Troy Conquers 26.2: How it All Began

The cardboard snack box of post race treats was the only thing keeping me moving.  After running 13.god-awful many miles, I could only curse my family for having the audacity to make me walk to them. That last half mile was harder than the previous 13.1 and all I wanted to do was eat a banana.

My first half marathon was the Walt Disney World 2014 Half Marathon and it didn’t end pretty.  I came in behind my desired time and with plantar fasciitis flaring up to the point of limping.  I swore off running as I hobbled through the crowds in search of a place to collapse and eat.

By the bottom of the snack box, I said I would do it again next year.  All 13.1 miles.

Troy at Disney

Two weeks later my sister, our own Dr.Rachel, was telling me that if I could finish a half I could finish a whole.  Somehow I believed her enough to agree and start planning the next trip to Disney.  A month later, it was the no longer just my first marathon but the Goofy Race and a Half Challenge.  Why not run a half and then full having only completed one of the former and none of the later?  I was in.

It took 71 days to go from finishing my first half marathon to asking Dr.Rachel one very stupid question – ‘if we are doing the Goofy race, why not just do the Dopey and run all four?’.  When running 39.3 miles already, what is another 9.3?  It took 71 days from swearing off running to trying to convince Dr.Rachel that a 48.6 mile challenge run was a good idea.  Brain worms.  It had to be some sort of cerebral parasite.

Since Disney, I have completed five more races including my first sub-30 5K and my second half marathon (20K but who is counting the miles?).  I am comparing the official WDW/Jeff Galloway running plan with races in my area.  A half marathon through scenic mid-Michigan on a long run weekend in October – sign me up.  40+ mile weeks through December in Michigan – better start trying out wool socks now.  A 50 mile week around Christmas – hope Santa brings me new shoes.  Brain worms.  Something is deeply wrong with me.

Troy's Fast 5k

Dr.Rachel has asked me to guest write on my experiences training for my first marathon and I have agreed.  Occasionally I will pop in and detail the horrors of my first marathon experience.  The official Disney Training plan started July 1st but thanks to Dr.Rachel I was already running a half marathon.  I dropped 2 min/mile off my time from 6 months previous and then set a 5KPR the next day.  Two weeks of mild rest later, I am ready to start serious  running again.  This weekend – Warrior Dash MI and a 5.5 mile training run.  Should be fun.

My Life on the Road

It’s been a crazy time – I’m writing this post while sitting in the tenth airport I’ve been in in the past three weeks.

It all started with my amazing whirlwind trip to all lands Disney for the Tinkerbell Half Marathon and the Disney Marathon Weekend. That vacation was quickly followed up with two work-related trips. I haven’t been home on a Monday in a while. It’s a crazy time and it’s been wreaking havoc on my usual diet and exercise routine.

First off, work trips usually involve lots of snacks, mostly of the unhealthy variety.


Airport travel practically requires my favorite Starbucks refresher…and maybe the occasional treat.


I’ve also been spending much more time in airports than anticipated thanks to winter weather.


Eating healthy on the road is a challenge. I’m adding extra lettuce and pickles to my burgers and substituting veggies for every side I get in a restaurant (though Southerners have a strange definition of what constitutes a vegetable…but the macaroni and cheese *was* good). As I sit here in the airport, surrounded by pretzels, candy, and bad Chinese food, I keep thinking about apples. I would love a nice, crisp apple. It will be the first thing I eat when I get home.

All this travel also means I’ve had to get creative with my workouts. In addition to squeezing in a run whenever I can, I’ve developed some new airport fitness tricks. Yes, I’m that crazy lady doing squats at the gate. Hi. My name is Rachel and I do body weight exercises in the airport lounge.

My favorite airport workout is my terminal power hike. While waiting for a flight, pace back and forth through the terminal at top speed. Each round, switch suitcase carrying arms to ensure an even shoulder workout. I can usually get several rounds in before the TSA gets suspicious and I have to change the routine. Just last week I walked for over and hour back and forth through a construction area at the Dallas airport. It isn’t pretty or high-intensity, but it’s something. I’ve also experimented with some airport intervals – run to flight, walk around slow people, stop at gate to learn gate changed, run to next gate, repeat.

