A new kind of pain
When we left our hero he was feeling pretty darn good for having run a half marathon after getting up at 3am. When the alarm went off at 3am today (Sunday) I was feeling really good. J walked me to the bus stop at 3:30 and I headed off to the start line for the second time in 2 days. Today there was 18,000 people entered though I often wonder how many people have dropped out since my little group had 5 entries between us and only 2 at the start line for various reasons. The race doesn't start till 6am so once again there is a LOT of waiting around and visiting the porta potties.
At 3am its already a little warmer than I like to run a race in so I am thinking that its going to be another day of cold showers at the water stops. At 4:45 when we walk to the start line its not got any warmer but I can feel lots of the humidity which is something else a Seattle runner is not used to. At 5am I am sitting on my throwaway T-Shirt just waiting which is very boring as I have nobody to talk to today. Eventually the time ticks down and the fireworks go off and we are away. This morning I appeared to have messed up my water consumption and I am now bursting. I hope to get to the first bathrooms but after half a mile its pretty obvious that is not going to happen so I join the other hundred guys (and a couple of girls) by the trees. Ahhhhh that's better now I can concentrate on the race. My legs don't feel as fresh as normal but I am still feeling pretty good. I start out at around 10:50 pace and decide to hold this for the first loop which is about 4 miles. We loop around Epcot passing the 25 mile marker and head back up the start line - the 4:30 pace maker passes me and I decide to not go with them. 4:30 would be a good time but I need to start out slowly - If I feel good later I will try to catch up. Its a little crowded in places and some late wheel chair runners have to force their way through the crowd - they are not going to have a fast race today. At mile 4 I'm still feeling good and I keep the 10:50 pace for a couple more miles.
Mile 6 is just before the Magic Kingdom and my legs are good so I speed up a little and try to reach half way at an average 10:30 pace. My cool watch slowly tracks my pace down and after a run up a crowded main street and under the princess castle all seems to be going well. I see Woody and stop to get my photo taken - Woody is VERY excited that it says Andy on my shirt as you can imagine! As we leave the magic kingdom I hit the half way point at almost a perfect pace. My legs feel a little tired but hey I did just run a second half marathon so I'm not too worried. But the fatigue continues and I notice my legs are starting to feel heavy and as I pass mile 14 and 15 I notice my pace is dropping. I try to keep it up but getting to 16 was as hard as mile 20 is on a normal marathon. In the last 20 minutes or so my legs have gone from good to tired to fatigued and I still have 10 more miles and 2 hours to go.
The run between Magic Kingdom and animal world is pretty boring - very little to distract you and its hard to keep going. I'm very glad of the water stops where I can rest my legs for a minute or so and its tough to restart after each one. Just before animal kingdom I see the Disney greenhouses - it takes a lot of plants to keep all the parks looking nice I guess. And then into the park - finally something to distract me. There's quite a few characters here so I stop (the rest is a bonus) for more photos. Its hard to tell how well I am doing - there are lots of people going faster but lots walking too. My watch is slowly moving my average pace back towards 10:50 pace and by my calculations that's heading towards a 5 hour marathon. It doesn't take me long to convince myself that 5 hours is a perfectly good time for the goofy.
We leave AK and my legs are just wiped... I'm still moving reasonably well just more slowly and with with some bonus walk breaks. I have to stop to remove something from my shoe and bending down to retie it is not fun. We head out to mile 20 and 21 and its really getting warm. Thankfully the water stops are very frequent so I get to cool off and have lots of walk breaks. Its taking a lot of will power to restart the legs and I wonder who's stupid idea it was to do this - and you know there is only one person to blame. Thankfully I know my crew are just 6 miles away and there is an extra medal on the table. The pace continues to slow toward an 11:00 pace. I discover BioFreeze and liberally rub it in places that it may not have been designed to go.
We hit the MGM Studios park (though seems its been rebranded to Hollywood Studios) - they are handing out candy - and we all know Andy likes candy. MGM has several characters out so I stop for a photo with all of them. I am SO grateful for an excuse to pause. The most annoying thing is that I don't feel tired as such, I have no real aches or pains just that my legs feel so heavy and don't want to move. Mile 23 takes forever as does mile 24 but I have seen mile 25 before and I get a little second wind on the way there. My average pace is over 11 minute miles now but I convince myself I will run the last 1.2 miles to ensure sub 5:00.
BUT.... mile 25 appears to be about 6 miles long. Its around the lake at Epcot and even though I can smell the finish line I have to take numerous walk breaks. I give myself a count of 10 at each one and then push myself to run. There are lots of people here all calling my name - usually just as I start walking. Eventually I hear the gospel choir who were just before the finish line at the half marathon. I take my last 10 second walk break and round the corner looking like I ran the whole way ;-) I can hear the cowbells and spot the crew cheering and find some energy to cross the finish line at a good pace. 4:56:14 - a way off my 4:30 'best guess' but under 5 hours. Apparently its over 80 as I finish and the heat alone means a slower time. But I don't really care - this race was really about finishing.
I get my goodies and my TWO medals - one for the marathon and one for the goofy race and head out to the meeting tent. I think my first words were "that was the hardest thing I have ever done". I have wanted to do this race since I read about it way back before I had even run my first half marathon and had always said I wanted to do it for "the free medal". Well today I learned that the 3rd medal is not free by any stretch of the imagination. The final 2 hours of that race is probably the hardest physical thing I have ever done - maybe one day I will work out why I did it in the first place ;-)