This is my second year taking on the Goofy Challenge, and my last. This is hopefully, my final road marathon and I'm happy to be putting that type of silliness behind me.
I'll touch on that briefly, just so I can be clear on this point.
With only 52 weeks on my calendar, and a strong desire to run a lot of fun and meaningful races, it just makes sense for me to drop these type of races from my schedule so I can focus on my true love. Trail running! Especially ULTRA trail running. Marathons are expensive, crowded, and tend to draw a lot of road runners, which is another downside.
FIRST BLING OF 2012!!!
The medals for this race are always really nice, and if that is a motivating factor when choosing races, then you can't go wrong with Disney.
Let's be abundantly clear on one thing. Disney puts these events on the get people into the parks so they can spend all their money on useless crap, expensive food, and ridiculous park entry fees. So running races through these parks can be a distraction. The answer to that little riddle is to start the races at 5:30 AM so the runners can finish before the park opens, and then come back with wads of cash to throw at the RAT. Its a very clever tactic.
So, according to RAT law, we were lined up at the start with 26,000 fellow half marathon runners well before the 5:30 gun time. The weather was much better than it has been in the past and was almost comfortable waiting for the start.
I was set for the second wave and Jo was running in the third. I don't understand the wave system they have for this race. I had to provide proof of past race times to get an early wave. And later, I learned that most of the people in my wave had never run a half marathon before. WTF??? This became self evident while passing people constantly for the first 11 miles of a 13 mile race. I was passing people at mile 7 that were walking!!! They clearly started in the first wave, which is allegedly the "Elite" wave. It's total nonsense!
I set out to run solid 8 minute miles for the entire race. For me, that's somewhat speedy, but won't give me a PR. This race was primarily a training run anyway, and with the Rocky Raccoon 100 coming up in a few weeks, I wanted an easy effort. I held my 8:00 pace and finished in 1:45:52, just as planned! There were 22,480 finishers and I came in 1082 overall, which translates to the top 4.8%.
As a side note, I didn't eat anything during the race and never hydrated either. I simply didn't feel the need, so I just didn't bother with it.
This is a picture of me and Jo when we got back to the hotel. Jo enjoyed her first Disney race and did very well. As always, I'm super proud of her.
Sunday morning had us waking up at 2:30 AGAIN so we could get ready to leave and get in place within the mandated time frame.
My strategy for the marathon was similar to the previous day. I planned to use this race as a supported training run and wanted to finish right at 4 hours. This would be a fairly leisurely pace for me at that distance. My current PR (from last month) is 3:34.
My happy face right before the race!
A better picture of me because Jo is in it! (I'm working in Northern Canada right now, so I have my cold weather beard coming in for now)
I felt great at the start of the race and eased into a 9:00 pace. I fought a lot traffic and wasted valuable time dealing with slower runners. The picture below is from mile 4. I was still having fun at this point.
The picture below is from mile 9. I didn't expect Jo to be there and I never saw her. I was still on track at this point, and still having a little bit of fun.
These pictures were from mile 13. It was about this time that I wasn't having much fun. The sun was coming up and I was getting warm.
At mile 16, I started to feel really warm and I eased my pace to a level that felt more comfortable. The objective is to have FUN and get some miles in. And with a 100 miler coming up in a few weeks, I don't want to have any lasting effects from this race.
By mile 24 I was really ready to be done. After so much cold weather running, the heat was becoming debilitating. With this race, in "good" weather, it's really hard to dress properly. It's cold in the morning and can be very hot later in the day.
It's hard to pick me out in the picture below, but I'm pretty much in the center, finishing with a whole gaggle of runners.
I finished somewhat off pace at 4:05. Not my worst race and certainly not my best. But it was a very fine run for easing me into my race season.
Right after the race, sporting my BLING, and ready for a beer. And I don't care that's only 9:30 AM. When my body calls for beer, I feel obligated to answer that call!
Me and Jo back at our awesome hotel!
The rest of January is pretty tame. Maybe a 7 mile trail race on the 15th with our friends in Reading, and then Jo and I head to the Caribbean for a week of races. 5 events on 5 different islands in one week. We are really looking forward to that time away.
I hope to see many of you this year and to share adventures on the trail. Stay healthy, run happy, and have fun!