Sub 7.


Thus far, I’ve shared with you two of my goals for 2013:
1) log a minimum of 2,013 miles during the year, and
2) drop my weight to 185 pounds in order to improve my running performance.

My third goal for 2013 is one that will take a lot of work to accomplish, but only a single mile to fulfill. I will run the 2013 Fifth Avenue Mile in 6 minutes and forty five seconds or less.

That pace – 6:45 – is one that I have never hit before in my life. Ever. But this is the year that I will make it happen. The way I look at it, if I focus on my first two goals for the coming year, this third goal is very attainable.

For one day, I want to release my inner Kenyan.

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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

Another Big Goal For 2013


As I mentioned yesterday, my big goal for 2013 is logging 2,013 miles for the year. 5.1 miles each day of the year will be a pretty difficult thing for me to accomplish. But it’s not my most difficult goal for the year. That dubious honor goes to my second goal for 2013.

So what is this nasty goal that I have set for myself for 2013? Well it deals with nutrition. And that is my biggest Achilles heal.

I love eating. Chocolate, diet coke, steak and wine are my four food groups. I am of the firm opinion that salads are not really food; instead, salads are promissory notes that assure that REAL food is on the way. I believe that everything tastes better on a waffle, that MSG should be a required ingredient in Moo Goo Gai Pan, and the only thing better than French fries from Nathan’s are French fries covered in melted cheese from Nathan’s. I think that vegetables have been out on this earth to simply garnish a heaping order of NY strip with a red wine reduction. Ice cream is great for you, because it has milk in it. (If you ever saw the movie Bull Durham, this was my attempt at Kevin Costner’s soliloquy outlining his core beliefs of baseball).

Oh: and coffee. Let’s not forget coffee. If I had the medical aptitude and technological efficiency, I would main line that sweet nectar directly into a major vein. The only thing thing better than water stops every mile during a marathon would be venti mocha frappes from Starbucks every 5 kilometers.

Now that you clearly comprehend the importance of unhealthy food in my life, let me clarify my second goal for 2013: as part of my running evolution from a back of the packer to a lean mean ultra marathon-running machine, I have decided to really focus on my diet and drop my weight to 185 pounds. I believe that’s what I weighed my senior year in high school. And I also believe that this is the weight I need to be in order to attain my longer-term running goals. This will NOT be easy. This will, most likely, also be pretty darn funny for you readers to follow on a day to day basis. For those of you following me on Facebook, you know how annoying my daily commute to work is already. Can you imagine dealing with a one hour and forty minute commute without so much as a single chocolate chip muffin from Tim Horton’s?

So there you have it: my second big goal of the year.

2,013 miles run in 2013, and
Drop my weight to 185 pounds.

There are other goals ahead – but these two are already enough to, in all probability, result in me retiring daily to a rubber room where I’ll sit next to some dude that’s crocheting something that isn’t there. Trust me – the blog entries should be hysterical.

Hopefully, dropping weight will make me faster and healthier. It will also help me be a better role model for my daughter…and that’s the huge deal for me. Lastly, I hope this daily effort will motivate others to give running (or any other form of exercise) a shot. Set some goals. Get out there and be your own instrument of change. And please know that my continued efforts are also being conducted in order to raise money for The Dream Team Project.

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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

Preparing to Go Dopey…


So my first major hurdle of 2013 comes in approximately 2 weeks in Orlando, Florida. I’m scheduled to run what some runners refer to as “The Dopey” in Walt Disney World. What is “The Dopey”, you ask? Well I’m glad you inquired. The Dopey begins on the Friday of WDW Marathon Weekend, with a 5k family fun run. The following morning, the weekend continues with the WDW Half Marathon which takes runners through Epcot and the Magic Kingdom. Finally, on Sunday morning, runners take off on a 26.2 mile quest through all four theme parks during the WDW Marathon. By the time the weekend is complete, 42.4 miles of running will be in the books. I’m really looking forward to this one, as it presents a challenge that I’ve only attempted once before (I ran the Goofy Challenge – the Half and Full Marathons back to back – in 2009).

