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Sorry this is so long but since it's more like two race reports rolled into one, I guess that's just how it has to be. <img alt="smile.gif" src=""> For race times just scroll to the bottom.<br><br>
By Wednesday, January 09, 2008, I couldn't remember what madness had prompted me to sign up for Disney's Goofy's Challenge Race and a Half but none the less, DH and and I boarded a plane that morning and headed towards Orlando. Unfortunately the trip started off on the wrong foot as I'd come down with a cold and felt truly awful that first morning. Thanks to the advice of some fellow Kickrunners though, I picked up some Zicam and was all set to duke it out with the germies. Good thing I found the Zicam since sadly I never found the Kombucha tea. <img alt="wink.gif" src=""> The Zicam did the trick though. By the Thursday I was feeling much more human.<br><br>
Packet pick-up opened at 3:00pm on Thursday. After spending the morning touring Disney's Hollywood Studios (formerly MGM) we headed back to our resort to grab our rental car and drive over to Wide World of Sports. We decided to skip the buses for this trek since we were on a tight schedule to make our dinner reservations later that evening. We got to WWS around 4:30pm and I was immediately overwhelmed by the amount of people. I had never been part of a large race before and was used to rather laid back expos--when there were expos at all. DH and I followed the stream of people and headed towards the Goofy check-in area. I got in line and about 45 minutes later I had checked in, received my official orange Goofy wristband, picked up my shirts and was headed back towards the parking lot. I joked with DH that he was lucky we had dinner reservations so I didn't have time to hit the expo and buy stuff! We had a nice relaxed dinner that evening and I enjoyed my last good night's sleep. It was a good thing I got some sleep then.<br><br>
On Friday we went to Epcot and wondered around for a bit. Neither of us are big on the "search and destroy" method of theme park visiting so we just took it easy, did a few rides and I tried not to think too much about the races. In the late afternoon we went back to our room and took a short nap before dinner. That nap may very well have saved me! When we finished dinner around 7:00pm we thought we'd cap the night by stopping back by Epcot to watch the Illuminations fireworks show at 8:00. The only problem was, they were having "Extra Magic Hours" that evening and the park was open late so the show didn't start until 9:00. No big deal, I figured as long as I was back and in bed by 10:00 I'd be okay. I'd had a good nap earlier and don't usually get much more than 5-6 hours of sleep a night so really it wouldn't be that different. We watched the show and beelined for the exit as soon as it was over. Prior to leaving we'd heard horror stories about the our resort's bus situation but had had really good luck... until then. The line for buses to our resort was so long they'd actually had to put up temporary line baricades to help organize people. I don't know what the problem was. There were no lines for other resorts, just ours. I was numb with panic but knew it was my own darn fault since I was the one that made the decision to go out the night before a race. We didn't end up getting back to our room until almost 11:00, which was actually better than I'd feared. All the same, with a wakeup call scheduled for 2:00am I knew I was looking at three hours of sleep, best case scenario. Best case didn't happen. Neither did worst case plans B or C. I was so thrown off that I couldn't sleep. I closed my eyes and just tried to be still and rest as well as I could until the alarm went off. I was up before the alarm ever got a chance to do the waking.<br><br>
Saturday morning the real journey began. I was surprisingly alert for having had no sleep. I dressed, went to the bathroom about 50 times, ate a bagel, drank some water, freaked out, went to the bathroom again and freaked out some more. At 3:30am I headed for the bus to the start line. For whatever reason, Disney only ran buses between 3-4:00am for a race that started at 6:00am. Nothing like arriving to the start two hours before the race on zero hours of sleep. Fortunately I met a guy on the bus and was able to strike up a bit of conversation. He had done the Goofy Challenge before so it was nice to hear his perspective. Once we arrived at the staging area we walked around a bit but unfortunately I lost him in the crowds after I stopped at the porta-potty for bathroom trip number 371. I found a spot in the lot to sit down and huddled up trying not to let my nerves take over. In not too short of a time, they were calling for us to head to the start line. At Disney, the start is a good 20 minute walk from the staging area so it's a bit of a production. We walked and walked and finally started passing corrals. I was in corral A for the half and the crowd kept thinning as we walked along and people peeled off into their respective corrals. We finally reached the A corral and I took a position near the mid-back of the pack since I planned to run a pretty conservative race. It was strange to stand so near the front of such a massive race. I could see the start line and the runners who were competing for the win. What the heck was I doing in the same corral as them?!?!<br><br>
