THAT Guy.


As some of you may or may not know, I’m a bit of a Disney geek.  When my daughter was very little, we began watching those fantastic animated movies together.  We’d sing the songs in the car as we traveled.  She dressed up as a princess for Halloween.  She loved the stories and how they were told – and I loved the incredible creativity behind bringing stories to life the way only Disney can.  I’m also a history buff – so I began reading about how the company was formed, Imagineering, and Pixar.  When my daughter turned four years old, we headed to Disneyland for her first visit…and we were hooked on a whole new level.  Scroll forward a few years, and we became DVC (Disney Vacation Club) members and Annual Passholders.  We make at least one or two trips to Walt Disney World in Orlando a year (one to run the marathon, and another just to simply place reality on hold and enjoy a few days of laughing and fun rides).

Why do I bring this up?  I have a point – just give me a minute to get to it…

Walt Disney World sits on 26 square miles of land, and it contains four theme parks – the most well-known of which is The Magic Kingdom.  The Magic Kingdom is broken up into several sections (referred to as “lands”): Main Street USA, Adventureland, Frontierland, Liberty Square, Fantasyland, and Tomorrowland.  Each of these “lands”have fantastic attractions that hundreds of people choose to wait in line to experience at any given hour that the park is open.  There are also some smaller rides (Disney geeks refer to them as “B, C, or D ticket rides”) that people can experience as park attendance increases during the day.  My personal favorite is The Laugh Floor.  It is an attraction designed with the storyline of the hit movie Monsters, Inc., and it places the audience in a small theater that is supposed to resemble a comedy club.  Monsters from the Monsters Inc. movies then take the stage and try their best to make the audience laugh, as laughter is the fuel that helps power their entire city (called Monstropolis).

MI 1

I know, I know – get to the point.  Bear with me – it’s coming….

Now here’s one of the fun things that is done during each performance: a member of the audience is usually selected to simply be called “THAT GUY”.  His or her picture is flashed on the screen from time to time during the short 12 minute show, and the animated comedians make references to him / her as part of their act.  (In comedy circles, this is called a “call back”)  For instance: the monster on the stage, in an effort to make the kids laugh, will tell a joke and then say something like “…well it could be worse, kids – you could be….THAT GUY!” The audience member’s picture is shown again on the screen as the monster makes this reference, and he / she usually the participant makes a funny face – or more frequently a real sour puss.  The kids then laugh pretty hard.  It’s all in good fun.

MI 3

OK – thanks for bearing with me – here comes the point I wanted to make….

Now, from what I’ve been told, if you want to be selected as “THAT GUY” during one of these performances, you can supposedly increase your odds by walking into the theater with a rather grumpy face on.  A real sour puss.  Remember: they want to single you out to make the kids laugh – so the sour the puss, the better.  My daughter and I have seen this show so many times that, whenever we see someone that acts like a tool or is really rude, we normally say to each other “…things could be worse – you could be THAT GUY”.  Bottom line: inside the Magic Kingdom, it’s cool to be THAT GUY.  Outside of it…not so much.

So there I was, putting in a 4 miler this morning on the dreadmill, when a dude hops onto the machine right next to mine.  He then proceeds to set his speed and incline, and sets off on his own solo mission.  Fast-forward about 5 minutes, and the dude begins to curse.  “this is NOT A 9 MINUTE F*&king PACE!!!  THIS MACHINE F*&KING SUCKS!”  He then begins to punch the buttons on the front of the dreadmill – because, as we all know, throwing a jab at the speed button of the machine smacks some sense into it and it automatically begins performing EXACTLY the way you expect it to – and continues to curse as his pace begins to speed up…….and speed up some more……

I guess the dude did not realize that his Rocky Balboa moment must have made the “up”button on the dreadmill stick, causing the speed to increase from a 6….to a 7….to an 8….9…10…and well into that pace that the Kenyans call home.  Unfortunately for this guy, he was NOT Meb, or Martin Lel, or Paul Tergat.  Instead, he was just like me – a local schmuck.  His anger also clouded his rational thinking, as he failed to realize the precarious situation, choosing instead to try to hang with the speedy new pace.  He lasted about 15 seconds.  Then…..WHHOOOOOOOOOP!  The dreadmill chucked him backward and he landed squarely on his butt.

