Running Survey

I saw this running survey on another blog and thought I would take a stab at it.

Do you listen to music when you run?
Yes. Especially when I am by myself. I spend quite a bit of time working on the perfect playlist. It helps keep me motivated, especially during long runs.

What brand of running shoes do you wear?
Nike Pegasus and Brooks Ghost

What do you wear on your head when you run?
I typically start out with a Halo band and carry a hat with me.

What temperature is your favorite for running?                                                            Anything between 50 and 65 degrees with a slight breeze is my sweet spot.
Do you run solo or with a buddy?
Mostly alone during the week and with the wife on the weekends for longer runs (when she is up for it).

Are you a morning, afternoon, or evening runner?                                                        Morning for sure.

Do you have any races coming up?
(these are the races I am currently registered for)

  • Suwanee Gateway Half Marathon (Just finished it this morning)
  • Publix Half Marathon in March (Atlanta)
  • Star Wars Dark Side Half Marathon in April (WDW – Florida)
  • Peachtree Road Race 10K in July (Atlanta – Guaranteed admission through Atlanta Track Club)
  • Disneyland Half Marathon in September (Disneyland – California)

What is your favorite distance?
13.1 miles. Love the half marathon distance. The training doesn’t dominate your life like marathon training does. But it’s still a good solid distance.
What is your favorite race?
WDW Marathon Weekend in January. It’s where I ran my first half marathon in 2013.

Do you wear a running watch to track your distance?
Yes, for years I ran with a Nike watch, but changed over to a Garmin 220 last spring.

Who is your running idol?
Anyone who works hard for something – I admire that!

How long have you been running?
I started running the summer of 2006 to lose weight before my wedding in January 2007. I started running longer distances about 4 years ago, including my first half marathon in 2013 and first full marathon in 2015.
What do you drink to stay hydrated? When do you start taking fuel?
For any run over around 6 miles, I like to carry a water bottle with me. For runs over 13 miles, I carry 2 bottles – one with water and the other with Nuun. I typically take fuel for runs over 6-7 miles. I will take my first fuel at the 6 mile mark and then every 45 minutes after, depending on how I am feeling.

Where is your favorite place to run?
I ran one morning of our California road trip in Cambria overlooking the Pacific Ocean. It was the perfect mix of scenery and weather. There was nothing quite like it!


Beginner Running Tips

  1. Invest in a good pair of shoes. The health of your feet and legs is invaluable. You need to protect them with proper footwear. Improper shoes are a major cause of injury. If you want to stay injury free, investing in a good pair of running shoes is a must. Find a local running store. They will watch you run/walk to recommend the type of shoe that is best for you. I’ll be honest, good running shoes are not cheap. It may feel like a lot to spend at least $100 or more on a pair of running shoes, but the investment is worth it to avoid injury.
  1. Running Clothes. Investing in proper shorts, shirts and socks will go a long way. Technical fabrics breathe so much easier than regular clothes. They may still get damp, but not nearly as much as 100 percent cotton.
  1. Walk/Run. If you have never run before, or haven’t run in years, it’s not a good idea to wake up one morning and try to run 3 miles. You could injure yourself and you’ll probably be really sore for the next couple days! Instead, alternate walking and running. Example: Walk for 2 minutes, run for 1 minute. Keep this up for 15-20 minutes. Do whatever walk/run ratio you like, but as the weeks go by, you should slowly increase your running time and decrease your walking time. You’ll be running the full 20 minutes (and even longer) in no time.
  1. Setting Goals. If your ultimate goal is to run a half marathon or marathon, that is awesome! But setting shorter goals, especially at the beginning, is very important. Your goal could be to run three times a week or it could be to run a 5k. Achieving short-term goals will motivate you to continue to your long-term goal.
  1. Running Partner.  Motivation and commitment increase tremendously when you have a running partner. Everyone has days when they don’t want to run. But if you know you have a friend counting on you, it can make all the difference in the world when it comes to getting out there and running. 2d9af22695c29f157b6105141d133084

9 Years Ago Today

January 27, 2007 I married my best friend. I am so very blessed to call her my wife. Rachel is the most wonderful, caring and loving person I know. Everyone who meets her, loves her gentle spirit and beautiful smile. We have been on quite a journey these past 9 years, but I wouldn’t want to experience this thing we call life with anyone else. 9 years down…a lifetime to go!

WDW Marathon Weekend: Final Few Days

The final few days after the Disney races were spent hanging around the Disney parks and properties. We spent most of Monday at the Magic Kingdom. The weather was absolutely perfect (which was a far cry from the previous day’s heat/humidity for the marathon). We were able to get some great pictures at the Magic Kingdom with our medals.

