I've been home from Orlando for a couple of days
now, and I feel like it was all a DREAM.
I barely remember even being in the Donald*1/2 Marathon at all!
Ain't it GRAND?
To begin, I was NOT looking forward to this
weekend. After all my training, all my planning, I managed to develop a head
cold just before my trip. I slept badly all week before the events - just
stupidly staying up too late a few times, then kept up by husband's snoring up
a storm on Tuesday, then with slight nasal congestion on Wednesday. Suddenly on
Thursday, at about 7 pm, my head CLOGGED UP.
Absolutely. No breathing through my nose, ears
plugged like I was swimming underwater, head stuffed full of cotton. How can
this be???? I was an anxious wreck that night (NIGHT? ha-ha-ha...I was getting
up at 3:30 to get to the airport for a 6:25 am flight to Orlando. Some NIGHT.)
Paid for and trained for, unless I was DEAD, I was getting on that plane to
Disney. Please don't let me make Nancy, my Goofy room-mate, sick.
I have it ALL with me. Throw away clothing for
these cold corralled mornings, gels, and vitamins. Hot pot and coffee grounds,
teabags and hot cocoas. Odwalla protein drink, muffins and instant oatmeal
packages. And some canned Campbell's Chicken Soup. Two pairs of running shoes,
and several different race-wear options for both Goofy days. My official packet
from Walt Disney World, so I can pick up my bibs and chips, the final entry
ticket into The Inaugural GOOFY Challenge.
DON'T get a fever. DON'T get worse.
I met Nancy at the Orlando airport, wearing my
tall Goofy hat so she'd spot me in the crowd. It worked! I have our Magical
Express tickets, and we are on our way to the Resort. Drop the bags in the room
(which smells HORRIBLY of cigarette smoke, but there's no other room available
until AFTER the marathon on Sunday, too late to help
us) we're off to find the Expo. This was NOT
user-friendly, for those who don't know Disney World. It took us over an hour
to get there, even staying at The Polynesian on Disney property. We got all our
race necessities in several different locations throughout the Expo. Bibs, tech
shirts for both the Half and Full, orange wristbands to wear as a Goofy
starters. Nancy left me to go get her Chicken Little packet, I wandered around
looking for free stuff, and colored some "GO Goofy" placards to cheer
us. I refrained from spending all my money on souvenirs...I brought only enough
cash to EAT and to pay for post-race massages for BOTH days.
A slight detour on the way back to the room, as
Nancy cajoles me to join her at the Chicken Little 5K. She even offers to PAY
the race fee for me, just so I'd be there to keep her company between the races
tomorrow. I get so far as filling out the entry form, when what little COMMON
SENSE I have stops me. If I make myself sick tomorrow, and cannot finish the
marathon on Sunday, I'll be GOOFY indeed. It's not the extra 5K that worries me
so much, but the extra time hanging around in the cold, waiting for the second
start. It's COLD down here in Florida this weekend. We've somehow brought the
winter South with us. I back out. Better not do this one. I don't need it.
We get back to the room just in time to do a bit
of setting up for tomorrow's early rising. Then we're off to meet friends for
pre-race dinner. FABULOUS food, GREAT company of Linae and Molly, Tory and Roy,
Marsha, and Nancy and me. We laugh and have a wonderful meal. I am feeling
pretty good, all considered, but NERVOUS. What if we CAN'T finish this
challenge? Go with the flow, do what you can. We laugh and eat, then disperse
early to get ready for bed.
The alarm goes off. We'[re up and getting ready.
Clockwork. All set up beforehand. I'm feeling OK!!! Still congested, but not
bad, and not WORSE! Half a dose of cold remedy. I don't want the drugs in my
system for the race. I follow Nancy to the monorail, to the heated Epcot
bathrooms before we go toward the baggage-check tents.
Nancy has nothing to check, but I have warm clothes
for after the Half. She disappears, free, I hope. I find myself trapped in the
most chaotic, dense mass of runners, trying to follow the directions of Sarge,
the Toy Story character who is BLARING non-stop drill instructions at us.
Over-amplified. I now see I've been bottle- necked into the wrong line before I
could see the tent I needed to enter. It's ALL THE WAY down. (This kind of
crowd is why I never went to see the Ball drop at Times Square on New Year's
Eve, although I lived in NYC for over 20 years.) It's hot in the crowd. I put
my gloves into my bag-to-be-checked. I don't need them today.
