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Running Disney: Two Down, Ten to Go!!

by Joseph Kolinsky


As I’ve mentioned in my past few blog entries, my goal for 2012 is to run a marathon during each calendar month of the year in order to generate awareness and donations for The Dream Team Project.  Well I am happy to report that I survived marathon number two this past Sunday, February 12th.  I completed the “26.2 With Donna Marathon”, run in Jacksonville, Florida in a time of five hours and fourteen minutes.  I’d like to briefly share with you the day’s experience, because it truly was amazing.

First off: this marathon weekend offers runners the choice of running the full marathon, a half marathon, or participate in a marathon relay.  I chose the full marathon – but I can tell you that the half marathon distance was extremely popular!  So let’s dive right in and talk about the course.  Then I’ll Tarantino this blog and backtrack to the Expo experience.

The course is very flat until the last mile…then you are exposed to Jacksonville’s version of Heartbreak Hill.  Since the hill is right near the end of the course, it truly is manageable.  You get to run along the beach, through the wonderful little towns, and experience small yet boisterous crowds all along the course.  It was an incredible feeling to have total strangers coming up to me as I waddled along the course, thanking ME for RUNNING.  Are you kidding????  It’s me that should be thanking YOU for YOUR SUPPORT!!!

As I walked out of the hotel which was wonderfully close to the start/finish line of the race alongside the Mayo Clinic campus, I realized that I may have bitten off a bit more than I could chew this Sunday morning.  As the doors swooshed open, cold air blasted me right in the face. Should have looked at the temperature before getting dressed….it was 28 degrees.  With a strong wind.  Which was currently whacking me in the face.  I ran upstairs to my room and changed into long pants, 3 shirts and a sweatshirt (which represented approximately 85% of the clothes I brought on the trip).  I never ran 26.2 miles in long pants before….but there’s a first time for everything I guess….

This marathon has grown substantially since it’s inception five years ago, and it’s growth can be primarily evidenced in the quality of the Runner’s Village.  What a great setup.  I cannot recall another marathon offering oranges, bananas, and freshly-baked chocolate chip muffins that immediately reminded me of the Boardwalk Bakery in Walt Disney World (a personal favorite of mine whenever I’m hanging out in La Casa de Walt).  What a great way to kick off a really cold morning.  The chocolaty goodness took my mind off the freezing temperatures, that’s for sure!

After I dropped off my bag (along with my sweatshirt – hello wind chill) and headed to the starting line, a couple of people asked me about the WDW Radio Running Team.  So I gave them the quick explanation of The Dream Team Project, and why running for the team means so much to me.  They, in turn, shared their own experiences running for another cancer charity…and it was wonderful to listen to the passion in their voices as they were so grateful to get an opportunity to do something to help a cause that was close to their hearts.

Before you knew it, the gun sounded and off we went!  The first five miles carried us in to the Jacksonville Beach area, followed by miles six through eight along the beach itself.  If it wasn’t so mind-numbingly cold, I would have really soaked in the incredible view.  By mile eight, we turned away from the beach and back on to town streets.  Miles nine through twenty one gave me a prolonged opportunity to enjoy the small towns along Jacksonville Beach.  Small yet sturdy groups of fans braved the cold and provided the warmth we all needed to continue waddling onward.  By the time we approached mile twenty two, we transitioned to running along a major roadway – J Turner Butler Blvd.  Shortly before reaching mile twenty five, a large hill greets the runners and makes them work extra hard to get to the finish line.  The last mile is basically a downhill coast to pay dirt.

There was plenty of water all along the course, but I would hope to see more Gatorade in future events.  The organization of the race itself was sharp.  Mile markers and directions were clear all along the course.  I truly recommend this race for someone that is looking to participate in a distance event without the feeling of pressure to reach a specific time goal.  I would rival the friendly atmosphere of this event to that of the Walt Disney World Marathon – only at a much, MUCH smaller scale.

OK – now that I’ve described the course, let’s go Tarantino and rewind to the afternoon prior to race day.

On Saturday morning I took a taxi right from Jacksonville International Airport to the marathon expo held in a convention center downtown.  It was a very well organized, thorough event, as speaker such as Bart Yasso and Jeff Galloway graced the stage at different times during the day, spreading their running knowledge base among the masses.  Mr. Galloway was particularly exceptional during his discussion of “how to stay motivated during the run”.  That subject really made an impression on me, as I lose motivation early and often during a race.  I become distracted and, as a result, I lose my rhythm.  Then the wheels come off my tractor-trailer in a hurry, turning me into a sweaty mess in an awful hurry.  After he spoke, I got to chat with him for a few minutes!  That was pretty cool!!  This marathon offers the kind of expo where conversations like this become possible.  I left with a fantastic amount of “swag”, and a huge smile on my face.

Any of you that have read my prior blog entries know that I have a passion for the ING New York City Marathon and ALL Disney races. However, I can honestly say that I will definitely run this race next year, since the experience was enjoyable, memorable, emotional and very motivational.  It would definitely be a great event to fit into your schedule on your way toward preparing for a Disney event!

Next up for me: marathon number three in my year-long odyssey: The Ocean Drive Marathon in Cape May, New Jersey on March 25th, 2012.

In my next installment, I’m planning to offer up some tidbits on how to stay focused during your run, regardless of the distance.  Until then, make sure you double-knot your shoe laces, get out there and get moving!  And remember: you can do anything you set your mind to.  There are no limits.

If you’d like some information on The Dream Team Project or would like to make a donation to their amazing cause, please stop by the website:  www.wdwradio.com/the-dream-team-project  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I really believe in what The Dream Team Project stands for.  It raises money for the Make-a-Wish Foundation, helping to grant the wishes of children suffering from life-threatening illnesses.  Being s former wish-granter for the NYC Chapter of the Make-a-Wish Foundation, I can tell you first-hand just how much of an impact this organization makes in the lives of children.  Please consider donating to this worthy cause.  Thanks!


A self-proclaimed Disney nerd, Joe Kolinsky also is a running enthusiast.  He has completed over 10 marathons and run 5 Disney races (including the 2009 Goofy Challenge).  When he is not running or dreaming of his next Disney vacation, Joe spends his spare time being a Dad and writing.  (You can follow his writings in his blog, entitled “Built for Comfort, Not Speed” at http://backofthepacker.wordpress.com/)