Knowing all of the mistakes I made during 2012’s marathons, I am going to really focus on my preparation for this weekend-long event. My meals, rest, and fluid intake will be planned out thoroughly. And then…I’ll figure out some new way to screw it up.

The Walt Disney World Marathon weekend is ripe with challenges, even though the races run through the Happiest Place on Earth. So for those of you that are planning to run a race in WDW in January, here are my suggestions for averting some pitfalls:

1) Plan out your sleep and fuel. In order to make the starting gun at 5:30am, runners need to begin heading to the starting areas at around 3am. In order to be ready for this race, you need to get a decent 7 hours of sleep and also give yourself time to eat a carbo-loaded breakfast. That means waking up at around 2am ato begin preparation for the event. This translates into hitting the sack at about 7pm. In Walt Disney World. NOT AN EASY TASK. So have a plan and stick to it to give you the best odds possible for success.

2) Let the Kenyans go! Know what your average pace is…and STICK TO IT. From the start. Run your race – not someone else’s. If you go out too fast, you’ll burn out early and you won’t be able to recover. There are tons of distractions all over the course in WDW – enjoy the sights…but stay focused on your pace.

3) Eat, Drink, and Be Merry. Fuel properly the night before the race. Eat well on marathon morning, and fuel consistently throughout the race. And don’t wait until you’re thirsty to start taking fluids. If you wait until you’re thirsty, it’s already too late.

4) Don’t try anything new on marathon day. Don’t buy your running shoes at the Expo the day before the race. Don’t eat some exotic meal for dinner the night before race day. Don’t wear brand new shorts or a brand new technical shirt for the race. Train in your race day gear so you can trust how it will feel during the 26.2 miles.

2013 is going to start of interesting…

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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

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Time To Roll Out Some New Goals for 2013…


Well, my goal of completing 12 marathon during 2012 was a success. It feels weird to say that – I conducted a successful 2012 running campaign. I can almost hear my little Irish grandmother loud and clear: “You conducted a successful running campaign in 2012? Well WOW – I love me, do you? You know Joey – self praise stinks!” I have a hard time saying that I accomplished a goal, because attaining the goal means that there is no need to further the effort. As Ovid once said: the ending crowns the work. Personally, I enjoyed the ups and downs of this year. The lost tooth, running in freezing and hot / sticky times of the year, the blackened toenails, sprained ankles, and overall constant achiness – the juice was worth the squeeze.

I didn’t run 12 marathons in a year for the bling that comes with finishing an event – although the medals were cool. Instead, I ran to raise money for a really wonderful charity: The Dream Team Project. It’s almost the end of the year – so I would like to ask once more for your support. If you haven’t already done so, please consider a donation to this worthy cause. Any amount helps, and it goes toward fulfilling dreams for children that suffer from life-threatening illnesses and their families. As a former Wish Granter volunteer for the New York City chapter of the Make-a-Wish Foundation, I can honestly tell you that fulfilling a sick child’s dream raises the kid’s spirits in an immeasurable way. Your generosity is so very much appreciated.

What I normally did after each marathon was allow myself 24 hours to enjoy the effort. No workouts, enjoy an extra chocolate chip cookie, and take some extra time to veg out in front of the TV. When those 24 hours were up, I placed whatever bling I earned on race day on a small shelf in my bedroom, and began preparing for the next race. One of the motivating factors that kept me going all year long were the kids that this charity helps. These boys and girls deal with their life-treatening illnesses day after day. For them, there is no 24 hour grace period where they get to forget their ailments. Their families deal with the constant stress without a pause. It’s that everyday grind that wears down the child’s hope – and you have to maintain hope in order to heal, in my opinion.

As I’m sitting here writing this on the day after Christmas, my thoughts go back to that concept – the daily grind. Now that my 2012 goals have been attained, I can’t just sit back and say I’m done. I need to role out some new goals for the coming year – and the first goal takes the concept of The Daily Grind and – quite literally – runs with it.