We spent most of the day walking around and riding several rides while picking up some well-earned sweets and food!

As we were getting ready to leave I decided I wanted to get one more picture, with all of my Dopey medals, with the castle in the background. As I get up to the photo pass guy, he sees my medals, helps get me positioned and then asks me if I’m willing to hold this pose for about 60 seconds. I’m thinking…ummm…ok? Now there is a afternoon show going on in the background but I’m not really thinking about that. So about 60 seconds later he starts to take a few pictures and all of a sudden the afternoon show is ending with fireworks. And I get this amazing photo…

Dopey Pic in front of Castle

Picture with the Dopey Medals in front of the castle

Later we met up with our friends Nick and Ciara for dinner and then headed back over to our condo to watch the National Championship Football Game between Alabama and Clemson. Obviously as a huge Alabama fan, I was very happy with the result!


On Tuesday (our last full day), we decided we wanted to explore some of the Disney properties. We have loved staying on property from time to time, but have always wanted to see more of them. We hit up the Art of Animation first. It was so beautifully themed!

After that we went over to the Wilderness Lodge. I have to admit it was easily the nicest of the properties I have ever been to. In fact, I ended up getting us a night at the Wilderness Lodge for the Star Wars Half Marathon in April. We are excited! We finished up by hitting up the Caribbean Beach Resort. It reminded us a little of Coronado Springs, where we have stayed before. It was very well themed!

We ended the night by meeting up with Nick and Ciara at Disney Springs for dinner. We walked around a little more before saying goodbye to them. We headed back to the condo for one more night of sleep before getting on the road the next morning to head back to Atlanta. It was a wonderful and rewarding week for both of us. Can’t wait till next year!

WDW Marathon Weekend: Dopey Challenge Recap

As I sit here trying to figure out how to write a conclusion to the Dopey Challenge, I find myself reflecting over the overall journey. I signed up for this challenge last April with a solid running base, including a dozen half marathons and a full marathon. I was running on average 4-5 days a week and hitting 100+ miles each month. However, I still felt slightly intimidated. 48.6 miles over 4 days with 4 very early mornings sounded very daunting.


I am a weird mix of a planner and go with the flow kind of guy. I think it depends on the circumstances. With running, I have a tendency to be more Type A. I like the structure of a weekly schedule, with mileage goals that build toward the overall goal. Now I definitely wasn’t trying to break any records during these races. I wanted to finish each race safely, have a good time and experience all that the Disney races have to offer. Plus, I was very excited to run with Rachel during her first marathon.

I will say the Dopey Challenge is not for everyone. It takes a lot of time, discipline and money. Disney races and challenges are not cheap. Am I glad I did it? Absolutely! It was an amazing experience! Would I do it again? Probably not.


Now that’s not to say I won’t be running Disney races again. I love the Disney races! My first half marathon was in January 2013 at the WDW Marathon weekend. Rachel and I have been back every year. I think our hope is to run at least the half marathon each January. It holds a special place in our hearts. But I think I’m ready to move towards running full marathons with nothing else attached to them. While I will never say never…I would be surprised if I attempted the Dopey Challenge again.


If you haven’t had a chance to read Rachel’s recap of the marathon yesterday, I encourage you to do it. I thought it was a wonderfully honest look at the marathon. It is a tough distance. There is no way around it. No matter how much you train (and trust me, Rachel was very trained), 26.2 miles is a long way. You have to be mentally prepared for this distance. And Rachel was definitely physically and mentally prepared! It’s why I knew she was going to be ok during that race. She is a fighter. And I am so proud of her.


People keep asking me how my marathon was and I find myself saying it wasn’t the easiest race for me either. But honestly, I was so focused on Rachel that I didn’t pay as much attention to the fact I was running a marathon. That might sound strange, but it’s true. Now the weather was tough. It was very humid and warm from start to finish. I definitely struggled at times myself. But my priority the entire race was Rachel.

It was an amazing feeling to run across the finish line together. I watched my wife get her marathon finisher’s medal and I got very choked up. I’m not sure if she will ever want to run another one. She would tell you right now there is no way. I definitely won’t ever push her to do it again. That’s her call. No matter what, I am and always will be so proud of how hard she fought to finish this one!

(Tomorrow I will close out the WDW Marathon Weekend blog posts with the final few days of our trip. We spent 2 more days after the races hanging out at the parks and with our friends Nick and Ciara. Until then…)

WDW Marathon Weekend: Rachel’s Marathon Experience

(Before I finish out the blog posts on my experience with the Dopey Challenge/WDW Marathon weekend, I asked Rachel to share about her experience during the marathon. While her marathon wasn’t what she expected it to be, I am so amazingly proud of her. She is a rock star marathoner!) 

