Friday, January 18, 2008

1/12,13/08 My third and final Goofy (part 2)

If you haven't yet read part one of my Goofy report, consider starting there.

After the half, I did a whole lot of nothing. Because of the middle-of-the-night shuttle schedule, the day of the half generally consists of "run", "eat", "take a nap", "watch TV", "eat", "be a zombie", "eat", "eat", and finally "get ready for bed, after eating". No park visits, no runs around Port Orleans' river (the Sassagoula!). Just eating and resting.

Time for the full. As I mentioned in part one, I've never broken 4:00 in a Florida Marathon. All my Florida marathons have been the second day of something else: two Goofys, one PT Cruiser Challenge (a 15k and a 5k on Saturday, followed by the Tampa Marathon on Sunday), and my very first double (Tybee Island GA and Ocala FL). Until the middle of 2007, I wasn't in good enough shape to beat 4 on the second day of racing. I wanted to beat four in this year's Goofy... but I had run really hard in the half, and the weather felt like 200% humidity. Hmmm.

Still though, as I got to the corral an hour before the full, I felt pretty good. I ran into a guy I know from the Clif Bar pace team - Pacer Chris, who leads the 3:10 group. Well, I wouldn't be running with him today :-), but it was nice to see him. "Beat 4" seemed like a reasonable goal.

5, 4, 3, 2, 1. Disney has fireworks at the beginning... which I've barely noticed in years past because they start at the rear corral (boom!) and move forward (boom!) as everyone counts down to zero. I've always been in the front corral, and so I've only marginally been aware of what was happening behind. However, this year, I was switched to the second start... and this starting line is 100 yards or so behind the other one. So for the first time, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, GOOOO!! was a really awesome experience.

Oh yeah, both starting lines have huge flame throwers that shoot up into the air a few times... like the Wizard of Oz!!!... as folks go beneath them. The guys beside me told me to wait until we got next to the other start. Sure enough, we passed it just as the flames went up. It was HOT. Ha... how fun. Maybe not as nifty as all the hoopla at the beginning of Las Vegas, but then again maybe so. Very cool in any case. And it surely woke me up.

My favorite section of both of these races is Magic Kingdom. Even though runners pass by lots of fans at the starting lines, a few bands, and EPCOT, everything before Magic Kingdom's transportation center is dark... and lots of lonely highway. Well, aside from several thousand close running buddies. I vaguely remember the first miles through EPCOT.

M3.5, the merge. We came to the merge, where the other start/course combines with this one. In prior years, this was congested and kind of a pain. Not this year, because they assigned all the faster people to the same start. So when our side hit the merge, there were only a few people (slow elites and/or blazers assigned to the wrong corral) merging. Woohoo.

I do remember the first band. Disney has all kinds of music stations. Many are recorded songs blasting over speakers. Some are professional Disney bands. A few, like this one, are marching bands from local high schools. They were playing Smoke on the Water... a song I'd heard several times during the half and would hear several times today. And... well... it was really good! I don't know who had the bright idea of arranging this song for marching bands, but it works. I don't remember hearing this song from marching bands when I was younger; this seems to be a recent thing. I liked it. Of course, I grinned from ear to ear because, like Stairway to Heaven, Smoke on the Water is precisely the song that aspiring guitarists use to annoy their parents, SOs, roommates, and neighbors. Danh danh danhhh, danh danh da-danhhh, danh danh danhhh, DA DA. Ad infinitum. This song would be my special friend during this race.

M8, the Magic Kingdom parking lot. For the last couple of years, this parking lot has had an interesting "fork in the road" section. Runners can bear left or bear right. On one side, the runner hears one style of music. On the other, they play a different style. The problem is that there's only one tiny little sign listing the two choices, and I can't read this sign until I've already committed. During the half, this wasn't an issue. I was so focused on GO FAST that I just followed the person ahead of me. We all did that. Apparently the choices had been "Disco" and "Heavy Metal", and we all went Heavy Metal. Which, if I recall, meant Van Halen (!?!).

Anyway. The choices for the full were 80s music (woohoo) and country (blah). Of course, I managed to be on the country side when I got there. Yeehaw.

BUT. It was time for best part of the whole race. Entering the transportation center, runners were greeted by a solid half mile of spectators 10-deep shouting wildly. I didn't pay attention during the half... but for the full? I was high fiving and saying hello and giving the shaka to anyone who yelled my name. The course paralleled the monorail (Simpsons: monorail! monorail! monorail!), went by the Contemporary resort and then... time for Magic Kingdom.

The course plows through a backlot area. A few Disney folks were cheering here, but just a few. However, we could hear it. From somewhere... cheering. Tons of cheering. I could feel it too - perhaps because I knew what was coming. We went through a gate and here it was: Main Street. With THOUSANDS of people cheering. The scene of yesterday's Saving Private Ryan altered time/space moment. Somewhere behind the cheering, I could hear bands playing Disney songs.

I got choked up. Really. I don't remember this happening before. Maybe it was because I was having a good running weekend. Maybe it was because I knew this was the last time I'd be part of this experience, at least for a few years. Tears. It is indeed a small world.

After all.

The course veered to the right off of Main Street and into Tomorrowland. Then a hairpin turn by one of the Disney professional bands. I have no idea what they were playing, but this was no high school band. Teacups... hello again, Alice in Wonderland. High five from Aladdin's Genie.

