Friday, January 31, 2014

2014 Marathon Weekend - 1/2 Marathon

If you haven't checked out my 5k and 10k coverage, you can go back and read that post here.

By the time of the 1/2 marathon things were getting serious.  It was the third day of waking up at the ass crack of dawn.  While the 5k and 10k were both good races, I felt like the half is way more serious.  First of all there were around 24k runners participating this year.  I believe there were 16 corrals now for the half marathon, and they were much smaller.  The idea is that it might take a bit longer to launch everyone, but the two big congestion areas (heading into the Contemporary and cone alley before the Grand Floridian) wouldn't be as bad this year.

After figuring out the two cars the night before, we all piled into my car (aka Pony Magic) and left the house at 3:15 am with the idea of making it to the Team AllEars pic at 3:45 am.  Traffic wasn't bad at all, and we had no problems getting through security and over to the gathering area on time.

We took the team pic and started the slow walk to the corrals.  From the gathering area to the corrals takes about 15 minutes to walk.  I met up with another team member, Dave Dunkowski. He and I ended up hanging out for about 45 minutes until the start of the race.  This year, one thing that I thought was pretty special was that they redid the fireworks for the start of the race.  It's a small thing, but those fireworks are one of my favorite parts of Disney races.  It used to be that there were two small sets of fireworks set off for each corral, one at the start line, and one farther back on the bridge.   This year they only set off the front ones, but I thought it was a much cooler display.  I guess that when my wave went off there must have been a malfunction, cause we didn't get a fireworks for our corral.

Improved Fireworks this year

My plan for the half was to run it about a minute less per mile than my marathon pace to conserve my legs.  That still meant that I could run through the Magic Kingdom while it was dark (one of my favorite things to do in the half) and I'd finish without being on my feet for two long.  How I ended up accomplishing this was I used a run/walk strategy but then also made sure to stop at any character stop that had a short line.  It seemed to work well last year for the goofy and it worked great this year as well.

Me and Launchpad McQuack

By the time I hit the overpass around mile 10, I realized how good the taper really was for me.  My legs were strong.  I really wanted speed up here, but I had to keep reminding myself to hold back, I had an entire race to do the next day.  I did stop and carry on the tradition that was started at the princess last year by Eddie, Alex, Lee and I of doing pushups at the Green Army Sergeant (okay, so I didn't actually do any at the princess but I took some damn good photos of them doing pushups).

Pushups at Mile 10

I had a strong finish, right around 2:08.  After finishing I headed into Epcot over to Sunshine Seasons for my traditional post half breakfast.  I was going to ride Soarin but I knew that the rest of the Nerds would be passing through Epcot at any time.  Instead I headed out onto the course, took off my medal, threw back on my bib and joined them for a loop around Epcot.

Finding the nerds in Epcot

After finishing, we had to hurry back to the house.  When I signed up for the Dopey, I had already decided that I was going to do almost anything I needed to do to have a successful race.  One of those things is I set aside some money for a massage at one of the spas on Disney property.  Looking at their prices, an 80 minute massage at the Grand Floridian spa was $195 and that was without tip.  Crazy, right?  I figured I could do better than that.  Instead of booking a massage at an on property spa, I decided to see if there were any sports massage therapists in the area that made house calls.  After looking around on the web/craigslist, I was pretty much striking out.  So I decided to reach out to Carissa Bealert.  She is one of the RunDisney race announcers but I also knew that she and her husband ran a gym in Orlando.  I figured they must know someone in the field.  She quickly got back to me and recommended a therapist named Gypsy Danielson.

After contacting Gypsy, she was more than willing to make house calls and her prices were very reasonable.  I threw it out to the other people staying in the house and quickly ended up with 9 of us wanting a 1 hour massage each.  I mentioned this to Gypsy and she said that she knew a second therapist, Brian, that would also love to come help out.

So on Saturday morning both Brian and Gypsy showed up at 7:30 am with their massage tables (and sheets, music, massage lotions, etc) in hand.  We ended up putting them into two private rooms in the house.  Some of the people staying at the house that weren't running the 1/2 took the first few hours.  Then once we finished, we rushed back to the house and took our spots.  From the looks after people were finished with the massages, it was clear that both Gypsy and Brian were experts at their craft.  Not only were they totally professional, they both work with a local triathlon team providing sports massage for them both in town and sometimes when they go on the road.  I highly recommend either of them if you are in the Orlando area and need a sports massage.  They also said that they are willing to make hotel room calls as long as the hotel will allow them to bring in their massage table.