I hit the stop button on my machine, and then hit it on his as well.  I hopped off and asked if he was OK.  He responded in the affirmative.  At that moment, an older gentleman came over to find out if he could offer any assistance.  The angry dude looked up, still squarely on the carpet, and declined any help.  The gentleman looked at me and said “I saw the whole thing – wow.  Never a good thing to lose your temper at a machine.”

My response: “Yup.  Don’t be THAT GUY.”

 

 

 

The 2012 Tower of Terror 10 Miler…A Warm Night in WDW


The weekend after the Fifth Avenue Mile, I participated in the Tower of Terror 10 Miler within Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida.  I love to head down to WDW, because being immersed in the amazing enginuity of the Disney brand stimulates my own inner creativity. 

I visited the race expo Friday afternoon, and was pleasantly surprised at the sheer number of vendors promoting their running attire, shoes, gadgets (God how I love running gadgets!), charities and other marathons being run throughout the country.  After I picked up my race swag (as Fred Lebow once said – runners will do anything for a t-shirt), I got to listen to Jeff Galloway speak for a bit on pacing and pre-race preparation.  Then I headed out to the theme parks to meet up with a bunch of awesome teammates from the WDW Radio Running Team. 

After attending a Friday evening event at the American Pavillion of EPCOT which included an homage to the late great Adventurers Club as well as time spent with a group of wonderful people, I watched Illuminations from the Italy pavillion before calling it a night.

Saturday was spent relaxing and touring some theme parks – exactly what a person does NOT want to do the day of a 10pm 10-miler in heat and humidity.  The temperatures circled around the 85-90 degree range during the day, and dropped to a brisk 81 by the time the 10pm race began. 

The race itself was – to be rather blunt – lackluster.  I guess I expected more from Disney than I received.  The course was well lit – but we spent approximately 9-10 miles of the race (and that’s a conservative estimate) was spent on quiet roadways with virtually no spectator support or any other form of visual stimulation.  Now I know what you’re thinking: Joe, it’s a race.  It’s a 10-miler.  You  should treat it as a race and simply run it to finish in the best time that you can.  While I do run all other races in this fashion, Disney races are different.  I run them for the experiences.  For the sights and sounds.  To see what’s coming around the next corner – what does Disney have in store for us?  I never run Disney races for a PR (Personal Record).

I ran with a group of fantastic teammates from the WDW Radio Running Team, we took it slow and steady, and ran through the humidity to the finish line alongside the Tower of Terror at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.  The walk from the finish line to baggage claim was long and congested – and that did not help people’s moods as they wandered through the park a collective bunch of sweaty messes.  By the time I returned to my hotel room, it was after 2:30am on Sunday morning.  I had planned to enjoy the post-race party…but was too fried from the heat and humidity to go on a ride or two after the 10-mile trek.

Would I do this race again? Maybe.  However, there are several items that need to be addressed:

1) Please make the course entertaining…..or drop the entry fee.  You’re Disney – we expect a higher level of quality from you.  Sorry…but that’s the cost of being the best entertainment company in the world.

2) Running on loose gravel at 11pm 6 miles into a 10 mile race didn’t go over very well will many runners.  I didn’t mind it – but I heard the complaints as we shuffled through this unpaved area of the course. 

3) Given the high humidity and heat, at least one additional water stop should have been added. 

4) Don’t make the runners walk across the theme park to pick up their baggage post-race.   

These aren’t big-time issues.  Night races at Disney are not easy to pull off.  I can understand the inherent complexity.  Just fix the glitches and this one could be decent next year.

Next up for me: the 2012 Chicago Maratahon…where cooler temperatures, less humidity and 16.2 additional miles await. 

