Monday, January 11, 2010

39.3 miles, 5 hours and 40 minutes and 5,324 burned calories

Sorry for the delay in the latest [and probably last] posting. I was just trying to make sure my legs still worked yesterday…typing was not an option.

For the second day in a row, we got up at 3:30am to get ready for the race. Maureen and Cory also got up to head over to Disney with us to scope out some good spectator locations. The four of us made it to Disney at 4:45am in time for our final pre-race rituals. For the marathon start, there was thankfully no sleet, but the temperature was a balmy 28 degrees. The forecast called for the temperature to climb all the way to 38 degrees around the time we expected to finish, so we applied our multiple layers and went out into the cold.

We made the 20 minute walk to the starting line and entered our pre-determined Corral C. With 20,000 people around us, the temperature was not too tremendously bad [note: somewhere between the car and the corral, John managed to “misplace” one glove causing him to run the race Michael Jackson Thriller Style. I will not say where the glove might be…if you want to know, you have to ask him yourself]. The fireworks shot off and the race was underway.

We first circled Epcot Center and then made our way up to The Magic Kingdom. We saw Maureen and Cory as we entered The Magic Kingdom around mile 9. It is always so nice to see familiar faces during these races…it is a little energy boost. We circled through The Magic Kingdom again going through Cinderella’s Castle. Upon exiting The Magic Kingdom around mile 13, we saw Maureen and Cory again. At this point, the route was not much different than the Half-Marathon.

The route took us behind the scenes down towards the Animal Kingdom. Within a few hundred yards of the Animal Kingdom, we were greeted by the smell of the Animal Kingdom. We did choose to run this race thinking it would be a unique experience. While freezing in Florida while smelling animals was certainly unique, it was not what we expected. Once we got into the Animal Kingdom, the methane content of the air seemed to lower and we were back focusing on the cold.

We left the Animal Kingdom and went on some of the main Disney roads to the Disney Hollywood Studios. Throughout the race, the staff of Disney was out in force in costume with many of the characters cheering us on. Throughout the parks and roads, there were bands and DJs playing music to keep us going. Of course at mile 20, we got the jackass DJ screaming “only 6 miles to go”. People, telling a marathoner that he or she only has 6 miles to go is not encouraging; it can be back breaking. At mile 20, you are at your lowest…your feet hurt, your knees hurt; your body hurts…6 miles might as well be 600. Clap, whistle, yelling “go runners”…all good options; reminding runners that they have, quite possibly, an hour more pain makes you a jackass.

I am now off my soap box.

After making fun of the DJ for a half mile or so, it set in that we had another 6 miles to go. At this point, running became purely about repetition. My legs just kept moving in a constant rhythm…there was no stopping or slowing down. Speeding up wasn’t going to happen either. I felt a bit like a hamster on a wheel ; not stopping for anything. We went through the studios at one point cutting directly through the costume building. We went through the New York stage and out of the studios.

With 3 miles to go, we were circling one of the lakes on the boardwalk of the hotel area. At this point, although we had no preconceived notions of goal times, it occurred to us that we could break the 4 hour mark. We kept it steady and focused on the course. With less than two miles to go, some nut job came running out to us. John preceded to high-five the whack-o and kept running. It wasn’t until we ran past that it finally set in my brain that the whack-o was our good friend Mike Anderson who came up from Tampa Bay with his wife [not a whack-o running out to us] for the race. This confusion is just slightly indicative of my brain function at 25 miles.

We realize that the distance left was equal to running form my house to the Capitol, a route we have done countless times before. We stuck together and entered Epcot having seen the dome knowing the finish was nearby. We cut around the dome and saw the end…thankfully. As we crossed the finish line, the woman next to me in her joy of seeing her friends and not paying attention proceeded to trip on the timing mat crashing head first. We dodged her and almost ran directly into another poor lass who was passing out as we approached. More incredible than surviving is that we finished in 3 hours and 50 minutes…unreal for two old guys.

Garmin Connect - Activity Details for Disney Marathon

We counted our blessings and were greeted with a blanket. We then got our medal for the marathon and continued forward to the Goofy Challenge tent. In the tent we were greeted by volunteers who gave us our third and final medal for completing this lunacy.

We grabbed some food and exited to meet everyone. As we left the tent, we were crushed with cold wind dropping our temperatures about 60 degrees. Our meet and greet with our incredible supporters was cut extremely short as we hustled to the car to get warm. The challenge of getting to the car in a hurry was that we had very little leg control and were both wearing two 10 pound medals. Maureen ran ahead to start the car as Cory graciously took the medals in an attempt to expeditiously get to the awaiting car. When we got to the car, we sat silent and motionless contemplating how to get out of cold, sweat drenched clothes. As Maureen and Cory were outside the car to give us room to stretch out, John broke the pain by commenting, “look at Cory with the medals on; she looks like Bruce Jenner”. With an eruption of laughter, we started to get changed.

We returned to the hotel and both jumped in hot showers. John took a nap as I snacked. I then went down to the steam room and for a massage. Though painful, the massage was fantastic for working out 39.3 miles of trauma to my legs.

We all reconvened in the suite and made the decision to order out and relax. With playoff football on TV, everyone got together and ate pizza and drank beer. This is why we run.

Today we went over to the Disney Studios to ride some rides and enjoy the park. As we walked through, we did our best to piece together the run through the park attempting to figure out what we had seen and where we had been. We took in the Stunt Show and rode the fantastic Tower of Terror and Rock and Roll Rollercoaster acting like kids.

It has been an incredible 7+ months of preparing for the weekend. We worked through some tough times, but are no worse for wear. While I think we have agreed to retire from the Goofy Challenge, I am sure there is some other lunacy on the horizon.

Not to be too sappy, but thanks to my amazing running partner John, for his encouragement and excitement to get out and hit the road. Thanks to Maureen to being equally as supportive and dealing with early runs, smelling clothing and my complaints of being sore. Thanks to our support cast of Cory, Dave, Kim, Wendy, Brad and Sondra for standing behind us on this journey, constantly switching meal plans so we could eat more pasta, getting out to run with us on those cold, rainy miserable days when it would have been easier to stay inside and absolutely always knowing that we would finish. Thanks to my incredible folks, sister Adrienne, Brother-in-law Sean and silly niece Corinne, for not only coming to cold Florida to cheer us on, but backing this idea from start to finish. Thanks to Cheryl, Chad, Katie, Riley, Bode, Mike and Tove for coming to cold Orlando to yell and scream us on. And a very special thanks to everyone who donated to our campaign to raise money for CCFA. Obviously this cause is close to my heart, but with a tight knit group of family and friends, it is close to theirs as well. Thank you everyone for your generosity and encouragement. There are countless other who helped in this endeavor; too many to count. Thanks to everyone for helping us…don’t let anyone tell you any idea is not possible. If two old dudes can run 39.3 miles over two days, anything is possible.

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