Sunday, January 25, 2009

New job tomorrow!

I start my new job tomorrow! I’m very excited, even to be back in commuter traffic again. I really believe that this will be a great thing for me and that I will really enjoy my new job.

On a Disney-related note, I’m thinking about doing the marathon or half-marathon next year. More importantly, I’m working on getting my wife to do the half next year, too.

I’ll see how that plan goes.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Goofy Challenge race report

Apologies for the length, but since last weekend, I was busier that I thought I’d be. The race report got pushed back until now, late Sunday night, a week later. I’ve read a few race reports, especially my new good friend Gordon Harvey’s Run to Disney marathon race reports and Lori Burke’s We Wants the Readhead half-marathon report. Both of these reports capture the excitement of first-timers to the WDW Marathon Weekend as runners. If you read these reports, I can tell you that even though this was my first time doing the Goofy Challenge and my third time (in a row) running during the marathon, the excitement level does not fade.

My wife, 3-year-old son, and I got to Orlando on Thursday, checked into Saratoga Springs (our room was even ready), and headed over to the expo. I must say that this year, the expo and packet pick-up was much easier and seemed to be a much better experience than the last two years. Disney split the packet pick-up and expo into two different buildings, which reduced the crowds, although they were still large. The race shirt and goody bag area exit opened up right at the merchandise area - good call! It was a beautiful day, too, so my son ran around outside for a while before we headed back to the resort (then he feel asleep!).

Friday was a restful day, although it was a bit hectic at first. We needed to get Annual Passes, which we usually do at Epcot. So we headed out in the morning to catch the bus to Epcot. Instead, my son decided he wanted to go to Magic Kingdom. We took that bus. During the ride, my mom called (she had come down for the races, but was staying at another hotel at Downtown Disney) to see where we would be so that she and my aunt (who lives in Florida) would know which park to come to. I told her that we had planned to go the Epcot, but were now on our way to MK and to call us before getting on their bus. This turned out to be a good thing, because as soon as we got our APs, my son decided that he really did want to go to Epcot. So we took the ferry to TTC and rode the monorail to Epcot. I called my mom and told her that we were headed over to Epcot. They met us for a relaxing day. I was able to get to sleep fairly easily and fairly early, even though we were in a Studio. I got the bed and my wife and son got the sofa bed.

Saturday morning, I woke up at about 2:15, got ready, and headed to the bus. Our driver got mixed up about the drop-off area at Epcot and had to go back out and come in again. The walk from the bus to the starting area took about 10-15 minutes. I had purchased the Race Retreat for both races, so I made my way to the Race Retreat tent and relaxed for a while. I had to go back out to the starting area to pick up a hat from the folks and went back into the tent to wait until the inevitable trek out to the corrals. Since this was my first Half-Marathon at WDW, I wasn’t entirely sure how the waves worked, but since I was in the third, and last, wave, I didn’t worry too much. We got up to the starting line about 20 minutes after the race started and headed out towards the Magic Kingdom.

I think it is interesting just how different the half- and full-marathon courses are (aside from the distances, of course!), especially since they both start at Epcot, go to the Magic Kingdom, and finish at Epcot. I must say, though, that I really enjoyed the Half-Marathon quite a bit. Others have covered the half pretty thoroughly, especially Lori at We Wants the Redhead, so I won’t recap it too much. The run was fine, I felt good, and I was very pleased with my finish time of 2:41.

Saturday afternoon, we went to the Magic Kingdom, where I attended the
WDW Radio Show Meet-of-the-Month, which just happened to coincide with the marathon weekend (not really, as the host, Lou Mongello, planned to be at WDW for the weekend). I finally met Gordon from the Running to Disney podcast. It was great meeting him after listening to his podcast and emailing and twittering in the weeks leading up to the race. I also met another half-marathon participant, Lisa from Those Darn Cats and her friend Trace from Disney Dudes as we waited in line to talk with Lou. An impromptu interview ensued and Gordon and I found myself a part of Those Darn Cats episode #35. It was a bit surreal, but very exciting.

