Do you want to build a snowman run the Dopey Challenge?

You want to run 48.6 miles around Disney World over four days? I did it – here’s what I learned.

1. Pack more running clothes than you need.

Pack two pairs of shoes. Pack more than four outfits – especially if you are wearing a costume. The weather this time of year in Florida is crazy. We had a temperature swing of 20+ degrees and it rained. Pack stuff that works for hot and humid runs and runs in winter-like temperatures. And pack a throwaway layer. You might need it – even in Florida.

2. Wear a costume.

When we did Princess in 2016, we felt silly because we just wore thematic shirts. For Dopey we went all out – and it makes a difference. People compliment you more, people cheer for you more, it makes everything happier and more festive.

3. The running isn’t the worst part – the early mornings are.

Those 3:00am wake-ups are going to kill you. Plan to nap and to get in bed early, early, early to combat them. That said, don’t try to skimp on Disney’s recommended arrival time. Stuff happens – buses get lost, line-ups are long, bibs are forgotten. Disney’s starting area has so much stuff to do and see and can solve most of your problems. So suck it up, get there early and take it all in.

4. The courses are crowded.

Especially the marathon. Submit a proof of time if you can to get in an earlier corral, and therefore have a less crowded course. If you’re running in a group, don’t run 3-4 across. Stay in your lane and don’t get frustrated if the crowd is so big you can’t run your pace for a little while.

5. The points between the parks are looooong.

There are miles and miles of highway you need to get through before you hit up the four parks and ESPN. This is true in the 10k, half-marathon and full marathon. Try not to let it get to you. Use this time to refuel, enjoy the course bands, take a walk break, talk to your fellow runners, text your friends if you’re a runner who does that. Be completely present in the parks, zone out here.

6. Make fun your #1 priority.

This is a marathon with a roller coaster and an open bar at the halfway point and with childhood characters lining the route for you to meet. Embrace that spirit and don’t freak out if your times are slower than you’d like. That is not the point of Disney races. Go on the roller coaster, get the picture, thank the volunteers. Disney is about fun. So make it fun.

7. Wear the medals proudly.

When you go out and about and enjoy Disney afterwards, wear a medal (or 6). You’ll get so much kudos and see so many other runners out doing the same, it makes you feel like you are part of something special.

8. Share the Disney magic.

Run with a friend, if you can. Or bring your family to enjoy the experience. What you are doing is hard and amazing and you’ll need someone to share the journey, support you and celebrate the accomplishment.

The are 48.6 of my favourite things (about running the Disney Dopey Challenge)


1. Being chased down by a runDisney official photographer – thinking they were going to kick us out of the race when they wanted our picture for their Facebook page.

2. Spending all weekend dreading running through ESPN because we were told it was going to be terrible, but end up loving it thanks to A+ character stops, changes in terrain and school bands and cheerleaders and a banana station.

3. A chocolate aid station with 5k left.

4. A “Let’s Get Down to Business” singalong with the 3 Shirtless Bros at about 7k into the 10k.

5. When the half marathon got cancelled, an impromptu half happened at Pop Century resort, with hundreds of runners, aid stations and spectators that could be heard across the lake.


6. Getting a shout out from the runDisney MC at the beginning of the 10k.

7. Getting to feel like we were starting the race at the beginning of the 5k and 10k, thanks to the new mini-corral system.

8. The spectator who went crazy for as at every spectator station. We saw her about 5 times (including the finish!) and she cheered so loud for us.

9. Roller coasters and shots halfway through the marathon. We didn’t do either but appreciated it was an option.

10. Seeing all the half marathoners who upgraded to the full crushing the full course.

11. All the princesses in Epcot!


12. A+ medals.

13. Beast character stop!

14. Genie character stop!

15. The dude we met before out impromptu half. We weren’t excited about it but he was so so so excited – he called it his most favourite Disney race ever – we fed off his energy and were pumped to crush 13.1 on our own.

