Flashback to 2012 when this blog and business started. I completed Ironman Florida in November of 2011 only to do the Goofy Challenge the first week in January. (Well, there were two half marathons, a 10k and a 12 mile obstacle run in between, but they didn’t contribute.) My friend Tara Belfi called me an Iron Goofy and I liked it, but because I wanted to associate it more with fun then a character I shortened it to IronGoof. This year mimicked that same experience, but with an added bonus. Instead of the Disney Goofy Challenge, which is a half-marathon on Saturday and a full marathon on Sunday, I added a 5k on Thursday and a 10k on Friday which made up the Inaugural Disney Dopey Challenge.
I have to put it out there that I personally am a fan of runDisney and the races they put on. Every athlete I have spoken to that has competed in Disney races seems to be black or white. They either love em’ or dislike em’. I personally really enjoy them. Can they still be improved upon? Sure, but not my much. The organization from expo to finish line is top notch and figuring that Disney brings in an extra 40,000+ runners for their Walt Disney Marathon Weekend it is no small feet.
I had a little issue this year. I started a job the end of November that made me a full time employee instead of contractor. It is the first time in eight years that I have been an employee and since I ended up already having to take time off, I didn’t really want to take the chance of blowing it, so I ended up doing a lot of driving back and forth the first few days. Wednesday was the only day that was open for me to pick up my Dopey packet, so I got on the Selmon Expressway right after work, took the brand new Rte 4 connector and drove directly to the ESPN Sports Complex to pick up my packet. Parking was easy with attendants, waiving their flags and lead me right to the perfect spot and then pointed me in the direction of the first building which held packet pickup. There were no lines and about 5 minutes after walking in I was walking out of the first building and on to the second building which held all the cool swag and vendor booths.
There was a quick stop at the new runDisney Instagram photo booth, but before I knew it I was walking to the far end of the Josten Feldhouse to pick up my t-shirts and swag. The excitement was high, the environment sparked with a combination of anxiety and the magic aura that can only come from Disney. One interesting experience was after I was handed my swag bag which I looked as though it already had all of the shirts, I was told to go and pick up my 5k shirt. What? I have no idea what happened but for challenge athletes the bag had every t-shirt, which in my case was 5 of them except for the first one. Oh well, it was only an extra few minutes to grab it All of the t-shirts where Champion Tech shirts except for…yep…you guessed it, the 5k shirt. That was cotton. No biggie, you can’t have it all…right? I bumped in to a few running buddies before hanging out with some of the Fit2Run gang. A side note, I found out later that Fit2Run opened a store in Downtown Disney. How cool!
After a little bit of looking around I headed to Coronado Springs to get some dinner and some sleep. 4am was going to come extremely fast. One thing I love about runners, they are the nicest people in the world and I think we end up with a sixth sense. I wasn’t carrying anything and I was still dressed in work clothes so there was nothing to distinguish me as a runner and yet I was singled out while getting dinner by a few different people. Kate and Kathleen from Chicago whom were running with TNT, Steven and Marta from Texas and another couple of girls from DC. Each of the groups started talking to me at different times about what races they were doing on top of the normal niceties. Maybe the magic of Disney gives runners a connection boost that allows us to sense other runners. It was fun though.
Coronado put me up in one of the business cabanas, so I was provided with access to the business lounges which had breakfast and snacks as well as coffee, soft drinks, beer and wine. Not to shabby since I didn’t have to pay extra for it. I slept pretty well that night. Go figure.
I woke up easy enough and headed for the bus stop where specialty coach buses were transporting athletes and spectathletes, to and from the race site at the Epcot Center parking lot. This experience was pretty much the same for all four races. I would get off the bus, walk with a group through bag check, stopped at the Team in Training tent and heard the Mission Moment, dropped gear off at bag check and met up with whomever I was going to start with that day and headed to the corral. For the 5k it was good friend and client Hugo Scavino and training buddies Holly Tripp and Teresa Gadient. We took a few pics and took our spots in corral A.
The official training partner for the Walt Disney Marathon Weekend this year was Jeff Galloway and he was there not only with a training group but also gave words of wisdom before the 5k. I saw him a few times on the course and chatted with him. He is a really nice guy.
With all the Disney flare, each wave is started with fireworks going off above the start line and we were off. The weather was a balmy 50 degrees that morning so it was a great morning to run. Since it was only a 5k I ended up leaving on a long sleeve running shirt, which ended up being too warm, but I could handle it for about 25 minutes which is what I ran the 5k in with a couple of stops for pictures and a slow first mile. I had three more events to run in, so I was not going all out for any of them. I was there to have a good time and that is exactly what I did. I crossed the finish line and was given a Pluto plastic medal, which was fine because it was billed as a Family Fun Run. They didn’t want any of those kids swinging real medals around and getting hurt. Chalk another one up for Disney.
