Thursday, September 4, 2008

Disney's Goofy Marathon and a Half Jan 07


My wife (Laura) and I decided to leave the kids (Josh and Renee) at her parents for a weekend away alone. Something we have only done once before because we always travel as a family (except for my ice fishing trips to Vermont). At the last minute, we invited my wife’s sister (Tammy) who had never seen a marathon before and had tracked my running time at the Marine Corp Marathon last October. She was very interested in the marathon experience without the running part. My wife could not believe all the running gear I had packed. She informed me that it does not snow in Orlando FL. After reading all the Goofy Reports from last year, I was convinced an artic front would blow in Saturday morning. We departed Augusta GA on schedule around 0900, projecting a 7 hour trip to Orland, as done so many times in the past when taking the kids to Disney. The trip was uneventfully as we arrived at WWOS for the Expo in the early evening hours. Packet pickup was smooth and the line was shorter then expected.
Time to hit the lower main floor to spend some more and fill the goodie bag with freebies. Meet a nice elderly gentleman while the sisters made the usual “All or none” bathroom break. He came down from Atlanta GA to run the half with his daughter as part of their deal when she runs the 10K Peachtree Run with him in the summer. I was thinking to myself, I hope I get the same opportunity when my kids get older. This would be really cool.
After a short trip to Disney’s All-Star Movies Resort for check-in, food was high on the priority list. Getting back into the car was not an option after traveling all day, so we defaulted to the local restaurant attached to the resort. We were pleasantly surprised with the quality of the food and made our way back to the room for my pre-race ritual of laying everything out. Before I knew it, 11 PM was here and I was just settling in for a 4 hour nap.

Half Marathon

The plan was up at 3, shower to wake-up, coffee, bagel, banana, and Gatorade on the way to catch the bus at 4. Everybody on the bus appeared half asleep, including me, and not a lot of conversations as the atmosphere was most sobering. As I drifted through the parking lot, heading towards the lights along with other runners and family members, I went over my race plan which was to settle into a comfortable 9 minutes pace and finish in under 2 hours. This would prevent me from using too much today and allow me to finish in under 4 hours tomorrow. After stretching and sipping my Gatorade for awhile, the announcer informed all runners to start moving towards the starting area. I was not too concerned with it only being 5 with an hour to go. As I glance over at the Porto-pottie lines, I was telling myself how glad I was that I did not have to ……., and then the stop at Taco Bell on the trip down yesterday started to haunt me. The wait was long, but better take care of business now instead of in the middle of the race. The walk to the corrales seemed to take forever with massive crowds of runners all heading in the same direction. Before I could make it near Corral A-2, the fireworks displayed and the race was started. Note to self: leave to corrals earlier. It was a painfully slow start as I glanced at my watch with just 1 mile down. With no place to go as I zigzagged through the crowds, a couple of runners caught my eye as they ran in the grass at a relatively good pace. “To the grass” I said which allowed me to pass a lot of runners until things started to spread out. As I passed the miles markers, I was catching-up to my goal, but the heat was most noticeable. You would think that somebody from GA would not notice the difference, but the last couple of months my training runs have been in the 40s and 50s, Magic Kingdom was great and the support groups out cheering were a real adrenalin rush. As I approached Epcot, I was ahead of schedule and felt really good and wanted to kick up the pace. Nevertheless, reminded myself not to get too caught-up with the rush and be conservative which will pay dividends tomorrow in the last 6.2 miles. Laura and Tammy were at the finish line to watch me cross with a time of 1:53, the Donald was placed around my neck, and I roundavooed with the girls. Back to the resort for a shower and off for some breakfast. My wife was really excited this time to actually watch me cross the finish line because at the Marine Corp Marathon she was not able to get close, and it took 2 hours after the race to hook-up (This is another story in itself). After a big breakfast and some shopping around, back to the resort for an ice bath. The girls thought I was absolutely crazy. Who in their right mind would get in a tub full of ice – a runner on a mission! And of course, they had fun wondering how the shrinkage factor was doing. Needless did they know how good it felt on my legs. About 7 that night we found a Macaroni Grill which we had our taste buds geared-up for until we were informed of the hour and a half wait time. This made sense with the line extending out to the highway (well not quite that bad). Next door was a Chilies’ Restaurant with only a 20 minute wait time. I had a flashback, absolutely no tacos this time. A Cajun chicken Alf redo hit the spot this time. Before I knew it, 10 PM was here as I went through my pre-race ritual, again. Another night with little sleep and 26.2 miles waiting for me to attack in hot and humid conditions. Bring it on.