16. Cruising to the finish line with a full crowd in the stands.

17. Accidental post-marathon cider.

18. DJs with more energy at 4:30am than I’ll ever have in my life.

19. The people who dressed up as the 101 Dalmatians. There were 101 of them.

20. The people who dressed up as the monorail.

21. The petting zoo at 25k.

22. Mickey and Minnie character stop!


23. Everyone who made a “fly, don’t run” joke on the course.

24. The guy who ate the best banana of his life at 26k.

25. Starting a mass wave of people using the bathroom in the woods in the marathon starting corral.

26. Wearing a tutu and going to the bathroom in the woods anyway.

27. Every kid who held out their hand for a high five.

28. Every person who cheered for “Flora, Fauna and Merryweather!”

29. The marathon shirt matching Jill’s costume perfectly so she wouldn’t get cold but could still be in costume.


30. Singing along to “Let It Go” in the 5k.

31. Canadian Donald Duck character stop!

32. Being Tweedles with my sister.


33. Seeing people buy beer, margaritas and turkey legs on their way to the finish line in the marathon.

34. Running through Animal Kingdom for the first time ever.

35. Running through Hollywood Studios for the first time ever – and there being huge crowds of people cheering.

36. In fact, the last 5k of this marathon might be the best final 5k of any race I’ve ever done.

37. Wearing a tutu and fairy wings for a marathon wasn’t terrible.


38. Seeing a group of minions several times out on the course and cheering for them.

39. Oreos in the snack boxes.

40. The many, many congratulations from visitors and cast members when we wore our medals out and about the next day.

41. How, after a terribly cold start, it became perfect marathon weather.

42. Running through the castle.


43. Being able to sleep in a bit because the half was cancelled.

44. Being randomly filmed or photographed because our costumes were awesome.

45. The Big Bad Wolf’s theme song blasting on the marathon course.

46. Seeing the classic rides on display on the marathon course.

47. Fireworks to start the race. Always.

48. Feeling so strong and happy throughout the entire marathon. I never bonked, never felt weak and never wanted to stop.

.6 So many stressful things happened – Jill’s flight was delayed and she missed the expo, the half was cancelled, I lost my bib and my flight home was cancelled – and it was still a memorable, magical weekend.

Race Recap: Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Half Marathon

Julie and Jill, it's race time!

Julie and Jill, it’s race time!


We did it, Julie!!

Julie and I were victorious in our half marathon together. Not only did we finish with huge smiles on our faces, we ran in excellent time despite all the factors convincing us we weren’t going to make it. But the best (and bit surprising) part was that we ran the entire race together! Oh, and I should add we may have talked the entire time. I kid you not. But for those I’ve had the pleasure of running with before should see this as no surprise. I’m now convinced this was the reason we didn’t go sub 2 hours, as Julie optimistically gave us the benefit of the doubt when we originally signed up. For Julie this was before Berlin, all the beers and chocolate, and for me I was living in France training and dreaming about Paris. If we zipped our lips sub 2 was ours I know it. But that wasn’t our goal going in, although it would have been awesome. Before I even set foot on a plane to Toronto Julie and I made a pack to run the half together. We both had our doubts about the race, but we stuck to the plan and agreed not take it seriously. And knowing STWM was a training run for Surf City took the pressure off to preform well. I wouldn’t of had it any other way because this race was a whole lot of fun from start to finish. And I have Julie to thank for that.

This wasn’t my first race running with someone. Erin and I ran together during my first 10k and 30k races, and we tried for my first 15k too but that didn’t go quite as planned. Running with someone else gives you a completely different perspective of running. First off, it makes running fun! Like really fun! Like I said Julie and I talked the entire time, we didn’t care about all the technical things like pacing and distance, and hydrating on schedule we just ran. Instead of thinking about it we talked about these things. When you stop thinking about the race that’s when you enjoy the race.

You actually notice things. And people notice you. Julie and I had so many shout outs I lost count. One guy in particular called me out “Come on! Jill’s making it look easy!” If I new who this guy was I would find a way to thank him. I was able to look at the crowds cheering and the nicer parts of the route – like running through my old neighbourhood! Oh Bloor and Bathurst how I’ve missed you.


Official race photo at SWTM. The look on my face says it all- having a scary amount of fun Julie seems to agree!

