My injury issues get worse the farther I go and I feel worse after a run than before (pretty much the opposite of the knee issue I battled right before the marathon). Those two things are usually signs you just need to stop. Getting worse the farther you go is terrible news for a marathon. Feeling worse after a run than before is horrible for something like the Goofy Challenge. I was willing to give up the half but was invested in finishing the full. I was pretty sure I could get through the full marathon but wasn't so sure I could hobble through it the day after a half.
The Half Marathon
I flew to Disney armed with two race outfits but wasn't sure what I was going to do about the half. I picked up my race packet and still didn't know. I laid out my race outfit for the half and still wasn't fully invested. I set my alarm for a 2:30 am wake-up and still wasn't 100% sure I'd wake up and do the race. To add insult to injury I had a slight head cold when I arrived at Disney and I wasn't sure if that would worsen and make the marathon a no-go. The only reason I did the half was because I woke up at 2:20 am before my alarm and didn't feel the need to fall back asleep. If I was up anyway I should just run, right? If I had been awakened from a deep slumber at 2:30 am with the need to hit snooze, I probably would have skipped the race.
In order to prevent my leg from combusting I decided I would walk 0.5 mi of every mile the entire race. I stuck to this plan the whole 13.1 miles. There were plenty of times I wanted to extend the run segment but I kept repeating to myself, "You may not have been out here at all!" There was no point in finishing faster or running farther. Just experiencing the race was my reward today and I had to save myself for the marathon.
My leg was tight the whole way but overall I felt pretty good. I even walked from miles 12.5 to 13.0 of the race. It was so hard not to run but I just kept repeating my mantra of the day and kept myself contained. I finished with an amazing PW of 3:07. But I got my Donald medal and got to experience one of my great running loves of Disney races.
|My first view of the Castle is always during the half. Love.|
|I have now done 11 Disney races and find myself not needing to stop and take photos with certain characters. Not a huge Disney Princess fan so bypassed the monster line for this photo-op.|
|Not me, but the cast member I gave my camera to thought this group belonged to my camera so I got a freebie.|
|The last time I ran the half I brought my sunglasses along and never needed them. Left them at home this day, but being out there so much longer could have used them. Pirate photo-op I skipped on the left.|
|This sign always cracks me up. Nothing rational about running a marathon. I also get goose bumps when I see this. Those lights ahead mark my favorite race start.|
|I told myself to soak in the start. I love this race so much and I don't get to be here every year.|
The race started and I felt amazing the first 13 or so miles. My leg was actually feeling pretty good and unlike the day before I was allowed to run. For the first time in a long time I felt like a runner again.
|They changed the course this year. We ran around the race track and had lots of what I'm sure are interesting and cool cars to look at (not a car fan).|
|I may not know real cars, but I appreciate the Pixar themed ones :)|
|I actually stopped to get a photo with these two, realized they were just NOT cute, and snapped this and moved on.|
|I have no idea if this is Disney related, but they had Christmas music playing, and you know I am a sucker for that type of thing.|
|Running in Animal Kingdom. I had made it a goal to ride Everest during the marathon this year. With the course change I was in this park before the park was open :( Major sadness!!|
|Direct sunshine made its debut here.|
There has been a lot said about the weather at Disney World this year. I believe the start temps were in the low 60s and the highs were in the low 80s. Don't get me wrong, it was warm out there. But the heat just didn't seem to bother me. Sometime in Animal Kingdom I remember stopping for a photo-op and being amazed that my tank was totally soaked through. But I wasn't feeling like I was wilting in the sun which is a little odd since I am a total heat weenie. Perhaps it was my slow as molasses pace or perhaps it was the 5 Bikram yoga classes the week before. Who knows. Yes it was hot but I don't think it slowed me down much. I don't know who I've become because I actually enjoyed the warm weather for park touring the week after the race.
|Waiting for a photo with Daisy and Minnie|
At about mile 14 after Animal Kingdom, that little niggle in my left leg from all the walking started to shout at me. And it started shouting loudly. It hurt to run. It hurt to walk. It hurt pretty sharply and badly and I had a brief moment of despair at the thought of having to go another 10+ miles on it. I started stopping at every med tent to put Biofreeze on it. I am not sure if it helped but it certainly didn't hurt things. I suppose that is the nice thing about doing a race 5 times. Even though I had never seen the inside of a Disney med tent on the course, I knew exactly what supplies they would have at all of them and I knew they would be frequent.