The time in the corral went by quickly. Before I knew it, the National Anthem was sung and they were announcing the start of the wheelchair race. A few minutes later, fireworks went off and the 2008 Disney World Half Marathon and the first leg of Goofy's Challenge was underway. I wanted to run as near as possible to two hours without going over. The crowds at Disney make it hard to head out too fast but people quickly thinned out and before long I was on a good pace. Too bad I had to hit the bushes for a quick pee! Hydration is such a delicate balance. <img alt="wink.gif" src=""> Back to running; It was much warmer than I'd anticipated and very humid. I don't normally race in anything over 50 degrees so I was very glad I was planning on sticking near training pace. Even so, having spent the last few months training in the relative cool of winter in Virginia, the effort felt harder than it should have.<br><br>
Most of the half course was out on the roads surrounding Disney with a highlight pass through the Magic Kingdom around mile 5 and 6. I honestly don't remember much about the first five miles. Maybe I was catching up on my sleep? It was fun making that first pass into Magic Kingdom as up until that point we'd been running on the service roads. It was still dusky when we ran through Cinderella's Castle which made the whole thing seem even more surreal. On the way out of Magic Kingdom I made the mistake of high-fiving Piglet. YICK!!! Poor Piglet. I hope they throw that costume away. His little paw was soaked with the sweat of 1000 runners. He was the first and last character I touched. LOL. After leaving Magic Kingdom I fell off pace for a little bit. The heat and humidity were getting to me and I was suffering from general fatigue and a bit of discouragement thinking about having to do this whole thing again (and then some) the following day. For whatever reason, I hit a dark path mentally and really started to wonder why I was here. Fortunately, a few miles later a guy fell in beside me and the next couple of miles of humorous banter got me going again and I was able to pick up some time. About three miles out I had to let him go but appreciated the boost he had given me. Before long we were headed into Epcot on our way to the finish line. I was really worried for a minute because I couldn't remember whether or not we had to make the full loop through Walk of Nations and if we did, I wasn't sure I had enough gas left to make it happen. I was tired and my quads were cramping a bit. I just wanted to get this thing over with. Fortunately for me, there was no Walk of Nations loop and we were nearer the finish than I had thought. Before long I caught sight of the finish line and went sprinting towards it knowing that the sooner I crossed, the sooner I could stop running. I crossed with a chip time of 1:59 and change. Perfect!<br><br>
Sadly I'd screwed up somewhere regarding hydration and electrolyte intake and my quads were really tightening up. Not horribly but since I don't normally get muscle cramps I knew something was off. I walked it out and struggled to get my chip off without falling over. Ouch. How the hell am I supposed to run a marathon tomorrow!?!? I couldn't worry about that right then so I just picked up my half marathon Donald medal and headed off to the Goofy tent to swap out my orange wristband for a blue one that designated I'd finished the half in the alloted time. The exchange was made smoothly and by 8:30am I was on a bus headed back to the resort. When getting off the bus I was aware of a bit of pain far more worrying than quad cramps--ITB soreness in my left knee. I'd struggled badly last summer with severe ITBS and had only recently felt secure enough to stop physical therapy. Had I made a mistake by not continuing therapy? How bad was it? Was it going to get worse? Would I make it through the marathon? I kept most of my fears to myself. I didn't want to freak out DH and make him worry or, horror of horrors, have him suggest I not run the marathon. I'd gimped through a marathon before. Worst case scenario I'd gimp through this one too. I showered and fell asleep for awhile and then DH and I headed to Animal Kingdom to try and walk off some of the soreness. Having learned from the previous night's mistake we headed back to the resort early and called it a night around 7:30pm. I spent some time getting things ready for the next morning. I set up my PowerGel and Cliff Shot Blocks, loaded a baggie with salt caps and Tums, tucked my room key and health insurance card into my key pocket and put my chip on my shoe. I was asleep by 9:00pm. Not great but a darn bit better than no sleep the night before! I tried not to think about my knee.<br><br>