Official race photo from SWTM. The look on my face says it all- having a scary amount of fun. Julie seems to agree!

While STWM was my first half since Semi Marathon de Paris it was also my first major race in Toronto. Erin has ran Scotia and Goodlife having a good time both times, but for some reason while I was living there I didn’t see the excitement behind running a full or a half in my home city. Running all ends, both east and west, I’ve covered a lot of ground in Toronto. How wrong I was. Although spending so much time away SWTM felt like a huge welcome back party. Originally it was going to be the mark of my grand return, but life has a funny way of doing things we don’t plan for. I’m still living at home, with a new job, and teaching lots of yoga so it’s all good. But I’ll be back Toronto, I promise!

The only bummer is that the race had to end. Erin also arranged the mega Cheer Station for Julie and I in Corktown, which sadly we didn’t even run past during the half. How sad is that? But for all the marathoners I hope they got an ear full of cheers on our behalf.

Next up for Julie and I is our full in Cali then after that we’re open to suggestions. Perhaps another Toronto race is in order? After Scotiabank, I’d be down. But first I must survive winter training in Nova Scotia!


STWM weekend is coming

Here we are, together again!

Here we are, together again!

Toronto, I am coming back! Sadly it’s only for another visit and not a permanent visit. I haven’t moved back (not yet anyway) But! I am making my comeback to run the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Half Marathon. Because why not?

When Julie and I decided long ago we’d head to California to run a marathon together (her fourth marathon and my third) we chose to run SWTM as our training run for Surf City. It made sense at the time, I thought I’d be back living in Toronto at this point and a year away from the city I love is a long time. But life has a funny way of not doing what you think it should. For instance the full time job I landed in Digby. That wasn’t planned for by any means but here I am locked into a 6 month contract living and working in Digby. Things could be a lot worse. Like my half marathon this Sunday.

This race will be interesting. Of all the years I’ve lived in Toronto I’ve never participated in either Scotia or Goodlife. Ever. Erin has and we cheered one year (little did I know that Julie was running) For some reason I thought a race in the city I run everyday wouldn’t be exciting, I know that’s not true, I guess I wasn’t interested. I’d rather travel somewhere to run a race! But the time has come for me to run Toronto. After my travels away running at home will be a nice welcome. It’ll be like a brand new city to me. I do like the half distance and there’s a cheer station dedicated to me and Julie, thanks to Erin and the great people of Corktown. And of course I’ll be running with Julie again! It’ll be great.

Other then the fact that Julie is still running off the beers, chocolate, and sausages from Berlin, and I have yet to run more than 15k, we’ve got this. But in terms of how the race will go, we’re not too concerned. We’re going to run the race together, shoot for a sub 2 hour time, and enjoy each others company. Words that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Come cheer for us! We’re going to need it.

Sister Act: The Blue Nose (Half) Marathon


Now that you’ve heard Erin’s side of the story, here’s mine.  I’m still in shock really from Sunday’s race. I’m not entirely sure where to begin.

Erin gave you the play-by-play of our race morning. For some odd reason, this particular morning I was feeling really nervous. Why? I don’t know. I wasn’t running the marathon! But I was worried about me: what I ate the night before, I didn’t sleep well that night, and of course I was worried about the race. Luckily enough, Kendal was in the same boat as I was. We both had very little training our our belts going into the race Sunday. Thank goddess I was not the only one! Having Kendal there gave me a sense of ease and knowing I wasn’t alone. But, like all races we wanted to get out there, have a good run, and just have fun.

But, let’s face it: we both had arterial motives going into this half marathon. Breaking 2 hours was mine (and Kendal’s) goal and I knew darn well if I didn’t run sub 2:00, I would be upset. Yes, for me the point of the trip was to support Erin, come home, see my parents, family and friends, and yes, run. But I needed a goal. I had a race to run too – this trip wasn’t all about Erin’s marathon! I was running my second half marathon ever, people.


