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Walt Disney Goofy’s Half & Full Marathon Challenge 1/7-1/9/10

January 11, 2010

This weekend was absolutely incredible with all three races running through the different parts of Walt Disney. I had no idea the Disney property was so massive! To back up a bit, here were my pre-race thoughts. Preface: this is a super long post, but with pictures!

Flight landed in Orlando Thursday afternoon, checked into a cheaper end hotel that ended up being 30 minutes away from the race start. After lots of telephone calls, B’s expert accounting skills & stress, we finally made the decision to transfer to a resort on the Disney property. I realized this weekend when it comes to races, you cannot skimp on these little inconveniences! Especially since we didn’t have any way to get around, we would have to taken a separate taxi everyday to the race site and back, it just wasn’t worth the trouble. After my amazing experience at CIM with our hotel, it is so important to get a hotel that acknowledges the race is going on and can accommodate us needy runners. Unfortunately, our first hotel had no idea a marathon was going on that weekend and could not provide us any shuttle service race day. Goodbye ____, hello Dolphin Resort!

Checked out the expo Thursday night, which was surprisingly smaller than I would have imagined. I think CIM was bigger than this one! Didn’t stay around for long, just picked up the necessary bibs and T-shirts, bought some gels and headed back to the resort for a mish-mosh dinner and much-needed sleep for our 7AM 5K run the next morning.

Meet-up with Kitty from TCLA

Tweet-up with @accelerate

By the way, did I mention Orlando is 3 hours ahead of L.A? And also 50 degrees cooler? No joke. So really, when the race starts at 7AM for the 5K and 5:40AM for the half and full marathon, it is really 4AM and 2:40AM back at home. So crazy I was waking up when west coast friends haven’t even slept yet!

Friday January 8th 7AM 5K Run

The 5K race was UP! themed, which is quite possibly the best Pixar movie ever, and I am a sucker for old men so this race was a perfect warm-up for the weekend’s events. It was also B’s first race ever! He has watched so many of my races, and now he can finally start his own shoebox collection of medals! So proud of you for sticking through it all, despite the balmy weather.

The course winded through Epcot center which was really interesting seeing how I have never been there before. I’m not sure if I would ever pay to go there again, since there are so many other attractions in Orlando to see, so it was a nice “free” way to tour the park.

This guy held a bunch of balloons the whole way-wish I would have thought of that!

The UP! characters waved us off..

We took it easy and really enjoyed ourselves along the course, stopping to take pictures every now and then..

Watching the sun rise

Running through all the different countries..

Almost there..sprinting to the finish!

First bling of the weekend

Since we had the rest of the day to kill, we headed to Universal Island of Adventure for the day! B fondly remembers the Spiderman ride the last time he was there (which was like 10 years ago…)

Hello there…

B plays a pretty good angry Marge Simpson, don’t you agree?

Big pimping. P-I-M-P

Saturday January 9th 5:40AM Part I Goofy Challenge-Half marathon

Temperature for this race started at 28 F with a 60% chance of showers. Pasadena again, but in CIM weather? This time I made sure to dress appropriately, unlike CIM where I was that stupid Californian girl in a tank top and shorts, I prefaced this race with a dri-fit tank, long sleeve compression shirt, long sleeve race shirt, tights and gloves. Nevertheless, I still froze, but managed to feel comfortable after the first couple of miles. I would like to mention that I’m pretty good at ignoring pain. As in, when my trainer asks me what hurts when we stretch, I have no clue what to tell her as I can’t remember the last time my body felt completely normal. Is that bad? Yes, probably. So despite the 20 something degree weather, wind, rain which turned into hard ice pellets, I managed to run through it all at a fairly easy pace, setting my legs up for the next day.

The course was fairly entertaining, except I ran 90% of it in the dark since the sun didn’t even rise until 7:20ish and I finished in less than 2 hours. The parts that stuck out to me the most was definitely running through the park because of all the energy surrounding us. They had the Disney theme music playing, the rides were going, characters were out cheering us on and even though it was terrible weather, amazing spectators still came and showed their support. The rest of the course was along the backlots of the park, through narrow stripways which was pitch black. They had police cars just driving up and down the strip lighting the way for runners. I wasn’t feeling “great” during this race because it was so cold and dark and I knew I wasn’t running it for time. It was hard to hold back at the very beginning of the race and at the end. I kept telling myself to save it for the marathon and take it easy, which seemed to work fine considering it didn’t even feel like I ran that day when I finished.

Can someone please remind me again why Disney decided to start the race at 5:40 in the morning?!

All the characters, complete in track suits, came out to wave us off

Running through the castle was awesome!

Dennis and I both managed to finish in decent time, under 2 hours was our goal, but we did it at a pace that wasn’t too tough to maintain. Official time: 1:53:04, average pace: 8:30 min/mile

Garmin stats:

http://connect.garmin.com/activity/22157580

Blinging all the way back to the hotel…

After the race I had to wait around in the now 30 degree weather and rain for over 20 minutes for our hotel shuttle. Needless to say, the runners who were also waiting weren’t very happy. Cold, wet runners do not make a good combination.

