Monday, January 21, 2013

RACE REPORT: Goofy Challenge Part II - The Full

Reader be warned:

You are about to be bombarded with a LOT of pictures!
...and a rather long report.
Feel free to scroll through.
And click on the pictures to view in a larger size.

With the Half Marathon finished, the weekend was 33% complete.  I only needed to get four of my runners through the next 26.2 miles and it would be finished.  Let's get to it!

Goofy's Race and a Half Challenge Race Report Part II:
Mickey Mouse Marathon

Sunday started a little later than Saturday.  Remember how I spent a half hour listening to my stomach grumble?  Yeah, I learned my lesson.  I got up at 2:50am and made it to the convention center room by 3:15 for breakfast.  On my way there, I snapped a couple pictures.  The ALF staff had decorated our doors late Friday night and the resort looked beautiful with the night lighting.

The marathon group was much smaller and only two of my four runners were sticking with the group.  I had met up with one of the other runners the night before, but there was still one runner that I was going to meet on the course for the first time.  For the three of us with the group, breakfast went by a bit slower than the day before with the decrease in chatter, but we got our bagels, bananas, and water and were quickly on the 4am bus to Disney.

Before joining the mass crowds, we stopped off at the ALF tent where we left our post-race bags.  Check HERE for the description of the 0.75-1.0 mile walk to the start line.  I'll restrict this to a few Sunday's highlights.

There was a group of women wearing shirts that read "Eat My Pixie Dust."  Quite inventive!  And alternating with our directions to Corrals, Disney displayed their "Have a Magical Race" message.  And then once on our way to the correct corral, you pass what was a favorite photo op among the runners, a "wrong way" sign; officially the first sign from above that the next 26.2 miles might be a mistake.  

Lastly, plenty of guys opted for the woods over the long lines at the port-a-potties.  However, we did witness a few women opting for the woods.  A couple wrapped a blanket around them as they popped a squat while those pictured here formed a line and took their turn wandering off into the woods.  Figures that even in the woods, there's a line for the women's room. 

Before braving the crowds above, I had met up with Matt, my first runner, and his friend Carsten.  We made the long walk to the start line and joined Corral B.  We wormed our way up to the front quarter of the corral and found a spot to relax until the start.

We listened to the MC, Donald Duck, Mickey, and Goofy as they announced the start of the wheelchair division, Corral A, and then got up and got ready for our own start.


 Once started, I knew within the first mile that it was going to be a fun marathon.

Carsten (@ 0.5 miles):  This is crazy!  Who runs a marathon?
Carsten (@ 0.75 miles):  I feel great.  This is awesome.

Ok, so it might be a bit of a bi-polar 26.2 miles, but don't we all experience that to various degrees? 

The first 7.5 to 8 miles of the course were the same as the Half Marathon.  But there certainly were some highlights from Sunday. The first being making jokes with Matt and Carsten!  These were two awesome guys to run with!

The second highlight was realizing that Disney actually lit up the speed bumps on the course.  No seriously!  See how the speed bumps look purple in the below picture?  There was an announcement "speed bumps ahead" as you approached the Magic Kingdom gate, volunteers were standing their pointing to the speed bumps, and there were purple lights shining on them to make them pop out.  In reality, I think this was Florida's best attempt at a hill.

Right around the switch from the Epcot to Magic Kingdom parking lot, as we came around the race track, I had an epiphany or emotional moment.  It hit me that that I was in Disney World running the Goofy Challenge with runners that I had coached for the last four months.  Not that that wasn't cool enough, but I was getting paid to do this and could continue to get paid to do this crazy stuff.  I don't know what made it hit me right then, but I took a moment to take that all in while watching the runners all around me and I came to one simple conclusion:

I F*#^ing LOVE my life!!

Then we hit the Magic Kingdom.

 I stopped for the first bathroom break at mile 8 and then very soon after entered the Walt Disney World SPEEDWAY, which I will admit did add in a rather quick but steep hill.  DOWN, UP, U-Turn, and out onto the track!

And it wasn't just running around the track (which is pretty big in itself), but there were cars lining 50% of the track; everything from very nice muscle cars, to the vehicles from the movie CARS, to Herbie the Love Bug, and more!

