2014 Disney Marathon

Last Monday Seven Mondays ago we returned from Florida. It’s been a long time since I was exhausted as I was that day. It wasn’t a bad exhaustion. It was good because we had just spent the last 5 days living life to it’s fullest.



Five days prior we woke for an early flight, checking into the Polynesian by lunchtime. We hit the ground running: changed into shorts; enjoyed a nice lunch; hit the race expo at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports complex; and dove into dinner with Mickey and friends at Chef Mickey’s in the Contemporary.

Thursday I got up for an easy 5 mile run while Anne and William slept till after 9. During that run, my legs were fresh and 7:30 miles ticked off as easily as they should have. After brunch we hit the Magic Kingdom for the day and moved on to Epcot that evening for dinner in Japan! We closed down Epcot and watched the fireworks before heading back for bed.

10kFortunately our energy reserves were still running high since Anne had to get up at 3:45am to meet Maggie and Kristina for the 10K. Starting in the dark, they had quite the adventure going further on foot than any of them have in probably many years. They did it wearing Run For Our Sons lime green and bright, red superhero capes and they finished together. Despite some soreness they looked energized at the finish. I never worried about them covering this new distance as I knew they had each other to rely upon to the end.

teamThere was little rest for Anne as we went straight to breakfast then on to Epcot for the day. Despite Epcot not the best place to rest your legs, we enjoyed ourselves exploring and hitting every ride we could. That evening we joined everyone on our team at the Run For Our Sons pasta party. It’s inspiring to see so many families, relatives, and friends gather together in support of the same goal. This year was the 10th time RFOS has gathered at Disney and a number of runners have run each year and their efforts were recognized.


Saturday morning I was up early and went for a short run paralleling the half marathon course as a spectator. During this time I easily saw more than a half dozen RFOS runners in their lime green singlets. It was warm and muggy and eventually the mercury would tie Orlando’s record high of 86–definitely a tough day for running a half!

Saturday was our third day park hopping. We kicked it off early in the Magic Kingdom having breakfast with Pooh and his friends. Despite being in middle school and almost 12 William still has a soft spot in his heart for his pal Pooh. Poor Piglet though! We decided to prank him with a plate of bacon when he came around to visit. Last year he didn’t fare much better with us when I told him I had Pooh on my hands.

After breakfast we hit the park for another six hours walking and riding before joining Maggie, Kristina and their families for dinner at the house they rented. It was a rare opportunity to sit down and rest my legs for tomorrow’s marathon. Thankfully storms blew through that evening to clear the heat and humidity for Sunday’s Marathon.

The alarm rang early Sunday morning after barely 4 hours of sleep. Soon I was out the door for a 5:30am marathon start. I had a great fall of training and my best December ever! I knew my final two week lead in wasn’t great and I had worn my energy levels down over the past week but was undeterred. I took my spot in corral A, which was smaller than the other corrals. It was mostly filled with skinny running nerds but offered a front row view to the pre-race festivities on the stage next to us. At one point the Emcee was listing the different kinds of runners lined up for the race and said we even had superheros in capes!  The camera for the big screen cut to an RFOS runner wearing the fast becoming iconic red cape!

castleThe race started with fireworks. Just as I ran under the start I could feel debris from the fireworks raining over me and some of it got in my eye. I worked through that quickly and settled in at my goal pace being careful to watch the mile markers hitting them within 3 to 5 seconds of target. During the early miles of a long race this pace ordinarily feels painfully slow but my breathing was unusually labored and I felt heavy. I was giving too much effort and knew I couldn’t have run 15 miles at that pace. It felt closer to half marathon effort than marathon effort. After the fifth mile I backed off and just ran according to effort which meant slowing 15-20 seconds per mile. I decided I’d just run a strong and smart race to the end. There would be no walking or quitting while running in the lime green shirt that says I Run To End Duchenne.

stadiumSettling in at a low 7 minute pace was still rough but I hoped to stick to it as long as possible. It was moderately bearable but I still had concern over my fatigue level. I passed the half marathon clock at 1:33 with more fatigue than I’ve had in any of my previous marathons at that point. I knew it was going to be a hard last 6 miles and accepted that.

