Friday, February 24, 2012's 4:00am

I'm not going to lie. I HATE getting up at 4am to run. Why do it then you ask? Great question! I'm still looking for the answer myself!

Actually, I am a morning person and if it doesn't get done first thing in the morning, then it doesn't get done! That does not make it any easier when the alarm goes off at 4am or even worse, when I roll over and watch the clock turn from 3:59 to 4:00 and then hear the alarm go off. EVERY single morning is a mental battle to get up and motivate or inspire myself to run......alone! Every single morning is a battle of self talk telling myself that I have to run, that I am letting myself down by going back to sleep or worse that I might be letting someone else down who sees me run and decides they can too! The other battle is whether to head into the basement to jump on the dreaded treadmill, also known as "the road to nowhere" or to walk out my front door and do a scenic 1 mile loop in my neighborhood over, and over and over again! My last option is to hop in the car and head into the neighboring town of New Cumberland which gives me more scenery and with longer runs allows me to run across the Susquehanna River and into Harrisburg.

Once the alarm goes off, I know that I have a 10 minute window of time to get up, get dressed to run and to either be out the door or on the treadmill. If I allow myself any more then 10 minutes then there is a strong possibility that I've either gone back to bed or talked myself out of running.

This is the same battle that I go through each and every morning. Some mornings are easier then others but it is still a challenge to get moving. I've developed some routines that have allowed me to be efficient in the morning and not waste time. I lay my running clothes and shoes out ahead of time. No searching for what to wear, it's all been decided already. In my kitchen I have my full belt and full bottles already laid out. I also lay out my Garmin, Road ID, iPod, running cap, headlamp, reflective gear and any other items that I will need to successfully get my run in. I have my routine down to a science so that I can be up and be ready to roll in 10 minutes. If I am successful, I am walking out the door at roughly 4:10,

I have run a variety of distances during my morning work week runs. My average run is 5 miles but I've run as much as a half marathon as a training run before heading into work.

After I complete my run I feel great and am full of self satisfaction in knowing that I was up and exercising before most people have even gotten up! This feeling takes me through my work day as I reflect back with pride that my will to succeed was stronger then my will to take the shortcut and quit on myself for the day.

Another good trick is to post the weeks training plan on the fridge so you are forced to walk by it and guilt yourself into running!

For those of you that struggle to get started and get moving every morning, you are not alone!

Well it's now 9pm. Bedtime. I have a mental battle to wage with myself in 7 hours! Goodnight!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Hola, mi nombre es..... or to put it in other words...Hi, my name is...

Hi, my name is Jorge and I am the international part of this great group of runners that write in this new blog. I am 40 years old and I live in Monterrey Mexico, just a few hundred miles from the US border. I'm originally from Mexico city but trying to change our quality of life, my family and I  decided to move here a little bit more than three years ago.

At that point in my life, 2008, I was a mess, my weight was around 254 pounds and I had a hard time walking for long distances. When I'm talking about long distances I'm referring to more than a hundred feet!

January 2009 Disney trip.

But I was not always like that, I used to be a very good football player for many years up until college. I played football from age 10 till when I reached 21 years old. After that I took up running a couple of times but not for a long time, I left it only after a couple of months. Then I got married and the weight gaining began.

After our 2009 Disney trip when I was looking at our pictures I became aware of how overweight I was and decided it was enough, I had gone too far, i needed to do something ASAP! But how?

The following weekend the WDWToday podcast was having a live show (I've always been a fan of those guys). While I was listening, Mike Scopa and Michelle Scribner-MacLean began talking about a team they were creating with Deb Wills called Team AllEars. At that moment I knew I wanted to be part of it. After reading Michelle’s blog about her first half marathon and several Mike Scopa’s blogs about running at Disney, I was convinced I had to run someday trough Disney World and this was the perfect opportunity to do so.

I guess we can call that day, April 25th, 2009, "D day", the day that this wonderful journey began.

So after a lot of hard work I reached my goal of finishing the 2010 Disney Half marathon being part of the wonderful Team Allears and lost my first 35 pounds. I will never forget that wonderful experience, meeting such an amazing group of people and how,  thanks to them, I was able to take control of my life again.

Team Allears before heading to the 2010 Half Marathon starting line.

After that experience, with the confidence I got back, I was able to continue changing my life, I lost an additional 35 pounds for a total of 70 pounds and finished my first marathon almost a year after.

