Thursday, January 26, 2012

Icebreaker Indoor Marathon & Half Marathon (In Pictures)

Thank you to Bill Flaws from for all the pictures here. Please check out his website for icebreaker pictures as well as tons of race information all over the USA including running clubs and running forums. Bill ton thousands of pictures at the Icebreaker Marathon.

This is The Pettit National Ice Center in Milwaukee, WI. This is where the Icebreaker Indoor Marathon takes place.

The Hall of Fame room overlooking the track and ice oval and where packet pickup was located. A great place to relax before the race and ofter the race.

The National Anthem was played by Olu Sijuwade who is a speedskater who trains at the Pettit Center. He has played the National Anthem at many national and international competitions held at Pettit.

The Start of the 5K race on Friday evening. Melissa is too short to be seen.

The start of the Full Marathon on Sunday morning. The race thins out considerably so it is not anywhere near that crowded on the track.

Half Marathoners run past the huge American Flag in Pettit.

Chris Ponteri, Icebreaker Marathon Race Director.

During the Full Marathon, a Zamboni cleans the ice for skaters. If you look closely, right below the small balcony, you can see a sign for runners saying "Watch for Zamboni Crossing"

The front stretch of the track with bleachers and timing clock.

View of the front stretch from the other side. You can see the large screen that shows spectators laps completed and current place.

The back stretch of the track. Pretty close to the wall, even closer to the ice.

The famous and super energetic water table volunteers right next to the track ready to hand off water or Powerade to any runner who need it.

The marathon relay is possibly the most exciting race of the entire event. Teams surround both ends of the track cheering on all the teams.

Banners hanging in the rafters of Pettit showing all the speedskaters who won Olympic Medals who have trained at Pettit (or at the outdoor ice oval that used to be located right where Pettit is now). Eric Heiden, Bonnie Blair, Dan Jansen, Chris Witty to name a few. Some of these champions grew up only a few miles from Pettit.

There was public ice skating allowed during some of the races. You could actually go ice skating while watching your friends run a marathon. Where else could you do that in the world?

Gold Medal Challenge Champions Mary Flaws and Mac McCulley.

Keep on Running!!!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Race/Weekend Report - 2012 Icebreaker Indoor Marathon & Half Marathon

This past weekend was the 4th annual Icebreaker Indoor Marathon and Half Marathon at the Pettit National Ice Center in Milwaukee, WI. Yes, a January Marathon in Milwaukee, but as the name indicates, an INDOOR marathon.

The Pettit National Ice Center is the place originally where Olympic Speedskaters train on the 400 meter Ice Oval (they also now train in Kearns, Utah as well). On the outside of the Ice Oval is a 2 lane running track. My friend, Chris Ponteri, decided this would be a great place to put on a Marathon and why not have it when it is traditionally the coldest and snowiest in Milwaukee, so the 3rd weekend in January was adopted. The running track is 443 meter long thus making a full marathon 95.4 laps and a half marathon 47.7 laps. This will be the flattest marathon you will ever find and quite possibly the best weather as well, a controlled 45 to 50 dry degrees, almost perfect for running and no wind. The surface is a bit hard, a thin piece of hard rubber on cement but that may be changing sometime soon.

Over the past 4 races, the Icebreaker has added races. The first year was just the full marathon. Year 2 added 2 half marathon races (only 130 can fit on the track at one time comfortably) and a marathon relay on Saturday. Year 3 added a 5K on Friday night and this year the 5K was expanded. This is a VERY popular event with runners from over 20 states and a few international runners over the years.

The weekend began on Thursday evening with packet stuffing. About 15 or so of us gathered to full over 1200 bags with sponsor’s information and get the track and packet pickup area ready.

Melissa running the 5K on Friday (Photo courtesy of

Friday evening brought us snow and slippery roads, just what an indoor marathon needs. This meant that packet pickup for the Half Marathon and Marathon was slowed as runners decided to come day of race (a great feature this race offers). Packet Pickup is in a room overlooking the track and Ice Oval which is great for watching the race if you want to stay warm. My 10 year old daughter was in the 5K this year and 57 of the 75 runners were able to show up for the race. I played the part of coach again and encouraged her and timed her laps to see if she was on pace or not. She did really well and ran a time of 27:16, only 1 second slower than she ran at Disney 2 weeks earlier but without my help running next to her. She ended up in 1st place in the 19 and under age group beating out another 9 year old and an 18 year old. She was 22nd overall and the 5th female to finish. She was happy with her time and had fun beating all the other “older” runners in the race. Her age group award will be a special Icebreaker Pin she can wear anywhere.

