Wednesday, May 14, 2014

WDW Marathon Weekend 2014 - MARATHON DAY, Part 2

(Part 1 can be viewed here)

We crossed the start line, and I remembered to start my Garmin.  I looked down, and I must have been a bit excited as my heart rate was around 120 with my first step off.  MJ was the official timer for our Galloway group, and we all tried to keep together and to raise one of our arms to signal to the people around/behind us that we were slowing from a run to a walk.  It was a bit impossible to NOT have an occasional last-second lateral dart to avoid us, though.  Though I was worried about having my heart rate increase quickly because of the run/walk interval, I noticed that it leveled off fairly quickly, and the first mile came in at 14:49 with a 138 average HR.

The first mile was a special one because there were a number of Team AllEars folks manning the first water station.  As we approached the first table, I went into my Search and Rescue military voice and started shouting, “JAMISON!!!!!!!!!  OH JAMISON!!!!!!!!” in the hopes of embarrassing someone who is pretty much unembarrassable.  I think he heard me because he just shook his head as I went by (he had a smirk on his face, though, so I think he was amused).  We all shouted out to the Team AllEars volunteers as we flew by them.

As we settled into the pace, we started talking about everything under the stars (literally…it was still dark out).  We’d occasionally have someone outside of the group run up and chime in about something.  Whenever that happened, Ellie would shout, “STRANGER DANGER!!!” and, after having him/her tell us his/her name, put them on a 1-mile “probation” where, if they were still in our good graces, we’d let them run with us.  It led to a number of laughs and additional probations.

I had the intention of trying to get a picture at every mile marker, but, after seeing the pick of the first mile, I decided against it; it was so blurry that one could barely read the number!  We kept on going and were having a blast out there as we came up on the Mile 2 marker.  Because we started mile 2 in the middle of a walk interval, our time was a bit slower, but still fine (15:02 with a 145 HR).  Before we knew it, we started hearing the “Caution Runners…Speed Bumps Ahead…Please Watch Your Step!” announcement as we approached the MK toll booth.  After the 87th time hearing it, that announcement sort of becomes your mantra, and I found myself chanting it unconsciously.  As is my tradition, I made sure to tap the toll booth as we went through it. Soon after this point, Steve dropped back for a moment as he was dealing with a minor issue, but he took care of it quickly and was caught back up.

The part from the MK Toll Booth to the TTC is somewhat of a boring one, so I took a bit of time to check some of the runner split updates I had received.  The first one I received was Bloomington/Normal native Karin Watts, who I met at our local Fleet Feet Sports.  Karin was doing the Dopey, and she looked REALLY strong, coming in with a 12:15 split at 5 miles.  The first Team AllEars splits came from Rich Gairing and, at the same time, Co-Captain Michelle Scribner-MacLean (there was a large group of the team running together).  Breast Cancer survivor and runner-adopted-by-everyone-down-there Kimberly Torres Markey’s message came a few minutes later.  Fellow Moose Brian Swann was doing well with a sub-14 time, and Podcaster and friend Will Jensen was right at a 13:00 pace at 5 miles. 

This part of the course was cruel in that we could see and hear all the runners on the Speedway, knowing that we were a good 5.5 miles away from being at that point.  Mile 3 was at a 15:11 pace with a 147 avg HR.  The talk among the group really started getting interesting (remember…what is said on the marathon course STAYS on the marathon course)…let’s just say that we had dozens of people around us cracking up.  Somehow the discussion turned to podcasts, and I mentioned that I always wanted to do an intro for Mike and Michelle’s show, but with a twist.  I wanted to do a Mickey Miles: After Dark intro.  I got into my Barry White voice and…well, let’s just say the terms “the Stick”, “Chafing”, “Body Glide”, “Nipple Guards”, “Marathon”, and “Six Hours” were all used in the intro.

Soon we made the turn away from the Speedway and into the MK parking lot.  We were approaching where I was cheering at the previous day, so I knew the character picture location (Jack Skellington) as well as where the cheering section would start picking up.  I didn’t even realize that our gaggle of runners was on the “wrong” side as we made our way to the TTC (the very thing I was complaining about when cheering yesterday…I missed a few Teammates because they were over there…and now we were too!).  The thing that made me realize it was that I heard my name being shouted to our left.  I peered over and saw Jay Griffith and Rikki Niblett screaming for us right where I was located exactly 24 hours earlier.  I had a big smile and acknowledged it and hollered a big, “THANKS!!!!” as well as a “Hi Rikki!!”, though we had never met in-person before.  Around the same time, Teammate Amy Frank flew by us with her daughter, Dani, who was completing her first marathon, too.

