Now that is Dopey!


dopey challenge

Run Disney announced a new race, the Dopey Challenge. This is a spin off from the Goofy and a half challenge that Run Disney currently holds during Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend. The Goofy Challenge requires you to complete a half marathon on Saturday and Sunday you complete the full marathon. Yes it is goofy and yes I have done it.


Many of the Goofy runners were also entering the 5k and self-proclaiming it as the “Dopey.” Disney decided to capitalize on this insanity and created an official Dopey challenge. And to top it off, Disney added a new distance, the 10k. To officially complete the challenge a Dopey runner needs to run a 5k on Thursday, 10k on Friday, half marathon on Saturday, and a full marathon on Sunday. Yes it is Dopey, and after the race was announced I really wanted to sign up and do it. Thankfully for me the announcement of the race and the sign up were several weeks apart.

My family is an important part of my running. They support me, they travel with me, and they watch me eat enough food to feed a small country the week prior to the race. Because my family is so encouraging I am able to compete in as many events as I do.


My family was integral in my goal of completing the first 5 Princess Marathons. I have to applaud my family and thank them for all the support. It was not an easy five years, but we made it. It wasn’t so bad when we lived in Florida, but after a move to Rhode Island it was not easy managing the schedules of my husband a full time college student and my daughter a full time high school student. Thanks to their support and the help of my parents I was able to attend each race and become a Perfect Princess.

This year while I was at the race a thought occurred to me; maybe I should stick with the race until I do 10, maybe 20. But at some point the race would consume me and it would be so selfish. Running would become all about me, when the reality is I need everyone around me so I can keep going to races and enjoying the sport.

And as I considered the Dopey, I was reminded of the things we are trying to accomplish here at home. Pay off bills is a big one. We are trying to get prepared for me to retire from the military. Finishing 20 years in the military is an accomplishment in itself. And one of the things we need to do is make sure we are financially healthy.

I recognized jut how selfish it would be if I opted to run. If I have learned anything about running it is about generosity of spirit. In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, NYC marathoners ran through the city giving bottles of water and other items to the victims of the storm. After two bombs exploded at the finish of the Boston Marathon runners ran straight to blood banks to donate blood for those in need.


After witnessing all of these other generous runners, how could I be selfish? It contradicts what running is about. As the clock to the sign up of the Dopey counted down, I made peace with myself; I was not going to run the Dopey. It was not the right time. If I did, it would have been for all of the wrong reasons. Yes it is the inaugural running of the Dopey, but it wasn’t reason enough to go.

As I read updates on Facebook and twitter seeing the race was almost full, my heart ached with longing. I admit, I really wanted to sign up. But I couldn’t. It was not the right thing to do. Running a race because it is something that I want to do and not considering how it would impact the people in my life, that is Dopey. DSC09786

Ruggles, the Real Cost of Localism in Surfing


Ruggles Ave

Up until a few weeks ago the wave at Ruggles Ave in Newport, RI was kept in obscurity. Few people knew about the break. The local surfers kept it quiet; they did not want a crowded lineup. Then the fate of the wave was in question. Hurricane Sandy damaged parts of the famed Newport Cliff Walk. In order to repair and protect the walk the Rhode Island Department of Transportation proposed building a stonewall that would serve as a break wall. To complete the construction 200-foot temporary causeways would need to be built. The causeways would sit in the middle of the surf break at Ruggles.

The Newport surf community was up in arms about losing their wave. Sid Abruzzi headed an effort to stop the construction. With the help of Clean Ocean Access, they started a petition via, which got over 6,000 signatures from around the world. Abruzzi was featured in several newspapers around the country, speaking about how important the wave is to Newport. The effort was successful, Ruggles was saved.

Ruggles Contstruction

While the local Ruggles surfers appreciate the attention and effort to save the wave, they have a dirty little secret, they don’t want people to come surf their wave. After talking with non-Ruggles surfers in the community and researching the spot via the web I discovered numerous accounts of tires being slashed, cars being keyed, and people being physically threatened. These tactics were all means to regulate the number of surfers in the lineup.

Another tactic was refusing to reveal the name and location of Ruggles. Numerous articles were written about Newport surfers, and at the request of the surfer the name of the break location was not included.

In all the commotion to save Ruggles, the crew failed to stop and listen to what was really going on. The head engineer from the Rhode Island Coastal Resource Management was against the proposal. The Newport City Council was against the proposal. The opposition was because the proposed construction could impact the economy of Rhode Island.

Hospitality and tourism is the second fastest growing industry in the state and currently ranks fourth overall. The tourism industry brings $2.31 billion into the state and supports over 66,000 jobs. Newport is one of the main draws to Rhode Island, with the Cliff Walk being one of the crown jewels, attracting an estimated 800,000 visitors annually. Altering the Cliff Walk had the potential to impact tourism for the state. The risks of the initial proposal far outweighed the gains, which made it unrealistic and unlikely.

While the construction proposal was probably not going to happen, if the wave at Ruggles was really at risk, the localism of the Ruggles surfers would have be one of the biggest threats to the wave. There are two camps in the Newport surf community, those who are welcome at Ruggles and those who are not. The not crowd is the larger of the two. The result of this rivalry is many surfers were apathetic to the plight of saving Ruggles. The interest was in protecting tourism and the environment, not the wave. Many could have cared less about the surf at Ruggles Ave. The prime reason they did not care about the wave, it was difficult to care about something they had not attachment or connection with.

