Monday, January 28, 2013

Goin' Goofy Part Two: Walt Disney World Half Marathon

When Laurie went back to the Expo on Friday, she was able to talk with Jeff Galloway about a plan for dealing with the extreme weather. She explained our training and our final B2B training runs and our typical pacing. His suggestion was to walk the whole Half Marathon, and then do a 30:30 interval for the Full. The walk would reserve energies for Sunday and the 30:30 would get us done in abut the same pace, but it would be more forgiving on our bodies. I will be honest, since I didn't actually talk to Jeff, I was unsure about that, the idea of walking a WHOLE Half. I mean, I have NEVER walked a whole half.  BUT Jeff IS the expert. He and his run/walk method have gotten me this far so, really, who am I to question him? How arrogant was I being? I wasn't about to let pride sideline my efforts.If Mr Jeff Galloway says walk the Half, then I was going to walk the Half especially in the face of the heat and humidity.

Turns out it was VERY good advice, because the whole thing was crowded and borderline miserable. For 3/4 of the course, we wouldn't have been able to run if we wanted to. We were towards the back amongst the walkers, so MANY WALKERS, and they would be walking in a line shoulder to shoulder across the road so you had no choice but run in the grass. So confession time: we didn't walk the WHOLE thing. Anyway, I should start at the beginning!

After our 2am wake up call, we tried to choke down some semblance of breakfast and headed down to the food court to fill up our water bottles with some Powerade/Water. The bus took us over to Epcot for the staging area. We dropped off my Gear Check bag and went through to the back side of the tent to start to make our way over to the Start Corrals. We got into an area with the tent behind us and all the runners making their way to the start, and two sides lined with PortaPotties, and then we were to funnel into the road that would lead through the Graveyard (for those who haven't done a Disney World race, the Graveyard is a back road in Epcot where they store ride vehicles and trolleys and such that are not in commission any more. Its very scenic) and on to the Starting area. We weren't moving. We were herded into a pen and we were stuck. NOT MOVING. People everywhere, not moving forward, trapped by PortaPotties... Now I don't consider myself claustrophobic, but I do get that anxiety in large crowds, especially if I feel trapped. Laurie and I made our way to the edge of the trapped crowd, along one of the PortaPotty boundaries. I think the only thing that kept me from freaking out was the fact that I knew that, worse case scenario, I could push one of those things over and escape. I would have, too, trust me. We learned later that there was a lack of volunteers to direct runner traffic... A breakdown in communication somewhere, clearly. (On Sunday, they had remedied the problem and it went much smoother.) 

After what felt like an eternity, we finally got to our Corral. Good ol' G. We camped out and sat while we waited. Our start time wasn't until 6:15ish. We had time. Finally, it was our turn to be released! Pretty darn close to 6:15. My Garmin was still on Central Time so that kept throwing me off... Anyway, we were off. We started out doing a run interval just till we could find room to do what we needed to do. That room would never come. We waited for it to thin out a bit, but, really it never did. What ended up happening was that we would do intervals when we were able to (which wasn't often) and then we would walk. Walking was a good suggestion, and the crowd made sure it happened.  Anyway, we got less than a mile into it and Laurie and I BOTH had to pee. Really? This NEVER happens! I don't think I have ever had to stop during a Half. I guess this adventure was just bound to be filled with 'firsts.'  So we had a decision to make, wait in the obscenely long potty line or do as the boys do and go in the bushes.  We opted for the bushes. This was a first. I mean, its hardly the first time I have copped a squat in the bushes. I grew up on a farm. I camped in the wilderness of Alaska.  However, neither of those scenarios involve hundreds of people running past you at the same time. I almost tripped on the underbrush, but we got it done and carried on. I mean LOTS of people were doing the same thing, so it took the embarrassment right out of the situation.

This Half was the same course for Princess, but I tell you what, the thrill of running down Main Street is still there. I love running through Magic Kingdom and going through the Castle. Cinderella's Castle is very special to me so its always "butterflies in the stomach" inducing excitement for me! The problem with the Half's course is the LONG return trip to Epcot. Its mostly freeway (is that what you would call the roads there? My inclination is to say interstate, but that's not accurate), open, sunny, HOT, humid and involves on-ramps. It was pretty harsh. The crowds pretty much kept us walking in the beginning, and the heat kept us walking in the end. It was a blessing in disguise because we were forced to follow Jeff's advice.  Pride would have had us run that Half, and I KNOW if we had run it, Sunday would have been a disaster, but then hindsight is alwys 20/20.

One of the bonuses of walking was that it gave the opportunity to talk to people. Like the guy (maybe in his early 20s), who was also doing Goofy. The longest run he had ever done was 16 miles I believe.  I just can't imagine making Goofy your first marathon. I know that it was a LOT of money for me to plunk down for registration, without having run a marathon, but at the time I HAD run 20 miles at least.  He didn't train at ALL. I know people do it without training, I have to know that I have a chance, I guess.