Moving through miles 13 to mile 20 I had some rough patches but managed to keep my pace mostly under 7:30. It was tough but I hoped I’d be able to keep rolling at that pace for as long as possible. The sun was up and the weather seemed dryer and cooler. With the exception of a slight breeze it was decent running weather. That was a good thing because the run got even tougher after mile 20.

I ran the last six miles on pure guts. Somehow I thought I was sill running sub 3:10 pace since only the 3:05 pace group had passed me somewhere near mile 13 leading into the Animal Kingdom. My “math” told me I could give up almost a minute per mile and still finish with a Boston Qualifying run and I did my best to run as fast as I could. Soon after mile 22 I saw the next pace group over my shoulder before we entered Disney’s Hollywood Studios. I set a goal to hold them off until we left the park. That pushed me on and I held them off for a mile but was shaken back to reality when I realized it was the 3:15 group. What happened to the 3:10 group?


I knew sticking with this group wasn’t enough for a BQ since they started behind me. I dug deep and kept them in sight to the end, never more than 15-30 seconds up the road. The final miles were painful and exhausting. I gave it hell and willed my legs to keep turning over and refused to slow any further. There was no way I wasn’t going to give it my best effort mindful of who I was running for.

I finished with 3:16:19 on the clock and, unlike my other marathons, was immediately at peace and relaxed when I finished. Instead of bending over with pain, I was almost numb. This race had been on my mind as an important target for months and it was now finished. The script didn’t go according to plan but my effort had. In retrospect after 4 days enjoying Disney with my family running at my fastest was impossible. Still I ran strong and that was OK. When I committed to this early last year, I never imagined we would grow to a team of 5 and double our fund raising efforts!  The whole experience and what it meant was much greater than my finish time. Standing in a still barren finishing area having just finished this journey around Disney for boys like William I didn’t feel alone.

chipmunksEventually I made my way out, took my finishers medal, changed out of my wet shirt, grabbed my traditional post-Disney run beer, and made my way over to get my photo taken with Chip and Dale for William before finding a seat at the RFOS tent for a few minutes.

Soon enough I was back to the Polynesian where I met my family for my second marathon of the day. We headed off to the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, then back into the Magic Kingdom for magical hours packing in over 11 hours of park hopping on our last day at Disney.

Just like last year, Running For Our Sons at Disney is an incredibly rewarding experience. It’s humbling knowing I’m doing a small part to help improve the quality of life and outlook for boys like William who live with Duchenne. It’s an honor to dedicate a period of serious training and a strong run to them. I’m grateful to everyone who supported us in this endeavor. Thank you!


Tomorrow our Disney running adventure begins.

Tomorrow our Disney running adventure begins.  It’s a 4am wake-up call to ensure we get to the airport on time for our 7:30am flight to MCO. Luckily we booked with Delta as Jet Blue is taking a vacation.  Air travel with a wheelchair is a challenge and getting there early should help make the process smoother.

For my part, I am a bundle of nerves and emotions.

I am nervous about the flight and whether or not William can keep his cool.  Managing his chair and special power-assist wheels has awakened a level of anxiety in him we have never seen before.  These wheels have been a Godsend and have kept him wheeling on his own for a lot longer than possible with manual wheels. BUT the anxiety, it can be unbearable!!!!  He relies on his chair just as we rely on our legs. We’ve talked the plan through multiple times and have worked very hard to remind William he can control himself and that everything will work out.   He’s come around lately so I think he is ready.

I am nervous about my event, the 10K.  In all honesty I will walk 99.5% of it.  I am nervous about it regardless because its 6.2 miles.  Luckily I will not be doing it alone!!!

And here’s where the emotions take over… when I got the idea of participating in the Disney Marathon weekend for PPMD and RFOS I never imagined I would be doing it with a team.  Wow! I also never imagined that in September 1981, I would meet some amazing friends who would still be supporting me, 31 years later.  I can’t express how grateful I am to all of these amazing people.  People with their own families, lives and challenges… but these people are special.  They have huge hearts, amazing compassion and tremendous empathy.  First and foremost the 10K team is Kristina Solan (Berryman), Maggie Bedosky (Novello), and myself.  But the team also includes Tara Patti (Gill), not only has she been a rock for me, despite her own challenges, but she also sent us a box of amazing team shirts.