|Almost my turn for Pluto and Mickey!|
Another change to the course was a run through the Sports Complex. Two big thumbs down. So boring. So many turns. Bleh! I actually prefer the old out and back with Disney entertainment which is saying a lot.
|I did appreciate the soft track surface. My left leg felt a little better on it.|
They copied what you do at the Disneyland half and you ran through the baseball stadium. Except this isn't a "real" stadium so who really cares? They had promised a "Mile 20 Spectacular" which I thought was this stupid run around the stadium. I was overrun by my friend, Jill, after this and we were both not impressed. The way they had hyped it up, I was expecting characters in pyramid formations and confetti.
|So it turns out, THIS was the Mile 20 Spectacular. Still a let down though I suppose to see the classic characters out is sort of a treat.|
|Hallelujah, almost to the finish!|
Finished with a course PW of 5:39. I got my marathon medal and for a nanosecond got slightly emotional that I had made it with my leg feeling the way it had for so long. Then picked up my Goofy medal and got my left leg iced. My right leg that had given me so many problems before the race had actually felt better during the full marathon than the half. Go figure.
The marathon medal was special for the 20th anniversary and it didn't disappoint. The Mickey head spins and reverses to a black-and-white Mickey and the inner ring spins and has two Walt Disney quotes on it. Personally, I am a fan of the Mickey head-shaped medals of the past and that is the only way this thing could be better.
Things also felt much more crowded. I haven't looked into actual numbers but things just felt so much more congested. There was a LINE over half a mile long to get into the expo. I have never experienced that at these races before. The half more-so than the full was also pretty cramped.
|The expo is the building on the right. That is a line I'm standing in to get inside.|
My major beef with Disney races has always been, and still is, the fact that they do not have gender-specific shirts. I have issues with race shirts that only go down to a woman's small so you can imagine what happens to me when the sizes are unisex. To add more fuel to my fury is this:
You'd think in a race where the majority of runners are women they would cater to that demographic. I have three more tech shirts I would love to wear but don't fit. Thanks, Disney.
Given how my leg has been the last couple of months, I am grateful I was able to finish these races. I love them and to sit out would have hurt my heart. That said, the last few times I have gone to Disney I have always just sort of stuck the races into my schedule almost as an afterthought. It has been a long time since I purposefully trained for a Disney Marathon. I think I got into this rut because I never go for a time at Disney since I always stop for character photos and the weather is such a wild-card.
People would congratulate me on the Goofy Challenge after the race and I didn't feel as if there was really anything to congratulate me about. Anyone can finish a marathon if they go slow enough. Doing a marathon when you are undertrained and injured is at best stupid and at worst disrespectful of the distance and the people who actually worked for the accomplishment. I'm obviously guilty of this and it isn't something I care to do again nor do I feel warrants back patting and congratulations.
I decided that the next time I'm back at Disney I'm going to pencil it in as an actual event to train for. Not an afterthought a week after a goal marathon (see 2011) or a month after running marathons back-to-back (see 2010). In 2005 it was my first marathon and I trained for it and was so thrilled when I finished. In 2008, I trained specifically for my first Goofy Challenge and was so incredibly proud when I pulled it off. I want to give this marathon some respect for a change. I won't ever race it because I can't help taking photos with characters and quite frankly it is a horrible PR course (26.9 per my Garmin people. 26.9!). But I'd like some decent training in my legs and to push the pace a little when I am actually running. Perhaps a sub-4 Disney? That would be lots of fun.
I haven't decided yet if I'll do the Goofy Challenge the next time I go to Disney. To be honest, even though I have done it 4 times I am not a fan of it. The first time I really wanted to do it. Ever since I only keep repeating it because I figure if I'm flying all the way out to Florida there is no reason to not do both races and get to participate in two Disney events. I may decide to just do the marathon the next time or maybe I'll do some real Goofy training and see how much I can push the pace in both races. To be determined...
You can check out my previous Walt Disney World race reports here (2010) and here (2011).