Jan 4 2018 – Disney World 5k – running with Heather and the kids!

Below is a quick, almost point form, race report for the Walt Disney World 5k 2018 race that I did with Heather and the kids.

Sorry if it feels rushed – we just got back a couple days ago and things have been hectic and I want to get something out while things are still relatively fresh in my head.

 

 

Up way too early but since we had such a rough day yesterday at least everyone got a pretty decent sleep.

 

Super cool this morning too – I believe it was below freezing and felt colder than that – it was damned chilly even for us Canadians leaving a -40 degree cold snap.

 

We put on pretty much all the warmest gear we had and then bundled up. We also brought along several Mylar emergency blankets that we put to good use!

The kids ready for the 5k!

 

All ready to go!

 

After a cold walk to the event bus we were able to get on a bus right before it headed out to the staging area. I am glad we did not have to wait long out in the cold for a bus!

 

We spent some time walking around as the crowds go bigger and we tried to stay warm.

 

The kids were doing well despite the cold and the very early hour – very proud of them for that.

 

Before too long we made our way to the starting corrals – corral C for the 5k. I am glad that the kids had done the Pro Bowl 5k last year as we were able to indicate that it was not their first 5k race and we didn’t end up in the last corral.

 

We ran the race essentially at our daughter’s pace – she is the youngest and we let her decide when she wanted to run and when she wanted to walk. This worked well and both kids did great.

 

We took some pics ourselves but did not stop for any character stops (too cold!) and got some good pics from the Disney photographers on course.

 

Some of the pictures are below and I have also added a quick and dirty video I put up on YouTube for the 5k – nothing fancy but I did get the kids rushing for the finish line!

 

Mylar everywhere!

 

China!

 

Fountain of Nations

We did it!

 

After the race we got our medals and snack boxes and had a quick bit before heading to the line for the buses. For some reason the line for our hotel bus stretched all the way across the parking lot. I’m not sure what happened there but it was a chilly wait and at one point they had 3 buses stacked and loading at the same time to clear the back log – so whatever happened they dealt with it fairly quickly.

 

After we got on our bus we got to our room and took some long hot showers and dressed up nice and warm and headed out to have some fun at Disney Springs including lunch/supper at T-Rex which we always enjoy.

 

We then went back to the hotel for an early night since our son and I had to get up early again for the 10k the next morning. Going to be another cold one!

Jan 3 2018 – Travel day and race kit pickup for Walt Disney World Marathon and Dopey Challenge

Hi folks! We are back from our extended Disney World stay following the Walt Disney World Marathon and I am going to start on my race / trip report.

 

Our first day started way early getting the kids up before 2:30 am – I think I got about an hour sleep but at least they slept well!

 

I did the final load of the vehicle and we drove to the airport, parked, got all bags checked, confirmed a few things about our connecting flight (travelling through Toronto on our way down and have to do US Immigration checks there in Toronto so we wanted to make sure we knew how that would all work – especially since it seems to be different there each time we go) and then we head through security.

 

Nice and easy boarding onto the flight and a good flight to Toronto.

 

On the plane – so early but happy!

So tired!

When we got to Toronto though things went downhill fast. We only had about 1.25 hours between flights and had to do US Immigration, so time was tight but things got worse because when we got there, there was another plane sitting at our gate…

 

After what seemed like an eternity (but probably 15-20 minutes) we were finally assigned a new gate but ground crews had to reposition and things were going to be delayed for the luggage…Yay! Clock is ticking.

 

We got off the plane and made our way over to the US Immigration area to wait for our bags to pass through so that we could see a US agent and get to our flight. And we waited, and waited, and waited…we could see that our flight was starting to board and we were still stuck and couldn’t do anything.

 

We tried to talk to an airline agent about our flight but he was aggressively unhelpful…finally after our plane was scheduled to leave we see the flight now listed as delayed and the airline agent announces that the flight has been delayed by 20 minutes…but the times he was quoting made it sound more like 10 minutes. So now we have hope but not necessarily a lot.

 

Another 10 minutes later and we are finally able to pass into the line for US Immigration and relatively quickly made it through there and bolted for our flight. When we got there the skyway was already closed up but the plane was still there so they let us on, thankfully.

 

After a short delay the plane then took off.

 

Porg is strapped in and ready to go!

 

Porg is checking the view ready for take off!

There wasn’t another flight to Orlando scheduled that day that I could see on our carrier – if we didn’t make the connection we didn’t get to race kit pick up and we didn’t get to do the 5k race together the next morning. But we made it!

