Marathon #11 – 2016 WDW Marathon

Yes,  you read that right.   Marathon number 11.   ELEVENTH!.

There were so much running and races between my last recap to now, and I don’t even want to play catch up.   I’ve been slacking busy!  Yes, that’s my excuse and I’m going to stick to it.    However, I do want to write this particular one because it’s very different than any of my other races.

Remember when I ran 2013 Disneyland Half Marathon and I paced my friend, Rebekah?   It was my first race that I actually did not do it for me.   I ran that race solely because I made a promise to Rebekah that I will get her to the finish line for her first half-marathon.   It was the most rewarding experience for me because I got to experience the joy of completing her first half-marathon through her.   The distance that once impossible for her.    Since then, I have paced several friends through their first half-marathon, even their first 10k/half-marathon challenge and I enjoyed every one of them.

Fast forward to December 2015 – a good friend of mine, Patty Holiday, asked me to help her with her first marathon.  She had run 18 miles so far and was about to run her first 20-miler and needed moral support for the rest of her training and during the race.     The word absolutely came out of me so fast and I even told her that I would get a bib and run with her to the finish line.

I contacted a travel agent (shout out to Magical Miles Travel!  Sarah Bergman is an awesome travel agent to work with!) and she had a marathon bib available.   I grabbed two bibs for me and the husband, called DVC to see if I can score the lodging and scoured the interwebs for cheap airfare and the stars just lined up perfectly.    I got us a room at Saratoga Springs Villa and got a round trip tickets for me and the husband from Seattle to Orlando for $389 round trip/person.    That’s almost unheard of, but hey — sometimes the last minutes thing really work on your favor.    We took a red-eye flight on Friday from Seattle to Orlando, went to Expo on Saturday, ate, mingled and rested.

Race Day

Our alarm went off at an ungodly hour of 2:30 am.    My body was still on west coast time and I was not a happy camper (I never was one on that hour).    We got dressed, ate quick breakfast and hopped in the bus around 3:30 am.    It was warm and humid, even at 3:30 am, especially for this Pacific Northwest Girl.    I texted Patty to check on her, and she told me that she was on the bus and almost at the drop-off area.

The rest was kinda blurred to me.   I remembered the bus drop us off, and we walked through security and towards our corral.    Since I purchased our bib late, we did not submit our proof of time for a good corral placement, so we both at corral L.   We hung out at the back of the corral and before I knew it, the race started.    I tracked Patty’s bib so I could keep an eye on where she was at.   She was at corral J and she crossed the start line around 6 am.    I told her to stick to her interval and stay on the right side of the course and I will find her.   We texted back and forth, and around 6:20 am, I crossed the start line.

Mile 1-7

Lilo & Stitch!

Lilo & Stitch!

Oh, the humidity.   Yes.  This was a miserable seven miles for me.   I was slightly jet-lag and tired and it was waaaaaarrrrmmmmm and humid.   We kept steady 30/30 ratio and average around 12:30 pace even with the crowd.   I saw my friend Carolyn who brought my sunglasses (Thank you Thank you Thank you!) since I left that in the room, hugged her and headed into the park.

I didn’t stop for any pictures with characters, other than Lilo & Stitch (my youngest daughter is a huuuuuuuge fan of them, so I had to stop) but took some background photos  here and there but boy, it was very crowded.   I ran into several friends and tried to shorten the gap between us and Patty.    I texted her and she told me that she was just short of mile 5 when we left the Magic Kingdom.

We passed mile 7 and I still did not see the sign of Patty, and I was starting to get worried.    Did I miss her?   Did we pass her and not see her?    I told the husband to veer to the right and stop since I needed to text her, and I heard a shout…. YANNI!