I love to travel, but I think I’m ready for a few nights in my own bed and a few runs through my usual neighborhood. Just one more trip to go until that dream becomes a reality. Until then, it’s time to fly.


Disney Marathon Weekend 2014 – Dr Rachel Goes Goofy

What’s a girl to do when one Disney race just isn’t enough? The Goofy Challenge. This year, I decided to run the Goofy Challenge during the 2014 Disney Marathon Weekend. If you’ve been reading, I already recapped my fun at the expo and in the half marathon.

Sunday was marathon day and the day started very early, much to my dismay. When the alarm clock went off at 2:45am, it took all my energy to move. My legs felt fresh, but my head, throat, chest, and even my eyebrows hurt. The cold/flu that I had been fighting had won. I was sick. Sick sick. And I had 26.2 miles to go to get my Goofy medal. I dragged my sorry self out of bed, complained a lot, and got on with getting into my costume and getting to the starting line.

Disney Marathon 2014 start

I warned my family it might not go well. I might DNF. Of course, they could barely hear me since I had completely lost my voice. I hauled my bedraggled self to the starting corrals. Honestly, the rest of the race is a bit of a blur, thanks to my feverish and sickly state. Here’s what I remember (some of which was triggered by a quick post-race review of the pictures I took).

Mile 3 – I couldn’t take my Goofy vest flopping in the wind. I left it along the way.

Mile 5ish – My parents were waiting for me at Cinderella’s Castle. I took a quick picture, assured them that I wasn’t dying, and told them I wanted to finish. I had tested a walking pace and I knew I could walk a 15-minute mile without feeling horrible. I would finish or I would be picked up by the golf cart. Either way, I wasn’t giving up.

Mile 6 – On the back side of the Castle, I took a great picture (my favorite from the whole weekend) right before things got bad.

Disney Marathon 2014 castle

Mile 8 – The wheels fall off. I’m mostly walking. I’m the crazy lady you see hunched over on the side of the road, resting. That banana was a really terrible idea. It will be a while before I can eat bananas again. It was the low point of the race.

Mile 10 – I had decided early on I wouldn’t go farther than 10 if I were going to DNF. I had a decision to make. I stopped on the side of the road near the waste water treatment plant. I thought about all the training. I thought about my poor, sore siblings and friend willing to take a bus to Wide World of Sports to cheer for me. I thought about how much my mom would worry and how hard she had worked to fight through cramps in her first half. I continued on. I texted my family to tell them I would finish. I was doing it.

Mile 11 – Apparently I took a picture with an owl. I don’t remember this. I’m surprised I didn’t trip over my own two feet. I hate running.

Disney 2014 owl

Mile 12 – Things start to look up. For no discernible reason, I start to feel better. And, then, the best thing ever happened. Expedition Everest was open. I could ride my most favorite ride.

Disney 2014 Expedition Everest

Mile 13 – Buoyed by my ride on the best ride ever, I trotted along. The next several miles went by quickly and I found my self on Osceola Parkway, or, as I call it “The Highway to Hell”. I hate Osceola Parkway. It seems to go on forever. I can probably thank my sickness for this, but this year, I wasn’t bothered by it. I trotted along happily. No doubt I looked a little like Dory from Finding Nemo – randomly talking to myself and getting overly excited about the little things I passed (dude with a Stick! Joy! Random lady with animal crackers! Outstanding! A palm tree! etc.).

Disney 2014 Osceola

Mile A lot – My family! Yay! My brother and sister-in-law were waiting for me in Wide World of Sports with a sign. Joy! Then my other sister-in-law and my friend in Champion Stadium.

More running…

Mile 20 – Finally! I made it to 20. I knew I would finish. I can’t begin to describe how happy I was. I wasn’t as sick, was running well, and felt strong. I loved Disney, the marathon, my fellow runners, everything.

Disney 2014 Mile 20

Before I knew it, I was entering Hollywood Studios, where one of my wonderful Twitter friends had made a sweet sign.

Disney 2014 HS

And then it was over. I floating along on a cloud of running love for the last three miles and it was over. I have the pictures. I ran through Epcot. I waved at cameras. I think I saw my dad. Maybe my poor addled brain had just given up. It’s all a vague blur of people and color and the lagoon at Epcot. When I crossed the finish line, I had one clear thought. I love Disney. And I can’t wait to do it again next year.