After a couple of shots with friends it was easy to find the buses and head back to Coronado Springs. After a quick shower and a shave, I headed back to Tampa and was sitting at my desk by 8:30. Easy breezy.
Too keep this post a little shorter than usual, (I know, I know, “Too Late”) the 10k, while being the inaugural race was basically the repeat of the 5k except double the distance, and it ended with a metal medal instead of a plastic one. One little side note, each of the races are represented by a different character. The 5k is represented by Pluto, the 10k is Minnie Mouse, the Half Marathon is Donald Duck and of course the Marathon is represented by, yes, you guessed it, Mickey Mouse. They each are at the starting line and the finish line.
After crossing the finishliine around 49 minutes, again taking time during the race for pics, I found the bus, went back to the resort, took a shower, and headed back to Tampa and at my desk by 9am.
The routine adjusted slightly when I returned back to the resort that night, because I didn’t have to drive back to Tampa, because it was going to be Saturday. Yeah baby! Of course I had another event to run in so I did not get to sleep in, but who cares right? I was at Disney surrounded by 20,000 other athletes and spectathletes. To tell you the truth I couldn’t wait.
We had dinner in Downtown Disney at Bongos surrounded by my PKD cohorts, Tara Belfi, Patti Rowland and Amy Hackford. Every year since 2010 when we ran the Disney Half-Marathon for PKD we get together at least one night. These are some amazing women. Patti took on the Dopey and crushed it. Tara and Amy challenged Goofy and made me proud.
The other really nice thing was that my coach and really good friend Amy Eck was in town from Hawaii to run the Goofy Challenge, so I would get to spend the next couple of days running with her.
The Half Marathon and Full Marathon while still the same starting routine changed slightly. While I wasput in Corral A for the 5k and 10k for the final two I was assigned Corral C. Of course, the ladies I was running with were all assigned different corrals so we ended up deciding on Corral F. Each Corral starts what seemed like 5 minutes apart from each other. This is an attempt to keep the crowding issue at bay and it does to a point. Each corral seems to have thousands of people in it, so at first it feels daunting, but it does spread out a few miles into the course.
The half marathon runs through two parks and the marathon runs through all four plus ESPN all along the course there are characters to take pictures with, DJs playing music and motivating the crowd, cheerleaders, and marching bands. For the Half Marathon Aid stations are set up about every two miles and for the marathon after the first 5 miles it is almost every single mile.
For both the races I ran with Amy, Miranda Lessie, Llex Landreth and Amy Torguson joined us for the
half. It was my first time helping to pace at a much slower time than I would usually run. While it was very enjoyable to just run for fun and encourage along the way, it was much more difficult on my body than I ever imagined. The theory of “Time on Feet” gained it’s relevance to me during the marathon. After all I did the Chicago Marathon as a training run coming in at 3:53 and I walked some of that too. Here I was coming at slightly over 5 hours. I was surprised that I was hurting slightly throughout my legs.
I will put out one small item of criticism. Cliff is the nutrition vendor at Disney. At the 8 mile mark at the half marathon the aid station had Cliff Shot gels for the runners, which was fine, but for the marathon it didn’t start until mile 11. It could be more beneficial for the runners to have the Cliff shots at least every 4 miles from the start. For newer runners, glycogen stores are heavily depleted by mile 11 and it is very hard to fill these stores but it is easy to top them off. This is really my only criticism on the direction of the event.
After we finished and took our pictures, we hung out and drank some beer, stretched and talked with some of our friends. Jeff Lessie met us there after his 3 hour finish. I felt bad for him having to wait for us for two hours. All in all it was a really great time. I did not make the mistake of just heading back to the room and taking a nap. I stretched, rolled and continued to walk a bit and I believe that helped me recover quite a bit faster. I did not feel as tight or sore on Monday when I woke up and headed back to Tampa.
I walked ran a little 5k on the treadmill at home and that cleared some of the toxins in my legs and then rolled and used my lacrosse ball for most of Monday. By Tuesday I was feeling great. Of course I know my body enough that I had to make sure I was fully recovered, so it was a very easy week. Mostly I just did my P90X3 workouts being that they are all only 30 minutes and that seemed to do the trick.
I am one to very much recommend the Disney Races. The energy in the air, the support of the crowd and especially the other runners is infectious plus it’s Disney. It makes me feel like a kid again.