The day started…well I was going to type “bright and early” but to be honest “dark and very late at night” is probably more accurate…with a wakeup call from Olaf from Frozen again. My wife and I got up, confirmed the weather and started getting ready.
A bit of a preamble – my wife hadn’t been sure she was going to do the full – when she signed us back in the fall she only wanted to do the half but there were only Goofy spots available. So she signed us both up for the Goofy and she figured she would do the half and then maybe try to walk the full if she felt up to it.
After the half on Saturday, she was really feeling the heat and was very unsure if she would be able to try the full or not. We both were feeling in pretty rough shape – my legs felt awful and were hurting worse than they have after any race in a really long time. Because of the heat and how my wife was feeling (and the crowds) we didn’t run very much on the half and my legs were not feeling happy about having walked most of 13.1 miles. Obviously running and walking use the leg muscles in very different ways and I was not trained to walk that far! Run yes, walk no.
But as Saturday went on and my wife agonized over the decision it came down to this: “Are you hurt or just sore? And will you feel disappointed you didn’t try?” We went to bed very early with the decision mostly made that she would run if she felt good in the morning.
So in the morning, we had over 7 hours of sleep and she felt good and we were off to the race!
We got on the bus and arrived at the staging area with no issues – nice and smooth. We then did some wandering around and I reaffirmed my need to hit the beer tent when the race was done.
Shortly after we got there, my corral ( C ) was called, we said our good byes and good lucks and I headed off to highway to get in place.
While in the corral I received a nice encouraging tweet from @TwinsRun (the lovely @MalindaAnnHill was being a virtual cheer squad on twitter) – a very cool thing to see and helped get me excited for the run. Thanks again!
Things moved quick to get corral C off and moving – it was very different to start the run in a group that spread out quickly and there was space to pass or be passed without any issues.
I was quickly able to work through my aches and pains from the day before and settled into a pace – I was surprised though that the comfortable pace was a bit slower than I would have thought being rested and relatively well fueled. Most of my longer runs outside in the past few months have been in quite cold weather so I was also surprised at how quickly I was starting to go through the liquid fuel I had brought with me.
I generally bring a larger water bottle and 4 fuel bottles all filled with my fuel of choice and that is normally enough to get me through a full marathon but I could tell after the first hour that I was going to need to supplement with on course fuel to make it through. So I started taking Powerade at each water stop. This turned out to have been a mistake but more on that later.
I knew by the time I was through the first hour I wasn’t going to break under 4 hours but as I was still feeling strong I knew I could still hit a new PR faster than 4:15:01. Because of that I was passing character stops with 1-2 or even no people at them because I was still on a mission!
I have to say running down Main Street in the dark with the castle all lit up was very cool! Normally I hit there after the sun as risen and the castle doesn’t quite glow as much – that was a good pick me up.
Coming into Cinderella’s Castle from the back side I was prepared for a bunch up through the tunnel but there was none – all the runners kept moving and the runners were spread out enough that they had marathon photographers right in the tunnel taking pictures as you run through! That was awesome and I can’t wait to see those!
I took my first walk break outside Magic Kingdom and then motored on to the Richard Petty Driving Experience track – once again had fun on the steep slope dip entering the track. I knew to expect the slope but I think I had a few first timers near me as there were several exclamations of surprise when we hit it.
Running on the race track was cool again but they had the cars more bunched up this time at the far end of the loop instead of spread out like they did last year. I think I prefer how they had it last year – gave more things to see along the way and provided a longer distraction. That being said last year the sun was up when I went through and it wasn’t this year so I wouldn’t have seen as much but it made it harder to admire each car so that was too bad.
Out of Richard Petty and on to Animal Kingdom – again passing character stops with no one getting pictures done – still on a mission – no stopping!
I could tell I was slowing down a touch here but not too bad – I was able to push things back up to where they needed to be and finished the half at just a minute or 2 above 2 hours. A new PR was still on the table and mentally and physically I was still strong.
After about mile 14 though things started to feel off. Now I bonked last year around mile 14 and I seem to have a bit of a curse at Disney World for this mile of the race but I kept pushing.
By mile 15 though I was looking for the porta-potties for an emergency stop. I would have totally stopped for a picture with Ferb from Phineas and Ferb but at this point I was on different kind of mission. Needless to say my pace dropped significantly here.
I found a porta-potty near the medical tent between mile 15 and 16 and lost a good 10 minutes there. I somehow had completely forgotten that PowerAde completely messes with my system. I went off my pre-planned fueling strategy and it cost me my PR (or at least close to a PR at that point). After that I felt ok – mind was clear and legs were still strong but if I tried to get up much faster than 6 mph my stomach would start to rebel.