Allen asked me to write the blog post about the marathon portion of the Dopey Challenge, as it was quite an interesting and unique experience for me – and one that I won’t soon forget.

“You are not a failure.”

Many people, over the next several days after running my first marathon, would tell me this. I think I’m still having trouble believing them.running-motivation-6

Let me preface this summary by stating that I did not have a positive experience. I don’t think it was related to the time, place, or actual race, but something else…something on a totally personal level.

One of the annoying things about my body is that I have a nervous stomach. So leading up to the race, that was my number one concern – that I would have an upset stomach during the race. Fortunately, during the night before and even upon waking up that morning, I felt fine – calm, relaxed, and at peace about the race. That is, until it actually started. For some reason, waiting in the corral for our turn to begin was excruciating! I started the race in bad fashion – and that’s without even mentioning the upper-60-degree weather and 100% humidity I had to contend with.

Shortly after the race began (this is a marathon, people – shortly means about 6 miles in), and after running through the breathtaking Magic Kingdom, I began to feel slightly better.

At this point I was glistening in quite a bit of sweat and because of the prior upset stomach, I finally took my first gel. Because there are limited (yet still frequent) water stops along the course, I was restricted by their locations as to when I could take my next gel. Unfortunately, I got a little overzealous and took my second gel much too close to the first – and cue a very full-feeling stomach.

A little while after I took the second gel (around mile 10), I started having some chest pains. I was chalking it up to a lot of things: my sports bra is too tight, the strap on my water backpack is squashing me, my full stomach has migrated to my chest, etc. However, after a while, the pain was agonizing – and unfortunately, between about miles 10 and 16, besides a quick jaunt in the Animal Kingdom, there is not much to distract besides asphalt and trees. I was in trouble.


(I don’t know how to not smile in photos.)

I can’t remember at what point this happened, but eventually I had to pull Allen to the side of the road and let him know that this was unbearable, something might be wrong, I’m in a ridiculous amount of pain. Also at this point, I got super emotional – I had worked for so many long months for this goal, and now this pain (seemingly from out of nowhere, by the way) was going to hold me back from completing it?! It was infuriating. Luckily, Allen is the best husband in the world (no, he did not ask me to say that), so we decided to stop at the next medical tent.

Unfortunately, we needed to get through the whole of the ESPN Wide World of Sports before embarking on the next medical tent. I had heard nightmare stories about this part of the course, and I also found it to be quite tedious – but for different reasons, I think….

Finally, upon leaving ESPN, we found a medical tent at mile 20.7. There was an amazing PT there, Samantha, who told me that no, this pain is not in my head, I’m not having a heart attack, my ribs are just pressing on my lungs (nbd), and in fact I received an actual diagnosis: costochondritis. She also said that I was having a mini-panic attack as a result. She asked me to take several deep, calming breaths and gave me some Tylenol, which helped me feel slightly better.

At this point, the parts of the course left were meant to be very exciting: Hollywood Studios, the Boardwalk, and, of course, the World Showcase in Epcot. Sadly, I couldn’t enjoy any of it, because I was too busy feeling like I was going to die (only slightly hyperbolic). Although I felt better when we had stopped, it was still excruciating to run and walk – I couldn’t catch my breath either way. I felt like I was going to have to drag myself across the finish line, if I made it that far.


Making our way through the World Showcase…almost there!

Somehow, somewhere, I found the strength to continue. Our great friends Nick and Ciara were there cheering us on in Epcot, right before mile 26, and that gave me a boost. And of course, seeing Mickey Mouse right at the finish line was wonderful.

(Do not be fooled by my expression in these photos – inside I was dying.)

The chest pain went away after I finished the race, but I felt very emotionally fragile throughout the next several days. Oddly enough, because we finished in such a long amount of time (about an hour longer than we had been training to finish), physically I felt great – my legs and feet were tired, but I wasn’t as exhausted as I had anticipated (blessing in disguise?).

I can’t say I’ll ever do another marathon (at least until I forget how this one felt), but I don’t have to – I’m a MARATHONER either way!


Red-rimmed eyes, but a big smile.

WDW Marathon Weekend: Half Marathon

I knew one of the hardest parts of the Dopey Challenge was the 4 straight early mornings, and it was definitely true. Usually the night before a race, I wake up several times worried I will oversleep. But by the 3rd day, I slept right up to the 3:15 am alarm.

