Tuesday, June 24, 2014

WDW Marathon Weekend 2014 - MARATHON DAY, Part 4

You can read the previous installment HERE.

The next part of the course, to me, seemed like the killer portion.  We were to head out of the AK parking lot and make a long loop arc via the Osceola Parkway onramp.  It was then straight east into the sun for what I anticipated to be about 75.3 miles, on two overpasses and back down before finally, mercifully, turning into the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex, where we make about 4,375 lefts and rights around various fields before FINALLY making our way back towards a theme park.  The cheering was going to be pretty sparse in this area, too.

Yeah, you could say I wasn’t looking forward to this part of the course.

Darrell, Ellie, and I were all getting a little tired, and there wasn’t a whole lot of talking by us (or anyone else around us, for that matter).  Ellie tried again to get me to go ahead and finish without her, and I again reassured her that the sweepers were nowhere near to us (we’re still < the 16:00 pace, plus we have the padding of the corrals that started after us and before the sweepers).

Mile 14 was in the books at 16:08 (hr 155), and Mile 15 (on the first overpass) was at 15:46 and 157 hr.  We were looking forward to the top of this overpass, because we knew that there would be a Team AllEars contingent waiting for us up there!  Bryan and Melanie Camphouse, along with Brian and Laura Thompson.  Man, we NEEDED that cheer squad!!!

(Photo courtesy of Darrell Burgoon) 

We stopped and talked for a couple of minutes with the 4 of them.  Bryan handed a Coke to Ellie (who had requested one before the race) and asked if I wanted one.  I declined, but he looked at, paused, and asked if I really wanted to have a Coke.

I again said, “nope…thanks, though!” … then I noticed his smile and his head-bob towards Ellie.

Yeah – I was a little slow on the uptake.  I’ll hold it for Ellie for later down the course.

All too soon, we said our goodbyes, and we started back down the overpass.  The Coke did Ellie some good, as she got some more bounce in her step.  I kept the other Coke hidden from her as we hit mile 16 near the top of the World Drive Overpass (16:26 and 158…pace was slower from stopping at the McDonald’s Team AllCheers group…SO WORTH IT!)  As we crested the second overpass, we finally were able to see racers returning from the Wide World of Sports on the Ramp-From-Hell near mile 21.  Well-known (and absolutely insane, in the best way possible) mega-cheerer Laura Smith Ozo was near mile 20.7, on the other side of Osceola…once I found her, I went back into military drill-instructor voice and gave a rather loud show-out to her.  Laura definitely heard it and waved/shouted back to all of us.  It was a good thing she saw us; she sent out a FB post mentioning that she saw us; it was the first update on our progress since the half split, and some folks (Sheri) were getting a little concerned that something had happened to us.

Sheri was definitely relieved, and she started posting Disney quotes on my FB wall (though I didn’t see most of them until I was a little outside of Hollywood Studios and finally took a minute to check FB (Troost…no comments!).  
“Just keep running. Just keep running, running, running. What do we do? We run, run. (channeling my inner Dory)”
"Keep moving forward."- Walt Disney”
I am on my way, I can go the distance. I don’t care how far, somehow I’ll be strong. I know every mile, will be worth my while. I will go most anywhere to find where I belong. Hercules”

Ellie had just about downed her Coke, and I pulled out the second one and gave it to her, with Bryan’s blessing.  She nearly hugged me right then and there.

I was also looking for Joe Taricani broadcasting on the course, but we didn’t find each other.  The excitement factor was increasing again as we turned right onto Victory Way towards WWOS.  Most everyone was high-fiving the outgoing runners as we passed each other.  About halfway to the WWOS entry, Ellie spotted Bob and Barb Kennedy on the outbound side.  We all stopped for quick hugs and updates.  Barb was looking simply awesome, with that smile on her face!

We left and immediately found the Mile 17 marker (16:15 and 159).  Soon after, we turned right and headed into WWOS!  Finally…we’re off the road.

…and we’re on a bunch of walkways…with the first one seeming to go on for-evah!!!

Darrell peeled of hit a restroom.  We offered to wait for him, but he said he’d catch up.  Honestly, I thought we wouldn’t see him again.  A couple of minutes later, Ellie and I saw a sight that may as well have been Nirvana; RunDisney was handing out towels soaked in cold water.  We both grabbed one and nearly kissed the RunDisney folks handing them out.

We took a left and a right through soccer fields and then found ourselves entering the track.  Our legs were LOVING the track surface.  I pulled out my inner engineer, and Ellie and I took the most direct route to the inner portion to minimize the distance.  AS we hopped off the track, we hit the mile 18 marker (16:36 and 160), and Darrell surprised us by catching up really quickly.  After a bunch of lefts and rights, as well as 1-2 shortened run intervals to help with the heart rate, we were all cussing this part of the course.  On more than one occasion, Ellie let out a “I HATE ESPN!!!!” to everyone around us.  Each outburst gained progressively more shouts of agreement by the runners.  The trek to the Mile 19 marker seemed to never arrive, but it finally did (16:47 and 159).  The mile splits were heading up quite a bit, but I think we all were losing motivation with the course. 

