When my husband and I ran the Disney half marathon last year, we became aware of the Goofy Challenge, and it’s popularity. We thought that maybe 2012 would be our year to complete it, since we were planning to run a marathon in late 2011. What is the Goofy Challenge, you may ask? Well, the Marathon weekend consists of a 5k on Friday (run mostly by families and young children), a half marathon Saturday, and a full marathon Sunday. The Goofy Challenge requires you to run the half on Saturday and the full on Sunday – you must fully complete both in order to receive the coveted Goofy Challenge medal.
Without really thinking about the strain the race would put on our bodies, coupled with an actual trip to Disney World where we planned on visiting each of the parks, we eagerly signed up for the event over the summer. We all know how our training cycles went for the marathon, so we felt less than prepared for the event. Secretly we hoped that the training and completion of the Philly Marathon a mere month and a half prior was still around, and would somehow propel us to the finish line.
Race Day 1 (Half Marathon) started just as it did last year, at about 2:45a. We awoke quietly (my sister was staying with us and we didn’t want to wake her), ate what little food we had with us (Larabar, half a bagel, and some fruit), and were on the bus to the start at Epcot by 3:20a. We arrived to the finish area, and began our trek to the start, about a 20 minute walk away. While it was by no means cold, it was chilly. Thankfully we brought mylar blankets from a previous race in an attempt to stay somewhat warm. Once we got to our corral (I was placed in C and my husband dropped back from A to run with me), we took a seat to save our legs.
The race itself was uneventful, since we had run it before. The only minor event was when I got shoved in the tunnel right by the Contemporary Resort by a middle-aged man. Usually runners are a decent bunch, especially in the happiest place on earth, but this guy was not. Both my husband and I yelled out to him and he just shrugged his shoulders and kept going. He’s lucky I didn’t face-plant. We were constantly checking our pace and having to tell one another to slow down – we wanted to run Saturday’s race as controlled as possible in hopes of saving some of our legs for Sunday. I did wind up having to take a bathroom break at around mile 8, which was the first time I’ve ever had to stop during a race. You can thank a well-timed Crohns flare-up for that fun. Thankfully I was quick, and we were back off for the final leg, finishing in 2:15. It certainly wasn’t anything to write home about, but we were confident we ran slowly enough to finish on Sunday without any major issues.
Since our trip wasn’t very long, we went to Animal Kingdom AND Magic Kingdom after the race on Saturday. While most people were probably relaxing and soaking their feet, we were using and abusing ours. I definitely paid for it on Sunday.
Race Day 2 (Marathon) started just like the day before. This time, though, I was exhausted and really wanted to just stay in bed. I definitely didn’t eat enough before the race – I think it might have been me being tired, not paying attention, and thinking that I wasn’t going to exert myself in the race, so I didn’t need it. I don’t care if you’re sprinting, jogging, or even walking 26.2 miles, you need proper fuel. I learned this around mile 18.
The first half was uneventful as the course went through Epcot and Magic Kingdom, where we had been the day before. I did have to stop for a bathroom break around mile 3, and I had a feeling that wouldn’t be my only stop. By the time we were halfway, the sun was out and it was STRONG. Most of the second half of the race was spent running directly into the sun. Since I’m not someone that runs with a hat/visor or sunglasses in races unless it’s 100+ degrees in the summer, I ran most of the second half squinty-eyed. This is where things went downhill.
From about mile 14 to 21 I wanted to quit. It was mostly on back roads and boring – plus the temperature was creeping up. As I mentioned earlier, I definitely didn’t eat enough, and that played a major role. I gained a little momentum when we were in Animal Kingdom thanks to all the shade, but as soon as we were back out on the service roads, it was back to Negative Nancy. If my husband hadn’t been next to me making me take a Gu here and there and telling me we were doing great, I probably would have cried. I was just so exhausted and my feet were starting to really hurt. At about mile 19 I felt a huge pop on my right foot, and realized the gigantic blister that had been forming since Saturday morning burst. It was unlike anything I had ever felt before. There was a moment of panic where I thought I’d have to stop and wouldn’t be able to run on it, but after a few minutes the pain seemed to go away, and I was able to run normally again.
After another bathroom break at about mile 21, I somehow caught a second wind. I don’t know if it was standing there moving from side to side in the shade that gave me the break I needed, or if it was knowing I only had about 4 miles left, but I decided to just go. After running about 10:30’s the whole race (and my two super awesome bathroom breaks), we picked it up and ran the last 4 miles ranging between 8:30 and 9:15’s. We were picking off people left and right that had passed us miles ago in what we like to refer to as our “dark moments,” and we both felt GOOD. A smaller blister popped at around mile 24, but I had no intentions of letting it slow me down. We flew through Hollywood Studios, through the Boardwalk Hotel, and the next thing we knew, we were making our final lap through the World Showcase in Epcot for the finish. We crossed the finish line hand in hand, at 4;58.
If you had told me even two years ago that I would complete a HALF marathon, I would have said no way. After I ran my first half marathon, I wasn’t sure if I ever wanted to do it again, let alone double it. Then somehow I ran a marathon. And then a mere month and a half later I decided to run a half marathon and a marathon in the same weekend. They were far from “good” performances, but this past weekend was just about finishing, and keeping it as enjoyable as possible (both during the race and after). I wanted to be able to say I did it, and I did! Next up is just enjoying running and keeping the solid base I have going. No grand plans for big races as of yet, but I’m sure I’ll get antsy and sign up for something soon.