Through the baggage check it's better. Quieter
away from Sarge's loudspeakers, and MANY port-o-pots, water, and room to BREATHE.
Ah, I feel better about everything now. I have my cell phone for the race!
TOTALLY unlike me, but an acquaintance from a running club back in Maryland has
left a message on my cell phone he'll be here with HIS phone. I call him, and
we manage to meet. Then I do a pot- stop, and head out into the darkness with
thousands of runners to find the start corrals.
Here, it's COLD. I pull my fingers inside my
sleeves because GOOFY me checked my gloves with my race-bag!!! I pull up the
hood on the sweatshirt. I stay away from the loudspeakers as much as possible
once I find my corral. It's just TOO loud. I wander up the outside of our
corral. looking for Nancy. I don't find her, but meet Slow Twin Bill. He's
huddled toward the front of the corral, trying to keep warm. We chat briefly,
but he's aiming for a MUCH faster half than I am today. I have on a 6:15
marathon pace-band for this half.
I want to save my energy and my HEALTH for tomorrow.
EASY EASY for today.
Finally, time to get ready. I can't fit back in
the corral, there's no room, so I join the line outside it. I'm taking off my
throw-away sweatpants when the National Anthem begins. Oh, well.
Can't help it. It's a lovely pop rendition of the
Some fireworks WAY up ahead. And we're finally
moving, slowly, in a pack, toward the Start.
Then suddenly I'm smiling. I'm grinning. I see
characters at the start, right NEXT to me! I'm INTO it now! I'm laughing, I'm
SO READY TO GO GOOFY!
The run starts, and I leave my throw away
sweatshirt on. It is COLD. Bitter, dark, cold and I am SO glad to be here,
What an adventure is just beginning.
I remember meeting Kay, waiting along the side on
the grass, looking for a friend of hers. I spontaneously give her a big hug,
this surprise friend from last year's PT Cruiser Challenge in Tampa, a fellow
penguin. we run along together for awhile, but Kay wants simply to beat the
cut-off, and I want to be ahead of that by about 45 minutes.
I throw away my sweatshirt, too hot already.
I just run. I can't see my watch in the dark. I
can't see my pace- band, even when I see the mile markers (I miss Mile One,
somehow!) So I just go easy easy easy. I run on the grass along the roadside as
much as I can, hoping to ease the pounding I'll be subjecting myself to in
these 39.3 miles. I bet I'll be grateful tomorrow for this grass today.
Now I'm sorry I threw away my sweatshirt. I'm way
too cold in the breeze. I see a jacket some other runner has tossed off, and I
put it on. It looks light blue and dull in the pre-dawn. I don't CARE, I'm
freezing. I feel immediately better. I find some gloves, also cast off. They
are ON. Newly adopted. Thank you gloves, thank you warmer, faster runner. I am
I don't know where we are, but the light finally
arrives. I am running slowly and easily. I see Mile Four, and remember I am
carrying my cellphone when I see the runner ahead of me talking on hers. I call
my husband. "I'm running the Half Marathon!" I laugh!
We talk a bit, and I I am having the time of my
Then we're INSIDE Disney World! I'm INSTANTLY a
complete child, laughing, taking pictures, seeing the Characters, and Disney
cast members out waving to us! I love this! I love this! I love this!
STITCH! I stop and take a picture of STITCH! Other
characters! A man takes a pic of me with a Character, and I in turn take his!
So many Characters! I don't know how many I see, I can't remember which ones!
But I am LOVING this!!!
I'm running through Disney, and it is SO MUCH FUN!
Cinderella's Castle! The dancing MICE!!! I stop when I see the photographer!
WHAT KIND OF IDIOT AM I? There are people behind me! I make a vow to myself NOT
to get so carried away again that I'll forget people are running all around me!
I know better than THAT!
It's VERY bright, running into the dawn. I am a
FOOL to have left my sunglasses in the room, and not to have worn my Baltimore
Marathon cap. I find a bright orange baseball cap tossed away. I put it on,
pull it so it shades my eyes. Ah, thank you, unknown runner, thank you baseball
cap! I am totally reborn in cast-off clothing!