Disney Marathon Weekend 2014 – Half Marathon

What an adventure! I’m back from my whirlwind tour of all things Disney and I can’t wait to relive the fun by sharing it with all of you!

It all started out with a crazy suggestion. A running friend and I were talking about running Disney races together – her family lives in the Inland Empire near Disney Land. My family lives in central Florida near Disney World. We talked about running each other’s “home” races. One thing lead to another and we decided 2014 would be our year to complete the Disney Coast to Coast Challenge – and not just complete it, but to do the Disney Marathon Weekend and Tinkerbell, running both coasts in one week.

And, because I’m a little crazy, I thought why run just one marathon when I could run a crazy-lady challenge. It was settled. I was going to run Goofy. Side note – a lot of people have asked me why I didn’t run the inaugural Dopey Challenge. I didn’t want to get up at 2:45am four days in a row and Epcot is my least favorite park. The idea of getting up crazy early to run around Wide World of Sports and Epcot didn’t appeal to me. I wanted to spend more time with my family, and, honestly, sleeping.

Once I started talking about my intention to run Disney like a crazy person, more crazy things started happening. My two sisters-in-law and my brother decided Disney would be their first half marathon. Suddenly, we had a team of five people, all running the half marathon. We were all training for races and sharing the experience – it was so exciting.

I had a great time running the Disney Marathon in 2013, but I did it injured. I was hoping 2014 would be my year. I got to Florida well ahead of the races, ready to finish my taper and relax with family. Sadly, as soon as I got to Florida, I felt the first symptoms of impending illness. Wednesday my mom and I went to the expo and Thursday my California friend arrived. By Friday, I was sick and my family was arriving from out of town. I wouldn’t let a little sickness slow me down. We were all staying at the new Art of Animation. It was wonderful. Being true Disney lovers, we were thrilled with our Little Mermaid themed room.


Friday evening we held a team meeting and set the plan for the half marathon on Saturday.  My brother and his wife would start together, with him planning to speed up after the first few miles. My other sister in law and I would run together. She had an ambitious time goal and wanted me to help pace her to achieve that goal. My friend, having suffered several mishaps during training, would take her time and have fun along the way. We were ready.

Race morning dawned dark and early. We all got up, got into costumes, and took lots and lots of pictures.

Disney 2014 start

The bus ride to the start was quick and easy. We visited the port-a-potties and before we knew it, it was time to head to the start. I had warned my family about the long walk through the woods, so we quickly made our way to the starting corrals. It was cool, about 68 degrees, cloudy, and humid. Nearly perfect running weather. The race started with a flourish and we were off!

Disney 2014 Castle

My parents were waiting for us at Cinderella’s Castle and we made it to them right on pace. My sister-in-law was running well and feeling strong. I, on the other hand, was fading fast. My fever, headache, and general malaise were starting to get the best of me. I was determined to be a good pacer, so she and I ran on, through Magic Kingdom, and back out the gates.

The day stayed pleasantly overcast and the race course was the usual Disney fun. I enjoyed the on-course entertainment and loved seeing the characters out and about. We kept a strong pace right through mile 10, when things started to go downhill for me. I suppose, in retrospect, running with some sort of horrible cold/flu wasn’t my most brilliant idea, but I was at Disney. My sister-in-law was holding a strong pace and feeling confident. I was seeing black spots and feeling nauseous. Around mile 11 we passed my friend and I let my sister go. I fell in pace with my friend and we hobbled along together – her with sore ankles and me just trying to stay upright.

Disney 2014 half

Before I knew it, we were in Epcot and closing in on the finish line. It was a great feeling. We hustled across the finish line, though the self-treatment medical area for some ice for her legs, and over to the official meeting place to wait for my siblings. One after the other they came in sight, and finished triumphantly. Everyone had achieved their goals for the race. We were a happy group.

Disney 2014 after the race

After sharing stories, we headed back to the hotel. I suggested a rest by the pool and we all settled in for some well-deserved relaxation.


And, for those of you who were wondering – yes. I ran with my hair and my Pascal for 13.1 miles. I wouldn’t do it any other way.

