@example.com.
Well, my friends, it’s been a while since I’ve posted. I am sorry, but life has been a bit curious as of late. I’ve missed sharing my lunacy with you all – I’ve kept it all for myself over the past few months, and for this duration of silence, I do apologize.
That being said – things have begun to kick into high gear.
First up: 26.2 in Hartford, CT coming up on October 15th. Fun, flat, and fast. A good tune-up for my annual Superbowl, the ING New York City Marathon on November 6th.
That’s a good, quick segway into my 20 second pitch: I’m running for the 5th year in a row for the New York Road Runners’ Team for Kids. Any donation, even $1, helps over 100,000 NYC children. It’s a worthy cause – one that I’m willing to put myself through the hazard for. Here’s the link, in case you are interested.
After NYC comes Philly on November 20th. Flat, fast, and FUN!!!
I’ll rest from Thanksgiving through New Year’s…….AND THEN…..WELL……..
…..I cannot give away the BIG ANNOUNCEMENT just yet. But I’m planning something special to try to benefit the other charity that I strongly believe in, The Dream Team Project. If you’ve never heard of it, please check out WDW Radio’s website. The Dream Team Project is the host of WDW Radio’s – Lou Mongello – creation. It’s a charity that rasises money for the Make a Wish Foundation. Make a Wish is a charity that does amazing things on a daily basis to help children with life threatening illnesses. How do I know? Well…..when I had the time, I was a Make a Wish volunteer. I was a Wish Granter. I got to see these kids. Their families. Their stress and strain. And their reaction of pure joy when Make a Wish does something incredible to make a sick child’s like just a little better. I want to do something special for Make a Wish….and I’ll share the details soon.
We’ll talk soon, at greater legnth. Until then, please consider helping the Team for Kids. THANKS!!!!!