So – in order to continue to raise money for the Dream Team Project, I’m going to run 2,013 miles in 2013. In order to attain this goal, I’ll need to crank out 38.71 miles each week – roughly 5.51 miles a day, every day. Now I know what you’re thinking, and I pretty much agree: 12 in ’12 had a more interesting ring to it than 2,013 in 2013. However this goal has been given a lot of thought and, for me, this will be a bit tougher than 12 marathons in a year. It will need to be a daily grind. It will require me to develop a routine and maintain it all year long, regardless of what life throws at me. This is hard for me, because I have absolutely no ability to maintain a healthy routine for any duration of time. Diets last 48 hours. Swearing off chocolate? That lasts 4 hours at best. This year-long effort will require me to change some negative qualities I posses.

There will be tons of races thrown in all year long to make it interesting, beginning with WDW Marathon Weekend in January. I’m scheduled to run the “Dopey” for the first time, which is a 5k race on Friday, followed by a half marathon on Saturday and a full marathon on Sunday. Lots of bling will be in store if I pull that one off…and lots to write about, I’m sure. I am also planning on running “Worth the Hurt” during the San Francisco Marathon (Worth the Hurt will be my first official ultra marathon race, where runners begin to run the San Francisco Marathon course in the middle of the night beginning at the finish line and end at the starting line…just in time to turn around and run the actual San Francisco Marathon with the masses), the Chicago Marathon, and the ING New York City Marathons in 2013, as well as a bunch of half marathons during the year. Hopefully these races will keep me honed in on my macro-goals and keep me moving in the right direction.

I need goals. I need those carrots in front of me to keep me moving or else I get lazy. So there are my 2013 goals…and I hope you’ll continue to follow this turtle’s journey. Thanks for continuing to read my entries – I hope to keep you all laughing at my antics!

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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

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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

 

The 2012 ING New York City Marathon


 

 

Before the arrival of Marathon Week, the city begins to change slightly.  The air gets a little bit colder.  Billboards advertising the marathon go up in almost every train station.  City buses have marathon advertisements along their sides.  Banners are hung from street lights in close proximity to the course.  Then the official orange Marathon Route banners are hung along actual marathon course.  As a runner, these things are noticed as they appear…and each time a marathon reference is noticed, a smile crosses my face.  I’m going to be running that Sunday.  Goosebumps.

 

Marathon Week began with two big events: The Poland Spring 5 miler Marathon Kick Off in Central Park…and continued, growing concerns regarding the pending hurricane Sandy.  The hurricane was due to hit the tri-state area sometime late Sunday / early Monday morning, and all of the cards were aligned against us: high tides, a full moon, strong, cold winds coming down from the north at the same time as the Sandy ravaged her way up our coastline. 

 

The 5 miler was run under very cloudy skies and a firm wind.  Sandy was already, at this point in the day, RSVPing her arrival.  It was unmistakable.  Less than one full loop of Central Park, I felt inclined to push myself in order to find out what pace I could handle for this distance.  I hammered out the first 3 miles at a 9 minute pace, and was stunned when I passed the 3 miler marker and noticed the elapsed time.  For once, my Marathon Math actually HELPED my situation.  Realizing that I only had 2 miles to go, I kept repeating the same mantra over and over again as I maintained my steady, hard pace: “the mind wants to quit before the body”.  I crossed the finish line with a Personal Record for the 5 mile distance, and renewed enthusiasm based on the fact that I was able to push myself hard and not give in to my desire to ease up.  I felt like the week began with the best possible omen. 

 

Monday and Tuesday of Marathon Week were – quite literally – a disaster.  Record flooding and high winds gave our city a down-home, grade A, no-holds barred schoolyard ass kicking.  Millions were without power.  Thousands of people lost their homes and all of their worldly possessions.  The drama unfolded on the local news stations like a 24 hour car-wreck that you cannot help but rubberneck.  Our government officials worked their butts off to keep us as safe as possible – but let’s face it: a natural disaster is something that no politician can fully defend against.  When the dust settled and the damage was made clear, I think the amount of devastation shocked most of us.  Hard to believe this type of destruction could occur way up here from a hurricane.  Mother Nature punched us right in the jaw.  Hard.