   

Marathon #7: The 2012 San Francisco Marathon…PART 1


I went to bed the night before the marathon feeling like I had done the best I could to prepare for the morning.  I ate well.  I even stretched (OK – I waved to my toes while slightly bending from my waist…who am I kidding).  As the sun came up, I really felt like I was in a positive frame of mind – as my grandfather once put it, I “woke up ready to bite the ass off a bear”.  (NOTE: I have no idea what that really meant – I’m guessing it was an old saying that he learned on the streets in Hell’s Kitchen back in the 1920’s).  As I mentioned in my last blog entry, I was nervous about this race.  It’s San Francisco – a marathon whose mottos include “The Race That All Marathoners Fear” and “Worth The Hurt”.  Since I usually lack much backbone at all (let’s face it: if it wasn’t for the extra starch in my dress shirts I’d be unable to walk upright), this race played with my psyche since the beginning of the month.  So this gung-ho feeling was….well…odd.

 

I took in a decent breakfast (translate that into 2 Smores-flavored PopTarts) and properly hydrated.  I went through my usual marathon morning preparation and, by the time I left the hotel and began my expedition to the starting line, I felt like I was ready for the day’s hazards.  Once outside, I couldn’t get over how chilly it was!  50 degrees and windy.  On July 29th!  As a New Yorker, needing a jacket on July 29th just seems WEIRD!

 

I had no idea how to get to the starting line from the hotel, so I figured I’d just grab a cab.  HA.  Good luck with that.  None of the cabbies wanted to pick up the marathon runners and drive them to the starting line unless they were paid the amount of money that would be the equivalent of taking us to the AIRPORT.  No thanks – I’ll walk first.  And so I did.

 

And…..the starting line was in simple walking distance after all.

 

Everything was EXTEREMELY well organized.  UPS trucks were very close to the Start and Finish Lines.  The Starting Line was well attended and it was very clear that the race organizers really orchestrated a first-rate event.  It was the kind of starting area that a runner can simply show up to 30-45 minutes before his/her scheduled starting time and still not feel rushed.

 

Bart Yasso (if you don’t know who he is, here’s a link:  http://www.bartyasso.com  I just consider him to be one of the Godfathers of marathoning’s Five Families) was on hand to kick off the race and provide color commentary as one starting wave of runners after another began their 26.2 mile trek.  I read his book and, as a result, I identified several things that I needed to work on in order to become a better distance runner – so naturally I thought that his participation in this race was…to use a technical term…COOL.  Some people look for famous sports athletes or actors within the starting areas or in their starting waves.  For example: I once heard a young runner – in a high-pitched scream – blurt out “OH…MY….GOD!  That’s Roger from Season 6 of The Real World!!”  While sightings of illustrious celebrities such as Roger (whoever the hell he is – no offense to all you Roger-lovers out there…) are assuredly key moments in a distance runner’s life (insert a sarcastic chuckle here), star-gazing doesn’t quite do it for me.  To me, dudes like Bart Yasso, John “The Penguin” Bingham (http://www.waddle-on.com), Amby Burfoot (http://www.ambyburfoot.com) and, of course, Jeff Galloway (http://www.jeffgalloway.com) are the ones that I like to listen to during marathon Expos or on marathon mornings.

 

I enjoyed listening to the color commentary and watching as the first couple of waves began their journey around the city.  As the time for my wave’s departure approached and I headed toward my corral, I hoped – albeit in vain – for an Elvis sighting.  THAT would be a great omen.  But alas, I had no luck.  It appeared that my goal of running once more with The King was dashed.  But the fates had something interesting in store for me as I sauntered past a long line of port-o-crappers.  I noticed someone close by that appeared to be a hippie.  Brown, shaggy beard.  Weatherbeaten red 1980’s style mesh hat.  White athletic socks circa 1978 that were pulled up almost to the knees.  Then it hit me.  The light bulb went off in my head.  I couldn’t resist the urge…and I blurted out “GUMP!”

 

His name was Forrest.  Forrest Gump.  And if he was going to show up to this marathon, he….was…running!  Talk about a good omen.

 

Minutes later I was standing in my corral.  We moved forward slowly to the starting line, listened to a few quick recommendations from Don Yasso, Capo of the Marathon Addicts, and off we went.

 

Another 26.2.  Let’s hope this is worth the hurt.

