Ok – alarm went off at 2:30 and I started the layering process. It was super cold out (for Orlando) and with a sharp wind it was going to be chilly standing at the start line waiting for the chance to run!
(I haven’t added many race pics to this post but one quick note on the race pictures – the on course photographers are now Disney’s Photopass folks and you get your pictures through purchasing Memory Maker or by purchasing the individual pics you want. As an annual passholder I got the Memory Maker included so this was perfect for me. The photos looks pretty good too – well they look well composed, since I am in the contents they don’t look that good…)
Luckily (?) I had experienced cold before and my packing list (goofy challenge packing list) included cold weather running gear. I ended up with thermal leggings under running shorts, a thermal long sleeve shirt and my Nike Elements jacket. I also wore a thermal cap bought from the race expo on Thursday (I had brought one with me too but the runDisney one actually fit better). I also put on my running gloves and then loaded up my hydration backpack, grabbed one of the big black garbage bags I had brought and I was ready to go!
I got to the bus after a short walk and after they filled it up we were off. The drive to Epcot was uneventful (the driver didn’t get lost or anything like I have seen in the past). I did the wander through the security bag check and I was in with the crowd ready to race. Well, more like ready to snug together, any place out of the wind had large groups of people crowded together trying to stay warm.
Very shortly after I got there they were calling for some of the lower corrals (I was in E) to head through the bag drop off area and get ready to head out to the race corrals. So I did that and had a bit of a wait on the other side before they opened up the gates to let everyone do the long walk out to the corrals.
The walk was a bit different this year as they are doing construction on some of the roads near the start line. So instead of splitting the corrals early they all followed one path to a final split point where there were 3 different ways to go. This actually worked really well. There seemed to be less crowding this year which is always a good thing.
I made my way to corral E after a quick pit stop and then proceeded to chill…and get cold. The gear I was wearing has kept me warm down to -20C (-4F) and colder and I was still starting to shiver a bit. It must be something to do with the humidity because it wasn’t even below freezing. In Winnipeg when it gets cold the humidity is very low but I think the wind and the humidity gave the cold more bite than you would expect.
So at this point I broke out the black garbage bag and put it on as an extra wind break – much better immediately.
It seemed like no time at all before it was our time to go and corral E was off.
I kept a slow and steady pace through the first 4 miles or so until just past the Ticket and Transportation Center. At this point I was getting too warm in my gear. So I did a quick stop, popped off my hydration backpack and my Nike jacket. The jacket was too expensive to abandon so it got tied around my waist for the rest of the race.
At this point my guess from the first time I looked at my bib was confirmed. The holes were too close to the edge of the bib – I ripped one of holes out! I use a bib belt so I only use the top 2 holes and now one of them was buggered. But had listened to my intuition the night before and put some safety pins in my hydration backpack. One quick pin of the damaged corner to the bib belt and I was ready to move again. But probably lost a good 5 minutes or more here.
From there it was a short run into Magic Kingdom and that awesome turn around the corner to see the castle all lit up and glowing. Always a cool thing to see.
Then through Magic Kingdom and a quick stop to take a picture of Maleficent in her steampunk dragon form from the Festival of Fantasy parade (add picture). And then back out and keep on moving toward cone alley.
For whatever reason cone alley didn’t seem as crowded this year – that was actually a theme for this race, the crowds weren’t too bad. This was a surprise since they also allowed an extra 2500 half marathon folks from the day before to move up to the marathon.
At this point I was approaching the Grand Floridian Resort. Mark Daniel (@lof4life2 on twitter) was one of the groomsmen cast members set up to greet the runners there. Mark is one of the presenters that Disney has been tapping to host various live streaming events from around the parks over the past year. He has a great energy and charisma on the screen! During the New Years Eve fireworks presentation live stream this year I had followed Mark on twitter and ended up being his 1000th follower. He had direct messaged me the next day or so thanking me for the follow and joked that next time I was in Disney World he would get me a Dole whip. I laughed and indicated that I would be down for the Goofy Challenge in just a few days. That was when he indicated that he would be one of the groomsmen on course. Pretty funny stuff.
So I needed to make sure I introduced myself, so around the Grand Floridian I started watching the sidelines very closely to see where they were set up and I quickly found them. I went up quickly and introduced myself to Mark before continuing on my way. Super cool.
I’m not exactly sure how I have lucked out on my twitter account the way I have, because in addition to chatting with Mark, I have also interacted with Steve Miller (@samhowzit) from Disney Parks blog and Stacey J Aswad (@staceyjaswad) from the Must Do Disney shows that play at all the Disney resorts at Disney World. One year, I even had Stacey give me a “run like the wind Ted” tweet! Disney nerd heaven there.
