2019 WDW Marathon Cheering Recap

As I did last year, this year, I flew down to Walt Disney World for marathon weekend to hang out with friends, cheer on friends and strangers, and celebrate my birthday.

This cupcake was weirdly filled with sprinkles, and I’m not sure what I think about that.

I got to Disney on Thursday (my birthday) and after I checked in and grabbed lunch, I wandered the parks for a while and went over to check out the race expo. I learned that when you can do whatever you want whenever you want, you can get a lot of rides done in a short period of time. I also took a conference call while waiting in line at the Haunted Mansion because that’s the kind of employee I am.

I wasn’t super impressed by the race expo. I admit, I didn’t bother to go check out the race-specific merchandise because I wasn’t planning to buy anything for a race I wasn’t running. But I just wasn’t impressed as a whole by the rest of the expo. So of course, I didn’t end up buying much of anything. And there was so much less free stuff than previous years! That’s half the fun of an expo!

Because of the course of the 10K, I didn’t go cheer on Friday (and let me tell you, sleeping in was glorious). But Saturday morning, I was out at the Grand Floridian entrance (my standard cheer spot) cheering on every single half marathon runner.

Guys, it was cold out there!

I had some company for part of the cheering, but people had to go get off their feet before the marathon, so I stayed out alone and made friends with the other people cheering. And then I went and had breakfast at the Wave, and went over to Hollywood Studios to ride Slinky Dog. As you do.

Sunday morning, same plan. Up and over to the Grand Floridian to cheer. This time, I had more company.

Yes, I had to get my cowbell in all the pictures.

Hung out at the Grand Floridian and cheered on every runner as they passed, then headed in to grab some quick breakfast before taking the monorail over to Epcot and continue cheering as people left Epcot towards the finish. That’s one of my favorite places to cheer because of the relief you see on people’s faces.

I also got the joy of annoying people with my cowbell. I was standing there, ringing my giant cowbell, when this woman moved a cone blocking the spectators so she could go past me and sit on the edge of a planter. This put her ear not terribly far from my cowbell. Then she proceeded to glare at me and finally got fed up and huffed away. Cowbell wins again!

My forearms were sore for about three days after though. Cowbell arm is no joke.

One common feature of marathon finishers is the various alcoholic beverages people are carrying as they exit the park. However, this year, we saw something new. After the balloon ladies passed, a crew of runDisney staffers came up and started stopping any racers who were carrying alcoholic drinks. They had to finish or toss the drinks – they weren’t allowed to carry them out of the park. Of course, the standard rule is that you can’t bring alcohol out of the park, but all the racers who were within the official time limits didn’t seem to have any issues. Those who were after those limits, however, were stopped. I wonder if this is to encourage people to not stop for drinks if they are behind pace. There’s a general belief that if you make it into Epcot, you’re “safe” and won’t be swept, which is generally true, but at the same time, they do need to get the runners through and finish the race. It will be interesting to see what they do next year.

And of course, I do plan to be back to cheer again next year. This year’s trip was a bit different in that last year, I was injured and wouldn’t have been able to run had I registered. This year, I was in fine form, and I have to admit, I had a little bit of FOMO that I didn’t run. Since next year, the 10K is on my birthday, I think I may have to sign up for the race. I’m certainly not running a marathon, and I’ve enjoyed being able to relax on my training during the crazy that is December, so I think the half is out too. But the 10K? That seems do-able!

Running with Zwift

Disclaimer: I received a Zwift RunPod to use on Zwift running as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!”

I have talked here about how much I have enjoyed biking with Zwift over the past year.  Recently, Zwift has started Zwift running, where with a footpod, you can run on your treadmill and run on Zwift.  I first noticed this when I started seeing runners along the bike course.  It was always a little amusing when I was biking up a 15% grade and my avatar was barely moving and someone would come running past me. (But let’s be honest, that could happen in the real world as well.)

So when the opportunity came up to get a Run Pod from Zwift so I could try out the running option, I was in.

Zwift running is still in the early phases, so while you have to pay to bike on Zwift, running is completely free.  You just need a footpod that you can connect to your computer, tablet, or phone.  If you don’t have one, you can buy one from Zwift for $30, but a lot of runners already have footpods that will work.  Check out this list on Zwift.