______________________________________

 

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

Momentum: Not Easy to Develop, and Even Harder to Maintain


Once I got back to my room in the Boardwalk Villas, I rested through the afternoon, all night long, and in to the next day.  Monday afternoon, I flew home.  I’m lucky that I heal quickly – there was no noticeable limp as I waddled down the jetway and into the plane destined for JFK airport in New York City.  I wore a dark blue long sleeve shirt that stated “I DID IT!  26.2”  and alongside it “2012 Walt Disney World Marathon”, with Mickey in a running suit emblazed on the front, and a map of the course in bright colors on the back.  As I entered the plane, a flight attendant asked me “did you run the marathon yesterday?”  My response: “nope – I grabbed the shirt right off of some schmuck during a TSA strip search”.  Definitely a sign of things to come.  The flight was a two hour and thirty minute stress test.  One down….eleven more marathons to go.  I kept thinking about that as my slightly deranged cab driver pulled off a fantastic impersonation of  Cale Yarborough as we weaved through traffic from JFK to Manhattan.  An extremely fun weekend….was over.  Now – the work really begins.

And I don’t like hard work.

So I  did what I do best: I procrastinated.

I allowed myself three days to heal, making myself a silent promise to get back on the bridal path and begin the development of momentum to improve my time during my next race, the 26.2 With Donna: The National Breast Cancer Marathon in Jacksonville Beach, Florida on Sunday, February 12th.  Well….I broke my silent promise when Thursday morning arrived and with it, some REALLY cold temperatures.  Way too cold to run at 5am, right?  So I brushed off my planned tempo run and caught another 30 minutes of sleep.  Besides….there’s always Friday.

Friday morning came and went – and not a mile was logged.  5 days.  No miles logged, no focus, and what’s worse – no inner fire to get things going.  NOT GOOD.

That Saturday I finally braved the 28 degree morning and got myself going.  Slowly.  I had no goal in my head, and that was a HUGE mistake.  I logged two loops around Central Park, but I lacked focus and purpose.  My performance was sad evidence of this fact.  I actually walked home from the park disappointed, when usually these types of runs fire me up for the remainder of the weekend.  That first week after the WDW Marathon was filled with bad juju.

The following two weeks were just as unfocused and disappointing from a training standpoint.  Sure I can make excuses: long commutes for work, travel for work, soreness from the marathon, cold temperatures…blah blah blah.  A marathoner needs to be better than the excuses he/she can come up with.  And I haven’t been.

So here I am: it’s 7am on a chilly Friday morning.  Leg number two of my 12-legged marathon monster is about a week away.  I know I’ll finish (simply because I’m stubborn – not because I’m physically primed for this one) – I just hope I perform a bit better at the end of the day.  The focus seemed to be coming back during this morning’s speed work.  Why?  Because I developed a specific plan for this morning’s run in my head, and then I executed it.  Not well, mind you – but I got it done.

It was during my slow walk home from the park this morning when I realized what was going on (and if you’ve read my prior entries on this blog going back a bit, you’ll catch the reference pretty quick): The Tool was back.  I thought I beat him up pretty badly.  I thought I had gotten rid of the little imp once and for all last November.  I was wrong.  I forgot that The Tool never goes away – the athlete only ignores his whinings while training and competing, or locks him away in some dark room with no satellite TV, doomed to watch re-runs of The Lawrence Welk Show until the athlete decides to hang up his/her Reeboks and calls it a competitive career.  It’s when the athlete drops his/her guard and loses focus on the goals ahead that the door is trust open, and The Tool marches on through, ready to spill the venom of laziness into our ears.  I dropped my guard.  The Tool marched right on in, perched himself on my shoulder, and had been whispering his distracting messages in my ear for weeks. Damn.  I should have caught this sooner.

Now that I realize that this tiny imp has reappeared to make my life more difficult, the battle has been joined once more.  And this one will go on all……year…..long.

Tomorrow is Saturday, and that is usually my long run day.  I’m planning to log two loops of Central Park, which should put my mileage at around 13-14 by the time I’m finished.  One of the weapons I’m planning to use to battle The Tool from today forward is this blog.  By posting my training goals, it will help me not to lose focus, and it will assist me with staying on track so that I improve throughout the year.

