Monday, June 19, 2017

Disney World Marathon

Marathon #42:

I wasn't originally planning on running Disney this year since I just ran it last year and had hopes to do it in 2018 for the 25th anniversary.  But then they revealed the medal and I couldn't say no.  I've probably mentioned this strange phenomena before and I still don't understand it:  I don't display my medals.  I have three or so out and the rest come home and go straight into a box.  So you would think the bling wasn't a big motivator for me. But for some reason really awesome medals are still a hook for me to sign up for a race.  So in September I signed up to run Disney.  I debated for a short time about whether or not to do the Goofy Challenge.  I've always thought if I'm flying across the country I should do two races.  But I had my sights set on a fast marathon in March so I decided to just do the stand alone marathon to minimize the race's impact on my training.  In the end, this turned out to be a serendipitous decision because A) I got injured in December and B) the half marathon got canceled due to bad weather.

After Humboldt I took some time off and eased back into marathon training.  The slow increase paid off and I got a zip back into my step which solidified my thoughts that I was overtrained for Humboldt.  I decided to try the Hanson Marathon Method for the first time.  I was going to follow the plan, do Disney easy, then reboot for the remaining weeks until Modesto.

I got through 8 weeks of my training plan and things were going well.  Then three weeks before Disney a tiny ache that I had felt for maybe the previous 4 weeks for just a few steps of every other run became an injury.  I've self diagnosed peroneal tendinitis of my left ankle.  It hurt just below the left outer ankle bone.  My left ankle is the one I have chronically sprained in the past over and over and I'm sure my ankle instability is a big cause of the issue. I ran on it three times more than I should have and knew it blew up into an issue that was a game-over for Modesto in March.

I did a week of no running (I did pool run a couple of times), did another two test runs which told me it wasn't going away any time soon, then didn't run again until the race.  Oh, Disney.  One year I will show up not undertrained/injured or right after a hard PR effort elsewhere.  But this was obviously not going to be that year.

So I did an extreme taper of 6 miles total of running the last 2.5 weeks before the race.

Just walking around the airport, my resort, and the expo the day I arrived in Orlando made my ankle ache.  I knew KT Tape would be at the expo and though I have never done it myself, I knew they would tape you up at their booth. I stood in a Disneyesque queue for over 45 minutes and handed over $5 for a PT to tape my ankle.  It was the best $5 I have spent for injury issues the last decade.  She gave me a 5 minute PT consult while she taped and told me to do some exercises.  I was skeptical the tape would last until the race (it was Friday afternoon for a Sunday race) but she said to blow dry the tape after showering and to sleep with sock on and it should be okay.

MVP of the weekend

The tape job was tight in a few places and I worried it would cause problems. I had to loosen up a few small areas but it stretched out just slightly and didn't give me any issues.  Spoiler alert:  I ran 26.2 miles and walked the parks the next 4 days and I didn't feel a thing in my ankle the entire time.  In fact, the tape job lasted a week and I then peeled it off on my own to figure out the actual state of the injury when I got home (it was a bit stretched by then and not alleviating 100% pain by then).

I picked up a few goodies at the expo, too.  New Balance now makes some Disney themed apparel and they had one shirt left in my size I grabbed.  I also splurged and got a race jacket.  Overall I am never a fan of the official race merchandise.  Champion is not the greatest fit or quality for me and the graphics always seem sort of subpar considering the available man power at Disney's disposable to come up with something snazzy.

It has been a long time since official race merchandise tempted me. I also got a short sleeve RunDisney shirt since I've always wanted one and the one available looked like it would fit.

After the expo I hit the parks and didn't have to worry about getting back to my room early to get to sleep before the half marathon on Saturday.  This was so freeing!  Usually I take the red eye  Thursday night to Orlando and am knackered on Friday but don't want to waste the park day so always hit at least one after the expo.  Then I wake up at 2:30 am for the race Saturday (which with the time change is really waking up at 11:30 pm). But this time I figured even though I was so sleepy I was going to get to sleep in Saturday so I didn't worry about when I got back to the room Friday night.

As I mentioned, Saturday's race got canceled due to lightning.  I woke up on Saturday morning and heard cowbells and cheering. I stepped out of my room and saw hordes of runners doing their own 13.1 around the lake by my resort.  I got ready to leave then went downstairs to cheer the people running for a little bit before heading out to the parks.  It was so inspiring to see the runners getting it done despite what must have been a major disappointment for the official race being canceled.  And everyone out cheering and handing out water was also heart warming.