Just about that time, RunDisney must have sensed it, because we had another banana stop.  We each grabbed a banana and said “Thank You!!” to the volunteers (along with a “no offense, but WE HATE THE WIDE WORLD OF SPORTS!!!” – which was met with laughs) and trudged forward.  The next big cheering section (we hoped) was going coming up…the baseball stadium.  We entered, and I immediately got warning track gravel in a shoe.  


I didn’t waste the energy to see my ugly mug on the jumbo tron, and, if you check out the video, I think you’ll agree that most people were not really feeling it.

We (mercifully) left the stadium, and I had to pause to get about 2.5 lbs of rock out of my shoes.   A few (dozen) more turns, and we finally made our way out of the WWOS.  We all nearly gave it an honorary single-fingered salute as we left, but decided against it.  Mile 20 was 16:40 and 159.  I lobbied for another reduction in the run/walk ratio, and all agreed (not sure if they liked the decision, but we all added another 15 seconds to the walk interval).  The mile 20 split notification came through, and we were still below the 16:00 pace, though barely.  We noticed as we got back on Victory Way, though, was that nobody was entering the WWOS. Street Sweepers were working on cleaning up the course.  Ellie went into a dead panic that we were going to be swept; however, we were in WWOS for 45-50 minutes, so we were still under 16:00; besides, once we got to Hollywood Studios, the chances of being swept were reduced to almost 0.

6 miles and ½ of a marathon to go!

The Finish can be viewed HERE.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

WDW Marathon Weekend 2014 - MARATHON DAY, Part 3

Part 2 can be viewed HERE

We entered back-stage where the parade floats are typically stored. We bypassed that and went straight for one of the rougher parts of the course…affectionately called “Cone Alley” by runners.  Seriously, there has to be something like 10,000 cones to mark the course!  It was around this time that the group started spreading out a little.  One member of our group was starting to get a throbbing pain in a shoulder and had increased the pace a bit to help block out the pain.  Still, we were within 20 feet of each other for the most part.  One thing that we did start doing, though, was implement verbal cues instead of visual ones…”Start” when our run interval was beginning and “Stop!” or “Walk” at the end.  Mile 6 was in the books…it was slower because of the bathroom break (18:01), but it also gave the heart rate a chance to come back down a little, especially after the sprint up Main Street.

Cone Alley is always an odd part of the course…it’s eerily quiet, probably because one of the most exciting portions (MK) was behind us, and the next theme park was more than 6 miles away.  I was feeling good…getting onto Cone Alley without injury was something that I had yet been able to do, so I was thrilled!  At mile 6.2, we saw another Team AllEars contingency (including Deb Wills) waiting for Linda to finish her 10K.  We gave/received high-5s and hugs and continued onward.  We had a nice musical interlude at the mile 7 marker (14:53 pace with a 152 HR).  Well…it started out as a nice musical interlude.  They had Neil Diamond’s Sweet Caroline playing at concert-level volume, so we could hear it from about a half-mile away.  Of course, the entire armada of runners was doing the “bom bom bom” during the refrain, as well as singing the “SO GOOD! SO GOOD! SO GOOD!” at the appropriate places in the song.  Once the song was over, it repeated.  Okay…we sang it all again, though not with as much enthusiasm as before.

By the 4th time we had heard the song, we were completely sick of it.  Instead of “Bom Bom Bom”, I was singing “TURN IT OFF!” in my head, and “shoot me! kill me! please now!” where the “so goods” were supposed to be. 

We (mercifully) got past the speakers with our eardrums more or less intact, and we started getting quiet again.  Ellie threw in her earbuds and started jamming to her U2 playlist as she ran, occasionally belting out some of the lyrics.  I took the opportunity to enjoy the scenery by the golf courses and Shades of Green.  Mile 8 was at a 15:17 pace, and the HR was 151.  The sun was starting to make its presence known, however, and we were nearing another downhill/uphill portion of the course in order to make it onto the Speedway.  I had heard horror stories about how steep this was and that the best course of action to handle this was to walk it.  EVERYONE was doing this, but it didn’t really help the fact that we were going up what felt like a 70-degree incline.  We all were cussing this stretch. 

Of course, they would just have to place a MarathonFoto guy right at the top of that hill.