The Aftermath


This will be a quick one…I promise to be a bit more creative during my next installment…

After I finished the 2012 Walt Disney World Marathon I waddled very slowly back through Epcot, around the Boardwalk to my room at the Beach Club.  I was one gigantic ache.  Nothing – and I mean nothing – about me felt good physically.  There was one thing that offset the pain, and that was the mental victory I earned.  It wasn’t pretty, but I finished 26.2 miles with hardly any sleep, very little fuel in my tank and a complete lack of preparation.  I knew that my lack of careful planning was evidence of the clear fact that I have a ton to learn.

So here are some quick takeaways for those of you that are planning to run the Walt Disney World Marathon in the future:

  • Time your sleep properly.  I know that sounds simple….but with this marathon, it’s not.  And here’s why: buses begin to run from the Disney resorts at 3am to bring runners to the starting line.  This means that alarm clocks are ringing all over on-property resorts beginning at around 2am.  Nope- that’s not a typo.  2…a….m.  That means, in order to get a decent account of sleep, you need to hit the hay by 7pm.  At the latest.  AT WALT DISNEY WORLD.  How hard it THAT???  I mean COME ON!!  Extra magic hours, Illuminations, fireworks, Fantasmic – tons of reasons to stay up late and stay on your feet.  Somehow, you have to resist the temptation to ride Space Mountain at 10pm.
  • Time your meals properly.  I know – another easy thing to do…or so it seems.  Trying to get to bed by 7pm on a Saturday evening at Walt Disney World is difficult enough.  But try eating dinner at 4-5pm the evening (or late afternoon?) before race day.  Oy.  But 4-5pm for dinner is about the right timing to follow in order to be able to get a good night’s sleep and ready to go at 3am.  Oy.  I called Dominos at 8pm…and the rest is history.

  • Have an actual game plan for race day.  Let me clarify: have an actual game plan that is more than just “make sure my Iphone is fully charged so that I can take pictures all morning”.  Tried that game plan, and it – for a lack of a better term – stunk.  Review the course map before race day and picture yourself running it.  Establish goals or targets in your head that you will run to.  Prepare yourself mentally for the 26.2 mile stress test.

Have a game plan.  Get to sleep on time.  Time your meals properly.  Three tiny recommendations to help you succeed during your attempt at the most magical 26.2 you’ll ever run.   Until next time!  Make sure you double-knot your shoe laces, get out there and get moving!

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


Well, it’s one down, only 11 more to go! Last weekend I completed my first marathon of my “12 in ’12 To Support the Dream Team Project”. And I began my year-long quest in a big way: running the 2012 Walt Disney World Marathon on January 8th. Let me sum up the festivities in a single word: supercalafragalisticexpealodocious! (always wanted to see if Microsoft Word considers that Poppins-ism a true word…but alas, it does not…) That being said, let me provide a run-down of the weekend for all of you that are beginning to consider dipping your toe into a Disney race in the foreseeable future.

First off, let me say that Marathon Weekend in WDW offers something for absolutely everyone. There are kids races that go for distances of 200 meters to the Mickey Mile. Then there’s the Family Fiesta 5k on Friday morning. Then the Half Marathon is run on Saturday and the full Marathon is run on Sunday. Regardless of the distance you choose to run, you can count on really solid support on the course, unexpected surprises and an incredibly celebratory atmosphere that motivates over 50,000 athletes from start to finish.

The Family Fiesta 5k takes the runners through World Showcase and Futureworld within Epcot. The half marathon gives the runners a tour of Epcot and the Magic Kingdom. And the full marathon allows the runners to experience all four parks….before lunch!

I ran the full marathon this year alongside over 30 members of the WDW Radio Running Team. The support and camaraderie that the team provides gives each runner a wonderful boost of motivation throughout the course. I have some pictures to share…but before I bust out the Polaroid’s, let me describe the marathon course – and my morning – to you.

My alarm went off at 2:30am. I was already half awake when my Iphone began playing “The Brain” from the Broadway musical Young Frankenstein. I hardly slept the night before, and I was hungry. (note to all future WDW marathoners: Dominos pizza is NOT the way to go for carbo-loading. That cheesy bread is not a runner’s friend). I knew I didn’t eat enough the night before, as my stomach grumbled as I came out of the shower. So – mistake number one was made: I did not fuel my body correctly. Mistake number two was in the books as well – I did not get the necessary rest. Mistake number three was also made clear as I prepared to leave the hotel for the 3am bus ride to the starting area: I didn’t drink enough water. The marathoner’s trifecta from hell.

