Entries in Disney (7)


Race schedules and Goal-setting involve Mental Toughness

Last night, I had a dream that must have lasted for at least two hours. I remember it pretty clearly. I was dreaming about running the Chicago Marathon in October, and it was hot, and I was watching myself in the third-person as I ran and attempted to make adjustments to deal with the heat and humidity. Watching myself was kinda strange, but I could hear myself 'think' as I processed the situation around me and came up with coping strategies. It was fascinating.

Unfortunately, I woke up at Mile 20-something thanks to my iPhone Alarm, telling me it was time to get ready for my Long Run today. So I never found out if I finished the race. But one thing was clear, I needed to have a good coping strategy for the heat and I needed to have a sound pacing strategy as well. I guess these are the things worrying me at the moment, so my mind wanted to do a 'test race' to see how to deal with them.

Wow! My subconscious mind is already thinking about the race! Is that good, or am I just obsessed?

Another friend (and runner) posted on my DailyMile that running in these hot conditions is "mental toughness" training. Yes, we have to train our bodies for the physical demands of the sport so it can perform efficiently during an endurance race. And yes, we need to develop the strategies (fueling, pacing, gear, breathing, hydration, etc) that will carry us across that Finish Line.

But maybe even more important, is that we have to develop the mental toughness, an attitude that says we are strong, we are capable, we are courageous, we are committed, and we are confident, and we won't stop until our goal has been reached. When we feel those aches and pains along the course; when our minds start telling us "we need to stop", "we can't do it", "it's too hot/cold/wet/windy"; or when our fears of failure try to assert themselves, that is when we need "mental toughness".

Not to say that as athletes, we should ignore our body's signals. We need to know what our bodies are capable of, and when it is safe to 'push it' and when it is best to ease off. So our training gives us the opportunity to learn about ourselves, and to use that knowledge during the race to be able to discern what is a real problem, and what is just "negative talk".

We need to develop that mental toughness that allows us to push past discomfort and fear in order to achieve the goal we have set for ourselves. That strength that says "I will not give up just because it is hot. I will adjust and do what is necessary to press onward to success."

I will never be an elite athlete. That is just not a realistic goal. But I want to be the best athlete I can be, regardless of what that means in terms of pacing or distance or standings. And right now, I need to develop the mental toughness to work through the challenges that heat and humidity present, so that I can effectively overcome them in a safe, healthy fashion. I will defeat the "negative talk" and reach for my goal.

I have a very aggressive race schedule this year. 70% of my schedule was set in late 2011 as I decided upon what my goals for 2012 were going to be. Since then, I have added a few races to the schedule. Now my schedule shows 17 races for 2012, of which 11 have already been completed. I have to admit, 17 was too many. But I have made it thus far, and with eight more to go, I think it is doable without injury if I follow my training plan and stay smart.

Since the beginning of the year, I have added 2 5Ks, a 10K, a Half Marathon, and a 20-Miler. So five additional races. I have already completed the 10K and the Half Marathon successfully. And the 20-Miler is really part of my marathon training schedule so that is not 'really' an additional run. But each of the eight remaining races have a purpose, and will help me to achieve my big goal -- a successful Chicago Marathon -- and improve my mental toughness!

It is never too early to do goal setting. In fact, I am already thinking about 2013. And you will be happy to know that I only have 9 races scheduled for 2013. What are my major goals for 2013? Well, I have two major ones (and several secondary ones):

Number 1: Complete the "Dopey" at the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend (that's running the 5K, Half Marathon, and Full Marathon on consecutive days). It is really the Goofy Challenge combined with the Family 5K race. I am confident I can do this, having done the AVON Walk of 39.3 miles a month ago.

Number 2: Qualify for membership in the Marathon Maniacs running club. This is a running community of people who love to run marathons, and run LOTS of them every year. A friend of mine reached "Titanium" Level last year, when he ran 52 marathons in 365 days (NO, I am not ever going to attempt such a thing!). But if I run three marathons within a 90-day period, I would qualify. So I plan on running the Disney Full (January in Florida), the Little Rock Full (March in Arkansas), and the Martian Full (April in Michigan). If I do that, I will achieve that goal!

