Star Wars Weekend – Part 2

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With Saturday’s Tie Fighter 10k complete, including waiting for the bus back to EPCOT (which took me longer than it took to run the 10k), the next step was to prepare for Sunday’s Dark Side half marathon and the completion of the Dark Side Challenge. A nap, some stretching, setting out everything for the morning, a safe dinner, and setting my alarm for 2:30am pretty much filled out the day – and I even managed to get a few hours of decent sleep, a rarity for me before Disney races.

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I was out the door before 3am and parked at EPCOT by 3:30. Before heading to my corral I met up with Billy, Janine, Gelcys and Alpha. I was prepared to run with Gelcys if she felt like she needed extra company, but she felt good running with Janine and Alpha so I headed up to corral A, getting there at 4:55. The race started at 5:00 so that might have been cutting it close 😉

The advantage of starting at the back of corral A is that the really fast runners are gone before I ever see them so I’m not tempted to start out at a faster pace than I should. Once the fireworks went off and we started our 13.1 miles of Star Wars fun, I kept an eye on my Garmin looking for a heart rate of about 150. The plan was to stay at 150 for the first half and then adjust my pace based on how I felt at that point. I don’t know why I make plans – I never stick to them. My heart rate stayed in the low 150s for the first two miles, and by mile 3 I was up to 160. The first two miles got us into EPCOT, around World Showcase and out to the Boardwalk area, and I was running at paces of 9:27 and 9:04.

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Mile 3 on the Boardwalk

From the Boardwalk area we ran to, into and out of Hollywood Studios for miles 3 and 4. This was pretty close to the 10k course, though we did take a left halfway up Hollywood Boulevard and ran around Echo Lake, a part of the park that I’ve never run through before. I finished mile 3 in 8:46 and realized that was too quick so I slowed down to 9:22 for mile 4. Heart rate was at 160 for miles 3 and 4, well above what I wanted but I didn’t want to slow down to over 10:00 per mile so I stayed with it.

Miles 5-7 took us on the road to Animal Kingdom, so not much exciting going on. Except for those giant HD screens playing clips from various Star Wars movies. I think that all half and full marathons should show movies along the course, just for distraction purposes. Speaking of distractions, let’s get back to the recap. I ran miles 5-7 in 9:06, 8:40, and 8:56, which shows that my pace was up and down. However, my heart rate was 161, 163, and 163 for those miles and that’s what I was paying attention to. I also crossed the halfway point of the race in about 58:30, including a bathroom stop, so I felt good about finishing in under two hours.

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These are not the Stormtroopers I was looking for

The eighth mile took us all around the Animal Kingdom parking lot and to the point where we were to enter the park. Again, not great on the scenery, but good for staying steady. Mile 8 done in 8:52 and still at 163bpm. Most of mile 9 was inside Animal Kingdom, and here’s where I made my one character photo stop. I mean, how often do you see Stormtroopers on the course? Picture done and I’m off and running, deciding that it was late enough in the race where I could start picking up the pace. I hit the end of mile 9 in 9:06 (including the photo stop) with my heart rate up to 167.

Miles 10, 11, and most of 12 took us back on the road, this time we were headed to ESPN Wide World of Sports. Once again there were huge movie screens along the way, bringing a smile to my face each time I saw the light side battling the dark side. I bumped my pace up to 8:46 for mile ten, but fell off slightly with 8:54 for mile 11 and 9:09 for mile 12. I was starting to feel pretty spent, but kept my heart rate at 167 for all three of these miles. with 1.1 miles left it was time to give it whatever I had left no matter how I felt.

Just before the end of mile 12 we turned onto the dirt road that lead us into the ESPNWWOS complex. Now into the 13th mile I noticed something else that made me feel really good, even special. The sun was about to come up. I’d always started Disney races in a corral far enough back where I ran a decent portion of the race in daylight. The sun in Florida gets hot, fast so I was glad I’d be done by sunrise (even though I wasn’t feeling particularly fast at that moment). Mile 13 saw my pace improve to 8:30 and my heart rate jump up to 175. Now I see the finish line and it’s time for the last burst of speed.