Melissa in her last 100 meters of the 5K (Photo courtesy of

Saturday morning saw me waking up at 4:30 AM so I could be to Pettit by 5:15 to help make sure everything was ready. By 6:15, my friends Jamie (Running Diva Mom) and Amy (Running -Reading- is Cheaper than Therapy) showed up as they were running the first half marathon race scheduled to begin at 7:00AM. It is always a festive atmosphere in the Hall of Fame room above the track before the race and everyone is getting ready for the race and picking up their packets. The first race is the “Fast” heat of the 2 half marathons with runners who should be able to break 2 hours. Right before the race, one of my duties is to make sure the runners have their timing chips attached to their ankles and Velcro’ed on. In past years, a runner or 2 did not heed the warnings and did not have laps counted as they crossed over the timing mats every lap. I also reminded runners to run in the outside lane and pass on the inside lane. Some of the runners in the race are VERY fast and there not always a lot of room so this is the rule and it works really well. Runners are supposed to call out “Track” when coming up on slower runners if they are in lane 1 but this doesn’t happen too often if everyone follows the rules. By running in lane 2, you do add distance to your race, approximately 200 meters for a half marathon and about a ¼ mile for a full but as with all marathons out there, it is almost certain you will run longer since almost everyone does not run the tangents. Not a big deal here.

Jamie and Amy before the Half Marathon

Race 1 started well and runners soon spread out enough for comfortable running after only a few laps. My friends Jamie and Amy started together for a few laps but then split to run their own races. I was able to cheer them both on and take a few pictures and videos as well.

Another friend of mine, Paul, was volunteering at the water table. I do have to say that this may be the best and most unique water table is all marathons. Runners are required to use water bottles with lids to prevent spilling since everyone needs to run past the same place over and over. Runners put their number on their bottle(s) and then ask for the bottle when they want them. The next lap, the volunteers will have their bottle ready for them and they can run with it and drop it off the next lap. Water and Powerade were supplies as well as Gu. Each runner has a specific volunteer they always went to which made it a more personal touch and a runners very own cheering section.

Amy somewhere in the middle oh the Half Marathon (photo courtesy of

Icebreaker has an announcer who reads off sponsor information during the race as well as lap counts if a runner needs to know where they are. Then with about 5 laps to go, the announcer will mention your name and the number of laps you have left as well as saying when they begin their final lap. This is all done with monitors and chip timing. And when a runner is done, they are announced as an Icebreaker Finisher. Pretty cool if you ask me. The official announcer sometimes needed a break so I was able to take over which was quite fun. During the marathon relay, I announced toward the end and tried to jazz it up some and pump up some of the runners. I think it went over well???

Jamie during her Half Marathon (photo courtesy of

Amy and Jamie ran very well. Amy finished in 1:48 (75 out of 223) and Jamie followed closely in 1:54 (103 out of 223). They did great. I was able to talk to them for a bit before the second race started and they seemed very happy with their times. I am hoping to get them to sign up for the full marathon next year! The winning time in the half marathon was 1:13 so pretty fast and the first place female was 1:26 (9th overall). The conditions allow for fast times at Pettit. The second half marathon is usually for the noncompetitive runners but a few fast runners sneak in and the winning time of race 2 was 1:35. You can read Amy Race Report [Here] and Jamie's Race Report [Here].

Quite possibly the most exciting race of the entire event is the Marathon Relay on Saturday afternoon. Teams of 2 to 4 runners complete the 95.4 laps but there is very interesting strategy involved. Rules allow teams to exchange as many times as they wish and wherever on the track they wish to do so. 99 teams were competing so it was very crowded especially considering this race had the biggest difference in paces. The winning team ran 2:12:44 for a pace of 5:04. HOLY CRAP is that fast! The second place team wasn’t much slower finishing in a time of 2:15:48. Both of these teams had runners from the college I ran for many years ago so I was able to talk to them and see their strategies. I wonder how fast they could have run if there wasn’t 99 teams on the track getting in the way? We are exploring this to see if we want to make a change next year. It sure looked like all the teams were having a blast cheering on not only their runners but also runners from other teams. People are all around the track so no lack of fans and cheering.

The Relay was the final event of the day and I was able to go home after 13 hours but I was able to sit for a lot of it so that helps. I was able to get some sleep on Saturday night and was back at the Pettit Center at about 6:45AM.

If you recall from my report on my Disney Marathon experience, you know that I had my IT band get very sore and had to walk almost 12 miles. I went to the doctor to confirm that it was in fact my IT band and see if I could run the Icebreaker Marathon. I did not want to miss it because I have run all the previous 3. I decided by Saturday evening that I would give it a try and hope for the best. I was ready for a lot of walking and hoped to get past half way before I needed to walk. A DNF was not an option unless the pain was too intense and too early.

