2017 Goals

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When it comes to running, the crazy things that I do are carefully planned out. No last-minute craziness here! Two years ago I set my running goals in time format: I wanted to be able to run distances that I had already run, just faster. In 2015 I set new PRs at the 5k, 10 mile, half and marathon distances, while running 237 miles further than I did in 2014. In 2016 I set out to focus more on long run training in order to tackle my first ultramarathon. My last long run before the ultra was Space Coast Marathon, where I PR’ed by 12 minutes and was able to do it with a negative split. While a successful 50-miler was the big goal for the year, I believe the marathon PR was a bonus and a direct result of the many 26-mile-plus long runs that I wrote into my training plan.

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What are your goals?

So what could I possibly have planned for 2017? I have three goals for the upcoming year, and for those who have called me crazy in the past, you’ll likely need that word three more times before you’re done reading. Santa didn’t bring much in the line of material gifts this year, but he left me a full dose of lunacy!

First up is a goal that I will start on January 7th and complete on February 5th. I am currently a member of the Half Fanatics (Saturn level) and a member of the Marathon Maniacs (Bronze level), and qualified for both simultaneously, giving me Double Agent status, level one of ten. I accomplished this two years ago by running 3 marathons and 4 half marathons in the same 90-day period. Back to my goal… I am going to be moving up to Double Agent level 3 and moving from Bronze to Gold as a Marathon Maniac by running 4 marathons and 4 half marathons within 30 days. I’ll be running the Disney Half and Full marathons (Goofy Challenge), Best Damn Race Jacksonville half, Shark Bite half, Clearwater Distance Classic marathon, Celebration marathon, Best Damn Race Safety Harbor half, and Tallahassee marathon within those 30 days.

That’s just goal #1 – there are still 11 months left in the year!

Goal #2: The race director for the Daytona 100 and Daytona 50 has announced a sister race in northern Michigan in June and I plan to do two things I have never done before. I will be going to Michigan and I’ll be running the Lighthouse 100 mile race. My goal is to finish the 100 miles of this race within the cutoff time of 30 hours. I’d love to bring that time down, but given the struggles that I faced near the end of the 50-miler earlier this month, and the fact that the Lighthouse 100 has “rolling hills” (where the Daytona 100 had max elevation of about 15 feet above sea level), I’m setting the goal 6 months out as finishing all 100 miles within the 30 hour limit. Also, at this point I have no idea if I will have a crew or will be running solo. Doing it solo will no doubt slow me down a great deal.

Have you called me crazy yet? But wait, there’s more!

Goal #3: Six months to the day after I run my second ultra and first 100-miler I’m going to run another 100-miler. I’m returning to the Daytona 100, this time to run the full 100 miles rather than the 50. Ok, so where’s the goal? In Michigan in June I plan to finish; in Florida in December I plan to finish in under 24 hours. I’m upping my finish time goal by a full six hours in six months. I plan on using the Michigan race as a learning tool to be better prepared and better trained by December.

Goal-setting is a good way for me to get the process started toward improvement. What keeps me on track is the accountability that involves my friends, family, and fellow runners. Even if you don’t know what it takes to prepare for a 100-mile race, I’ll bet you know what an excuse sounds like. If I’m throwing out excuses instead of miles, please feel free to mention it to me, however you see fit! I’m not setting big goals to try to be better than anyone, with the exception of who I am today, and that doesn’t sound crazy at all.

 

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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.