Brother on the Run: Disney Marathon Weekend

It has been a very long time since I did any writing on running, so I had to look back on the blog to see my last guest post. The last thing I posted on was the Detroit Marathon in October. Life has been hectic since then and I guess it slipped my mind. While my running has not been spectacular, I have done a number of races big and small. As an annual favorite, I once again ran the Walt Disney World Marathon with Dr.Rachel.

The Experience

Disney is always an experience and this year would be no exception. My wife and I like to arrive early to settle into the resort and start getting used to the warmer weather. Having done all my training in the Michigan winter, the heat and humidity of Florida can hit me like a wall at first. This year was even more of an experience when we brought our daughter for her first trip to Disney! I will say that getting through the Disney Marathon Weekend Expo with a wee tiny person was a bit more challenging than I would have thought. Thankfully we went early and were well versed with where to go from having gone in years past.

The expo and grounds were laid out well and we had no issues getting to registration. Lines were short and we were through and shopping for run gear in no time. I always end up picking up a few small things from the expo but this year I was a bit disappointed. The entire slate of official race merchandise did not seem to match the race shirts at all. When I compare the shirts, medals, and pins from 2016 and 2015, it seems like the designs got crossed. It was a little disappointing, but way too much of a first world problem to get hung up on.

Spectator – Half Marathon

I got to sleep in on the first race day this year and instead of running, I watched and cheered for my wife as she and Dr.Rachel completed the half marathon. I really enjoyed the spectator portion of my trip. It was incredibly easy to get around thanks to the wonderful Disney transportation services. I was able to make it to the finish line in plenty of time to see our two runners come down the final stretch and to the finish. Standing there, I started to get a little jealous…..

Runner – Marathon

The big morning came early and thankfully with better weather than 2015. Dr.Rachel and I went as characters from Inside Out this year. I had to dress as Anger and had a lot of fun with the costuming. As we marched our way to corrals, we met up with other Inside Out characters and saw other ingenious costumes. Thanks to another year of running, I was able to start in a higher up corral this year and get going sooner. Waiting around for an hour to start your run is no fun but waiting two hours is even worse.

As we peeled off from the start, I had grand ideas about speed and time. Those ideas were abandoned quickly. It had rained non-stop the day before and the resulting combination of heat and humidity was something I had no way to prepare for. After realizing that it would be better to enjoy the marathon and try not to shrivel up and die in the heat, things became more fun. We stopped for pictures. We talked to people. We checked out the sites. We had a good time. In years past, I have always felt under pressure to race through and get to the finish in the allotted time or to meet some internal marker for time. This year, we instead had more fun with it and ended up with some great pictures. Don’t get me wrong, we still ran hard.

During my last long run, I hurt my knee. I don’t know the technical name for the ligament or muscle that was bothering me but it was a pain and I cursed from mile 19 to 26. The ever helpful medical staff where there with much needed pain medication and when that wasn’t cutting it, some walking breaks helped. Despite the pain, Epcot was great. I really love running through Epcot in the morning and find it to be the highlight of the whole marathon. This year was no exception and turning the corner to see the choir group and know the finish was one bend around was just joyous. My knee even stopped hurting for a bit.

Crossing into the finish, I think I felt the best of all three marathons I have ever run. Sure there was discomfort from the long hot day and the lousy knee, but I have felt a lot worse after a run. We met up with our family and had a good laugh while devouring our snacks. If I had been slightly jealous to see my wife run the half marathon, I entered full ‘medal envy’ status looking at all the runners with Dopey and Goofy completion medals. Just a year ago that had been me and now, sitting with just one medal and a juice box. I wanted more. Needed more.

Brain Worms – Crazy Thoughts

I don’t know about Dopey again; the time commitment and early mornings are a challenge especially with a young family. Goofy. I could run Goofy. Sign me up for 2017!

