After the 2012 Walt Disney World Marathon, my wife and I were in line for a ride at the Magic Kingdom that Sunday night. Behind us was a lady that had a Goofy medal on. The significance of the Goofy medal is that you complete the half marathon (13.1 Miles) on Saturday and then complete the full marathon (26.2 Miles) on Sunday. After completing the marathon, I needed a new challenge, so based on the encouragement from this unknown lady in line I committed to running the 2013 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend Goofy Challenge, and that I did. I did over 700 miles of training runs in 2012 to prepare for this weekend!
Last week we traveled down to Walt Disney World to take on this mission. We went down on Thursday (10th) and stayed until Tuesday (15th). We stayed at Disney’s Beach Club Villas, in a 1 bedroom villa, which was nice as it had a full kitchen, walk in shower, and jacuzzi tub, which was great for the ice baths after the races. On Thursday we met up with my running partner and friend Becky and her family for a little while, then we went to the race expo. Disney really knows how to put on a race expo, and races too for that matter. When we got to the expo, we went and got our bibs. Prior to going we found out we were in Corral B, which we wanted to change to Corral A. We took proof of our former races to race relations and they easily put us both in Corral A, success! We then got our race package with our shirts, 3 shirts for the 3 events (new wardrobe!). We then walked around the expo visiting with the various vendors for about an hour. We finished off Thursday evening in Epcot park, and had dinner at Via Napoli for some carb loading. We got back to the room a little before 9pm, so we could watch Illuminations firework show over at Epcot from our balcony. I queued up this You Tube video on my iPad to synch up with the fireworks show, and was able to get the audio from the fireworks show at our balcony, it worked so awesome.
On Friday (11th) we went to Magic Kingdom for the day. Later that evening we went over to Downtown Disney with Becky and her family and had dinner at Portobello Italian Trattoria for some carb loading. This was our first time eating at this restaurant, and we were not particularly impressed. There was no taste to the food, but we got in our carbs for the races. We also met friends Michael, Tara, & Christopher Bell at dinner. They were there with some of their friends eating as well. Great times. We had dinner early, since we had to be up pretty early Saturday morning for the half marathon, so I was in bed by 9PM.
Saturday was half marathon day. We had to be up at 2:40AM, yes AM to be on the shuttle to the start line by 3:30AM. We got on the shuttle at Beach Club. Becky stayed at Boardwalk across the lake, and walked over to board the shuttle at our resort. We arrived at the race by about 4AM to be in the race corrals by 4:30AM for a 5:30AM race start. The shuttle dropped us off at bag check and other runner relations. At about 4:45AM they opened the gates for us to begin the half mile walk to the starting corrals. We got into Corral A about 5AM. We got as close as we could to the front of the corral. During the start festivities we were able to see Joey Fatone, but none of the other celebrity runners. At 5:30AM the race started in true Disney fashion with firework explosions! It is so awesome to start a Disney race, they truly make you feel like your training was worth it! We set out with a goal to finish under 2 hours. This is an impressive goal, considering we will be doing a marathon the next day. The race temp for the start of the race was about 62 degrees and about 80% humidity. It wasn’t bad, but wasn’t great either. We pushed through the race and warmth.
I did a GU 15 minutes before the start, and then did a GU every 4 miles during the race. This was sufficient to get me through the race. I had no problems during the race, other than the temperature. The course was great, we started in Epcot parking lot, and headed to Magic Kingdom, passing by the Contempory resort. We entered Magic Kingdom just pass the resort, and into the back entrance, and down Main Street USA, Tomorrowland, Fantasyland, and through Cinderella Castle, then through Liberty Square and Frontierland.
We exited out of the park near Splash Mountain and hit the road that we by the Grand Floridian. Back on to the main road into Magic Kingdom and headed back to Epcot. We came in Epcot near the Seas with Nemo and Friends, and out to the World Showcase entrance and back to Spaceship Earth and out to the parking lot to the FINISH LINE! We finished the race at 1:58:17. Goal Success! We took the shuttle back to the resort, because it was just 7:30AM and the families had not even woken up yet. I got back to the resort, did an ice bath and shower, and got dressed. We then went to breakfast, and then went to Disney’s Hollywood Studios for about 3 hours. I then started getting tired, so we went back to the resort, and took a nap until dinner. Dinner Saturday night was at Beach Club’s Cape May restaurant. I selected this restaurant, first because we ate here before the marathon last year, but also because it is a buffet, and I can specifically select what to eat within my marathon nutrition plan. Afterward, we headed back to the room and went to sleep because it was going to be another early morning.
