Disney Marathon Report by Henry and Becky Marambio
Race Recap: It was hotter than it needed to be for a January race. Especially since the Fleet Feet (FF) Long Distance program runners have been training in cold/cool weather for the last 10+ weeks. We were disappointed that Mickey Mouse chose to bless us with mid-70s+ degree weather. In our opinion GREAT weather for a vacation but BAD for a race. The Disney organizers, otherwise, did a great job!!!! Volunteers and spectators turned out all over the course. It was satisfying to see several FF runners, families & one of our coaches (Cheryl) along the route in several locations cheering us on. One thing we can say for certain; as a runner you were never alone on the race route -- bands, cheerleaders, classic car show, minor league baseball tryouts, soccer practice, Disney characters, & music. And so many volunteers that the water & food stops were almost claustrophobic (in a good way)! We do wish more of the actual race were held in the actual theme parks versus all of the connecting highways/back-roads. One definite negative: If we would have heard PSY’s Gangnam Style one more time that DJ would have had to limp home. Bottom Line: The Orlando area makes a great place to spend time with your family & friends when you are not busy running any of the races. Disney should definitely be on everyone’s race wish list at least once.
The long weekend of January 10-13, 2013 saw 21+ members of the FF Long Distance Training program head down to the “Happiest Place on Earth” to Run Disney in Orlando, FL. We had a FF Knoxville runner entered in all of the major races (5K, Half, Full & Goofy), and we are happy to report that EVERY single FF runners finished. Let me repeat a key phrase EVERYONE FINISHED. We may have been an insignificant number of runners when you consider that the weekend hosted approaching 70,000 runners (the Disney results website showed an abandon rate of over 20%), but for every FF runner to finish is a testimonial to the FF program, coaches and to the quality of commitment of each runner. We had 8 runners who took part in the Goofy Challenge, which is the Half Marathon on Saturday and then the Full on Sunday. Lisa Worthington who I (Henry) affectionately nicknamed Stupid Goofy earned her nickname by adding the 5K on Friday; impressed yet? If not, more impressive was that Lisa did all 3 races on a bum ankle(s). In addition to the appropriately named “goofy” runners there were 6 FF runners that ran the Half and 7 runners who tackled the marathon. Throughout the training in our build up to this weekend, Becky and I realized that when talking to folks about our running we would say “we are ONLY running the marathon…” because of the large number of FF runners who chose to challenge themselves with 39.3 or more race miles in a single weekend. Each of you who completed your race journey has our everlasting friendship and respect.
I’m going to provide a little background info to start before I continue this race report. A little over a year and a half ago, Becky and I couldn’t run 1 mile. We started with the No Boundaries 5K program, moved on to the 10K program. Initially would have preferred to do the 10K program again, but we liked our running group (aka running spouses & mistresses). Most of the running group chose to extend their training into the half marathon long distance program, so we decided to continue on. By April of 2012, we had done 3 half marathons. Soon after our last half marathon I figured “what’s another 13 miles…”? We made it halfway, so (I figured) now would be the time to pursue a full marathon. So with minimal poking and prodding I persuaded Becky to join the marathon training program with me. As Paul Harvey used to say on the radio “…and now for the rest of the story!!!!”
Every marathoner has their 1st marathon story. If they have run a lot of marathons they might forget the details of the other races, but the 1st one lives in their mind. They don’t forget a single mile, though some may claim temporary amnesia. Becky and I won’t bore you with a step-by-step recap but we do want to take this opportunity to share our personal overall experience. Hopefully you will enjoy our personalized tour down memory lane and maybe it will inspire you enough to tackle your own personal running goals.
BECKY: Years ago, before I realized what a “bucket list” was, I had a list of things I’d like to do (at some point in my life) written on a sticky note that stuck to my mirror for the longest time. That list was eventually thrown away. Part of the reason I threw it away was because I thought I could remember the few items, but some of it was also that I realized that probably none of it was really ever going to happen. One item on that list was to run a marathon, but I had no idea how I was ever going to accomplish that or what was actually involved. On Jan 13, 2013, I accomplished that task in a time of 4:22, and the feeling was overwhelming!
I cannot remember a time that I worked so hard to complete a goal. It is hard to explain, but training for and running a marathon is “different”. It is extremely trying, but it is also rewarding, especially when you reach each new mileage milestone in your training. When I first saw the training plan, it was intimidating, but I am just one example to prove that IT CAN BE DONE.
How did I accomplish this task???? Fleet Feet!
I’ve always told myself that I could do anything if given the proper instruction and resources, and FF gave me that. On race day, I felt I had done all I could do to prepare myself for this race. I was prepared. I did the training, except for the “hated” strength/core training that Shahin preaches. As Henry can attest, it does make a difference, but for me, the day only had so many hours and the body could only do so much.
Without the FF training, I can honestly say there would have never been a chance for me completing the challenge. There is no way I could have done the training on my own and not just the training but the knowledge and experience that goes along with training for this distance. Another vital part of the training is the support. You will not find a better group of people to help you reach your goal. Thanks to our running partners & coaches for all of their support and to all of the other training group participants.
After completing this, I know I can do those other items on the thrown-away list when I decide I want to.