The Half was kind of ugly for me. The sun/heat throughout the last part was rough. I poured a LOT of water down my back and over my head. Like I said, it ended up being a blessing in disguise. On the flip side of that blessing coin. however, was the already planted seed of fear that my tumble at the Expo planted. Heat is NOT a friend to people with MS. In fact, extremem heat can cause relapses.  The very last thing I needed was to have a relapse, especially since I am not currently under the care of a neurologist. (No lectures, please).

When we crossed that Finish Line, we could say we were successful and Mission Accomplished. The first half of the Goofy Challenge was complete. Our distance was 1/3rd of the way completed. We collected my bag from Gear Check and stood in the obscenely long line for our shuttle bus. We were staying at Pop Century, and sharing a bus with Art of Animation. It seemed like everyone was staying at Art!! By the time we got on a bus, it was quite ripe. LOL. I really did feel for the poor bus drivers!!Once we finally got back to the resort I rinsed off (cuz I was tired of smelling myself) and we went down to the pool. One good thing about 80+ degrees was that the pool was very inviting and served at a giant ice bath. We were able to discuss our thoughts on the day and our strategy for Sunday.

 I think, looking back, Saturday was a successful race (using that term loosely). We finished. I survived the heat. The stiffness I was experiencing was more of a result of the walking than anything else. Walking uses different muscles and mine are not as developed, I guess. The pool helped loosen that up, and I would have stayed longer if I weren't so concerned about sunburn. I didn't need to try to run a Marathon with a sunburn!

After the pool, we went for supper. We just stayed at the resort and vegged out. I went on a mission for some sunscreen. Yes, I did pay $15 for some Coppertone Baby sunscreen, but considering even WITH it and stick sunscreen reapplied during the Full, I still ended up with a minor burn, it was worth the $15. We turned in early so we would be well rested for Sunday's Full which is where I will pick up from in the next installment.

Until Next Time, Run On & Be Happy.




Sunday, January 27, 2013

Goin' Goofy: Part One (End of Training through 5K)

I am not sure how to try to sum up this Goofy experience. It will be more than one blog, I assure you. You’ve been warned! LOL. In February when I decided to do this crazy thing called the Goofy Challenge, I hadn’t even run my first Marathon. (As it turns out, a lot of people do the same thing, and the Goofy is their first marathon! WHAT?!?!?)  Now that its over (more reflections will come once I am done with the wrap ups), I realize, or am starting to realize, how much faith in myself that act of registering really took. I blindly took a step, believing that, not only would I finish AFM, but that I would want to do another one!

After the debacle that was AFM, I began to question myself. I hadn’t cut the weight I wanted to before Goofy. I had an awful first marathon (and no amount of reasoning would convince me that it had more to do with the stomach flu/heat combination [My logical brain knows this is the case] than with my own abilities), and I had that “failure” (yes, that is how I viewed it) looming over me throughout the training for Goofy. What was I thinking? I can’t do this. This is crazy. What makes me think that I can do not one, not two, but THREE races in three days?
Blind faith that my determined stubbornness would see me through to each Finish Line is all I had to go on, and it turns out a little misplaced faith in yourself can see you through to the end.

I am proud to say that in preparation for this endeavor, I did not skip even one back to back training run! Frankly, I was too scared to! The last B2B run was supped to be the weekend before Christmas, but there was NO WAY that was going to happen. I just didn’t a spare 9 hours to dedicate to B2B training runs.  I decided to do it the next weekend, and because of the proximity to our departure date and the packed snow, ice and the freshly fallen snow, I decided to do it in the treadmill. I don’t like doing my runs on the TM, not because of the monotony, I watch movies, but because TMs are way different than actually running, so I am not really training properly. I didn’t need any more reasons to freak about this, but a TM is exponentially better than no run at all, so TM it was. By the end of this training period, B2Bs were making me hate running. I knew that I needed to do the training, but I think I swore off running after Goofy. Of course, I took that back and revised it to no more B2Bs after Goofy. I’m not going to quit running. The very idea is ridiculous, but that’s how much I ‘enjoyed’ training.

After we did AFM in September, we slipped right into Goofy training, so it felt that by preparing for AFM, we were also doing Goofy training so it feels like I have been working up to this trip forever. I think that’s why it is so hard to believe that it is over, but as time has a tendency to do, it went by faster than I wanted and the day to depart for Florida was upon us. We were leaving on Wednesday early morning, (like 4:30 am arrival at the airport early), but Tuesday night I had a YoungLife planning meeting, I had to attend that before I headed up to Coal Valley for a night at Hotel Rose. As many times as I had explained what we are doing, it still didn’t really seem like a real thing. I think my disbelief helped keep my nerves in check. I really hate flying. I am not AFRAID to fly, I just hate doing it. The whole process, the security, the travel, the layovers, the whole experience, just annoys me. I know some people, like my husband, love to fly, I am NOT one of those people. Anyway, Wednesday morning, we left for the airport at 4:30am. Upon arrival, we found out that they were diverting the Orlando flight away from Atlanta to Detroit do to a massive storm (or something. In all honesty, I was still kind of asleep). We were now flying from Illinois to Florida by way of Michigan. It actually turned out to be a good thing because we were upgraded to an Exit Row. Hello, glorious leg room!! And we got into Orlando a little earlier do it was really no big inconvenience except for the severely reduced layover time in Detroit (thus the earlier arrival time). They we boarding our connection when we arrived at the gate so we had just enough time to hit the restroom before hopping on our connecting flight. Another reason I despise flying is the possibility of short layovers. I would rather have a 3 hour layover than an hour.

