Monday, January 19, 2015

CheapRunnerMike's 2015 Walt Disney World Marathon Recap

Posted by CheapRunnerMike

It has been a week now since I ran the Disney Marathon in Florida and life is slowly returning to normal.  Michelle and I left for Disney on Friday morning and hit the expo shortly after landing to pick up my bib and we took a very quick tour of the booths while we were there.  Pretty much the same old same old and any items I would have wanted to get were already sold out, so I was able to save a few bucks.

After bib pick up we set headed over to Michelle's Aunt & Uncle's condo where we were spending our first night.  We had a great night with them, which included cards and a wonderful pasta dinner made with the runner in mind.  The next morning Michelle and I got out early for a quick shakeout run before having a nice breakfast and then saying our goodbyes as we went to check into our resort.  We were staying at Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort, which is our home resort for Disney Vacation Club.  We arrived before noon and to our surprise our room was ready.  They were even able to accommodate all of our room requests, a nice bonus for sure.

We quickly settled into our room and then went to the Magic Kingdom to pick up our Annual Passes and enjoy the afternoon.  We took it easy there as I didn't want to do too much walking and burn out my legs and before too long it was time to go for our senior's supper at 5:00.  Nothing fancy, just straight-up linguine and meat sauce at Olive Garden (and unlimited bread sticks!) to get my last carb load on.  Then back to the resort for a quick soak in the hot tub and off to bed by 8:00.

The alarm(s) went off at 2:15 on Sunday morning as we had a date with the shuttle bus at 3:00.  I was up easy after a great night's sleep (which happens approximately NEVER before a race) and grabbed my breakfast of oatmeal, a banana and bagel.  I had avoided coffee and caffeine the last couple days and stuck to it race morning, so just a PowerAde to drink.  We made the first bus out and arrived at the Epcot staging area around 3:30.  I was up in Corral A and the race kicked off at 5:30, so Michelle and I just hung out for a little bit as we both had time to kill.  I tried (quite a few times) to get my "runner's business" done before heading to my corral but I was unsuccessful.  Guess I could have used that coffee to get the system flowing…


Eventually I gave Michelle a kiss goodbye and began the long walk to my corral.  It was a cool morning and I thankfully had my throwaway sweats to keep me warm waiting for the start.  Once in my corral I found Shan, one of the runners I follow on Strava.  We knew we were both running and in Corral A, so we were hoping to catch up with each other before the race.  It was nice having someone to chat with and help pass the time.  It was such a weird experience leading up to the start though as I really wasn't nervous at all, not even anxious even.  I just wanted to run.  I knew I had busted my ass for the last 4 months and had done all I could do, so now it was just time to cash my chips in.  Shan and I were both chasing Boston Qualifying times, 3:10 for me and 3:05 for him, so we knew we would be running similar paces.  We also both were after loftier goals of going sub-3, which was the goal I was really after though I was trying not to tell people.  To be honest, if I "only" got my BQ with a time around 3:10 I would have been disappointed…as awful as that sounds it was the truth.  If I ran a 3:10 my paces would be slower than I had run in months.


Before long the countdown began and we were ready to run…Shan and I wished each other luck and figured we would see each other again on the course at some point.  Our corral set off at 5:35 and the conditions were great for running…12°C/54°F with no noticeable wind.

Epcot to Magic Kingdom - Miles 1 to 5 (7'16", 6'55", 6'57", 6'48",6'38")

I knew that I would be tempted to go out quickly with the crowd but I resisted the urge and ran the first mile at 7:16.  The fastest pace group here was 3:05 and they were out of sight in no time.  I figured I would catch them eventually but for now I just had to run my own race.  I took some water at the second water stop and decided I was warm enough that I could ditch my last cold weather item, my gloves.  I started to settle into a quicker pace after 5K when my legs began to feel nice and loose.  As we approached the crowds at the Ticket & Transportation Center I kept my eyes peeled for Michelle…she had decided to camp out there this year instead of in the craziness of Main Street USA in the Magic Kingdom as she would be able to scoot over to the Polynesian Resort and see me again.  I saw Michelle (well, I heard her first…she isn't quiet!) and it was a nice boost at the 4 mile mark.  She told me afterwards that she was a bit worried as the 3:05 pace group came through a bit earlier but I managed to catch up to them shortly by running my own easy pace.  I joined up with them at the underpass where the Seven Seas Lagoon meets Bay Lake, just before the Contemporary Resort.  Up ahead I could see the lights twinkling on Cinderella's Castle…we were about to enter the Magic Kingdom!