Team shirts from an awesome person.

Awesome team shirts!!

The shirts took me by complete surprise but then I thought, no, that’s Tara! The team includes Bridget Habesland (Andersen), who keeps sharing and reposting our blog updates and pleas for donations.  But that’s not all, the team includes everyone who’s donated to our cause; Mt. Carmel school buddies, John S. Burke buddies, Patch American High buddies, William & Mary buddies,…  Without all of you, we wouldn’t have exceeded our fund raising goals- yes, exceeded!  The team includes our families that not only donated funds but also donate their time and familiness to us constantly.  And finally, the team includes everyone who has taken the time to read our Facebook posts or blog entries about life with William and life with DMD.

For Chris and I, the journey with DMD began in pitch black darkness and an unimaginable suffocating despair.  You are all candles in the darkness that help us find our way.  With great sadness I heard about the passing of a 16 year old young man with DMD this morning.  My heart breaks for his family and their loss.  It’s everyone’s future, I get that, but 16 is too young and so is 10, 20, 25, 30…These kids deserve more time and by supporting us you have helped bring us one step closer to finding more time for these kids.  Thank you.

Wrapping up the Holiday Streak

In November I decided to once again streak through the holidays. Run streaking, that is!

This is my second time doing this and both times the goal of the streak was simple. I wanted to spend a period of time focusing on giving my best training effort towards my run for PPMD at Disney. As the month moved on and the days added up I was increasingly mindful of what I was running for. I had a few rough runs, some hard workouts, and plenty of nasty weather, but I put it all to the back of my mind and kept going. Each sunrise was a new day. In the end I succeeded in moving my fitness along and feel ready to run the Disney Marathon in 10 days. I’ve now run every day for the last 44 days averaging 7.8 miles per day. I’ll probably take a break soon and with a nor’easter bearing down that may come even sooner than planned.

To test my fitness I ran my 4th straight New Year’s day race today. All I wanted to do was run an even controlled effort, not an all out race. It was in the mid 20s, I was wearing plenty of wool, and my mild asthma tends to appear when running fast in these temps. Fortunately, I was able to knock out out an evenly paced 18:36 5K. I’m happy with that.

From here on it’s not about what I do to help my race, rather what I do that might hurt my race. I’ll be mindful of that.

ice creamWe’re flying to Florida next Wednesday. We’re looking forward to some warm weather, short sleeves, and probably some ice cream!

Here’s a shot of a run William and I did in September. Yeah, we stopped for ice cream at mile 7!

Two Weeks and Counting

Magic BandsWith less than two weeks to go we are looking forward to our adventure south to Disney World and to Run For Our Sons with PPMD. Last year it was such a positive and meaningful experience we knew we wanted to go right back and do it again. I never would have dreamed we would go back with a team having raised almost twice as much as last year.

We’re grateful for our team and for everyone who has supported us. Since 2011 we’ve raised almost $13,000 to help improve the quality of life for boys like our William and move us ever closer to ending Duchenne. Personally this is a huge accomplishment. Both Anne and I have personalities that prefer to work “behind the scenes” but this cause is so dear to us that we are compelled to get out and make a difference. We’ll celebrate this small step forward at Disney but the work isn’t complete.

I’ve been successful in my “Holiday to Holiday” run streak. With two days to go I’m sure I’ll make it, having run over 250 miles just this December. One of the reasons I wanted to do this was to better focus on my upcoming Run for Our Sons race and be as prepared as possible. As the month moved on I was increasingly mindful of who and what I’ll be running for. These thoughts will continue right through the marathon and only increase as the race becomes more difficult. I’ll be ever mindful that I’m running for those who can’t. Having now run 8 marathons I can tell you the struggle of those final few miles doesn’t compare to the struggle our boys and their families’ must endure.

