Thursday, January 27, 2011
So it's been almost 3 weeks since Disney. The hype is over. It's amazing how quickly it all goes away. It was a race I looked forward to for about 3 years b/c I knew I'd do it one day. And now it's done. It's easy to think that I'll never have another race like that. But who knows. Maybe another race will be just as good, if not better. Chicago and Memphis were certainly great races. And maybe I'll go back to Disney one day. No big races for a while though. It's almost baby time. About 10-11 weeks left. We are getting so excited. Our house is a wreck. Like train wreck. There is stuff everywhere. The remodel is supposed to be done around the end of February. We'll then have a month to put it all back together in time for the baby. That is IF he's on time and not early. It'll be a busy March. Luckily I have a week for Spring Break in there.
So I'm finding it harder to get motivated to run these days. Maybe it's the cold. Maybe it's a little post-race depression. Who knows? I'm just not feeling it. I mean I'm doing it. I'm not taking many days off. But while I'm running, it just doesn't feel that I'm where I was. And I'm not. I'm running a slower pace than normal. I just need to push it and get back into it. I wish it was a little warmer. It is harder to get motivated when it's so cold. I like the cold once I get started, but it's the getting started that's so tough. But I'll keep at it. I may try to run 6 tonight. I need a nice long run. I'm also going to try 12 this Sunday. I worked out a long run schedule for my next half-marathon.
That's right - I signed up for a half marathon. I am excited about that. I'll talk more about it next time, but it's at the beginning of Spring Break - as if we don't have enough to do. But it'll be a good last race before the baby. Then I'll just do some small races until fall when I'm hoping to do another marathon late in the year (November or December).
I'm not in any pain which is great news. My injury is finally gone. Hopefully for good. I'll keep pushing and hopefully I'll get my pace and motivation back. I think it's coming, just need a little more time. Hope everyone is doing well and has a nice weekend.
I'll talk more about the new half marathon next time.
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Saturday, January 15, 2011
My leg is getting better. Sunday through Wednesday, it was pretty bad. It was a little better beginning Thursday. Today it feels almost back to normal, but definitely not 100%. I think I set myself back a few weeks after last weekend's goofiness. It feels like it did in mid-December when I was really worried about Disney. 2 weeks off helped it to get better but now it's like it never left. I really want to run. It felt so good to finally be back up to running each day or almost each day and now I can't again. But I guess that's to be expected with running a marathon and a half. I may try a short run Monday just to see how it feels.
Well, congratulations to my Auburn Tigers. What a game last Monday and a season! I got back in time to watch the whole game Monday night and it was the game I've been waiting for. It wasn't quite the offensive battle I was expecting. In fact, the 3rd and most of the 4th quarter were pretty uneventful and dare I say...a little boring. But the last 5 min. or so were great and it wasn't a knockout, but a win's a win. I'll take it any way I can get it. We are National Champs. It capped off a great weekend.
I'm having a little bit of the post-Disney blues. Kindof like when you are on the way home from a Disney vacation. It was such a great trip and while it was so great to get home and see my family, I am kindof sad that it's all over. I'm already looking forward to our next trip down there. So I thought I'd take some time here to list my top 10 favorite moments from last weekend. Maybe that'll help extend it a little, at least in my mind. Here they are in order:
#10 - Getting my picture with Buzz Lightyear - I took 5-6 pictures with characters. Why was this my favorite? Because it was the first. The first was just a little more special I guess. It was in Magic Kingdom in Future World. The sun was starting to come up so you could actually see. He had only one other runner stopped there so I decided to stop. It was the first of several pictures. I know it's a little cheesy and immature for a 35 year old man to stop and get pictures with Disney characters but I don't care. It's Disney and I decided to enjoy it and have fun. Buzz was the first to take the time and pose with me so it was #10 on my list.