Disney Marathon Weekend 2014 – Expo Madness

There really isn’t a good way to capture the spirit of Disney Marathon Weekend in a blog post. It’s such a wonderful experience from start to finish that there is almost too much to say. Again this year, the happiest race on earth didn’t disappoint. In an effort to capture all the fun, I’m going to break up my race recap into a few segments. First, the expo and my quest to buy the commemorative shoes

I arrived in Florida on the Tuesday before the race, with plans to go to the expo Wednesday. I was determined to get a pair of the special limited edition Cinderella-themed runDisney New Balance shoes and thought that my best chance for success would be on Wednesday. I watched the videos and read online information about securing my special shoes. I was ready to follow the shoe signs and get my pair without waiting too long in a line, as promised. Wednesday morning came and my mom and I got to the expo just as it was starting. We immediately got into an already long New Balance line. The line was barely moving. It wrapped around and into the Champion Stadium, past vendors, and back outside. As the line moved along at a glacial place, mom and I began to take turns looking around. We visited a few vendor booths. We talked to cast members and found out that they had to stop the line from growing twenty minutes after the expo opened. It was madness. People were everywhere and starting to get hungry. Two full hours later, we got to the head of the line. Sadly, it was just the line to put our information into one of four (four, seriously!) iPads to be contacted when it was our turn to shop. We were told the wait was four hours. Four more hours. And, we had to respond to the text message within twenty minutes, so we were stuck at the expo. The Wide World of Sports complex is so far away from everything else, we had to stay put.


Later, we would learn that this information wasn’t totally true, but it was repeated by three separate NB employees. We began what would be a long day of waiting. Mom and I visited every single booth at the expo. We entered drawings. We tried products. We killed two hours. With two more to go, we simply sat down and waited. We ate in the little cafe. We took lots of commemorative photos.


Four hours after we put in our data we still didn’t have a call from NB. We decided to investigate. We went to the entrance and saw that there was a large display listing the current numbers being seen (like at a deli). Sadly, there were still more than 200 people in front of us. We talked to a nice young man from NB and he told us they were able to serve less than 100 people an hour and that things were moving much more slowly than expected. Dejectedly, mom and I wandered away. By this time, I was exhausted. I had been at the expo from 10am to 4:30pm. My legs were starting to hurt, so I got a new pair of my favorite Zensah calf sleeves. They helped.


Finally, seven hours after we began our quest, we were called and it was our turn. I got my precious Cinderella shoes. And a Minnie pair just to be safe. It was totally worth it.

To be sure, the wait was worth the outcome, but I didn’t find it to be an improvement over last year’s strategy nor did I find it a pleasing process. The wait was ridiculous and the NB staff outside the store not as helpful or kind as expected. Mom and I found out in the store that we could have come back any time after our call time, something that would have been life changing a little earlier. Spending an entire day at the expo was not what I had in mind. New Balance and Disney could do a much better job of entertaining those of us who waited all day, or further limiting purchases (runners only first? An express lane for long time NB customers who know their size?). It would have helped to have had the correct information sooner and for the process described in the online information to have had more details. It would also have been nice to have had more iPads. Had I not waited two hours in the freezing cold just to put my data in an iPad, I might have been more cheerful. I wouldn’t have minded waiting at home for the five hours had I just gotten correct information. Despite all the hassle, I’m delighted with my shoes and am wearing them with a smile on my face.

Goofy Challenge, Here I Come!

Last night it hit me. It’s really happening. I am running the Goofy Challenge. Oh. And the Tinker Bell Half Marathon. That’s right, I’m going Coast to Coast in 2014! You’d think it might have seemed real when I signed up, or when I picked out and bought components of my costumes. But, what really made it real was scheduling my flights.

It all started with my insistence that last year’s Disney Marathon wouldn’t be my last. I had so much difficulty with my fibula that my performance was disappointing.

Disney Finish

As soon as I finished, I told my mom that I would run it again the next year to redeem myself. As I walked around the property that afternoon, I saw all the happy RunDisney folks with the Goofy Challenge medals and I was jealous. I wanted that medal. I committed to the Goofy Challenge right then and there. I was less than two hours from my WDW Marathon finish and I was ready for a second one. That’s how it all began.