Up to this point (now just beyond mile 9),  there had been a few characters, many the same as the day before, and they were packed withe people lining up for shots as expected.  However, as we exited the SPEEDWAY and made our way onto service roads, the runners apparently A) were more concerned about making it to the next mile, B) didn't care for the available characters, or C) were already oblivious to anything beyond the road ahead of them.

So I got some pics with characters!  However, I'll admit that I don't know who the bears are, why there is a winter wonderland in 90 degree January heat without real snow to jump into, and am still curious if the crazy dressed people are characters or just crazy people cheering us on from their camper.  Thoughts?


Oh, gosh!  And in-between the above pictures - between the winter wonderland and Pocahontas to be specific - we passed the Disney World waste management center.  ...or was it the water treatment center?  Who knows!  Either way, it SMELLED!  Why they put us on that service road, I can't be sure, but despite that flaw, to their credit, they put a lot of little signs along the road that either A) informed us of how much good the treatment plant does for Disney World and the surrounding environment or B) made a joke.  In reality, I think it was just a ploy to try and distract us from the smell and not feel as jipped by that quarter mile of nasty air quality.  

Soon after the treatment plant, we passed the ten mile mark and made our way back onto actual roads.  We caught up with a guy sporting an Ironman 70.3 Miami jersey and after having JUST heard that Carsten was thinking of doing the race, we struck up a conversation.  Great guy!  You really could race reports from just about any race in the US from the crowds at the Disney World races. 

I then learned that the costumes the characters wear in the park are the reason for their cheery nature.  I think they are lined with some of that Pixie Dust!  I say that because we ran past a group of ladies with mules - or donkeys, jackasses, or whatever they were technically - and I joked with them... "Is this where I pick up the ride to the finish line?"  The response was a very simple "...No."  ....ok.  With that I just turned around and kept running.  It was worth a laugh, but certainly the oddest interaction of the weekend. 

And now mile 12 and the Animal Kingdom!!  

By my own mistake, I had presumed that being Disney World, they would make a display of the Tree of Life while in the Animal Kingdom.  Wrong!  If it wasn't for a person running by me on my right at the right moment causing my attention to turn in that direction, I would have completely missed the tree!  Thank you random runner!!

And with that, Matt, Carsten, and I approached the 13 mile marker and I let them head off on their own.  My legs had felt great and to be honest, I would have loved to finish the next 13 miles with them, but I had other runners to catch up with.  I got a good amount of fluids at the aid station just beyond the mile marker and hung out for awhile cheering the other runners on while I waited for my next runner.  

Our coordinator had already started texting me updates on all of the runners, letting me know when they passed the timing mats and clocked in online.  From their updates, I knew I was waiting for Laura.  This was the one runner in our group I had never met, so I did my best to watch EVERY runner as they came through.  I really didn't want to miss her.

And then came the Liver Life Challenge jersey!!

Me:  Hey!  Let me guess... Laura?
Runner:  Um, nope.  I'm Danielle.
Me:  Oh, ok.  Are you from the Cleveland or Virtual team?
Runner:  I'm from the Boston team.

(*Officially confused!*)

Come to find out, Danielle was from the Run for Research team out of Boston and had run the Boston Marathon with that group.  Her and a number of other runners from that team had come down for the Disney Marathon Weekend, but they weren't running this race as an ALF official team.  I texted my coordinator asking "Did you know Boston had a team here?" to which she was quite confused herself.  Oh-well.  Run, have fun, and make friends!  I ran with Danielle for the next three miles.

As we ran, we passed a Dead End...

...a whole series of great quotes!...

Kind of fun?  It's a F*#^ing BLAST!
 ...some acrobats, and Dark Wing Duck!

At mile 16, I stopped and let Danielle head off for the last 10.2 miles.  She was doing awesome!

On my way back to the previous aid station at 15.5, I took some pics of the absolutely best high fives of the whole weekend!  Look at this picture and tell me you wouldn't be super-charged with energy after seeing this little girl on your course.

Kids are the absolute best cheer sections!

