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WDW Marathon Weekend Presented by Cigna – 5K

28 Dec

Happy Tuesday!!

Next week, I’m heading to Florida for my second (and last?!) #DopeyChallenge at the WDW Marathon Weekend Presented by Cigna. And, while I am a *bit* undertrained I am SUPER excited!

The first race of the weekend is the 5K – Bright and early Thursday morning I will join a few thousand of my best friends as we take a tour of EPCOT– a lot of backstage sights and a loop around the World Showcase (margaritas not included 😦 ) And let me tell you – the sight of Spaceship Earth lit up in the early (early!) morning hours and running through a World Showcase lit by the sunrise – is an awesome sight!

One of those thousands is the gentleman I’m going to introduce to you now!

Meet Mr. Mark Harsanye, 58 years old and resident of Henderson, Nev. (near Las Vegas)

Mark is a long-term disability customer with Cigna who is also a Cigna customer referral program participant with Achilles International. He will be running the 5K as part of Team Cigna and here’s his story!

Mark figures the injury occurred more than 35 years ago during basic training in the United States Air Force. He climbed a 30ft tower when the wind took him. Gravity and the ground did rest breaking his leg in two places.

“Over the years, normal wear and tear caught up with me,” said Mark. “In my 40s, my doctor warned me knee replacement surgery would be inevitable. I hoped that I could make it until 70, but the pain became unbearable. I just couldn’t do it anymore.”

He researched the surgery, the recovery time, and talked with others about it. He felt fairly well prepared for the procedure and the journey back to health and to work in June 2017. Twelve weeks later, he grew impatient as his knee still had a lot of scar tissue. So, he opted for another surgery to remove scar tissue.

“Before the replacement, I thought hard work would get me back on my feet faster,” said Mark. “After surgery, it felt more like ‘what did I do?’ I’m competitive. When I saw others recovering faster, I wanted to become better. An in-home physical therapist helped, but the second surgery helped me improve the flexibility of my knee.”

Mark couldn’t wait to get back to work. Getting a call from his Cigna vocational coach, Alicia Troski,  he found a partner with the energy he needed to make even greater strides.

“He came ready to work,” said Alicia. “He didn’t want to be dependent on anyone. That mentality means a lot when overcoming a difficult recovery process. For some, it’s easy to quit and fall back into an easy chair. Not Mark. He remained focused on getting himself back.”

One of the resources Alicia offered, the Cigna customer referral program with Achilles International, which is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping people with disabilities participate in athletic events, encourages people like Mark to build up physical strength and stamina.

Cigna partners with organizations like Achilles International to help customers achieve their return to work goals by providing access to additional rehabilitation resources including ergonomic office equipment, software, education and accommodations to help customers stay safe and be productive at work, encouragement and support, resume review and job placement assistance.

“My employer has been supportive throughout my recovery process from accommodations to treatment,” said Mark. “If I needed a break to ice my knee, I could do it as I needed, when I needed. If I had to take off for therapy, I felt comfortable do so.”

As a result of his hard work and dedication to return to work, Cigna offered Mark the opportunity to participate in the Walt Disney World® 5K presented by Cigna on Thursday, January 4th as a member of Team Cigna.

“I have a plan – stretches, working my core, weight training,” said Mark. “If I did nothing, it would be like owning a sports car and letting it rot. I’m only going to get better by working at it.”

The Cigna Customer Referral Program with Achilles International demonstrates Cigna’s promise to partner with customers “Together, All the Way” along their unique health journey. When injury or illness occurs, Cigna helps them get back on track to achieve their goals.

“For Cigna customers, participating in a race represents a healthy milestone on the road to recovery, but also independence,” said Alicia. “As people gain physical strength, they also build confidence, which can positively affect all areas of your life.”

“I’ve come far, but I see it as just the beginning,” said Mark. “I’m back and work because of Bethany and none of this would have been possible without Cigna. So many resources came together to make things happen at my own pace.”

WDW Marathon Weekend – The Dopey Challenge: The Marathon

28 Jan

Well…here it is!!! I had been looking forward to this day for at least a year and a half!!

 

Today there were no costume alterations — the weather was going to be more along the lines of what I’d expected the whole weekend to be! There was a slight chance of some rain, but…well, I’d deal with that if and when it happened!

Before bed on Saturday I had put my things together in my gear check bag so I’d be sure to have everything I needed, set the alarm and hit the sack!