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Medals for the half and Dark Side Challenge

For the last tenth I managed a 7:20 pace and 184BPM average. Yeah, that was pretty much everything I had. I really haven’t been doing much training for the past couple of months. More like going through the motions. But, I did manage my first Disney half under two hours (1:58:26), so I had reason to celebrate. Besides, Carissa called my name out as I crossed the finish line, another first. I got my medal, some water, Powerade, and the standard issue RunDisney food box + banana, then headed for the challenge tent. They look up your picture (taken at packet pickup) to verify who you are and make sure that you finished the first race of the challenge, and then give you your challenge medal.

 

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Darth Maul looking a little scary

After completing the half mile long finisher’s chute and getting a photo taken I headed to the next parking lot where they had a few more photo opportunities. I knew that the lines for these photos would continue to grow as more runners crossed the finish line so I waited for a couple of pictures while the lines were relatively short. I then returned to the bleachers near the finish line to wait for Gelcys, Alpha, and Janine to finish. While sitting there I heard one of the announcers call out someone’s name and congratulate them for completing their 250th half marathon. Now there’s an accomplishment! Let’s see, another 234 to go and I’ll be there too.

 

 

I am quite impressed with the amount of detail that RunDisney put into this weekend, and the medals are spectacular. I’m thankful that I was able to start in the A corral and run in relatively light traffic for most of the race. I’m also quite amazed that Gelcys was able to push through the pain that she experienced during these last 22.4 miles and finish all three races with a smile on her face. Now that my racing season is in the books, it’s time to switch gears, do a few weeks of easy runs to complete my heart rate training, and then it’s time to start running some big miles! It’s ultra time before this year is done.

Star Wars Weekend – part 1

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What do you get when you combine three of your favorite things into one activity? For some it’s an all-you-can-eat buffet, but for me it’s a RunDisney weekend with a Star Wars theme. Picture running through three of the Disney World parks and seeing Star Wars characters along the course AND scenes from the Star Wars movies on giant HD screens on the side of the road as you run between parks. Add to that the couple thousand runners dressed in Star Wars costumes, some amazing medals and some of the best running friends that you could ask for and this weekend was more than just OK.

 

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The Dark Side Star Wars Weekend

The weekend started with the expo, of course, but for me the expo was a quick packet pickup after work just before the expo closed. I would imagine that the expo was a complete madhouse Thursday morning though. I did get to see Jeff Galloway and shake his hand so there’s a bit of inspiration to start the weekend with.

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Starting in corral A is now a goal achieved!

Fast forward to Saturday morning, also known as Friday night to many of you since the alarm went off while it was still Friday on the west coast. Around 3:20 I was off to EPCOT for the start of the Tie Fighter 10k. With the security check, over 12,000 runners, the typical Disney 20 minute walk to the start corrals and the 5:30 start, I actually felt like I was running late when I parked my car at 4am. I made it to corral A by the start of the race, though I was starting in the back of the corral. After some words about the “training mission” that we were about to endure from a couple of Stormtroopers (this was the Dark Side weekend), the fireworks went off and the race was under way. My goal for the race was to grab a PR, though I knew I had not been training for a speedy race so I might need to revise that goal.

The first mile basically took us around the edge of EPCOT and backstage so we could enter the park near Mexico. Unlike any other RunDisney race I’ve done before, we took a right and ran through Mexico and across the front of World Showcase Lagoon, through Canada and the UK. Usually the trip through EPCOT involves running through the back side of the lagoon and through all of the other countries. For my first mile I ran by heart rate, wanting to stay around 150 bpm so I didn’t burn up too quickly. Mile 1: 9:07.

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The 10k shirt is definitely a winner!

The second and third miles took us into the Boardwalk area and down the path to Hollywood Studios. I’ve also run on this path twice during mile 25 of the marathon, so this is the first time I was actually able to *run* the path, as opposed to run/walking the path. Minor accomplishment! Hollywood Studios was a nice minute or two, but with half the park under construction, it’s about the best we could ask for. Plus, the route took us through the Fantasmic! area, which I don’t remember ever running through before. By now we’ve finished three miles and my pace has increased with mile 2 in 8:33 and mile 3 in 8:27.

