Thursday, January 17, 2013

About Goofy's Race 2013

I first ran Disney three years ago.  It was the 5th Anniversary of Goofy's Race and a Half Challenge.  For those who are not familiar with this race, it's a Half Marathon (WDWHalf) on Saturday and a Marathon (WDWMarathon) on Sunday.  For most people, doing this once is enough.  That's why I thought coming back a second time, would be just, well... Goofy.

Over a year ago my good friend Bob Coffey and I were reminiscing about the 2010 run, we had been there with a group of six.  One thing let to another and next thing we knew we agreed that we would run Goofy again in 2013.  Not sure why we thought this would be a good idea, but we did.

Fast forward to January 10th.  My wife, Monica and I left en-route to WDW.  We had chosen to make the 12 hour drive as opposed to flying as most of our friends were doing.  Yes, most of our friends because there were 11 of us there.  Most of us from Hendersonville, a few from South Florida.

We arrived on Friday around noon.  Just as planned.  Met with my brother who was also running the Goofy.  This would be his first Marathon.  Not sure he knew, at this point, what he had signed up for.

We made our way in to packet pick up at Wide World of Sports.  As usual and with most everything that Disney does, it was very well organized and it moved smoothly and rapidly.  Got our bibs and moved on.  Monica's was #45816, my brother Hernando's was #27904 and mine was #27918.

The Expo

It would probably be the one and only disappointment of the entire weekend.   It was crowded.  It was a cluster.  It was busy and congested.  Crammed, jammed and stuffed.  There were plenty of exhibitors with plenty of stuff to show and sell, but I couldn't tell you what they had because for the most part, I couldn't get to them.

The problem, in my opinion, was the isles were to narrow to accommodate the crowd.  It got so bad that at one point, we had not even made it around the first corridor, when I told my folks that it was time to go.

This was probably a blessing in disguise because, other that purchasing an "I did it" tee shirt, we bought nothing else.  Money well saved!

The Condo

We arrived at the condo early afternoon.  There we were met with bright smiles and plenty of hugs by two of our three condo-mates for the weekend; K'leetha and Julie.  Julie had arrived on Thursday, K'leetha had just arrived as well.  We would meet up with Janelle later.

The accommodations were perfect and for this we have to thank Janelle.  Thank you Janelle!

Later that evening we gathered for our pre-race meal at Bahama Breeze.  There we (Julie, K'leetha, Monica, Hernando and I) met with most of the rest of the group.  Bob, Joana, Tabitha, Janelle, and John, Cleo and Jim.  The latter three are friends of Bob's which joined us from South Florida.  Wayne could not be there.  We met up with him next morning at the race.

Half Marathon

Wake up call came early.  2 AM.  But I had no problem jumping out of bed.  To say I was excited and looking forward to this would be an understatement.  It was special in so many levels, but most importantly because I was planning to run from start to finish side by side with my wife and brother.  I knew she wouldn't want this because she would feel that she was holding us back, so she didn't know this was my plan. I finally told her at the beginning of the race. As I had predicted, she objected for a bit but then she realized that there was to be no further discussion on the matter.  That's how it was to be.

We met the group at the parking lot and took last minute pictures.  The crowd was growing by the minute so we proceeded to move towards the place where we would meet Tabitha and Wayne.  We met up with Wayne but could not find Tabitha.  Finally did catch up with her later, in the corral.

Our assignments were for different corrals but somehow we managed to get in the same one, corral C.  Except for Julie and Jim.  They went on to corral A.

The start of the race is spectacular.  Like every show at Disney is quiet the production.  Fireworks at the launch of each corral.

The run itself went just as planned.  Monica, Hernando and I stuck together and enjoyed the journey.  We took it easy and ran at a very slow pace.  The course was crowded, very crowded.  I heard that there were some 45,000 runners, but I think I counted a few more.  It was elbow to elbow runners most of the way.  The most crowded place was the Magic Kingdom, specifically running through Cinderella's Castle, which by the way was beautiful. Probably the most beautiful I have ever seen it.  No, I did not take pictures for my phone's camera was malfunctioning (or perhaps it was the operator who was malfunctioning), so instead of getting frustrated, I just enjoyed the sights and didn't worry about the pictures.  Next time, if there's a next time, I will take a pocket camera with me.

We had set us a goal of sub 3 hours for the Half Marathon.  We crossed the line together at 2:59:16.  Mission:  Success.

Full Marathon

Once again, wake up call came at 2 AM.  Same routine different morning.  Left the condo at 3 AM on our way to Epcot for the start of the second leg of  Goofy's Race; the Marathon.  Start time was scheduled at 5:30 AM.

And again, we met most of the group at the parking lot.  Wayne and Tabitha were staying at hotels located on Disney property so they met us inside.

The walk to the starting line, which is about a mile away did not take as long as it had on Saturday because the crowd was not as big.  Or so they tell us.  I think after a couple of ten thousand it's all the same.

Once again the start was amazing.  We got started quicker so maybe the crowd was not as large.  I think we were running by 6AM, give or take.

Most of the group, except for Jim, Julie and Joana who had gone ahead in corral A, ran together for the first ten miles or so.  Bob was pacing us and doing a great job at it.  We would run for a mile, and at each mile marker we would walk for about a minute, I think.  This worked great.  Until...

... Until we came out of WDW Speedway, around mile ten(ish).  I had to stop at the porta-potty.  There was a line so I had to wait.  Then I stopped at the medical tent to put some Biofreeze on my legs.  Big mistake.  Stopping for so long was a big mistake.  Could hardly get moving again.  My ankles caught on fire. They hadn't hurt that bad in a long time.  I guess they cooled down, swelled and bingo!  Surprise.

I chose at that point to run four minutes and walk one minute.  This is the strategy that I used with much success at Ironman Louisville.  When I ran, I tried to run at a good pace.  This worked for the most part.

The weather was sunny and hot.  I think the temperature was mid to high 80's with humidity in the 70%.  I was afraid of what this would do, so I drank plenty and drank often.  At every water station I would alternate.  I would drink about 5 oz of water and 2.5 oz of Powerade at one station and the opposite at the next station.  This I did consistently.  I never felt hot, flushed, dehydrated.  Did not get dry mouth or sweated excessively.  This was a blessing.

My goal, from the start, was to finish the marathon in sub 6 hours.  My chip time was 5:56:37.  I was pleased.

In a nutshell, this had to have been one of the best weekend running experiences I have ever had.  I got to run side by side with my wife on her first half marathon since surgery.  I got to run with my brother on his first marathon.  Although we did not finish together, we did participate on this event together.

This event was made extra special by the group of friends we shared the experience with; Bob, Tabitha, Wayne, Julie, Janelle, K'leetha, Joana, Jim, John and Cleo.  I got to know most of them a bit better and found out how much in common we have; mostly the passion for running and making friends.  I hope that we can do this again...soon!

It is my recommendation to anyone thinking about running at Walt Disney World, be it the Half, the Marathon or Goofy... do it with family and/or friends.  This will be an experience you will cherish for life.