So far I've run a total of three marathons, seven half marathons and a little more than 20 10ks.

I've always said that what has kept me doing this for almost three years is the wonderful journey this has been and continues to be. During the journey I have lived lots of fulfilling experiences and met lots of people. People like Jamison, Brad ,Josh. Mush and Rob, people that motivate you all the time to do your best and remember you that you can do it.

Finishing my third marathon.

Right now I've gained around 10 pounds, the holidays were not easy on me! The goal right now is to continue running, loosing at least 15 pounds, staying injury free doing the Galloway method for my long runs and running two or three marathons this year.

I will run my fourth marathon in a couple of weeks, Torreon Marathon. I'm planning on running it as a fun run and have a great time with my friends and the people that will support me. I promise to post lots of pictures! Last year I learned that it's not always about personal records, you can run also just for the fun of it (more on that on a future post).

But the most important goal is to be part of Team Allears 2013 and run the Goofy challenge.

A little bit more about myself, I am a father of two beautiful kids and I'm married to the most wonderful wife. I work as a Risk Manager for a mutual fund company. And what do I enjoy more out of life? Spending time with my family, running, watching movies and of course Disney!

So there is a lot of work ahead and I will be sure of letting you know how things are going while I continue this journey. Keep on swimming!!!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Who's This Mush Guy?

Hi there…

…I’m Mush…

…both figuratively and literally!

The name’s Chris, but I’ve been known as ‘Mush’ for over 30 years thanks to my last name. The nickname also describes my physique over the last 16 years, unfortunately. I feel like I’m the anomaly in this group. While it’s true that I completed my second half-marathon a few weeks ago, I am in no way what you would visualize when you think of a runner. I’m 5’8” and 255 lbs, which means A) I’ve got short legs – I take 3 steps for an average runner’s 1 step; and B) the pavement nearly cracks underneath me with every stride.

Sooooooo…why am I here? Well, I haven’t always been this way. I was an athlete in school, earning 9 varsity letters (3 in football, 3 in baseball, 2 in basketball, and 1 in track/field). I also attended the U.S. Air Force Academy for 3 years (voluntarily left near the end of my junior year when I realized it wasn’t for me).

I was extremely active, and I ate a lot because I needed the calories for the energy.

Then I left Air Force and went to Illinois State University. I quit being active, but I kept on eating.  8 months later, I had gained nearly 40 lbs. Throw in about ten more years, and I went from 185 at Air Force to 268.

I’ve yo-yo’ed down to about 215, but I’m usually around 240-250. I needed to do something, especially with heart disease present on both of my parents’ sides.

The decision to start running is a long story, and I've already written it over on my personal blog (click here if you want to read that story - it will open up a new window).

So, here I am, part of a running team comprised of absolutely AMAZING people!  I'm still struggling with my weight, but I hope that this blog will help me take off the pounds so I can start training for my first ever full marathon.  This is something that will probably not be accomplished in the next twelve months, and it pains me to think that I likely won't be participating in Marathon Weekend in Disney World in January 2013.  Still, I plan to run...eventually, I plan to run a LOT this year as part of the weight loss process and to start the training to run farther than I've ever run before.

Other info about me?  Well, I'm a father of 2 and husband of 1 (I don't think I got that backwards). I teach economics at the local university and community college, while also serving as an academic advisor and, for good measure to make sure I don't get bored with everything, I'm finishing up my Ph.D. (I'm in the 34th grade).  We'll talk politics and beer later.  I will warn y'all now that I tend to be A.D.D., which means the conversation could take a million twists and turns and ultimately make no sense at all when all is said and donLOOK, A QUARTER!!!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Hi, my name is.....

Hi, my name is Brad Garfinkel and I am addicted to running. Actually, I am not really addicted to running. If we are being honest here, I am not sure I really even enjoy running. Why would someone enjoy getting up at 4am to run 10 miles in the dark of winter? Why would someone go out on a 20 miler when it's 85 out? Why would someone torture their body to the point that they lose their toe nails? Why would someone be crazy enough to run up a hill only to run down and do it 10 more times. Why would someone run 26.2 miles and be on their feet for four plus hours when a perfectly good car can do the trick in 30 minutes.....while sitting down! My grandfather use to preach that he belonged to the 'sons of rest.' The philosophy with the sons of rest is that if you get up and have the urge to do something, you should sit back down and take a rest! Anyway, I don't know that I really am addicted to running.