#9 - The little candy bars - We had just entered Hollywood Studios. I knew I was home free. I was starting to feel good, excited about the finish. But I won't lie, my legs were hurting and I was tired. We rounded the corner back behind the backlot tour and were approaching the tunnel you go through when riding that. There were several people standing there handing out things. I assumed it was water again or bananas. We had had those a few times. No, it was little candy bars. I was so excited. I love those things when I'm not running but when I'm tired, hungry, in need of energy....they were a huge blessing. I grabbed like a crazy fool. I know I made some drop and I felt bad, but not that bad. I got 3, ate 2. They tasted so good. I saved one for after the race. Even better. Who knew these little things would make a top 10 list?
#8 - Running Around World Showcase/Chariots of Fire. It was almost over. I saw the mile 25 sign. I had one mile and some change left. The song started playing. Perfect running song to end with. I usually skip over that song if it plays on my training runs but it was too perfect for the end of this journey. The scenery running around that giant Epcot loop was beautiful. It was just a perfect end to a perfect race.
#7 - 3 Medals!! - I could also add 3 t-shirt. It's nice enough to just get one medal for running a race. I know it's just a piece of medal. I know I actually paid for it with my entry fee. But it's just a nice feeling to have a medal placed around your neck. It's a nice tribute and reminder of all you've accomplished. And to have it done 3 times in 2 days was wonderful. The medals look great. They're heavy. They're perfect and I appreciated the fact that I got 3 for this adventure.
#6 - Meeting Friends - I've rarely had the opportunity to meet up with running friends I've never met. I do nearly all my training runs alone, but then I have this group of friends through "dailymile", "twitter" or "facebook" that share in my runs each time. It was really good to meet a few of them that I knew and a few that I didn't know. It's nice to talk with others that share your interests and love of running. I enjoyed this each morning.
#5 - Running through the castle - I had heard several times before that this was a great part of the race. It's short. It's 10 seconds max. But it's wonderful. Dare I say it....magical? You come out of the castle to cameras flashing, a huge crowd cheering, and music blaring. It's just a really special part of both races - the half and full. I loved it both days and any pains that I had at that point were "magically" gone as I ran through that place.
#4 - Running down Main Street during the half - It was great during the full too, but there was song the whole weekend because we started that race outside of Epcot. Main Street was jammed with people. It was so loud. The castle was directly in front of me. It was....I'm sorry....magical (again.) I love going down Main Street anytime, but especially during this race.
#3 - The Beginning of both races - Wow! That's the best word I can think of. The fireworks, the fire shooting up in the air, the music, the characters on stage. It's just the best way to start a race I could ever think of. And I got to see it twice. Up close. The guy behind me actually had to give me a push to start on the 2nd day because I was just standing there watching and not paying attention to the fact that the race had started. I just wanted the start to go on forever.
#2 - Linking up to Iraq - This was at the beginning of the half-marathon and it was very moving. At least it was to me and I think it was to a lot of people. A group of soldiers in Iraq ran a simultaneous half-marathon to ours. And they also interviewed a soldier whose wife and daughter were at Disney. That was the most touching part. I just thought that was a great idea and just another thing that made these races so special.
#1 - Hello? The Finish Lines!!! - Any marathon (or half-marathon) runner will tell you that a finish line is the most beautiful sight in the world. It feels amazing to cross one. I got to cross two amazing finish lines in two days during two outstanding races. The crowd at the line was so big. The biggest I've ever run through. All the characters were there. It was just an overwhelming feeling of accomplishment, excitement, and happiness to cross that line on both days.
So there you go - my top 10. I could list ten more but I won't. I plan to work on a little marathon recap video this weekend so that should be my next post. Until then....
Thursday, January 13, 2011
Here are some pictures Disney took of me along the course of both races. Enjoy!!
Running the 1/2 marathon. Not my best pose. Not sure where I was at this point.
Running by the carousel before I went through the castle.
Running by the castle in the half. I don't look too happy. I should've waved like the other guy.
Now I look a little happier. That's because I'm at Epcot which meant the finish was near.