Magic Kingdom to Animal Kingdom - Miles 6 to 13 (7'01", 6'51", 6'58", 6'54", 6'53", 6'56", 6'41", 6'44")

The run down Main Street USA during the marathon is simply incredible.  There is so much energy and excitement you can't help but get a boost from it.  I had decided that I would stick with the 3:05 pace group for a while to make sure I didn't go faster than I should…the last thing I wanted was to bonk and have to drag myself through the last half of the run, as had been my experience in my first two marathons.  I saw a few characters along the way through the Magic Kingdom (none of whom had any lines whatsoever) and as much as I may have wanted to jump in for a picture, I had my sights set on my goal.  We came out of the park and ran past the Grand Floridian and Polynesian Resorts where I was able to see Michelle again before doing a lap of the Disney Speedway.  The 3:05 group and I came out of the Speedway and crossed the 10-mile point at 1:09:48.  We set off down the service road towards Animal Kingdom.  I ran until mile 12 with the pace group and decided that was enough…my watch was showing my pace at 4:18/km (6:53/mile) and I needed to be under 4:15 to go sub-3, so I figured it was time to make my move if this was going to happen.  I dropped my pace at bit and set off to run my own race as I headed into Animal Kingdom.  I made the turn towards Expedition Everest and made my Yeti-scaring face just like last year, then blew kisses to Minnie Mouse and Daisy Duck in Dinoland before exiting the park.


Animal Kingdom to Wide World of Sports - Miles 14 to 17 (6'34", 6'51", 6'42", 6'41")

The worst stretch of the entire course, Osceola Parkway between Animal Kingdom and Wide World of Sports.  Just highway, nothing else.  Sure Disney tries to spice it up with a few characters (the Haunted Mansion gravediggers were here) and the DJ dance party, but this stretch is the most boring on the whole course and it is at a tough time for a lot of runners as it is right after the halfway point.  I crossed the half-marathon timing mat at 1:30:58 which was right where I should be, but it also meant that if I wanted sub-3 I would need to put up a negative split.  I was still feeling really good though so I pushed on and kept the pace strong.  I navigated the highway overpasses (the only real hills on the course) and asked for some McDonald's fries from spectators who were standing by the Golden Arches (they didn't fulfill my request).  There was also a runner just in front of me that went a got a kiss from his wife and hugs from his kids, so when I ran past I asked her for a kiss too…she opened her arms and said "bring it in big boy" (or something to that effect), but alas I couldn't stop for the smooch, I was on a mission.


Wide World of Sports to Hollywood Studios - Miles 18 to 23 (6'38", 6'39", 6'31", 6'42", 6'43", 6'38")

If the stretch towards WWoS is the worst, WWoS itself is a close second.  It is nice to have scenery and lots of great support again, but the course itself is brutal.  It is full of turns as you wind your way through the complex for a full 5K.  You run between soccer fields, do a lap of the running track and even run the warning track at Champion Stadium, the Spring Training home of the Atlanta Braves.  The scenery and support must have helped though as I was able to dial up some more speed through WWoS.  One thing that the Hansons training plan kept preaching was that they were preparing you for the last 10 miles of the marathon while most plans get you ready for the first 20 miles.  I was into the last 10 miles now and was feeling great, and it was clear that those around me were struggling.  It is a huge mental boost to pick off other runners at this stage of the race instead of being the one being passed.  Once we left WWoS there was a little bit more highway running as well as the biggest hill on the course (the ramp from Osceola to World Drive), which had one of the Toy Story Green Army Men barking out orders for you to "get your butt up that hill!"  Once we were up the hill it was just a short run into Hollywood Studios, which is the best part of the race, the homestretch!