Yeah, that is going to be a challenge. But I believe it is achievable if I put together the right training plan, stay healthy, and maintain a level of Mental Toughness to keep me focused and motivated. 2013 is about the 'quality' of my races, not the quantity. I hope you stick with me to encourage me and share in the journey.


New Course announced for WDW Marathon 20th Anniversary

We got a cool announcement in both a press release and Disney video today, confirming a new course for the Walt Disney World Marathon in 2013. This will be the 20th Anniversary of the Full Marathon and Disney seems to really want to make a splash. I am very excited about this! Especially since this will be the first time I am running the Disney Full Marathon (and my second Full Marathon overall). What better way to experience my first Disney Full than on an anniversary year!

Here is a look at the new course! (Click here for the PDF version)

I ran the Disney Half this year which was its 15th Anniversary. It was definitely a lot of fun, and I cannot wait to run it again, But I think 2013 is going to be even more amazing since this time, it is the Mickey Marathon that takes the center stage.

So how has the course changed? Well, They have changed the course in the following areas:

  • Arriving to the Magic Kingdom (MK) earlier: There will be no initial run through Epcot at race start when it is still dark outside. Instead, runners will run the same race route to MK as the Half Marathon runners, meaning arrival to MK at Mile 5. PROS: Getting to MK when you are still fresh and your energy is high and experiencing the park all lit up at night. CONS: It will still be dark at MK so photo ops are more difficult and some people prefer to run through MK after sunrise.
  • Running the Speedway: A few miles after leaving MK, you get to run the Disney World Speedway (instead of just running past it). PROS: There are other races that have a raceway as part of their route, most notably the Indy Full Marathon, so now runners will have that unique experience of running along a speedway at Disney. CONS: Running on a banked roadway is difficult on the ankles and feet, causing runners to 'bunch up' at the base of the roadway where the road is most level. And speedways can be very HOT since there will be no shade and the surface will radiate the heat.
  • Run ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex/Stadium: To break up the long run on Osceola Parkway, you get to run through the EPSN WWoS, including a run around the complex’s Champion Stadium, a major-league style ballpark that’s the Atlanta Braves’ annual spring training home. PROS: You spend some time at ESPN beyond just Packet Pickup and Expo, and you get to run a baseball stadium and likely see yourself on the Jumbotron! CONS: Stadium dust, and watch out for the rubbernecking due to runners admiring themselves on the Jumbotron!
  • Less Highway Time: In the past, there was a 5-mile stretch between the Magic and Animal Kingdoms, and a 4-mile stretch between Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios, including the Mile 20 out-and-back. Now, the longest stretch is at the start between Epcot and Magic Kingdom (5-miles). After that, any highway stretches appear to be no more than 5K at a time, which is very cool in my opinion. I see no disadvantages here.
  • Special Mile 20 Entertainment: Disney also announced that there will be something special in terms of entertainment at Mile 20 that is supposed to knock our socks off (hopefully not literally). Given that Mile 20 is where people tend to hit "The Wall" or "bonk", this could be a major energy boosting event that will re-energize runners as they leave the ESPN area and head over to Hollywood Studios. No details have been released on what this enhanced entertainment will be.

So, you still have that Full Marathon experience of running through all four theme parks, plus running through the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, plus the Stadium, plus the Speedway. And finally, whatever surprises they have in store for runners as they reach Mile 20. I think this is going to be epic!

In addition to the specially-designed 20th anniversary Mickey Mouse medal for the completing the Full Marathon, Disney is planning a new post-race party at Downtown Disney. I wonder if this is something they will include in the future.

Well, I am pretty excited about all this news! I expect the WDW Marathon Weekend to live up to the hype. I expect to have a lot of fun. I expect to be dog-tired after finishing the Goofy Challenge. And I expect to love every minute of it!