RR: 2007 Disney Goofy Challenge

The Goofy’s Race And A Half Challenge
1 Half Marathon – 1 Full Marathon – 2 Days – 4 Disney Theme Parks
Combined Mileage: 39.3 Miles
Combined Time: 5 Hours 59 Minutes
One Hell Of A Time! – One Long Report

Dedicated to Moe and Mr. Walt Disney
In Honor of diabetics everywhere including Sarah Chretien
And young Sophie Carloni (18 Months Old – Newly Type 1) as well as
The undying spirit of Hans Bern Bauer (Run With Scissors!)
Friday, January 5, 2007

I worked half a day at the high school and then rushed to my future in-laws house for a ride to the airport. I flew Southwest out of Manchester, NH and found myself in Orlando, Fla by 5 PM. It was a hot muggy night in Orlando, weather that I personally love and running my best in, especially so with 90% humidity. We headed to Disney’s Wide World of Sports where I needed to pick up my Goofy’s Race and a Half bracelet. A small plastic wrist band that signified Disney owned me for the next 2 days as I ran through their properties. Annoying as the band was to have on all weekend, the thoguths of what was to come made it worth while. After dinner with my father and step mom, I spent a little time in the Vacation Village pool and hot tub relazing under the stars while watching the fire works fly from Kissimmee’s “Old Town” area. The scent of a BBQ wafted through the air and I sipped on a lemonade. It’s Januray and I miss summer.

Saturday, January 6, 2007

Walt Disney World Half Marathon
The Magic Kingdom and Epcot
13.1 Miles – 2 Hours 6 Minutes
1,821st place out of 12,282 Finishers (top 14%)
1,199th out of 4,826 Men – 98th out of 395 men ages 25-29

The alarm went off at 3 AM. I woke up to grab a quick rinse, put on my gear (including a pair of Dirty Girl Gaitors, running with scissors, to honor my buddy Hans) and then eat a bagel before heading over to Epcot’s parking area. This area was the staging area for the races start and finish. After parking in the mass sea of cars, my father, step mother Helen and I all made our way to the “holding tank.” Runners were all about, stretching, filling water bottles, sharing war stories and fixing their numbers to their shirts or shorts. The porta-john lines were immensely long as they usually are before a race. On a stage near the back of the area was a band playing some great music of all genre’s, followed by music videos of various “fun” artists like Weird Al and MC Hammer.

Runners were then ushered through the back check tent and into a second holding area before they released you to walk the mile or more to the corals at the starting area. My father was in Coral B and Helen in C. I found myself in A-1. This shocked me because I never thought of myself as that kind of runner… to be placed up front in the starting group. As they made their way into the second area and towards the start, I waited for a new friend of mine. Jeff Genova is from Arkansas and is an Ultra-Marathon runner having completed various races including at least two runs of 100 miles that I know of.

As he arrived with his brother Ken, and a few other friends of which included Glen. Glen is a proud marine veteran from New Mexico who has been travelling the world to run in marathons from Russia, to Poland to Sri Lanka, it’s amazing hearing of the places he has been. Jeff, Glen and I made our way quickly through the 2nd staging area and jogged a bit to our starting coral of which seemed like 2 miles away. There we stood patiently preparing for a great time on a humid January morning. The temp was all ready at 81 degrees with 100% humidity. I was loving it while the moans and groans could be heard through the crowd.

The pre-race ceremony sent chills up my spine. As the thousands of runners hurried into their starting areas, a wonderful rendition of our National Anthem was sung followed by Fire Works. We then counted down the start for the wheel chair division and then counted down to our start. 3,2,1 BOOM! Fireworks shot up from the starting line in a colorful display in the dark morning air. Enough glitz to make everyone smile with childish excitement. We were off!

The race ran along the public access roads from outside Epcot Center, around the Disney Race Way and towards The Magic Kingdom. These road sections were a great time to yuck it up with various other runners who had made the trip to Disney. We all talked and laughed and shared stories of the lack of winter in places like Ontario and New England. We ran relaxed along the way, Glen sang old military songs “Woke up in the mornin’ for a 2 mile run..” and told us more about the countries he’s been to. At Mile 3 we ran past The Richard Petty Experience and Disney’s race way then past the Wilderness lodge and the Contemporary Resort. Not long after, Cinerella’s castle could be seen in the distance as well as space mountain (I knew there were mountains here somewhere). The best part was seeing the many who had come out to cheer us on, and all of the characters were giving high fives “HEY GOOFY!” What a great way to reconnect with childhood after many many years.

As we rounded the corner under the monorail and through a tunnel, we ran back up to level ground and headed through the backstage area’s of The Magic Kingdom. We then ran down Main Street USA, through Tomorrow Land, through the gates of Cinderella’s Castle, down through Frontier land and Splash Mountain. Then back behind the scenes past where they store the parade floats and back out onto access roads. We had run a short mile through the kingdom and were now back on the access roads heading for Epcot. We ran the access roads past some golf courses and back to The Richard Petty Experience. It was here that I saw Helen trying her best and with a smile and a high five we continued on our way. Somewhere around here Jeff had stomach issues and needed to stop and walk while Glen and I carried on.

We soon ran through the backstage area’s of Epcot, right past the giant ball and past fols dressed in the various attires of the countries represented at Epcot. After running past the choir and through a shaded area, there was a huge crowd cheering us to the words (FINISH). I gave it my hardest effort at the end for a comfortable finishing time. I received my Donald Duck Medal and traded my orange goofy wristband for a blue one. Jeff treated Glen and I to 7 minutes of magical post race massage. We ate food and then sat in the parking lot traffic for an hour. We then went and played 9 holes of golf at an Orlando Area Golfcourse called Wedgewood. A truly “Magical” Saturday. To bed early I went as I had to do it all over again tomorrow.