One thing cool about running all of the Icebreaker Marathons and that the size rather small is that you get to know a lot of the runners that run every year. Robyn is one runner that has run every Icebreaker and I have gotten to know a little 1 year at a time. I have seen her at one other marathon besides Icebreaker but you get to recognize people and get to know them. Runners are such cool people that it is very easy to just talk and have fun. There are about 10 or so of us that have run every Icebreaker Marathon.

One other thing that the Icebreaker Marathon offers is the Gold Medal Challenge. I did this 2 years ago. The Gold Medal Challenge is just like the Goofy Challenge at Disney World where you run the Half Marathon on Saturday and follow that us with the Full Marathon on Sunday. Instead of just a Bronze Medal for running the Half Marathon and a Silver Medal for running the Full, you also get a Gold Medal. 40 runners get a chance to do this at Icebreaker and then there are results for just the Gold Medal being your combined time. The winner of the Gold Medal Challenge gets their name on a banner displayed in the rafters at Pettit along with all the Speedskating Olympians. Pretty Cool.

I started almost dead last in the Full Marathon (photo courtesy of

Just as the countdown for the beginning of the marathon began, I found myself at the very back of the pack and started almost dead last. Only 3 other runners who were still getting ready on the other side of the track started after me. My goal was to maintain about a 4 hour marathon until the pain began and then adjust. I also changed strategy from last time and would take my usual 30 second breaks every 7 laps (just under 2 miles) instead of 10 laps like that last 3 years. As much as the water table is a ton of fun, I only use them to refill my water bottle if it empties; I bring a small TV tray like table and put all my stuff (Salt, Water, Gu, Vaseline, etc) for easy reach just off the track. My friend Paul was helping out at the water table so I was able to get cheers on most of my laps.

Mike keeps moving in the Full Marathon (photo courtesy of

Also running the full marathon was my friend Mike, his first Icebreaker Marathon. Mike is faster than I am so I expected to see him every 6 or 7 laps as he passed me and sure enough he did. After 5 laps, I was feeling pretty good, my knee wasn’t an issue yet and my pace was close to 9:00 per mile. This stayed until about 18 laps in when knee started hurting and I was worried. I quickly took 4 Tylenol and kept going hoping it would work. It got a little worse but after half way, it started feeling a little better and I was able to keep running the entire race (except for planned breaks that is). I went through the half in about 2:01:50ish and my legs were tired so I figured Sub 4 was out of the question. My lap pace fell to about 10 to 20 seconds slower than needed but watching the speedskaters on the ice and watching the race leaders helped distract me.

Mike passing me in the Full Marathon down the back stretch (photo courtesy of

The winner of the race, Mac McCulley, finished 32 laps ahead of me in a time of 2:39:27 but what was really cool about him and the other early finishers is that they stayed and cheered on the other runners after they were finished. What other marathon can you have the winner cheer you on long before you are done? So Cool. The winner of the women’s race was Mary Flaws, the 2 time defending Gold Medal Challenge winner in a time of 3:13:14 in 9th place overall and once again; she was the Gold Medal winner. Mac McCulley also won the Half Marathon the day before so he was the Gold Medal Men’s winner.

Another really cool feature of the Icebreaker Marathon is that spectators can sit in one place and see you 95 times if they so choose. It is a bit chilly for spectators but with a few layers, it is nice. There are plenty of bleacher seats for everyone and they can even go upstairs to the Hall of Fame Room and watch behind glass in heated comfort. Laps counts are displayed on a screen next to the track for spectators as well. Runners can see it to but it is not very handy as only 10 runners are listed at any time. Some fans bring signs. One even brought a bunch of printed notes and changed them every lap or so. S Some would say “Come this way often?” or “Left Turn Ahead”. They were quite clever. Another fan had a dry erase board and had it say “Free High 5’s” for a while and then his kids would give high 5’s. It was fun.

Another friend of mine that I was able to run with was Brandi who was on the Jennipede team with me. We just found out today that we have been certified Guinness Marathon World Record holders.

Somewhere around mile 21 or 22, I started feeling less tired and was able to pick the pace back up to 9:00 miles. My new goal was to try to beat my time from last year’s Icebreaker (4:08:32). I knew I had to keep it up to do it but I was feeling good. The music was upbeat and the track was clearing as more runners were finishing. Mike finished 9 ½ laps ahead of me in a time 3:42:28 good for 30th place. Not a good time for Mike but only his second time running at Pettit. I kept cranking it out and soon found myself as the fastest runner on the track with 5 or so laps to go. It was fun to be passing everyone and not being passed at all. Knowing that this would be my last run for a month or 2 (taking time off to rest the IT Band), I pounded the last 2 laps and finished in a time of 4:07:04. I was really happy with this time considering I had only run 1 time in the last 2 weeks and that I was really expecting to have to walk a ton due to my IT Band. I ended up in 52nd place overall out of 114 runner. Even though I ran a minute and a half faster this year, I was 2 places lower but still in the top half.