Race Review: Detroit Free Press Marathon

Last week, my brother and I ran the Detroit Free Press/Talmer Bank Marathon. We had a great time! I paced the marathon for MarathonPacing.com and he ran his first marathon as a father. Here’s his take on the fun:

Detroit International Marathon Review

Last weekend, I completed my second marathon; once again running with Dr. Rachel.  A few months back,we had signed up to run the Detroit (International) Marathon – it seemed like a good idea at the time.

The Expo

While Dr. Rachel worked a shift at the Pacer Booth, I had plenty of time to explore the expo.  The expo was pretty straight forward and the check in was well organized and fast.  I only waited a few moments before receiving my bib and gear check bag, which was very nice.  I spent the rest of the time wandering the different booths and scooping up bargains on new gear that I had been looking at for a couple weeks.  The highlight was the official marathon gear – the t-shirts, hoodies, and knit caps were fantastic.  Each came in a variety of colors to represent local professional and collegiate sports teams.  I spent more than I had intended but was happy.  The very end of the Expo had a massive TV wall showing a virtual tour of the race course.  I appreciated the chance to see the course before running it and got to meet some of the people behind Run Detroit.

The Race

It was cold.  Snow fell.

We showed up a bit early to the race to get into our corral and wait for the start gun; most people had the good sense to wait to the last moment to line up in order to stay warmer.  The corrals almost seemed more a suggestion than an absolute as people simply milled about and even some spectators were in the corral area.  While a little confusing, this really did not cause an issue and within 20 min of the first wave we were released for the long run ahead.

The start of the race was great and a lot of spectators had braved the cold to cheer on the runners as we made our way along the streets of Detroit.  Fairly early on, we came to the Ambassador Bridge and the first major uphill I had run in probably a year.  The pace slowed and the course narrowed making things a little compact for my liking but running across the bridge and into Canada was awesome.

Detroit Marathon Ambassador Bridge

As we crossed into Canada, we were greeted by cheering fans and clever signs.  Before the race, I had been told the Canadian fans were great and they really were – best sign: “Only one more country to go!”.  After a few miles in Canada, we took the tunnel back to Michigan.  Described as the world’s only underwater mile, the tunnel was a good change of pace and fun.

The rest of the course works its way through Detroit and across Belle Isle.  The International Half had started with the Full marathon and at mile 12.5 or so they split.  It was incredibly odd to go from running in a crowd to being one of ten people on the road.  Based on the race results, we had started with roughly 15,500 people but at the split only 3800 marathoners remained.  After running alone (I had fallen off pace and was left behind as Dr. Rachel continued on for her perfect pacing) for some time, the US only half marathoners started to catch up as we hit Belle Isle.  Belle Isle was tough, but this was mile 20-22.  Exhaustion was setting in, the pavement was tough, and the wind had picked up making the two mile stretch a real challenge.

The course finished along the Riverwalk area and was very nice.  After a few more bends, it was back to the combined start/finish line and a new full marathon PR (5:22)!  The post-race snack selection was not great but they had Mylar blankets and water ready for everyone handed out by smiling and happy volunteers.  I hadn’t mentioned them until now but the marathon volunteers were great.  This was a cold and cloudy day, but I did not pass a single person who seemed anything other than excited to be there to cheer on the runners.  These volunteers manned 18 water stations on the course meaning there was no need to carry a water bottle which was fantastic.

While the race was tough and I did not make my pace goal, I had a great time running Detroit.

Detroit Marathon Medal

The only thing better was the post-race Coney dog and fountain Vernor’s ginger ale.

