2007 Goofy's Race and a Half Challenge Report: Melissa Rose (Part 2)
Melissa Rose(Part 1)
Got up at 3. Showered, body-glided up, and tried to blister proof my feet. Ate a Zone bar. Chris and I caught the hotel shuttle to the race at 4.
Walked with Chris what seemed like forever to the corral splits. We made a plan to meet up when our routes rejoined, then went to our separate corrals. I talked to some other people doing Goofy while hanging out in my corral. They had all done marathons before, and thought I was crazy for doing my first one as part of the Goofy. The pre-race announcers interviewed some pretty inspiring people- one guy was doing his 91st marathon since completing chemo for leukemia. Then there was the national anthem, and fireworks, and I was off, high fiving Mickey at the start line.
I trained hard for over 4 months for this marathon. I had really planned on aiming for a 5:30, and based on my long runs that was totally reasonable. But after running the half on Saturday, and factoring in the heat and humidity, my new goal became just to finish in under the cutoff time.
Chris had promised to see me through this thing, and since we were in different corrals we'd agreed to meet around mile 3.5. The first couple miles I felt awesome. It was still dark out and the temperature was great, and I was having these surreal feelings of "Oh my God I'm actually doing this thing today." Around mile 2 Bon Jovi's "It's My Life" came on my ipod. For some reason that is my cheesy power song and it almost made me cry. I had promised Chris I wouldn't cry until at least mile 25, so I held it together. I kept on at an easy pace, and around mile 3 the courses came together so I started to look for Chris. Suddenly I hear Trixie's voice saying, "Soupy! Soupy!" I make my way across the crowd to her, Chris, Fit, and Jess. They said they were ALL going to run with me. What?? I said, "You realize this is my first time, and I'm going to go slow." They said, "We know. We want to go with you. Go at your pace- we're here for you." Wow! How awesome is that? My own support team! I felt like a superstar! So we were off.
The next few miles were great. We took 1 minute walk breaks every 10 minutes or so and just stayed at an easy pace. Trixie and Fit were singing and cheering and talking to everyone on the course. I'm not sure Disney provided as much entertainment as they did. All 4 of them would take turns hanging right beside me and encouraging me. Fit carried water for me, Trixie slapped my ass, and Jess and Chris always knew the right things to say.
Around mile 7 the sun started coming out and I realized it was going to only get hotter and more difficult. I drank water at every aid station and started dumping some on my head too. And I increased my accel gels to every 30-40 minutes so I could get some electrolytes in. In the meantime the Fit and Trixie show was still in full force. Trixie would run backwards for a while and make me laugh. Fit would make sure I had enough water from her personal supply. And anytime we'd start to get separated a little I'd just listen for the "Whoop Whoops" or the "Soupy!!!"s.
I could feel a blister coming up so we stopped at the next aid station and I popped it which really helped. While I was doing that, Trixie came out of the bathroom and made some observations about Biofreeze and where not to touch yourself after you've used it. OUCH! I secretly think she liked it.
About mile 16 I decided I was over it. It was hot hot hot. I do not run well in heat like that. I looked at Chris and said, "OK, I'm done. I don't think I can do another 10 miles of this." So he paced me for the next little bit, increasing the walk breaks to about 1 minute every 4 or so. He got me over that hump and said "I am so proud of you for doing this. Don't cry." 'Cause I was about to. Soon after that we reached an aid station with wet sponges. They rocked, and that really helped.
We made our way into the Animal Kingdom next. It was awesome. There were a lot more shady areas and I was feeling better for making it past the wall. And just when I would start to get really hot again Jess would be behind me putting a cold sponge on my neck. What did I do to deserve these people?
We reached the 20 mile mark, which was my longest training run. As soon as we passed it Chris said, "Hey, this is the furthest you've ever run. And so is this. And so is this. And so is this." That went on for a while. And it made me laugh. The next few miles were tough. We were on a stretch of road outside the parks and the sun was brutal. Sue was there with some food- thanks Sue!- but I couldn't even swallow one bite of an uncrustable. And a couple of the aid stations were out of water. They had powerade only, which my stomach can't tolerate. But Fit came to the rescue again with her water stash. By now the walk breaks were getting longer and closer together. But I was finally starting to think I might actually finish this thing.
We headed back into MGM and I felt on familiar ground since we'd run it in the 5K on Friday. We passed some big fans and sprinklers and I knew I could go a little further. And how cool is it to run past the Tower of Terror?
Finally we were on the boardwalk and headed back toward Epcot and the finish. My head was spinning with so many thoughts: wishing my grandma were alive to see me; telling that questioning voice in my head that it was wrong, I COULD do it; praying and thanking God for getting me through and asking for just a little more help. The crowds were getting louder and bigger. Chris would say, "Come on, you can't walk through all these crowds" and that would give me another boost. We finally made it to mile 25. Chris said, "Are you crying yet?" I wanted to, but I was focusing so hard on getting through. He and Jess figured we could beat 6 hours if we ran the rest of the way. I was willing to try but after about 5 minutes I was so damn hot I had to walk a little. Fit was questioning my intelligence- she said I must suck at math to think a marathon=39.3 miles. The walk break was short, and we started a slow shuffle. And suddenly there it was. The FINISH line. I couldn't believe we were finally there. And I suddenly had this urge to sprint. What the hell?? I have no idea where that came from-- I just knew I wanted to cross that line. A guy ran up beside me, and I thought, "Oh no you don't. I've made it this far and you are not passing me now." And I gave one last push past him and crossed the line. And that's when I finally started to cry.
What would you do differently?:
Not a damn thing. Maybe it wasn't smart to run a half marathon the day before my first marathon. But hey, there's a reason it's called Goofy, right?
Cried for about 5 minutes. Couldn't stop. Got my medals and took pictures and met up with G8R and Sue. Hugged all my new friends and told them how awesome they are and how much they meant to me. Rode the bus back to the hotel with Chris. Showered and ate the best damn fries I've ever tasted. And I don't even like fries!
What limited your ability to perform faster:
Definitely the heat and humidity.
I do not have the words to describe what this day and whole weekend were like for me. I cannot thank Chris, Shannon, Trixie, and Jess enough for getting me through this. Chris, I love you. You are the best friend I've ever had. I would never have even gotten to this weekend if it weren't for you, much less survived it. Shannon, Trixie, and Jess- you will never know how much you all meant to me that day. To know that you would give up your own race to help someone you'd just met is truly inspiring and humbling. I hope one day I can help someone else the way all of you helped me. I know I didn't talk back much to you the last few miles because I just couldn't, but know that I was taking in everything you were saying and it meant the world to me. I will never forget any of you or that incredible day.