Spent the rest of the rainy day mostly inside: eating, watching movies, creating trouble, the usual..

Taking pictures in front of our swanky hotel that we could probably never afford again…

Carbo-loading at Wolfgang Puck Express Cafe at Downtown Disney. Is this the magical formula? Wood fired pizzas, spaghetti & meatballs, BBQ chicken salad? Must be. I will be scoping out all Wolfgang Puck restaurants in L.A. for my next race…

By the way, I think B enjoys partaking in all our pre-race rituals. What a trooper.

Sunday January 10th 5:40AM Part II Goofy Challenge-Full Marathon

Game day. If you have been reading my blog, you might have read that I have been trying to qualify for Boston since..um..my very first marathon in Surf City 2009! I know, I have crazy goals, but when you set goals, why not set them higher? Anyways, having this goal has pretty much set me up for disappointment at every single one of my past marathons. I had no idea how hard it was to qualify for Boston, and the more times I tried and fell short, the more  determined I was to qualify.  This was something I wanted so badly, but didn’t have the experience or the proper training under my belt to really expect anything more from my marathons. After CIM, I knew something had to change in my training. Instead of thinking about the mileage, I started to think about the quality of my workouts. Is is better to do 30 minutes of hard x-training on the elliptical at a high resistance or zone out on the elliptical for 70 minutes watching your favorite reality show? (I may or may not have been doing this before..) Since CIM, I have picked up track workouts, hill training, boxing, etc. My shorter runs (10-15 miles) were on harder terrains. Whereas, I used to despise hills, I have learned to have a love/hate relationship with them. Yes, they are tough, but the hills also make you so much stronger. I trained on these hills for my shorter runs, making them harder than if I just took the runs along the beach with zero elevation change. My higher mileage runs (18-22) were on flat courses that allowed me to get the distance in without straining my body.

The track workouts seemed like a fun concept when I first joined, but after the first workout, I immediately took that back. It was a humbling experience to say the least, and even on a track, you begin to realize how important quality over quantity training can be. Even though all our workouts were only 3 miles, we did them in different intervals and speeds with recovery breaks in between. This helped build speed and stamina and when it came down to the marathon, I kept thinking the last 3 miles was “just another track workout”.

Back-to-back long runs: Necessary? I think they helped. Were they fun? No, absolutely not. Who wants to do a 10 miler the day after a 20 mile run? Despite hating doing these runs, I did them twice just to make sure my body could handle the mileage over a 2 day period. And really, it wasn’t too bad. It’s better than going all the way to Orlando to realize you shouldn’t have signed up for the Goofy…

I managed to get a decent 6.5 hours of sleep the night before and woke up refreshed and ready to tackle 26.2 miles. My body and legs felt fine, I thought it was strange how it didn’t even feel like I had run a half marathon the day before. I think mentally, I wasn’t celebrating the fact that I had completed a half marathon knowing a full marathon was awaiting me the next day. Maybe my mental state pushed all the soreness or pain away? Quite possibly. The mind does work wonders…

Weather update: Currently 30F real feel 20F. 27F/16F @ 6am. 31F/21F @ 8am. 34/25 @ 9am, 38/29 @ 10am. At least it wasn’t raining!

The calm before the storm, trying to warm up before stripping off all our outer layers before heading out to the starting line.

Gotta sport the Goofy shirt…

I joined up with the 3:40 Cliff Bar pace team at the start of the race. Despite my previous experience with a pace team at Long Beach, I tried to keep focused on the pace balloons to make sure I was within range of the goal pace. Since there were so many runners, we hit the first mile a little under 10 minutes. A lot of the runners in the pace group started to freak out and ask the leader what he was doing. It was kind of funny to hear all the commotion going on, but the leader assured us that he knew what he was doing and that we needed to get warmed up first. I have to admit, I had a hard time keeping up with the group for the first couple of miles of the race. Since it was so dark, runners were tripping over the cones they had laid out to mark the course, which in turn, created a domino effect. Luckily, I watched my step, but a lot of times I felt restrained and couldn’t run as fast as I would have like because of all the runners around me. Now, I’m not about to go shoving people out of the way. I knew just as long as I had the pace leader in sight, I could make up for the time.

We winded through the Magic Kingdom again and ended up doing the half marathon course, so it was all fairly familiar to me, especially when we ran through the Epcot again for the 3rd time this weekend. I tried to keep a steady pace, but was hard to read my Garmin since it was so dark out. The miles through the parks were definitely the best and the most memorable. I probably looked like an idiot with a big grin on my face waving to all the characters as I ran by, but so did everyone else. Around Mile 12, people started to clear out and there was more space in front of me to run. I was surprised that I was actually side-by-side with the pace leader and listened to him make funny remarks and give great advice along the course. He would give us a heads-up when a water station was close, or to run close to the corners of the course so we don’t have to run anymore than we needed to. I never thought about cutting diagonally across, but it makes sense. You are taking more steps by not hugging the curb when the course winds.