How To: Race in Multiple Races

Back when I first started running, everyone I knew was training for one event. We would pick a race – a 10k, a half, a full, and train for that one race. We would build our training program around the race, run it, and then enjoy the feeling of accomplishment. Lately, more and more people are choosing to run in back-to-back races. Some run multiple events in one day, or one weekend. Others have been planning seasons that include three or more events in a series. I’ve tried running in multiple events and I love it! I have run in Tampa’s Gasparilla Distance Classic several times – with four races in two days. I’ve run in Disney’s popular Goofy and Dopey race series, with 39.3 or 48.6 miles across multiple races. This fall, for the second year in a row, I will run four marathons in four weeks. This type of multiple event racing isn’t for everyone, but, if you’d like to give it a try, here are my top tips for multiple event racing success:

  • Plan your season around the events as a whole, rather than around one event. For example, this fall I will run four marathons in four weeks. My goal is to run four marathons in four weeks, not to run one marathon well, with a few extra after that. Planning to run only one marathon, then running four sets me up for disappointment, fatigue, and injury. Plan a training season around your goal – which is multiple events in the season.
  • When running in multiple events, you simply can’t train the way you do for a single event. your base fitness has to reflect the nature of your challenge. When building your base, build a base fitness that will prepare you well for the challenge at hand. This means I need to run high mileage multiple weeks in a row to prepare for my four marathons in four weeks extravaganza. Doing Dopey? Plan to run long runs back to back most weeks, with three to four consecutive days of running. Match the training to the specific challenges of your goal.
  • Let your body be your guide. When you’re striving for a new goal, it can be temping to push through aches and pains. Treat the body well, and listen to its cues. Achieving a multiple event goal requires a healthy, fit body.
  • Find a cross training activity that you enjoy. Engage in it often to prevent burn out and to recovery from bouts of hard running.
  • When you have multiple events in one day, practice running twice in one day. Learn how your body responds to multiple events and work on a rest/fueling/hydrating plan that mimics the specifics of your goal events.
  • When you have multiple events across multiple weeks, every event before the last is part of the training for the last event. Plan paces and race strategy accordingly. Remember that every event you run is preparation for the next, so a tough day or a poor performance is just part of the training process.
  • Learn to recover well and practice recovery throughout the training. Develop recovery strategies that suit you and will work within your goal time frame. Develop a long and short term view on recovery. Think of recovery not just as something done in the days or weeks after and event, but something done in minutes and hours after each event. What you do in the first few minutes after racing, and in the next several hours, can make a big difference. Develop a daily routine for recovery and wellness.  Practice season-long recovery strategies, too, including such as massage, foam rolling, and other body work. The quality of your next race depends on your ability to recover as well as you can in the time that you have before the event.
  • The goal after your first event is to be recovered enough to race again. When races are very close (hours to days), accept that some fatigue will be part of every event after the first. When you have a week between events, use that week to recover, rest, and prepare the body to race again. As the time between events becomes longer, expand the rest/recovery time and start to add in easy-paced running. Use the time between events to maintain the fitness you have, not to train.

Dopey

Racing multiple events can be exhilarating and can add a new challenge to the racing season for even the most accomplished runners. When planning carefully, runners can have great success (and a lot of fun!) running multiple events. Need help planning your multiple event calendar? Consider hiring a running coach. More information on training with Dr. Rachel Runs can be found above, in the Coaching tab.

Race Review: Mystic Half Marathon

Here’s the latest from my brother on the run, his take on a recent half marathon.

Race Review – Mystic Half Marathon: The Spectator Version

It has been a long time since I have put together an update for Dr.Rachel and this is in part due to my running dropping off some.  I had been skipping runs and avoiding working out for the better part of a month.  After setting a new 10K record in May, I had stopped running to let a sore foot heal and get some work done in the garden.

The closest I came to running was attending the Mystic (CT) Half Marathon as a spectator.

Mystic Half Marathon

After an exciting ride to the race event, complete with 911 call for a vehicle accident that happened in front of us, we arrived at the Mystic Village just in time for check-in.  The freeway exit to the parking lot was crowded and a bit chaotic.  The traffic split in a Y only to circle the parking lots and reach the same end destination.  While the parking could have been easier, we were able to get a great spot and unload.  Dr.Rachel bolted off to check in for pacing while my wife and I wandered Mystic.  There was a small expo set up with a decent amount of people milling about and enjoying the pleasant morning weather.  Announcements were easily heard and when the runners started to line up, the wife and I found a hill to watch the event.