I'm providing their contact information in case anyone is interested.
Gypsy Danielson -
Brian Schmidt -

After the massage, a carload of us headed over to the main Team AllEars meet at the Swan Hotel.  First of all, I want to point everyone to Mike and Michelle's blog entry.  It summarizes the amazing journey that we have had over the past 5 years (I was only on the team for 4 of the 5 years myself).  Over 5 years the team has raised over $330,000 for Avon Walk for Breast Cancer.  Not only that, the friendships I have made will carry with me for the rest of my life. It was really this team that got me onto the road of health and wellness.  If not for Team AllEars, I would have never have run my first half marathon.

$330,000 over 5 years..just amazing.

After 2 hours of sharing memories, thoughts and goodbyes with the team, we parted ways and headed over to Hollywood Studios for our pre-marathon carb load at Mama Melrose.  I had never eaten there before, but my wife and I really liked the food.  I had a big bowl of pasta and they were nice enough to discount it for me since it normally comes with meat, and I got it without.  We also ran into a bunch more of our team that were eating there at the same time.  After riding Star Tours (Dan got to be the rebel spy, yay!) we waited around for a bit and got a picture of all of us in front of the hat.  We fought a downpour of rain (Christina and I hid out under a space blanket trying to stay dry) back to our cars.  

All in all, it was an amazing day.  Maybe I stayed on my feet a bit too much, but as you will see in my next blog entry, it didn't seem to affect me all that much.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

2014 - What's on the horizon

I thought I'd take a bit of a break talking about marathon weekend and talk about what races I'm looking at doing over the next year.  I was really expecting that after the Dopey I wouldn't want to run anymore.  It was a hard training season and for the most part I didn't cancel any workouts.  Right about when I hit my taper I was fried.

Anyway, I think for a variety of reasons including my personal success at meeting my goals during marathon weekend and having a good time running with friends, I'm ready to set some new goals for 2014.  In my head I've broke up the year into three training seasons.  Nothing is totally locked down yet, but I think this will be my overall plan.

Feb - May - Spring Training

The good thing is other than this cold going on right now (oh how I hate thee, the Disney crud), I have a strong base of fitness.  I've decided I might as well use that fitness and try and hit a few goals this spring.  I can tune my training with a bit of hill work as well as some trails.  That will let me accomplish some races that I was considering doing without a bunch of extra training.  I may not be at peak fitness, but I should be able to perform at a fairly good level.

April 20th - Desert Rats Trail Running Festival, 1/2 marathon, Fruita, CO

This would be the third time for me to run this race.  How it works is they have a 50k and a marathon on Saturday, and a half and 5 miler on Sunday.  We usually drive up on Saturday, stay the night, run the half and then drive home on Sunday.  I considered running the marathon if I could convince my friend Brad to come out for it, but he's already got plans.  So instead I'll be running the half with Andrea, Mike, Carrie, Rebecca and Kate.  All in all Fruita is a beautiful race and each year the weather has been perfect.

April 27th - Cherry Creek Sneak, Denver, CO

I'm doing this one mostly to hang out with Bryan, Mel and Brad Jones (from TAE) who is coming out to run this race.  I haven't decided which distance I'm going to do, either the 10 miler and run it easy, or the 5 miler and run it sort of hard.

May 3rd - Greenland 50k, Larkspur, CO

So originally I was going to do the 8 miler.  It looked like a flat fun race that I could really work on my speed.  But I have some base fitness right now, I figured it might be the time to do a 50k.  It's longer than a marathon, but should be easier than Dopey for three reasons.  One, I won't have all the travel associated with Dopey.  Second, no early morning wake up calls.  Lastly, I'm going to run it fairly easy.  The course itself is 4 loops of around 7.5 miles on packed dirt.  It isn't that technical of a course and the weather should be good at that time of year.  My training for it will consist of less days of running than the Dopey and I'll probably top out at one 20 miler, and one 22 mile run before the race.  Also since you loop around, you can have a drop bag of supplies.

June 1st - Skirt Sports 5 Miler, Louisville, CO

I did this last year and it was a really fun race.  Short, sweet and hopefully both Helen and Michelle from TAE will be coming out for it.  Men aren't allowed to do the half (females only) so I run the 5 miler.  Not to mention it's about 15 minutes from my house.

