Friday, January 18, 2008

Goofy Challenge: Half Marathon

This is Part II of the award winning recap of the Goofy Challenge.

Saturday, January 12th, 2008. Donald's Half-Marathon.

Crap. Hardly any sleep the night before this race. Tossing, turning, fearing I was going to miss the 3 AM wake-up call. I was told the last bus left Wilderness Lodge at 4 AM for the race start. That didn't leave much time if I overslept.

When the alarm went off, I estimate that I got 2 1/2 to 3 hours of sleep at most even after lights out at 10 PM.

Oh, well. Time to move. Shower (I always do this before a race for some reason). Dress. Chip in shoe. Bib on shirt. Orange Goofy band still on wrist? Check. I was in the mood for a faux hawk so whatever hair I could direct on top of my head got moussed into an external head spine.

Breakfast of banana nut muffin, banana, and water. I'll take an orange and PowerBar to the start line. After all, there is still nearly 3 hours until the race actually starts!

I did want to note - for those of you considering this event - that Wilderness Lodge opened their cafe at 2 AM serving breakfast foods and pasta dishes for the runners. I thought this was very cool. I didn't go down there for it though. I was valuing every last minute of sleep I could get. It's there though if you need it. I expect most all other Disney resorts did this as well.

About 3:45, I left my room with the kids still fast asleep and my wife restlessly stirring. The plan for this was that I would complete the half marathon and bus back on my own. It's way too early to get the kids up, hang out all day, and expect happy children by the end of the day. Let them sleep. They'll meet me tomorrow at the end of the full marathon.

The marathon bus was right out the front door just as I was told. In fact, there were 3 lined up and I'm guessing the last one wasn't leaving until around 4:30 or so.

We arrived at the start by 4:20. The starting area is basically in the Epcot parking lot. There was a rock band playing live on a makeshift stage in the waiting area. It's a bit surreal to be watching some band rock out, heads flailing so early in the morning while runners zig zag back and forth taking care of last minute business.

Stage in background

I sat by myself. Ate my orange. Took care of my own "business" and started the walk to the starting corrals. I was in corral A. This was right at the start. I do not remember ever having to show proof of time to get in this corral. I believe Disney simply takes you at your word when filling out the race application based on your expected finish time.

I could not see where the corrals were so I followed the crowd and walked.

...and walked.

...and walked.

It must have been a roughly 20 minute walk covering well over a mile. Nice warm-up I guess.

Right on schedule, national anthem, Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, and Donald appear for some inane chatter that nobody could really follow as everyone was just waiting for the race to start. A brief explosion of fireworks and We're Off!

I was really near the front. Probably took around 45 seconds to cross the start. There were just over 13, 000 runners.

Really, the miles were pretty uneventful. I stuck to my plan to run this out at training mode pace. I still had a full marathon to go the next day. Unofficially, I was shooting for a 1:40 half marathon time. This was several minutes below my ability, I think, but would leave me with the needed energy for the next day's run.

The course leaves Epcot and follows the road to the Magic Kingdom. They have several DJ's blaring music set up along the road in various dead zones to keep you going. I was not wearing my MP3 so it came in handy.

We reached Magic Kingdom still shrouded in the darkness by miles 5-7, I believe. The lights were on and the park workers were very enthusiastic with their encouragement. There were several of the Disney characters there including - ugh - Chip n' Dale.

We went up Main Street, through Tomorrowland, back through the middle of the castle, and out of the park through a service entrance somewhere over by Splash Mountain.

I'm pretty well hitting my miles right on schedule between 7:30 - 7:40 per mile.

After Magic Kingdom, we basically just head back to Epcot to the finish. By this time, the sun's starting to come up. It's still only about 65 degrees and breezy. A little warm but fine running conditions for a half marathon. I'm feeling pretty good actually.

There are a few overpasses you have to get over along the main roads so the course isn't exactly flat but I didn't feel there was anything exceptionally hilly about it either. Plenty of water stations along the way. There must have been 10 aid stations during the 13 miles.

Back at Epcot, we entered the park and ran a short loop up the middle and back out the other side near the giant Epcot golf ball. The finish line was just outside the Epcot exit.

Piles of Donald medals waiting for owners at the finish.

I finished, received my Donald medal. Got some food and drink and headed over to the bus back to the hotel.

Numbers? Yes, numbers:

Chip time: 1:39:14
Pace: 7:32/mile

Overall place: 264 of 12,228 finishers
Age group place: 46 of 906

By 8:45 AM, I was back in the room as the family was waking up for a day at the park!

Official half marathon photos from ASI photography.

The rest of Saturday would be spent at Animal Kingdom. More warm-up for the next day's full marathon!

Next post: Full Marathon and the completion of the Goofy Challenge.


Russ said...

the suspense builds....

Non-Runner Nancy said...

Yikes, that quite a finish for taking er easy. 264? Nice work. Good idea letting the kiddos sleep, too.

The pics are great. Love the faux hawk!!

sRod said...

Great that you finish at Epcot...they used to finish in the Magic Kingdom parking lot. I can't wait until the third installment.

L*I*S*A said...

Great job...LOVE THE PICS!!

Go Steers Runner!!