I really though the launch worked well – racers split on two sides of a median and then combined at the start line.  From our 100 ft view, it seemed like the race start went off without a hitch and was well organized.  We had joined a number spectators across the road and had a great view.  Afterwards, we treated ourselves to breakfast and coffee because, hell, we weren’t running.

Having thought ahead, we had taken a camera phone picture of the race course.  This helped us to locate a few locations to watch the event unfold.  After breakfast, we wandered through the rest of Mystic and to the 6.5-7 mile markers.  This was hard to find actually and several of the crossing guards couldn’t direct us to the right intersection.  Luckily, a race volunteer was able to help us reach the 7 mile marker as the first male was coming through.  This was a great viewing spot for us and there was a decent crowd to cheer on the runners.

After watching Dr.Rachel pass by, we headed directly to the finish line.  This was a quarter mile walk for us and 6 mile run for the racers.  We win again!  With our chairs and snacks, we watched as the runners crossed the finish line – again, this was set up well and we had no trouble finding a location to sit.

The star of the day was a race volunteer at the finish line.  We lost count of how many runners he helped. Whenever a runner was struggling, he ran out to them, grabbed their hand, and then ran through the finish line with them.  It was incredible and he continued to do this until the very last runner finished the race.  In all, he probably ran farther that day than any of the race registrants but never lost his energy or enthusiasm for helping the racers.  It was truly awesome to watch.

The post-race events were a mild celebration and again seemed to be well done.  While I cannot speak to the medals or course, this race was a lot of fun for spectators.  My wife and I enjoyed our time at Mystic and would come back to watch the race again.

Running Safety

Lately, the news has been filled with cases of runners in bad situations –interactions with motorists that went poorly and stories of serious harm seem more common. In the majority of situations, runners have done everything they could to avoid harm, but we can never be too careful. Here are some of my favorite safety tips.

First, stay alert to your surroundings. I know many runners enjoy running with music piped directly to their ears through a variety of noise-cancelling headphones. It is safest to run without music, fully able to hear the world around you. If you must run with music, consider leaving one headphone out of your ear and keep the volume to the lowest possible level. This will enable you to hear things going on around you, and help you stay alert for dangers that may be difficult to see. You’ll also be a good running citizen when you can hear the instructions and prompts of those around you.

Run against traffic when on the roads, or on sidewalks when available. By facing oncoming traffic, you can observe the driving habits of cars near you. You can also react more quickly to danger you see coming.

Look both ways before crossing streets (and train tracks) and make sure the driver of the oncoming car acknowledges your right of way before entering the roadway. You may have the right of way, but you still need to obey traffic signals that apply to pedestrians. Cross only in designated crosswalks and be courteous of drivers. Consider using hand signals or pointing in the direction you wish to go. This lets motorists know where you’re headed next.

Wear bright clothing and clothing with reflective details for dusk and dawn runs. If you must run in very low light, wear a headlamp, or a vest with flashing front and rear lights. Vests with built-in LED lighting are inexpensive and easy to find on the internet. Wearing one if you must run in low light will make you significantly more visible to others.

Carry or wear identification. I use a RoadID, a small wrist band (also available as a shoe tag, ankle band, and comfort wristband on RoadID.com) that includes my basic information. At minimum, include your name, date of birth, and the contact number of someone who can help in the event you are medically incapacitated. I have a medical condition, so I’ve paid extra to obtain a RoadID with a special code that enables first responders to access my medical information online in the event I’m unable to speak for myself. In a pinch, you can write this information on the inside of your shoe.

Carry your cell phone, and a small amount of cash. You never know when you might need a ride, a tasty beverage, or a donut mid-run.