Anyway…today was about running smart and conservatively. With a full marathon the next day, I knew I didn’t want to overdo it. But at the same time, I wanted to get it over with so I could get off my feet and rest up for tomorrow.

I was excited about the half this morning, mainly because our friends Nick and Ciara (who live in Celebration and work for Disney) were running their first half. I caught up with them after the bag check area and we walked over to the corrals. They both seemed ready to experience their first runDisney race. After chatting with them for a little bit, we separated to go to our respective corrals. I was in corral F for the half and full marathons.

Once the race got started, I found a comfortable pace and was on my way. The first several miles of the half are not the most exciting. But once you get past the Ticket and Transportation Center, you begin to make your way towards the Magic Kingdom.

The Magic Kingdom is definitely the best part of the half marathon course. Once you run through the side entrance, you make your way up Main Street U.S.A. Between the large number of spectators cheering, the buildings all lit up and, of course, Cinderella’s castle directly in front of you, it is like a scene from a movie. I make my way through a good portion of the park before exiting out Frontierland Gate by Splash Mountain.

The next several miles back towards Epcot and the finish line were uneventful. Disney does a good job of spreading out numerous cheering sections, high school marching bands and character picture stops along the way. But it’s definitely not the most exciting part of the course, especially when you are getting to the 10 mile point. I was feeling good with my overall pace. In fact, I decided to kick it into another gear for the last 4 miles. Nothing too fast, but mainly I was ready to be done.

I finished in 2:25, which was a nice easy pace and meant I would have plenty left in the tank for the next day’s marathon. I picked up my medal, water/Powerade, runner’s box and made my way back to the condo to shower and rest.




Our plans the rest of the day were to head over to Disney Springs for a #werunsocial meet up at 2:00 pm and then an early dinner with some more friends who live about 30 minutes north of Orlando. I was looking forward to the #werunsocial meet up, as I knew there would be several social media running friends I wanted to see/meet. One of the best things about running is the community, and #werunsocial is about just that. It is a group of passionate runners that love to meet up and support each other. So, when the chance to get together arises, that’s what we do. Rachel and I got to meet some amazing people that afternoon, including (but not limited to)… Dani, Kristin, Justin, Devin, Ivie, Ken, Kara, Marc and Scott.

Later that afternoon/early evening, we met our friends for dinner and one last carbo-load meal! Rachel and I both wanted to be in bed as early as possible that evening. I was definitely very tired by that point. We called it by 8:00 pm and were both asleep quickly. On to the big day! 22.4 miles down, 26.2 to go!


WDW Marathon Weekend: 10K

I was looking forward to the 10K race morning as Rachel would be running the first of her two races with me. (She was also registered for the marathon on Sunday.)

We were up and at it by 3:30 am that morning. As we were getting ready, Rachel checked the weather and mentioned it looked like it might rain on us the whole time. Fortunately, we had trained a few different days in the rain during the Fall to prepare ourselves for this kind of weather. We decided to wear matching outfits for this race, which included the Pro Compression socks #thegibblers and Dee and Dum shirts from Raw Threads. (In all honesty…the only reason I was wearing the Dee shirt vs. the Dum shirt is that Rachel’s Dum shirt was significantly on sale when we bought them.)


We headed over to the Epcot parking lot with no trouble and sat in our car for a good 10-15 minutes since it was already raining. After getting through the bag check area, we grabbed a quick picture, found the port-a-potties and got into our corral. Rachel was in Corral B, so I moved back with her. The rain, while never super strong, was coming down enough to be annoying. I was already pretty wet. We got started about 10 minutes after Corral A and we were on our way!


We took a nice slower pace for the 6.2 miles. With the rain, there were quite a few puddles. My feet/legs were soaked by the end of the 3rd mile. We got to the Boardwalk Resort area between mile 4 and 5. And I must say, it was my favorite part of the course. Seeing all of the buildings lit up with a ton of people cheering you on, really gives you an extra push.

After coming out of the Boardwalk area, we went around the corner to the backside entrance of Epcot, when we came across Tweedledee and Tweedledum. Now we typically don’t stop for character pictures, but when you are dressed as the characters, we made an exception!

After the character pictures, we finished the 10K by running through Epcot. Our time was 1:05:14 for right around a 10:30 per mile pace (not counting the character stop). I was pleased with our pace and time since we were definitely trying not to push it too much. We picked up our medals, got a few pictures, water/Powerade, and runner’s box and made our way back to the condo.IMG_3685

Later that morning, we made our way over to the Magic Kingdom. We had the Magic Kingdom on our agenda for Monday as well, so our plan for the day was to take it easy, hit up a few rides and eat lunch at Be Our Guest. After riding a few rides, we ran into some friends who live in North Carolina (but they are both from Atlanta). It was so good to catch up with them for a little bit.IMG_3691

We were very excited to eat lunch at Be Our Guest. It’s one of our favorite restaurants in the park, plus “The Grey Stuff” cupcake really is delicious.