I normally do a half park day on Saturday then catch a movie at Disney Springs to stay off my feet before the full.  But this year I decided not to do the movie and instead stayed at the parks.  I am a pretty fast walker naturally and while at Disney I really kick it up a notch to cover as much distance as possible quickly. But I made a concerted effort the whole weekend to walk leisurely to save my legs and especially my ankle.

The one downside I ran into not doing Goofy was that because I had gotten to sleep in Saturday, I was not overly tired that day but I had still not gotten adapted to the time change.  This meant that Saturday night when I tried to go to bed early so I could make the 2:30 am wake-up for the marathon (which again, is 11:30 pm in my habitual time zone -- so I was trying to be awake only about an hour after when I would often go to sleep), I was wide awake.  For the first time ever I did not sleep at all before a marathon. Ugh.

This year the marathon day was cold and windy.  They were projecting feels like temps in the low 30s which actually then dipped to the high 20s as the morning progressed.  I did not pack for this weather.  I saw the week before it was going to be chilly and I threw arm warmers into my bag.  I don't know what I was thinking.  If it dips into the 40s I'll sometimes wear capris and a thick long sleeve top when running at home.  But I packed shorts and a short sleeve top for my race outfit.  I didn't consider that I wasn't going to be pushing the pace at all in this race (read: Walking a good deal of it) and I'd need to dress warmer than I normally would when going out for run.

Welcome to 2:31 AM marathon morning.  Yes, you didn't sleep a second and yes, it is freezing outside.

I scrambled the night before and ended up wearing the new RunDisney short sleeve top I had bought at the expo underneath my planned top.  I also decided to wear my compression sleeves I normally wear post-race during the race to keep my legs warm.  My throwaway gloves became my running gloves for the entire race.

I was meeting a friend at the start area and when I got there I looked for a good place to hunker down.  There were barrels anchoring a bag drop tent and I sat right next to one so it would block some of the biting wind.  The actual air temperature wasn't too terrible but the wind made it horrible.  This wasn't as cold as the 2010 race, but it wasn't very pleasant.  I had brought a throwaway sweatshirt and a mylar blanket which I wrapped around my legs.

We sat there as long as possible trying to keep warm before starting on the long walk to the corrals.  We jumped into a portapotty line by the start staging area exit which was a really smart move --  no lines!  This year they changed the corral set-up.  Last year they seemed to be in one long line, but this year they had two parallel lines of corrals set up.  So while last year I had a seat on the road outside my corral entrance, this year there was just a space of a strip of grass outside the entrance since another corral holding area was set up on the road.  So no more chance of just sitting on the ground outside the corral then jumping in before the start at the last minute.

The wind was blowing solidly in a headwind direction. The smoke from the fireworks at the starting line blew towards us.  Disney is a fairly meandering course so that didn't concern me too much.  I decided I would keep my sweatshirt on until I warmed up.  I considered running with the mylar blanket for a little while but the announcer said that a mylar blanket could interfere with the chip timing.  No idea if this is true or if they just didn't want mylar blankets fluttering down the road when they were subsequently dumped.  But I listened and tossed my mylar right before the start line.

As I bopped down the road when the race started I felt SO good.  My legs felt so fresh which was sort of a strange feeling for me at Disney.  I then realized I hadn't done a half marathon the day before which was the usual case and hadn't run much at all the last 2.5 weeks. I knew it was going to be a short-lived feeling, but it felt great.

I kept my sweatshirt on until about mile 4.  I wasn't exactly warm in it, but I didn't feel like it was a necessity and I wanted to ditch it so I could reach my camera and water bottle which was strapped to my back.

I wasn't feeling so motivated to stop for photos this year.  I was very picky with my character stops.  I've done this race so many times and I tried to mentally remember if I had gotten a photo with a character in the past.  I ran without stopping until I reached the castle where I tried (in vain) to get a photo with the castle in the dark.  I ran with a GoPro for the first time (not strapped on, but taken out and held like a camera) and of course I hadn't practiced at all with it before the race.  Major photo fails.  The setting I had it on was pretty terrible even for photos when I gave the camera to someone else to hold.  Disney made a change where the photographers on the course are Disney photographers and not your typical race photographers.  Because of this, if you buy the photo pass you get all of your photos.  I may opt to do this for my next trip.  For one fee I can get all my race photos and all of my park photos. Not a bad deal if you are doing multiple races.  The photos the Disney photographers took were pretty great, too.

I was pretty thirsty this race.  I'm not sure if it was because those first 4 miles I hardly drank any water.  My sweatshirt was blocking my access to my small bottle in my Orange Mud pack.  Also, with my gloves, I didn't really trust myself to reach behind my back and not drop my bottle.  So I relied on the water stops.  They are pretty plentiful on the course so that wasn't a problem.  But considering the cool temperature I was drinking quite a bit of water and subsequently had to stop to use the bathroom multiple times during the race.  No idea why that happened but if you have to pee during a race Disney is the best for portapotties and real bathrooms easily accessible on the course.

