Soon or later, I'm gonna pay the piper for this

But not today. Short post, since I need some food and what not, but 2.2 k on the rowing machine, followed by 5 miles on the hamster pad. Still wearing the Camelbak for both, I figure it's going to pay off come April.

Because I'll either be wearing it, or feeling awfully light on my feet without it.


Slacking time is over.

Yep, I've been slacking. I could blame being sick, or a pulled muscle, but really, even though both were true (still are, to some extent), I've just been slacking. No races officially on the schedule, and I haven't been feeling like running much lately.

Well, I hadn't, anyway. I just needed some time off, kinda recharge those mental batteries. So, while I haven't registered for it yet (going to in the next couple of days though), I have my next marathon planned.

See this?

Yep. That's a 70-step, 4-story tower that you climb at the halfway mark. It's a trail marathon, too, which means (1) mud; (2) rocks; (3) hills; (4) a lot fewer aid stations. Sounds fun. (Actually, it does. It was ranked by Marathon & Beyond as one of the 25 Toughest Marathons in America.)

It will take care of Wisconsin for me, if I finish it.

So today, I ran 5 miles of hills, all with the Camelbak. And I did some weights, and some rowing. I need to get back in shape, if I am going to run this thing faster than I did at Disney.


Oh yeah

I'm also not running for a while. I'm sick, a happy little souvenir from Walt Disney World. (Okay, it's not the fault of the Mouse. Someone in our group was sick, and I brought it home with me.)


They say . . .

that the first year is the hardest year. Thanksgiving, Christmas, even Halloween were tough these last few months. Today marks the first anniversary of my mother's death, and going through the holidays just wasn't the same.


42.4 is the new 26.2

So, on the second weekend of January, I went out and did a little running. On Friday, I ran a 5k, followed by a little 13.1 mile jog on Saturday, and then a longish run of 26.2 miles on Sunday. If you only run the latter two, Disney calls it the "Goofy Challenge". When you add that additional 5k, you are running what is unofficially known as the Dopey.

And boy, it fits.

Let me start by saying that all the experts pretty much agree that you have to respect the distance of the marathon. 26 miles, 385 yards or 42 kilometers; either way, you can't bluff your way through it. Sure, they say, you can get through a 5k or 10k okay, and you might even manage to get through a half on pure talent, but to run a marathon requires training and lots of long runs.

They lie.

At the tail end of October, I ran a 50k ultra, just to get some use out of all the training I put in for my aborted Chicago effort. From that point on, I did almost no long runs. I think I logged a 16 miler in early December, and maybe a couple of 12 mile runs, but basically, everything was done in less than 90 minutes, with most being in the 5-6 mile range. Keep that in mind, as you read the race summaries.

Friday, the 5k.
This was the day that I got to sleep in, as the race didn't start until the late hour of 7 am. So I got to sleep until 5 am or so, hopped on a bus, and basically loitered in the Animal Kingdom parking lot until it was almost race time.

I had been to the expo the day before, so I was wearing my bright orange wristband, the one that declared my lapse in sanity and declared proudly that I would be doing the Goofy Challenge. There were other lunatics wandering around Friday morning, and we all agreed that today was simply a warm-up day, not a day to try for a new PR or anything.

Well, I was going to PR anyway. See, I have never actually run a 5k. (Well, until Friday, anyway.) My high school XC races were 2.5-3 miles, and as an adult, everything has been 10k or longer. Thus, technically, no matter how slowly I ran the race, I would have a new PR. I did run a little faster than I had intended, perhaps at a moderate training pace.

The real high point of the race came at the start. See, it's not a chipped race, nor does Disney keep track of the results. You were also expected to line up at an area indicated by your expected pace (ie, sub 7:00 miles, 7:01-9:00 minute miles, etc). A lot of kids, however, lined up toward the front of the pack. And, predictably, most of them faded hard and fast; barring a couple notable exceptions (wearing track or XC jerseys), all the kids faded during the first .75 miles or so, which is basically a circuit around the parking lot. Apparently, if I had stuck around after finishing, I could have watched a bunch of kids cross the finish line and promptly toss their cookies. I admire the spirit that compels someone to push on regardless, but for a non-chipped, unofficial race, I can't see the point.

5k time: 22:46

Half-marathon, Saturday
Ah, the joys of waking up at 3:10 am. There aren't any. But you have to wake up by about then to get on the bus that will get you to the starting line at 5:30 or so, in order to be ready for the 6 am start. Predictably, our bus got lost, and we circled Epcot (and the Sports Complex, Animal Kingdom, Tampa, and possibly Atlanta, GA, for all I know) before finally getting to our destination.

I had brought clothes purchased for the specific purpose of wearing them until the race started, and then tossing them. It's one thing to run in a tech T and shorts, but sitting around in 40 degree weather is something else. Fortunately, it was an oppressively balmy 64 degrees (and high humidity) at the start, so I didn't have to wear them.