Hollywood Studios to Epcot Finish - Miles 24 to 26.2 (6'26", 6'21", 6'18")

I turned into Hollywood Studios back behind the Tower of Terror and then ran through the smoke-filled costume tunnel from the old Backlot Tour (seriously terrible idea having us run through a smoky tunnel at mile 23, Disney…).  Then it was past the soon to be removed Sorcerer's Hat and down Hollywood Blvd and out of the park.  We followed the pathway along the water to the Boardwalk area and I was now flying, knowing that I was in the last 5K.  I would look back afterwards and wee that I ran my last 5K in 19:31, my fastest stretch of the whole race.  Just before I got to the Boardwalk I saw a familiar face up ahead of me…I had caught up with Shan.  I said hi and gave him some encouragement to push through to the finish and continued on my way.  When I made it to Epcot I could smell the finish and knew that my sub-3 goal was within reach.  I was now in full-on race mode and was pushing with all I had…as crazy as it sounds, I was crossing the 25 mile point and was just then feeling the first bit of fatigue in my legs.  How was this happening?  I had long since crashed at this point in my other marathons and would have been at least walking the water stops, but I was still going STRONG.  I was focused, and here's the visual proof as I cruised through the World Showcase…


My last mile was my fastest of the day at 6:18 and I felt like I gave it all I had.  I rounded the Epcot geodesic sphere (or the 'ball' for those not in the know) and ran past the Hallelujah Chorus into the finishing chute.  I knew I had my sub-3 and after 4 months of hard work I was certainly caught up with emotion.  Then I saw/heard Michelle cheering me on and I kinda lost it…


I crossed the line and had a finish time of 2:58:20, 12 minutes below my BQ time and a 17-minute PR.  I ended up with a negative split of 3:36 which is HUGE…my half marathon PR is 1:29:16 and I ran a 1:27:22 second half.  Incredible.  I ended up coming in 52nd overall (out of nearly 20,000 finishers) and I felt amazing afterwards.  I have never felt so good during or after a marathon!


After the race Michelle and I headed back to the hotel where I was able to shower before we headed over to Downtown Disney so I could grab a Starbucks.  We spent the rest of the day at Hollywood Studios and the Magic Kingdom, and then capped the day with dinner and my traditional post-marathon margaritas over at Margaritaville.  Yum!!!

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So now the plan is to run the 2016 Boston Marathon!  There's lots of time between now and then though and I have taken a solid week off from running since the marathon.  I'll get back out there this week and start to think about what my 2015 goals will be, but for now I'm just going to enjoy the high of this race and getting my year started with the best race of my life.  Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Disney Dreams Come True

Posted by CheapRunnerMike

Hey guys, just a quick post while I'm sipping my coffee on vacation here at Disney. As you may have heard I ran the Disney Marathon this past weekend :) I went into the race with the ultimate goal of qualifying for the Boston Marathon, but I had some other time goals that were even loftier. There was a lot of work that went into the race and I'm happy to say that it all paid off! Disney World really is the place where dreams come true!

Just a little teaser for now, but I'll be posting a full recap soon enough...for now I'm just going to take it easy on holidays with Michelle.

See y'all real soon!


Monday, January 12, 2015

22 hours and a trip to Boston

Posted by CheapRunnerMichelle

I'm still alive!!! Actually that's just what I've been doing these last few weeks since I last checked in with ya'll. It's been nice to not worry about technology or blogging and just spend time with my loved ones. So I thought I'd just do a little recap of life lately, and what we've been up to.

The holidays started with the kids and I baking on Christmas Eve. They had such a good time. I don't like to have baking in the house (I think for obvious reasons), but I knew the kids love baking, and don't get to really ever do it, and we were having people over that it meant that we could share and not be stuck with all the treats.

Then we moved on to Christmas...needless to say we were all very spoiled, and were unwrapping presents literally all day. Both of our families are in town, so luckily that means for us, no real travel involved around the holidays.

I got spin shoes for Christmas!!! I luv them - and everyone told me that I would notice such a difference with then, and it's true, it really does make for a much smoother ride, and really connects you to the bike.

I went with the kids (my niece and nephew as well as my two), my mom and my sister to our local theatre to see Shrek the musical, and it was fantastic. It was all the kids first time to something like that, and they were all so well behaved, and just really enjoyed the experience! It so fun to be able to share in these experiences with them.