Going through ESPN it looked like I still had a chance at a 2nd best ever marathon time (anything better than 4:30) so I kept pushing while taking irregular walk breaks. After about mile 21 though I knew I needed to incorporate regular walk breaks so I went 1 walk / 5 run and kept that up through to mile 24. I did skip a walk break or 2 through Hollywood Studios – I have had a few Disney World Marathons where I couldn’t run by that point and now I make it a point to run the whole way through Hollywood Studios if I can.
Still feeling pretty good – after mile 24 I was in my happy place – I love the BoardWalk and the area around the Yacht and Beach club. Pushed through that mile into Epcot thinking about being back in that area in 3 weeks with the kids. Happy thoughts!
Run through Epcot was solid while sticking with a 1 min walk 4 min run cycle and I finished strong. Just shy of 4:40 – over 45 minute improvement over last year’s Disney World Marathon and just a little bit quicker than my last marathon in June.
Overall I was able to push through some mistakes I made and put in a decent time. Did not PR but it is the best I have ever done at Disney World – so overall I am happy but it shows I still need to do more work for my next marathon in either May or June.
After the finish I grabbed my medals and food packet and headed out into the reunion area. I saw from the split emails that my wife had just finished the half way point about 8-10 minutes before I finished (the later coral start she had skews the numbers a bit). Seeing her time though I could tell she was close to being swept – since my plan had been to head back out through Epcot and catch up with her to shadow her last couple miles I realized I had time to kill at that point. I didn’t want to get out to the BoardWalk to find she had been swept either.
So I decided to have that beer I was craving and catch up on twitter. Thanks to all including @ATurtlesPace, @TwinsRun and @azgoofydog who sent me congratulations for finishing the race.
I drank my beer and wandered around the reunion area to see if I could recognize anyone (unfortunately did not), I took a few happy, relieved pictures for folks and then decided that the PowerAde was working again and headed towards Epcot to use the bathrooms there. I still hadn’t gotten anything to indicate where the wife was but just decided to bite the bullet and head in the direction to meet her anyway and use the bathrooms along the way.
I was sitting having some more of my runDisney snack pack when I got an email indicating that Heather had passed the 20 mile point and her pace had significantly improved – by something like 10% – pretty awesome! Ran the math and realized that had around the right time to meet her on the BoardWalk so I began the journey that direction.
I got to the point where the bridge to Dolphin and Swan intersect with the path to Hollywood Studios and the BoardWalk and found a good place to sit and had a bit more snack. Within 15 minutes Heather came marching up – we had a quick chat while she was walking so I could see how she was doing and she was more mentally there after 24 miles than she had been after 13.1 the day before. Fantastic.
I started shadowing along beside the course to keep up with her, being careful to stay off the course (didn’t want to piss off any of the runners). A few times I had to run to keep up when I ran into road blocks of people I had to get around but I actually felt pretty good and I think that actually helped my legs a lot. I saw my wife just near the fountain before you go under Spaceship Earth and then I motored out to catch her just as she started the last straight away heading into the finish – I managed to get that on video!
I then had to wander back through security and try to find her in the reunion area It took a while and she didn’t come out where I expected and she wasn’t waiting at the correct reunion flag and I started to get worried, couldn’t find her anywhere. I went to try to call her but my phone was saying I had no service – had to reboot the phone and as I waited I spotted her – she had decided to go to the porta-potties and had sent me a text but because my phone had no service I didn’t get it.
In the end it looks like my wandering gave me an extra 4.5 miles on the day yesterday.
We got on the bus and went back to the hotel to rest – and I had another beer. After a good long rest we went to Downtown Disney and managed to find seats at the bar at T-Rex and had a great supper and I had another beer. We decided not to do any shopping and went back to the hotel and I think I was out cold by 9 pm.
Both of us feel great this morning!
She felt good in the waiting areas and in the corrals and was ready to go once corral N was finally released. She was feeling a bit rough for the first while and said she wouldn’t have been that upset if she had been pulled in the first couple hours but after she hit the half point she said no way and made sure she wasn’t going to get pulled.
At the half point she saw a lady with a stop watch timing the runners and the official time clock – Heather put 2 and 2 together and realized this was the cut off lady. Heather asked and the lady said she was 90 seconds ahead of the cutoff clock.
Heather had made a washroom break in Magic Kingdom and there was no wait in the stalls – if she had had to wait she would likely have been pulled – the stars aligned there.
At the half way point she started pushing harder which was why I saw the major improvement in her pace speed between the half and 20 mile points. Awesome push there.
She did take time to do some character stops and will have some great pictures – I guess back near the back of the pack not a lot of people were stopping as they didn’t want to get pulled.
Once she made it to Hollywood Studios she knew she had it in the bag and just kept going. Lots of things had to go just right for her to finish and they did! A bit of luck and a whole crap load of determination there!
She finished and says she will probably think about doing half marathons again but not so much the fulls.
But she finished upright – she is now a marathoner and a successful Goofy Challenger – how many people get to say that?
Awesome job babe!
Congrats to everyone that ran this weekend! Great job!