After the race, there was a separate room for runners to enjoy tons of good food and treats (cookies, doughnuts, bagels, bananas, crackers, etc). There was all the chocolate milk you could ever want to help recover. Mary Flaw, winner of the Marathon/Gold Medal Challenge, had also made 60 dozen of the best cookies for all the runners too. She happens to be married to Bill Flaws and they jointly run the website Bill was the photographer of the race as well. You can see a lot of his work in the pictures I am posting. He does a great job.

So now I am going to take a break from running for a while to heal up the IT Band. It sucks but is needed. I haven’t had a break from running in something like 6 years so my body will appreciate it. Hopefully I will come back stronger and faster and most importantly, healthier. I hope to learn some stretches to help my IT so this won’t happen again.

Soon I will write another post about the Icebreaker Marathon and Half Marathon. I want to share some more pictures as well as links to others reports and some links to some videos from this year’s race.

If you want in to next year’s Icebreaker Marathon, sign up early as it fills quickly. I think registration opens on August 1st.

Also new this year, we will be starting the 1st annual Heatbreaker Half Marathon and Half Marathon Relay to be held at the Pettit on Saturday, July 28th, traditionally the hottest weekend of the year in Milwaukee. I will write more about this race soon as well. Just think of how cool it is to run in 50 degree no humidity on the hottest day of the year.

Until the next marathon…

Keep on Running!!!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Race Report - Disney World Marathon (Goofy Challenge)

I finished the Goofy Challenge at Disney World a week and a half ago. That is the good news about the race - that I finished, not much else to say good about my race as it was a disaster for me. Not a crash & burn disaster, no, it was an injury disaster. One that makes this the worst marathon (by far) that I ever ran - I take that back - that I ever completed, I didn't run a lot of it. Here is the story:

The race started awfully early in the morning once again. This time I was able to get about 6 hours of sleep before I woke us a little before 3AM. And after another day of walking the parks, I needed some rest. I was a little more awake this time and did not fall asleep on the bus like I did the day before. I got to the starting area a little earlier and after dropping off my bad at the bag check area, I took my time getting to the start area. I had plenty of time to get to my corral and settle in.

The start was pretty cool the same as the day before. It is really dark out still so they start with a lot of fireworks and flame balls over the start line for each corral start. It is really a cool site to see! Instead of going directly to the Magic Kingdom as the Half Marathon does, this race begins with a loop around the Epcot parking lot on the highway, then through the front of Epcot and leaving to go right past the start line again at about mile 4. This race isn't as crowded as the half marathon which is better. Instead of 22,000+ finishers, the full marathon had only 13,467 finishers, still way too many if you ask me, but 9000 less is better.

I start pretty slow as I knew I spent it all the day before in the half. I was just going to run and have fun along the way. I expected a time somewhere near 4:30 and my pace for the first 5 miles was right there. Legs were tired but loosening up and ready to go. By mile 7, my right knee was starting to hurt some. I have had tendinitis in that knee for quite some time so i decided at mile 8 to take some Tylenol supplied by the medical tent and expecting it to go away a mile or so later.

By mile 10, the race enters the Magic Kingdom and we run the same route we did in the half marathon the day before. This time though, it is lighter out and we can see better. My knee still hurts so I decide to take some pictures with some characters in the park. I stopped by Rapunzel and Flynn Rider (aka Eugene Fitzherbert) and also by Princess Tiana, Prince Naveen, and Louis (the alligator). Then out of the Magic Kingdom past the Grand Floridian and Polynesian Resort before turning off toward the Animal Kingdom. By the half marathon mark on the course, I knew it was going to be a very long day as the Tylenol was doing absolutely nothing to help my knee. It wasn't the tendinitis flaring up, I can run through that, it was something else this time and getting worse with each step. I went through the half around 2:23, much slower than i really wanted to.

In the Magic Kingdom, I stopped to see Rapunzel and Flynn Rider.

When I got to mile 14, I had to stop and walk. I decided to try to see if a half mile walk would maybe help the knee out. I tried running again only to find out a few hundered feet later that it was as painful as before, if not more. By this time, I knew I was in a ton of trouble for the race. It was sunny and warm out and walking was all I could do and DNF was not an option in my mind so walking was what I needed to do.

Near Mile 14 was Captain Jack Sparrow and Barbossa. Barbossa wanted to meet with me after the race for some Rum. At this point in time, I was all for that!