Going into San Francisco half last October I wanted to be fast and when I finished with a time of 2:09 I was rather annoyed. However, I learned to accept this time and soon enough I was okay with the fact: this was an extremely hilly course and it was my first half marathon! I really shouldn’t be too hard on myself. This time around, at the Blue Nose, I knew I could run the distance – hey! I ran 30k on yoga training alone. 21.1k will be a breeze. In San Fran, I found the course long. This time, in Halifax, I was worried about the route itself. I pretty much did zero hill or speed training. Again, this was not a very smart move on my part considering the Blue Nose is supposed to be the toughest marathon in Canada. Way to pick ’em, Erin, and when you’re on a steady rolling incline from 17k to the finish, I would totally agree. It was not fun.

(Before I dive too far into my recap I need to start of by telling the world how proud of Erin I am! She did it. Erin, you are a marathoner! Now I must run a marathon… perhaps this fall? I’m still contemplating my options.)

Back to my recap. After seeing Erin off, I was settling down and feeling a bit more prepared. Having Mom and Dad there made me super excited to run. I wanted to run really fast for them. I’m a bit of a show off, but I couldn’t help it. When you’re parents are around, you want to perform your best.

Once the gun sounded, I ran easy early. I wanted to space myself away from the crowd. I wanted to find the 2:00 pace bunny and stick with her the entire time. This way if I was feeling good I would run ahead or back off and run with her if I needed to. The weather was perfect and I was feeling really good. I kept it up for 7k and that’s when I found her! Out of now where she appeared before my eyes. By this time, I was on cruse control and there was no way I was slowing down. New strategy: run ahead of the 2:00 bunny and make sure she doesn’t pass me!

When we made the turn onto Barrington Street it was time to flip the tunes on. Anne made me a playlist (thanks, Annie!) which I was given specific instructions not to list to until the race. I was needing  a pick-me-up, at this point, as the runners around me began to disperse. And that’s when Anne’s sweet little voice rang in my ears! It was just want I needed to kick my butt into high gear. And so I took off! I really have Anne to thank for my fast time.

It wasn’t until we entered Point Pleasant Park I began to feel the tank emptying. But I was determined to stay ahead of the bunny, even if it killed me. But, at this point (14k) she could have very well passed me without me even knowing it. This stretch felt long and all I wanted to do was get the get out of the park and find the damn hill I had to run up for this thing to end.

As I kept going things started feeling a bit better – I was trying not to think too much – the crowds were so supportive, the sun was still shining, and my playlist rocked! Before I knew it 17k mark was in sight, then the 20k, and finally the finish line! I powered up the hill at the end – I had to I couldn’t have an old guy beat me – it was a tough finish. I wanted to fall over or barf, I wasn’t sure which. All I wanted to do was find Mom and Dad and collapse. I had no idea what my time was at this point nor did I care, but when I heard the announcer say the 2:15 bunny crossed the finish I knew I was faster than 2:15! Yay! It wasn’t until Matt sent me a text “1:52:02 Jill, you crushed it!” I sure did. Wow.

If only I actually trained, like really trained properly, imagine how fast I could be?! But according to my mother, I’m not that fast. Thanks, Mom, when I run a sub 1:45 will I be fast then? Only time will tell.




Wake Up, Nike Women’s Marathon!


Hello, Toronto! I am officially back and ready to rekindle my fitness regime after a much needed break (from both the city and from running). Everyone needs a break once in awhile, it’s important to refuel the mind and body, and that is exactly what I did on my west coast vacation. But now, as a promise to Erin, I must make up for a lot of loss time.

Oh my goodness California is amazing! This may also be a slight bias opinion due to the fact my race went really, really well. But seriously, California is amazing.


My name on the Nike Town wall of runners!


I am super excited to talk about my adventures and my first half marathon! Not to sound full of myself, but I rocked that race. Even though I was not as fast as I wanted to be (I was shooting for a sub 2 hour time) I ran the race in 2:09. However, after looking back I have a lot to be thankful for. I felt super strong, hard core and pumped the whole way through. There was a leg of the race around the 11 mile mark when I felt really slow. I wasn’t fatigued or tired. I was just slow. But after a boost of Beyonce’s Run The World (Girls) anthem —  the music during the race was too perfect — I was able to pick it right up and push to the finish, despite almost running straight into a wedding proposal happening at the finish line! I sprinted through that finish line (as Erin said you should always do), didn’t stop once, I didn’t walk, and I ran up each and every hill.

