A few days ago I wrote about the first part of the Goofy Race-and-a-Half Challenge at Walt Disney World in Florida. On Saturday morning, bright and early, my friends Cecilia, Donna, Laura, and I ran a half marathon in Walt Disney World. Great, you might think, a bit of effort but a good run and a good excuse for a trip to Florida. True, except for one minor detail: the next day, we were running a full marathon. That's what made it Goofy.
Back when I had first planned to do the Goofy, my goal for the marathon was for a new personal best and to beat 4 hours, hopefully somewhere around 3:50. Having been out of commission for November and December, I had been uncertain whether I would even be able to run. After the half marathon, I had no pain and felt optimistic about the marathon. Somewhat cockily, I still set out with the goal of sub-4 hours, but really finishing would be the main accomplishment.
After Saturday's half marathon, we eventually met up back at our hotel room, got showered, and tidied up. The smart thing to do would have been to relax and take the day off, but we were at Walt Disney World, so off to the theme park it was. We wandered over to Disney's Hollywood Studios, got some food (an essential task, at this point) and enjoyed the park. We left early to head back to the hotel for our pasta dinner and an early bedtime (before 8pm!) for a second morning in a row of waking at 2:45am.
When we woke Sunday morning, it was much more perfunctory and run-of-the-mill: by this time, we were experts at getting up for early morning Disney races, and we were out the door without problems. It was a bit chillier than the previous day, somewhere around 6ºC, so I decided to go for a long sleeve shirt underneath my short sleeve one, something I had been debating the previous day as well. I wrapped myself up in the mylar sheets we received on Saturday after the half marathon, and off we went.
Marathon race course
Cecilia and I split up with Donna and headed to our start corral, with a judicious stop at the shortest porta-potty line we could find. Cecilia and I stretched and hung out together until just as the race started, when she headed to the rear of our corral (Corral B, this time) as she was planning a slower race than I was. Mickey, Minnie, Donald, and Goofy were again on hand to count us down, and the race started. I had to wait a couple of minutes for the first wave to go, and then within 5 minutes I was across the starting line. I remember that the fireworks at the starting line were fantastically warm as I crossed, and then I was back into the cold.
Running through Cinderella's Castle
The marathon course started us with a loop through Epcot Future World, then back along past the start. By the time I passed the start after about half an hour, everyone was gone and cleanup was underway. From there, we ran along one of Walt Disney World's many highways, up towards the Magic Kingdom. The first third of the race went by very quickly, and before I knew it was already heading into the Magic Kingdom, through the same back entrance into Main Street USA that I had run through the day before. Since we'd started off with the loop around Epcot, it was brighter by the time I reached the Magic Kingdom and I stopped for a couple of photos in the park, including this picture just before I ran through Cinderella's Castle with trumpeters announcing my arrival.
Me running during the marathon
At the mile 11 water stop in the backstage area just outside the Magic Kingdom, I stopped for a gel and water. Given that I had depleted a significant amount of my body's energy stores the day before, I knew eating would be an important part of this marathon. Fortunately, I was feeling good and was right on pace for a sub-4 hour marathon.
Me and Donald Duck
From the Magic Kingdom, we had a long run down some back roads to the Animal Kingdom. I stopped for a picture with Donald Duck at one of the golf courses near the Grand Floridian and then got back under way. Not long after, I hit the halfway point and was still right on pace, at 1:58:43 for the first half.
For a brief time we passed the later runners heading up to the Magic Kingdom, and then turned off towards the Animal Kingdom. We ran through a quite large backstage area for the Animal Kingdom.
Me and Minnie Mouse
Just before entering the park, I got my picture taken with Minnie Mouse.
The run through the Animal Kingdom was very short and I don't remember much of it. We entered in "Africa", ran to "Asia", passed "Mount Everest", ran through DinoLand USA, and then exited through a back entrance.
Me and Mickey Mouse
We looped around towards the main entrance, and along the path was the Mouse himself, Mickey Mouse, all dressed up in his safari gear and waiting to take a picture with me.
From mile 18 at the exit of Animal Kingdom, it was 4 miles along highways until the next park, Hollywood Studios. Looking at the map the day before, Cecilia feared it would be the mentally toughest part of the course, and it certainly turned out to be hard for me. Just after mile 18, I started to feel really tired and worn out. I had been taking gels every 6 miles or so, but I took an extra one here and starting in on some other snacks I had with me (Clif Shot Bloks, they're a gummy form of gels and now my favourite running food in the entire world!). The rest of the race was stop and go for me, with lots of breaks, sometimes every couple of minutes, for walking and stretching. My pace dropped substantially. My sub-4 hour goal was out of reach, but I was still confident I would at least finish.
Me and the Toy Story Soldier
One of bright spots -- maybe the only -- along this tough 4 mile stretch was the Toy Story soldier who was encouraging us on a run up a hill; he had been there yesterday and was one of the best characters along the route, so I stood at attention and got a picture with him this time around. Eventually I made it to the Hollywood Studios.
Me at Disney's Hollywood Studios
We ran through the studio backlot and then out on to the Streets of New York with the Manhattan skyline in the distance. By now it was past 9am, so the park was open, and it was fun to be running through the park while people were there. We headed down the main street of the park and I got another picture of me with the iconic Sorcerer's Hat.
Me in Epcot
From the Studios we ran through the many resorts in the area around the Studios and Epcot, including Disney's Boardwalk, the Swan and Dolphin, and the Yacht and Beach Club. At last, I was at the final park, back where it all began, at Epcot. This time we ran around the World Showcase, then right down the main walkway of Epcot, and out to the right of the geodesic dome of Spaceship Earth. This was the last stretch of the race, and it couldn't be over soon enough! Just outside of the park boundary as the finishing chute started, a full gospel choir was there encouraging us, and then the spectator stands and the crowd. I made it across the finish line at 4:22:07.
Cecilia and I after the Marathon
At this point, I felt little sense of accomplishment. The usual post-race stuff followed -- mylar, medal, water, food -- including a special Goofy medal. I gradually made my way to the rendezvous point and a little over half an hour later Cecilia came hobbling up with ice on both her knees. I think we hugged each other, took a step back, and almost simultaneously told each other that that was the stupidest thing we'd ever done. A half marathon and then a marathon? Certifiably crazy! I didn't feel a great sense of pride or accomplishment: it was just done. At least we were uninjured and managed to complete it. We headed back to the hotel room where Laura was waiting for us.
With Goofy in the Magic Kingdom
We were definitely sore the rest of the day and for a couple of days afterward. Brilliant as ever, we went to a park that afternoon (Magic Kingdom). We took it a little bit easier on the park, but it still involved a lot of walking and getting up and down. That was the funniest part, actually: for the next couple of days, you'd see all these otherwise fit people wincing and groaning every time they had to get into or out of a ride, and we certainly did out share of wincing too.
Laura, Donna, Cecilia, and I with our medals
We had a couple more days at the park, and proudly wore our Goofy shirts the rest of the time there.
With a bit of time between the day of the marathon and writing this blog entry, I no longer think it was the stupidest thing I've ever done. But it certainly was tough. I'm impressed that I did it, though it was more a matter of will than training given my training problems. I'm not sure if I'll ever do something like the Goofy again, though I think I would enjoying running a marathon at Walt Disney World again (as much as one can enjoy running a marathon). But that can wait for a few years.