Very happy crossing the finish line. And filming. I hope to make a video soon and I'll post it.
Start of the race. I'm in there somewhere. The start was great!
My first character stop. Buzz. I had no idea we were both doing thumbs up until I saw this.
Picture with Cinderella and company right before I went through the castle.
Coming out of the castle (again).
Stopped to get a picture in front of the castle. Wish it'd been a little brighter. Thought it was.
Saw Woody and Jesse as I was about to leave Magic Kingdom
Picture with Mickey around Animal Kingdom. I was very glad I found Mickey. Wouldn't have been the same if I didn't get his picture.
Running around World Showcase on my way to the finish.
Approaching the finish
Filming the crowd as I approach the finish line. The crowd was HUGE!
Crossing the marathon finish line.
Monday, January 10, 2011
Ok, here’s Volume….er….Part 2 of the Goofy Report. This part includes Sunday and Monday which is the full marathon part of the Goofy Challenge as well as what I did on Monday, the day after the race. Advice...read part 1 first or some of this won't make sense. It's long and detailed again, just how you like it. Here goes…..
That can’t be my alarm! It came so much faster the 2nd night than the first night. I actually slept pretty good after General Tsao surprised me at 11PM. I was so not ready to get up. I actually laid there for about 3 minutes thinking, ‘It is too early! Why am I doing this? This is Goofy’. Ahhh, the irony of that word. I finally got up and slowly shuffled to the shower. Got ready. Exact same routine. Went down to grab a snack for breakfast. On this particular morning though, I met Gina instead of Gordon. I had arranged at dinner the night before to meet Gina and ride with her. She’s another fellow runner I met through the running social network. We met at the bus stop at again 3:20 and it was once again nice to have someone to talk to on the way over. She had purchased Disney’s ‘race retreat’ which is a big heated tent where they have food, comfy chairs, bathrooms that aren’t gross, and lots of other goodies. I had not purchased that. Lucky Gina. So she headed straight there to enjoy some heat. I headed to my spot on the pavement that was cold. I entered the baggage check earlier than the day before and headed toward the start corrals as soon as they let us in. By the way, to make up for the lack of liquid in my body from the previous night’s surprise, I tried to drink double what I usually do on my way to the marathon. This was fine but of course I had to visit those lovely port-a-johns multiple times. Those are always fun. They finally opened the gate to walk to the corrals around 4:30 and we began the 20 minute trek again. There wasn’t much difference after that from the day before. Same corral. Same stage. Same guy trying to get us to dance. This morning it was “Ice, Ice, Baby” and “The Macarena”. There were actually a few doing it this morning. I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I know Disney’s all about the fun but come on. There have to be some boundaries at 5AM. By the way, it was a lot colder on this morning than it was the day before. I realized that I might not be shedding clothing before I started the race as I did for the half. I did shed my pants right before the start just because when I bought them at goodwill, I didn’t notice that they had no drawstring so I’d been sagging all morning. So I went ahead and went for shorts but kept my long-sleeved shirt and sweatshirt on. The race started the exact same. Disney characters on stage. Countdown from 3. Fireworks. It was still neat to see again and I was even a little closer to the stage this time. I crossed that line once again and started my watch this time. Well, my dad’s watch. 1/3 down, 2/3 to go.
