Walt Disney World Marathon - RunMarathon

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Orlando, Florida
United States
Walt Disney World Endurance Sports
77F / 25C
Total Time = 4h 08m 41s
Overall Rank = 2156/20680
Age Group = M35-39
Age Group Rank = 289/1669
Pre-race routine:

Goals for this race in order of priority;
1)Finish without injury (strained soleus calf muscle during training)
2)Beat 4.11.40 from previous marathon
3)Finish under 4.00.00

Leading up to the marathon, my training was going great – pace was dead on and volume was increasing nicely. Then I took a big hit in the month of December. After finishing my 2nd 18miler during the first weekend of December, I realized a dull ache deep in my right calf. The next weekend, my schedule was to complete a 10miler, which I finished but it wasn’t pretty (limping and walking). Did some research and realized that I most likely had a low level soleus strain. Knowing that this injury was one that could take several months to completely heal if not treated correctly, I took it seriously. The plan was to take two weeks of rest (with only light jogging 2x). After those two weeks, I started stretching lightly with foam rolling massages to the lower calf area and added one 3-4mile run a day using a treadmill (for the added cushion) – but at a much reduced pace of 9.20/mile. My initial training had my shorter runs at 7.45/mile to 8.15/mile with longer runs in the 8.45/mile pace. The week of Christmas was a fully dedicated training week; my target was to try and strengthen my soleus but not re-injure myself. This included lots of listening to my body and praying that I wouldn’t feel that twinge during the runs (what I call running scared). The daily routine was 30min cycling leading into 0.3mile walking then running up to 4miles followed by 0.3mile walk cool down, then stretching and foam rolling - all while wearing CPE compression sleeves. Once I made it through Christmas week without injury, I figured that I could start to add volume via long runs – but with only 3 weeks left until the race it was going to be crapshoot. I was successful in running 6miles the next week, then 8 the following and finally planned to nail a 12 miler on the last weekend prior to the marathon. All went well and I found myself boarding the plane to Orlando injury free but wondering if my previous volume up to December would allow me to finish all 26.2miles.

We arrived into Orlando on Friday at around noon. Grabbed the luggage and rental car, then we were off to make the 25min drive to Disney’s Boardwalk hotel. Check-in was a breeze and we ended up with a room overlooking the quiet pool – perfect room for us.

This was also my wife’s first ever running event – she was registered for the Disney half marathon. She followed a training plan for the better part of 6 months and hit her mileage volumes . She does not have a running background, but is blessed with a fit body and has long legs that allow her to take long strides effortlessly. Her plan was to walk/run and finish under the 3hr mark. We were both anxious as we boarded the plane down to Orlando, but quite excited to spend some time together. Her main reason for doing this race was to spend time together and share in my athletic hobby, giving us more in common. I deeply respect her for this and need to find something to reciprocate her dedication to our relationship – I purchased a fly-tying kit so I could make fly fishing lures while she makes her scrapbooks, cards and other crafts. Hoping that this will allow us to spend time together in her area of interest.

Saturday morning I was able to provide support to my wife as she successfully achieved her goal and finished the half in 2hrs 41min. Was able to see her twice in the Magic Kingdom and then at the finish. The amount of pride that I had knowing how hard this was for her is difficult to express in words. She set a goal, put in the time, did the training and ended up killing her goal time. I gave her a huge hug and helped her back to the room (she was cramping a bit).

Event warmup:

Woke up on Sunday at 3:05am...showered, ate some cereal a powerbar and started hydrating. Left the Boardwak at 3:30 to drive over and arrived at the Epcot around 4am. Started the walk to corral A and stretched a bit until the gun went off.
  • 4h 08m 41s
  • 26.2 miles
  • 09m 29s  min/mile

Given the situation with my soleus strain and recovery, I was not able to get the longer training runs in and was limited to 18miles. Because of this and based on my 3 race goals, I wanted to modify my race plan - so I decided to use the 8/1 run/walk approach. My treadmill pace during my injury recover was 9.20/mile, so my plan was to see how things felt using this pace for running and a fast walk pace during walking. If I felt great, I could speed up the run pace but decided to stay with the run/walk. I felt this would give me the best probability in finishing injury free.

I was placed in corral A and arrived with enough time to stretch / loosen up a bit. I was probably placed in corral A becaus upon registration, my goal finish time was 3hrs 45min - of course that wasnt realistic anymore. The race started with typical Disney fanfare and we were off. Immediately I was able to hit my target pace and was still passing folks - so the corral placement was OK. This was not the case in 2011, as I was in corral B back then and the first two miles were at 1min+ my goal paces due to congestion. I felt a little silly in mile 2 when I started my 1min walk, but told myself "not to worry about other people - stay dedicated to the plan".