Mile 4 was close to the monorail station.  14:50 and 149 for the data…getting faster with no real increase in the heart rate.  The cheering section was PACKED at this part of the course, and the course narrowed quite a bit (we knew because we heard another announcement about 236 times).  One of our running crew expressed concern about back teeth floating, so we started strategizing for the first bathroom break.  I recalled Nerd Christine (ermahgerd) Griffin mentioning almost never-busy bathrooms by the Tea Cups, so we all agreed to try to make it there as it was just 50-100 feet off the course.

We were coming up to a part of the course that I was honestly a little nervous about…the water bridge by the Contemporary.  During my first half marathon back in 2011, I ran down this underpass way too quickly, which resulted in sore quads the rest of the race.  I wanted to make sure that this didn’t happen this time, so we all agreed to take it slow.  Luckily the vast majority of runners around us were thinking the same thing.  It was either that or they wanted to watch the DJ with the largest set of Mickey Hands ever seen waving to us on the water bridge.

One runner I was paying particularly close attention to was a fellow blogger named Amanda Tinney, who was dealing with IT band issues in the weeks before the race, and she was doing the Dopey Challenge.  I knew that she was also starting in Corral M, and I let her know that, if I saw her near the end struggling with the knee, I’d try to help running a bit with her.  Amanda’s 5 mile split came in about 4 minutes before we were to hit the 5-mile split mat, so it looked like she was doing okay!  I also had some Nerd Herd friends that started a corral or two behind us, and they were catching up to us quickly.  Our group’s 5 mile split was 1:15:50, giving us a pace of 15:10.  The Nerd Herd was about 2-3 minutes behind us.

The next part of the course is a favorite for most…about to enter the Magic Kingdom!  Steve asked if I could help out with a picture once we got to the WDW Radio cheering area.  He has a tradition of getting a picture with Beci Mahnken, who owns the well-known MEI- and Mousefan-Travel sites (Steve is a vacation planner under MEI).  We told the rest of our growing group to go ahead and that we’ll try to catch up around the Hub, where a large contingency of Team AllCheers folks would be.  We entered MK by Tony’s Town Square Restaurant, and head straight to the WDW Radio group:

(Photo courtesy of Steve Cantafio)

I was trying not to laugh as I was taking it because Valerie Drew was doing everything she could to NOT be in the pic (behind Steve).  

Once the pic was done, I extended my hand to Lou Mongello to say a quick “HI!”.  Katie McNamara, who was standing right behind Lou, looked right at me and screamed “HUG HIM!!!!!!”  Immediately, 2-3 other WDW Radio Cheerers joined in with the "HUG HIM! HUG HIM!" chant, and I finally remembered the fundraiser that MEI was doing.  Lou had a look of fear at the prospect of yet another sweaty hug from a hairy guy, but he offered it up.  Katie caught the precious moment:

(Photo courtesy of...well, you JUST read it in the previous sentence, didn't you??!!!)

With my man card now in the shredder, Steve and I make the classic mistake of catching up on Main Street.  This is a point to absolutely cherish the course…you’re running up one of the most famous roads, with the iconic Cinderella Castle in front of you…take the time to listen to the background music as you leisurely strol…OUT OF THE WAY…WE’RE ON A MISSION!!!  My heart rate skyrocketed to 170 as we flew to the Hub. We made the turn towards Tomorrowland and found our cheering squad.  Evelyn, MJ, and Ellie had just arrived there, and we said a quick “YO!” to everyone as we passed.  In hindsight, I should have asked one of them to get a pic of the 5 Teammates.  Yes, there is a video of this, but I'm holding off on posting it until the very end (you'll understand when you see it).  The goodbyes were said all-too-soon, and we crossed the bridge into Tomorrowland.  I honestly wish I were fast enough to be able to run this stretch in the dark so I could see the amazing lighting effects.  Oh well…maybe I’ll head over there on a night when the park is open and the crowds are really low…I’ll just run then.