I signed up for the Goofy Challenge the moment registration opened. I talked about it with my family. My brother and sisters-in-law have been running and they’ve been talking about running their first half marathons. I told all three that I would run with them for their first half marathon, any time, anywhere. And that’s how the slippery slope happened. I’ve long said that running is a slippery slope. You run a 5k and you think, “I could run a little further”. Next thing you know it’s a 10k, then 10 miles, then half marathon. It’s a slippery slope. One day, my sister-in-law called me and said she was in. She was running the half marathon with me as part of my Goofy Challenge. My brother and my other sister-in-law were next. Then the whole family was signed up!

Slippery Slope

I can’t begin to say how excited I was. But that wasn’t the end. My friend from Arizona signed up a few days later. And then another friend signed up for the marathon. It’s amazing! Within days I had a whole crew and we are all running. Then my friend from Arizona and I agreed to do Coast to Coast. Woo hoo! Suddenly, I was planning the running event to end all running events!

So I’m planning a massive family and friends vacation. It’s amazing. My wonderful travel agent, Heather, has set us up with great on-property hotel rooms and transportation. We’re all planning costumes. For those who are curious, I’m running as Rapunzel from Tangled for the half marathon, Goofy for the marathon (thanks to Kelly from Run Team Sparkle for the inspiration), and Ursula from The Little Mermaid (check out this amazing inspiration!) for the Tinker Bell Half Marathon. It’s just so exciting!

Last night, I scheduled my flights. Home to Florida to California and back home. And, suddenly, it hit me. I’m running at the Happiest Place on Earth. Coast to Coast, here I come!

Dr. Rachel Runs Disney

  Disney Marathon

I’m a Disney Marathoner! I bet you’re wondering how that happened. Never fear, a reasonably complete recap follows. Honestly, the whole thing was so amazing, so much fun, that I can’t remember half of the details I wanted to. I’ll do my best.

When we last left off, I had just finished the Disney Marathon Expo and was well on my way to the final two stages of Dr. Rachel’s Seven Stages of Race Preparation. To refresh your memory, they were:

6. Existential Questioning (at the start of the race – “Why did I think this was a good idea? This is very bad idea.”, “Running is really weird. Why do I do it?”) and 7. Euphoria (post-race – “I LOVE running!”, “That was amazing!”, “I can’t wait to race again. Next time…”, “Woooo hoooo!!”)

At the ridiculously early hour of 2:30am, mom and I awoke in our lovely hotel room at Pop Century (a great, reasonably priced resort, by the way). We had a 3:15am bus to catch, so it was time to rise and shine! I had meticulously laid out my supplies, so I got dressed and ready with relative ease. I taped up my pesky fibula with KT Tape and was as ready as I would ever be.

Disney Marathon Prep

I double checked everything and boarded the bus to Epcot to meet up with my marathon running friends (check out their blog!) and head to the start line. The wait for the bus was minimal and the ride was easy. On the bus, I questioning everything – my training, my decision to run, the stability of my only recently healed fibula. Stage 6 was in full effect. As the bus got closer to Epcot, I felt better and better. This was a great idea! I was going to have So. Much. Fun! Eeeeee! I still get excited just thinking about it. The pre-start area was organized chaos. Thousands of runners and families milled about, taking pictures, dropping off bags, and moving toward the runners-only start chute. Disney had done a wonderful job organizing everything, so finding our way around was easy.

Disney Marathon with Mom

In the runners-only area we walked and walked. They weren’t kidding about allowing 20 minutes to walk to the start – it was a long way. We finally arrived and had a few moments to rest in our corral before the 5:30am start.

Disney Marathon Start

At the start, there was plenty of entertainment. There were character visits, interviews, and even fireworks! Within a few minutes, we were off. We quickly settled into a nice, smooth pace and trotted along through the first few miles. There were screaming spectators, fans, bands, and all manner of supporters along the way. We passed Disney’s Contemporary Resort. Out front, spectators cheered. I couldn’t believe how many people were out to watch the race – even at 6am! Before I knew it, we had completed 4.5 miles and were entering Disney World. Knowing my mom was waiting near Cinderella’s Castle, I started looking for her. Imagine my surprise when I found her among the thousands of screaming and cheering spectators! We snapped a (really) quick picture and were on our way.

Disney Marathon Mile 5

The miles were flying by. I was having a wonderful race. The course was absolutely gorgeous and the characters, fans, and cheering spectators were amazing. We rounded the Castle (amazing at first light!) and came upon Cinderella and Charming. I had to take a picture!

