Friday, January 16, 2009

The 2009 Disney World Goofy Race and a Half Challenge

The weekend of Jan 10-11, 2009 represented a double three-peat for me. I ran my third Disney Half Marathon (2004, 2005, 2009) and my third Disney Full Marathon (2007, 2008, 2009). It was my best half marathon time and my second best marathon time. And if three times wasn't enough, I signed up for next year the minute they opened up registration - the day after the marathon.

But I digress...this is the story of this year, 2009, the year of the Goofy!

Last year, the day after the 2008 Disney Marathon, my husband and I signed up to run the 2009 Goofy. In case you don't know, the Goofy Race and a Half Challenge is when you run the Disney World Half Marathon on Saturday, the return on Sunday to run the Full Marathon. Two days of running through the most magical place on earth. Our primary goal was to finish both races and earn our Goofy medal. Our secondary goals were successfully met:

Half Marathon:
Goal: 2:30 - 2:45
Actual: 2:39

Full Marathon:
Goal: 5:30 - 5:45
Actual: 5:40

On marathon day, we got up (again) at 2 am to prepare for our race. Unlike the previous night, it was much easier to fall asleep early (around 7 pm) with a half marathon and little sleep behind you. I felt like I really slept well. After a good breakfast we headed out to Disney World's Epcot center, about a 45 min drive from our house.

We arrived around 3:45 am with a strange feeling of deja was much the same scene as the day before, except the crowd was a bit bigger. We set up over by the A-C bag check area and were able to hook up with Maddy and her friends Cheryl and Leana.

Missing our other blogging / Twitter friends, we all headed to the starting area. We were quite excited as we waited in our corral - this time in the same corral!

The start was classic Disney - I posted a video on RuncastTV at this link.

We decided to try to keep up with / or ahead of the 5:30 pace group and we did a great job keeping that pace. Our first park was Epcot. Around mile 3 of the race, you run around a portion of the World Showcase.

After exiting Epcot, we merged with the other starting group (the race starts on two sides of the road) and pass by the starting area again at mile 4. Then we begin the trek toward the Magic Kingdom - the same way we did just the previous morning. With 4 miles already behind us, we arrive at the Magic Kingdom between miles 10 and 11 (verse mile 5 the previous day). Just before entering the Magic Kingdom, Maddy and Cheryl come running up from behind. We run with them for a bit, but lost them on our walking break, wishing them luck. I loved Maddy's BGOR shirt.

Our run down mainstreet was magical! Check out the short video of that run down Main Street and the run up to the back side of the castle.

We then came through the castle for the all familiar castle shot:

Then proceeded on toward Animal Kingdom - encountering the usual "smells" and sights along the way. It is there we passed the halfway mark. We crossed the half marathon mat within 1 min of our finishing time for the half marathon on Sat! Just over 2:39. We were on track for a great finish time.

Somewhere between the halfway point and Animal Kingdom we passed Maddy and Cheryl, although I didn't see them. We did see them later...

Just after mile 16 we made our way through Animal Kingdom and we were still moving along at a good clip. I felt incredible! I could hardly believe we had run an entire half marathon the day before.

As we came through Animal Kingdom and started to look for a pit stop for my husband. We ended up stopping at the water stop at mile 19 where there were a number of porta potties. After our stop, we continued on. Just past mile 20, there is an out and back area - a portion of the race I never liked because I usually was pretty out of it by then, and it is pretty boring. This year, however, was different. I still felt great and the out and back seemed to go much faster this year.

As we were making our way back and about to head on down the road, we heard our names....Maddy and Cheryl were just starting to head down the out and back! It was cool to see them again.

It was shortly after this point that my husband started to struggle with his breathing. We think it was asthma - but he kept complaining that he was having trouble breathing - so we slowed our pace and finally ended up walking. We walked most of the way through Disney Hollywood Studios and into the Board Walk area. Then about 2 miles out, he was able to walk fast, which ends up being a slow jog for me.

We pressed on and headed back into Epcot for our last lap around the World Showcase. Then we both started running - with just one short walking break, we ran all the way through Epcot, toward the big ball and past the choir - and triumphantly to the finish line.

Right after crossing the finish line we stopped and gave each other a big kiss! Then headed off to get our Mickey and Goofy medals.

It was a magical day, a magical weekend. And next year we are doing it again.

Except we are also going to do the 5K on Friday....the "Dopey."

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Disney Half Marathon Pics

The half marathon pictures have come out so I thought I would post some of the good ones.

Just coming through Cinderella's castle. It was still early morning (probably around 7:15 am).

Somewhere along the half marathon race course - on the way back from the Magic Kingdom to Epcot.