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My overall physical state was telling me at this point that I would be able to keep a decent pace for the last half, but a PR was not going to happen. I wasn’t even running at the pace I’d need yet, plus I had about 3 minutes to make up. Yeah, let’s just enjoy the run and save something for tomorrow’s half. The majority of the second half of the race was on the road so it was less than exciting, although there were a couple of those giant screens playing some scenes from Star Wars movies. I finished mile 4 in 8:13 and mile 5 in 8:24, with my heart rate now in the low 180’s.

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Mile six is where we arrived at the ESPN compound via dirt road/faux trail. I was fighting to keep the pace that I had been holding and getting a bit discouraged because I shouldn’t be fighting this hard to keep this pace – I’ve run over a minute faster per mile for this distance more than once. Anyway, after a much shorter tour of the ESPN area than the marathon offers (thank goodness) we finally found the finish line. I ran mile 6 in 8:19 and the final stretch in a 7:50 pace, crossing the finish line in 53:06.

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Quite possibly the coolest medal I’ve earned

I definitely was not impressed with my time, or the fact that earning that time got my heart rate up to 193 bpm. I really have allowed myself to get in worse shape than I was aware of, but that’s the topic of another post on another day. Overall I was that 406th finisher of the Tie Fighter 10k, and with 12,169 finishers, I felt a little better about my time.

Racing season is coming to a close

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As much of the northern half of the country is looking forward to the warmer weather and the beginning of racing season, highlighted with next Monday’s Boston Marathon, those of us in the sunshine state are saying goodbye to racing season. Yes, there are a few races available May through September, but not many comparatively, especially if you’re looking for distances from half marathon through ultra. Overnight lows of 70 degrees-plus for 3-4 months straight pretty much eliminate the possibility of long, competitive runs.

As I look back on the past six months I see a number of highlights, and overall a season that I am happy with. My first race of the season was the Marine Corps Half Marathon in Jacksonville, FL where I posted my current PR for the 13.1 distance. I had set a goal time of 1:45 but finished in 1:48:19, beating my previous PR by just 38 seconds. Still, it’s a PR and a great start to the season.

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Marine Corps Half finish line

October’s other race was my second running of the Lighthouse Loop Half in Port Orange, FL. Severe anxiety and stress joined me at the starting line that morning, and after three miles at a pace that would have given me that 1:45 time my heart rate was over 185. I backed it down, took some walk breaks, and finished in 1:59:00.

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Lighthouse Loop Half bling!

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Space Shuttle medal #2 from Space Coast marathon

Thanksgiving weekend I ran my fourth marathon and grabbed my second PR on the Space Coast Marathon course (first was my first ever marathon, but still). I bettered my 2014 time by 16 minutes, but still did not have a good handle on the 26.2 distance. Even with 20 and 22 mile training runs, getting past 17 miles in the race is something I struggle with, and have always gone to walk/run by that point, if not before. Goal number one for the remainder of 2016 is to become better at the 20 to 26 mile distance. I will run a marathon without stopping to walk. If I can’t then that 50-mile race will be a long December day.

 

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Finishing marathon #5 in Cape Coral

2 weeks later I drove to Cape Coral, FL for another marathon, hoping for the nice cool weather we had race morning the previous year. At the start of the race it was 66 degrees, but by the finish we were in the low 80s. This definitely did not feel like December! The paramedics were treating runners just past the finish line by the time I got there. Again my first 17 miles went pretty well, but at that point I switched to a 1/1 walk/run and finished in 4:50.

 

 

 

 

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Disney bling! Everyone needs some of this.

January brought me two races, both at Disney World and both in the same weekend. I elected to “only” do the Goofy Challenge this year, where last year I finished the Dopey Challenge. My plan was to run a steady half between 9:30 and 10:00 per mile in order to save something for the full the next day. Mission accomplished on the half (2:07:14) with very even splits. The full, however was the most difficult of the six marathons that I’ve done. On that race day the run/walk intervals started as we were leaving Animal Kingdom, or around mile 13.5 for those of you not lucky enough to have run this course. Goal time: 4:30, actual time: 4:57. Still, it’s six marathons attempted and six completed.

