Wednesday, January 29, 2014

More publicity!

Check it out - spreading the word!  Just not sure how Team TSA had this on their Facebook page before I knew it existed.  Thanks to Brenda for letting me know it was out there!

Monday, January 20, 2014

My favorite

Picture from Marathon Weekend.  I think this is my favorite because (1) we are done and (2) we are still happy!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Official Pictures

From the 5k

From the 10k

From the Half Marathon

And from the Full Marathon

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Final Thoughts

Well, we made it!  Over a thousand miles run in 2014; hundreds of hours on the roads; ran through heat, snow, rain and ice.  Raised over $7,500 for the Tourette's Syndrome Association; completed the Inaugural Dopey Challenge and was able to walk the next day.  PHEW!

Am I glad I did it?  Yes!  Will I ever do it again?  I don't know.  I can say that, unlike my two prior marathons, there was never a point during the marathon that I thought I had made a mistake or that I swore off future marathons.  If anything, I think my experience this past Sunday made me think that I could do another marathon - it was slow, but it wasn't bad - ever.

I was taken aback by the generosity of friends, family and co-workers.  I had though that raising $5,000 would be a stretch, but we got to $7,500 with ease.

I was impressed by the volunteers and spectators on the course and I've decided to find a race that I am not interested in running and going to cheer.  Having people - strangers - yelling for you or ringing a cowbell gives you a little spring in your step and keeps you moving.  After all the support we got in Disney, I feel like I need to repay the running community.

I was also really moved by the TSA dinner on Friday.  It was so nice to meet other people affected by TS and both Hope and I talked about our desire to stay connected with this community and to do more locally.  The boys have been talking about running the half or the 10k next year, so we'll be thinking about that.  I certainly cannot raise $7,500 every year, and an annual Disney Marathon trip would blow the budget, but we are trying to figure out how we can capitalize on the excitement of the weekend.

I cried a lot last weekend and sometimes at odd things or at odd times.  I was so touched to have Brenda and her family down there and her sons, Kyle and Darren running and raising money.  I spent a good deal of time during the races thinking about everyone who donated; and everyone who sent email or text well-wishes.  I thought about John Hartley standing in my driveway in the snow, ready for another freezing cold run when you knew he just wanted to stay in bed.  I thought of Renee carrying the conversation on Saturday runs so Anne and I would have something to talk about on our Sunday runs.  And where would I be without Anne?  We laughed on most of our training runs and both laughed and cried at Disney.  There is absolutely no way I could have done this without her.  None.  She put up with my constant burping (and other bodily functions) as well as my anxiety-riddled mileage counting and for that I will be forever grateful.

It's been several days since we completed the Dopey and I think I'm ready to get in a nice (slow) run tomorrow.  I am also moving forward on a different endurance-based Tourette's fundraising effort (but one that I will not be hitting up friends and family).  Not sure what to make of this blog thing - clearly I am no longer "Counting Down to the Dopey Challenge" but I may continue to write on the off chance someone is reading.  For now, I need to get my thank you notes out and close out this awesome experience.

4 days, 4 races, 6 medals, $7,500 raised for TSA

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Day Four

More later, but this will have to do for now .....

OK - let's start at the beginning . . . .

I woke up before my alarm (again) at 3:15.  I was in Anne's room by 3:30 (again) and we were at the bus at 4 AM (again).  The crowd was about the same size-wise, but the weather was much cooler and (as we would later find out) much better.

We back in Corral K, which meant that even though the race started at 5:30, we didn't get started until closer to 6:15.  Unlike the day before, the first mile went by pretty quickly.  The first 7 miles of the Marathon follow the same route as the first 7 miles (or so) of the Half.  But, although a little sore, I felt much better on Sunday than on Saturday.

The obigatory "Magic Kingdom" photo (nowhere close to the Magic Kingdom)

It also helped (a lot) that we had family stationed throughout the course.  Hope and the boys were at the Transportation and Ticket Center (about Mile 4), so we had that to look forward to.
A blurry picture of us emerging from the TTC Tunnel.

From there it was only a couple of miles to the Magic Kingdom, where I once again hugged Lou from WDW Radio (and left him a little damp - sorry Lou!).  We again stopped at our secret Tomorrowland bathroom (no pictures so we can keep it to ourselves) before heading to the back of the Castle.

Is she TRYING to look like a Bad Ass, or is she just simply a bad ass?

After running through the Castle, we stopped at our first character spot (mostly - ok, entirely, because there was no line).

And then in only 3 more miles we got to see the family (and a couple of Disney Friends) outside the Polynesian!
We still look happy!

All in all, we were feeling pretty good at that point.  My parents were stationed just out the Animal Kingdom (Mile 13-ish) so that kept us going on what was otherwise fairly tedious miles.

We entered the back on Animal Kingdom around Mile 11 or 12.