I looked to my right and there was Patty.    She stopped shortly before mile 8 so she can text me because she was struggling.    I looked at her, did my quick scan (yes, I did check her out from head to toe to make sure she didn’t fall earlier and ya know, have bloody knees or something) and asked her how she was doing.     She told me that she wasn’t doing well.    It was only mile 8 and she didn’t know if she could actually keep going.    She looked .. panicked.    I told her to diss her timer and follow me.    The husband told her to drink and eat the snack and made sure she wasn’t dehydrated.   We stopped for a good 5 minutes to regroup and we started to run again

Mile 8-17

Mile 13. Not the halfway

Mile 13. Not the halfway

I started Patty on 30/2-minutes interval.   We shuffled for 30 seconds and we walked for 2 minutes.   I told her to focus on my steps and just follow me.   The husband was task behind her and entertained her with his constant stories (This is true.   He could make stories our of anything during the run).    I looked at my watch and we were around a 16:30 pace.    We passed mile marker 9 and the husband shouted… look we are half way to mile-18!    I laughed at his silly-ness and secretly hoped that Patty was not too much annoyed by his sense of humor but she seemed to play along so we kept going.    We entered the Animal Kingdom and I decided to skip Everest ride (yes, for those who never run WDW marathon — you can ride the ride in the middle of your race) and stay with Patty, even though she insisted of me to go ride it.     We took a quick picture and kept shuffling around.    Patty saw a few of her friends who cheered and volunteered, and I saw some of mine.   I was all good so far.

Mile 17. Still in a good spirit!

Mile 17. Still in a good spirit!

We were on a steady pace of 16:30 and our gap between us and the balloon ladies (official 16-min/mile pacer) were getting shorter (I tracked them so I know when they hit certain timing mat).    I was starting to get a little nervous so I switched our interval to 30/60 without Patty even knowing it (she probably cursed me inside .. haha).     I was so proud of her though as she was doing exactly what I was asking her.    Follow my steps.   She ran when I ran, she walked when I walked.     I told her to only focus on the 30 seconds we were running.   That’s all because most people can shuffle for 30 seconds and as long as we were moving forward, we were good.

We left the Animal Kingdom and kept on going.    Patty was in good spirits (or so it seems) even though there was a shorter walk break, but my muscles started to get tired.    Since I was pacing her, I ran slower than I normally did, and walked more than I normally walked and guess what — my muscles were not trained for that much of walking.    I can feel some of the twinge on my muscles so I started to run a bit faster to mix it up a bit.    The husband ran in front of Patty (sometimes backward) and paced her, and I was behind her — keeping a distance so I can do ‘run’ break to work my muscles differently.     I started to doubt myself on this whole ‘pacing someone for a marathon’ thing.   What was I thinking?   What happened if *I* could not go on?    I mean, I just came out of TFL injury after back to back Marine Corps Marathon and New York Marathon and diagnosed with Pneumonia 2 months prior.     Whooooo… boy.    I was on full on panic mode.   It’s one thing when it’s only me that I have to worry to get to the finish line and I know that I have enough stubborn cells in my body to do it, it’s a whole ‘nother thing when you have other people rely on you to get to the finish line.

Mile 18-24

Mile 20! Well, the smile still there!We hit mile marker 18, and the husband made a comment that not too long ago, he was saying that we were half way point to mile 18.    I mumbled something along… well, that was a long time ago, but I didn’t think he heard me.   We walked through World Wide of Sport (ESPN complex) and gosh, I hated this part.    I hated during Goofy 2013 and Dopey 2015 and I still hated it in 2016.     I looked at my watch and realized that we were only 12 minutes ahead from the balloon ladies.    We ran into a few friends, took pictures, stop at porta-potty and we kept going.    Slow, but steady.    We left WWoS and saw the parade bus aka. sweeper bus shortly after mile 21 and Patty suddenly ran a bit faster.    The sight of the sweeper bus just lit a fire in her and I started to feel confident about everything.

The momentary panic feeling went away, and we entered Hollywood Studios.    We took a few pictures with the characters as there were no lines.    I knew that we would cross the finish line together that day, even if both the husband and I had to drag her with us but Patty’s spirit seems to be up and she looked more confident than she was several miles prior.      I kept us moving with the same pace.   I switched us back to 30/2-minutes and the husband just ran/walk backward in front of us while continue to feed us with some stories about something.    Oh, how I love that husband of mine!    All of the pictures on this post were taken by him.    He ran with full-size camera in his hand and I love how he documented the whole race for us.