 

Now let me clear something up right now: New Yorkers (and also people from New Jersey – cannot leave them out of this conversation by any means) have an attitude. We like to think of ourselves as pretty darn tough.  We live in a fairly fast-talking, fast-paced location, where something is constantly going on and everyone just seems to be perpetually busy.  No one ever hits the breaks.  Ever.  And because of the highly-competitive environment, we all seem to do our own things and look out for our individual families.  We may come across to people not from our neck of the woods to be rather gruff at times.  However – when something like 9/11 or another horrible incident like this hurricane occurs, that’s when you see who we New Yorkers really are.  That’s when we hit the breaks, take a step back and rally around each other.  It’s also when our attitude really becomes a positive quality.  Mother Nature wants to punch US in the jaw?  Well come on – take your best shot because you won’t knock us out.

 

Tuesday afternoon, Mayor Bloomberg made the decision that the ING New York City Marathon would still be held on Sunday, November 4th.  At first, this announcement brought me renewed hope.  The marathon is the single best day of the year in the city.  It brings us all together.  It sends a message of unity and hope.  And after this storm and the tragedy that it caused, New York City could really use a good day.  As Wednesday rolled into Thursday, and Thursday slid into Friday, the public outpouring of frustration, anger and grief caused by the sheer amount of loss incurred by the tri-state area resulted in the Mayor’s reversal of his decision: the marathon would be cancelled.

 

My initial response was relief.  The hostility that was building for this race being held on Sunday was disheartening.  But I believe that the decision to cancel the race was a good one.  It made sense.  I also want to believe that there were good reasons for delaying the reversal’s announcement until late Friday afternoon – but that seems to be a rather political debate, and I for one have a rather sensitive stomach for politics.  I think that the race should have been cancelled early in the week, and from all I’ve read and heard that seems to be the general consensus.  This race is a day of hope in the city – and I hope that next year’s marathon will be one that is supported by the city on an unprecedented level.  Time will tell. 

 

While I am not a politician and I respect everyone else’s opinion, I want to share one point: I feel that the New York Road Runners CEO, Mary Wittenberg, tried her best to simply do the right thing.  I have met her a number of times – I have seen the care and concern she has for every race put on by NYRR.  The level of planning and organization as well as the sheer amount of workers’ and volunteers’ efforts are incredible.  A year’s worth of countless hours goes in to Marathon Week.  To see it canceled after all of that effort has been poured into it has to be TOUGH.  But the right decision was made.  And sometimes doing the right thing hurts.  I don’t know how I would have handled all of the pressure that Mary had to deal with – I probably would have snapped.  She’s a strong leader, and deserves a ton of credit.  Now some of you may disagree with me, and I respect any opinion out there – but I just know that if I were placed in the same position as she was, I would not have handled things nearly as well.    

 

Saturday morning arrived, and I went for a lite run over the 59th Street Bridge – the edifice that I refer to as Mount Sonofabitch – and I realized how lucky I was.  I had power.  My home was undamaged.  My family was safe and sound.  I am not a real bible-pounding, religious dude – but I can say that I felt blessed to be in the position I was in.  As the sun cascaded over the east river and the cold breeze slapped me in the face, I felt like I needed to do something positive.  This was a rough week – I needed to end it on a positive note.  So I decided to attempt to run 26.2 miles the following morning anyway.  Four full loops of Central Park, plus a little bit more.  That would do it.  But first I headed home, grabbed a ton of stuff to donate to those New Yorkers that now needed the basics, and bagged them up to ship them out.  Marathon Sunday would be a personal endeavor this year for me.  I didn’t know how much of my heart would be into the next morning’s efforts – but I figured I’d give it a shot anyway.

 

(I know I am usually a tad more funny when I post blog entries – but this was a very rough week for us here in NY / NJ / CT.  I wasn’t in a chipper mood.  I wanted to reflect the gravity of the situation – and this disaster is not for me to make lite of in any way.  I’ll be back to my normal wise-ass self soon, I’m sure.  And to my friends that dealt with much rougher circumstances than I did this week – I’m just glad you are all safe.)  

 

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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

The Hardest Mile I’ve Ever Run


The week after my trek through Central Park, I found that it took longer than usual to recover.  I gave myself two days of complete rest prior to attempting to get up and complete a lite run on Wednesday morning.  Quite honestly, I just went through the motions.  I ran without focus and without a measureable goal.  My head wasn’t into my training.  As the weekend drew closer, I realized that my mind wasn’t really helping my body heal up.  Why?  Because I wasn’t exactly in the most positive frame of mind.