Anne and I had talked about trying to ride Expedition Everest during the race, but as we entered the Animal Kingdom it was only 8:45 and the park doesn't open until 9 AM.  Bummer!  We talked about waiting until 9, but thought we'd seize up.  So we decided to keep running.  As we were passing Everest, the Cast Member staffing hte line said, "If you're not worried about your finish time, come on in!"  Anne yelled, "Seriously!?!" as we took a sharp left, ran through the queue and BOOM! Next in line.
Psyched to be riding a roller coaster DURING a marathon!

I kept runkeeper on, so it showed some pretty extreme elevation changes.

We are the freaks in the back row.

After Everest, we took a quick bathroom break in Dinoland and then left the park and ran into our parents in the parking lot!  Yay!  Gulp!  After seeing Mom and Dad, we were entering . . .the dead zone!  From Mile 13.5 until Mile 20 there ain't much out there.  Lots of highway running and then a turn into the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.  Frankly, it doesn't get much better after ESPN as we have to double back a bit on the highway and turn onto another highway before FINALLY entering Hollywood Studios at Mile 22.5 (ish).  To get from my parents to ESPN I counted intervals to myself.  My goal was to count to 10 intervals (50 minutes).  And for the most part it worked.  We just trudged along.  Laughed at the Haunted Mansion Ghosts trying to dig graves on the side of the road; clapped at music; thanked the thousands of volunteers; and just kept running.  We finally made it to EPSN and then weaved our way through various baseball and soccer fields, around a track and then around the braves Spring Training Field before doubling back to the highway.  Ugh.

As we made the turn to the final highway, we ran across the always motivating "Army Guy" - "You CAN get up that hill!  You WILL get up that hill!"

From there we turned into Hollywood Studios (where I completely melted down when I ran the 2005 WDW Marathon) and we got to see Brenda and her family.  I am pretty sure they were yelling obscenities at us, but it was all a blur.  The run down Hollywood Boulevard was awesome!  The park was open and there were thousands of people cheering - it made it fly by!  After HS we took the footpath to the Boardwalk, crossed a bridge and entered the Yacht and Beach Club.  A note on that bridge - it is apparently made of some really bouncy material, which made running over it feel really weird.  I didn't understand that it was the surface that was squishy - I thought I was having a fainting spell.  I freaked out and told Anne "something's wrong.  I don't feel right!"  We stopped for a second and I drank some powerade and water and we slowly got started again.  As soon as we were off the bridge, I felt much better (although my head was still a little messed up).

It was less than a mile until we saw Hope and the boys again 

and half a mile after that we were in Epcot (and saw Andy again, we basically chased us down).  I think largely because people just wanted to be done, there were no lines for character pictures any more! 

In France.

We wound around the countries, through the back gate, past the Gospel Choir and towards the finish line.  I don't think I could carry Anne again, so we went with a choreographed dance routine.  

We grabbed some water and powerade and grabbed a couple of these . . .

Got our official photo:

And then took the bus back to the hotel, where everyone was waiting.  A quick ice bath, shower and a change of clothes and we were back on a bus, but this time the destination was much cooler!

We went on Pirates, the Haunted Mansion, Big Thunder Mountain and Mickey's Philharmagic before heading over to the Wilderness Lodge for a couple of these . . . 

And one of the best steaks I've ever had the pleasure of devouring.  After dinner, we headed back to the Magic Kindgom for more rides (Space, Buzz, Laughing Floor, Pooh, Big Thunder) before heading to Beaches and Cream for some much-needed ice cream.

Several weeks ago I bet another TSA guy a beer if he raised more money than me.  Well, he did.  So at 11 PM I paid my debt as Jason Fine (he's actually much better than just Fine), his buddy Matt and Michelle from Team TSA and I grabbed a couple of beers at the hotel bar.  It was a great night - we talked about the race, about TS, about family, about Disney.  It was like being with old friends.

I got back to the room a little after midnight (up for nearly 21 hours at this point) and went to bed.  Ahhh.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Day Three

So . . . We definately walked too much yesterday! Way too much.  I woke up at 3:15 this morning (before the alarm again) and was waiting for the bus by 4.  The line was much longer today and it took us several busses and 20 minutes to finally get on board.

 We were dropped off around 4:45 and made our way to the start corrals.  For the half and the full, the corrals are further away from the bus drop off - it was a good 20-25 minute walk.  We stopped for one last potty break and found our way to Corral K.  The race "started" at 5:30 but it was well after 6 by the time our corral was called.

The view from lovely Corral K.

The run was hot and humid and crowded.  I remember seeing the Mile 1 marker and thinking, "what? We've only run a mile?!?  Seriously???"  We used the run/walk method and stated pretty close to our 4 minute runs followed by 1 minute walks.  But it was slow going.  We planned on taking today slow - to save our legs for tomorrow, but I don't think I could have gone any faster if I wanted to.

Mile 3-ish - but not really close to the Magic Kingdom!