What I do know is that I am addicted to collecting t-shirts and tech shirts from the zillions of races I run annually. I am addicted to the medals I earn while crossing the finish line. I am addicted to the congratulations I get as I proudly wear my medals. I am addicted to the crowds cheering as I run by. I am addicted to the camaraderie felt by fellow runners as you share stories about PR's and great finishes. I am addicted to the feeling of butterflies in my stomach as I am ready at the start line. I am addicted to the pride of limping into work knowing that no one or almost no one ran as far as I did today.....before work! I am addicted to the many great sights and sounds I experience as I travel the country to participate in races. I am addicted to the many friendships that I have developed as a result of running. I am addicted to the feeling I get when someone tells me that I have inspired them to take the first steps to their journey of becoming a runner. I am addicted to the satisfaction of knowing that I do what most people think is impossible (but in fact is very possible). I am addicted to wearing out a pair of running shoes (they are NOT sneakers) every four months from running so many miles!

A little more about me. I am a banker, father and husband (and Disney addict ) by day and night and a runner all other times but usually in the morning beginning at 4am. My goals are simple: stay healthy, keep my weight down (I am down 20 pounds over the same time last year), keep my cholesterol down and run faster. I would like to run a sub 4 hour marathon, run a sub 1:40 half marathon and dare I say it......eventually qualify for Boston (in the next 10 years). I would also like to try my hand (or feet) at a 50 and a 100 miler. I plan to focus on cross training with cycling and swimming and the occasional triathlon to keep me focused. My ultimate dream is to pass my love of running on to my daughter and eventually run a half marathon with her.

Ok, so I guess I really do love running and am clearly addicted to it and every detail that goes along with it. Four years ago I could barely run around the block. As of today I have run 8 marathons, almost two dozen half marathons and countless other races while logging 1000 training miles per year. I don't love running. I AM A RUNNER.

Monday, February 6, 2012

My Intro!

Hey everyone!

Hope everyone had a chance to enjoy the unusually warm temperatures over the past couple days (at least, here in the mid-Atlantic region!)

For those of you who don't know me (or barely know me), let me introduce myself...

My name is Rob Wilhelm, and I'm from New Market, Maryland, which is about a 40-minute drive northwest of Washington DC.  With the exception of going to college at Shippensburg (PA) University from 1989 to 1994 (yeah, the 4 1/2 year plan!), I've lived in this area pretty much my whole entire life.

My 2013 Disney Marathon goal - the Goofy Challenge!  I've signed up for this the previous two years only to be de-railed by October injuries.  Hopefully the third time's a charm!

My professional life - I work at the Frederick County Adult Detention Center as a classification specialist.  Very stressful and thankless job.  Been there for almost 16 years.  Jogs serve as great therapy after particularly stressful days!  I've also been coaching high school Cross Country since 2003, and I'll be coaching track this coming spring for the first time since 2004.

My personal life - I've been married to my wonderful wife Heidi since 2000.  We have a soon-to-be 5-year-old son named Harry.  Heidi has decided to join me for Team All Ears 2013 in doing the 5K.  And little Harry has been doing the kids' races since 2009.  2013 will be my third year with TAE.

My running background - I ran track pretty much from age 10 all the way through college.  In high school I was a 400M runner/high jumper/triple jumper.  In college, I did the indoor pentathlon and 55M dash, and outdoors I did the 400M hurdles and decathlon.  After I graduated from college in the winter of '93, I stopped running altogether for a few years because I was pretty burnt out.  Around the mid-1990s, I started jogging sporadically, meaning I would jog for a week or two and stop for several months.

What finally got my butt in gear was when I was in the hospital in March of 2007 when my baby son Harrison was born.  I stepped on a scale and it topped out at 203 pounds.  To put that in perspective, I was 145 pounds when I graduated high school and rail-thin.  To top it off, my cholesterol was way up and my back was consistently killing me.  It was at that moment that I decided to start training for the 2008 Disney Marathon, and I've never looked back!  But more importantly, I wanted to get in better shape for the sake of my son, who I knew I would be chasing around for years to come...

