Well, is that time of the year again… time to make my report.
Before I even start doing that… BIG STICKY NOTE ON MY FOREHEAD: Get plane tickets early next year!!! As some of you already know, I signed up for the Goofy but missed the half because I could not fly into Miami earlier than Saturday morning.
After arriving at around 0130 a.m. and getting the rental car, I drove from Miami to Orlando (having to stop to take a 1 hour nap) arriving around 7 a.m. Tried checking in at Pop which was a great idea since there was no line at that time, but, obviously, the room was not ready. Went out to have breakfast at IHOP and went back to the hotel to find out, surprisingly, that our room was ready at 11 a.m. Took a long nap.
Had dinner with my son at Pizzeria UNO (his request) and went to bed around 8 p.m.
I stayed at Pop Century this year with my 13-years old son, Alvarito, so I was concerned about the crowds in the morning. Woke up around 3 a.m. and took the bus around 3:45 a.m. (no lines!)
Got to the D tent around 4:15 and stayed there sharing thoughts about the marathon, and the half the previous day, with old time friends and new friends as well. I must admit that, up to this point, I was very pleased with the weather but did not want to admit it publicly to the others who were complaining about it…
For the first time got to walk with friends to the starting line (Eileen, Ellen and Mark Druckenmiller, and Julie) only to find out that they would not allow Mark, Eileen and me to proceed directly to our corrals (they had closed that road) The guys did what every reasonable man should do… follow the woman!!! Eileen took us over fences (both plastic and human) directly to the front of our corral.
Before I even took the fist step of this marathon I was condemned to having a rough time… I did everything wrong. Remember the “don’t try anything new on race day”? Well, since I could not bring my PowerGel in the carry-on bag I decided to buy Cliff Shots at the expo… the “organic” kind (more on the “effect” of that later in the report) I also wore for the first time a long sleeve white shirt (this one proved to be a good idea)
My plan for this one was to run in 5 hours (previous PR: 5:35) I figured I could manage to do that if I kept my miles under 12 minutes. First couple of miles were slower due to the crowds but eventually settled into a comfortable 11:15 – 11:30 miles. After running for 1 hour decided to take in my first Cliff Shot (I had stacked 4 for the whole race) and that’s when things started to go downhill. I did not like the taste one bit (tasted like dirt/mud) and could not finish it. To top it off, I got pain in my left knee while going through the underpass right before entering MK (a pain that would stay with me until Monday morning)
While running through Main Street I could feel the unmistakable pain in the lower abdomen… could not take it any longer so had to make a “pit stop” by the Indy Speedway. Needless to say that was the last Cliff Shot I had in the race, and for that I paid the price later on.
Sun came up right before reaching the food station on mile 13. The plan so far had been to walk for 1 minute at every mile marker or water station, but my time was getting more into the 12+ side. By the time I reached Animal Kingdom I was toasted. By now I was stopping at every other medical tent to apply BioFreeze on the knees and forearms (?) At the last water stop out of AK I got the first glimpse of the lack of supplies problem. I stopped to get 2 Tylenol and they had no cups to water them down, so I had to manage to swallow those w/o water.
As usual going from AK to MGM was looooong… I did manage not to miss the red cup on mile 21 (that felt great!) and took more walking breaks than I had planned for in that long straight road next to MGM. Running through MGM is, for me, always nicer than going through AK (probably because is the last one before EPCOT and the finish line) By now I was running 12:30 minutes miles and not even pushing it a little bit I could run faster (I tried for 1 mile and decided not to try again)
Going through the Boardwalk resorts is a blurry episode… remember seeing a runner on the ground and people calling for medical assistance, and then a lady gave me some ice from a bucket she was holding and all the sudden I was in the World Showcase at EPCOT. Going around the countries is my favorite part of the marathon. I saw Sheila and Stan who DID NOT have beer for me (there’s photographic proof of my demand for beer!)
Did not have any energy left to sprint to the finish line but managed to run under that sign in 5:27, and a new PR.
Refueled and rested for about half hour in the M tent before taking the bus back to Pop where my son was waiting for me. Later on we had our traditional post-marathon lunch at Outback’s Steakhouse and called it quits early that night.
We arrived to EPCOT around 9:30 and managed to ride Test Track and Soarin’, and play some video games, before heading for our meeting spot in the UK.
It was good to see so many familiar faces again and got to meet new ones. As usual, we had a great time going around the countries tasting their different beers. My big mouth (or should I say “happy fingers”) cost me some extra bucks in Mexico with an overwhelming show of tiny cups from the 1st WDWDW (well, I guess people DO read the emails)
The first sour taste of a weekend that was already dying was in China when the Miwa’s had to leave. We all got a little emotional, so decided the best way to cope with it was with Tsing Tao beer provided by Dane and Julie… thanks guys!!!
The pleasant surprise of the day was in American Adventure when Tom Laux and his crew showed up for the second half of the journey. I think they’re hooked.
We made it all the way back to UK in a surprisingly 8 hours (a new PR) right on time to take our “reserved” seats outside of the Pub to watch the fireworks. It was the perfect finale to a wonderful day with friends. We stayed over a little longer than usual after the fireworks and almost missed the last bus back to Pop Century.
Tuesday was basically a DisneyQuest day for Alvarito and myself, and also did some shopping for the family. On Wednesday morning had to drive back to Miami and took the flight back to Panama.
I have to agree with most everyone on the list in that, other than the joy of running a Disney race, the main reason driving us back every January to WDW is the opportunity to spend some time with a wonderful group of friends. Whether you are an old Dead or a new one (and that has nothing to do with age) everyone is welcomed right away and made feel part of “the family”. Let’s keep this tradition on for current and future Deads.