After walking through the Animal Kingdom and just past mile 18, I stopped at a Medical Tent and had them tape my knee up to see if maybe that would help. It actually did, at least for about a quarter mile. The problem was that the tape was way too tight on my tendons behind my knee so that didn't work. I resigned myself to the fact that if I was going to finish this thing, it would have to be with a ton more of walking, so walking I did.

I met these cemetery guys near mile 19. I felt like this so I thin the picture serves itself well.

Every once in awhile, I would try to run to see if by some miracle, my knee would let me. And each time I did, the same result, pain and deep pain. I felt odd while walking as I was beginning to be with more and more walkers as I stopped at a few more medical tents and more and more runners past me. The biggest issue with my mind was that I knew that I could probably run as fast as 9:00 pace if it weren't for my knee. After already walking 6 miles and 6 more to go, I felt great everywhere else.

At mile 23, the course enters Hollywood Studios and by this time of day, the park is already open so there are lots of people cheering us on. All I could do was walk. This continued part Hollywood Studios, through the Boardwalk/Yacht Club Resorts and into Epcot for the final mile of the race. Epcot was also open. People would say stuff like "You can do it" and "You are doing great". I appreciate all the cheering and I know a lot of the runners near me were doing really good, but I wasn't so it was kind of like a sting each time I heard it. I would just smile and maybe wave a bit and move along.

I made the decision somewhere along the way that I would do everything I could to "run" across the finish line so with 200 meters to go, I started running and was able to run/limp across the finish line and then lean against the fence and clutch my knee. I was able to get the the medical tent one more time and wrap my knee with ice.

Here I am running the last 200 meters of the race. You can see on my face how my knee really feels. I have horrible form and just want to stop.

I am so happy to finally be done. Now where is that ICE?

The funny thing is that as much as my knee hurt to run, it didn't hurt at all to walk. I did officially finish in a time of 5:44:35, only 13 seconds less that 4 hours more than my half marathon the day before. I did get my Mickey Medal and my Goofy Medal. In some aspects, I feel that I didn't deserve it as much as I thought I should and in other aspects, I felt I earned it more than before. I did finish 42.4 miles over the 3 days of races so that is cool.

I didn't feel like hanging around after the race. Besides not knowing anyone, I wasn't in much of a festive mood. So I ended up walking over to the entrance to Epcot with knee wrapped in ice and met my family inside who were already in line for pictures with Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, and Goofy. I was in a better mood by this time and made sure I got my picture with Goofy still with my race number on.

This was my second Goofy Challenge that I completed and my third Disney Marathon. there are a lot of aspects to these races that are a lot of fun. The course entertainment is second to none of the previous 37 marathons I have completed. The Medals you receive are also second to none. the 3 I received for the Goof this year are even a ton better than the ones I received 5 years ago when i did my first Goof. But I will not be doing the Disney Marathon or Goofy Challenge again. Too many runners! Too early of a start time and even earlier wake up time to get there. Been there, Done that is my attitude for Disney now. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE DISNEY WORLD, I am a Disney freak for the parks and fun, i just don't want to do the marathons again. I would consider doing the Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon or the Disneyland Half Marathon, but not this one (or the Princess Half Marathon either, see an earlier post for my reasons on that one).

About my knee 1 week and a half later. On Monday, I went on a run with Mike to see how it would feel. I made it 2 1/2 miles before the pain started to come back. I finished 3 miles and called it a day. Today I went to see my Doctor and have it check out. As I suspected (and most of you probably already suspected as well) it is my IT Band. Of course rest is the best thing I can do but I have a dilemma. The Icebreaker Marathon is this weekend and I have run everyone of them and REALLY want to run again. I have been given the OK to try to run if I want to and have started taking a lot of Ibuprofen at meals to try to get the inflammation down as much as possible in case I do decide to attempt the Icebreaker. My Doctor also said he would play the "Bad Guy" if I decided not to run and I could blame him. I have not made a decision yet and most likely won't until Saturday. I just plan on watching a few friends run the half marathons and the marathon relays on Saturday and see how I feel after that. The full marathon is Sunday morning and I know if I do run, I most likely can expect a lot of walking again, unless the Ibu does its job.

Either way, after the Icebreaker, I will be taking some time off of running which is going to totally SUCK!!! Perhaps this will be a good thing as I really haven't had a longer break from running in quite a few years. Maybe some recovery is needed in other parts of me and I can come back stronger. I will return to run again!

Keep on Running!!! (I will again soon!)