This race course was obviously going to be a little different than the day before. Yeah…13.1 miles different. But it started out by doing a loop and going into Epcot. We didn’t do that on Saturday. We entered Epcot around mile 2 or so and went through part of the World Showcase. We passed a couple of countries before exiting again. Then, we went back by the start so we had made a 4 mile loop. I saw a guy puking around mile 3. Wonder if had Chinese the night before? We then headed toward Magic Kingdom. I saw my parents at about mile 4 ½. They had texted they would be there but it was a miracle I spotted them. There were a lot of people at that point because they could see the start and then the runners again when they came back by. We ran toward MK and into it. We went the same route around the park, but this time it was light. I decided that today I would stop and get more pictures with characters since it was light and I was going to enjoy this race. I would end up stopping about 5-6 times for pictures. When I went through the castle, I even stopped to let them take my picture in front of the castle. I’ll be interested to see these pics even though I won’t buy them because I know they’ll cost an arm and 2 legs. I shed my sweatshirt before I got to the MK and I shed the long sleeve shirt right after I left the park. I shed b/c I was getting warm, but what’s funny is that after we left MK and went by the Grand Floridian and Polynesian resorts, it felt colder again. I was wishing I had my sweatshirt back. It would get better though. The weather overall was perfect running weather and I never got hot which was great. I’d much rather be a little cold than too hot. Anyways, once we left the Magic Kingdom area, we headed for the dreaded 3 mile stretch to Animal Kingdom. I had heard that this was a rough area. Not only is there not much to see, but you pass Disney’s treatment plant which smells…well…like a treatment plant. It did smell pretty bad and what’s worse is they had a water stop right next to it. I honestly felt bad for those folks. Imagine getting excited about volunteering at the Disney Marathon only to hear “you’ll be working at mile 14.” “Where’s That?” “Why that’s by our finest treatment plant. Enjoy!” I only had to smell it for about 5 minutes. They had to smell it all stinkin’ day. Poor folks. Anyways, it was a long stretch from MK to AK, but I still felt good. I reached the halfway point in 1:52. I had another mini-goal today to beat 4 hours. I knew I wouldn’t PR because I just hadn’t put the training in. My big goal was just to finish, but everyone secretly always has a time they want to beat. I announced 4:30 to a few people to play it safe but secretly I wanted to beat 4. So at this point I thought if I could repeat my first half performance, I’d be fine. I even had a 16 minute cushion. I made it to Animal Kingdom and entered the park. It was fun running through there. We haven’t been there in a couple of years and I do like that park even though it still needs some more attractions. It’s not quite there yet, but it’s getting there. Around this point, I started walking every other or every third water stop and I would do this until the end of the race. It was mainly just to be able to drink without spilling everything but I’ll admit it is nice to take a 30 second walk break. But that’s the only times I walked, probably 4 water stops. We then headed toward Hollywood Studios. I had heard that when you reach the Studios, you are home free, but it took a little while to get there.
We first headed toward Wide World of Sports and went up a pretty big hill. I was still feeling pretty good. I had some pain in my legs at this point but nothing I couldn’t push through. We then went down this narrow road about half a mile or so, made a sharp u-turn and came back. I’m guessing they did this to make the entire race 26.2 in length because it was a little random. But once we got back from that, we headed down the main road toward HS. I was starting to get excited at this point. We went into Hollywood Studios and I could see the back of Tower of Terror. Does it always have scaffolding on it or are they working on it? I couldn’t remember. I think they are working on it. We went in the back of the park and somehow ended up running through the backlot tour. We actually went through the dark tunnel where they make the clothing and costumes. We went by the stunt show, up the street and toward the big hat. We then exited the park down the main entrance road. There were already park guests there cheering us on because it was right at park opening (9AM) at this point. Oh, by the way, as we entered HS, they were handing out little candy bars. You know those 4 variety kind (Hershey, special dark, krackel, and Mr. Goodbar). Love those. Those were a God-send. I actually said “bless you” to the people handing them out. I tried to get as many as I could and I think I made a few workers drop them. I ended up with 2 special darks and one Mr. Goodbar. But I didn’t