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!

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.

Troy Conquered 26.2!

My brother has been an amazing client, one of the best I’ve ever had as a running coach. Maybe I’m biased because he’s my brother, but he did an amazing job of training for, and finishing his first marathon. Following along as he chronicled it for this blog as been a joy. Here’s his summary of the whole thing:

 

5 hours 34 minutes 55 seconds.

My official marathon time (even though Dr.Rachel’s Garmin put us at 26.85 miles).

I didn’t care it was raining and getting cold. After standing and walking for 45 minutes, all I wanted was to sit down and eat. The discomfort was manageable, but my mental focus just kept drifting. Exhaustion had caught up and still, I was proud of my accomplishment.

It was amazing to cross the finish line and be handed a medal with Dr.Rachel standing beside me. I couldn’t have done this without her and the rest of my family. Dr.Rachel helped with the training, nutrition, and pacing to keep me going through the race. Wifey put up with me being gone every Saturday and Sunday for months and my neurotic behavior about my mileage every night. The rest of the family was there to support, cheer, and encourage us on. It was a great experience.

It has also been a great learning tool. Through the training, I have learned a lot as a runner and improved as a runner because of it. Dr.Rachel originally asked me to chronicle the training. Much of what has been written are the lessons I have learned along the way.

So to finish off, here is a synopsis of some of the things I learned:

  • Each new distance hurts (i.e. discomfort). Some old distances hurt every time. You just have to keep going.
  • Benjamin Franklin is quoted as “Energy and persistence conquer all things.” Yes, there is an element of physical health but it turns out running a marathon is just being more determined and more persistent than the road.
  • Kits may not make the runner but they go a long way in making it comfortable to run. Invest in a set of high quality clothing for long runs (if nothing else).
  • Chaffing happens; nip guards exist for a reason. Vanity doesn’t exist at mile 26.
  • Food and water. Water and food. More food. Maybe a nap. Can you nap while eating?
  • Bring extra gear – long pants, shorts, long sleeves, t-shirts, arm warmers, blankets, ponchos, etc. Weather changes and better to be prepared than miserable.
  • Use training runs to make mistakes – try out different paces and fueling strategies until you find one that works.
  • A finisher medal may seem trite but damn does it feel good; good enough to make all the other discomfort silent. If just for a moment.
  • The best way to finish is to sign up for another race – I am already signed up for Detroit 2015.
  • Brain Worms will consume you.

Troy Conquered 26.2: Part 3

Dopey Challenge in 3 Parts – Part 3: Marathon

0300 comes very early. The family got up though to support the three of us who were running: me, Amy, and Dr.Rachel. Everyone was tired and tired of being in the cold but we had one more day left. It was great having that support especially as we headed off to the buses and the start line. 22.4 miles down and 26.2 are left. It is a crazy long distance, the marathon, and I have no idea why people (specifically me) ever signed up for something like this.

Troy's First Marathon

Dr.Rachel decided to let everyone know that not only was Troy there to run, but he was running his first marathon (awesome shirt sis). The shirt drew cheers and compliments along with the occasional “are you crazy?” from spectators and other runners. Turns out, running 22.4 miles leading up to your first marathon is not normal. Even one of Dr.Rachel’s running friends (also down from CT for the race) was caught off-guard. He had assumed that since I was running the Dopey Challenge, I had run marathons before. Nope, not the case.

As soon as the gun went off for our corral, we headed out. Cold and dark, we had done this three times already. Amy, Dr.Rachel, and I hit our pace and were on our way to hours of constant running fun. We cruised to the 5K marker with Amy and then convinced her to stick with us through the 10K. Congrats to Amy on a longest straight running record. The first 10K felt great, sun was coming up and the temperatures had improved. We stopped for a picture in front of the Castle and kept pushing.

Magic Kingdom is fun to run through and really a highlight of the Disney races. Once you get through it you turn back around and jump on the Speedway for a lap. While there were some cool cars, I could have done without the embankments and harder concrete. Then off we went to the lovely hidden back areas of Disney with the miles and miles of roads tourists never see. The waste water treatment plant was of particular fun though we were blessed with very little wind and cool temperatures making it bearable. This whole time Dr.Rachel is chatting away but I can’t recall a thing we talked about. It was mechanical; one foot in front of the other, just kept moving and gaining distance.

I was amazed at how good I was feeling when we entered Animal Kingdom. We had been keeping a great pace and perhaps too fast. Though Expedition Everest was opening it would have been 30+ minutes and I couldn’t stand the idea of sacrificing the time. We ran by it and headed past Animal Kingdom for the 13.1 miles marker and half way point. 35.5 miles in the Dopey Challenge and all systems were still going pretty well.