 

From there a relatively uneventful flight and an easy Magical Express ride to our resort for the race weekend and then onto the event bus to go get our race kits.

 

We could see when the bus pulled up that things were a circus – yay!

 

Lots of people!

 

First up was getting the 5k race kits for Heather and the kids and then the 10k kit for our son before heading in to get my Dopey Challenge kit.

 

After grabbing the kit I had to ask 3 different volunteers how to get the area for the pre-purchased merchandise area – once we got there we started to see just how crazy the runDisney merchandise area was and after getting my pre-purchased race pins we decided that we just couldn’t stand in the line to even go look at the gear. It was getting too late at this point and the kids were starving.

 

We did take a quick look in the building for the rest of the race expo and decided not to go down to the show floor as it just looked like a madhouse.

 

So basically, we bought no merchandise – that’s just crazy. They really need to do something to cut down the crowds on that first day…I hate to say it but I think the Dopey Challenge is the real issue here and I don’t think runDisney can fix the crowds on that first race expo day unless they get rid of this challenge. There are just too many people trying to get in there in such a short period of time.

 

Anyway – we headed back to the resort, ate some supper and then headed to Epcot to do some modifications to our annual passes before heading back to the room to crash.

 

Somehow in this short period our daughter managed to lose her 5k race shirt…still not sure how but at least she didn’t lose the race bib!

 

Next up – 5k race and some park fun!

Fighting Cancer and now the 10K at Walt Disney World Marathon – Bindu Panapalli’s inspiring story!

Today is the third in my series of inspirational stories shared by Cigna. Today’s is the story of Bindu Panapali, her fight with cancer and her hard work with Achilles International leading up to running the 10k at Disney World in January!

Cigna is the primary sponsor of the Walt Disney World Marathon event in January and they have invited me to take part in a Blogger / Social Media Meet Up over the weekend. I am super excited about that!

Hope you enjoy the article!

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Bindu Panapalli, 47 years old and resident of Glen Allen, Va. near Richmond, always felt a desire to help people with cancer through research. By February 2016, she found herself at the start of 18 months of firsthand experience battling the disease through three surgeries and eight rounds of chemo – she just didn’t know it at the time.

Her journey began with a scheduled surgery to treat fibroids and a hysterectomy, leaving her bedridden. Six weeks later, persistent pain led the doctor to find a bowel obstruction and scheduled another surgery. This time, the doctor discovered ovarian cancer and it spread. Six rounds of chemotherapy, which also caused numbness in her leg hindering her ability to walk, stretched from summer into the fall. By November, the third surgery removed the rest of the cancer, but the battle still required two more rounds of chemotherapy in February 2017 before she could finally say she would feel like she’s truly recovering.

Bindu Panapalli – Fightning Cancer to running 10K

“I never thought I would get cancer,” Bindu recalled. “Even before all this, I wanted to help people with cancer as a researcher. After the diagnosis and treatment, I volunteered at the cancer treatment center every Thursday encouraging people during chemotherapy treatment. I was even on the bone marrow donor list.”

By August, she felt ready to start thinking about a return to work. She researched what her employer’s Cigna disability insurance benefits offered including the vocational coaching program, so she requested referral. That’s when she met Robin Randol, her Cigna vocational coach, who offered assistance.

“Every customer’s needs are different,” said Robin. “What she wanted was to build up her physical strength, so we talked about self-care and various strategies and tips to address fatigue and stamina. She also wanted to find a new job that matched her passion. We talked about career goals, updated her resume, and I provided help researching job leads.”

Well-educated, Bindu’s background includes nearly enough for a doctorate from India. She hopes to take her work history, education, and personal experience to help people.
“I want to help people,” said Bindu. “I want to interact with patients. Not sit in a lab anymore, but a make a real difference in people’s lives. Now, that I’ve had this experience fighting cancer, I can be even more helpful.”

Robin helped prepare her for job interviews and gave her the encouragement she’s needed to help take back her health and move closer to a job for which she can feel truly passionate.

One of the training programs Robin offered was the Cigna customer referral program with Achilles International, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping people with disabilities participate in athletic events. Cigna partners with organizations like Achilles International to help customers achieve their health and return to work goals by providing: access to additional rehabilitation resources including ergonomic office equipment, software, education and accommodations to help customers stay safe and be productive at work, encouragement and support, resume review and job placement assistance.

As a result of her hard work and dedication, Cigna offered Bindu the opportunity to participate in the Walt Disney World® 10K presented by Cigna on Friday, January 5th as a member of Team Cigna. She will be guided on the race course by Jonathan Prokup, Cigna’s executive sponsor of Achilles International and General Counsel for Cigna.
“I’m celebrating my 21st wedding anniversary in January at the race,” said Bindu. “When I cross that finish line, I want to raise a glass and celebrate life.”