care. They tasted so good. Yum. Ok, back to the race. We headed out of HS and toward the boardwalk where several hotels are between HS and Epcot. I had never seen this area but man, it’s beautiful. I would love to stay there one day. You know, if I win the lottery that I don’t play. I knew this was the last thing before Epcot and I could actually see the park in the distance. We finally entered Epcot and I looked at my watch. I knew I was going to break 4. Not by much, but unless Mickey himself actually tackled me and threw me in World Showcase Lagoon, I was going to break it. That gave me a little push to go for the finish. We started heading around world showcase which is 1.2 miles in circumference by the way so it takes a little while. Right when we reached mile 25 and I knew I had a little more than one mile to go, what song should start playing on my Ipod? You guessed it….Chariots of Fire. Yes, it’s cheesy, yes I’m a loser, and yes I should remove it from my marathon playlist, but come on. It’s the original running song. And how appropriate that it started playing at that point. I decided it would be my last song. When it was over, I would turn off my ipod and listen to the sounds of the finish. It was perfect. I passed the Chinese pavilion and texted mom “passing China….blech!” They were waiting at the finish line. We headed past Spaceship Earth and out the park the same way as before. We passed the gospel choir again. Just awesome. What a great way to finish a race. I actually saw mom and dad about the same time I saw the finish line. I passed it and stopped my watch. 3:54. I beat it. Without adequate training. God is good. I got my medal. Then I got my medal. 2 medals. One for the marathon and one for being Goofy. They were loud banging against each other but I didn’t care. I could hear a lot of jangling behind me too. Got my picture. Some amazing food and drinks. A Sprite. Amazing. I tried to sit down to eat a little and it hurt pretty bad to sit down. I didn’t think I’d get back up. It was funny watching others try to sit. We looked like a bunch of senior citizens. Sorry, elder folks. I finally got back up and found mom and dad. We took pictures. Lots. Of course. We loaded the bus and headed back to the hotel for a warm shower/bath. I couldn’t wait. I was getting pretty cold just standing there. As I got off the bus back at the hotel, it was slow going. But I made it to my room and crashed for the next 6 hours. I tried to sleep and did a little but couldn’t get a good nap. But I enjoyed just relaxing and doing nothing. We went to church and out to eat that night. I wore my marathon shirt which sparked a lot of conversations. People loved to ask about the race. I treated myself to some nice unhealthy foods for dinner. Wings, fries, coke. So good. When we got back to the hotel, I crashed pretty hard, pretty quick and slept great. It had been a long day. A great day. A Goofy Day.
I woke up on Monday at 6:15AM. Why, body, why? I can sleep later you know. Oh yeah, I guess because my body had gotten used to getting up at 2:30AM. So 6:15 WAS late. It was ok. I had to pack anyways. I checked my bags and cleaned out my room and my parents and I headed to Hollywood Studios. I got in FREE! Disney’s new program this year called Marathon Monday. A free ticket to any park with your marathon medal. It worked great and was a very nice reward. We chose the Studios which turned out to be a good choice. Again, I won’t go into much detail but we got to ride everything and see several shows. I had to leave around 2PM to catch my bus back to the hotel to catch a bus to the airport, but that was still plenty of time to get most of H.S. done. I was still pretty sore this morning and today walking around the park. My leg injury is back from December. Other than that, my calves are sore but that’s it. My feet are fine. I’ll take it real easy this week even though I was glad to be back in it after a slow December and will be anxious to start again. I need a next big goal but not sure what that will be. But I’ll have to figure out something to get my motivation going again. I am sitting here right now in the airport waiting for my flight home as I am typing this. There’s 4-6 inches of snow on the ground back home. My flight is 15 min. delayed. Not bad. Hope it stays that way. I gotta get home and watch the big game. War Eagle!
In Conclusion (finally!), it was an amazing weekend. It was the best races I’ve ever been involved in and I won’t forget them. I’d love to do it again one day down the road. Probably way down. It ain’t cheap. But Disney did it right. I do love that place. And I loved being Goofy.
Sunday, January 9, 2011
Ok, here we go again with a GIANT Disney race and trip report. Hope you went to the bathroom before you started reading….it's detailed, people.
Actually, I’m just going to do Friday and Saturday (pre-race and half marathon) for part 1 and I’ll post part 2-Sunday and Monday(marathon and post-race day) very soon. Here we go with part 1…..