Moving Forward!

Moving Forward!

For the husband, this was his fifth marathon in 2 years.    Yes, from the last race recap on this blog to this post, somehow the husband became a runner and started to run the race with me.    From couch to Half-Marathon in summer 2014 and he ran pretty much all the races with me (with the exception of a few local races).

We moved along slowly, but steady through Hollywood Studios and I knew there’s one more hard sweeping point, which was outside Hollywood Studios, before the narrow trails towards the boardwalk.    I saw the parade sweeper bus out there as we walked near it and I was so relieved to know that we made it through all the sweep point!!!     I shouted to Patty as we walked towards the Boardwalk … YOU ARE GOING TO BE A MARATHONER!!    She was all teary eyes with a huge grin on her face and said, yes yes I am!

Mile 24 – 26.2

These ladies cheered FOR SEVEN HOURS!

These ladies cheered FOR SEVEN HOURS!

We entered Boardwalk and was passed by balloon ladies but I knew as long as we kept moving forward, we were okay.    I took one good look at Patty and decided to ditch the interval and just walked, and ooooh we did.    We joked, we laughed, we cried a bit and before long, I saw familiar faces.    It was several friends of mine (I love you to pieces, ladies) that waited for me there and cheered me!        Jill (in the picture, green shirt with banana… ooh.. banaaanaaa) and Carolyn (she was not in the picture) flew to DC several months prior to cheer me and the husband during Marine Corps Marathon.   Heather (blue shirt, holding the sign) ran half-marathon the day prior and was on her feet, cheering for SEVEN HOURS!!!

I puffy-pink heart all of these ladies!!!

We walked through the Boardwalk and entered Epcot and I started to get a little emotional.  I remembered my first marathon, on this very course.   I still vividly remembered, to this day, how I felt when I looked across the lake and saw the Epcot ball and those feelings were bubbling up out of nowhere!

I asked the husband to walk ahead towards Mexico pavilion and got Patty a frozen Margarita.   I promised her that the day before, so (oh how I love that husband of mine) the husband ran ahead, stood in the line and waited for us with a frozen margarita on his hand!    We ran into several other friends and it was just the most amazing thing.    We continue to walk and before we knew it, I saw the finisher chute.

The husband stepped back a few feet and captured an amazing picture of us crossing the finish line!

The FINISH LINE!!

The FINISH LINE!!

Epic Finish Photo!

Epic Finish Photo!

Disclaimer:   We did not block the finish line (feel free to peruse marathonfoto and check out our finisher video) and there were a good ten feet between us and the husband who took this awesome shot

Patty and I hugged each other and I was so so very proud of her!    The joy that I experienced when I cross that finish line with her was indescribable.     She almost gave up at mile 8 and she didn’t. She kept going.   She moved from start to finish with her own two feet, all twenty-six point two miles of it!!!!      And as for me — I get to experience the joy, the amazing joy that as a runner, completely beyond everything I ever experienced.    If you are interested to read Patty’s recap, she blogged it here.

Footnotes

If you never pace or run someone on their first race, be that 5k/10k/Half-Marathon or Marathon — I highly suggested you try it.    To actually run a race, not for yourself.    It was so very rewarding and you won’t regret it.     This saying below always something that I live by and I hope, on January 10, 2016 — Patty really looked at me and think that.     Because if I can inspire ONE person to achieve something that once impossible for them, everything that I do carries so much value

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2 Responses to “Marathon #11 – 2016 WDW Marathon”

  1. Patty says:

    Yes! That was EXACTLY how I felt looking at you.
    And I’ll do one better.

    Because of you I had the courage to START
    You were the only person who offered to be with me the whole time.

    Dammit I’m crying again.

    I have a lot of good friends and good running friends.

    But only you offered to do this with me the whole way.

    That makes you priceless and precious and an inspiration and a zillion other things in my eyes.