The Cigna Customer Referral Program with Achilles International demonstrates Cigna’s promise to partner with customers “Together, All the Way” along their unique health journey. When injury or illness occurs, Cigna helps them get back on track to achieve their goals.

“For Cigna customers, participating in a race represents a healthy milestone on the road to recovery, but also independence,” said Robin. “As people gain physical strength, they also build confidence, which can positively affect all areas of your life.”

“Cancer is a part of me,” said Bindu. “It changed my life completely. Now, because of Robin, I’m back at work part time work with a new employer building towards full time. I want to thank Robin because now I can look forward.”

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An amazing story! Good luck to Bindu on the Walt Disney World 10k! Maybe we will see you on the course.

Hope everyone enjoyed the article!

 

Sonya Hazel – car accident left her with a serious break but now she is recovering and is out to run the Walt Disney World 5k!

Hi All! Just wanted to put up another inspirational article shared by Cigna. 

Cigna is the primary sponsor of the Walt Disney World Marathon event in January and they have invited me to take part in a Blogger / Social Media Meet Up over the weekend. I am super excited about that!

The article today is the story of Sonya Hazel – who was involved in a car accident with a distracted driver and through therapy, hard work and help from Cigna is coming to Walt Disney World in January to run the 5k race at the Walt Disney World Marathon.

I hope you enjoy the article.

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Sonya Hazel, 42 years old and resident of Riverdale, Ga. near Atlanta, didn’t have a chance to avoid that truck on February 23, 2017. The driver attempted to pass her while texting and driving. Like many distracted drivers, he misjudged the distance knocking Sonya’s car out of control. Her vehicle finally came to a stop after hitting a passenger van and breaking a highway wall. When the police officer arrived on the scene, she could hear him talking to the dispatcher. Judging by the vehicle, he thought she died in the crash.

“Before the officer arrived, I couldn’t feel my legs and, as silly as it sounds, I remember thinking my husband would be so upset when he saw the car,” said Sonya. “When the officer ducked down to see inside the vehicle, I startled him when I spoke.”

The emergency room doctor thought she might have gotten away with just a sprain and applied a temporary cast. When she visited the orthopedic surgeon, he took x-rays and found a serious break. The injury caused so much swelling that she needed to wait several weeks until April before surgery could be performed. The mental scars might last the longest.

“To this day, I haven’t been able to drive my car very far,” said Sonya. “The few times I’ve driven, I just pray and play loud music to focus on driving and everything around me.”

Following four to six weeks of therapy that ended in October, she said she felt about 85 percent back. As a mom of five children including four adults and one seven-year-old daughter, she feels the hole of that extra 15 percent still ahead of her.

Sonya Hazel – 5K – Cigna Run Together

“I still can’t do certain things,” said Sonya. “Before the accident, I was always active. It’s been a real adjustment for my daughter. I’ll know I’m back at 100 percent when I’m able to keep up with her and run around with my grandson when he’s born next April.”

On the road to recovery and mentally itching to return to work, she asked more information on Cigna’s vocational coaching program. Soon after, she received a call from Bethany Roefs, her Cigna vocational coach, who offered assistance.

“Bethany comforts and encourages me throughout this process to help me get back to work,” said Sonya. “I feel she knows me and cares about my situation. She’s been my liaison between my employer and me and has been right there throughout everything.”

“From the beginning, Sonya’s top goals included returning to work,” said Bethany. “Making sure she stayed on track, I helped coordinate between her doctor and employer to make sure she found the right return to work plan that allowed her to fully recovery without a setback.”

Sonya’s looking forward to returning to work and getting back on track with her career.

“The day of the accident, my boss planned to talk with me about a promotion,” said Sonya. “Now, I’m looking forward to just earning a full paycheck again.”

One of the resources Bethany offered, the Cigna customer referral program with Achilles International, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping people with disabilities participate in athletic events, helps people like Sonya build up physical strength and stamina.

Cigna partners with organizations like Achilles International to help customers achieve their return to work goals by providing access to additional rehabilitation resources including ergonomic office equipment, software, education and accommodations to help customers stay safe and be productive at work, encouragement and support, resume review and job placement assistance.

As a result of her hard work and dedication to return to work, Cigna offered Sonya the opportunity to participate in the Walt Disney World® 5K presented by Cigna on Thursday, January 4th as a member of Team Cigna.