Standing in line for a Donald photo

As we left the Magic Kingdom and hit mile 8ish my body suddenly realized that we had only run a total of 6 miles in the last 2.5 weeks and started to shut it down.  The first thing to start hurting were my arms.  Yes, my arms.  Both my biceps got sore from holding my arms at a 90 degree angle.  Then my left quad started hurting (sort of ached as if I had run a marathon the day before) and all these things didn't stop talking to me until the race was over.  But happily my bum ankle was 100% pain free.  My ever nagging pelvis started buzzing for about half a mile at mile 18 but that went away and didn't return.

Timon photo line

As I said I was picky about stopping for characters.  At Wide World of Sports I stopped for Sport Goofy.  While I was in line, he left to take a break!  The characters often take breaks or switch out with another character. I suppose the poor person inside needs to breathe some fresh air or scratch their nose.  But at a race it is so annoying when this happens.  I had only been in line for about a minute, and I debated if it was worth sticking around for Goofy to come back out.  I aborted the mission and started running again.  The next character I stopped for was Joy and Sadness from "Inside Out."  I'm not a huge Joy and Sadness fan, but I was loosely dressed as Bing Bong so of course had to stop.  And when I was second to the front of the line they took a break, too!  Agh!  I stuck around for this one though and lost a few minutes.

I've run this race 7 times and the course has changed a bit over the years.  I know I've spoken about my dislike of the changes in the past.  But I just want to say that I really, really, really dislike the miles in the Wide World of Sports.  It doesn't help they come in the high teens/low twenties miles when you want to just want to be done but still have a ways to go.

Wide World of Sports is where happiness goes to die.  Put that slogan on a shirt and become a millionaire.

There was a lot of construction in the form of dug up land along the stretch by Wide World of Sports.  I thought they did a cute job of putting character paleontologists with dinosaur bones out to turn the unsightly into a stage.  They had cleared out all the large trucks for the race. When we passed it prerace I was wondering if they were going to leave the heavy machinery out.

The green army men from Toy Story were there as usual to whip us into running shape up the last major incline of the course. The army man will yell things like, "Why are you walking?  Drop down and give me 10 pushups!" which always sort of scares me because I can barely do 10 pushups when I'm not at mile 22++ of a marathon. I did see a few runners who were better good sports than me doing pushups on the side of the road.  I ran far enough up the hill to not be a pushup victim then snuck in a little walk break.

I always look forward to the chocolate stop in Disney Studios.  They normally hand out little snack-size Crunch bars or Dove chocolate.  This year they handed out Snickers bars and FULL size M&M packets.  A) I was stunned, B) Who can eat all this while running? C) OMG. This is awesome.  Since I had my Orange Mud pack on I grabbed a pack of M&Ms and shoved them in a pocket to eat later and ate the Snickers while I ran. On a side note, I think they ran out of the candy.  I was in an attraction line later that weekend and a man was telling a woman that he heard they had passed out full size candy at the race.  She replied that she hadn't seen it on the course. So that is a bummer for back of the packers.

Slow but steady was the name of the game for this race.  After running Disney in very cold conditions and very hot conditions a few times each, it is my official stance that even when you are slow as snails cold trumps hot every single time.  In the future, I'll be sure to dress for the weather a little better.

As I crossed the finish I got a high-five from Mickey which is always a special treat.

When I headed through the snack tent I was given a banana with my snack box.  I passed by another volunteer who asked if I wanted another banana.  "No thanks," I said.  "Here, just take them." And he piled three more bananas onto my box.  As I walked out with my box and four bananas I was a little confused but then I realized with the cancelled half they probably had thousands of ripe bananas they needed to get rid of on marathon day.

I hung around the finish area to get a few photos, but was happy to get on the bus and head back to the hotel since it was a cold day. Overall, I was glad to have survived the race without freezing solid and with no injury pain.  There are areas I feel Disney has slid a little over the years but they still put on a very solid race experience.

The race shirts are starting to look the same year after year.  They tore down the Sorcerer's hat at Disney Studios so it was interesting to see they picked the Tower of Terror as the new symbol for that park. 

The medal that inspired the whole thing. 100% worth it. Hands down my favorite Disney medal of all time. I can't even imagine anything else I'd like to see from them. I've alway been a fan of the mouse ear shaped ones and I love the simplicity of the design.

And I did display this one next to my first 2005 Disney Marathon medal.