Ladies, this truly an invigorating race and one I would do again in a heartbeat. That Tiffany necklace and attractive firemen do make the whole thing worth it in the end. It also helps San Francisco is a very cool city, and that Nike does an amazing job hyping up the spectators before and during the race. Nothing is better than an excited crowd! Another benefit is the scenery – running a race in a city you’ve never been to, or only visited briefly once or twice (or maybe a million times) regardless it makes for a completely different race experience on its own. It makes for excellent distractions. Seeing the Golden Gate Bridge in the background, running along Fisherman’s Wharf, spotting Alcatraz from a distance. We even saw bison along the way! This all made the hills not so bad. Surprisingly, mine and Cecilley’s hill training was actually enough. Although I was very doubtful of this the morning of our race. Seeing the vertical streets downtown as we waited corralled around Union Square – this would put doubts in anyone’s mind. I felt sick to my stomach at the thought that we haven’t prepare nearly enough for what was about to happen.

Cecilley was another reason I survived this whole thing. We started the race together, but she gave me the confidence to break away from the crowd and go after my goal time. So I ran ahead, into the sea of purple shirts. Cecilley’s carefree attitude and positivity was just what I needed around me. She was the best friend to have along for this crazy ride and the best running buddy I could have asked for. Good thing, this whole TNT/running a half marathon was her idea after all! And not only did Cecilley take care of me the night before the race and the morning of: she made sure I ate good running food and made sure I was hydrated: she also acted as my Erin substitute when I felt the need to sing a song about our race. Only Matt truly understands the Erin and Jill pre-race rituals. Cecilley, thank you! You may have been my saving grace. And I’m so proud of you! You ran so fast!!


Cecilley and I towering over the hills!


I still find it hard to believe we actually did it. After all the months of fundraising, training, more fundraising, climbing hills, and more running our race came to an (unexpectedly pleasant) end on Sunday, October 14th. But, now I have no idea what to do with myself! This is something our coaches and mentors didn’t prepare us for, the post race blues. I want to start running again, but for now I’m going to bask in the glory of successfully completing the Nike Women’s Marathon and not dying! That’s until Erin and I start training for the Blue Nose Full Marathon of course!

The route for the Nike Women’s Marathon was great and the support throughout the race was incredible. Team In Training had a huge presence at NWM – makes sense being the official race to benefit blood cancers. But Cecilley and I were a part of something much bigger than the race itself. Women and men (yes men are allowed to run this race too) from all over Canada and the US did exactly what we did, we trained hard and raised a tone of money to be there. We earned the right to run and that felt really good. Each time I heard someone yell “Go Team!” or yelled to me specifically “Go Canada!” or “Right on, Ontario!” I felt even better. But the stories I heard and the coaching moments I saw during, after, and before the race truly brought everything together for me. The energy I had from the moment I woke that morning to the last person I watched cross the finish line, that feeling stuck with me. Cecilley, myself and the 25,000 other Team In Training participants all did an amazing thing that day. We all ran a race! And we helped change lives. These are two of my new favourite things to do. What’s up next? I need to plane my own race where I can make this happen.

Thank you Team In Training, LLSC, and Nike for an experience I will never forget!

Team In Training – Jill’s marathon mission

First, don’t be fooled. I am not running a full marathon… Yet. Although these past 4 weeks with my new Team In Training community would have you thinking otherwise. I will not, or cannot, run a full marathon before Erin does. I owe it to her, doing my my 30 day secret challenge in secret was enough. And besides Erin has worked very hard and deserves that glory before me. Gosh, I am such a good sister.

Since day one of TNT training (May 26th) I’ve run with the full marathoners. This was either by complete accident, by default, or by no choice other than my own. I’m rather afraid of San Francisco and the mountainious treck the Nike Women’s Marathon has set for us. My housemate Charlie (and Nike marathon participant last year) gave me the idea that training with the full marathoners would make the mountains easier to climb come October 14th. So that’s what I’ve decided to do. We shall see how right Charlie is this fall.