Another early morning…another wait for the bus, another ride over to EPCOT and a quick stop at the Race Retreat before meeting up with my friends for a picture

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This was the early crowd…some of us, or, ME, wanted to get to the corral quickly!

 

and heading to the corral!

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With a thousand or so of our close friends…watching the runners in front of us moving up…

 

We waited for an hour again – at least this time we knew what to expect! Then it was go time!

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I had trained using 1:1 intervals and didn’t use them on Friday or Saturday. I wasn’t completely sure I would use them for the Full, but I had my timer set up, just in case…but I started out just taking it easy and guessing at my intervals.

Things were going really well, and I was kind of in a groove…keeping my eyes open for friends along the way. My big goals for today were to have enough cushion to ride Expedition Everest (about mile 12-13) and to not get swept!

That being said, it was a fairly uneventful first 5 miles…though it was kind of cool to see the earlier runners already heading through the Raceway (about Mile 9)

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These lucky people are already at mile 9!!

 

Running into the park “the back way” is kind of cool!

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The run up Main Street USA always takes my breath away! What’s really great is that the volunteers are always willing to take pictures! The gentleman who took mine insisted on the TAH DAH! pose!! 🙂

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And from the backside of the castle too!!

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Hello!!!

 

And then, entering Frontierland, I saw him…

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Me and Woody!!

 

It was really great that the next mile marker featured Toy Story too!!

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Finally we were winding our way out of our first park — some boring miles until we got to the Speedway…and the clouds seemed to be getting thicker and darker. Around mile 10, on the way to Animal Kingdom, we run past the ever popular Water Treatment facilities for Walt Disney World!

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We come into the back side of Animal Kingdom and part of the fun is the animals that they bring out to cheer us on!

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And then. There it was. The mountain I’d been focusing on all morning! And, I was going to make it!! Research had told me to go in the Single Rider line – apparently in prior years, the cast members were pretty cool about letting runners get on quickly from this line. Apparently that was prior years….so a few of us waited. It seemed like hours, but was probably only about 10 minutes! And then we were off!!  I got a great “selfie” of the girls behind me!!

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This was so much fun!!!

 

Once we jumped off, the cast member at the picture booth was yelling to remind us that our pictures were automatically captured on our MagicBands…

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You can kind of almost see a little bit of my shirt…in the back seat!!

 

 

As we ran out of the Animal Kingdom it started to rain. Not heavy rain at all…and it actually felt pretty good! We were now on our way up to the Wide World of Sports: ESPN. Now, here was an out and back section so I was REALLY keeping my eyes peeled for my friends who had started a couple of corrals ahead of me. The timing was about perfect so I figured I’d see someone!

And I did!!! As I was turning into the road up to ESPN I heard Angela and Karin calling me! Man oh man – was it wonderful to see them!! And of course there was a small bit of crying (I’m telling ya, this marathon thing is pretty emotional!) and then I knew that I was good for the next – LAST – 9 miles!

Up next, around miles 22-23 was Hollywood Studios! On the way there, I met up with 2 more friends and decided to hang with them the last few miles – until we got into the park and I saw Mike and Sully waiting for me!

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After my picture break I caught back up with Chris and Krista — until I had to break off … for my first ever jumping attempt – that, sadly, is not documented…

 

And a final potty stop before the final push to the finish!

Once out of Hollywood Studios and on the path over to the Boardwalk, any danger of being swept is past. Which causes some people to just really come to a crawl…but I managed to catch up again to Chris and Krista and we stayed together until we got to EPCOT.

But before we could get to EPCOT, we were going to run past our very own cheering station!! Vanessa had gathered the troops to set up a spot where we could grab a bite to fuel up for the last mile and a half! And again, it was SO good to see them out on the course! The M&Ms and Twizzlers were nice too!! 🙂

Once in EPCOT, I really just wanted to be done so I split off on my own again and just steadily made my way through the World Showcase — full of tourists already. Along the way, I passed Santa. Yes, really! Santa! I was happy to be in his corral because NO ONE would DARE sweep Santa!! 🙂

You know you’re getting to the end of the run when you turn the corner to see the Gospel Choir singing in their golden robes! From here, it was another .3 or so to the finish line!!

Once across the finish, Dopeys had to check in at a special booth – at the expo we’d had our pictures taken with our bibs and it seemed that they were comparing those pictures to the person in front of them, as well as verifying that all of the races had been completed. After that it was simply a matter of collecting the bling!