Almost finished just inside of Epcot.

And, of course, the finish line shot!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

We are Goofy!!!

We completed the final 26.2 magical miles in 5:40:48! I have to say that I felt better for this entire race than I have for any of the other 4 marathons I have done!

More details later....I didn't tweet during the race or record anything on my iRiver, but I took a bunch of short video clips of different sections of the race that I will post later!

Thanks for all the well wishes and for virtually "running" along!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

13.1 Down, 26.2 to go!

Taken after finishing the half marathon

After rising at 2 am (usually we go to bed then) we left the house at 3 am and arrived at the Epcot parking area just before 4 am. It was a tad on the chilly side but we had those paper jackets and pants you can buy at the expo to keep us warm. I had extra trash bags just in case, but we only used them for sitting on the ground.

We headed over to the bag check area to see if anyone running the half would come for a meet up at 4:15 am - but we missed Maddy and Leslie (aka Marathon Girl) was unable to make it this morning. At 4:30 am we headed over to the porta potties for a quick stop before heading over to the corrals.

As we walked to the corrals we were very excited that we had a spot near the front in Corral B until we realized that we were not placed in the same corral! My husband's race number had him in Corral F, 2 waves away. They will allow the person up front to line up in the back but not visa versa. As we walked all the way to the back, we were grumbling about the rule when we decided to try corral hopping....

We were able to sneak from F, to E, to D just fine. But to get to corral C it was a big step over the fence. My husband hopped it, so I decided to just walk around and enter in the normal way (since my corral B number would allow me). When I tried to find him in Corral C, I couldn't! I looked all through Corral B (in case he hopped another one), through B and C. I didn't know what to do or where to go. We had no way to contact one another.

Finally, I went up to Corral B and waited off to the side. The starting fireworks went off, and Corrals A and B were released in the first wave. I stood by the right side of the road hoping to see him but didn't see him in the first wave. I was starting to feel desperate.

The second wave, Corral C & D, moved up and the 2:45 pace leader came through. Should I go with them and hope he catches up? I didn't want to cross the starting line apart. I kept scanning the crowd. About 1 min before the second wave was released, I spotted him coming up the right side. I was so relieved to see him. While I had gone around the corral to meet him, he got caught by the Corral police who promptly sent him back to Corral F. Before the start, he managed to sneak up to Corral D with the second wave - then moved up when they moved up. We were all set to start together!

The race went really well. We ran our race - 5 min run 1 min walk - right from the start. We kept our eye out for the 2:45 pace group and eventually passed them. We made one pit stop just before the Magic Kingdom. Jim was pretty anxious to run faster but I had to keep telling him to hold back...many more miles tomorrow!

We finished in 2:39:42, a PR for hubby and a Disney Half course PR for me. We collected our medal, had our orange Goofy band removed and received our blue Goofy band. When we turn the Blue one in after completing the marathon, we will get our Goofy medal.

I have a few video clips I took during today's race which I will post in my next post. Time to massage and relax for tomorrow morning!

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

A Disney Marathon Tour!!!

I have described the Disney Marathon course to a few people over the past year. I thought I would go ahead and take everyone on a tour of the Disney Marathon course. This year will be my third time around the "World" on the most magical marathon around! If this is your first time and you would rather be surprised, than consider this your "spoiler alert."

The marathon begins as it ends - in the parking lot outside of Epcot. It is dark and sometimes cold as everyone begins to gather for the race. Runners begin arriving around 3 or 3:30 am. The start area is well lit where you can find some pre-race refreshment, live music on stage, the baggage check area and rows and rows of porta-potties.

Many find a place to sit down on the asphalt in the parking lot. Garbage bags are good for covering up the ground. You relax until 4:45 am when the crowd begins to move to the starting corrals.

It is a 1/4 - 1/2 mile walk out to the roadway where the race starts. There are two start areas - the Red and the Blue. The corrals are arranged by expected finish times. There are more porta-potties by the corrals but not as many - so the lines tend to be long there. There are also lots of bushes and grass - which some believe also make good porta-potties.

The runners wait in the corrals for about another hour to race start. More sitting on the road - with some people jogging around to warm up before the race. Me - I rest my legs all I can. I use the first 2 miles for my warm up! :-)

At the starting line, there is a large platform above the runners where Minnie and Mickey are on hand to send the runners off. There are also large screens further back in the corals so you can see what is going on up near the front. The starting "gun" turns out to be a colorful array of fire works!!! It is a very cool start with Minnie, Mickey, Donald and Goofy waving you onto the course. This will not be the last time you will see Disney characters. They are located near the parks throughout the course - and available for pictures.