Once back to the aid station, I refilled my fluids and held up waiting for...  Laura?  But while I waited, I realized that I would most likely be getting a sunburn before the day was done; the sun was feeling quite hot while standing in one place.  Little did I know they had suntan lotion at the medical stations!  Next year I'll know better.

And then I finally met Laura!

Laura was running with a friend of hers, Greg.    They were both doing awesome!  I spent the next 4 miles with the two of them as we made our way through the ESPN Wide World of Sports.

Once inside ESPN, we passed mile 17 and found our first station with sponges!  I didn't take any - surprisingly I managed the heat very well the entire weekend - but plenty of people were happy to grab a sponge.  ...or five.

We passed band # too many to count and made our way to a mini track workout...

I had stopped just before the track for my second bathroom break, so I got a quarter of a track workout while I caught back up to Laura and Greg.  The three of us made our way around the track, through some winding sidewalks, hit another aid station with plenty of more amazing volunteers, passed band # too many to count +1, and then made our way onto the practice field for the Atlanta Braves.


I have to ask...  And I know this may show how little I know about baseball...  but if the Atlanta Braves are based in Atlanta, Georgia, why do they have a practice field in Orlando, FL??  Why isn't it for the Marlins or Rays?  (Yes, I had to look up what the Florida baseball teams were.  Sue me!

Either way, we made our way around the park and hit another aid station before we made our way out to the mile 20 marker.  Before we got to the marker, I let Laura and Greg go.  They were hot for sure, but managing the heat very well.  I knew I had plenty of time to go, so I headed a half mile back to the aid station, refilled, and waited for the next runner.

To make a long story short, I spent about an hour and twenty minutes at the mile 19 aid station.  I got plenty of fluids, made my way around to take pictures of the great signs...

"Just keep swimming running." 
"Sweat is liquid Awesome."  Truth!

But I will warn you that there is one thing you do NOT do at a race of any kind.  You do not use the words "Almost there" unless the runners literally are ALMOST THERE

No harm done either way, but as an example, the MC in the baseball park was saying "You guys are twenty miles in!" while everyone was cocking their head thinking "didn't we JUST pass the 19 mile mark before coming into the park?"  I heard a lot of "that stupid liar!" outside the park while I waited around.  Rookie mistake!  ...I hope.
And then I hear someone yelling my name.  "Oh good, a runner."  Nope, it's someone else.  "Who the heck knows me here?!"  As she came closer, it hit me that it was Lisa!  She's a member of my triathlon club and friend from back in CT.  It was crazy to have found her in the mass of 20,000 runners!  

While I waited, I saw both Craig and David from the Cleveland team.  Craig was tired, but pushing right through.  David admitted he was having a rough go, but to his credit, he had run the half the day before as well.  He was running with a couple people he had hooked up with at mile 4.  He was hydrating as he came through and seemed to be in great company, so I wished him well and stationed myself in the shade just after mile 19's aid station to wait for the next runner.

Next up was Abby and John from Cleveland.  They were both feeling the heat and miles, but they had a plan on how to finish and were following it very well.  They were doing their own version of fartleks - running to a certain point and then walking to another.  One major worry I had for the marathon runners was the heat, but while everyone was feeling very warm, they were smart about hydrating!!  Kudos to all of you guys!  You certainly made my job easy.

I ran with Abby and John through the 20th mile marker.  Given that it was the 20th anniversary of the Walt Disney Marathon, they made quite a deal out of this mile marker.


After the 20th mile marker, John, Abby, and I alternated running and walking with every light post along the road.  Along the road, we passed some spectators with squirt guns, and a giant video screen where two people were announcing the places we were all from.  "Yell out where you're from" they kept telling us.  It was amazing how far this race reached. 

And then as we rounded the corner, we caught up with their coach, Heather.

Heather was awesome!  She took it from there (roughly mile 20.5) and I headed back to find the next runner.  On the way, I found some more great signs.

"But really.  Hurry up!  Football starts at 1:00"
"You smell Great."
"Chuck Norris counted to infinite twice, but never ran a marathon."

Then I caught up with Jeannine.  This lady is a very experienced runner and has her habits and patterns that have worked for her.  At each aid station, she refilled her fuel belt bottles, and was hydrating very well, but even she will admit that she was feeling the heat! 