The Marathon Medal

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Mickey!

 

The Goofy Medal

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Goofy!!

 

The Dopey Medal

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Dopey!

 

And again, off to see what treats awaited in the Race Retreat and wait for Tracy (or meet her there…who knew!?!) The Race Retreat would be closing soon so I really hoped that Tracy was already there, or on her way (and that’s a topic for another post…)

Tracy arrived shortly after me, but wasn’t hungry so we headed back to the room – she was leaving that afternoon and I was heading out to dinner at the 50’sPrime Time Diner with my running family!

I have to say, I was pretty proud of myself for getting through the weekend! And, I had gone into the Dopey Challenge with those famous words “One and Done”…but ….I may be back.

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WDW Marathon Weekend – The Dopey Challenge: The Half Marathon

28 Jan

So where was I?

Oh yeah! We finished the 10K, we went to the Magic Kingdom for an epic ride on the Jingle Cruise then back to the resort for a sandwich and bed!

Now, normally, I’m a get all by things together the night before a race kind of girl. But…well, I was kind of winging it this weekend.

Not only was Saturday leg 3 of the Dopey Challenge, it was also the final leg of the Na’Cho Challenge! And, Na’Cho himself was planning to be out on the course cheering on his runners!! ***

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Na’Cho ready to take on the tough task of cheering on thousands of runners!!

I set the alarm a bit earlier for Saturday – we had purchased the Race Retreat and I wanted to take advantage of the pre-race amenities: warm tent, bagels, fruit, coffee, water, private port-a-potties, and private bag check. Plus character photos!!

Anyway…we got up, got dressed and headed to the bus. Because the weather was much cooler than I’d expected when I planned my outfits, I had to make an adjustment. Unfortunately, that adjustment meant that I had to wear my race shirt. On the day of the race. Something I *never* do! To hopefully short-circuit any bad ju-ju, I wore it inside out!

The line for the bus was a little longer on Saturday and I realized that we could hear the festivities from over in the EPCOT lots! Hopped on that bus and really, as soon as we pulled away realized that I didn’t have my music with me…WHAT??!!! Oh well…that’ll learn me to “wing it” the night before a race, right?!

It was already pretty crowded when we got there,

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You can really feel the excitement — even at 4 in the morning!!

but I found a spot and settled in for a bit. Grabbed a bagel, some peanut butter, a banana and an orange. And a couple of bottles of water. And, of course a couple of pictures!

 

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Bullseye!!!!

 

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What? Oh just hangin’ with my pals Buzz and Woody!

 

We were kind of anxious to get to the corrals – which was quite a walk. But first I was meeting up with my running group again for my dose of motivation before heading to the back of the pack…again.

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The group was even BIGGER today!!!

Tracy had made her way to the front of the corral, and I really had no trouble finding her! We chatted with the runners around us and made our plan to meet up at the Retreat Tent afterwards. I also wanted to let her know that Na’Cho would be between miles 11 and 12 or so…

Eventually (an hour later, actually) we were crossing the starting line and off on our 13.1 mile adventure!

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Without my music I really focused on the sights and sounds that Disney provides! And stopped for a picture or two!!

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Heading into the happy place!!

 

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Stopping for my honey….well, Pooh’s honey

 

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I was going to have to walk through the castle anyway, so time for another stop!

 

It’s been awhile since I’ve run at Disney on my own — and even though I didn’t have my usual companion to chat with along the way, the time still seemed to go by pretty fast! I was super happy to see these ladies when I came out of the Magic Kingdom!

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Thank you thank you thank you!!!!! And…cured my chocolate craving!!

 

And I must say, except for those few miles through the castle and heading out of the Magic Kingdom, I did pretty darn good!!

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MIles 6 and 7 were through the castle and some tight roads…mile 9 was just…boredom!!

 

Post-race, I ran into our other Pooh — and Tigger Too!!!  I was so happy to see my friends waiting after I finished!! Had to memorialize this!!

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I somehow managed to  miss Na’Cho on the course – I was looking at the wrong side of the road I guess 😦 So my plan was to go to the Retreat and grab breakfast number 2 and my gear bag and head out to pick up my Na’Cho medal (and of course hug the man of the hour!). Though while getting my things it turned out that the road had opened and Na’Cho headed home….