The next almost 10 miles are a blur. There was the ‘highway to hell’ and ESPN Wide World of Sports. We had hit about 20 miles and the discomfort (using proper Dr.Rachel terms) was really setting in. I had run 20 miles in training so I knew what to expect but the rest was all new territory. I started to take a few walk breaks and just remind myself that it was only 10K or 5K more. That back stretch at 19-22 miles is tough both physically and mentally. Then you hit Hollywood Studios, quickly followed by Epcot. That changes everything.

Hollywood Studios was fun because people were coming into the parks. The watched in both wonder and bemusement as the sea of sweaty people charged by. Many brought signs, more just brought loud voices to cheer on the runners. It was great. The Boardwalk was lined, absolutely lined, with people — all of them cheering. It was fantastic to see so many out and it really helps to propel you through the end of the run. Things are blurry. It had been a long day, a long week.

Epcot is hard to explain. Tired, hungry, in discomfort, just worn down from days of running you enter the Epcot grounds to thundering music. Dr.Rachel says it is the marathon score they use only for this event. It sounds like something from an adventure movie; epic and blaring. It is the perfect score for finishing the marathon. You hit Epcot, hear the music, see the crowds, and realize how close you are and it is hard to not get revitalized. It is like a switch goes off and all you want to do is start sprinting to the finish line (the one that is still over two miles away).

Immediately before the finish line, there is a choir singing. I don’t know who came up with this idea or which group sings but I don’t know the last time I was so relieved. After 5 hours and 30 minutes of running, the end was literally just around the corner. We turned the corner to see our family waiting in the stands shaking signs and cheering us on as we barreled through the finish line.

At 5 hours 34 minutes and 55 seconds I became a marathoner.

Disney Marathon 2015

Three weeks later and ‘the feels’ still get me to think about it.

 

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.

Troy Conquers 26.2: The End is Nigh

For the past several months, I’ve had the great pleasure of coaching most of my family members for the Disney Marathon Weekend races. It has been a wonderful journey, and great fun to see each of my family members growing through the training. The best part of coaching my family has been working with my brother as he trains for his first marathon – as part of the Dopey Challenge. I am so deeply proud of him that it stuns me. Every time he achieves a new goal, I am filled with pride. The best moment was this:

Troy's Garmin

The text he sent me following his *second* twenty-miler. He’s amazing. I even got a little misty-eyed reading his texts. It has been truly my pleasure to see him finish this training. Here’s his take:

I ran the Volkslauf 20K in Frankenmuth, MI on July 4, 2014 as my first long race (more than 5K) since Disney in January.  I had trained well through the summer, but missed long runs or workouts along the way.  Still, I dropped 2 min/mile off my expected half marathon time and finished without injury.  It was a success.  The next day, I ran a 5K with Dr. Rachel as a shakeout and a glimpse as to what would come in January again.  I had never done back to back races and probably very few back to back runs.  But that was the future for me – training for Dopey and running back to back to back.

Thus, I consider July 5th as my training start date for the Dopey Challenge.  I started out following the Disney supplied plan. Then, in September, I switched to the Dr. Rachel prepared plan.  Since then, I have followed it as best I can; running through Lake Fayetteville in Arkansas, West Hartford in Connecticut, treadmills, and the Pere Marquette Rail Trial here in Michigan. Since training started, I have logged 406 miles running – 113 of which came in November alone.  Even as temperatures have dipped in Michigan, I have stayed outdoors; trying to avoid the mistakes and injuries of last year.  Staying healthy and getting stronger (running) has been a huge priority.  I have missed out or skipped out on things so much that I am sure my friends and wife are sick of hearing “I would love to but I have to run tomorrow”.  But the end is nigh.

In an early post (August,) I had mentioned my weight loss goals.  When Dr. Rachel visited for the Volkslauf, besides being my running coach, she also helped me with changes to my eating habits.  I don’t say diet.  I still drink beer, eat pizza, and grab fast food (sometimes while still in running clothes).  Nothing has been cut but instead portion size monitored and better decisions made.  I am down 48 pounds, feeling better than ever, and I think it has translated to better, faster run times.  The holidays are a hard time to skip the eggnog, the cupcakes, and the thirds at family dinner.  But the end is nigh.

There are 15 days, 15 hours, and 8 minutes (as I write this) before the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend.  While I expect some of my new habits will carry with me into the future, the end is nigh.

Troy Conquers 26.2: The Easiest Hardest Thing

In his newest post, my awesome running brother really captures something that’s true about running – it’s the easiest, and hardest, thing I do.

