Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Goofy Challenge Part 3: Race Report - Disney World Marathon

After seeing how well the buses ran for the half, I let myself sleep until 3:20 on Sunday. I got myself up and ready and headed out. It was much colder on Sunday, but 45 degrees isn't any worse than what I'm used to in TN. I had another space blanket from a previous race and used it to stay warm. The arm warmers I got for Christmas were also awesome for both races since it was cool in the morning and warmed up to the 60s during the race.

I met up with Alisa again at the main start area and walked over to the start corrals with her, her husband and another family member. It was kind of funny because her husband was all interested in hearing my southern accent. I forget I have that sometimes. :)

Here I am at the start line. After this picture, Alisa was like, "ooh, you're very reflective." Good to know that people can see me in this gear.

I was assigned to corral D for this race, and we totally snuck Alisa into the corral with me so that we could hang out for a while and start together. We didn't feel too guilty since the day before was kind of awful with her and Meredith being assigned to start unreasonably far back.

We chit chatted, mostly about our nerves. I knew that I'd get the race done, but I also knew I was tired and wasn't sure how it might feel.

We got to start a lot sooner this time, and I was thrilled because it was so cold and I was just ready to get the show on the road. Alisa and I ran the first 2-3 miles together but then decided to do our own things. It was so helpful though to have a friend at the start, and I'm thankful for being able to meet up with her both days. It also helped knowing all morning that she was out there somewhere doing the same thing as me. I know there were a ton of other people doing the Goofy, but there's something about knowing that someone you actually know is out there somewhere having the experience, too.

The marathon course was different than the half, which was definitely a good thing. I can't imagine if the first half was the exact same thing as what I had run 24 hours before. Before long, we were running into Epcot.

I love these little electrical parade bugs. So fun! It also brings back my memories of watching the original electric parade when I was a child.

The Epcot ball looks really neat in the dark.

As I ran through Epcot, I realized I kinda needed to pee. Since I wasn't concerned with the clock, I decided to just go on and stop. I actually ended up running into one of the regular bathrooms in the parks. Lights. Heat. Toilet paper. Flushing. It was a smart move and only took a minute.

Coming out of Epcot, I snapped a photo with these characters from Pinnochio.

The new few miles passed in kind of a blur. I knew that I was already feeling tired, and I was running about an 11:30 pace so far. Granted, I was pleased with this all things considered, but it's definitely slower than I'm used to running.

Before long, the sun was rising and we were at the Magic Kingdom. I needed to go to the bathroom again, so I made a porta-potty stop. It took a little longer, but I felt refreshed and had a little burst of energy after stopping for a few minutes.

I loved that this dj had the giant Mickey gloves. All of the entertainment along the course really was awesome, just like yesterday. Once again, I never even pulled out my iPod.

As we came into the Magic Kingdom for real, I pulled over to snap this photo of Space Mountain. When I turned to stop running, I came face-to-face with a man I know from Nashville who was also doing the Goofy. What are the odds?!

Don and I started chatting and running together. I took another photo in front of the castle.

I also got a fun photo with the train!

Don and I ran together from about miles 10-13, and I told him how it's the first time that I've ever reached mile 10 feeling like it was mile 20. My feet were definitely feeling tired, and I felt like I could take a nap on the sidewalk. Don had done the Goofy once before, so we chatted some about that time compared to this one as well as how the half had gone the day before.

When we came up on Mickey and Minnie, I decided to wait in line for a photo and he went on. It helped having someone I knew around for a few miles.

One of the awesome things about this race is that you really can get all the photos you want. I had to stand in line each time I wanted a photo with a character, but it always moved very quickly. When you don't give a flip about your finish line, you don't care if a photo stop adds an extra minute or two. Plus, they have employees that you hand your camera to and they take the picture for you. AWESOME.

The miles between the Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom started wearing on me. I was tired. I knew I'd finish, but I knew that it probably wouldn't be under 5:30 like I was secretly hoping. I went into it with no real time goal and knowing this would likely be my slowest ever - I just wanted to have fun and take lots of pictures - but I still had my little secret goal. By mile 15, I didn't care if it took 6 hours.

The interesting thing is that I managed to keep running almost the whole race. I walked the water stops like I always do and I stopped for photos, but other than that I was still running... just very slowly. I think I started seeing 12 and 13 minute miles.

I also started stopping for photos that I didn't really care about because I just wanted a good excuse to stop without making myself feel guilty. Case in point? This photo with bears.

I also stopped for this photo since there were some extra characters from who was in it the day before. I did skip any stops that were exactly the same as the day before. Why stop for a photo I already have?

Before long, we made it into Animal Kingdom. I have to say that even though you don't run through the parks for that long, it really helped break up the race to go through all four.

Here's another photo with bears that I didn't really feel like I needed to have but that allowed me a short stop.

