Goofy 2011: Half Marathon

OK, so this morning was the first part of the challenge, and overall I have to say I am pretty pleased. The official finishing time was 1:52:05, although my watch said I finished in 1:52:33, so I am not sure what the discrepancy was.

I rolled out of bed at just before 3:30 this morning, got changed very quickly and as quietly as I could so as to not wake up the rest of the family, finished off some Shredded Wheat and set off to the start. It was a bit bizarre getting to the start, as at every point along the way more people joined the group, until we arrived at Epcot and there were great lines, almost like ants snaking across the car park to the main congregation area. It was a lot easier getting there via the monorail system than driving in like we did last year.

After the bitterly cold weather last time I decided to sign up for the Race Retreat this time around. This meant I had access to a nice warm tent, our own set of toilets and some food before the start as well as a comfy padded stretching area. I took full advantage of all of these facilities so I was in the best shape I could be as I walked down to the start. The only slight issue I had was the signposting to get to the correct corral, one sign pointed in one direction, but you actually needed to go on the other side of the road and head in the opposite direction, which wasn’t immediately clear. So like last year I was running to the start line, but this time I actually had about 10 mins to wait as there was also a simultaneous run going on at an army base in Iraq that there was a live video feed from that was being introduced before we set off.

Waiting for the start I was getting very excited and remembered the reason why I do all the training, it is a great buzz to be with all these like minded people, especially at the start of such a big challenge. That all went out of the window as I set off and instantly my heart rate was up at the maximum I had decided I wanted to run at for the half. I was confused and more than a little annoyed as I was only doing about 9:20 pace at the time and my heart rate was up over 140! This would have given me a very slow time that I wouldn’t have been happy with, but I had seen it recently during the last few training runs my heart rate was through the roof. I had been standing around where the 1hr50 pace team was starting from in the corral, so I had tried to keep up with them, but that was just not going to happen.

After about 1.5 miles of this I thought I knew what the problem was, I had too many clothes on, not only did I have a thermal long-sleeved top on, but also the long-sleeved top you get from your goody bag, plus gloves. So I pulled off to the side to sort out my wardrobe malfunction and took off the extra top and rolled the sleeves of my thermal top up plus removed the gloves. Something kind of strange happened, my heart-rate didn’t come down, but my times did. I was then able to do 8:30’s without a problem and my heart-rate was in the mid 140’s. The maximum I had decided to keep within was 150; I have spoken before about what my theoretical Lactate threshold level is, which is mid-150’s so I figured 150 was safe, and would allow me to go at 150 if I needed to in the marathon. The 1hr50 pace team though was well gone with no hope of catching them up.

So I began to enjoy myself a bit more, and at just over 5 miles (after a quick loo break) I spied Sarah and Max at the side of the road outside our hotel, after a quick photo and a sweaty embrace it was off into the Magic Kingdom.

This was superb, as Main Street was packed with supporters and with all the lights on it looked fantastic. The difference from the marathon is that you get here, assuming you are quick enough, when it is still dark, so everything looks amazing all lit up. After exiting MK, it was back onto some boring roads heading back basically the way we had already come, this meant that we could see all the people that were just going through 3 miles and we were at 9! I had kind of given up on trying to work out what my finishing time would be, and also any hope of really keeping much energy in reserve for the marathon by this point, with only 3 miles or so to go, it was time to accelerate a bit and my times dropped to 8:12, and heart-rate was up to 150ish. Eventually we came back in sight of Epcot, and with just over a mile to go I stopped for a quick photo op of Spaceship Earth and posted it to Twitter. I then got really carried away and ran the last mile through the park in 7:20! There were some confused faces from other runners as I went past them, as a lot of those I was finishing with were just there for the half, so were at the limit of what they could do, whereas I felt I could go much further.

I did my best airplane finish, which hopefully the official photographers managed to get, and then it was done. I picked up my nice warming blanket and medal and headed for the massage tent, where 2 very lovely ladies stretched the heck out of my whole body so I felt pretty great afterwards. Then it was time to go back to the Race Retreat to meet up with the family and trade stories with a friend, also from Cayman, who is doing the Goofy too. I loaded up on some fruit and scrambled eggs and also had chance to get my photo taken with Woody, Buzz, Jessie and Bullseye.

And so here I sit, waiting on room service to deliver yet another bowl of penne pasta, although tonight it is getting teamed up with Creme Brulee as I need the calories! What is going to happen in the morning? I have no idea, after this morning I don’t really know what I have left in my legs, they feel OK at the moment, but running 26.2 miles is not to be sneezed at. I have done everything I can to recover with the massage and then a good sleep this afternoon and I will stretch well before bed and again at the Retreat in the morning. I think the only plan I have is to set off, see where the heart-rate is after the first few miles and then be guided by that, as long as it doesn’t get too out of control in the high 150’s it will just be about fueling correctly during the race to make it through successfully. I know I will still spend too much time worrying about my split times, it is only natural as a runner, but hopefully it will all come together.

With a bit of luck I might just get to see the clock say 3:59:59 at the end!