After the 13 mile mark, I decided to pick it up a little bit because I felt pretty good. The pace group dropped behind from the water stops, but I just kept going. I knew they would eventually catch up to me anyways, but I just wanted to see how far I could go at this pace. I felt really comfortable and kept checking my Garmin to make sure I wasn’t reading it wrong. I was wavering around a 8:05-8:13 pace, which I couldn’t believe. For some really odd reason, this almost felt too easy! Could it be the flat course? The extra gels I packed? Wolfgang? I had no clue why or how I felt this way. When Mile 20 hit, I started to get teary-eyed. I knew Boston was in sight, and if I could keep this pace up, I knew I was going to make it. Even though I was still waiting to hit the wall, I felt like a machine chugging along at a comfortable pace. My feet and hands were still numb from the cold, but I couldn’t even feel them anymore. Although, just having the sun come up did lift my mood a lot and I was able to see all the different characters along the course. I made sure to take a gel at mile 7, 15 and 22, along with a sports drink every other station. At the turn-around, I saw the 3:30 pace group, so I knew I was in between the 3:30 and the 3:40 group. We ran through Animal Kingdom which was kind of disappointing because I didn’t see as much as I had expected, but it sure smelled for the couple miles we ran through the park. The last park before finishing at the Epcot was Hollywood studios where they had built a miniature New York and designed the course so we were able to run through the sets.

At Mile 23, I was fairly confidant I was going to make it to Boston. One lady actually yelled “Boston” to me, and that got me all emotional again. I am such a sap when it comes to these things, I haven’t cried during a race since my first half marathon at City of Angels. The clock read 3:10 when I hit mile 23, so I knew even if I slowed down to a 10 min/mile, I could still make it in time for a 3:40 finish. With 3 miles left to go and still feeling pretty damn good, I kept my 8:15 pace and thought about all the runs it took me to get to where I am today. I actually started to feel a little tight in my legs around Mile 25, but couldn’t let that get to me. I was so close and we were running through Epcot again with all the screaming spectators. Rounded a corner, and the finish line was in sight 0.20 miles away. I gave it everything I had left in me and ‘tried’ to sprint to the finish with an official time of 3:36:51, average pace 8:11. I couldn’t believe it, I had completed 3 awesome races in one weekend, ran over 42 miles, ran my fastest marathon time ever, but most of all, qualified for Boston 2011! I completely broke down as I hobbled over to retrieve the marathon and the Goofy medal. One lady volunteer must have thought something was wrong because she came over to me and asked if I was okay and helped tie the foil wrap around me.

I quickly took a finisher’s photo, grabbed my check bag and called B who was waiting at the finish. Unfortunately, he missed me crossing through the finish because he wasn’t expecting me to finish 4 minutes earlier than my goal time, and the live tracker updates were a little slow getting to him.

It’s slowly starting to dawn on me that I will be participating in the world’s oldest marathon, something I have thought about so many times during my training runs. I will continue to train and would give anything to feel as great as I did during this weekend’s events. By writing this race recap, I have a better picture of all the training I did and how I was able do well and what worked. Will continue the hill/track workout, I have Surf City Half and Pasadena Half in February, followed by the L.A. Marathon in March. Couldn’t ask for a better race to kick off 2010, looking forward to more races this coming year!

Garmin stats:

Full Marathon: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/22157595

Post-race beer and food!

4 medals. 3 amazing races. Great friends. One magical weekend. Goofy-See you in 2011!

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13 Comments leave one →
  1. January 12, 2010 11:08 am

    Amazing!!! This is so inspirational and you are a rock star!!! I can only dream of qualifying for Boston and you did it the day after a half?! Again, I say amazing…

  2. January 13, 2010 6:01 am

    huge congrats! I hardly read a blog post from beginning to end, but… I read this. Makes me wanna pickup the bike and train for a century. Almost.

  3. Matthew permalink
    March 9, 2010 1:05 pm

    Awesome Inspirational Blog! I’ll be running the Goofy challenge in Jan. 2011! It will also be my first marathon. Other than Wolfgang’s (Which it one of my favorite Downtown Disney spots) did you do anything else to help you recover for the next morning? Cold bath? Recovery drinks? Any tips? I plan on using a similar strategy, run a comfortable 1/2 on Sat. and focus on the full, for Sunday.
    Congratulations, that’s an awesome accomplishment and good luck in Boston!

  4. August 17, 2010 3:32 am

    Thanks for sharing your journey. I am planning on running the 2011 Disney Marathon with the intention of qualifying for Boston. You’re an inspiration.

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