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Best Damn Race Orlando with Joy

Two more races during March: First was Best Damn Race Orlando half marathon which I ran with a friend. She was recovering from strep throat so the goal was to finish. Mission accomplished. Later in March I ran my first relay event – the Sarasota Half with another friend. I was somewhat disappointed with my time for the 6.9 miles that I completed, but I achieved two PR’s that day. My first relay half (automatic PR) was done in 1:57:08. I also achieved a heart rate PR – when we sprinted for the finish I hit 196 bpm, breaking my assumed max HR of 192.

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Sarasota Half Relay with my teammate Krissy

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UCF Storm the Campus AG award plus U, C, and F medals

April will finish with 3 races, although only one is complete. The third annual Storm the Campus 10 miler was my 50th race since my first race on November 1, 2013. I was trying to break 1:20 for ten miles, but finished in 1:22:20, good enough for second place in my AG. Races 2 and 3 for the month will be this weekend as RunDisney heads back to the parks in Orlando for the inaugural Star Wars Dark Side weekend. I’ll be running the 10k on Saturday and the half on Sunday. Can’t wait to run in the parks again!

After the Star Wars races this weekend I’ll be doing 6 weeks of heart rate training, where none of my runs will take me above 140 bpm. I’ll also be increasing my weekly mileage slightly from about 33 to around 40. After that I’ll continue to increase my weekly mileage and my long runs throughout the summer, peaking at 58 miles per week in 4 runs per week by mid-November. After a 3 week taper I’m running my first ultra, a 50-mile oceanside run from St. Augustine to Ponce Inlet on the east coast of Florida. Yes, I have a goal time already for this and no, I’m not ready to share it yet, but you can bet it’s not what you’d expect for a first time ultramarathoner.

Best of luck to all of you as you enter your racing or training season. There are plenty of PR’s still to be had out there – grab yours!

 

March Recap

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The month of March was less than eventful, but it continued my streak of months with at least 100 miles run, so we’ll call it a win. I finished the month with only 19 days in which I ran and 110 miles, making it my 13th month in a row over the century mark. That is an achievement that I am quite proud of because it indicates two key elements that are necessary in order to improve: Consistency and remaining healthy.

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Finishing Best Damn Race Orlando with Joy

In the first part of the month I was in two races, both half marathons. The first I ran with a friend and we just enjoyed the race and the time spent together talking. The second half was actually a relay where Krissy ran the first 10k before I ran about 6.8. We then ran the last tenth of a mile together, finishing in about 1:57.

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Krissy and I finishing the Sarasota Half Relay with big air!

The remainder of my miles were done training style, including the two weeks that I tried out the heart rate training. I chose to stop the heart rate training so I could get a couple of higher intensity runs in before my race on April 3rd. Initially I was seeing some great improvements with the heart rate training, but then I saw things getting slightly worse and started looking for reasons for both. The one factor that I believe had the most effect on my heart rate numbers was the weather. Cooler runs (20-25 degrees) lined up with my best heart rates and the warmer runs lined up with the higher numbers. I still believe that there is improvement to be had and by the time I return to the HR training in three weeks our weather will be steady enough that there won’t be any threat of cooler weather.

Plans for April include a little speed work in the first two weeks so I can chase a 10k PR at Disney, running the 10k and half on Star Wars weekend, and then saying goodbye to racing for a few months and focus on distance training. I’ll start with 6 weeks of HR training and then I’ll start building up to high mileage weeks as part of marathon (November) and ultra (December) training. It’s just about time to get really comfortable being uncomfortable. Thanks for reading. I’ll be posting my Storm the Campus recap as soon as the photos become available.

Heart Rate Training Seems to Work!