Sunday, January 7, 2007

Walt Disney World Marathon
The Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, MGM Studios and Epcot
26.2 Miles – 3 Hours 53 Minutes 28 Seconds
937th place out of 10,936 Finishers (top 8%)
742nd out of 5,780 Men – 81st out of 538 men ages 25-29

I woke up feeling great but knew it wouldn’t last for long. Even though I had run the half marathon yesterday easy.. then played 9 holes of golf… there was still a great level of physical exertion put on my body given the elements. I still had a goal for this race and that goal was to run my personal best which currently sits at 3 Hours 40 Minutes at the 2006 Vermont City Marathon. Yesterday Jeff told me there was no way to PR at Disney given the crowds, nevermind having run a half marathon the day before. Either way, today I was going to run my best possible race and leave it al out there for those I am running in honor of.

Sophie Carloni is an 18 month old girl who fell very hill recently. The daughter of a co-worker, they took her to the hospital to discover she has Type-1 diabetes. A terrible disease for someone at such a young age. I learned of the news on Thursday after her daddy was out of work all week. My heart and prayers are with them as I continue on my mission for Diabetes Research.

The race started the same as the day before. I stood in the first coral talking to a few folks from New Hampshire. As the race started I ran off to the side of the road in the grass, giving my legs and feet a breaks from the horrible pavement and to stay out fo the crowd and motor along. We made a huge loop around the outside of Epcot and at one point saw Judy. We had been staying in Judy’s time share in Kissimmee and she is also going to be the JP for Sarah and I’s wedding in July. On the second rounding of this loop I made sure to say hello once again, she was so excited.

The course then follows the same route at the half marathon except once you reach the Disney Race track for the 2nd time, you bear right instead and head for the animal kingdom. I had my GPS watch on and closely monitored my pace at 7.2 MPH. Around mile 5 I was feeling terrible. The foggy morning air was thick, humid and hot once again which I liked… but it was the rock stiff sore quads that was what took the biggest mental challenge to overcome along the way. For what it was worth, it was worth good tolerance training.

The Animal Kingdom is a park I hope to return to. I ran past a White Rhino, Llama and Blue Parrot. I laughed as I ran into a town designed to look like Nepal where a man dressed as a sherpa dance outside his area. I stopped to give him a high five as I wore my “Team Sherpa” shirt. It was great to feel like I was running through a tropical rain forest while the fog finally began to lift. Soon the sun came out and started to bake the runners. I was glad to have finished more than half the race before this happened as my pace began to slow to 7.1 then 7 MPH.

After the AK, I ran into an aid station handing out Banana’s. I grabbed one and dropped it on accident. I picked it up and started to eat it at which point I chomped down hard on a large pebble. CRUNCH! OUCH! I’ll never do that again! At this point in the race, many of the runners were feeling the heat as the sides of the course began to look like a war scene. Runners to the left and right were leaying on the ground, stretching, crying in pain and some receiving medical attention. I even saw one guy leaning on the safari’s electric fence while stretching… I mean… THINK!

Outside the AK we wound our way through the parking lot and headed back out on the access roads. My quads still tight I managed to maintain my 7 MPH pace. I ran past the gates to the Disney Property and to the turn around near Wide World of Sports. The sun was roasting us as I struggled up the many long, drawn out hills and overpasses. We then ran into MGM studios where we ran behind the scenes once more and then into the park. I saw Darth Vader and some storm troopers. We ran down through some movie set areas and then around Mikey’s big magic hat. Out into the parking lot and towards the many resorts. The sun beating down on me and my quads getting tighter and tighter with each step, I knew I needed to finish the race soon. My PR pace was falling off as I had now dropped to 6.9 MPH. My goal was now to complete my secondary target of under 4 hours.

I plodded along through the various resorts surrounding The Swan and Dolphin as well as the Boardwalk Inn. The water looked perfect as guests sun bathed on the beaches of white sand. Through the shopping areas and past many applauding by standers. I couldn’t help but get choked up thinking of my childhood and coming to Disney (a total of 9 times). I never thought I would have run all this way through these parks, behind the scenes, high fiving characters and just being a kid. It was by far one of my favorite running experiences.

Too bad I was getting a bit slower in my steps as I entered Epcot. I looked at my watch and I has passed by PR by a few minutes but knew I had my other goal in hand. As I ran by the choir, they swayed back and brothed clapping hands in unison. I pumped my fist in the air to thank them and they gave a huge applause and cheer. Around the final corner and there was the crowd. In excitement I screamed loudly and raised my arms in the air. I had done it again… 2 days and 40 miles. 4 Theme Parks. Re-connected with my childhood. Made some new and great friends and one heck of experience I would suggest anyone do. My step mom was so excited for me as was I. She took my picture and reached over the fence for a high five. My legs locked up and I could barely walk as my hamstringshad knotted up. What pain… I LOVE IT! I then received my Mikey Mouse Medal, was ushered into the Goofy tent and received my Goofy Challenge Medal.

I had a blast during this entire weekend. Many thanks to Jeff and his brother for their friendship and extended hospitality. Many thanks to Judy for giving us a place to stay and dad and Helen for one kick butt weekend in Florida. Life is all about experiences like this and the ability to have fun and perform is a feeling like no other. Thanks Walt Disney, because of you, we’ll forever be Children.

Goofy’s Race And A Half Challenge
39.3 Miles – Combined Time of 5 Hours 59 Minutes
I was 259 out of 2,480 Goofy Finishers (520 DNF)
194 out of 1,392 Men
11 out of 86 Men Ages 25-29