I rode a 3am bus to the starting area, and proceeded to enjoy the company of my team prior to heading for the corrals at 4:30am. (note to Disney: it’s OK to actually give away some bagels at the starting area – I guarantee you that the company’s profit margin won’t be irreparably damaged).

The long wait in the dark was worth it, as fireworks were set off for each of the corrals, as they set out upon their 26.2 mile quest in 3-4 minute intervals. By the time I passed the starting line, I all of my mistakes made during preparation were long forgotten. Those haunting thoughts were replaced by the happiness that adrenaline pumps through your body.

The first 2 ½ miles are spent waddling toward Epcot. By the 5k marker, I had entered Epcot and enjoyed the feeling of running past Spaceship Earth, entering World Showcase at Mexico and departing quickly through Norway. The next time I pass the statue of Grete the Great, I will be almost finished with the race.

Upon exiting through Norway, I began the long quiet waddle North, toward the Magic Kingdom. Approximately 5 miles of subdued plodding along various WDW roadways resulted in my arrival at the TTC. 9.5 miles in, I had passed the Contemporary Hotel, and I had Space Mountain in my line of sight. Half a mile more, just past mile 10, the army of runners ran down Main Street USA and into Tomorrowland. Then through Fantasyland, through the Castle, into Frontierland and finally out of the Magic Kingdom near Splash Mountain. Miles 10 through 11.5 were incredible. However, I had begun to feel the effects of my mistakes: I had become nauseous and the feeling was distracting.

Once we exited the Magic Kingdom, we passed the Grand Floridian and the Wedding Pavilion. This marked the half way point of the marathon. Four more long miles of quiet WDW roadways until I entered the Animal Kingdom near mile 17. Animal Kingdom is another amazing part of this race. Running by Everest, I noticed that some marathoners hopped on the train ride to give it a spin before continuing on their quest for 26.2! Not me – if I sat down at this point, I’d NEVER get up!

Past Everest, Finding Nemo – The Musical, Dinoland and The Tree of Life. Then out into the parking lot, past the front gate and 19 miles were in the books. At this point in the race, I hit The Wall. I had thrown up twice, I felt dizzy and weak. It was all I could do to place one foot in front of the other. Front here on, it became a mental game.

Another four miles of WDW roadways landed us at Hollywood Studios, entering near the Backlot Tour, spinning past New York Street, past the Sorcerer’s Hat and out of the park near mile 24. 2.2 miles to go.

Once we exited the front of Hollywood Studios, we ran along the concrete path that carried us to the Boardwalk. Past the Yacht & Beach Clubs, and finally arriving back at Epcot, entering near the U.K. Pavilion. It was amazing to see my WDW Radio Running teammates screaming and yelling here, as I had absolutely nothing left in the tank. I felt horrible. But their enthusiasm pulled me through – it was the perfect elixir.

Around the World Showcase – past France (I tried to buy a glass of wine and received a look of shock from the unsuspecting cast member), heading toward America. Next thing I knew, I passed the Italians….then the Germans….then the Chinese. There was hope. Less than a mile to go. Finally passing Norway (I made a quick detour to pay my respects to Grete’s statue – the Queen of marathoning) and Mexico. A right turn into Futureworld. Almost there.

Passing MouseGear and the Fountain. Less than half a mile to go. Now passing Spaceship Earth. It actually aches when I swing my arms.

Mile 25.9 is emotional: the gospel choir. It lifted my soul. No doubt I would finish now. My legs began to stretch out and I took off. Out into the parking lot, and across the finish line. Done. Finished. In the words of Dandy Don Merredith – “Turn out the lights – the party’s over”.

I got emotional as I had the medal draped over my neck. I always do. Call me a real sap, but every time I push my body beyond where I believe my limits dwell, I feel a potent mixture of accomplishment, relief, and empowerment. I remind myself that a person’s limits are dictated only by the parameters we set for ourselves. I leave the finisher’s area sore – yet proud. Weary – yet energized.