 

It is hard to explain running and the brain worms (the compulsive desire to run a stupid long distance and sign up for races).  I never thought I would be in the position to be a distance runner and still, I catch myself thinking ‘Well, I don’t need that.  That is for real runners.’ Only to realize that maybe along the way, I have become a real runner.  40 mile weeks and marathons; planning days and weeks around mileage; traveling with twice as many clothes so I don’t miss a workout — I didn’t plan this and it hasn’t come easy.  Though maybe it has…

Running, running long distances specifically, is the hardest thing I may ever have done.  It is also the easiest.  Running seems essential to human life in some way and something that occurs without ever thinking about it.
We as a species seem born to run.  I watch my three year old nephew and realize that he runs until he falls over, everywhere.  He doesn’t think about it and has no finish line.  He just runs as though it was the easiest and most natural thing in the world.  And really, running is easy.  It is just falling slowly but in a very rapid pace.  There is nothing magical about it and anyone, yes anyone, can run or work up to a run.  Running is easy.

Running, running long distances specifically, is the easiest thing I may have ever done.  It is also the hardest.  Running the long runs is just time, a decision to put aside 4 hours of my day to go out and enjoy nature.  To listen to birds sing and see my neighborhood or a park at a calm 5 mile per hour pace.  Getting to that point, getting to running 3, or 5, or 10 miles is hard.  It is hard to get out of bed and strap on shoes to run for 3 hours.  It is hard to push through mile 15 and 17 as feet and ankles and knees all seem to rebel against movement.  It is hard to face up to chaffing and consuming half your calories in paste form.  Running from mile 17 to 18 last weekend was one of the most physically and mentally straining things I have ever done but I did it.  It takes being more stubborn than smart.  Running is hard.

Troy on run

Maybe that is what is appealing about running or what draws people to run until they bleed and can’t walk another step.  While challenging, the challenge isn’t the activity. The challenge is to push yourself into something you never considered possible before.  Running is easy to do but incredibly hard at the same time.

Wine, Dine, and Rain

I love all things Disney. I especially love runDisney events – each event is unique, and super fun. This year, I decided to try an event I had never done, the Wine and Dine Half Marathon. Mom and I signed up to do the half marathon months in advance and eagerly anticipated race day. Before I knew it, summer was over and Wine and Dine was coming up fast. Unfortunately, mom had been having some foot trouble – first with plantar fasciitis, then with a hell spur (poor mom!) so her training wasn’t quite as strong as she had hoped. Determined to persevere, mom made the decision to do the race despite her less-than-perfect training. I’m in the middle of my marathon season, so I was planning to use Wine and Dine as a training run where nice people happened to hand me water. Both of us were ready to have fun and enjoy a few miles around the parks.

As race day neared, the forecast grew more and more depressing. First a chance of rain. Then rain and cold. Then, 100% chance of rain, cold, and all of it starting around 10pm. Sigh. If you’re going to get rained on, at least let it be as Disney.

A night race is a strange thing. Mom and I got our gear together and took pictures of our flat runners.

#Flatrunner

Then we waited. And waited. I read a terrible book from the lending library at my mom’s golf course clubhouse. Mom took a disco nap. Finally it was time to leave for Epcot, where we would park, and get ready for the race. We drove up to Epcot, parked easily (and without any waiting at all), and hopped on a bus bound for ESPN’s Wide World of Sports. We got to the staging area with about two hours to spare. Mom likes to be prompt. 🙂

In the staging area, a DJ was playing dance music and teaching popular line dances. Photographers were taking pictures. Characters were available for photos. Generally, everyone was upbeat and milling around in a big field. We took a few pictures.

Wine and Dine waiting

We did some dancing. We sat on the ground and watched people. I was delighted it wasn’t raining. Mom and I had grabbed cheap, flimsy ponchos at the local dollar store, so we were prepared just in case. About an hour before the race started, we made our ways to the corrals and found a curb to sit on. We eagerly awaited the start of the race, scheduled for 10pm. At about 9:45pm it started raining. Then it started pouring. By the time our corral started at 10:30pm, we were wet, cold, and ready to see the finish line.

The course for Wine and Dine isn’t my favorite runDisney course. It begins at Wide World of Sports and follows Osceloa Parkway (the Highway to Hell, in my family’s lingo) for three miles to the main gates of Animal Kingdom. Once in Animal Kingdom, the course winds around and past the beautiful sights of Everest and the tree of life. Seeing the attractions lit up is a true highlight of the race. All throughout Animal Kingdom, the rain poured and the temperature dropped. Mom and I made time and hustled along – both to stay warm and to get to the finish faster.