Disney Marathon Cinderella

She was gracious, as usual, and the stop was perfectly timed. We all used the (clean!) porta-potties and got some water at a nearby water stop. Seven miles were done in no time at all. We were having a great time! At this point, my memory starts to get a little blurry. I usually have race amnesia and this race was no different. I know it was fun. I saw characters. I enjoyed the sights. Miles passed.

We entered the Speedway around mile 9. I liked the old one better. The classic and custom cars were super fun to see. We exited the Speedway just as the sun was gaining strength and moved into one of the not-so-great parts of the course. We wound along the backstage parts of the parks and past the Disney waste water treatment plant. Ew. It did not smell nice and there were very few spectators or characters. It was actually very much like a normal race. My standards were Disney-high, so it wasn’t as fun. It was started to get hot, and my leg was starting to give me trouble. I slowed a bit, but managed to stay just behind my friends (who deserve so much love for waiting for me and encouraging me! love you!). Finally, we came upon the backstage part of Animal Kingdom. There were animals and handlers for photo opportunities (so cute!). The camber of the strange pavement at Animal Kingdom did me in. My poor fibula was unhappy and I slowed again. At mile 13 I bid my friends goodbye and set off on my own. I had already calculated that if I could run 12 miles, I could walk the rest and finish under the time limit. So, I slowed way down and enjoyed the view. At this point, my priority changed. I was going to go slow, have fun, and keep the distress on my body at a minimum so I could return to training quickly. I was disappointed, and wondered what it might have been like had I not been injured a month before the marathon and could have trained fully, but I was having fun. And having fun is all that matters sometimes.

Around mile 15, I entered the toughest part of the race. Miles 15-21 were on the way to, in, and on the way out of ESPN’s Wide World of Sports. The approach is on Osceola Parkway, a divided, four lane road. The trees are way back from the road. It was hot (about 80 degrees and climbing), there wasn’t much to look at, and there was no shade. I was hot, in pain, and not a happy runner. Somewhere in there, 17 maybe, volunteers handed out sponges and I think it was the single greatest gift I had ever gotten. I loved my sponge. It was amazing. Stupidly, I threw my sponge away. Next time I will keep my glorious gift. We wound through the Wide World of Sports (which, if I never see again, I wouldn’t mind so much) and finally exited. I couldn’t have been happier. Miles 16-19 were a real low point for me. I walked more than I had wanted, cursed some, and generally wasn’t feeling the Disney magic. There was no doubt in my mind that I would finish, but I was hoping to recapture the magic. That happened at mile 20.

Disney Marathon Mile 20

Seeing Mile 20, and the huge show at the mile marker, was amazing. It was just the boost I needed. The approach to mile 20 had wonderful characters and the marker had a platform with Disney favorites. I waited in the picture line, using the break as an opportunity to stretch and regroup. I would finish. I would do this. I pressed on with renewed vigor. I felt pretty good. Sure, it was hot (86 degrees by this time according to mom, who was waiting at the finish), sunny, and I was exhausted, but I was running the Disney Marathon! An honest to goodness dream was coming true. I pressed onward. I met some nice people, passed some characters, and before I knew it, I saw the sign for the turn to Epcot!

Disney Marathon Epcot Ahead

Having made the turn many times in my life, I knew just how far I had to go. And it wasn’t far! The course snuck us in the back way, through Hollywood Studios. I loved running past the Tower of Terror and through the costume shop. There were trees, and shade, and interesting things to see. Running through the fake New York City street was really fun. Disney cast members did a wonderful job of managing marathon and park traffic and the folks visiting the park cheered loudly. In what felt like no time, we exited Hollywood Studios and entered Epcot! Running around the Lagoon was both the longest and the shortest mile and a half of my running life. I wanted to capture every moment. Epcot visitors were cheering, characters were standing by for pictures, and everyone was upbeat. We were finishing the marathon!


After a short trek around the Lagoon, we passed into a backstage area and emerged moments later on the finish line approach. Spectators were several deep and they were all cheering. I could see the finish line! I passed my mom, and, within moments crossed the line.

Disney Marathon Finish

It was amazing! Everyone at runDisney was so helpful, so kind, and so supportive. Running the Disney Marathon was easily one of the best things I’ve done as a runner. It really is a race full of wonderful memories.

