Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Goofy Reflections

The Disney Marathon is crowded!  Nearly 22,000 runners finished Saturday morning's 2011 Disney Half Marathon, with a lot of the course being narrower than a single lane of traffic.  Sunday's Marathon, with 13,500 finishers, seemed spacious in comparison!  But it is still very neat to run through the Disney theme parks with all of the Disney characters out along the course available for pictures and such.

That's me, on the monorail at 4AM Eastern on Sunday morning, en route to the start. The Eastern part matters when you're a Central Standard guy like me.

The most impressive part of the Disney Marathon event, though, is the number of runners that do both the half and full marathons, what Disney affectionately refer to as "the Goofy Challenge."  Over one third of the full marathon finishers, 4,600 of them, finished both the half and the full marathons on Saturday and Sunday!  Pretty impressive.

I had the pleasure of running on Saturday morning with my beautiful wife, who PR'ed the half by more than 30 minutes!  And on Sunday, my cousin Jim surprised me by sneaking back with the slower guys in Corral C to run with me!  The poor guy had to drag me like an anchor for 26.2 miles.  It wasn't the fastest, strongest, nor prettiest 26.2 I've ever run, but it was pretty special just because I really didn't know if I was going to make it.

I left November thinking that the Goofy wasn't going to be a big deal at all after putting up consistent 40-70 mile weeks and tagging long runs of 32.5 and 35 miles.  But then December kicked my ass.  My left patella started giving me fits, not tracking correctly--not letting me run at all without severe pain and swelling.  But, I got the green light from the ortho the Wed before the marathon when she told me that I probably wouldn't do any permanent damage running on it over the weekend, just prolong the recovery.  The best part was that, both days, the pain dulled after the first hour or so.  I'm thinking the body finally said, "well, he's not listening to us telling him to stop, so turn off the pain."  Every step up to that point had me thinking I should drop.  Brutal.  But it's tough to drop when you've raised money for such a worthwhile cause, Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy for this race in honor of my cousin Aidan who turned 11 yesterday!

My right leg was carrying the bulk of the load both days.  On mile 12 of the half my right quad gave me a twinge going up an incline (because there are no hills at Disney, only inclines, according to the race staff--I wish I could roll my eyes via text).  Then, the next day I started worrying on mile 9 of the marathon when it started feeling really tired.  By mile 12, she started cramping.  I was just over 2:00 at the half, but 4:00 was out of sight for the full in the shape I was in.  Jim pulled me through, though, keeping the walking to a minimum, and I finished with a painful 4:18 with a hitch in my giddy up the day after a half.  I felt guilty slowing him down any more than I absolutely had to.  The poor guy ran a 3:42 just a few weeks ago in Las Vegas!  No matter how guilty I felt, though, it was fantastic to have him there.

C'mon. If you've ever run a long distance, you know how good it feels to finally be off of your feet.

Anyway, the left knee still feels like it has a fever, and the pain is still there, but it's actually a little better than it was before the 40-mile weekend.  I'm actually excited to get out next Saturday and see how she reacts.  If there's any shot of the Zumbro 100 in April I've gotta be able to put miles on her, and lots of them, soon.