After Animal Kingdom, the race course goes back out on Osceola Parkway and along toward Hollywood Studios. Finally the rain eased up and we were able to take our ponchos off and enjoy the run. It was cold, way too cold for my shorts and tank ensemble, but I was having a great time.  I didn’t know it, but Hollywood Studios had already decorated for the holidays and it was gorgeous. We ran through a road all lined in lights!

Hollywood Studios during Wine and Dine

Onward we ran, stopping to take pictures with our favorite family, the Incredibles.

Incredibles

Just after we exited Hollywood Studios bound for Epcot and the race finish, it started pouring again. I had stupidly tossed my poncho in a trash bin miles earlier, so I trudged along, soaking wet and really cold. We ran along the Boardwalk and around the Beach and Yacht Club hotel area. Amazingly, the volunteers all along the course cheered. They were amazing, and totally undeterred by the cold and rain. I am so grateful to them all for the cheers, smiles, and support those last few miles.

Finally, blessedly, we made it to Epcot and to the finish line under Spaceship Earth. I have never been happier to see that shiny ball in my life. We got our medals, mylar blankets (best. thing. ever.), and food boxes. Mom and I were smart and had stashed clothes and towels in our car, so we headed directly there, cranked the heat, and changed into dry clothes. After warming up, we made our way back to the Epcot Food and Wine Festival. We had a small gift card to spend there and planned to use it. We enjoyed a bratwurst on pretzel bun, some nachos, and guacamole before the park shut down at 4am. We closed the party down!

Back at home, I took the best hot shower ever and crawled into bed at 5am. It had been a crazy day, but the most fun. There’s nothing like a runDisney event for a little bit of running magic!

Troy Conquers 26.2: Evolution of Running Gear

In this Troy Conquers 26.2 installment, my brother discusses the evolution of his running gear. From casual, any shorts will do running, to serious marathon training (and the gear to match!), he’s getting more serious. Here’s what he had to say:

While the marathon training is new to me and the mileage is something I have never seen before, ramping up distance is not. Ramping up distance is a learning experience for me and I learned a lot about clothing.  Long before the WDW 2014 Half, my wife and I ran a couple of local 5K events.  When we decided to sign up for these we went to the local sporting goods store to buy some clothes.  It is funny looking back and our choices.

I grabbed the long, heavy basketball style shorts – the ones with two thick layers that hang down past your knees.  For a shirt, whatever – grabbed one ‘tech’ shirt and one cotton tee thinking those would be just fine.  For shoes it was whatever was there and felt comfortable on my feet, but yet priced ok in case this whole running thing fell through.  This was what I trained in for that first race: generic shoes, cotton socks, cotton boxers, heavy ‘tech’ shorts, and a cotton tee shirt.  You can already see the issues in my gear choices.  These outfits were fine for short (mile or two) runs, but even then I started to have issues with chafing.  I was confused at first – I had running clothes so why did running suck so bad?  Besides running in a Gulf Coast Texas July, what I was wearing was hampering my run.

After moving to Michigan the training for the WDW Half started to pick up and it was time to get serious.  We visited the local running store, Runners, for the first gait analysis and shoe selection.  Shoes matter and there was a definite improvement for me and a whole new world of pain-free running for the wife once we had properly fitting shoes. Next was clothing and time to get a couple new running outfits. An assortment of true tech tee shirts and Feetures running socks were the first items purchased along with some wicking boxers.  Sadly, only one new pair of shorts as I yet insisted on wearing basketball shorts for the short training runs.  This was me learning about the right kind of gear for running distances.  At this point I had no idea what compression gear was.  This basic arrangement served me well doing the first half marathon.

Troy at Disney

After a year of running, and, now training for a full marathon, I have completely changed my outlook on running gear.  My outlook it is still changing as the distances have started to increase.  Now all my shorts are actual running shorts, even those nice ones that have a zippered pocket in the back.  I had no idea how much I needed that before hitting a 10 mile run and desperately needing a Gu.  All my running shirts have lost the graphics and screen print – just plain tech running shirts to prevent unnecessary chafing.  A multitude of socks reside in my drawer, all meant for running.  I have wool socks with toes, thick padded socks, thin socks, Elite version socks with arch support, and compression sock that go to my knees.

Troy's socks

Calf sleeves for recovery were new to me until after my first half and I can’t explain how much I love them.  So many things I didn’t know I would need when I started that have made the training so much better.

I am getting close to breaking 13 miles in training.  I have never run farther and don’t know what lies beyond.  Maybe I will need new gear, maybe not.  I have some fancy new Lululemon running shorts if nothing else!