William is looking forward to his vacation in sunny Florida. Everything is arranged and all we must do now is pack our bags and head to the airport. As a family we’re all a little apprehensive about the changes we’ll encounter this year. William has expressed concern that he will probably not be able to transfer and enjoy as many rides as last time. It’s amazing how pragmatic he is about this at just 11 years. It still saddens us because we know he loves the rides. Last year he rode Thunder Mountain at least a half dozen times. Despite this it will be impossible not to have a great time.

Again, thanks to all who have supported us. It’s greatly appreciated and you are helping to make a difference in the lives of many.

Meet Our Run Disney Team: Run4Will

Maggie Novello

Maggie and Anne grew up in the same rural neighborhood in New York State. Anne would “sneak” through the neighbor’s yards to play with Maggie, they would spend entire summer days in Maggie’s pool, Anne would often help Maggie clean her room, and they would often ask to eat at each other’s houses depending what was on the menu.

Hometown: Middletown, NY

Three words to describe you: on the go

What is one random fact about you? I HATE snakes. When I see one, I feel like my heart is going to jump out of my chest and I am actually going to die.

What does running for PPMD mean to you? It means kicking all of my pains and excuses to the curb. It will never come close to the pain that boys with Duchenne and families living with Duchenne go through on a daily basis.

What is your race strategy? My race strategy will be to take each mile in stride and do a lot of talking/catching up with my childhood friends.

If you were reincarnated as an ice cream flavor, what would it be? If I was reincarnated as an ice cream flavor it would have to be Chunky Monkey. (or Whirled Peace)

Kristina Solan Berryman 

Kristina, Maggie, and Anne went to grade school together.  They played together during many a recess, attended each other’s awesome birthday parties and sleepovers and survived the pre-teen years together without unfriending each other.  They have a lot of catching up to do during the 10K 😉

Hometown: Burlingham, NY

Three words to describe you: non-stop mama, loyal!

What is one random fact about you? I played women’s rugby at SUNY Oswego, starting scrum half. 🙂 I’m not big but I was fast! The Black Widows.

What does running for PPMD mean to you? Well at first and at the very forefront of reasons, it was to support my dear child-hood friend and her family whose strength is inspiring. But after some reflection and reading more about the disease and how it can effect any boy, I realize as the mother of 3 young boys and an aunt to 6 nephews, I could hear that diagnosis myself someday.

What is your race strategy? Be one with the tortoise. Slow/brisk and steady mi amigas, slow/brisk and steady. 🙂

If you were reincarnated as an ice cream flavor, what would it be? Though it is not my favorite flavor, I would pick that bluish/rainbow sherberty one. Isn’t it called Superman or something? Always makes me think of childhood and special ice cream trips to Dick Zogby’s.


Anne Hancock

William’s mom.  Anne was born and raised in Orange County, New York by teacher parents with her older brother, Kevin. She ran winter track in high school for one week and then her running career ended abruptly due to cold temperatures.  She is hoping to experience a running Renaissance one of these days because the benefits are tremendous on many levels.

Hometown: Middletown, NY

Three words to describe you:  empathetic, conscientious (but not that organized), jovial

What is one random fact about you?  I am a drill sergeant about making beds the “right” way.  I may have missed a calling.

What does running for PPMD mean to you?  In a sense it’s one of the few ways I feel I can give back to a community that has done so much to improve the standard of care for not just my son but all children and young adults living with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.  It has also provided me with a good excuse to start taking better care of myself as well as a way to reconnect with some amazing people I grew up with.

What is your race strategy?  1st, finish and 2nd, finish without hurting myself.  

If you were reincarnated as an ice cream flavor, what would it be?
Chocolate chip cookie dough !!!!!

Bill Ozaslan 

Bill runs with the Melrose Running Club, is a Marathon Maniac, and at last check has raced almost 500 miles in 2013. He’ll be tackling the Dopey Challenge consisting of the 5K, 10K, Half & Full Marathon.

Hometown: I live in Melrose, and consider Boston my hometown.

Three words to describe you: Shy, Bookworm, and (somewhat) Random.

What is one random fact about you? So there are so many random things about me, like mountain bicycling, and three cats, Jackson, Sapphire and Maya.