The two starting areas run separately for the first 3.5 miles or so and both enter Epcot about 2.5 - 3 miles into the race. They go through different parts of Epcot so it isn't so crowded. If you didn't get a porta-potty stop before the race, there are bathrooms in Epcot you can use!!! :-) I have had to use them both times! As you run through Epcot, it is lit up around the world showcase and there is inspirational music playing. They even have some of the laser lights on in the lagoon. It is very inspiring!

As you come out of Epcot, the two starting areas merge and it DOES get a bit crowded. The group then heads toward the Magic Kingdom. To get there, you run on a series of Disney World roads, parking lots and some back streets. Just before you get to the Magic Kingdom, you cross the 10 mile mark - then enter the Magic Kingdom near the entrance just to the right of Main Street. Main Street is lined on both sides with wall to wall people!!! If you have family coming to watch you, this is a great place to see them. I cry every time I run down this part...with the castle up ahead, the crowds around - you KNOW you are running the DISNEY marathon.

The course takes a right from Main Street across the bridge into Tomorrowland, then around toward Fantasyland and the back of Cinderella's castle. You go past the carousel and through the castle! There are Disney "cast members" up on the castle - trumpets that are announcing your arrival!!

You run through the castle and out the other side, heading toward Liberty Square, down the road past the Country Bears. Before you get to Thunder Mountain, you go straight and out of the Magic Kingdom - just before hitting mile 11.

Your next park will be Animal Kingdom, which comes just after mile 16. Before then you will go by a few hotels, then run some back roads outside of Animal Kingdom. I will warn you that you will also run by Disney's sewage treatment plant, and it can be a bit smelly if the wind is just right. There are Sharpie signs on the side of the road with funny sayings to help keep you distracted. You enter Animal Kingdom at the back of the park, run past Everest, by the big yellow dinosaur and out the entrance to the park. By now, the parks are open and so the runner's path is roped off and Disney staff help them cross the path when runners are clear. As you leave the park, you will be running down the parking lot and exit road. Traffic will move in one of the lanes near you.

Your next park will be Disney Studios around mile 22. The space between Animal Kingdom and Disney Studios is the toughest part of the race. You run out toward Wide World of Sports, but there isn't really anything to see out there. Just lots of access roads, no real tree coverage and to make it worse, an out and back segment at mile 20-21. They do have some entertainment out there (a band and others) to help make it more bearable - but it has been, for me, the "no man's land" before the final stretch.

Finally around mile 22, you enter Disney Studios from the back area - you run through some back lots and then run by the big hat. After exiting the studios, you run through the Disney Board Walk area near the Swan and Dolphin hotels. This is a really pretty area and makes you feel you are back in civilization once again. Part of this run takes you down the sidewalk along the waterway used to transport guest by boat from the Swan and Dolphin to Epcot and other places.

From the board walk you will enter Epcot at the World Showcase near France where you pass the 25 mile sign. Now, hours after beginning your your journey through this same place, you take one more lap around the lagoon. Like in Animal Kingdom and also Disney Studios, Epcot is open and cast members shuttle people across the runner's roped off pathway. Some of the guests will encourage you by telling you you are almost done, just around the corner. You can really begin to feel the excitement of the finish. You leave the World Showcase and run toward the "Ball", just to the right and out to the finish area.

Just before the finish right after mile 26, there is a huge choir singing praises! It really gets you pumped up to run that last .1 mile to the finish.

You make one last turn and there is the finish line, about .1 mile away! Last year Stitch was high fiving the finishers when I finished. There are bleachers on the left of the finish area where friends and family can sit and wait for you to finish.

You cross the finish have just completed the Disney World Marathon!!! :-) Time for your mylar blanket, cool medal, food and a massage!!! :-)

I am really psyched now!

Monday, January 05, 2009

Goofy Race and a Half Preparations

This is the week! After all the weeks of training - even through the busy holiday season, we are in the final countdown to the Goofy Race and a Half Challenge. I am SO ready!

If you are brave enough to track me, my half marathon bib number is 34576. My marathon bib number is 10763. You sign up at the links below:

Half Marathon Tracking

Full Marathon Tracking

I should warn you...Disney tracking has not been very reliable in the past. I have seen the results come in hours later....or multiple copies of a result are sent. So subscribe at your own risk :-) You can bet I will blog and twitter results as soon as I can! I am going to try to use my Twitterfone connection... will test it this week.

Goals for the Race(s):

1 - Finish both races with my husband. Through thick or thin we will cross the finish line together! What has been great this year, vs last year, is that we have trained together. It has been an incredible experience.

