Monday, January 11, 2010

RR - Disney Marathon

Race Report
Sun, Jan 10/10
Disney Marathon
Orlando, FL
Marathon #323
3:57:53 - 6AG

Not a great race for a number of reasons!

I added this marathon to my race schedule under duress a few months back. What do I mean – under duress? I hate this race for two reasons:
1) It is overpriced – registration is now $125! It is well organized but that entry fee is ridiculous.
2) The logistics of the race suck! The race starts at Epcot and runs around and through Epcot and Disney World. In order to get the race finished by noon so they can open the Park to regular guests Disney starts the race at 5:35am. Thus runners must be parked at Epcot by 4am, check their warm-up clothes by 4:30am and start walking .6M to the start line in the dark! Most years it is Cold while you wait for the race to start.

If I had known just how COLD it would be this year I would never have registered for the race! However when I checked race calendars it was the only race in FL that weekend and thus it was my cheapest option to run a race. Otherwise I would have to fly out of state, etc and that would greatly increase my costs. (And in hindsight it would have been even colder in nearby states!).

An added benefit was that a good friend and fellow Country Club member, Edson Sanches, would be running the marathon. Edson is one of about 30 runners who have run all previous 16 Disney Marathons and I knew he would not miss this one. We agreed to share a room.

As most of my readers know Canada and USA (and many other parts of the world) have been experiencing one of the coldest winters in history. Florida has broken cold temp records going back 140 years! The weather forecast for race day was not good (sub-freezing temps) and that would mean a cold race and a really miserable wait at the start! One good thing about running so many races was that I knew what to expect and how to prepare for the race. I pulled out my cold-weather running gear – polypro tights and top that trap body heat but allow sweat to wick away and for the COLD wait at the start I purchased a cheap sleeping bag at Walmart.

I met Edson at the hotel and we picked up our race packets. It was cold on Sat afternoon and we complained and worried about how cold it would be on Sun. I convinced Edson to buy some additional warm-up/race clothes because he had only brought shorts and a T-shirt!!! That evening we were joined by another old friend who lives in Orlando. Marty used to run with us back in the ‘good old’ days when all three of us were running our 1st circuit of the 50 States. We called ourselves the ‘tres amigos’ and competed fiercely (but friendly) against each other at races. Marty and his family joined us for dinner and we enjoyed a very nice evening and pasta dinner reminiscing about the old days.

Sun was “M’Day and I don’t believe there was one runner out of the 18,000 entered that was looking forward to the race? Even the Canucks and runners from the North were bitching about the cold! I felt sorry for them because they had booked this race to escape the Cold! It was 26F when I parked my car at Epcot at 4am. It was bitterly cold as I removed my warm-up clothes and made my final race preparations before checking my gear at the baggage tent at 4:30am. I used my sleeping bag like a cocoon as I walked to the start line. Most runners had blankets, garbage bags, etc to try to stay warm. I felt sorry for the few that had only race shorts and a singlet??? Everyone envied my sleeping bag – I had many offers to buy the bag. It wasn’t for sale – even for the $100 I was offered! I was as snug as a bug in a rug! I arrived at Coral A in the Red Wave and sat down in my warm cocoon to wait for the start of the race. There were two starts or waves – a Red and Blue- with several corals in each to handle the 18,000 runners. I lined up about 20 feet behind the start line and the elite athletes.

After the great race I enjoyed at Jacksonville three weeks ago I had hoped to set a target of sub 3:40 because I had completed some good speed work in the past few weeks. However I figured the cold temps and conditions were going to make it tough and I didn’t know what to expect? A few minutes before the start I had to reluctantly shed my cocoon - Damn! – it was cold even though I was still wearing 4 layers – a polypro top and T-shirt covered with a throw-away sweat shirt and garbage bag! My hands and feet froze before the gun went off to start the race!

Everyone was cold and stiff and started slowly. I shed the garbage bag at mile 2 and the sweatshirt and toque at mile 3 because I was starting to sweat. My hands and feet however were still frozen! We were boxed in until we completed the first loop of Epcot and the two waves merged at 3.4 miles. At the 2nd water station at 4 miles the volunteers shouted warnings to the runners to watch for ice on the road! Water that was sloshed and spilled from the cups had frozen on the road and it was like an ice rink. Runners had to be very careful while they attempted to break off a light crust of ice on the water in the cup to drink it. The water was definitely COLD! When I reached Mile 5 in 45:06 and an 8:47 split my legs were still tight and stiff. They couldn’t seem to warm or loosen up. It was taking much greater effort and energy than normal to make them move and I realized right then that it was not going to be a fast or easy race and I decided I would just try to hold a sub-9 min pace and finish under 4 hrs!

I passed mile 10 in 1:29:42 and through Cinderella Castle in the Magic Kingdom. My hands were still cold! I had to remove my fingers from the gloves and bundle them into a fist to warm them up. My feet must have been warm - I couldn’t feel them? I passed the Half in the Animal kingdom in 1:57:43 and a split of 8:35. The sun was coming up. I had big hopes that maybe I would start to warm up and could run a negative split in the 2nd half? Didn’t happen! The only time I felt warm was when the course ran east into the sun and when the course was sheltered from the wind in one of the Theme Parks. When the course was on the service roads and overpasses around the parks and open to the wind my hands would freeze (again) and it was miserable! I don’t know what the wind chill temp was – except friggin COLD!Each water station continued to be an ice rink until the end of the race and I still had to break ice off the water in my cup to drink it!

I reached Mile 20 in 3:00:26 and a split of 9:21. I realized that I needed to lower the pace back to a 9:00 min pace if I wanted to finish under 4 hrs. I didn’t care how miserable it was or how cold it was – I was determined to finish under 4 hrs to salvage some respectability! I managed to get the pace down to 9:05s and as I reached Mile 23 in 3:28:35 I passed a young male runner who was struggling. I shouted at him to stay with me and we would finish under 4 hrs! He responded by staying with me and we crossed the finish line together in 3:57:53! He thanked me profusely and stated that he had given up and was about to walk when I shouted. He gutted it out to the finish line by convincing himself that he should be able to keep up with an ‘old man’! I considered his thanks a compliment!

After a quick finish line photo I retreated hastily back to the car. The temp was 33F as I drove back to the hotel. I filled the tub with the hottest water I could stand and submerged my frozen body until it thawed out. Edson arrived 1 hour later. He had suffered a bad day and race and finished exactly 1 hr behind me.

I checked the race results online later that day and was not surprised to learn that I had not placed well in my AG – 6th out of 25 runners. Even if I had finished in sub 3:40 that would not have placed me in the top 3! The top 2 finished under 3:30 so not all Old Farts had suffered the same problems as me!

I am a bit disappointed/ discouraged with my performance and time. I feel that I am in much better shape than a 3:57? If I don’t see any improvement in my next race (Miami in 3 weeks) I am going to become really discouraged and lose motivation to accept more pain and speed work to continue to improve! Maybe it is time to follow the advice of my good friend and mentor Wally Herman and just run for fun?

Stay tuned!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Genial brief and this fill someone in on helped me alot in my college assignement. Say thank you you on your information.