And, just in case you were wondering, I’m definitely in Stage 7. I can’t wait to do it again next year. Maybe this time I’ll be Goofy.

Countdown to the 20th Disney Marathon

Let me first say – Eeeeeeeeeeeee! I’m here. In Florida. The Disney Marathon is tomorrow! It’s so exciting that I can’t stand it. As training has progressed and it’s gotten closer and closer, I have been progressing at the expected rate through Rachel’s Seven Stages of Race Preparation.

  1. Confidence (“That training run wasn’t so bad. I can totally do this!”)
  2. Denial (“I have plenty of time to train. The race isn’t for weeks.” Truth – race is less than a month/two weeks/etc. away -or- “My leg doesn’t really hurt that much.”)
  3. Bargaining (“Gods of Running, if you let me survive this training run, I will give up candy.”, “Fibula, if you stay in place, I will never curse you again.”)
  4. Paranoia (*cough* “I am sure I have pneumonia, or Ebola.”, “I am sure that the cramp is the first sign of gangrene setting in.”, “Maybe I didn’t even sign up for the race. Do I have plane tickets?”)
  5. Sense of Impending Doom (“What the hell was I thinking?!”, “Something horrible will befall me and I won’t be able to race.”)
  6. Existential Questioning ( at the start of the race – “Why did I think this was a good idea? This is very bad idea.”, “Running is really weird. Why do I do it?”)
  7. Euphoria (post-race – “I LOVE running!”, “That was amazing!”, “I can’t wait to race again. Next time…”, “Woooo hoooo!!”)

Deep into the Paranoia stage of race preparation, I traveled to Florida earlier this week. I was sure my sore throat was the beginnings of this epic flu, or perhaps salmonella. Maybe malaria. I decided no homeopathic remedy was too weird to try. I have sprays and zinc lozenges and Airborne and vitamins. Luckily, I was distracted from my Chicken Little state by the expo. Yay!

Disney Marathon Expo

The expo was super fun. In typical Disney fashion, everything was well organized and every detail anticipated. There was one door and staircase to get in, one to get out. There were individual computers and printers that printed waivers for forgetful folks (I printed mine twice but left it at home). There were helpful and happy volunteers and cast members at every corner. Tons of great vendors were in the vendor space – SPIbelt, Runningskirts, Run Team Sparkle, The Stick, and many clothing vendors. Mom and I had a great time shopping and looking around. We even spied Jeff Galloway. There were great picture opportunities.

Disney Marathon Expo Pictures

Back at home, Paranoia gave way to Sense of Impending Doom. Luckily, there were plenty of distractions. I’ve been enjoying great Cuban food, fresh picked strawberries, and time with my mom and dad. Yesterday, the big task was putting the finishing touches on my costume (Cinderella) and developing a race-day plan. Mom made puffy cap sleeves for my Cinderella outfit and I sewed my tiara on my hat. The tiara is one my mom made for me when I was 6 or so, and totally in love with Cinderella.

Cinderella prep

Sense of Impending Doom wouldn’t be denied by daytime distractions. Last night, I had the most vivid dream that I woke up at 6:30am and missed the marathon start by an hour. It was so realistic that I woke up (at 3am) with a start. Being in my room at home didn’t reassure me. I thought that not only had I missed the start, but that I wasn’t even on Disney property. I had to look at my phone to check the date, and Twitter just to be sure that it was the half marathon today. Whew! Doom or not, tomorrow is the big day. Everything is done. All there is to do is run – and have a magical race!

Have a great race

Happy Holidays!

Dr Rachel Runs has been on hiatus for the last several days to celebrate the holiday season. I hope that each of you have enjoyed a happy holiday time with friends and family.   I hope that you’ve squeezed in some time for fitness with friends and family. Whether it’s a run, a hike, yoga in the park, or just chasing after the little ones, the holidays are a perfect time for fitness.

It’s been a nice, but busy, end of the semester and start of the holiday season for me. For college professors, the real panic of the end of the semester starts after Thanksgiving and the work load increases until the semester ends. This year, our program had the exciting bonus of an end-of-semester visit from audits from our national accrediting body. Life was all about work for a few weeks. Horrible. Luckily, I made it through that with my sanity (at least mostly) intact. I’m so thankful for the end of the semester and the freedom that brings.