This pic was taken about 2 seconds after Ellie screamed, “I HATE THE SPEEDWAY!!!!”  We were all busting up at that one.  As we made a left hairpin turn to get onto the speedway, we all realized that this was going to be a LOOONNNG trek around the track.  MJ was having issues with her Galloway interval timer, and she was about to drop-kick until she found the setting that was causing the problem.  We crossed mile 9 on the track…15:21 on the pace, and the HR kept inching up, with it now averaging 153.  When we finally were able to hop off the track, we cut across a median and made it to Bear Island Road.  While there wasn’t much in terms of characters or theme parks, it was a shaded area, which made for a little cooler feel for the run.  While on this stretch, Teammage Rob Wilhelm caught up with us and ran with the group for a few minutes.  It was great to see Rob as I hadn’t had the chance to talk to him yet over Marathon Weekend.  Laura Gilbreath also caught back up with us and ran with us for a few minutes:

(Courtesy of Laura Gilbreath)

Mile 10 gave us another split pace check from RunDisney.  Our pace was 15:41, but that included that long bathroom break in MK, so we weren’t too worried about the time…not TOO worried.  Amanda Tinney was still about 3 minutes ahead of us, and the Nerd Herd was ahead by several minutes.  The road curved right and left a few times, and what I initially thought was a nice cool portion eventually turned into a long, LOOOONG stretch with no end in sight.  Mile 11 (14:40 at 156) came and went. 

Then came the water treatment plant for Walt Disney World.

That’s all I have to say about that.

Actually, it wasn’t too terribly bad, considering some of the stories from last year’s marathon.  Still, our group was beginning to spread out again, and this time the range was increasing to 50-75 feet.  Ellie’s legs were starting to hurt a little (the Goofy Challenge is definitely NOT an easy task), while others were bearing down more and blocking out pain by increasing the pace.  The “START” and “STOP” commands were becoming more important now.  A well-timed banana stop gave us a little bit of energy to power on.
When we got to Western Way, we caught up with Jazlyn Zombo Doolittle, who was running in full firefighter gear.  We talked to Jazz a bit on her cause (she’s a cancer survivor, a firefighter/EMT, and the wife of an active duty soldier) and introduced ourselves and what Team AllEars stood for.  She was struggling a bit under all the equipment, but was continuing on, and I saw that she did indeed complete the Dopey Challenge, all of it wearing the suit.  For more information on her fundraising, please visit http://www.active.com/donate/Code3ForACureFound/jazzzombodoolittle .

After crossing Western Way, we could tell we were nearing Animal Kingdom with the buildings that we passed by.   We popped through the security gate, and animals were everywhere!  There were cast members all about with animals on display (I took special note of the vulture…wondered if he would remember me when he circled around my carcass in a couple of hours).  Several characters were out there, too, as they had the jeep from the AK opening show out there with most of the Fab 5 waving and posing for pictures.  Just before entering AK was the mile 12 marker (15:06 and 159).  The group was really spreading out, and a decision had to be made.  Ellie was starting to worry about the sweepers and she told me to just go…she didn’t want me to be swept on my first attempt at 26.2.  I looked at her and said point-blank that this was my first marathon and I was going to PR the flippin’ thing regardless of my time…we were staying together.   Besides, I was guessing that the sweepers were still a good 45-60 minutes behind us.  Darrell also agreed that he was sticking with us no matter what.  The rest of our group slowed to a longer walk for us to catch up, and, after discussing it for a few seconds, we all agreed to split into 2 groups (with emphasis from the group in the back that we were completely fine with it).  Evelyn could tell Ellie was hurting a little bit, and I told her before they headed off that I would keep watch over her.  Soon after, Evelyn, Steve, and MJ were a good 100 yards ahead of us and continuing on.

As Darrell, Ellie, and I continued on, I realized that I was so caught up in all that was going on around me that I wasn’t even close to fueling the way I had trained.  I started eating energy beans as though I had forgotten to do so for the past 2.5 hours! 

We entered AK, and, as expected, a second wind came across most of us with the excitement of a new park.  Within minutes, we were at Expedition Everest, where was saw some members of the Nerd Herd waiting for fellow teammates to get off of the attraction.  For the briefest of moments, I contemplated asking if anyone else wanted to ride it.  Then, common sense kicked in (I still have over a half-mary to go!!), and we continued on past the mountain…though the screams from the ride made me nearly turn back.

(Still feeling good!!!  Ellie was jamming to U2)

Running through AK was fun…as a family, we have been taking shorter trips, and we haven’t been in that particular park for 3+ years.  Unfortunately, our trek in the park was short-lived, as we were back off-stage behind Dinoland.  Soon after, we hit the Mile 13 marker (15:37, HR 156).  It was about this time that we decided to bump up the interval to :30/1:00, as the sun was starting to really make itself known, and there was no real shade around.  Having already received tons of halfway split texts from other runners, I took notice that Amanda Tinney hadn’t crossed yet, though we were about to cross it ourselves.  We received our split texts, and, about 50 seconds later, Amanda's came in.  I immediately started looking around and behind me in case she was struggling with her legs, but I couldn’t find her.  I found out later on her blog post that her family met her in the AK parking lot (Read her marathon recap HEREOur halfway splits: 3:25:10, pace 15:39.

Halfway through the race distance-wise, but about 25% through the marathon.

Part IV can be viewed HERE.