WB Only

Now that the Ruggles has been saved, there is a looming question; now what? With an outpouring of support from around the globe many people may feel a connection to the wave because they were part of the fight to save it. Wouldn’t it be a shame if the thanks those surfers get is a keyed car?

The Art of Staying in the Moment



The Marine Corps Marathon was a really difficult race for me. Over the past few months I’ve been trying to understand why it was so tough. During training I had my ups and downs. There were runs when after 10 miles I wanted to cry and quit and other days I felt fantastic like I could run forever. It wasn’t until I was flying down for the Princess Marathon and I ran into Erin ( on the plane. She ran the Marine Corps and noticed something and it really put things into perspective. The marathon was the day before Hurricane Sandy hit. Because the storm was coming, people were not in the moment; their thoughts were everywhere but the race. This was true not only of the runners but the volunteers and Marines.

She was right.

From the moment we arrived in DC our focus shifted immediately from enjoying the weekend with family and friends to dealing with the storm. Jim and I got found out our flight home was cancelled. I was tempted to throw in the towel on the run and just head home, but Jim thought that was silly. Since we couldn’t fly we worked it out with the rental car company to just drive from DC to Rhode Island.


This really impacted my run. Instead of enjoying the run, my mind was elsewhere. I was okay for the first half of the race. But then I reached a point where I was worried about sitting in a car for 8 or more hours. I ran the first 20 miles and after hitting the bridge, I decided to walk the last 10k. My mind was already on the car ride and I was thinking about how my legs would feel.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized I had the same issue during training. It was still the height of surf season. The water was warm enough to not have to wear but a 2/3 wetsuit. During so many of my long runs, I yearned to be in the water. My mind was anywhere but the run. My runs suffered.


I find I enjoy running the most when I am in the moment, when my mind doesn’t wander off to worry about work, shopping, or bills. I focus on the steps ahead of me and continue to move forward. When I manage to stay in the moment, running is a joy.

My other love surfing is the same; you have to satay in the moment. The minor difference with surfing, if you lose focus on the moment, the waves can be very unforgiving.

Staying in the moment during a run (and in life) is an art I am still working to perfect. Once in a while I am truly able to eliminate distraction and enjoy just being. When I do, my stride comes easy and my breath is not labored. I had this feeling during the Princess marathon. While it was not my fastest race, it was so enjoyable because I was just enjoying running. Disney is fantastic for putting up great entertainment along the course, but I found it wasn’t necessary because I was in the present moment. I was simply enjoying running.


This is a work in progress. But because I had such a struggle with the Marine Corps Marathon, I am much more aware. Jim and I have the Newport 10 miler coming up in a few weeks. Let’s hope all of the mental training I’ve been doing has paid off and I’ll be able to stay in the moment.

What I learned from the MCM



In 2010 I set my sights on doing the Marine Corps Marathon. I printed the course map and had it pinned next to my desk as a reminder of this goal. Other obligations kept me away from the race until this year. You would think because of how long I had been planning to run this race I would be filled with excitement as I prepared.


That was not the case. Something was different this time, and I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. I trained for many weeks but my busy schedule and some injuries kept me from following the training plan I wanted to do. As my training got derailed I never really got back on track. Jim and I ran the Rock n Roll Providence. My hope was this race would get me excited about running again and propel me to really get into training mode for the MCM. Unfortunately it didn’t.


Instead I would go running two or three times a week. During the week I never went more than four miles. And on the weekend I would go for long runs. I increased my mileage and logged two 20 mile runs. The day of my long run varied. The biggest factor was not the weather or my schedule, but the surf report.



Most of my runs took me past the beach. Instead of finding inspiration in the water, I found another reason to stop running. On the days when the waves were perfect, all I wanted to do was stop running, grab my surf board and sit in the water for the next two or three hours. I guess in a way I was cheating on running with a different and much more fun activity.


I was putting on the miles and they were not pretty. I termed my training runs as slogging. I defined slogging as really slow jogging that is not fun at all. The word itself doesn’t even sound fun.


The thing that really struck me is how much I was not enjoying running and training. Prior to this race I would get so excited at just the thought of going for a run. I would be dressed and ready to go and couldn’t wait for Jim to get ready so we could hit the pavement.


Another difference I noted was how excited I used to be about getting a new Runner’s World magazine. I used to read the magazine nearly cover to cover and would get so excited when a new one was in the mailbox. The magazines were left stacked on a table, untouched.


Even though I wasn’t having any fun, I had made a commitment to run this race. The training was hard, the race was hard, and there were plenty of times when I really wanted to quit both before and during the run. I cried more during the Marine Corps Marathon than I have during any other race. But what I realized is even though it was hard it was still worth it. Something happened as I plodded along during the race, I felt a great sense of accomplishment. One that had been missing since my first race in 2009.


I still don’t have that feeling of attachment with the Marine Corps Marathon. I’m not sure if it was because I wasn’t having any fun with it or because Hurricane Sandy kept my mind elsewhere, but it really doesn’t matter. In the end I learned to push through the really hard stuff. Somehow when everything around just sucks, you need to find a way to keep moving forward.