Despite my body seeming like it was going to fall apart at the seams at various points during 2011, I signed up for the Goofy Challenge at Walt Disney World for the first weekend in January. For the uninitiated (read: people who are not crazy), the Goofy involves running a half marathon on Saturday, and then turning around and doing a full marathon on Sunday. The looks I got when explaining that I was, in fact, going to attempt this left no doubt that most people think there is something not quite right in my head (as if there were any doubt before).
Truthfully, I was pretty nervous about this race. I had what I affectionately called a "hell weekend" in training where I ran a 5 miler on Friday, 14 on Saturday, and 20 on Sunday, and I got through that just fine. But that wasn't the same as a back-to-back race with a full marathon as the second leg.
We got to WDW on Thursday (that's the 5th of January - I'm late in posting this) and picked up our packets immediately. Much smoother than last year (we tried it on Friday and it was a zoo). After picking up a few not-quite-necessities at the expo, it was off to the parks to play. But that's a subject for a different blog.
Friday morning I got up at about 5:00 to head off to cheer on my mom in the 5k. It was her first ever race, and she has every right to be proud of finishing as she did. I'm proud of her, at any rate. Dad was more than a bit amazed at the amount of people that were lining up to run. I had to laugh, knowing what was in store for the next day. And then we all had another day of play in the parks.
Saturday was the start of my real race. Imagine, if you will, a large NBA-type arena filled with people. Now take all those people, put them in running gear, stick them on a street, and tell them to line up. Stick a DJ, a video screen, and far too few port-a-johns around for good measure. That's pretty much what you had for the half marathon. 27,000 runners, give or take. 27,000 runners, by the way, is about half a mile of people on a four lane divided highway.
Dad had lucked into an earlier corral than the Mrs., so he got to start first. I never caught up to him - he had a 25 minute head start, and we missed him by less than a minute at the finish. Big, major accomplishment for this his second race, and I was proud of him. The wife and I, however, were stuck in the back and ended up having to weave our way through all sorts of traffic for most of the 13.1 miles. I took this slow - faster than the wife wanted to go, probably, but more than slow enough to keep my legs for the next day. Total time: 2:35 and change.
Sunday was the day to put on my big boy tights and show what I was made of. Well, except that it was far too warm for my compression tights, so I had to go with shorts and calf sleeves instead. From the start my legs felt a little bit dead from the half the day before. And somehow I managed to keep myself under my marathon PR until about mile 22. At mile 18 I could feel my quads were fried - I stopped briefly at a medical tent to get some ointment. At 21, they shut down. Not surprising, to tell you the truth, but it murdered my time. I ended up finishing in 4:04 - not bad for having done a half the day before. And the shocking thing was that the recovery was far less challenging than any of my other marathons. I was sore the next couple of days, to be sure, but not as bad as other races.
Of course I'm signing up to do it again next year.