We made our way past Cosmic Ray’s and let those that weren’t on the Team but were following along with us that we were stopping for a couple minutes to hit the bathroom, and Darrell said he’d be glad to wait for us.  As we peel off, I started to hear the tell-tale, “MUUSHHH!!! MUSH! MUSHMUSHMUSHMUSH!!!”  That told me that the Nerd Herd had caught us.  We all hollered back “ERMAGERD!!” as Julie Olson, EhrmaGerd Griffin, Dan “I ran a marathon” Rajnik, and Jeff “HellerYeah” Heller also exited off the course for the super-secret bathrooms.  It quickly became an impromptu meet-up, and there’s no way I’m going to divulge the conversations that went on during this!  While we were waiting for everyone to finish up, we grabbed a pic:

(I can’t believe I didn’t do the “Ears Up!” here…I know…Bad Mush…BAAAAD Mush)
With everyone properly relieved, we found Darrell, who graciously waited for us for several minutes, and we all started back up.  Dan was just ahead of Darrell, who was able to read the back of Dan's shirt, which he also wore in the 2012 marathon.  It has one of the best quotes ever on it!

  As we made the left turn in Fantasyland near Pooh, we nearly had a multi-runner pile-up when the girls all noticed Dr. Dribble waiting in line for a character pic….here’s why:

  (Photo courtesy of Laura Gilbreath)

Heading through the castle was a tight squeeze, so we walked most of that short section.  I saw a Marathonfoto dude at the exit, and I decided to remedy my faux pas earlier by not giving "ears up"...

 (MJ was framed perfectly in-between runners for the shot, too!)

As you can see in the picture above, we got spread out a little bit as we exited and made the turn to the forecourt area. 

This video actually captured everyone we were running with.  Evelyn crossed the strip at :18, with Ellie right behind her.  I can’t tell who the WDW Radio team runner is, unfortunately.  Julie, Christine, and Dan cross it at :22, and I’m crossing at :25.  MJ crosses at :27, and Steve and Darrell (who we are now considering to be part of the group) are about to cross at the end (Darrell is about 5 feet behind Steve).  Oh, before anyone gets up in arms, yes, I made a digital purchase from Marathonfoto, so I have the rights to the pictures/videos that I'm posting from them.

We all made the turn towards Liberty Square, and I looked for Tiana, but she was off-stage when we passed.  When we got to the bathrooms in Frontierland, everyone started yelling at Linda Eckworth, who was hopping back on the course.  Linda was supposed to run the 10K on Friday but was unable to make it to Orlando.  Someone on the team had a marathon bib that was going to be unused, so he/she offered it to Linda so she could take part in a race.  She started out with everyone else and was going to drop out once she made it to the 10K distance.  As a side note, someone even gave Linda their 10K medal since she did complete 10K during Marathon Weekend.

Have I ever mentioned that I love the people on Team AllEars?

Linda had this huge smile on her face as we all shouted her name.  She was running with Laura Gilbreath, who was right by her side.  Noting that everyone was screaming for Linda, I looked at Laura, and, in a quiet, subdued voice, I simply said, “oh, hi Laura.”  I couldn’t keep the smile off of my face as Laura gave me a sarcastic, “Gee, thanks, Chris…I really appreciate that”.  Laura said that Linda was doing great and should have a strong finish.

All too soon, we crossed the train tracks and were off-stage.  The marathon was about 25% complete.

(Part 3 can be viewed HERE)

Friday, May 9, 2014

WDW Marathon Weekend 2014 - MARATHON DAY, Part 1

I was expecting an entirely sleepless night, but I only woke up a few times, thanks to my time at the U.S. Air Force Academy, where I learned to sleep in different phases; I found a way to get sleep but still be aware of sounds around me…it’s not restful, but it’s better than no sleep at all.

The phone rings at 3:15, and Steve is up and getting ready. I decide to let my phone alarm go off so I can hear a little music from Pirates of the Caribbean to pump me up. I had everything laid out, but I started OCD’ing about absolutely everything, ranging from how much water I should drink before getting on the bus to which arm I should wear my Magic Band on. After quintuple-checking everything, I looked at Steve, and we gave each other the nod that we’re ready to do. The bus arrived about 4-5 minutes after we made it to the stop, and there were still seats available, so we grabbed two up-front and started talking to the others. About ten minutes later, we were at the unloading area and were repeating the events from yesterday morning.

After the security check, we made it over to the Team AllEars meet-up in the staging area. There were a few familiar faces that were there that morning that weren’t there the previous morning, including Michael Fuller, a past Team AllEars member, who stopped by to say hi to the crew. In what seemed like no time at all, we started forming up for the team picture. As everyone got into place, I shook hands with good friend Tom Troost, who was lining up behind me for the pic.

….wait a minute…


You’re wearing a bib.

