Friday, January 12, 2007

1/7/07 Disneyworld Marathon

Today was the DisneyWorld Marathon. Last year it was a bone chilling 34 and windy. This year, it was 60 at the start, 100% humidity, and foggy. During the day, the fog would burn off and it would get sunny and quite warm.

Knowing that it was gonna be a slow day, I decided to go out at 9:00/mile. And by M9, that would prove to be too fast. Like the half, the full started out at Epcot. However, there were two different starts. The "red" start ran through the back of Epcot (the lands). The "blue" start, my start, cut through the center of Epcot. Both starts merged around M3.5. It was crowded for a bit.

As I mentioned in my half report, lots of this race is boring highway miles. I probably overstated the %... it is definitely 80% for the half. For the full, it's probably closer to 60 or 65%. That said, the miles up to Magic Kingdom, M4-M10, are my least favorites on the whole course. Highway boredom, still kinda dark, and today very foggy. And as we pulled into Magic Kingdom, my 9:00 pace plan jumped the tracks. So very humid...

Leaving Magic Kingdom behind at M11, we started the long, boring highway slog down to Animal Kingdom. And the Disney recycling/reclamation center ("The Happiest Poo on Earth", "Mickey's Great Pile of Trash", "A Magical and Funky Experience"). When you approach the mile marker right before the center, a recording points out the wonderments of this place... because what they do here really is quite cool. Of course, what they do here is also very very smelly, and the recording doesn't need to state that. You know.

I think Disney is missing a huge opportunity at self-deprecating fun here... and this is a spot on the course, right in the middle, where it could use some spice. So howzabout a character appearance by none other than Toy Story 2's Stinky Pete? It would be perfect. It didn't happen.

What DID happen, though, was meeting a stumbling, slightly incoherent new friend. I walked with him to the next first aid station at M15, and hung out there. After my 15 minute first aid break, I had a really hard time running... at all. My splits were closer to 12:00 than 9:00 as we went through Animal Kingdom. Somewhere around M16, Disney folks brought out 4 animals for us to see: a parrot (cool), a macaw (loud and cool), a goat (cute)... and a sheep that could kneel on command (hokay...). It was brief, but it kept my mind occupied for a few seconds.

Leaving Animal Kingdom, we ran down what many people consider the most boring part... a long highway stretch between M18 and M22 that includes a short out-and-back. At least it is light and you get to see people... so I kind of like(d) this section. Alas, many people were in serious deathmarch mode. And this is why folks hate this part.

Not me, though. I did at first. M19-M20 included splits of 14:44 and 15:31. Oh no. "This section sucks!" And then at M20, we came across a live music stage with a Beatles cover band (for whatever reason, "Beatles" was the theme at almost all the official music stations, but this was the only live one). I got strength from the band, I guess. "This section rules!" At M20, I pulled it together and had a very enjoyable and reasonably well-paced last 10k... while many others were in deathmarch.

Which was appropriate when, around M23, we went through the back of MGM, and there stood Darth Vader and two Storm Troopers. And a bunch of deathmarching marathoners. And me with my Sith wristband . And the music cranking out the Darth Vader theme: (DAH DAH DAH DA DEE DA, DA DEE DA DA). Too bad I wasn't carrying a camera like many other people did. But I smiled a big hoooge smile in spite of everyone's pain.

I wasn't able to find 9:00 again, but in the last miles I got back to 9:30s, which was a nice improvement.

M24 took us around Disney's boardwalk area, with lots of spectators... and then we turned into Epcot. We ran for about a mile through all the lands... except England... technical note: if you see yourself running through England, then buddy, you missed a turn... then we went through the middle of Epcot's front area, out the side past a choir, and on into the finish area.

My finish? A robust 4:40. For me, that's a big ouch. Last year in the cold, I ran 4:02. Given my less-than-optimal training, I was hoping for 4:10-4:15. Taking out the 15 minute first aid "penalty" (4:25) and factoring in both humidity and lack of sleep... yup, 4:40 is just about right.

As far as I know, my new slightly incoherent buddy was ok, but I don't think they let him continue. It was a harsh day out there for everyone.

I came back to my room and fell asleep in the bathtub. An indeterminant amount of time later, I woke up in cold water all prune-y. I got a cold soak without really trying.

I guess I'm gonna have to come back and do this again. I really want to break 4 in the marathon and hit my 1:40 in the half.

I did find out that my 1:48 half was a top 10% finish. Which is nice.

Too bad that for the second year, Disney did not aggregate Goofy results.

Next year, the prices are going up... and Goofy will be a $25 (?) premium over the cost of the two races separately. But I've already signed up :-).

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