The alarm sounded at 2:00am and for whatever reason, I was a lot more discombobulated that morning on five hours of sleep than I was the day before on no sleep. It seemed like I stumbled around the room a lot trying to figure out what I was doing. I was sooo not into the idea of racing. I was tried, sore and really stressing about the situation with my left knee. I thought very seriously about going back to bed but I didn't. At 3:30am I headed to the bus stop and hit the food court on the way for a banana. It must have been a very good banana. I don't remember what it tasted like but since it cost $3.06, it must have been good. Note to self, when people offer you bananas at the end of a HM and you have a marathon the next day, take the darn banana. You may not want it then, but you will surely want it the next day.<br><br>
I headed out of the lobby and over to the marathon bus location. I was pissed when the driver of the bus I was about to board closed the door. I tried to get his attention but he didn't look at me. I was about to walk up and knock on the door when I noticed the bus was not a marathon bus but part of Disney's Magical Express airport transportation. Oops! Sure glad I didn't get on that bus! I nonchalately walked around the DME bus to the marathon bus parked on the other side. See, I meant to do that! Once on the marathon bus I started shuffling towards the back when I heard "Hey, HEY!" The guy I had met on the bus the day before was there. I was so happy to see a semi-familiar face. I plunked down next to him and we traded stories from the half and discussed our strategies for the full. I told him I was having a hard time physically which made it doubly difficult to commit to the race mentally. He agreed that the mental part was one of the toughest parts. I was glad to hear I wasn't the only one who was having a hard time getting jazzed about running that morning.<br><br>
There was another reason I was having a hard time getting psyched to run the marathon. In previous marathons I had always gotten sick. Not just a little sick but really, really, disgustingly sick. I always seem to start off well but somewhere around the half my stomach would feel like it wasn't emptying and then the nausea would kick in. Usually a few miles later nausea was followed by vomiting and intense stomach pain. Oh yeah, that's something to make you look forward to a race! I had never gotten through a marathon without having to walk a good part of the last several miles. I thought I knew the cause and I had a plan, but was I right? Would my plan do the trick? I wasn't sure I could face another stomach churning trek. I had already decided that if I experienced the same sort of sickness this time, I was done with marathons for the forseeable future.<br><br>
I had to put aside the negative thoughts for awhile though because once again we were unloading from the buses and walking towards the staging area in the Epcot parking lot. The same crowds of people, the same general confusion. At the time it was enough to distract me from pretty much every other thought. It had rained the night before so there were no dry places to sit. Fortunately the guy from the bus, Roger, having done this before and thus being much better prepared than me, had brought a garbage bag to sit on and I was able to share a corner. We sat for awhile and watched people mill around and then I headed for the port-o-johns. I didn't want to have to stop and pee five seconds into the race like I had the day before during the half! By the time I'd gotten through the potty line it was time to start walking to the start. Roger and I were in the same corral again so we began the trek together. We positioned ourselves outside of the corrals and sat down to stretch a bit. We were both suffering sore quads from the day before. After a trip down the hill to stretch his legs on a curb, Roger reported that he thought we were in for a long day judging from the way his quads had complained. Uh oh! Not the sort of thing I wanted to hear from a runner who was far more experienced than me!<br><br>
We took a spot at the back of Corral B on the Blue Start. Disney starts the marathon off on two courses, a blue course and a red course, that merge after about three miles. Unlike the half, there are no waves for the corrals and everybody starts at once. We stood for only a short time before the National Anthem was sung and the wheelchair racers were off. Deja Vu anyone? By this time I'd forgotten about my quads and my knee. I think my nerves gave way to full on panic at that point as I looked around at the masses of people that were about to swarm the start. Stuck in the middle of a corral with people on all sides, I couldn't have gotten out of there if I'd wanted to. A few minutes later, more fireworks and the runners surged forward. 13.1 miles down yesterday, 26.2 to go today. We walked for a short time as Corral A and the front of Corral B streamed over the start line. Finally we picked up a slow jog and officially crossed the line. I've heard it a thousand times in many different races but somehow right then the sound of hundreds of timing chips sounding in the dark as runners crossed over the mats sent chills down my spine. The race had begun.<br><br>
