Monday, January 09, 2006

RR Disney Marathon

Race Report
Disney Marathon
Orlando, FL
Sun, Jan 8/06

This was an unplanned/unscheduled marathon resulting from the prolonged illness I suffered after returning from the Everest Marathon in Nepal in Nov/05. I had planned to run the Jacksonville Marathon in Dec but was too sick and had to cancel. Once I recovered from the illness I started to look for a marathon in early Jan but it had to be in FL –or somewhere I could drive- because I am tired of planes!
The best option was the Disney marathon even though I don’t like the race. I ran the Disney marathon 4 years ago and found the logistics to be difficult. The race starts at 6 am and requires all runners to be at Epcot by 5am when it is very dark and cold.

There were some other factors that made it the ‘best’ option:
a) my sports manager and I needed to travel to Orlando to make final arrangements for a family reunion we are hosting there at the end of Feb
b) a group of runners from my old running club in Bishops’ Stortford were coming over from England to run the marathon and I wanted to meet them.
c) two very close running friends from way – back were planning to run the race. The last time we ran a race together and competed for the ‘tres amigos’ award was the Disney marathon in 2002.

So there were many reasons to run Disney even if I don’t like the race! And it was a challenge to get a race number because registration was already closed. Fortunately I was able to find a male member of the Sarasota Running Club who had registered but was unable to compete. He gave me his race number. This is against the rules but done quite often. Even though I was not in good shape I was concerned about placing in his age group and robbing some legitimate competitor of his position. Fortunately this concern was easily and innocently resolved when the runner forgot to give me his timing chip. Therefore I was never timed and given an official time or result!

I had built my weekly training mileage up to 60 miles since recovering from the Nepali cold/cough and had just started speed workouts but I had not run longer than 13 miles since the Bosnia Marathon in Oct. I did not count the Everest marathon since I did more walking than running in that race. So the Saturday before the marathon I did a 17-mile training run. I planned/needed to use the Disney Marathon as a long training run as part of my training program to get in shape to compete in an inaugural marathon in Sarasota on Mar 5/06.

I suffered a wee setback to my plans when I came down with another cold/flu early in the week. I thought it was a relapse of the Himalayan cold but discovered that several people in town were suffering from the same cold/flu. I rested on Monday and on Tue I foolishly tried to run a hard/fast 10-mile run and became so dizzy and nauseous by the end of the run that I almost fainted on the road. I staggered back to the house and laid in bed for two days with a high fever and cold/hot sweats. I figured that I would have to skip Disney but I felt much better on Thursday so did an easy 5-mile run and declared myself fit for the marathon?

Thus the sports manager and I drove over to Orlando on Sat morning to pick up my race number at the Sports Expo and to meet our friends. The Expo is still a big disappointment for such a large event. Because the weather forecast was calling for temps in the low 30s on Sun morning I wanted to buy a pair of running tights. There were none at the Expo?
More disappointments followed. Marty – one of the ‘tres amigos’ called to say that he was suffering from the same flu/cold and had decided not to run. I couldn’t find Edson – the other amigo- even though he was staying at the same hotel. And I couldn’t reach my friends from England? Things were not going well?

Nicole and I did manage to eat dinner at an Italian restaurant in old town Kissimmee that we wanted to evaluate for a formal dinner during our reunion. At least that part of our plan was successful and we made reservations for Feb. I didn’t try to contact our friends Sat night because I knew everyone would be in bed early since they had to be at Epcot by 4 or 5 am on Sun morning!

I drove over to Epcot at 4 am. It was very cold – temps in the low 30s! I had to get out of the car and start making my way to the start line at 5 am. You have to walk about 1 mile from the parking lot to the start line in Epcot. The race is very well organized – typical Disney organization – but the logistics are enormous and difficult to handle 24,000 runners in the park. The marathon had a split start with 12,000 runners in two corrals and they merged at 3.3 miles. My friend had a race number in the first corral of the Blue start. I went to the back of the corral because I did not want to start out too fast. I was wearing four layers of clothes and a garbage bag in an attempt to stay warm. The temp was 34 F at the 6 am start!

I was hemmed in and slowed down by 2,000 runners in front of me and ran the first 2 miles at a 9 min/mile pace. That was exactly what I wanted/needed. I reached mile 5 in 44:08 and had peeled off all my layers of clothes except for running tights and a long-sleeved Polypro shirt and T-shirt. There was frost/ice on the sleeves of my shirt! I was right on pace because my goal was to run the marathon or at least the 1st twenty miles at a 9 min pace. I was very concerned that I would tire or run out of energy by 20 miles because of the cold/flu and lack of long training runs? I passed the 10-mile mark in 1:26:51 as we ran through the various theme parks of the Magic Kingdom. We ran through Cinderella’s Castle about 10.5 miles where Mickey, Minnie, Donald and the other Disney characters cheered us on. I reached the Half in 1:53:49. I felt quite good which was encouraging. I considered picking up the pace but decided to stay with my original plan – at least till 20 miles.

I passed mile 18 in 2:35:39 and an 8:30 pace. I was running easy and relaxed but Maddog was chomping at the bit to lower the hammer. I had to keep reminding him “Patience – continue to run slow and easy”! When I passed mile 20 in 2:53:55 and still felt amazingly good I decided to let Maddog loose for the last 10K! He immediately lowered the hammer to sub 8s. When I passed mile 21 in a 7:45 pace I was a wee bit concerned but decided to just let him go and hang on! I was amazed that he ran the entire final 10K at a sub 8-min pace without any pain or struggles and crossed the finish line in 3:43:40! It was my fastest 10K of the race and resulted in a negative split of 4 minutes on the 2nd Half!

Needless to say I was surprised but very happy with both my time and performance. I would have bet a lot of money before the race that there was no way I could run under 3:45 that day! So I am very encouraged with my progress. I plan to run another marathon in the Orlando area in two weeks. I plan to run it as another long training run and if I do as well I will then race the marathon in Miami at the end of Jan.

Stay tuned!

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