Sunday, January 15, 2012

Marathon Weekend 2012

Had a great time down in “the world” last weekend. I was able to spend time with old friends and even made a couple new ones during the trip. Disney Marathon weekend also found me achieving a couple goals that I had set for myself in 2011.


My flights to and from Orlando were smooth and on time. On my flight down I found myself sitting next to another Disney bound runner who turned out to be from our home town and who knew our son, having graduated just two years prior to him. In fact until recently they were attending the same college. It’s a small world. On my way home I ran into Justin at MCO and discovered he was on the same flight. I enjoyed spending some extra time with him there and again in Memphis between flights

Saratoga Springs:

This was my third DVC stay at Saratoga and I have to say that I like this resort. Disney was able to once again grant my request to be located in “The Springs” area of the resort. This put me close to the main dining area and more importantly close to marathon transportation.


I was able to meet up with Andy from Minnesota at the Magic Kingdom. Listeners of All About the Mouse will recall that Andy and I enjoyed some back and forth banter regarding Corn, Iowa and Minnesota. After meeting up at MK, Andy joined Lisa, Trace, Amanda and I over at Port Orleans to catch Yehaa Bob’s show. I have to mention that Andy is really a great young guy and I’m please to count him amongst my Disney friends.

My past three trips have found me wanting to catch Yehaa Bob’s show but it just never fit into previous touring plans. I’m so glad that it finally worked out for this trip. When I arrived at Port Orleans Bob was already working the room and talking to Lisa and Trace. Trace introduced me and upon hearing that I was from Des Moines, Bob asked me about a Holiday Inn that was located a few miles north of our airport. He mentioned that he had played there in the past and then asked me if the hotel was still there as it was prone to flooding by a nearby lake. As it turns out that hotel was demolished a number of years ago for that very reason. Small world huh?

Bob put on a highly energetic and interactive show. He recalled every name and location of the folks he meet preshow and I’m sure at some point mentioned each and every one of them. His show is family friendly and he did three unique sets between 8pm and 11:30pm. I look forward to a future Port Orleans visit this July with my family.

Star Tours:

If described in one word, that word would be WOW! I certainly have no objections to the enhancements made to this attraction. Now while I fall into the 3D is a gimmick and is greatly abused category, I have to give kudos to Lucas Arts and Disney here. The 3D works amazingly well and the glasses are designed to fit nicely over prescription glasses. In total I rode Star Tours 7 times and while there was some overlap with a few story segments, each ride always seemed to have at least one element that was unique. Disney guests on each ride were applauding when the ride was over. That in itself says a lot. There was one segment which I saw twice and it got chuckles out of the passengers each time. That scene (SPOILER ALERT) was when Princess Leia appears and says “Help me Star Tours, your my only hope.” In my opinion they should reedit and drop the words Star Tours. It just came across as too hokey. Park guests were hitting Rock N Rollercoaster and Toy Story Mania which made multiple back to back rides here possible.

The 5K:

I’m not one for spending extra money to add another race during Marathon weekend. (The races are already quite pricey) However when I learnt that the theme for the 5k was “The Three Caballeros” I knew that I had to do this event, if for no other reason than to be able to see Jose and Panchito in costume. In talking with some of my Disney pals I found there was interest in dressing up for this run. Lisa, Trace and I decided we just had to dress up as the three happy chappys in snappy serapes, Donald, Jose and Panchito. Amanda also had decided this would be a good time to dress for a Disney run and she dressed as Jose. The 5K turned out to be a walk due to Trace’s recently broken toe. Determined to do the race he taped up his toes and when we reached the starting line he had to be breaking the 16 min pace mark. Trace kept up a brisk pace well into Epcot before admitting that his toe was informing him that this was not the best idea. Regardless we powered through it and enjoyed the Mexican music that was being pumped throughout the entire park. We were a hit with both the Disney Paparazzi and other runners who were taking pictures of us along the course.

The Half and a couple of goals achieved:

Awoke shortly after 2am, showered, dressed and caught the 3am bus to the pre-race area. The canopies which we generally meet under did not have letters on them but after a few text messages we all met up before walking back to the corrals. This year the race started a full half hour earlier than years past. I had only been in my corral for about 5 minutes when I heard them start the wheelchair athletes. Each successive corral was released in 5 minute intervals. Last year I had set a goal that prior to my next Disney run I would provide proof of time and move up in the corrals. My training this year paid off last October during the Des Moines half and having sent in proof of time. RunDisney placed me in corral C for this year’s half. I was excited to be starting from this spot, however, soon after the start I realized that this large group of runners was not breaking apart. I think our starting group must have caught up with the back of corral B by mile 2. The road widens into three lanes at that point and the crowd was still thick. I did a lot of running on the shoulder because I simply could not pass anyone. The run would stay congested until just after mile 8 where the road once again joined the southbound three lane highway.

Another goal I had set for myself was to be through the castle while it was still dark out. I did not expect to achieve that this year but thanks to the early start I made it. Running through the castle and seeing Main Streets lights on really put a smile on my face.