June - Aug - Summer Training

Well this summer work is sending me overseas.  It seems to happen pretty much any summer really killing any consistent training.  So I'm going to take the summer off and just do some fun runs around Colorado and New Zealand.  No specific focus on races during this period.

Sept - Nov - Fall Training

Fall is a bit more tentative since some of the races require travel.  Until we have locked down our New Zealand travel plans, I don't want to plan too far into the future.

Oct 1st - Twin Cities Marathon, Minneapolis, MN

My good friend Andrea wanted to run a marathon this year, so we were both looking at possible races.  This one seemed like a good destination race.  It is fairly cheap to fly there, and I have a good friend Julie who lives nearby.  Myself I won't be training to PR at this race, but more just to complete it in a decent enough time.

Nov 8th - Wine and Dine Half Marathon, Disney World, FL

Hands down my favorite RunDisney event they put on.  This would be the five year anniversary of the event.  I am still not sure that I want to do it as most likely it would mean going down without Joelle (which I'm not crazy about).  It's expensive, both the race and the lodging.  I do have an annual pass, and at least part of a free ticket.  Also I promised my wife no more Disney races until my 40th birthday in 2015.  But if I end up doing it, this would be my A race of the year.  I think I hold my PR at this race currently so it would be fun to train to beat it.

Other Possible Races

There are a bunch of things up in the air right now that may change my plans.  I have some friends that are planning on doing the Moab half/full trail marathon.  If things don't shake out for Wine and Dine, that may very well fall on the books.  Also the nerds are planning on getting together for the Las Vegas RnR half.  This would be the week after Wine and Dine, so I'm not 100% sure it would be in the books for us.  I also had a bunch of fun running the FLATS half marathon in Missouri.

Also, as some you may remember, I was supposed to run a Triathlon last year.  Well, I was able to defer until this year because of the flooding.  Currently I'm signed up, and it's at the end of September.  But at the moment I have no interest at all in training for it.  That may change as weather gets better and I can get out on my bike.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

2014 Marathon Weekend - 5k and 10k

So I sat down to start writing this post. I quickly realized that I think it's going to be harder than I imagined.  So many thoughts and memories happened over the entire weekend, how do I put them all into a few posts.  Anyway, I think this is going to end up being three posts in total, the first talking about the 5k and 10k, the second the half and full, and the third one just wrapping up the weekend and some general thoughts.

Anyway, we left on a Wednesday morning.  Luckily it wasn't a super early flight.  Joelle used to detest those but has seemed to gotten better with them.  Though with the cold snap we were going through, I was happy that we were leaving a bit later. Most of my friends that were doing Dopey were also flying out that same day.  With the extreme cold weather, some of them really were struggling to just get down to Orlando.  Flights were canceled out of New York, Chicago and other NE cities.  Some people were able to rebook, others ended up just driving down to Florida.

Getting ready to leave on Wednesday morning

Once we got into Orlando, things went pretty smoothly.  We stopped and picked up our car (aka Pony Magik) and headed to the expo.  With all the chaos of the last few expos, this one was relatively calm. We breezed right in and picked up our packets (which included my six shirts) and did some quick shopping.  It was a good expo, but seemed a bit smaller than normal.  It might also be that I'm getting sort of numb to the excitement of a RunDisney expo.  

We didn't really want to hit the parks at this point in the day, so we took off to the vacation home that we rented.  Last year during marathon weekend, I was pretty convinced to not come back this year.  I really needed a break from all the training, not to mention it was getting pretty expensive. Several of my friends on Team AllEars brought up the idea of getting vacation home and splitting the cost in order to make it more affordable.  Thus the Nerdery was born.  We ended up looking all around and settled on an eight bedroom house just south of Animal Kingdom.  Now in hindsight, that was such a wonderful idea.  In fact, I strongly suggest that if you are going down to marathon weekend in the future with a group of friends, look at renting a house.  We had a pool, hot tub, BBQ, huge game room, all for about $160 a person. Much cheaper than staying onsight and while there are some inconveniences, I think in all it enhanced the weekend.

Shopping for the Nerdery. We went a bit crazy.

That first night Julie offered to make Mexican food for us, and while it was a great idea, the problem is I think we underestimated how long it would take us to organize, get out of the house and to the store. We ended up getting to Target around 7:00 PM.  3 full shopping carts of food later and about an hour later, we left the store, fully stocked up with all the food we needed for the weekend.  After a quick meal, some BSing and drinking around the house (had to taste the moonshine that Jamison brought from West Virginia), most of us headed to bed.