    LOVE YOU #TEAMROBEL

  2. WilliamPaina says:

    First, let’s get a little historical perspective on American health care. This is not intended to be an exhausted look into that history but it will give us an appreciation of how the health care system and our expectations for it developed. What drove costs higher and higher?

    To begin, let’s turn to the American civil war. In that war, dated tactics and the carnage inflicted by modern weapons of the era combined to cause ghastly results. Not generally known is that most of the deaths on both sides of that war were not the result of actual combat but to what happened after a battlefield wound was inflicted. To begin with, evacuation of the wounded moved at a snail’s pace and this caused severe delays in treating the wounded. Secondly, many wounds were subjected to wound care, related surgeries and/or amputations of the affected limbs and this often resulted in the onset of massive infection. So you might survive a battle wound only to die at the hands of medical care providers who although well-intentioned, their interventions were often quite lethal. High death tolls can also be ascribed to everyday sicknesses and diseases in a time when no antibiotics existed. In total something like 600,000 deaths occurred from all causes, over 2% of the U.S. population at the time!

    Let’s skip to the first half of the 20th century for some additional perspective and to bring us up to more modern times. After the civil war there were steady improvements in American medicine in both the understanding and treatment of certain diseases, new surgical techniques and in physician education and training. But for the most part the best that doctors could offer their patients was a “wait and see” approach. Medicine could handle bone fractures and increasingly attempt risky surgeries (now largely performed in sterile surgical environments) but medicines were not yet available to handle serious illnesses. The majority of deaths remained the result of untreatable conditions such as tuberculosis, pneumonia, scarlet fever and measles and/or related complications. Doctors were increasingly aware of heart and vascular conditions, and cancer but they had almost nothing with which to treat these conditions.

    This very basic review of American medical history helps us to understand that until quite recently (around the 1950’s) we had virtually no technologies with which to treat serious or even minor ailments. Here is a critical point we need to understand; “nothing to treat you with means that visits to the doctor if at all were relegated to emergencies so in such a scenario costs are curtailed. The simple fact is that there was little for doctors to offer and therefore virtually nothing to drive health care spending. A second factor holding down costs was that medical treatments that were provided were paid for out-of-pocket, meaning by way of an individuals personal resources. There was no such thing as health insurance and certainly not health insurance paid by an employer. Except for the very destitute who were lucky to find their way into a charity hospital, health care costs were the responsibility of the individual.

    What does health care insurance have to do with health care costs? Its impact on health care costs has been, and remains to this day, absolutely enormous. When health insurance for individuals and families emerged as a means for corporations to escape wage freezes and to attract and retain employees after World War II, almost overnight a great pool of money became available to pay for health care. Money, as a result of the availability of billions of dollars from health insurance pools, encouraged an innovative America to increase medical research efforts. More Americans became insured not only through private, employer sponsored health insurance but through increased government funding that created Medicare and Medicaid (1965). In addition funding became available for expanded veterans health care benefits. Finding a cure for almost anything has consequently become very lucrative. This is also the primary reason for the vast array of treatments we have available today.

    I do not wish to convey that medical innovations are a bad thing. Think of the tens of millions of lives that have been saved, extended, enhanced and made more productive as a result. But with a funding source grown to its current magnitude (hundreds of billions of dollars annually) upward pressure on health care costs are inevitable. Doctor’s offer and most of us demand and get access to the latest available health care technology in the form of pharmaceuticals, medical devices, diagnostic tools and surgical procedures. So the result is that there is more health care to spend our money on and until very recently most of us were insured and the costs were largely covered by a third-party (government, employers). Add an insatiable and unrealistic public demand for access and treatment and we have the “perfect storm” for higher and higher health care costs. And by and large the storm is only intensifying.

    At this point, let’s turn to the key questions that will lead us into a review and hopefully a better understanding of the health care reform proposals in the news today. Is the current trajectory of U.S. health care spending sustainable? Can America maintain its world competitiveness when 16%, heading for 20% of our gross national product is being spent on health care? What are the other industrialized countries spending on health care and is it even close to these numbers? When we add politics and an election year to the debate, information to help us answer these questions become critical. We need to spend some effort in understanding health care and sorting out how we think about it. Properly armed we can more intelligently determine whether certain health care proposals might solve or worsen some of these problems. What can be done about the challenges? How can we as individuals contribute to the solutions?