Ok – back at it.
After mile 9, I noticed an older gentleman doing run/walk/run cycles – he would run in a diagonal pattern across the road and then do a little walk and then diagonal pattern back across the road in the other direction. Kind of interesting and it made me notice him amongst the other runners. I also noticed that he appeared to have a coke bottle hanging off of each hip and I figured this is my kind of runner!
I then started wondering if it was Olympian / runDisney legend Jeff Galloway (@JeffGalloway) – but I wasn’t sure and as I was trying to figure it out I lost track of where he was. I figured out later on twitter that it was actually him. Damn – missed opportunity to say hi to the legend.
Running continued without much event and we then did the tour around Animal Kingdom. This year the half way point was actually in Animal Kingdom which was a cool change. Interestingly they also had a big sign indicating where 13.1 was and there was a cast member there and it seemed about 5 or 6 people standing to the side who looked like they had been running but had now stopped. It made me wonder if they allowed the half marathon folks who managed to get one of the bump up to full spots to check out at that point. It would be a cool thing for runDisney to do but I don’t know if they did or not.
Again a fairly drama free run from the Animal Kingdom on for a while. Although I did have to take my phone out of my carrying belt as it started to do the volume dance that it did the day before on the half marathon run – I ended up reseating the headphones in the jack and it worked well for the rest of the race. I did hold my phone in my hand the rest of the race just in case it did it again though.
I took another pit stop and ripped my bib again – yay! A quick fix and off again.
And then into ESPN – I think they added even more looping around ESPN World of Sports this year – it was cool and all but a little frustrating. After the cool run through the stadium I had to stop to take the rocks out of my shoes – happens to me every time! I don’t see other people impacted so it has to be the way I run. At this point it is part of my Walt Disney World Marathon race plan.
Back out on the highways for the run toward Hollywood Studios – I was definitely doing run/walk/run cycles by this point but at irregular times as my app on my phone decided to only occasionally give me the audibles to run or walk when it was time. I was tired at this point but not really feeling beat up – that was a nice surprise.
Shortly before making the exit toward Hollywood Studios there was an ambulance and they were loading a runner in. Hopefully he is ok. It does serve as a reminder that even though you are at Disney World a marathon is no joke.
Now Hollywood Studios – with all the construction going on there they changed the path through that park and unfortunately it was much shorter than the old path. But we did get to see different back stage areas which I always find fascinating and we got to run down Hollywood Boulevard which was not done before – so that was a definite positive.
Out of the park quickly and at my happy place. I have so many good memories with the family on the path between Hollywood Studios and Epcot and all the beautiful scenery as you pass the various resorts (especially the Yacht and Beach Clubs for me). I always get a spring in my step here. Frankly if runDisney were to ever remove this section of the marathon, I might stop going – this section is that important to me.
After the truly fun mile it was into Epcot for the final stretch. Through World Showcase and on toward Spaceship Earth. I love running up that stretch too – the fountains and the music and atmosphere. I take my headphones out here usually to get the full impact.
And then a quick cut past the bathrooms to the mile 26 marker and the gospel choir. Just 0.2 to go!
Just a quick steady pace down the homestretch and the oddest Goofy Challenge ever was done. #6 in the bag.
It wasn’t a fast time for me but I enjoyed myself and took it easy and I had zero issues with my Achilles tendon so this was a huge mark in the win column for me.
Marathon medal obtained as well as a runDisney mylar blanket to wrap in and grabbed a bottle of water walking toward the tent to get the Goofy Challenge medal.
First person asked if I had my Half Marathon medal yet – Nope – here you go – thanks. And then the next person gave me the Goofy Challenge medal – whoohoo!
Grabbed a quick picture with the medals and picked up the runDisney snack box before running out to the meeting area. I did a short wander around there but decided to head back out to the buses fairly quickly.
Back at the hotel, on the walk back to the room, I had a quick chat with a family whose daughter had run the full and they asked about the Goofy and what training for that is like and wondered why I was walking faster than they were. I do walk quickly but I found early on that if I do a lot of walking after a long run I recover so much faster, so the fast walk was part of my recovery plan.
Then back in the room, shower and a nap! I did a whole bunch of stuff in Epcot later in the day as well that I will put in another post so that should be come out either later today or tomorrow.
Next up – wandering Epcot in the cold and hitting two parks the next day before getting on the plane home!