After Christmas our (Mike and I) have just really been focused on and looking forward to our trip to Florida for Disney marathon weekend. We arrived in Florida on Friday around noon, we headed to the race expo to pick up Mike's bib, and then for our first night here we were staying with my Aunt and Uncle so we headed to their place. We enjoying a nice visit and an evening of card games with them.

Saturday morning we woke up and headed out for just a little (and for Mike very easy) run. After breakfast we headed to our resort to check in and head to Magic Kingdom for a bit. The park was packed, but while standing in line and will call to pick up our season passes, we were able to book fast passes for some rides we wanted to do - so once we headed into the park, we did those and then headed out to for dinner. Saturday night was an early night for us, as we wanted to be in bed for 8:30pm. Sunday morning the alarm went off at 2:15am and we were up and at 'em for the day. We headed to the buses (to take us to the marathon) at 3am. After hanging around there for a while, Mike decided to head off to his corral, so I headed off to my first viewing station...the mile 4 mile marker.

I had some time to kill and had packed my breakfast so I found a spot to sit and have a little early morning picnic. Once the race started I was able to see Mike at mile 4, around mile 8 and then a again just before the finish.

I'm sure he'll be sharing with you all real soon about his race, he was a rockstar and finished in 2:58:20 and 52 out of 26,000. So proud of him!!!! After showering and a wander around downtown Disney, we headed to the parks for the day (and a special post race dinner that I'll let Mike share with you). We made the most of the day and closed Magic Kingdom down. Needless to say we are getting a later start then we anticipated this morning...and are counting down the hours to our massages at the spa tomorrow morning!!!

Hope you're all having a great Monday...and Jackson wants to show you all his new party trick

So what have you been up to lately?

Friday, January 2, 2015

CheapRunnerMike's 2014 Year in Running (and Swimming and Biking)

Posted by CheapRunnerMike

Happy New Year's folks, welcome to 2015!  I figured before we got too immersed in the new year I would take a little bit of time to look back and reflect upon my past year in running…so here goes!

We kicked 2014 with a bang as the 3 Cheap Runners headed down to Walt Disney World in Florida to run Disney Marathon Weekend.  The girls were both running the Half Marathon on Saturday while I took on the Goofy Challenge; the Half on Saturday followed up by the Full Marathon on Sunday.  I ran the Half with Michelle and we finished in a little over 4 hours and placed 20,189 out of 20,245 finishers…oh ya, safe to say we had a LOT of fun out there Open-mouthed smile.  The marathon the next day was fun as well as I wasn't running it to get a good time, just to have a good time.  There were some tough spots out there as the 4-hour half the day before took a toll on me, but I had fun so mission accomplished!

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A week after we got back from Disney I ran another race here in town.  It was the first MEC Race of the year and I signed the kids and myself up for the 5K.  We all ran together and it was FREEZING.  That's right, if you didn't remember, this was the coldest winter in my lifetime…literally.  It was the coldest winter on record here in London since 1977 (I was born in 1978).  We froze but we had fun…we finished near the back of the pack, which was no surprise since Jackson decided just one kilometre into the race that it would be a good idea for him to "run" the race on my shoulders.
Total Miles: 105  Races: 3


Other than marathon weekend, January had been a down month in terms of miles.  I had been in marathon training for Chicago in October and then kept it going through until Disney and my body just needed a break.  February was a really low month mileage-wise as I was enjoying downtime and we also went on holidays down south (though we did manage to get out running quite a few times in Dominican).  I did end up doing one race, the Really Chilly Road Race 10K.  I hadn't been running a lot going into it, but I still managed to run a solid time just over 40 minutes which was good for second in my age group.
Total Miles: 70  Races: 1 (10K - 40:49, 2nd AG)