Monday, January 16, 2012

Race Report - Disney World Half Marathon

Day 2 brought us the Disney World Half Marathon. After the 5K on Friday, we all went to the parks for the day and evening and got in late. When all was said and done, I think I got 4 hours sleep. I woke up a little before 3AM to get ready and was at the bus by 4. Once on the bus, I sat in the back and closed my eyes on the way to the starting area. Traffic was congested so it took awhile to get there.

Once we got there, a lady tapped me on the shoulder and said it was time to get off. The bus was already empty. Apparently I fell asleep on the bus. There was only 40 minutes until the start so I had to hurry to the bag check, get my shoes on, hit the portolets and then try to make it the 1 mile to the start line. I took this time 1 mile to try to warm up with some light jogging where I could. It was so crowded though that I could only go a little ways before I had to walk and go around people in the wet grass. I was a bit nervous that I wouldn't get to my starting corral on time but did find an open lane in the road median and got to my spot with about 5 minutes to spare.

I was in corral B so corral A and the Elites where ahead of me. The first wave set off and about 2 minutes later, our corral was moving to the start line. I am not sure how this happened, most likely since I was on the edge of the corral, but I found myself a head of the group before the line. I decided to take this opportunity and go a bit before the B corral started and I am glad I did. I had about a mile of open roads where there were stragglers from corral A until i met with the crowds from A.

By a mile and a half, the roads were narrow and the crowds were dense. I kept asking myself what these other runners were doing in corral A when they were doing a lot of walking and very slow running already. I found it very difficult to keep a pace that I wanted to run which was 8:00 even for the first 5 miles or so. There were times the road was wide enough to run smooth but all I could do was maintain about an 8:10 pace for the first 5 miles.

It was quite dark out for most of the race. Too dark in many places if you ask me. I almost tripped multiple times on other runners that were hard to see in the darkness. Disney needs to do a much better job in lighting some of the areas.

As I run through Cinderella Castle at about mile 5 or 6, you can see how dark it still is.

After I left the Magic Kingdom and was on the back roads near The Grand Floridian, I wanted to increase my pace to try for the best time I could get. This road was also very dark and crowded so it again was difficult. I was passing people from the very beginning of the race and all the way to the end as well. At mile 10, I was still only at 8:10 pace and knew I really needed to pick it up if I wanted to even break 1:45 even though I really wanted to run near 1:40. I guess 3 days in the parks and a 5K the day before wasn't going to allow me to get a fast time.

I began pushing up the hills and running faster. Mile 11 was a bit uphill but I managed to run a 7:59. I saw a young lady in front of me that caught my eye as she has the same slight leg swing to the side that I had. I struck up a brief conversation with her and found out she was running a good time for her so I told her to keep with me as I pushed ahead. Amy gladly came along as we passed runner after runner. It was beginning to become a ton of fun passing so many runner yet frustrating having to weave in and out to do so.

Mile 12 was a 7:26 even with all the weaving and I was feeling pretty good. I knew I had to run pretty fast if I wanted to break 1:45 so I pushed it even harder hoping Amy was still there. We entered Epcot and made a short run to the beginning of World Showcase before turning around for the fine half mile to the finish line.

With a half mile to go, I kept the pace fast! Still not very light out.

I knew it would be close so I pushed harder. I kept looking down at my time to see if I would still make it. Mile 13 was 6:59 and I saw the finish line and took it as hard as I could. I ended up crossing the finish line in a net time of 1:44:48 and I was happy with that time. This was good for 988th place overall out of 22,421 finishers. Cool, top 1000. Not too bad for 22,000+ runners. Sure I could have run faster if I didn't go to the parks 3 straight days before hand, or if I didn't run the 5K the day before, or if I got a bit more sleep, but that wasn't the goal of the race. A good time was a goal, just not the ultimate goal.

Right as I am crossing the finish line, a high five from Goofy was a must.

So I got my Donald Duck medal and was done with 2 of the 3 races for the weekend. Only the Full Marathon to go the next morning. I knew by running hard in the half that the full would be a long day and I was OK with that. I did not expect a fast time at all for the full. But then again, I didn't expect what would eventually happen in the full either. More on that in the next post.

After the race, I was surprised to not see Donald Duck around for pictures. Pluto took up the slack for Donald Fauntleroy Duck.

After the race, I walked around, congratulated other runners, took some pictures with some characters, did a little dancing in the parking lot with other runners and then headed back to the room to clean up before heading out to Hollywood Studios for another day full of fun.

So what was good and what was bad. The good is that Disney puts on a very good course with a lot of entertainment along the way. The course is just challenging enough for a faster time without too many hills to kill you. The medal is very cool. The best half marathon medal I have ever seen. The bad is that you have to wake up way too early and it is way way way way WAY too crowded of a race. I mean 22,000+ runners for a half marathon!!!! Seriously??? Too many runners!!! Too dark in many spots to run comfortably. And too narrow in many spots for a good runner flow.