What does running for PPMD mean to you? I don’t have children of my own, other than the three furkids mentioned above. So, to support a worthy cause like PPMD is an honor and privilege. So many revolutionary things happened in the science and medicine of the last century. Eradicating polio or malaria started with small efforts, and grew into a scientific enterprise. There is hope, and it is out there. We just need to find enough support to make that hope possible.

What is your race strategy? My race strategy is to go at your own pace, and aim for negative split, while treating fellow runners with appropriate runners etiquette.

If you were reincarnated as an ice cream flavor, what would it be? I like pistachio, mint, butterscotch mix with hot fudge to top it all, perhaps I’m many things to many people.

Chris Hancock

William’s dad. The 2014 WDW Marathon will be Chris’ 6th time running for Run For Our Sons. Previously Chris ran the 2011, 2012, & 2013 Boston Marathons, the 2012 Timberman Half Ironman & the 2013 WDW Half Marathon for PPMD.

Hometown: I’ve lived in 6 states and 2 countries so I’m not sure. Some of you know what I’m talking about.

Three words to describe you: Persistent, Creative, Inquisitive

What is one random fact about you? I love tech and gadgets. So does William. Among many things, we’ve got about 15 Macs. The most ancient are over 20 years old.

What does running for PPMD mean to you? Running for PPMD is a calling. It gives meaning to all the training I do year round. Every bit of awareness and fundraising we do supports a better quality of life and moves us closer to a cure for boys like William.

What is your race strategy? Run smart! I’m racing for time so hope to hold back appropriately for the first 15 miles, run strong and steady for the next five, and then hang on for dear life for the last 6.2.

If you were reincarnated as an ice cream flavor, what would it be? Mint Chocolate Chip!

Streaking Through the Holidays

fast turkeyThis year, like last, I’m attempting to run every day from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day. Last year it was a success and led to a noticeable fitness boost leading into the Disney Half Marathon. I hope to repeat the same formula leading into the Disney Marathon on January 12th, again running for PPMD.

While I’m not a run streaker, I find a shorter streak now and then to be productive. It helps me budget my time, better modulate my training paces, focus on recovery from and for harder efforts, and generally deepens my endurance. Due to this I’ve been known to run short streaks, usually a month at a time, as part of my training for goal races.

Having started early, I’m already 12 days into this year’s Holiday streak. So far so good as I’ve already survived a 2000 mile Thanksgiving road trip, and successfully worked runs into each day. Running daily is usually easy, but the devil’s in the details. Travel, weather, work, and fatigue from life in general impose themselves at odd times creating a few obstacles. Of course, if I get sick or have concern for injury the streak will not be the priority.

Running a marathon (or any goal race) is as much about the process of getting to the starting line well prepared as it is about crossing the finish line. For that reason I’m mindful that this streak is part of the process leading to the Disney Marathon in January. When I’d rather not go out in the cold or would rather just take the day off, I’ll have extra motivation knowing I’m running for a greater cause.

For now, I’m healthy and looking forward to running straight through the Holidays towards to the Disney Marathon in January.

The Season’s over. Taking stock and look ahead.

I had intended to use this blog as a place to chronicle my monthly races. That didn’t happen so here’s a quick recap of my late summer and fall races. I had some hits, a couple home runs and a big strike out. In all it was a success, I had fun and grew as a runner.


With phone in hand.
(Photo: Maine Running

Beach to Beacon 10K – Cape Elizabeth, Maine
I maintain a “to do” list of races that I hope to pick off, hopefully a new one each year. This was on that list.

  • Logistics! This race requires plenty of logistics for a 10K (Travel, day before packet pickup, hotel, bike to satellite parking, bus, the actual race, another bus ride, and finally a bike ride back to the hotel.
  • The race itself went well running 19:01/19:02 5K splits despite struggling on the 6th mile.
  • I buried myself and ran the last .2 in 63 second finishing so exhausted I walked right by Joan Benoit Samuelson without noticing (I realized in the post race photos.)
  • Result 38:03 & 186th out of 6245. Meb Keflezighi won my age group.


(Photo: Maine Running

Labor Day Classic 5K – Biddeford, Maine
This race is hosted by Brian Denger, a fellow Duchenne Dad & runner; the race is a fundraiser for PPMD. I’ve wanted to do it for a while and am happy we could work it into our schedule this year.