I ran with Jeannine from 20.5 to 22.  We got to see one of the awesome Florida police cars and the Tower of Terror sign before heading up the off ramp.  And one of the cops just before mile 22 was pleading with runners to get PLENTY of water.  He was telling us it was 90 degrees!  Holy COW!!


At mile 22, I let Jeannine head off on her own and headed back to find the last two runners, Walter and Tina.  From what Jeannine had told me, she saw Tina at the ballpark which meant she couldn't be more than 0.5 miles back.  I was feeling great, so I turned around and took off at probably a 7:00 pace.  I'm sure the runners were thinking "What the heck is this kid doing?!," but it felt great.  I made it all the way back to mile 21 and hadn't yet seen my runner, Tina, or anyone else with the orange shirt on.

And then fate stepped in!

I stopped at the turn just after mile 21 to take a short break.  I was sweating and there was some shade next to a bus.  I took a 30 second break and then saw a couple of guys with lanyards ride up on bikes.  I hadn't thought about it before, but there were multiple buses parked at that turn and it all of a sudden hit me that these guys might be cutting off the course.  That they were!  Thankfully, they gave me the heads up so I could be on the other side of the line when they cut it off.  Once cut off, I texted our coordinator and decided to head back up to find Jeannine.

Again, running about a 7:00 pace, I made it back up to mile 22.  I made my way through the aid station crowd and took off again into the park.  Hollywood Studios this time.

Rounding a corner, I got another text.  Everyone was walking at this point, so I pulled off to the side and stopped in order to read the text; the likelihood of reading a text and not running into someone was LOW.  "Tina is at mile 23."  WHAT?!  She made the cut off?  Awesome!  I headed off again to go find her.  I made it to mile 23 before I found her.  I must have not seen her when I ran back before!  Sneaky runners!

Tina was very happy to see me.  And she had a surprise for me.

"When would it be a good time to tell you that I never ran more than 13 miles in training?"

*Instant face palm!*

Well, I guess it doesn't matter at this point, we're less than a 5k to the finish.  Keep in mind, this is the lady who ran the 5k on Friday, the Half Marathon on Saturday, and then the Marathon on Sunday.  To her credit, she was being VERY smart and walking quite a bit.  She had also done very well for recovery the last couple days.  So at this point, I just laughed and took it as a life lesson.

We also got to meet up with one of our half marathon runners who came out to tell our legs to shut up!  Thanks Shanna!! And Tina continued to leave roses at every mile marker for the victims of the Newtown shooting.

We eventually caught up with Jeannine and walked our way to the finish.  But before we got there, we saw some more great signs...

"Someday you will fail.  Today is not that day."  
"I don't know you, but I am proud of you."
"Go Total Strangers!"

There were a lot of total stranger type signs on the course and I admit that I loved it.  People weren't out just to cheer on the one or two people they knew.  They may not have known anyone running, but they were cheering EVERYONE on.  And the crowds certainly appreciated it.

And then I realized that Disney has killer resorts with beaches!  I honestly was thinking "Is this Disney?!" through the next section of the course.


We entered back into the park at Epcot and got a great view of the world cultures!

Jeannine's daughter also made it out to cheer her mother on to the finish!  She looked great after yesterday's half marathon too.  Awesome job Ashley!

Finally, we had one more sign, one more mile marker, and a choir between us and the finish line!

And then it was finish time!!

I found out later that Walter had made it to the finish on his own.  Awesome!!  For a second day in a row, every runner who started made it to the finish.

2013 Disney Weekend = Success!!

Finish Time
17:24 pace

 Admittedly, I finished the marathon at a better pace than the half marathon.  That's not usually the case!  Go me!!  haha

After the race, we packed up the tent and headed back to the resort to relax.  But before we did that, had to tape a final word for Coach Kurt...

Once back at the resort, I chowed down on anything edible that was in my room and headed straight for the resort pool where I hung out with Lisa (remember her from before - finding me at mile 19) and some of her friends.

Unfortunately, the pool was pretty warm, but I quite enjoyed the time to lounge around.  It was at this point that I started to wish I had an extra day or two to stay in Disney and just relax.  But oh-well.  No rest for the wicked.