You know the drill, up at 3, coffee,…………got on the bus at 4. This time a group of ladies were behind me and the conversations were in high gear. The parking lot still there along with the heat. This time I made my way to the starting corral earlier and had plenty of time to socialize and stretch. I talked to this nice lady from Maine while walking to the corrals as we talked about the unusual weather in the NE. As the countdown started, I was amazed at how close I was to the starting line.
This was far better then yesterday’s start. I settled into my 9 minute pace, music playing, and sweat appearing. I started laughing when a guy in front of me was glad to hear he was not the only runner in his group who was drenched with just one mile down. This was going to be a long day. Maybe my mind set today was different, but the castle was here and gone before I knew it. Next stop AK. I knew hydration was key for success today so I hit every water station which I don’t usually do. The only thing I passed on was the Cliff Shot stations. I’m more of a Powerbar Gel type which I had with me. I also grabbed a couple of Succeed caps which I took every hour for a salt and potassium boost to prevent cramping towards the end of the run. This work perfectly as I experienced no cramping through out the race. I heard about the sponges in AK and it was every bit true. I grabbed one and squeezed the chilled water down the back of my neck and wiped my face after. I felt so refreshed after this and started to pick my pace up after realizing not only will I hit my goal but had a chance to beat my personal best. The aide station workers had a great attitude and very supportive. I did not encounter any problems with there being a shortage of water, power aide, oranges, or bananas. I did feel sorry for runners who did experience problems as I could not imagine running in these conditions and not having something to drink. Especially towards the end of the race. I was looking forward to the emotional boost in MGM which went quick. I knew coming out of MGM that the end was near although I was feeling my body was starting to get physical tired, but the emotional drive and heart was still going strong. When I entered Epcot my watch had me well ahead of goal pace with a possibility of a PB. Who would have guessed after 13.1 miles yesterday, little sleep, and hot and humid conditions. This was my last chance to really dig down deep and see what I had. I love this moment when you feel like you have nothing else remaining and you dig a little deeper only to find a reserve of energy waiting to be tapped. I know everybody has a different goal when doing a race, which is what makes this whole experience so diverse, but I did not want to finish this race crossing the line saying I had some left in the tank.
Going around the lake at Epcot was so different this time compared to all the times the family has walked around it in the past. I knew the finish line was approaching soon and started to make a mental picture before it was over. I turned right at the Christmas tree and down to the Big Golf Ball, as the kids would say. Crossing the finish line in 3:52 with the usual hands and arms in the air as I said to myself, I did the Goofy, what next.
After a few high fives and congratulations, we went back to the resort to shower before going out for some food. I was hungry and in the mood for Denney’s grand slam breakfast. My wife insisted that I wear my medals all day but I made a deal with her only to breakfast. I’m glad I did as the Denney’s manager was taken by my accomplishments and gave me a large slice of cheese cake to hold me over until breakfast arrived. Maybe I just looked that deprived and she did not want me to be a casualty on her shift. After a short wait, Pancakes, eggs, sausage, and bacon never tasted so good. That night we went to Outback Steakhouse for one of the best steaks I’ve had in awhile. What a perfect day: Goofy – Family (except kids) – Food. I was really surprised the next day that I felt really good with no soreness. This made the trip back to Augusta GA that more tolerable as I listened to my wife and Tammy talk about the wonderful experience they had, and how they look forward to my next race. There hooked.

Now with the post race blues behind me, which usually happens after accomplishing something of this nature, I have the Old Dominion, JFK50, a couple of Marathons and another Goofy in my sights. Thanks Disney for a great weekend which will be forever in my memories, and will be looking forward to next time (with kids for the complete package – Family Run and Goofy).

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