Henry: It is true that a marathon can teach those who listen some valuable life lessons. I just wish these life lessons would have come to me earlier in life – I am by no means done learning but I think I’ve had enough life lessons now that I am 45 – I want to just enjoy existing for a little while. I haven’t been running long (by my standards), but I have always been blessed with what I say is above average athletic ability. But I now realize because I had mistreated the “temple” (i.e., my body) for so many years prior to joining the FF running programs that I was unnecessarily suffering while running. Life lesson #1: Try to take care of yourself. ‘Nuf said - moving on… Early on in my training, instead of pushing through the aches & pain, I should have stopped to get stronger (ie, strength/core training); that probably would have allowed me to keep running without pain. Instead, I neglected the aches and, in the end, all my aches and pains required a nightly full lower-body icing (trust me when I say that ace bandages and ice packs are plentiful in the Marambio household). The neglect ultimately forced me to have a knee operated on for a personal record 6th time (for this knee it was #4) – I am certain this is not the kind of PR I had in mind when I reluctantly started running. Ultimately PAIN for me while running and afterwards became the norm and as my endurance increased through the FF training programs my tolerance for the pain increased (to a point). Life lesson #2: acknowledge the pain, but it is probably more important to be honest with yourself as to why you are hurting; personally for me, mine was a lot of extra insulation (aka weight) and a general neglect of my overall health for some many years. Don’t ignore!!!
I spent the summer of 2012 away from running because of my knee, but I did spend my time being productive. I became a regular at the gym and even signed on with a personal trainer doing everything my physician and my personal trainer said – these things resembled the things our FF coaches say every week. I hated putting in the work on some days, because I couldn’t see any improvement. I couldn’t feel the body getting stronger and I couldn’t tell for the longest time whether I was going to be OK to run. I never thought that just putting one foot in front of the other could become a challenge for me. The marathon by itself was extremely humbling, but the process of rebuilding myself up physically (over the summer) paid dividends in the end. I may not be the fine human specimen that I think I am, but I began the race acknowledging, though, that since I had done the training that I would finish; a DID-NOT-FINISH (DNF) was not any part of the plan. As I look back, training (running) for me has turned out to be a FUN experience. It has been therapeutic socially, mentally and physically…but was I ready to find out whether I had the courage and stamina (both physical and mental) to accomplish running a marathon?
Being the babe magnet that I am (see above picture) I have been very fortunate to attract a running wife and a gaggle of running mistresses to run with me J. I refuse to believe that these women were forced to adopt me or to simply tolerate me out of some need to do a good deed – I’m sticking with babe magnet!! My mostly female running mates have always been able to train at my 4/1 run-walk pace and we’ve always generally had the same goals or races in mind. I want to say thanks to all of them for allowing me to live in the moment, even when those moments included a few extra hills.
I found comfort in my ability to stay disciplined and to use my running data to calm my mind. I regularly asked myself: How was I going to run a “decent” time if I didn’t put in the work? More important to me was based on my training paces what can I reasonably expect out of my marathon time? For me it was about pushing myself and creating a stretch goal.
There is a deep satisfaction in setting a stretch goal, figuring out how to accomplish it, challenging oneself to dig deep within, then going about the business of making it happen. I learned a lot about perseverance, and I learned to be flexible. During the race (just prior to mile 25), I questioned my decision to take up running because that was the ONLY time that the desire to STOP ever entered my mind. The thought ultimately lasted for less than a minute when my walk/run timer reminded me that it was time to start running again. But a lot happened in that one minute. I cursed Shahin (several times) about those damn Tuesday night track workouts, the race crowds I welcomed so earnestly minutes & hours before were now annoying me beyond comprehension. Oh, be quiet! What do you know? Are you out here running in this stupid heat? I don't look great! I am NOT almost there! Way to go? That’s what your mom said… It all came out in a flash! I also thought (at that moment) about all of the miles side-by-side with my wife and other running partners. I for some reason thought about a Tigger BE HAPPY statue that Lisa Sipf had given to Becky just prior to race weekend. That final thought, reminded about all of the happiness over the past several months of training, a calm feeling came over me in a matter of seconds. But when I first saw the actual finish line I had to choke back the tears, and as I crossed the finish line in 4:41, I momentarily broke down (ie, sobbing). I was quickly approached by one the Disney medical personnel who realized I was still smiling. It was a relief and empowering to say to her that I think I was a little TIRED but otherwise felt great!!!
Becky and I would like to wrap up this race report by telling you that our world for the last 5+ months has been running/training for this marathon. This is by no means meant as a negative comment. Our daily routine was simple: Wake up, go to work, leave work, change for run, RUN, go home to wash our running clothes, and pack for the next day of running. We were strict and disciplined & did 5 days a week of running because the program “said so”. We respected the fact that this was our first marathon, and the results showed from our training. We truly felt prepared, and by being prepared, it was not a miserable experience. Again, being cautious, we both thought about all that can go wrong in a race, but individually we each had a plan. Because we don’t keep the same run pace, Becky and I could not enjoy our race together. Even with the unseasonably high winter temperatures (even for Florida) everything went as planned. While some of the official race-course pictures don’t show it, we both felt good throughout the race. The legs were very cement-like late in the race, but physically everything else was working properly.
We can actually say (without laughing or hesitation) that we would do another marathon. But for some reason saying 2nd marathon doesn’t sound as impressive as saying you completed or are training for your FIRST marathon. The weekend is still very surreal -- It is hard to explain to non-runners what we sacrificed and how we voluntarily “stressed” our bodies both physically and mentally. I know for us we still cannot fully express how it makes us feel and how it has changed us. One thing is for sure. As recreational runners we are more confident and appreciative of our ability to test our mettle.
We will finish up this race report by quoting Mme. Du Deffand "The distance is nothing; it is only the first step that is difficult." OK maybe that’s over simplifying it a bit. 26.2 miles isn’t just the 1st step. In reality the marathon is closer to taking 79,000 steps, but what’s important is that we chose to take the first step to join the Fleet Feet training program.