March was my lowest mileage month of the year with less than 60 on the books.  This was mostly because I was dealing with my only injury of the year (Peroneal Tendonitis) which caused me to take almost two full weeks off.  Just prior to hurting my foot I had run the second MEC Race of the year, a St Patrick's Day race.  I finished in 41:18 and 5th place overall.  Then came the foot injury which took me away from running 100%, though I was able to ride on my bike trainer and get in a lot of swimming…2014 was the year I really learned how to swim!
My first run after hurting my foot was a nice, easy 30K at Around the Bay in Hamilton…you always hear great things about this race, but all three of us shared the same opinion that it was nothing special.  The first 20K of the race were run through industrial areas but the last 10K was really beautiful (and hilly!).  I fought through the 30K that I was completely undertrained for and finished just under my 2:30 goal with a time of 2:26:09.  Though I really didn't like this race, it is one I will probably run again one year…it has "redemption" written all over it!
Total Miles: 58  Races: 2 (10K - 5th OA, 30K - 2:26:09)

Another lower mileage month (the year was really off to a great start, eh?) as I was coming back from injury, but the running season was about to officially kick off with a couple of half marathons.  The first was the Run for Retina Half, which I had run the previous year as my first ever half marathon.  My training still wasn't where I wanted it to be and I struggled to a 1:35:56 finish, somehow good enough for 9th overall but my worst showing ever in a half.  I was disappointed, but I knew it was a realistic reflection of where I was at.  It was a reminder that I couldn't just roll out of bed and expect to run a 1:30 half…results like that actually took work.
I had a chance to make up for the poor showing two weeks later at the Forest City Road Race Half Marathon, the premier race here in London. I went into that race battling a cold, but I had a good strategy and ended up running much better, finishing in 1:31:26 and an age group win.  I was feeling a lot better about my running again, but knew that there was still work to do if I wanted to see improvement.
Total Miles: 65 Races: 2 (HM 9th OA, HM 1st AG)

Zoomphoto Inc Event Photography

Triathlon season was about to get underway and I had been logging some decent bike rides and swim sessions.  I was also finally getting my running back on track and have to say that the three sport focus was great for me…it really saved my running legs through the spring and summer months and gave them the break they had been craving for so long.  I had my first truly long bike ride of my life, riding from the house up to the cottage (50 miles) and swimming was really taking off as Michelle and I had joined the local Master's club at the Y.  I had been able to up my running mileage a bit as well and they were quality miles…I was starting to feel more like myself again.  On Mother's Day I ran the third MEC Race of the year, a 15K with my Mum (she was getting ready to run her first half marathon!).  I finished with a pretty solid time of 1:04:59 which gave me 3rd overall.
Total Miles: 240 (5 Swim, 125 Bike, 110 Run)  Races: 1 (15K 3rd OA)

Triathlon training was in full swing now with my goal race (Musselman 70.3) coming up in July.  My swimming had really taken off thanks to the weekly Splash n Dash open water swim/5K run put on by one of the local coaches but I was still struggling to find time to get in solid bike rides.  I was feeling confident after taking on my first triathlon of the year though as I placed third in my age group and 25th overall at the Guelph Lake I Olympic Tri, although I later realized that I had cut almost a full kilometre off the run course.  I contacted the race organizers and told them all about it, so they just assessed me a time penalty which dropped me back to 5th AG and 44th overall with a time of 2:20:22.  My swim and bike were great though and I was seeing lots of progress, and the run was really solid too.  I was really getting into the triathlon training and was loving it!
Total Miles: 192 (12 Swim, 70 Bike, 110 Run)  Races: 1 (Oly Tri - 5th AG)

Goal race time!  I completed my first Half Iron race, Musselman 70.3 down in Geneva, NY on July 13.  It was an awesome day (well, it was a wet, muggy, windy, horrible day to be honest…) and it was great having Michelle and the kids there to cheer me on, along with blogger friend Laura who was volunteering at the race.  I fought some huge swells on the swim, brutal winds, rain and even some hail on the bike, and then struggled through the half marathon run at the end and gutted out a time of 5:35:46.
Who needs a break after a Half Ironman?  Not me apparently…I had signed up to race the Bluewater Triathlon, our local race up at the cottage, the following Saturday.  I did the Olympic while Michelle took on the Sprint distance.  The kids even got in on the action and did the kids' races the next day.  The race went well, especially considering the lack of recovery from my 70.3, and I placed 4th in my age group, just getting pipped at the finish line and missing the podium.  It was fine though as I knew I gave it everything I had…my tank was on 'E'.  I was super happy to see the swim and bike improvements I had made too, as I was 8th overall out of the water (2nd AG) and my 40K bike split was the best for my age group (Men 30-39).  Surprisingly it was my run, a 47-minute 10K, that let me down, but like I said I was gassed.  My final time was 2:12:08, but it was a shortened course…still a time to be proud of though!
Total Miles: 230 (5 Swim, 110 Bike, 115 Run)  Races: 2 (70.3 Tri, Oly Tri - 4th AG)

