Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Goofy Challenge - Race Report - Full Marathon

Here it is! A summation of the culmination of my ruminations on running! A recap of the full marathon at the 2009 Goofy Challenge. After I set the stage with some short thoughts on the hours between the half marathon and full marathon, I’ll give you brief mile-by-mile insights into how the race went. And these mile markers will be accompanied by a couple of photos I managed to snag from the professional website.

Moments after the half marathon, Mom and I returned to the race to recover and get some food. (See photo of eggs and salsa in previous post). Upon returning to the Polynesian, showering and changing, we went to the Kona Café on the second floor of the hotel for lunch. Mom got a steak salad and I chowed down on fish tacos.

We probably should have taken it easier than we did, but we had plans to go to the spa, to the parks, and to dinner in our short time there. So after lunch it was off to the Grand Floridian Spa where I got a manicure, and she a pedicure.

Then, to the Magic Kingdom. Walking between rides and attractions tallied 3.5 more miles on my legs. So 16.5 for the day, and a bunch more soon. Dinner was at the Artist Point at the Wilderness Lodge. Mom got salmon and pasta, while I chose salmon with Brussels sprouts. We split a fruit cobbler for dessert.

Off to bed, and 3am came too quickly! I suited up in my shoes, shirt/bib number, shorts, watch and hydration pack and took the monorail to the start line. I was fortunate enough to run into my teammate from Los Angeles, Javier, at the race. We was running with TNT and in honor of his mother. We hung out for the hour preceding the race (no Race Retreat Packet for me this time) and split off into our corral just before the race began.

Starting Line: It was a little too cold! I was shivering and trying to usurp body heat from other runners without looking too sketchy! I was in corral B, but probably could have dropped back one (to C) because I knew my legs would probably not sustain the sub-4 hour pace this corral was meant for. Fireworks went off and off we went!

Mile 1: Everyone is running really fast! We start outside of Epcot and do a 2 mile loop around before heading into the park. It’s really dark, hard to see. I can feel the nervous energy of the group, but I keep my pace.

Miles 2: Coming over the overpass into Epcot. I look down, the race leaders are on mile 4.5, passing underneath us. Wow.

Mile 3: We’re in the park! They aren’t blaring the upbeat techno music they were last year, but it’s still pretty awesome. The ball is purplish blue, and I look around is awe at how cool this all is. It hits me that I’ve got 23 miles to go!

Mile 4: Still dark out. Corrals A, B and C merge with the rest of the group (D-H) right outside the park gates. We won’t see any more parks for another 5 miles.

Miles 5-6: It’s a quiet stretch along the highway between Epcot and the Magic Kingdom (MK). The weather is holding at a nice, cool 50 degrees. I’m comfortable, a little warm. I can feel the tiredness in my legs like weights around my ankles. But I am enjoying this way too much to care. In my head, once I get to mile 7.5, I’ve gone halfway in the Goofy Challenge.

Mile 7-8: We are closing in on the Transportation and Ticket Center (TTC). I know my Mom will be at Mile 9, so I feel like I am coming toward my first break in the race. Disney has also put plenty of music and water stops out. People are jogging along, having a good time. The tiredness is my legs is starting to wane. I don’t push myself because there are plenty of miles left.

Mile 9: There’s mom! She waves, I stop for a moment and tell her I’m halfway there, although the people standing next to her must think I’m crazy because Mile 9 is not really halfway. I tell her I’ll be a over at mile 13 in about 40 minutes. From here, it’s a breeze – we’re soon entering the MK. I think the sun is coming up now, too.

Mile 10: We’ve just passed the Contemporary Hotel. All of the employees and many supporters are cheering for us along the side of the road. This is were it gets good. The entrance to the MK is just up head. I run over the timing mat and think, Dad, here’s another email for you (he was getting my chip times reported to him).

Mile 10-11.5: This is why you run this race. Down Main St. Through Tomorrowland, Fantasy, and through the Castle! The music is people, the people are cheering, the characters are waving and high fiving you. All of those hours spent running tempos, intervals, speedwork, hills and lactic acid runs pay off here. To enjoy this without breathing hard at all.