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For the past 8 days now I have been focused on heart rate training, and surprisingly I am seeing positive results already. I expected to see improvement but assumed that it would take some time before I saw the type of results that I’ve seen. I also want to point out the fact that I use words like slow and slower in this post. In no way am I attempting to compare myself to anyone else or label anyone as a slow runner. A 12:00 mile pace may be a goal for some runners and that’s fine because we all work from where we are. Having run a 22:04 5k, backing down to some of the speeds necessary to stay within my target heart range has been quite an adjustment for me. Your mileage may vary 😉 I also want to note that I have been fasting for each of the runs that are discussed here as I’m teaching my body to burn fat more efficiently (also in the Maffetone plan).

What is heart rate training? Basically it’s a system that was put together by Phil Maffetone that helps determine your optimal training heart rate zone; a zone that keeps you in your body’s aerobic system rather than the anaerobic system which stresses your body more. After reading all of the details I was able to determine that my training heart rate should be between 135-140 beats per minute (the formula allows for 130-140, but I have elected to shorten that window). In order to benefit from the heart rate training I will need to keep my heart rate in the 135-140 zone during all runs as well as all cross-training activities. Using running as an example, this means that once I get my heart rate up to 135 I need to stay between 135 and 140 until the workout is finished. The bad news is that this pretty much eliminates the possibility of run/walking for those that typically run using the Galloway Method because walking would lower the heart rate below the bottom end of the range. This also eliminates strides, intervals, repeats, tempo runs, fartleks, ladders, progression runs and any other attempts at working on speed. It’s temporary.

Last Tuesday I set out for my first crack at this different type of training before the sun came up. As it sometimes does, my heart rate jumped way up right off the bat (164 max), but after about three minutes I was back in my target range, finishing the first mile in 10:27 with an average  of 141 bpm. Yeah, this type of training takes a little getting used to, especially if you’re used to running by pace more than feel. As expected the remaining miles were each slower than the previous mile: 11:12, 11:45, and 12:00. The final half mile was on pace to be even slower than 12:00. Overall I averaged 11:27 per mile and a 138 heart rate.

Without knowing exactly what to expect I just accepted these numbers as my starting point and decided to run the same distance each of the next two days to make comparing data from day to day a little easier (#NumbersNerd). On Wednesday my first mile was about the same (10:29/131bpm) but the other miles showed more and more improvement: 10:31, 10:47, 11:07, and the final half at 11:19 pace. The day’s averages were 10:48 and 135bpm. Interesting…. About 40 seconds faster per mile with a lower heart rate. Thursday was a split compared to Wednesday, with some numbers better than Wednesday and some worse. I’ll post the specifics below if you’re interested.

Saturday’s run was different on many levels (non-fasting, run later in the day under hot sun, higher stress, etc.) and the results reflected the differences. I’m going to skip the specifics until I can determine which elements affected me and which ones didn’t, but the entire run was done trying to stay in the 135-140 range.

Sunday was a longer run, so I checked the numbers for 5 miles (to compare to previous runs) and for the full 8.2 miles. More improvements! At five miles I was averaging a 10:44 pace and 135 bpm, and for the full run, an 11:09 pace and 136. Yeah, I averaged a faster pace for 8.2 miles than I did 5 days ago for 4.5 miles and at a lower heart rate. Hmmmm, I’m seeing a trend that I like. My sixth run, a week after my first run: 10:20 average pace for 5 miles at 134 bpm. Last Tuesday was 11:27/138 bpm! That’s 67 seconds per mile faster at a lower heart rate. Today’s first mile was at 9:44 and a 127 heart rate! I’m actually having trouble getting my average heart rate for the first mile high enough without going over the 140 mark because it is increasing so slowly.

I have plans to continue this training for about six weeks and if the improvements keep coming the way that they have so far….. I am getting excited to think of the possibilities! If you have any questions about this training method that I might be able to answer please feel free to contact me. There are more details about the Garmin that I use here. If you are looking for more details about the Maffetone Method, the formula to find your training zone, etc. then please click here. Other useful Maffetone links include the MAF test and The New Aerobic Revolution. Thanks for listening to me ramble and best of luck on your training.