My next post will be my report on the marathon, the second and final race of the Goofy Challenge.

In the mean time...

Keep on Running!!!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Race Report - Disney World 5K

I am back from the Happiest Place on Earth! And I have really had enough. 11 days is plenty and Disney is by no means a relaxing place to go, that is when you have 3 little girls that want to do EVERYTHING.

We arrived at Disney on Wednesday the 4th and went to parks right away. No need to rest before 3 races, is there? Thursday was again at the parks but when nap time came, Melissa (my then 9 year old, now 10) took the shuttle from our resort to the Marathon Expo held at Disney's Wide World of Sports. The expo was big and actually held in 2 different buildings. One building help the packet pick up and the official Disney Marathon store and the other where you picked up your shirt and all the other exhibits. We didn't stay too long as we did need to go to more parks in the evening.

One thing everyone that wants to run during the Disney World Marathon Weekend is that all the race start way way way way early and you need to get up even way way earlier to get there on time. The races are also way way way expensive too. The 5K costs $50 per person. I am not sure what the half marathon or the full marathon cost because I signed up for the Goofy Challenge (run both the half and the full) but that was $350!!!!!!

Melissa right before the start of the race.

Melissa and I woke up very early for the 6:30AM start to the 5K and took the complimentary transportation to EPCOT for the race. We got there plenty early since they told us we needed to be on the bus by 4:30AM. We walked around on the foggy morning in the cool air waiting for the race to begin. They did have tons of music playing and it was quite festive but the race was not chipped times. Seemed odd to me. $50 should at least get you an official time, shouldn't it?

Melissa happy to be running in the Disney World 5K

Melissa should be pretty close to me somewhere.

We did a little warm up and headed to the starting area. Melissa wanted to run as fast as she could so we lined up toward the front but not right up there. The gun sounded in the dark and the entire race was in the dark. The first mile was in parking lots and back roads of EPCOT before entering the back lots area of EPCOT near Test Track and then entering the public grounds near Norway section of World Showcase. I was pacing Melissa at close to 9:00 pace and we were doing well. By mile 2, Melissa was tiring so she was slowing down but kept up spirits and pushed on. By mile 3, she had picked it back up and pushed through her pain toward the finish line passing a few people along the way. The finish line is the same one that they use for the half marathon and the full marathon but much less crowded with people cheering for the 5K. We cross the finish line in a time of 27:15, not a PR for Melissa but within a minute and since she hasn't run but only 1 time since early December, I would say that is not too bad.

Melissa happy with her race and proud of her medal she earned.

After the race, we didn't stick around too long and headed back for yet another day of fun at the parks.

Race 1 of 3 done. 3.1 miles of 42.4 miles done. Some good to come, some bad.

Keep on Running!!!

Monday, January 2, 2012

2012 - Start Off Where I Left Off

Hopes are that 2012 will be as exciting a year as 2011 was in terms of running. Last year, I started out the first weekend of the year running a double marathon in Mississippi and Alabama.

This year, I will run the Goofy Challenge in Disney World as well as the 5K the day before.I am not sure if there is an unofficial name for doing all 3 races, I call it the Goof Plus. So basically this is how it works, on Friday morning, I am running the Disney 5K with my daughter. Saturday morning, I will run the Disney Half Marathon, then on Sunday morning, I will run the Disney Marathon. Not quite as many miles as a double marathon, 10 miles short, but I will get 4 total medals, not 2.

I am lucky enough to have my brother and his wife in town while we are gone to watch the house and hopefully shovel any snow that may come. I won't get to see him long, maybe a half a day, but he saves on hotel for a week.

Only 2 weeks after the Goof Plus, I will be running the Icebreaker Indoor Marathon here in Milwaukee. It will be a long weekend working the race for 4 days and then running the full on Sunday. No expectations on any time there for sure, just run it and have fun.

As far as the rest of the year, here is what may happen. Mike, Paul and I are contemplating doing another Marathon double in March by running in Washington DC as well as Virginia Beach, VA. We only get to add 1 state (Virginia) but if you are going to do all 50 states, might as well do DC as well.

In late March/early April is the Trailbreaker Marathon in Waukesha, WI. It is close to home, relatively cheap and works well for a training run. I have run this one the past 4 years, it is not a very good marathon but like I said, close to home and cheap.

In May, I would like to get some friends and go to Door County, WI to run the Door County Half Marathon. I ran this once and it is such a beautiful place to run and a great course. Plus is makes for a perfect weekend getaway. If I don't run that one, I have wanted to run the Lake Geneva Euro Cross Race for years. This is a 21 miles run around Lake Geneva on the lakeshore path. Not easy but sounds fun.