In my area of the start corral, we had a small contingent of orange-banded Goofys. We just gravitated toward each other, a bunch of runners, all in the front corral (A), who, under other circumstances, would be trying for a sub-1:40, sub-1:30, or even a sub-2:00. But today, to a one, we all declared that we were taking it easy.

And easy I did. I fell in with a couple of other Goofy runners, who were going about the same pace I was. I had originally planned for a 1:55-2:00 half - faster than my last race on the same course, but 15-20 minutes slower than my current (and fairly recent) PR. Instead, I found myself moving along at a 1:50 pace, which, while faster than planned, didn't feel difficult.

I hung with them until mile 10 or 11, when I grabbed a drink at a water stop and promptly choked on it. I lost some time coughing and gasping for air, and decided that it wasn't worth the effort to catch up to them.

I did spend a short period toward the end running with a guy who reminded me of my first race. He was running along, gasping "The pain. It's too much. If I fell over here, I'd die. I wouldn't be able to get back up." Apparently, he is a 5k runner, and this was his first half-marathon. It probably didn't help his confidence that Goofy runners were passing him, talking casually at a 1:45-1:55 pace.

I finished with a nice sprint, partly because it is tradition, and partly because a fellow runner on Friday had told me that he figured I wouldn't be able to do a final sprint on either the half or the full.

Half marathon time - 1:51:52

3 am doesn't get any better on the second day. This time, however, my wife and SIL joined me, as they were running as well. The three of us got ready, and got on a bus that actually knew where we were going. I left them, and started looking for a friend of mine from my Saturday running group. I had been leaving messages on where to find me, and hoped that we could find each other before heading to the corrals. No such luck, and I eventually headed over to the corrals without him.

As luck would have it, however, he found me a couple of miles into the race. I had told him that I would be wearing my Camelbak - I wasn't going to be without a personal water supply, given a 64 degree, 100% humidity start. He found me because a bright yellow Camelbak is a lot easier to pick out of a crowd than "I'll be in a white jersey and black cap."

By mile 3, I was drenched in sweat, and the two of us were going with our agreed-upon goal: finishing, probably about a 4:30 pace. I wasn't going to push it, and we both wanted to spend time with our respective families in the parks later that day.

Now, let me say that, in light of the heat and humidity, I think Disney did a fine job of providing for us. I probably could have left the Camelbak in the room, but didn't want to chance a heat-related DNF. I saw plenty of water and PowerAde, and they had plenty of sponges out at mile 15 or so. (I grabbed one - new race plan for warm weather is going to call for a sponge inside my hat. Very refreshing.)

And it's fun running through the parks. It's fun to interact with the various CMs, the characters, and the crowd. The route has so many choke points and enough runners that you probably won't PR, unless you are near the front, or are trying to beat a previous 6 hour time, so you might as well just treat it as a 26-mile training run, with the added bonus of crowd support, water, and a medal at the end.

I did declare mandatory walk breaks about the end of the Animal Kingdom, however (mile 16?). At that point, I noticed that I wasn't sweating as much as I had been at the start. This could have meant one of two things:

1) I wasn't working as hard, and didn't need to sweat as much to stay cool; or
2) I was dehydrated, and it could get dangerous, fast.

So, I decided that we should slow down a bit, and take walk breaks every 10 minutes or so. It turns out that I was fine - it was about that point when the humidity had begun to drop, and a breeze was cooling me off. Still, I didn't want to chance it, and kept a careful eye on fluids and my heart rate.

We stuck together until almost the end, alternatively encouraging each other. When we hit the choir at the end, I told him that I was going to empty the tank, and started that final kick toward the end. As I dodged and weaved my way through other runners toward the finish line, I heard the announcer ask if there were any Goofy runners in the pack. As I shouted "Heck yeah!", he noticed me, and commented on sprint towards the finish. I crossed, and promptly slowed, causing a volunteer to ask if I was okay. I told him yeah, just tired, and slowly started moving, so that my buddy, who was a minute or so behind me, could catch up.

Full time - 4:38: 40 (a new PW, almost by an hour. Who cares though.)
Goofy time:: 6:30:22 - I missed my target by less than a minute. Good enough.
Dopey time: 6:53:08

Considering I did very little training for this, and spent my non-running time chasing my kids around the parks, I'm happy with it. I'd be signed up for the 2009, but I've been told that until the kids are older, I have to put plans to do this again on hold. I'll just content myself with marathons and ultras for the next few years, then.

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Not dead, just resting

Been a busy couple of months. I will be posting about how 42.4 is the new 26.2, and how the experts are wrong, that you can actually bluff your way through a marathon on almost no training (but it's ugly).