I flew down Friday and arrived at the Orlando airport. Baggage claim took a while as did getting on the Magical Express to the hotel. I have never come to Disney without a park ticket so in reserving a hotel only, I didn’t get M.E. vouchers beforehand. So I had to wait in a line. It was only 15-20 minutes but I wasn’t used to it. Luckily, I got right on the bus to the Pop Century. The bus was about full and I sat next to a lady from Washington, DC. She was also running the Goofy and said this was her 4th marathon (just like me). She has run D.C., Paris, and the Great Wall of China….a little more traveled then my first 3 (Nashville, Memphis, and Chicago). She’s doing one in Africa this summer. Obviously she’s going for the seven continents run. I guess I’m going for the seven state or seven city…whatever. Anyways she was nice and we talked about the Goofy and our families some. It passed the time for the 40 minute ride to the hotel. I got to the hotel and walked in the front door. There were my parents snapping a picture of me as I walked through the hotel door. Apparently I had walked through the door to childhood again. Just what ever 35 year old wants….his parents taking his picture coming into a hotel as if he’s graduating from high school. But I smiled anyway to amuse them. It was nice to have fans I guess. I checked in and went to my room. Nice. Typical value resort rooms. There’s really not much difference between the Pop and the All-Star Sports where we usually stay. But it was nice to have my own room and it was more than enough for what I needed. I did like the lobby of this resort and all the nostalgic stuff they had framed. It was fun to see what I used to play with. Mom said she still had a lot of the stuff. Mom and Dad told me they wanted me to go by their room which was in the same building but a floor down. We walked to their room. In the window of their room, they had made a sign that said “Go Albert”. Actually it wasn’t so much a sign as ‘Go Albert’ in marker on the back of their resort receipt. But I appreciated the 17 seconds it took for them to make it. Mom took another picture of me in front of the marker-decorated-receipt. It was going to be a looong weekend.
We went to the food court and I got a few snacks to go for lunch. I was hungry but didn’t want to take the time to sit and eat. Then, we immediately got in their rental car and headed to the expo. We could tell right when we pulled in the parking lot that it was going to be crowded. And crowded it was. We found a spot and headed in. It was a little bit of a challenge to find the Goofy registering lines. We went to the wrong place first. But we found it pretty quickly and there were no lines to pick up my packet. Then they told us we had to go to another building for goody bag and t-shirt pickup. We walked outside and stared at a huge line. There was a line of hundreds of people waiting to get into the other building. We discussed coming back later but didn’t figure it would let up so we got in line. Luckily, it moved quicker than we thought and we probably only waited about 15 minutes. Once inside, we could see all the booths from the floor above. It was packed with people. They were only letting so many in at a time because it was full. We didn’t have a whole lot of time to spend there because we had to get their rental car back but we were in there for a good 30 minutes. By the way, mom had taken about 47 pictures between parking the car and this point, but I decided to leave them out of this story. She made up for it once we got in this building though because she bought me a fuel belt. It has 2 zippered pouches. It is NOT a “fanny pack” and I refuse to call it that. It’s a lot cooler than that. It’s a ‘man pack’. I knew I would be carrying my camera, gels, and possibly a phone in the races and they were going to be jiggling around a lot if I put it all in pockets. Mom offered to buy it so I took her up on it. It’s actually really nice and I’ll use it in the future as well. I then went to get my packet. I was surprised to see not one, not two, but THREE SHIRTS inside my bag. I guess I didn’t realize I’d get three. I honestly just thought I’d get one. They are all very nice and I look forward to wearing them. Ahhhh, finally I see where some of my $300+ for this race is going. 3 shirts! We walked around the expo a little more. I bought a mesh-wicking hat for $10. I’ve been wanting one and this was a pretty good deal. That was it though. I really didn’t want to spend a lot of money. I thought about buying the boys “my dad ran the Disney marathon” shirts but decided they’d get a lot more excited about a toy than a shirt. Finally we left the expo with 3 shirts, 2 race bibs, 1 fuel belt and hat (and a partridge in a pear tree). We then went to Burger King so mom and dad could eat. I got another light snack but not a full meal. Then we turned in the car and came back to the hotel to rest. I tried to nap, but couldn’t fall asleep. But I had a nice 2-3 hours to just rest and get off my feet. It would’ve been nice to get a nap to make up for the lack of sleep I’d get having to get up at 2 the next couple of mornings, but I just accepted the fact that I wasn’t going to get good sleep that day or any day during this trip. It’s inevitable. It’s Disney. It’s Goofy.