When we arrived in Orlando, we took Magical Express to our resort. When you do this you have to go down to the third level and wait in line for the bus to your specific resort. Usually, this is an awesome time cuz you are just so excited to be there and you are almost to WDW. So we are standing in line all Giddy because our trip ha begun, and the line is moving, we get to the front and they pull the rope. Dang it, we have to wait for the next bus. No big deal, however Cruella DeVille’s evil sister is standing in line behind us. This woman was AWFUL. Her poor husband, Ed. Nothing he did was right, and when I say nothing, I mean NOTHING. Even when he did what she told him, it was wrong. He was there to run the marathon. Laurie and I are pretty sure he used his long runs as an excuse to get away from that woman. She was so bad, that Laurie and I stood off to the side and let them board the bus first so that we could be sure to sit far away from her. As it turns out the people who had the pleasure of standing behind them did the EXACT SAME THING! She really brought down the excitement of my arrival. Poor Ed came up a few times during our trip, just wondering how he was holding up.
We didn’t have any big plans for Wednesday except to unpack and grab some food. Then we headed to Downtown Disney for some drinks at our favorite place, Raglan Road.  We have a couple beers (Guinness, please), and they were having Irish Dancing outside so we hung around and watced for a bit. 
Thursday we went over to the Expo. It was pretty unreal to stand in line to get my Goofy race packet. I was just reeling. I had that Goofy bib in my hand, and suddenly tthings became VERY real.  My first falling down incident (yes, I said FIRST indiacating subsequent falling down incedents) happened at the Expo. We were standing in line to get our RunDisney merchandise and I was still disappointed that I chose not to get the Marathon Weekend pins when I registered, I saw a booth across the velvet rope that had pin sets and I wanted to see them. I thought (against my better judgement) that I would just step over the rope and take a peak. Yeah, I totally lost my balance and almost took out the entire booth of pins I wanted to look at. The only thing that stopped me was a very sturdy man who was also looking at the same pin sets. I got a nice rug burn on my face from the back of the man's shorts. It was embarassing. I am used to losing my balance. I don't usually fall thoough. It shook me up. Honestly, it made me worry. I was fine, but my pride was bruised and my mental state shrouded with fear of my MS. Had I pushed myself too hard during training? I had to push that out of my mind. No doubts had a place in my head. So I laughed it off, and moved on.  I had enough clouding my brain with the record highs that Florida was having. (Near record? I am not really sure.) It was so humid. So warm. I went from 15 degrees, snow and ice to 80+ degrees, sunshine and humidity. Heat was one of the tings that contibuted to the perfect storm of suffering that was my miserable AFM experience. All I wanted was an empowering marathon finish. Things were beginning to look like that wasn'g going to be the case....again.
After the expo, we went to Studios.  It was time for some rides, namely Tower of Terror! Its my favorite ride!!  After some shopping and rides, we headed back to the resort. Since we were going to have the first of several early mornings on Friday, we decided to call it a day. Laurie wanted to go back to the Expo, so I decided to cross the bridge over to the new Art of Animation Resort. It was pretty cool. I liked the Nemo part because, in true Disney fashion, walking around, you actually feel like you are underwater. It was cool.  And, of course, the Cars part because it reminded me so much of Hayden. He would have loved playing in the Big Blue pool and the Cozy Cone Motel Pool. 
Friday morning we did the Family 5K. We had absolutely NO intention of running this 5K. It was more of a tool to shake out the cobwebs of traveling, get an idea of the crowd, and be a little Dopey along the way.  This was by FAR the largest 5K I have EVER been a part of. I can say with all honesty, that I have never been a part of a wave start for a 5K!! That was new. We by chance, ran into Sid whom we met originally through the Air Force Marathon and his FB campaign "Sid for President." That was a very special surprise. He is such a sweet funny man. We basically just walked our way around the World Showcase in Epcot. Having just done this exact 5K for Princess in February, I didnt bother too much with the idea that we should be running. We were having a good time just walking and taking in the environment. It was a warm up for what was to come! We collected our rubber 5K medals and went back to clean up and grap some food. We went over the the Magic Kingdom and spent the afternoon over there doing some shopping and ride a few rides. We checked out the new Fantasyland (it was cool but SOOO crowded). Splash Mountian & Pirates were closed but we hit most of the other "must dos" like Haunted Mansion.  After MK, we went back to the resort for supper and sleep. Another early morning on Saturday for the Half Marathon and the official start of the Goofy Challenge. And that is where I will pick up next time...
Until Next Time, Run On & Be Happy!
 4:30 am off to the airport
 pre humidity hair
post humidity hair

my Tower of Terror picture. (Front Far left)

Home Sweet Home

Heading over to Art of Animation to explore




All Finished!! One done, Two to Go

Lovely afternoon in the Magic Kingdom

New Storybook Circus

Enterance to Bell's Enchanted Forest