Wednesday, January 18, 2006

01/07-08/06 Disney's Goofy

The First Goofy

Disney expected "a couple hundred" folks would be interested in doing the goofy, and ultimately 3000ish brave crazy souls signed up. I was one of many. In my case, running tons of long races is pretty normal. I talked to lots of Goofy-ists, though, who signed up kind of on a whim. And not all of these people seemed to train for it. I have no idea how they did. More on THAT in a bit.

I trained for it. In fact, I ran a reverse goofy (I called it 'the serious') on Thanksgiving weekend: a full on saturday and a half on sunday. That gave me the confidence that I could do the goofy without spontaneously combusting. Other than that, it didn't teach me much.

So, let's talk about the weekend. Disney's Magical Express may be magical, but it isn't exactly what I'd call "express". I got to the Port Orleans - French Quarter on Thursday night... and went to the expo 20 minutes before it opened on Friday morning. There was already a snaky line out the door waiting to get in. Ooops. This didn't bode well. And once we got to the merchandise, much of the goofy stuff was gone - people had gotten to what little existed on Thursday. Incidentally, when I went back to the expo later Friday afternoon, basically ALL of the goofy stuff was gone. Oh, and the shuttles between the Disney properties and the expo? Kind of insane. Not magical. Nor express.

Time to race. I had two goals for this weekend:
  1. I wanted to run the half in 1:40ish, which is good for me
  2. I wanted my aggregate goofy time to be under 6 hours.
The half on Saturday was an out-and-back between Epcot and Magic Kingdom. I was in the first corral... but it was still unbelievably crowded as we got going. I knew early on that I wasn't going to have a good day and my goal was out of reach. My legs wouldn't move. Finish time? 1:50. Yuck. I was not happy.

Pop quiz, hotshot: Which of the following might contribute to a sucky race?
  1. Running a full marathon six days prior in 75 degree heat, 75% humidity conditions.
  2. Being forced to wait/stand/sit for TWO FULL HOURS in 28 degree wind chill conditions before the race.
  3. Getting one hour of sleep the night before the race. Between my body clock being on west coast time and the need to get up at darkthirty to eat/prep/catch the shuttle, I only slept from 1:45-2:45.
  4. Having a potty attack at mile 2. D'oh. I knew I should have visited the bushes beforehand. Didn't. Couldn't hold it. Lost a minute AND any chance of pacing myself properly.
  5. Being sick. I am completely flu-like sick right now. I first noticed it right after the half. These things usually 'cook' for a day or two before you notice, so it was likely that I wasn't right during the race.

Yeah, there's a fine line between reasons and excuses... but all of those things were true and I definitely ran poorly. First goal - not met. Plus, I lost a little of my buffer for the second goal. In order to beat 6 for goofy, I now needed to run 4:09 or better in the full. Normally, this is a sure bet. But the day after a half? When I was already experiencing 'mummy legs'? Hmmm.
After the race on Saturday, I tried to eat eat eat. But I couldn't eat all that much (see, I was sick... and I hadn't quite figured it out yet). I don't much recall what I had, but I do know that it wasn't the typical pre-marathon carbo load.

Side note. I stayed at the Port Orleans French Quarter. They have these refillable cups that you can buy for 12 bucks... and you get unlimited drinks at either of the two Port Orleans hotels for the length of your stay. Highly recommended, even though the cups don't hold much (so you will refill your cup about 150 times during a meal).

Alright... so I noticed from the handy race map that the French Quarter was only a couple blocks from the race start. Wouldn't it be swell to sleep through the silly shuttles and NOT wait for two hours in the cold? Wouldn't that be cool? Nah, the race officials told me that I couldn't do it. Specifically, that the cops wouldn't let people walk it. So, like a sheep, I stupidly got up at darkthirty, took the shuttle, and waited at the start for two hours. During which time I watched other people walk from my hotel to the start. Fooey.

Now, Disney did a really interesting thing with their corrals. They had two different starts - red and blue. Red folks got to run through the front of Epcot. Blue folks ran through the back (the lands). The two colors merged right after Epcot into one course. What was interesting was that it was NOT "red is fast, and blue is slower". They alternated corrals. Red got elites, second fastest corral, fourth fastest, etc. Blue got fastest non-elite, third fastest, etc. I was in the second fastest, so I got to line up behind the elites. Interesting thing watching a few of the elites sorta saunter down to the start as we're all counting down the final 10 seconds. And then BOOM, fireworks, off we go. And that's the last I'd see of the elites.

After the merge, the course follows the beginning of the half marathon course up through magic kindgom. Then it veers off and you go visit animal kingdom, mgm, the boardwalk area, and finish back through epcot.

It was C O L D. But, unlike the half, it was not windy. I spent most of the race obsessing about my buffer and whether 4:09 was gonna happen and if I might hit the wall. I saw a few fellow Maniacs during the race and had lots of people ask me about my Maniac shirt and I recall that I talked a lot and I really don't remember much of anything. It was all very mushy. I do remember that the organization was great. I liked the HOOOOGE mile markers. I really liked that the early ones were lit for the pre-dawn hour. I liked the idea of the recorded messages from the race director at some of these mile markers. See, he'd come on and tell you about the upcoming miles and give you strategy tips. At least I think that was what was going on. Alas, I didn't really like the execution of this idea. It's kind of like encountering a band during a race... you aren't next to it for long enough to get the whole vibe. I never got to hear the full strategy... I was gone by the time he started talking about it. This was especially bad at M18. What I heard: You are coming up on the longest part of the course. The strategy I like to use here is... and that's all I heard. Gee, thanks for telling me that the next part is the suckiest.

In the end, I finished in 4:01, giving me an aggregate Goofy time of 5:52. I have no idea how this compares to others because they didn't do aggregation in the results... the Goofy results were posted alphabetically. Now that they know that people ARE interested in this, I hope they'll consider doing a little more with it. And I hope they print up more shirts and hoodies in S M and L sizes.

As for that 4:01, I ran waaaaay too conservatively because I was scared of, you know, scarywallmonsters. I had lots of gas in the tank when I crossed the finish line. And looking at some of my splits, I could tell that I pulled some (in hindsight) bonehead moves... including the dreaded false potty stop. The one where your brain says "YOU NEED TO PEE", so you stop to do it, but nothing happens, so you stand there trying to coax it out, tick tick tick tick, nothing happens, and you finally give up. I lost a minute to a false potty stop. I also had the mother of all UNNECESSARY walk breaks at mile freakin 24. I only walked for 30-45 seconds, but I didn't get my pace back afterwards - and usually I fly through the last two miles. I didn't need to walk.

Oh well. I'll definitely do this next year.

Favorite sensory memory: while it was way cool to see all the Disney characters (and I'm pretty sure that Hercules' babe was hitting on me in Epcot), there was something else entirely which has stuck with me. And it is a really odd thing. Right before/after magic kingdom on both days, there was a gigantic speaker that kept blasting the first few bars of When You Wish Upon A Star. Looped. Over and over. And it was so loud, you could hear it for miles. But the weird part was that it was NOT a nice piano or strings or a singer. No, it seemed to be some kind of Viking War Call Death Chant thingie. I have no idea what actually made that noise, but it still haunts me.


Over and over again.

(I would later find out that this was the ship's horn from Disney's Cruise Line. Aha!)

Have I mentioned that I am now really sick? I am. I don't blame Goofy, though it is pretty clear that Goofy made it worse. I think being sick explains not just my (poor for my expectations) times, but also how I experienced the weekend. It was all very mooshy and surreal.

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