I use Zwift on a 4-year-old iPad, with just the Zwift Run Pod, and I had no trouble connecting.  I know that some people with older tablets have had trouble connecting to Zwift, though the team at Zwift is incredibly helpful and will do their best to get you connected.  

I prop the iPad on my treadmill and use it that way.  As you can see, Zwift is also reading my heartrate.  I have a Scosche heart rate monitor that connects to Zwift, so I use it when I run on Zwift, as I like data.

I am a Galloway runner, so I run/walk, even when on the treadmill.  I wasn’t sure how well Zwift would read this.  I was pleasantly surprised.  While there’s a bit of a lag between the speed change of my feet and the speed change of the avatar, it pretty much keeps up.  Zwift didn’t always correctly read my speed (example – I had the treadmill set at 5.3 and it read as 4.9), but after a 45 minute run, the difference between the distance on my treadmill and the distance on Zwift was only about a tenth of a mile.  Given that treadmills aren’t 100% accurate either, I think that’s a pretty great result.

So why use Zwift when running?  Because it’s fun!  A lot of runners call the treadmill the “dreadmill.”  Zwift puts you into a virtual world where you can run.  There are also various running training programs available with Zwift that you can use.  You can also sign up for races or meet up with a friend to run.  And, of course, there’s the gamification as well.  The more you run, the more points you earn, and as you level up, you earn different gear – shirts, shorts, socks… It’s fun to earn a new running jersey and get to kit out your avatar and show it off.  

If your gym has wifi, Zwift might work for you there, and since most hotels now have wifi everywhere, if you spend a lot of time on the road, you may be able to Zwift from the hotel gym as well.  I’m planning to use it over the holidays while at my parents’ house.  

If, like me, you spend a lot of your winter running indoors, Zwift might be a great solution to alleviate boredom.  Get yourself a run pod and check it out.  

Post-Vacation Link Love

I am back from an AMAZING vacation and still recovering, going through a myriad of photos, and working on a super long trip recap, mostly for me, but I’m going to share it with you as well.

But while I’m working on that, I thought I would bring you some links I’ve saved over the past few months.  I always intend to post these monthly, then never do. So as you can see, some of these are much older than others.


Training & Racing

Writing and the Internet


Fun Things

Useful Things

Rambling Weekend Update

Cadu the cat with greenery

Someone was displeased about the removal of Christmas. Mostly because he likes to sleep under the tree.

Over the weekend, I successfully de-Christmassed my house.  Yes, I waited until this past weekend to do it.  And yes, I do put my tree up early.  If I’m going to do all that work, I’m going to enjoy it for a good long time.  Plus a long weekend is the perfect time to get it done.  Plenty of time to get everything packed away and get in all my workouts and have time for fun.  Or sitting on the couch.  Or both!

I’m not sure my brain is ready to be back in full training mode.  This weekend involved two hours on the trainer, a 9 mile run, and some strength work.  Since it gets dark so early, it always feels like the day gets away from me.  Not that I’m working out in the evening on the weekends, but the days do feel so much shorter with less daylight.  I’m sure it will become the norm soon enough.  Plus it will be nice when I can get started on my long runs earlier.  This weekend, I waited until it had warmed up a bit.  Way better than last weekend, but still kind of chilly.

This week is going to be interesting.  Holiday yesterday.  In the office today for some meetings.  And then Wednesday and Thursday, we’re on telework because my office is inside of the security perimeter for the Inauguration and they’re like “Yeah, you can do your job at home.  Don’t come in.”  And then Friday, we’re off for the Inauguration (because the government wants to limit the people coming into the city – this is how Inauguration works every 4 years, not just for this particular event).

Not that I would be anywhere near Inauguration anyway.  This isn’t a political statement.  I didn’t go to either of Obama’s Inaugurations either.  I don’t like massive crowds, and have you experienced DC weather in January?  I would much prefer to be… well, just about anywhere else.  So during Inauguration, I will be getting a deep tissue massage.  Hurts so good.