Roger had asked if I wanted to run with him at the start and I agreed, though I told him I was pretty sure he'd have to leave me since he was planning a much faster race. We paced together for the first couple of miles, picking off slower runners and manuevering through the holes to find running room. I was keeping an eye on my HR and pace and knew I was about to hit my desired max for the day so I told Roger he should go on. He assured me he would if he felt he wanted to. I stuck with him for awhile longer and then lost him as the course rounded a sharp narrow turn and runners stalled. It was probably for the best. I knew if I stuck with him much longer I'd get caught up in a pace I likely could not maintain and that was definately NOT the goal of the day. The goal of the day was to pace even, run strong, and most importantly, NOT GET SICK!<br><br>
I opted to keep my HR around the 160 range. I knew that was a good aerobic range for me and was very sustainable. I tried not to pay too much attention to my pace but it was hard with my Garmin feedback staring me in the face. I had a very modest time goal and I really wanted to meet it. Feeling good was more important though so I tried to focus on HR.<br><br>
The first several miles of the race were really just a blur. It was dark and the air was thick and heavy. The microclimate created by thousands of sweaty closely packed runners made it seem hotter than it actually was. There were so many people and so far it wasn't thinning out much. After running through Epcot for the first three miles we were dumped out onto the local roads where there was finally some room to run. I had settled into a good pace now and felt surprisingly well. I knew from past experience though that this meant nothing. In both of my previous marathons I'd felt great to start and then tanked badly at the end so there was no use getting ahead of myself here. I figured I'd run strong until the half and see what happened after that. At mile 6 I popped my first Gel and a salt cap. I was determined to keep up my salt intake this time around and see if it made any difference. Everything I'd read pointed to some form of hyponeutremia as the cause of my marathon nausea and vomiting. I didn't care if I blew up like a puffer fish, I was downing those salt caps!<br><br>
I was glad I had looked at the course map the night before and knew that around mile 10 we would be heading into the Magic Kingdom. It was something to look forward to and a welcome distraction. DH was supposed to see me somewhere along the way in Magic Kingdom and once we started to hit the parks I scanned the crowds hopefully but never caught sight of him. There were tons of people lining the streets though and it was a boost to hear their cheers. Around mile 10.5 we rounded a turn and heard the trumpets announcing our entry to Cinderella's Castle. I wish I would have taken this in more but I was so focused on getting out the other side I barely even noticed as I ran through. The highlight of Magic Kingdom was over and we were headed back out onto the open roads. It was a blur but if I close my eyes I can still see the lights of the carousel and the buildings on main street all lit just for us.<br><br>
I was still running well and figured I'd make it to the half with little problem. The crowds of runners had thinned substantially and it was easy running now. Ever so often I would pop a salt tab and some PowerGel. My plan for PowerGel was to down it every four miles starting at mile six. I didn't stick to that exactly, but I came pretty close. I hit the half in 2:09 and change. I couldn't decide if that was good or bad. I didn't care, I just knew I could start counting down now since it was halfway over. I figured once I got to single digits I'd be okay and if I had to walk it in it wouldn't be the end of the world. Again, thanks to looking at the map the night before, I knew Animal Kingdom Park was ahead around mile 16. Since it's my favorite of the Disney parks, it was good incentive to keep running and hit the park in good time. Somewhere along the way I popped more Gel and salt tabs. So far so good! The Gel was going down well and the water was going down and staying down. I felt great and enjoyed yuking it up with the Cast Members and entertainment planted out on the roads. When we entered into Animal Kingdom I had a huge smile on my face and loved every second of my run through the park. Again, I wish I could have taken it all in a little better but I was starting to slip into a very focused zone. At this point I knew I wasn't going to walk in anything and it was time to start thinking of this a a race and not a scenic tour of Disney.<br><br>