After lunch, we walked around a little more while stopping to ride a few more rides before heading back to the condo to get off our feet.

Later that evening, we met up with our friends who live in Celebration for dinner at a nice Italian restaurant near our condo. They were running the Half Marathon the next morning for the first time! We called it an early night and I got ready to run the 3rd step of the Dopey Challenge! 9.3 miles down, 39.3 miles to go!


WDW Marathon Weekend: 5k

3:30 am came very early the next morning. The 5K race starts at 6:00 am, which is 30 minutes later than the other 3 race mornings. Therefore, I needed to be in my corral around 5:30 am. So between getting ready and driving over to the Epcot parking lot (it’s about 10-15 minutes away tops) and walking from the parking lot to the race area, I knew I would need to be up and ready to go by 4:15.

I decided for the 5K, I was going to rock my #WeRunSocial gear. From my Pro Compression WRS Boom socks along with my WRS shirt, I was ready to tackle the first step of Dopey.IMG_3626

I ended up getting over to the race area quite a bit earlier than I expected. I mainly just listened to some music and tried to stay warm. It was about 58 degrees that morning, so not super cold but with the breeze, it was a little chilly. I headed over to my corral around 5:30, which was A for the 5K and 10K, and got ready to go!

The goal for the 5K was to run at my normal pace if not a little faster. I mainly wanted to get this one over with because I knew I still had 3 more races/early mornings to go.

I ended up keeping about a 9 minute per mile pace, which is slightly better than I normally run this distance. (I’m by no stretch a fast runner.) I finished (according to my watch) in around 28 minutes, which I was very pleased with. I picked up my 5K medal, water/Powerade and runner’s box and I was on my way.IMG_3635

The plan for the rest of the day was to hit up 2 Disney Parks. We figured between the 5K today and the 10K tomorrow, this was the best day to do multiple parks since the running distance wasn’t very long. We hit up Hollywood Studios that morning. While they are changing up quite a bit of the park, we still love the rides there. We hit up several of our favorites, including Toy Story Mania and Tower of Terror.

That afternoon, we made our way over to Epcot for several hours. We rode a few more rides and spent quite a bit of time walking around the different countries. The weather again was beautiful and sunny. Epcot is definitely my 2nd favorite of the 4 parks at WDW.

We grabbed another early dinner as I was definitely more tired today after my first early morning. With the 10K the following morning and Rachel running with me, we both hit the bed pretty early that night. 3.1 miles down, 45.5 miles to go!

WDW Marathon Weekend: Pre Race Festivities

We started our journey last Tuesday afternoon by driving down to High Springs, Florida, which is about 15 minutes north of Gainesville and approximately two hours from Orlando. We have some great friends who lived in Atlanta for many years and now live in High Springs. They are so gracious to host us each time we drive down to Disney. This is a huge bonus for us as we don’t have to pay for a hotel the first night and it breaks up the drive a little bit.IMG_3601

The following morning, we made our way down to Orlando. Our first stop was the WDW Marathon Weekend Race Expo at the ESPN Wide World of Sports. The expo is always fun and a little crazy depending on the time you go. Since I was doing the Dopey Challenge, I had to get there the first day to pick up my race bibs (1 for the 5k and 10K and 1 for the Half and Full) in order to be ready for the next morning. Rachel went ahead and picked up her 10K and Marathon race bibs as well.

After picking up our race bibs, we headed over to get our shirts. I picked up my 6 shirts for doing the Dopey Challenge and Rachel got her 10K and Marathon shirts. Then we walked around the expo for a while checking out the different booths. As you can see from the picture below, the expo had quite a few people and booths, but it was pretty easy to maneuver.IMG_3606

We ended up walking out with quite a few things (fortunately, most of the shirts were part of the registration).

After the expo, we headed over to the Animal Kingdom for a couple of hours. We hit up a few rides, including one of our favorites, Expedition Everest. The weather was absolutely beautiful that afternoon.

After checking in to our condo (we stayed in a timeshare condo for the week), we met our friends who live in Florida for dinner. These are the friends we have run with at Disneyland over Labor Day the past 2 years. They weren’t running this year as they are expecting a baby in February!

After dinner, we called it an early night as I needed to be up by 3:45 am the next morning for the 5K race. I was ready and feeling good about getting the Dopey Challenge started!