Vary your running routes. Run in familiar areas if possible, but try to avoid taking the same route over and over again. Make sure someone knows where you are going and what time you will be home. I share this information with a loved one or fellow runner (who knows this is important). There are also several run tracking apps available that provide real time tracking for runners to be shared with individuals you identify. Among the most popular are the RoadID app and RunSafe. Both have alerts that can be customized for use in the event of an emergency. Run with someone when you can, or in populated areas.

RoadID app

Be cautious about where and how you post your routes on social media, including run tracking apps. If you run often enough, you’ll be tempted to start tracking your runs with GPS and posting them to Gamin Connect, Strava, Nike Plus, or some similar social sharing site. Be sure that your security settings are at least somewhat private, or don’t post runs that start or end at your house. Protect your personal information. Be wary about posting routes on other social media sites if your privacy settings are loose.

Be nice to other people. Avoid verbal altercations. Mind your manners and be a good citizen.

Carry something that makes noise, or practice whistling. You may need to get someone’s attention, or alert wildlife to your presence. Being able to make a loud noise is good.

While we can’t fully protect ourselves from the unknown, we can all take basic steps to reduce risks while still enjoying the sport we love. I hope that you stay safe out there.

On The Run: Des Moines

I’m on the run again, this time to Des Moines for the RRCA National Convention. I got in late last night, but was sure to get up early for a run along the Des Moines River with some running friends. I love running around a new city. There is simply no better way to see a new place than on foot. My group met early and ran toward the Des Moines River, where there is a lovely trail system. The paved trail goes along the river a ways, past a ballpark, over a very cool pedestrian bridge, and to a Japanese garden.

Spring in Des Moines

The flowers were in bloom and the weather was perfect for running. It was gorgeous! Later, we will take in some of the Drake Relays and I will run in the Hy-Vee Races. I can’t wait for a weekend totally dedicated to running!

Brother on the Run: Random Travel Running Moments

My amazing brother on the run has been traveling for work and has had a few hilarious runner experiences. In this post, he shares a few fun anecdotes. I know many of you can relate. Here’s Troy:

Running during a business trip can be a challenge or at least it can be for me.  Between the longer hours, tiny hotel gyms, and odd settings; getting a run in doesn’t always happen.  However, I tried during my last business trip to make the most of warmer weather and get a few runs in.  Oh Texas, always an adventure.

Pulled Over for Running

While staying near the Kemah (TX) Boardwalk, I tried to get 4-5 mile runs in every other day.  Unfortunately, this meant having a running day come during a monsoon – it was pouring rain and kept most people indoors.  I decided that I had a run to get and I was going to get it in.  Dr.Rachel has always pointed out that race day might not be perfect weather so training in sub-par weather can only help you prepare.

Fully dressed in running gear (half my stuff is fluorescent orange) including water bottle and Garmin I headed out for my 5 miles.  I was about half way through when a local cop pulled up to question me!

‘Was everything ok?’   ‘Did I need a ride somewhere?’ ‘Did I realize that it was raining?’

It was very nice of him to check on me (and I do appreciate it) but considering I have never been pulled while driving, being pulled over while running was a bit odd.  It took two days for my shoes to dry.

Most ‘Runner’ Thing Ever

After a hotel change, I was in a new city and still needing to log some miles.  I decided to do something new, something different for me.  I got dressed in all my running gear and headed to the local running store.  One question “where do you run?” was all I had for the clerks.  On The Run (Webster, TX) was great and showed me maps for both in city and trail runs in the nearby area.  I have never felt like more of a runner than going to a running store in a new city for course suggestions.

Bayou Trail Runs

The above conversation led me to the Armand Bayou trails in Pasadena, TX for a quick 5 mile run.  Not but 100 feet into my run a walker warned me about the trail ahead being ‘wet’.  It hadn’t rained for days so I thought nothing of it and continued on my way.  Mistake.  What was supposed to be a solid tempo run became some kind of crazy fartlek run where I sprinted for 100 yards and then walking through bogs and swamp pits in an attempt not to lose a shoe or fall in!  Trail runners probably laugh at this; this path is flat and covered with crushed gravel for the most part with only some slightly flood-ridden zones.  I just might not be much of a trail runner after all.