My leg has continued to heal and I’ve increased my runs accordingly.  I even managed to squeeze in a 20-mile run just in the nick of time. I’m training for the Disney Marathon (yay!) and had built into my schedule several extra weeks, just in case a winter storm thwarted my running. I was so thankful to have a few extra weeks when injury struck. Somehow, I managed to get back on track and get my 20-miler in just three days later than scheduled. It was a little slower and more painful than I had hoped, but I made it.

20 miles!

It was a huge relief to get in my 20 mile run. I am feeling much more confident about the Disney Marathon. This week, I resumed running normally. It feels amazing. Running normally meant a Sunday trail run, and wonderful runs with friends on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Christmas Eve brought sunny skies and excellent weather. Several friends and I met to run on a paved trail with lovely views of the local reservoir.


Christmas Day, I gathered with friends for a gorgeous, snowy run on a private trail. I brought Lucy, the running dog, and she was delighted to run with her doggy friends. It was a perfect run and made my holiday special.

I have been enjoying time off, time for running, and time with friends. I hope that you’ve been doing the same.

Guest Blog: runDisney!

I love all things Disney. I have loved Disney since I was a child and my grandma took me to Walt Disney World. As an adult, I am still amazed by the magic of Disney. I am delighted to be making the Walt Disney World Marathon my first marathon this January (there’s still time to sign up and join me!). I think the runDisney franchise is amazing and a wonderful opporunity for runners who love the magic of Disney. Want to join in on the fun and experience the magic of a runDisney event? Check out today’s guest blog.

Today’s guest blog is from Amy Smith, a mom and blogger on the quest for fitness. She is a documented runDisney addict who lost 75 pounds on the way to the Disney Princess Half Marathon.  She’s also part of Team in Training with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  She’s a frequent Disney traveller, a lover of PopTarts, and a Disney travel agent. Amy blogs over at Pumpkin to Princess and, if she can help you plan your Disney dream vacation or your next runDisney event, please contact her at

Here’s her take on runDisney events, including her expert tips!

runDisney events are the most fun endurance running events out there.  Disney is great at making each runner feel special.  The race starts out with fireworks, not just for the first corral, but for each corral.  Since runDisney races start so early, the fireworks light up the sky.  Each corral is announced and given their own “ready, set, go!”  The anticipation builds as you know you are running toward the Magic Kingdom and the Castle!   The moment you turn the corner and see it—pure magic!  Runners race back toward Epcot for a Disney finish, complete with Minnie and Mickey at the finish to congratulate you.

All along the way, there are character stops to get your photo with.  My favorite photo op is the one right in front of the castle.  The medals from runDisney events cannot be beat.  They are all beautiful, heavy and worth all the hard work.

If you are interested in doing a runDisney event, let me give you some tips—from a certificated Disney Travel Specialist.

  1. Stay is a Disney host hotel.  Depending on the size of the race, some or all of the Disney owned hotels make special accommodations for runDisney runners.  These hotels offer special event transportation to the expo and to and from the race.  Disney has to close down several roads for the race, so traffic race morning can be terrible!  Some runners staying off site have missed the race all together because they were caught in traffic.  Staying at a Disney host resort will eliminate this worry because they guarantee you will get to the race on time.
  2. Rest up the day before the race.  I know this can be tough—you are in Disney World!  Hanging out by the beautifully themed Disney resort pool is a great way to spend the day before the race. Plan to stay in Disney World for a few days after the race instead of before so you can enjoy the parks.  If you must hit the parks the day before the race, at least take is easy.
  3. Pack your tried and true race morning food and take it with you to Disney World.  For me, it’s a bagel and peanut butter, plus some Clif Bloks to stash for during the race.  While you may be able to find that in Disney World, it may not be your brand or flavor.  Race day is not the time to find out you are sensitive to certain brands of flavors, so be safe and pack your race morning food from home.
  4. Don’t take the race to seriously!  runDisney events are meant to be fun, so don’t expect yourself to PR.  With all the fireworks, characters, music and photo ops available, enjoy yourself.  Take in and savor the experience.

After doing several half marathons in different cities and put on by different race companies, runDisney events are by far my favorite.  Follow my tips above and you will have a magical runDisney experience too!