Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Goofy Challenge: Part 3

After running the half, we went back to the hotel to shower and eat, and then we hit up Disney Hollywood Studios. This was my favorite park when I was young (well when I was 14, as that's the first time we actually made it to Disney World). The park will always be MGM to me!

It was fun to revisit old favorites like Muppets 3-D and the Great Movie Ride, and it was cool to see the revamped Star Tours (even if it made me nauseous). I loved checking out the attractions I'd never gone to before, like the Rock n' Roller Coaster. The highlight of the day was definitely Toy Story's Midway Mania. One of the longest waits we experienced, but totally worth it! Toy Story is one of my favorite movies, and getting to play a game while on the ride was awesome!

Yay Boston!
Erin and I wore our Donald medals around the park, and tons of people congratulated us or asked questions. We met other runners and talked about the race. This was a very cool experience. Different than what happens when I wear my medals around my apartment. Not that I do that....

Around 4:30 we took the ferry over to the Disney Boardwalk so we could grab an early dinner. I think we made it back to the hotel and were in bed before 9. It was awesome! Definitely the best night's sleep I've ever had before a marathon. I think knowing EXACTLY what to expect for the race start helped quiet nerves, and the running on 4 hours sleep all day didn't hurt either.

Ready, Set, Go!
Marathon morning, we basically did all the same things we did the morning of the half. Erin was smart and suggested we use our heat blankets from the half to keep us warm at the start of the marathon. This was a genius idea as I wasn't freezing during our walk and wait to the start. There were fewer people for the full marathon, so we made it to our corral before the big send off. Disney certainly knows how to put on a show! There were fireworks everywhere! It wasn't long before Mickey, Donald, and Goofy sent us on our way.

Buzz in Tomorrowland
The course was a little different for the full. We went through Epcot for a bit before heading out to the highway. This made the marathon course more interesting and helped the first few miles fly by. Lead up to the marathon and during the beginning parts, my legs didn't really feel tired, but they felt used. Not the fresh feeling I had the day before or for most marathons. We initially agreed to stop at every character, but we flew by the first few (Um would you stop for Br'er Fox or Br'er Bear?).Eventually Erin pointed out that we should stop soon, or else we'd never make it!

Eventually we hit the Magic Kingdom, which was just as cool to run through the second time around! Even better since this time we posed with every character we saw! Obviously I was pumped for Buzz Lightyear and Woody, but I had fun with the Cinderella gang! There was a long line but the step-sisters were cracking jokes. Plus we got to pose with Prince Charming? I was tempted to leave a sneaker behind, but I figured I'd need that for the next 15 miles.

After the Magic Kingdom, it was back to the back roads! Disney was great about water stations. I started to worry as the temperature climbed, but there was water at least once a mile. All with Powerade or water. Around mile 14 they had a food station. I had just take a Gu at 12, so I grabbed a Mocha flavored pack for later. It was around this time that we ran by Disney's golf course. I had no clue that existed!

Before we headed into Disney's Animal Kingdom, we ran by their water and sewage plant. After running 15 miles, this was not a smell I wanted to deal with. This was my only complaint about the course. It was hot and smelly, and I was not enjoying myself. We did get some wet, cold sponges around this point, which was fantastic!

Not too much farther though, and we entered the Animal Kingdom. This was my first time at the park, so I was excited to see what I could. We were greeted by staff members with ferrets, donkeys, a sheep, and the cutest pigmy owl! The Animal Kingdom was nice and shaded too. Definitely a perk!

Erin and I had decided that starting at mile 17 we could alternate walking a mile and running a mile. I was feeling pretty good at the end of 16 (apparently doing miles in the 9 minute range!), but I knew that wouldn't last if I didn't start racing smart. One of the most vivid memories I have from my first marathon is how painful it was to run after taking a walk break (no matter how long or short), and after trying to restart at mile 18, I knew I couldn't stick with our run a mile/walk a mile plan. We decided to just take walk breaks as needed.

Usually around this time in a Marathon, I am BORED and ready to be finished! I didn't get that same feeling at all. I think it was in part because of how awesome Disney is, but mostly because I got to run with Erin. We were determined not to leave the other one behind. When one of us was feeling unhappy, the other one would bring on a bit of extra pep. We made each other laugh, and were the only two to shout "So good!" when we heard "Sweet Caroline" played by a DJ along the course. I don't know if I could have handled 39.3 miles without her!

Around mile 22 we entered Hollywood Studios. It was cool to see all the sights from the day before. We even ran right through the "Behind the Scenes" ride tunnel that featured movie costumes. This part of the course was also exciting as we got to see more characters! At this point, the parks were open, but the Disney did a great job of keeping the crowds to the side. Some park-goers seemed confused, but mostly it was nice having extra cheerleaders.

I was starting to feel really, really tired here. I would try to run, but couldn't keep it up very long. Erin and I took a walk break, and we figured out that I hadn't had a Gu in almost 10 miles! No wonder I was tired! I think by taking that Mocha Gu, I'd forgotten that it'd been so long since I'd actually eaten one. Whoops! I took the Gu and was feeling better as we left Hollywood Studios and headed by the Disney Boardwalk.

Around here, my ankle really started bothering me. Not the muscle so much, but it almost felt like my shoe was too tight or something. It had been slightly annoying earlier in the race, but now it was just hurting. After Hollywood Studios, Erin encouraged me to stop at an aid tent and grab some Biofreeze. She's a total genius as this didn't solve the problem, but made the next 3 miles doable!

Finally, we entered Epcot. The announcers reminded us that the big Epcot sphere was our finish.We still had a few miles to go, but having a visual of the finish was a great push! Since the park was open, there were even more characters! Since not all were affiliated with the race, there aren't professional photos of them all. This was a very fun part of the course, as we got a huge range of characters to pose with! Even though we were only a mile from the finish, we still took our time and meet with the characters. I am so happy we did that, as I just wanted to savor the experience.

Finally, we approached the finish. We were going to be Goofy! We picked up the pace and set our 39.3 mile PR!

After we crossed the finish, we got our blankets (and quickly tossed them as it was HOT) and our Mickey Medals. Erin and I then headed to the Goofy finish area to get our Goofy Medals!! The two medals kept clanging together and making so much noise. I secretly loved the sound, as I was so proud of my accomplishment!

We slowly made our way over to the bus and headed to the hotel. We took our time at the room getting ready. We got some lunch and eventually headed to Epcot wearing our Goofy medals. We went on a few rides, and finally got ourselves some well earned Margaritas in "Mexico." We shopped in "Germany" and watched a band in "England." Finally we bought some American beer and grabbed a spot for the fireworks.

We slept in until about 7:30 the next morning, and then headed out to the Magic Kingdom (rocking our Goofy race shirts). Nothing quite compared to the day before though, when we traveled through all 4 parks, stopped mid-race for character photos, received our Goofy medals, and celebrated by drinking around the world. All in all, it was definitely a magical race weekend, and I am already looking for another Disney race to run!

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