It has taken me some time to finish composing my Goofy Race and a Half Challenge race report. Today I’ll be posting the first installment and the second will come in the next few days. Part of the trouble I’ve had is that it’s ridiculously long. I’ve done my best to keep things concise but I can’t help that I’m a details person. The other trouble I’ve had is with tone. You see, logically, I should not have run the Goofy this year. In the nine weeks between injuring my right ITB while setting a new PB at the Hamilton marathon and Disney race weekend I ran a grand total of 80.2 km. However, the vacation was booked and the race entry paid so going in I decided to do the half marathon and make the marathon a game time decision. While the overall experience was positive there were some low points and I don’t want any negativity that I express to be interpreted against the race itself. For the record: I think the Goofy Challenge is a great race. Doing might just have been one of the stupidest things I’ve ever done though.
My friends Laura, Douglas, Donna and I arrived at Disney late on Thursday morning and checked in to our cabin at the Fort Wilderness Resort. We chose the cabin because all four of us would get to stay together and we had a full kitchen to use to cook our pre race breakfasts and pasta dinners. One slight downside was that although Disney says there is direct transportation from all resorts to the expo and start line we actually had to take a bus to the Wilderness Lodge and then transfer to the race buses. We missed this memo upon arrival on Thursday and ended up taking three different buses to get to the expo. Not ideal. The expo itself was fun and we moved through fairly efficiently collecting our goody bags, race bibs and shirts and doing a bit of gear shopping.
We spent Thursday afternoon and evening at Epcot and then visited Animal Kingdom on Friday. We made our own pasta dinner back at the cabin and then turned in to bed around 8pm Friday night. I heard the 9pm Epcot fireworks so I estimate that I fell asleep at around 9:30pm. With the alarm going off at 2:40 on Saturday morning that meant I got about 5 hours of sleep but thanks to adrenaline I had no trouble waking up for the race. We left our cabin at 3:20am and fairly quickly caught a bus to the Wilderness Lodge where we transferred to a waiting bus to take us to Epcot. We spent about 20 minutes waiting in the staging area and then another 20 minutes walking to the start line. We eventually made it to our corrals at about 5:10am. That’s a long time to be on your feet before the starting gun has even gone off!
Due to some overly ambitious projected finish times made last March, Douglas and I had been assigned to corral A. It was a bit chilly waiting in the corral (thankfully I was wearing my signature garbage bag) but the weather was a dream compared to the freezing temperature and sleet runners faced in 2010. Mickey counted down to the race stat and we were treated to an early morning fireworks display. As we shuffled towards the start line I couldn’t help but wonder what the next 30 hours had in store for me.
Douglas and I stuck together at the start of the half marathon pacing just below a 10 minute mile. We were surrounded by runners but never had any issues with the course being over crowded. The highlight of the half marathon course is running in the Magic Kingdom and through Cinderella’s castle during mile six. After exiting the Magic Kingdom Douglas and I decided to split up and he pulled ahead while I slowed my pace and tried to take things easy. My legs were feeling decent but not great. The bulk of the remaining miles were spent running on roads between the Magic Kingdom and Epcot. Periodically there would be Disney characters at the side of the course. I ran with my camera but didn’t stop for any special photos. One of my favourite parts of the half was running up a highway on ramp in mile ten. There was a toy soldier character (from Toy Story) set up at the side of the road with a microphone encouraging the runners up the hill. That was great.
The last mile and a half of the course ran through Epcot which was neat. I kept my pace under control and cruised across the finish line with a chip time of 2:12:42, a new personal worst and exactly 2 minutes slower my first half marathon in 2006. Immediately after finishing I did something I’d never done before: I went to the medical tent. I was not in any distress but I visited the “self treatment” area to get some ice for my right ITB. I figured recovery had to start immediately if I was going to pull off a marathon the next day.
Due to a mix up in meeting location Douglas and I ended up waiting nearly two hours for Donna and Laura. We never found them so we eventually bailed and went back to our cabin (where they were waiting for us). Both of my legs were tight and I had some tenderness in my right ITB but all in all I was doing OK. We all donned our half marathon shirts and spent Saturday afternoon at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. This was a good choice because we stretched out our legs walking around the park but we also were able to attend several stunt shows which meant that we sat down and didn’t overextend our self. After all, overextending ourselves was so be saved for marathon day.