Sunday, January 10, 2010

Showdown with the beast

This is the shirt the Wingman got for me for the big showdown. 3 months ago it really did seem like a good idea. Then life happened and the idea went south. School was more challenging than I thought. My running motivation was just not there. My training schedule was modified/simplified to try and get me basic fitness and through the showdown in one piece. My longest run was 3 hours. I had to hope that would be enough for me. It was the best I could do under the circumstances.

The alarm went off at 3am. I hopped out of bed and started to eat breakfast. Once that was done, I got dressed. I wore my running tights, cold gear shirt under the race shirt, gloves, hat, sweatshirt and sweatpants. The sweatshirt and pants were just to get me to the race start. Those would be ditched prior to the start.

I found the pace group that I wanted to start with. I was getting a little nervous about the showdown. The marathon is a daunting beast. It's a long way to go if you are suffering. When the fireworks signaled the start, I was on my way. The pace was nice and easy. It gave me time to size myself up against the beast.

I was feeling good and hoping for a PR today. I knew if I just went out easy, not too fast, that it was possible to hang on. The first theme park you go through is Epcot. We made our way into the main entrance and saw the big silver ball lit in purple. (I have no idea what that thing really is). Before I knew it, we were running through the world pavillion. First country up was Mexico. Then we took a left at Japan. If you look at a map, the distance between Mexico City and Tokyo is ~7,000 miles. Wow, that is a lot of running before the sun comes up.

The early miles flew by and before you knew it, the sun was coming up. Now we were running in the light. The next few miles are boring. It's basically the highway system between the theme parks. The pace group I was with was running from mile marker to mile marker and walking for 1 minute at each marker. I did not train this way, but I knew I would be OK following along since I got some walking breaks.

Next up, the Magic Kingdom. We ran through the entry way and at this point I needed to use the bathroom. I knew Disney would not be setting up porta-john's in their theme parks so I found a bathroom. A real bathroom. There was a bit of a line, but I was out of the cold and wind. Overall the pit stop cost me four minutes, but unless I was wearing these:

I needed to stop. This meant I would lose the pacing group and would be on my own.

When I came out of the bathroom, I settled in to my own pace now. It was just me against the beast. There would be no more help.

I had a few good moves and felt confident in my fight. I made my way up Main St USA (a long way from Japan in less than 1 hour), through Tomorrow Land, and through Cinderella's castle. All along the way the Disney characters were out and you could take pictures with them. There was a disposable kodak camera in the race bag, but I didn't bring it with me. I didn't want to make more stops than necessary. After a brief run through Frontierland, we were back out into the highway. Somehow I made it unscathed to the half marathon point. I looked at my watch and saw that despite my bathroom stop, I was making good time. Not too fast, not too slow. But then, the beast reared it's ugly head.

I had to make another bathroom stop. Unreal. This one cost me another 4 minutes. Now I've lost 8 minutes overall, but my time still is decent. I ran along and noticed something else that was odd. I was drinking water along the way. Not a lot, but sips when I came upon an aid station. I felt some sloshing in my gut. Plus a little cramping feeling after I drank the water. It seemed like my gut was not emptying. I didn't drink or eat anything more until much later in the race. But as I made my way through mile 17, I seriously gave some thought to going to the side of the road and making myself puke so I could empty my stomach. Problem was I was in the Animal Kingdom Park and I'm not too sure they would encourage that behavior. I opted out of the self inflicted maneuver and kept running. But at this point I was slowing down. By mile 19, I was dead in the water. The beast was circling and I was losing the battle. I was reduced to walking for a while until I could get it together. At this point I was thinking I should have worn this shirt:

I tried so hard to pull it together. I thought about Wingman and where he might be on the course.  I was hoping he would come up on me soon so I could try to run with him, but I never saw him. I soldiered on and made it to Disney's Hollywood Studio park. Once inside there, I heard the magic words "Candy ahead". Mmmm, candy. I went over to the volunteers (who by the way rocked today) and looked inside the box. They had Hersey miniatures. I analyzed the choices and went with the simple Hersey bar. I took two and quickly ate them. Now I needed something to drink. Found the next aid station, got some water and was feeling alive again. I guess my stomach needed more time to empty out today than usual. Perhaps it had something to do with the cold temps. But now, the beast better look out. I was on my game at this point.

I made a few good strikes in my attempt to slay the beast. From mile 23 on, I was running, slowly, but I was running. I just wanted this to be over. The last few miles are nice. You run from Hollywood Studios, through the boardwalk resort, and then into Epcot where it all began. I made my way through the world pavillion again, this time in reverse. I exited near Mexico. Wait a minute, didn't I start out near Mexico? I think I ran ~25,000 miles today. No wonder I was so tired out there.

The finish line was a welcome site. I have never been so happy to end a race before. I just hope the folks at Disney don't mind that I left his behind:

I managed to slay the beast, but it wasn't pretty. At this point, I believe my marathon career is over after 3 races. It's not a distance that suits me well. I prefer the half marathon as my longest running distance. So at this point, I bid farewell to the beast. It has been a good fight, but now I must step down and let others take the cape from me. I missed my PR by 4 minutes. Those two bathroom breaks and the walking did me in. If I was able to keep running the entire way, the breaks would not have hurt me. Nothing I can do about it.

On a happy note, Wingman kicked some serious butt today. He shaved ~33 minutes off his marathon PR. He shattered his record. He detonated it like an h-bomb. The mushroom plume could be seen for miles. (OK Wingman, did I say enough about your race PR?). Wingman's 'all-you-can-eat-buffet' marathon menu:
  • 3 bottles of gatorade
  • 2 Gu packets
  • 2 1/2 sleeves of Shot Blocks
  • 2 bananas
  • 1/2 an orange
  • 4 Hershey miniatures

I am excited about the upcoming racing season. I will take it easy this week and if I feel well enough, I will be back to easy running in a week. Hopefully I will improve my speed in the run. I will look at my half ironman run times and see what goal I can set.

Of course after the race today we made a pitstop on the way back to the hotel. Mmmm, salt and fat never tasted so good.

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