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Heart rate values are average/max for each mile




Getting Goofy With It

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Last weekend I had the chance to run at Walt Disney World again, and like each time before I was consumed with anticipation. Disney World has always been a special place to me and having the chance to run races there makes it that much more special. This year I took a step back from the Dopey Challenge that I ran last year and opted for “just” the Goofy Challenge. For those unfamiliar with these challenges, the Dopey Challenge is a 5k on Thursday, 10k on Friday, half marathon on Saturday, and marathon on Sunday for a total of 48.6 miles. The Goofy Challenge consists of only the half and marathon for 39.3 miles.

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Epcot entrance at 3:45am

I went for packet pickup on Wednesday after work, but pretty much breezed past the expo, except for meeting up with my friend Megan who was working in one of the booths. Next up in my preparation was Friday evening. While I was putting my bib on my race shirt and getting my gear ready, my daughter was making a sign. She had decided that Saturday’s half was a good time for her to make her first cheering appearance. So when 3:15am came we were both ready to leave for EPCOT. Her plan was to take the monorails from EPCOT to the Magic Kingdom and then find a good spot on Main Street. Mission accomplished as she ended up at the end of Main Street just before the bridge to Tomorrowland, an easy place to find her. While she was settling in there I made the 20 minute walk to the starting corrals and then waited for the start of the race. Right at 5:30am the wheelchair competitors were off, followed closely by corral A, then B, and by 5:35 the 500 or so runners with me in corral C were watching the fireworks go up, signaling for us to go! The WDW Half Marathon was underway.

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Each corral gets their own fireworks when it’s GO time!

For the first eight minutes I watched my heart rate spike as high as 178 but then settle in to the 150s for a half mile, then low 140s. This was a good place to land considering I had been training less than I wanted to after my two recent marathons. The first five miles took us down the road toward the Magic Kingdom, through the MK toll plaza and parking lot, past the Transportation and Ticket Center and the Contemporary Resort. In the sixth mile we entered Main Street in the Magic Kingdom, where I remembered to look for my daughter. I found her right where she said she’d be and she quickly flipped her sign around from the side that said “Motivational Sign” to “Go Daddy Go”. She yelled some encouragement and I quickly made my way into Tomorrowland, Fantasyland, through Cinderella’s Castle, through Liberty Square and Frontierland, and out of the park.

The next 6 miles take runners from the back of the Magic Kingdom past the Grand Floridian and Polynesian Resorts, over a couple of bridges, and to a side entrance into EPCOT. The last mile or so took us through the Future World portion of EPCOT, past Spaceship Earth (AKA giant golf ball), and out into the parking lot for the finish. Knowing that I still had 26.2 miles to run the next day I did not push the pace at all, though I did speed up for the last half mile or so. My splits were right about where I planned them to be: 30:37 for 5k (9:52 pace), 1:01:11 for 10k (9:51 pace), and 2:07:14 at the finish (9:43 pace). I did not feel any aches and pains in my legs, though the bottoms of my feet were still sore from the previous two marathons. My feet would be my only question going into day 2 of the Goofy Challenge.

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Half marathon is done – shiny new Donald bling!

Between races I met up with Steph who was working at the expo. I also met up with Gelcys and a bunch of other runners at Disney Springs before enjoying a quiet evening at home. Before I knew it, my 2:45am alarm was going off. Soon I was headed back to EPCOT, this time without my daughter. The car ride, parking, bag check, walking to the corral, and waiting – pretty much the same routine as the day before. We did get started a few minutes later on Sunday, with corral C not entering the course until 5:42. Although I had done a bunch of training to make a run at a sub-4:00 marathon, this was not going to be the day because I knew it would be a mistake to even try. I set off at around 10:00 per mile with the first 8.5 miles being pretty much the same as the half marathon course, though there were a couple of different turns inside the Magic Kingdom. We ran right past where the WDW Speedway used to be. In previous years the marathon included a lap around the track, but this past fall the speedway was taken out.

My official splits had me at 50:43 for 5 miles (10:09 pace) and 1:41:34 at 10 miles (10:10 pace) so I was pretty much just running along at my easy, long run pace. Miles 8.5 through 12 were uneventful on the road to Animal Kingdom. In and out of Animal Kingdom brought me to the halfway point in 2:12:55 (10:09 pace). This is where my race started to unfold. I stopped to walk for a minute, then back to running. Six minutes later I walked again followed by ten minutes of running. I was just past halfway and had already taken a series of walk breaks. I continued to walk/run all the way to and through ESPN Wide World of Sports and then back to Hollywood Studios. I passed the 20 mile split at 3:38:27 (10:56 pace) and at that point was just hoping that I could hold on to beat my slowest marathon time to date.