I had no plans for the rest of the day, other than maybe hitting the pool for a bit before an early dinner and another early night to bed! But first, some post race recovery time…

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Ice and snack time!!

 

Three down and one more to go! It was actually looking like I was gonna pull this thing off!!

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The Donald medal!

 

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The super special Na’Cho Challenge medal!

 

And hey! If you want to earn one of these AWESOME Na’Cho Challenge medals, just click on that link back there — all you have to do is run 10K (6.2 miles) and a Half Marathon (13.1 miles) and send in proof of running, like say, a screen print of your running app. Or. A picture of your garmin watch. 🙂

WDW Marathon Weekend – The Dopey Challenge: 10K

17 Jan

Day 2 of the Dopey Challenge happened to also be Day 1 of the Na’Cho Challenge – an added ‘bonus’ challenge supporting adoptabull – English Bulldog Rescue, Na’Cho being the name of one of our favorites!!

So, after being *slightly* unprepared for Thursday’s 5k – cold temps, forgot my music, phone died (okay, not ALL was my fault!) – I put most of my things together before bed, since we had to be at the 10K start even earlier!

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Nearing the end…World Showcase!!!

I was making an attempt at a PNK costume but put the letters under my jacket…by the time I warmed up enough to take off my jacket the letters weren’t sticking so good…so I was just in pink and purple, but lots of people “got it”!!

Met up with my Facebook running group again for pictures and motivation

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Best Running Group in the World!

 

before heading to the back BACK of the pack. We smartened up a little though and made our way to the front of the back corral — every second counts you know!!

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The 10K course is really not much to write home about…a lot of highway running then a trip through EPCOT World Showcase. This cute couple was running in front of me most of the time — I tried several times to get a picture of their shirts but had to steal borrow this one from a friend.

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The shirts say that they are getting married on Jan 9 at 2 pm (yes, that’s today)…

 

I wasn’t terribly interested in characters on the course – I had my mental list of who I HAD to get and…well, look who I ran into!!

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I thought it would be fun to post my splits — you can definitely see where I waiting in line for the picture with Genie. Well worth it!! He’s the one character that I always MUST get out on the course!

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Post-race before I headed back to the resort I had one VERY important stop to make….

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I still love you Dopey!!

 

Tracy went on ahead and decided to go to Downtown Disney and I had plans with my RTD friends.

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The Jungle Cruise of Epicness.  Yeah…that’s right, we had about 18-20 people together who would be making this a cruise to remember for EVERYONE on board!!

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Let’s just say it was loud…and kind of chaotic!! But, man, was it fun!!!

But, tomorrow was another long day, so after roaming around the park a bit with a couple of friends, we kind of split up and headed home…or…some stayed in the park to snack!

I headed to the Beach Club, grabbed a sandwich and got my things together — tomorrow, we had entry to the Race Retreat so the plan was to leave a little early and have our breakfast there before meeting up again! At least it would be a warm place to wait!

And, oh yeah, the most important part of the day – the bling!

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This one is Minnie’s Race!!

 

 

 

And Here We Go!!!

6 Jan

 

Almost…

Packing is done.

The costumes are almost complete…

Checked in for my flight…

MagicBands at the ready…

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Luggage tags on…

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And, the worst part of any runDisney trip, I’ve dropped the Phred off at his sitter’s. Good thing he loves it there or it would be even more painful. For me.

All there is to do now is get ready for bed and try to sleep…but maybe I’ll have a glass of wine first!!

If you’re travelling down to Orlando this week, have a safe and uneventful trip- if you’re staying home, my times will be posted on Facebook, right out in the open! Yikes!!

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Thanks to the Awesome Angela for the photo!

 

Ready to get Dopey?

5 Jan

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Well, it’s finally here!! Almost!

And, as you can imagine, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about packing 🙂 I’ve also been working on one of the most important aspects of any runDisney event – “What am I going to WEAR??”

4 races means 4 outfits, possibly even costumes! There are always a few things I keep in mind – most important is comfort, especially for longer runs (that would be the half and full on Saturday and Sunday!). In Florida, the weather is also a big consideration so eyes are on the forecast as early as possible – though, in Florida, the weather can change overnight!

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Forecast the evening of Jan 3

 

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Forecast the morning of Jan 4

And, when I’m in Florida, I’m all about the sun so I also try to avoid getting a farmer’s tan since I know I’m going to be out there in the middle of the day (thank you Corral O)

5K is pretty easy since it’s not so much a costume run for me, but wearing my team skirt. Also, since it’s early I don’t have the above mentioned tanning issue and can wear really any top I want – I might even be wearing a jacket this year since it’ll be “chilly” on Thursday and we won’t be out long enough for warming up much!