We loaded the bus for Downtown Disney around 6PM. We planned to go to Planet Hollywood for dinner. When we got there, we could see a big line. Luckily, it wasn’t too bad and we were seated in about 25 minutes. While waiting to be seated, I got in touch with a couple of runner friends I had met online but never in person. We made plans to meet up later in the weekend. I got lasagna and a fruit smoothie for dinner. The lasagna was these huge pasta shells, deep fried (I know, not very runner-y) and stuffed with meat and cheese. It was sooooo good. The smoothie was pretty good too. I enjoyed visiting Downtown Disney. I hadn’t been there in 5 years and it was nice to be back if only for dinner. We got back to the hotel by 9 and I headed straight for bed. I turned out the light at 9:30 and fell asleep soon thereafter having set 2 alarms from 2:30AM, just in case. At 2:30, the first of my 2 alarms went off. I slowly rolled over and got out of bed obviously groggy and half-asleep. But a hot shower helped wake me up and I got that feeling of nervousness mixed with a lot of excitement as I got dressed. The Goofy was about to begin.
I had planned to meet a couple of Internet running friends at some point during the weekend. I texted back and forth with Gordon (‘This Running Life’ blog) while at dinner the night before and we arranged to meet at the bus stop at 3:20AM. He was staying at Pop also. So after I got a bagel and banana from the food court (it was open!), it was good to finally meet him. I’ve been listening to his podcast for over 2 years now and feel like I know him well through that, but it was good to finally put a face with the voice. He was also meeting another friend that he had met online. So the three of us loaded the bus together and talked along the way. It was nice to have a couple of people to talk to rather than sit in silence. It also helped pass the time and do away with any nervous tension. Although I have to say that I really wasn’t nervous about the ½. It was the full I was more worried about. We walked from the buses to the staging area and chatted some more. At about 4:30, I decided I was going to head toward the corrals since I had heard it would be a 20 minute walk there. It definitely was. It was like herding cattle. Slow moving cattle. At one point while walking toward the corrals, I remember thinking ‘I can’t believe I’m actually here.’ It was really starting to sink in. I’m at Disney, and I’m running the Goofy. I know it’s cheesy, but I was excited. I walked the furthest you could walk to corral A. I got there right around 5AM. I could see the main stage and the guy was leading the crowd in the cha-cha slide and the YMCA dance. Really? At 5AM. YMCA? He was doing it alone. But he was enthusiastic. I gotta give him that. He interviewed Jeff Galloway and the crew from the Today Show joined him as well (Al, Meredith, and Natalie…..no Matt). Then they did something really neat and moving. They linked via satellite to our troops in Iraq. There was a large group there set to run a simultaneous 13.1 mile race. They would start as we did. They even interviewed one of the soldiers and brought his wife and young daughter up on stage there at Disney so they could talk to each other. He was going to run there while his wife ran here. When his daughter said “I love you Daddy”….man!...I’m not at all an emotional guy but I got the lump in my throat. That was moving. Finally, they brought Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and Donald up on stage to start the countdown. I knew what was coming b/c I had seen video of the start before. Fireworks galore when they got to zero. We were off.