Do you recall how disappointed I was with my poor effort during my August marathon in rye, New York (refer to this one if you want to check out my recap:   https://backofthepacker.wordpress.com/2012/09/21/marathon-8-the-self-transcendence-marathon-part-1/ and  https://backofthepacker.wordpress.com/2012/09/22/marathon-8-the-self-transcendence-marathon-part-2/) ?  While the prior weekend’s solo adventure put me in a fantastic frame of mind because I was surrounding my my teammates during the second half of my run – my Nike + watch kept telling me that I had yet to piece together the kind of mistake-free marathon that I knew that I had in me.  In my blog entry late last week (  https://backofthepacker.wordpress.com/2012/10/12/marathon-9-another-self-inflicted-marathon-through-central-park/ ), I mentioned that I needed to work on my “Shooter’s Mentality” – the ability to forget the bad experiences / races immediately, and continue to “train it and trust it” – continue to work hard so that, on race day, I can trust in my abilities to provide the expected results / improvement.  Well, the Shooter’s Mentality hasn’t kicked in just yet….and I’m training – but not trusting.  Oy.

What I needed was a little taste of success.  I needed to show myself that progress has been made this year.  And the New York Road Runners Fifth Avenue Mile on Saturday was going to be just the opportunity that I required.

The Fifth Avenue Mile is a fantastic race where runners of all ages run down Fifth Avenue from the corner of 80th Street to the corner of 60th Street, finishing just outside of the southeast corner of Central Park.  The one mile course begins with a slight decline, followed by lite uphill run.  The last third of a mile is a sprint down one last downhill to the finish line.  The record for the course is 3:54, I believe.  (And FYI: THAT AIN’T SLOW, FOLKS).  Although the distance is MUCH shorter than the races I’ve particiapted in throughout 2012, this event resulted in…quite honestly…the hardest mile I have ever run in my life.

The runners were broken up by male/female and age group.  By the time my agre group assembled at the starting line, I was resolved to push myself to the absolute limit as far as pace was concerned.  Once I crossed the starting line, I was going to run as fast as I could for as long as I could.  Within minutes, the gun went off and we crossed the starting line.

I “sprinted” (ok, let’s face it – that word is in quotes because it looks good whilst discussing a one mile race; however, I don’t think I can call ANY type of running that I do a true sprint….one cannot sprint whilst carrying a baby grand piano on your back) right off of the line and, within a quarter mile, I felt my breathing become very rapid.  I was not used to running like this.  It began to hurt at I reached to top of the course’s one incline.  I was about to slow my pace down a bit for fear of breaking completely.  It was at that moment, with the finish line slightly less than half a mile away, that I actually got stubborn for once.

Knowing that I only had 10 blocks to cover and the race would be over, I recalled what one of my TFK coaches kept telling me during speed work one Wednesday a couple of months prior.  While running a timed 5k one Wednesday evening, Coach Glen saw that I wasn’t using my arms as effectively as I should be.  So he came up behind me and starting telling me “Use your arms! Throw your elbows back!  It’ll add speed and make your pace easier to hold on to”.  As th arms go – so do the legs.  I heard Coach Glen’s words over and over in my head, and I went to my arms.  AND IT WORKED!  I sped up – I could feel it.  The feeling of actually getting faster instead of breaking down fired me up.  I decided to really push it durin the last quarter mile…and then I noticed the clock over the finish line.  I couldn’t believe it.  

I crossed the finish line and immediately looked for a garbage can.  I really left it all on the course.  I felt sick to my stomach – but I knew that I did the best I could.  Unlike other races run this year, I wouldn’t be able to look back at this race and say “my time would have been a little better if I did this or that differently”.  I could honestly say that I gave all that I had.  And I couldn’t believe the results.  One mile in 7 minutes and 10 seconds.  I have NEVER run that fast in my entire life.  

This was the positive experience I needed to shake myself out of the duldrums that I was dealing with lately.  Now, all I need to do is build on this experience and gain some momentum going into the deepest part of my racing season.

 

 

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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 #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.

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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