Sunday (13th) was marathon morning. This was the 20th Anniversary of the Walt Disney Marathon! The morning went exactly like Saturday, with the only change being that I walked over to the Boardwalk to take the shuttle with Becky. Everything else went exactly the same, except that we did not get at the front of Corral A. For this race, we were going to take our time, take in the entertainment along the course, and enjoy ourselves. Thus we started at the back of the corral, so as to not get into the way of those shooting for a time goal. Our goal for this race was just to be under 5 hours. My 2012 WDW Marathon time was 4:54:17, so that was an underlying goal, but not important. We did as planned and enjoyed ourselves. We took pictures of each other at each of the mile markers. The starting temperatures for this race were similar to that of the half marathon on Saturday. I took Becky’s pictures at the odd mile markers and she took my pictures at the even mile markers. This helped us in the later miles remember whose turn it was! We also stopped with characters along the course for pictures and compiled memories. The course started in Epcot and went to the Magic Kingdom, then to Animal Kingdom, then to ESPN’s Wide World of Sports complex, then to Disney’s Hollywood Studies, and to the finish in Epcot parking lot. At Mile 20 the heat started to get to us, it was already in the 70s and strong humidity. We began to slow some here, as we still had a 10k to the finish. We chugged through it, and between the Studios and Epcot, we passed by our resorts, first the Boardwalk and then the Beach Club. Becky’s family was waiting for us by the Boardwalk, and had a Coke and Snickers for us! That is the best a Coke has ever tasted. It gave us a little boost. Then came the Beach Club, where we found Jennifer just before entering Epcot. She had us our final GU and she took all our water bottles and extra stuff off so we could finish strong. It is such an energy boost after 24 miles to see family! So we enter the back of Epcot’s World Showcase and now just have to run the complete Showcase, into Future World to the finish line. Just inside the showcase, we hit Mile 25. Becky and I looked at our Garmin watches, and we were close to my PR from last year’s marathon. She said if I picked it up a little, I could challenge it. I told her I wasn’t going to bother; however, unbeknownst to me by the time we hit the next country, I had left Becky. I dropped the pace by 2 minutes to a 9mm pace and got to Mile 26 to observe the clock that I could not beat my PR, so I strolled to the finish line at 4:55:01 (45 seconds from my PR). Becky pulled in about 30 seconds behind me. It was feeling, 39.3 Miles in about 24 hours! For fueling for this race, I did a GU 15 minutes before the start of the race, then every 4 miles, until we got to bananas from Disney just beyond the half marathon point. GUs continued until Mile 20, where we took an extended walk break to eat a package of Lance Nekot crackers that were just divine! Disney offered us candy bars inside the Studios around mile 22.5. They offered cold water sponges at ESPN that was also great! The only issues I had during the race, other than the usual expected conditions, was a little knee soreness, and my feet started to feel like I was running on glass (this started about Mile 22). However, in the end it was all worth it, I enjoyed it so much. So this was great time and accomplishment, it was my first Goofy Challenge, and Becky’s 5th!
After the marathon, Jennifer huffed it after we had passed her, and she met us at the finish line. She said she took the shortcuts we unfortunately could not take. We all then walked back to the resort via our Annual Passes through Epcot. It was about a 30-45 minute walk as we were pretty tired and sore. When I got back to the room, I did my ice bath & shower, then put on my compression pants and race shirt, and sit down to rest. While I was cleaning up, Jennifer walked down and got me the most amazing cheese burger that truly hit the spot. We laid around the remainder of the day until dinner at the Polynesian Resort’s Ohana! After this we went over to the Magic Kingdom for a few hours.
On Monday (14th) we began the day at Epcot, where I had to find Goofy to take a photo with my Goofy Challenge medal, along with the half marathon & full marathon medals.
Jennifer then had a brilliant idea (why she decided this now when I just ran 39.3 miles as opposed to the other 5 times a year we go to Disney), she said why don’t we go to all 4 Disney Parks today and ride 1 ride! I thought the walking would help reduce my soreness some by staying moving, so we did it. From Epcot we went to Hollywood Studios and rode The Great Movie Ride. If you know this ride, there is about an 8 minute movie clip at the end of the ride. I promptly fell asleep during this part! We then went over to the Animal Kingdom. This was about 2PM, and typically you wouldn’t ride the Safari ride during the afternoon, because the animals are fed in the morning, and thus would be sleeping. However, it was a 10 minute wait, and it was another calm ride to sit and rest! Boy were we surprised, there were animals out everywhere, and we were so pleased. Then off to Magic Kingdom to wrap up the day. We had dinner at Liberty Tree Tavern, which has all you can eat country fixing, to include the most amazing yeast rolls! After this, we rode a few rides, and headed back to the resort. Today we moved over to Saratoga Springs Resort for the evening.
On Tuesday (15th), we decided we were ready to head home to see our pets, so we left Disney for home, as opposed to going to any parks. It was a great week and a great accomplishment in my short running career! Before leaving, Becky and I agreed to run the 2014 WDW Marathon Goofy Challenge again! Call It Addicting! Finally, I would like to thank the unknown lady after the 2012 WDW Marathon who in a ride line took the time to talk me into running the Goofy Challenge! Also, I would like to thank both my wife Jennifer and all my running partners for spending the time in training with me the last year to accomplish this goal! Now I will take a couple of weeks off from running to rest and refocus, and then begin training for the 2014 WDW Marathon Goofy Challenge!
Next Race: North Carolina Half Marathon in March