We started slow because of the crowd but that was fine with me. I was trying to film and start my phone. Yep, my phone. I forgot my watch. My dad would give me his for the marathon the next day, but I totally forgot mine and didn’t realize it until I was getting dressed for the race. So I kept my time on my cell phone. But that was fine. I wasn’t going for time anyways. The race was good. I felt good the whole time. The crowd support was good and there was a lot to see and look at all along the race. We headed down World Drive toward the Magic Kingdom fairly quickly. Around mile 3, I looked up ahead and saw the giant Epcot ‘ball’. I thought, ‘Spaceship Earth is not supposed to be there’. I was confused for a second until I realized it was a hot air balloon shaped like Epcot’s famous landmark. It was really neat to pass by. I saw many, many characters along the way. I didn’t bring a regular camera, just a video camera so I filmed them but didn’t want to stop to see them. It was dark most of the race so it wouldn’t show up well on my video anyways. I planned to maybe do some more stopping with characters during the full. I texted and called my parents a couple of times to see where they’d be. They finally texted and said they were on Main Street in the Magic Kingdom. Entering Magic Kingdom around mile 5 or so was the best part. I found my parents quickly and took a couple of pictures. Right when I left them, I headed down Main Street toward the castle. This was my favorite part of the race. So many people. So beautiful. Just an awesome experience and feeling. We turned into Future world and came around the back of the castle. I knew we were going to run through the castle but that was so much fun as well. We came out of the front of the castle and turned toward Splash Mountain. We exited the park somewhere near there and got to see a lot of “behind the scenes” locations. I saw where they store all the parade floats as well as what looked like spare ride parts. We ran back down World Drive back toward Epcot. It was starting to get a little lighter outside but it was still before 7AM. I knew throughout the race that I was running an 8 min./mile average. That was absolutely fine with me. Again, I was not going for time at all. Just a nice solid race. I still had the full to think about. I did pick it up for the last couple of miles. There was a nice downhill approaching mile 12 and it felt great. We went into Epcot behind the bathrooms next to Spaceship Earth. We ran toward the World Showcase but went around a huge Christmas tree before we got there. We ran back toward the entrance to the park, out a special exit and approached the finish. I really did feel pretty good. There was a gospel choir singing which was perfect. I crossed the line filming and smiling. I pulled out my phone and stopped it a little late. It said 1:45 and some change. I don’t know my official time yet while I’m writing this but it’ll be low 1:45 or high 1:44. That’s fine. Not my fastest by any stretch but I still beat 2 hours which was a mini-goal. I went through the chute, got my medal, some food and drink and waited to meet my parents for the bus ride home. It was a good race and one I won’t forget. But I knew I still had a big one coming. We went back to the hotel and I showered. It felt good because I had gotten pretty cold after the race was over. I then got dressed and we went to Epcot for the day. I won’t go into a lot of detail but we had a great day at the park. We rode every single ride once and saw a show or two. We ate great meals at the Mexico and Chinese buildings. We left the park around 7 and headed back. My feet did hurt after the race and walking around the park all day. I probably walked more than I should and worried a little about how it would affect my marathon. I got all my stuff ready for the next day and got in bed around 8:30. I set both alarms again ready for Groundhog Day – an exact replica repeat of the morning activities from the day before. I was so tired but felt ready or at least as ready as I could be. I felt pretty confident I could make it the next day but just wasn’t sure how long it would take or how I would feel. I fell asleep very quickly – shocker – only to wake about two hours later. (WARNING – you might want to skip the next few sentences….I warned you.) So we had decided to eat dinner at Nine Dragons at the Chinese Pavilion at Epcot….yep, you know where this is going….I figured Chinese would be fine. Rice = Carbs. General Tsao’s Chicken = protein. Right? Sure, but even though it tasted good, it didn’t set so good. Oh yeah, I didn’t keep down one grain of rice. All back up. 11PM. 3 times. But after 10 minutes of that feeling (you know what I mean), it was all better. And I went back to bed. Problem – puking obviously dehydrated me. I could tell immediately. Great, another worry for the next day.
Part 2 – Sunday and Monday – to come soon.