My mentor as Buddy the Elf for the 5k.

Most of us were running the next morning, so we started the 4 day ritual of getting up early (5 days for me, but more on that later).  My plan for the weekend consisted of racing the 5k, running the 10k with my wife and friends, running the half fairly easy and then racing the marathon.  I haven't had a chance to really race a 5k at peak performance in a while, and I was really curious how I could do down at sea level. I was also fairly sure that any sort of effort in the 5k wouldn't hurt my performance for the the marathon on Sunday.   

I know there is lots of debate over whether you should PR a Disney race or not.  I say, do what is fun for you.  If you want to PR a Disney race, it can be done.  For me it is the natural race for me to try and race.  It's the big focus of my most intense training, it's at sea level, and the course and atmosphere really pump me up. Also when doing something like the Dopey or Goofy, I think there is some benefit to getting off your feet in a reasonable amount of time. Other people's bodies work differently, and RunDisney races might not be the best place to really work on speed.  Again, I think it really to each their own.  

I think all weekend I was pretty worried about the heat and humidity.  Forecasts were going up and down but it looked like it would be a hot weekend, especially for the 10k and half.  Luckily I think it was perfect race weather on the morning of the 5k.

Cheering on Team AllEars at end of the 5k.  Laura and Bryan Thompson's first 5k!

After I finished I ran back to the end and cheered on the rest of my running team as they came through.  I think one of the coolest moments was when I saw teammate Brian and Laura just about to cross the finish line of their first 5k.

5k PR - Way faster than I would have guessed.

I did end up getting a PR, 22:38, about two minutes off my previous PR.  I think the 5k success helped setup the day as ending up being one of my best Disney days ever.  I think if I went back to marathon weekend, I'd run the 5k again and then take two days off and do the marathon.  I love Epcot in the dark and being able to run around World Showcase was pretty awesome.

Ehmergerd!  Jack and Sara get engaged on Main Street!

After the runners were all done, we headed over to Magic Kingdom.  Erinn had told us that she wanted to get a shot of all of us on Main Street, but what we didn't know is Sara's boyfriend Jack was planning on proposing to her.  It was a huge surprise to all of us.  After many tears and congratulations, I had to tear off and run over to the Beach Club.  

One of my favorite podcasts, the Mickey Miles podcast was having a breakfast over at Ariel's at the Beach Club.  What a fabulous time that was.  It was nice to catch up with some good friends (sat with Eve and Phil Vanderpool).  They had a great buffet and were able to announce their new running team, the Mickey Milers!  I remember a few years ago when Michelle told me that they were thinking about starting a podcast.  It seems like that was so long ago and it really has grown into such a great entity of it's own.  I'm so proud of what both her and Mike were able to accomplish in the last few years.  

After that, headed back to the Magic Kingdom to meet up with the rest of the nerds.  I was getting pretty tired at this point, but we had some unfinished business that we had to attend to.  What began as Sara doing a very sweet thing for a bunch of children ended up turning into one of the most magical experiences that I've seen.  I won't go into detail since I'm pretty sure someone else will end up blogging about it eventually.

We then had to head back to the Nerdery to get ready for our one big night out, aka Nerdprom.  We all got dressed up and headed back to our ressie at Cali Grill.  Erinn and Joelle ended up crowning Jack and Sara our King and Queen of nerdprom. 

Jack and Sara get crowned King and Queen of nerdprom!

After Cali grill it was onto the monorail crawl.  I think the Lapu Lapu's at Tambu Lounge were the big hit of the night.  Even Julie who said she wasn't drinking much until after the marathon ended up partaking in the yummy beverage.  After the Tambu Lounge, Phil texted me and asked if we wanted to join him at the Top of the World Lounge.  Of course!  Normally it wasn't available unless you were a DVC member staying on points on property.  Phil, being the suave guy that he is, ended up getting all 15 of us up there to watch wishes.  What a great way to end the magical night.

Stop 2 of the monorail crawl, Tambu Lounge.

Next morning was the 10k day.  An even earlier wakeup call was needed so that we could all get into costume.  We decided as a group that we'd go as the Avengers.  My wife Joelle really wanted to go as Ironman, so I decided to support her and go as Pepper Potts.  

Julie and I looking like twins on 10k morning.  Ginger Power!

