My Walt Disney World 2009 Goofy Experience

January 13th, 2009

For those that wanted to know all about my races, I am sorry for the delay. Besides running my races, we are on vacation in Walt Disney World and I haven’t had much energy to write over the last few days. I am now sitting in our hotel room at the Port Orleans-Riverside waiting for our laundry to get done before I go to bed.

Let me start off by saying that running the Goofy races was amazing. I had trained since the end of July ’08 for these. I wanted to run the 39.3 miles as an early 40th birthday present to myself. I wanted to prove to myself that I can do anything that I set my heart on. That I might be a bit overweight and greying at the temples, but I CAN DO IT!

My husband, son, & mother-in-law all volunteered for working the half and full marathons. We were unhappy to see that the shifts/locations that they requested several months ago had been changed. They were told that they had a 5 hour “cheer squad” shift for the half marathon and would be unable to see me finish. Although that upset everyone, we decided that it was okay because they would hopefully see me on the course.

The half started at 5:50 in the morning. In order for me to take the bus from the hotel to be at the race on time, I had to get up at 3:15am (that is 2:15am to my Texas body time). The beginning of the race was spectacular with fireworks and lots of fanfare. Goofy, Mickey, Minnie, and Donald Duck were at the start to encourage the runners. There were thousands upon thousands of people. They said that it was the largest turn out ever for the half.

I did see my family around Mile 6. It was a joy to come up a short hill and see my family screaming encouragements to me. The race went well until Mile 12. I started to feel a sharp pain in my right hip. As I have Trochanteric Bursitis in both hips, I sort of expected some discomfort. I wound up running the half in 2:06:20. Not spectacular, but a pretty fair time for me.

When I was done with the race, I hopped on a bus back to our hotel. My husband called me over an hour later saying that they were still not done with their shift. He was also extremely upset with Disney. Disney had promised all volunteers that they would receive breakfast, race volunteer apparel (shirt or jacket), and a free ticket into the park. When they showed up early for their shift, they were told that they were out of food and apparel. “Ooops! Sorry about that folks!” My husband said that folks that they rode on the bus with had volunteered several years in a row. They had never seen Disney be so unprepared. The weird thing is that the runners were asked to have family/friends volunteer. The volunteers were all sent paperwork and were kept track of. We found it weird that they hadn’t planned for as many volunteers as they had. It just sucked for the family/friends that came to support loved ones. You know?

My family didn’t get back to the hotel until after lunch. They hadn’t eaten anything all day. They were hungry and they were mad. They also didn’t want to volunteer for the next day. I couldn’t blame them. My mother-in-law came specifically because I asked her to volunteer. Anyways…

We had a nice lunch and then walked around Epcot for several hours. My legs were tired and I needed to rest. I was getting up at 3:15am on Sunday to run THE BIG ONE. The marathon. The one I was nervous about. I hadn’t run a marathon since 2004. I wanted to do well.

I knew that the marathon would be tough when I woke up the next morning with a really sore hip. Not a good sign. I popped 3 Ibuprofen, prayed, and headed to the bus. In my training, I had run two weekends of 10/20 (that is 10 on Saturday, and 20 miles on Sunday). However, I had never considered being tired from walking around the parks and lack of sleep from sleeping in a hotel bed. My goal was to run the marathon in 4:30 or less. I could do this. I had been training for this. I wanted this badly.

I saw my family at Mile 10. I was so happy to see them. I was also incredibly tired. Why was I so tired? Why was I so sore? My husband handed me a peeled banana and traded my regular glasses for my sun glasses. “How are you doing babe?” I just looked at him with a weak smile and said: “I am soooo tired!” I kissed our son and went on running.

I saw my husband again at the Animal Kingdom for Mile 20. By that time, I had walked about 4 times. I was pretty angry with myself for walking here and there. I didn’t plan on walking. I also didn’t plan on needing to use the port-a-potty on Mile 18. Thank the Lord for those plastic toilets though. I had to wait in line to use one and it took about 6 minutes to get back on the road, but I didn’t have an “accident” during the race because of them.

My husband screamed my name on Mile 20. Seeing his face gave me a boost. I needed to hear him encourage me. I was starting to doubt myself and my ability to get to the finish. I texted him just after passing him saying: “Forget 4:30. I just want to finish. I need a vacation!” He sent me a note back saying: “This IS your vacation!”

I was coming up a hill on Mile 22 when my phone rang. It was my husband. All he said was: “You can do this honey. I know you are tired, but you are almost there. Keep moving!” Honestly, my brain was starting to check out. My body wanted to quit. My brain had already thought about it and decided that a nap was a better idea.

I can tell you that at this point, I had seen some amazing things along the race route. I saw a man dressed in a gladiator costume. I saw a man running in a thong. I saw countless Minnie Mouse runners. I saw fit people. I saw not fit people. I saw tons of people just like me needing to walk here and there. I saw pretty much every Disney character imaginable cheering on the sidelines. I saw some hilarious signs from family members like: “There are plenty of port-a-potties. Don’t poop your pants!”, “This seemed like a good idea 6 months ago!” “Why couldn’t the first marathoner drop dead at Mile 20 instead?”

My husband sent me a text on Mile 24. He told me that he was in Epcot waiting in the England area. As I came down a hill into the back road of Epcot, I saw one of the distinctive red phone booths in England. I came around the corner, and there was my husband with his camera taking my picture. I smiled a huge smile and ran past him. I had a mile to go. I ran around the World Showcase. I ran around England, France, Italy, Germany, Moracco, Japan, Africa, Norway, China, Mexico and out of Epcot. There was a huge gospel choir singing to us as we left Epcot. We ran out into the parking lot. Just a bit further now. The crowds became HUGE. There was cheering and screaming. There was a huge set of stands jam-packed with spectators. There was the finish line.

I told myself to sprint and ran for the finish. My official time was 5:00:19. I didn’t beat Oprah and her under 4:30. However, as my husband says: “Oprah didn’t run a half marathon or walk around Disney for several hours the day before her marathon.” I suppose that is true. I know that I would have been under 5 hours if I hadn’t gone to the port-a-potty. You know what? Who cares? I made it. I ran 39.3 miles in two days.

My husband has suggested that instead of running 10 marathons by the time I am 50, I should consider running 20 half marathons. I am signed up to run the 3M Half in 2 weeks. That will make my 5th half marathon so far. I enjoy running half marathons. Not to say that running a marathon isn’t amazing, I am so glad that I have done two of them. However, I think my husband might be on to something. We will see.

I am very proud of myself. Running the WDW Goofy races is hard. Really hard. However, I can now say that I have done it. It was an experience I will never forget. I am so glad that I made it.

Now…on to several more days of Mickey and vacation. I think I have earned it! 😀

2 Responses to “My Walt Disney World 2009 Goofy Experience”

  1. jjabl Says:

    Way to go, Shannon! Finishing a half and full the next day. You are amazing, girl! I am so proud of you and happy you did this. I am glad you finally wrote. I was beginning to worry that you were hurt. Glad to know that you were just tired and who wouldn’t be after what you did. Give yourself a big hug from me until I see you next time. (Did you hear me urging you on from here?)

  2. Kelly Hamrick Says:

    Shan, it’s Kelly from SparkPeople (although I haven’t been on there in quite some time).

    I wish I had known your were at Disney for certain… I ran with the 5 hour pace group in the marathon for the first 20 miles – We must have been near each other at some point in the race. I hit the wall at 20 and walked a lot of the last 10K to finish my first marathon in 5:18 – not my dream time, but a PR nonetheless.

    I loved it so much, I’m already registered for the Goofy next year. I can hardly wait!

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