  • The course had a couple honest hills and the weather was sunny and humid so running hard was a challenge for all.
  • I ended up dropping off pace during the third mile despite spending much of it running down hill.
  • It was nice to see so many from the Duchenne community come out for the race and William got a ride from Patrick Denger in his new van, which made him very happy.
  • Result 18:38 & 2nd place.


Apparently I ran the women’s race.
(Photo: Krissy Kozlosky)

Lone Gull 10K – Gloucester, Mass
I ran this race as part of the USATF New England Grand Prix with the Greater Lowell Road Runners. This was the second of three Grand Prix races for me this year.

  • I Ran hard from the gun and none of it was easy but I kept the splits steady running 18:50/18:47 5K splits and all within 7 seconds per mile.
  • The weather was fantastic. Sunny and 65 along the Atlantic coast with a very fast field of runners.
  • Result 37:37 & 123rd place.


That’s the Atlantic Ocean behind me. You can’t see it? Neither could I.
(Photo: Krissy Kozlosky)

Nahant 30K – Nahant, Mass
Another Grand Prix race with GLRR.

  • The race was billed as “hilly” and flat it wasn’t. Fortunately, the hills were short and that suits me well as I can just power over and down them.
  • I started conservatively, running the first few miles in the 6:40s, hit the half marathon at around 1:28 low, then hammered the rest of the way, full of energy, to an almost 2 minute negative split.
  • This race indicated better fitness than I expected and got me thinking about running a fall marathon. No good ever comes from these kind of thoughts.
  • I was able to score for both the team and individually in my age group, which is an accomplishment for anyone running a Grand Prix race.
  • Result 2:04:55 (PR) and 73rd place.


Jogging past LeLacheur Park (Photo: Jeff Strobel)

Baystate Half Marathon – Lowell, MA
Since the spring, this was my goal race for the Fall and I’ve wanted to run this half since running the Baystate Marathon in 2010.

  • I feel the Half Marathon is my best distance and this was my best execution so far.
  • The best way to describe my run was systematic, cold, analytic, and emotionless and I executed my race plan with the steadiness of an assassin.
  • The last three miles were my fastest and I negative split the race by three seconds.
  • Result 1:22:30 (PR), 21st overall, and 2nd in my age group.


I set up my own aid station.

New Jersey Trail Series “One Day” Marathon – Augusta, NJ
I’ve wanted to run one of the New Jersey Trail Series races for a while so when Nader Abadir extended the invitation I gladly accepted. This race was 28 miles from Anne’s parents house in Middletown, NY so we coordinated it with a visit and I just slipped out Saturday morning for the run.

  • I initially signed up for the 50K but dropped down to the Marathon distance (my third this year) to take yet another shot at running a sub 3 hour marathon–always risky business.
  • The race was run on a one mile loop upon a county fairground with nine 90 degree turns and one 180 degree turn per lap. That’s over 265 turns in total, including twenty-seven 180 degree turns. How crazy is that? Very crazy!
  • I took manual splits rather than auto GPS splits and discovered the time difference per mile between my GPS pace and the race clock was greater than 10 seconds per mile and NOT in my favor. Regardless I ran strong averaging mid 6:40 miles while my watch was showing mid 6:30s pace.
  • Everything worked out fine until about mile 23 when I bonked and my race collapsed completely. After a 6:50 per mile average through 22 miles this happened: 7:27, 7:48, 10:09, 14:23, 17:45, Finish. That’s an incredible collapse but when I realized I would finish slower than 3:10, I decided not to kill myself and walked much of the last lap with Anne, William, and little Jake (Anne’s cousin Jennifer’s son).
  • Result 3:22:42 and 2nd place.
  • Interestingly, recovery was almost instant and I’m back at it, fired up more than ever to run strong at Disney.

Next up is some turkey gobbling 5K in Indianapolis on Thanksgiving day and the Assault on Mount Hood XC race here in Melrose, MA in December. Despite not running the marathon I wanted to in NJ, I’m feeling healthy, strong and light on my feet. This is all encouraging as I’m less than 2 months away from running the Disney Marathon.