Treadmill or Beer?

I ended my trip back to the old standby: the hotel treadmill.  The particular chain of hotels I stayed at offer a cocktail reception once a week, a reception that just happened to fall right on my run night.  There is nothing like the joy of running 4 miles when, through the glass, I can see the other guests enjoying drinks and appetizers.  When I say 4 miles, I really mean 3.27 miles before I needed an ice cold beer also.  Running is hard, running when you could be drinking a beer by the pool is impossible.

Texts from Marathon Training

One of the best experiences of my running life has been completing the Dopey Challenge with my brother and a close friend. Running through the parks side by side with my brother is one of the most amazing things I have ever done. Part of what’s made it so fun for me has been being with him on his journey as he trained for the marathon. It’s been funny, challenging, and a true joy. Since we live in different parts of the country, the training process has been chronicled in a series of text messages to each other. Here are some highlights – a representation of what training for a marathon is really like.

October – getting the running bug

I made a decision. 2015 I want to run the Detroit Marathon. Yup. Gonna happen.

I had popcorn. And someone brought in homemade chocolate chip cookies. Totes for realz. I want that cookie…

Oh. I has a sad. Ate back all the calories from running today. Food is too delicious.

Gah. Something in me is broken. Going to an Arkansas wedding this weekend. On the internet looking for running trails.

November – mileage gets higher…text revolve around food.

I hunger. I must feast. That is how I have felt all day.

I have snacks hidden and hoarded. I will not be denied.

I feel like a squirrel prepping for winter. Eating and hiding food to eat later all at the same time.

I spend too much time running of thinking of running right now. Literally I have spent lunch planning and writing in excel my fuel strategy.

December  – things start to get serious and race planning begins.

13 is no worry anymore. Which is nice. And 16 was easier today. That last mile is killer though.

Working recovery now.

My goal is to enjoy the 5, 10, and half. My biggest goal for the marathon is to ride the ride and cross the finish line.

40 and pouring rain. Not running today outside. Rest day! Christmas miracle!

Post-race.

357 days and 15 hours. January 6 2016. Who is in for runDisney?

Troy Conquers 26.2: Part 2

Dopey Challenge in 3 Parts – Part 2: 3 Days and 22.4 Miles

Florida is supposed to be warm, even in January. Florida is not supposed to be approaching freezing temperatures. When we woke for the 5K, the temperature was < 36oF. Even my hardy Michigan constitution was not prepared for the cold. Normally, I have a full complement of long sleeve shirts and long pants to fight off the cold. I did not pack much and I did not pack anything that went with my costume. This is Disney – you have to run in costume, especially when you are only running 3.1 miles.

My wife and I went as Pain and Panic from the animated Hercules movie. It was awesome to hear people recognize us and compliment the costumes – hand made by the wife. I ran the 5K with my wife and took a nice easy pace. It was crowded and for someone who runs solo 99% of the time, it was the most challenging aspect. I understand people will walk these races but fighting through a sea of people who would walk 5-wide across the road was challenging. The run was fun but too crowded for me. After the 5K, it was again off to the parks and this time Magic Kingdom (super fun times).

Pain and Panic

Seriously Florida? It was a cold morning for the 10K again. Thankfully we didn’t get rid of the Mylar blankets and hand warmers from the day before. We needed them again and once again found ourselves in a parking lot for over an hour waiting to start the race. Thankfully, Dr.Rachel had brought us some fantastic Lululemon gear (yay Christmas presents) that got put to use immediately.   We did family shirts as most of the family was running, thus we could layer up a bit better. Just like the 5K, the 10K was crowded and challenging to move through. I had moved back to my wife’s corral and started last which was likely part of the problem. Again, the course was flat and fun for a rather leisurely pace. We finished in good time and good spirits. Two races down and feeling very good we took the rest of the day a bit easy.