Mile 12: Okay, we’re out of the MK. But Mom will be up ahead shortly. I hope she has pretzels.

Mile 13: She has pretzels. And they are good. I stop and tell her that, although I’m on pace for a 4:20 time, I will probably slow up a bit once my legs get tired. Other than that, I feel great! I’ve been taking in calories every 20 minutes or so. Endurolyte pills, powerade and jelly beans. My stomach is holding strong, no problems.

Mile 14: We run past the golf course and along a trail that leads us to Disney’s Processing facilities. It’s the place you don’t see when you vacation here normally.

Mile 15: I know that the Animal Kingdom is coming up. This means that for the next 11 miles, I will get to run through 3 parks. The first 14 miles only held 2 parks, so they backload the race. My legs feel better than expected and I naturally fall into a sub-10 minute mile pace. Although the bottoms of my feet start to hurt because of the concrete and asphalt, I feel strong enough to push a little.

Mile 16-17: The Animal Kingdom is awesome. They have drummers, singers, dancers and characters. Everyone is cheering. One performer invites us all over for cocktails after the race, provided that we bring all of the ingredients. This prompts me to gag a little – the taste of sweet powerade is starting to wear on me a little. I run past Expedition Everest and realize that, relative to all of the miles this weekend, I’m close to finishing.

Mile 18: The song at the mile marker is that “Shout!” song. As hoards of people, now 3hrs and 10 minutes into the race, run by, they throw up their arms every time the guys says, “Shout!” And I think to myself, this is what defines a marathoner … or at least the people I like to run with. After hours of running, climbing humidity and a world of discomfort for some, all of these people are willing to dance around, sing and have a good time.

Mile 19: Along the highway from AK to Disney’s Hollywood Studios (formerly MGM Studios), there’s another set of loudspeakers. The song that plays is perfect. “Think of the presents you've brought / Any merry little thought / Think of Christmas, think of snow / Think of sleigh bells Here we go! / Like a reindeer in the sky / You can fly! You can fly!” I hum this to myself as I pick up the pace. I still feel really strong, and I’m now running below a 9:30/mile pace.

Mile 20-21: It’s an out-and-back here, a small loop right before the next park. There’s a Beatles cover band playing “She Loves You Yeah Yeah Yeah” but I don’t find them all that motivating. What is motivating is seeing all of the people on the other side of the road (both times) on the out and back. Lots of TNT shirts. Lots of high school marching bangs.

Mile 22: About to enter the final park, and from here, we never leave the resort area. This means there will be cheering supporters everywhere. Most of all, I’m excited for the candy. They hand out chocolate at Mile 22. I grab a mini dark chocolate bar and a mini chocolate bar. They taste better than anything!

Miles 23-24: We run through DHS, through their costume shops and around the riverside walkway to the Swan and the Dolphin hotels. I passed a guy who was running and juggling. So at least I beat the juggler.

Mile 25: The final waterstop volunteers are calling out, “Final stop! 1.3 miles left” And feel like picking it up some more. I’m all smiles from here on out. Waving to the cast members who cheer us on. I take in the Epcot view once more, and have a fleeting moment of sadness – the race is almost over! I can’t believe it! But that passes, when I remind myself of the food and vacation ahead of me.


Mile 26: The Gospel Chorus sings us closer to the finish line. I’m running a sub-9 pace. I’m grinning ear to ear because this it the moment I take in that I am completing the Goofy Challenge!

Finish Line! I don’t see my mom, but that’s okay. Hands in the air! Chip time of 4:15:38, a bit faster than I expected!

Across the line! I feel like I can run 10 more miles! (This bodes well given the upcoming AR 50). After getting my medals, snapping a medal picture and downing a couple muffins and bananas, I find mom at the exit.

We head back to the hotel (and then off to the parks!) to celebrate the day.

Over our time at Disney, we walked +34 miles and run 13.1 or 39.3 miles. We dined at some of the best restaurants on property (lots of seafood), and had one of the best views of the park from our room that we’ll ever have.

All in all, it really was a week of glory.

*As you will now note, the title of my blog has changed to focus on upcoming races. The address will remain the same.

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