Mike on Bike 2

My first month of the year without a race on the schedule, but I had a renewed focus on the run, specifically on building endurance on the run.  I had really loved doing triathlons but wasn't happy with my running off the bike.  I was tiring out way quicker than I should have been and I had signed up to run a Half Marathon the beginning of September with Chris, with hopes of breaking 1:30.  I got in plenty of decent runs and capped my longest runs at 10 miles.  I was feeling good adding both speed and distance, so I was looking forward to taking on a sub-1:30 half and the Fall running season.
Total Miles: 136  Races: 0

The Springbank Half kicked off the month and I ran it with Chris as planned.  I ran the first third of the race with him and then dialed up some speed and powered on to break 1:30 with a time of 1:29:16 and a new PR.
The following weekend I had my last triathlon of the year, Lakeside Sprint,our local London race.  I signed up on really short notice and hadn't even been on the bike since my last race and only had a couple of lunchtime pool swims that I got in in the two weeks leading up to the race.  The weather was brutal, as temperatures were in the 40's and it was WET.  My swim was good though as I was 5th in my age group, then I suffered a bit on the bike (everything was numb with the cold and rain), and despite not being able to feel my feet (for real), I threw down a 20:07 5K run to finish strong.  It felt great to end the Tri season with a strong run as I had been disappointed in my running off the bike most of the season.  I beat my goal time and grabbed 5th in my age group.
I had one other race in a busy September, another 15K MEC Race.  My goal was to PR at the 15K distance and I gave it my all out there.  I was running faster than ever at this point and was able to drop a whole minute off of my previous best, which gave me a second place finish of 1:00:48.
Total Miles: 160  Races: 3 (HM 1:29:16, Sprint Tri - 1:15:03, 15K - 2nd OA)

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I kept adding speed and distance to my runs as we turned the page to October even though I didn't really have any more races on my schedule.  I was running better than I ever had in my life and just wanted to see how much I could improve.  October was a new high-mileage month for me, and I also maintained an average pace of 4:11/km (6:42/mile) for the entire month.  On our Thanksgiving Weekend I decided to give myself something to shoot for officially and signed up to run the Disney Marathon in January.  Marathon number 3 was now on the schedule and marathon training was underway!
I did manage to get in a couple of races as well…I ran the Pinery 10K up at the cottage and smashed my PR and took second overall (and $100 cash prize woohoo!) with a time of 37:44.  The following weekend I got in a solid 16-mile long run on Saturday and then backed it up on Sunday morning by running the Halloween Haunting 10K in 38:47, 8th overall and first in my age group…and first place runner in costume!
Total Miles: 217 Races: 2 (10K - 2nd OA, 10K - 1st AG)

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No more races scheduled for 2014, just lots of marathon training.  We had a family trip to Disney World at the beginning of the month which served as a mini running break for me, but I still had a good high mileage month and managed to drop the average pace for the month down to 4:04/km (6:30/mile) and was amazed with what I was able to accomplish.  I realized in November that I was basically following the Hansons Marathon Method already with all of the hard running I was doing, so I decided to just start 'officially' following it.  It felt great to dial in some awesome training paces and get in solid workouts.  Confidence was certainly running high!
Total Miles: 203  Races: 0

The final month of 2014 was my highest mileage month EVER with 275 miles and I still kept pushing the pace with a 4:06/km (6:34/mile) average.  I ran every single day other than Christmas Day itself with nothing shorter than 10K and got in some great long runs as well.  Just an awesome month of training and my expectations are high for Disney on January 11.
Total Miles: 275 Races: 0

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Well if you made it this far, thanks for reading!  I know this was a long post but it always feels good to look back on the year that's past and remember all the good times before turning our heads to the new year ahead.

Hope everyone had a great time for New Year's and hope 2015 has plenty of wonderful things in store for you!