In June, I think I have been invited to join a Ragnar Relay Ultra team. This race is a relay race from Madison, WI, through Milwaukee and then down to Chicago. I would be on a team of only 6 runners so we would average about 33 miles per runner in 3 separate double legs. Very tiring I hear but tons of fun. I have some other friends already on a team and it will be fun to track each other along the way with calls and texts.

There are a few smaller races I am sure I will do (Gary's Gallop 5K, The Great Milwaukee Race, etc) and will most likely add a state or 2 more to my list as there are still a few states close enough to drive to (Iowa, Ohio, Nebraska, South Dakota).

It is too early for me to really know if I will try to run more miles in 2012 than 2011 or if I will run another record number of miles in a month. But I will run many miles and try to enjoy as many of them as I can.

I am planning the 4th annual Kids Marathon (with a new name this year) and will most likely coach on my daughters Track team as well as her Cross Country team. I hope to run with a lot of friends again and hopefully run with a new friends as well. I hope to encourage you to run better this year and enjoy yourself while pounding out the miles. I even may organize a new 5K race with a friend of mine. We have a unique idea that I will share with you later.

So I raise a glass to 2011 and say good-bye and raise another to 2012 and hope for the best. I hope it is a great year for all of you. Here is to lots of PR's and lots of races completed. Here is to running with friends and running alone in peace and quiet.

It is off to The Happiest Place on Earth in a couple days.

Keep on Running!!!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

2011 - A Good Year For the Most Part

2011 was a pretty busy running year. As you can see above, I ran quite a few races and lots of marathons. I ran some pretty good marathons and I had a dud or 2 in there as well. I ran most of the year with some tendinitis in my right knee but my ankle issue from before is basically gone. I met some new running friends and some that have become more that just running friends. Runners are so cool. I participated in a committee to organize a full marathon and I continued to organize the kids marathon for the 3rd straight year. I coached some grade/middle school kids in Cross Country too. I also now am a Marathon World Record Holder! I did not run a marathon PR this year but did get sub 4 a total of 4 times as well. I also added 3 new states (MS, AL, KY) toward my goal of all 50. It was a pretty good year.

I ran a total of 10 full marathons in 2011, a record for me. Not all of them were full races, if you have read my blog for awhile, you will know that I do run full marathons as training runs at times. Those are usually local marathons that are pretty cheap. I did run a few shorter races this year as well, a few 5K's, some alone and some with my 9 year old daughter, and I did run a 1 mile race too.

I finished with 2 personal mileage records this year. For the year, I ran a total of 1634.2 miles, 33 more that last years record of 1601. I also broke my personal monthly mileage record by a whole 1.1 miles with a total of 211.8 in July.

Of all the running I did this year, I would say there were 4 things that were more rewarding than any of the other runs or totals. First was participating on the committee for the Icebreaker Indoor Marathon here in Milwaukee. It is a ton of fun trying to make the best possible running experience for all the marathoner, half marathoners, and relay runners out there.

Second would be organizing the 3rd annual WELS Kids Marathon. 433 kids joined in the running and reading program and a majority of them showed up at our final mile. Seeing them cross the finish line and giving them a high five before they receive their much earned finishers medal is so cool. The 4th annual will be coming again this summer!

Third would be that I started coaching Cross Country for my daughters grade/middle school team. I coached the boys as well and the girls and had some very successful runs for the team. It is great seeing the improvement these kids show through the short season and how they learn to work and run as a team and how that translates into winning the big meet. Many of these kids are so eager to learn more, very rewarding.

The last thing would be running as a part of the Jennipede team that raised over $100K for the rehabilitation cost for Jenny Crain, a multi time Olympic Trials qualifier from here in Milwaukee who's running career was cut short after being hit by a car on a training run before the Beijing Olympic Trials in 2007. 62 runners of all sorts of abilities joined together (figuratively AND literally) to run the Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon linked together setting a Guinness World Record for the most runners linked running a marathon. Jenny was there in spirit on our training runs and was there with us for the final 0.2 miles and as we crossed the finish line. So Cool.

Instead of reviewing every marathon here, please click on the link to the following marathons if you would like to read my race reports on them:

Mississippi Blues Marathon

First Light Mobile Marathon

Icebreaker Indoor Marathon

Maple Leaf Indoor Marathon

Trailbreaker Marathon

Madison Marathon

Eisenbahn Marathon

Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon

Louisville Marathon

Haunted Hustle Marathon

So there is 2011 in a nutshell. It was pretty fun! The 2012 preview is coming up and it starts out just like 2011, with a bang!!!

Keep on Running!!!