Family

Half marathon time. Third morning of waking up at 0300 and prepping to run. We were tired and tired of being cold. The half was supposed to be warmer during the run but the morning was still chilly. I jumped back in to the wife’s corral and started with her again. After about 5 miles we broke and I headed off alone. I was focused on time and making sure I hit my 16 min/mile pace requirement. There was no stopping allowed for miles 6 to 13.1. I picked up the pace and cruised, catching and passing my mother and Dr.Rachel who started several corrals ahead of me. My Chef Linguine (Ratatouille) costume always draws a few compliments and reminds me why Disney is great for races. People are here to have fun as much as they are to run. I can’t say I remember too many costumes I passed besides a family doing a spectacular “Up”. For me, this race was all about getting through and then resting for the big show on Sunday. I got my snack box in time to wander to the finish and cheer on the wife as she crossed.

After running the 22.4 miles it was time for rest, food, sleep, and worry. Three days and three races down! I had done well and was feeling great still. Next up: the marathon.

Troy Conquers 26.2: Dopey Challenge Part 1

In case you were wondering, my brother on the run crushed his goal and was amazing during the Disney Dopey Challenge. I couldn’t be more proud or happier for him. He’s been blogging about the journey to his first 26.2 – here’s how it all went down, in his own words.

Dopey Challenge in 3 Parts – Part 1: Of Parks and Packets

Dr.Rachel always describes it as ‘taper madness’, the lead up to the race when mileage has dropped and the mind starts to waver. It was hard last year for the half marathon but so much harder this year. The last week or two leading up to the marathon had me driving the wife crazy with excess energy and nervous ticks. I couldn’t sit still. I couldn’t shake the feeling I was supposed to be doing something. I put all that energy to work in packing. We cleared the dining room table and laid out running kits for each event; individually packaged, the kits were my carry-on and the only thing that mattered.

Dining room table

We flew in on Tuesday afternoon, getting to Disney’s Pop Century resort in time for a quick dinner and beer with a work friend who was running his first half marathon. Wednesday arrived and like anyone who had plans to run 50 miles over the next four days, I spent the whole day walking around Animal Kingdom. Our Garmin Vivofit put us at 10-12 miles of walking. With the park relatively empty we did everything we wanted to and, since it was my first time at Animal Kingdom, that meant everything. I don’t think we skipped an animal or attraction. It was a great day and a great way to get acclimated to the Florida weather. It was just a lot of walking.

We left the park and headed to Disney’s Art of Animation resort to meet with Dr.Rachel and our parents for hotel check in. Both years we have stayed in the ‘Little Mermaid’ section of the resort and have been very happy with it. Quiet and a bit off the main lobby, it requires even more walking but is less crowded. After check in and unpacking, it was expo time. New this year was the requirement that each runner had to pick up their own packet with a photo ID. Last year Dr.Rachel had picked up my packet so I was not prepared. Chaos. I had no idea where to go or what I was supposed to be doing. Luckily Dr.Rachel shuttled us through the crowds and to each of the seemingly endless tables and booths to pick up our bibs and gear check bags. With pictures taken to prove we did run Dopey, we headed to the Expo to look over all the shiny merchandise. It was loud, crowded, and abuzz with excitement. Things were already selling out in the official merchandise area (this was towards closing) but I was able to find a shirt and magnet to take home.

Disney Expo

It was stressful and exhausting – too many miles at the park and too much chaos at the expo to be able to rest immediately on return to the hotel. We spent the night laying out our kit for the 5k and checking the weather report. While MI was a chilly -0oF, Orlando was expected at 35-40oF in time for the race to start in the morning. Arm warmers, trash bags, ponchos, extra layers were pulled from suitcases in order to set for a cold morning and a long day.

To be continued.