My wife was camped out at the contemporary sepctating area, which was around mile 4.5 or so, where runners ran under an overpass. Great to see her at that point. I was feeling really strong and no signs of calf twinging. Ran through the Magic Kingdom (which was fantastic with support/spectators). At mile 7 or so, my wife was waiting for me with a bottle of Coke - which we set out the night before to defizz. I filled up one of my consumed infinit bottles on my belt with Coke and drank the remiainder of the Coke. She said that it was not the easiest place to access from the Grand Floridian resort, but I am sure glad she was able to make it. That Coke helped me during the later miles.

Running through the Speedway was really a treat. Some of the cars were amazing; '67 Corvette, GT500, Lambo's, Ferrari's, FordGT, etc. Nice addition to the course for this year. This is where the sun was just starting to rise. After the Speedway, the course heads down to the Animal Kingdom. This is the longest part of the race with limited spectator access and no parks, so it tends to be a bit boring. Just before Animal Kingdom we passed the 12 mile mark - I still felt really strong with no pain.

Entering Animal Kingdom, the sun was now officially starting to heat things up. This park is a little different to run in as there are various turns and sections that narrow, plus there are small rises and dips - nothing serious, just a change. The time in Animal Kingdom doesnt seem to last long and we were off to the ESPN WWS complex before I knew it. Mile 15 and 16 went well and I continued to feel strong. I lowered my running pace and was hitting 8.15 to 8.45/mile, but still continued to walk at 8/1. This was interesting, as I would pass folks during my run portion, then have to catch the same people after walking. Felt great through the Sports complex, even enjoyed running the gravel track in the baseball stadium.

I started to feel like I was slowing down around mile 22, then we entered Hollywood Studios. I really slowed down at mile 23 and had to take an extra walk break. No pain though, so I powered through. There was a crazy amount of spectator support in this park, which was great as I needed it. Onto the path which connected to the Boardwalk and Beach Club. I continued my walk/run but my running was slower and walking was a bit longer - probably about 5/1 at this point. Still no pain and no cramping.

Hit the entrance to Epcot and the 4hr pace group passed me. I was hoping that I could hang on, but no luck there. Was still on track for a PR, so I made that my goal. Ran/walked around Epcot and managed to run right by my Wife without even seeing her! I was zoned out, tired and focused on finishing. Passed the Church Chior and entered the finish chute - high fived a guy who was passing me, but didnt care at that point. 0.1 mile left and I gave Minnie Mouse a High five then crossed the finish line. The displayed clock time was 4.09 so I knew I had a PR especially since I crossed the start mat about 1.5min after the gun.
What would you do differently?:

Not much. I used 2 bottles of Infinit up to mile 16, then switched to coke and poweraide. Consumed 4 gels and had a bannana at mile 17. Works out to around 250 calories per hour, up to about 3.5 hours. I ran out of coke close to mile 22 and had to live off of poweraide alone, so I would probably want to buy a 4bottle belt for the next race.

No cramps, finished injury free......and set a PR. So 2 out of 3 goals achieved.
Post race
Warm down:

Received my medal, took post-race picture and went straight to self-serve medical to grab a bag of ice. Placed this on my neck to cool off as it was now about 75-77 degrees out. Continued walking around just to prevent tightening up. Met up with my Wife and drove back to the Boardwalk for a shower.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Modified the race plan to include run/walk. This was due to soleus strain during training 6wks prior to race start. Longest training run was 18miles (twice) and the original plan was to hit 24, before the injury.

IM Louisville is on the schedule this year, so I didnt want to spend the next 4-6months recovering from a more-severe calf injury.

I am writing this 5days after the race and I can confirm that my recovery was faster this year compared to 2011 where I didnt use the run/walk. I ran a 4miler with hills on Friday after the race with no pain or soreness.

Event comments:

It is hard to beat the Disney experience - given the family orientation, fun and activities during the weekend. This race was special, because I was so proud of my Wife for finishing the half marathon as her first race ever and beating her goal time by 19min. So we both set PRs and had a blast together. I think I am up for the Goofy Challenge next year....

Last updated: 2012-12-25 12:00 AM
04:08:41 | 26.2 miles | 09m 29s  min/mile
Age Group: 289/1669
Overall: 1669/20680
Performance: Good
Course: Start on Epcot Dr - run to Magic Kingdom - Animal Kingdom - ESPN WW Sports - Hollywood Studios - Boardwalk Resort - finish at Epcot Very flat course but crowded at 20k+ people completing the Marathon.
Keeping cool Average Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Good
Mental exertion [1-5] 4
Physical exertion [1-5] 4
Good race? Yes
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Good
Race evaluation [1-5] 5