I do think this photo turned out cute, even if I am a little washed out by the lighting.

I also like this shot of the Everest ride. It had just opened when I ran by, and I was really tempted to hop off course and ride it and then hop back on and keep running. There were some employees near the entrance that I assumed were there to keep us from trying that otherwise I might have!

I like the next couple of shots I got in the Animal Kingdom.

After the Animal Kingdom, I started having to really talk to myself a lot. I was feeling tired, and I kept telling myself that when I'd get to certain places I could start walking. I'd say I needed to make it to 16. Then I'd get there and tell myself to make it to the next water stop. Then I'd get there and tell myself to get to 17. I really wanted to keep running as much as possible for as long as possible.

Honestly? I knew that the sooner I got done then the sooner I could go play at the Magic Kingdom. I didn't want to miss out on any opportunities to ride more rides! At the same time, it was definitely all mental to keep myself moving as quickly as possible (which was still slow.) I started seeing 14 minute miles, but this was in part because of the photo stops.

Stops like this one. The guy in line before me actually laid down in the grave. SO funny.

At mile 20, I reached that point where I was starting to wonder how the rest of the race was going to go. I knew that even if I walked the last 6 miles I'd finish, but I really was ready to be done. Somewhere along here that was a little out and back section and I saw Don again. He swing over and we exchanged a high five. Sometimes little things like that give you a burst of energy.

I continued to keep running as much as possible, but my water stop walk breaks got a little longer and sometimes I'd walk a bit after making a photo stop. My body actually felt good, but my feet were so tired of having my weight on them. They ached as I ran, but I found they actually burned if I walked... so it was better to keep running even if it was slow.

Even though it was getting tough, I really still felt so happy to be out here running this race. I spent some time in these miles reflecting on how I registered for this over a year ago and had wanted to attempt it for over two years. It'd been a little dream that had been a long time coming. I actually teared up a few times, but that could have been because I was ready to get this thing done. I also kind of couldn't believe I was pulling this off. It still doesn't feel like that long ago that I was dealing with a fracture in my hip, and now here I am running 39.3 miles in two days. Blows my own mind.

Before long, we were finally heading into Hollywood Studios. I can't even remember what miles we were out, but I know it was maybe 22 or so and they had little mini Hershey bars. I took two and it was the best ting I had ever eaten. There's something so wise about chocolate during a race. There was also a random spectator handing out Twizzlers, and I totally took one and thanked her. In hindsight, it probably is ill-advised to take candy from a stranger... but whatever. Later, a spectator was giving out pretzels and it made my day.

So did taking these photos.

We left the park and had only a few miles to the end. By the time I hit 23, I knew I was going to have to walk some to get myself there. I don't even want to know how I looked. I would run 50 yards and then walk a few yards and then run 50 yards and so on. Sometimes I'd run longer. Sometimes I'd walk longer. Regardless, I made sure to check in the scenery.

The spectators who had been out along the course and in the parks had been so amazing. So had all the volunteers. I tried to smile and nod and thank them as much as I could. They really helped a ton in these final miles.

Before long, we turned back into Epcot and I knew we were getting closer to the finish line.

This is really where it started to feel the hardest. I knew the finish line was so close, but I took any and every opportunity to stop for a photo.

Granted, I like Jasmine.

And Snow White has always been one of my favorites. (And she totally called me a princess and warned me to not take any apples at the finish line.)

But did I really need or want this photo? Eh, I could have taken or left it... but it was a reason to take a little pit stop.

The finish line is right near the Epcot ball outside of the park, and I could see the ball for most of the last mile and a half or so. I knew it was so close, but it looked SO far away.

I kept pushing, and never in my marathons have I ever been so happy to see this mile marker!

I turned the corner and could see the finish line. I started grinning and couldn't believe that I was doing this. Then I saw Mickey and Minnie in their track suits just before the finish line. I remember laughing in my head and knowing that some people would get a kick out of what I was about to do. I totally stopped for a photo with them like 5 yards before the finish line. (It's fun to not care at all about your finish time.)

I crossed the line in 5:39:40. It was my slowest marathon I've run since my first which I ran in 5:12. I know I teared up a bit, but I was also a little disoriented. I got my marathon medal and kept moving. Then, all these people kept congratulating me and I kept passing them until one of them kind of grabbed my arm. Turns out, they were trying to give me my Goofy medal. :)

In case you're curious, this was my 10th marathon. It was pretty cool to run kind of a big one as my 10th!

I asked a stranger to snap a photo of me with my medals. (He tried to tell me that I could get it made by the race photographers and I said I didn't want to buy it and he said you don't have to buy it and I was asking what the point was and wondering why he didn't just tell me no if he didn't want to take it... or maybe it wasn't as dramatic as I remember. Still disoriented.)

