Saturday, January 26, 2013

A Very Goofy Race Report

Before the Donald
Oh, what an awesome weekend it was! Papa Runner and I flew to Orlando on Thursday the 10th and headed straight to the Expo to get my race bib and goody bag. I got three long sleeve t-shirts, one for the Half, one for the Full, and an additional one for doing Goofy's Challenge. I bought a cool technical jacket, too, with the Goofy's Challenge insignia (in pink!) and a new sports bra to try (review to follow once I've worn it a few times).

We spent Friday relaxing and enjoyed spending some time with relatives in the area. We ate at the hotel restaurant and headed to bed early.

One downside to races at Disney is they start so early in an attempt to beat the heat. Step off is at 5:30, and they recommend planning to arrive by 4:30. We got up at 3:00. Of course, being in the last corral meant I didn't actually start until almost 6:30.

The half marathon was very crowded. Because I'm an interval runner, there is a lot of passing people during the running portion and being passed back during the walk. Also, almost everyone around me was also an interval runner, so there were a lot of watches beeping. I had to keep checking to make sure I wasn't supposed to be switching pace.

Day one done, one to go!

Disney puts on a great race. There's lots of entertainment. I know for myself, though, I can't stop to get pictures with the characters. If I stop to wait in line longer than a couple minutes, I cramp up.

The Half course starts at Epcot, goes past the Richard Petty race track, then on to Cinderella's Castle in Magic Kingdom, and back to Epcot.

I had made a strong race plan. I'd trained for 15-minute miles. I was to keep to that for at least 8 miles, then I could slow down and save my energy for day two. That's exactly what I did. By the end, I was just strolling in. I finished in 3:22:23, which incidentally isn't my worst time. I finished the Disney Princess Half in 3:22:24!

Lots of stretching, rehydrating, and some time in the cold pool at the hotel was on the agenda for recovery. Then we had supper at Olive Garden, and another early bedtime before getting up at 3:00 for Day Two.

Ready for Day Two
One of the hardest things about this race, oddly enough, is that the pre-race entertainment is so good. I love to dance, and it was a challenge to restrain myself so as not to burn all my energy before I even started. The other big challenge was the heat. Once the sun came up, the temperature quickly rose to mid 80's.

The Full Marathon started with the same course as the Half. Once we got out of Magic Kingdom, though, we headed onto the Richard Petty track rather than going around. That was fun! They had lots of classic and current muscle cars as well as Lightning McQueen and Mater. After that, we headed to Animal Kingdom. You go in through a back gate next to, according to a guy near me, the T-rex paddock. (Actually the elephant paddock, but it did look a lot like Jurassic Park.) By that time, the parks had opened to the public. Most of the guests were supportive, but a few were annoyed they had to wait for runners to move through before they could walk where they wanted to go. I told a few of them they should run next year so they could annoy others.

Next up was the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex. They have a lot of high school competitions for various sports there, as well as the spring training complex of the Braves. That ended up being one of the hardest parts for me. By then the heat was in full force. Disney did its best to keep us cool, passing out wet sponges and having people at the water stops dumping water over everyone. It was great that Papa Runner was able to take a bus down and meet me at mile 19 to take my crown (I was so over it), refill my water bottle, and dump some water over my head. It was just the encouragement I needed.

Like the day before, I had planned to maintain my 15 minute mile pace until mile 20 and then relax. I was able to stick to that pretty well. Once we left ESPN, everyone had slowed down a lot. Even though I had slowed off my usual pace, I was still faster than most of those around me. Big thanks to my TeamUp coaches and friends for training me so well.

Last up was the World Promenade before heading back into Epcot. I got a little teary as I passed mile 23, the point where I had to quit in my last race. It was also around that point I saw several people being treated for heat exhaustion. This was the worst race I've been to for that.

Check out the bling!
After three races at Disney (Princess, Half, and Full) my absolute favorite spot of course entertainment is the Black Southern Baptist Choir about .2 before the finish line. You can't help but feel joyful when you've got three dozen people clapping their hands and singing Hallelujah! And then you turn the last corner and there's the finish line! Final time: 6:41:18!

Goofy's Challenge has been my Crazy Impossible Goal for almost five years. It was absolutely amazing to achieve it! Now I need to start planning my next CIG.

One last order of business: Shirley gets the Cold Stone gift card for the Half, Melodee for the Full. Thanks for the encouragement, ladies! I'll get your cards to you soon.

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