2 - Finish the half marathon in around 2:45. We don't want to go out too fast - we want to go easy and safe our energy for the marathon the next day. My estimate, based on our training, is a 2:30 - 2:45 time.

3 - Finish the full marathon in around 5:30. This may be a bit of a stretch goal for us - but if we can run the race just a little faster than our last few long runs, we might make it. We would like a course PR better than last year's 5:35. My estimate is 5:30 - 5:45.

4 - Have fun with the race! Meet lots of interesting people! Enjoy the journey!

Race Strategies:

a. Go out SLOW! We are using a run-walk method - running 5 minutes and walking 1 minute - right from the beginning of the race. We may use the 5:30 pace group on marathon day to keep track of how we are doing - but that is not a requirement.

b. Bring supplementary fluids. I have been using water with some CoQ10 liquid and Vit B mixed. I am going to pack that in my fuel belt and use the course water for water.

c. Bring Clif Shots.

d. Bring camera - need to get pics of my blogging / twitter buddies!

e. Bring cell phone - try to Twitterfone during the race.

More items to bring depending on the weather. Looks like a garbage bag should get us through the wait until race start (cool morning - will warm up). I am planning on short sleeves and shorts for both days.

Race Week Strategies:

i. SLEEP!! I am so guilty of not getting to bed early. I am going to try to get 7-8 hrs sleep a night all week - and TRY to get to bed early enough on race days.... we will need to rise at 2:30 am, leave the house around 3 am, to get to Disney and park around 4 am.

ii. EAT well!!! No cheating on eating this week. No "evil" foods - stick with things that digest well. I plan to eat my special veggie - protein shake each morning this week. The night before will be a light rice & fish dinner. The day of each race will snack light since we will be leaving several hours before the race.

Race Weather Forecast:

Saturday morning: Sunny - 50 - 65 deg F
Sunday morning: Sunny 45 - 65 deg F (maybe breezy)

Here we come Goofy!!

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Hapy New Year!! A Look back at 2008

My mom and I

It's a new year - 2009. One can't help but reflect on the past year while looking forward to the new one ahead. Today, I am looking back.

For 2008 - it has been a great year of running and life adventures. I am thankful each day for all the blessings I continue to enjoy in my life.

On the running front, it wasn't a big year for races or PRs - not as much as 2007 was. My guess is that 2007 was my second year of consistent running and I had a lot of room to grow. 2008 proved to be a little less consistent with my training, less races - but still some accomplishments over the past two years since I have started tracking my training.

2008 Running Goals:

I looked but couldn't find my running goals for 2008. As it turns out, when the New Year comes, I am still just about to run a race - I kind of consider the Disney Marathon as part of my previous year's efforts since most of the training takes place in the year leading up to the marathon. In general, I was seeking an improved 10K time with the Winter Park Road Race (I did better - but training got trumped by my work schedule) and I have sought out the 5 hour marathon (secret hope for San Antonio but it was not to be). I ran less races to focus on my training.

2008 Running Achievements:

I ran a total of 1066 miles in 2008 - more than I have in any other year.
My average weekly miles = 20.6 (highest) and highest week = 48 (highest)
My average monthly miles = 89 (highest) and highest month = 177 in Sept (highest)
My average long run pace in the fall was about 12:25 min/mile (fastest)

I ran 5 races this year:

Race 1: 2008 Disney World Marathon - I ran this race with my husband and set a course PR of 5:35. The very next day we signed up for the 2009 Goofy.

Race 2: Winter Park Road Race (10K) - I started a Higdon 10K training plan to PR at this distance, but was knocked off my training plan by a tough work schedule. I still squeaked out a PR by 3 sec at 1:03:57.

(No pictures at the 15K this year. None last year)

Race 3: Miracle Mile 15K - I used this as a marathon training run - trying to maintain my target marathon pace. I ran the race comfortably (not trying to push) and ended up missing a PR by 1 min.

(last year's picture - they missed me this year) Race 4: UCF 5 Miler - I like to run this race because it is near my house and 5 miles is a cool race distance. I was scheduled to run 15-16 miles for a long run so I ran 8 miles before the race (I ran to the race), then ran the 5 mile race at a much slower than PR pace (more a fast long run pace), then ran the 3 miles home.

Race 5: Rock n Roll San Antonio Marathon - I signed up for this inaugural race to participate with a good Texas friend of mine who was running her very first marathon for TNT. I was SO ready for the distance, but 2 days before the race came down with a nasty chest cold. I still ran a respectable 5:37 - and got really sick for the rest of the week....but I accomplished a lot during my training including my biggest training month ever in Sept (177 miles) averaging 44 miles / week.

So it appears that 2008 was a great running year. Next - 2009 goals!