Eventually, I found myself saying good-bye to my wife and son and heading back to Saratoga Springs to get my bag and get over to Pop Century. Unless you have rented a car or don’t mind paying for a cab ride, there is no easy way to get from one resort to another (that I know about, at least). So, I figured that since I did not want to walk over to Downtown Disney from where my room was at Saratoga Springs to catch the bus to Pop Century, where my room would be for the night, the boat over to DTD would work fine. It did, but took longer than I thought. Then the bus to Pop Century took a while to get to the Marketplace stop and, it being Saturday night, the ride over to Pop was a bit slow. I finally got to my room, dropped off my bag, and headed to the food court for a quick dinner before turning in for the very early wake up call.

Setting three alarms and leaving a wake-up call may have been overkill, but I got up, got ready, and got downstairs to wait for the 3:00 bus (the first one to the race start) with Gordon. We rode to the race start, where I went into the Race Retreat for the second day. This was, by far, the best investment I’ve made for anything related to running. Knowing that I would have access to port-a-potties that only a handful of other guys would have, a private bag check, and free food both before and after the race, made it easy to see why people spend the extra money. I passed the time talking with a first-time marathoner, hopefully helping to ease nerves, especially during the long trek to the corrals. I waited for the race start, no sure if I would be able to find Gordon, who was in the corral ahead of me. Ultimately, I did not find Gordon, but apparently passed him at some point. No matter, I really enjoyed meeting him and talking with him after the race to see how he felt about completing his first marathon. I remember the feeling and I think it is great that I was able to hear how much it meant to someone else to be able to say that they are a marathoner.

When the race started, I felt pretty good, although for the first 5-6 miles, I kept thinking to myself “Are you insane? You just ran a half yesterday!” After a little while, I settled into a pace that I felt I could maintain. I walked through every water stop, chatted with other runners, had my gels every 4 miles, and checked my pace at every mile marker. Something strange was happening.

I had planned to finish the marathon around 5:45, so I had picked up a pace band at the expo to help me keep track. I found that I was ahead of the pace and gaining time each mile. I didn’t feel nearly as bad as I did last year, when I pretty much walked most of the last 5 miles. In fact, I think I ran at least 23-24 miles, walking only at the water stops and a few times after the 15 mile marker for brief periods of time. This was weird. It looked to me like I would finish around 5:30 or so. That was fine with me, but I wasn’t sure if I would suddenly hit the wall and completely blow up. My mom and aunt saw me in Epcot at the Rose and Crown and I told them to get to the finish area. I was pretty well wiped out emotionally by this time, but they really boosted me and gave me the extra oomph I needed. Short version, I did not hit the wall and I ended up finishing in 5:25, which was the longest of my three times, but the other two weren’t on the second day of the Goofy Challenge. I was tired, I was sore, I was sure that this was the dumbest thing I had ever done in my life, but I had done it. I had completed the Goofy Challenge and finished faster that I thought I would. Once I found my wife, I was able to calm down somewhat and I gradually settled into the post-race soreness that always hits me.

Would I do the Goofy Challenge again? Definitely, but not next year. If I do any race next year, it would be the Half-Marathon. Training in the winter is not fun and training for the half would be easier. I think I’ll tackle the Goofy in 2011-maybe even adding the Circle of Life 5k to do the unofficial “Dopey.” I may change my mind, though, you never know!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Offered and accepted a job!

I was offered a position this afternoon, which I accepted. I am very excited and will post more later. I am incredibly happy and relieved!

Goofy Challenge completed!

Longer report coming very soon, but wanted to let everyone know I completed the Goofy Challenge and much quicker than I thought I would do it. I was sore Sunday and Monday, but felt pretty good Tuesday and yesterday (which is when we came home to below zero weather!).

Monday, January 5, 2009

Goofy Challenge training, part 14

The last long run was Saturday. An 8 mile run that went well, despite the wind chill. I chose a route that did not have much snow or ice on the road and that was on roads that are not very busy Saturday mornings. I actually ran on dry pavement for a good chunk of the run. I also did not wear my water belt, which I normally do for any run 8 miles and over. I’m not going to wear it for either race because of the water stations along the routes. I also went iPod-less because I’m not going to wear it during either race.

I’m spending the next few days getting ready for the trip, doing some work, and trying to relax. I’ve found myself starting to think about what I’m attempting and, while I know I’ll finish without getting swept, I still have butterflies about the whole thing. While I’m down at WDW, I’ll have the laptop, so I’ll try to post about the races soon afterwards. Otherwise, I’ll post a report when I get back. Good luck to all the runners!