The Half is such an easy distance for me right
now. This race just sped by, as I hear less distance-trained runners struggling
around me. Floridian flat runners gasping about the hills that Baltimore-
running me doesn't even notice. I continue to run along the grass whenever I
can, because I am worried by TOMORROW all this flatness is going to be killing
my rolling-hills-trained body. Like at Tampa last year.
Mile 11. Then it's over. Clock reads JUST past
3:00:00 as I cross.
I join the Finishing throng. I ask a Disney staffer
what The Goofies need to do. I'm told to stay right. I take off my chip, which
is tied firmly into my shoelace (I didn't trust those plastic thingies they
gave us). I carry it until I find someone to give it to, and she takes it, cuts
off my orange Goofy band. But I don't have a medal yet? I thought I would trade
the chip for a medal? She points me left. I line up for my Donald medal. My
medal-giver doesn't put it over my head, like the other ones are doing, and I'm
sad about it, so I turn around and take the medal from the woman behind me, and
I put hers on her, and say "CONGRATULATIONS! You DID IT!" She thanks
me! Heading along the line, they are queued up for Finisher's pics. It's warm
in the sun, and I line up for mine. After, I continue out, looking for the
WAIT! I didn't get my BLUE Goofy band! I turn and
look at the people all around me, asking "Are you Goofy? Are you
Goofy?" Finally a man IS, and he is WEARING his blue band! I have no CHIP!
No ORANGE band! No BLUE band! I'm going to be DISQUALIFIED from Goofy!!!! He
tells me he got blued at the same place he was
de-oranged. I quickly head back! I'm PETRIFIED
that I've blown my Challenge!!!
I show the woman with the blue bands that they
already cut my orange band off, but that they didn't give me a blue one. She
says, "WHY didn't they?". I'm FLIPPING out. I BLEW the Challenge! I
hold up my Donald to prove I finished, WAY before cut-off! I guess she was
joking, but I was in a panic! I tell her if I don't get my Goofy medal, I'll
burn the place down, then I realize somebody might take that seriously! I say,
"JOKING! JOKING! I'm just JOKING!" and we both laugh, as she puts on
my blue band. I'm Goofy again!
Back to massage tent-quest. I get in the line.
It's FREEZING in the shade, in the wind, but I don't want to lose my place in
line. I pull my space blanket around me, and huddle in the line. Nice 10-
minute massage, but I should have used the port-o-pots FIRST. Good lessons for
tomorrow. MEDALS FIRST! Race-bag SECOND, then pee, grab water,THEN massage
I'm very flexible, and amazingly unsore during the
Nothing hurts but the blisters, and it's warm in the
tent. I get my bag and DRESS, all layers on, wool beret, gloves, sweats, all
Then I use the port-o-pot, and look for FOOD. By now
it's about 10:15, and Chicken Little runs at 11:00am! I feel FINE! I could've
run this with Nancy! I go to look for the start, so I can cheer her on.
I wander around a bit. This Finish area is HUGE,
but I find someone to direct me to the Start line, where I seek Nancy. It's cold. It's windy. Suddenly, I'm FREEZING. I'm TIRED. My head hurts.
I want OUT. I ask directions to the monorail, and
finally find it.
Other Disney-goers help me find my way. Once off, I
circle stupidly around trying to figure out the signs pointing to the Walkway
to the Polynesian, which keep getting me in dead-ends because the gates are
only unlocked at Park closure time, for mass exit! I'm so tired and cold now,
and need to pee again. I make it back to the room. My head congestion has
returned, but no worse. NOT worse.
Fall asleep in the warm bathtub, with my ankles
resting on a bag of ice along the side of the tub. Ah......
After I had drowsed and reheated, drowsed and
re-heated the bath water several times, I thought about how LATE it must be.
WHY wasn't Nancy BACK??? I hadn't seen her since the BAGGAGE tent separation
before CORRALLING!!! What if she had sprained an ankle or something in the
DARK! What if she wasn't OK??! Just then, Nancy came home! :-)
We Goofy Gals have finished Day One's exertions.
DOPEY Nancy has FINISHED the chaotic Chicken Little 5K, and she's calmly doing
her preps for TOMORROW's Mmmmaaaaarrathhhhhon!
*jeanne in chesapeake beach*