Friday, January 21, 2011

The Goofy Challenge - Part One

It’s been just over a week and I’m still processing my trip to Walt Disney World in Orlando for my first Goofy Challenge.

Arriving just in time for the Pasta Dinner on Thursday night, I fired off a quick message via twitter in hopes of meeting up with one of my friends. The mad dash to the resort, getting checked in, finding my room and agreeing to the daily charges for Internet access also meant that I sent my home phone number and not my cell. It also explains why I ate my meal and watched the fireworks alone. The meal was OK, and the IllumiNations display at Epcot was interesting but I was finding the evening air quite chilly.

I wandered the expo at the ESPN Sports Zone on Friday pickup some Bio Freeze and a pair of CW-X Pro tights. The rest of the day was spent resting after setting my alarm for 2am.

I guess it shouldn’t surprise me that it was a restless night. I had managed six hours of rest before I wandered outside my room looking for coffee and hot water for my oatmeal. Luckily I managed to find both, although I had to drink my coffee black (with a bit of sugar).

The busses were already idling in the parking lot, and these were the full sized tour busses, at least six of them, ready to go at 3am to Epcot and the staging area.

The temperature was in the low 40’s (F). My plan was to leave my wind pant in my checked bag so I grabbed a pool towel (sorry Disney) to wrap around my legs for the start line and I wore a throw away Canada hoodie from Value Village for the donation bins.

The energy in the staging area was magical. DJ and music hyping the crowd. People everywhere. It was organized. Directions to proceed to the Start Line through the Bag Check, Port-a-Potties on the checked side. Remember it’s a 20 minute walk to the line. I went through at 4am, got in Port-a-Potty line and people watched. The only hiccough in the process was the gates allowing access to the roadway to the starting corrals didn’t open until 4:30 am.

Prior to the start, there was a live satellite feed to Freedom Base in Iraq where Major Traynor and his wife were linked so they could co-ordinate their watches to run the half marathon together half a world apart.

I registered for the Goofy Challenge in January 2010, this was before ran my first half-marathon in April and my first full in May. My starting corral for the Half Marathon was next to last, which gave me an extra hour to watch the starting fireworks displays for the 25,000 people running ahead of me.

Thankfully, Mickey, Minnie, Donald and Goofy stuck it out to see me out on to the course. They even had some left-over propane to fire off the pyrotechnics and warm us up a bit as we crossed the timing mats and got the show on the road.

I purposely did not set any specific time or pacing goals for this event. I had decided I was not going to run with a pace group and in hindsight I really wouldn’t have mattered the pace groups left in Waves A and B. I was in F. Needless to say, I started out slow, within the first mile I made the first of many pee breaks. I also noted the lack of activity at the medical aid station at mile one.

I have never run an event with A) this many people and B) this slow. I tried to keep my overall pace close to 6:30/km. Not really a pacing plan, I just didn’t want to be any slower than that if possible. Wherever possible I ran on the grass use the median instead of the roadway. It was more comfortable over the hard road and it was also significantly less congested.

Early on, I took advantage of every water station and walked through them. They seemed to be every mile. The consistency of the Powerade varied stop to stop so if it seemed too strong I grabbed a cup of water from the latter tables.

Most of the character photo stops had long lines (a dozen or more people) . I did get some photos along the way. Occasionally, I took photos for other runners. I wasn’t running for time and if you get right down to it, I could easily make up any lost time from pit stops or photo opportunities. Past the halfway mark I started to pick up the past pushing the average to 6:19/km and over the last couple of miles getting it to a more respectable 6:10/km.

Why I look so gawd -awful stressed in the “free photo” offered by runDisney with my Finisher Certificate I have no idea. I finished in 2:15:22. I felt good. No issues of any kind I was ready for the my Tweetup dinner and the Marathon.

The video shows the whole Disney Half Marathon experience.  I am so grateful to Lee Hoedl, who posted it.

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