This is the second part of my post-Goofy analysis, the first part covers what I think contributed to the wheels coming off on the full marathon.
This post though is about, despite the problems, how much I actually enjoyed the marathon. For the last couple of years I have been so focused on what I wanted to achieve that I completely ignored/missed everything else that was going on. This time though I really got into the whole weekends events. From enjoying chatting with people at the expo through to high-fiving Minnie Mouse at the end of the marathon it was a very enjoyable experience.
I won’t lie and say everything was brilliant, the half-marathon is not very enjoyable, even if you aren’t doing the Goofy it is a very boring course, and there seem to be less characters and entertainment out than there is on the full the following day.
Maybe this was just another sign of my conversion to a running geek, but despite the problems in the last 10K of the marathon I still crossed the line with a smile on my face. It was possibly because I was suffering that I got to experience another side of the event that I haven’t seen before. Previously I would have had my music thumping, headphones on, oblivious to the outside world. This time though, once the wheels came off the headphones were packed away and I got to experience the crowd urging me on. It wasn’t just the Disney employees either, the crowds that had turned up to cheer on their own family and friends were giving me encouragement too. With our names on our bibs there were lots of people calling out “Come on Paul”, “Keep it going Paul!”. Which normally I would miss, but was a great motivator to actually run as much as I could of the last few miles.
I have to say if the same thing had happened in the Cayman marathon in December then the lack of support on the course and the general boringness of running here would have made it far harder to even finish the race.
Even the other runners were offering encouragement in the closing stages when they could see I was completely out of gas. It was the first time I have really experienced being part of a bigger running community and I loved it (although I would gladly enjoy it without the going slow bit).
I also took the chance to get my photo taken with as many of the characters as I could. With being off in the first Corral it was easy to stop for 10 seconds to get a photo taken as there were no queues for any of the characters that were out and about. I only realised this at mile 10 in Magic Kingdom when I noticed Buzz Lightyear standing about with nothing to do, so thought I would stop and get my photo with him. There followed pictures with a host of other characters, and really made the whole run a lot more enjoyable. As I would be purchasing my race photos anyway I thought I might as well get my monies worth, as you can see from the gallery of pictures I got taken!
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I stated my goals for this year didn’t include another marathon, and I stand by that. However, the experience I had at Disney has convinced me that one day I will be back. Not to do the Goofy, that was another “one-off” this year. And despite the problems, I was actually in the form of my life, and I am confident that I could have gone under 3:30 if I had just turned up for the full. I don’t know when I will next run 26.2M, but I know that it will happen again.
For now though I am content with half that distance and trying out some of the new gadgets and running shoes I picked up at the Expo. Exciting times!