As of this date, I've completed 3 full marathons and about a dozen or so half-marathons and 10-milers.  I try and do about 3 to 5 races per year.  My goals are pretty modest.  I'd eventually like to break the 2:00 barrier for the half, and maybe break the 5:00 for the full.  But what matters the most is that I'm having fun.  The comraderie (sp?) you experience both during training and especially during the races is like no other.  It's one of those things you have to experience first-hand to believe.

My health goals - Again, this is pretty basic.  Lose weight, and try to maintain!  A couple weeks ago when I started my diet and exercise, I was 201 pounds.  I'm now down to 195.  My dieting methods are pretty simple, and a little nuts.  Basically, I eat healthy throughout the work-day.  Lean Cuisine meals or other healthy options, and lots of water.  At home for dinners, I've learned to cut down on my portions and stick to the water.  I was drinking about 3 to 4 glasses of soda daily/nightly.  I've cut this down to about 3 to 4 glasses a WEEK.  Instead of munching on chips, I'll grab a piece of fruit.  Week-ends are a little bit tougher!  I do allow myself one day to "pig out."  Eat what I want.  But at the same time, I still watch my portions.  I view the "pig out" day as a reward for being good all week!  As for my weight, I'd like to get down to 175.  When I get down to 175, I'll re-evaulate myself.  One thing I do know - I do NOT want to be that rail-thin, 145 pound geek I was in high school when my head and feet looked too big for my body!

My training plan - as of now 2 to 3 jogs during the week varying in length from 2 to 4 miles, plus one long week-end run of 6+ miles.  From there, I'll continue to bump it up.

Well, I think I rambled on long enough.  I'll save everything else for future blogs.  But to close, I'd like to give the other "Fartlek" guys a shout-out:

Brad - My fraternity bro from Ship!  You've been my motivation the past 3 years or so.  You are at the level I want to get to eventually as a runner.  And I owe you a big THANKS for introducing me to TAE.

Mush - Always remember meeting you for the first time at the half last month.  You made me feel very welcome and extremely at ease, and you were really easy to talk to.  Thanks for that.

Jamison - I'll never forget the shout-out you gave me at the end of the half.  Awesome seeing a familiar face at the finish line, and I know you must've hung out there for a looooong time.  So thanks for that.

Jorge - I haven't met you yet, but I still think you're an awesome guy.  I like reading your twitter posts - very inspiring.  Hopefully I'll get the chance to meet you in 2013!

Josh - keep up the excellent job with the PT.  Your Facebook posts are truly inspiring, and you have a lot of people rallying behind you, as well as inspiring a bunch more.  Keep it up.

Until next time...  Stay tuned...


Friday, February 3, 2012

So May I Introduce To You...

Another BLOG!!!  I know... just what you needed.  But this one is a little different due to how it started, who is writing it, what it will come to represent and what you will find here.  So indulge us for a moment so we may introduce Saying Fartlek Makes Us Giggle!

In 2009 a running team was formed to support the fight against cancer.  If you have been to Walt Disney World for marathon weekend since 2010 or are a fan of the online Disney community you may have heard of it... Team Allears.  Team Allears is an amazing group of people that to date has raised over $140,000 in the fight against cancer.  The team comes from all over the world, has runners of all shapes and sizes and runs everything from the 5k to the Dopey Challenge (5k+Half Marathon+Full Marathon all in the same weekend).  It is through Team Allears that the authors of this blog met.

In 2010 the 6 of us began tweeting each other to keep ourselves going through training, weight loss, etc.  We would cheer each other on when we needed it and try to cheer up each other when we needed it to.  Well almost two years later 140 characters at a time just doesn't cut it and thus this blog was born.

Over the next year Brad, Josh, Rob, Jorge, Chris and Jamison will be chronicling our year of training that will lead us to Walt Disney World's Marathon Weekend 2013.  Between the 6 of us some are runners that are looking to lose weight, some are looking to bounce back from major or minor injuries, some are looking to set PR's, at least one is looking to change the way he runs and all of us are running from Father Time.

We will share our struggles, successes and everything in between.  We will share our training plans and our weight loss struggles.  We may even share music suggestions, beer suggestions, the occasional bit of Walt Disney World news, and being an election year we can't promise that politics won't sneak in too.  We aren't World Class Runners, but we are a group of guys who caught the running bug and want to take you all along as we train for WDW Marathon Weekend 2013!  And why the title?  Well we don't take ourselves THAT seriously!