 YOU’RE DOING THE MARATHON??!!!!!!! YOUR FIRST MARATHON??!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Now, this is the perfect time to let everyone know that Tom had already done the 5K, 10K, and half, but he had not trained for a full marathon. This in itself is crazy, but it is even more so because he had run the previous 3 days!!! I immediately felt bad because there were many pictures of Barb Kennedy, Julie Patton, and me as the “first-timers” for this race. Tom calmly said that he’d run as far as he could and, if he didn’t make it, he’d just stop and enjoy the rest of the day.

We got the picture taken, but I felt that something was wrong…Barb wasn’t there. I immediately pulled out the phone to see if she had sent any updates, and I saw that she posted a picture just a few minutes before of her with Jeff Galloway.

Yeah, I probably would have made the same decision on that one.

Barb showed up a few minutes later, and we had another pic taken.

After that, we all said our good lucks to each other, and we started off on our long trek…

 …to the corrals.

Only those who have done the half or full at Marathon Weekend will get that joke. I knew that Teammates MaryJean Kancel (affectionately known as “MJ”) and Evelyn DeLuccia were in the same corral that I was in (Corral M). My roommate for the weekend, Steve Cantafio, along with Teammate Ellie Argaluza, ran with MJ and Evelyn during the half the previous day and decided to fall back to Corral M with them and me for the full, too.

Now, I have to preface the rest of this report with the fact that we all agreed that “what happens on the marathon course STAYS on the marathon course.” If there is a vague comment or a story that may seem a bit incomplete, well…you now know why (muahahahaha).

On the walk to the corrals, I was brought up-to-date on the discussions from the previous day’s race. The only thing I could initially think about was, “poor Steve!!” Then I realized that I was the fresh meat of the group and that I was about to be initiated into the group, and I immediately felt the blood drain from my face in fear and apprehension.

I was saved by the fact that we met up with another flock from Team AllEars heading down to the corrals, and we intermingled for a few minutes until we hit the armada of porta-potties. At that point, the groups broke off to head to their respective corrals. It was about 4:45…there was still around 45 minutes to go before the official start.

We were near the front of the corral, and the veteran marathoners pulled out an old mylar blanket and spread it across the road for us to sit on while we waited. We talked with a bunch of people around us, including a woman named Amanda, a gentleman named Darrell, and many others. I got to hear Joe Taricani from The Marathon Show call out our very own Barb Kennedy for her first marathon a few minutes before the start…AWESOME!!!

My 25,000 closest friends quieted down for the singing of our national anthem (though we did have one do the “OOHHHHHHH” shout right next to us…grrrrr), and, a few minutes later, our first Teammate, Ed Russell, was launched with the wheelchair division.

(Ed's in front of the purple sign)

 Then came the first wave...

Yeah…I’m going to have to get the entire family down for one of the RunDisney races so they can experience this.

Requisite Team AllEars Corral Pic:

We knew that we still had a good 30 minutes or so before it was our turn, so we continued talking to everyone around us. About 10-15 minutes before our wave was expected to start, everyone developed the same nervous urge to hit the bathroom one more time, so we took turns watching for when we would start moving while others ran to the porta-potties. As we saw Corral L start walking past us, the last few people in the area darted for the bathrooms. We also noticed several from later corrals jumping into our corral as well as in J, K, and L.


Finally, we got to start walking our way to the start line. We still had a couple of corrals to go before we were off, but the atmosphere was simply electric. Most were nervous but really happy. I downed my Clif Shot Bloks and guzzled a bit of water…and waited. I was definitely nervous about falling behind the pace of everyone else. I had trained for a :30/1:00 pace, but the others had agreed to try a :30/:45 pace, which is what they did the previous day for the half. I told them early on that I was completely fine if I couldn’t stay with them and that they should just go ahead…I wanted them to run their own race.

Corral L blasted off, and we were next:

Rudy Novotny, known by everyone as “The Voice of America’s Marathons”, has been an absolutely huge supporter of Team AllEars over the years. During the third year of the Team (my second year on it), Mike Scopa put out a call one December morning for as many Team AllEars members as possible to send Rudy a friend request on Facebook. Rudy is immensely popular with many, MANY people, yet he took the time to accept every single request and comment back to everyone. His actions, along with a similar “friend-bombing” of Joe Taricani, helped Team AllEars gain a lot more visibility, as well as more money raised.

Everyone knew that I had the drill instructor voice, so they had me shout out to him, which you probably heard about 1:09 into the video below.

Kewl…another Team AllEars Shoutout! …annnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnd WE’RE OFF!!!!!

(Continued HERE)