Back to the room for a final ice bath and a nap!  Unfortunately, I napped a little longer than expected and woke up to a text: "Are you coming to the dinner?"  I missed the first 40 minutes of our ALF celebratory dinner, but don't worry.  I hadn't missed the food!!  Phew!

And the last item for Sunday, but certainly not least, the medals from a weekend of 39.3+ miles!

They look quite good right now on my wall of pride!

The next day, I got to sleep in (5:00am), hopped the Disney Magic Express bus back to Orlando International Airport, took advantage of the 2+ hours I had before my flight by taking a nap, and was back to work by 2pm.  Again, no rest for the wicked (other than extra time before your flight). 

Race Stats

My pacing...

5 Mile = 8:50 pace
10 Mile = 9:00 pace
13.1 = 10:00 pace
20 Mile = 16:09 pace
Finish = 17:24 pace

By my watch, I hit the 13 mile marker at 1:50.  So the first half was roughly 2 hours and the back half was 5:36.  I guess I need to work at my negative splits.  haha

Here are some other interesting stats...

  1. There were 46 countries represented in the marathon, 39 in the half marathon, and 29 in the Goofy Challenge.
  2. Florida was the state with the most registered participants at 11,221.  New York was second with 2,181 and Texas was third with 1,726.
  3. For once there were more women running than men.  29,597 women and 22,637 men.  
  4. 95 people have run each of the past 19 Walt Disney World Marathons and were here for #20!
  5. 201,087 people have finished a Walt Disney World Marathon.  Lined up all together, the finishers would circle the globe 211.5 times!
  6. The medals have increased in weight from 1.9 oz in 1994 to 8.7 oz in 2013.
  7. 24 tons of metal has been used to make the finisher's medals given out from 1994 to 2013.

Final Thoughts on the Disney Marathon Weekend
  1. Such an early start!  If being up early is an issue for you, don't race this!  If you want to make a racecation out of a trip, this is perfect!  Get up early, run your race, be back to the room for breakfast or lunch, and spend the day at the park.
  2. Dark for much of the race if you're fast. 
  3. Range of temperatures.  It was mild hot at the start and hot hot at the finish.  Even if it started cold, it would warm up from there quite a bit.  You have to know how to layer well. 
  4. Very looooong aid stations which were awesome!  This is the only race I've ever done that had stations organized to my expectations.  Kudos Disney!
  5. Gels were limited to 1 station in the half, 2 in the full.  I would have preferred them offered more often. 
  6. Winding course; not for those looking for a fast time. 
  7. Characters, music, support are great for first time or recreational runners. 
  8. Plenty of medical tents; very well supported run.  Enough biofreeze to last you multiple life times!
  9. A mix of back/service roads and parking lots with the parks and main features.  They do their best to make use of the area they have, but you can't expect a 100% in-the-park run.  
  10. More photographers than all of your previous races combined.  They should make a game out of trying to count how many photographers you see while running.  You'll never get them all.  Even if you don't stop to pose for a photo-op, you're sure to have a photo in there that you like. 
With all that said,
I very much look forward 
to running the Goofy again in 2014!!

1. Have you ever taken so many pictures at a race?
I bet there's over 100 pictures above - and that's only a third of those I have from the marathon.

2.  What's your favorite sign that you've seen or heard of at a race?
I'll take a funny sign over a motivational one any day!  The best was the Bad Math sign from the Half Marathon.  

3.  Of all the races you've done, which was your favorite?
Disney was an adventure race both in the "Can I really do this?" question and the fact that I didn't care about my time so I was able to relax and enjoy the surroundings.  I've never had as much fun DURING a race. 

Dream.  Believe.  Achieve. 


CautiouslyAudacious said...

Sounds like an awesome weekend! That's good that they lit up the speed bumps when you get tired they are easy to miss! :-) Glad everyone finished that's a tough weekend of races! My favorite races tend to be small local races less stress and mess...

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this interesting view from a coach's standpoint. The reason that the Atlanta Brave's have a field in Florida is for Spring Training. Every team has a field either in Florida or Arizona where they get tuned up and make their final rosters.