Along with taking a few Clif Bloks I did a good job of managing my power aid and water intake. I never cramped up and only had a little tightness in my calves at the top of the clover leaf at mile ten and again while going up the overpass at mile eleven. This year the Gospel choir was once again in the same location as last year but this year thankfully they were indeed singing gospel and not pop hits of the 80s. Details of my Disney running history are listed below. For this race I managed to beat my 2011 Des Moines half finish by five minutes and just missed matching a half best by two minutes. Over all I was very happy with my 2:24 finish especially when compared against last year’s 3:02 finish.

Post-Race after returning home and a few words on weight:

As stated in a previous post my weight goals during the holiday season really suffered. End of year work related stress and nibbling away at all those Christmas cookies and fudge not only put me on a plateau but also resulted in some weight gain. Early December I had reached 214. On the day I flew out I weighed 219. Surprisingly the day after I returned home and weighed in I had only gained 1 lb. I can only attribute that small gain to structured eating habits during the trip. My scheduled Friday weigh in found me already back down to 217.6. So things are going in the right direction.

One thing I desperately want to avoid is falling into post marathon lag. Since returning home I’ve gotten in three workouts. Tuesday was an ugly 5 miler which started out to fast and caused me to become winded. After walking that out I went back into a jog and found that for some reason I was hitting the pavement very flat footed. I just could not get my feet to roll with my stride. Thursday was cold and I just did a 4 mile walk on the home treadmill. Today (Sunday) was another day of achievement for me. The weather was in the upper 40s with a light breeze. I started out and was careful not to overdo it and found a comfortable pace. Four miles out I realized I could possibly beat a goal I have been trying to reach for weeks. 6 miles in 60 minutes. I just keep missing that mark by 2 minutes. Today I made it in 59:59:51. Because I have been pursuing this goal for so long I have been more excited about todays numbers than this year’s finish time at WDW. Not to take anything away from my wonderful Disney experience but this thing has been dogging me for weeks.

Going Forward:

Local races such as DAM to DAM and the Des Moines half are in my future. I think I really need to keep something out there to plan for. Although I have a couple more Disney trips planned for this year, I have no plans for a Disney running event until either fall 2013 or marathon weekend 2014. So it will be a long time before I see many of my Disney pals again. Thank goodness for Skype and email. I know that I will need your continued support and I also want to be able to return that favor and keep up to date on the goals others in our circle of friends are working toward.

Disney Running History:

2009 Half Marathon Age 42, M, Chip time, 2:49:43, Finished 8105 out of 12451 finishers

2010 Wine & Dine Age 43, M, Chip time, 3:15:43, Finished 6230 out of 7292 finishers

2010 Half Marathon Age 43, M, Chip time, 3:06:47, Finished 13350 out of 17144 finishers

2011 Half Marathon Age 44, M, Chip time, 3:02:56, Finished 16895 out of 21991 finishers

2012 Half Marathon Age 45, M, Chip time, 2:24:13, Finished 8619 out of 22421 finishers

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Marathon Weekend Approaches

One more day at the office and then its time to head south for marathon weekend at Walt Disney World. This trip will bring a few new experiences. On Wednesday night I will be catching Yeehaa Bob's show over at Port Orleans Riverside with Lisa and Trace. Hopefully Andy from Minnesota will be stopping by as well. Andy and I poked a little fun at each others home states once in a awhile on All About the Mouse. It all started when he said "there's nothing in Iowa but corn." To which I replied 'that's not true, we also grow soy beans."

It turns out that Andy has been working at Epcot while participating in Disney's college program. Today is his last official day to work but his family is coming down for a few days. Hopefully Andy can make it to Yeehaa Bob and if he can't then I hope we can meet up somewhere while I'm down there.

Also new this year is that I'm adding the 5K on Friday. I just could not resist signing up when I found out the theme was Three Caballeros. I will also be dressing up for that event. The plan for the 5K is just to enjoy and take it easy...

... The real work comes during the half. I'm actually more nervous about this run than I was going into the Des Moines Half last October. The holidays brought on a number snacks which my will power slipped on numerous times. The cooler temps here had pushed me into the gym and onto the elliptical for awhile. I did realize that for me the elliptical was not going to cut it come race dance. It helped with weight managment but as I mentioned a couple posts back, I learned that my breathing was way off when I converted back to the road. So it's been nothing but treadmill and open road when the weather has been nice.

Goals for the half.

Primary Goal: Beat this years Des Moines Half finish time of 2:29. That would put me 20 minutes ahead of my best Disney time.

Secondary Goal: Beat my 2008 Des Moines Half finish time off 2:22. This would be a personal best.

Where am I on reaching these goals? I feel pretty confident about my primary goal. My only concern is that Florida will be more humid that Des Moines was in October.

As for reaching the secondary goal. It is certainly possible. My long runs has been averaging a pace between 10:20 and 10:34. That puts me right in the ballpark. I would really like to meet this goal but I would be just as happy to break that 2:29.

Had a little photo shop fun with the course map below. It's pretty accurate. The finish is wrong and it appears to loop around Magic Kingdom but otherwise the roads lines up nicely. I created this because I wanted to see how the water stops lined up. I've always pictured the the first and second stops to be the furthest appart. Looks like I was way off. Its actually the stops after mile 7 and 9 making those two full miles apart.

The ten day forcast in Orlando is calling for great temps. 50s in the morning and 70s in the afternoon. Everyone remember to keep hydrated going into the weekend. See you all soon.