“When Bethany talked about my progress and asked if I felt ready for a 5K, I assumed she meant a local race,” said Sonya. “Then she told me Disney – surprised doesn’t quite say it. I’m grateful and see it as a challenge to get my body over that last physical hurdle.”

The Cigna Customer Referral Program with Achilles International demonstrates Cigna’s promise to partner with customers “Together, All the Way” along their unique health journey. When injury or illness occurs, Cigna helps them get back on track to achieve their goals. She will be guided by Joan Harvey, vice president of consumer health engagement for Cigna, on the race course.

“For Cigna customers, participating in a race represents a healthy milestone on the road to recovery, but also independence,” said Bethany. “As people gain physical strength, they also build confidence, which can positively affect all areas of your life.”

“At one time I thought I wouldn’t be able to walk without a cane,” said Sonya. “Look at me now getting ready for a 5K in Walt Disney World. Once I’m able to return to work, I’m really on my way back to the old Sonya again.”

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Thanks for reading – I hope you enjoyed the article.

Good luck to Sonya on the 5k race!

Asthma can’t keep this accomplished runner and former preemie from achieving her dreams.

Hi Folks! Something a bit different for me today – I am going to share an inspirational piece courtesy of Cigna!

Cigna is the primary sponsor of the Walt Disney World Marathon event in January and they have invited me to take part in a Blogger / Social Media Meet Up over the weekend. I am super excited about that!

As part of this they provided some inspirational stories to share with you folks and this one spoke to me. I won’t give too big a preamble but it involves Chelby Elam and an after-school mentoring program in Philadelphia helping kids get involved in long-distance running and I can only imagine how my life would have changed if I had gotten interested in long distance running 20 or so years earlier than I did!

Hope you enjoy the article, it made me smile!

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Born three months premature, Chelby Elam of Philadelphia always dealt with asthma and a heart murmur. Since joining Students Run Philly Style, running has made her lungs stronger, and she hasn’t had an asthma attack in years.

“My dad loves to run, so I would go to races to support him and saw lots of kids wearing Students Run Philly Style t-shirts,” said Chelby. “It was cool watching them cross the finish line. I felt inspired to join even though I wasn’t a runner and never really enjoyed competing in track.”

 

Chelby Elam and her Dad – Students Run Philly Style

Students Run Philly Style is an after-school mentor program that gets kids involved in long-distance running, teaching life lessons along the way. Philly schools have their own teams that train together three times each week, coached by a teacher, leader, or parent.

“My Dad became our Students Run coach,” said Chelby. “It’s been so much fun to spend time together running – even though sometimes he bugs me with the dad jokes he makes up to keep our spirits high on long runs.”

“Teamwork and encouragement are two of the biggest lessons I’ve learned,” said Chelby. “Everyone is so supportive- even teammates you don’t know that well. It’s so important to help your friends when they’re struggling.” Another important lesson “is to just enjoy the run, which is different than running track. We’re not competing against each other. We’re all there to have fun.”

As a result of Chelby’s hard work and commitment to her health, The Cigna Foundation, a long-time sponsor of Students Run Philly Style, is sending Chelby and her dad on an all-expense paid trip to Walt Disney World in January. As a symbol and extension of her health journey, she will participant in the Walt Disney World® Half Marathon on Saturday, January 6.

“The Cigna Foundation believes that achieving and maintaining personal health means that communities need trusted places they can turn to for information and services,” said Mary Engvall, Executive Director of the Cigna Foundation. “We support nonprofit organizations that offer better health opportunities wherever and however they’re needed in the communities where we live and serve.”

“Chelby really stands out in our program because she works so hard. Watching her and her dad running together is a testament to the work we do to help the kids in our community and represents what our partnership with the Cigna Foundation is all about,” Lauren Kobylarz, Program Director for Students Run Philly Style.

Chelby and her dad participated in the Philadelphia Half Marathon in November, and the Walt Disney World® Half Marathon will be her first time running out of state. She’s excited to come back to Orlando, a place she hasn’t visited since she was little.

“It’ll be so nice to run in warmer weather, for sure, and to see the different scenery,” said Chelby, “This is really a stepping to my next goal: running the full Philly Marathon in 2018.”

Outside of running, Chelby is a dog walker and freelance photographer, and a member of the Journalism Club. She served as a media intern for the Democratic National Convention, when it came to Philadelphia, and the Washington Post, and continues to volunteer at Students Run Philly Style.

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I hope you enjoyed Chelby’s story!

Good luck on the Walt Disney World Half Marathon Chelby!