Now that my mission to run a half marathon is really on, how exactly was I able to get into the Nike Marathon without entering the lottery or without any marathon running experience at all? It’s through Team In Training, the charity organized by the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Canada, that’s how. Through Team In Training I was granted automatic entry into a marathon of my choice (there are a series of races TNT can send participants to which usually require special entry in some way). Clearly, I was going to San Francisco and not staying here in Toronto. Given the choice, why not? I would love a Tiffany necklace handed to me by a beautiful firefighter, thank you! Team In Training also sets you up with a running coach and a fundraising coach to help you along the way. TNT also fully equipped us with a weekly training program, and not only do we meet every Saturday to run as a group, our coaches provide weekly tips and inspiration for everything running related — from shoes, to stretches, to what food to eat — there are people who’s job it is to answer all my questions. And having very little running experience going into this, this eased my nerves.


Running & fundraising makes Cecilley and I very excited!


The other component to Team In Training is the fundraising. No, you do not get a free ride to any marathon courtesy of the lovely folks at LLSC. You have to give back. But trust me its completely worth it. Because Cecilley and I have decide to stick this out together we’re combining our fundraising efforts and set a combined goal of $8000 to raise for LLSC. The minimum is $3800 each, or we can’t go. We’re going with optimism here, we’ll make it there I know it. A big chuck of our proceeds earned go directly to the LLSC to help support those living and fighting leukemia and lymphoma, though research and improving treatment facilities. A portion, yes, will get Cecilley and I to the half marathon, but we’re running with the cause in mind.

It was Cecilley after all who convinced me to do this in the first place. I had no idea what TNT was before she told me this was some we had to do. But it was I who suggested we run in San Fran. I truly believe we are the perfect pair, just like Jody and Beth from Gold Diggers: The Secret Of Bear Mountain. I’m Jody in case you’re wondering.

Now that you know what I’ll be doing for the next 5 months I have to ask – if you’re feeling generous and want to support Cecilley and I as our mission to run a half marathon (and save lives) has begun, we’d appreciate all the help we can get! This is our donation page. 🙂

Thanks for your support! I’m going for a sub 2-hour time, if that’s not worth something, I don’t know what is.

Mission run a half marathon is on

10k down! What's next?

After running the Toronto Yonge Street 10k I am determined to be a fast runner! Now that running is fun, I also what to strat running farther. This may not be so fun.

I don’t really remember where my sudden need to run races came from. Knowing Erin was running all the time way back when, then dedicated herself to run a marathon, may have helped slightly. Actually it helped a lot. Running a marathon I feel is one of those things on everyone’s bucket list. I would love to say “I ran a marathon!” one day, but highly doubt I can hold my attention for that length of time. What do people think about for this long? How do they push themselves though those awful stretches when anything would be more appealing than running another second? I’m not going to scratch the marathon idea just yet, it’s only May and I’ve already signed up for race number three The Midsummer Night’s Run. I think my sights are set on a half marathon. I would be very happy to run this far in the short amount of time I would call myself a runner.

I’m convincing myself if I can finish 15k in August I can do a half in the fall. Plus I’m still using the “I climbed the CN Tower” bit to convince myself I can do anything. That, and I have to say each race I run gets better and better and more and more fun. Thank goodness Erin is running the 15k too that’s pretty much the whole reason I agreed to it, oh and I’ve been told people dress up like fairies! I want to dress up as a fairy. At this rate by the fall I will love running, only if it involves dressing up. And sleep overs at Erin’s. That is very important.

Runners look and talk like very fit people should. Or at least that’s my impression of them anyway. Races make me feel like I could be one of them. I really want to belong mostly because of Charlie and Graham, and now Jenn too. I live in a house with a super couple — you may remember them from the day I ran in Yorkville wearing nothing but a speedo — who run races and train for the Iron Man competitions and an all star track superstar, no wonder I have this overwhelming urge to be great at running. But thankfully Erin keeps me on track. Her upbeat confidence in me, tells me I can run a 10k sub 50 if I train for it.

And maybe run a half marathon too.