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Goofy Challenge, Marathon, and Half medals

Around the end of mile 23 we headed into Hollywood Studios for about a mile then it was along the boardwalk back to EPCOT, around World Showcase, back through Future World and out to the parking lot for the finish line. I was not able to stay below my previous slowest marathon time of 4:53:47. I finished in 4:57:00 after a second half in 2:44:05. Needless to say I was disappointed, especially considering that I finished better a year ago while completing Dopey AND had a long marathon training season this past year. Someday I’m going to figure this marathon thing out!

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Another RunDisney race weekend comes to a close.

Distractions

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One of the aspects of training and racing that I consider to be key is keeping focus. Whether the focus needs to be on a specific workout, recovery, tapering, or ensuring that nothing is forgotten on race morning, focus can be the difference between going through the motions and actually accomplishing something. However, life doesn’t always make it easy to keep your focus where it needs to be.

Tomorrow and Sunday I will be running the Goofy Challenge at Walt Disney World, with the half marathon on Saturday and the marathon on Sunday. I completed the Dopey Challenge a year ago (Goofy plus a 5k Thursday and 10k Friday) so I am familiar with the demands of completing such a challenge. Even so, I feel completely unprepared for this weekend’s races. After finishing Space Coast Marathon six weeks ago and Best Damn Race Cape Coral marathon 4 weeks ago, I have been in the in-between state of recovery and taper at the same time and not really pushing any workouts. And not really pushing the mileage either. At the same time I feel like I’m rested and unprepared because I haven’t been running as much as I’ve wanted to. But this week I have had little opportunity to worry about my preparation level. Life has happened.

Monday I started off the week with a consultation with the dentist and a deep cleaning with the hygienist. It’s been a couple of years and I have sensitive teeth so this wasn’t the highlight of my week. Tuesday I had a follow-up appointment with my doctor and I finally got a prescription for anti-anxiety medication. After running a few dozen tests trying to determine the cause of my increasing heart rate, the latest possibility is anxiety and a few panic attacks. With this news I was sure that Tuesday was going to be a great day. And it was, until I left work. About 4 miles into my 35 mile trip home I went from smooth sailing on a toll road to parked in the median with a destroyed car in a matter of seconds. Someone changed lanes in front of me and then came to a complete stop just a few seconds later. I couldn’t stop in time and hit that SUV at somewhere around 25-30mph. As an extra bonus I was awarded a ticket for following too closely because the trooper determined that I had enough time to put the necessary space in front of me after the other driver pulled in front of me.

A short time later I was dropped off at a McDonalds where I called my insurance company and was told that Enterprise would come “pick me up” sometime soon. An hour later I called the insurance company back and was told that I wouldn’t hear from Enterprise until the next day because they close at 6 (accident was at 6:15). I just wasted an hour. With few options to get back home I called a friend for a ride and finally made it home around 10:45. The next morning it took about 7 phone calls to get my rental car because I live outside of the 10-mile radius that Enterprise locations use for picking people up. That’s enough for one week, right? Nah, that’s only Wednesday morning!

After making it to the tow yard to sign an insurance release I went to work for the second half of Wednesday. Thursday was work until 3:30 and then back to the dentist. The new experience for the day was installing a temporary crown and being fitted for a permanent one. I had no idea that this process would take close to two hours! So now my face hurts and I have this “thing” in my mouth where there has been a broken molar for about five years.

So today I’ll get in my rental car and go to work, have difficulty eating because of the pain in my jaw, and I’ll make lists of everything I need to remember to do before I go to bed at (hopefully) 8:30-9:00 tonight. I’ll have to drive to Disney and be headed to my corral by 4:30 for the half marathon, so I’ll need to be up by 3am at the latest. I wonder if anything I’ll need for the race is in my car that I no longer have? Isn’t life fun?