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Racing The Dream “Melty Hearts” plus Blue

 

10K looks to be a little chilly as well, so I am bringing two options for tops – my wonderful friend Angela is making the letters for my shirt – so this is an incomplete, more of a Disney Bound costume, and I may wear the cami or I may wear the tshirt. But I am definitely wearing the wig!!

pink girls

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Looking at this now, I might switch to a purple skirt…

 

For the half, I’ll be dressed as my favorite bear!

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And the Full. This is quite possibly my most ambitious costume attempt to date!  I decided long ago that I wanted to do a race as Jessie.

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Initially I tried to find a top online – by the time I justified the cost to myself (it was a LOT!) the seller was taking a break. So I figured “How hard can it be to just paint a shirt myself?” Well…so far so good. Ish.

Then when I was at the store buying my crafting supplies I saw that yarn was on sale..so my brain said “How hard can it be to make a yarn braid?” The answer to that is “No too hard, so far, but how are you going to attach it to your head?”…So, we’ll see! And of course I have to have her cuffs right? Again “How hard can that be?” We don’t know…yet!

Hopefully I’ll have this finished in time to pack it Tuesday night — or maybe as I’m rushing out the door Wednesday morning 🙂

I can’t wait to see what the finished product looks like!! If nothing else, it’s been fun!

Time for you to share your running costume ideas with me!!  And hey, now that you know what I’ll be wearing, if you’re on the course(s) or cheering on the sidelines, give me a shout!! 

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Training Update and Corral Woes

19 Dec

So, last night while I was out doing leg 1 of the Hal Higdon Mini-Dopey weekend (2.5 miles), I realized that in THREE WEEKS I will be in the midst of the real thing.

And…man oh man… let me tell you!

Over Thanksgiving, I – as well as many other people across the country – did a Turkey Trot. 10K of holiday goodness, for a good cause (short recap coming! really!!). Around mile 4 my left calf tightened up. Like, painful, felt like if I kept running I’d rip my hamstring right out of my leg, tight. But I found that if I adjusted my ‘style’ a bit, I could run on it and finished. But the next day (and a few of the next ones) my leg would not loosen up. And at this point in the process, I’m more concerned with staying relatively injury-free than anything else.

Which leads me to this: I haven’t done a whole lot of running since Thanksgiving. Or, really, a whole lot of anything…

Then the corrals came out. I had figured, based on calculators all over the internet, with my 3:04 half marathon POT, that they’d put me in with the 6-6:30 finishers. Um…no. I’m in the next to the last corral. Apparently there is a “Special”, one might even say “Magical” formula used by the runDisney placers …I have learned that it’s also very “SECRET”.

But back to my lack of training in the last month….yeah….this was not terribly encouraging news given that I’ve trained more for this event than anything I’ve ever done and now I’m gonna have to fight past walkers and, from what I’ve read, a lot of other people who have been mis-corralled. (Be advised: I have *nothing* against walkers! I am, myself, at times, a walker!)

I need(ed) to make a decision – just give up and figure I’d raise the biggest stink EVER if they tried to deny me my #DopeyChallenge medal or keep going and hope for the best.

Well, I need to keep going and hope for the best! Yeah, I’m at the back of the pack – not unusual for me. I do just hope I have time for a few very important photo stops – I need to get the Genie, Buzz and Woody and hopefully Jessie, and Sully and Mike W.  Anything else I will consider gravy.

If you’ve followed to this point now you know 🙂 1. Not a lot of training 2. Bad corral placement 3. Less than three weeks to wrap up training 4. More determined than ever

The training plan for this weekend is:
Thursday: 2.5 miles  (done!)
Friday: 5 miles (currently finishing coffee and hoping the rain dies down)
Saturday: 10 miles (supposed to be a bright sunny day – had to go buy a short sleeved shirt to run in!)
Sunday: 20 miles (another bright sunny day – bribing myself with a Shipley donut and Mexican food)

And my Dopey plan is to print out some of the online calculators along with my POT and talk to runners relations at the Expo and hopefully get a little more photo op cushion (even one corral would be nice!).

No matter what though, I plan to have an absolutely AMAZINGLY fun time!!!

dopey15

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