The castle. As I entered the castle, we got a fanfare from the trumpeteers up on top. Cool.

Adventureland. I still don't know who those bears are.

And it was time to say goodbye to Magic Kingdom by running through another backlot near M11. Sniff. Seriously, this is the best part of these races, and it isn't even close. Uh oh, potty stop. Disney is kind of cheap regarding certain aspects of these races (come on, aggregate the Goofy results!), but it does not scrimp on potties. Which was nice at this particular juncture.

And, we're off. Hello, Mary Poppins and the Dick Van Dyke lookalike. Onward... I hit M13.1 at 1:53. Huh. Well, I was certainly on pace to beat 4... but was I running too fast? I felt alright. Ok, I knew I wasn't going to run a negative split, so 3:45 was out. I decided to go with "beat 3:50".

And, as I mentioned in yesterday's report, it was time to navigate a section that is almost universally despised. Except by me and a few others :-). The water treatment plant! The composting facility! Have a magical day! Those who knew what was coming alerted those who did not. (The movie Total Recall: "Get ready for a surprise!") I laughed and mentioned outloud that I liked this section. And sure enough, another guy nearby turned around and gave us a "me too!"

I was having a much more sociable experience than yesterday's half.

M14. We passed Mickey's Magical Waste Treatment Center without incident. And the 3:50 pace group, which was pretty big, passed me. In fact, they smoked me. This was odd, because I knew they had started BEHIND ME, so based on their chip time, they seemed to be running more of a 3:40-3:45 clip. And no one was yelling at the pace leader, so... I guess that's what they wanted to do? Well, more on that in a second. Anyway, I was trying to beat 3:50, and they blew by me like I was walking.

M15. Time for Animal Kingdom. As much as I love this park, running the marathon section through here has always been a subdued experience. This is where everyone is starting to get tired, and there aren't many spectators. This year was no different. Plus, everyone who has done this race before knows what comes next - the most boring part of the race: M18-M22's highway miles. The most exciting part is seeing others going the other way in the out-and-back between M20 and M21. So, as we passed through Animal Kingdom, many of us were putting on our best game faces.

The boring section was... boring. I found a couple folks to chat with. Two somewhat interesting things happened in here. First, we were playing leapfrog with a dude wearing a red speedo. And ONLY a red speedo. Yikes. My little ad hoc group picked it up a little to lose him. By the time we were coming back on the out-and-back section, we saw him headed out. The good news was that we gained about a mile on Mr Put-it-out-there. The bad news was that now we had to look at him from the front for a second.

At M21, we saw the 3:50 pace leader. He no longer had his balloons. I noticed him because he was taking off his Clif Bar Pace Team shirt. Whoops. As I passed him, it looked like he was gonna jog it in. Whoops. But most oddly, that big pack of people that he'd dusted me with earlier was nowhere to be found. I don't know if they continued together way ahead of their planned pace, or if I was now passing people who had gone out too fast.

M21.2. Right turn up another highway towards MGM. I told one of the guys I was running with that things would get more interesting at MGM and we'd probably speed up... or minimally, time would pass faster. My thoughts would be true for me... I sped up in the last miles... but, that was the last I saw of him. Sorry, ad hoc running buddy.

M22. Double right turn into MGM's parking lot. Gotta love Disney parking lots. I saw many of them. We entered a backlot area... an area that is used on the behind-the-scenes ride. There's a tunnel through a Disney costume area. Just on the other side, M23. Hello, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers! Shortly past that, through the gate and onto MGM's version of "main street" - the faux 40s Manhattan area. Cool! Hello, sexy ladies in 1940s garb and big hats! Onward, through the front of MGM and over to the boardwalk area.

M24. Tons of spectators as we curved around the boardwalk. Lots of shakas and high fives. As I had told the guy back on the highway, the energy of this section made the time pass faster. And my pace picked up a little. I was passing a lot of people who were walking with their hands on their hips. I remember doing that last year. Humidity. Over a bridge and into EPCOT.

M25. This was a repeat mile from the beginning of the race, but now it was light outside. Not many spectators in EPCOT besides Disney employees (sorry - "cast members"). The lands were fun, though, and this was the last mile. I tried to make the last mile my fastest.

Around and around the lands. Why these countries? I mean... England, France, Germany, China, Japan, and the US make sense. But why Norway? And why... Morocco??? Still cool. Besides, faux Norway has a really hilarious ride. And a movie. "Nahhhhr-whey".

Around the front of EPCOT... a repeat of the last mile in the half... into a backlot area.

M26. Giant choir. What a nice place for this group! I was sprinting.

Thousands of spectators welcomed me back. I think I got announced. I don't remember. By chip time, I had just run a 3:47. WOOHOO for me. The last mile wasn't my fastest, but it was my 3rd fastest. A nice 1:53/1:54 split.

The happiest race on earth. My last Goofy for now. It was a nice way to go out, too. My total Goofy time was 5:24, over an hour faster than 2007 and 28 minutes faster than 2006.

Next up: right now, I'm registered for an obscure race outside of Orlando in early February. We'll see. Before that, I'll post a summary of 2007's races.

Check again realsoonnow. Aloha.

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