I take a picture of the medal and send it to my daughter. She immediately calls me to make sure I’m OK. I tell her not to worry – we’ve got a bunch more of these to get through!

Before I sign off, I want to remind everyone reading this that you can do whatever you set your mind to. My grandmother always said “whether you think you can or you think you can’t – you’re probably right”. Set a goal for yourself. Make it manageable. Let it involve something that you can be passionate about. And then shoot for it every single day until you achieve it. Enjoy the feeling of victory – but don’t rest on your laurels. Then set a slightly bigger goal and old on tight. For this is the essence of life: striving to improve, overcoming the bumps in the road, and dipping into our courage when we need to in order to see us through to our goals.

My next marathon is February 12th in Jacksonville Beach, FL. I hope you’ll continue to follow my antics!

I am running to raise awareness and funding for the Dream Team Project, which benefits the Make a Wish Foundation. This is a charity that truly means a lot to me, and any donation – regardless of the size – goes toward aiding children with life-threatening illnesses and their families. While I slog through these marathons all year, I think of some of the kids I’ve met over the years. How much they and their families go through, and the strength they have to never quit. Those thoughts remind me that the pain I feel along the course is NOTHING compared to what they all deal with on a daily basis. When I feel the pain come on late in the race, it serves as a not-so-subtle reminder: I’ll push through some pain in order to give some kids a break from their’s.

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

WDW Radio Running Blog Entry #7: Time to be Thankful!


I love this time of year. Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays (mainly because the turkey gives me an excuse to be lazy…..kidding!) – the air is crisp, the park is a rainbow of color, and people just seem to be in a great mood within the city. It’s a day where you simply get to spend time with family and friends, and thoroughly enjoy their company. The only present given or received is time.

As Thursday quickly approaches, I begin something that I call my own personal Annual Assessment Process. I take stock of the things I wanted to accomplish this year (usually a long list) and the corresponding number of things that I actually got done (not surprisingly a much SHORTER list). Then I literally sit down, grab a pen and a piece of paper, and list out my goals for the upcoming new year. Sounds oddly thorough, I know – but that’s the way my brain works. I then use the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas to finalize my Top Ten list for the upcoming year. The week between Christmas and new Year’s is spent bracing myself for the drastic changes that I normally enforce on January 1st…and disappear from memory by Superbowl Sunday.

So what does this have to do with Disney and running? Bare with me, because it takes me a while to get to the point…and I’m as sharp as a bowling ball….

For the past several years, I’ve placed some goals on my Top Ten List that have proven to be challenging, yet very fun. They’ve involved running some Disney races, including:
• The Expedition Everest Challenge (the medal you are awarded is extremely cool!)
• The Wine & Dine Half Marathon (do the mental math with me: 13.1 miles waddled + 2,000 calories burned + ending at Epcot’s World Showcase = absolutely NO GUILT while ordering funnel cake from the American pavilion, pizza from Via Napoli and nachos from La Hacienda de San Angel…in that exact order
• The Disneyland Half Marathon (Grand Californian – I looooooove that place!)
• The Walt Disney World Marathon (I can actually say that I was in all four parks in one day before 12pm, and I scored a picture with Abbey Mallard)

They’ve also included some easier, more relaxed goals, such as:
• Figure out whether there’s a jogging path from the Grand Floridian to the Magic Kingdom (answer: not unless you also feel like swimming)
• Enjoy a jog from the Polynesian to the Grand Floridian (I HIGHLY recommend this one to all my fellow Disney Geeks that are thinking of taking up jogging…)
• Run the paths around Saratoga Springs and the Port Orleans resorts (sooooooo enjoyable)

Why not find a quiet spot, grab a pen and a piece of paper, and begin thinking about your goals for the upcoming year, and put ideas to ink? For those of you thinking about trying jogging / running (or waddling like me!), pick a goal or two. Make one of these goals a really fun, shorter distance run – like a Disney race. Put the idea to paper. Do the research, grab your sneakers, get out there and enjoy in 2012!