By this point, I had concluded that if we ran the 5k, the 10k and the half and stopped there (which was seeming like a real possibility) it would be a DOUGH! instead of a Dopey!  It was just so hot and humid (and I was wearing a ridiculous hat) and did I mention it was hot!?!  From the Magic Kingdom tollbooth its another coupld of miles before we entered the actual magic Kingdom.  But we got there!  Soon after entering the park, we spotted Lou from WDW Radio - he got a sweaty hug.

Doesn't he seemed thrilled!?!

A few years past Lou we saw Brenda, Tom and Joseph!  I got a little emotional running down Main Street - this is what it's all about.  The crowds were awesome (and really loud).  It definitely helped keep us moving.

We took a quick detour to a little used bathroom in Tomorrowland - Anne raved about this find!  We then ran through the castle, through Liberty Square and Frontierland and and into a back stage area.

The next several miles were fairly bland - but we did see this guy.

Carrying and playing a tuba ... during some of the areas where there were no spectators someone would yell, "We need a song!" and Tuba Guy would play a tune and everyone would sing a long!  it was a great (and often much needed) pick me up.

We ran past the Grand Floridian, the Wedding Center, a golf course and the Polynesian with pretty good spectator support.  Then is was back to the highway we were on from Ecpot to the Magic Kingdom until Mile 10.  It was at this point that Anne and I decided on how we would cross the finish line (more later) and just tried to get the miles in.  There is a Toy Story Army Guy at Mile 10 (its a highway on ramps and is killer on the legs).  We waited in a fairly short line for a picture, but when ewe were the second in line he announced that he had to "take a quick break."  Really!?!  We didn't want to wait, so we left and hadn't taken 20 steps before we heard, "Ok, I'm back!" Ugh.  We ran along more highway and then a little bridge into Epcot through a back gate, around the fountain, toward Wold Showcase, back to the fountain and then out a different back gate where we met the famous Gospel Choir.  I didn't get a picture of them, but they are awesome!

At this point, we could see the finish line and we started talking about when we would unveil our finishline spectacular.  We first identified a cameraman and decided to start where he was set up, but as we got to him, we realized we were still too far away from the finish line so we kept running.  With about 15 yards to go, we pulled to the side and Anne hopped on my back and rode me in.  From the laughs and cheers it was clear that Anne was "selling it.'  I think she had a pretend lasso and perhaps a riding crop.  As we crossed the announcer wondered "Has he been carry her the whole way!?!  Way to go!!!"  Three Down - One to go!

Here's the medal ceremony for a past the middle of the pack finisher:

And here's the finish photo (a little blurry):

We took the bus back to the resort and laid low for the rest of the day.  Massages at 2; Italian dinner at 5, but not much else in between.  The kids were with their cousins at 3 of the 4 parks having a blast.  They finally came home after 10 and I went to bed for my . . . .hmmmmm . . . .4 hours of interrupted sleep before the marathon.

I was struck at how sore I was.  I felt worse after running the half than I felt after ANY of our long training runs (including our 20 miler) and we ran SLOWER than usual!  Before we started, we talked about 'taking it slow" to leave something in the tank for the marathon.  We certainly took it slow, but not because we were TRYING to go slow - that was simply as fast as we could possible run.  I had real anxiety about finishing the marathon at this point.  Serious reservations.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Day Two

Ok, way too tired to write. On the off chance someone is actually reading this, here are some pics from the day. Words to follow tomorrow.

Okay!  I woke up before my 3:45 alarm (again) and was in line for the bus by 4 am.  Here's the bus line - we're in the front!

We got to the start area by 4:30 and visited the portapotties. There were lots of good costumes and a couple from Southern California stopped up and asked if we would take a picture with them.  Not too shabby!

Like the 5k, it was crowded in the corrals.

We were able to finagle our way to the front of Corral C and had a great view of the start line.

The race itself was pretty uneventful.  It was warm, but we took it slow.  We saw Hope cheering in front of our hotel, which was a nice pick-me-up.

After finishing, we too a bus back to the hotel, grabbed a shower and then headed off to the airport to pick up the boys.  They made it!!! From the airport, we drove directly to ...

Had a great (but long) visit in the Magic Kingdom.  We hit Lirates, Big Thunder Mountain, Tom Sawyer Island (Hoe and I), Haunted Mansion (Anne, Andy and Theo), Buzz Lighthearted, Monsters Inc. laughing Floor and Space Mountain.  Phew!  Turns out that was too much walking.  We left the lark and hurried back to the hotel for a quick swim and then off to the Team TSA dinner.

Highlights from the dinner were hearing Jaylen from; Carlos Guevara from X-Factor and Nat and Alex Wolff from Nicelodeon's Naked Brothers Band.  All very inspiring!  Theo was on the edge of his chair the whole time.

It was an inspiring night, but meant a late bedtime.  Ugh. I was in bed around 10 but the boys went to Hollywood Studios with their cousins and didn't get back until after 11 - I was out by then.  My alarm was set for 3:40 again ....