Sunday, January 15, 2012

I Ran the Disneyworld Marathon to Stop MS

People run marathons all the time. I know this and yet the process felt so personal. Perhaps it’s because all of the training is solo and because I do it all for me.  I’m not competing against anyone but myself. Working up to the race took hours upon hours of running, logging over 1000 miles last year in anticipation for my very first 26.2 miles in Orlando, Florida for the Disney World Marathon last Sunday. In 2011 I completed Philly’s Broad Street Run in May, the Chicago Rock n Roll half marathon in August, and the Las Vegas nighttime Rock n Roll half marathon in December. When I started running 2.5 years ago, I never thought I’d run a marathon.

running Disney Marathon

If you’re my friend on Facebook, you’ve had some insight into my training and one of the main reasons I’m doing it: raising money for the fight against Multiple Sclerosis. And it’s been worth every step. I raised over $3000 for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society in the months leading up to the marathon and want to thank every single person who donated. I was humbled and honored and so incredibly touched by the amazing support I received.

Thanks to:

Eddie Keels of Loose Leaf Concepts
Alicia Kopp
Valerie Connolly
Dorothy Childers
Jessica Bernstein
Julie Cheshire
Carolyn Heckman
Annie MacKenzie
Bo Motlagh
Tony Heyl
Marnie Elder
Drew & Deena O'Neill
Christopher Kaminstein
Karen Harris
Nanci Raphael & Art Bernstein
Tim Mahoney
Joanna Lopinto
Martha Larson
Lucy Fouse (and Bridget & Andy)
Ali Roberts
Garth & Anne Docherty
Sue Docherty
Bernard Kelly
Rita DiLuca
Michael ONeil
Jillian & Preston Neill
Phyllis Hurwitz
Mark Thompson
Lisa Keels & Jeff Lowenstein
Nikki & Matt Kahn
Kathleen Lane
Lisa Mankowski & Bella
Liz & Ed Keels
Denel Kopf
Emily Conn Gantman
Maria L Guerin
Richard White
Karen & Paul Harris
Tanti Lina
Jessica & Camren Knasel
Kaitlin Shaw
Alexis & Nick Giampaolo
Anne Marie McCool
Lauren Sinrod
Eileen Cutler

The team at Performance Fitness-Wynnewood for keeping me going on my non-run days

Thank you all from the very bottom of my heart. It meant the world to me.

As for the marathon itself, it was incredible! I had an amazing experience and did better than I ever expected considering the injuries and setbacks over the last few months. I finished in 3 hours, 47 minutes, and 4 seconds. Running through the various parks (Epcot, Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios) with 13478 other runners (many in Disney costumes) was so neat. There were spots for photo ops with all of the various Disney characters. Bands and entertainment along the course made the time fly. More than anything, the spectators were awesome. I’m convinced that high fives (or high fours for those with Mickey gloves!) are the secret to speed.

Here are just a few of the highlights from the race:
* Getting a 3am wake up call from Mickey and Stitch
* Sharing the monorail and walking to the start with a great and loving family - father, son, mother, and mother’s sister. The sister had lost her husband to MS related complications just months earlier. I thought about them throughout the race. The father and son were doing the relay that day.
* Fireworks at the start of each wave
* The perfect weather for the first few hours of the race
* Looking at my watch and realizing I was ahead of my expected time
* Watching the skies get lighter and the morning light streaming through the trees and across the runners
* The overjoyed reaction of a group of runners in Toy Story costumes when they saw the Buzz and Woody characters along the course
*Watching shadows of Mickey Mouse eared runners
* Seeing my best friend, Liz, cheering me on at the Grand Floridian
* Starting in a later corral and passing pace groups (I’ll be honest, passing anyone was pretty great)
* The old school bicyclists in one of the parking lots
* High fiving fellow runners on the down and back segment
* Seeing a family of spectators with a sign cheering on their father who has MS
* The live owls and animals along the course at Animal Kingdom
* Drinking PowerAde and managing to splash it all over my face and shirt at every stop
* Gospel singers near the end
* Turning the corner and seeing the finish line. I can only imagine how big my smile was.
* Passing the 4:00 pacer mere steps away from the finish
* Getting that Mickey medal

running Disney Marathon

The trip was incredible. A special thanks to Michael O’Neil for giving up Liz for the weekend and providing us with a great experience while we were there. And of course Liz for celebrating her 30th with me and completing her first half marathon!

running Disney Marathon

All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them. 
~ Walt Disney

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