As we rounded the turn and headed out of Animal Kingdom around mile 18 we headed towards the part of the course that I dreaded the most--the out and back of miles 20-21. Could I focus and remain positive seeing people streaming back towards me? How far up did we have to run before turning back around? At this point I started hearing Dory from "Finding Nemo" in my head saying "Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, swimming swimming..." I lifted my head and pressed on. As we headed up an overpass near mile 20 I was struck by the amount of walkers. Normally I'm one of them so I don't think anything of it. This time I was passing people. Wow, what a feeling! Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, swimming swimming... We entered the out and back section but I was still feeling strong so it didn't bother me at all and I called encouragement to those headed in the opposite direction. I was a little freaked out when we crossed the mats at the turnaround point and they didn't beep. Were the mats on? Was my chip working? What if they thought I didn't hit the mats and that I hadn't run the full course!?!?! Can't think about that now. Just keep swimming, just keep swimming...<br><br>
Mile 22, are we there yet? I still feel good but I'm starting to get tired and I worry about hitting the wall. I didn't pack as many Gels as usual since in the past I haven't been able to keep them down anyway. By now though I'd taken all four of my Gels and had been munching on a few stray Cliff Shot Blocks. Would it be enough? I didn't want to chance a strange Gu at one of the aid stations or try the Powerade so I had stuck to water and salt tabs. My stomach felt good, could my legs hang on?<br><br>
As we headed into Disney's Hollywood Studios the sun started to peek out. Thank goodness I was almost done. I don't do well in the heat and it was plenty warm enough for me even without the sun. Just before mile 23 I grabbed my last sip of water. That was it, it was time to bring it home. I was still worried about hitting the wall but I knew if it was going to happen, it was going to happen and there wouldn't be anything I could do about it anyway. Just keep swimming...<br><br>
We exited out the other side of Hollywood Studios and at mile 24 headed down onto Disney's Boardwalk. Outta my way, I'm a on a mission here. So many walkers, so many limping runners. I kept passing people. This has never happened before. Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming... Time to swim a little faster. I don't even care where I am anymore, I just know we're almost done. I hear someone in the crowd of people ask someone how much further the runners have to go and they answer "about five miles." Five miles!?!? Geesh, way to be discouraging! LOL I laugh to myself and press on. I got this thing.<br><br>
At mile 25 we head into Epcot's Walk of Nations. Before the race, I really looked forward to this part and thought it would be really cool running through the countries. I don't even notice. My head is down, my eyes are focused. Run dammit. The crowds are getting bigger and the noise is becoming louder. We're so close. I pass walkers and runners and finally round the turn for home. I don't notice mile marker 26 but I'm sure it's there. I have bigger things in mind. I can see the finish line. I give those final .2 miles everything I have left and raise my hands high as I cross the finish mats. My smile is a mile wide and everything is a blur. I did it!!! As I slow to a walk I get very emotional as I realize I've finally done it. I had truly FINISHED a marathon. I hadn't had to walk, I didn't feel like garbage, I hadn't thrown up once. While the feeling of completing the Goofy Challenge was great, it couldn't compare to the feeling of finally having a good marathon experience. I started the race and dammit I finished the race... and with negative splits no less!<br><br>
I collected my space blanket and marathon medal. It was the 15th anniversay of the Disney Marathon and the commemorative medal was really a treat. I headed back towards the Goofy tents for the big payoff, the Goofy medal. I tried not to get all weepy as they marked my wristband and hung the medal around my neck. I can't remember what made me want to run the Goofy, but I will always remember the way I feel for having done it.<br><br>
Goofy Challenge Final Times<br>
Marathon: 4:15<br>
Half Marathon: 1:59<br><br>
Post race I feel pretty good except for sore quads and about six (yes, six !!!!) toenails that will soon fall off. <img alt="sad.gif" src=""> I guess it is in fact time to go up a half size in shoes. The fear of an ITB flare up in my left knee never came to fruition. I had no knee problems during or after the marathon and it fact my knee felt better after the marathon than it did after the half. I'm taking a couple of rest days and then will start hitting the pavement again in preparation for the Shamrock Marathon in Virginia Beach.

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Great job and great report! You described the Goofy experience perfectly -- the highs and lows of your weekend seemed eerily similar to mine...<br><br>
Again great job and best of luck for VA Beach!
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