    The Obama health care plan is complex for sure – I have never seen a health care plan that isn’t. But through a variety of programs his plan attempts to deal with a) increasing the number of American that are covered by adequate insurance (almost 50 million are not), and b) managing costs in such a manner that quality and our access to health care is not adversely affected. Republicans seek to achieve these same basic and broad goals, but their approach is proposed as being more market driven than government driven. Let’s look at what the Obama plan does to accomplish the two objectives above. Remember, by the way, that his plan was passed by congress, and begins to seriously kick-in starting in 2014. So this is the direction we are currently taking as we attempt to reform health care.

    Through insurance exchanges and an expansion of Medicaid,the Obama plan dramatically expands the number of Americans that will be covered by health insurance.

    To cover the cost of this expansion the plan requires everyone to have health insurance with a penalty to be paid if we don’t comply. It will purportedly send money to the states to cover those individuals added to state-based Medicaid programs.

    To cover the added costs there were a number of new taxes introduced, one being a 2.5% tax on new medical technologies and another increases taxes on interest and dividend income for wealthier Americans.

    The Obama plan also uses concepts such as evidence-based medicine, accountable care organizations, comparative effectiveness research and reduced reimbursement to health care providers (doctors and hospitals) to control costs.

    The insurance mandate covered by points 1 and 2 above is a worthy goal and most industrialized countries outside of the U.S. provide “free” (paid for by rather high individual and corporate taxes) health care to most if not all of their citizens. It is important to note, however, that there are a number of restrictions for which many Americans would be culturally unprepared. Here is the primary controversial aspect of the Obama plan, the insurance mandate. The U.S. Supreme Court recently decided to hear arguments as to the constitutionality of the health insurance mandate as a result of a petition by 26 states attorney’s general that congress exceeded its authority under the commerce clause of the U.S. constitution by passing this element of the plan. The problem is that if the Supreme Court should rule against the mandate, it is generally believed that the Obama plan as we know it is doomed. This is because its major goal of providing health insurance to all would be severely limited if not terminated altogether by such a decision.

    As you would guess, the taxes covered by point 3 above are rather unpopular with those entities and individuals that have to pay them. Medical device companies, pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, doctors and insurance companies all had to “give up” something that would either create new revenue or would reduce costs within their spheres of control. As an example, Stryker Corporation, a large medical device company, recently announced at least a 1,000 employee reduction in part to cover these new fees. This is being experienced by other medical device companies and pharmaceutical companies as well. The reduction in good paying jobs in these sectors and in the hospital sector may rise as former cost structures will have to be dealt with in order to accommodate the reduced rate of reimbursement to hospitals. Over the next ten years some estimates put the cost reductions to hospitals and physicians at half a trillion dollars and this will flow directly to and affect the companies that supply hospitals and doctors with the latest medical technologies. None of this is to say that efficiencies will not be realized by these changes or that other jobs will in turn be created but this will represent painful change for a while. It helps us to understand that health care reform does have an effect both positive and negative.

    Finally, the Obama plan seeks to change the way medical decisions are made. While clinical and basic research underpins almost everything done in medicine today, doctors are creatures of habit like the rest of us and their training and day-to-day experiences dictate to a great extent how they go about diagnosing and treating our conditions. Enter the concept of evidence-based medicine and comparative effectiveness research. Both of these seek to develop and utilize data bases from electronic health records and other sources to give better and more timely information and feedback to physicians as to the outcomes and costs of the treatments they are providing. There is great waste in health care today, estimated at perhaps a third of an over 2 trillion dollar health care spend annually. Imagine the savings that are possible from a reduction in unnecessary test and procedures that do not compare favorably with health care interventions that are better documented as effective. Now the Republicans and others don’t generally like these ideas as they tend to characterize them as “big government control” of your and my health care. But to be fair, regardless of their political persuasions, most people who understand health care at all, know that better data for the purposes described above will be crucial to getting health care efficiencies, patient safety and costs headed in the right direction.

