Sunday, January 16, 2011

Disney World Marathon Weekend: Mickey's Marathon recap

With Buzz and Woody's Best Friends 5k and Donald's Half Marathon done, I had my sights set on the full marathon.  I had spent the last 16 weeks training to finish this race in a time that would qualify me for the Boston Marathon.  For me, that meant finishing any time under 3 hours and 11 minutes (3:10:59 or less).  My previous marathon PR was 4:17:49, so I would be trying to shave off over an hour.  I knew this would be tough, but I felt I had found a pretty good training plan, and followed it almost exactly.

My recovery after the half marathon went pretty much as planned.  We walked around Animal Kingdom for a couple of hours before we headed back to the hotel for dinner.  Again, we were planning on a spaghetti dinner.  I seemed to have over-done it just a bit with dinner for the half marathon, so I held myself to one plate this time.  I think I was asleep by about 8:00 pm.

Just like for the half marathon, I was up at 2:00 am, had my Marathon Energy Bar (only 1 today, to try and avoid the port-a-pottie during the race), cinnamon/raisin bagel and cup of coffee.

And unlike my wife, I always remember my race bib!

The race retreat was even more worth the price of admision before the marathon.  It was quite a bit colder out, I think around 42*F at the time the race started, so sitting in that tent was very, very nice.  As I said in the half marathon recap, I thought I would be getting another special lunch box, but no!  Instead, I got this water bottle:

It's actually a pretty nice water bottle, and has the Goofy's Race and a Half Challenge logo on it.  Is it worth the price of the tent?  Probably not.  But like I said, sitting in the warm tent was better than standing in the cold!

And as we did with the half marathon, we had to walk to the start line again.  This time, I brought this little guy to keep me warm...

This is a mylar blanket.  Surprisingly, they keep you warm quite well.  So this blanket, coupled with a pair of hand warmers kept me from being too cold while I was walking to the start line.  Once we got to the starting corrals, I decided to use the bathroom one more time, which I did not do for the half.  This ended up being one of the most pivotal decisions of my race.

As soon as I was done with the bathroom, I had about 10 minutes until race time.  I did a light jog up to corral A, followed by my routine stretch, and had about 2 minutes to stand around and be nervous.  Once those 2 minutes were over, it was game on.

The first 13 miles went almost exactly as planned.  My nutritional plan was to take a small drink at every aid station and eat one Power Gel every 4 miles.  I needed to average a 7:15/mile pace in order to achieve my goal.  My eyes pretty much stayed glued to my Garmin, which I had set to display my current pace and my average per mile pace.  After 13 miles, I knew I was right on track, but I was starting to feel a bit tired.

Once I got to mile 17, I started to have some real doubt on whether or not I could finish in time.  Through mile 17, I ran every mile at, or faster than, my goal pace, so I knew I had some time to spare.  But as I watch my average mile pace get slower and slower, more and more doubt began entering my mind.  I ran mile 18 in 7:30, as well as miles 19-22.  Mile 23, I somehow ran in 7:15.  Mile 24 is where I almost lost it.  It was somewhere around this point that the 3:10 pace-runner passed me with his group of runners.  This was quite a devastating blow.  I tried so hard to keep pace with them, but I almost pushed myself over the top.  I decided to draw back just a little, and aimed to keep them in my sights.  Mile 24 ended up being an 8:02 mile. 

Miles 25 and 26, I don't really know what happened.  I know I was running through Epcot at this point, but I was so focused on trying to stay upright that I was pretty oblivious to everything else that was going on.  Each time I saw a mile marker for the last 3-5 miles, I was trying to do the math in my head to see if I had enough time to finish under 3:11.  Once I got to the mile 25 marker, meaning I had 1.2 miles left, I decided to give it all I had left.  Now, I did have my Garmin, so I knew I was going to be very close on time.  I had set it so that I could push the lap button 27 times, once for each mile and then the last .2 miles would be the last lap.  When I reached mile 26, I accidentally pushed the lap button twice, which ended my workout.  I could no longer see how much time I actually had before I hit my goal. 

All I had was the actual race clock.  I knew my chip time was less than the clock time, but I wasn't sure by how much.  The time on the race clock, when I saw it at the mile 26 marker, said something like 3:08:37.  This put me in a panic, because at the time, I thought that there was no way that I could run .2 miles in a minute and a half.  Well, I didn't realize that I actually had two and a half minutes.  And I'm glad I didn't realize that.  I sprinted my butt off trying to make it to the finish line in time.  Here's a couple of photos, as well as a video of my "sprint" to the finish:

And my official finishing time...drum roll please....3:10:25!  I still can't quite figure out how I did it, but I finished in time to qualify for the Boston Marathon

I said earlier that using the bathroom just before the start of the race was possibly the most important decision I made that morning.  Well, had I not stopped and gone before the race, I almost certainly would have had to use the bathroom during the race.  And since I only qualified for Boston by :35, I may not have qualified.  So, somebody upstairs was definitely looking out for me on race morning!

(That's me on the bottom left with my hands on my head.  I knew right then that I had definitely qualified for Boston because the clock time was under 3:11, and my chip time was some 30 seconds less than that!)

(From left to right, all the hardware I earned.  5k, half marathon, marathon, Goofy Challenge)

 I knew my training would bring me pretty close to my goal time, but I didn't realize I would have been that close.  There's a couple reasons why I think I came so close to the cut-off.  First, the obvious.  I ran a half marathon the day before the marathon, which caused me to fatigue faster than if I had been fresh for the marathon.  My rebuttal is that I trained this way every week.  The other reason is that there is almost no way to run exactly 26.2 miles during an actual race.  Why?  Because race courses are measured at the shortest distance on the course.  The don't have the official measurement take wide corners, or weave around people.  That's all added mileage.  My Garmin says that I ran 26.45 miles, which would put me at a whole quarter mile farther than I needed to go!  Did I actually run that far?  Who knows.  All I know, and all I care, is that I came in under the Boston Qualifying time!

One thing I probably won't do again immediately after a race is put on BioFreeze.  I rubbed this stuff on my legs, thinking it would maybe help my recovery.  It pretty much only made me freeze.  I could not warm up.  At one point, I was sitting in the race retreat tent, wrapped up in a mylar blanket and shivering.  Some lady came up and gave me some warm soup because I must have looked terrible!  I even went an put back on my morning clothes, including a sweatshirt, and couldn't get warm.  Once the BioFreeze wore off, I was fine.  I won't make that mistake twice!

Now that this is over, and before I start focusing on my next goal (finishing under 12 hours at this year's Ironman Arizona), I'm going to look at how much work I put into this race.  I started training specifically for this race on September 20th, 2010.  So this includes all workouts from that date through the marathon.

(This is what I have recorded on my Garmin, so I may have missed one or two workouts...)

Number of runs: 67
Number of miles: 579.47 miles
Amount of time running: 89 hours, 12 minutes, 39 seconds
Number of calories burned: 52,669 calories

Those are some crazy numbers.  I can't even begin to imagine what they are going to look like for the Ironman!


  1. Whoa Whoa Whoa! Enough of the digs about my bib number! I am so proud of you and I can't wait for Boston - whoo hoo!

  2. Congratulations on BQ! Too exciting!