What a fabulous morning!  The temps had ticked up and it was very humid, but I wasn't overly concerned as we were all going to take it pretty easy.  At first I think we were planning on all running together but that's pretty difficult in such a large group.  Joelle, Christina and I ended up running the first four miles or so together.  Christina had signed up for the Dopey but several months before, at Wine and Dine she realized that her knee was having issues and that she doubted she would be able to run the full on Sunday.  So we had a good time during the 10k just taking it easy.  Once we got back into Epcot near the end, the nerds all waited up for each other and we ended up coming into the finish as a group.  

Avengers Assemble!

It was really a hoot to be able to run this as a group and with friends. The cast members were really terrific and we had a good time chatting with them during the entire course.  I think our finish time was around 1:58.

Joelle as Ironman, me as Pepper Potts

After the 10k, most of us headed back to the house for the rest of the day.  That evening we were having a BBQ so I just took a nap before getting up and prepping for the party.

Anyway, I think I've prattled on long enough for one post, more later on the 1/2 and full.

Monday, January 6, 2014

New Years 2014 - Run up Sanitas

So it seems as thought this might be turning into a tradition.  Last year at this time I was raising money for Team AllEars.  As part of that fundraiser I offered to make a lap up Mt Sanitas for every $25 that someone donated to me.  As part of Lap 7, Andrea joined me and she and I took a trip up the mountain on New Years Day.  You can see that blog post here.

This year once again if the weather held, I wanted to once again do this on New Years Day.  There is something invigorating about getting out into the wilderness after celebrating the turnover of the new year the night before.  Both Andrea and myself had gone to a friend house the night before and decided to partake in a few adult beverages.  Let's just say when I woke up on New Years Day I did not know what the day held for me.

On a last minute impulse, Andrea txted Michael and Carrie to see if they wanted to join us the next day.  I was so happy when they said that they weren't busy and were up for it. :)

Fog, which we rarely get in Boulder. 

The weather was actually really out.  As we rolled in from Broomfield (which had nice beautiful blue skies out), the cloud cover intensified.  As we started the hike/run we soon noticed that the top of the mountain was going to be covered in fog.  I have to admit, I sort of geeked out.  Fog is one of those weather types that we get so rarely in CO.  I LOVE fog...absolutely love it.  And rarely do I get to run in it.

Mike, Carrie and Andrea all celebrating the new year with me. 

We took our time on the way up and really enjoyed the scenery.  The fact that we can even hike something like Sanitas with almost no snow cover on January 1st is one of the reasons I really love Colorado (hint hint Julie).

Woohoo!  Love it up here.

Descending, we decided to go on the back trail, instead of the front.  The first part of the trail gets pretty steep and is in a sun shadow most of the day.  There was probably 200 yards or so that were pretty slick with ice making it a bit dangerous.  I think all of us were slipping and sliding a bit.

Fog coming back down. 

Normally we go back down the Sanitas Valley trail back to the parking lot.  Instead we took off on a small side trail called the Dakota Ridge Trail.  It's not long, maybe .7 of a mile, but it's my favorite type of trail running.  It is slightly downhill, a bit technical, but not too much and fast.  Some of the most fun running I've had in a very long time.

Carrie, Michael and Andrea descending.

All in all, it was a great way to spend the first day of the New Year with some of my very best friends.

Just a few notes, this weekend once again I'm running the WDW Marathon Weekend with Team AllEars. Not only am I doing the marathon, I'm also doing a 5k on Thursday, 10k on Friday, half marathon on Saturday before attempting the marathon on Sunday.   I've been running in the WDW Marathon Weekend for four years.  Each year I have been part of Team AllEars and we raise money for Avon Walk for Breast Cancer.  If you'd like to donate, you can find my page here -

Also, if you haven't heard, my niece Shannon was recently diagnosed with stage 4 stomach and lung cancer.  She's only 30 years old.  The diagnosis was just two days after Christmas.  Anyway, I decided to dedication my marathon this year to her. Honestly, my 26.2 miles is nothing compared to the fight that she is having to endure right now.

Currently she's getting treatment at the CTCA in Tulsa, OK.  Her husband, family and friends are trying to raise money for her treatment.  Right now they are at about $22,500 of their $25,000 goal.  If you have a few extra dollars, I'm sure her family would appreciate it.

My niece Shannon and her husband Ryan

Shannon's Fundraising Page -
Facebook Page -