Lacey completes grueling lineup

Mar. 25—PORTSMOUTH — When Tim Lacey, the manager of clinical information at Southern Ohio Medical Center, crossed the finish line at the Walt Disney World Marathon, it was the culmination of a grueling test of endurance and determination.

Not because of the race itself, although that was certainly intense. The Disney Marathon is the final leg of a challenge Lacey accepted.

The full experience took place over several days and included a 5K on Thursday, a 10K on Friday, a half-marathon on Saturday before a full marathon on Sunday. As if that wasn't enough, runners also have to maintain at least a 16-minute mile to be allowed to continue.

But Lacey's resolve was tested long before that. His test began years before, when he attempted a "Couch to 5K" program. He was already in his 50s, and his goal was to get healthier — but instead, he broke his leg after six weeks of training. Eventually, he was cleared to run again, so he signed up for the 5K — and broke his leg again during the race.

It took a while for Lacey to build up the courage to run again, but eventually he risked taking another crack at it. He started with virtual 5Ks and went from there, eventually signing up for the races at Disney. Given his history, Lacey admitted not everyone thought it was a great idea.

"A lot of people said I was crazy for even trying it again," he said.

Lacey spent 29 weeks training for the event, opting for a run/walk method. "The program was that every Tuesday and Thursday, you ran and walked for 45 minutes. Then the other days of the week, you did 45 minutes of any other activity," he said. "Then one weekend, you do 3 miles ... then two weeks after that, 4 miles ... two weeks after that, 5 miles ..."

A few weeks before the race, he'd built himself up to running 26 miles. After that, he started running less every week to ensure his body would be prepared on the day of the event. The training turned out to be the hardest part. That's in part because Disney does a great job of giving runners ways to distract themselves.

"The race was entertaining because, probably every half mile, they had some sort of entertainment, like a character stop or a band," Lacey said.

The back-to-back nature of the events also kept him from getting too sore, because it helped just to keep moving. Even so, it wasn't until the half-marathon that Lacey started thinking he could actually complete the gauntlet. He said he thinks Disney's structure of the races helped make it possible.

"During the training, when I had to run 26 miles, at the 20-mile mark it felt like death. But at Disney, it wasn't boring. It was like you had something to look forward to," he said. "I stopped at 33 character stops during the marathon. My time would have been better if I hadn't, but I was just going for the full experience."

His plan is to put that theory to the test by competing in the Kentucky Derby Marathon next.