Part of the fun is in the preparation – the journey is just as important as arriving at the destination. So look at this time of year as an opportunity to check your compass and see which way your winds will take you. In my next blog entry, I’ll share with you my own goals for the upcoming year, which shockingly include time spent waddling through the Disney parks and resorts, and WDW Radio Running Team! Until then, make sure to double-knot your shoe laces, get out there and get moving!

My original blog post Running Disney: Time to be Thankful! can be found hereon the WDW Radio Blog. Please check it out!!

The Run Disney Calendar, Take Two


Here’s my fourth blog entry, Running Disney: Run the Disney Calendar, Continued! for WDW Radio. To read my original post visit here:

As mentioned in my previous blog entry, the crown jewel of Run Disney’s calendar is its first race of the year, WDW Marathon Weekend.  However, there are other races throughout the year that really are special and deserve the consideration of my fellow DisneyGeeks that either currently enjoy running…or are looking for a reason to purchase their really cool first pair of gel-infused Nike’s.  So I’ll paint a quick picture of each race, hoping that some of you might be motivated to earn a run Disney medal in the near future.

The newest race on the run Disney calendar is the Tinkerbell Half Marathon, scheduled for its inaugural running during the weekend of January 27th-29th 2012.  This race goes off three weeks after the WDW Marathon, in Disneyland.  No other real details are available as of yet – but I’ll keep you posted on any details I may hear.

Walt Disney World’s Princess Half Marathon occurs annually in late February (the next run is scheduled for the weekend of February 24th – 26th 2012).  I’ve heard nothing but great things about this race!  It’s slated as a women’s half marathon, although approximately 300-400 men ran it last year, I believe.  As a father of a 12 year-old daughter that’s just dipping her toe into running, I think this race is absolutely fantastic.  It’s a true celebration of women’s’ strength.

The first weekend in March brings us to the Champion 5k race, run as part of ESPN the Weekend in Walt Disney World.  March is a great time to run in WDW – the humidity is low, the temperature is just right, and a 5k distance is a wonderful entry race for any new runner.  If you’ve never run before (or haven’t run in quite a while), and you are looking for a manageable distance with a fun atmosphere, put this one on your calendar!

In early May, the Everest Challenge is run in Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom.  This race is….well…unique.  I just ran it about 3 months ago, and had a really fun time.  It’s run in the evening, and it is more than just a 5k jog past the home of the Yeti.  The race begins in the parking lot of the park, sends you through the front gates, and winds you past the Tree of Life.  At several points along the next three miles, you have the added challenge of maneuvering up, over, and around various obstacles in addition to your evening jog.  Once you cross the finish line, the challenge is only half complete!  You are then handed a tiny flashlight, a pen and a map, and sent back into the park on a scavenger hunt!  The prize?  An extremely cool medal that doubles as a compass!

The Run Disney race series takes a bit of a break from mid May through the end of August as school’s out for the summer and, let’s face it, it’s more fun to work on our tans than train for a race!

The Disneyland Half Marathon is run each Labor Day Weekend.  I ran the inaugural race in 2006, and it was an absolute blast.  Through the streets of Anaheim, around the warning track of the Anaheim Angels’ baseball stadium, and through Disneyland itself, the sites and sounds of this race were a joy to experience.  I’m sure that, 5 years later, this race has consistently improved.  If you’re thinking of a first half marathon, this could be the one for you.  It’s flat and fast, and the finisher’s medal rocks!

The Wine and Dine Half Marathon is run in early October (the next one is scheduled for the weekend of September 30th – October 1st 2011).  While I don’t want to end this blog entry on a sour note, I do need to be honest about this race: I ran the inaugural one last year, and was quite disappointed by the lack of proper lighting on parts of the course (it’s another night time race), as well as the lack of organization within the finishers area and the afterparty in Epcot’s World Showcase.  That being said, I am sure that Disney received a ton of feedback on how to improve this race…and I look forward to seeing the positive changes in less than 2 months.

So there you have it – the Run Disney calendar at a glance.  In my next entry, I’ll begin to share some ideas on how to pick the right race for you, as well as how to get started on your trek toward finishing your first Disney race.  Until then, make sure to double-knot your shoe laces!  And if you have any feedback, comments, etc., please feel free to email me at joseph_kolinsky@yahoo.com

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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