Once again, I was very displeased with the lack of food. At the same time, I didn't really know what I wanted anyways. I got on the bus and headed back to the hotel. I was actually feeling ok... just tired.

Here are a few of the official photos that I think are fun.

I was actually fighting to stay awake on the bus ride back. By the time I was at the hotel, food didn't sound good. I got a chocolate milk to drink and hit the showers. I put on my compression socks and set my alarm to take a two hour nap.

I actually woke up feeling pretty refreshed, and my body felt surprisingly great. My feet were tired, and I knew I'd want to sit as much as I could... but it was almost scary how good I felt.

My family had gone on ahead to the Magic Kingdom, so I took the bus over and met up with them. I totally wore my Goofy medal. I figured that I just accomplished one of the toughest things I've ever done, and I was totally going to wear the medal as long as was appropriate. Lots of other people did the same, so it was fun being a part of that.

We totally took this silly photo. (We're cheesy like that.)

We also got a good family photo in front of the castle.

We spent the day riding the big rides (I think I rode Space Mountain 4 more times that day) and some of the little ones like Peter Pan and Snow White. I like all the little kid rides... reminds me of my youth.

It was fun seeing other people with their medals. I try to be humble, but I have to admit that I was really proud of myself for doing this Goofy thing... so I'd see people with marathon medals and I was proud of them, but secretly I was thinking, "I did what you did today, but I also ran a half yesterday." Haha. I also did that during the race. Goofy people had blue bibs, so any time I looked around and saw the red marathon bibs and felt tired I'd remind myself that these people around me hadn't run a half the day before. It kind of helped.

We stood in Main Street (after enjoying dinner earlier and then a cinnamon bun and coffee) and watched the fireworks show. I was totally tearing up as Tinkerbell glided down from the castle and all of the fireworks went up behind the castle. I have so many happy memories from Disney World (this was my sixth trip there), and I was really just in disbelief that I was able to accomplish this huge thing for myself in a place that I love. I also think I'm old enough now that I can see myself bringing my own kids there someday. Sappy, I know, but I had a little moment.

Plus, Disney fireworks are amazing (with the exception of the sorry little race start ones). How they time them to go off exactly with the music amazes me.

I also made sure to ride Dumbo. My sister thinks it's kind of silly, but it was my favorite when I was a kid. I actually have a really vivid memory of being on it and getting to push the button to make us go up and down. Now it's a little lever. At the end, all the Dumbos go up for a final circle or two... and I have to admit it makes me a little nervous to be that high in a plastic elephant. But I still love it.

We got a family photo with Mickey and Minnie before the park closed at 11. Yes, I was still at the Magic Kingdom at 11pm on the same day I'd gotten up at 3:20am to run a marathon... the day after running a half marathon. Go big or go home, right?

I totally got a chocolate cake at the hotel when we got back. Then I crashed.

Half marathon. Full marathon. Four theme parks. Two days. 39.3 miles. Happiest place on Earth.

It could quite possibly be one of my proudest achievements. Bigger than high school valedictorian. Bigger than summa cum laude. Bigger than Homecoming Director or Director of Social Enrichment or any other office I've held. Bigger than running three marathons in three months (which I finished up by running this one... I am a Marathon Maniac now, which is still pretty awesome!)

I know people do bigger things than this every day, but this was huge for me.

And I can't help but be a little proud of myself.


Jamie said...

Be a lot proud of yourself! It's a huge accomplishment - congrats on an awesome 39.3 miles!!!

great race reports! I too was disappointed with food at the end. By the 2nd day I was just pissed there was no food b/c I was starving. I also wore my medal around Epcot after the race and thought the same thing as you when I saw others wearing their 1/2 or full medals. I wonder if finishing a marathon will always feel different now? Anyways, congrats again!

Aron said...

you are just a racing machine this year - AWESOME job on the goofy challenge!

Nicole said...


amazing job on goofy!

you ROCK!

Love to Run said...

Congratulations on you Goof Finish Melanie! You did awesome. I am proud of your accomplishment as well.

Your race report for the half and the full were excellent. Sounds like they have improved the Disney Marathon since I last ran it about 4 years ago. They didn't have nearly that many characters on the course for pictures back then, just a few. The fireworks sound like they got a lot worse since they were pretty cool before and they seemed to mess up on the food. Was the post race party still there?

Maniac you are! Great runner as well. Keep it up!

Amy said...

Congrats MANIAC!

d.a.r. said...

Oh my gosh, this post totally made me cry. I am so very proud of you!! You have accomplished so much.

Jackie said...

What a fun and amazing accomplishment!

Quirky said...

You should be proud! This is an amazing thing you did! Thanks for sharing it.

Kimberly said...

Congratulations!!! Goofy is a great achievement!

EP said...

Great job, girl! I'm super excited for you for completing this and love how you got to stop and take photos during the run.