    A brief review of how Republicans and more conservative individuals think about health care reform. I believe they would agree that costs must come under control and that more, not fewer Americans should have access to health care regardless of their ability to pay. But the main difference is that these folks see market forces and competition as the way to creating the cost reductions and efficiencies we need. There are a number of ideas with regard to driving more competition among health insurance companies and health care providers (doctors and hospitals) so that the consumer would begin to drive cost down by the choices we make. This works in many sectors of our economy but this formula has shown that improvements are illusive when applied to health care. Primarily the problem is that health care choices are difficult even for those who understand it and are connected. The general population, however, is not so informed and besides we have all been brought up to “go to the doctor” when we feel it is necessary and we also have a cultural heritage that has engendered within most of us the feeling that health care is something that is just there and there really isn’t any reason not to access it for whatever the reason and worse we all feel that there is nothing we can do to affect its costs to insure its availability to those with serious problems.

    OK, this article was not intended to be an exhaustive study as I needed to keep it short in an attempt to hold my audience’s attention and to leave some room for discussing what we can do contribute mightily to solving some of the problems. First we must understand that the dollars available for health care are not limitless. Any changes that are put in place to provide better insurance coverage and access to care will cost more. And somehow we have to find the revenues to pay for these changes. At the same time we have to pay less for medical treatments and procedures and do something to restrict the availability of unproven or poorly documented treatments as we are the highest cost health care system in the world and don’t necessarily have the best results in terms of longevity or avoiding chronic diseases much earlier than necessary.

    I believe that we need a revolutionary change in the way we think about health care, its availability, its costs and who pays for it. And if you think I am about to say we should arbitrarily and drastically reduce spending on health care you would be wrong. Here it is fellow citizens – health care spending needs to be preserved and protected for those who need it. And to free up these dollars those of us who don’t need it or can delay it or avoid it need to act. First, we need to convince our politicians that this country needs sustained public education with regard to the value of preventive health strategies. This should be a top priority and it has worked to reduce the number of U.S. smokers for example. If prevention were to take hold, it is reasonable to assume that those needing health care for the myriad of life style engendered chronic diseases would decrease dramatically. Millions of Americans are experiencing these diseases far earlier than in decades past and much of this is due to poor life style choices. This change alone would free up plenty of money to handle the health care costs of those in dire need of treatment, whether due to an acute emergency or chronic condition.

    Let’s go deeper on the first issue. Most of us refuse do something about implementing basic wellness strategies into our daily lives. We don’t exercise but we offer a lot of excuses. We don’t eat right but we offer a lot of excuses. We smoke and/or we drink alcohol to excess and we offer a lot of excuses as to why we can’t do anything about managing these known to be destructive personal health habits. We don’t take advantage of preventive health check-ups that look at blood pressure, cholesterol readings and body weight but we offer a lot of excuses. In short we neglect these things and the result is that we succumb much earlier than necessary to chronic diseases like heart problems, diabetes and high blood pressure. We wind up accessing doctors for these and more routine matters because “health care is there” and somehow we think we have no responsibility for reducing our demand on it.

    It is difficult for us to listen to these truths but easy to blame the sick. Maybe they should take better care of themselves! Well, that might be true or maybe they have a genetic condition and they have become among the unfortunate through absolutely no fault of their own. But the point is that you and I can implement personalized preventive disease measures as a way of dramatically improving health care access for others while reducing its costs. It is far better to be productive by doing something we can control then shifting the blame.

    There are a huge number of free web sites available that can steer us to a more healthful life style. A soon as you can, “Google” “preventive health care strategies”, look up your local hospital’s web site and you will find more than enough help to get you started. Finally, there is a lot to think about here and I have tried to outline the challenges but also the very powerful effect we could have on preserving the best of America’s health care system now and into the future. I am anxious to hear from you and until then – take charge and increase your chances for good health while making sure that health care is there when we need it.

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